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Alyssa’s Wolves

By:Becca Jameson

Prologue


Alyssa Franklin heard the firm, distinct knock on the front door even from inside her bedroom. She’d been sitting on pins and needles all week, praying silently this day would not come. The book she’d been feigning interest in fell from her hands. She had no idea what volume it was.

She tiptoed over to the closed door and pressed her ear to the hollow wood.

“Ma’am. Sir.” The distinct voice of her pack leader vibrated through the entire house when her parents opened the front door. For Alyssa, opening that door was akin to stabbing her in the chest. Life as she knew it would never be the same. No visit from Fredrick Wells this week could be good. She’d dreaded this visit for years, since she’d found out she was destined to be mated to Frederick’s brother, the smarmy Dwight.

“Good afternoon. Come in.” Her mother’s voice sounded strained. Forced. Good, maybe the woman would tell the pack leader no.

“I’ll be quick. I’m aware your daughter turned eighteen this week. It’s time for her to be mated. The arrangements have been made. She’ll attend the ceremony this Saturday and move directly to Dwight’s residence following the consummation.” All those sentences came out in a rush, seemingly on top of each other, before Alyssa even sucked in one breath of air.

Alyssa cringed against the bedroom door. Consummation? What was she, a sex slave involved in some ancient tribal ritual? That wasn’t far from the truth.

Inside, Alyssa screamed. Mom. Dad. Somebody please tell him no.

Her wishes were not granted, however. Before any voices were heard again, the front door closed with a snick, sealing her fate.

Hours later, Alyssa still paced the hardwood floor of her tiny bedroom, biting the last unchewed fingernail on her right hand absentmindedly. She glanced out the window for the hundredth time. It was dark. It was late. Was the rest of the world sleeping yet?

A glance at the clock told her it was midnight. Could she do this?

Yes. She had no choice. Her heart pounded. She squeezed her eyes shut … and then flung them back open. Every time she shut her eyes she had a vision of that fat slob Dwight Wells with his hands on her. Her stomach churned again. She hadn’t eaten since lunch, and that meal had long since been vomited.

Alyssa sat on the edge of the bed and leaned forward with her head in her hands.

Think.

The voices she’d overheard that afternoon rang in her head. Alyssa stood with greater resolve. She had no choice. She’d do anything to avoid having Dwight’s plump, nasty fingers even so much as grazing her cheek. She couldn’t even comprehend a fate that included having his penis plunging into her. Just the thought alone made her stomach heave again.

She was ready. Heavens, she’d been ready for weeks. She had a satchel packed beneath her bed. It was small. Just the necessities—two changes of clothes, a few dollars she’d tucked away, and photos of her childhood and parents. Would she ever see them again?

With one last glance around the only room she’d ever slept in, Alyssa pulled on her warmest coat, eased her bedroom window up, and climbed out into the night. It was only a short jump to the ground, and then she ran. She didn’t even wait to attach her pack to her back. She worked the straps over her shoulders as she scrambled away from the house.

The only thing worse than a forced mating to a sixty-five-year-old man with three other wives would be getting caught running away from home to avoid said fate.

Alyssa tore into the trees behind her house and headed in the direction of the highway. It was a long trek, but she’d looked at the map and knew she’d eventually reach civilization if she kept this path and didn’t veer too far off course.

Heaving for breath, she kept up an incredible pace for someone as out of shape as she was. She’d never run in her life. Adrenaline aided her purpose. Thank God for a moon that was somewhere in the middle stages of brightness at this time of the month. It wasn’t full, but at least it was there to help guide her. She didn’t have a flashlight. There was only one in the house, and she hadn’t wanted to arouse suspicion by stealing it away to her bedroom.

When her feet began to hurt and sweat poured down her brow, she slowed to a fast walk for a while. It was cold. That couldn’t be avoided. Too bad for her that her eighteenth birthday fell in December, and she lived in Oklahoma. She was lucky it was unseasonably warm. On any given year, there could be snow on the ground by now. At least tonight it was above freezing.

Alyssa pulled her coat tighter around her neck and kept moving. She swiped her brow with her gloves to keep the sweat out of her eyes.

It took more than an hour to reach the highway, and then Alyssa stayed next to the tree line as she kept heading farther away from her home. She didn’t want anyone to spot her along the road just yet. All night she traveled, keeping a pace that was a mixture of running, jogging, and walking to cover as much distance as possible.

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