Mating the Wolfman: A Fated Mates Paranormal Romantic Comedy (Dating Monsters Book 5)
Mating the Wolfman: A Fated Mates Paranormal Romantic Comedy (Dating Monsters Book 5)
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- Fated Mates
- Werewolf Romance
- Protective Hero
- Human Turned Werewolf
- Found Family
I should be celebrating my Happily-Ever-After. Sam and I are in love, after all. But the rest of my life? It’s a hot mess.
Not only am I expected to take over as the Mississippi Pack alpha after my sperm donor was murdered, but Corbin and his lackeys are openly attacking the human-borns.
Looks like it’s up to us to fix this mess. Except, everywhere I turn, someone’s trying to kill me.
These bungholes will do anything to stop me—including going after my loved ones.
I didn’t want anything to do with all this, but I refuse to lose anyone else.
Time to roll up my sleeves and get to work.
This alpha business is serious, y'all. I just hope I survive it.
“High kick!” Anna shouted at me, arms crossed over her chest as she surveyed my technique with a keen eye.
I executed the movement with… well, about as much precision as I could muster after only five weeks of practice. I mean, it took a hell of a lot longer than that to master any form of martial arts. But hey, I was trying. Trying and only semi-failing, which I considered a win. Gotta look on the positive side of things, right?
“Front kick!” she ordered, her head cocking to the side as she studied my transition.
I snapped out my leg, wholly unprepared when Anna grabbed my ankle and twisted, throwing me off balance. Gasping, I rotated with her, then wrenched my leg back and returned to the ready stance—arms held in front of my body, fists clenched, legs straight, and feet shoulder-width apart.
Her mouth briefly curled upward, clearly impressed I’d managed to maintain balance.
“Side kick,” she pressed.
Hardly missing a beat, I leaned to the side and implemented the attack with as much force as I could muster. My muscles practically begged for release, my brow beaded with sweat. We’d been at it for a few hours. But time truly meant nothing to immortals. I, however, was far from immortal, and my battered body begged for a break. Not that Anna would give me one.
“Good, Lucy,” she praised, her face smoothing into a pleased grin. “You’ve improved so much.”
I beamed at her, then righted my position.
It’d been nearly two months since that douchenozzle Corbin had stabbed me. The first two weeks had been the absolute worst. Helpless and slow, I hadn’t been able to do anything for myself. Thank god for Sam and Anna. They’d pampered me like a princess, offering only kind words, even when I did nothing but whine about how the painkillers weren’t working. Apparently, we werewolves metabolize drugs too quickly for them to be effective. So… yeah. Loads of fun.
Once I’d finally healed, Anna had taken it upon herself to teach me all the lessons Camilla had imparted upon her—with moderation, of course. Since I wasn’t a vampire, I didn’t heal quite the same. Camilla had been a brutal teacher, repetitively breaking every bone in Anna’s body until she learned how to fight back. Luckily for me, Anna had adopted a far gentler approach. One that didn’t leave me a weeping, broken mess.
“I know we’ve been working on the roundhouse, but you haven’t been very successful with that one,” Anna said, distracting me from my thoughts.
My mind jumped to the last time we’d attempted that particular move. I’d nearly broken my foot on Sam’s chest. Anna had wanted me to land the kick just a smidgen higher—i.e. his head. But my mate was a brute of a man. A giant. A lumberjack, as Anna oft called him. We’d quickly learned I couldn’t even get my leg that high, yoga be damned.
“Do you want to give it another shot?” she asked.
“Yes, Sensei,” I said with a wink.
I steadied my body and focused. Usually Sam helped me train in some capacity, but he was currently in New Orleans, assisting his father with some pack business.
Anna assumed a defensive position, her eyes narrowing on me. “I’ll buy you Starbucks for the next month if you nail this kick.”
Oh, motivation! I certainly loved me some Starbucks.
With a creamy, vanilla Frappuccino now consuming my thoughts, I drew my knee into the chamber position, then struck.
Anna’s arms blocked the blow, as they were supposed to, but she was grinning ear to ear as we both straightened. “Great job!”
Laughing, I shook out my whole body, then stripped off my shirt and used it to mop up the sweat beading my skin. I adjusted the straps of my sports bra, then moved into some fluid stretches. My muscles slackened, and I nearly moaned.
“Guess I’m buying your coffees for the next month.”
“Darn straight! I would have taken you out if that kick had connected.”
Anna chuckled. “Don’t get too ahead of yourself. Real fights are nothing like this. But you really are doing amazing. In fact, you might need to find an actual class soon since I don’t think I have anything more to teach you.”
I perked up. “Really?”
“Well, I didn’t get much training from Camilla before she passed,” Anna said, the light in her eyes dimming. “Just the basics, really. Which I’ve now taught you. But if you’re hoping to truly get good at this, you need a more experienced instructor.”
My mouth pursed. “I don’t think that’s gonna be an option.” Young werewolves weren’t even allowed to partake in school sports due to our increased speed, strength, and healing. I couldn’t imagine taking a martial arts class with a bunch of humans. How would I explain my abilities?
“Yeah…” Anna rubbed her mouth and nodded. “And we can’t ask your pack for help. You can’t look weak in front of them.”
This time, I nodded. Werewolves were a judgy sorta bunch. They knew I was untrained and unfit to be their alpha. But if I paraded it around in front of them, they would challenge me for control of the pack. Werewolves loved fighting for dominance, if only to prove who had the bigger teeth. I was already at a disadvantage, seeing as how I was technically human-born and completely unprepared for this role. But I needed to present a strong persona. In the meantime, I also needed to prepare for the inevitable challenges I knew would come my way.
The only reason that hadn’t happened yet was because of The Code—something I’d only recently learned about. The Code stated that any gravely injured alpha must be given two moon cycles to heal before any other pack member could challenge them. It was the only way to protect alphas from being slaughtered while in a vulnerable state. Prior to this law’s creation, less powerful werewolves would challenge an injured alpha in order to take over the pack. That, in turn, had led to utter chaos. A weak alpha had no idea how to hold a pack together.
I only had seven days left until The Code no longer protected me. And I had no doubts someone from the pack would challenge me. Quite a few had expressed their animosity toward me. Which meant I needed to perfect my fighting skills—and fast—seeing as how all dominance fights were to the death. Why it couldn’t be a submission-based fight, I had no idea. But all this only left me with one course of action: choose a successor and step down, all within the next week. A nice, practical, safe way of doing things.
Sadly, I hadn’t found a suitable successor yet. So, here I stood. Trapped in a role I didn’t want, learning to fight for my life, in case I failed to find a replacement.
“What about Sam’s pack?” Anna asked, drawing me back into the conversation. “Maybe his father could help? Adrien sounds like a really good alpha.”
I bit the inside of my lip and contemplated her suggestion. Adrien was a fantastic alpha. He cared about his people, adored his family, and had welcomed me with open arms. But now wasn’t the time to burden him—or his family—further. The last two months had been hard on them too, considering one of Sam’s little sisters had recently been murdered. They also had two new human-born-turned-werewolf pack members to train. Much like me, Sam’s family had their hands full.
It went deeper than that, though. I was the Mississippi alpha now. I couldn’t run to Adrien for help anymore. I needed to be able to stand on my own two feet—at least until I stepped down.
“No,” I said, shaking my head. “I need to do this. I can’t hide behind another alpha.”
“What about Sam?”
A smile spread across my face when I thought of my mate. “He’s been helping me as much as he can, teaching me how to be an alpha. But he’s afraid to fight me.” I chuckled. “Afraid he’ll hurt me.”
Anna snickered. “Okay. Then either you attend a human class and figure out how to pull your punches, or…” A wicked grin lit her face. A grin I didn’t trust. I’d known this woman my whole life. She was my ride or die. That grin spelled trouble, and usually, I paid the price.
Giggling to herself, Anna practically skipped to the side of the room and grabbed her phone from the nearest table. She quickly punched in a number, then lifted the phone to her ear, still grinning. Oh yeah, I was completely screwed. Whatever plan she had brewing in that head of hers, it wouldn’t be good.
When Vlad’s voice rumbled across the line, I sighed. Anna immediately insisted he head to Jackson tonight. According to her, I needed to face a real challenge, one that came in the form of a five-hundred-year-old vampire. Like I said, I always paid the price for her little schemes. Vlad wouldn’t go gentle on me either, not like he would if he was teaching Anna. I predicted torn muscles and a few broken bones.
With a small whimper, I wiped the sweat from my brow, then slipped out of the room, leaving Anna and Vlad to their conversation. It’d taken a sickeningly sweet turn, one that made me miss Sam. I didn’t begrudge them, though. After Sam told her I’d been stabbed, Anna had returned from her honeymoon and set out for Jackson. She’d officially named herself my protector and set up camp outside my bedroom door while I healed. Every night, she played the role of my personal bodyguard. She hadn’t left Jackson since. I had to imagine she and Vlad were missing each other something fierce right now.
I hoofed it upstairs, then jerked to a stop.
Standing in the middle of the living room was Cole—my second in command.
“What the hell!” I shouted. “Don’t you knock?”
He shrugged. “Never used to with Reginald.”
“Well, I’m not Reggie,” I growled. “And this is my home now.” Compliments of Reggie’s will. He’d not only left me the pack, but all his earthly possessions too. Including this house.
Cole ignored me and instead strode into the kitchen. Clenching my jaw, I counted to ten in my head, then jolted when I caught the sound of running water. What the hell was he doing in there? Maybe I could convince him to do my dishes while he was in there. Call it a perk of being the alpha.
When he finally popped back into the living room, he had a glass of water in hand. At first, I wondered if he intended to drink it in front of me but instead, he handed the glass to me.
“You looked thirsty,” he said, his gaze locked on the bridge of my nose.
Ugh. I hated that. Somewhere, someone had written that those ranked lower than the alpha weren’t allowed to stare into the alpha’s eyes. Why someone had found that important enough to make it into a rule, I had no idea. As humans, we’re taught that eye contact is pivotal. Polite, even. Ever had someone stare at your forehead while speaking to you? Pure awkwardness.
“Thanks,” I said, reaching for the glass.
I had to admit, I was a bit parched, thanks to Anna’s Buns of Bronze workout upstairs. I lifted the glass to my lips and slurped down a few gulps, all the while pondering Cole’s intentions. While he hadn’t been outwardly rude to me during my time here, he also hadn’t welcomed me openly into the pack. Yet, here he stood, hydrating me.
These sorts of questions was why I was always exhausted. It sucked having to constantly wonder about people’s objectives.
I placed the half-empty glass down on the dining room table, then made my way into the living room and sat on the couch. Only when I was comfortable did I gesture for him to have a seat.
He eased into the rocking chair across from me, his hands gripping the armrests.
“Alright. What do you want?” I demanded.
Cole’s mouth crooked up at the sides. He leaned back in the rocking chair and studied me. After an uncomfortably long silence, he lifted one leg and rested his ankle against his knee.
“Comfortable?” I asked with a raised brow.
My mouth quirked. The man enjoyed pushing buttons, and part of the fun, I suspected, was sussing out which actions pushed mine. It’d take more than crossing his damn legs to set me off. Instead, I leaned back and mimicked his position. “Care to tell me what this little visit of yours is about?”
“I’ve recently learned that Marcus and Bryn both intend to challenge you this upcoming moon.”
And there it was. Kaboom. The bomb I’d been waiting to drop.
My hand instinctively moved to my bare, sweaty stomach, and my fingers brushed the three-inch scar marring my skin. Thankfully, the wound had long since healed, but in moments like these, I could still feel the blade embedded in my flesh—a sensation I’d never forget.
“Thank you for the warning,” I said, my fingers reflexively twitching against my stomach. “But why bother?”
“Bother?” His brows slowly rose.
“Why bother telling me?”
“I’m your second. It’s my job.”
I considered his response with a wry stare. Cole was my second, yes, but I didn’t get the feeling he was happy with my presence here. Interestingly, he hadn’t mentioned challenging me himself. Did he not intend to? He was second in command, after all. Surely, the pack would gladly accept him as their new alpha. What sort of game was he playing?
For many werewolves—Reggie included—legacy meant everything. When he’d learned that one of his many, many abandoned human-born children had become a werewolf, he’d leaped at the opportunity to claim me. He’d even gone so far as to name me his heir without informing me. When I found out, I demanded he demote me, but he’d conveniently forgotten. Then Corbin had murdered him, and bingo, bango, boom, here I was. The Alpha of the Mississippi Pack. I hadn’t earned the position, so many in the pack were slightly bitter about it.
“Well, thanks for the warning,” I said. I’d been expecting a few challenges, but Marcus and Bryn hadn’t registered in my mind. Truthfully, I couldn’t even remember who they were. Even though I’d spent a year with the pack, I hadn’t involved myself with them. I’d been more concerned with mourning the loss of my human life than integrating myself into Reggie’s pack.
Cole rumbled out a deep laugh. “You don’t even know who they are, do you?”
Shit. Was I that easy to read? Probably something I needed to work on.
“Bryn was your father’s latest…” He waved a hand in the air.
“Piece of ass? Side piece? Paramour?” I finished. “And he isn’t—wasn’t—my father.”
Cole only shook his head. “I would say girlfriend, but Reginald didn’t do girlfriends.”
No, he certainly didn’t. He’d been more about lying to women to bed them, knocking them up, then bailing when the child was born fully human. A real piece of work. Believe me, there was a reason I wasn’t mourning his loss.
“Anyway, she’s been a bit riled up since the will reading,” Cole continued.
Aha. Now I remembered her. The one who’d lashed out at me, claiming I didn’t deserve anything Reggie had left me. I hadn’t realized she was his girlfriend. I’d just assumed she was a disgruntled pack member.
“And Marcus is just a prick,” Cole finished. “He thinks he’s strong enough to hold the pack together, but he isn’t.”
That made me blink. Insulting his own pack member? Interesting. It also brought up an intriguing thought. Was Cole trying to side with me? Possibly vying for the role of successor? I’d considered him at first. He seemed capable enough. But when a squabble had broken out among a couple pack members at Reggie’s funeral, Cole hadn’t done anything to take control of the situation. He’d shown no leadership skills whatsoever. I was looking for someone strong and capable. Someone like Adrien, with wonderful ideals and methods. That moment at the funeral had shown me Cole wasn’t right for the job.
“Don’t concern yourself with Marcus too much,” Cole stated. “But Bryn is a beast, and she’ll take your head clean off the first chance she gets.”
Did I mention how much I hated being the alpha? A part of me just wanted to pick a random wolf and name him the successor. But then I remembered what Adrien had told me. That I had to pick someone worthy, so that the Mississippi Pack never became a threat to the New Orleans one.
“Thanks for the advice. I’ll take it under consideration.”
A sly smile tugged at Cole’s lips. Maybe he could read me that easily. If so, I needed develop a poker face or something.
“If you’ll excuse me.” I rose and waited for Cole to do the same.
He didn’t so much as twitch. I lifted a brow and stared down at him. Did he have something more to say?
Eventually, he flattened his palms on the armrests and slowly pushed to his feet.
“If you really want to win these fights, you’ll need more training than what your vampire friend has taught you.”
I jerked, my eyes narrowing. “Excuse me?”
Cole shrugged, then picked a bit of lint off his shirt. “Your friend might be strong, but Bryn and Marcus are stronger. You need to learn how to fight like a werewolf. It’s not as simple as throwing a few punches.” He stepped forward. “I can help you with that.”
I almost burst out laughing. Cole didn’t know anything if he thought Bryn and Marcus were stronger than Anna. I’d been there in England with Anna and Vlad. I’d seen what those two bloodsuckers could do. Seen the things they’d faced and survived.
But that didn’t mean I couldn’t take Cole’s offer seriously.
Because he was right about one thing—I did need to learn how to fight like a werewolf. Before returning to Jackson, I’d witnessed the nastiest brawl between Corbin and Sam. It’d been brutal and deadly. Nothing like the controlled spars Anna and I had engaged in. I’d known that since the beginning, but hadn’t been able to find a solution to the problem. It wasn’t like I knew of anyone here who would be willing to train me.
Cole’s offer raised questions, though.
“Why?” I demanded. “Why help me?”
His expression flickered. “Bryn and Marcus are useless. She’s ranked seventh in the pack, he’s ranked ninth. Given that you never spent any time with us before all this, we have no idea where you would have naturally fallen. However, I believe you’d make a better alpha than either of them. The pack is my family. I would hate to have one of them in charge. They’d ruin us.”
That he didn’t think I’d ruin the pack spoke volumes.
“If you’re interested, meet me at my place tomorrow at nine a.m.” And on that note, Cole left, leaving me to mull over everything he’d said.
Anna herself had suggested I find a more experienced trainer. I certainly couldn’t rely on a human instructor. Which left me few choices. Only one, in fact.
Welp, guess this was happening. Lucky me?