Mac (Mammoth Forest Wolves Book 2)

By: Kimber White

Mammoth Forest Wolves - Book Two




One





Mac



I belonged here.

Knowing every breath I took might be my last, I let my claws dig into the soft, red earth on the banks of Rough River. It was dangerous for me to shift into my wolf this close to the settlement I’d been sent to watch. The Chief Pack shifter patrols could be anywhere. My wolf sent out preternatural signals I couldn’t control. Liam would kill me if he knew what I’d dared. And yet, as I arched my back and settled into my wolf, each pounding drumbeat of my heart made the sensation that I’d finally come home more clear.

Somewhere, deep inside of me, my wolf knew. Though my kind had been driven from this place two generations ago, there could be no other explanation for it. If there ever came a time when the wolves of Mammoth Forest prevailed, if we ever drove out the Chief Alpha for good and could live as we pleased, I would come back here to the banks of Rough River and stake my claim.

My heart lurched at the lure of such a thing. To be free. To allow my Alpha to rise and take back what was mine. God, it was so dangerous to think of it. With each step I took, I risked discovery. If even one member of the Chief Pack caught wind of who I was or what I was thinking, death would be the best case scenario. The wolves of Kentucky enjoyed no such freedom.

Every thought, every step they took was kept under the tight yoke of the Chief Alpha. A man whose name I’d only heard whispered about. I’d never seen him. We all felt him though. His control was ruthless, total, unbreakable.

Until the day it wasn’t.

Two years ago, I’d taken the leap along with my half-brother Liam and his cousin Jagger and run for my life. I didn’t regret it, not for a second. Once I’d tasted a whiff of freedom, I could never go back. I’d rather die than allow the Chief Pack to control my actions the way they had. But now, I was marked; we all were. At first it had just been the three of us. We could debate whether we were bravely stupid or stupidly brave, but we broke free.

Now, our numbers had swelled. Payne and Gunnar joined us from the southern border with Tennessee. Together, we’d found a place to take refuge in the undiscovered labyrinth connected to the Mammoth Caves of Kentucky and the deeper forest. Five men, meant to be Alphas of our own packs. We’d helped other shifters and humans along the way. We all had our own reasons for joining. Now, it was time for me to face mine.

I sank lower to the ground, my keen wolf eyes scanning the horizon. Just beyond the tree line, the soft amber glow of street lamps drew my attention. As my paws carved through the moist dirt, I let my belly scrape the grass.

They were close. I could scent other wolves past the perimeter of this tiny little town in the middle of nowhere. You could drive by it on any section of the interstate and not even know it was here. It wasn’t marked on any maps.

Birch Haven.

The name was meant to be inviting. Quaint. From here, it looked exactly that. Its entrance from the nearest major road was marked with a high, wrought iron gate. Three quarters of the town was bordered by a red brick wall. It was like a gated community on steroids. There were cookie-cutter houses with bright colored siding. Tree-lined streets that were safe even in the middle of the night. It looked like your typical, small college town that no one had ever heard of but everyone would love.

Only I knew what danger lurked here. It seemed to seep through the curb grates and permeate the air.

My breath grew ragged as I drew ever closer. My fur prickled and stood on end. My heart hammered inside my chest and a growl rose from deep inside. I took a last calming breath before settling my wolf and shifting back.

I stood on two legs but crouched, keeping myself hidden among the thick foliage of the woods on the outskirts of town. I couldn’t be seen. I hadn’t come this far, risked this much to have it all end due to my carelessness now.

Lilting laughter drew my attention. I crouched even lower. Heart racing, I stilled my breathing so I could better hear the voices drawing closer.

Through the trees, I saw two young women. God, they were barely more than girls. They stood shoulder to shoulder, walking with long, sure strides. One threw her blonde hair over her shoulder as she laughed. She was tall, thin, wearing a pink tank top with the letters BHC in bright blue on a diagonal across her ample chest. She looked like a Barbie doll with the same cookie-cutter beauty as the bright two-story houses lining the eastern quadrant of Birch Haven.

Her companion was different, more reserved. She seemed more aware of her surroundings, dropping her smile as she looked ahead to the next intersection before turning her attention back to her friend and smiling. They each had denim backpacks slung over their shoulders with the blue and yellow Birch Haven College logo on them.

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