Authors: Holley Trent
Norseton Wolves is a self-contained miniseries spun off from The Afótama Legacy. You don’t need to read
The Viking Queen’s Men
The Chieftain’s Daughter
to understand where the Wolves are or why they’re there, nor do you have to read the four novellas in order. Each Norseton Wolves story is set at approximately the same time. The stories are interwoven and characters may appear throughout the miniseries, but the timelines more or less overlap. The stories may end at different times, depending on how long it takes a couple to find their happily-ever-after, but the ending of one book does not affect another book.
In terms of continuity, Norseton Wolves is set mostly after
The Chieftain’s Daughter
I hope you enjoy reading this shapeshifter arc set in the Afótama world as much as I loved writing it.
Christina Stilton has waited all her life to become a wolf’s bride.
Becoming mate to a stranger in a faraway pack is the only chance she has to escape her Appalachian life of poverty and abuse. She wants safety, but trusts The Fates to steer her toward love, too.
Love is the last thing on Anton Denis’s mind. He doesn’t want to saddle some hopeful woman to him. A brutal fight left him scarred and half blind. He’s a mercenary who can’t drive, can’t shoot straight, and on most days, can’t even crack a smile. He fully intends to send his mate away—to give her a chance at being matched to some stronger wolf—but stubborn Christina is intent on staying.
She might have been treated as a useless female back in Virginia, but her role in Anton’s small pack is clear. He needs to be loved and loved hard, and she’s just the woman for the job. She just needs to convince him to get out of her way and let her do it.
Christina Stilton had been trained her whole life to keep her gaze on the alpha when he was speaking, but her pack’s alpha had been nothing like Adam Carbone. In fact, now that she’d encountered Adam, she wasn’t certain her alpha had been a true alpha at all.
She cringed reflexively as Adam approached her, and her heart pounded when his howling laughter echoed through the desert expanse.
He nudged her chin up and turned her face this way and that. “I’m not going to hurt you, girl,” he said. “Don’t know what it’s like where you come from, but we don’t do that here. I’m just figuring out who I’m going to match you with.” He drew in a long, deep breath and closed his eyes, holding in her scent. When he let it out, he dropped his hand. “Hmm.” He didn’t qualify that
, just moved on down the line. She didn’t like the sound of it, though—had heard too many like it in her twenty-four years, and they were always followed up with some slight or abuse.
Christina and three other young wolf women had been flown into this place in—well, she wasn’t quite sure where they were, but it was somewhere in New Mexico. It’d been a long day for her. When her alpha had begrudgingly posted the mate call on the bulletin board in the gathering place, she hadn’t had time to ask questions. She wanted to be one of those four mates, and if she’d given Alpha too much time to think, he might not have let her go. He’d make her stay in that hollow, just ’cause he was mean and didn’t want anyone happy if he wasn’t.
She’d left her home in the Virginia mountains the evening before to be ready at the airport for a very early flight—her first ever—and had spent most of the day either in the air, in an airport terminal waiting for the rest of the wolf mates to arrive, or in that van getting to this far-flung place. The van had smelled of gun oil and sweat, and with her rough, stoic new alpha at the wheel, she should have worried about what kind of trouble she’d signed up for. Answering a mate call was truly a form of gambling. A girl could hit the jackpot and improve her situation by leaving her pack, if it was a bad one. Or—she could end up somewhere even worse. But, Christina hadn’t fretted. She’d slept, because what could be worse than
pack? They were good wolves; no one could debate that fact. But being wily in their animal forms didn’t excuse them from being despicable men.
She twined and untwined her nervous fingers, willing her leg to stop bobbing.
As long as he’s kind—please just let him be kind.
She’d never tried to bend the ear of the goddess before, but now she hoped that the wolf lady was listening, even just a little. Christina had never asked for anything. Had never dared to. But after twenty-four years of silence, was hers such a big request?
The hard-packed orange earth seemed to spin beneath her. Pressing her palms to the edge of the rustic wooden bench she shared with the three other mates, she closed her eyes tight and concentrated on her breathing until the dizziness ebbed.
Get it together. They’re gonna send you back.
They were probably watching her now from the shadows, wondering what the heck was wrong with her. Probably thought she was simpleminded, in addition to being uselessly small. She forced her eyes open and dared to glance over her shoulder.
The bench had been installed in a sort of courtyard at the intersection of six concrete walkways. Five stopped at small, square adobe houses—one of which she’d be living in with her mate, ostensibly. From where she sat, she couldn’t tell where the sixth walkway ended, as a house was in the way.
Her gaze tracked to the doorway of one of the houses, and there she found someone’s would-be prize.
Sit up, you idiot.
She straightened her spine and looked over her other shoulder, too. There were two more males behind her.
One, two, three handsome wolves…
What does that mean?
The mate call had stated that four mates were needed for this unnamed pack. If she’d known the number was just a darned estimate, she might not have come. In a competitive scenario, there was no way she’d beat out the other three women.
No way, no how
. She wrung her hands, only to stop when realizing how still the others were.
Of course they were. This might have even been a step down for them. So many packs had left their rural hunting grounds behind for the convenience of cities. The women Christina shared that bench with looked worldly in a way she wasn’t—
. Their stylish jeans clung just right. Their makeup might have worn off, but their pore-free skin and manicured eyebrows suggested that they knew how to use it. They wore their hair shorter than all the girls back home did, but then again, they were probably allowed to. Christina would bet good money—if she’d had any, besides the two hundred dollars wadded up in her sock—that they were women used to having some freedom. They’d probably put up a good fight to keep it, whereas Christina was struggling to just get a taste of it.
Desperate, needy, pathetic wolf.
If the wolves only needed three brides, she’d surely be the one left out. That was common sense.
“Where the hell is Anton?” Adam, now at the other end of the bench, called back to the wolves in the shadows.
“Beast didn’t want to come outside to play,” one said.
four. That didn’t make her odds sound any better, though. She’d end up with that “beast,” knowing her luck.
Adam swore a blue streak under his breath before walking back to Christina’s end of the bench. He fixed his dark, wise stare on her for so long, she’d feared the Earth had stood still, but she couldn’t pull away from his gaze. Wouldn’t dare look away from her alpha. He could ruin her life, or change it for the better, all with the snap of his fingers. She still held out a little hope that he’d have some mercy on her, and that the goddess was with them on that day, guiding his decisions.
He moved on yet again to the woman beside her, and having had his second look, Christina buried her face in her hands, blocking out all of the noise around her.
She got skipped. Wasn’t even good enough for the one they called “Beast.”
She didn’t know how long she’d been sitting there, covering her face in shame. But when she looked up again, the other three women were gone. Turning slowly, she observed that the three men were, too.
And where did Adam go?
She sighed. “Probably to get my suitcase.”
He was bound to throw her back.
Well, she wasn’t going to go. There had to be someone else who’d take her—maybe some bottom-rung wolf, too weak to be a threat to his pack. She’d have to ask Adam if there were other calls.
Resolved, she nodded. That was what she’d do.
Anton Denis rooted through the canvas duffel bag on the desk in his spare bedroom in search of his hunting knife.
Where did the damned thing go?
He’d last seen it during that short-term contract security gig they’d taken in Vegas. He needed the knife now, but seemed to remember that the thing needed cleaning, and badly.
“Where the hell is it?”
He overturned the bag and exposed all of the weapons inside it to the light.
The front door slammed as he pawed over them, and he rolled his one good eye preemptively. There was only one asshole that would enter Anton’s house without permission. Then again, Adam didn’t need it. He could do what he wanted—alpha’s prerogative.
“What the fuck are you doing, hiding out in here?” Adam barked.
“Not hiding.” Anton grabbed the trashcan from beneath the desk and tossed some wadded fast food wrappers that one of his packmates must have stowed in the weapon bag.
“What do you call it, then?” Adam asked.
“Working. What’s it look like?”
“Looks like hiding to me.”
Anton dropped the trashcan into its former position and gave the alpha a sidelong look from his right eye. His eyes always tried to cross when he looked straight on for too long. According to the doc, the good right eye was still trying to compensate for his blind left one. It’d take a while to settle, he’d said. “I’ve got five rifles full of salt and desert sand to clean before my next shift. I’m
“I gave you an order,” the other man said. He leaned against the doorframe and crossed his arms. “You were supposed to be outside so I could do the matching.”
Anton didn’t bother suppressing his scoff. Adam had to know how Anton felt about the situation. A year ago, maybe he could have been paired up with a real fine wolf, but he hadn’t been ready a year ago. None of them had. Wolves didn’t take mates until they had homes. Until now, they’d been nomads. The moment they’d gotten settled in good in their new homes in the community of Norseton, New Mexico, Adam had put out a call for female wolves. Sight unseen, apparently, they’d come to the place.
Anton grabbed two rifles and squeezed past his alpha to the hallway. “I don’t need your pity, Adam.”
Adam followed right on his heels. “You get outside and claim your mate right now, Anton. And in case you couldn’t tell, that was an order, too. I don’t reckon you’ll want to ignore two in a row.”
“For fuck’s sake.” Anton set the guns on the kitchen table and flicked on the overhead light. “Saved the last one for me, huh? She must be a prize.”
“No, you arrogant asshole,” Adam said through clenched teeth. “I picked the
one for you. Go out there now and invite her into your home, or me and you are going to have a problem.”
Growling, Anton raked a hand through his unkempt hair and yanked. “I didn’t
you to do this!”
“Tough. Shit.” Adam got in his face, nearly nose-to-nose.
Anton didn’t back down, but he sure as hell wanted to. If he did, though, he’d be even worse off. Last fucking thing they needed in their pack was a cowardly wolf.
Adam’s dark eyes narrowed to slits. “It was time. Now, for the last time, boy, the temperature’s dropping quick and the sun’s going down. So you get your ass out there and get her, or I will pound you into one of these adobe walls. Do you understand me?”
Anton let out a ragged breath and closed his eyes. “Yes, sir.”
“Go on, then.”
Anton led him to the door, and every step felt like a slog through quickly drying concrete. It felt even worse than being dragged off to the gallows. He was off to meet the woman Adam had doomed to be with Anton.
Poor little bitch.