The Reluctant Alpha (West Coast Wolves #1) - Susi Hawke Page 0,2

during the night after a quick shift to speed things along. But my grandparents didn't need proof to know my father liked to knock me around.

Still, I'd expected them to try and talk me out of it. Instead, my grandfather slipped me the key to a safe deposit box from a bank in Bakersfield and quietly explained my mother had a life insurance policy the alpha hadn't known about. She took it out herself and named her parents as the beneficiaries after she'd learned she was pregnant with me. Should anything happen to her, she’d instructed the money was to be kept for me.

While she couldn't have known she'd die before my first birthday, I could safely assume she wanted to make sure I'd be protected. As much as I would have liked to hope my father had treasured his mate and only became violent after losing her, my gut said otherwise. I tried not to think about it too much, but the worry was always in the back of my mind. Worry a woman—one who’d given me life, yet I had no memory of—had once been on the other end of the fists I knew all too well.

Shaking off my thoughts, I turned to see what my friends were doing. No. Not friends, pack. Devon, Tucker, and Nick were all secondary alpha sons who hadn't been given an option on their eighteenth birthdays of joining their home packs. Traditional thinking said having more than one alpha in a pack was dangerous, unless one was the heir. In accordance with the Supreme Council rules governing all American packs, they were turned loose at eighteen with ten percent of their father's worth as payoff to leave and never return.

As much as their lives sucked, they had it better than Lucian. His sire refused to claim him at birth—marking him forever as a bastard because he lacked the faded X scar over his heart. Lucian grew up in foster care after being turned over to the Territory Chief of our state. Until he came of age, he was moved from pack to pack, never allowed to spend more than six months with anyone. Since California had seventy-three officially recognized packs to choose from, Lucian had seen his share of the Golden State.

He wasn’t affected, at least not so anyone could see. Lucian was always prepared with a joke and a smile. The flirtatious shit was already standing in the doorway with a hot twink on one arm and a sexy mama in the other. As he walked by, Nick elbowed me in the ribs. "Is it too early to lay odds on which one he ends up with tonight?"

Snorting, Tucker came up beside me. "Come on, Nick. It's Lucian we're talking about, remember? Even money says he tries for both." Nick and I both grinned because he had a good point. As wolves, we were inherently bisexual. And as alpha wolves? We were plain highly sexual in general. As far as I could tell, Lucian had a double dose in the libido department. Part of me had always wondered if Lucian was really so horny or if he was hoping his true mate would accidentally fall on his cock one of these days.

A guy who'd been alone since birth probably didn't want to stay solo forever. Either way, the dude's bedroom had a revolving door. Or it would if he had one, which he didn’t, since we lived our lives on the road. I didn't judge, though. He was my friend, my pack mate. Whatever made him happy was good with me.

We were definitely a pack. Maybe not one the Supreme Council recognized, but a pack nonetheless. While we rode up and down the highways, we had each other's backs through good times and bad. We cheered each other on, and any one of us would take a bullet for another. If we weren’t pack by anyone’s standards, then maybe my dictionary had a different definition.

Nick followed Lucian inside, his arm automatically going around another sexy mama watching him approach. Tucker said hello to a grizzled old-timer who was straddling his bike and picking what looked like a few days’ worth of dead bugs out of his long yellowish-white beard. Lovely. I never let my beard grow longer than my helmet, if I had one. Personally, I avoided facial hair because I didn't like the way my helmet rubbed against the scruff.

Blowing a slow whistle as he checked out the old-timer’s bike,