Midnight Kisses Chapter 1 – THE LATE SUMMER BREEZE, unusually hot and dry for Montana, washed over me,
bending the tall grass. Mixed with the scent of lavender and lilac, my father’s
musky scent hit me, followed by the sound of his heavy footfalls. I’d shifted
back to human after a run in the woods, and my skin still tingled; my wolf close
to the surface.
Smiling, I sat up and turned toward him. “Hello, Father.”
The moment I saw his somber expression, my heart tumbled into my
stomach. “What’s wrong?” Without waiting for an answer, I sprang to my feet
and sent out my alpha heir power, trying to sense if anyone in the pack had been
mortally injured or killed.
Nothing felt out of the ordinary, so why did he look so … stricken? “Father?”
He plastered on a fake smile, but the expression never touched his eyes. “The
alpha king has called for you. It’s time.”
My gaze dropped to the stiff white paper in his hand. Embossed lettering
danced on the page, moving in golden swirls, and there was no mistaking the
logo: a capital A above an island, its snow-capped tip surrounded by rippling
waves. We all knew that symbol at the top of the paper, an official declaration
from the alpha king. I tried to steady my breathing while my heart made an
attempt to escape my chest.
Swallowing the lump at the back of my throat, I blinked, determined not to
cry. Tears were not befitting an alpha’s daughter. No one wanted a leader whose
first instinct was emotion. I needed to be strong for me and my pack.
But before I could stop myself, words tumbled out: “I thought I had another
year at home.”
“So did I,” my father said, his nostrils flaring. His eyes blazed with emotion.
Was it fear? Rage? As quickly as I saw it, he reined it in. Of course, a shifter
must control their feelings at all times lest they lose themselves to their animal
instinct. “But you’re of age.”
He extended the letter as if he couldn’t stand to touch it any longer, and a sob
formed in my throat.
These mountains, this blue sky, the trees covering our land … the pain of
leaving home tore through me. I was born of this place, connected to the earth
here like all of our pack. To go to Alpha Island, to leave my pack … the thought
made my stomach churn. I wouldn’t be permitted to see or speak to anyone from
home for four years, only letters—and only if I could find someone to bring
them here, to the mortal realm where our pack was exiled. Judging by the
frequency of visitors, the odds didn’t fall in my favor.
I yanked the paper from his hand, angry with the injustice of the system.
“They don’t even like our clan. We all know it! I hate that we have to play by
My father frowned at my outburst. “It is the way of the alpha, and our pack
to lead. Without training your magic, you won’t be ready to take over
when I die.”
I grimaced, knowing the other option. Those who refused the summons to
Alpha Island were sentenced to death, traitors to their pack and their alpha heir
blood. One hundred percent not going to happen.
My father cleared his throat. “The pack will need a strong leader when I’m
gone. You must train. Show the other packs we have sufficient power to deserve
I wanted to protest or pout, but at nineteen winters old, and as the alpha’s
daughter, I needed to act like I had my crap together.
So I took a deep breath, shoving my emotions away to deal with later, and
nodded. “I’ll make Crescent Clan proud.”
He opened his arms, and it took me an awkward moment before I understood
the gesture. My father was not one for unnecessary affection. He taught me to be
strong, to never show weakness unless it served a purpose. While I struggled at
times with adhering to his strict doctrine, having him fold me into a stiff hug
meant this was a big deal for him. As his arms wrapped around me, I felt the
lump in my throat grow. Peering up, I looked into his eyes, the same pale blue as
mine—the only part of him I’d inherited. Only, my eyes burned with unshed
tears while his glittered like crystal, hard and sharp.
“Do you wish you had a son?” I whispered.
He pushed my silver-white hair away from my face, shaking his head.
“Never. You’ve been your mother’s greatest gift to me.”
Before I could blink them away this time, the tears spilled down my cheeks. I
thought of the stories my father had told me about the woman who died giving
birth to me and gave him a small smile. My father rarely talked about my
mother. It must’ve upset him too much. I was the only piece left of her. My
father’s commanders had urged him to take a breeding companion after her death
and try to have a male heir, but he refused. It was just me. Me and Dad.
“Show them what you’re made of, Nai.” He bopped my chin, and just like
that, I was brought back to my sparring lessons as a child. He’d said the same to
me before every match.
Reaching up, I traced the white crescent moon, our clan’s alpha mark, on his
forehead, and my fingers thrummed with energy. His link to our clan’s magic
always gave me little zaps when I touched it. His mark was an exact match for
the one on my head.
I needed to be strong like he’d raised me, regardless of the rumors about the
other packs and the stories of what happened on Alpha Island, regardless of the
fact that I wouldn’t see him for
“Hold down the fort while I’m gone,” I said, pulling away. “I’ll be back
before you know it—an alpha heir, ready to serve.” I saluted him with a silly
grin, hoping to keep things light.
Pursing his lips, he cleared his throat. “Just be safe, Nai. The other heirs
won’t like another Crescent Clan wolf on the island.”
I waved him off, feigning confidence I didn’t feel. “I’ll be fine.”
But we both knew the island was dangerous as were the trials.
We walked over the packed dirt path toward the main lodge together, and for
the first time, my father checked his long stride and paced beside me, indicating
we were equals. Members of the pack stopped what they were doing and tipped
their heads in respect as we passed. I held my chin high, clutching the paper in
my fist while pretending not to be nervous when all I felt was worming trepidation.
We rounded the corner of the log-style lodge that served as the pack’s
headquarters, and I stumbled when I spotted four Alpha Academy guards
wearing matching black shirts with the island symbol embroidered on the left
side like some stupid fraternity. They stood beside a shiny black SUV.
I skittered to a stop, staring nearly open-mouthed at their hulking figures.
Men didn’t grow this big unless they were dominants. All four of them stood
well over six feet tall and wore black baseball caps. That was shady …
especially if they were covering marks on their foreheads. They might even be
from Midnight Pack.