Break (Westside Wolf Pack 3) Chapter One Sneak Peek!
Happy Holidays to everyone! It's the most wonderful (and hectic) time of the year. To make it even better, I have a new book coming out in a few days. December 31, 2014 to be exact.
Break is the third book in the Westside Wolf Pack series. It's about Luca, who had a bit part in Burn, and his mate, Colton.
Colton Smith is the only friend Luca Collins ever had. They shared a first kiss, a first love, and planned to run away from their little Montana town to start a new life together, only fate had different plans. Luca was sure Colton was his mate. Then a group of a hunters attack Luca's pack -- a group Colton belongs to and everything changes.
When they meet again, Colton is a wolf. And Luca is hiding in a shell, broken into a million pieces from Dominic Blake's sadistic abuse.
Can they overcome the secrets that tore them apart and find the love they once shared?
Check out a sneak peek at the first chapter. Enjoy:
Ben Singer was an alpha, only he didn’t feel like it.
In truth, he was supposed to be an omega, but the whole world turned on its head and now he was the co-leader of a pack and not the weakest member. Scratch that, he was still the weakest member and a co-leader.
Axel might believe Ben was a good alpha, but Ben wasn’t sure he believed his mate. He didn’t feel good at it.
Now least of all.
Ben pulled the jacket around his chest and frowned into the fog. January in Santa Cruz was a lot different than Pennsylvania. It wasn’t necessarily cold, but the cool ocean air chilled him in the way the snow never had. Maybe it was the humidity.
Or the mysterious wolf ducking around the corner.
“Shit,” Ben muttered and quickened his pace.
His territory. His problem.
This is why being an alpha sucked – too much responsibility. And he couldn’t call Axel for help. His mate was in Monterey on assignment for the day. Gage was working at Tony’s shop and Quinton, the fourth member of their pack, was running Cloud Nine in Ben’s steed.
That left Ben as the only one for the job – trailing a strange wolf through the fog on a Tuesday morning. Not the way he planned his day off.
Ben figured he’d get a coffee and check out the local Goodwill before he made a few business calls. On his way out of the café, he caught the familiar hint of wolf musk on the air. It didn’t belong to a wolf he knew. The last time Ben stumbled across unfamiliar wolves he got injured playing hero, and he got on the wrong side of a psychopath.
If psychopaths have right sides. Ben doubted it.
For a moment, he squinted into the fog and held his breath.
No way Blake came back from the dead this time.
He sniffed the air again. It wasn’t the scent of any of the former Eastside pack members either. Not even Luca, the omega who helped them kill Blake.
No. This was a totally new wolf.
Then Ben spotted the creature in the mist. Its glowing eyes caught Ben’s, and it slid away into the fog.
He squeezed the coffee cup in his hands, the warmth seeping into his skin, and listened.
He’d never been good at sneaking, and his shoes slapped the concrete with every step. Far off, he heard the cry of gulls over the ocean and the faint barking of sea lions on the shore. Then he caught the slight sound of a paw on the road and turned toward it.
It could be a trap, he told himself. He should call one of his pack mates. Axel needed to know about this, but his mate would drive all the way back up the coast if Ben called him. And this mystery wolf might be no one of any importance, even if he was a fellow were-creature.
Ben was an alpha, and he’d handle this on his own. Although, in the back of his mind, he hoped there wasn’t a huge group of wolves waiting to rip his throat out.
Better text Quinton, he thought.
The wolf turned another corner, and Ben slunk behind him as he typed into his phone.
‘Trailing a strange wolf to the beach.’ What else was he supposed to say? Ben hit send and crunched onto the sand. It sent cold stabs up his feet, through the thin soles of his shoes. Even if they were his most expensive pair, they weren’t made for beach walking. He tried not to imagine the sand scuffing up the leather, and followed the sound of footsteps.
Not many people walked on the beach in such weather. Ben didn’t even pass any joggers on his trek across the sand. He gripped the coffee cup tighter, and it crumpled under his fingers. At least it was empty.
Soon the sand gave way to tide pools, nestled below the cliffs. Ben stumbled over them, careful not to step in one, and tried to see beyond the fog.
No good. The mist swirled and obscured his vision.
He didn’t hear any sea lions out here. Walking into a group of them wasn’t his idea of a good time. Ben knew he smelled like a predator, even if he didn’t feel like one.
Then he caught the click of claws on rock. The dim shape of a cave beaten into the cliff darkened the whiteness of the mist. The outline of the wolf stood there, green eyes alight, and it stepped inside.
Ben cursed as he followed it.
This whole idea was stupid. The wolf, who could be some enemy of his that he wasn’t aware of, was leading him into a secluded beach front cave at low tide, and he followed?
What kind of an alpha did something like that? Axel would’ve caught the wolf and punched it until it talked. But Ben wasn’t that kind of alpha. And he doubted asking the new wolf to stop would work.
Standing at the mouth of the cave, Ben considered backing out and forgetting the whole thing. He could still hike back up the beach and avoid whatever waited for him. That’s what an omega would do, but he wasn’t an omega anymore.
He stepped inside and something familiar tickled his nose.
The scent of a wolf he did know. A wolf he’d been looking for and hadn’t been able to find since early December.
“Luca?” Ben breathed into the foggy air.
No one answered, but he smelled the little omega and heard the shallow drag of his breath. The damn kid was probably freezing in here.
Ben slipped deeper into the cave.
The mist cleared, but darkness took its place. Even with his were-creature eyesight, he only made out vague shapes in the shadows. Then he noticed the wolf’s eyes standing over the curled up shape of a young man.
Stepping carefully so he didn’t trip, Ben made his way across the uneven floor. By the time he reached Luca’s side, the wolf slunk toward the exit.
Ben glanced at the mouth of the cave, crawling with fog, but the wolf who led him there was gone.
He cursed again and shook Luca’s shoulder. “Wake up. Come on. I can’t carry you out of here. Well, I could, but I’d ruin my shoes doing it.”
Slowly, Luca blinked, but his eyes didn’t focus.
Great. Ben would have to carry him out.
Then he heard the beat of waves against the shore. Was it his imagination or were they higher than before?
The tide was coming in – even better.
Ben dropped the coffee cup and hefted the dazed Luca over his shoulder. The kid’s body trembled with every breath and his skin felt like ice. How the hell did he make it out here in this condition?
Luca was in no shape to explain.
When they reached the mouth of the cave, Ben glanced across the foggy tide pools. The dim shapes of rocks stuck out and the salty spray struck him right in the face. By the time this was done, his hair would be a wild mess. But they’d both be alive – that’s what he should worry about.
Now if only he remembered to turn right or left. One direction would lead them back to the beach, and the other would deposit them into a watery grave.
Ben turned left and hoped for the best.
Every step took an eternity. If he thought traversing the tide pools in the fog was difficult the first time, trying to do it with one hundred and twenty pounds of dead weight on his back was worse. He might have wolf strength, but Ben was small, the same size as Luca himself. He wasn’t a giant like Axel or muscular like Gage.
Then Ben stumbled knee deep into a tide pool and yelped. The cold water seeped into his pants and shoes, splashing his front. Climbing out was even worse, and he didn’t know what he stepped on inside the pool. Hopefully he didn’t have a sea urchin stuck to his ass.
Rough rocks grabbed at his legs, and Luca’s weight pulled him down. The water rose steadily, running over his ankles and ruining both of his shoes in the process.
If Axel were here, he’d have carried Luca out in no time. Then he could just put his wet Converse out to dry. But that wasn’t going to make Ben change his choice of footwear – he didn’t know he was going to go hiking on the beach today. If he had, he’d have worn Keds.
Finally, Ben stumbled onto the sand and pulled Luca with him. The cool grit bit into his skin, and he panted. He looked at the damp sand for any sign of the wolf he followed there – a footprint or a scent on the air, but there weren’t any.
The wolf disappeared.
No way he could carry Luca all the way home in this condition. Which meant Ben needed to call someone. Hopefully, Gage wasn’t too busy.
The beta wolf arrived about twenty minutes later with a frown etched on his brow. Ben didn’t know if Gage was annoyed or not, but he didn’t ask. That’s not something an alpha would do in this situation.
“Where’d you find him again?” Gage asked as he picked up Luca. He didn’t even ask Ben for help. It should’ve stung his pride, but Ben was just relieved.
He dusted the sand from his pants and fought the urge to shiver. Alpha’s didn’t do that either. “In a cave. Good thing I got there on time or he would’ve been washed out to sea.”
The look Gage cast him said it all. How did Ben know Luca was holed up in a cave and that the former Eastside pack omega was sick? They’d been looking for him ever since they took down Blake, but Luca kept under their radar.
It occurred to Ben that Luca didn’t want to be found. Or maybe he just needed time alone to come to terms with what they did – murder the leader of a rival wolf pack. No matter what horrible crimes Blake committed, they still killed a man.
Ben knew the feeling. He’d killed a man too. A man who deserved it almost as much as Blake, but that didn’t make it any better. At least Ben had a conscience, unlike some people he knew.
When they got to the car, Gage looked at him.
Right. He probably wanted Ben to tell him what to do. Where to take the semi-unconscious Luca. But Ben didn’t have any idea. His gut told him to avoid the hospital because the bill would be staggering.
Growing up in the lower middle class left its mark.
“Know any doctors who make house calls?” Ben asked, forcing himself to grin.
Gage raised an eyebrow. “Q might. You sure you want him at the house?”
Ben looked over Luca’s scraped arms and dirty clothes, and his heart ached. They shouldn’t have let him slip away a few months ago. Who knows what kind of hell the kid had been living in since then.
“Yeah, he doesn’t have anywhere else to go. We owe it to him after the help he gave us,” Ben said.
Gage huffed but didn’t argue.
Luca had helped, under duress, but Ben couldn’t blame him. He couldn’t have stood up to an asshole like Blake on his own either. Gage didn’t get what it was like to be an omega.
None of them did.
And now Ben had to play the part of an alpha – talk about a pauper in a prince’s clothing. That’s what he felt like. Even if he never bought into the idea of being less than, his former pack mates in Pittsburgh sure did. If it wasn’t for his family and Axel, who treated him as equals, he’d have ended up just like Luca.
Gage called Quinton on the way home, and by the time they arrived a doctor waited outside the gates. She was human and middle aged, but she didn’t ask any questions.
Briefly, Ben wondered how much this little visit would cost and decided he didn’t want to know.
“He’s got the flu,” she said and straighten the stethoscope around her neck. “It’s pretty bad this year, but if he gets cleaned up and put in a warm bed he should be fine. Give me a call if he gets worse.”
Gage nodded stiffly, and Ben let out a sigh. At least it wasn’t anything serious. Anything that’d require hospitalization.
After they thanked her and led her out, Gage looked at him. “You want me to help you bathe him?”
Ben smiled sheepishly. “If you wouldn’t mind.”
If Gage did mind, he didn’t say.
Luca’s eyes fluttered open a few times, but he didn’t focus on either of them for long. Dirt etched his skin, and it took two scrubbings to get most of it off. Ben stared at how light Luca’s hair was when it was clean. He thought it was brown, not so blond.
Then they dressed him in some of Ben’s night clothes and wrapped him in blankets in one of the spare rooms.
Gage frowned at the faded posters on the wall and the shelves of books overflowing with fantasy novels. It belonged to a member of Gage’s old pack. A member who died in a horrible fire seven years before.
“Should we choose a different room?” Ben asked. It wasn’t un-alpha-like to care about the feelings of his pack mates. Especially when it came to someone Gage loved like a little sister.
Gage sighed and rubbed a hand over his short black hair. For once, he was letting it grow out, and it made him look softer around the edges – or maybe Quinton was the one having the effect on him.
“No. Connie’s been dead a long time. Maybe she’ll watch over him, wherever she is now,” Gage said and stepped into the hall.
Ben chewed his bottom lip and nodded.
After Gage went back to work, Ben cleaned himself up and frowned.
He never liked being alone in the grand house, which is why he went out that morning. It held too many dusty rooms and empty hallways. With only four men living there, they couldn’t use them all. A whole wing of the house was left untouched, and filled with too many ghosts, as Quinton said.
On a day like this, with the thick blanket of fog blocking even the edge of the cliff from view, Ben knew what he meant. The past clung to this place as stubbornly as Ben clung to Axel. Even as they built a new life and called the mansion home, there were things about it that would never completely belong to them.
He was okay with that most of the time, but today of all days, Ben wanted something warm and homey like his mother’s voice or a bowl of chicken noodle soup. The hundred year old Spanish mansion wasn’t going to give it to him.
Ben settled in the room with Luca and made his business calls. A new designer ducked out at the last minute, leaving him with a space to fill in the boutique. Hopefully he’d find someone before spring hit.
Luca twitched in his sleep, but his breathing steadied since they brought him home.
Was the other wolf a friend of his? And why hadn’t it stuck around or approached as a human? It was a were-creature, so Ben knew it wasn’t a normal non-shifting wolf. It’d have been a hell of a lot easier if the mysterious animal dumped Luca on their doorstep. But Ben couldn’t question him now. Maybe Luca would have some answers when he woke.
Ben sighed and waited.
To his surprise, Axel came home first.
He would’ve run downstairs to greet his mate and explain, in explicit detail, what sort of day it’d been, but he fell asleep in the chair at Luca’s side. By the time he woke, Axel already stood in the doorway, rain damp and amber eyes wide.
“Where’d you find him?” he asked and flicked his tongue over his lip ring.
Ben almost laughed before he started the tale. How could he not? It sounded ridiculous. Before he knew it, he stood at Axel’s side and recounted everything. Including littering and ruining his best shoes.
A shadow crossed Axel’s face as Ben neared the end of the ordeal. “What do you mean the wolf was gone?”
“He disappeared. Gone. It’s not like he was keen to talk to begin with. I mean, he stayed in his wolf form the whole time,” Ben said and frowned. “You would’ve done the same thing, right?”
Axel kissed the top of Ben’s mussed head and sighed. “Yeah. I would’ve saved him too.”
But he also would’ve grabbed the mysterious wolf by the scruff of the neck and gotten some answers out of him. All of that went unsaid, but Ben knew his mate well enough. They’d known each other all their lives.
Axel was the real alpha. Ben was just one by default.
“What if he leaves again when he wakes up?” Ben asked. The question chewed at his mind all day. They couldn’t force Luca to stay, even if they wanted him to. He hadn’t come to them for help before, who says he’d take it now?
Axel opened his mouth to speak, but Luca turned over and mumbled in this sleep. “Colt. Help.”
Ben raised an eyebrow and glanced up at his mate. The look on Axel’s face held the same question in Ben’s mind.
Who was Colt?
And, even more pressing, who was the mysterious new wolf?