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The Night Burning

The Night Burning

Rite World: Night Wolves 2

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The only thing worse than being the pack’s omega is being mated to a cursed wolf.

Main Tropes

  • Enemies-to-lovers
  • Forced Proximity
  • Fated Mates
  • Secret Society
  • Curses
  • Cameos from Rite World Characters

Synopsis

The only thing worse than being the pack’s omega is being mated to a cursed wolf.

Shane and I are bonded, but we have to keep our relationship a secret. The pack is still at risk, and our rivals are lurking on our doorstep, waiting to strike against us.

As sickness makes its way through the pack, Shane is dealing with a poison of his own. Every full moon, the Shadow Curse forces Shane to become an enraged monster… and if we don’t find the cure, he’ll soon be driven mad, and lost to me forever.

My powers are awakening, and they’re out of my control. The demon blood inside of me is reckless and unbound, seeking out a deadly power.

My enemies can’t be stopped… but neither can I. It’s time to show the pack just what I’m made of.

***

The Night Burning is a fated rejected mates enemies-to-lovers romance. Shifters, dragons, and demons collide in this paranormal urban fantasy saga that is part of author Juliana Haygert’s Rite World universe.

Intro into Chapter One

Chapter One

The last quarter moon shone bright in the cloudless night sky amid a heavy blanket of bright stars.

A beautiful night to say goodbye.

Wearing white slacks and a button-up shirt, Shane faced the large pyre erected in the center of the renovated main square. His new betas, Dom and Vallin, stood proudly by his side. Minsi and Tyren were a few yards to his right, Killian and Lavinia were to his left, and the rest of the pack surrounded them.

This time though, I was among them. Nestled between Rue and Roman and far from Serge and his friends, but I was here. With the rest of the pack for the first time in my life.

Shane picked up the torch from the floor. He extended it to the side, in Lavinia’s direction. A second later, fire caught on the torch’s top end.

I heard a few gasps go around the crowd. After the experience we had, most people here were wary of witches. Because of that, Shane always reminded everyone that Lavinia was now a vampire—with witch powers.

It had been seven days since the attack, five since the full moon was gone and Shane left the prison. I'd had lots of interaction with Lavinia since then. It was easy to talk to her and be around her because she looked and acted like a vampire most of the time. But then she did something like light a torch on fire with her magic and my gut clenched. I knew she wasn’t like the Nightmist witches. Hell, she told me she had had a bad encounter with them last year, which was when she and Killian found Shane and helped him get away from them, but it was still hard to accept a witch was among us now.

The last time we allowed witches in our midst, things had gone terribly wrong.

I pushed past my prejudiced fears. Not all witches were the same, just like not all wolves were. I couldn’t judge an entire species on the mistake of one group.

Shane held the torch high. “Tonight, we honor those who have fallen before. Their deaths won’t be in vain.” He lowered the torch. “Be with the moon.”

He touched the torch to the pyre and the flames spread fast, becoming a huge white fire—the effect from a magical powder Lavinia added to the pyre.

“It eases spiritual pain,” she had said.

We were all in need of that.

The pyre also had firewood the kids had collected yesterday with Rue and Vianna, and a bunch of other wolves and vampires—no one went anywhere without backup now. They went back to the library with the firewood and spent the day painting the names of the fallen and decorating them. 

Shane lowered his head and we all followed his lead, giving our dead one full minute of silence and respect. I remembered my mother. She had been my best friend and died trying to protect me. I missed her dearly. I also forced myself to remember the others who had fallen in the first battle a year ago, and in the second a few days ago. Despite their hatred of me, I truly wished for them to find peace in death.

In silence, we watched as the pyre burned, embers flickering to the night sky.

I couldn’t help but look at the handsome alpha standing behind the pyre. The flames gave his golden skin a deeper tone, and created shadows around the sharp angles of his face, making them look even sharper. The new alpha was too handsome for his own good.

Across the pyre and the crowd, his warm brown eyes met mine.

My breath caught.

In the five days he had been out of the prison, we'd barely had time alone. As alpha, everyone wanted to talk to him, ask him what to do next, and get his suggestions. To help him carry the weight of leadership, Dom and Vallin, one of the older wolves who had been good friends with his father, became his betas, and he had restored the council, which now consisted of only three wolves instead of ten. He wanted to appoint more wolves to the seats, but with only fitfy-ish wolves in the pack and one-fifth of those being kids, it wasn’t like there were many choices. He appointed Killian as a temporary honorary council member because we needed the help.

Unfortunately, Serge was on the council and his first demand was to have me banished from the pack. His second was to send all the vampires away.

“We don’t need trash in our midst, or vampires to help out,” he said. “We are Nightshade wolves. We are strong. We don’t need anyone else.”

I hadn’t been there, since I wasn’t on the council, but Killian told me Shane almost lost it. But Shane replied that I was staying, with an elevated rank, and the vampires were welcome and would stay. An argument started about Shane not listening to his council, and that he was too young and skewed by vampires and witches to lead us well, and that he was a forsaken Shadow Wolf who could turn against his people at any time.

Things weren’t looking well in the Nightshade pack.

Besides all of that, Shane was a little disappointed with me. I had moved out of his house right when he moved in. He had argued with me, saying I could stay there with him and his siblings, that he wanted me there with them. He even used the Minsi-needs-you-here card.

The bastard. That had swayed me, but not enough. The three of them needed time alone, as a family, to reconnect and start over. Me being there would only make things awkward, messy.

We hadn’t been truly alone since the day he told me about his curse when he was still in the cells underneath the town hall. I had been to his office a few times to deliver reports or get assignments, but people were always there. I had also dropped by their house when Minsi got anxious, but again, we had been with Minsi and sometimes with Tyren.

And that was another argument we had: our relationship.

Honestly, I didn’t want to think about it, not yet, so I focused on my endless to-do list and went on with my day. And right now, I focused on the pyre between us and the objective of this ceremony: to send our loved ones away with honor and respect.

The fire receded to embers, and the wolves started moving around, greeting each other. Everyone here had lost at least one loved one during the battles.

To my surprise, a handful of wolves offered condolences for my loss—Jay, the healer; Vianna and her pups; Dom, Lucille, and Vallin; and two other elders whom I had intervened for before.

Well, that was progress.

Rue excused herself and went to help Vianna with the other kids. Minsi ran to me and Tyren came after her. I opened my arms for her. I would have hugged Tyren too, if he allowed me, but I settled for patting his shoulder once. Lucille, Dom, and Vallin were turning their backs to us when Shane approached our group.

Lucille maneuvered herself so she stood right beside Shane, her arm brushing against his. “That was a great ceremony.”

“Thanks.” Shane took a small step to the side, while looking at Minsi in my arms. I knew having Lucille clinging to him like that was annoying to him. It was equally annoying to me. “How is she?”

I shrugged. “Fine.” She hugged me like this all the time, but Shane wasn’t used to it. He thought she was always in distress. “That really was a great ceremony. You did well.”

His eyes locked on mine. “Thank you. I wished we could do more, though.”

“We can’t rewrite the past,” Roman said, sounding a lot wiser than he usually was. “We just need to take care of our future.”

Shane’s brows curled down. “We’re working on that.”

Maybe it was me, but I could feel the tension rolling off Shane as he regarded Roman. Since well before the first attack, when Roman started showing interest in me years ago, Shane had been watching. He had noticed, and he knew Roman’s feelings for me hadn’t changed.

He was jealous, and even though that was kind of cruel, I liked it.

I cleared my throat. “You know, it’s late. Minsi should go to bed soon.”

He nodded. Lucille reached for Minsi. “I’ll help you take her home.” Minsi hid herself behind me. “Or … not.”

“I’ll do it.” Tyren gently took Minsi’s hands in his. Despite his teenage moodiness, he had been good with Minsi. He had even asked me to teach him some techniques to calm her down when she had one of her panic attacks, and I showed him what I knew.

Reluctantly, Minsi let Tyren hold her instead.

Shane looked at them. “I’ll be right there.” Tyren nodded and took Minsi away.

My heart tugged. I wanted to go with them, to help him put her in bed, read her a story, make sure she was all right. That Tyren was all right too. But I couldn’t. I shouldn’t. They had to learn how to live as a family, and if I interfered, they never would.

From the shadows, I saw two of Killian’s vampires following Tyren and Minsi. I hated that she was still being followed anywhere she went, that we all were, but without the barrier to protect us, who knew what could happen? Anyone could come in at any time, and I couldn’t stop thinking that Dixon had taken two crystals, but that wasn’t the end of it.

I turned back to our group as Killian and Lavinia joined us, with Zin and Emil behind them—two of the vampires who usually patrolled the pack lands’ border, where the barrier once was.

“Shane,” Killian said, his tone grave. “We need to talk.”

Shane’s brow furrowed. “What is it?” Killian glanced at Lucille and Roman. “It’s okay. I trust them.”

“I was informed Whitecrest wolves were scouting outside Nightshade’s borders.”

Oh, no. “Didn't the Whitecrest meet with Conri?” Shane had told me that. He had learned about it when he met with Delco from the Ironfang pack.

“Yesss,” Shane said, dragging the S out, thinking. “Are they still out there?”

“Three of them were still in wolf form when we came to warn you,” Zin said.

He lowered his chin. “Let’s go see if they are still there.” He took a step forward, stopped, and glanced at me. As if remembering we weren't alone, he looked at Lucille and Roman too. “Excuse me.” His gaze met mine once more before he went with the vampires. Dom and Vallin too.

Lucille crossed her arms and huffed. “Why can’t women be betas? I could have been a nice one.”

I smiled. “I’m sure you would, but Shane wanted to have one of the older wolves alongside him, so the rest of the pack will support him.”

She glanced at me, her brows in knots.

“How do you know that?” Roman asked, the same question that was stamped on Lucille’s face.

Shit. “I heard him talking to the others when they stopped by the library earlier to look at the records.” Lies on top of more lies, but what I could I do? Shane and I had agreed not to tell anyone about us yet.

Lucille huffed and turned to look at where Shane and the others were, crossing the main square, toward the other side of town.

“Well, I’m off too,” she muttered. “Night.”

“Good night,” I said as she walked away.

Roman offered me his arm. “Shall we?”

I rolled my eyes at him and slapped his arm away in a joking manner, but I hoped he got the hint. It had been years and I still hadn’t given in to him. Wouldn’t he get it? I really didn’t want to spell it out.

“We shall.” I walked toward my house. Roman fell into step with me.

I glanced over my shoulder once more, but Shane and the others were already gone.

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