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An Excerpt From: LEADER OF THE PACK
Copyright © FRANCESCA HAWLEY, 2012
All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.
Yohana Whitewolf paced Serena Goldwolf’s office, barely containing her irritation and impatience. Between the flu plague sweeping through most of Denver, and her pack’s pressure to provide an heir, Yohana was ready to kill something.
She knew the only way to prevent the pack from splintering was to find a Mate and soon, so she stayed in the deserted office. Her sire had died only six months ago, leaving her with the task of consolidating her pack leadership. A Mate and a pup were distractions to the vital work she must do. Still, she needed to placate the pack or it would disintegrate. She couldn’t allow that to happen and had a duty to prevent it. Plus, she’d made a promise to Jeremiah—her father.
Yo restrained her annoyance because most of Serena’s staff at the shapeshifter match service Predator-Match.com was out with the flu, leaving them short-handed. The flu was sweeping through the Whitewolf pack too, so she could relate. Serena rushed into the room, flopping into her chair. Yohana smiled reluctantly at her longtime friend.
“I think I need roller skates today, Yo. I am so sorry I’ve kept you waiting. There are just two of us in the office and of course we couldn’t reach people to cancel.” Serena groaned.
“I don’t think your Mate would approve of a female in your condition on roller skates.” Yohana’s dry response elicited a laugh from Serena. Serena patted her baby bump.
“Maybe not, but I still could use some skates.”
Yohana sat, fondly remembering how she used to pupsit Serena years ago. They had remained friends and were like sisters in many ways because they were both only children and daughters of pack leaders.
The biggest difference between them, other than height, was that Serena had no interest in following her father as pack leader. She was happy being the Alpha female allowing her Alpha Male True Mate, Damien, to lead their burgeoning family. Leading the Whitewolf pack was all Yohana had ever wanted. She felt a deep commitment to guide and serve the members of her pack so they could all prosper. She couldn’t imagine doing anything else.
“You aren’t here for lunch, Yo.”
“How do you know?”
“Because you made an appointment with me. Are you finally going to let me put your profile together to help you hunt for a Mate?”
“I don’t want to hunt for a Mate. I need to find one.” Yo couldn’t stay in the chair any longer, so she rose to pace again.
Serena frowned. “Find one?” She pulled a pad of paper to her. “Okay, what’s going on and what do you want in a Mate?”
“My pack is what’s going on. They want a pack leader with a stable Mate and me pregnant as soon as possible.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yes, they’ve been rumbling about my cousin Dan taking over if I can’t do what’s necessary. I’m looking for a male wolf who won’t fight me for my pack.”
“Oh, Yo, I’m sorry.” Serena started to get up but Yohana waved her back.
If someone hugged her, she’d break down and start crying. Yo just didn’t have time to let her emotions overwhelm her right now. “I know. I appreciate your concern.”
“You want a Beta then?” Serena blinked tears from her eyes starting to type into her computer database.
“I do, but every pack member I’ve asked about this doesn’t. They want me Mated to an Alpha.” Serena’s raised her gaze and her mouth dropped open, prompting a wry laugh from Yohana. “Yes, I know. Finding an Alpha not interested in running a pack is as likely as finding a needle in a haystack, but find him we must. I want a male who has a commitment elsewhere.”
“I don’t mean another female.” Yo shuddered. “Worried or not, the pack would never accept a male with another relationship. I mean an obsession with his career or a hobby. Something other than my pack.”
“You aren’t making this easy.”
“Life is hard. Even harder than finding a Mate obsessed with something other than dominating a pack, I want a male who is tall enough to look me in the eyes, not the tits. I’m six feet tall, so I don’t want a short wolf. I’ve known some wonderful males who are short, but it won’t work for me to take one as a Mate. The Whitewolf pack will expect my Mate to be able to act as my enforcer if the need arises.”
“Some short males are extremely muscular and physical.”
“True. But when I date males who aren’t as tall as me, I seem to pick the ones who feel they need to prove something. I don’t choose well, which is why I’m here. I want a male with interests elsewhere and nothing to prove to anybody.”
“Every stipulation you add limits the pool.”
“I know, but I need to be Mated soon.”
“I’ll go into heat Friday or Saturday, and I want to get pregnant right away. It will ease the pressure if they know there is a new generation on the way.”
Serena shook her head. “Okay. What else? Let’s get everything out on the table.”
Yohana sighed as she paused by the window, crossing her arms over her ample bosom. Some females with her height looked like movie stars or fashion models, but Yo was built more along the lines of a linebacker. She was definitely her sire’s daughter. She glanced down. Correction, her sire’s daughter with her mother’s udders.
“He’s got to be able to Mate me. If I leave him cold, he won’t be able to impregnate me.” Yohana glanced at Serena. “I know I’m no beauty queen. My features are too strong to be considered pretty or beautiful, and I’m not built like a model. Don’t match me up with a male who wants a gorgeous female to grace his bed.”
“Someone who’ll lie back and think of Whitewolf?” Serena teased.
“Something like that. In fact, if he wants a limited Mating, I’d accept it. My pack will be happy if I make the effort and produce a pup. Once those criteria are complete, any male I Mate can be free.”
“Yo, you are a good person and you deserve more than that.”
“Maybe, but not now. Later.”
“What about a True Mate?”
“Lord, no! I’m not looking for a True Mate. My attention will be on the pack and my pup. I’m not going to have time for some male who wants to bond and share with me,” she shivered.
“I used to think it would be awful, but I was wrong. You might be wrong too.”
“Unlikely. Right now I don’t have time to hold out for the ideal. I need Mr. Right-Now. Not Mr. Right.”
“I’ll see if I can find him for you. Any clan preferences?”
“Whitewolf or Goldwolf…Redwolf at the outside since a Redwolf pack lives near us too,” she frowned. “Our entire pack is fair. It would disturb them to have a dark-haired heir. Still, I’ll take what I can get.”
“Noted. Do you want your Mate to live in Whitewolf or here in the city?”
“He can maintain an apartment here in Denver if needed, and just come home at the weekend after he’s planted a pup.”
Serena opened her mouth to say something more, she stopped and slowly nodded.
Yohana could tell her friend disapproved but was restraining herself because of the situation. She walked over to Serena, setting a hand on her wrist. “Serena, I know this is unpleasant, but I don’t have any options right now. My pack needs this from me.”
“They expect a horrible sacrifice and it isn’t fair.”
“Being a pack leader demands sacrifices, and since when has life been fair?” Yohana sat down in the chair.
Serena shook her head, finally lifting her blazing green eyes. “You are a special female and you should be appreciated, not pressured.”
Yo smiled sadly. “Is that what you think they’re doing?”
“You are judging them by your view of your own father Drew. But, Serena, all they really want is stability and safety. If having a pup will give them that, I can’t deny them.”
Serena shook her head.
“I need them to relax so I can… With Father so recently gone…” Her throat closed and she covered her eyes, fighting tears. She shook her head looking up at her friend. “Find me a Mate. Please.”