Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is happy to host Victoria Sue with her new release The Alpha Heir (Kingdom of Askara #2). Welcome, Victoria Sue!
Man and wolf. Sworn enemies in the battle for Askara. Can hate and betrayal ever lead to love?
Caleb Harken has spent six years wrongfully imprisoned for his father’s treachery. Tortured and reviled by the very wolf pack he should have been leading as Alpha, he is not surprised to learn he’s finally to meet his death at the hands of the human rebel leader, Taegan Callan.
Taegan gave up his dreams of a life-mate and a family after seeing too many humans butchered at the hands of the wolves—even if Caleb doesn’t seem to be the bloodthirsty savage he expects, and even if he starts to long for a different kind of future with the wolf.
Can Caleb become the Alpha he was always meant to be and lead his pack, or will he finally realize that winning his freedom means nothing when he has already lost his heart?
Silas looked at Taegan “What do you intend to do?”
A beat went by and Caleb turned to look at him. Taegan’s eyes were dark, stormy, and he took a breath. “According to the slave, the children are heavily guarded in the cellars under the pack house and freeing them from there is impossible.”
“You intend to take them when they are first released,” Caleb said instantly. It wasn’t a question.
“Exactly. The wolves will give the children some time before they shift or it would be over in seconds. They will be over-confident even when drunk, but two small children will still have no possible chance. My problem is how to get them away without the wolves having time to chase.” He paused. “And we would need some diversion.”
“Horses,” Silas mused. “But even then you will have to be quick. I can arrange for a special gift of wine to be sent. Dashel makes a blend that is so potent humans would be lucky to be standing after one glass, but it will take a while for the wolves, and there will be many gammas not drinking, even as over confident as they all are.”
“We still need another diversion though to give us time,” Taegan mused.
“Me,” Caleb said softly.
“Absolutely not,” Taegan retorted quickly and Caleb stared in confusion.
“Why? I wouldn’t need to fight them.” Mason would be overjoyed to get his chew toy back.
“We wouldn’t be able to get you out. I don’t know if or when we would get the chance.”
Caleb shrugged. He felt numb. He wouldn’t live long enough to worry about that.
Taegan carried on as if Caleb hadn’t spoken. “We need to be able to come up with a distraction to buy as much time before the wolves shift as we can possibly get. Do you have any idea what your aunt will do?”
Caleb shook his head miserably. “She visited me occasionally while I was being held. S-sometimes the gammas would hold me down and draw blood.”
“Blood?” Taegan repeated woodenly, and Silas’s head shot up.
“Blood?” he repeated.
Caleb nodded miserably. He rolled up the sleeves of his shirt and bared his forearms. They were ugly, crisscrossed with a myriad of scars. “The inside of my thighs are worse.” He didn’t want to look at Taegan. He was sick of seeing the looks of horror on people’s faces when they saw him. He glanced over at Silas. The wolf looked worried.
“Did she collect your blood or simply spill it?”
“Collect,” Caleb whispered. “Sometimes I wished she would just take it all.”
Taegan made a noise in the back of his throat and Caleb looked at him, realizing what he had said. He hadn’t meant to speak that last thought out loud. He sounded pathetic and needy even to his own ears and he was ashamed. He might not have a wolf but he was still his father’s son and he felt a faint glimmer of something resembling pride. And again, the feeling of something stirring inside of him. He had a chance to help — for the first time he had the chance to be his father’s son, and while the thought of being Alpha was nothing but a fairytale there must be something he could do.
They all looked up as Renee came back in carrying a bowl of something that smelled wonderful. She smiled at all three of them and placed the bowl in Taegan’s hands. “I want him to drink every drop,” she admonished and before either of them could respond Silas stood.
“I need to see if there are any mentions of blood-letting in the books I have.” He smiled at Caleb and followed Renee out. Suddenly the silence was uncomfortable.
“I don’t know whose bed I am in, but I understand if you need to tie me up.” Caleb glanced into Taegan’s blue eyes. “I know I am a prisoner.” Caleb waited and watched the blue eyes soften with amusement. He stiffened. Taegan was laughing at him. Caleb drew away from Taegan even though he hated doing so. It was a mistake to grow dependent on the man, and he didn’t understand his compulsion to be near the human.
“You need to eat,” Taegan said and Caleb looked at the bowl he held without interest. Taegan’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t understand why you don’t seem to want to eat. Why you’re not hungry when you’re obviously starving.”
Caleb didn’t answer. In the last few months he had lost all interest. Eating only kept him alive and prolonged his suffering. Completely stopping had led to slaves being beaten, while gradually eating less and less was never noticed. It had been his last desperate plan.
Taegan shifted closer to Caleb. “How about you try a few mouthfuls so I don’t get shouted at by my mom?”
Caleb stared in surprise at the teasing smile on Taegan’s face. He didn’t think he was laughing at him this time. He obediently opened his mouth as Taegan spooned some stew. “I can do it,” Caleb offered, but it was a token protest.
“Humor me,” Taegan replied.
• • •
Twenty minutes later Taegan rested the spoon in the almost empty dish and stared at the sleeping man. Caleb had struggled to keep awake after the first few mouthfuls and Taegan had no idea what to make of any of it. Six years. The horror of that was more than Taegan could imagine. His life was simple. He had a rebellion to run, people depended on him, and he didn’t have time to be a nursemaid.
That isn’t fair.
It wasn’t. He knew it wasn’t. Caleb could have fed himself. Whether he would have was a different matter. He had never heard anyone speak so matter of factly about death, as if that was all the future Caleb expected. Maybe that was why it had been so satisfying to see him eat. He sat and let his eyes rove over Caleb’s face. His greatest enemy? Taegan nearly laughed, but this time because the joke was on him. Even in one day he could see Caleb looked better, impossibly weak but his face wasn’t as gray.
Bonded? Were they, and what did that even mean? Silas had seemed so certain but he had said it was rare. He understood the compulsion in the wolf to be near others, but Caleb wasn’t all wolf and Taegan wasn’t any. Pack was a powerful force. All humans knew that pack was so much more than a family. Maybe when Caleb was physically better, he might be able to break or weaken this bond. Maybe they might be able to get him to Caedra. If what Mari said was true it sounded like things might be improving for the territory, then there might be a wolf that Caleb could bond with. He thought Silas was being a bit dramatic when he said the bond would only break with one of their deaths. And whatever the case, Taegan refused to be responsible for another person. He had enough to do.
Taegan repeated that to himself slowly because he had an awful feeling it was an empty promise and somewhere he was sure — if the goddesses ever did as a lot of people believed, interfere with mortal lives — they were laughing at him.
About Victoria Sue
Wrote her first book on a dare from her hubby three years ago. Loves writing about gorgeous boys loving each other the best, and especially with either a paranormal or a historical twist. Had a try at writing contemporary but failed spectacularly when it grew four legs and a tail.
Is an English northern lass but is currently serving twenty to life in Florida – unfortunately, she spends more time chained at her computer than on a beach.
Loves to hear from her readers and can be found most days lurking on facebook.
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