Moments In Time: A Collection of Short Fiction
over them, the single word packed so much punch that her father fell to his knees. She immediately followed suit, though she felt no compulsion to do so. Being a half-breed had somehow allowed her free will, something she and her father had worked hard to hide over the years.
    “It was decided years ago,” Grey continued evenly. “The ceremony is tonight.”
    Shock nearly crippled Shayanne. Not only was she to be mated, but she was going to be mated tonight? No!
    “This is a good alliance, Arthur,” Careen said. “Grey is a wild-born wolf, alpha of one of the very rare Dark packs, and a good wolf.”
    He didn’t look like a good wolf to her. He looked like a beast from hell. And he was old! At least ten years older than her!
    Her father looked just as horrified as she felt. “I forbid this,” he spat.
    Careen’s fangs extended past his bottom lip. “Are you issuing a challenge, Arthur?”
    A pregnant silence followed, during which her father’s face fell. Finally he glanced down at her, his eyes glistening with tears. Even knowing her father could do nothing against two alpha males, seeing him give her up so easily made her heart crumple.
    Careen clasped his hands together, his eyes once again human. “Good!” he said, all previous hostility instantly gone. “My mate is waiting to help Shayanne prepare for the ceremony.”
    “Prepare?” she whispered. Panic scrambled her thoughts and suddenly she couldn’t breathe. This couldn’t be happening, not tonight, not right now, not to this terrifying older wolf.
    So she did what any terrified half-human, half-wolf girl would do when faced with a shotgun wedding. She shifted. And ran like hell.
    Shifting for a half-breed was more or less what humans believed of werewolf mythology. Her eyes went wolf, her ears elongated, long thick hair sprouted from her cheeks, chest, arms, legs, and feet, and all four of her canines punched past her lips like mini daggers. Her body, not skinny or fat, just average, was instantly toned, built for optimal strength and speed, which combined with the full moon was amped up on high. She blurred through the clearing full of wolves, pushing and shoving until she was free and clear, then hightailed it back to town.
    Shayanne knew what to do. Her father kept his money in a coffee can under his bed. She would grab it, pack some clothes, and get on the next bus out of there. She had absolutely no idea where she’d go, but wherever she ended up, at least she’d be free.
    She was nearing the edge of the forest, almost to the road that would take her back to her pack lands, when suddenly she was tackled from behind and, screaming, she was thrown face-first into the dirt.
    The badly scarred black wolf pushed at her hand with his big wet nose and growled. She knew a direct order when she heard one, and despite her aching body, rose to her knees to face him.
    As she watched, Grey’s fur began receding, his bones cracking as his limbs elongated. His spine broke and re-knitted. His full transformation was complete in under a second, leaving him human and crouching next to her, naked.
    “Shayanne Halston, you will submit,” he growled.
    It was fear that forced her submission, not his command. She immediately rolled onto her back and lifted her chin, exposing her neck.
    He nosedived for her bared skin, nostrils flaring as he sniffed up and down her neck. His tongue darted out, rough and wet, licking furiously at her throbbing jugular.
    She’d heard stories of forced matings. That even in human form, males were still able to access their scent-marking glands, using their tantalizing scents to subdue and arouse the chosen female. She hadn’t been sure if this would affect her since most things wolf didn’t.
    It didn’t.
    Instead of scenting his need to mate, making her feel like she was being given the greatest gift of all, she was frozen in fear, knowing she was about to be forced into mating with a grown wolf who was scaring her half to

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