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Authors: K. S. Martin

Lesser of Two Evils

BOOK: Lesser of Two Evils
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The Lesser of Two Evils
By
K.S. Martin

 

Books by K.S. Martin

Opportunity Knocked

Her Alpha

Wild Kat

Not That Kind of Love

The New Alpha

The Reluctant Alpha

My Boss the Alpha

Once Mated Twice Shy

Summer’s
Alpha

The
Alpha’s She-Wolf

Turned
Alpha

Snow
Wolf

Her
Billionaire Werewolf Stepbrother

New
Alpha – New Rules

 

All Rights Reserved

 

This is a work of fiction.
Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s
imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons,
living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any
responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

 

Any trademarks mentioned
herein are not authorized by the trademark owners and do not in any way mean the
work is sponsored by or associated with the trademark owners. Any trademarks
used are specifically in a descriptive capacity.

 

No part of this book may be
reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without
permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted
materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

 

Copyright © June 2016, First Edition, by K. S. Martin

 

 

Prologue

“Honey, I know
this is scary, but it’s for the best.” Her mother squeezed her hand gently.
This was the most devastating news ever. She swallowed and looked around at the
small, shabby dining room. The blue velvet wallpaper was peeling up in the
corner, where a spider was building a small web.

“I don’t know him,
Mom. We’ve met once, for a second. How can you ask this of me?” Her mother’s
face looked haggard. She never looked old because she was a werewolf and if you
looked old, you had hundreds of years under your belt. She looked worn down and
tired.

“Sometimes you just
have to pick the lesser of the two evils.” Her mother closed her eyes and took
a breath. When she opened them, her sharp blue eyes fixed on Kerry with that
determined look that said she’d lost this argument. “Eric is not coming back.
You have to move on.”

“How do you know?
He’ll come back from school. Then we can…”

“He doesn’t love
you, Kerry, you know that. Deep down you know he never loved you. We all hoped
that it would blossom, but it didn’t, and now he’s met someone at school. He
called Luke yesterday and told him that he’d met his true mate. He says they
are finishing the school year, then returning to her pack to live. He’s
spending the summer with her.” Kerry swallowed hard. Eric wasn’t coming back?

“He can’t.” Tears
pricked her eyes. “We were meant for each other.”

“Sweetie, I know
you thought that, but it’s time to face reality. Eric isn’t coming, and you
have to go. You didn’t want college, and there is nothing here for you now.” Her
mother pressed her lips into a line, and Kerry noticed how much more tired she
looked when she did that. The wrinkles were deep in her forehead.

Her father stomped
up the porch steps then, and her mother trembled. The door swung open, and he
scowled at them. “I need more time,” her mother challenged with her hackles up.
He gave her a sharp nod. His long gray hair swung forward.

“Ten minutes,
then we go with my plan.” He turned and left.

“What’s going on,
Mom? Tell me the truth. Now.” Kerry steeled herself and straightened her spine.

“Eric is gone.
You didn’t go to school, so you have to mate. Those are the rules. Luke wants
you to mate him. Your dad thinks that’s a good idea, for you to mate the Alpha.
But Ethan has also offered. I know you don’t know him, but he’s offered an
alliance, an Alpha female position, and a dowry. You know how Luke is, honey,
and I don’t want that for you. He’s older than your father.” She trembled again
and grimaced. “I want better for you. Luke isn’t a nice man. He won’t be gentle
with you. He’s a mean and nasty tyrant. He’s worse than your father,” she
whispered. “You’ll be treated like a slave. Choose the lesser of the two
evils.” Her usually melodic voice was as hard as steel.

“Daddy wants me
to mate with Luke?” Kerry’s brows knitted. “Why?”

“Luke promised
him a beta position with pay. You know how he feels about money. Luke convinced
him that if your dad handed you over, it would make the pack stronger. It would
also boost our standing.” Kerry nibbled her lip. “You have to hurry, sweetie.
He’s coming. You have to escape before you’re stuck in this hell they’re
creating for you.”

“Why did you mate
with Daddy?” Her mother scrubbed her face with her hands. “Why? You’ve never
been happy.”

“Because my
father forced me to, and that’s how I know this is a shit position to put you
in, sweetheart. But take my word for it, Ethan is a better choice.” Kerry wiped
the tears from her eyes. “Ethan will be here in ten minutes for your answer. If
you don’t go with him, Luke will claim you.” She shuddered. “I promise that if
you stay, it will be a living hell, darling. You have to go, Kerry.” Her
mother’s eyes were wet. Her pupils dilated with fear. Kerry’s heart sped up.
Her mother was always honest, and Kerry knew that the fear in her mother’s eyes
was real. She only had one choice.

“I’ll get my
things.” Kerry stood and pulled her T-shirt down over her bottom. She went to
her room. She heard her father come in the front door. They were fighting.
Again.

Kerry stuffed her
clothes into her duffle bag, with her favorite books, her shoes, her jewelry
box that Grandpa made, and her sketchbook. After gathering her laptop, the cord,
and mouse, she gently placed them into their bag. She’d worked and saved almost
a year to buy it. Her father berated her for weeks after that, for what he
called a frivolous purchase. Too bad. It was what she wanted. She heard the
slap then. He was hitting her again. Her mother growled. Shit. Kerry dropped
her duffle out of her bedroom window, then lowered the laptop case out, setting
it on the ground. She climbed out and lowered the window. Her whole body
trembled with fear.

“What do you
think you’re doing?” Luke asked from behind her.

“They’re
fighting. She’s already shifted, and I don’t want to get my ass kicked for
walking out the front door. This is the path of least resistance.” She put her
duffle on her shoulder and picked up the laptop case.

“Glad you’re
coming willingly.” He sneered down at her.

“Mom said that
Ethan is on his way. I’ll wait on the porch.” She started walking.

“You don’t know
him,” she heard him growl.

“Nope. But I know
you. I’ll be on the porch.”

“That’s your
choice then?” She looked up at him and nodded. He snarled, then growled. She
waved at Mr. Duffy, who was next door watering his garden.

“The pack gets an
alliance, and my parents get a dowry. That’s more than you offered. Either way,
I get screwed.” She turned the corner and sat down on the porch steps. They
were still fighting inside. She heard dishes break and more growling. They’d
shifted in the house. Kerry rolled her eyes. Their house could’ve been nice
except her mom only bought from the thrift store in town. She couldn’t buy new
things because there would always be a fight that destroyed the furniture, the
dishes, and the walls. Her parents fought all of the time. That’s just how it
was and how she expected it to be
¾
wolves
fought.

It was like this
her whole life. She couldn’t remember a time when they’d gotten along. Her
parents hated each other. Her father was a big, powerful wolf, but he was at
least a hundred years older than her mother. He always blamed her for the fact that
Kerry was a female, too. He was very vocal in his disappointment. Kerry and he
were never close because of it. She used to try to please him, and at one point,
she thought he might even like her, but not anymore. Now, she just tried to
stay out of his way and out of his sight.

She heard the
truck before she saw it. It clattered and clanged, and she wondered how it
didn’t fall to pieces when it hit the holes in the dirt road. It stopped at the
porch, and she would’ve sworn she heard it sigh with relief. Ethan started to
open the driver’s side door, but she held up her hand. Kerry got her duffle and
walked past his door, looking at him sideways. She put it over the side of the
bed. “Do you have the dowry?” she asked him. He was good looking, she would
give him that. He looked big, and he had silver-blue eyes. “Yes or no?” she
asked when he didn’t move. He pulled an envelope out of his shirt pocket and
handed it to her. “Give me a minute.”

Kerry went back
inside. Her eyes adjusted to the dimness. They were circling each other in the
kitchen. Her mother’s neck was bleeding, and her father had a chunk of hide
missing from his shoulder. Go Mom. She’d gotten him good. “Kerrigan Waters!” she
shouted and snapped her fingers. He swung his big gray head around and looked
at her like prey with his yellow eyes. His lip curled up in snarl up so his
teeth showed. “Here’s your money. It’s been real.” She waved the envelope and
slapped it down on the dining room table. “Love you, Mom,” Kerry called over
her shoulder and let the screen door clack shut loudly behind her. She stooped
to pick up her laptop bag and went to the passenger side of the truck.

Once she’d
climbed in, she fastened her seatbelt and stared out the window. Her neighbor
Mrs. Duncan waved at her and gave her a pitying look. Luke was standing next to
her, scowling at Kerry with amber eyes. Kerry waved back as the truck turned
around in the yard. In seconds, the truck rumbled out of pack territory and
onto the highway.

“You hungry?”

She shook her
head. Ethan pulled into a fast food restaurant drive-thru and ordered, then
drove around and paid. “If you get hungry, just help yourself.” He set the bag
on the seat and put the soft drink in the cup holder. He reached inside and
pulled out a cheeseburger, then turned out of the parking lot and onto the
highway. She watched the road whizz by and wondered where they were going.

He crumpled the
wrapper up and put it back in the bag, then grabbed another burger. “Dinner
won’t be for a long time. You might want to eat.” She looked up at him, then
reached into the bag and took a cheeseburger. “Good girl,” he murmured. Her
brow knitted, and she looked inside for fries but found none. She turned her
body toward the window and took a small bite of the burger. Buildings went by
in a blur until there were none, only long, golden grass. She folded the wax
paper into a square, then another, until it was as small as it could get. That
was how she felt right now: small and tightly wrapped.

Eric found his
mate. He was supposed to be hers. They’d grown up together. They were the only
two pups in the pack, and everyone assumed that they would end up with each
other. Now what? She either had to choose Luke, or this wolf. They’d met once
before, but she didn’t know then that this was why. She’d ignored him after their
introduction and had gone back to her sketchbook.

No one said that
she would be making life decisions in seconds, nor that this was a possibility.
Why did he want her anyway? Certainly he could do better, because she was no
prize. She could draw a little, but she had no formal education. She had no
career, no money, and never thought of herself as pretty. She looked like her
father. She unthinkingly scrunched her nose. She caught her reflection in the
big mirror mounted on the side of the truck. That was no supermodel in there
looking back at her.

He bumped her arm
and she turned. He was offering the soda. She took it and sipped. She heard his
appreciative growl and put it back in the cup holder quickly.

Kerry looked down
at his thigh. He was huge. This wolf was giant sized in comparison to anyone
she knew. She’d been sitting on the deck when they’d been introduced, and he’d
been on the ground. Calculating in her mind what that meant, Kerry looked back
out her window. If the deck was five feet off the ground, she thought, and he
shook her hand through the rail, that put him at close to seven feet. No way.
Math was never her best subject. How tall was that deck? “You okay?” he asked.

“How tall are
you?” She looked over at him.

He shrugged. “I
don’t know, six-five, six-six. Why?”

She shook her
head. That put the deck at four-and-a-half feet. Math was definitely not her
best subject.

“How much
longer?” He was slowing the truck.

“We’re here.” He
turned down a long drive. It was paved, and trees lined it. They were nut
trees. She hoped they were his. Her mouth watered. The truck wound down the
drive then through the apple and pear trees in full bloom. Wow. She wondered if
there were peach trees anywhere.

The truck
squealed to a stop in front of a huge house. It was low and long, made of gray
stone with massive chimneys at either end. She climbed out of the truck, then
grabbed her laptop and put the strap over her head. She looked around. The
house was flanked by smaller houses scattered around. Pups played at the
closest house, where a male was washing a car. “Come on.” He said from the top
of the stairs waiting. She saw that he had her duffle bag, and followed. He
opened the door and let her inside. “This is the living room. It won’t be
uncommon for you to see pack members in here watching TV or hanging out. This
part of the house is considered community property.” She nodded and followed.
“Kitchen, I just finished remodeling, but if there is anything that you need,
want to change or add, just say.” It looked like something out of a magazine.
Her house was simple and old. Her parents were poor
¾
not starving, but not even middle class by any standards. “The
laundry room and pantry are through there.” He pointed, then turned. She
wondered again why he wanted her. He had all of this and was an Alpha. “Come.”
He was waiting.

“Guest rooms.” He
pointed going down the hall, “Common bathroom and every guest room has its
own.” He kept walking. He pointed to the right. “My office and the library
through there.” He pointed to the left. “We are in the private area of the
house now. “Entertainment room, bedrooms for pups.” He pointed left and right.
“Master suite.” He pushed the door open. The floor was light golden oak and
sunlight spilled in through the floor-to-ceiling glass wall at the back. There
were two wing chairs, with a table between them, looking outside into the dense
forest behind the house. She could sit there and sketch. “The glass is one-way.
No one can see inside, even when its dark out and the lights are on, but if it
makes you more comfortable…” He picked up a remote from the dresser and pushed
a button. The window turned into a gray frosted glass. He pushed it again and
it went clear. “Okay?”

She nodded.

“The bathroom is
through there.” He dropped her duffle on the trunk at the end of the bed. “This
is your side of the dresser.” He pointed.

“My side?” she
fretted.

“Yes. Put your
clothes in this side, and your closet is over here.” He went to a set of double
doors and opened them. She tilted her head to gaze inside of it. It was as big
as her bedroom.

BOOK: Lesser of Two Evils
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