Category Archives: Keri Westin

‘Betrayed’

The Exodus
(Book 2 The Remnant)

by Keri Westin

Chapter ‘Betrayed’

CLIFTON’S WOLF SLIPPED THROUGH the shadows, its pelt, like the men he followed, designed to allow him to move through the forest unseen. Careful not to walk where his paws might leave tracks, he drew close enough to the intruders that he was able to distinguish their individual scents before moving upwind.

Choosing a trail canopied by enough tree fall and bracken to keep the ground from being covered in snow, his wolf trotted north, keeping the lake on his left until he reached a crag high enough above the lake’s shoreline that he could observe and listen to his prey without being seen.

He didn’t need to confer with either Dakota or Kile to know that the men he followed were part of a mercenary team of assassins Innis’ son used whenever he needed to make his enemies disappear. Clifton also knew Morgan would have never sent them into pack territory without a damn good reason. He would liked to think it was because the Marshall was worried about his mother’s welfare, but knew better. A man like Morgan didn’t send killers into pack territory without first seeking the alpha’s permission, unless  he didn’t want anyone knowing his business.

No, there was only one reason Morgan would have sent his pet assassins into pack territory without permission. To make sure Innis McCray was never seen or heard from again. That Morgan had done so, had sealed his fate as far as Clifton was concerned. No one, not even Cain, was going to lay a hand on what belonged to him. But knowing why they were there, didn’t answer the question of how they even knew where to look.

The Pacific Northwest pack claimed over fifty thousand square miles of land, half of which consisted of mountains and forest. It would have easier to find a needle in a hay stack, than their cabin.  Unless someone had told them. But even if Morgan had somehow managed to bribe a pack member into revealing the location, no one, not even Cain, knew about Innis becoming infected with the virus. Only those Clifton and those he’d trusted enough to bring along to help with her training and protection.  And none of them, not even Mikka and Kile who she’d tried to kill during her escape, would betray her or Clifton.

So if not his people, then who? Who else knew about Innis becoming infected with the lycanthrope virus?

Rage reverberated deep in his wolf’s throat.

Kim Luo. Captain Jyun’s master gunner.

Fuck.

Because he’d been so goddamn focused on keeping Innis alive, Clifton hadn’t really had time to think of much else.  But now that he did, he remembered two things about that night. First, that Luo, being a shapeshifter, had recognized Innis attack on her for what it was – an emerging female werewolf out to kill anyone she thought a threat to her mate. Second, that she’d been sent to tell Innis that the pirate king had whatever it was Innis had hired him to find.

Clifton knew he should have followed Varloc protocol, and killed the Morphkind bitch. But he’d had more pressing matters to deal with, and let her go instead. Dell had warned him more than once that his tendency to show mercy, would eventually come to bite him in the ass. And now it had.

So now he had the why and the who. That left the little matter of why Luo had been sent to the governor’s mansion in the first place. As Innis personal assistant and her lover, there was very little that happened in her life, both professionally and personally, that Clifton didn’t know about. Learning that she’d gone to Jyun without his knowledge, made him nervous.

The only reason Innis would have kept her meeting something like that from him was if she believed Clifton would try to stop her from doing whatever it was she was planning.

The wolf raised its head. Below, six heavily armed men combed the beach, looking he now knew, for his mate. Further up the lake,  hidden where only another wolf could sense them, were Dakota and Mervin. Originally he’d told Kile to help the other two wolves deal with the intruders and send their dead bodies back to Morgan as a warning. But now that he’d had time to think about it, Clifton decided to have them brought to Wallace Falls instead.

Teaching young werewolves how to manage their beast wasn’t the only thing the pack used this area for. Before the Great War, many of the Varlocs built underground facilities where they could keep their families safe while training their soldiers, undetected by General Thorton and the governments biological anti-terrorist division, BATMD.

Though few of these underground bunkers were still in use, there a few, like the one at Wallace Falls, that were still in operation. Clifton decided it was time he and his people paid the training facility a visit.

Head back his wolf howled. Seconds later the forest echoed with the voices of others.

Careful to keep the Morgan’s men within sight, Clifton jumped to the forest floor and felt his mind explode with pain. His entire body shuddered as psychic waves of agony ripped through the neural pathways in his brain.

Lionel was dead.

Like the shock waves after an earthquake, the senior werewolf’s last moments spread through the collective mind of the pack, drawing each member into the drama of what he experienced as he died.

Limbs braced, Clifton’s own wolf trembled under the shared pain of its pack mates passing. He may have despised Lionel the man, but he was still pack. Still Cain’s second in command. Not only would his death leave a power void in the alpha’s life, but the packs as well.

As soon as the initial reverberation passed, Clifton shook out his coat and took off at a ground covering lope.

Cain couldn’t afford to leave the position his second-in-command vacant and he’d be demanding Clifton’s council on who that replacement should be.

Suddenly the time he’d planned to spend preparing Innis for her introduction into the pack, just got shorter.

What felt like hours later, Innis wolf raised it’s head, a familiar scent of cedar with traces of juniper berries wafted over the glands in its mouth and nose. His auburn pelt blending in with the surrounding forest, Clifton’s wolf stepped out of the shadows to  stand beside her, his shoulder brushing up against hers in a familiar way. Before she knew, she felt a surge of desire clear to the center of her.

Shit.  Innis had vowed never again to allow herself to become vulnerable with this man and here she was panting after him like some school girl.  Seizing control of her wolf, Innis broke the contact before the phenomenon jumping her neither regions had her doing things she knew she hate herself for later. As she did she could swear she felt Clifton’s wolf chuckling in her mind before he too turned headed back into the forest.

This time she needed no compulsion to follow. Having come to the conclusion that until she’d learned everything she’d need to return to Seattle safely, she would put on the big girl panties and behave and do as she was told. There would be plenty of time for rebellion later – once the wolf was hidden so deep, not even she would find it.

Expecting to return to the cabin using the same path as the one that brought them to the lake earlier, Innis found herself being led north into higher elevations, across rock slides where tracks were easily hidden in loose shale and dead tree fall. With every mile they climbed she could feel the temperature dropping. The wind chill factor bearable only because of her wolf’s thick, heavy pelt.

They traveled all through that afternoon and into the night, stopping only long enough to drink from well hidden streams he allowed Innis a few minutes of rest. Dawn had not yet made an appearance, when her nose told her they were close to the cabin.  Getting ready to step from the forest into the clearing surround it, she felt Clifton’s thought brush against her own.

Stay here while I get you something to wear.

Too tired to do more than draw back her lips with only a token of her earlier protests, Innis moved back into the protection of the trees. From there she had an unobstructed view of Clifton crossing the yard. His transition from wolf to man done with the the same flash of power and light she remembered accompanying her own change.  Then he was across the porch and disappearing inside the cabin with only the snick of the back door closing to indicate where he’d gone.

After nearly a full day in her wolf’s form, following Clifton’s over what felt like half the state of Washington, Innis was beginning to realize that there was a lot more to being a werewolf than simply changing into one.

Right now the pads of her feet were torn and bleeding, her body bruised and sore as a result of the countless times she’d tumbled down hillsides Clifton had crossed with nimble ease. And after the third near drowning in rapids full of life threatening debris, she was beginning to view her rebellious romp through the forest with an entirely new set of eyes.

Even more surprising, instead of punishing her for nearly killing her guards and escaping, Clifton had allowed her to run. It was only when she’d resisted his compulsions, that he’d shown any anger or aggression.

The sound of the cabin’s back door closing had her raising her head in time to see the man who she was beginning to realize was someone she didn’t know, step outside, his lean, muscular body clad in a red and blue flannel shirt, a pair of faded jeans tucked into the tops of military grade mountain boots. Stepping off the porch, a wool blanket hung over his shoulder, he began walking towards her, his movements as powerful in human form as they had been in wolf.

Moments later he was squatting in front of her. “There’s food and a hot bath waiting for you inside. You can either change here,” he said, holding up the blanket, “or up on the porch.”

Until yesterday, Innis had been able to fight off the change. So when it finally did happen, it wasn’t’ because of any conscious effort on her part. One minute she had been trying to escape, the next she was running through the forest on all fours.

Now Clifton was suggesting she change back and she didn’t have a clue how. Not only that, as tired as she was, Innis wasn’t sure she could.

She watched him rock back on his heels, porch light turning his gaze a dark bronze. “I know you’ve never intentionally changed before,” he said, seeming to somehow sense her fear, “but now is as good a time as any to learn.”

Tired, cranky and wanting nothing more than to be left alone, Innis snapped her teeth.

Clifton’s smile looked as tired as she felt. “Be that as it may darlin’, if you want to eat, you’ll have to change.”  Then he was standing, all traces of empathy gone. “Either that, or go in the cage. It’s you’re choice.”

Innis remembered the cage. Cold steel bars. Concrete floor. The rooms only natural light coming through a transom high in the outer wall. She hated cold, damp, dark, places. As a child she’d been terrified of having to go down into the cellar of her families home during tornado season. Even now, whenever anyone mentioned the tunnels beneath Seattle, all she could think of was that little girl huddled in her families cellar, terrified of the spiders, rats and other nastiness hiding in the darkness with her.

Tired beyond caring, her body a maelstrom of hormones,  her thoughts a tangled weave of anger, fear and frustration – Innis took the threat of being caged with all the consideration it deserved and lunged for Clifton’s throat.

If not for the blanket he threw over her head, Clifton might not have been able to block her attack before Innis managed to sink her teeth into his neck. Instead she felt her breath knocked out of her by the forced of being slammed to the ground, her head wrapped in wool as someone bound her feet with ropes that dug into her already sore legs.

Sonofabitch. There was no doubt about it. She was going to enjoying stabbing him in the heart, then laugh as she watched him bleed out

“Hard headed, isn’t she.” Innis recognized the voice. Dakota. One of the men brought in by Clifton to protect her after he’d discovered a plot within members of her own guard to assassinate her. A guard that had been hand picked by her son.

“She is that,” Clifton answered. “How’s Mikka?”

“She’ll recover. I put her in the cage while she heals. No sense her waking up and trying to kill the one responsible for putting her there.”

“Help me get her into the house.”

Innis grunted as she felt herself lifted off the ground, the scent of wild earth and rain filling her nostrils. Two doors and a set of stairs later she was lowered to the ground, the restraints binding her legs removed. Once she managed to shake free of the blanket, she discovered herself inside of a six by six cage, a cedar filled bed in the center. Too tired to do more than huff, Innis lay down, tucked her nose under her tail, and went to sleep.

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*This Blog2Book  post is only a rough draft of the final product, with no guarantees that it, or any other chapters that I share, will appear in part or whole or in the order in which they were written. Nor is there any guarantees they will appear in part or in whole in the final book.
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©The Exodus 2015
(Book 2 The Remnant)
By Keri Westin 
*All rights reserved.
This work is the copyrighted property of Shawn Spjut (aka. Keri Westin), and in no part is it to be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form, without permission from the author. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the authors’ rights.
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This work is the copyrighted property of Shawn Spjut (aka. Keri Westin), and in no part is it to be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form, without permission from the author. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the authors’ rights.
© The Exodus (Book 2 The Remnant) 2015, Keri Westin; Reigning Press 

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                                  Chapter 1  

šThe wisp of flesh and bone hunkered down behind a stack of rancid slop buckets, eyeing the object balanced precariously on the edge of the half-opened manhole.  Twigs licked his lips. He couldn’t remember the last time he’d seen a cookie. Now he was looking at an unopened, unclaimed bag of them.

Ever so carefully he leaned out, his eyes sweeping the alley to either side, the noise coming from his stomach a reminder of how long it had been since he’d last eaten.  Yet with hunger gnawing at his insides, the boy knew it was suicide to try to grab the cookies before first making sure it wasn’t a trick. Just that morning Spider had reminded everyone to be careful about taking anything left near doorways or alleys.

Twigs chewed on his lower lip. Of course, he’d also been reminded not to get separated, which Twig had done the moment he’d come in here without telling the others where he was going.

The sudden rise of hair along his arms and neck had his heart pounding in his ears.   Something had entered the alley and was hiding near the entrance. Willing himself unseen, the young damphir’s eyes searched for who or what, praying the stench of garbage, raw sewage, and decay would not only mask his presence, but discourage them, it, from coming any further.

Time felt suspended as he continued to search the alley, his stick thin limbs shivering in sunlight that would all too soon be directly overhead, abolishing every shadow and hiding place, including his own. Sounds became more pronounced and images confused as he struggled to remain calm, every survival skill he’d learned competing with the all too real terror of becoming someone’s next meal. Hands he dare not wipe on the leg of his pants for fear of making any kind of noise, gripped the edge of the bucket in front of him, the knuckles white from how tightly he held on.

Then he heard the whisper of Dash’s voice in his head, reminding him the best way to slow a racing heart, how to quiet the fear and be still.

Breathe in. Breathe out. A cloudless sunrise. A bird in flight. The gentle lap of water on a sand filled shoreline. The sound of his family sleeping – their dreams undisturbed.

It wasn’t long before his heart no longer pounded in his head and his breathing, though not fully normal, no longer made him feel dizzy.

When he finally returned to the reality around him, it was to discover whatever had come into the alley was gone. Leaving him once again with the decision whether to snatch the package of cookies and risk being caught in a trap, or leave without them.

A few moments later the sounds of Twigs muffled screams quickly faded away as the pale hand of his captor slid the manhole cover back into place. An hour later and several blocks away, the grate of yet another manhole cover was seen sliding back, followed by the sound of an unopened bag of cookies being pushed out to rest precariously on its rim.

The Exodus
(Book 2 of The Remnant)

Coming 2015
©Copy Right  The Gathering (Book 1 The Remnant) 2014; Keri Westin; All rights reserved.
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