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       Wolf's Magic, p.1

         Part #4 of Westervelt Wolves series by Rebecca Royce
 
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Wolf's Magic


  Wolf’s Magic

  The Westervelt Wolves, Book Five

  Rebecca Royce

  Copyright © 2011-2017 Rebecca Royce

  Published by Rebecca Royce

  Austin, Tx

  rebeccaroyce.com

  Cover by Lyn Forester

  Formatting by AG Formatting

  * * *

  All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording, or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.

  This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.

  Manufactured in the USA

  Contents

  Blurb

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  About the Author

  Also by Rebecca Royce

  Wolf’s Magic

  Wolf’s Magic is the story of Azriel Kane, fifth brother in the royal Westervelt wolf pack. Always different from his siblings, Azriel prefers to spend his time underground in a lab than out fighting battles to save the pack from destruction. In his own way, he feels he is contributing to the pack’s success. However, when fate plants his destined mate in a cage where he can’t ignore her, Az will be forced to face up the demons that have plagued him since childhood and be the shifter she needs him to be.

  Leah St. James has no idea who she is or how she came to be trapped in a cage in Azriel’s lab. The only thing she is certain about is that she is not a wolf and that she wants out of her false wolf body as soon as possible. Counting on Az to save her from the same doomed fate as the other wolves Az is given to study, from the distance of her cage she can see Az for who he really is and not the false front he presents to the world.

  But Kendrick Kane is not done with Westervelt and when he steps up his game to eliminate the Kanes from Westervelt, Az and Leah will need each other to discover the truth behind his evil plans, that is if Azriel can finally reveal the secret he has been keeping since he was a child.

  With Leah’s help, can Azriel finally take his place in the pack hierarchy or will they fail and lose Westervelt forever?

  To my mother-in-law Kathy who reads all of my work. Thank you for Sundays. The kids are in heaven playing with you and I get great writing time!

  1

  Leah woke up covered in brown and white fur still trapped in a cage. Dear God, please let me not be a wolf, please let it all be a dream.

  Blinking twice, she looked down, her whole body deflating as she realized it wasn’t a dream—she was actually covered in fur. How could any of this be happening? Her moments of lucidity were becoming fewer and fewer and even more frightening were the fact that her memories of her insane times had grown more vague. Now, not only could she not control what she did when the madness overtook her, she also had no recollection of what happened.

  Maybe it was a blessing. The things she’d remembered from the earlier episodes had left her feeling horrified.

  And then there was him, the man who watched her from outside the cage. Other wolves came and went from the cages, he paid attention to them, but not like he’d been attentive to her. Not to mention she couldn’t figure out why all of the other wolves—or maybe they were actually people trapped in wolf bodies too—got to go somewhere and she was kept locked in her cage.

  She couldn’t talk, couldn’t do more than growl or whine, and even those abilities were pathetic at best. The beagle she’d grown up with, Max, had done a better job of communicating than she could.

  The man stood up from his desk. When he wasn’t poking and prodding at her or the others, admittedly gently, he was always sitting at that black wooden table that seemed to function as his work station, hunched over a book or staring at a computer screen. The last she remembered before she’d had her previous episode was him falling asleep in the chair, head down on the desk. Didn’t he ever leave? Wasn’t there some family somewhere wondering where he was?

  On that same note…wasn’t there someone looking for her?

  That was part of the problem. Other than her name—Leah St. James—and the absolute certainty to the pit of her soul that she was not a wolf and should not be in the body she inhabited, she had no idea—zero—who or where she came from.

  The man’s hair, brown to the point of almost being black, stuck up like he was a child instead of an adult she guessed to be around thirty years of age. Thin but broad shouldered, he was muscular and looked like he could handle himself in a fight. Hmmm…that was a funny thing to think. Evidently she was the kind of person who thought of others in terms of their ability to fight. Did that mean she came from someplace violent?

  His destination was clearly her cage. All the others were empty. Her heart picked up speed. She admitted it; she liked looking at his eyes. It was fun seeing the concentration and intensity in his brown-eyed gaze. Also, his smell was enticing. His scent reminded her of water, or at least the way the ocean smelled on a clear, crisp morning when no one else was on the beach.

  She added the thought to the pile of interesting observations she was making about her inner dialogue. Maybe some of it would give her a clue as to who she was.

  “Hello there.”

  Huh, usually he didn’t speak other than unintelligible mutterings when he took her temperature or swabbed one of her claws. It’s not like she could answer him. Still, if he wanted to talk at least it was nice to hear someone else’s voice…

  “Can you understand me?”

  His voice was like chocolate syrup being poured over vanilla ice cream. It was just a perfect combination of taste and texture, like the universe had designed those two things to go together, in other words it was heavenly. She shivered from the intensity.

  He noticed her small shake and hesitantly reached inside the cage. She couldn’t blame him for his nerves. She was a wolf, she might bite him. After a moment, he reached farther and stroked her fur.

  “Are you okay? Are you cold?” He drew his eyebrows down in a slant. “You’re eyes are so intelligent, so different from the others.”

  Others? Did he mean the wolves that came and went? She flipped her head around just to make sure there weren’t any others around that she didn’t know about. Belatedly, she realized she could sniff the air to tell but using her nose to know anything was still pretty foreign to her. Half the time she wasn’t sure what any of the sensory input she received even meant.

  “And your fur…it’s brown and white, it still hasn’t lost its luster. It’s soft.” He was downright petting her now. She wished she were a cat, so she could purr. Oh wow, when was the last time she’d been touched? She closed her eyes. Really touched? He was gentle and he knew all the right places to rub. Behind her ears, it really itched; he moved his hand and scratched there. Her tongue fell out of her mouth.

  Dear heavens, she panted. Her eyes flew open. If she were human, she would blush with humiliation. Here was this stunning man just barely touching her and she was acting like a real wolf for goodness sake. Daring to look at him, she didn’t see the horror she expected to find at her behavior.

  Instead, he seemed to be considering her even more closely. He’d put both hands in the cage. With one he continued to scratch between her ears while the other made long, divine strokes up and down her spine.

 
You like that, girlie? I bet that feels better.” He leaned his head up against the bars of the cage and she could see that a small scar, a thin line really, marred his face from the tip of his left eye down to his chin. It wasn’t noticeable from afar but up close it gave him a sexy, scary look. “Can I tell you a secret? I’m not sure how much more of this I can do. I’m so tired of all of you dying. I’m exhausted from not being able to figure this out.” Dying? Terror poured through her blood, she wished she could scream but it only came out a whimper. He stroked her harder. “Did you actually understand what I just said?”

  Staring straight in his eyes, she willed him to understand that she did—she knew everything he was telling her.

  Pulling his head off the cage, he nodded. “You did. None of the others ever could. I’m sure of it.” This seemed to excite him. She could hear his heart rate increased. The wolf senses would be cool if they weren’t so terrifying and bizarre.

  “Okay, listen to me. I don’t know how they did this to you. I know everything about wolf magic, I’m an expert and even I can’t figure out how the witches did this to all of you. We thought at first that after the change they addicted you to a chemical to make you obey but now we know that’s not true. You all just like the stuff so you go looking for it. With or without it, you’ll die.”

  She had no idea what he was talking about. Wolf magic? The change? She whined in confusion.

  “All right, I’ll start over. Do you remember what happened to you? Do you remember when the witches did this to you?”

  She lowered her head onto her paws. It was so frustrating to not be able to speak. No, she wanted to scream, I have no idea, I have no memory and did you say witches?

  An alarm sounded in the room, loud and piercing it caused pain to vibrate through her body like nothing she’d ever felt before. The man jumped back like he’d been struck, he jerked around.

  “Shit. They’re here.”

  Who was here and what was that alarm? Couldn’t he make it stop? She was howling now and she couldn’t seem to stop.

  A boom sounded in the room momentarily covering the alarm. A bright orange light temporarily blinded her. Oh God, this was panic. Anything she’d felt before being locked in the cage and being a wolf was nothing compared to this. What the hell was going on? Was she going to die in this cage?

  Smoke filled the air. She choked and gagged. This was hell. These wolf senses in this place with these horrors happening were too much. She needed it to stop. Where was the man? What had happened to him? She hadn’t seen him since the bright light that had blinded her. Had he died in the explosion?

  The cage shook from beneath. It jarred her like she was on an airplane not quite steady in the sky. Two hands appeared on the cage bars in front of her followed immediately by the man’s face as he pulled himself up. He was coughing, his eyes unfocused.

  He pulled keys out of his pocket and inserted them into the lock. After turning it, he opened the cage.

  “Run.” He coughed, his eyes losing their focus as he collapsed to the floor.

  She leapt out of the cage onto the floor. It had, evidently, been some time since she’d used her legs. They felt unsteady and difficult to move. Her heart pounded hard as she stared down at the man who had kept her captive in a cage for weeks. He’d been gentle when he’d touched her and she’d actually been able to start communicating with him just minutes earlier. Plus, it seemed like he’d hurt himself to set her free.

  Not to mention there was probably no way in hell she was going to stop being a wolf without his help. Ignoring the voice in the back of her head that wanted her to acknowledge she also thought he was adorably cute, she bit down hard on his shoulder.

  He didn’t even react to the assault from her teeth. Dragging him as hard as she could, she realized she’d never have been able to do this as a human. He’d be way too big for her to manage with her hands but her wolf abilities were stronger. They’d made it to the back of the lab and up some of the stairs huffing and puffing from the exertion when she smelled the people behind her.

  Dropping the man for a second, she lunged around. The door to the lab was closed and someone—she sniffed the air—no two people were pounding on it and shouting. She forced herself to listen past the siren. What were they saying?

  “Azriel, can you hear us?” Pound, pound, pound. “They welded the door closed from the outside. Hang on in there, brother. We’re getting it open.”

  Someone had welded the door closed? She growled at the thought. This was horrendous. People died in fires and lord knew with all of this fur she was getting really hot. The man on the outside had called him brother. Was that a term of endearment, like you might call someone ‘man’ or ‘buddy’ or were the people out there his family?

  Leah shook her head from side to side. No, she couldn’t go through this alone. Maybe it was wimpy to admit it but she was terrified of dying in the flames that she could see were rapidly approaching the staircase. Bending her head, she licked the man’s face. He needed to wake up. Maybe there was another way out of the lab. He needed to tell her.

  The man groaned, his head moving from side to side before his lids opened showing his brown eyes. He coughed, violently. Covering his mouth with his arm he sat up as he looked at her. One hand reached out and stroked the top of her head. “Hey, lady-wolf, did you drag me over here? I told you to run.”

  Well, she wasn’t any frickin’ good at following directions evidently. If she lived through this she would add it to the list of things she was learning about herself. Gesturing with her head, she whimpered at the door.

  The man narrowed his eyes and struggled to his feet. She noticed he dragged one leg behind the other slightly, an old wound or something that had happened today? She didn’t remember seeing him do it before. As if the limp didn’t bother him, he took the stairs two at a time.

  “Theo, Gabriel…is that you?” He shouted over the noise toward the door. “Az, fuck, that’s a relief. We’ve almost got it open.”

  The man nodded, which she found funny considering the people on the outside of the door couldn’t see it. It was almost as if he was talking to himself in his own head. Leah thought the man who had answered from the outside, either Theo or Gabriel, sounded genuinely relieved.

  “No, no…listen…speak to me with your voice, okay? I’m not alone in here. The wolf—the one I’ve told you about, the one who hasn’t died—she’s with me, she saved my life, Theo.” He turned to look at her. “She’s really something, she can understand me, which means, if you can, speak so she can hear us too, just in case something happens to me.”

  “Alright. Are you sure the fumes aren’t getting to you?”

  The man laughed. C’mon, they were going to die and she’d placed all of her hopes on a person who found something about this funny? Maybe it was she who wasn’t right in the head.

  “I’m sure, Theo.” The man turned back to her and crouched down. He turned his head back to the door and shouted. “Listen, I’m going to shift to get some extra protection from the flames. Keep talking aloud.” Reaching forward, he pulled her into his arms and whispered in her ear. “Don’t be afraid. It’s still me.”

  Internally, she gasped as a warm, blinding light surrounded the man—no wait, she had heard his name, and what was it?—Azriel shifted in front of her eyes into a wolf. His limbs reshaped quickly, dark brown fur pushing out of his arms and legs to recover him. He shook his head and the eyes that stared at her were wolf eyes.

  She blinked twice. It was all so familiar, like she’d seen it before. Not that she’d seen it happen to him but to someone whose face she couldn’t recall. Maybe it had happened to her. How else would she have become a wolf? Azriel, the wolf, moved forward, nudging her with his head to get closer to the door. He’d told her not to be afraid and strangely enough, she wasn’t. The fire and the smoke had taken up most of her nerves. Azriel’s turning into a wolf was nothing in comparison to the rest of it. Besides, maybe it meant he could teach her
to do it and then she could shift back too.

  Following him to the door, she heard one last pound. Turning around, she saw the black and grey smoke making its way up the stairs. She’d never be able to breathe that stuff. If it reached them, they’d have very little time to get away before they both suffocated.

  The door flew open. She didn’t need to be told to run through it. Azriel hung back until she passed him and darted through the entrance first. After the blazing heat of the lab, the outside felt freezing. She shivered as she looked at the two men who were shouting for them to move away from the door.

  They were tall—maybe taller than Azriel—but she could see the family resemblance immediately. The same dark hair and high cheekbones on each of them meant that they were family traits. But to Leah, that’s where the similarities stopped. In the afternoon sun, she could see that their eyes, although brown, were not as kind or warm as Azriel’s had been.

  Just the same, she ran after them, turning around to see if Azriel followed. He was but that wasn’t what made her feet falter. The door that had been opened led underground. She’d been so busy getting free she hadn’t noticed she’d had to travel up three steps to reach the outside once she’d gotten through the entrance. She’d been trapped in an underground lab?

  What the hell was this place? She sniffed the air as she looked around. It looked as if she was deep in the middle of the woods. Whatever was going on, Azriel and the rest of these people had held her in a cage in an underground lab in the middle of the woods. It was like something out of a teenage angst novel.

  Note to self, evidently she knew about teenage angst novels. She sighed and it came out of her mouth like a moan.

 
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