Blood Challenge

Blood Challenge by Kit Tunstall

Book: Blood Challenge by Kit Tunstall Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kit Tunstall
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“He takes you as his mate for one month. At the next full moon, you both appear before the Pack. You would say at that time if you will accept him. If you won’t, he has to relinquish his claim on you, and another may challenge. If there are no challengers, one of those who lost the challenge for you can claim you, but that seldom happens.”
    “Why? Is it a virginity issue?” Ellie blushed brighter, embarrassed to discuss such a thing with an elderly woman. “Because if that’s the case, I should tell you right now—”
    She cackled. “No, not at all. Our kind mates for life, but we aren’t averse to tumbling beforehand. Mostly, the reason girls aren’t challenged for again is that they’re perceived as difficult. If one man—the strongest who challenged for her, I should add—can’t satisfy the girl, then who else can? You’ll have the reputation of being picky.”
    Ellie shrugged. “That doesn’t bother me. I plan to leave when the snow thaws.”
    “Hmm. You think you must return to your university.”
    Ellie jumped, slopping coffee on the table. “I…what…?”
    Golatia smiled. “I know more about you than you’ve told everyone. I know why you think you’re here, but I also know something else about you.”
    She swallowed, wondering if Golatia would expose her. “What’s that?”
    “You’re a lonely soul. You aren’t close to your parents, and you haven’t a real friend in the world. At least, you didn’t until you came here. You can dismiss it as nonsense, but I’m telling you Rica is meant to be your mate.”
    She flinched away from the words. Golatia’s tone was matter-of-fact, without a hint of pity, but Ellie felt pitied just the same. How could this woman know that much about her? She cleared her throat. “I’m content with my life, Golatia. All I want is the position I’ve worked toward for the last few years. I don’t need a mate to be happy.”
    Golatia sighed. “You’re missing out if you reject him.”
    “You won’t tell anyone, will you?”
    She shook her head before getting to her feet. “I won’t say a word about your reasons for being here. If you choose to reject Rica, I’ll stand by you. I’ll even try to fight his claim of the moon-cycle, although there’s really no easy way to do so.”
    “Thank you.”
    Golatia snorted. “Don’t thank me. I still say you’ll be sorry if you turn your back on Rica. He would make a fine mate. He’s Alpha, which makes his mate’s position coveted. I’d much rather have you as his companion than that vapid Lia.” She shuffled to the stove as she spoke.
    A dart of jealousy tore through Ellie. “He wouldn’t choose her. She’s just a child.”
    “Hmm. Rica will have to choose someday soon. He’s not getting any younger, and he needs to provide an heir.” Golatia nodded her head as she cut into the bread. “If not this year, he’ll certainly have to pick a mate by next year. Yes, I’d say within three Mating Moons, if you reject him.”
    “But won’t it hurt him if he picks me? I’m an outsider. The other members of the Pack won’t like me being his mate.”
    Golatia shrugged. “He’s the Alpha. We follow him, for better or worse, unless someone stronger deposes him.” She brought down two saucers and placed a large square of bread on each. “The others don’t have to like your union, but they must accept it.”
    Somehow, that didn’t reassure Ellie. She remembered the debate from last night and knew there were those in the Pack who wouldn’t accept her as Rica’s mate. She sighed, trying to dismiss her thoughts. She sought to tell herself it didn’t matter if they liked her. She wouldn’t be in Necheau long enough to stir the Pack into a frenzy, even if she didn’t reject Rica.
    * * * * *
    Viggo was gone by the time she returned to the cabin, but Davinia was in the living room, along with Ylenia, who slept in a bassinet. As soon as she entered the room, Davinia came toward her, looking

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