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Cover of Shift

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Being the first female werecat enforcer isn't easy. Scars accumulate, but I'm stronger in so many ways.

As for my personal life? It's complicated. Choices worth making always are. Ever since my brother's death and my father's impeachment, it's all I can do to prevent more blood from spilling. Now our Pride is under attack by a flight of vicious thunderbirds. And making peace with our new enemies may be the only way to get the best of our old foe.

With the body count rising and treachery everywhere, my instincts tell me to look before I leap. But sometimes a leap of faith is the only real option....


Being the first female werecat enforcer isn't easy. Scars accumulate, but I'm stronger in so many ways.

As for my personal life? It's complicated. Choices worth making always are. Ever since my brother's death and my father's impeachment, it's all I can do to prevent more blood from spilling. Now our Pride is under attack by a flight of vicious thunderbirds. And making peace with our new enemies may be the only way to get the best of our old foe.

With the body count rising and treachery everywhere, my instincts tell me to look before I leap. But sometimes a leap of faith is the only real option....
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    "You should leave. Now." My father's growl of warning resonated in some dark, primal part of me, and suddenly I craved torn flesh and fresh blood glistening in moonlight. Wave after wave of bloodlust crashed over me and I swayed beneath the onslaught, struggling to control it. We would have justice for Ethan. But this was not the time. Not the place.

    Though my father's office practically sizzled with the rage that flowed through me and my fellow enforcers, Paul Blackwell, acting head of the Territorial Council, seemed completely unaffected. I watched him from my place near the closed office door, both arms--my right still in a cast--crossed over my chest.

    Blackwell planted his old-fashioned wooden cane firmly on the Oriental rug and leaned on it with both hands. "Now, Greg, calm down...I'm only asking you to consider the greater good, which is exactly what you claim you'll honor, if you're reinstated as council chairman."

    Unfortunately, that seemed less likely with each passing day. In the week since we'd buried my brother, Nick Davidson had announced his support of Calvin Malone as council chair, which meant that my father now needed the last remaining vote--from Jerold Pierce, my fellow enforcer Parker's dad--just to tie everything up.

    And a tie wasn't good enough. We needed a clear victory.

    My father sat in his wing chair at the end of the rug, and his refusal to rise was--on the surface--an uncharacteristic show of disrespect toward a fellow Alpha. But I knew him well enough to understand the truth: if he stood, he might lose his temper. "You're asking me to let my son's murder go unavenged." His voice was as low and dangerous as I'd ever heard it, and I swear I felt the rumble deep in my bones. It echoed the ache in my heart.

    "I'm asking you not to start a war." Blackwell stood calm and steady, which must have taken substantial self-control, considering my father's comparative youth and bulk. And his obvious rage. Even in his late fifties, Greg Sanders, Alpha of the south-central Pride and my father, was a formidable force.

    My dad growled again. "Calvin Malone started this, and you damn well know it."

    Blackwell sighed and glanced around the room, and as his tired gaze skirted the three other Alphas grouped near the bar and the scattering of enforcers along the walls, I got the distinct impression that he would much rather have been alone with my father.

    The other Alphas and two enforcers apiece had arrived early that morning for one last strategy meeting before the south-central Pride and our allies launched the first full-scale werecat offensive the U.S. had seen in more than six decades. It was Saturday. We planned to attack in three days--just after sundown on Tuesday night. Anticipation hummed in the air around us, buzzing like electricity in my ears, pulsing like passion in my veins.

    We could already feel the blows, every last one of us. We could taste the blood, and hear the screams that would soon pierce the still, cold February night. We were living on the promise of violence in answer to violence, and several of the toms around me teetered on the thin edge of bloodlust, riding adrenaline like the crest of a lethal wave.

    Surely Blackwell had known his mission was a failure the moment he walked into the house.

    Our allies were expected, but Paul Blackwell's arrival had been a total surprise. Just after lunch, he'd pulled into the driveway in a rental car driven by his grandson, a cane in the old man's hand, determination in his step. But that wouldn't be enough, and neither would the authority of the Territorial Council, which he...

About the Author-
  • New York Times bestselling author Rachel Vincent loves good chocolate, comfortable jeans, and serial commas. She's older than she looks and younger than she feels, but is convinced that for every day she spends writing, one more day will be added to her lifespan. Now absorbed in the dark, tangled loyalties of her UNBOUND world, as well as the travails of a teenage banshee in her SOUL SCREAMERS world, Rachel can be found online at www.rachelvincent.com or urbanfantasy.blogspot.com.

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