Coercion: Part OneBy: Chloe Cole
When Willa Stone is cast aside by the alpha-wolf she’s been promised to since birth, she’s humiliated and angry, but also secretly relieved. Now, maybe she’ll have the chance to mate for love. If her power-crazed parents will just give her a little time, she’s sure to find the man of her dreams…
Dragon-shifter, Drake Blackbourne, has an itch to scratch and precious few options for an outlet. When the Stone family offers up their daughter’s hand in exchange for protection and political favors, he agrees to wed her, sight unseen. Drastic times call for drastic measures and, so long as she does her part and keeps out of his way the rest of the time, surely he can manage to bed her, no matter how plain she might be.
What he doesn’t expect is that captivating, defiant Willa will ignite a fire in him that will burn everything in its path, and turn both of their worlds upside down…
“I don't get it." Greyson West sat up in his oversized desk chair and probed Willa’s face with his laser-like gaze, but she managed not to react in spite of the tumult of emotions rioting inside her. When he reached out to touch her consciousness with his own, she shut down entirely, not ready or willing to let him in.
"What don't you 'get'?" Willa's mother asked, her chin raised at a haughtier angle than was appropriate when talking to her alpha.
There was no question that Grey took notice, but he kept his tone measured and polite as he turned his attention back her way. “Your fury seems out of line, Faustine. In fact, I had thought that we’d come to an agreement.”
Her ramrod back went even straighter. "You fractured this pack with your abominable actions. Then you turned your back on your betrothal to our daughter and the ancient ways of our kind. I don’t know what you expected to have happen, but this is what you've wrought, young man. I’m sure my husband and I will be the first of many elders taking a stand."
Grey's posture changed on a dime and his nostrils flared. Where he'd been open and almost apologetic before, now, he was flat out pissed.
Willa swallowed hard in an attempt to dislodge the golf ball that had been lodged in her throat for the past week.
She didn't love Grey. Never had, but, since birth, they were bonded. Sworn to one another by their families to mate and rule the pack together once Joseph, Grey's father, stepped down.
The whole stepping down thing hadn't come to pass, but Grey was now, indeed, the alpha. Only Willa wasn't by his side.
She shifted uncomfortably in her armchair and shot a quick glance toward Maggie, Grey's new mate who sat beside him.
She didn't hate the woman. Quite the contrary. From what Willa had seen and heard, she was tough, ballsy and seemed to be mad about Greyson. And Willa was glad for that. At least one of them had gotten to mate for love.
What was harder to swallow was the fact that Willa’s entire identity had been tied up in this antiquated, now-broken, marriage deal. And now, even the wolves who considered themselves progressive and forward-thinking--the young generation who had sided with Grey to overthrow his tyrannical and murderous father--had turned their backs on her.
Where once, they'd treated her with a respect bordering on reverence, they now looked on her with pity. Whatever they might say with their mouths that made them come off as politically correct under this new regime, deep down, they thought she was damaged goods.
No two ways about it. She had lost her best friend and planned mate in one fell swoop, and she had no prospects. If the alpha had cast her aside, why would anyone else want her?
Raised voices caught her attention and she tore her gaze away from raven-haired, slim, Maggie right in time to see Grey turn his attention to her father.
“Jacob, come on now. Surely, you can see the time has come for change. Your ways…the old ways just don’t work for us any longer. We need to co-exist with humans, not murder them. And the idea of arranged marriages in this day and age--”
"You entitled little pup,” her father cut in, his face turning a mottled red. “Your father broke his back to build this pack. Now, you betray your entire bloodline by imprisoning him and taking over, and you think to pass judgment on me?" He tossed his head back and barked out a bitter laugh. "That's rich, Greyson."
He shoved himself to his feet, whipping his dark, wool coat over his shoulders as he did.
"Sit. Down," Grey commanded, his jaw clenched, and his silvery eyes blazing with fury.
Willa's mother and father locked gazes and turned to face Grey in unison.
"No," her father said simply. He reached for his wife's hand and pulled her to her feet to join him. "We won't. In fact, we have obeyed our last command from you, young Mister West. Without Joseph at the helm, we have no interest in remaining with the Big Sky Canyon pack.”