In the first Northwest Maine Academy book, When a Wolf Howls, I introduced the Northwest Maine Academy, a small private high school run by werewolf shifters to give a safe environment for teenagers whose parents suspect that their child might have a twin living inside of them, waiting to be strong enough to force the first change. That's how I envision lycanthropy--not a disease, but an accident of birth that requires you to get the gene that produces a twin from both parents.
Apparently I like scientific answers for paranormal creatures, because I did the same thing with vampires when I wrote my vampire book. And oddly enough, both my vampires and my werewolves were presented to me with a story arc, in dreams. Yes, I really do look forward to going to sleep sometimes!
Both of these romances continue in the sequel, Worth the Wait. But there are two new romances as well. Grant Knutsen is one of the hunters from Canada who are relied upon by the pack when their tracking and hunting abilities are needed--this is more fully explained in the first book. But at his last appearance at the compound, Grant saw a black she-wolf who excited his inner wolf--in fact, he insisted immediately to him that she's their mate. But Grant has no idea who she is, or even what she looks like as a human. He only knows that his wolf craves her, and so does he. So when there's an opening in the pack security structure, he volunteers to fill that spot, hoping to meet and win the enticing she-wolf for his mate--no matter who she turns out to be.
This unedited scene is early in the book, when he first meets the security board.
John, seated close to the door, rose from his chair to hold out his hand to Grant.
"Hello, again. And I have to thank you for being willing to help out this way, especially on such short notice."
Grant had clasped his hand and was smiling at him, in the middle of making a reply, when his nostrils flared.
The smile froze on his face as a tall, dark-skinned Black woman rose from the chair behind where John was standing, and she also extended her hand in greeting.
His brain went into overdrive. She's almost as tall as me. She's gotta be damn close to six feet. Her voluptuous curves don't stop! He had begun sweating, so he made himself look at her face instead. Her hair was cut very short, and she wore huge gold hoop earrings that glinted when she moved. But it was her face that transfixed Grant. Her dark eyes reflected intelligence, her dimples as she smiled suggested good humor, and her full lips made his mouth water. He wanted to take her into his arms to kiss them, and proclaim his undying love for her immediately. He knew he couldn't, but his wolf was insistent.
It's her! She's ours! Let her know she has met her mate.
He was rooted to the spot, at the mercy of warring factions in his head. He was still smiling, but realized that he hadn't stopped shaking John's hand. He forced his body to obey him, and turned to shake the woman's hand. That was a big mistake. Her skin felt like warm silk. Just touching her hand rendered him even more speechless. His hormones were racing, his cock had hardened to a rock, his heart was pounding, and he was having trouble breathing.
Take her now!
"No!" he croaked out. He realized, horrified, that he'd spoken aloud when he was met by puzzled stares from everyone in the room.
He spoke sternly to his wolf. I have to get control, now! Be quiet!
Aloud, he grinned apologetically, and forced himself to let go of the hand he wanted to get onto his knees and beg to hold forever. "Um, you know that uneasy feeling, when your wolf is talking to you, and you realize you've just answered out loud?"
That made everyone in the room smile. Everyone except the pack leader's wife nodded in recognition.
"Oh yeah, that happens more than I like to admit," John said.
Grant's feet finally agreed to do as they were told, and he moved further into the room, to collapse onto an empty chair, next to where John had been sitting, and across the table from the beautiful woman.
Nathan had moved into the room also, and sat next to the woman.
Grant's wolf snarled a challenge, but he ignored it. He forced himself to look away from her.
"Well, now that we're all here, let's be sure that you remember everyone," Diego said with a smile. "I'm Diego, but then you know that, since you were just here recently. Unfortunately, that day was such a drain on me that I don't remember much of what happened. I'm told I was all but carried back upstairs, and I collapsed for a couple of days."
Grant leaned forward to speak earnestly. "But you did something that I'd never seen done. You partially shifted, and were able to control not only your own wolf, but the wolves of two others. And they were both unwilling to obey you. The sheer force of your will made them both shift. That took an enormous amount of power. And to think that you did that while still suffering from the injuries of a leader's challenge? I'm honored to be asked to serve such a leader, for as long as I'm needed."
Diego inclined his head in acknowledgement. "I'm grateful. A change in pack leadership always creates a period of unrest. Ours was made worse by a second challenge from the same man. Then we had to mete out pack justice, which was unpleasant. We are very thankful for the services your family provided to help us. Very few remember a time when Joe had to do the same thing, and your parents came down to do him that favor. But everyone remembers that his actions led to fifty years of steady leadership, with peace and quiet. We're all hoping for that again."
"You deserve it," Grant said earnestly. "And I'm glad to do my part to help."
Diego took the hand of the red-haired woman sitting next to him.
"You might not remember my wife, since I barely had time to introduce her at your last visit. Grant Knutsen, may I present my wife, and fifth-in-command, Saoirse McColl Vargas."
Grant rose up to make a small bow to her, and Saoirse grinned. "I'm pleased to officially meet you, Grant. And very grateful that you're willing to join the pack to help us. Your family seems to do that a lot."
"Nathan told me that with your degree in biological research, you're trying to isolate any substance in our bodies that might lead to an early indicator that there is a wolf about to present itself, before it actually does?"
Saoirse looked surprised. "Yes, I've been working on that for a while. My more senior students have been helping. I'm kind of stuck right now. Is your background in biology?"
He nodded. "Yeah. I've got a masters in research, and I've spent the last few years running a lab up in Montreal. But I had already given them my notice when Mom got the call about you needing someone to be a substitute in security down here for a while. I'm only too happy to help you in your quest to determine how to predict which kids will ultimately find out they're not alone in their own head and body, before the wolf makes itself known by appearing."
Her smile was genuine and warm. "Thanks." She turned to her husband. "Diego, I approve."
The pack leader grinned. "I'm so relieved, cara mia. If you didn't like him, I'd have a lot more phone calls to make."
She stuck out her tongue at him.
He ignored that disrespect, to continue his introductions. "John Johnson is my second-in-command, and he's the one who is taking leave for an unspecified length of time."
"We've known each other since we were kids, Diego," John reminded him, turning to speak directly to Grant. "See, the thing is, I haven't lived on my own since college. It's been a while, and I'm kind of wondering if I'll be able to handle things away from the pack. Only one way to find out, right?"
"I'm willing to stay as long as the pack needs me to, so it's cool," Grant replied. "I had to move out of my mom's house years ago, before I could feel like a real adult. And moving down here is the furthest I've ever lived away from my family."
Diego continued. "My third-in-command is Monique Martin, who will now be moving up to become my second."
Grant looked over to realize that Monique was watching him intently, as if she was studying him and his reactions. Her smile when he nodded at her, was only on her lips. Her eyes were steady.
She doesn't miss much. I wonder if she suspects what my problem was, he thought with a start.
No matter. She will belong to us, his wolf drawled lazily in his mind, supremely confident in the outcome.
"And you know Nathaniel Taylor, our fourth-in-command, who will now move up to third. That means that you, Grant, will become our fourth."
Copyright 2020, Fiona McGier
I'll be talking more about this book, and showing off the cover, next month. Until then, to learn more about any of my books, here are a few places you can find me.
https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/fionamcgier--note, you can buy the first book here, but you have to search for the title, since it doesn't show up on my Smashwords page since it's not self-published by me there.