Authors: Kele Moon
Tags: #Romance, #Fantasy
AGE OF ALPHAS
Copyright © 2013 by Kele Moon
Cover concept by JA Moon
Cover layout & design by Doyle Creighbaum
Cover illustration by Vitaly S. Alexius
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.
Printed in the United States of America
First Printing: September 2013
For my daughter, who is laughter and joy and fills our home with rainbows and butterflies where before there were only cowboys and spacemen. The gift of having you taught me that sometimes hope wins.
I wrote a huge portion of this book many years ago during a time when I had suffered two devastating pregnancy losses, both of which nearly killed me. Out of the darkness came Max’s journey, his fears and insecurities are that scared voice from my past that whispered, “I’m afraid,” and needed to be heard.
On the outside I was strong, on the inside I was broken.
I kept the voice locked up on my hard drive for a long time, because this series is different than most. It’s one not everyone will understand and touches on taboos some may not approve of. I could explain the symbolism of the mirrored sides of my soul, Max’s voice of cynicism and fear, and Susie’s voice of hope for tomorrow, but it doesn’t really matter. This is their story, their journey and out of the darkness grew a grand adventure that is so much bigger than my bumps in the road that triggered the first strokes to the keyboard.
This book is the first step in a wild ride. I am so excited to get the other books out to you because as this royal family grows, the adventure grows. If you had asked me at any point in my writing journey of all the stories, published or not, that I have conceptualized, which ones I would want to make sure the world had before I passed on—The Age of Alphas would be it.
This book deserves some extra big thanks to all the people who helped and encouraged me along the way.
To Saarene—For all the years you spent loving this series and encouraging me to send you the next chapter because you just HAD to know what happened next. Your enthusiasm was so overwhelming it was part of the reason I finally decided to put it out there. I couldn’t help but think there may just be one more Sa in the world who would love it as much as you have and for that reason alone it was worth sharing it.
To Laurann—For encouraging me to be bold! If anyone has taught me some risks are worth taking, it’s you. Thank you for being a wonderful crit-partner, and an even better friend! You believing in me gave me the extra kick in the ass I needed.
To Lori Toland—For everything! You’ve encouraged me for years! Thank you!
To Saritza Hernandez—Like Saarene, you loved this series from day one and your encouragement meant so very much!
To Beth—You’ve been wonderful and supportive since the very start of my writing journey and this project has been no different. Thank you for all your help!
To Lissanne—You’re darling. You’ve supported me for years. Thank you!
To Eden Butler—Thank you so much for helping me and encouraging me! You’re such an amazing author! I’m excited our big projects are releasing at the same time!
To Paige Weaver—Thank you for all your encouragement! The help from both you and your husband has been a godsend. You two were the ones who finally gave me the courage to take that big, bold step into a new world of publishing! I can’t thank you enough!
To Doyle—Thank you so much for all your hard work last minute! You helped make our cover awesome!
To Karen—One thing I discovered when I became a published author is that friends will surprise you in good ways and bad. Being an unconventional writer means not everyone was enthusiastic about the books I write, but you have been from the very beginning. Despite having the busiest life ever you still take the time to read all my books and get excited about them! That means more to me than you will ever know!
To my oldest puppy—I am so proud of you! To see you grow into the amazing man that you are, full of strong principles and awesome creativity that humbles me has been one of the most exciting things I’ve ever experienced as a parent. If I wrote half as well at seventeen as you do, I would’ve taken on the whole world with the determination to fill it with color. I can’t wait to see what you do with all that talent!
To my middle puppy—Your sweet, creative soul reminds me there is kindness and beauty in the world even when it seems like it’s all gone. The light of love you have to share shines brighter in you than anyone I have ever met in my life. You have been very patient as we toiled on this big project as a family. It’s done now. I’m taking you to Epcot at least fifteen times to pay you back for all your patience these past many months as we worked on wrapping this up.
To my Husband—Working on this with you has been one of the most incredible experiences of my life. The collision of my creative talents with yours made something we’re both so proud of. Aside from the collection of puppies we have running around the house, this has been one of the greatest things we’ve done together as a team. Thank you for being my mate!
On top of all these thanks there has been a long list of people over the years who for one reason or another read this series. I was proud of it. I shared it when asked and since it was simply sitting on my hard drive I didn’t mind letting someone else look if they wanted to. Each of you were excited, encouraging and your combined voices were the chorus that finally became too loud to ignore. If you read a part of this book before now that means you helped make sure it was out in the world.
Early Winter 1943
It happened the day he became king.
The memory should’ve been beautiful. It was the moment she first entered his world, filling it with life and color, finally giving him a reason to draw air into his lungs and face the difficult existence the Gods bestowed on him.
If things had gone as planned, it would’ve been the most amazing instant of his life. Instead it plagued his dreams, turning them into nightmares for the whole of his puppyhood and well into the early days of his rule.
Max blamed his father.
Though it was an opulent Romanesque mansion, the New England estate Max called home was aged and daunting that afternoon in December. It should have been festive for his season, but a darkness had descended on them. Its white marble exterior blended effortlessly into the snowy landscape as if foretelling the tragedy to come. The curtains were drawn wherever possible. What little outside light found its way in past the frosted windows was dim due to the snowstorm that had been battering the coast since his Aunt Susan arrived, heavy with pregnancy. Her human mate helped her through the grand entryway. The winds blew the heavy doors shut behind them as they stepped in out of the cold.
“Douglas!” she yelled.
Max had seen her enter. He loved snow and was currently angry with his father for refusing to let him play in it. He had been sulking at the window seat next to the foyer, watching the snow fall more heavily.
At three, his speech was more advanced than others his age, but he was generally quiet unless he had something important to say. So he said nothing about his aunt’s frantic arrival, rather he shyly watched the scene play out as a curious bystander.
His father was at his aunt’s side within a blink of an eye. A huge man, all muscle, tanned skin and dark hair, Max’s father dwarfed his poor aunt’s husband, who was startled into stuttering when his father appeared seemingly out of thin air.
“W-Where did you—” He let go of Susan’s arm to gape up at Douglas Wellington. “I-I say, I just—” He shook his head as though trying to gather his thoughts together and obviously succeeded when he said, “It makes no matter. She insisted on stopping here, but she needs to go to the hospital.”
His father’s eyes became dark, his large frame appearing to grow bigger with his tension. “The baby?”
“She’s coming, Doug.” Susan’s voice was strained, yet Max could still hear her excitement. “I told you she’s the one for your Maxwell. I’ve always known it. I should have planned better for the Solstice, but she wasn’t due for another month.”
Max’s father found him then, his dark gaze resting on Max where he sat on the windowsill. Lord Douglas Wellington, usually such a gruff man, seemed younger and lighter as he stared at him for one long moment before he turned back to his laboring sister and her confused mate. He reached out, grasping at the smaller man’s shoulder as though giving him encouragement for the safety of his unborn child.
“You will sleep now,” Douglas said in a low, hypnotic voice.
Max watched the human fall to the ground, not even stirring from deep slumber when his head thumped hard against the cold marble floor.
“Doug, was that necessary?” His aunt made a move to lean down and check on him, but her stomach impeded her. She gasped out, holding her side. “He’s going to have such a knot on his head tomorrow. They don’t heal like we do.”