The Alpha's Concubine (Historical Shifter Romance)

Free The Alpha's Concubine (Historical Shifter Romance) by Claudia King

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Authors: Claudia King
Tags: historical fantasy romance
present. I can barely think of anything else."
    Fern gave her a curious look. "I would be missing my home if someone took me away from it."
    Netya shrugged, and impatiently pushed the swell of guilt that rose inside her to the back of her mind. "I think my mother was always eager for me to leave the house as soon as possible. She raised me and my sisters for many years by herself. I knew she was weary of it, and of me. We did not often see eye to eye."
    "But your friends?"
    "They thought I was a witch."
    "Because of your hair." Fern nodded, as though it all made perfect sense. "I heard it was the same for Adel, when she was young. It is often true of those with great destinies, for those who see the world differently."
    "I think it was more that I made friends with a boy and wasn't afraid of the things that scared the rest of them. I'm sure I see the same world as everyone else."
    "You saw that I was trying to avoid speaking of your home just now," Fern pointed out.
    "Well, yes, but that was obvious."
    "To you it was, but would it seem so clear to anyone else?"
    Netya opened her mouth to speak, then pondered it for a moment. She'd never really given the matter much thought before. Always assuming that everyone picked up on such things, she'd made a habit of trying to tell the truth unless she was convinced she could get away with it.
    "I don't know," she said. "Perhaps. But I am certainly not destined for anything great."
    "Besides being consort to the alpha."
    It was Netya's turn to furrow her brows at Fern. "Are you mocking me?"
    The other girl looked at her for a moment before a smile began to creep into her expression. A moment later it burst into a laugh, and then Netya was giggling too, putting out a hand to steady her new friend as she threatened to drop the basket of food they'd just spent hours collecting.
    "I don't know whether your destiny is great or not, Netya," Fern said once she had regained her composure enough to speak. "But you seem brave, pretty, sharp-minded, and I have enjoyed meeting you very much."
    Netya took Fern's basket and set it down on the ground alongside hers, then gave the other girl a hug. "I might not have been so brave without someone to make me feel so welcome. Thank you, Fern."
    "Welcome is how you should feel. You are one of our pack now, to me if no one else."
     
    By the time they returned to the camp it was nearing evening. The long shadow of the outcrop crept its way across the grass to greet them as they approached, and the air carried the sweet smell of roasting food.
    "No meat," Fern observed glumly. "The hunters can't have come back with anything."
    "Are you worried?"
    "The land is rich enough for us to survive on plants, but they will not be enough to last the winter, and wolves need meat. Without more successful hunts everyone will be unhappy. Hungry winters are when the most fights happen."
    "Will the alpha try to take livestock from my people again?" Netya asked.
    "I do not think so. The more often we venture into your lands the more dangerous it becomes."
    "Perhaps my people would help freely if they knew you were not the monsters they think."
    "I have heard Caspian say the same," Fern said. "But even he seems to believe that it can never truly happen. It is the alpha's business, anyway. He can give you a better answer than me."
    They made their way to the foot of the outcropping and climbed the path between the rocks until they were back in the camp. Fern took them to the central area for the first time, where Netya found herself the subject of many curious looks from the assorted people and wolves nearby.
    "Let them see your basket," Fern whispered in her ear. "It will make a good impression."
    Netya did her best to subtly shift the basket so that it was resting against her hip in full view of the people around her. She still felt as if she was an oddity on display to them, but she hoped Fern's advice would work.
    They crossed to a large open-fronted tent hung with heavy

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