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Excerpt: BEAST (Norseton Wolves 1, by Holley Trent)

500BEAST

Get it together. They’re gonna send you back.

They were probably watching Christina now from the shadows, wondering what the heck was wrong with her. Probably thought she was simpleminded, in addition to being uselessly small. She forced her eyes open and dared to glance over her shoulder.

The bench had been installed in a sort of courtyard at the intersection of six concrete walkways. Five stopped at small, square adobe houses—one of which she’d be living in with her mate, ostensibly. From where she sat, she couldn’t tell where the sixth walkway ended, as a house was in the way.

Her gaze tracked to the doorway of one of the houses, and there she found someone’s would-be prize.

Sit up, you idiot. She straightened her spine and looked over her other shoulder, too. There were two more males behind her.

One, two, three handsome wolves…

Only three. What does that mean? The mate call had stated that four mates were needed for this unnamed pack. If she’d known the numbers was just a darned estimate, she might not have come. In a competitive scenario, there was no way she’d beat out the other three women. No way, no how. She wrung her hands, only to stop when realizing how still the others were. Bored, even.

Of course they were. This might have even been a step down for them. So many packs had left their rural hunting grounds behind for the convenience of cities. The women Christina shared that bench with looked worldly in a way she wasn’t—experienced. Their stylish jeans clung just right. Their makeup might have worn off, but their pore-free skin and manicured eyebrows suggested that they knew how to use it. They wore their hair shorter than all the girls back home did, but then again, they were probably allowed to. Christina would bet good money—if she’d had any, besides the two hundred dollars wadded up in her sock—that they were women used to having some freedom. They’d probably put up a good fight to keep it, whereas Christina was struggling to just get a taste of it. Desperate, needy, pathetic wolf.

If these wolves only needed three brides, she’d surely be the one left out. That was common sense.

“Where the hell is Anton?” Adam, now at the other end of the bench, called back to the wolves in the shadows.

“Beast didn’t want to come outside to play,” one said.

So, there were four. That didn’t make her odds sound any better, though. She’d end up with that “beast,” knowing her luck.

Adam swore a blue streak under his breath before walking back to Christina’s end of the bench. He fixed his dark, wise stare on her for so long, she’d feared the Earth had stood still, but she couldn’t pull away from his gaze. Wouldn’t dare look away from her alpha. He could ruin her life, or change it for the better, all with the snap of his fingers. She still held out a little hope that he’d have some mercy on her, and that the goddess was with them on that day, guiding his decisions.

“Hmm.”

He moved on yet again to the woman beside her, and having had his second look, Christina buried her face in her hands, blocking out all of the noise around her.

She got skipped. Wasn’t even good enough for the one they called “Beast.”

She didn’t know how long she’d been sitting there, covering her face in shame. But when she looked up again, the other three women were gone. Turning slowly, she observed that the three men were, too. And where had Adam gone?

She sighed. “Probably to get my suitcase.”

He was bound to throw her back.

Well, she wasn’t going to go. There had to be someone else who’d take her—maybe some bottom-rung wolf, too weak to be a threat to his pack. She’d have to ask Adam if there were other calls.

Resolved, she nodded. That’s what she’d do.

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