First Chapter Sneak Peek: Beta and the Black Prince (Lost Wolves Book Six)!

OMG, guys. The book comes out in just over a week!

I might be dead by then because the last episode of Yuri!!! on Ice comes out this Wednesday, and I have a feeling it may kill me. At least you'll get to read the last Lost Wolves book.

Seriously. This motherfucking show. It's brilliant and wonderful and after that last episode *internal screaming*

First, we got the kiss!

Then, we got this hug. *dies* We better get a wedding in the last episode. And a couple skate. 

Now that I've fangirled properly, here's the first chapter of Beta and the Black Prince (Lost Wolves Book Six). Kamil and Aslan get off to a rocky start, but those are the most fun, right?


Chapter One

Bandits on the Road 

Beta wolves followed their alpha's orders. 

Kamil understood that. He'd held that belief close to his heart since he was a boy and first met Maxim, his alpha, the wolf he knew deep in his bones he'd serve until the day he died. 

Though, at the moment, Kamil wished he hadn't followed this particular order since it left him stranded somewhere between Wallachia and the Ottoman Empire: horseless, wounded and without supplies.

A sharp breeze blew through the stunted grass, dry after the summer's heat. The dirt road was pitted, and the dust kicked up with the breeze and stuck to Kamil's skin until he felt grittier than he had before.

He limped. The slash on his thigh stung, and he'd need to change the bandage when he made camp that night. 

The inhabitants of the villages on the outskirts of Bulgaria were the least trusting of any Kamil had ever met. Although to be fair he hadn't met many humans outside the ones who lived in Moravia, his home kingdom, and the hunters he'd killed in battle. 

These humans stole his horse and most of his supplies. Had there not been a mob with silver weapons—weapons that could poison his wolf blood—he'd have shifted and fought them. He was, by all means, the second strongest wolf in Moravia next to his alpha, King Maxim. But the chance of being overwhelmed was too great, so he'd fled. 

Plus, he was here to hunt down a wolf from the Ottoman Empire and deliver him to King Lucien (one of Maxim's allies) before he could finally go home. 

That led him here—to the plains and the dirt road that led to the heart of the Ottoman Empire. These weren't strictly shifter lands. No magic simmered under the surface of the earth. Old Ones didn't reign here and protect it with their strange powers, but no human settlements were in sight either. Not even a farm. 

It was neutral ground. Nothing but hills and grass and dirt with the occasional spike of short brown mountains. Perhaps the Ottomans kept it that way on purpose to cut down on hunters. 

Kamil winced and moved forward. At least the damn mob left him the clothes on his back and the sword at his hip. In all fairness, he'd cut down six of them before they chased him out of town. He hoped they were all worthy of death. At the very least, he could take comfort that they attacked first.  

His brown leather boots were coated in a layer of thick dust, as were his pants (jeans, the humans called them) and the shirt and leather jacket Elijah Kane supplied him with. In all his life, Kamil never thought he'd take a gift from that omega, but times changed. 
In the last few years it seemed that everything changed. 

Kamil took one step at a time. When he got to Istanbul, things would improve. Or they'd get worse. If Yue, the moon goddess, was as kind to him as she'd been these last few weeks, the rest of his mission would face equally terrible luck. 

She rose over flat plains. The sun dipped to the West and burned the sky with brilliant orange light. 

Kamil licked his lips and frowned at the empty knot in his stomach. He hadn't eaten in over a day, and he'd only had a drink at a small stream that morning. But that stream didn't flow to or from Istanbul, so he'd had to leave it behind for this part of the trek.

If he wanted to eat, he'd need to shift and hunt. He hadn't spotted a deer all day, but there was smaller game. Rabbits would make a meal if he killed enough of them. Perhaps he'd even find a large bird to feast on. Now he needed a place to rest before the light failed completely. 

He squinted in the distance and saw a mound of rocks. Upon closer inspection, the rocks were actually the shell of an old house set off the road. The roof and windows were missing, but at least it had a few walls. That meant Kamil could light a fire without the whole plain spotting it. 

However, first he needed to hunt. 

Weariness crept up his bones and through his muscles as he stripped and shifted into a large wolf. Brown fur sprouted from his body the same warm chestnut as his hair. While he wasn't as large as an alpha, his build was stocky and strong. He took one final precaution and buried his sword before he trotted off to find dinner.

Kamil caught and devoured three rabbits before he spotted the copse of trees from the top of a hill. It was tucked into a gentle valley, and the faint whisper of water over rocks called to him. He licked his bloody chops and watched.

Night had fallen in earnest by then.

Several horses munched on the grass around the spring. Horses with saddles and bridles. That meant humans or fellow shifters. At the moment, Kamil didn't know which he'd prefer.

Humans might not guess what he was, but hunters would try to kill him regardless. Fellow shifters might be as prone to rip out his throat as hunters, depending on their disposition.

He pressed his belly to the cool earth, the grass tickling his nose, and thought about what brought him so far from his home, his life, everything he knew and plopped him here. 

Really, it was all Lucien Mircea's fault—the Bloody King and his damn request. 

It started on a day in late summer. The pups, Ana and Olo, were old enough to run in both human and wolf forms. It had been two years since they'd been born and the former Queen gave up her life as a normal shifter to protect all of them as a mysterious Old One. 

They bounded through the grass in the garden's inner courtyard while Sasha, Maxim's mate and the other king, trotted after them. 

Kamil splashed cold water on his face and grimaced as it trickled down his neck, chilling the sweat on his skin. Maxim hadn't joined him for the training session that day, which was unusual. The King enjoyed training with the Captain of the Guard and the fellow soldiers on most mornings. 

Kamil smelled the hint of foreign wolves on the air, former enemies turned allies, Elijah Kane and his alpha mate, Rowan, which accounted for Maxim's absence. Whenever they showed up something terrible seemed to hang on the horizon. Their meeting with Maxim must've taken place during practice, so Kamil waited for his King and alpha to fill him in on what they'd found.

Perhaps it was Cosmos, the traitor who nearly destroyed everything two years before.  

Olo scampered toward Kamil and pawed at his legs. He whined until the beta gave in and picked up the pup. He was the smaller of the two which meant Ana was the alpha and Olo a lower rank. Not that his parents cared either way. His fur was the color of a winter sunset, pale orange, and he had the same dark eyes as Maxim. He lapped at Kamil's cheek. 

"He forgot how to shift back again," Sasha said and smiled apologetically. 

Ana stood next to her father in human form. A dirty shift dress had been thrown over her tiny body. Kamil had no doubt the shift had started the day crisp and white. She looked like her mother with the blonde hair and kind eyes. Kamil often wondered if it hurt Maxim to look at her. While Maxim and Ana had never been in love romantically, they were good friends. 

"He'll learn if he's anything like Maxim," Kamil said and nearly bit his tongue. Maybe he shouldn't point out that the pups weren't Sasha's too, by blood anyway. 

Sasha didn't flinch. He chuckled and his eyes got that strange soft glow that only seemed to show up after the pups were born. "Let's hope he is."

Before Kamil could respond, one of the human pages came with a message for him to speak with Maxim immediately. The pup in his arms had settled comfortably, and Sasha walked next to him. It was useless for Kamil to say he wanted to go alone. Whatever Maxim had to tell him would make it to Sasha's ears eventually. 

The way Sasha's lips pursed as they neared the King's study twisted Kamil's gut. What did he know that Kamil didn't?

Far too much, it turned out. 

Maxim sat at his desk, his chin resting on his steepled fingers. He nodded at Sasha, and Ana bounded up and climbed into her father's lap without so much as an invitation. The smile that lit Maxim's good eye eased some of Kamil's tension. 

"Was it Lucien?" Sasha asked as he shut the door. 

"Yes," Maxim said. He looked right at Kamil, and Ana started singing a song that didn't make sense. Most of it was gibberish with a few words thrown in for good measure. 

Olo's ears perked. 

"What favor does he desire?" Kamil asked. 

Maxim rubbed the bridge of his nose where the eye patch that covered the empty socket left a callous. "He requests I send a spy into the Ottoman Empire to find a wolf he needs to consult with about a recent attack. Since Wallachia is an enemy of the Turks, he can't send one of his own without getting them killed."

Kamil had a good idea what kind of consultation the Bloody King had in mind. It wouldn't involve much talking, he guessed. 

The request hung in the air and was greeted with silence. Since Lucien had saved Sasha's life, in a way, he couldn't ask for a steep enough favor. At least, that's how Kamil assumed Maxim saw it. 

"I can't go back there," Sasha said after a few moments of Ana's song. She'd gotten to a part about a frog and the flowers that hung over the stream. Her tiny fingers curled in Maxim's auburn waves. 

Kamil never asked what crimes the omega committed in his long absence, but he had an idea they were a great many. 

"I know," Maxim grumbled. "Neither can Elijah for reasons he refuses to explain. However, he said his brother and Zev would aid the wolf of my choosing, if that wolf wanted the help."

"Who did you choose, Max?" Kamil asked though he wasn't certain why. He was the only other wolf in the room. The only natural choice, even if he was woefully unprepared for the world outside Moravia's borders.

Maxim looked at Sasha then. "Ana, daddy needs a moment alone with Kam."

Ana pouted, but she didn't argue. She climbed off his lap and approached her other father. Kamil handed Olo, still in wolf form, to Sasha and the three of them left. 

Maxim waited for the door to click shut before he spoke. "I would do it myself if I could, please know that."

Kamil almost admonished Maxim for that. An alpha didn't have to explain his orders, but Maxim was like that. He'd always been like that, and perhaps that's why he was such a strong leader—he wanted everyone to understand his decisions even if they didn't agree with them.

"The kingdom needs you. Sasha and the pups need you. I doubt King Lucien thought you'd perform his favor personally," Kamil said.

Maxim shook his head. "Perhaps. I'd hoped he'd ask for something simple, not for one of my pack to step into the war between Wallachia and the Ottoman Empire."

"Nothing is ever simple," Kamil reminded him gently. Because it was true. Their border had seen more turmoil in the last decade than most, but none of it had been with fellow shifter kingdoms. "Why are they at war?"

"Historically, it's some ancient dispute I doubt even they remember. A wolf roused the Ottomans with an army of his own full of shifters infected with a special strain of rabies and they were all dressed as Wallachian soldiers. Now the Ottoman's are out for Wallachian blood. A war is brewing, and Lucien needs our help to stop it," Maxim said and yanked the patch from his blind eye. The gaping hole and jagged scar didn't suit his otherwise handsome face. 

"And Lucien's Old Ones can't protect the barrier?"

Maxim shrugged. "He said his kingdom took a great loss recently and he's still rebuilding his forces. When I was there, I hardly saw any other shifters. Perhaps his Old Ones are complacent, or they don't like him. I only know what he says and what he wants: a word with a member of the Ottoman court."

"Is it a general? Someone in the Ottoman army?" Kamil asked. "The King?"

Maxim snorted. "According to Elijah, Lucien calls him the Black Prince. And the Ottoman's have sultans, not kings. So a spy has to sneak into Istanbul, root out this Black Prince and bring him to Lucien. I need you for this," he said with the sort of solemnness only he could muster. "I need a wolf I can trust completely on this mission."

Kamil knew it was coming, still the weight of that request hung heavy and unpleasant on his neck. His home was Moravia. He'd left once, and that had been on a mission to save Maxim's life. He'd succeeded, and now his alpha asked him to risk everything again. 

How could he refuse?

Maxim had a kingdom to run, a mate to protect and pups to raise. 
Kamil only had his orders. 

"Of course, Your Majesty," Kamil said with a quick bow. 

As he turned to leave, Maxim huffed. "Kam, I'm sorry. I don't know who else to send."

Kamil swallowed the lump in his throat and walked away without responding. 

After Elijah and Rowan explained the situation in greater detail, Kamil packed his bags and left the only kingdom he'd ever known. 

Kamil had agreed to this mission, and he'd see it through no matter what. Maxim counted on him. He'd never let his alpha down. 

That sentiment led him here—to the plain outside of Istanbul and the humans who camped there. 

One of the horses raised its head, and Kamil caught its scent on the air. That was his horse! That meant either these humans stole the horse from the mob who attacked him or—

One of the humans stepped through the trees, his arms laden with branches, and Kamil recognized that man's odor as well. The fetid stink of unwashed skin and blood. Wolf's bane hung beside it, not only draped over the man's neck but also soaked into his clothes. It'd been the same in the Bulgarian village.


And they'd probably rallied the mob into a frenzy so it would kill Kamil. Whether it was because they knew he was a wolf or they just wanted his horse, Kamil didn't know. While riding a horse across the human territory of Western Europe was the surefire sign of a shifter that wasn't the case this far to the East. Petrol was harder to come by due to the poverty left from the former Soviet government. The villages were so poor most couldn't afford cars to begin with. 

Hell, most of them couldn't afford food.

The wound on his leg itched. From his spot on the hill, Kamil couldn't make out how many hunters milled in the trees below. The individual smells were too far off and mingled with the surrounding plains and animals which made it impossible to distinguish between them. 

Kamil guessed the number was below ten but greater than five. 

If he weren't thirsty and hungry the odds would be in his favor. As it was, they weren't. 

He sneaked closer to get a better look. Even if the hunters couldn't smell him, he moved downwind so the horses didn't catch his wolf musk and bolt into the night. Once he reached the trees, Kamil crept toward the water, a tiny spring that bubbled from the earth and turned into a stream. Thankfully, the hunters camped far enough away that Kamil could drink without detection. 

He lapped at the cool water for several minutes, his ears perked. After he'd had his fill, he moved closer. The water sloshed in his stomach.

Kamil got as near as he dared and peered at the hunters gathered around their fire. They roasted a boar over it, large and dripping with fat. Kamil's mouth watered and his stomach clenched. 

It turned out three rabbits didn't make a good meal when a wolf was that hungry. 

There were eight men gathered there. They all wore dirty brown shirts and jeans. Most of them sported full beards, much like the one Kamil grew over the length of his journey so far. 

He might be able to kill the men one at a time if they were lured from the camp, but that would be difficult to do on his own. Not to mention, he couldn't go back and make camp himself this close to a group of hunters. 

What in Yue's name was he supposed to do?

Before he formed a plan, Kamil caught the glint of bright eyes in the shadows on the other side of the clearing. They were rimmed with gold and shone in the darkness. 

He blinked. Sniffed the air and caught the hint of unfamiliar musk. And yet he could've sworn he'd smelled it before. Or perhaps Kamil dreamed he had. 

It was far too distinct—rich with spice and the hint of honey and citrus.

The other wolf hid just beyond the hunter's camp, and it watched him. 

Kamil stared right back. His hackles stood on end, and his muscles bunched. Was he so tired that he didn't notice a strange shifter out there? Or did the humans mask it?

No matter. 

It left Kamil with a larger problem. Should he ask the other wolf for help or was it an enemy also?

One could never tell. 

As quickly as the strange wolf came, it bared its fangs and slunk back into the shadows. There was a slight rustle in the darkness, hardly perceptible to Kamil's shifter hearing. 

Suddenly, an arrow flew through the trees and lodged into one of the hunter's throats. The man sputtered and fell forward, bleeding out as the other men scrambled to defend themselves from the attack. 

Three more arrows found their targets, which left four remaining hunters. One of them tumbled into Kamil's hiding place, a gun ready in the man's hands. However, the hunter had no idea what he was getting into.

Kamil leapt forward and tore at the flesh of the hunter's neck. It ripped beneath his sharp fangs, spilling blood down Kamil's fur. The wolf's bane on the hunter's clothes singed and the stench of it made him lightheaded. He released the dying man and stepped back, panting.

Too bad he had to get so close to kill them as a wolf. He would have fought as a man if it weren't for his leg and the unfortunate fact that he'd have to fight nude if he shifted back now. Fighting hunters armed with wolf's bane and silver while naked sounded less than pleasant. 

Kamil growled and jumped back into the fray. The remaining hunters scattered in the trees as if they could hide from wolves.
He found one soon enough trying to mount a horse. Kamil ripped at the man's leg and chomped until he heard the snap of bone. The hunter screamed and twitched as Kamil's fangs sunk into the femoral artery. The man would bleed to death in minutes with a wound of that nature. 

Two left. 

Kamil perked his ears. 

Listened for the sound of the remaining hunters. 

A choked whimper rang from the dark plain and quickly faded to nothing. The other wolf must have killed that one. 
Only one left. 

The final hunter was near the water, following the stream toward whatever safety the man thought he could find. 

There was none. 

Not in this place. 

Kamil bounded after the hunter as fast as his injured leg allowed. The cut wasn't deep and would heal within a few days, at most. He didn't bother sneaking quietly. He could take this last hunter down without any problems. 

Yue hung bright above him and a great sweep of stars twinkled in the sky around her, a cloak of sparkling white light. 

The man turned just as Kamil was upon him, and a bright flash of silver cut through the air. Kamil ducked. Rolled. But the sting of silver pressed into his side, just enough to nick the flesh. The sting raked across his body. 

He growled but dared not move. The hunter jabbed the knife into his ribs, angled up and pointed right at his heart. One stab and it'd kill him. While shifters were heartier than their human counterparts, they weren't immortal. And that was a death wound waiting to happen. 

The man snarled something in his native tongue, but Kamil didn't understand a word he said beyond 'wolf.' 

He had no time to think of an escape. A way to free himself from the dangerous point of that knife. Before the hunter breathed another word, an arrow shot through the air and stuck right into the man's eye. 

He fell over dead, and Kamil spun, paws kicking up dirt and chest heaving. His entire body trembled, and a trickle of blood seeped from the slash on his side.

He'd almost failed Maxim, and he hadn't even reached Istanbul yet. 

What sort of beta was he?

Then Kamil noticed the wolf who saved him stood several meters off, near the clearing with the fire. Even with the shadows flickering around him, Kamil saw that the wolf, who was in his human shape, dropped the bow. He motioned for Kamil to come closer though he also spoke in a different language. It wasn't as harsh and abrupt as the dead hunter. It felt smooth and alluring as it crept into his ears.

Probably Turkish. 

The wolf saved his life. No one would do such a thing just to kill their prey later. It made no sense. 

Kamil shifted back into a man. He limped into the clearing, naked and bleeding from two wounds though the one in his side was only a scratch. 

The other wolf held up Kamil's clothes, the ones he'd left at the ruins of the house. Kamil spotted his sword balanced on a rock near them. 

Had this wolf been following him and he'd never realized it? Dammit!

The wolf managed to dress in the time it took Kamil to get there, and he wore the same sort of clothing as the bandits, dirty jeans and a shirt with a leather jacket. He had long black hair that was braided down his back—the sign of Ashina's Chosen—and his eyes were a bright hazel in his soft brown face, the same color as cinnamon. His cheeks were rough with a dark beard as unkempt as Kamil's own. 

A knot lodged in Kamil's throat. He was beautiful, even with a smudge of blood on his cheek and dirt on his forehead. 

He spoke again, his voice sonorous, but Kamil still had no clue what he said. 

Kamil shrugged. "I don't speak Turkish," he said in stilted English. If this wolf knew another language that might be it. 

The wolf blinked and nodded. "English good?"

Kamil shook his head. What little English he knew had been taught to him in the last few years. It stumbled across his tongue, and he wished the barrier of the shifter territory reached this far so they could understand one another. Old One's magic provided that, even if it didn't allow other technological conveniences like electricity. 

Still, perhaps they didn't need language to understand. They'd worked together to kill those hunters. So he took his clothes from the wolf and set them with his sword. Before he dressed, he'd wash first. 

The wolf seemed to understand and held out a hand toward the water. 

The firelight didn't reach the stream, but wolves had enhanced night vision. Kamil found his way, but his back prickled as he dipped into the water and it had nothing to do with the chill in the autumn air. That wolf watched him from the clearing. 

Or perhaps Kamil just felt as if he did. 

He rinsed quickly, scrubbing as best he could to rid his body of the dust and blood that accumulated over the last several days—most of it within the last few minutes. Once reasonably clean, he drank one last time and shook himself dry. It didn't work nearly as well in his human shape. 

Kamil was going to dress again, but the mystery wolf stepped next to him and filled a small copper kettle with water straight from the spring. He shook his head and carefully put a hand on Kamil's arm. 

His touch was hot and dry, and it sent a sudden shock to Kamil's groin. 

He bit his lip and let the wolf lead him back to the fire. 

"Hurt?" the wolf said and pointed at Kamil's thigh.

Kamil nodded and winced as he sat. He put his clothes over his lap, even if the other wolf already saw him nude. He didn't want to offend one of Ashina's Chosen, who had stricter religious laws than the shifters who followed Yue. 

The wolf put the kettle on the fire and ripped a leg from the boar. He handed it to Kamil with a smile crinkling the corner of his eyes. 

The meat, thankfully, was still tender and moist. It practically fell off the bone when Kamil sunk his teeth into it and chewed. He finished the whole leg, bit the bone in two and sucked out the marrow. 

The other wolf watched him, his hazel eyes bright. "Good?"

"Yes," Kamil said and wiped his mouth. 

"Eat. More," the wolf said and handed Kamil another leg. He'd eaten some of the boar himself though his appetite was nowhere near as ravenous.

Between the two of them, they finished off the wild pig. 

Kamil noticed the hunter's bodies were no longer in the clearing. While Kamil washed the other wolf must've moved them. 

Now he removed the kettle from the fire and poured half into a teapot and the other half into a bowl. He either had his own supplies, or he was familiar with what the hunters possessed. He put something that smelled distinctly like apple into the kettle and dipped a cloth into the bowl. Then, he brought the cloth to Kamil's injured leg and pressed the hot water against the wound.

His touch skimmed Kamil's skin lightly, careful not to prod. He made a clucking sound with his tongue against the roof of his mouth and shook his head. 

Kamil fought the urge to wince and took a deep breath instead. The wolf's musk filled his nose and made him lightheaded, even with the fire roaring in front of him and smoke clogging the air. He bunched his hands at his sides and pretended it was normal. 

It was normal that this wolf touched him so easily. And that his touch made Kamil's heart pound. Distantly, he felt the slight beat of a second heart and instantly discounted it. He was weary from his journey and his injuries. The fight with the hunters pushed him too far. He needed rest more than anything else. 

He didn't really feel the connection Yue promised her brood. 

Next, the wolf rinsed the cloth and pressed it into Kamil's wounded side. That did sting, due to the silver and little black lines which spread from the wound. The blood that leaked from it was black, and the wolf squeezed until the blood ran red again. Then he bound both wounds and looked at Kamil with a question in his eyes. 

"Name?" he asked. 

Shit. Kamil was supposed to be a spy for Lucien. Perhaps a spy needed a fake name, but nothing sprung to his mind. He went with the truth. "Kam. Kamil."

"Kam Kamil?"

Heat crept up his cheeks. "Yes. Name?" he asked and motioned at the wolf. 

"Aslan," the wolf said and bowed his head. His mouth curled into a smile behind the beard, and Kamil's heart skipped a beat. 

Why in Yue's name did that happen?

Kamil didn't want to think about it. His body and mind were too tired to dwell on the possibilities. Thankfully, Aslan didn't try to speak further. 

Kamil dressed, and Aslan poured the tea from the pot into two copper cups. They drank. It tasted as richly of apples as it smelled. 

Soon after he took the fourth sip, Kamil felt his eyelids droop. The weariness he'd known earlier overwhelmed him—dragged him toward sleep. 

A sick knot of fear grew in his chest. 

Was this tiredness unnatural or not? It could've been caused by the meat or—the tea!

Kamil tried to throw the cup, but it tumbled out of his hands and spilled on the dirt instead. 

Aslan shook his head and set his cup next to his feet. It was empty, which meant he drank as well. Perhaps he put the drug in Kamil's cup only. "You fought longer than I thought you would. Sleep now, handsome beta, and you'll feel better in the morning."

He spoke perfect English with the hint of an accent. He sounded nothing like the gentle wolf of a few minutes before. 

Kamil struggled to stand, but his legs didn't obey his command. He tumbled, face first, into the dirt instead. Or, he almost did, but Aslan caught him and hauled him up. 

The last thing Kamil saw was the wash of impossibly bright stars behind that treacherous wolf's face and how Aslan's hazel eyes burned with the same light.


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