“Alpha’s Pride” Teaser!
With the Wild Passions anthology coming up in the next couple months, I thought I would follow Saundra’s example and give everyone a teaser of our short story from the anthology. “Alpha’s Pride” is a peek into Egaea, the fictional world that Saundra and I have been building for a couple years. The feral-Maith will be featured in other stories in this world, along with the normal Maith, Elves, and even a vampiric race called the Varan. Enjoy the teaser!
Alec began to walk away from the Alpha’s den, his tail swishing behind him, his agitation clearly displayed by his flattened ears. What was he supposed to do? Let it continue? He loved Nahele, he did, but love had no place in clan politics. He could love Nahele as the cat he was while being dissatisfied with the leader he’d become.
As he rounded a few more dens, sidestepping running cubs with practiced ease, the light and warmth of the bonfires grew. The feral-Maith he passed all moved out of his way without him even having to glance at them, but it wasn’t long before his eyes met the glinting gold of one of the wolves. He growled softly in the back of his throat and turned, walking toward one of the other bonfires. For a moment, it seemed like he wouldn’t be followed, but a rustle of rough fur against a low-hanging tree branch made his ears flick backwards.
He sighed as the wolf caught up with him. The damn wolves never knew how to leave well enough alone and give a cat space when he needed it. He slowed his pace, and only then noticed how much his ass hurt from hurrying. “What do you want, Chaska?”
“You reek of him,” Chaska pointed out with a wrinkled nose. “With such a sour face, people might begin to wonder.”
Alec crossed his arms. “Wonder what, exactly? If anyone is stupid enough to doubt Nahele’s prowess in bed, I can point them to two dozen who would vouch for him, male and female alike, yourself included. Now, what’s this really about?”
Chaska had the grace to flush a little with embarrassment, and Alec inwardly congratulated himself on forcing the wolf to cut to the chase. “When are you planning on making your move?” Chaska asked plainly, making a pair of passing females pause to look at them.
Alec narrowed his eyes at the two sentries until they averted their gazes and walked faster to avoid him. He grabbed Chaska’s arm and pulled him over to an isolated tree. “Don’t speak so loudly,” he hissed. “I’m not trying to divide the clan.”
Chaska whined softly, pulling his arm out of Alec’s grip and wagging his tail. “If you were smart, you would. Unless you just don’t plan to ever get around to it. When are you going to challenge him? You know I’d follow you. Plenty of the others would, too.”
“I’ll challenge him when I say it’s time.” His tail fwapped angrily against the tree several times before he forced himself to shake off a bit of his anger and lean against the rough bark of the tree trunk. “It isn’t just a matter of following. It’s a matter of timing. If you’re so impatient, you can challenge Nahele.”
Chaska tried to laugh, but the soft perfume of fear rose up off of him and wafted to Alec’s nose. “He would rip me to shreds.”
“Then perhaps you need to trust my judgment.” Alec sighed and did his best to smile at Chaska. The wolf hadn’t always been his friend, but they agreed on the things that mattered most. “Go to the bonfires. Find a female or a friend to spend the night with, and try not to let the upcoming mating cycle dull your wits.”
Chaska growled softly, and then took off toward the bonfires again. Alec watched him go, his face set into a frown. Chaska was right. He’d been putting it off for months—years, really—and he either needed to stake his claim or admit he wasn’t alpha enough himself to make the challenge.
His eyes turned toward Nahele’s den in the center of the settlement, even though he couldn’t actually see it from his current position. Alec was alpha enough, and he knew this because he questioned his own skills and reasoning. He knew this because he was hesitating, because he loved Nahele and respected him. A careless leader would simply challenge the old alpha and take his place. Alec didn’t want to be a tyrant, and he was thankful for his uncertainty.
Alec sighed and headed off into the deeper forest. He needed to be alone with his thoughts tonight.
Wild Passions will be available in both e-book and print on June 17th, 2011! 🙂