Beckoning

I’m very happy to announce that Beckoning, the third and final book in my Belonging series is almost ready. I have spent the past month editing and re-writing, and finally this book is done. In honor of that, I’ve attatched the first two chapters of Beckoning below. More updates will be available on my instagram tomorrow. Like and follow for more!

Happy reading,

Catie

Beginning of sample:

Prologue

The three men stand out in the snow for what feels like hours. 

Damen Blackheart and Ocyrus Kavanaugh seemed to be in a standoff of sorts. Damen stars at Ocyrus with kind eyes, those of an old friend. It has been a long time since the two men had seen each other and Damen felt nothing but sorrow for his friend. 

Ocyrus stared at Damen with cold and detached eyes. It had been a long time since Ocyrus had laid eyes on anyone – he preferred isolation, and he couldn’t remember the last time he saw Damen. That’s a lie. Of course, he remembers. He would always remember. Damen’s visit does nothing more than bring up harsh reminders of the life that Ocyrus had led and lost. The two people he had loved most in the world and they are both long gone.

The words Damen had spoken before ring through Ocyrus’s mind again and the skin around his eyes tighten. 

Your daughter is alive, Cy,’ Damen had said, speaking the words so casually as if they didn’t hold the weight of Ocyrus whole world behind it. Four simple words and yet they meant everything to him.

Anger. Disbelief. Hope. All these are emotions that flicker across Ocyrus’s face – the mask he wears so well finally breaking. 

Damen keeps his face neutral, not wanting to give away too much at once. After all, it took months for Damen himself to admit the truth that Ocyrus’s daughter was alive and well. That she had been right in front of him the whole time.

The third man, Darius – Damen’s Beta – stands off to the side, looking between Damen and Ocyrus, much like a referee in a match. His eyes ping-ponging back and forth between the two men, trying to figure out who will win this stare-off.

Darius looks up at the sky as if trying to guess the time. When he lowers his head and focuses his eyes back on Damen with a new sense of determination, Ocyrus raises an eyebrow. 

“Somewhere you need to be?” Ocyrus airs, not speaking to anyone in particular.

Damen shrugs. “Something like that.”

“Then maybe you should be going,” Ocyrus says, dismissing Damen.

Ocyrus turns, making it three feet before Damen speaks again. 

“When we leave, you’ll be coming with us,” he announces.

Damen’s words sound so tried-and-true that Ocyrus can’t help the scoff that falls from his lips.

“I have no reason to believe the lies that spill from your mouth, just like I have no reason to go anywhere with you,” Ocyrus says, glancing over his shoulder. Damen quirks an eyebrow, a signature move used by him and his son.

“You don’t believe me?”

“Of course not. She’s dead. I saw the body.”

“You saw a body,” Damen insists. “One that was so mangled the only reason you were sure it was her was because of the smell. It could have been anyone, and Marcus had just covered them in Anastasia’s blood.”

Ocyrus faces forward again, shaking his head in disbelief.

“She was raised by Marcus Beaumont.”

Damen’s words make Ocyrus stop in his tracks once more.

“Do not speak that name to me,” Ocyrus growls, his voice thundering and murderous. He clenches his hands into fists, his nails lengthening and digging into his skin. Blood drips down to the ground, peppering the white snow. 

“She’s living in my house. She is a vital member of my Pack. She is going to mate with my son,” Damen informs him.

“It’s not her,” Ocyrus replies, his voice rough. His tone, everything about him on the outside is strong and defiant but something within him is unsure. A small sense of hope forms in his chest, but he shakes his head, hoping to shake away the feeling as well. He takes a deep breath, unfurling his fists, his nails leaving his skin with a ‘pop’. “Whoever is with you is an imposter.”

Stepping around so that he is facing Ocyrus, Damen says, “Your daughter is alive. She has stark white hair just like her mother, and violet eyes… just like her father.”

Ocyrus’s violet eyes shine as he looks to Damen. 

“What do you want from me?” He breathes. 

“Marcus has tried to kill her twice. I want your help in stopping him. For good.”

Ocyrus closes his eyes for a moment and breathes.

When he reopens them, he asks, “Did you say she is going to marry your son?” 

Damen grins.

Chapter One

Thick drops of snowfall to ground around me, covering the trees surrounding me in white. My shoulders are already covered, and I can see little flakes sticking to my hair. I don’t know how long I’ve been standing here. I don’t know where I am. 

My breath comes out in short pants, as I look around searching for a sign, someone, anything.

“Ren?” I call out, my voice echoing around the trees. “Lia?”

An eerie feeling floats over my skin as fear takes hold low in my belly.

I try to call out again, a little louder, but all I get is silence in return.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see movement. I turn quickly scanning the area, but I don’t see anything. 

Carefully and cautiously, I tread over peeking through the trees waiting for someone to jump out. For men to rush me just like those two did in the woods when I was with Adira and Austin. Images flash in my head of the man above me, right before I shoved my long sharp nails into his throat, killing him. I shiver again and try to shake the thoughts away.

I push through the trees, snow falling over my body when I brush against the branches, but I don’t bother to brush it off.

After a few yards, I push past some bushes to find a snow-covered path splattered with what looks like… is that blood? I crouch down, sniffing for a scent. The smell of copper fills my nostrils but it’s not the scent of a familiar wolf. 

Small dots pepper the soft snow, almost like a trail leading me forward. 

Slowly, I stand and follow.

I’m led in between more trees, down a small pathway, and the farther I go the larger the droplets get. A break in the trees is ahead and I approach it cautiously. For a moment, I stop to listen for the sounds of anything, anyone, but once again I’m met with silence. 

Treading slowly, I step forward and when I get to the opening, I stop, frozen in place. Blood covers the open field, large puddles here and there so dark they almost look black. There aren’t any bodies in sight, but I can see enough blood to know that more than one person died here. As I’m looking around, I spot a figure hunched over in the snow on the far end of the open expanse. The figure’s back is to me and it looks like they’re almost curling in themselves.

“Hello?” I call. “Are you alright?”

Silence greets me in return.

Hesitantly, I creep forward, circling to get a better view while taking a wide berth.

“Are you okay?” I ask again as the side profile of the man comes into view. He’s resting on his knees, the cold and wet snow seeping into his pants. He’s hunched forward, his palms digging into the snow in front of him. His knuckles are clenched so tight the skin around them is white.

“She’s gone,” he breathes, a shudder running through his body. His voice distraught. Filled with so much pain.

“Who?” I ask, inching closer. “I can help you try to find her.”

He shakes his head, his chin pressed against his chest with his eyes drawn down.

“She’s dead,” he says, his fists starting to dig into the snow like he’s ready to dig his way to wherever she is.

“No one is here,” I say, glancing around to make sure that I’m right. When I see no one else around, I continue. “But maybe I can help you find her.”

I inch forward, reaching a hand out to touch him, to console him.

He shakes his head, his whole-body swaying with the movement as he shakes, and I pause, recoiling just slightly.

“No, no, no,” he cries.

He lets out a loud, keening cry, and leans back, now looking at the sky.

“No,” he says, sounding defeated. “She’s dead.”

“Who? Who did you lose?”

Finally, he looks at me, his eyes ensnaring me in their gaze. 

Violet eyes.

I’ve seen them before. I see them every time I look in a mirror. 

I step back, my mouth hanging open, frozen.

“She’s gone,” he growls. “Gone!”

My eyes snap open, the man’s growl echoing through my mind, and a shiver goes through my body. A car door slams shut, and I sit up looking around, blinking through the haze of sleep.

“Are you alright?” A voice asks, a musical tone that settles across my skin with a warm hum. I can’t help the small smile that grows on my lips. Just knowing that he is near comforts me.

I nod as I look up to the front of the car, meeting Ren’s eyes where he’s turned around in the driver’s seat.

“Yeah, just a weird dream,” I tell him.

“Marcus?” He questions, watching me with thoughtful eyes.

It’s a safe guess. The nightmares that have plagued me since I was a kid always revolved around Marcus. He was the shining star whenever I closed my eyes. But that man in the woods, the man who had so much… heartbreak in him, that wasn’t Marcus. The only thing I know about him is that I have his eyes. A shiver runs across my skin at the thought of those eyes.

“No, surprisingly it wasn’t about Marcus,” I tell Ren. “I was in the woods, and it was snowing, but there was all this blood. And there was this man. He – he had lost someone, a woman. I was trying to help him find her, but when he looked at me, he – ”

The door to my right opens, cutting off my words. Lia, stoic, leans down to look at me than her brother.

“We’re here,” she says, her voice giving away nothing.

“Where exactly are we?” I ask.

Lia shakes her head. “No idea, actually. I think we’re still in Colorado.”

I think about that for a moment. We’re at least a few hours away from the Manor and Skarletbach – our home – thousands of miles between us and those who are willing to help kill the Hunters. Why?

“He’s ready for you,” Lia says, looking down at me. Kyle already waits at the front of the car.

I meet Ren’s gaze and he nods, turning back around to open his door.

Lia steps back, leaving room for me to climb out of the vehicle before closing the door behind me. 

We’re surrounded by large Aspen trees, the colors bright and vibrant. It’s dark, the moon hanging high in the sky our only sense of light. A few yards ahead of us, Damen and Darius wait for us. 

Apprehensively, I follow behind Kyle and Lia with Ren at my side as they approach their father. 

I’ve never been scared of him before. Even the night that he came to Marcus’ packhouse to take me away, when I was told that I was to marry his son, I wasn’t scared of him. This six-foot-tall man, that seems larger than life some days, made me feel safe. 

Until I found out that he was lying to me. 

The past year of my life has been a whirlwind. A rollercoaster. Lots of ups and lots of downs. Nearly a year ago, give or take some days, I was living with my father Marcus Beaumont. He was cruel. Vile. Unkind to the likes of me. And then one night my father traded me – yes, traded – to the Blackheart Pack. I found out that Marcus was in league with werewolf hunters, which is a crime in our world. In exchange for my father not being charged for his crimes, my father offered me. 

Everyone in the werewolf world knew about the Blackheart’s – they were the strongest of any Pack around – and the Blackheart heir, Doren. He was to be Alpha, to replace his father at the throne in their Pack. Having not found his mate yet, he needed a bride to complete his position, to magnify his power as Alpha. So, the Blackheart’s took the offer. I was more than ready to leave. Let’s just say, there is no love lost between Marcus and me. I was more than happy to leave the Beaumont Pack, and I never wanted to go back.

On the way to the Blackheart Pack, I was ready to make a run for it. I was never going to marry someone out of force, and I wasn’t going to be stuck in a Pack like Marcus’s again. No one could control me – I would never let them. But then Damen informed me that he had no intentions of his son and me marrying. He just wanted me out of that place. He swore that no one would touch me in the Blackheart Pack. I could do what I wanted. He gave me three months to see if I found a place in his Pack, and if I didn’t, I could leave with no questions asked. 

In the end, I found more than my place. I found Ren, my true mate – the love of my life. I found Lia, his sister who is now my best friend. I found my family, my Pack. At one point, I nearly died trying to save them all, and that’s when I found out that this had been planned all along. Marcus knew word would get to Damen about his working with the Hunters and that Damen would come after him. So, he offered me, knowing that Damen has a soft spot. He anticipated Ren and I meeting and falling in love – not that we were true mates, so that helped his plan a little too much. He wanted Ren and me to mate so that our power would become something of epic proportions and then he was going to kill us both so that he could take the power for himself, to rule the wolves. But I didn’t mate with Ren in fear of Marcus. Instead, I joined the Blackheart Pack, securing my place with them.

Then we started planning. We called in other Packs, to join us in the destruction of Marcus and the Hunters once and for all. We trained for months, each Pack training hard every day up until late in the evening.  

One day, out of the blue, two rogues showed up in the town of Skarletbach where the Blackheart Pack is located. They identified themselves as Austin and Adira Beaumont. My mother and brother, two people I thought had died when I was a girl. I didn’t trust them at first. I thought they had to be helping Marcus someway. But Austin wormed his way in. I never truly trusted Adira, but Austin was and still is my big brother. In the end, he didn’t betray me but Adira did. 

Not only did Austin gain our trust, but we also found out that he was Lia’s true mate. Though, he chose not to be with her, breaking her heart and mine.  

In our world, you are born as a wolf, and every wolf has a mate. Their one true mate paired together by the Moon Goddess herself. Two souls, wandering the earth, destined to find each other, to be together. You have no idea who they are until you see them.

Somehow, even despite him hurting Lia, I believed Austin to be a good person. At least, I hoped that he was. Ren never left me alone with them. He didn’t trust them either, with good reason, but there was one day when a body showed up on the opposite side of the territory. 

Austin and Adira never knew about the other Packs, about the war that we were planning, we were careful about that. If I wasn’t with them, then they were followed by other wolves. We knew about their whereabouts at all times. But that day, a body showed up on the other edge of town, and I was by myself with Austin and Adira, not counting the three wolves that were hidden deep in the woods following us. But they were killed before I even noticed, and I was ambushed and kidnapped.

Marcus had once again tortured me, but this time it was to try and get me to give up my power. Even if I wasn’t mated, he was going to kill me to get what he wanted, because he knew he would get something from me. 

Austin to my surprise, had no idea. When he wouldn’t cooperate with Adira and Marcus, like Adira had hoped he would, they beat him and dropped him a mile away from where they were holding me. He somehow found Ren and the rest of the wolves that were looking for me and led them to where we were. 

Before the Blackhearts got there, Adira informed me that she was not my mother, that Marcus was not my father, that Austin was not my brother and that Damen Blackheart had known all along.

When the Blackhearts got to the abandoned house I was held in, they gave Marcus and his friends a head start. Once I was back safely in Ren’s arms, Damen sent wolves after them. I found out later, that Marcus had been anticipating this and the wolves were sent into a trap. Few made it out alive, and Marcus and Adira and their friends all got out unharmed.

After Marcus and his Pack went into hiding. There hasn’t been a word or a sighting from them since that night. 

That same night I also told Ren that I wanted to mate with him, complete the mate bond because there was no sense holding back on us when Marcus would kill me no matter what. Lia was very excited at the news.

Austin left shortly after that, claiming he couldn’t go against Adira. She was his mother after all, even though she tried to kill me. 

Later, I confronted Damen about what Adira told me. Turns out Adira wasn’t lying that time. Damen swore he would tell me everything he knew, but that he needed time. And that’s what I gave him. 

It’s been six weeks since that night. 

All I’ve wanted to do is go to Damen, demand that he tells me, but each time I was about to Ren convinced me not too. He knew his father, he would say. He has a reason for the things that he does. In the beginning I believed that. In the beginning I believed in him, but now… not so much.  

We’re standing on what seems to be an abandoned road. It’s muddy and broken down. Ren and his father both parked their cars on the shoulder, giving room for other cars if they need to pass, but somehow, I don’t think any cars are going to be coming this way.

Up ahead at the end of the road, the trees end, leaving an opening where all I can see are more trees for a very far distance. 

Damen Blackheart stands at the opening of the trees with his Beta, Darius standing next to him. They stand silent, shoulder to shoulder, Darius just a few inches behind Damen. Both of their eyes on Ren, and I as we step up. I’m not the only one who’s been upset with Damen. The twins have had my back in this, upset that none of us knew whatever it is that Damen is hiding.

 Damen meets my eyes for a moment, but I break his stare, looking at the trees around us instead. This place, wherever we are has me filling with dread, and I don’t like it one bit.

We get closer to the men, stopping just a few feet before. Ren and I stand in between Kyle and Lia with Kyle to Ren’s left and Lia to my right.

Without looking at Damen, I speak.

“What are we doing here?”

Bold move, I must say, not looking at my Alpha when addressing him but ever since I found out he was hiding something from me I haven’t been able to look at him.

Damen Blackheart is more than just my Alpha. He was like a father to me. The kindest one I have ever known. But he hid something to from me for months. It still makes me sick to think about it.

“I asked you for time,” he says, his tone low and scratchy. 

I keep my eyes on the tree line fighting the urge to look at him. 

“I needed time,” he continues. “To figure out the best way to explain this to you. I thought… it would be better to bring you here. To where it all started.”

“Why is some abandoned place in the middle of Colorado so important? It’s just another forest,” I say, unable to help the annoyance in my voice.

Finally, I bring my eyes to Damen.

He watches me with dark eyes for just a moment before he nods to something over his shoulder. He takes a step back, before turning on his heel and take four steps forward, his gaze focused on something I can’t see.

I hesitate, knowing that I am not going to like whatever is beyond those trees. 

Ren gives me the gentlest of nudges with his elbow against my arm, and together as one unit we walk forward until we pass the trees. My breath leaves my body at the sight before us. A large ‘U’ shaped mansion lies hundreds of yards in front of us. It’s made of stained white marble, no longer white because of the wear and tear over the years. 

It’s clear that no one has lived here in a very long time and it is devastatingly beautiful. Windows are broken, curtains have been torn and are near black from the dirt and decay this building has been exposed to. The building seems to have a shadow over it, making it seem haunted. The dread in my belly curls tighter, like a hand squeezing at my insides. I look through all the windows that I can see and with each one something dark and looming settles over my skin. A shiver runs through my body and I wrap my arms around myself.

“People died here,” I say to no one in particular.

“Yes,” Damen breathes. “Many.”

This time I look at him and hold his gaze.

My voice is low, almost a whisper. 

“I can feel it. I can feel the darkness here.”

Damen watches me for a moment, something unreadable in his gaze.

“Why are we here?” I ask again, my voice suddenly dry. My skin tingles like it’s itching to leave this place.

“Because this is where it all started.”

I wait for him to say more.

“This is where you were born.”

My eyes raise to the building again, noticing every detail, every corner, every crevice. The dread in my stomach suddenly making sense. People died here, horribly, and somehow, I know the story that is about to come from Damen, is not a good one. It doesn’t end well.

I look back to Damen. “This isn’t… I couldn’t have been born here.”

A sadness visibly comes over Damen, and he too looks at the building before us.

“It wasn’t always like this. It was a beautiful building, a home for all wolves alike to come. This… this is where the King lived.”

Damen looks between the four of us. 

“You’re all aware, somewhat, of the stories from the King?”

We nod.

“Some are true. Some are make-believe. But I know the true story. I know what happened here.”

“How?” Ren asks.

Damen looks at his son. “Because I was here as well.” 

He clears his throat. “King Alaric was his name. He was a lot of things. He could be kind. He could be cruel. But he was a great King. Before there were just Alpha’s, there was Alaric. He ruled all wolves and all of us answered to him. He had a son, Ocyrus, and he was my best friend. We went to school together from a young age and we both attended Skarletbach University together. He lived with me during the semesters but would come here when his father needed him. We were sophomores in college, and Raina had just found out she was pregnant with the twins when she showed up in town.”

“Who?” This time Lia asks.

“Alexandria Tate. Lexi. She was a human girl who had come to SU. She met Cy a few days into the semester, and instantly they were both hooked. At the time none of us realized that what they were feeling was the mate bond. At that time, we didn’t think that mating with a human was even possible. In fact, the actual act of mating with humans was against our laws. But Cy was intrigued. Damn near obsessed. She fascinated him. She was tall and beautiful with long dark hair. She loved photography. For some reason, none of us could figure out at the time, she was always drawn to the woods. She almost caught us running once – this was before we were confined to running inside the walls of the Manor, when we could run freely on our own. But Cy was able to convince her to stay out of the woods. 

When things started getting serious, meaning that Cy was always off to see her, sneaking away whenever he could, I was busy with my own life. I was training to become Alpha, and I couldn’t risk anyone finding out about them. I had Raina and the twins to think of. So, I tried to push Lexi away. I was mean to her, cruel even, but no matter what I said, or did she wouldn’t leave him.

One night, another wolf, one that had always had it out for Cy, followed him and found what he had been hiding. Lexi. The wolf exposed the truth to Alaric, and in response, Alaric’s first call was to me. He wanted me to find her and bring her to him. I knew he was going to kill her.”

Damen pauses for a moment, running a hand through his hair, collecting his thoughts.

“Did you do it?” Lia asks him. “Did you take Lexi to the King?”

Damen shakes his head. “No, I couldn’t do it. Not to Cy, and not to Lexi. I found her, and I tried to take her away. We were in my car crossing the border of town when suddenly she jumps out of the car and started running. Of course, I followed her trying to get back in the car, but she fought me. Even got a few good hits in, I’ll admit. She was strong, that one. She told me that Cy was being hurt. Of course, I knew that, I knew what the King was doing, but I couldn’t figure out how she did. She could feel it, she said, and in that moment,  I knew that she was something special, something I – none of us – have ever expected. She was his mate. Together, we ran all the way here,” he motions to the mansion. “We found Alaric making a point out of Cy. Because even though Cy was the prince, he had still gone against the Kings orders, betraying his father. Alaric wouldn’t kill his son, but he wasn’t against beating him in front of all of his men as a lesson. When Lexi saw what was happening to her mate, something changed inside of her. Because next to me, right before my very own eyes, Lexi changed. She let out a loud roar and suddenly she was shifting. Everyone in the Courtyard turned to watch her change into something we had never seen before. A white wolf. The rarest of our kind. Lexi was no longer human and that changed the game. Cy was iced out for a while because he did go behind the King’s back, but needless to say Lexi was welcomed with open arms. Even the king couldn’t deny her, couldn’t deny what she was, especially when he found that she was pregnant.”

I can’t help but notice his talking in the past tense when it comes to Lexi. Dread slowly fills me, like water filling a cup.

“Eventually, they welcome a daughter. Anastasia. A princess by all means necessary. By the time Anastasia had been born Cy was coming into the position of King. He didn’t have the full title yet, but he was taking the cases from his father. Any time that there was a dispute among Alphas that couldn’t be sorted out they would come to the king for him to decide on the matter. Alaric was letting Cy handle these issues, letting him prove he deserved the title. 

One day a man, Cy never told me his name, came here asking for help. He had an issue with a neighboring Pack. Something about land. Cy was ambitious and maybe a little cocky, he told the man he needed to handle it himself. That whatever had happened was not a problem for a King. By the time the man had left the whole court was laughing at him. It was a week later when the King had heard rumors about Hunter’s in the area. They were sighted in different territories and King Alaric instantly had his men dispersed searching out for Hunters. But that meant that the mansion wasn’t as protected, and that’s when they were attacked. A pack of wolves and a large Group of hunters stormed this mansion. The men and women here were slaughtered. The King was killed along with his daughter in law and his granddaughter. The King died, his power with him, severing the monarchy. Leaving just the Alphas in his place.”

Damen looks between the four of us, signaling that he’s done with the story.

“I have a lot of questions,” I say. “Starting with how was there a King and Alpha’s at the same time?”

“The King had unbelievable power, and that is what made him the leader of us all. We’re ruled by power. The strongest is the leader. He had more strength than any of us combined. He had speed, strength, hearing, sight, all ten times better than what we’ve ever had. As for the Alpha’s, think of us as his generals. The second in command. We followed out his orders, and we were completely loyal.”

“But you didn’t say that the prince died. So, if he was still alive how did the monarchy end?”

“When a wolf dies at the hands of another wolf, the killer gets the deceased’s Power. It’s not as great, it’s a bit darker, but it’s still there. Unless the wolf wills away his power. I’m not sure who killed Alaric. By the time I heard what was happening, by the time I got here, everyone was already dead. I know that Marcus doesn’t have Alaric’s power, I would have felt it. That means, that either a Hunter killed Alaric, killing his powers as well or Alaric willed it to someone. For all we knew the power had died with him. That meant the monarchy did as well, leaving all Alpha’s in charge of their own territories.”

I shake my head and run a hand through my short hair. The night that I was kidnapped it got chopped off, in what I think was a total badass move, but I still have some trouble getting used to it. It used to be near my waist, and now it’s near my chin.

“Okay, final question – I think. What does all this have to do with me?”

Damen looks at me. “You, my darling girl, are Princess Anastasia Kavanaugh. Granddaughter of the King, Alaric Kavanaugh. Daughter of Lexi and Cy.”

End of Sample

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