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American Werewolf in Volterra

Summary:
It was just a European Vacation, for Ian Alexander, who is suddenly swept up in a crazy world that is just too surreal to believe. But he's now a werewolf in one of the largest dens in history, submissive to an asshole who is intent on destroying every vampire in the world. Worse, when rumors of a pup surface, both worlds rush to find it, ready to kill whoever is sheltering the kid. Of course, Ian would be the one to find it. But he can't bring himself to want to hurt the little kid, or the outspoken woman who protects him. Sequel to Horripilation


Notes:
Back after after a two year hiatus. Not sure how long I will be writing. Had some pretty serious life changes and this is just a random, anonymous way to vent. All of it still belongs to Stephanie Meyer. Still hate Bella and Edward, still love the Volturi, even crazy Jane. This is the third story in the arch: I Need You to Love Me and Horripilation. It would be helpful to read those before this, but I warn you that my writing has matured. I learned that there was such a thing as writing vocab and not just a spoken vernacular, so that was a big deal.


2. Chapter One: Animal I Have Become––

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Chapter One: Animal I Have Become––

It had been a European tour for Ian Alexander–– a student at Yale. His best friend, Ryan Chiles, had convinced him that Tampa and Palm Springs were bad choices for a summer of waste and want. The beaches would be crowded, the food average but overpriced, and the women conventional bitches. Europe was the up and coming hotspot: perfect for two trust fund hooligans looking to blow their parents’ money. And everyone knew that European women were exotic and adventurous.

Said trust fund bay shook his head groggily. His head was pounding like a mother fucker, and he could barely sit up. Standing wasn’t an option. He must have had one helluva a night last night, especially since he couldn’t remember a damn thing. Images flashed, a bad picture seen through a hazy fog–– but it was some crazy shit. He was running on his hands like a dog, yowling at the moon, and humping the leg of a blonde with big tits. The last memory was in character for the wayward son, but the rest was too far out to be anything but a drug induced hallucination.

Absinthe tasted like shit going down, but the rum chaser made it quite the night. At least he had had a good time.

“Hello, Ian,” a deep voice purred from beside him.

Groaning at the loud, shaking noise, he scowled down at the person who said his name. His mouth dropped when he saw her smirking back up at him. He must have fucked a supermodel last night, because this chick was smoking hot. She had long icy blonde hair that seemed to float around her body although she was prone on her bed––because the deep gray silk sheets were most certainly not his. Full hourglass body too, with tits a handful each and perky pink nipples. Her lower half was still covered, but he could easily see the curves of her ass and slim legs. Sitting up and languidly letting her hair trail behind her, she leaned into his side, pressing her bare chest against him.

“Did you sleep well?” she kissed his neck possessively.

He had no idea who this one night stand was, but he did know that he had broken one of the cardinal man laws: ditch the chick before the morning. And now he had to stay for a little while, talk to her and try to remember who the hell she was. Dear God, don’t let her have a roommate. It couldn’t possibly get any worse.

Since he had no idea who she was, he settled with a groaning, “Fine. Ugh…” he ran his hair through his messy chestnut hair. “You?”

She smirked again and he remembered how tender her juicy red lips were. “Absolutely wonderful,” she breathed warmly into his ear.

The hair on the back of his neck stood up in arousal and he looked at her with new interest. The chick laughed seductively before pulling his head to hers and kissing him deeply. Pulling back, she whispered, “You ready for round two, baby?”

Ian was personally too preoccupied with her heaving boobs to hear whatever she was saying. Lips suddenly very dry, he swallowed and nodded his head. Who cared who the fuck she was, or what she wanted? He was about to score and be conscious during it. What a way to start the morning.

“Enough, Alessandra,” a deep voice rumbled from the door.

Alessandra. That had been her name, Ian remembered. Alessandra Perscopoli or some shit. Alessandra Pear was a definite. Ian blinked at the guy in the doorway, trying to figure out who he was, and more importantly: what he was doing there. Her boyfriend? Husband? Brother? Pimp or agent perhaps?

Alessandra pouted and batted her thick black eyes lashes. “Benedetto,” she whined huskily, “you’re no fun.”

Benedetto was a tall man with broad shoulders, dark hair and black eyes. His frame filled up the doorframe easily, and he had to stoop down as he entered. Ian had always considered himself built but when he looked at this guy who could have passed for a body builder, he knew he was outmatched. This guy would kick his ass if he needed to, or just felt the urge.

Fuck.

He would have to make his escape quickly. Or he would have, had he not been naked, and had Alessandra hand not slipped covertly under the sheets to stroke his dick. He turned his groan into a cough. Benedetto did not seem to notice as he looked at the naked form of Alessandra, who seemed to not have any problems with public nudity.

“You have fulfilled your duty,” he told her, seemingly unaffected by her naked glory. Ian could never boast to such a feat, nor would he try to ignore it. Not when she could move so....ambidextrously. “You need to do no more,”

“I’ll do no more than I want,” she teased him.

Benedetto’s scowl darkened. “Mal!” he barked loudly, his voice echoing in the small hallway.

Ian had absolutely no idea where he was or who these people were. But he could see the sunlight through the thick gray curtains, and hear the faint sounds of the city outside. He had to be in Volterra still; at least that was where he had been drinking last night. There was some huge festival going on, St. Mark’s or something, and people were getting their freak on. Yes, he was beginning to remember this bodacious blonde more and more.

Things had been going fairly well too. They were sitting at a bar, talking and laughing. He had his hand on her leg, and it was traveling very quickly northward. She didn’t seem to be minding it either. Actually, she was leaning in closer to him, and saying something. He could not remember what, but he did know that she smelled good, like warm cinnamon and strawberries. Her breath had burned his ear, and the foggy aroma of the wine soaked festival made him burn with desire.

He was going in for the kiss when all hell broke loose. Something was in the middle of the square. A giant dog, or something. It must have escaped from the nearby circus. He remembered people running and screaming in terror. The was more than one of them. Wolves were rumored to roam the Tuscan hills; this pack must have been particularly ravenous to dare such an attack on humans. The blonde was gone, running for her life, and a little boy was calling for his momma. God he hoped that the kid did not belong to the blonde.

Something big tackled him from behind. There was a sharp pain in his back as his head cracked against the stone pavement.

And then he had woken up here, having somehow fucked this chick Alessandra, who could have been the hot blonde from last night, but he could not remember. He was way too hung over to remember a damn thing it seemed.

Ian flinched as Alessandra simpered, and sent him a sly wink. She relaxed back into the sheets, sprawling languidly in her twisted sheets. Her smooth leg rubbed against his folded on, with that mischievous glint in her eyes that made his blood boil. “You’re so tense, baby,” she purred like Jessica Rabbit. “Let me help,”

“Enough, Alessandra,” snapped the irked Benedetto. His arms, wider than Ian’s head, were crossed, but the giant muscles were tensed. If he was provoked much further, Ian was sure that Benedetto would introduce him to some serious pain. Now, more than ever, Ian was determined not to cross him.

Alessandra smirked seductively. Her leg kept pawing at his, but her eyes never left Benedetto’s face. There was a challenge in her gaze, a dare that no man could refuse. It was then Ian realized that he was nothing more than a pawn in her little game. Thankfully, echoing footsteps helped dispel some of the gathering tension in the room. A moment later, another woman appeared.

She was not nearly as good looking as Alessandra, with her curly carrot top hair and tanned skin, but there was an intelligence that flashed in her eyes that Alessandra lacked. Ian knew at once that this chick would not be a good fuck, even if he did have the chance. Her tiny lips pursed when she saw Ian in bed with Alessandra. Astutely ignoring him, she said to Benedetto, “Yes, Beta?”

Beta? That was a weird nickname, even for Benedetto.

“Take the new one below ground with the rest of the pack,” he ordered her dismissively. “I have to have a talk with the Alpha Bitch,”

“Are you going to punish me, Benedetto?” Alessandra’s laugh mimicked nails on a chalkboard. It was high pitched and screeching; Ian’s ears hurt like hell after she was done.

“Here,” Benedetto tossed him the khaki shorts on the floor.

Trying not to be embarrassed by the angle of his dangle, Ian quickly pulled the shorts up over his hips, and grabbing his shoes, followed Mal out of the dim room. She was wearing tight jeans that made her ass bounce and jiggle with each step she took, Ian noticed, appreciating the view. And she was skinny too, but did not have nearly the rack that Alessandra did. In fact, she looked rather strong and intimidating for a twenty-something chick. Most importantly, her boobs were still pretty good, just not the Jessica Rabbit knockers Alessandra had.

“You will not touch the Alpha Female, nor are you to address her ever again,” Mal suddenly began in clipped tones. “Benedetto is the den’s Beta, and he will see that you won’t make it to the next moon if you keep trying to fuck the Alpha Bitch,”

“What?” Ian shook his head. He must have one hell of a hangover. This chick was speaking in dog terminology as she led him down several flights of stairs. He didn’t even know what floor he had originally been on, such was his confusion. None of it made sense.

Mal looked over her shoulder crossly. Her skimpy cami was a midnight black, but he could see the edges of her hot pink bra. Sexy. “Don’t look at, or ever speak to Alessandra. She’s off limits,”

“Was that guy her boyfriend or something?” Ian jerked a thumb over his shoulder.

“It’s something more akin to her husband’s employee,” Mal made a face.

“Oh,” Ian made a face. “Thanks for saving me,” he told her. He most certainly did not want to screw a married woman. That was just trouble waiting to happen.

“I didn’t do it for you,” Mal pushed open a black door, and walked into a cluttered hallway. “I did it because Benedetto told me to,”

“Is he your boss?” Ian followed her. Several doggy looking people stopped and watched as they pushed their way through the mass. There were muffled whispers and lots of pointing fingers. They all knew him; some looked at him with pity, other snorted in derision.

“You could say that,” Mal answered. “As I was saying, Benedetto is the Beta of our pack. He runs it when our Alpha Male is indisposed. You’re now part of one the largest dens ever in history. Tancredo––”

“Hold up,” Ian stopped. He had no idea what the fuck this chick was talking about, but he wanted to know just what was up. She was talking nonsense. Something about a hierarchy and some betas and alphas and all that jazz. It had to stop. His head was pounding way to much for her ramblings to be okay. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

Mal arched an eyebrow. She didn’t have time for this, and it was clear that the foreigner wasn’t going to be all that quick about it. Lousy Americans. “Just what do you think happened last week?” she demanded. “A couple of little puppies came out to play?”

“No! Of course not,” he snapped. “Some weird shit happened an–––what the fuck do you mean last week?” Ian cried. No way. That wasn’t possible. There was no way in hell that he had been out a whole week. Alessandra or whatever the hell would have left, or kicked him out. Duh. No chick let some guy sleep in her bed for a solid week.

“Yes,” Mal answered in clipped tones. This was taking far longer than she hoped. She did have other, more pressing matters to deal with. “It takes about a week to adjust to the changes,”

“Changes?” Ian demanded, arms flailing and spittle flying. “What changes? What the hell did you people do to me?”

“We weren’t looking for you on purpose,” snapped the redhead. “We just found you. Benedetto changed you. He must have seen something in you,”

The look in her eye told Ian that she didn’t see what Benny-what-the-fuck saw. Then and there, Ian didn’t care, even if he was insulted. “What the fuck happened?”

Mal snorted and leaned her back gruffly against the dirty, cement wall. “What do you know about monsters?” she asked him evenly. Her eyes narrowed and her eyebrows laced together. She watched him speculatively, enjoying his floundering.

“Like Hitler? Or do you want the monster that lives under my bed?” Ian acerbically snapped. “His name is Ted,”

“Well hello, Ted,” Mal’s dark eyes flashed. “Meet Dumb Ass. He lives above you. He’s a monster too, you know. A werewolf; better be careful, Ted, or else, he might eat you.”

Ian blinked. Whoa…what the fuck? He must have been seriously wasted last night to be so hungover. Or this chick’s English sucked. Even though the accent that laced her words was not Italian, he went with the second one. It was easier to accept. Making a show out of cleaning his ears––he wasn’t hung over enough to lose his sense of sarcasm––he was all, “What?”

He even tried to sound like a hungover dumb ass.

Mal glared snottily at him. “It was a full moon one week ago, during which you were gruesomely mauled and infected with the virus,”

“That’s not possible,”

“Yes, it is,” she snapped back. “I don’t have time to be bull shitting you with lies. Benedetto keeps me busy enough without having to baby the newbies. Once I introduce you to your roommate, he will be the one in charge of helping you adjust,”

“What is this?’ Ian cried, arms thrown up in the air in exasperation. “College?”

Mal’s eyes narrowed so much they were almost shut completely, but she was so utterly intimidating that Ian took a step backwards. “No, Ian,” she hissed his name out like a curses, “It is a den. Now shut the fuck up, and follow me,”

She took off at a brisk pace, down the hallway. They were in a warehouse of some sort, he was sure of that. The walls and floors were colorless; the ceiling was smeared with dirt. There were no windows and the yellow lights were grungy. On the left corner, she stopped. Glaring at him over her shoulder, she banged her fist on it as hard as she could. Still feeling slightly weird in the head, Ian winced at the screaming pounding. Seconds later, the door swung open to reveal a blonde guy with a smirk. “Can I help you with something, Mal?” he joked in English. The guy had a British accent. Girls loved British accents. Ian’s eyes narrowed now as he looked at his competition.

Mal jerked her redhead over in his direction. “You gotta newb,”

The dude stuck his head out of the door and leaned into the hall, sizing him up with a goofy grin. “Fresh meat, ay?” he asked.

“Yup,” Mal replied. She wasn’t nearly as brisk and bitchy with the Brit. It figured. “He’s all yours,”

The guy raised his hand in way of greeting. “Hey,”

“S’up?” Ian nodded his head once.

“It’s Beck,” the British bastard informed him.

“Ian Alexander,” Ian crisply responded.

“Awesome. I’ll take it form here, babe,” he said to Mal. “You get back to Benedetto,”

Mal pursed her lips and nodded. “Thanks,”

Ian was now openly glaring at the two of them. Neither one seemed to notice or care. “Come on,” Beck waved Ian into the room. “You’re going to want to get out of the hallway before Ajax figures out we’ve got a newb,”

Mal nodded to him as she walked away. “I’ll see you at Mess,” she said.

“Mess?” Ian repeated as Beck closed the door and locked it swiftly.

“Yeah,” the Brit nodded his head and walked over to a wall. “It’s the mealtime,”

“So this is basically college again?” Ian surveyed the room, which looked exactly like a dark dorm room.

“It’s more of a military training compound,” laughed Beck. “Food’s about the same, though,”

“Great, I just got away from shitty food,”

Beck chuckled. “That sucks, mate,”

“So, tell me,” Ian asked him directly, “Do you believe all of this? I mean, it isn’t true, is it? It’s just impossible what they were saying,”

Beck shook his head as he sat down on the small cot alongside the wall. It did not look like it was big enough to support his weight, and it was certainly too short for his tall frame. His feet must have hung over the edge every night. “It’s hard to believe it at first,” he conceded, “And it all seems so ludicrous.”

“Exactly!” exclaimed Ian. “This has to be some European version of Punkd!”

“I’ve never heard it put that way,” said Beck through booming laughs that shook the entire room. “You’re going to be some fun,” he slapped Ian on the back. It took him several minutes to calm down, and stop laughing. Once he finally managed to, he looked at Ian with eyes so solemn that his blood froze. No one had ever looked at him so seriously.

“It isn’t a joke, though,” he said seriously. “It isn’t some television show where they pull the wool over your eyes, or when they make fun of you for being a jack ass. All of this,” he gestured around him. “It’s the truth,”

Ian shook his head adamantly. “It isn’t true,” he whispered, pleaded even. “It can’t be,”

“Look at your hands and tell me I’m lying,” instructed the Brit.

Ian looked at his hands. They were torn and scratched, still stained with the crimson blood that they reeked of. Nausea wracked his shaking body as memories from the previous week flooded his consciousness. Pain. Agonizing pain as he joints were ripped from their sockets and his muscled were ripped to shreds, pulled apart at the sinew and bone. He remembered the terror in the eyes of the people he massacred, reveling in the ardent scent of their terror and the warmth of their blood.

Shaking in disgust, he ran to the toilet as he remembered his teeth tearing into their skin, rendering it to shreds as he lapped it up like a dog, and swallowed it whole. He lost everything in his stomach as he recalled the rubbery skin sliding down the back of his throat. Cannibalism. Chunks of meat splashed into the bowl, spraying his face with foul bile, and he knew it was not a nightmare.

“The first few months are always the worst,” Beck way saying from the doorway. His voice echoed loudly in the spinning room, surreal and far away. None of it seemed real. “It takes a while for your body to adjust to the virus,”

“What did you do to me?” Ian whispered through cracked lips and soggy words.

“It was Benedetto’s choice,” Beck’s mountainous form shrugged its shoulders. “It’s hard to fight the madness that overcomes us all, but it is possible. The oldest and the wisest of our kind are said to have no change in their disposition for the wolf is as integral part of them as their heart, but Benedetto does not permit the to linger in our den. Brute strength is preferred above wisdom,”

“Why me?” Ian’s cragged voice broke as he vomited again. More plops in the ceramic basin, more chunks of human flesh.

“Because you are young, and you are strong,” Beck supplied, “But you have no authority in your words or posture. You will always be a soldier who does what he is told, and will not have the ability to overthrow your Alpha or his Beta,”

“I don’t understand,” he pleaded. None of it made sense. It sounded more like a dog pack than a bunch of messed up humans. “It doesn’t make sense,” he barely had enough strength to muster up the complaint.

“He’s building up an army, changing as many people like you as he can,” explained Beck

“Why would he need an army?”

“Because he plans to wage war on Volterra, and eradicate the only threat to our ability, so that our Alpha can force all dens and covens to submit to him, and so they can rule the world together.”

“Why?” he asked again.

Beck shrugged. “It’s the dominance I suppose, the need to force all others to submit. It’s hard to live without, but even harder to live with,”

“How would you know?” his stomach was empty. He turned to look at his friend, his only friend right now, with shining eyes. He had been crying as he vomited up the last stakes of his humanity. Even now, he could feel the virus pulsing through his blood, like heat, making him burn. Something was happening to him, something was making him change. It was frightening.

Beck gave a self-disgusted snort. “The den was not always this big. Smaller dens have been absorbed into it, and anyone with a position of authority was stripped and left to rot at the bottom of the food chain.”

“So, you––”

“Yes,” Beck cut him off with a glare. “It has happened to many people,”

“Does Benedetto give the power to people who are loyal to him?” Ian instantly remembered Mal.

“Sometimes,” Beck conceded. “Other times, the authority is so natural that it cannot be denied. When it comes to cases such as that, Benedetto will award menial positions in order to appease the natural order but not enough to disturb his plans.

“Mal––”

“She is a good woman,” Beck instantly answered. “She was a pup from my old den, and just as tenacious and independent as a child as she is now. She’s got the dominance that Benedetto can’t suppress, so she’s Gamma Bitch. Back before Benedetto, she would have been Beta Bitch at least, but probably Alpha Bitch.”

The speech should have disgusted Ian, should have made him hate Beck and his bigoted ways, but he wasn’t the old Ian anymore. The new Ian understood the respect that laced through Beck’s tinted words. Alpha was the highest rank any male could hope to achieve, to be the complete ruler of the den, and the Beta was second only to the Alpha Male. The Alpha Bitch was the Alpha Male’s mate, the most prized woman in the entire den. No man could touch her except the Alpha Male, she was his prize and his spoils of war, and only his. The Beta Bitch was much like the Beta Male, and the Gamma Bitch came after the Beta.

Gamma had been a term invented specifically for Mal, to thwart the authority and power she was born with. Instinctively, Ian knew that too.

“Why was I with the woman?” he sputtered out, trying to remember her name.

“Alessandra?” Beck asked. He snorted mirthlessly, and shook his head. “That’s tough luck, mate. She’s the Alpha Bitch of the den, no real authority except what the Alpha Male gives her. She’s really carnal, enjoys seducing men and playing with them before mealtime. But every time she picks a newb to play with, they end up dead,”

Ian blanched. “Why?”

“The Alpha Male is incredibly possessive. No one is allowed to touch Alessandra except for him,” said Beck solemnly.

“But I wasn’t even conscious for it!” protested Ian. “I was out cold! I wouldn’t have done it if I’d be conscious! Or knew who the fuck she was!”

Beck shrugged. “Once Tancredo finds out, you’re in deep shit. He’ll give you a warning, and own your ass for the rest of your miserable life. You’ll have learned your lesson, but she won’t. She’ll keep coming after you until she’s satisfied. Usually, she isn’t until Tancredo is furious, and you, my friend, are dead,”

“Shit,” Ian swore.

Beck nodded. “It’s just the beginning. It gets a whole lot worse,”

*

Beck was right: the first few months were pure hell. Every night, according to the phases of the moon, his body would shift and strain, tearing his limbs from his joints and stretching his skin until it ripped. Beck said it would be painful, and that it would take his body a long time to adjust. He just had not mentioned the fact that he would shift for the first three months every night. Most of the time, Beck left him alone in his misery. There was nothing he could do but talk him through it after the fact. However, as the months passed, Mal was by his side more and more, holding him and helping him through the transformation. She became a constant in his life.

During the day, he was adjusting to the new, bizarre as hell life. Demi and Rémi were the two twins who were constantly at each other’s throats. Demi was loud, outspoken, rash and annoying; Rémi was just the same except male. They had joined up voluntarily a few months before Ian had been shanghaied into service. They were fun, and Rémi was one hell of a drinking buddy. The parties were especially loud on the rare occasions that Beck joined them; the dominance in him did not like to party it up with the lowlife––which was cool. Ian did not mind being riffraff; he just liked to drink.

And Mal always let him get away with a lot more when he was drunk.

The very last to join their ragtag group. their own secretive pack within the den, was Stith. He was a small man, and very thin, but there was a bark in every word and dominance laced in his every move. No one knew where Stith has come from, or who he belonged to. There was enough authority in him, the most Ian had ever seen in any werewolf other than Benedetto, and it was generally agreed upon that he had been an Alpha. Rather than go rogue, or risk loosing whatever was left of his dismal pack, he joined up with Benedetto, and their faceless Alpha: Tancredo.

“Or,” Demi suggested one day while the rat-faced man was absent from their meal, “He could have always been alone. By nature, we’re not social creatures,”

Before Ian knew what had happened, eighteen months had passed, and life in the den was as normal to him as college.

“Hey, Newb,” Stith Torron said as he dropped his plate beside Ian. He was shorter than Ian, which was surprising considering how tall all werewolves seemed to be. Ian had been 6’4” and he would swear that he had grown two inches in the past months. Not only that, but his limbs now always ached, his joints and muscles throbbing. It felt like someone was stretching them every night do that they were elongated, scarily swinging from his sides like tree branches.

“Speak of the devil,” Demi muttered scornfully.

“And he shall appear,” teased Rémi.

Pretending he did not hear them, Ian answered, grinning, “Hey, Stith,”

“How are things going, little Newb?” the gangly kid sat down beside him.

Ian shrugged. “Can’t complain,”

“Other than all the aching and pain and shit?” teased Stith. “Damn straight you ain’t got nothing to complain about,”

“Give him a break, Stith,” the raven haired Demi said from across the table. Her blue-black hair hung down in front of her eyes, guarding them from Stith’s amorous and seductive pale eyes.

“Or what?” teased Stith, his eyes raking up and down Demi’s seminude body. “You gonna hurt me, little lady?”

The silver fork in her hand bent backwards until it snapped into two pieces under the pressure. “Try me,” she challenged.

“With pleasure,” Stith licked his lips suggestively.

Just as Beck slid into the seat beside Demi, ready to stop the fight, the sound of clanging tin filled the Mess. Beck rolled his eyes and started to eat his meal; everyone else dutifully began to hit on their dented cups. One cool thing about being a werewolf was now Ian was stronger than he ever had been before, and faster too. Even when he was not transformed, he was still superhuman. That part was awesome, and his ability to drink even more alcohol without feeling it was even better. The clanging went on for almost five minutes, and the dull roar of conversation lapsed as the den waited for their Beta to address them. Tancredo never made public appearances anymore.

“Greetings, fellow pack mates!”cried Benedetto suddenly appeared out of nowhere. He stood in the middle of the hall, basking in their deafening silence, and their obedience. “Welcome to another day in our great den!”

He turned in a circle, looking at them all with blazing eyes. “I have just finished speaking with our Alpha––” every wolf let out a strangled cry of adoration “––and he has the most unsettling news. The vampires have killed our sister den in Venice!”

They all screamed in anger.

“That’s right!” yelled Benedetto. “Let your anger thrive at this injustice! Let the fury fill your veins as two hundred of our brothers and sisters lie bloodless, sucked dry by the God forsaken leeches!

“But is worse, my den mates,” Benedetto pivoted, contorting his body from the waist. It was entrancing and sickening; no one could take their eyes off him. Not even Beck. “So much very worse, for you see, they are coming for us next. Yes, it is true,” he said above the angered lull. “They are coming to kill us next, for they fear us, and our power. They don’t trust us; they think that we’re dangerous!

“And dammit, they’re right!”

They all screamed in approval.

“Fear not, my pack mates, for our fearsome Alpha does not intend for us to wait here docile for the attack! We will go to them first! Ambush them on their ground, on their terrain, where they will not expect it! We shall obliterate them in their dens, rend their flesh from their bones, and burn their so-called fortress! We shall bring the nation to its knees, and they will grovel before us, for we are the mighty and they are the weak!!”

Ian could have sworn his hearing was forever damaged by the roaring approval that echoed loudly in the buried room.

“For years, we have lived in the shadows, hunted by them! As if the vampires are any better than we are! Are they?” he demanded of the room.

“No!” they screamed in unison.

“Then why is it that we are hunted? Driven underground? Exterminated? No, I say! And so do you, my brethren! We are not inferior to those leeches, the refuse of the underworld! We were not meant to be driven underground, into the shadows of the world so we could hide! We should not be forced into living in abandoned buildings, and bury into the ground like rats to form our towns! We are the predators of the world! By nature’s right, we are the top of the food chain! The world is ours!

“And, we are going to take it back!”

The walls of the abandoned building shook with the fervor of their cries.

*

“The rumors of the pup are true,” Benedetto rubbed his lower face with his hand, as he sat taciturn in the chair. To the side of the office, Alessandra lay on a chaise, watching with her glowing eyes. She was bare, as usual, and expected him to be soon as well. Their clandestine affair was growing more and more bold; if they were not careful, people would soon begin to talk.

“Yes, sir,” the spy answered with a nod of his head. “It was in Volterra with Algeri’s den. Somehow, it was lost in the middle of the foray. No one knows where it went,”

“A child does not just vanish into thin air,” Benedetto reminded the spy with a snarl.

“No, Beta,” the spy quickly tried to placate the irate wolf. “It does not. We questioned Olga, the pup’s mother, severely, but she refused to answer any of our questions. She gave the pup up to another, a young woman, according to the survivors, but no one knows who this woman is. She took the pup, knowing exactly what it was, and ran. They both have been nonexistent in the past eighteen months,”

“How would she know that the boy was a pup?” Benedetto demanded. “No human is aware of us,”

The spy shook his head dejectedly. “Olga’s desperation was so incapsulating that she gave the pup to a she-vampire. The vampire took the pup into hiding, despite it’s origins.”

“Most likely, they will try to glean all the information out of the brat’s mind,” Benedetto glared darkly. “And then kill it,”

“Yes, Beta,” the spy dipped his head in agreement.

“It seems to me,” Alessandra huskily said from the couch’s arm, “that all we need to do is find this vampire and her pup, and kill them both. No one will miss a traitor or a leech,”

“But...it’s the first pup that has been born in twenty years!” protested the spy. “To commit such an act would be egregious!”

Benedetto’s silenced his protests with a single look. “There is more to this pup than an idiot like you could ever hope to understand. It is an Alpha Pup, born with the authority and dominance of a true Alpha. I will not let any threat to our own Alpha live and thrive in our den if the runt means to kill Tancredo and usurp him. No, Alessandra is correct. The pup, and his vampire, must die,”

The spy bowed his head in defeat. “Yes, Beta,” he softly accepted the horrible fact. Before he could leave, the spy had one last fact to report. “Also, the American has been ruffling some feathers,”

“Explain!” barked Benedetto.

“He’s against this war, you see, against the entire thing. He keeps talking about freedom, and personal rights, and such. He’s stirring up trouble, Beta. Authoritative people are starting to listen to him,”

“Who?”

“Beck, Beta.” Timidly, the spy dared to look at Benedetto’s terrifying face. “And the Gamma Bitch, Mal,”

“The little fool,” Benedetto swore. “She’ll be the death of me yet. Let me deal with her insubordination. As for the American, send him out to search for the pup. Send him as far away as possible so that he might die in shameful exile, and his corpse will be food for the birds and his own kind.”