Read Rebel in Seduced by Magic: A Steamy Paranormal Romance Anthology
Peter barely registered the door slamming shut behind him. He clenched and unclenched his fists, and every muscle in his body contracted as a low growl slipped from his lips. Rolling his neck, he exhaled, hoping to ease the stress over the upcoming fight.
He reached over his shoulder, grabbed a handful of his cotton T-shirt in his hands, and pulled it off. Unable to sit, he paced in front of his desk. His skin was hot to the touch and tingled, his wolf demanding he shift.
Peter shook his limbs and sucked in a deep breath. There was a time and place to allow his wolf full rein, but now was not it.
He needed his mental faculties in place. The pack would begin arriving at any minute, and he needed a clear head.
Memories of the last battle pushed forward without his permission, and pain shot through him. Reni’s unmoving blood-matted fur… The pain etched around his parents’ eyes when Peter notified them of their son’s death…
As the Alumbra alpha, Peter was responsible for every pack member. The bond holding them together ran deeper than blood. It wasn’t the first time he’d had to shatter a family’s world, but it was the most recent. He’d been cowardly avoiding Georgia, Reni’s sister, not wanting to see the grief on the woman’s face.
“We’re going to be better prepared,” he muttered to himself.
The Brodericks would assist them on the mission. Working with witches was unheard of in most packs. While some witches offered services for payment, this group was family.
Ryan Palfrey may not be a werewolf, but he was Peter’s brother where it counted. The pack knew to keep their opinions to themselves concerning his friendship with the witch. When Ryan met and fell in love with Brandy Broderick over a year ago, Peter pulled her into the protection of his pack. In time, her entire family, which consisted of her six brothers and their mates, became an extension of his werewolf family.
Unlike other witches, the Broderick family assisted them not for money but because of their loyalty. His pack could tear apart the Sivella compound on their own, but with the Brodericks there to help, they’d be better suited to handle whatever was thrown their way.
A knock on the door sounded a moment before it opened. Peter turned on his heel as Xander Callas, his beta, entered the office.
Xander shut the door and leaned against the wall. “You okay?”
Peter heard the steady beating of Xander’s heart and the slow breaths flowing from his nostrils. To an outsider, he looked relaxed, but Peter knew Xander was anything but. The man was calculated and deadly.
“I’m good,” Peter said and rolled his neck on his shoulders.
Xander scoffed. “Your wolf says otherwise. He’s at the surface and about to break free.”
Peter blinked a few times as he sucked in a breath. “It’s never this hard.” He grunted as he dropped onto the couch across from his desk.
“You haven’t met your mate. It’s never hard.”
Meeting his beta’s eyes, he pinched his brows. “Did you just make a joke?”
Xander shrugged. “People are starting to arrive. What is making you so…”
Ignoring Xander’s nod, Peter scrubbed a hand down his face. “I don’t have a fucking clue. I’m ready to rip this asshole into two for taking these women. I’m terrified we won’t find Claudia’s sister, or worse… Enough people are rumbling about bringing the others in.” The latter he said meeting his beta’s hard gaze.
Xander crossed one ankle over the other, like he didn’t have a care in the world. “Werewolves and witches working together is unorthodox; that’s for sure. I wasn’t exactly thrilled, but I’ll be the first to admit that while we don’t need them, they give us an edge no one can deny. As far as the rest? We won’t know shit until we get out there.”
Peter exhaled audibly. “Once everything is done and settled, I’m heading to the cabin. My wolf needs a run.”
“Good thing he’s about to get one,” Xander said, his tone flat.
Peter noted a flash of amusement in his beta’s eyes for a fraction of a second before they hardened. “Thanks, smartass.”
Xander shrugged as he pushed off the wall and turned to face the door, when it opened without warning. Peter stood quickly, pissed he’d been so caught up in whatever the hell was messing with him that he hadn’t heard anyone approaching. His gaze slid from Brandy to Xander, who watched him with a mix of concern and something else, and back to her.
“Babycakes.” Peter half groaned and half cursed the nickname he’d given her. Brandy Broderick was Ryan’s mate—wife—and in turn had become one of Peter’s best friends. “What did I tell you about knocking?”
“Sorry, I forgot! At least you heard me down the hall,” Brandy said and stepped up to him as Ryan joined them.
Her arms wrapped around his middle as he avoided Xander’s knowing gaze. Peter hadn’t heard her voice or steps. Hell, he hadn’t even heard Xander’s before his knock announced him. Shoving his nose into her hair, he breathed her in and gave her a squeeze.
He chuckled. “That I am, now run away with me.”
Brandy playfully slapped him and moved into Ryan’s side. “No seriously, are you okay?”
Ryan watched him carefully.
Turning his back on his friends, Peter padded to his discarded shirt and willed his mind to clear the fog. “I’m fine.”
“He didn’t hear any of us coming,” Xander said.
A growl slipped from Peter, his lips curling in anger. “Xander,” he said in warning. He knew his wolf showed through, but he didn’t give a damn. Alphas weren’t keen on having anyone, their beta included, sharing their weaknesses. Whatever the hell was wrong with him was most definitely a weakness.
He dropped his gaze to Brandy when her small hand pressed over his heart. Any normal person would have gotten out of dodge at the fury pulsing off him, but not her. This woman was special—a pain in his ass, but special none the less. If only she’d been his mate and not Ryan’s.
“What’s wrong? And don’t try to tell me you’re fine. It’s clear you’re not.”
Peter focused on her, even as Ryan moved to the couch and made himself comfortable. “I don’t know.”
He hated himself for admitting the truth. It did not matter that he was surrounded by the only people he trusted with his life. Needing space, he turned on his heels and grabbed a bottle of water from the small fridge in the corner.
“Whatever this is has only gotten worse since we scouted Sivella’s place,” Xander said.
“You know we’ll get the women out and make the asshole pay,” Ryan stated, every bit of confidence in his voice.
Peter would do everything in his power to do just that. He was the alpha of his pack, and even if he weren’t, he was a protector. Men preying on women, women who were batshit crazy and hurt others, kids who knew better but still hurt others… Peter would protect any person going up against them or any other person who intended harm. It was how he was wired.
“Claudia knows there’s a chance that…” Brandy let her words trail.
Each of them knew there was a chance Rosalia Lupita wouldn’t be there—whether because she managed to escape like Claudia had or because she’d already been killed by Garrick Sivella or one of his men.
Claudia had had the drive to escape Benito, Garrick’s sick-as-fuck son, thanks to her young pup, Katia. Peter wouldn’t fault Rosalia or any of the women for the inability to escape the men’s sadistic clutches.
Peter crushed the bottle in his hand and tossed it in the trash. “I know.”
“If you can’t keep it together, you’ll need to stay behind,” Xander said.
“No,” Peter growled.
“Mia might have something that can settle you,” Brandy said, mentioning her soon-to-be sister-in-law.
He glared at her. “No.” Sucking in a breath, he did his best to shove aside the emotions flowing through him. His wolf pushed forward but stayed hidden, unlike before. Tuning in to his pack, he sensed them gathered below. “Everyone’s here. Let’s go.”
Xander nodded and slid out of the room without another word. Brandy hurried to Peter’s side and squeezed him before he could reach the door. Sucking in a breath, he let himself soak in the strength she offered. She released him and left the office without a word, leaving Ryan at his side.
Ryan clasped Peter’s shoulder and gave it a squeeze. They shared a look before Ryan gave him a firm nod and hurried to catch up to his woman. Alone, Peter rubbed the heel of his hand against his chest and exhaled.
He was thrilled Ryan had found Brandy. Hell, all her brothers had found and claimed their mates. Even the bitch Serena, the Bishop Coven’s high priestess and Ryan’s ex, turned out to be only mildly irritating once she and Brandy’s brother, Ethan, fell in love.
The witches may not have had it easy, but they’d all found what his pack struggled to find: their mates. Unlike the rest of the world, male werewolves were physically unable to connect with anyone until they met their mate.
His wolf itched and clawed with the need to find their other half. So much so, he was beginning to worry if they didn’t find her soon, they’d go mad. It wasn’t unheard of, werewolves who snapped from the solitude. As the alpha, he should have had more time though. Hell, he wasn’t nearly as old as some pack members when they had finally stumbled upon their mates.
Peter shook off his thoughts and jogged down the stairs. As he neared, the noise of the rowdy pack became louder. They were as eager as he was to eliminate Garrick Sivella. Once it was all said and done, Peter would take off and allow his wolf to run free. If in the process he found his mate, even better.
By the time he stepped before the pack, his energy was focused on the battle ahead. The crowd quieted at his golden eyes. His hearing became sharper, his breaths filled him with each person’s distinct smell, and his mind became sharper.
His gaze shifted to each werewolf, drawing strength from their respect and loyalty in the process. The pack surrounded Claudia, in support of their newest sister, and either ignored or accepted Max Broderick, her mate who had the unique ability to speak with animals. His family was also gathered. Next to Max stood Brandy and Ryan, followed by Mia, Ethan, Serena, and Carter, who was a doctor. On the other side of Claudia stood Jo and Joel, two werewolves who’d become her close friends since pledging her allegiance to Peter and the Alumbra Pack.
Peter sensed Xander join him on the right and to his right stood Adira Fredrick.
“Garrick Sivella’s reign ends tonight,” Peter announced, and low menacing growls vibrated through the pack in approval. “We will go in in three groups, led by Xander, Adira, and myself. Brandy will be in my group, Serena with Adira, and Max with Xander. Like last time, the witches will assist us and, if we need it…” Peter paused and looked at Carter, who nodded. “Heal us.”
Unlike all other witches he’d ever met, each Broderick had been gifted with their own special ability. In Carter’s case, he could heal others. It had been helpful in their fight against Benito, but it wasn’t foolproof.
“The ride there won’t take nearly as long as last time. He’s moved places once since we started hunting him, so we don’t want to wait any longer. We’ll know more once we’re closer, as we think he has a witch working for him.”
Normally his pack would have reacted angrily to that information, but when they responded with chuckles, Peter knew the Brodericks were winning them over faster than he’d expected.
After briefing the plan, he stepped aside and let Xander and Adira call out the names in their groups. By the time they finished, tables filled with food lined the back walls, ready to feed the hunting party. As werewolves, they were hungry often as a rule, but they also burned a ton of calories with shifting.
“Now go eat, so we can get this bastard!” Peter said, dismissing them.
Calmer than he had been in his office, he made his way to the family huddled together. “If you’re hungry, I suggest you grab some before it’s all gone.”
All but one shook their heads saying they had already eaten. His eyes narrowed before his long legs ate up the floor. Working around two pack members, he grabbed two footlong subs, two apples, two bananas, and two bottles of water. A moment later, he presented Mia the bundle of food. “Whatever you don’t want, I’ll eat.”
“I…” She bit her lip and stared at the food balancing precariously in his large hands.
Peter growled and shook his head. “You’re pregnant. Eat.”
“You’re going to need your strength,” Serena said, placing an arm around Mia’s shoulders.
Peter nodded. “Last thing I need is your mate coming after me. I can’t keep you safe if you’re not at full strength.”
Mia rolled her eyes and grabbed an apple and sub. “I won’t be able to eat all of this.”
He shrugged. “Like I said, whatever you don’t finish, I’ll eat. Come on.” Peter guided them toward a few vacant seats as he tucked the second sub under his arm and bit into his apple. “Where’s Edward anyway?” he asked around a mouthful of food.
Brandy smacked him in the arm. “Ew, don’t talk with your mouth full!”
He grinned and took another bite as Ethan spoke. “There was no reason to have everyone come.”
Brandy laughed, drawing Peter’s attention.
She shrugged. “What?”
Peter narrowed his gaze and watched her shift her weight. “What did you do?”
“Nothing. Why do you always think I did something?”
He tossed the rest of the apple in his mouth, core and all, and chewed. “Maybe because you’re not as sweet and innocent as you’d like everyone to think.”
Ryan chuckled, and Brandy crossed her arms over her chest. “I am sweet.”
The others laughed. She had left out her innocence.
“Fine. Edward was being a bit of a brat… so I froze him. Serena put a spell on the cabin so he couldn’t leave once he unfroze.”
Peter paused in the middle of peeling a banana and took in the group. The men were finding their shoes incredibly interesting, and the women’s eyes shined with amusement.
Turning, he took in Mia. She was halfway through her footlong sub. “What?” she asked with a shrug. “He was being unreasonable.”
Peter shook his head in disbelief and ate the banana in two bites.
“I mean, Serena didn’t really need to spell the cabin,” Max said.
“How long?” Peter asked Brandy.
“Almost two hours.” She shrugged.
His eyes widened. “You can freeze for almost two hours now? Be glad none of y’all are my mates. I’d take you over my knee and spank your naughty asses.” Facing Mia, he asked, “Is this why you hadn’t eaten?”
Instead of answering him, she took a large bite of food. He took in her still-flat belly and shook his head. Peter understood Edward’s reluctance. He’d been none too happy when Mia offered to help, not even an hour after Peter scented her pregnancy. If she’d been his mate, he would have locked her ass up, keeping her away from anything that could harm her or the baby growing inside her. But she wasn’t his mate, and that wasn’t his baby.