Tommy is the future Alpha of Firestone Pack, but he's far from leader material. In fact, Tommy doesn't even want to take his father's position; he'd much rather his headstrong sister do it. It would take a miracle to turn him into an Alpha.
What if that miracle happens to be a rogue wolf?
Briony is a one woman army. Barely seventeen, she manages several jobs to keep her three younger siblings fed and clothed. She tries to stay out of the way of packs due to trust issues, but she must steal from them in order to survive. It's not the life she wants, but it's the life she had to choose when her parents left.
What will happen when the Firestone Pack finally capture this troublesome rogue and find out what she and her siblings have been through? Can they trust her? Can she trust them?
Will Briony and Tommy become beacons of hope for each other? Or will their different upbringings and beliefs cause a divide between the strongest bond of all? The mate bond.
The car jolts over the speedbumps of the pharmacy's car park, causing my pen to spiral across the paper, ruining my graph. I sigh, packing up my homework as dad speaks, "This is the place."
I glance out of the window into the darkness, only needing to squint a little. Yellow police tape is set up around the store's entrance. A shattered window catches my attention- none of the other crime scenes had been vandalised like that.
"The rogue's getting more violent." Melissa says, leaning across me to get a better view, "Do you think she's trying to get caught?"
"It's not a she-wolf, Melly." Mum says quietly, "Only a male wolf could be this cunning."
"Or a cunning she-wolf." Melissa murmurs lowly, although everyone in the car can hear her. I glance at my sister, exchanging a tight-lipped smile. Our parents refuse to believe that this rogue is a female, even though I have evidence to prove it.
Dan scoffs from behind Melissa and myself, "It has to be a dude. No girl would be able to set off the traps without getting caught."
"Watch your mouth, little brother." Melissa growls, not liking the way he spoke about females like they were incompetent.
"Enough." Dad says, only needing to raise his voice a little. He hardly raises his voice with us or the pack, even though he is the Alpha. He doesn't need a loud tone to be respected in our pack. The pack that I will somehow lead in the future. Talk about mission impossible. "We don't need to draw attention to ourselves."
He parks the car and turns to face us all, "Daniel, I want you to stay here with mum. Melly and Tommy," he says my name as if it's an after thought, "let's go."
Hunting down rogues at midnight is not my favourite activity, but I don't have a choice. This rogue has everyone on edge and needs to be dealt with before someone gets hurt. I start to get out of the car, hearing mum add, "Stay safe, Jess."
"Always do, Gloria." Dad replies, and a brief moment of silence follows. Melissa pretends to gag as she gets out behind me, making me roll my eyes. Our parents sometimes act like the teenagers they were when they found out that they were mates.
"Did you find anything earlier, Alpha?" Melissa asks as we walk.
"It seemed like a normal robbery." Dad shrugs and then starts digging around in his pocket, "Until I found this."
He pulls out a clear bag containing a tuft of fur. Not only that, but it is also teal blue. It was from our rogue. You'd think it would be difficult to track down a wolf who had been tagged by three different packs, but it's proving impossible.
Tagging is done when a rogue is on the run. The three packs that border the town have a different colour powder paint set up in traps around their perimeters. When a rogue runs through, the paint is released and stains their fur, making the rogue identifiable in the future.
This rogue had been tagged by each pack, so they will look like a vibrant rainbow of teal blue, bright orange and pure white, but there haven't been any sightings. Of course, the paint doesn't show up when the rogue is in human form.
"Didn't cover her tracks this time." Melissa purses her lips, "She's getting sloppy."
"Desperate." I add, using my flashlight to look through the shattered window, "She obviously needed something from here, and needed it fast."
It doesn't make sense. Rogues are known for being troublesome, but they aren't petty thieves. This rogue has stolen from supermarkets, the occasional clothes store and now a pharmacy. I put the data together in my mind, trying to figure out what her intentions are.
"Do you know what was stolen?" I ask, looking at dad. He's smiling at me, proud that I'm actually making an effort.
If my dad wasn't the Alpha of Firestone Pack, I would abandon my life as a werewolf and move to a big city to work. Instead, I'm stuck in Burnham-on-Sea, learning how to become an Alpha so I can take over when dad gives up the position.
Melissa is a much better candidate. A good fighter, headstrong and confident, she was born to be a leader. But, there are stupid outdated rules that state that even though she is a year older than I was, a male heir has to take up the Alpha position.
Dad pulls a scrap of paper from his pocket and reads it out, "Chamomilla 12c, Belladonna 12c and Aconite 12c- whatever that is."
"Chemistry expert?" Melissa turns to me expectantly.
I rub my chin, "Sounds like a homeopathic pain relief, for something like teething pain." I frown, "Why would a rogue need teething pain relief?"
Melissa matches my frown with her own, turning back to dad, "There's more to this than we know."
"Agreed." Dad runs his hands through his hair, "Teething gel costs what? £5? And it can easily be smuggled under a shirt or in a pocket." He looks at the shattered window pane, "Why the need for the theatrics?"
We head back to the car, not finding any other evidence to suggest where the rogue had gone. There's never a scent left behind. The rogue is clever like that. Whoever it is, they do a good job of staying hidden in the shadows.
Dad gets back into the driver's seat and I'm about to climb in after Melissa when the wind blows and a piece of paper flies into my face. It seems to have been taped to the top of the car and I frown, taking it as I sit down. "Dad."
"Hm." He looks through the rear-view mirror at me.
There's writing on the paper, but it's nearly unreadable. "Somebody left us a note." Everyone in the car freezes and looks at me, both of my parents turning around and Dan leaning over my shoulder. "It says: 'leave me alone'. Or that's what I think it says- the spelling and handwriting is awful."
Dad snatches the note out of my hand, eyes darting across the words and then around the car. "Hecking rogues." He breathes, "Weren't you keeping watch, Gloria?"
"I was- there was nobody around." Mum says, and I can tell she's panicking.
"You think it's the rogue?" Melissa asks, her entire body tense. I don't feel very on edge, only curious. "You think she's watching us?"
"Jesse." Mum says, looking at dad.
He doesn't reply. He crumbles the note into a ball and puts the car in reverse, pulling straight out of the car park.
'We need to have a meeting with Alphas Waterstone and Airstone. Put an end to this rogue once and for all.' He says through our mind link, eyes nearly black with anger as he catches my gaze in the mirror, 'I want you to deal with it, Thomas.'
My eyes widen in shock but he called me 'Thomas' and he had referred to his brothers with their official titles, so I know he's completely serious. Mum also casts me a look over her shoulder, telling me to not protest. Melissa intertwines her fingers with mine, squeezing tightly before letting go.
'I'll help you.' She promises, blocking out the others.
'It'll take more than two of us to find this rogue.' I reply, looking out of the window as we left the town and head home. There are no official territories in Burnham as the three packs are connected through blood and have good alliances. Technically, all the land belongs to Michael Stone, my dad's dad.
'And when we do find her, I refuse to kill her.' I don't care about how dangerous rogues are; it doesn't give me the right to take another being's life under any circumstances.
'We'll have to deal with her somehow, Tommy.'
We sit in silence as dad drives home, although my parents seem to be having a private communication as they keep on glancing at each other. This rogue has really made things tense around the Firestone, Waterstone and Airstone packs.
"Tommy." Dan breaks the silence as we pull up beside our house. "I need some help with my science homework."
Exchanging an amused smile with Melissa, I look over my shoulder, "Does it happen to be due tomorrow?"
"Maybe." Dan's eyebrows furrow, "I forgot, okay!"
"Sure." I laugh a little, jumping when dad slams the car door shut and strides into our house. "Come up to my room in a bit."
I just finish teaching Dan about photosynthesis when there is a soft knock on my door and dad pokes his head around. "You two better get some sleep," he sounds terrible, "Otherwise you'll get up late tomorrow."
Dan looks at me for support, but I shrug; I'm not the boss. Grudgingly, Dan goes to his room and I'm surprised when dad doesn't leave my doorway, "Can we talk, son?"
I pat the space on my bed next to me, knowing exactly what the conversation will be about. Dad will tell me that the one day I will need to lead the pack and it will be best to get some practice in and I ought to consider staying closer to home for university.
But I just turned eighteen, and there are bigger things I want to achieve in life than being an Alpha.
"I think that letting you lead this hunt on the rogue will be good practise." Dad says, sitting down next to me. Here we go. "It'll show the pack that you can be a reliable leader, and they'll start to put trust in you again."
"Dad." I give him an exasperated look, "That fight against Luke shattered the pack's trust in me as their leader." Ever since I fought my cousin in Waterstone Pack- and lost horrifically- my pack has been distant from me. "I really think Melissa has a better chance at-"
Dad raises a hand sternly, stopping me. "I love my daughter, Tom, but I will not give up my position to a female. It's not in our nature." I huff- stupid traditions. "I'll admit, Melissa is skilled and gifted at leadership, but Alphas aren't always just born, son. They're made. Let's make a deal, Tom."
"A deal?" I repeat, confused.
"Yes." Dad shifts so he is facing me, "You plan to go to university in September at where? Oxford?"
"Cambridge." I correct, not sure where he is going with this.
"Right, sorry." I smile because dad actually looks apologetic. "I want you to try your hardest at becoming an Alpha for this pack until then. You may find that you enjoy it."
"And if I don't?" I ask, sceptical.
Dad rests a large and warm hand on my shoulder, looking straight in my eyes, "If you don't enjoy it, then I'll let you go as far as you'd like for university, and I'll help with the costs." My jaw drops, "I have to see you trying, Tom, this is a Firestone Pack promise that we're making."
Go as far as you'd like for university. That was a promise of freedom from the pack, and help with tuition fees. That's an offer I can't turn down.
I nod, "Thanks, dad, that means a lot." Then, I lean forwards and wrap my arms around his neck, "I'll try to be a good Alpha, but I'll never be able to fill your shoes."
Dad chuckles, rubbing my back a little awkwardly before pulling away. "I've called your uncles. They'll be around tomorrow evening to discuss this pesky rogue." He rests a hand on my head, "Do me proud, son."
"I will." I promise, and I mean it.