Bear's Curvy Mate: BBW Shape Shifter Paranormal Romance (Nightbrook Book 2)
Hollie Crawford bit back a curse when she heard someone yell her name. “Hollie! Hollie, you’re wanted in the main dining hall! Now!”
Hollie jerked her head up and grimaced. “M-me? Why...” Why me? Again.
She sucked in a fortifying breath and squared her shoulders. “Are you sure? I didn’t do anything.” She shook her head quickly and corrected, “I mean, I do all my chores and...” And pretty much do the work of ten people, but...who’s counting?
Hollie bit her lip and kept a neutral expression. It would do her no good, no good at all to voice her thoughts out loud. She was the lowest-ranking member of the Black Blade pack, so it was in her best interest to just stay silent. In fact, it was the only way to stay alive.
The lieutenant stood at the kitchen door and glared at her. “Yes, I’m sure. I’ve been ordered to escort you to the Alpha. Move, Hollie,” he snapped.
Wincing, Hollie dried her shaking hands on her apron and made her way past the other cooks in the large kitchen. She felt all eyes on her, but none of those eyes were sympathetic. In fact, some of the cooks were smirking. There was a sadistic gleam in their eyes. She heard someone blow out a sigh of relief and mutter under his breath, “Thank goodness it’s not me.”
As long as someone else got in trouble with the higher-ups, the rest were safe. For the time being.
It was every wolf for himself in the Black Blade pack.
When something went wrong, you just had to point the finger, pin the blame on someone else and shift the attention away from yourself.
As long as the problem, any problem, could be dumped on a scapegoat, things would be fine. The rest of the pack could carry on as if the problem had been solved. Everyone would be happy. Everyone but the scapegoat.
But Hollie never liked playing this sick game in the pack. Instinctively and intuitively, she just knew that there was something very wrong with her pack.
The very heart of it was rotten.
Hollie had never been in any other shifter pack, but she suspected that the incessant backbiting, malicious gossiping and snitching that went on in the Black Blade pack wasn’t exactly the norm in other packs.
In fact, the Alpha and Beta actively encouraged and even rewarded this practice and behavior in the pack. The seeds of distrust, disloyalty and discord were sown among the pack members.
The members were brainwashed to be loyal only to the Alpha and Beta, but not to their pack mates. It was almost like a totalitarian regime, where the people were completely subservient and unquestioningly obedient to the leaders.
Was this how other shifter packs were run? Hollie had no idea. She was kept busy from dawn to dusk, working in the kitchen and helping out with the cleaning, gardening, ironing and a myriad of never-ending chores. She had no friends outside the pack. She had just turned twenty-one, but her knowledge of life outside the pack was severely limited.
Hollie had been with the Black Blade pack since she was a toddler. After her mom died, her dad brought her into the pack. Her dad was a wolf shifter, a lieutenant in the Black Blade pack, but her mom was full human. Hollie was a half-breed, and she quickly learned that half-breeds weren’t allowed the same rights and privileges as the rest of the pack.
Her dad was a lieutenant, a good soldier, and his loyalty was to his Alpha. Growing up, Hollie hardly ever saw him. He was always away on missions and jobs that he never talked to her about. There was a strict pecking order in the pack and being a half-breed, she was at the very bottom of the hierarchy.
When her dad died on a mission when she was seven, Hollie was allowed to stay with the pack. But the shaming and taunting got a whole lot worse.
At that time, she was just grateful that she had a roof over her head. But looking back, Hollie wondered if her life would have been better if she had been thrown out of the pack and left to her own devices.
Out in the streets, at least she would know where the danger was coming from.
Here, her pack mates and elders might smile at her. But behind those smiles were daggers.
Daggers which they couldn’t wait to plant in her back.