Theo is the alpha of a homeless pack. He does his best, but in a world where most of the country belongs to powerful packs, it’s not easy to find a corner to settle down with his nine pack members. It’s especially not easy when they’re different shifters, which is one more people don’t trust them and run them out of town as soon as they’re found out.
When Chance is told new shifters have arrived in Mayport, he has to act. As the alpha, he needs to stand strong against the shifters invading his territory, especially when one of them can turn into a dragon.
But these shifters aren’t dangerous, and they’re not invading Chance’s pack territory. They’re young and frightened and looking for a home, and the haunted eyes of their alpha makes Chance extend a proposition—they can stay with his pack until they’re back on their feet.
As time passes, both Chance and Theo hope Theo’s pack will stay. That means things will change, because there can’t be two alphas for one pack. Chance can’t give up his position. Can Theo? Or will he follow his pack members who might decide to leave? And if they stay, can Chance’s pack accept them?
Theo’s foot caught on a root and he almost fell on his face. The only reason he didn’t was that Seth was next to him and managed to catch him first. They stumbled together for a few steps, then once they were both steady on their feet again, Seth let him go to focus on their other pack members.
Something cracked in the forest behind them, making Theo jump. He tried to swallow, but he was out of breath, and his mouth tasted like blood.
“What was that?” Paisley asked. She sounded terrified, but then, all of them were.
They continued running. They had no other choice after the local pack had found them and were trying to catch them so they could kill them.
Probably. Theo hadn’t stopped to ask them what they wanted to do once they caught up to them.
“Just keep running,” Dustin said with a grunt.
“That’s easy for you to say,” Red piped in. “You don’t even sound like you’re out of breath.”
“You can’t be out of breath, since you’re still talking,” Dustin snapped back.
Theo was the alpha, so it was his job to stop them from bickering, especially when they were running for their lives. It was familiar, though, so he let them be for a moment.
Then he stumbled on another root, and this time he pitched forward. He managed to catch himself on a tree, but he was slowing them down. He had to be more careful where he put his feet instead of listening to his pack members fight.
“Theo?” Dustin asked, sounding hesitant.
“I’m fine.” Except for the fact that he felt he was dying, but that was because he wasn’t used to running for so long.
It wasn’t the first time their pack was on the run, and Theo suspected it wouldn’t be the last. Usually, though, they managed to get out before the local pack found them, so they had more time to pack their things and leave. This time, they’d been blindsided.
The local pack had found them when they hadn’t expected it, catching them by surprise. They were lucky they’d managed to grab their things at all, but now they were running through a forest none of them knew, and they had no idea where they were going.
“We’ll have to stop soon,” Seth said, dropping back to run with Theo.
Theo always insisted on being at the back of the pack. He supposed that as the alpha, he should be in front, leading them, but he felt better guarding their backs. That way, if the local pack tried to attack, he’d be the first line of defense. He might not be a great alpha, but he’d defend his people until the end if he had to.
“You think they’re still following us?” he asked his brother.
“I don’t know. You heard that crack. It could have been one of them.”
“It also could have been a bird or an animal.”
“Do you want to risk it?”
Seth pressed his lips together. He wasn’t even out of breath, while Theo was panting next to him. Maybe his brother would be a better alpha than he was. It certainly looked that way at the moment.
“We can’t,” Seth eventually said.
“Just continue running for a little while longer.” They’d have to stop then, whether or not the local pack was still behind them.
If they were, Dustin might be able to scare them away, but if he refused to shift, Theo would have to take the blame. He was the alpha, and his pack members had only been listening to him when they’d tried settling down in town. They wouldn’t have if he hadn’t given them the order, so it was his fault that they’d invaded the local pack’s territory. He didn’t care if he was killed for that. He just cared that his pack made it out alive, and hopefully, sacrificing himself would help.
They continued running, but they slowed down until they eventually stopped. Most of the pack members leaned against trees, clearly exhausted, and Theo didn’t blame them. His legs felt like jelly, and he was pretty sure he wouldn’t be able to get to his feet again if he sat down.
“Everyone okay?” he asked as he tried to get his breath back.
It would take him a while, but he was glad to finally be able to put down his backpack. As he did so, he looked around, but this area of the forest was just like the rest of it. There were trees, trees, and more trees.
Thomas flopped directly onto the ground, stretching out on his back. Clearly, he didn’t care that he’d get all dirty or that the local pack could still be behind them. He was done running, whatever happened next. Josie sat next to him, looking nervously around.
Even though Theo wanted nothing more than to sit down with them, he straightened, pushed away from the tree he’d been using to keep himself up, and started walking around his pack, checking the forest. The pack huddled together between the trees, making themselves as small as possible.
There weren’t many of them. If Theo included himself, his pack was made up of ten individuals, which was no doubt one of the reasons the local pack had decided to hunt them. If they got their hands on Theo’s pack, it wouldn’t take much to destroy it.
Theo tightened his hands into fists, ready to hit the first person who tried attacking his people. Luckily, they seemed to be alone. The local pack must have decided they weren’t worth it, especially since they were leaving anyway. Now that that pack had found them, they couldn’t stick around.