I sighed heavily as I got out of my limousine and looked up at the red palace. I hadn’t been here for more than a hundred years. I despised this place, despised what we’d had to do to prevent our species from going extinct. I hated being reminded of the decision the Lycans had made three centuries ago. I was against it, but at the time, I saw no other way out.
In the beginning, werewolves, were the offspring of the immortal Lycans and their human mates. A werewolf pregnancy was always fatal for the human woman, and we outlawed such unions because of it, but then our women started dying too. The pups almost always survived, but their mothers never did, and fairly soon we started to run out of she-wolves.
We had to do something.
And that something was the red palace. A place where we kept our Lunar virgins, which was just a more palatable description for breeders, until they were old enough to produce heirs. We kept them here for their own safety, away from brutes and rapists who had no care for their wellbeing, who’d breed them before they were thirteen years old.
We had laws and rules about breeders, but as of late, I’d been receiving disturbing reports about the red palace and the things the males were doing to the girls once they left here.
“King?” Gabriel said. “Are you ready?”
He only used my formal address when others were around to hear us. I nodded and swung my walking cane around and under my arm. I didn’t know why I still carried the thing with me, but it was my father’s, and I couldn’t bring myself to part with the old walking stick.
Gabriel and Connell walked ahead of me, up the red marble steps to the entrance. They opened the doors and stood aside so I could enter ahead of them.
A hush fell over the crowd gathered in the entrance hall. I towered over everyone in attendance. My aura was powerful and unmistakable. Every werewolf in existence would know who I was, even if they’d never so much as seen a picture of me before. “Lycans,” the word rippled through the crowd like a breeze.
Alpha George, our host, stepped forward, puffing his chest out with self-importance. “Your majesty,” he said, and bowed low. “We expected you sooner.”
“We were delayed,” Gabriel answered for me. I never spoke to werewolves if I could help it.
“Well,” the Alpha said. “No matter. You didn’t miss anything. Shall we?” he swept his arm out, indicating a pair of massive double doors to his right.
The ornately carved doors swung open, and while everyone waited for me to enter first, I stood back, allowing Connell and Gabriel to go in ahead of me and make sure it was safe. I ignored the curious stares from the other men, patiently waiting until my Beta informed me through our mind link that it was safe to enter the grand hall.
A row of female attendants jumped into action as soon as we started filing into the hall. Immediately, the beautiful Omegas, dressed in tasteful white and black uniforms, started circulating through the crowd, offering expensive sparkling wine, and forbidden caviar on dainty crackers.
It was so much pomp and circumstance. And it was all a lie. There was nothing here to celebrate. These men came here to buy women for the purpose of killing them. This shouldn’t be a celebration, it should be a serious and solemn occasion.
Swallowing my disgust, I removed myself from the crowd, sipping on my expensive wine and nibbling on something that may or may not have been salmon. Spices and weird cheeses had obliterated the original taste.
“How long is this going to take?” I asked Gabriel through our mind link.
He shrugged. “A few hours.”
I sighed and tapped my walking stick on the black stone. “I’m leaving.”
“You are not,” he snapped, and along with Connell blocked my escape. “We agreed. My Goddess Roman, we need some peace. You need some peace.”
“Fine,” I grumbled just as a door in the back of the room opened, and the most beautiful girls imaginable filed into the grand hall in an orderly queue.
Breeders were chosen for their appearance, strength, and intelligence. Personally, I would not have placed their looks on the top of my list, but that was how it turned out. Everyone wanted their child to have the best possible genes, and it all started with the mother.
The girls lined up against the far wall and very demurely placed their hands behind their backs. All of them appeared excited, and most were smiling. Did they not know what awaited them?
Two of the Omegas rushed over to the girls, giving each of them a glass of what I assumed was wine, but no one offered them any food. They were all rather slender, some even a little too thin for my liking. “When all this is done,” I say to my advisors. “I want to do an investigation into this place.”
“Uh-huh,” Connell agreed. “Something’s not right.”
No one but the three of us was alive when the red palace went into operation nearly three hundred years ago, but whenever a new Alpha took command and appointed new overseers, I’d remind them of the laws and conduct I expected. Now, I wasn’t so sure they paid me any mind.
“The king gets first pick,” Alpha George announced.
“Thank you,” Gabriel said aloud.
My friends followed me as I made my way through the crowd to the queue of beautiful young women. I felt physically sick as I walked past each of them. One, in particular, a stunning redhead with green eyes and the cutest spattering of freckles across her nose caught my attention right away. “What is your name?” I spoke for the first time.
A collective shudder ran through the gathering. This is why I never spoke in front of werewolves unless I absolutely had to. “Gloria, your majesty,” the girl whispered.
“How old are you?”
I shook my head. She was way too young for me, and I had no real attraction to her, despite her exceptional looks, but when I moved on, I noticed that Connell didn’t come with us. “Do you want her?” I asked him, using our mind link again.
“I think so…I feel drawn to her in the most unsettling way.”
“Have her then.”
“Not as a breeder,” he said. “As my mate.”
“She’s young. You’ll have to wait another year.”
“Yes,” he replied. “I know but…”
I turned to Alpha George, who regarded me with anxious eyes. “My advisor will have this one,” I say aloud. “Gloria, is it?”
“Yes,” she whispered in a small voice.
“Her starting price is--” George started.
“Beta Gabriel will settle the account.”
"That's not how it works. You have to put in a bid, your majesty."
"Be grateful I'm paying at all." I growled at the Alpha. "Connell claims this girl as his. That is the end of it."
The Alpha's brazen demand for money enraged me. It was my money that funded the palace, and George received a sizable salary for his work here, but I couldn’t embarrass him too much in front of the other wolves and undermine his authority like that. I’d have the conversation about his exploits at the palace later.
None of the other girls drew my attention. Shaking my head, I stepped away and turned to Gabriel. “Pay the man for Gloria, and let’s go.”
“You don’t want any of them?”
“No. They’re not to my…taste.”
“Just pick one and bite her…she’ll be to your taste then.”
I laughed, despite my Beta’s disrespectful remark. “It’s fine. We’ll do a tour of the territories. I’ll find someone I like.”
I turned to Alpha George. “We’ll be taking our leave. I thank you for your hospitality.”
“None of the girls are to your liking?”
I shook my head but didn’t elaborate. There was no need for me to explain myself to him.
“I can fetch some of the younger bree— Lunar virgins if your majesty would prefer.”
It took me a moment to digest what he had said to me, and if Gabriel hadn’t intervened, I would have ripped the degenerate’s head off. “No, Alpha,” my Beta said. “There are rules for a reason.”
“I’ll wait outside,” I said, rushing from the hall before I forgot myself and clawed the sick fuck’s heart out for my own satisfaction.
I stepped out of the hall, and at that exact moment, a commotion broke out behind me. “Stop her!” someone screamed.
Curious, I turned around just in time to see a young woman in only her underwear burst through a nondescript door. A group of bedraggled men, I’m assuming Omegas looking for cheap breeders, and an older she-wolf in her fifties with heavy make-up was hot on the girl’s heels.
Frantic, and clearly terrified, she came straight at me. Before I could step aside, she ran into me. I barely felt it, but she staggered backward, tripped over her own feet, and fell flat on her backside. “What do you think you’re doing?” the she-wolf asked, but just as quickly her mouth slammed shut and she bowed low. “Your majesty. Forgive us…this breeder--”
“Breeder?” I asked, raising my eyebrows at the woman, and ignoring her uncontrolled reaction to hearing my voice. “Does she not have a name?”
“Jane,” the mistress replied.
The young woman, Jane, looked up at me, and for a moment I was taken aback. She was unremarkable, especially compared to the girls in the grand hall, but she had the most amazing eyes I’d ever seen, and I’d been around for a long time. “What is going on here?” I asked.
The commotion drew the attention of the guests in the grand hall, and they started to trickle into the entrance hall to see what was going on. “She tried to run, your majesty,” the older woman said.
“No. Why is she half naked?” I looked down on the girl again, straight into her captivating, honey-coloured eyes. A bruise was forming on her right cheek, and for some reason it enraged me. “Is this how we treat our Lunar virgins? Worse than livestock?” I bent over and gripped the girl by her upper arm, dragging her back to her feet. “Where are your clothes?”
“Torn,” Jane said. “They tore my clothes off and…groped me.”
Anger roiled in my chest, and it took every bit of self-restraint I had not to start tearing this place apart. “Your majesty,” Alpha George said behind me. “I apologise for this…unseemly display. You can rest assured, the girl will be punished for her--”
Uncontrolled, my aura burst from my body and rolled over the gathering. Everyone dropped to their knees and bared their throats to me in a display of submission. That was, everyone except for Jane, who did a full turn, an expression of curiosity on her face. “What are you doing to them?” she whispered in awe.
I was too shocked to answer her. My aura should have brought her to her knees like it did everyone else. Gabriel and Connell looked at me in surprise, their eyes wide, mouths hanging open. “Why isn’t your aura affecting that girl?” Connell asked through our mind link.
I stared at the wolves surrounding me, all of them kneeling before the three Lycans, baring their throats in submission. I’ve only ever heard about Lycans, but never actually saw one. From what Mistress Katrina told us, they kept to themselves and lived in their ancient castle, from where they ruled the rest of us. The three massive men were as different as they were alike. All three of them were taller than even Alpha George, with broad shoulders and powerful auras. I figured the tallest of the Lycans, a man with raven black hair that was slightly too long and piercing blue eyes, was our king. Every feature was perfect, from the angular cut of his jaw to the straight nose, full lips, and high cheekbones. And for some reason or the other, I found myself wondering what it would feel like to have his massive, perfect hands on my body, caressing my skin. I shuddered at the thought and violently shook my head as if that would help to clear out the unwelcome images that suddenly invaded
Roman's POVGabriel tossed Jane over his shoulder, and Connell disappeared back into the grand hall to retrieve Gloria. I stared death at Alpha George. “When I come back here, and I will be back, I expect to see an improvement, or there will be consequences.”“Yes, King,” the Alpha muttered.Most werewolves hated us, but they feared and respected us at the same time. It was an unpleasant dichotomy we all had to live with. They couldn’t kill us, but Lycans could kill them with a mere thought, and very few wolves had the courage to test our patience.I nodded at Gabriel, who spun around and marched out of the reception room with Jane who hung over his shoulder like a dead deer. Connell joined us a moment later, his hand on Gloria’s elbow, guiding her to the car. “By all means, send me a bill for the cost of the girls,” I say. “I will compensate you.”“Yes, King.”I turned on my heel and followed my two advisors out of the red palace and into our waiting limousine. Gabriel waited until I
It was night by the time we pulled up to the massive, ornate wrought iron gates. I couldn’t see much, apart from the beautiful gates with their swirly patterns at the top, and the thick iron bars below, but from what I could tell, the stone wall surrounding the castle was at least three metres high. We stopped twice on our way here, mostly so Gloria and I could use the restroom. Every time, Connell escorted us inside while the king waited in the car. All I could think was that the man must have had a bladder of steel. The drive from the gates to the castle took ten minutes over a cobbled driveway that vibrated the seats, which made my numb butt cheeks tingle and buzz. I squirmed in my seat, trying to ease my discomfort. The king suddenly looked up at straight at me. He shook his head as if he couldn't believe I existed, then looked out the window again. At long last, the limousine pulled up to the castle. I fell out of the car, shaking my legs, trying to get the circulation going, w
I stared at the stunning brunette in sheer disbelief. Why was she going off on me as if I had any say in the matter? “I didn’t…I didn’t choose this,” I tried to explain, but my feeble excuse fell on deaf ears. “What did you do? Did you use some kind of magic? A potion? Tell me, bitch.” “I didn’t do anything.” But it was weird, I had to give her that. I wasn’t king material, anyone with eyes could see that. The brunette’s nose turned up like she was smelling something bad. “What does he see in you anyway?” Since I didn’t know the answer to that question, I didn’t answer her. “Hm.” She sniffed loudly. “You’ve come to a dangerous place. I’d be careful if I were you.” “Harriet,” Kenneth said from the hallway. “You were told to leave this wing.” I expected Harriet to argue, but she turned around and ran down the corridor, leaving me alone with Kenneth. I took a step away from the wolf. Always that reminder that I was vulnerable, that males only use us for one thing. “The king sent fo
I wanted to tell him to stop. I saw his claws earlier, saw how easily he punched into the old Omega’s chest – no human can do anything like that -- but the words wouldn’t come. A steel hand gripped my throat and tightened around my vocal cords, making it impossible to speak. King Roman hooked his thumbs around the top of joggers and bent over, pulling his trousers down as he did. He lifted his head and looked at me through the fringe of hair that flopped over his eyes. He was absolutely breathtaking. Until he came along a few hours ago, I never gave men much thought. In my head, they were nothing more than brutish rapists, not handsome, arrogant, yet somehow also charming, kings with a slight anger management problem. My overtaxed heart started beating in my throat, and blood rushed through my veins so fast that I was dizzy from it. Blinking at him, I took in large gulps of air in an effort to slow down my galloping heart. The king straightened and threw his trousers on the couch n
Roman’s POV I couldn’t sleep. Jane’s image haunted me. When I touched the rune on her neck, I almost lost my damn mind. I sent her away soon after. I was too afraid of myself and my reactions to her, afraid that I’d get swept up by the bond, that I’d forget myself and do things to her. She was too pure, too innocent, for a wolf like me. I wish I knew what the Goddess was thinking, sending me such a mate. But Jane was the one she gave me, and there would be no denying her. There wasn’t another one out there waiting for me, and I had no plans on waiting another six hundred years for my second chance. When the grandfather clock in the hallway outside my bedroom chimed five times, I gave up on my battle with sleep and got up. After a long shower, I returned to the living area that also served as my private office where I did my work by the window that overlooked the garden Lilly loved so much. I couldn’t actually bring myself to look at it, let alone go down there, but it was enough
It took me a while to find Gloria. The castle was easily three times the size of the red palace, and I kept getting lost. When I somehow made my way back to the lobby for the fourth time, Kenneth took pity on me and took me straight to Gloria’s door. Unlike me, she didn’t wear a servant’s uniform. She wore a pretty pink dress and matching sandals, perfect for a warm summer’s day. “So you are a trophy?” I asked right away. “No,” Gloria replied. “I don’t know what I am.” She gave me one of her dazzling smiles and gripped my hands in hers. “But isn’t this grand? We won’t die as breeders!” I nodded. It worked out well for both of us. So far, the king hadn’t made any moves on me, but even if he did, it was still infinitely better than being breeders. “Are you a servant?” she asked, taking in my attire. “Yes. I’m the king’s body servant.” “What’s that?” I quickly explain it to Gloria in the same way Milly did. “But, he said he doesn’t need me, so now I don’t know what his plans are.”
Roman's POV I had very little control left. At first, when Connell couldn’t find Jane, I thought nothing of it. The property was big, and there were a hundred places she could be, but then Gloria returned from the stables without her, and I was worried enough to send every available guard out to look for Jane. Still, in the back of my mind, I kept thinking that she’d be back by lunch, then, as lunchtime came and went, I was sure she’d be back by dinner. When she didn’t show up at my door at eight, I flew into an uncontrolled rage, tearing through the castle, looking for something I could kill. I was sure she had been taken, as my family had been taken, and the longer she was gone, the more I convinced myself that I would never see her again. By the time she came back, I was out of my mind, tearing the castle apart, and well beyond reason. I grabbed Jane by the wrist and pulled her after me into my room. Too emotional to shift back to human, I slammed the door so hard that soft whi