It's time for the annual Silver Moon festival where werewolves will publicly choose their mates. Sabra is finally required to mate and her grandfather bends the rules to allow her to do the choosing. Z has come to town with his brother to seek refuge with her pride.
Upon meeting the doctor, Z launches a plan for his brother to get back into his family's good graces but he doesn't count on two problems. 1) that he will fall in love with Sabra instead and 2) his brother will meet Sabra's cousin Deron and fall in love with him.
Sabra stooped in order to enter her grandfather’s teepee. The room was easier to enter in wolf form, but she didn’t have time to shift because she had to be back at her office right after the meeting. Besides, she wouldn’t want to shift back into her human form. She’d want to go out onto her grandfather’s property and run, but patients were waiting for her. With an exhale, she sat on a pillow and folded her legs beneath her.
The interior of the triangle-shaped structure was large, though it didn’t look like it from the outside. There was plenty of room for a wolf to roam. A low table sat to her left. On it was his special hand-carved pipe along with three stacks books and several stacks of papers. She shook her head at her grandfather’s messiness, but didn’t complain as she was the same way. A large fire pit took up the center of the floor. Other than a few animal hide pillows that littered the ground around the fire, her grandmother’s contribution, there was no other furniture.
With a nervous shudder, Sabra inhaled the scent of sage leaves that burned in a bowl next to the fire. The leather walls trapped the heat inside and made the room warm and cozy. This was his meeting hut. Her grandparents’ main home was miles away from here, but similarly decorated. She already knew what this meeting was about and wasn’t looking forward to it.
Her grandfather, Chief Black Moon, entered in his wolf form, then stalked around the space. His large body took up much of the area. His beautiful white coat glistened in the firelight as he playfully sniffed her cheek before taking a seat next her. As he sat, he shifted back into his human form. Orange flames now danced off of his dark brown skin and reflected in his brown irises.
He wrapped himself in a hand-woven blanket alive with the red, silver, and black colors of their pack, also her grandmother’s contribution. With a wink in her direction, her grandmother, Black River, poured him a cup of tea before shifting into her brown wolf and leaving the teepee. Sabra inhaled his earthy scent and waited for him to take his first sip of tea before the meeting began. She closed her eyes. The warmth of the space and her grandfather was comforting.
The parents of she and her four brothers were killed by hunters who accused them, falsely, of stealing their cattle. Sabra was only six at the time. Since then, they had been raised by their grandparents. While strict, her grandparents also knew when to remove the leashes and allow them to explore both their wolf and human sides. She loved him so. It upset her that, of all the supernatural species, theirs was not offered immortality—but they did live long lives. She didn’t know what she was going to do when it was their time to go. She didn’t want to think of it now.
The Chief was a healthy, youthful-looking seventy years old. His hair hung in silver dreadlocks that flowed over his muscular shoulders and down his back. She watched his weathered face as he drank his tea. He carefully set the mug on the floor and folded his hands in his lap. Before he could speak, she held up her hand.
“I already know what this is about. It’s time for me to mate.”
She’d been dreading this day since she turned twenty eight months ago. All of her friends had already been chosen. Even her four younger brothers were married and starting their families. She was behind as far as the other members of her pack were concerned, but she was busy with her career as a dentist. Black Moon opened his mouth, but before he could utter any words, she interrupted him again as she leapt to her feet and stalked around the space.
The Silver Moon festival coincided with the first full moon of the new year. At the festival, the male werewolves publicly declared their mate in front of the pack. She wasn’t a piece of meat, which was why she’d avoided the festival like a plague. But now, she couldn’t use her studies or career as an excuse to not go anymore. Her pack was counting on her as the lone alpha female to breed more Alphas. She cringed.
“It’s not fair!” she exploded. “It’s a sexist, archaic system, Grandfather. Why do I have to be mated? I’ve graduated college. I have a career. My own home. I don’t have room or time for a mate.”
She continued ranting as if she hadn’t heard him. “And what makes matters worse is that I don’t even have the right to choose! The male does all the choosing. What if I don’t like him? What if he’s a complete idiot?”
He chuckled. This enraged her further. She turned to him but softened her posture at the twinkle in his eyes. Of course she was being melodramatic, but she was trying to make her point. Maybe she could put it off for a few more years. No. The elders of her pack, including her grandmother, were already sending her daily emails with offers to set her up with one wolf or another. The sooner she got this over with, the better.
“It’s not funny! I know things worked out with you and Grandmother, but this is a different century. It’s time for this practice to die.”
His quiet statement made her pause. He patted the pillow next to him and waited patiently for her to sit down. After she did, he took her hand. She found herself beginning to calm down as she picked up her mug with her free hand and held it while she waited for her grandfather to speak. Instead of his messiness, she wished she’d inherited his ability to remain calm in the middle of a storm.
“When it’s my time to pass, you’ll be Alpha of the pack. Your mate needs to be strong, confident and able to assist you with your duties.”
“But that’s a long time off,” she whispered.
“Perhaps, but I like to be prepared for anything.”
“That’s what made you a great warrior.”
Squeezing his hand, Sabra laid her head on his strong shoulder. She would love to find a mate like him, but most wolves were jerks. If it weren’t frowned upon, she’d much rather mate with a human. But as Alpha, she’d be expected to breed as soon as she was mated. She shuddered at the thought—she wasn’t ready for kids. At this point in time, she was barely ready for a mate.
“This,” her grandfather continued as he laid he cheek on top of her head, “is why I will bend the rules. Your mate must be equal to you and not want to be with you simply because of your status.”
“I’ll make sure that won’t happen,” she said as she sat her mug on the table.
“As will I.”
“You’re really going to let me choose?”
This made her feel a little better about the situation, but not much. At least her grandfather had her back. Now, she’d just have to find someone worthy of him, and her. She exhaled. That was going to be the hard part. However, this was going to rock her pack’s world when they got wind of what her grandfather proposed.
“What about the elders?”
“They understand my wishes and have agreed with me.” He wrapped his arm around her shoulder. “Do you have a mate in mind?”
Sitting up, she shook her head. “No. I’ve been too busy to look.”
“There’s plenty of time. You’ll know when you meet him.”
He brushed a strand of hair from her forehead. The festival was less than two weeks away. She didn’t even have any prospects to choose from. There was still time to try online dating, but there wasn’t a site for werewolves, and she couldn’t very well put that piece of information in a public profile. Sabra worried that she wouldn’t meet anyone suitable. After her last miserable date two months ago, she’d given up on even looking for a mate. Worry nagged at her. What was she going to do?
Her grandmother appeared with a plate piled with steaming hot corn cakes slathered in butter. Sabra’s mouth watered as she snagged one from the plate and bit into it. She moaned and wished her grandmother would teach her how to cook. Black River refused until Sabra found a mate. After wrapping herself in a throw, her grandmother sat on the other side of her. Sabra’s breath stilled as she sensed a set-up coming.
“When you least expect it,” her grandmother cooed, then kissed Sabra’s forehead, “he’ll show up. The universe just wants to make sure your heart is ready to receive the love it wants to send you.”
“Maybe. But the universe is cutting it pretty close.”
“Perhaps not. Maybe he simply wasn’t ready yet. Maybe he is now.”
Sabra stiffened at her grandmother’s mysterious comment. Aha! At least she was dressed appropriately in her work outfit—red blouse, black slacks and black pumps. She looked around as if her blind date was going to make an appearance at any minute, but relaxed when no one appeared. Doubt pestered her thoughts as she reached for another cake. Was she really that busy with her career to meet someone?
“What if I never find him?”
“You will. I have faith,” Chief Black Moon said.
Her grandfather stood. In one deft move, he stripped off his blanket and shifted back into his wolf. Her grandmother draped an arm around her shoulder. With a final kiss, she, too, stripped off her covering, shifted and followed her husband from the teepee. Admiration swept through her as she watched them. Would she ever find love like that? Climbing to her feet, she filed the thought into the back of her mind. She fished the keys to her SUV out of her coat pocket as she walked toward it. Right now, she’d just settle for a booty call.