Alexander Dieson always knew that he was different. Yes, he could shift like the other wolf shifting cowboys on the Tate Ranch, but he could also make fire and a host of other things. When his parents move him to California from Texas he resolves himself to spending a life alone.
Ross Barber discovers the scent of his mate hours after the younger man moves away with his family. He spends ten years searching for Alex and finally finds him just after Alex’s life has been completely turned upside down.
Ross promises Alex that he will help find his mate’s missing siblings but in the process of their search they learn the truth about Alex’s DNA and are completely shocked by the way their lives and the Tate Ranch changes because of it. And when they learn how high up the plot to kidnap and sell paranormals actually goes, the Tate Pack will never be the same.
Ross looked up at the shout and found himself facing the throng of men who had left the house and now spread out to surround him. The man holding the toddler walked back to the front of the house before he returned. Ross looked around at them all, noticing the pack’s Alpha stood among them, not at all shocked that he would be involved in something shady—most Alphas he’d met were—testing his odds and figuring out his best course of action. His father was a former Green Beret and his mother had been Special Ops.
Ross had been trained from the crib in hand-to-hand combat, just like his sister. They’d been trained to kill when they had no other options, and his parents had always made sure they knew how to get themselves out of any situation they ever found themselves in. Most people would think his parents had done him a disservice by raising him to be a fierce killing machine, dominant, aggressive… mean as all get out, but Ross didn’t see it that way. There were some fucked up things out there, and not all of them were in the paranormal world. Ross, his sister, and their parents had come in contact with evil in its purest form and he would be damned if he would ever be caught unaware.
He tensed his muscles, ignoring the fact that he was completely nude because of his shift, and waited for the first man to come charging at him. That was always where people went wrong. They immediately went on the offensive when it was defense that won games, no matter what his football coach had told him.
“Hey, look, we don’t want any trouble,” Vet said, the new Alpha, if the power that swirled around him, almost bringing Ross to his knees, was any indication. His hair, which looked black in the darkness, blew in the late night breeze and his scent wafted up to Ross’s nostrils. Ross took in a deep breath and wrote the Alpha off as his mate again. He hadn’t been back at the Tate Ranch in quite a while. Even though much of it was like returning home, there were still aspects of the pack lands that were new to him. Namely, the fact that the men before him were older and their scents, while at the core were still the same, had subtly changed. Ross knew Vet. They had, in fact, gone to preschool together, come out to each other, lost their virginity together, and had shifted together for the first time. It was shortly after losing their virginity to each other that Ross and his family had left the pack to assist in a rescue mission.
Apparently the pack had added more new members since then. One of them was his mate, but Vet, even with his new, more powerful, cloying scent, wasn’t his mate. None of the men who currently watched him were. Which meant that his mate was in the house. “We just want to know what you’re doing skulking around the Dieson home. I am the new Alpha of this pack, and I would have you identify yourself.”
Ross tucked away the name Dieson for later and bared his neck to the Alpha in a show of submission. “My apologies, Alpha. You may not remember me, but my name is Ross Barber. My family and I just re-joined the pack today. You met with my parents earlier.” Ross waited for Vernon “Vet” Tate to nod before he continued. “I smelled my mate and came to find him,” he finished simply. He noticed the large man who had been holding the toddler earlier tense and immediately turned his attention to him. “Do you know who my mate is, Beta?”
Ross grinned when he saw the big man blink at him in stupefaction. He wasn’t sure how he was always able to know exactly what someone’s position was in a pack, coven, herd, company or wherever, but from the time he was a child, it had been a gift of his. He could either peg what they currently were, or what they would end up being. It freaked people out all the time; he just saw it as a fact of life.
The larger man recovered from his shock and growled low in his throat, showing a small measure of aggression at Ross’s blatantly disrespectful tone with him, before his shoulder drooped and he whimpered in the back of his throat. The sound was one of despair, and Ross felt his blood run cold. Had something happened to his mate? And what did the Beta mean to the man who belonged to Ross?
“His name is Alex Dieson. Alexander Mitch Dieson. He’s not here anymore,” the Beta answered.
Ross felt his heart stop in his chest. He crouched low to the ground, a growl rumbling up from his belly and bursting forth from his lips. He didn’t know why the Beta sounded so upset that Alex was gone since he’d obviously had something to do with it, but Ross didn’t care. The Beta would be the first to go. The other wolves crouched low, and Ross ignored the small, niggling voice at the back of his mind that pointed out that there was no smell of blood in the air anywhere, so his mate wasn’t hurt. Ross’s eyes took in the other wolves, and he noticed that the Alpha remained standing.
“Hold it, guys. He doesn’t understand,” he said, the power in his words causing them all to freeze. He stared at Ross and sighed. “Alex isn’t dead or hurt. At least, we have seen no evidence that he is. We came to invite him out for our weekly bowling party and found his home deserted. All of his stuff is gone, as well as those of his parents. We believe they left town sometime earlier today, without the permission of the Alpha, and with no indication about where they were going. They didn’t leave a note or a letter behind to explain their actions, either, though Alex did leave something written on his wall for us to see.”
Ross didn’t allow the Alpha to continue talking, instead turning and yanking off the doorknob to the back door in his rush to get inside. He ignored the shouts of the men behind him as he ran upstairs. He followed the scent of his mate and charged into the room where the smell was heaviest. He stopped when he saw the words written on the bare blue wall. There, written in large, black permanent marker were words that filled Ross with hope and a determination to find the man who belonged by his side.
I’ll be back.
Ross would make sure of that. He would find his mate and bring him back to Wichita Falls, where he belonged, no matter how long it took to find him.