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Authors: Karina Espinosa

CAGED (Mackenzie Grey #2)

BOOK: CAGED (Mackenzie Grey #2)
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CAGED

 

KARINA ESPINOSA

CAGED Copyright © 2016 KARINA ESPINOSA

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. This book contains material protected under International and Federal Copyright Laws and Treaties. Any unauthorized reprint or use of this material is prohibited. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system without express written permission from the author / publisher.

 

 

Cover design by © Laura Hidalgo

Edited by Daniella Brooks

 

Copyright 2016 by Karina Espinosa

 

ASIN: B01D9JC0MO

Dedication

 

To all the strong women in the world.

Yes we can.

Disclaimer

 

Dear Reader,

As a precaution I want to inform you all in regards to the book you are about to read. Please be aware the writing entails some sensitive trigger worthy material along the lines of sexual abuse (Chapter 16). I ask you to use your own judgment should you decide to read further.

 

Thank you,

Karina

 

 

Prologue

 

No. Way.

No FREAKIN’ way!

This had to be some cosmic joke from the universe—not that I should’ve been surprised—Lucian had a way of making you do uncomfortable things, still. I crossed my arms over my chest and tapped my foot in annoyance. My duffle bag was slung over my shoulder and I oozed bad attitude. I was cranky and hungry. The bus ride to Los Angeles didn’t make enough pit stops for a girl with a wolf inside her. Where was the justice in that?

“Are you just going to stand there or are you going to get in?” said the vampire that was my tour guide once arriving in LA. He wore head to toe black, with messy dirty blond hair, and hazel puppy dog eyes. Lord Jesus, help me. I focused on his paleness to divert my lingering eyes and reminded myself that the individual before me was a FREAKIN’ VAMPIRE.

“I am not getting in that death trap you call a vehicle. I enjoy being
alive
,” I smirked.

“As if I hadn’t heard that one,” he chuckled. “But in all seriousness, are you going to get in the bloody Jeep, or am I going to have to carry you in myself? I’m not opposed to either option,” he grinned.

I scoffed. “Touch me and you die—again.”

The vampire put his hands at his hips and sighed. “Two to zero, you’re a real Ace there.”

I shrugged. “I try.”

“Well try some more inside the car. We’re late.”

“Late for what?”

“It’s a secret,” he grinned. His pearly whites shone in the city night and I caught a glimpse at his fangs. Gross.

“I don’t like surprises,” I growled.

“Someone’s cranky,” he laughed and took a step toward me. “Easy way or the hard way, Ace, your choice.”

I scanned the busy parking lot of the Greyhound station in downtown Los Angeles. It was unusually crowded for this time of night. Lights were flashing, people were yelling, and it would be impossible for me to make a run for it.

“Don’t even think about it,” he said and I rolled my eyes.

“Fine,” I relented. “At least tell me your name,” I said as I bypassed the vampire, tossed my duffle into the back of his Jeep and climbed in.

“Roman,” he said as he dug in his pockets for his car keys. It was an old Jeep Wrangler, its paint peeled and rusted. It squeaked when he sat in the driver seat.

I snorted. “Are you serious? Talk about a cliché.”

“Excuse me?” he gave me a sideways glance as he turned the ignition and pulled out of the parking lot.

“Dude, you have such a vampire name. Did your folks know you’d turn into a blood sucker?”

“Ha-ha. Very funny,” he deadpanned. “So what’s your name? I was only told to look out for the wolf with bright gray eyes.”

I dug into my back pocket and pulled out my new driver’s license, curtesy of Lucian Young—the Head Vampire of New York. “Well according to my new ID, my name’s Hillary Clinton,” I wrinkled my nose. “Any way I can get this changed?”

Roman laughed. “Yeah, I know a guy.”

I nodded. “So are you going to be my tour guide? What are your tour rates like—a pint of blood a day?” I smirked.

“Ouch,” he crossed his hand over his heart. “Who leaked my rates to you?”

“Probably the one who dressed you,” I muttered and looked out the unzipped window. His laugh was background noise as I took in the quiet streets of 3AM. I was used to the city that never slept, and felt out of place in this strange new world. My human best friend, Amy, wouldn’t have liked it out here—she needed 24-hour pizza joints and Gray’s Papaya.

“Penny for your thoughts?” Roman asked.

I sighed. “I would tell you to mind your own business, but I’m curious about where we’re going.”

“Has anyone ever told you how…
demanding
you can be?”

“All the time, but you still haven’t answered my question.”

“That’s because I can’t. Not until we’re closer to our destination.” He turned on the radio and U2 played against the harsh gusts of wind passing through the vehicle. “Just sit back, relax, and welcome to Los Angeles,” he winked and I nearly blew a gasket.

 

***

 

The worst part about this two and a half hour car ride: how easy it was for my thoughts to wander. I thought about everything—where we were going, where would I be sleeping—was I safe? All of these questions raced across my mind and then it went back to a few days ago during the last full moon. The time spent with Sebastian and Jonah was something I would never forget. Leaving them was hard, but if given the option again, I wouldn’t change a thing. I needed to free myself from the Pack—I couldn’t live under the thumb of men who didn’t believe I had the brains to think for myself. This wasn’t the fifties, and I wouldn’t be giving up my freedom—ever.

I squinted as the wind picked up and sand blew in my face. I checked the dashboard and saw it was pushing five in the morning. The sun peaked over the horizon, giving it that mesmerizing orange-pink glow.

“Hey, check that sign over there. We’re here,” Roman said as he pointed.

I looked over to my right and saw the sign that said,
Mojave National Preserve
. As if that answered any of my questions.

“What the hell are we doing here?”

He sighed. “Damn. Lucian told me you were a pup, but I didn’t think you were clueless. We’ve entered the Mojave Desert, home of the Desert Wolves. Their lineage goes further back than the almighty European Summit you wolves love to worship. Grab a paper and pen, and start taking notes, Ace.”

“My name is Mackenzie, not Ace, and I don’t worship anything but coffee and possibly bacon,” I said, feeling good about my declaration. That’s right, no one had a hold on me, much less the Pack. I was a lone-wolf.

“Yeah, okay,” Roman snickered. “Listen, once the quest is over, I’ll make sure to get you back to your Pack safe and sound. You don’t have to act tough around me. Vampires and Wolves are peaceful here in SoCal.”

“Quest as in a Vision Quest?” I didn’t care that he thought I was Pack. I couldn’t believe Lucian arranged a Vision Quest. I didn’t know the exact details but from what Bash said, I needed a lot of training before I could go through a quest or the consequences could be fatal. The wolf could consume me and I would lose my humanity. If I completed it unharmed, then it would be the most freeing experience of my life. I wouldn’t be angry or have this emptiness in my chest anymore. I’d be whole.

I wasn’t ready.

“What other quest is there? Relax, you pups prep for this your whole youth. Although you’re kind of old to be doing it now. Either way, it’s like one in a million who fail. I haven’t met a bugger that’s failed yet. Don’t be the first, Ace,” he winked and I felt as if I were going to throw up.

I just might be the first.

“What is up with your eye? Do you have Tourette’s or some shit? Stop with the winking.”

He laughed. “You’re a funny girl, but relax. You’ll pass the quest.”

I shifted in my seat. “So…let’s say for argument sake that I don’t pass…what will happen…to me?” I debated about whether to jump out of the car in mid-ride and make a run for it. How could Lucian set me up like this? Could I find my way back to the city from the desert? Shit, I didn’t drink enough water as it was, I was going to dehydrate. Oh my gosh, I was stupid to trust a damn vampire.

“You’re looking a little pale over there, what’s going on?” he said as he pulled onto the shoulder of the road. He cut the engine off and got out of the Jeep. “Listen, it’s no big deal. You go out there, be one with your wolf, get a vision, and you’re done. It’s gravy.”

Shit, shit, shit. “Uh, where are you going?” I stumbled out of the car and followed Roman to wherever it was he was headed.

“We have to walk from here. The Desert Wolves aren’t too far off the main road. Come on, no worries, Ace.”

The early morning was windy and I squinted to avoid getting sand in my eyes. My hands itched from the dry air and I began to miss the East Coast humidity.

We stepped over dry plant life and small cactuses, but what worried me was the idea of running into a snake or scorpion. As a city girl, rats and cockroaches were the vermin I was used to. I tip-toed behind Roman in my now dusty black-and-white converses. In only a black V-neck and ripped jeans, I was not prepared for a hike.

“We’re almost there. See the fire up ahead?”

“Yeah,” I responded as I watched about a quarter of a mile ahead, there was what looked like a bonfire. “I don’t see anyone. Where are they?”

As paranoid as I was, the first thing running through my mind was that this blood sucker had brought me out to the middle of nowhere to slaughter me into tiny wolfey bites and add me to his salad for dinner. Morbid, I know.

After a few minutes, we made it to our destination and the vampire sat on one of the logs that encircled the fire.

“Where—”

Before I could ask, a small figure emerged from around the flames. A woman, around her eighties—shuffled toward us. She wore salt and pepper hair in two braids on either side that reached all the way down her hips. Colorful beaded necklaces and bracelets adorned her, clanking against each other as she walked. Her skin was the color of rotted oranges and as rough as leather—but it was her eyes that froze me in place—they were yellow.

“Hillary Clinton, I’d like you to meet the Alpha of the Desert Wolves—La Loba,” Roman introduced us and from the little bit of Spanish I knew, her name was the She-Wolf. My jaw dropped as I realized what Roman had said—she was an Alpha. How? I guessed things really were different on the West Coast.

I extended my right hand to her and like most wolves I’d met, she stared at it as if I were offering Ebola.

The vampire snickered. “Uh, what are you doing, Ace?”

“Ignore him, Mackenzie Grey—Lone Wolf. I am familiar with your customs and admire you for them,” she said, her voice of a three pack-a-day smoker. I was taken aback that she knew my name…and status. I thought Lucian was going to keep it a secret.

“Wait—lone-wolf?” Roman choked out but I ignored him.

La Loba shook my hand and she was warm like a freshly brewed cup of coffee on a winter morning. She felt like home—but she wasn’t—I knew that, she was just familiar. I could sense her wolf. Sebastian told me that I’d always be attracted to my own kind.

“You seek a Vision Quest. Is this true, Mackenzie Grey?”

My eyes fell to my sweating hands. I wasn’t one hundred percent sure this was what I wanted to do. I hadn’t prepared for this experience, and mainly out of fear—the fear of the unknown was worse than anything. What if I didn’t make it? I used to be very angry with this life I’d been dealt, but now I would never want to give it up. Not in a million years.

“I’m sure,” I said as I stared La Loba straight in the eyes. I didn’t flinch or waver. She needed to know I was certain and there was no doubt in my mind, because I could not go into this Vision Quest fearing a negative outcome. If I wanted to succeed, I had to do what I knew best—survive.

“Then follow me, Mackenzie Grey,” she said and turned back around in the direction she came from.

“Hold on a second, Mackenzie, what Pack did you belong to before?” The vampire asked as his cold hand latched on to my upper arm.

“I’ve never belonged to a Pack. Didn’t Lucian tell you? He’s hiding me.”

“Wait, what? Shit, wait—that bastard—hold on, Ace. Don’t go through with the Quest. You’ll fail,” he said, his brows scrunched up in concern. “Forget everything I said before and don’t go through with this. This is hella dangerous, you need proper training.”

“I thought you said this was gravy?”

He shook his head. “Not for you. Definitely not for you.”

“I’ll be okay,
Ace
, relax,” I mimicked him.

“You don’t know that!”

“Why do you even care?” I arched a brow.

“I don’t. But it doesn’t mean I can’t warn you of the potential dangers. This is ludicrous, you’re unprepared and you won’t make it out.”

I shook my head, and chuckled. “I won’t fail, Roman. It’s not in my nature.”

It was my turn to wink at him, leaving him frozen in my wake as I followed La Loba out into the cold and unforgiving desert.

 

BOOK: CAGED (Mackenzie Grey #2)
8.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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