Unbreakable Bond (Fated Mates Duet Book 1), page 1
Book 1 in the Fated Mates Duet
Blue Lemon Press
About the Author
Also Available From Jess Bryant
Call Me, Irresistible
It Had To Be You
Book 1 in the Fated Mates Duet
Sometimes fate gets it all wrong.
Zoey Kent has lived with that fact ever since she turned eighteen and learned that the man she loved could never be hers. He’s a born shifter, a wolf, and she’s a mere human. Fate doesn’t care if on paper they’re a perfect pair. She isn’t his fated mate and she’s resigned herself to the knowledge that someday, she’ll have to watch Michael mate with another. It’s never crossed her mind that there might be someone else out there for her, that she would be the one to mate another, to choose another over everything she’s ever known or wanted.
Sometimes fate gets it all right.
Rafe Hudson left his pack behind years ago. Physically and mentally scarred from an attack that left his parents and twin dead, he walked away from his responsibilities as Alpha. He never intended to return but lone wolf or not, he can’t leave Michael open to an attack he’s learned is coming for his only brother. What he didn’t know was that going home would mean scenting his mate, the one person in the world that could make him whole again, that could give him everything he thought he’d lost. His pack, his home and his family.
But fate always has a plan.
There’s no way Michael’s brother is her future, is there? Just like there’s no way that the girl his brother has loved since they were kids, was always meant to be his, right?
Only fate knows why they were brought together but there is one thing for sure, the sparks between Zoey and Rafe are undeniable. The bond between them is unbreakable. And together… they’ll change the face of the pack forever.
UNBREAKABLE BOND – BOOK 1 IN THE FATED MATES DUET
Copyright ©2018 by Jess Bryant.
Cover Art: K Creative Designs
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are products of the author’s imagination or are used factiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
For anyone that believes in love at first sight,
or at least wants to.
Every single woman at the party was staring at him. Hell, even the women that were already mated were staring at him. It was impossible not to. He was six plus feet of testosterone addled alpha male with rippling muscles and all of the cocky arrogance that came with that. He oozed sex, charm and power. Every female wanted to be the one that he wanted, desired above all others and claimed for eternity and they were all devastated that they weren’t his mate.
Zoey Kent more than any.
He wasn’t just Alpha of the pack to her. He wasn’t just their leader. He wasn’t just smart and sexy. He wasn’t just the kindest, most loyal and caring man she’d ever known. He was all of those things but he was also so much more than that.
Michael Hudson was her best friend.
He was the man that had been there for every good day and also every bad for as long as she could remember. He was the man that took care of her and looked out for her and always had her back. He was the man that she compared all others to and he was the reason they all came up short.
He’d been her first kiss when she was fifteen. He’d been her first French kiss when she was sixteen. He’d been her first attempt at fooling around when she was seventeen. And at eighteen, if he’d scented her as his mate, she would have let him become her first and only lover.
But he hadn’t.
As a natural born shifter, Michael would be mated to one female. One woman that he would want, care for and desire above all others. He would sense his female the first time they encountered each other after coming of age. An innate physiology, a mixture of scent and a recognition between two souls that was impossible to explain without the addition of a little bit of magic.
The first time it had been described to her, Zoey had swooned at the very idea. Mates. It was impossibly romantic. Plenty of people believed there was that one special person out there for them, a soulmate, but for a shifter it wasn’t just a daydream but a lifelong mission to find their other half.
It was real. One person they connected with on every level. One person that understood them in every way. It was a connection that transcended simple attraction or even chemistry. It wasn’t a choice based on similar hobbies or likes and dislikes, wasn’t something as simple as repeating some vows that could be taken back when they didn’t fit or ring true anymore.
She’d been absolutely certain that was what she and Michael had. So certain that she’d offered him her virginity before her eighteenth birthday. He was too good a guy to have accepted. Instead he’d told her that a few months was nothing to wait and do it right, to perform the ceremony and be joined forever.
They’d both been so certain that it was only a matter of time until fate proved what they already knew. That they were perfect for each other. That they were mates.
Then her eighteenth birthday had rolled around and she’d showered and dressed and readied herself for him. She’d known he would sense her break into womanhood immediately because their scents were already so linked from years spent side by side. But hours had passed as she waited for him, as she went through the motions of celebrating the day, all the while wondering where he was, and finally, when the day passed and then another and another with no contact from him, not even a word, she’d realized all of her worst fears had come true.
By the time he eventually came trudging up her driveway, head hung and shoulders hunched, despair in every step; she’d already figured it out. She might not be a wolf. She might not be a shifter. But she’d been raised here, among them, and she knew how things worked.
She and Michael weren’t fated, could never be mated, and so, despite the fact that they’d loved one another for years, they couldn’t be together.
It would be cheating for Michael to be with her. He hadn’t met his fated mate yet. He didn’t know who she was or even where she was. He didn’t know when he would meet her or even if he ever would. But he’d said it would feel like cheating to be with her knowing someone else out there was meant to be his.
She’d agreed. What else was she supposed to do? Beg him to choose her over a woman that was merely a figment of his imagination at this point? Pray that even if that woman did one day show up, that he would be able to ignore his very nature and send her away? Of c
So she’d done the only thing she could. She’d clung to her pride. She’d ignored the hurt and the loneliness. She’d sworn that she was okay being just friends and most days, that didn’t feel like a lie.
For four years, she’d controlled her feelings, her emotions and her every action when it came to her best friend. She thought she’d learned to accept what she had no control over. She thought at the very least, if she couldn’t make her feelings for him go away, that she could hide them deep down where they would never again see the light of day.
On good days, she could paste on a smile and ignore the traitorous thump of her heart whenever he was in the same room. But then, on days like today when she had to watch him turn his charm and smile on every new female that came sniffing around hoping to be the woman the Pack Alpha mated, she felt like the liar she really was.
She felt human. Plain and boring and… normal. Worse, whenever she felt like this, she was reminded of just how impossible it would have been for Michael to be fated to a woman like her in the first place.
She wasn’t like him. She wasn’t a shifter. She wasn’t a wolf. She definitely wasn’t royalty like he was amongst the pack. She was nothing more than a regular girl that had been thrust into the supernatural world when she found out her adoptive parents were werewolves. She was a rarity sure, a human allowed into the inner circle, but the truth was she would always be an outsider.
There were other humans in Noir, Louisiana. Humans that had been wards or protectors of the pack for generations. Humans that had been mated with wolves and become part of the pack through that bond, bringing family in with them. There were even a handful of others like her, human children that had been taken in by pack elders through adoption at an early age.
Her mother had suffered a car accident when she was young. Even mated, she couldn’t conceive. So they’d adopted Zoey. They’d given her a family. They’d given her a home. They’d given her love and support and everything that a young girl could want or need.
And somehow, without Michael, it didn’t feel like enough.
God, she was a brat for even thinking that. Her parents had given her a life she’d never have dreamed of when she was in the foster system being bounced from house to house, losing touch with her biological siblings because they were separated. Her entire world had been pain and darkness back then and they’d taken her away from that. They’d brought her into this amazing world with supernatural creatures that were beautiful and deadly, savage and graceful.
She wasn’t walking away, giving up her life here, just because the thought of Michael finding his mate and being forced to watch them live out their happily ever after made her physically ill.
She’d made friends here, good friends, and she’d built her business here. She’d built her life here. She could find someone here, someday, maybe, that she could love the way she loved Michael. Maybe even more. She was human so she had options, choices that the shifters around her didn’t.
She could ask out a nice, normal man, get to know him and then decide if she wanted forever. Her future wasn’t based on some whim of fate. So Michael wasn’t hers, that didn’t mean she would end up alone. There were other men in Noir, plenty of them that would be a suitable second choice for her heart.
She’d find someone else. That was life and she’d just have to get used to it. Just like she’d gotten used to the idea that Michael would never want her as more than a friend. Which was to say, she’d stomp the idea into her hard head right around the same time they started ice-skating in hell.
Downing a large gulp of her drink, she winced. She hated the taste of beer. It was what the wolves preferred so it was always served at these parties but no matter how often she tried it, she’d never come around to the taste. Even still, she took another swig from the bottle, finishing it off, before tearing her gaze away from Michael and the willowy blonde that had caught him the moment he came through the door.
He’d been late to his own party. It wasn’t like him and Zoey had been worried. Even more so when he’d come storming into the room, looking around as if he was searching for someone. His eyes had landed on her and she’d thought something was wrong, that the relief coming off of him had been because he found her, but then the blonde had sauntered up to his side, his gaze had left Zoey and hadn’t returned since.
She was sick and tired of reading more in his expressions, actions and words than he meant. It had to stop. She had to stop this madness once and for all. She just didn’t know how to do it without breaking her own heart.
Maybe it was already broken and she’d just been fooling herself every day since she turned eighteen.
With a sigh, Zoey headed for the nearest doorway and slipped through it. She needed some fresh air. Some space and time to think. Besides, she was certain nobody would even notice she was gone.
The pack lodge Michael had inherited from his parents was deep in the woods and backed to the river. A heavy, muggy night warmed Zoey’s skin even as a cool breeze played with her dress. She slipped off her heels and left them at the edge of the porch, tiptoeing barefoot across the damp grass. She followed the path she’d been taking since childhood, easily maneuvering her way over the uneven ground until she came face to face with the tree she hadn’t even realized she was looking for.
It was a cloudless night and the moon was bright. Bright enough that she could easily see the carving in the trunk of the tree. Michael’s initials, a plus sign then her initials followed by the simple promise of forever. She raised her hand, tracing the carving that they’d made when she was fourteen, eight years ago, but it felt more like eighty tonight.
She couldn’t explain her sudden melancholy. She’d known for years that she and Michael were done. Since the day she’d turned eighteen and he hadn’t come for her, she’d known that they would never live out the fantasy life her teenage girl dreams had concocted. She’d been dealing with it for years but something was different tonight. She just couldn’t put her finger on what it was.
There was a feeling in the air, something electric and powerful. She’d felt it before, on the day she found out what her parents were, on the day they’d moved here to Noir, on the day she’d become an adult. They were all important days in her life, days where she’d learned something big and essential that had changed her life forever. Then, this morning, while she was going about her business, baking at her shop she’d felt it again. Like a jolt it had hit her square in the chest… the question was, why?
Nothing out of the ordinary had happened today. Nothing made today special. Sure, Michael was hosting a party to welcome new pack members but that wasn’t unusual. They’d been getting a lot of new members lately and the pack loved any reason to party, particularly before the full moon.
The full moon… She glanced up at the big orb in the sky. It wasn’t tonight. If it was, she’d be locked in her house all alone as per usual and all the guests would be wearing fur and running the woods instead. She was human so the moon cycles didn’t affect her and yet, she couldn’t shake the feeling that this one would be different.
“Sneaking away already?”
Zoey whirled around at the sound of the voice, her heart thumping wildly in her chest. She barely contained a shriek of surprise. He’d snuck up on her, one of his many talents, and he was grinning that slightly sheepish grin that was equal parts adorable and charming.
She shrugged as she tried to calm her racing heart, “Didn’t think anyone would notice.”
“You always do.”
Michael smiled and she hated the small shred of wonder she couldn’t keep out of her voice. The smallest crumb of attention and here she was, eating it up. Still, it was nice to know that though his attention had been on another woman as they drank and danced their way through introductions and then innuendos that he’d kept one eye on her.
He always did, but not for the reasons she wished. He’d explained it to h
He’d said that he loved her… but he wasn’t in love with her.
He wasn’t mated to her but his wolf cared about her, deeply, and was determined to take care of her. He’d said it was almost a feeling as if she were a member of his family. He’d said it was as if she were a beloved sister.
The brother-sister comment had felt like taking a lead pipe to the head. Her feelings for him were in no way sisterly. His certainly hadn’t been brotherly before she turned eighteen when he’d stuck his tongue down her throat and copped a feel every chance she gave him.
But she supposed a teenage boy didn’t have to be in love to want to do those things to a girl. Any girl. Particularly when said teenage boy was a shifter with enhanced alpha tendencies and raging testosterone.
“Earth to Zoey?”
“Sorry, what?” She snapped back to reality when he said her name.
“I asked if you left because you weren’t having any fun or if something else drew you away.”
JESS BRYANT SERIES:
Other author's books:
- Unbelievable FaithNo Apologies (Bomar Boys Book 2)Call Me, IrresistibleStay A Little Longer
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