This Dark Wolf (Soul Bitten Shifter #1) - Everly Frost

Chapter One

The forest is too quiet.

I pause in the act of raising my axe above the splitting block, sensing the shift in the breeze and the sudden silence that has fallen over the clearing beside the cabin.

A shudder threatens to shake me, but I suppress it.

The worst thing I can do is reveal that I’ve sensed the approach of the three men from within the trees.

Swinging the axe toward the block, I slice neatly through the chunk of firewood resting on top of it. Continuing to act as if nothing’s wrong, I leave the blade wedged in the block and throw the cut pieces into the nearby wheelbarrow, each chunk hitting with a soft thud. I plant my gloved hands on my hips and take a deep breath to calm myself before I turn back to my task.

My senses expand while I go through the motions of choosing another piece of wood to split.

One of the men is from my pack—his musky scent is as familiar to me as my father’s. But the other two men are unknown to me.

New scents.

They reek of ugly intentions.

All three prowl toward me, keeping within the shadows of the forest, their movements stealthy. About a hundred paces away, they spread out from each other, forming an arc, no doubt so it will be easier to catch me if I try to run.

They will assume that I can’t sense them, that I will be easy prey, and that I’m not strong enough to fight back.

Unfortunately for me, my father made the rules clear to me from the moment I was old enough to understand them.

I must never reveal the extent of my abilities.

I must act as if I am not strong.

I will never fight back.

Because if I show my pack how strong I really am… If they ever see me shift into my wolf form… I will become a threat to them. Not just to them, but to every alpha within the Highlands and Lowlands of Oregon.

That’s when they’ll stop at nothing to kill me.

If I want to stay alive, I’ll take whatever crap they throw at me—no matter how many broken bones I suffer or how much they grind my heart into the dirt with their taunts and insults.

I was born different. Unequal. Nobody knows why, but despite having wolf shifter parents, my soul is human, not wolf. That makes me a freak among shifters, a source of scorn, but if they saw my wolf… I’d be dead.

Pretending to take my time positioning another piece of wood on the block, I quickly consider every object around me that I can use to defend myself. Chunks of wood. Axe. Even the wheelbarrow itself. I can make use of the clear ground around the cabin to move around. Running inside is not an option—a door won’t keep these men away.

Already, I sense the power radiating from their wolves. Their animals appear in my senses like colors. Around the typical gray that indicates a wolf shifter, each of them blazes gold, which tells me they’re all alphas in training. I sense the shape of their human forms—all tall and broad-shouldered with muscular arms and thighs and lean waists.

The two men whose scents I don’t recognize must be here for the Conclave. It’s an annual meeting when the alphas of the Highland and Lowland packs set aside their differences and gather to discuss matters of mutual importance. Every alpha—past, present, and those in training—is required to attend. It’s my pack’s turn to host the Conclave this year, which is the only reason my father isn’t here right now.

If he were here, these assholes wouldn’t dare approach the cabin. Dad might be an outcast now, but he was once the alpha of our Highland pack and has a formidable reputation.

I’m gratified to sense that all three men pause to catch their breath as they climb the last fifty feet to the edge of the clearing around the cabin. The slope sharpens before it plateaus, making it a grueling task to reach my location. I know this, because I’ve run up it many times.

Dad may have made the rules of my life clear, but that didn’t stop him from ensuring I grew up physically fit and strong. Training me like other shifters was out of the question, so instead, he hung a boxing bag in the cabin’s back room and taught me every boxing combination he knows. Outside the cabin where other pack members might see me, I split wood, lug Copyright 2016 - 2024