Back Burner Books

rednewscan Inner-City Pack 1: Barbwire Roses

 Another Friday night and once again Wesley Rush found himself sitting in the living room at the house of the alpha for the Inner-City Pack. Being here for some would be classed as an opportunity to better one’s own life. For Wes, being human, and the best friend of the alpha’s youngest son Derek Reed, or Rek as everyone always called him…being here meant that he wasn’t at his parent’s house being ignored once again, or sitting in his own home all by himself. The problem was being here meant he would have to instead endure the animosity pouring of Rek’s older brother, Colton. For some reason beyond his fathoming, the guy always seemed to have hated him. Maybe it was because he was human, who knew? He for sure didn’t, and he wasn’t about to ask the man what the hell his problem was.

  To top it all off he’d received another lecture from his father about hanging around Rek so much… it wasn’t that his father was an elitist, or humanist as some had been labelled. His father actually had many friends among the Lycans who co inhabited their world. The problem was his father, Tate Rush Senior, was of the opinion that the friendship Wes had with Rek would turn into something more. In other words his father didn’t want a gay son. Wes had been threatened by his father numerous times about what would happen to him if that were the case.

  Being disowned wasn’t the worst thing on the list. Wes had tried to explain to his father once about Lycan mates, and that his father had nothing to fear. Because at twenty-two Rek had already passed into adulthood and knew his mate was out there somewhere because of the bond he’d already formed with someone he just hadn’t yet met. The weird part was the connection once opened remained that way until they stood face to face. Rek knew his mate would somehow make his way to the Inner-City Pack so they could eventually be together. Though right now Rek wasn’t sure if his mate was male or female. Lycans didn’t care what sex their mate was, because mates were something to be treasured and protected at all costs.

  Their other best friend, Alison Crane, or Ali Cat as he and Rek had both called her since they’d all met back in primary school was now mated to Rek’s cousin, Roman Reed. They also lived in the alpha house, seeing as Roman had resided here since his parents were killed when he was a child. There was more to that story but no one was telling and especially not him.

  Everyone had their secrets—even him—well up until tonight that is. His secret wasn’t anything bad or very shocking. Mainly he always downplayed who he was when he came to his friend’s house. He didn’t think they would like him as much if he come dressed as the real Wesley Rush. He knew it was probably a false feeling but before tonight he hadn’t been willing to risk showing them. So for this birthday instead of playing down his appearance, he wore the kohl which usually rimmed his slate grey eyes to make them stand out. He reapplied the black polish to his nails, and his normal braided hair now hung loose down his back ending around the middle of his spine. Rek and Ali Cat had always told him to be who he is, but Wes had never wanted to be an embarrassment to Alpha Adam Reed. Being who he was, Adam always had people stopping around, and Wes never once saw anyone who ever looked like he normally did.

  He had often asked Rek why Colt seemed to dislike him so much, and his friend had explained because Colton was a strong Lycan, he could smell the deception on Wes. So that reason was why he was here on his twenty-first birthday sitting in the home of his friend once more and waiting for the precise moment he would transition from child to adult.. and for once being the real Wes. For the Lycans, at the precise time of your birth a person’s scent changed. Humans couldn’t smell the change, but for Lycans it was like broadcasting for all unmated adults. Adam had told him if he was lucky he may have a Lycan mate. Wes didn’t have the heart to tell the alpha he wasn’t really looking for a mate.

  Right now though, Wes wasn’t even sure if he was going to even make it through the next ten minutes for the change to happen. The way Colt was giving him a death stare was truly unnerving. He couldn’t ever remember having recently offending Colt in any way, so he only had to go on what Rek had told him about smelling a lie. The kicker was, once a few years ago, Wes had actually thought he’d had a crush on Colt, but the guy’s attitude toward him had quickly cured Wes of following the thought too far. Also there was the small fact his father had forbidden him from ever being gay—as if it were a choice. The truth was, Wes wasn’t actually attracted to anyone, and he didn’t think it was going to be happening any time soon.

  As the seconds drew closer to ‘the change’ taking place, Wes couldn’t help but notice more of the pack was gathering. The Reeds had always had an open house policy for pack, but tonight it felt different. Tonight, Wes got a sinking feeling they were all here for him. He wasn’t sure what he was meant to do about it.

  “Are you okay?” Ali said as she and Rek came to stand by his side.

  He shook his head. No he wasn’t okay. For some reason, Colt was staring at him with such intensity and Wes was finding it harder to breathe. If he didn’t know any better, he’d think the guy was contemplating whether or not to rip his throat out—painfully slow.

  “What the hell is wrong with Colt?” Rek hissed to Ali, voicing what Wes had only been thinking moments before.

  Ali tilted her head to the side and appeared to be studying Colt, while Rek typed a message on his phone. The alpha must have been the recipient as he nodded in their direction and walked over to Colt and lent in close to whisper in his son’s ear. Colt shook his head violently, pulled away from his father and took a step in their direction.

  In that instant, more than one wolf present lifted their noses in the air and inhaled, but only one emitted a growl so deep it resonated through Wes. The man’s ice blue eyes, which had both fascinated him and terrified him many times through the years, were locked on him. Wes hadn’t even had time to move before Colton Reed crossed the distance between them and grabbed him. Colt sank his canines—very sharp canines—into the flesh where Wes’s shoulder and neck met. The sensation of Colt drinking from him was too much, and without thinking Wes punched Colt in the side trying to dislodge the man from his throat . At this stage he didn’t care if he died from the injuries.

  When his attempts to free himself failed, Wes stilled and gave in waiting for Colt to be done. Only then did he hear the shit storm which was happening around them. The roar which left the alpha’s throat did what he couldn’t. Colt released him and dropped to all fours as his father forced him to shift. When a jet black wolf finally stood in front of them all his ice blue eyes were the same as the man who had attacked him. Alpha Reed came over and Wes stood terrified as the man checked out the bite and then gently but forcefully made him kneel on the floor before Colt.

  The alpha glared at his son. “Close it before he bleeds to death.”

* * * *

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