The Big Bad Wolf

By: Jus Accardo

Chapter One


Kensey

Every once in a while, a loud crash came from inside the house. Glass shattering, wooden furniture splintering. Hell. I was willing to bet six of my toes—and maybe my tail—that even the Monet wasn’t safe from my father’s wrath today. Then again, when your father was a Fire Wolf, a werewolf with an infinity for the fire element, a nasty temper was to be expected. One might even say it was part of his charm.

Probably not me, but, yanno, someone…

It’d started out like any other Sunday morning. Four-course breakfast, decadent rose-scented bubble bath, followed by warmed, sinfully fluffy towels—and me hiding out in the kitchen scarfing down a microwaved breakfast burrito while trying to paint my toenails orchid—apparently the it color of the season.

My father had stormed in as I’d stuffed the last oversized piece into my mouth, a clump of cheese making its way down my chin in a very unladylike manner, and proceeded to give me the lecture. I’d heard it a thousand times before. Grow up, straighten out—take more responsibility. Except this time, there was a nasty little add-on to the speech I’d memorized. A single sentence that, when uttered, had turned my entire body to ice and begged that breakfast burrito to make an unwanted reappearance.

“Your days as an unclaimed wolf are at an end, Kensey.”

There was more to it, of course, but it all kind of faded to black after that sentence. His words freaked me out so badly that I’d run—pretty much literally—from the house and didn’t stop until I’d climbed to the top story of my childhood treehouse in the back yard.

Run up a tree like a cat.

By my own father.

This was a personal low for me.

So here I sat. Trapped in my own treehouse, waiting for my father to leave for the day. Scuffle off and do whatever alpha wolves did with their Sundays. At least it hadn’t been boring. Someone in the house next door to us, the McAlisters, was having as crappy a day as I was.

The side door burst open, and a familiar figure stormed from the house. I hadn’t seen him in a while, but Slade McAlister looked exactly the same as I remembered. Strong frame, shoulder-length, dirty blond hair, and a bad attitude hovering in the air above him like a black cloud. He got to the middle of the yard before the door banged open again. Gavin McAlister, Slade’s leather-clad, motorcycle kingpin father, stomped outside after him.

“We’re not finished,” he barked. Gavin was the leader of the pack whose territory bordered ours.

“No,” Slade replied without looking back. He kept walking, making his way toward the back of the yard. Our property, and theirs, was bordered by the Falcon State Nature Preserve. It was technically our territory, but we allowed the other members in the coalition—a collection of six semi-local werewolf packs—to run on it. “Pretty sure we are.”

“I command you to stop,” Gavin said with deceptive calm. The underlying tone was menacing but, more than that, held the air of authority more befitting of a dictator rather than a father.

Slade had no choice. He froze mid-stride and turned slowly to meet his father’s gaze.

Gavin stalked forward and stopped a few feet away. “You are my only son, so you will do this for our family.”

“No,” Slade replied. “I won’t. And I think we both know that I’m not your only son, so don’t try to sell me that bullshit.”

It was technically true. Slade was Gavin’s only legitimate son, but everyone knew there were a few other siblings floating around.

Gavin growled and grabbed the front of Slade’s shirt then hauled him off the ground like he was tossing an empty cup into the air. “You will. That is a command from your alpha.” They stayed like that for a moment, and I had to give Slade props. Even I would have looked away before he did. When Gavin was sure his son was properly cowed, he set him down and took a step back. “You have two months.”

Slade made a show of smoothing out the front of his worn leather jacket and rolling his shoulders then lifted his head to meet his father’s gaze. “Two months? To do the impossible?” He laughed. “Clearly your age is getting to you.”

“You’re a strong wolf. An outstanding specimen and prime example of our species. You are pleasing to the female eye—I’ve seen the way they look at you. This shouldn’t be that hard a task.”

An outstanding specimen. Gavin sounded just like my father. We weren’t their children. We were brood stock used to improve the herd. Poor Slade was getting the same ultimatum I’d just gotten. I might have felt sorry for him if I didn’t hate him so much.

“You’re forgetting about the blood that runs through my veins, sir. Blood the other packs in the coalition view as unclean. Unworthy.”

“It’s about time that changed. It is time to show them how worthy we can be.”

“And how do you suggest doing that? There are exactly five girls of claiming age—none of which would consent to be in the same room as me, much less be claimed.”

“You are your mother’s son,” Gavin said. My hearing was superhuman even in human form, but my eyesight was another matter entirely. It was a running joke among my family. The only near-sighted wolf in history. But, even though I couldn’t see the exact details of Gavin’s face, I’d bet the bastard was wearing a big fat grin. “Be as charming as she could be—on the rare occasion she wanted to.”