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Finding the Power Within by C.C. Masters (1)

Prologue

James

 

I sat across the table from the suspicious stranger in Austin’s office. He had simply strolled into the house an hour before and asked if Austin was the pack master.

I had immediately used the pack bond to find out which moron had let this guy into our home, but the wolves on guard duty swore they never saw anyone approach the house or the property. I would be having harsh words with them later. He never should have been able to make it onto the heart of our territory, let alone into our home.

I watched this asshole silently. He had casually claimed to be Anna’s father, but I immediately did not like him. He was relaxed and smiling, not at all concerned that he had just wandered into the home of a pack of wolves - uninvited.

He was tall and lean with hair so blond it was almost white. His eyes were a pale blue reminiscent of an icy glacier. He had a gracefulness that screamed warrior rather than dancer, and an aura of danger to match. He was dressed in a crisp white button-down shirt and grey slacks, looking more like he planned to spend the afternoon at a country club than infiltrate the home of a wolf pack.

He hadn’t smelled human or wolf to me, but he gave off a sensation of other. When I extended my senses, I got a sensation of cold, rather than the warmth that my pack mates usually exuded.

Froston’s explanation? He was fae. I had to hide my incredulous reaction to that declaration, but Austin hadn’t expressed any doubt. Austin had accepted the statement and asked him to have a seat. I hadn’t been aware that the fae were anything more than stories told to entertain children but I trusted Austin’s judgment.

“What makes you believe you are Anna’s father?” Austin asked mildly.

Froston chuckled. “You doubt my word?”

“Anna was adopted as a baby by humans,” Austin told him bluntly. “If you’re her father then how did that happen?”

I watched Froston’s reaction carefully, but he didn’t flinch at the implied accusation of abandonment. “I’ve been watching her from afar, and I’ve decided that now is the time to bring her home.”

That didn’t answer anything. Where was he when she was born? Where was he when she had been adopted out to humans? When she had been struggling to figure out who she was the first time she shifted? The only excuse that would have been acceptable for his absence was death. That was clearly not the case here. What made him think that ‘watching her from afar’ was appropriate?

Austin had handled the situation with our unwanted guest diplomatically so far, but I was just waiting for a signal from him. This man’s grin was infuriating and he couldn’t give a straight answer to anything. The only thing he was clear on was that he was here for Anna.

Not going to happen.

Anna had never complained or spoken of her childhood directly, but I had the impression that it had not been all butterflies and roses. Was this guy aware of what she had been through? Had he been ‘watching from afar’ as she suffered? I clenched my fists at the thought of any man standing by callously, watching Anna struggle.

“Thank you for watching over her for me, but I think it’s time I brought her home,” Froston told Austin with a smile.

A soft knock on the door drew our attention. Fuck. That was Anna.

Anna had been through a lot lately, and after the events of the cabin in the woods, I couldn’t deny my feelings for her any longer. A small portion of my cold, dead heart had started to come back to life once she had stepped foot into Austin’s office for the first time and glared at me with her chin tilted up in challenge. The night after being shot, lying on the ground with her soft body pressed against mine and my life bleeding into the dirt, I had realized that she had my heart completely. There was nothing that I wouldn’t do for her.

I hurriedly stood and strode to the door, ignoring Austin’s answer to the asshole. I only opened the door wide enough for me to exit and pushed Anna out of the doorway and further into the hall, shutting it behind me.

Anna looked up at me with suspicious green eyes. She must have just taken a shower because her scent was mixed with the fresh, fruity scent of her shampoo. Her pale blond hair was still damp and flowed down her back in gentle waves. She crossed her arms and widened her stance, making her challenge to me clear. 

“Just cooperate,” I ordered her, already knowing she was ready to test me.

“No,” she answered simply, holding my gaze firmly. Defiance was clear in the tilt of her jaw and the flash in those gorgeous green eyes of hers.

I sighed. Under normal circumstances I would find her boldness equally frustrating and hot. But today, I needed to get her out of here. I didn’t want her anywhere near this outsider until we got some answers from him as to what he was really doing here.

I had just resigned myself to the idea that I was going to have to throw her over my shoulder to cart her away when the door opened behind me. I turned to face Froston coming out of the doorway with Austin close on his heels.

I cursed to myself and placed my body in front of Anna’s to try and shield her from his advance.

“Anna!” The asshole boomed with a broad grin and open arms. “I knew I sensed you out here.”

Anna peered around me to get a view of Froston. “Have we met?” She asked him cautiously.

“Not officially. I’m your father,” he said warmly, dropping his arms but moving closer.

She looked at Austin for confirmation. “We haven’t established that as a fact yet,” he cautioned her with a frown.

Froston laughed. “Of course, she’s my daughter, I can feel my magic coursing through her blood.”

I saw Anna’s face change as her curiosity piqued- sometimes that girl was more like a cat than a wolf. I held out an arm to keep her back at a safe distance.

Austin met my eyes with a nod and I sighed. We were both in agreement: neither Anna nor Froston were going to agree to walk away from this meeting, so the best we could do was stay by Anna’s side to keep her safe.

I followed Austin back into the office to have a seat at the table, careful to keep my body between Froston and Anna. I already knew I wouldn’t be able to keep Anna away from him, but I was determined to keep her from harm. He would have to get through me to get to her.

Now that they were close to each other, I could see a little resemblance between them. They were both blond, fair skinned, and tall. But Anna was almost a carbon copy of her mother, so a little bit of blond hair wasn’t enough to convince me that she and Froston were kin. I couldn’t see much resemblance between them beyond similar coloring.

I let Anna ask her questions, watching her reactions carefully. She seemed cautious, but hopeful. I hated the way that asshole tugged at her heartstrings by telling the story about her mother. I didn’t believe a word of it; this fucker was trying to manipulate her.

“That was a nice story,” I interjected. “But how do we know any of it is true?”

“Fae don’t lie,” Froston said simply. He held my gaze with his frosty blue eyes, unblinking.

I scowled and looked at Austin for confirmation. Austin communicated the truth of that statement via the pack bond. Even if fae were unable to lie, I doubted Froston was telling us the entire truth. Something about this guy just didn’t feel right.

“We don’t know much about fae,” Austin said. “What you told us might be true, and I’m willing to give you the benefit of the doubt for now. But we will be looking much further into this before Anna goes anywhere with you.”

Froston sighed. “Well, that’s going to be a problem.” He stood up so Austin and I followed suit. Anna stayed seated and looked like she was going to be stubborn. Good. I was glad he hadn’t gotten to her with his bullshit.

“I need my daughter now,” Froston said with a smile. “Anna, dear, come here.”

Anna stayed seated and just glared at him. I felt a little swell of pride at that. Wolves did not come when called like pets.

“I don’t think so,” Austin said firmly but politely. “Anna is going to stay here for now.”

Anna nodded in agreement. “This is my pack, I’m not going anywhere.”

I tensed. Froston had been polite up until now. But now that he knew he wouldn’t get what he wanted with his partial truths and half promises? I mentally prepared myself for battle.

The smile never faded from Froston’s face, he simply shrugged. “Have it your way.”

He waved a hand and an invisible force knocked me back. I got to my feet in shock. What was that? I shook off my disorientation and circled for a better angle to attack. He had grabbed ahold of Anna’s arm and was dragging her across the room.

“You’re not getting her out of here,” I warned him. Where did he think he was going to go? There was only one door to the office, and I felt Austin call for our pack-mates. In only a few minutes the room would be packed with our wolves.

Froston laughed in response and swirled a hand around. Magic was so thick in the air I could feel my skin buzzing from the charge. A portal straight out of a fucking sci-fi movie started to open in front of us.

Anna struggled to fight him off and got a couple of good hits in, but they lacked the necessary force to harm him. I growled in frustration at the invisible force holding me in place. I struggled even more desperately to break free as Froston carried Anna to the portal.

Anna shifted into her wolf as Froston flung her through the opening. She landed on all four paws and whirled around to face us. I could see nothing but snow and wind where she was and the cold air was radiating out through the portal. She crouched, ready to leap back through to us. I silently cheered her on as I struggled to break free of the hold on me.

Hope soared in my chest as she leapt and flew through the air. She was going to make it. Right before she would have landed safely on our side, Froston stepped through, knocking her back as the portal closed behind him. Immediately as it shut I was released from the hold. I gave a wordless howl of anger, rage, and frustration.

Our pack mates rushed in from where they had been trapped behind the door to the office, but I ignored them.  I shoved the table, but it unsatisfactorily skidded only a foot or so. I picked up a chair and smashed it into the table, but the sound of splintering wood did nothing to calm my rage. I reached for a second chair and smashed it repeatedly into the ground, imagining that I was instead smashing it into Froston’s smug face.

I felt a wave of Austin’s energy reach for me, but I was in no mood to be soothed or calmed. I wanted to destroy everything in sight. I wanted to destroy Froston. I spin to face Austin. “We need to get her back!” I shouted.

I could see my own anger and frustration mirrored in Austin’s eyes. “You’re wasting time,” he told me coldly. “You can destroy my office, or you can gather the pack and make a plan to get her back.”

 

 

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