Midnight Kisses Page 3

Ignoring my annoying escorts, I steeled my heart and leaned forward to stare out the window. My gaze landed solely on my father, but his stoic expression, combined with the knowledge he couldn't see me, kept me from waving.

The engine of the SUV purred to life, so quiet compared to the rumbling old truck we owned, and I wondered if the disparity of wealth had anything to do with our pack’s banishment from the magic realm. I closed my eyes and rested my head against the back of the seat, feigning sleep.

Mother Mage, help me get through this drive without becoming a murderer.

With my eyes closed, I let my thoughts wander. What was I getting into? The magical vow my father took as a young teen before entering the island—decades ago—kept him from telling me exactly what to expect. I’d prepared my entire life for battle, propriety, and the way of the alpha. But having been banished from the shifter realm when I was just a baby, I didn’t have the advantage of knowing what lay beyond the veil. Pretty sure Amazon didn’t deliver there. Nerves churned and twisted my insides. If I puked, I’d definitely be aiming for Rage.

Driver Dude drove down the winding road, the only way in or out of Crescent Valley, while I drummed my fingers on my bare knees. The vehicle was clearly built for luxury, or at least, I'd heard such from the young men in my clan who dreamed of lavishness. But the pothole-ridden path was meant to discourage visitors, so I relaxed and let the movement rock me, lulling me into semi-lucidity.

As soon as we hit the paved street, my heart lurched.

"Have you eaten yet today, cub?" asked the brother who sat shotgun.

Rage, the grouchy one to my right, snorted. "She's hardly a cub, Justice."

Justice? Rage? What kind of names were these?

I ignored their domineering question and peeled my eyes open, staring at the heads of the two in front. Not really identical. Driver Dude's hair was straight; only the ends curled around the collar of his shirt. But Shotgun's hair was wavy—Shotgun, aka Justice. I glanced at the silent brother on my left, but he was staring out the window.

Forcing a dry swallow, I faced Rage.

The dark curls poking out from his cap strained against whatever product he'd used to try to tame it. His profile was like his personality, all hard angles … except for his lips. Blushing, I forced my attention down … to his neck, where his pulse feathered between tense muscles. His arms were jacked, the muscles curved and dipped, straining against the confines of his shirt. He clearly had a standing date with the gym. Probably where he burned off the steroids.

Driver Dude angled his head and muttered, "I don't remember her name."

Nice. I had Tweedledee, Tweedledum, Rage, and Justice as escorts. I hated to have a pity party so early on, but why me? I let the thought bounce around my head and then realized it was useless. No one else could take my place. As much as I hated our system, I'd known this was coming. I just thought I had more time with my father and our pack.

“Who cares what her name is, Noble? Why does it matter if she’s hungry, Justice? She’s Crescent Clan.” Rage’s voice was more animal than human by the time he was done.

Oh, hell no.

“Fewer words, buddy. You’re annoying me.” I glared at the one named Rage and was rewarded with an absolute feral look.

Rage growled, his canines elongating.

What is his deal?

"Reel it in, Rage,” the brother on my left snapped, stretching his arm around my back to smack king d-bag on the arm. “If you shift in here, we’re all going with you.”

My mouth dried, but before I could contemplate the horror of five dominant wolves trapped in an SUV, the brother on my left poked me in the ribs.

“My brother asked you a question, and it's rude not to answer. Have. You. Eaten?"

I knew they were brothers; they looked insanely too much alike.

“Well?” he demanded, his jaw snapping shut with a click.

"I'm not hungry," I muttered, returning his glare. Not true, and my stomach promptly rumbled loudly, declaring my lie. Male wolves and their need to feed a female wolf was beyond sexist and annoying. I’d starve before accepting food from them. It was a move for power, and I wouldn’t play into it.

The brother to my left sighed, and I rolled my eyes to the roof of the car. My attention was captured by the knobs and buttons; I wondered what they all did. Was that a television screen? I was going to ignore these jerks all the way to the island!

The driver shook his head. "Listen, cub, I can't bring a hungry wolf to the island. We have an hour drive before we hit civilization."

A green and gold package landed in my lap.

"There's a granola bar to tide you over," Justice said from his shotgun seat.

Rage smacked Justice in the back of the head. “Why are you being nice to her? Let her starve.”

“Calm down.” Driver dude’s voice was softer than the others; he was clearly the voice of reason.

The brother to my left looked at the driver next. “Noble, would you like to offer her a refreshment as well?”

The driver’s hands clenched the steering wheel until his knuckles turned white. “Piss off, Honor!”

Noble? Rage? Justice? Honor? What kind of freaking names were these?

I glared at Rage beside me and leaned into him. Placing the food bar in his lap, "Thanks for the offer, but I'll decline—on all counts."

The driver, Noble, chuckled. "I think this cub has claws."

I liked them better when they were mute.

"What's your name, cub?" Noble asked as he maneuvered around the potholes on the road leading out of town.

Oh, now they were going to be friendly?

I stared at my reflection in his glasses through the rearview mirror, wishing I could rip them off. "Not a cub.”

I was nineteen, and they couldn’t be a day older than twenty-one. Was this a joke?

“Then what?” Rage growled.

“Alpha heir to you, buddy." Might as well put these douchebags in their place right now. No island guard would talk down to me like this; I didn’t care how dominant they were.

All four of them laughed at that, and a blast of cold air hit me as the air conditioner came on. "Be nice, cub," Justice growled. "Or the next four years will really suck for you."

Was that a threat?

Fuming, I leaned forward and angled the vents away from me, blasting Rage and Honor with frigid air. How dare they?

Calm down, Nai. Don't show weakness unless there's a reason. Recalling my father's teachings, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath.

“What’s with the names? You guys named after virtues or something?” I glared at Rage, who clearly wasn’t named after a virtue. More like his personality. But the others were Honor, Noble, Justice.

Justice grunted, but that was the only response I got.

“What’s your story?” Rage asked, his lip curling. “Didn’t Crescent Clan already send their heir last year?”


I tipped my chin up. “Nolan is the spare.”

Before Rage could reply, the Land Rover swerved, and I was thrown forward as Noble slammed on the brakes.

What the…?

"Get down! Rogues!" Noble snapped.

That one word sent ice water through my veins.

Rage grabbed my head and forced me down by the back of the neck so I could no longer see out the front windshield.

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