Wolves' Gambit is my new release. Although it's the third book in the Free Wolves series, it can be read as a stand-alone. In this scene, Lori Grenville, the main character, is confronted by Hyrum, the pack enforcer.
Hyrum studied her, his probing gaze another intimidation tactic. “I can’t read you and I don’t like it. I don’t trust you.”
“You mean that whole ‘thinking at each other’ thing you guys do? You’re not the only one who can’t tell what’s on my mind. I can’t explain why. Maybe it’s because I’m human and my brain works differently than yours does.” Or the months of training that taught her how to close her mind to all but the most powerful alphas.
“You make me nervous. I'm not good to be around when I'm nervous.”
“You make it sound like I’m some kind of threat. Little ol’ me? That’s almost funny.”
His growl reverberated in the office. “I take my job seriously.”
Not the most opportune time, but Lori grabbed the opening. “Why?”
He blinked several times at the unexpected change of direction. “Why what?”
“Why are you so committed to the Jaegers? I’ve watched how they treat you. They don’t abuse you as far as can see, but they don’t respect you either. Why do you stay here? Haven’t you ever considered returning to your pack?”
He reacted as if she’d slapped him, taking a step backward. “Who said I’m not respected?”
“No one has to say anything. Jaeger is using you. It’s clear by the way he treats you. You’re disposable.”
“This pack raised me. I owe them.”
“This pack ripped you from your family. You are an adult now. You’re free to make decisions for yourself. If you want to leave, you can.”
Lori didn’t expect to see a shadow of sadness cross his face. “There’s no place for me to go. My pack of birth doesn’t want me. They believe I’ll be a spy for the Jaeger’s.”
“I’m sorry, Hyrum.” She meant it sincerely. “Have you ever considered going packless?”
“And go where? I don't have the skills to hold a human job. How would I live?”
“You must be good at something.”
“I’m an enforcer. That’s who I am and I’m proud of it.”
She didn’t want to make him angrier. “You’re right. I’m sorry. I overstepped. I’ve never heard anyone say you weren’t good at your job.”
“As long as you understand that and don’t get in my way, Grenville. I still think you’re hiding something. If you remember anything else about the stranger, you’ll tell me, right?”
“Absolutely.” Not. “Can I get back to work now?”
He jerked his head towards the door. “Go.”
As she squeezed past him, he grabbed her arm. “One more thing. I may only be the pack’s enforcer, but you’re nothing but a bartender. Understand?”
She pulled away, ignoring the pain. She'd have a bruise in the morning. “I may be a bartender, but at least I respect myself. Do you?”
Wolf-shifter Lori Grenville was rescued from near-slavery and a brutal pack leader by the Free Wolves. To pay back the favor, she's dedicated her life to helping others in the same situation, leading shifters to safety and a new start, risking her life in the process. She's faced down alphas and has no qualms in undermining pack structure.
Now she's challenged with the task of restoring an alpha to his rightful place. If she gets it right, she can stop a war from ripping apart two packs and spreading across an entire state. If she fails, she'll be among the first to die.
There's still the option of walking away and letting the Jaeger and Destin packs destroy each other. That means she'll fail in her original mission of rescuing the daughter of the Jaeger alpha before the girl is forced into marriage for political gain.