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Authors: Sam Crescent

Runt of the Litter

BOOK: Runt of the Litter
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Evernight
Publishing ®

 

www.evernightpublishing.com

 

 

 

Copyright© 2015 Sam Crescent

 

 

 
ISBN: 978-1-77233-336-7

 

Cover
Artist: Sour Cherry Designs

 

Editor:
Karyn
White

 

 

 

ALL RIGHTS RESERVED

 

 

WARNING:
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is
illegal.
 
No part of this book may be
used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission,
except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.

 

This is a
work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any
resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or
dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

 

 

DEDICATION

 

I want to
thank all of my awesome readers for asking about Jack. Really, without you
guys, Jack wouldn't have a story, and I hope I did his story justice.

 

Also, to
my amazing editor,
Karyn
White for her constant
support.

 

RUNT OF THE LITTER

 

The Alpha Shifter Collection, 6

 

Sam Crescent

 

Copyright © 2015

 

 

 

Chapter One

 

Tori Hunter watched the group of her peers playing
together by the lake. It was hot, and they were all taking advantage of the
weather. Several of the girls were in bikinis soaking up the sun while the guys
were in swim trunks. Some members of the group messing around were humans, and
the others were wolves. Most of the time the humans steered clear of this part
of town, but Tori saw most of them were from the high school. Resting her head
on her raised knee, she wrapped her arms around herself. It didn’t matter if it
was warm or cold, she was always fighting off the chill.

Being the runt in her family’s litter, Tori
was
used to being a little defective compared to the wolf
pack. She was smaller, slower, weaker, and just didn’t have what it took to be
with the pack.

They didn’t try to include her either. Staring at her
brothers and sisters, who were messing around with some of the humans, she
couldn’t help but feel apart from it all.

“What are you doing here?” Jack Rowlands asked, coming
to sit beside her. He was fifteen years old, two years older than she was. When
he turned eighteen he was going to be beta to Marshall in the pack. The next
generation of leaders was already born. Tori didn’t have a place in the world.
There was no way for her to be involved in the pack because of her lack of strength
and power.

“Nothing.”

“Why aren’t you down there enjoying yourself?” He took
a seat beside her.

Even without the change, he was large, larger than she
was.

“I don’t fit in down there.” Wrapping her arms around
herself, she tried not to shudder in front of him. He wasn’t wearing a shirt,
and he was perspiring. Jack, unlike her, was strong, and it only served to
highlight how unlike the pack she was. Her father was a full blooded wolf as was
her mother, but for some reason when she was pregnant with Tori, she’d suffered
complications. Tori had been born prematurely and had struggled from the
beginning. She’d been hooked up to machines, which had been a first for the
whole of the wolf pack. It wasn’t known for wolves to need any health care.

Her mother, Mary, had been rushed to the hospital when
the wolf doctor said it was beyond his knowledge. Tori had broken wolf history
by being born in the hospital, fighting for her life.

“You fit in, Tori. You’re just scared.”

“The pack is scared to be near me. They’re worried
that I’ll infect them with my weak ways.”

Jack threw back his head and laughed. “I doubt it.
They’re worried that you’re going to hurt yourself.”

She hurt herself quite easily. A fall that any wolf
could walk away from, Tori ended up with broken bones. Her parents had stopped
her from playing rough with her brothers and sisters. They’d put her in a box,
and now her siblings wouldn’t let her join in the fun. School was a nightmare
as they crowded round her like a cocoon.

“Yeah.
They’re worried about everything.” She’d overheard her parents arguing
the other night about her transition. At the age of eighteen she would, like
every other wolf, undergo the battle to change for the first time into her wolf
form. They didn’t think she was going to make it. If she didn’t, she only had
five years left to live. Some wolves were not able to make it through the
transition as the stress took its toll and they died.

Tori didn’t want to die, and listening to her parents
argue
made it seem … final. At eighteen she wouldn’t have
done everything she wanted to. She wanted to go away to college, learn to
drive, party, and have sex. There hadn’t been any guys interested in her, but
she wanted the chance to be with one, to know what love was like.

“Hello,” Jack said, waving his hand in front of her
face.

“Sorry, I spaced out a little there.”

“Where did you go?”

“Nowhere far.”
She stared at her scraped knees.

“You know you can tell me anything, Tori, right?”

She stared at the boy who would take over as beta in
the pack one day. Biting her lip, she averted her gaze and looked at her knees.

“Erm, shouldn’t you be out there with Marshall?”

“He’s lapping up the attention. There will be more
than enough for me later. There’s plenty of, erm, girls out there.”

She chuckled. “It won’t be long before you go through
your transition.”

Jack chuckled. “Do you think I’ll need extra muscle?
I’m already hot stuff.”

Rolling her eyes, she shoved his shoulder. “You really
are arrogant.”

“Do you know what that word means?”

“It should be your name.”

He stood up, holding out his hand. “Come on, squirt,
have some fun.”

She stared at his offered hand and couldn’t think of a
reason to turn him down. Placing her hand within his, she let him pull her up.
She didn’t even reach his chest, but in that moment she didn’t care.

****

Three years
later

“What’s going on with you?” Marshall asked.

Jack looked toward his best friend and the alpha he
was going to protect for the rest of his life.
“Nothing.
I was just thinking about someone.”

“Who?
Your latest fuck?”

“Don’t let Scarlett hear you say that. She’s got you
by the balls.”

Marshall chuckled. “She’s got me exactly where I want
her to have me.”

Rolling his eyes, Jack picked up a stone and threw it
into the lake. It was freezing, and the stone fell into the icy depths below.

“Come on, who’s the lucky lady you’re thinking about?”

“It doesn’t matter.”

“Come on. It’s me, Jack. You’ve just witnessed me
become a sucker to the girl I bullied most of our lives.”

Scarlett was Marshall’s true mate, and they had
bullied her. When they’d gone through the transition their senses had been
heightened, and Marshall had found his mate. Jack had yet to find his. He
didn’t mind. After witnessing what Marshall went through, he wasn’t interested
living his life like that, but part of him did wish that he could feel what
Marshall did whenever he looked at Scarlett. The love and connection was so
easy to see just by a glance.

“Have you heard from Tori or her parents?”

“Tori?
The runt?”

“Please don’t call her that,” Jack said. He thought
about that summer three years ago. Taking her hand and leading her toward the
lake had been one of the stupidest things he’d ever done. Everyone in the pack had
warned him that Tori
was
delicate, but he’d not
listened. They’d stood on this very rock and jumped into the water below. He’d
released her hand as they hit the water. When he broke the surface, everyone
was cheering, but Tori
was
nowhere to be seen. He
recalled the panic he’d felt as he dove into the water, when Tori didn’t emerge
from the water. The pack had started to herd the people who were not part of
the pack away from the scene. After his third dive down, he’d found her tangled
in some weeds. Pulling her out, her parents had been waiting.

“You can’t blame yourself for what happened,” Marshall
said.

“No one talks about it. Not even her parents.” They’d
done emergency CPR and called the doctor. That time she hadn’t needed the
hospital, but her parents carried her away from him, keeping her safe. He’ll
never forget the fear in her parents’ eyes and that of her siblings. For weeks
afterwards Jack couldn’t look them in the eye. He shouldn’t have released her
hand.

“Would you like to be reminded of the moments when
your daughter nearly died? Runt has never had it well.”

“Will you please stop calling her that?” Jack rubbed
at his temples.

“Okay, fine. Is she coming back today?”

“I think she’s visiting her family. I don’t know.
Maybe it’s just me.” Jack shrugged.

“You’ve got to stop blaming yourself for what
happened. You tried to get her involved.”

“I let go of her hand, Marshall. I should have held
her. I encouraged her for fuck’s sake.”

“Stop it. I mean it, Jack.”

“Are you going all
alpha
on
me?”

“Yeah.
Come on. Let’s go.”

“Where are we going?”

“We’re going to welcome Tori home. I believe the
Hunters are arriving back with Tori in tow.”

After the incident her parents had sent Tori to live
with an uncle in the country. They didn’t want her around the pack because of
all the accidents she got into.

Following Marshall out of the forest, Jack wasn’t
shocked to see Scarlett leaning against a tree.

“Is everything okay?”

“Yeah, baby. It’s more than okay.” Marshall kissed her
temple, nuzzling her neck.

Jack looked away, hating the sudden burn in his chest.
He had his pick of any girls at the school, and he fucked them all. His mate
hadn’t showed up before or after his transition, so he was taking advantage of
being single.

“Are you okay,
Jack
?”

“Yeah, I’m fine.”

He no longer bullied Scarlett. She smelled of the pack
and home to him as she was mated to Marshall.

They entered the small town square, and he saw his
father, David, standing beside Marshall’s father Luke.

“It must mean she’s returning today,” Marshall said.

“Yeah, it must.” For the alpha and beta to be present had
to mean something. Tori’s siblings were standing just outside their front door.

Jack spotted Rachel, the eldest girl.

“Is she coming back today?” he asked.

“Yeah.
Mom and Dad want her close. She’s sixteen and needs the next two years
preparing for her transition.” Rachel bit her lip, and tears filled her eyes.

“What is it?”

“Nothing.”

Jack frowned. “Tell me.”

Rachel glanced down at her hands. “My folks are
worried.”

“Why?”

“Tori.
She has to go through the transition, but they don’t know if she’ll
make it. There have been stronger wolves out there, and they’ve been killed
because of the shock of it all.” Rachel stopped talking as it got too much for
her.

Jack would have preferred a punch to the gut rather
than hearing those words. “She could die?”

“They don’t think she can make it. We’re all going to
try and coach her into transitioning. We’ve been in touch with our uncle, and
he thinks it’s best that she continue her life out there with him.” Rachel
stopped talking, wiping away a tear. “I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be bothering you
with this.”

“No, don’t worry about it.”

Jack couldn’t believe what he’d just heard. Not once
had he thought about her not making it.

Rachel gasped as a car turned down the street. He
looked toward the car, and something happened. His wolf started to stir.
Rubbing at his chest, Jack walked toward Marshall, who was standing by Luke.
Staring at the car, he froze. The scent that came out of the car was complete
heaven.

What the fuck?

His wolf stood up and began to pace.

The back of the car opened, and Jack’s world turned on
its axis. Something slammed into him—the smell, sight, and fucking hell, the
taste
was to die for. Tori stepped out
from the car, rushing toward her siblings. Her blonde hair was bound into a
ponytail, and the length was longer than he remembered.

Fuck.

Shit.

Not possible.

But then, it was possible. Tori had been gone before
his transition. There was no sign of her around the pack apart from her family.
When they weren’t in transition they didn’t know their mate until after their
wolves came out with heightened senses.

“Jack? What is it?” Marshall asked.

“I’ve got to get out of here.”

He stumbled back, rushing as far from Tori as
possible. Entering his home, he took heaping gulps of air as the revelation
reverberated around his head.

Mate.

Claim.

Love.

“Son, what’s wrong?”

Jack turned to look at his father. “She’s here.”

“Your mate?”

BOOK: Runt of the Litter
8.19Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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