Leonidas burst through the door of his father's bedroom. He did not bother to knock first, yelling as he walked, about the self-righteous brat, Alexis, but his father, sick, and in bed, barely moved.As always, feel free to comment and/or offer suggestions. I must announce now, that there will be scenes I do not post in the future. After all, I don't want to post my entire draft online and ruin it for all those (really 'both those') readers out there.
"That Califan girl is an indignant prude." Leo flailed his arms as if attempting flight. "I just reminded her of our arranged mating and she nearly choked me to death, and ran off."
His father slowly raised his hand in an attempt to stop the rant. "My guess is that you were doing more than just reminding her of the arrangement." His father stopped to catch his breath before continuing. "If you cannot grow up, learn some humility, you will never be alpha in this pack."
"I'm grown up plenty. And, have I not proven my strength to you?"
"A strong will does not make a good leader, Leonidas. You must have some compassion for those you rule over." His father, exhausted, slumped back into his bed, but shook his head at Leo.Leo couldn't believe his father, on his deathbed, still spoke of humility. Leo feared a challenger to his rightful position more than he feared hatred by the peons in the pack.
"Compassion and humility are too easily mistaken for weakness," Leo said, as he turned to leave.
"Leonidas!" his father's voice, while weak and hoarse, still resounded off the walls of the room. "If you cannot learn that a leader's strength is shown through compassion, I cannot, in good conscience, have you succeed me."
Leo stopped dead in his tracks and turned around, ready to remind his father that he had only one son, but his father raised a finger and continued.
"All through your life I waited, hoping you would grow up and become the leader this pack needs." His father stopped to catch his breath. "But it simply did not happen. I'm afraid I will have to renounce the succession and let the pack choose a leader through challenge."
Leo cringed at the thought. His succession was all he had. He knew there were stronger men in the pack than him, and worst of all, many of them were feral—bastardized versions of Weres, not born into the life, but made by others through careless contact, or failed kills. He couldn't let that happen, He would simply have to appease his father until he became the rightful pack alpha. He turned to his father and put on the most humble face he could muster.
"What would you have me do, Father? How can I prove my growth to you? How can I show compassion and humility?" Leo looked at the floor as he spoke, afraid that looking his father directly in his eyes might reveal his true lack of compassion.
"What you should do is go find Alexis Califan, apologize profusely to her for your childish, self-centered actions, and beg her to come back."
"Will you bless our mating upon her return?"
"No! You've done enough damage in the Califan family." His father's short outburst caused him to go into a coughing and wheezing fit.
Even as the words left his father's mouth in weak sputters and abbreviated stops, Leo's mind burned with the thought that even his own father did not approve of his position as alpha. Before he could think of a proper response to the harsh words, his father broke in again.
"You will not be mated to Alexis. I've arranged a mating with a female Were-shifter from the pack in Montana. She's a natural, her family has good standing among our kind, and she's obedient."
"But, I don't want to be mated to some stranger," Leo said. "I want Alexis as a mate—"Well, you can't have her," his father interrupted. "She doesn't want you, and she will defy your dominance, and your leadership." Leo's father sat up in the bed, his face red, and sweat beading on his forehead. "You will leave immediately to find Alexis. You will beg her to return, and you will accept the mate I've chosen. If you cannot muster the intestinal fortitude to do this, I will denounce your succession to alpha."
"Yes, father." Leo turned and stomped out of the room before his heated face and watery eyes defied the strong demeanor he was trying to present to his father. Truth was, he loved and respected his father, but found him oppressive and overbearing at the same time. He would do as his father told him, and find Alexis, but, if she just happened to find her demise before he could bring her back, the blame would not be on him. In his opinion, finding her was going to be easy. Still though, it was something best begun after a good night's sleep.
Alexis barely heard the creaking door over her own sobbing. She turned to the sound but remained crouching in the dark corner behind stacks of apple crates. A shadow moved across the ground and she knew it was Leo before he came into view. As he cornered the row of apple crates, she jumped up to a standing position. She attempted to quickly brush her hands across her face and hide the evidence of her sobbing."I was walking by and heard someone inside, so I decided to check it out," Leo said, a smirk forming and creasing the edges of his mouth."Bullshit Leo. You knew my parents were breaking the news to me, and you wanted to see my reaction.""Breaking the news?" Leo said, his question more rhetorical and snide, then honest. "Come on, you had to have known about your family's plans since we were children.""I never really thought they were serious. Besides, you should be mating up with one of the girls clamoring over you instead of hoping for something that will never happen.""Oh, it is going to happen." Leo stepped forward, his six-foot frame filling the small space between the high stacks of apple crates, and blocking off her only exit. "Whether it is official or unofficial, now or later, we will be mated."Alexis tensed and scowled at him. "You only think you can get away with anything because of your daddy. If it weren't for him, you would've been put down years ago for your poor--"Leo stepped forward and backhanded Alexis, sending her sideways against a stack of crates. "Bitch, you leave my father out of this." He moved to her as he spoke, pushing her to the dusty ground. He was on top of her before she could react, ripping at her blouse, and cursing in her ear."You want to play tough? We can play tough." Leo pulled at her sleeve until she heard the threads ripping free. "I think we will be mated sooner rather than later." Leo pinned Alexis down with one hand to her throat while he grabbed at her breast with his other hand. Alexis was stunned, in shock, her body started to go numb, preparing to give in to what was happening. Then, as Leo squeezed her breast to the point of pain, something snapped inside her. Fear and resignation gave way to anger, and prompted her to shift--not completely, but at some mid-point between human and wolf. In the next instant, more through instinct then conscious thought, she swatted him away and rolled over on top of him. His shift came nearly as quick, but now she had him by the throat, and she squeezed until his breathing turned to gurgling sounds. He batted violently at her but she continued to squeeze his throat with all her strength, kneeling with her knees against his shoulders, until his eyes rolled back and he became motionless beneath her.Leo had shifted back to human form, his black hair already slick with sweat. Alexis slowly released her grip around his neck and checked to make sure he still had a pulse. She heard him breathing low, rough, and raspy, and he had a pulse. That is when the real fear struck Alexis. Leo was still alive. He would likely recover soon and run to tell his father what happened. Of course, he would leave out the part of him attacking her, trying to force himself on her. His father, and everyone else, to include her own parents, would take his side and she would still be mated to Leo in the end.Alexis ran.
She stormed through the wooden door of the storage warehouse, racking it so hard against the outside wall. It broke off its hinges, falling flat on the ground behind her. She was not sure where she was running to, or even why she was running; she just needed to get away. Tears blurred her vision and cooled her cheeks as she ran out of the orchard with her purse, flapping behind her like a kite on a string. Surprised the straps were still intact around her shoulder, she stretched her legs and found firm purchase on the asphalt covered street, increasing her speed. in the next moment, she was in the town square. A taxi sat alone along the curb. She stopped, opened the back passenger door, and got in."Where to?" The cab driver turned in his seat, an expectant look on his face."How can I get to Atlanta?" Alexis asked. Atlanta seemed as good a place as any."There's a Greyhound goes there from the station south of Dalton twice a week.""Then take me to the Greyhound station."The driver sat there looking at her with that same expectant look on his face until she pulled her wallet out of her purse, flashing her credit card. Then he turned back around, made a radio call, and did a u-turn in the street, pointing the car west, out of Ellijay.I hope you enjoyed this scene. As always, please feel free to leave comments or offer suggestions. Stay tuned for more story excerpts, and look for this project as a whole when it is finished.
"I just will not do it, and there is not a soul on this earth that can make me ..." Alexis stood up straight and stared her parents down for the first time in her life. "... And that includes the two of you." She immediately shrank back down, tears welling in her eyes despite her best efforts.Hope you enjoyed this opening scene. I will concentrate on Alexis for awhile and do not introduce Joseph Johnson until chapter 3. By then, all the major characters, and most of the minor character are introduced and the two major plotlines will begin weaving around each other until they finally come together by about chapter 14. I've outlined 20 chapters.
"We know you don't understand now, Lexi," her mother said, reaching up to stroke her dark hair. "But, in time you'll understand that you being mated to Leonidas will be the best thing for our family, and the entire pack."
"What about what I want?" Alexis asked, as she swatted at her mother's hand. "Why did you let me go to college if you planned all along to enslave me to that self-centered weasel?"
Alexis's father stepped in pointing a finger at her. "That self-centered weasel, as you call him, is going to be the pack alpha, probably sooner rather than later, given his father's condition, and since we didn't have a son to challenge him, we must offer a daughter to better our place in the pack."
Alexis tried to put up a defiant front but even as she narrowed her eyes at her father, she felt the tears trailing down her burning cheeks. She knew her father was gruff, but she felt like he just told her that he wished he had a son instead of a daughter.
"I can take care of myself," Alexis said. "Maybe I'll challenge him myself, then we will be the alpha family in the pack."
"Don't be ridiculous," her father said, waving his hand as if swatting at a fly. "Keeping your secret through four years of college is not the same as fighting another to the death. Besides, there has never been a female alpha in any pack that I know of."
"Well, maybe ours will be a first," Alexis said. She planted her feet hard on the floor at her bold statement. She thought back to all the times Leo picked on her when they were children. She thought about all the times he threw rocks at her, or tried to stick his hand up her dress. She'd always hated him for that, even though she never did anything about it, clear up to their junior high years. She remembered fighting him off on more than one occasion when she started developing into a woman, and he mistakenly thought she was his for the taking.
Then, her mother crushed her daydreams. "Lexi, this has been planned since you were both children. You know there's just not that many naturals of our kind left. You have a chance to keep our bloodline clean and true."
Alexis had nothing to say in response to her mother. She knew she was losing and needed someone to agree with her. Alexis looked over to see her Grandfather sitting in an armchair, listening to the whole conversation. He started shaking his head "no" but it was too late. She was going to bring him into this argument as her only ally.
"What about you, Grandpa?" Alexis asked, feeling more positive at the possibility of his agreement. "Don't you think I should have the right to make my own decisions? Don't you think—"
"Alexis," her Grandfather said, cutting her off in mid-sentence. "I think that you should understand that your parents are only trying to do what's best for you. They are doing what is best for the pack, preserving the purity of our bloodline."
"Screw you." Alexis said, and stomped her feet for emphasis. It was all she could think of to say. Without her Grandfather's support, she was alone and defeated. Tears dripped off her cheeks wetting the fabric over her breasts, and her heart sank into the pit of her stomach. She tried to say something to appear strong, but as she opened her mouth, a wailing sound escaped, exposing her defeat. She ran out of the house, slowing only long enough to snatch her purse off the hook by the door, and continued through the apple orchards, swearing and wailing all the way to the storage barn. She ran inside and found her dark corner behind stacks of apple crates. The storage barn was a place she'd gone many times before. It was a place she considered safe when she felt defeated. She vowed to herself, in the dark corner, she would never mate with Leo. She couldn't fathom spending the rest of her life partnered, and subservient to him. She would take him out or leave the pack before she would allow that to happen.
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