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Alpha Xavier

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My roommate has a secret double life—turns out, she is not just your average college girl after all. When curiosity gets the best of me one night and I decide to sneak after Ashley off campus, I end up trapped at a dangerous party so exclusive it'll make your hair curl. We're talking powerful werewolves. Basically all my nightmares come to life! And I'm stuck there until sunrise. Somehow I catch the eye of Xavier, the enigmatic leader of this freaky parallel world existing right under our noses. He offers me "protection" until I can make an escape. Ha! Like a mouse making a deal with a hungry cat. I'm not sure whether to swoon or run for the hills from this guy - he’s lethal levels of hot yet screams trouble from a mile away even on his best behavior. But he makes my very blood howl in ways I’ve never experienced before... Maybe taking my chances alone in a manor full of mythical monsters and creepy crawlies isn't my smartest move. But can I really trust a a (hot) wolf in sheep's clothing pledging to keep me safe? Guess I’ll find out before dawn if those piercing grey eyes harbor good intentions or sinister secrets. If I even make it to sunrise alive!

Chapter 1

I shivered as an icy breeze whispered through campus—or maybe it was the strange tingle racing down my spine, a warning that tonight was no ordinary night.

I peered out from my hiding spot behind a statue, my eyes scanning the neo-gothic buildings for any sign of movement.

Where was she going at this hour? I tucked an errant strand of auburn hair behind my ear, shifting impatiently as I waited for Ashley to emerge from our dorm.

My roommate was popular and outgoing, everything I was not. She had a magnetic personality that drew people in like moths to a golden flame. Her blonde hair, piercing green eyes, and beguiling smile turned heads wherever she went. Which was why her secretive behavior over the past few weeks unsettled me.

The mysterious phone calls she took, ducking out late at night only to return at dawn looking utterly spent.The most unsettling was the red scratching marks I saw two days ago on her back.

Did Ashley have a secret boyfriend? Was that a-hole beating her.

Something wasn’t right. As her friend, it was my duty to make sure she was okay, no matter how strongly her recent actions signaled otherwise.

At long last, the carved wooden door of our building creaked open. I instinctively moved farther back behind the statue, peering around it as Ashley slipped outside. She wore fitted black jeans paired with a shimmering copper top that set off her lightly tanned skin and lustrous hair. Not an uncommon look for a night out, but her tension was palpable even from a distance—the tight set of her shoulders, the way her gaze darted about furtively before she set off across the empty courtyard.

Wherever she was going, she clearly didn’t want to be seen or followed. But I doggedly trailed her from the shelter of trees and shadows anyway, curiosity and concern overcoming caution.

Ashley walked briskly, her strappy heels clicking on pavement and echoing off the historic buildings lining the path. She didn’t even pause when a branch snapped loudly under my foot at one point. Her focus was razor sharp, bent on some mysterious destination that pulled her ever forward like a marionette jerking on invisible strings.

We passed through an elaborate wrought iron gate into a smaller, tree-lined park area I’d never explored before. Pristine landscaping gave way to wilder growth the farther we went, tall pines and thicker underbrush encroaching on the path.

I swallowed hard, my nerves tingling with the unspoken warning that I was somewhere I shouldn’t be. But it was too late—Ashley disappeared around a curve and I quickened my pace, anxious to not lose sight of her.

The sight that greeted me when I rounded the last bend stole the breath from my lungs.

 An imposing stone manor house dominated the landscape, pale and stately as it rose up in elegant spires and arches against the starless night sky.

 Warm orange light spilled from every tapered window, though I saw no signs of inhabitants. The entire place had an eerie, haunted quality that raised the fine hairs at the back of my neck.

 This place did not belong here, adjacent to a bustling college campus full with modern brick buildings and scenic quads. It was like someone had carved a piece out of another world and disturbingly grafted it onto ours.

I hesitated at the perimeter of the vast cleared lawn surrounding the structure. Something primal inside me screamed to turn back, to stop this reckless pursuit. But then I spotted Ashley ahead, striding purposefully toward the carved double front doors where two bulky suited men stood on guard, their faces hidden by shadows.

Curiosity won out over caution. Checking furtively for observers from the dark forest, I scurried from the concealing brush onto the expanse of the lawn, making for one of the towering topiaries dotting the grounds. 

I held my breath as I slipped behind the giant bush trimmed to resemble a howling wolf, its leafy fangs forever captured in an endless, soundless cry at the moon above.

Between the branches, I had a partially obscured view of Ashley speaking with the guards, her profile taut with tension. 

She held up something I couldn’t quite make out—a necklace?—and the guards nodded, stepping aside to allow her entry. As she disappeared inside, the carved doors booming shut behind her, the full weight of uncertainty settled upon me.

What was this place? Why was Ashley here in the dead of night? And why did she seem so wired, as if ready to bolt at the slightest provocation?

I gnawed my lip anxiously. Part of me knew I should leave, return to the safety and sanity of campus before I got caught. But the truth was that I cared about Ashley. 

After rooming together for almost three years, she had become the closest thing to family I had. If she was in some kind of trouble or danger, how could I walk away? 

Which left me with only one clear, if utterly terrifying, choice—I had to get inside that manor. I had to find Ashley.

Steeling my nerves, I crept from the shelter of the topiary, crossing the expanse of lawn and climbing the stone steps on trembling legs. 

My heart thudded wildly, the rush of blood pounding in my ears. I halted before the imposing doors, raising a shaky hand to grasp the wrought iron knocker crafted to resemble a roaring lion’s head. I rapped twice and waited, casting wary glances into the shadowy trees ringing the clearing.

A full minute ticked by. I was beginning to think the place was abandoned when one of the heavy doors suddenly swung inward.

 Warm light spilled over me, momentarily blinding after the darkness. I held my breath, startled to see an impeccably dressed young man fill the doorway—definitely no guard.

He was tall and leanly muscled, with artfully tousled raven hair that brushed his collar. I guessed he wasn’t much older than I, but he regarded me with a piercing intelligence that seemed ageless. His assessing perusal sent an involuntary shiver down my arms.

“Can I help you?” His voice was smooth and courteous, touched with a hint of surprise.

I straightened, refusing to show weakness though my nerves still jangled with adrenaline. “Yes, I’m here for the...event?” I winced internally at how unconvincing I sounded.

One dark brow quirked upward. “Indeed. I wasn’t aware additional guests were arriving at this hour. Might I have a name?”

I swallowed, my mind racing. I should turn and run back into the familiar safety of the night, away from the unanswered questions that filled this place like a rising tide. But I couldn’t abandon Ashley.

“Serena,” I managed finally, meeting his gaze squarely. “Serena Cross.”

Something flashed in the depths of his pale eyes, there and gone before I could interpret it. Consideration, surprise...recognition?

A smile curved his lips, not quite friendly. “Well, Serena Cross, welcome.” He pulled the door open wider in invitation.

I wet my dry lips, pulse skittering erratically as I crossed the threshold into the lion’s den. Because I couldn’t shake the feeling that this lavish house with its guarded gates and secretive inhabitants hid something far more dangerous than I ever imagined finding tonight. And I was willingly walking right into its jaws.

The young man—definitely no guard or butler—guided me silently down a corridor paneled with dark carved wood. My heels sank into plush runners lining the floors, muffling our footsteps. 

The hall opened up into an arched foyer, a crystal chandelier dripping with light at the center. Faint music reached my ears, something with a heavy pounding beat. A party? Here?

“This way.” My escort gestured to a grand curved staircase sweeping down into what appeared to be a ballroom.

I followed mutely, lips pressed into a tight line to keep from demanding answers that likely wouldn't come. The steady thrum of the music grew louder, accompanied by voices and laughter. 

What kind of party was happening at this secretive estate in the dead of night? Did it have something to do with Ashley’s bizarre behavior? My thoughts spun wildly but I kept any further questions to myself.

At the broad arched entrance to the ballroom, my guide finally left me with a polite nod. I hovered uncertainty in the threshold for a long moment, peering into the brightly lit, cavernous room that opened up before me. 

Chandeliers cast swirling patterns over sumptuously dressed party goers as they drank and danced with careless abandon in the center of the gleaming parquet floor. Despite the hour, the atmosphere bubbled with frenzied excitement.

I searched the sea of unfamiliar faces for Ashley’s. Would she be surprised to see me? Upset? My stomach fluttered anxiously, but I steeled myself to take a step inside.

And that’s when the screaming started.

Chapter 2

Chapter 2

I broke through a wall of writhing bodies, bursting into a small pocket of calm near a marble statue. There, half hidden in shadow, stood Ashley.

"Ash!" I cried, relief crashing over me in a dizzying wave.

She whirled, eyes widening at the sight of me. "Serena?! What are you doing here?Damn, I knew I caught your scent in the streets tonight. You've been following me?"

Before I could respond, blood curdling screams shattered the air. Chaos erupted as I glanced around wildly. "What's happening? Why is everyone screaming?"

Ashley grabbed my shoulders with trembling hands. "They are not screaming, they are howling. You shouldn't be here," she moaned, face pale. "This was a mistake..."

"Just tell me what's going on!" I begged.

She hesitated, conflict written across her delicate features. The silence stretched between us. Finally she took a deep

Heroes

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