Mated in Chaos
Book 3 in the Aspen Pack Series
My wolf hid my fated mates—until the moon goddess forced our mating.
As Alpha of the Central Pack, I know we are the weakest link in the alliance, but I will stop at nothing to prove our worth and rebuild from our shameful and brutal past.
Along the way I fell for Adalyn and Nico, but stayed away, thinking they were fated for each other—and never me.
When a mating bond is forced on us, our worlds collide and now we must survive in this new fated life where rules break and the heat between us boils over.
Only Valac’s revenge over losing his mate in our previous battles take danger to a new level and if I’m not careful, I’ll lose my two mates before I even get a chance to make them fall for me like I have for them.
And if we’re not careful, the darker danger hiding in the shadows might break us all. As Valac’s master is waiting. And he’s closer than we think.
Mated in Chaos
All I wanted was a large cup of coffee, the moon shining through my fur, and a place to nap. Maybe not even in that order. But I was the Alpha of the Central Pack. I didn’t always get to rest when I wanted to, nor did I get what I wanted.
Maybe I was doing this Alpha thing wrong.
My wolf pushed at me slightly, taking a big stretch. We had been up for most of the night, cuddling a new wolf pup who missed his mother. Kayt, the boy’s mom, was out east visiting her old Pack, her own mother having grown ill from a wasting sickness that was rare but not unheard of in Packs. In fact, I had never met anyone with it before, but her mother was ill and needed her daughter and the moon goddess. The infant was too young to travel that far, and she didn’t want her baby near that sickness just in case. So, the father, my Pack, and I took care of the pup.
I was grateful that it seemed that Kayt’s mother was well on the way to recovery and Kayt would be home the next day.
But that meant a lack of sleep for me.
I rolled my shoulders back, making my way down the street as humans and witches and other paranormals that still hid within their skins walked past. I ignored the twinge, the one that wouldn’t go away.
It had been two months since the bomb had nearly killed me. Since I had stood next to three people I cared about and thought I had lost them forever.
Without Nico pulling Lily in the way he had, the young witch would have died instantly. But Nico had covered her body with his, taking the brunt of the impact for her. While I had thrown myself over Adalyn and as much of Nico as he had allowed me to.
I still didn’t think it had been enough.
Even with our three respective Healers, each using their magics that connected them to the Pack with their bonds, we were only now finishing our healing. Adalyn had been forced once again into a boot on her foot, the break she had finally healed from the previous battles with the vampires having sliced right open again. Her bones had shattered, her flesh had seared. I could still scent the burn in my nostrils, could hear her scream as we hit the ground.
Nico had ended up with burns over most of his body, a broken elbow, and a shattered pelvis.
While I had ended up with a broken shoulder, jaw, nose, leg, and internal bleeding that had taken Lane, my Healer, a week to take care of.
We were all exhausted from battle after battle with the vampires.
And all of our Packs were injured. Weakening. And I knew we were the weakest.
My shoulder still ached, as did some patches of skin that still felt brand new even after two months. Lane had put in so much of her strength that I was afraid she would have faded if she had kept going.
And it wasn’t as if the vampires had stopped attacking us in the interim.
They still wanted to take us out no matter what. That single bomb they had thrown at us from a distance using a drone had only been their first attempt.
Valac wasn’t going to back down.
We had killed his mate, and he wanted revenge. Only, he kept evading us.
All of our trackers, the wolves who could scent others’ trails from all four Packs, had been able to find the secret lairs the vampires had been using these past years.
All of them had been emptied. From what we had known, vampires had been made from demons over thirty years ago when the demon Caym had been brought into our world. Through unspeakable tragedy, that demon had taken over the Pack that had summoned him. That Pack had lost part of itself, a sickly and oily substance coating their souls through the bonds that connected them to the moon goddess and their Alpha.
Other demons had come from the hell realm in order to bring him back for punishment.
I didn’t know if Caym was still alive.
All I knew was that someone or something had slithered through the opening between dimensions and had been building an army all this time. And we only knew the beginnings of it. The full scope had evaded us, something that angered all four Alphas in this region. Let alone the other Alphas around the world. We were all weary. There had been other sightings, in Texas, in England, with other Packs that were our allies around the world. But Valac and the others had their stronghold in the Pacific Northwest—where we were.
And I blamed myself.
It was hard not to when it wasn’t just an unknown Pack that had brought forth the initial demon. It had been the Centrals.
Before I was born, long before I had taken up the mantle of Alpha. It wasn’t me who had done this. It had been the other Alpha and his son. They had sacrificed their own Central Pack princess, using her heart and blood in order to summon the demon. And they had committed other unspeakable atrocities. They had killed so many and started this war.
The Centrals had lost our ability to be a Pack. The moon goddess had weakened herself to strip titles and Pack bonds. Those who survived the initial calling of the demon brands had been left without a Pack.
Those elders and submissives that hid the children and weaker ones from the old Alpha and demon.
And those members had children, like my sister and me.
My sister wasn’t a Central any longer, having mated into the Talon Pack, our neighbors and allies.
And during that time, the moon goddess had blessed us again. Or at least, some called it a blessing. She had given us Pack bonds to keep us safe, protected. Because a group of wolves not connected by bonds were alone. We had all been so afraid to join other Packs, afraid that we wouldn’t even be assimilated or allowed in. So we hadn’t had the strength to heal ourselves, to protect ourselves.
And then, from one breath to the next, I had been thrust into the position of Alpha.
And here I stood, the leader of a small Pack with a tiny den, and we’re just now trying to get our feet under us.
The vampires weren’t making it easy.
“Cole. Are you okay?” I looked over at my Beta, my second in command, and nodded at Douglas. Douglas had been blessed at the same time as I had, an older wolf who had taken care of us as children. Although with wolf genetics, we looked the same age. But for some reason, I always thought that he had a little more crinkle at the corners of his eyes. From a life long-lived. From the protection he had given all of us.
“I’m fine. Sorry, I’m woolgathering.”
“I always thought that woolgathering was an odd statement for a wolf.”
I rolled my eyes. “Chase and the Aspens are the ones that actually have sheep on their lands.”
“True. Although that is a good idea. We have alpacas.”
“We have two alpacas. And they don’t like us. And I don’t think it’s because we smell like wolves.”
Douglas’s lips twitched. “They just don’t like you.”
Douglas met my gaze, just for an instant, before lowering it, his wolf happy. I knew he had tried to get me to smile, the weight on my shoulders making that harder than usual.
As the Beta of the Central Pack, his job was to see to the needs of the den itself, to ensure that we were working as a cohesive unit. While our den also had an Heir, Omega, Healer, and others, Douglas had the hard job of ensuring that our Pack was ready for anything that came at them from within, considering that the Centrals were a little different from most Packs.
Case in point, we were helping a Pack member move into their new apartment within the city limits.
The four dens of the major Packs in the Pacific Northwest, part of our alliance, took over the entire territories from Northern Washington all the way down to Northern California. We encompassed the Redwood Forest, the coastlines, Crater Lake, and everything that we could. Our territories also included the major cities that humans, witches, and other paranormals that we were just finding out about lived. That wasn’t necessarily meaning that our den was located there. No, we lived within wards within the forests themselves.
At least most of us did. The Talons, Redwoods, and Aspens mostly lived within their own towns within these wards. The Centrals liked to do things a little bit differently.
I figured it was because of how we had started. How we had lived before we became a Pack again. Our original den had been burned to the ground by our own deceit. When the demon was taken back to the hell realm, nothing had been left. Just a scarred patch of land that eventually had grown into a forest of its own, thanks to the blood of all those we had lost.
I knew that I was never going to walk on those lands again without feeling the echoes of wolves past. So we would never live there. Instead, we had a smaller patch of land gifted to us by the moon goddess herself, as well as the Talons and the Redwoods. It was never lost on me that we were able to be who we were because of other Packs. So many of our Packmates lived in the city.
“So, Josiah starts his new job soon?” Douglas asked, and I nodded, box in hand. “Tomorrow he said. But right now, he’s dealing with paperwork. Hence why we’re moving him in.”
Josiah was a newer member of the den, a former lone wolf from the East Coast who had left his den thanks to a growly Alpha who hadn’t understood his people. That was always something that I was afraid of, that I would turn into a manic and depressive Alpha who didn’t understand who needed him.
So I did my best to be careful, to understand the needs of my people. Just like those Alphas around me.
Like the Aspens, we were recruiting new members. We needed the strength of the bonds to the Alpha and the Pack to keep our wards active. The problem was, we also needed witches and magic. And with the major coven having an issue, something I wasn’t even sure I could name, we were losing magic daily. I was always afraid that we were going to be the first Pack to lose its wards, and the protection that came from them. Not only were they protection from outside wolves and forces, but it was also from the humans that wanted too much from us, or didn’t want us at all. As in, they didn’t want us to exist. And now we had to be careful of the vampires.
Those vampires wanted us dead, they wanted to be the only supernatural powers, so they were taking out their highest predators.
And because they used magic that was far darker than anything we had ever touched, anything we could ever dream, they were winning. Oh yes, we had taken out some of their lairs and kisses, but we hadn’t taken out the major players. We didn’t know the major demon in charge, and though we had killed Valac’s mate, that had only set him off again.
Hence the bomb that had nearly killed Lily and the two people that my wolf wanted more than anything.
But not the man. I couldn’t allow the man to want like that. I needed to find my mate when the time came. And an Alpha didn’t get two mates. So I knew that the pull might be there, but that didn’t mean I could give it any attention.
I pushed those thoughts from my mind and helped Douglas finish unpacking at the house. It was decently easy since Josiah didn’t have too many things, but we also wanted to ensure that he had what he needed. So the den maternals had made sure that the fridge was stocked and the pantry wasn’t bare—much like they did for many of the apartments that were part of our den structure. We ensured that everyone had a roof over their head. Rent wasn’t an issue, we knew how to save and scrape as we had done my entire life. So our Pack would be safe. Even if they had to earn money to protect the den with outside jobs rather than be somewhat self-sufficient like many of the Packs could do within the den wards.
I rubbed my shoulder again, annoyed at the ache. Douglas’s eyes narrowed at the gesture, and I waved my hand. “It’s fine.”
“It’s really not fine.”
Douglas narrowed his eyes at me again, then shrugged before we both made our way out of the building and back to our cars.
“I’ll meet you back at the den? I have a few things to pick up.”
“No problem. I’ve got it.”
“You know that Peter won’t be too thrilled that you’re out here alone.”
I barely resisted the urge to roll my eyes. Peter was the Enforcer of our Pack, the one who held special bonds to the moon goddess and the den to ensure safety of both. Meaning he probably didn’t want our Alpha out and about on his own.
I let a little bit of growl into my voice, tired and hurting. It might not be Douglas’s fault, but I was done. “I’m the Alpha. If I can’t take care of myself walking to my car, then we have a far bigger problem.”
Douglas didn’t say anything, just shook his head and walked back to his car. I probably shouldn’t have taken it out on my Beta, but I was tired. Tired that we weren’t enough, that our den was split up. Maybe one day it would change, but then again it didn’t make much sense to do so. Our dens were situated the way that they were because for so long we had moved in secret. Now, humans knew we existed. They knew where we lived and most of the magic that we had. They were aware witches and magic were real. Now the coven had to deal with publicity and the stigma that came with who they were, just like we had to when we were first revealed.
And everything had compounded when the vampires had shown themselves to the world. They were working on their own publicity, and I wasn’t quite sure what it meant. I didn’t know the end game when it came to the vampires.
And that worried me, like most things these days.
“Cole Levin?” an unfamiliar voice asked as I turned, my wolf on edge. I had scented them of course, had known someone was beside me, but they were human, and my wolf hadn’t sensed they were a threat. Maybe I was wrong.
“I’m sorry, you don’t know me. But I’m one of the business owners near here.”
I nodded. “Nice to meet you.”
The woman smiled, though it didn’t reach her eyes. She didn’t look angry, just tired. I didn’t blame her. With everything going on all over the world, a lot of us were tired these days.
“How can I help you?” I asked.
“I just wanted to know if the Packs needed us for anything. Or, honestly, if you guys had any plan for the vampires.”
There were a couple of other people behind her, I noticed, and the itch on the back of my neck grew more intense.
“We don’t know what their plans are, but we’re keeping tabs on them. Doing our best.”
I wasn’t the Voice of the Wolves. That was Parker, a former Redwood and now Talon Pack member. Thanks to my sister mating into the Pack, we were somehow family. In the distant sense.
“So you don’t know what they want?”
I shook my head. “We know what you do.” Not quite a lie.
“Oh. Well, that’s disappointing.”
I sighed, and if she were a wolf, or one of the human or witch members of my Pack, I would have reached out to squeeze her shoulder. But as it was, I was trying to look smaller than I was. To look less menacing. She might say she wanted me for protection right then, but I knew I had to be careful. If I looked like a dangerous brute, like a wolf on edge, I could harm the reputation of my den. This was why Parker was good at this. He could look innocent and caring, yet strong all at the same time. That was not something I was good at.
“Hopefully, we’ll be able to find peace. And we can all live in harmony.”
“That would be lovely. I just wish I knew what they wanted.”
I nodded and was about to say something as a man walked by. “They want us to all rot in hell, just like they should,” he spat before he crossed the street, not caring that the woman and the others with her were glaring at him.
My wolf stood on edge, pushing at me to say something. “We want the same as you. We want peace.” I found myself saying the words even though I wasn’t even sure they were true. Because I didn’t know what the humans wanted anymore. They were scared. I didn’t blame them. I did not know how we would defeat the vampires, just that we needed to. There was no other choice. And somehow the witches, wolves, other shifters, and humans were going to have to come together to make this happen. But I wasn’t the wolf to lead that. My role as Alpha was to protect my den and to work with the other Packs to ensure that it happened. I wasn’t the one to bring humans and witches together. I could barely keep my own den together.
The woman met my gaze and nodded and smiled tightly before she left. Her group went with her, and I didn’t know if I had helped anything or made it worse.
I didn’t have much time to think about it, however, because a familiar scent hit my nose, and I swallowed hard, struggling to keep my wolf in check. It was always so hard to do when it came to him.
Nico Jamenson walked forward, his hair pushed back from his face, a smile lighting up those green eyes of his.
My wolf pushed at me, wanting to nudge him and sniff to ensure that he was okay. That he was healthy. We couldn’t though, because Nico wasn’t alone. He stood next to another man, the two of them laughing, before he turned to me and stiffened ever so slightly. And then it was as if he put on a mask, as if he wasn’t the same man I had saved and who had saved me countless times. Instead, he was just a friend of my Pack. Someone that my wolf didn’t want.
Even though that was all a lie.
“Cole. I didn’t think you’d be out in the city.”
That smooth and smoky voice of Nico’s nearly sent me over the edge, and I held in a growl. My wolf preened for attention while scowling at the other man he was with. Because I scented desire on that other man. This human male wanted Nico. And they were on a damn date. I just knew it. And then I couldn’t say anything about it, because Nico wasn’t mine. I needed to get over it.
Only I knew he was mine. Just like Adalyn was. And that was the problem.
My wolf knew they were my mates. The moon goddess had somehow gifted me with two potential mates.
But I was the Alpha. I didn’t get to have two mates.
Meaning that I would have to choose. Something I would never do.
“I was helping a friend move in. I should head back to the den now. Glad to see you are well.”
Nico gave me an odd look, and I realized how formal I sounded. I turned before he could introduce me to the man at his side, a man who could be his mate for all I knew. Because the moon goddess was fickle these days. There were potential mates out there for every single wolf. Meaning both members, and sometimes all three in other cases that weren’t mine, had to understand and accept the bond. They had to go through the mating ritual in order for them to be mated.
Which meant Nico could sense that I was his, but had rejected me. Because he hadn’t moved forward, just as Adalyn hadn’t. Instead, my wolf was the one that was screwed up, tormented. I nodded at him and the other man, and kept walking, straight to my car.
I didn’t want to see the disappointment or worry in his gaze. I didn’t want to imagine the scent of burned flesh again as I remembered him hurting.
As I remembered the fact that Adalyn and Nico had been hurt because I hadn’t been strong enough to protect them or notice that a magical bomb of black and spiky dark magic had been thrown towards us.
I had missed it all.
By the time I made it to the area of the Pack dens, instead of going north towards mine, I turned west towards the Aspens. I was meeting with Chase, the Aspen Pack Alpha, and we had training to do. We were the youngest Alphas in our area, new at our posts, and dealing with the ramifications of our previous Alphas. At least, we were trying.
I waved as I passed the sentries, who nodded at me, lowering their gazes.
With any other den, they may have forced me out of the car so they could scent who I was. But with the way that our Packs were coming up together, our alliance made it so we could go through wards a little bit differently than we could with other dens. I didn’t know if other magics could work like this, if other Packs had this. But I knew our four Packs were something special.
The fact that Adalyn was an Aspen, and Nico a Redwood, was a significant part of that.
I pulled onto the main street of their den and got out in front of the daycare center. The fact that Chase had wanted me to meet him in front of where the pups were, the innocents, spoke to me of his trust more than any sentry waving me in would.
I needed to burn off some energy, train a bit, then head back to the den to see what they needed. But first, I needed to get Nico out of my system.
And then another sweet scent hit my nostrils, and my wolf whined.
Fucking whined like a pup.
I turned to see Adalyn talking to a tall man with broad shoulders. Her messy auburn hair whirled in the wind, a smile on her face. Her high cheekbones made her eyes look even more stark and captivating. She looked like she had been training, sweat coating her skin, her sword at her back.
I didn’t see a scar on her, nor the boot on her leg anymore.
She looked whole, healed.
And not mine.
She didn’t even look towards me. Didn’t even register that I was there. Her wolf wasn’t running towards me, needing me.
Instead, I was the only one wanting.
Adalyn didn’t even turn away. She bumped the man next to her, a man I knew was mated. Cassius, a strong soldier and wolf who protected his own, was Adalyn’s training partner. The two laughed with one another, and then walked away, their backs to me, not even registering my existence.
I again found myself alone, knowing I needed to meet Chase, but my wolf whining and drawn to two wolves who never wanted me.
I was an Alpha without a mate, without a bond.
And it was the only place I was ever meant to be.
Mated in Chaos
is available in the following formats:
Magic, battles, blood, death of side characters.