The Defiant Alpha (West Coast Wolves #2) - Susi Hawke Page 0,1

know… with Five last week, I wanted to warn everyone.”

Ten’s voice was drowsy. “It’s called a vacation, Thirteen. Except I think he had it backwards because we were the ones getting a break with him gone. Thanks for the heads-up. My chair is under the knob.”

“Mine too,” Seven added quickly. “And if I hear so much as a hint of a scraping chair leg, I’ll shift and howl right along with the rest of you. Quit worrying, Thirteen. We know the drill.”

It was good we had a plan in place, but sad we needed one. We figured the combined howls of a dozen wolves echoing through this old barn would make anyone up to no good think twice. It wasn’t a certainty, but it was something. “Okay, then. Good night… stay safe, my brothers.”

Lying back against my pillow, I told myself not to worry. Somehow, some way, everything would work out. Sooner than they knew, these endless nights of my brothers and me sleeping with one eye open would come to an end. The rigid, structured routine ruling our lives would finally be over.

The question was, what came next? None of our powers could tell us. Apparently, even special gifts had their limits. I had my suspicions, but those were based on movie plots so they probably weren’t right. When we’d asked Six, he said his intuition only said nothing good came when one of us was taken away. Eight had psychic abilities, but he needed to touch a person to get a vision. Since he couldn't risk touching a staff member, let alone Master himself, the gift was useless to us.

Unfortunately.

The problem was, I had the answer we’d speculated about for so long. I’d learned it was almost time for me to discover the future Master had planned for me. I was simply glad Six hadn't asked the questions I'd seen brewing in his eyes over dinner.

I hadn’t told him, or any of the brothers, about what Teacher wanted when he’d pulled me aside after our morning lessons. Or why I’d avoided them all afternoon, spending time in the meditation chamber. How could I tell them the news when I was still processing it myself? Tomorrow would be the time to let them in. Today had been for acceptance… and planning.

This morning, Teacher’s dark, hooded eyes had sparkled with avarice, the lone giveaway how my leaving would in some way benefit him. He’d somberly explained it was time for me to find my mate. The alpha I’d been raised to serve.

When I’d asked who my alpha was, he’d shrugged and said it depended on who bid the highest. His answer perplexed me until he’d explained about the mate auctions, where no one but the wealthiest and most prominent alphas could select an appropriate omega. He said this was the way of things for omegas, and questioning tradition or fate wasn’t for the likes of me.

I’d kept a poker face, but I was definitely questioning. If it was tradition, then why was I only now hearing, of it rather than during any of the deportment and shifter history classes I sat through over the years? I knew all about pack hierarchy, although I’d never seen a pack for myself. I could serve a dinner for the highest ranking officials and use the correct fork so as not to shame my alpha. I knew how to dress, how to walk quietly but with proper posture and always a few steps behind my future mate.

But this? Being sold to an alpha not of my choosing? The idea certainly hadn’t ever come up in any discussion. At least now I had an inkling what happened to my lost brothers. However, I really had no memory of One and Two had been taken when we were too young to even know our letters yet, so hopefully he’d been part of another kind of auction. I didn’t want to consider otherwise, for him or the other two removed from our small, cloistered family.

"Thirteen, you still awake?" Another, newer voice in my head startled me out of my thoughts. My first and only friend outside the walls. We'd never met in person but had shared many long conversations over the past year.

"Unfortunately. Why aren't you sleeping, Alex? Do I need to scold you again about the importance of getting enough rest?"

Alex's nocturnal activities had brought us together in the first place. One night, I’d heard the howl of an unfamiliar wolf, closer than anyone had ever

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