The Alpha by Jenika Snow
Iwasn’t a man, not human, but something else, more powerful. Deadly. The strongest Otherworld creature that was known to walk the planet. So when my wolf rose up and took supremacy for the first real time in all my life, I stopped and took notice… let it consume me.
My Lycan’s distorted growl reverberated through my skull, my body locked tight, my focus sharper than it had ever been in the over two and a half centuries I’d walked this world.
It was her voice that had my inner beast rising in a way I’d never felt or experienced before, a pain unlike anything I could have imagined. I’d thought he was strong before, but hearing her voice made him exponentially so, as if I housed a hundred Lycans within me, and I’d destroy anything or anyone who thought to keep her from me.
My hand was lifting on its own as I gripped my shirt, right over my heart, the organ racing, pounding something painful and fierce as I moved closer to the source of the loveliest, most beautiful sound I'd ever heard.
And then I was standing there staring at Caelan’s mate, the phone she had in her hand panning around the interior, showing off the wealth and luxury of the Scottish Lycan king’s estate.
My animal pushed and clawed forward. I felt my eyes flash as he took supremacy.
She’s ours. We found her.
“Darragh?” my mate whispered in a soft, feminine voice, the panic clear. I knew I didn’t look quite human right now. I didn’t feel human.
I rubbed the spot over my heart repeatedly, unable to look away from the phone, at the pixelated vision of a goddess.
Long black hair, alabaster skin, eyes big and wide and shock-stricken. Even from the distance, with the shitty reception of the phone, I could make out the light freckles that danced along the bridge of her nose. She was the most beautiful creature I’d ever laid eyes on, and seeing her for the first time made me feel alive.
“Who is that?” my mate whispered so low it would have been hard to hear if I wasn't almost fully shifted into my beast, my senses more heightened, acute because of her. The rumbling growl of my wolf letting her know he was here, he’d protect her—we’d protect her, claim her, mark her—started to become louder. It filled the foyer in a deafening roar until it was all I heard.
I took a step forward, then another, unable to stop myself, this tether attaching itself from me to my mate, not caring that she wasn’t physically here. Vaguely I was aware of Caelan’s mate moving backward, the scent of her fear like acid in my nose. I sensed Caelan before I saw him, then a flash of his big body shooting out and landing in front of his small mate, protecting her as if he thought she was the one I was after.
I couldn't help but curl my lip in a snarl, a nonverbal, animalistic sound and display of how disinterested in his female I was. She’d never be the one I wanted, the one I’d waited centuries for.
The young lad growled, a warning to stay away from his mate. I snarled in return, my own warning.
“She’s mine,” I gritted out, my focus on that fucking phone, at my wide-eyed mate who couldn’t tear her focus from me either. It didn’t matter if she wasn’t here in the flesh. It didn’t matter if she was human or Otherworld. Her body recognized that I was something to her.
“Stay back, Cian. She’s mine. My mate,” Caelan said with unrestrained aggression lacing his voice. He got into a position of imminent attack.
I chuckled low and deep, my amusement at the fact that Caelan still thought this was about his female, that he thought I’d ever want anyone but the female destined to be mine and mine alone.
Caelan started rambling off in Gaelic, trying to reason with me. But I paid him no mind. He was a strong Lycan, even if he was over two centuries younger than me, because he had the blood of the Scottish Lycan king running through his veins. But even so, he was no match for me, especially not when he was trying to stand between me and what was mine.
I would have—could have so very easily—torn Caelan limb from limb. The threat of him trying to keep me away, even if he didn’t realize my mate was on the other end of that phone and that's who I wanted, couldn’t pierce through to my beast. I closed my eyes and shook my head, trying to grapple with control. I’d known the lad since he was a newborn pup. I’d helped raise him, trained him to make him the strong shifter he was today. I wouldn't allow my inner wolf to go primal.
“No’ her,” I gritted out, and even I heard the savagery in my voice. I lifted my hand to point at the phone, vaguely aware of the shift in the air, the change in atmosphere when they finally realized what exactly was going down. “Her,” I growled. “My mate.” I felt my eyes glow fiercely, my animal pushing forward again as I took a step closer.
“Darragh?” my female whispered, her eyes big on that small screen, her voice this soothing balm to my raging soul. I actually swayed on my feet, feeling this peace settle over me from that lone word. She was my priority and forever would be until I drew my last breath. “I don’t understand what I’m feeling.” My female glanced down at the table just as the screen froze, and I gritted my teeth, wanting to snatch that godforsaken device from Caelan’s mate's hand and clutch it to my chest.
“She’s mine.” I rumbled those dual words out again, knowing how fiercely Caelan would feel them, because he too had experienced it. I looked at Caelan for a moment, that silent confirmation and acceptance coming through the other male’s stark eyes. I turned my focus to his mate and gritted out in a voice that wasn’t nearly human, “Tell me about her. Tell me everything.” I didn’t hide my demand. No one would keep her from me. No one would keep information on my female from me.
“Cian, back the fook off,” Caelan snapped, clearly not liking the way I’d spoken to his mate. I could relate, but I didn’t fucking care.
I didn’t like it, but I did back off. I closed my eyes and exhaled. “I finally found her,” I whispered, feeling that elation move through every dark and hollow part of my body. I forced my eyes open and stared at Darragh. “Please. I need tae know about her. I need tae find out who she is.” My hand found its way to my chest. I rubbed the ache that settled in my heart, one that started to bloom there over the fact that I’d finally found my mate but didn’t have her here with me. “I need tae go tae her and make sure she’s mine.”
Darragh started shaking her head. She fucking dared to try to deny me what was mine, the female born to me, who I’d cherish and protect with every single fucking ounce of my strength. I didn’t hide the hard look that settled on my face as my wolf roared out that anyone would try and stop me.
“If ye or anyone else thinks tae keep my mate from me…” I looked at Caelan and made sure he heard the deep sound of warning loud and fucking clear. I thought back to when I’d first heard Darragh say my mate’s voice, how it had rolled off her tongue in a loving, friendly manner. “Evelyn.” I said my mate’s name for the first time, this euphoric feeling encompassing every single inch of me. “She’s an American.” Her accent had been unmistakable, and I wasn’t surprised, seeing as Caelan’s mate was also from the States. “If ye think no’ telling me anything about her will stop me from finding her”—I shook my head—“ye’d be wrong. A Lycan will no’ stop until he gets tae his mate.” I stared at Darragh, because I knew she was the one who had the answers I sought. She would be the barricade on getting a morsel of information about my female.
And so I let my grin spread across my face as pure male anticipation that only a Lycan male would feel slammed into me. I didn’t need to know anything more than I already did. I knew her name, where she was. The rest was easy enough to find, given the information I already knew about Caelan’s female.
I’d find my mate one way or another.
“Looks like this wolf is going tae America tae claim his prize.” And then I was turning and stalking away, having the greatest mission of my long life ahead of me.