Rowan and the Wolf
I just adored the idea of adapting a fairy tale into an MM romance. I do hope you like the start of what will be a new book later in the year, loosely based on Little Red Riding Hood. A huge thank you to Stormy Glenn for giving me this opportunity. Enjoy.
Clutching the parcel tighter under his arm, Rowan slipped through the deep shadows cast by the old buildings in the run-down neighborhood. His grandmother used to tell him stories of how safe and family-friendly the place used to be, years ago when she and his grandfather first married. Now, it was a den of thieves and drug addicts all looking for their next opportunity.
There was a cackling laugh off to his right and Rowan peered over his shoulder even as he kept moving forward. His grandmother’s house was just two blocks further. I’ve got to get there, I won’t leave her without food. Back when Rowan’s parents were killed by rogue wolves, his grandmother was the only one prepared to offer him a home. The alpha at the time had dismissed him as too small, not worth the resources, but Rowan’s grandmother had never made him feel anything but special. Even though Rowan had since gotten his degree and moved out, he still visited every week without fail, bringing her all the food he could spare. It was the least he could do for the woman who saved him.
Just one more block to go. Rowan could almost smell the hint of his grandmother’s baking in the still night air. Even though she subsisted on a meager pension the pack alpha was forced to pay on the death of her mate, Rowan’s grandmother spent her days baking for the neighborhood kids who roamed the streets while their parents were sleeping off the night before. She never forced her good nature on anyone; baking huge trays of scones, nourishing muffins, and batches of cupcakes, she’d leave the trays on her stoop. Rowan had watched the kids slink like alley cats, grabbing what they could reach, but then they’d just as quickly disappear. Rogue alley was not the place to be caught asking questions.
It was all the fault of the reigning alpha who didn’t give a damn about his people or how they survived. Although gossip on the streets said the alpha’s health was failing and while in normal circumstances that would be good news for the likes of Rowan and his grandmother, the alpha’s son, Percy was even worse. Legends of his cruelty and sadism weren’t exaggerated. Rowan still had a scar on his back from their last run in and he’d never walk without a limp again. After that incident, his grandmother begged him to stop coming. He, in turn begged her to move in with him. It wasn’t as though his apartment wasn’t big enough. But she stubbornly wanted to spend her last days in the house that had so many positive memories for her and he, just as stubbornly, wasn’t going to leave her to fend for herself.
Which was why he only crossed town when the night was dark, leaving his car where there were still working street lights. The bulb above his head now had been smashed out long ago, the new inhabitants of the area preferring the cover of darkness for their nefarious activities.
The sound of a rock kicked across the cracked pavement made Rowan’s heart stutter and he listened intently to his surroundings. There wasn’t a sound and that was never a good thing. Even on the darkest night, it was possible to hear the sounds of a child crying or the raucous drunks at one of the open house parties. But tonight, the neighborhood was silent, watchful, as though everyone knew danger lurked.
Rowan’s heart beat faster. He was so close, but even as he tried to relax his breathing, a voice in the darkness made his hackles rise.
“Little wolf, little wolf, what are you doing roaming around our territory at night; all alone, in the dark, with no one to save you.”
Rowan cringed. Percy’s voice was the stuff of nightmares. Although the alpha’s son, Percy would never be more than a beta with attitude above his station, but no one Rowan knew would ever dare say so to his face. To compensate for his lack of alpha status, Percy made sure he was the loudest and the meanest SOB in the pack.
“I’m just taking some provisions to my grandmother,” Rowan turned, keeping his back to the wall. He knew there was no point in running. Percy had ensured he’d never do that successfully again. “She gives so much to the pack’s children. I just wanted to ensure she has what she needs.” He clutched the parcel to his chest.
“She’s not your responsibility, is she?” Percy stepped out of the shadows. The leather jacket, complete with chains and ripped jeans made the man look like a reject from a punk concert; the four goons with him adding to the scene. Rowan recognized all of them from when he was growing up. The likes of Saul and Beau were friends with him at one stage when they shared a mutual love of computer games and coding. That had been before he’d shifted and now they were clones of the alpha’s son, complete with sneers. “Looking after pack members is the alpha’s responsibility. Are you aiming to challenge my father for his position, boy?”
Rowan gulped. “These are just a few special treats my grandmother had a fancy for. She’d never dream of asking the alpha for items so trivial.”
“Treats?” Percy’s malicious eyes gleamed as he looked at his friends. “We could certainly do with some treats, couldn’t we boys? Hand them over.”
Rowan squirmed but the hold on his parcel tightened. “I promised these to my grandmother. You wouldn’t want me to break my promise to a sweet old lady, would you?”
“How do I know you’ve got treats?” Percy’s bottom lip pushed out in a pout. “You could be smuggling contraband. Drugs. Booze. Blights on our territory. Hand the parcel over.”
“It’s nothing like that.” Percy was the biggest drug supplier in the area. Police had been trying to catch him for years, but every time Percy was caught, his father made the issue go away. When Percy learned the local precinct had a revolving door for people with his last name, his behavior got worse. “You could scent it, if I was carrying drugs. Honest. I’ve got nothing but flour, a few eggs, and some butter.”
“That’s not treats,” Percy scoffed. “You said treats.”
“It’s what my grandmother wanted. Please, she’s waiting for me. I’ve got to go.”
“I think he’s lying,” Percy looked across at Saul. “What do you think?”
Please, please, please, please. Doesn’t our past friendship mean anything? But Saul curled his lip. “I think we should just take it from him and if he’s lying, he can pay the consequences.”
“I’m not lying,” Rowan cried. His heart was beating so fast it felt as if it was coming out of his chest. He was struggling to breathe and the ache in his knee was a keen reminder of the last time he ‘paid the consequences.’ He hadn’t done anything wrong that time either, but for some reason Percy hated the fact he existed. Ripping open his package, he grabbed the bag of flour he’d bought just a few hours earlier. “See,” he said, holding it up. “Baking flour.” Taking a chance, he threw the bag at Percy, but Percy wasn’t quick enough to catch it. Rowan could only stare in horror as the bag split open and smashed all over Percy’s dark clothing.
Shit. Oh, well in for a penny, in for a pound. “You want the butter too. Oh, look, here’s the eggs.” His entire body was shaking by this time. Throwing them as hard as he could, Rowan scored a perfect hit with all six eggs. Saul growled as he wiped the remains of his off the side of his face.
“You asshole,” Percy screeched, looking down at his outfit. “This jacket cost me four hundred dollars.”
You got ripped off, but Rowan had exhausted the last of his bravado. As Percy and the others advanced on him, he cowered against the wall, no match for wolves so much larger than he’d ever be. Closing his eyes, Rowan sent out a fervent prayer that his grandmother wouldn’t come looking for him, at least until they were done. Rowan could see the rage in Percy’s eyes and knew he’d gone too far. Covered in flour and dripping egg white, the situation would’ve been funny if he wasn’t about to be killed. Closing his eyes, Rowan clamped his lips shut as he waited for the first punch.
“Percy, get away from that boy before I rip your arm from its socket.”
That wasn’t his grandmother’s voice. No, the speaker had a voice like dark chocolate with a spicy edge. Despite the harsh tones, Rowan felt a blanket of calm move down his back and his wolf sat up and whimpered. What the hell? That’s never happened before.
“This has got nothing to do with you, Shadow. This is a pack matter.”
Percy’s voice sounded shaky. Rowan risked peeking through his hands. The stranger was h-u-g-e HUGE. Percy was blocking Rowan’s view, but Rowan got the impression of tree-trunk legs and shoulders far wider than anyone he’d seen before.
“Didn’t dad give you the memo, Percy?” Shadow chuckled. “He stepped down this morning and gave me the pack. You know, seeing as I’m the oldest son and the only other alpha in this family. Now, get away from my mate.”
Rowan whimpered, he couldn’t help it. But he didn’t know what was bothering him more. The fact that Percy’s face was white underneath the flour; that the man who was now alpha of the pack was bigger than the current alpha would ever be; or…or…no wolf ever called someone their mate unless they meant it. Peering around Percy and the others’ legs, Rowan could see his escape. His grandmother’s house was just down the road, her solitary porch light shining like a beacon. Ignoring the tension swirling around, he crept as quietly as he could past the legs and down the road. He needed to speak to his grandmother.
Shadow could see Rowan sneaking away and smiled. His mate had survival instincts and he’d need them in the coming weeks. Besides, with Rowan out of the way for a minute, Shadow could concentrate on his scrawny brother and his cronies. When Shadow arrived, at Rowan’s grandmother’s insistence, he’d been horrified at what had happened to his old stomping grounds. Poverty and fear lurked on every corner, the houses all fallen into disrepair. It was as if the entire pack had lost hope.
And the reason for that was standing in front of him.
Shadow and Percy’s father had lost hold of his marbles a long time ago and that was obvious from the moment Shadow stepped into the mansion he’d lived in as a child. His father hadn’t showered in days, drool falling from his chin onto clothes that wouldn’t be accepted at an charity shop for rags. The situation didn’t take long to work out – Shadow’s father was alpha in name only; it was Percy who was running the show. Shadow could only imagine that if Percy had been born an alpha, their father would be dead. But Percy needed the old man alive to keep his position.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about, Shadow.” Percy appeared cockier than he had a right to be, but then he probably thought he was safe with his friends. “Everyone knows dad runs this pack with an iron fist. I just carry out his orders.”
“Did you miss the part where I said I’d seen dad already and he stepped down as alpha?” Shadow rolled his shoulders and clicked his neck first one side and then the other. “You might have left him a dribbling mess, but he had enough sense to submit the moment he saw me.”
“Bullshit.” Percy stuck out his chin. “The whole pack knows I’m next in line to be alpha. They won’t follow you.”
“Then they can leave the territory. I don’t give a shit.” Shadow cracked his knuckles for emphasis. “You knew I was coming back. All of you.” Staring at each wolf in turn, Shadow was disgusted none of them would meet his eyes. “Saul, Beau, I gave you a job before I left. Did you forget what I charged you to do – that you gave me your solemn promise you would do for me?”
“They follow my orders, not yours,” Percy interrupted quickly.
“Hey, it’s not our fault Rowan was hurt,” Beau yelled. “Percy ordered the hit on him. We were just following orders.”
“Hurt?” Shadow ran the sight of Rowan moving away through his mind. His wolf appeared in his eyes as he realized what was wrong with the picture. “He limps. Rowan wasn’t limping when I left. A wolf shifter doesn’t ever sustain permanent injury they just shift and heal.”
“They have to shift before the bone sets the wrong way,” Saul mumbled. “Percy held him in silver cuffs for a week after the last beating.”
“Shut the fuck up,” Percy shouted, slapping Saul on the shoulder. “What does it matter to you anyway? You left. Rowan is nothing but a drain on resources. He doesn’t matter. He’s never mattered.”
Ignoring Percy, Shadow focused on Beau and Saul. “You guys were Rowan’s best friends. Why didn’t you tell my brother that Rowan was my omega mate and I’d left orders for him to be protected with your lives?” Shadow’s claws flexed from his fingers and his fangs dropped.
“You’ve been gone ten years,” Saul said bitterly. “Things change. Of course, we told Percy about it when the alpha got sick and he started running things, but it was clear you weren’t coming back. You’re lucky Rowan’s still alive. If I had my way, he’d be dead. Guy always thought he was too good for the likes of us when he got his degree and created his first computer game.”
“Rowan didn’t want you to fuck him,” Percy cackled. “You looked like such a wuss, panting after him as though he was in heat. Fucking hilarious.”
Shadow slapped his fist into his open palm, silencing Saul’s growl. “Enough. You’ve all failed. Percy, you were never going to be alpha. No beta can take over a pack. As for you, Saul and Beau. I fucking trusted you. Now my Rowan is hurt and it’s all your fault.”
“Rowan doesn’t know he’s your mate, though, does he?” Percy’s laugh held a shred of hysteria. “He’s run from you. Big bad alpha can’t even keep his omega in line.”
“I know where Rowan is,” Shadow’s eyes turned feral. “I wouldn’t have wanted him to see this anyway. Who’s first?”
Snapping out his fist, Percy’s shriek pierced the air. In the carnage that followed, no one so much as stuck their nose out of their doors but the air of tension that hovered over the pack eased. By the time the last shriek gurgled away to nothing, everyone knew there was a new alpha in town. What that meant was anyone’s guess, but it couldn’t be as bad as it was before.
To Be Continued...
This story was PREVIOUSLY PUBLISHED in the SuMMer Heat Anthology in August of last year (which is now out of publication). This is a re-edited and lightly added to version of the same story and nothing in the story line has changed. Please do not purchase if you already own a copy of the anthology, thank you.
Stone, an alpha wolf and tracker for the council, was on an unusual but easily completed job; all he had to do was pick up a runaway omega and return him to his home pack. It sounded simple enough when he took the assignment, but when Stone catches sight of Wyatt, living in a derelict cabin in the middle of nowhere, he knows his life is about to change.
Wyatt, omega wolf, has been on the run from a forced mating for three years; living hand to mouth, doing his best to raise his four-year-old sister, Maddie. Always watching over his shoulder, scared to interact with anyone, he has no idea how much his life will change when a stranger knocks on his door during a summer storm.
But Wyatt’s past isn’t about to let him go and when the council gets involved, Stone must do his best to protect the man who stole his heart and the sweet little girl who calls him Uncle. After all, if you can’t stand the heat….
This is a short standalone story in my Alpha and Omega universe. 21,700 words. References to intended rape (didn't happen and is off page) may be a trigger for some. M/M true mates shifter story.
About the Author
Lisa Oliver had been writing non-fiction books for years when visions of half dressed, buff men started invading her dreams. Unable to resist the lure of her stories, Lisa decided to switch to fiction books, and now stories about her men clamor to get out from under her fingertips.
When Lisa is not writing, she is usually reading with a cup of tea always at hand. Her grown children and grandchildren sometimes try and pry her away from the computer and have found that the best way to do it, is to promise her chocolate. Lisa will do anything for chocolate.
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