The Pack's Secret Keeper
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Some secrets tie you together, others break you apart. Havermouth is a town of secrets and telepath Aislen Carter knows them all. In a town of werewolves and vampires, being the one who knows their secrets can be powerful and dangerous. New to Havermouth, eighteen-year-old Aislen Carter attracts the attention of the Triquetra, a trio of alpha werewolves, and their relationship is a tangled mess of secrets, shame, sex, and misery until Aislen is awarded a scholarship that offers her a future free of Havermouth and the pack. Five years later, after the death of her father, Aislen Carter returns to Havermouth to settle his estate. Renewing her relationship with the Triquetra is not on Aislen’s “to do” list, nor is a sexy Daddy Dom vampire, however fate has other plans. Will the secrets they all keep save them, or destroy them?
The River House, The Day After the Funeral
A frog creaked its call from somewhere nearby, joining in the chorus of crickets that buzzed into the night. Aislen could hear the whispered rush of the river and smell the wet earth of its banks. Her head ached and her mouth was parched; the sound of the water tormenting her. Groggily, she realized this was not her father’s house. The river was too far from there to be heard like this. She had a bad feeling that she knew precisely where she was.
She pried her eyes open, wincing at the glare of the red-toned bedside lights. Her hands cuffed together, threaded through the bars of the bedhead.
She was in the river house, though not as it had been, she thought, as she looked around. The River House of her teen years had been dusty, riddled with spiderwebs, long abandoned, with no power. The wallpaper had been peeling from the walls, and there had been the strong smell of mildew from carpets mouldering from a leaking roof.
She lay on a wrought iron bed dressed in black satin. The roof had been repaired and vaulted in tidy squares. A black chandelier twisted from the ceiling rose. The walls were covered in something black and velvety, an invitation to touch them. There was a black bookcase against a wall, the shelves heavy with books. An artist’s desk was positioned under the window, a sketchbook open, showing snarling gargoyles. She recognized the workmanship.
The ensuite door opened and he stepped out, dressed in unrelieved black from head to toe, the sleeves of his shirt folded back to reveal the brightly coloured tattoos on his forearms. He brought with him a glass of water.
“Lift your head,” he said, cupping her skull with one long-fingered hand as he held the glass to her lips. She drank, relieving the dryness in her mouth, whilst scenes of a bright light and him, bent over, holding a tattoo gun in his hand and wearing gloves, flashed through her mind. “I’ll undo you. You can use the toilet. If you cause trouble, Aislen, I’ll put an adult diaper on you.”
“What the fuck is this?” She demanded.
“Are you going to behave?” He held her eyes with his. His inky black hair fell over his face, the ends brushing over the fingerprint-sized twisted triangle on his cheek. “Believe me, you’re going to want to have an empty bladder.”
“Fuck,” she grimaced. “I’ll behave.”
He took the key out of his jeans pocket and released one of the cuffs.
She lowered her arms, rolling her shoulders to release tense muscles, kneading her fingers into the joint as she slid her legs off the bed. He caught her elbow to steady her as she stood and swayed.
“Easy,” he advised and aided her over to the small bathroom. “Door stays open.”
“Fuck,” she glowered, but unbuttoned her jeans and used the toilet, watching as he moved around the room. He moved a floor lamp over to the bed, positioned it carefully, and turned it on so that its bright light lit the bed, catching in the wrinkles and pulls of the satin cover. As she washed her hands, she saw him lay a towel down and set out a black bag, before standing next to the bed.
“Whatever you’re thinking,” she said, warily, as she returned, “I don’t think I’m going to like it.”
“You’re not meant to,” he replied, his tone cool. “Undress and get on the bed.”
Havermouth High School, Five Years Before
The rain had washed the pavement clean, picking out the tiny granules of quartz mixed into the tarmac. The sun was warm through the grey cloud cover, and the pavement steamed, releasing a strong scent of wet stone. A bicyclist rode through a puddle, its spray wetting Aislen’s shoes. She glared after the careless rider in irritation.
As she crossed the school yard, the number of students increased, pressing in around her. Aislen’s telepathy made it feel like walking through a sink of soap suds, each soapy bubble, with its deceptively pretty rainbow of colour, stretching over the fragile surface, enclosing a student within it. Each dome pressing against the other, until the tension built to the inevitable POP!
A gift, her grandmother had called it. The family gift, as old as history, dating back to the oracles that had once been worshipped in temples. Aislen did not agree, however. Her ability, as she called
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