Authors: tasha black
FATE OF THE ALPHA: EPISODE 2
A TARKER’S HOLLOW SERIAL
13TH STORY PRESS
Copyright © 2015 by 13th Story Press All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
First Edition: January 2015
13th Story Press PO Box 506 Swarthmore, PA 19081
Cover design 2014 by Cormar Covers
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insley lay on her back on the porch, head aching from the fall. The magic had hit her so hard, it felt like someone had replaced her bones with a swarm of angry bees. She tried to rise but couldn’t.
Exhaling slowly, she called on her senses for any information that might help her. The porch ceiling needed paint and there were dried-up fall leaves under the wicker sofa. Classic rock was still blasting from Charley’s car. The song had changed. It was a Stones song now. Jagger was in character, introducing himself and gloating over his wealth and his taste.
She could smell Camilla Parker Bowles dashing toward her. Instead of bounding up the stairs, the little dog began snuffling around in the rhododendrons that lined the front of the porch.
There was no sound of Charley. Had he been hit too? He had nothing to do with any of this. It seemed dreadfully unfair that even a human resident of this village had to suffer.
Ainsley’s wolf was slamming herself helplessly against the bars of Ainsley’s mind, but she was completely unable to shift.
In all the years she’d spent in Manhattan, denying her nature and wishing she could be free of what she saw as her curse, it had never occurred to her that she could feel such a profound sense of loss at losing that connection, however briefly.
Her jangled thoughts bounced to her mate, Erik. How must he feel, without his wolf?
And somewhere nearby was the bastard that took it. Ainsley grabbed hold of that thought before it could slip away and forced her consciousness around it until the chaos focused into a pinpoint of rage.
A powerful hum tingled along the surface of her skin. She couldn’t turn to her wolf, but her magic was still intact.
Responding to her call, the magic reverberated at a deeper pitch, clearing the cobwebs and bringing her back to the moment.
Ainsley was very, very angry.
A light blue haze tinted her vision.
A car door slammed.
His heavy tread shook the porch as he approached. Thank god he was okay.
With supreme effort, Ainsley lifted her hand to him.
He didn’t take it.
Instead, she heard the creak of the wicker sofa and his face appeared, looming down over her.
“Ainsley,” he said. “Why couldn’t you just
He leaned back and she was left looking at his knees, clad in a pair of soft brown cords.
“I’ve known you since you were a little girl. And, I don’t want to do this. But dammit, you’ve left me no choice.”
What was he talking about?
A fluttering of wings drew their attention.
“Are you finished monologuing, Coslaw?” a smooth voice asked.
“Jesus, Garrett, stop doing that.”
“You’re jealous, aren’t you?”
Ainsley capitalized on the distraction to take inventory of her body. The magic coursed through her and her limbs seemed less ghostlike and more real again. Maybe she could take them by surprise.
Before she could try, there was a tap, tap, tap sound across the porch.
An attractive older man with a long black cane stood above her.
“Ainsley Connor,” he said slowly.
She blinked at him.
“I’m going to keep this short and sweet,” said the man Charley had called Garrett. Where had she heard that name? “We’re here for the key. We know Sadie had it. We know she gave it to you.”
“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Ainsley said, honestly.
“We are going to offer you
chance to hand it over. If you don’t, we’ll kill you.” Garrett spoke in a conversational tone, as though he were asking about the weather instead of threatening her life. “So, Ainsley Connor, daughter of Michael, where is the key?”
Ainsley willed herself not to mentally chase her tail wondering how sweet Charley Coslaw could be involved with this.
She had no clue what key they were talking about, but these two seemed to think she did. It occurred to Ainsley that her life might just depend on keeping them under that impression.
“You will rot in hell before you will lay one stinking finger on that key, you creepy, Charlie Chaplin motherfucker!” she spat.
Garrett barked out a surprised laugh. “Are you making fun of my cane?” he asked.
She shrugged and felt the magic surge again. Every part of her crackled with energy.
“Funny,” he said. “Well, I guess we’ll be finding the key on our own.”
With a flourish, he pulled a thin sword out of his cane and lifted it over his shoulder.
Suddenly, the neighbor’s holly bush shook and something dark and furry exploded out of it and streaked through the air, crashing into Garrett and knocking him to his knees.
Ainsley’s heart soared for an instant as she pulled herself to her knees.
But of course it wasn’t Erik. He hadn’t been able to shift since he’d been struck by the trap. The trap that was meant for her.
It was the lone wolf she’d fought in the woods...yesterday? It already seemed like a lifetime ago.
He had found a way to prove his loyalty after all.
Through the buzz of her magic, Ainsley could feel the warm green glow of his submission. The pact was made. He was one of her own now.
“Son of a bitch!” Charley yelled.
The new wolf had the element of surprise, but its impact was already receding.
Desperately, Ainsley tried to gather up her magic. The image of the wobbling Coke bottle on the stump from the last time she had trained with Julian threatened to derail her.
Then she caught sight of Garrett slashing her pack-mate with that thin sword and she was filled with fury.
Charley stood. Frantically, she racked her brains and hit him with a spell.
Subsisto lupo mutatis!
Why was he smiling?
Oh god, that was the wolf spell. Charley wasn’t a wolf.
She took a shallow breath, evoked her energy ball and hurled it at him.
He caught the tiny mote of light like it was a ping pong ball, then bounced it playfully in his hand. The condescending look on his face was infuriating.
The ball in his hand shifted from blue to red. He controlled it now. In the span of a breath, the energy swelled to the size of a watermelon.