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Alpha’s Strength

By:Rebecca Royce

Chapter One

October had to be Cyrus’ favorite time of year in New York City. Not too hot, not too cold, but with a slight crispiness in the air that beckoned his wolf to come out and play. Too bad he had to travel upstate to get in a decent run. He rubbed at the back of his neck and loosened his tie. His suit was expensive, but that didn’t make it any less constricting. Or maybe everything simply pissed him off. The tension in the boardroom had become ten degrees too serious, and he refused to take any more bullshit. Not when the woods called to him.

“All right, gentleman, I’ve listened to you all day. Hell, I’ve been listening to this shit for the past year and a half since the subject of going public first came to light. I wasn’t in favor then, and I’m not now. Why?” He slammed his hands down on the mahogany table in front of him so hard the coffee pot in the center of the too-expensive-to-be-practical piece of furniture jumped up in the air before bumping down.

The room fell silent as the other nine people in the room stared at the motion. Were they truly worried about the polished wood, or had he finally gotten their attention? He sniffed the air. He scented the correct amount of fear. Not too much, not too little. Like the weather outside, the pack’s rapt attention —finally—made his wolf very, very happy.

“Well?” Cyrus stretched his arms over his head trying to ease some of the tension that had become his constant companion. “Aren’t you going to ask me why?” He would gladly die to keep any of the wolves in the room safe. In a heartbeat. But right then, he’d like to wring every one of their necks. All at once.

“I don’t think we dare ask right now.” His sister, Lake called out from her seat towards the end of the table. Small and blonde as their mother, she dared speak when the others wouldn’t. As his family, he allotted her more leniency not afforded to the rest of the pack. As pack Healer, she fell directly below him in terms of hierarchy. Healers didn’t have to obey the normal rules of protocol with the Alpha—not in his pack.

For his part, he chose to ignore Lake’s remark. If the pack feared him a bit, so be it. He’d never hurt any of them, and a little fear would keep them in line during tumultuous times. If they weren’t careful, everything would be lost. With the death of Lucian, war loomed ever closer.

“I’m not going to take this company public because, in case you failed to notice, we are a company run by werewolves. What we do here isn’t for public consumption. This is my company. I built this place for you—it shields us, and provides for our expensive tastes. Tell me, have I not made all of you exceedingly rich?”

“You have, my Alpha.” Justin, one of his most loyal Betas, spoke from the back of the room. As a wolf, Justin fought fiercely and, in his human form, ran the legal department with predatory skill. “But I imagine we’ve all thought about the potential here. We live in the human world and, when a communication security company is doing as well as ours, eventually, it is taken public.”

“And then what happens to all of you?”

The attendants in the room stared without responding. This time, he understood their silence wasn’t because he’d raised his voice, but rather because they didn’t know the answer. What should they do in this situation? What was the right answer? How did werewolves stay hidden in the human world, but still live well?

He stood. He’d had enough for one day. “Everyone back to work.”

Chairs were pushed away from the table, squeaking and groaning. His pack members quietly rushed from the room. None save Lake made eye contact with him. He clenched his fists. Why on Earth had he ever wanted to be Alpha? Some days, he’d prefer to be able to walk away, to lower his eyes, find something inside of himself that could be submissive and go home to a waiting family.

Instead, he always stood alone at the top of the power triangle, and he always went home to an empty penthouse.

Poor little rich wolf…

Cyrus shook his head. Hell, he couldn’t blame any of them for wanting more money. Who didn’t? Maybe if they all lived in the woods, they’d embrace their inner canines and not worry about any of this crap. But living in Manhattan meant co-existing with the humans.

He would keep them all safe, keep New York his own, and take over as Alpha Prime—no matter how much he hated the idea—if he had to in order to make the first two occur. Who the hell would ever choose to be Alpha Prime?

“Cyrus.” Lake’s voice caught his attention.

“Sister.”

“I wanted to remind you—”

He let out a loud breath, interrupting her. “I haven’t forgotten.”

“—that Alexei Babikov is arriving tomorrow.”

“Have I been acting senile? Like I’m losing track of major events I set up myself?”

When she spoke her tone sounded more chiding than he liked. “It’s my job to tell you. Your bad attitude and surly temper are probably why you can’t keep an assistant. If your own pack doesn’t want to work for you, you need to make adjustments somewhere.”

He picked up his brown leather Coach briefcase and tossed the satchel across the room. Papers went flying. “Do you want to be Alpha, Lake? Fucking challenge me.”

His sister had the audacity to roll her eyes. “Obviously I don’t want to be Alpha. Keep the job. You do it so well when you’re not acting like this. What’s come over you lately?”

“Nothing.” A lie. Lately, he wanted to crawl out of his skin, and the edginess had nothing to do with the full moon being two weeks away. As Alpha, he shifted whenever he wanted to. He didn’t have to wait for the call of the moon to bring on his change.

“Right. Nothing.” She walked over and placed her hand on his shoulder. “Well, mister-nothing-is-wrong-with-me-tough-Alpha-boy, you have nothing on the schedule for the rest of the day. As your Healer, not your assistant, I’m ordering you to get out of here before you explode and take the whole building out wi

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