Unleashed by the shifter, p.1

Unleashed By The Shifter, page 1

 part  #3 of  Birch Mountain Alphas Series

 

Unleashed By The Shifter
 


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Unleashed By The Shifter


  Unleashed by the Shifter

  Text Copyright © 2017 by Juniper Hart

  All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictionally. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or to actual events or locales is entirely coincidental.

  First printing, 2017

  Publisher

  Secret Woods Books

  info@secretwoodsbooks.com

  www.SecretWoodsBooks.com

  Table of Contents

  Unleashed by the Shifter

  Story of the Birch Mountain Alphas

  Bonus Content: Enchanted Werewolf

  Unleashed by the Shifter

  Birch Mountain Alphas

  By: Juniper Hart

  Unleashed by the Shifter

  Prologue

  Mine.

  The thought burned into her mind as she paced about the floor, her fists clenching and unclenching as her rage mounted.

  It went without saying, and no one could stop her. No one would ever stop her again.

  I have remained stagnant for too long, but now I will claim what is mine and no one will stand in my way. It has been a long time coming.

  “Let me out of here! You haven’t done anything stupid yet. Just let me go!”

  The pounding on the door was intensifying, but she didn’t care.

  Feel the fear. Taste it. I hope each second feels like an eternity.

  “Just let me out!”

  “Shut up!” Her voice was like whiplash. She barely recognized it herself.

  Staring at her hands, a strange feeling overcame her as if she was floating above herself, watching the situation unfold.

  It’s time to end this, she thought. After years of sitting by, I am finally reclaiming what’s rightfully mine.

  She opened the door, her green eyes gleaming with vengeance.

  “Say goodbye,” she spat.

  Chapter One

  Ryland eyed his sister through his peripheral vision, but Lily ignored him purposely.

  Whatever he is about to say, I don’t want to hear it, she thought, already annoyed. She turned her shoulder as if to dissuade him from making a comment, but she knew the hopes of that were slim.

  “Hey, Lil?” he called.

  She pretended not to hear him, pulling her textbook further up into her face.

  “Lily?” Ryland sang, and from the corner of her eye, she saw him glance around the dinner table at the rest of her family.

  To her chagrin, her siblings seemed to be egging him on silently. Her father sat staring blankly at his finished supper as if he had forgotten his four children sat in his midst.

  Come on, Dad, she begged silently. Look up and stop him from doing whatever stupidity he’s got on his mind.

  “She can’t hear you, Ry,” Draven chortled. “She doesn’t have good hearing like some of us.

  The others giggled, and Lily waited, sensing it coming, but knowing she likely would not stand a chance against the assault before it happened.

  “Think fast!” Ryland cried, hurling a dinner roll at her head.

  As always, Lily tried to catch it before it made contact, but she was too slow, no contest for the reflexes of her siblings. The bread pinged off her dark hair and onto the floor where the wolfhound, Boomer, jumped on it.

  The family erupted into raucous laughter, barely stirring their father from his reverie.

  “Even Boomer is faster than Lily!” Josephine cackled, her eyes lit with amusement.

  “Poor Lil,” Draven sighed between fits of laughter. “Our little late bloomer.”

  “She’s not a late bloomer,” their father Klein sighed, glancing around at the children sadly. “She’s a skipped generation.”

  An uneasy silence fell over the table, and Lily jumped up from her spot in the living room where she had been trying to study.

  Thanks for the support, Dad, she thought bitterly.

  Tears of anger filled her luminous green eyes, but she did not allow her family to see her pain. She whirled and stormed away, her homework in hand.

  Why did I think I could get any peace downstairs? Lily thought, furious with herself for being upset. Their torment was a nightly occurrence.

  In twenty-one years, she had never been anything but the brunt of their jokes. It should have stung less by then, but it still hurt just as much, if not more than it did in childhood.

  Screw them. I have work to do, she thought, trying to forget the scene from downstairs.

  She pushed open the door to her bedroom and slammed the door in her wake, but not before Boomer slipped inside, his yellow eyes wide with compassion.

  “Shut up, Boomer,” she snapped. “I don’t need your pity.”

  He lowered his head as if in apology and lay down at the end of her bed on the floor.

  Lily sighed, wiping the sprinkling of tears from the corners of her eyes. She peered at the house pet and felt a stab of guilt.

  I shouldn’t be so mean to him. He’s the only thing in this family I don’t want to kill.

  Reluctantly, Lily reached down and scratched the gray beast’s head.

  His tail thumped twice, and he nuzzled her hand.

  It was a reoccurring theme in the Benz house: pick on Lily until she broke. She would have thought that at some point, the ribbing would simply lose its validity, but as the years passed and it became more obvious that she was not like the others, their teasing seemed darker and more serious.

  I was supposed to have caught up to them by now, she thought miserably, but Lily wondered if her inability to shift was a blessing and not a curse.

  She was always so much happier enshrouded in her studies, focusing on obtaining her social sciences degree at the University of South Dakota.

  Lily would have gone far, far away from the family if her father had allowed for it, but she was the baby of the Benz clan.

  If I had learned to shift, I bet I would have been allowed to go to California or New York.

  It wasn’t that Lily wanted to live in a big city necessarily; she really just wanted to escape the tentacles of her overbearing and sometimes cruel family.

  “Lil?”

  There was a brief knock on the door, and suddenly it flew inward without waiting for her response. Josephine lounged in the doorway, looking at her baby sister sympathetically.

  “You aren’t crying, are you?” Jo sighed, shaking her head.

  “I’m studying, Jo. What do you want?” Lily snapped. She hoped her eyes weren’t red-rimmed. It would only be another reason for Jo to mock her relentlessly.

  “You need to grow thicker skin, Lil,” Jo purred, but Lily knew her sister’s advice was anything but nurturing.

  “I need to study,” she retorted.

  Josephine slunk into the room, her lithe body swaying slightly as she approached her sister. “It’s not going to get any easier for you, you know? I would have thought you would have figured that out by now. You’re supposed to be the smart one in the family after all.”

  Lily stared up at her sister through black, horn-rimmed glasses.

  “What’s that supposed to mean?” she demanded.

  Jo smiled, but there was no mirth in her expression, her face cold as she stared at Lily as if she was a bug under a microscope.

  “You’re not one of us; it’s clear. Daddy should have sent you off when he had the chance, but you continue to stick around, sulking about like a morbid shadow.”

  “You’re a p
oet, Jo,” Lily retorted bitterly. “Is there a reason you’re here right now?” Lily demanded as her heart raced wildly.

  Jo’s grin widened, but there was still little humor in her expression.

  “I can smell your fear, Lily, don’t ever forget that,” she told the younger girl. “You are a weakness in the pack. If we were wolves in the wild, we would have killed you by now.”

  Lily lowered her gaze, pretending to read her book.

  “I suggest you get out of Pierre before you bring more problems to us,” Jo said softly. “You’re a big girl now, Lil. If you run away, no one will come looking for you. You’re not worth it. No one will feel guilty now that you’re old enough to be on your own. Blend in with the commoners where you belong.”

  Shocked, Lily whipped her head back up to stare at her sister, but she had no words to speak.

  “Don’t look so hurt,” Jo growled, spinning away, her long black hair fanning around her body. “You’re more like a lamb than a wolf. That is why you are so dangerous to us. Your pathetic stench has to be emanating for miles around.”

  “Does everyone feel this way?” Lily asked numbly, and Jo shrugged.

  “I would have thought it would be obvious,” she mocked, glancing over her shoulder as she reached the threshold. “Just think about what you’re doing to your family by sticking around. You’re an unnecessary burden on Dad especially.”

  Josephine was gone before Lily could react, but as her sister left the room, she realized that there was a lot of truth to the words she spoke.

  The bantering her siblings dealt out was no longer amusing by even a masochist’s standards. Lily had noticed the escalation in the abuse over the past year or so. Even their father was convinced she was a lost cause.

  Before I started college, he was sure that I would morph, but he knows now that it’s not going to happen. If he had known then, he would have let me go and hoped I stayed in whatever state I ended up.

  Never had Lily felt so sick.

  She was being cast aside by her own family, her pack, and the only beings she had ever known.

  At school, she was as big an outcast as she was in her own home. It did not matter where she went, she was sneered upon or disregarded altogether.

  She had been raised in Pierre after all. Everyone knew her as the passive girl with the thick glasses.

  She was not a social butterfly like her brothers and Jo. She did not get asked on dates or attend bush parties with the other kids.

  Why would anyone want to associate with such a loner? She had nothing of value to offer them. Now she was being told under no uncertain terms that she was not wanted in her own home.

  Boomer ambled toward her, laying his large grey head in Lily’s lap as if he could feel the anguish permeating from within her soul.

  This time, she allowed the tears to stream down her cheeks freely, not caring who saw.

  I am a lost cause to them anyway. I may as well show them how weak I really am.

  She lay back on her queen-sized bed and began to formulate a plan.

  I will finish my last year of college and apply to graduate school far away from South Dakota. I won’t even tell anyone I’m leaving. I’ll go and no one will ever have to see me again. They can have a period of worry and then get on with their lives as if I had never been in it.

  It pierced her heart to know that no one would be looking for her, but she forced herself to focus on her future.

  It was what you wanted anyway, to be away from the Lycans and the taunting, she reassured herself. You won’t have to endure their abuse anymore. You can’t start fresh somewhere and not be known as a nerd. It will be good for you and for everyone else.

  With new resolve, she sniffled and wiped away her tears again, determined to face the challenge without fear.

  She wondered then why she secretly hoped she might still shift before that time came.

  ***

  “Your grades are excellent, Lily, and your professors like you a great deal, but you’re all work and nothing else.”

  Lily stared at her counselor uncomprehendingly.

  “What does that mean?” she demanded. “I can’t apply for graduate school because I work too hard?”

  Roger laughed and shook his head.

  “No, of course not,” he replied. “But the programs at Berkley and NYU are highly competitive. You will be up against students who have good grades, but are also are more well-rounded.”

  Lily blinked uncomprehendingly. “What do I need to do? Please don’t beat around the bush. Just tell me what I need to do, Roger, and I’ll do it. I have to get into one of those schools.”

  He nodded agreeably.

  “And you have a great shot at doing that. All I am suggesting is that you get some work and volunteering experience on your resume.”

  Lily bobbed her head, her glasses sliding to the end of her nose. She fixed them quickly.

  “Okay, yes,” she replied, rising to her feet. “I can do that.”

  “If you want to check out some of our student mentoring or tutoring programs, I can email you the information,” Roger offered.

  “Yes, please,” Lily said gratefully. “Do you think that I will have enough time?”

  “If you work over the summer tutoring and find a job, in September we can add that to your application. But you’ll have to work fast, Lily.”

  “I will,” she promised, spinning to leave the office.

  Her heart raced with nervousness and anticipation. It was going to be more difficult than she had let on. She had never held a job, something that her father had insisted upon, and she knew that the market in Pierre was not going to be hopping. She had heard students complaining about how difficult it was to find work in their small town.

  I bet every place has already hired for the summer too, she thought mournfully, but then quickly stopped that thought process. She refused to let herself think negatively.

  You’ll do whatever you have to do to get out of here by next June, she vowed silently. Even if you have to hold a sandwich board for the tax office.

  As she left the building on Church Street, she wracked her mind for places to start.

  I’ll go to Walmart and McDonald’s looking for work. They hire students and maybe—

  “Lily Benz!”

  She stopped short as she heard her name and glanced in the direction of the voice calling her name. It was strange to hear it in the middle of town. There were so few people who would be yelling out to her.

  Her pupils constricted as she recognized the cocksure grin of the man heading toward her.

  Dammit! What is he doing here?

  “I thought that was you!” Cruz said, approaching. “I haven’t seen you in forever! Where have you been hiding out?”

  Lily’s mouth became a fine line, and she shrugged her shoulders, mumbling something incoherent.

  “What?” he laughed, leaning in closely to hear her better.

  Lily got a whiff of his masculine scent and was dizzy for a moment.

  It was true; she had not laid eyes on Cruz Aube in over a year, and although it had not been by her design, Lily could not say she regretted that fact.

  He was the arrogant son of the pack leader and next in line to lead the Lycans in their territory. While Cruz was likely the most handsome man Lily had ever seen in her life, she also knew he was aware of it.

  His hair was thick, dark, and seemingly never out of place while his bright hazel eyes reflected a glimmer of wickedness as they flashed between green, brown, and gold. He was a towering six-foot-five inches and carried himself with the confidence of a linebacker with the same broad shoulders.

  She found herself wondering if he had a six pack of abs hiding beneath his shirt.

  I bet every woman he meets wonders the same thing, she thought with some disgust. No of course they don’t; they have all slept with him and know.

  “I said, good to see you, Cruz,” she lied. “But I’m late.”

  “Where have
you been, Lily? I ask your sister, but she says you’re busy with school. I always think, ‘no one can be that busy.’ And yet I never seem to see you.”

  Lily averted her gaze and raised her shoulders again.

  “I have to go,” she muttered, turning away from him.

  “Wait!” he cried, laughing. “Where are you going?”

  “I’m looking for a job,” she heard herself say.

  Stupid! Why did you tell him that? Now he’s going to tell his dad, and his dad is going to tell mine, and then I’m going to be screwed.

  Her mind flittered back to the conversation she had with Josephine the previous night.

  Maybe Dad won’t care. Maybe he’ll be grateful I am finally getting out of his life instead of dragging the others into danger like I have been my whole life.

  “A job?” he echoed, staring at her as if she had sprouted another head. “What for? Your family is rolling in it!”

  “Maybe I want to make my own way!” Lily snapped, and Cruz seemed shocked by her outburst.

  He laughed nervously, raising his hands as if to surrender. “Wow, okay, sorry,” he said. “Can I buy you lunch at least?”

  Lily felt her eyes narrowing as she adjusted the glasses on the bridge of her nose.

  “No thank you,” she said coldly, glancing around. She was expecting his friends to be nearby, laughing at her as they took bets to see if she would fall for Cruz’s cruel joke.

  “Why not?” Cruz demanded. “You have to eat.”

  She turned away from him, not wanting to anger him, but having no desire to be the brunt of a college gag.

  She had been the punchline of too many jokes already.

  “Sorry. Not today.”

  She hurried away before he could answer, her pulse racing wildly.

  What on earth was that all about? Lily thought, a hot flush coloring her cheeks.

  She found herself wondering what it would be like to go out to lunch with Cruz Aube.

  Well you’re gonna keep wondering because it’s never gonna happen.

 
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