Chapter One

The fire burned brightly in the dark night. Embers fluttered and drifted towards the sky while the wolves filled up the clearing. Their snarls and growls filled the air and their paws trampled in the dusty dirt of the forest floor. To outsiders, the gathering must look chaotic and terrifying. The wolves ran around the bonfire and wrestled each other in a disorganized way. But to the wolves, it all made perfect sense. The dark gray shape of Dominic stood closest to the fire, his hackles raised. Wolf after wolf approached him, bowed their front paws, and then lunged forward. Fight after fight, it went on for hours. They needed to test him.

Dominic stood panting, his pink tongue hanging sideways out of his mouth, as the biggest Grey approached him. In wolf tradition, every wolf in the clan scrapped with the new leader to test them. They came one after another, and while they fought hard, they held back. A lot about a wolf can be learned by fighting with them. The way their body moved, the twist and turn of muscles and snapping of vicious jaws, could reveal a wolf’s character in a way that words couldn’t. Pups grew up fighting each other, and violence was the first language they learned. Dominic’s last opponent, Timothy Brunswick, stood in front of him. The obvious choice for the new clan leader after Winston Hamilton had been Brunswick, but the wolves wanted someone different. Brunswick was a prominent real estate lawyer in Timber Creek and had helped Winston broker countless deals. After Winston’s exile, the town was having an election for mayor.  Brunswick and Jonathan Coleman were the leading candidates. As for clan leader, it came down to Dominic and Brunswick, but Dominic had already proven himself by defeating Winston. But tradition had to be upheld.

Brunswick was almost pure black, but a gray streak highlighted his eyes and ran like a ribbon down his back. He bowed in front of Dominic and all the other wolves fell silent. If Brunswick still had the ambition to be clan leader, this was the moment to prove it. He rose and the fight broke out.

The wolves rushed at each other and rose onto their hind legs. The fire burned brightly behind them as their front paws interlocked and their jaws snapped. Brunswick pushed hard and inched Dominic towards the fire. Dominic knew he had to do something if they stayed like this he’d be BBQ in a minute. Dominic jumped back, his tail brushing the fire, and it caused to Brunswick to slip and fall onto his front paws. Dominic threw himself on top of Brunswick and pinned him on top of the dirt. They wrestled in front of the fire for a couple of minutes, but it was clear that Dominic had won. Brunswick bowed once more in front of Dominic before running to the join the other wolves. They all made a circle around the fire with Dominic in the center and howled at the full moon. The tradition was complete.

After the howling had completed, Dominic sauntered off into the woods to shift and put some clothes on. He had to address the clan in human form as their new leader to tell them what his plan was. In a dark, secluded patch of the woods, Dominic dug up a canvas knapsack from underneath of a large boulder. Patrice sat on top of the boulder and started to wag her tail as he approached. She leaped off of the boulder and ran up to him. They nuzzled each other. Dominic’s dark gray contrasted against Patrice’s blonde and white coat. She licked at his wounds, none of which were that bad, and then they both shifted.

The full moon drenched the forest in a pale light and as they embraced. Both of them were naked, as was the case with shifting, and Patrice laid her head against Dominic’s broad chest.

“How long do we have?” She asked as her hand started to move towards his crotch.

“Not enough time for that.” Dominic leaned down to kiss her.

“Well isn’t that a shame.” She bit his lip before pulling apart. “I guess we’ll just have to save it for when we get home.” Patrice leaned over and pulled out some clothing from the knapsack. She threw him a pair of jeans, a black tee-shirt, and a leather jacket. Dominic wasn’t in uniform tonight.

“So what are going to tell them?” She asked while tying up her shoes.

“To be honest. I don’t really know.” He threw on his jacket and scratched his head. “I never really sought out to be the leader, but here I am. Hell, these last few months have been a whirlwind. I was just hoping that something would come to me. It can’t be that hard to be a leader, can it?” He looked up at the full moon, his straight jaw line catching the moonlight on its edge.

“I think the Greys are going to be just fine in your hands.” Patrice pushed up on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek. “I know I am.”

Hand in hand, they walked back to clan meeting and Dominic grew nervous to approach them. They never had a clan leader like him before. In the past, The leader of the Greys in Timber Creek had always come from one of the prestigious families. Families like the Hamilton’s or the Brunswick’s, people who owned the town. Then there was Patrice… Dating between the clans never happened, but here was the new clan leader dating the daughter of the rival clan leader. Some wolves were opposed to it, but most saw it as the clans finally uniting. That’s what Dominic was going to talk about, uniting the clans.

The bright, warm light of the bonfire washed over the clearing and stretched the shadows into the darkness. Patrice hung in the back while Dominic marched to the center of the circle. He looked around at all the faces staring at him. They were the faces of the people he grew up with. Every clan needed a leader, and his clan needed him. It was an honor.

“Greys!” Dominic addressed them. He wasn’t nervous anymore. These were his wolves and he was proud of his pack. “I’m honored to be here today…” Before Dominic could say another word, gunshots rang out and the clearing broke out into calamity.

Everyone tried to shift quickly, but silver buckshot filled the air. Dominic bounded towards the sounds of gunshots. Some of the older, more seasoned Greys followed behind him while the rest of the clan darted towards the forest. A loud bang went off beside the bonfire, and a grenade full of silver mace went off. The wolves caught in its plume breathed in the toxic air and collapsed. Dominic looked behind and saw his clan in pieces. A rage filled him as he saw the attackers. A group of normals had pulled up in two pickup trucks and at least a dozen men stormed into the clearing. They carried shotguns and silver chains. Black cavalier vests covered their chests and they wore dark clothing. At the front of the group was a handsome older man with dark green eyes. He smiled as the wolves approached him.

Dominic’s new deputy, Mitchell, was right beside him when they threw the net. The silver mesh weighed down onto Mitchell’s fur and bound him to the ground. The effect of silver on werewolves is devastating. It saps them of all their strengths and fills their body with a paralyzing pain. Dominic looked over at Mitchell, but there was nothing he could do for him. He kept pushing forward, closing the distance between the attacking normals and the wolves. Brunswick had joined Dominic in fighting back, and he could feel Brunswick just inside the tree line coming in for the flank.  Dominic looked to his left to see who was closest to the normals, it was Patrice. What was she doing, Dominic had thought, he figured she would have just run into the woods with the others. The leader of the normals, the smiling older man, turned to face Patrice and raised a double-barrel shotgun in her direction. Dominic pulled all the strength he had inside of him and threw himself into the air. He crashed into the man and the sound of the shotgun filled the entire world. An intense pain seared all through Dominic’s left side as the silver buckshot tore into flesh. It felt like he couldn’t breathe and an electric pain rippled through every joint and muscle.

The man pushed Dominic off of him and called to the others. They threw more of the silver gas grenades, fired off of a few more shotgun rounds, and jumped into the back of the pickups and peeled out. Dominic laid on the ground breathing hard. He tried to look around, but he could barely move his head. He felt a cool tongue on his damaged fur and Patrice’s smell filled his nose. She was safe. With that fact in mind, he could let go, and a blackness clouded Dominic’s mind as his head fell to the ground, limp and unconscious.

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