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Wolves of Haven: Forsaken chapter one teaser

***Please note, this is not the final and is unedited.


"Throw me to the wolves & I will return leading the pack." - Unknown

Chapter One

Fall of Judas


Arno Manikas hurried through the front door of his home, locking it behind him. He looked at his watch then cursed under his breath before hurrying down the darkened hallway towards his office. After entering a code into the keypad the lock disengaged and he slipped inside the dark room, closing the door behind him, securing the lock. He stood there for a moment with his head resting against the steel door as he caught his breath and tried to figure out how so much had gone wrong so quickly.
For more than a century he had patiently waited, biding his time and spreading pieces across a very broad board that spanned many countries and packs, but in only a few days all of that preparation and hard work had been lost and would apparently be his down fall.
He questioned why and how, over and over he asked himself how it was possible and why, what he could have done differently to protect himself and best interests…
The only thing he could think of was someone is playing him, setting him up, trying to force him to take the fall for something they were scheming, something that went beyond his control and own greater plan.
If that was the case than he needed to find the bastard and rip his heart out before it was his heart that was being ripped out.
When he hit the light switch, the soft flicking of the switch was accompanied by the unmistakable sound of a gun cocking.
Arno spun around then snarled.
Sitting in one of two chairs across from his desk was the very last person he was in the mood to see.
His wife.
“How did you get in here?” he demanded, eying the revolver in her hand that was pointed at him.
Ophelia smiled and batted her long, black lashes. “As much as you try to hide from me, Dearest Husband,” she said and neither of them missed her tone and the venomous words, “I know everything.”
Arno’s top lip snarled up over his teeth and he growled.
“You do not scare me,” she reminded him. “Sit, we have much to discuss.”
“I rather stand,” he informed her; it’d be easier to cross the room, closing the distance between them, from the door then it would be with his desk between them.
“I rather you rot in Hell,” she retorted, “but patience I will exercise. Sit,” she repeated.
He started to step forward, to close the distance between them so he could snap her neck, something he had wanted to do since the moment he met her, but stopped when the lamp on the table on the far wall clicked on.
“I believe the lady asked you to sit,” William said; he was sitting in one of two tufted leather club chairs by the fireplace, farther away from Ophelia than Arno was, but they all knew William was a hundred times faster and would rip Arno’s throat out before he got within reaching distance of the woman. “Sit,” he said, his tone level and void of emotion.
Arno glared at him as he skirted along the wall to his desk then sat.
Now he had even more questions that demanded answers, the main ones being how in the hell they were able to infiltrate his secure office without him knowing, and better yet, without him smelling either of them?
Ophelia smiled. “That was not so hard, now was it?” she mused.
“No, it was not,” Arno grumbled. “Why are you here?”
She continued to smile, leaving the gun pointed directly at him. “Well, first of all this is well overdue,” she said, as if it were obvious, then pulled the trigger. The well placed shot hit his shoulder, knocking him back in his chair, rolling both away from the desk and into the wall behind it.
“Nice shot,” William commented.
A perverse moaned escaped her full lips. “That was most enjoyable, but I am not close to being done,” she warned.
Arno snarled and rolled his shoulder, causing it to pop; a bullet wouldn’t kill him, even a bullet to the head or heart was hard pressed to kill a werewolf: typically the wolf was left without recollection of anything if shot in the head, and a shot to the heart usually left the victim unable to change into a wolf ever again. “Maturity at its finest,” he snarled, ignoring the sting in his shoulder.
Ophelia merely shrugged with a sheepish smile then rested the gun on her lap. “Dearest Husband, we have much to discuss and you do not have much time remaining.”
He cocked an eyebrow. “Pray tell, why would you assume that? You’re the ancient human of inferiority,” he retorted.
William glared at him but bit his tongue; this was Ophelia’s moment, not his.
“Yes, I suppose you are correct,” she agreed. “Though, you will understand soon enough. Just as you caused a clock to tick away above poor Arianna’s head, there is now one above yours thanks to our lovely daughter in-law,” she said with a smile.
Arno’s eyes widened. “No,” he stammered, getting to his feet then started pulling his clothing off until he was standing in only slacks and shoes.
“Oh yes,” she purred as understanding washed over him.
With a shaking hand, Arno reached up and touched the bleeding hole in the front of his shoulder then growled when thin, black veins rose to the surface of his skin, spidering away from the hole to the surrounding tissue. “What have you done to me?!” he demanded.
Ophelia raised the gun and cocked the hammer back. “The next one will be between your eyes if you do not sit,” she warned.
When William stood, Arno quickly sat down; what was to come was nothing compared to William’s wrath in the meantime.
“We have questions,” Ophelia said, resting the gun on her lap when William came to stand behind her, resting a hand on her shoulder; he would protect her to the death. “Though, the answers, ironically enough, we have already found.”
Arno continued to glare at her; obviously they knew, and it wouldn’t end well for him. There was no way that he would survive, especially now that he was Forsaken. “If that’s the case, why am I alive? Why are you toying with me? Kill me already, that’s what you want to do,” he accused. “William always hated me, especially when I took the position of Alpha. It was only a matter of time before he killed me to take it back.”
Ophelia nodded her agreement. “In your mind,” she said and he snarled. “The position in which you feel William longs to have once more will not go to him, instead it will go his son, the true heir of the Lykos. All of your planning and scheming to prevent that from happening, to bring down the true Alpha of the Lykos, is moot. There is nothing you can do to prevent our son from making control of the pack…” her words trailed off when William snarled. Tenderly, reassuringly, she patted his hand. “I suppose that is where our story shall begin, Arno, while we watch you become fully Forsaken. You really should not have sought out the Puppet Master,” she said and Arno’s eyes widened; they knew much more than he thought. “Especially a Master that was fraud, like you,” she scolded.
He struggled to swallow the lump in his throat, trying to hide his fear but he was radiating with it.
“You have made many mistakes, Dearest Husband, but that will be remedied tonight,” Ophelia assured him. “Since you are so very fond of elaborate plans and plays for power, allow me to tell you how everything you have been working on over the course of centuries proved to be your undoing in only a handful of weeks. It truly is the least I could do as we immensely enjoy watching you die,” she said with a smile then leaned forward some and batted her lashes. “The best part, and you will truly enjoy the irony, it was the youngest heir of the Lykos that is solely responsible for your downfall. Is that not simply hilarious?” she beamed and William smirked.

Eight weeks ago….

Ophelia’s light green eyes moved over the face of the woman sitting across from her as she absently stirred her tea.
Akia was feeling slightly awkward just sitting there. Thankfully Eve promised to be on her best behavior, not that any of them believed that the annoying and rude wolf would keep her promise, but both were getting antsy sitting across from their soon-to-be mother in-law. The woman wasn’t what either of them was expecting, not in the least. Instead of a fail, ancient looking woman that should have been on her deathbed, Ophelia was tall and statuesque: her dark olive complexion was smooth and didn’t hint that she was a day over fifty even though she was in her seventies, light jade green eyes sparkled like gems and didn’t miss a thing, her handshake was firm, long black hair hadn’t a single gray hair and rolled over one shoulder in a thick braid that went midway down her waist, and her figure was curvy and healthy. Akia knew that Damian’s mother went through a bout of cancer early in their relationship, he spent a lot of time with his mother during the first year together because of it, but when the cancer went into remission, Damian changed and was much happier and didn’t speak of his mother being frail or aged anymore; instead she was passionate and opinionated.
Akia was terrified to hear Ophelia’s opinion of her.
“The ring fits,” Ophelia said, breaking the silence, bringing her cup of tea to her lips, eying the hand of the young woman across from her.
“Yes, Ma’am,” Akia said with a nod. “It’s beautiful and too much, but your son is too stubborn to take it back.”
She nodded her agreement. “He is like his father.”
That was a very loaded statement.
“The asshole you married or his biological father?” Eve blurted out.
Ophelia cocked an eyebrow then smirked. “I was wondering when the other one would show up to tea,” she mused. “Eve, I am assuming.”
Eve leaned back in her chair and crossed her arms, irritated that the woman wasn’t surprised in the least. “The one and only,” she said, her eyes swirling liquid gold and ocean-blue. “We’re both here, if you were curious.”
“No, not really,” Ophelia said, setting her cup down. “I was warned solid gold was Eve, ocean-blue is Akia, the woman my precious son loves, and when the eyes swirl you are both present.”
“And that doesn’t strike you as odd?” Eve pressed.
She shrugged her shoulders ever so slightly. “When my precious son is involved, nothing surprises me anymore. I knew when they moved in together and started renovating the loft in the shipping district. Did my lovely little boy honestly think that he got a steal on that property? It was William’s and he gave it to him; what was paid was placed into a high interest account for later. There truly is nothing William would not do for his son, nothing, and since the two of you are sitting before me,” she paused to choose her words carefully, “that means William does not view either of you as a threat and approves of you, thus I approve of you. Is this meeting well overdue? Yes, it is, though I cannot blame either of you for it since Damian was hiding the fact he was a werewolf from you throughout most of your relationship, and you yourself had only most recently told him you are a werewolf, the lone female in existence. Oh the trouble that will cause,” she teased with a wink.
Eve chuckled; she liked Ophelia.
Akia was still on the fence though.
“Since you asked which father, it is safe to assume that Damian knows,” Ophelia said.
“Yes, but he hasn’t discussed it with me yet. He’s trying to wrap his head around how he missed it all of these years,” Akia admitted.
Ophelia sighed. “I have asked how he missed it myself countless times,” she admitted. “They are so much alike, and physically they look alike now that Damian is older. The eyes, how he could not see that he was looking at his own eyes when looking at William is beyond me. You knew?”
Akia nodded. “The moment I saw him I knew,” she admitted. “The eyes, the way they both fold up every piece of paper they can get their hands on when idle, their stubbornness… I thought I was stubborn, but I’m nowhere near the level those two are.”
“You are not telling me anything I do not already know,” she said with a chuckle.
“What happen? Why did you marry Arno when you… You were pregnant with Damian, weren’t you?”
Ophelia’s smile fell. “Yes. It was a different time back then; women were meant to be seen and not heard, and if you had not noticed, I like to be heard and always have the last word.”
Eve chuckled; she liked Ophelia more and more by the minute.
“William was the Alpha, a wolf of such reputation and power that he terrified potential partners. Rumor throughout the pack was that he had a dozen wives throughout his reign. I knew the truth. He had not taken a single wife because none were worthy of him… Most likely it was because they annoyed him; William Winterfeld loathes weak women. When I first met the notorious William Winterfeld,” she said with a smirk, “I punched him in the face. I was barely fourteen years old, thought I knew everything, and was adamant that no man or wolf was worthy of me, and to be honest, he annoyed me with his very presence. Being the pompous ass that he was, he pushed me against the wall and demanded if I knew who he was. When I said, yes, you are William Winterfeld, Alpha of the Lykos, he was taken back. I knew who he was but I refused to show him the respect that everyone else did. He had not earned my respect, thus would not get it.
“That summer marked the beginning of something that I never expect to happen or find, especially from a man: respect from a male of stature. My father was a werewolf, my mother a recessive carrier, my eight sisters were all recessive carriers, and I was not. According to pack knowledge I am a recessive carrier, but William knew the truth. He said he smelled it, and that could have been what made me special. When he left at the end of the summer, he had prolonged his business as long as he could overseas, it felt as if a piece of my heart was being taken with him. I was so young and stupid, and was in love with a wolf that I could never call my own. When he kissed me on the hand goodbye, I said the first that came to mind, ‘I hate you’. Thankfully he laughed, he usually did when I was involved, and said, ‘Oh how I wish that was true.’ He truly is a cocky bastard.”
Akia nodded. “Like father like son,” she said.
“Sadly, yes. Six months later he returned just to leave again with me by his side. The age difference was frowned upon in the states of course, but William was from another time, from a century in which girls were married at fourteen and sometimes younger. He was very respectful, never pressured me or asked to share my bed. It was I that attacked him on the eve of my fifteenth birthday,” Ophelia said, blushing. “Our engagement was brought to the Beta and Gamma because of his position in the pack. The Gamma had no problem with it, he supported William without question, but the Beta was another story. Many arguments were made over the course of many months, and in that time I became pregnant. I was terrified. I was unmarried, young, naïve, and thrown into the middle of werewolf matters that no female had ever been thrusted into before. William was torn between what he knew was best for the pack and what his hearted wanted; he took a leave to weigh the options, leaving me in New York.
“In his absence, Arno brought allegations against me. He accused me of being human—genetic testing was not prevalent in that time so we did not know he was correct until later—and that being an inferior as I was, would cost William everything, even his life. The pack would unanimously back a vote of no confidence and Arno would make sure that the Covenant backed it as well. I did not need him to spell it out, I was educated enough in werewolf matters to know that it meant death for William and our child. In order to save my heart and child, I promised that I would return to Greece and that William would never see me again, I would make sure of it, but we both knew that nothing and no one could stop William when he wanted something. In fear for his life and that of my child, I took the compromise that Arno offered: marriage to him.
“It was not until after we exchanged vows and I took his name that I discovered the truth, but it was too late. Arno would not grant a divorce or annulment, and it was against pack bylaw to take the wife of another, so I was stuck with a monster while the love of my life had to watch. Arno and I never consummated our marriage,” she said, dabbing a napkin to her eyes. “And I never lived with that vile piece of shit. I lived in William’s buildings, sharing a floor, always neighbors since we could be nothing more according to pack bylaw. When Damian was born, William knew right away that he was his. There was no mistaking those eyes. Arno became unbearable and threatened our son, striking him when I was not around. William took care of that, and soon after…” her words trailed off and she shook her head.
“I begged William to move on with his life,” she said after a long moment of silence. “I wanted him to know the joys of having a child that he could publically call his, one that he would not have to sacrifice everything for as he had repeatedly with Damian from the shadows, and he eventually did… I have never forgiven myself for asking that of him. Arianna was so beautiful and talented, but I knew the moment he called me to say he was having a daughter that I made the wrong decision yet again: Arianna, healthy or not, would not outlive her father. William is a man of very few words when it comes to his heart and what he is feeling, but I knew from experience with Damian that he would not handle her passing well. When he called from Sweden and told me she was sick, I got on the first plane leaving Boston and was by his side, arriving to find Damian already there. My little boy truly loved his little sister, he would have protected her to the death if needed, and that nearly happened a few times. I fear he still has not come to terms with her death. Did you ever meet our precious Arianna?”
Akia shook her head. “We purposely kept family and pack from each other for relationship-preservation reasons.”
“Smart girls,” Ophelia said with a chuckle.
“How did you do it?” she asked. “How did you simply stand back and watch the man you love, the one you should have been with, go on with his life and marry another?”
Ophelia reached across the table and took Akia’s hand in hers. “Sweetheart, you are under a great misunderstanding. I never stood back or got over it. I live in the house next to William’s primary estate and it is my bed he shares every night, not that of his wife or her young lover. Arianna was not aware of the arrangement due to her fragile emotional and physical state, and neither was anyone else other than his wife and her girlfriend for obvious reasons, thus it was not a problem. I did not need William’s last name in order to have him and be the one he was meant to love until death do we part. The means in which you and Damian have gone through to keep your privacy and relationship intact, I fear, is hereditary,” she said with a chuckle. “His father and I have been doing the same since the moment we met, and we will continue to do so until I no longer draw breath, though I fear he will continue to love me long after I am gone, and since he is ridiculously stubborn I know that he will never marry again.”
Cocky bitch, Eve silently mused, but she and Akia both greatly respected Ophelia and William for the means in which they’ve gone through in order to stay together, regardless of the pack and those in power trying to pull them apart.
“I have so much respect for you, now knowing the means you’ve gone through,” Akia said.
Ophelia smiled. “Yes, I know.”
She chuckled. “Now you’re taking lines from my book. I love your son.”
“That I know as well. You two, three, will be good for each other. I just hope I am around to give him away at the altar. No pressure of course, Sweetheart,” Ophelia added the latter with a smirk.
Akia’s smile fell. “That’s hereditary as well,” she dryly informed her.
“Yes, I suppose it is,” Ophelia agreed. “Should we plan for a small, yet lavish, wedding? Niagara Falls is close and I know that William would have no problem paying for the event. Damian is his only son after all.”
Akia groaned then buried her face in her hands; it was a set up, she knew it had to be. “I’m killing him for his,” she groaned.
“I would not suggest it,” Ophelia said then pulled an iPad from her purse and pulled up some wedding gown photos she had already loaded up. “What do you think of this one?” she asked with a smile.
“Kill me now,” Eve grumbled.
****
William looked up from his hands to Damian who was sitting across from him in the hallway; they were listening to Ophelia and Akia, making sure Eve didn’t break her promise.
“I’m still irritated,” Damian said, not bothering to look at him.
“For having sex with your mother or for not telling you I was your father?” he asked.
Damian made a face. “Ew. It doesn’t matter how old I am, there are some things a man, a son, doesn’t want to know, and sleeping with his mother is one of them… When I called to ask for your help with Kid’s shopping list, I called mama next but her voice really… Ew, were you two having sex when I called?”
William chuckled. “No, we were going through photo albums. She is still mourning Arianna’s death. She viewed her as her own daughter, always had.”
That wasn’t much better than interrupting them having sex. “Did you know Arno did that?” he asked, stealing the mirth from William. “Did you know that he threatened my mother, threatened you, all to force her to marry him so you couldn’t have her?”
“I suspected as much,” William admitted. “Did your mother tell me any of what she told your fiancée? No. As much as I love her and respect her, especially the fact that she can keep a secret like no other, I hate that about her because she keeps things from me as well. She’s trying to protect me and my heart, I’m well aware of that, but it doesn’t make it any easier to accept. How did you not know I was your father?”
Damian rolled his eyes. “Arno made sure that everyone called me his, that I called him father even though it was more than obvious that it turned his stomach every time the word left my lips. When I was little, and it continued into adulthood I suppose, I had always prayed, asking God why you couldn’t have been my father instead of Arno? All I wanted was for him to look at me the way you did, but I knew he never would, and now I know why. I was never his and I was nothing more than means for him to control you, threaten you in a way that the pack couldn’t vote against on. I’m sorry he did that.”
“Don’t,” William snapped at him. “Don’t ever apologize to me for anything, ever. I love you, I loved you even before you were conceived, just the thought of you gave me hope that I could one day be a father unlike my own, a father that wouldn’t make the same mistakes that mine did. And I failed.”
He shook his head. “You didn’t. You were my father, even if it wasn’t in name you were in my heart. You were my father then and you still are now. You’ve done so much for me, even the stuff I didn’t know about, and I’m so very thankful for all of it. I wish I could get those years back that I was forced to call that bastard father.”
William nodded understanding. “Patience and eyes, that’s what we have to have right now, until we’re given the word.”
Damian gave him a look. “You sound like a broken Ouija board,” he commented, taking one from Akia’s book.
“Yes, I suppose I do,” William dryly agreed. “I am learning patience in my old age, but I was assured that the atonement will be sweetened with blood, thus patience I will exercise.”
“Apparently Eve had words with you,” Damian surmised causing William to chuckle. He pulled his cell phone out then started text messaging Ulrik; he’d need backup and apparently the only one that could control Eve without a fist or medication was the blue-haired child that was currently missing in action.


***Wolves of Haven: Forsaken will be available mid-May.