When Josiah agreed to become the coyote alpha, he knew it was a bad idea, and he was right. No matter how hard he tries, the band doesn’t respect him, and he doesn’t know how to change that. With humans sticking their noses all over the forest, he has to solve that problem, but how?
Luther might be in the forest to keep an eye on the shifters who live here, but that doesn’t mean he’s enjoying it. He has to follow orders, even when he disagrees with them, which in this case, he does. Shifters shouldn’t be locked up, and they should have the same rights as humans.
Josiah doesn’t know why Luther seems so interested in him, but he can’t chalk it up to Luther doing his job for long. When it becomes obvious there’s more between them, Josiah tries to keep his distance, because Luther is human, and eventually, he’ll leave.
But Luther doesn’t want to leave. He’s in love with Josiah and will do pretty much anything for him, including trying to find a way to be allowed to stay.
Luther’s superior has plans, though, and there’s still a shooter on the loose in the forest. Then there’s Josiah’s problem with the band, which he knows will become worse once they find out he’s pregnant. Can Josiah and Luther find a way to make things work, even an imperfect one, or are they doomed to be wrenched apart by circumstances?
Josiah stared at the piece of paper in front of him on the desk. It was supposed to have a list of names written on it, but instead, it was empty. He had no candidates to fill his beta spot, and he knew better than to think he ever would, at least when it came to the coyotes.
So far, he hadn’t been doing a good job as the new alpha. He barely knew where to start, but he did know he needed a beta. The problem was that no one wanted to work with him.
He snorted to himself and leaned back in the chair that had once belonged to his father. It wasn’t only that no one wanted to work with him. No coyote respected him, either, which made things even harder. He didn’t know how to break through that, or even if he could.
Maybe he shouldn’t have accepted the alpha position. He understood why the council had needed him, and if it kept the humans off their back for a while, he was willing to continue, but he doubted he could actually do this. Shifters had to respect their alpha, and they didn’t when it came to him.
He couldn’t blame them. How could anyone respect him after what his father and his brother had done and the way they’d treated him in front of everyone? They believed what their old alpha had told them, which was that since Josiah was a carrier, he wasn’t fit to become anything, least of all an alpha. It just wasn’t done anywhere in the forest.
But things were changing. Josiah had never imagined he would be the first alpha carrier in the forest, yet here he was. In a few years, he wouldn’t be the only one anymore. In the meantime, though, the position was unique to him, and he didn’t know what to do.
He could ask for help. The council and Thomas, the badger alpha, had offered to help any way they could. Josiah wasn’t proud enough to say no, but he didn’t think they could do anything in this situation. He needed a beta, and it would be better if that beta was a coyote. Of course, it would be a problem if the band respected his beta more than they respected him, but he supposed he would deal with that problem if it ever happened. In the meantime, he was trying to deal with the band on his own, and they were ignoring him.
That was going to become a problem soon, and Josiah had no idea how to solve it.
He grabbed his cell phone from the desk and opened the messaging app. I want to go home, he wrote.
Nico’s answer came only a few moments later, as if he’d been waiting with his phone in hand. That was surprising, since he was training with his father to become the next alpha. His twin brother had thrown him and their father for a loop when he’d decided to step down from the role and move in with the badgers, but Nico was more than happy to take Chris’s place.
Isn’t that what we all want? Nico answered.
Josiah frowned. I thought you wanted to become the next alpha.
I did. I DO. It’s more complicated than I thought, that’s all.
Tell me about it. Nico had been there every step of the way for Josiah, and Josiah was grateful. Now that they didn’t live together anymore, he missed his best friend something fierce. He wished Nico could move in with him and maybe become his beta, but it just wasn’t possible.
What’s going on?
Josiah sighed. He didn’t want to dump all his problems on Nico, especially not since Nico seemed to have his own. Nothing much.
Bullshit. Talk to me, Joe.
Josiah glared at the screen. I told you not to call me that.
Fine. Talk to me, JOSIAH.
Josiah rolled his eyes. I still haven’t found a beta. If he couldn’t tell Nico about this, then who could he tell? Thomas would listen to anything Josiah had to say, but he didn’t want to burden the older alpha. The man already felt guilty enough that he’d pushed Josiah to accept this role. He wasn’t wrong, though. Josiah wouldn’t have accepted if Thomas hadn’t asked. But Josiah owed Thomas everything, and if there was even one thing he could do to thank the man, he would do it.
Even if the thing was becoming alpha to people who hated him.
Has no one volunteered? Nico asked.
You know better than to think anyone would.
The three dots on the screen danced as Josiah waited for Nico to answer. He startled when his phone started ringing instead of a text appearing on the screen, but since it was Nico, he answered. “You should be working,” he said.
“Yes, well, I’m not the only one. What’s going on?”
“Nothing different than what was already going on before.”
“Are they still ignoring you?”
“On the good days. On the bad ones, they snap at me and tell me I should never have become the alpha.”
“They should be punished for that.”
That word made Josiah cringe, because it reminded him of his father. Nico wasn’t wrong, though. “And who’s going to punish them?”
“You’re the alpha. You ought to do it, or at the very least, order it.”
“Me and what army? You know they’re not going to care. They don’t respect my authority, and I don’t think they ever will. My father saw to that.”
“Your father was a dick.” Nico sounded fierce.
Josiah’s heart swelled. Once, he hadn’t thought he would ever have a best friend. Hell, he’d thought he wouldn’t be alive past his twenties. His father and his brother had abused him, and there had been nothing he could do about it. But he’d survived, and here he was, at twenty-three years old, a carrier and an alpha.