Alpha (Shifters Series #6)

Alpha (Shifters Series #6)

4.5 457
by Rachel Vincent
     
 

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The unscrupulous new Council chair has charged Jace, Marc and me with trespassing, kidnapping, murder and treason. Yeah, we've been busy. But now it's time to take justice into our own hands. We must avenge my brother's death and carve out the rot at the heart of the Council.

It's not going to be easy, and loss seems unavoidable, but I have promised to protect my

Overview

The unscrupulous new Council chair has charged Jace, Marc and me with trespassing, kidnapping, murder and treason. Yeah, we've been busy. But now it's time to take justice into our own hands. We must avenge my brother's death and carve out the rot at the heart of the Council.

It's not going to be easy, and loss seems unavoidable, but I have promised to protect my Pride, no matter what. With a target on my back and Marc at my side, I'm heading for a final showdown that can—that will—change everything forever. A showdown I'm not sure I'm ready for.

But life never waits until you're ready.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780778304043
Publisher:
Mira Books
Publication date:
10/28/2010
Series:
Shifters Series, #6
Sales rank:
484,913
Product dimensions:
4.20(w) x 6.90(h) x 1.30(d)

Read an Excerpt

"Are you sure about this?" Jace hesitated, one hand gripping a bare branch overhead, the other poised over his zipper. But I could see the truth. He wanted this as badly as I did.

"Absolutely." I pushed my last button through the hole and let my shirt fall to the ground in a patch of mottled sunlight. My skin was already covered in goose bumps, as much from anticipation as from the February cold. "Now shut up and take off your pants."

He shrugged and grinned. "You know I'm always up for some sweaty fun." But the look in his eyes as his gaze roamed south of mine belied his casual zeal. Part bloodlust, part real lust, and all exhilaration—just like me.

"I'm not sure that's quite how I'd describe this." Not that I wasn't looking forward to a little action. It had been days, and I was really starting to crave—

"What the hell is this?" Marc growled, an instant before he tore through the brush to my left. Sunlight burst into the woods with his intrusion, spotlighting my exposed bra and Jace's…total nudity. Damn, that boy's fast! Fury emanated from Marc like a deep, dark glow, emphasizing his strong, dark features. "You are not doing this without me."

Shit. "Marc, this isn't what you think, and we don't have time to explain…" My eyes narrowed as his last few words finally sank in. "Wait…what?"

"I said, not…without…me." His brow rose in silent challenge, and all words abandoned me.

I blinked, lost for a moment in the possibilities, then I shook my head to clear it. "But we're not…" I waved one hand back and forth between me and Jace, unable to actually vocalize what he surely thought we were doing. "We're going after Ryan. I caught a whiff of him on my run."

"Vic told me." Yet he was still clearly pissed, even knowing Jace and I hadn't run off for a secret, midday tumble in the…underbrush.

"You didn't tell my dad…?"

Marc had been talking war strategy with my father when I'd come in from my run, and I hadn't told them where we were going because I didn't want my dad to know about Ryan. Not when we could easily take care of the problem ourselves and spare him—and my mother—the additional tension.

He shook his head slowly, as if doubting his own decision. "Ryan's the last thing he should have to deal with right now."

"Yeah." And I was really looking forward to the exercise, to burn off a little stress through good, clean exertion. As opposed to the other, sweatier kind, which we were all currently denying ourselves, to keep Marc and Jace from killing each other.

Whoever said two is better than one was either stupid or crazy. Or heartless.

"I'm coming with you, so get dressed. Now. You're not Shifting."

"Do not start ordering her around," Jace growled, and dread pitched deep in my stomach, like nausea with a heartburn upgrade.

Marc snarled, and I saw the instant he lost control of his temper. He lunged for Jace. Jace leaped forward. I threw myself between them.

Both hard bodies slammed into me. Air exploded from my throat. My grunt of pain hardly carried any sound. For just an instant, I couldn't move, crushed between them, confused by the collision of scents and hurting all over. My torso was one giant bruise—I wouldn't have fared much better between two oncoming cars.

I'm not sure which of them moved first, but suddenly I was on the ground, staring up at two concerned, angry faces. "Damn it, Faythe, you're going to get yourself killed," Marc snapped.

I sucked in a painful breath, and my voice came out hoarse. "Evidently that's what it takes to keep you two from killing each other." Though truthfully, while Jace would eagerly defend himself, he had yet to actually attack Marc. The reverse could not be said.

I shoved them away and pushed myself to my feet, glaring at Marc as they both stood with me. "Look, I know this whole thing is my fault…"

"Not just yours." Marc glowered at Jace over my shoulder.

"…and I know the timing could not have been worse. And I'm sorrier about both of those than I could possibly explain. But if I have to spend all my time and energy trying to keep the two of you apart, I really am going to get myself killed, and it'll be your fault."

Marc reeled like I'd punched him. But he recovered quickly, with a fresh dose of anger. "You reap what you sow, Faythe. And I'm still going with you."

I crossed my arms over my chest and tried to ignore the fresh chill bumps. "I think you and Jace should stay away from each other until you've cooled off."

"Why? So you two can top off your hunt with a little more…reaping and sowing?"

I closed my eyes, breathing through the acute ache in my chest, which had nothing to do with the midtom collision. Then I made myself look at him. "Do you honestly think I'd do that to you?"

"I think you already have."

He was right, but the barb still stung. I hadn't even come close to earning forgiveness yet, but this was not the time to try. Something always seemed to get in the way. "We're going after Ryan. You're welcome to join us, if you can control your temper."

I'd never seen Marc as bitter or openly antagonistic as he'd been over the past week. His anger was getting in the way of his concentration, his sleeping pattern, and his job, but he couldn't work around it because he couldn't solve the problem—that was up to me—nor could he get away from it. Every time he turned around, Jace and I were there, our very presence reminding him of what had happened.

This wasn't going to get any better until I made a decision, one way or another.

Marc's dark brows dipped low and he stepped closer, so that I had to look up to meet his eyes. "I'm going— on my own terms." He pulled his black T-shirt over his head, and my gaze caught involuntarily on his chest, sculpted by years of enforcer training and scarred by the rogue who'd brought him into my life fifteen years before. I wanted to trace those scars with my fingers, but I wasn't sure I had the right to anymore. He'd barely touched me since he found out about me and Jace.

"You don't outrank me yet," he spat. "So put your shirt on—you're staying on two legs. And this time see if you can keep them together."

I actually staggered backward, floored by the depth of his anger. But not really surprised. I deserved the worst he had to dish out, and he deserved the outlet, especially considering that he couldn't vent where anyone else could hear him. But damn, the venom in his voice stung.

Jace growled and stepped forward, but I put a hand on his stomach to stop him.

I wanted to yell at Marc, to fight back, but that would only make the whole thing worse. So I swallowed my anger and stuck to the subject. "Hell, no. I'm faster on four legs." My private run had been cut short by the unauthorized scent in the woods, and I was dying for some exercise in cat form to help clear my head and fight off the bloodlust we'd all been battling for the past couple of weeks. Ever since Ethan died—my brother murdered on our own property.

Marc snatched my shirt from the ground and shoved it at me. "Unless you're planning to kill him, claws and canines won't do you any good this time."

He was right, so I groaned and shoved my arms through the sleeves, then turned my back on them both, already running toward the spot where I'd first caught Ryan's scent. "Catch up with me when you've Shifted."

I wasn't a leader. Not really. Not yet. But my father was training me to replace him as Alpha someday, and an Alpha had to be ready to ask questions and issue orders, both of which were hard to do in cat form.

Normally, an Alpha—even a trainee—wouldn't haul ass through the woods on her own while looking for a known trespasser. Especially in human form, and virtually defenseless against someone with claws and canines. However, this particular trespasser was more than merely known. He was reviled, scorned, and pitied. But he was not feared.

Also, he was my brother.

My pulse raced as I ran and each breath came faster than the last. I tried to exhale it all—to purge my body of the poison I'd been living and breathing since I'd started lying to Marc. That was all over. He knew that I'd slept with Jace—once, in the onslaught of grief for Ethan, while Marc was missing and presumed dead—but the truth had only made things worse. I could apologize, and I had many, many times, but I couldn't tell him it was over. I couldn't tell him I didn't love Jace. Not without lying to him again.

I hated myself for that, but it was a useless hatred. It changed nothing. I loved Marc, but I didn't deserve him. I loved Jace, but I couldn't give up Marc. And no matter what I decided, Marc had made it clear that he couldn't live with Jace anymore. Once the war was over, one of them would have to go. But I didn't want to lose either one.

Lost in my thoughts and ungainly in human form, I tripped over an exposed root and caught myself on a twisted branch, sparing only a moment to regain my balance. Then I was off again, my lungs burning from the cold.

A few steps later, two sleek, dark forms passed me so quickly I couldn't even focus on them. But I could smell them. Marc and Jace, fully Shifted into cat form and embroiled in an impromptu race. Everything was a competition now, whether or not it involved me. Everything was tense, and dangerous, and painful. And I could practically taste Marc's frustration. He could probably have outrun Jace—except he didn't know where they were going. He hadn't been there when I told Jace where I'd smelled Ryan.

By the time I got there, they had him treed, a slim human form clinging to the branches overhead. Ryan was little more than a patchwork of shadows cast by the crisscross of branches, but I could swear I saw those shadows tremble.

Marc had wanted him dead all along for what he'd done to me. For giving me to South American tabby traffickers, who would have sold me to the highest bidder.

"Stand down," I said, and both toms obeyed. Even in his unprecedented state of rage, Marc wouldn't expose the dissention in our ranks to the enemy. And despite my mother's soft spot for her second-born, the rest of us definitely considered Ryan an enemy.

"Get down. Now," I ordered, and after a moment's hesitation, Ryan dropped to the ground in front of me, knees bent, arms spread for balance. I tried not to acknowledge the skill in his dismount. I attributed it to the frequency with which a coward like my black-sheep brother was probably treed.

"Faythe." Ryan nodded in tentative greeting, careful not to bow his head too low. He wasn't prepared to acknowledge my rank in the Pride. Not yet, anyway. Even though he was no longer a member.

The shadow of a bare branch fell across his face, and in my mind I saw steel bars. He'd shown up under a truce flag of sorts for Ethan's funeral, but there was too much else going on then—I'd hardly given him a second thought. But seeing him here, hiding in the shadows, brought it all back.…

"Give me one good reason I shouldn't let them tear your arms off and watch you bleed out."

"Because Mom would smell my blood the next time she gets within half a mile of here."

I raised both brows, reluctantly impressed. I'd expected him to beg for his life, or at least appeal to our frayed familial bond. But he obviously knew that would do no good. And that even if I were willing to kill someone who posed no immediate threat, I wouldn't hurt our mother, even to punish him. She'd already buried one son, and I would not put her through a second funeral in less than a month.

"What the hell are you doing here? And keep in mind that Shifters can take a lot of pain without actually dying." I'd know.

Ryan had seen me beaten into a mass of blood, lumps, and purple bruises after fighting off the first of the psychotic rapists and murderers he'd helped kidnap me and two other tabbies, including our cousin Abby. All to protect his own ass. For him, that was always the bottom line. Ryan was a Grade-A coward. Just looking at him made me feel sick.

"I need to see her." Our mother, of course. His crutch, bank, security blanket, and the only member of our family he actually seemed to care about.

"I don't give a shit what you need," I spat, and Marc huffed in agreement.

"Fine. I get that and I don't blame you." Ryan nodded, always eager to placate, to keep from getting his face pounded in. "But she needs to see me."

I rolled my eyes. "Why would she need to see you? "

"For the same reason she needs to see you. Because she's our mother. Don't you think she's been through enough with Ethan?"

"Don't." I swallowed thickly and my hands curled into fists as Jace growled at my side. "You do not get to say his name. Ethan was everything you're not. He fought for all of us, over and over. He died fighting for an innocent tabby. But you… You sold us out." He dropped a gaze full of guilt, and that only made me angrier. "Look at me," I demanded, my throat aching from holding back the things I wanted to shout at him. The accusations I'd been holding in for months. "Eye contact is the least you owe me."

Ryan raised his head, and the misery I saw on his face did nothing to mollify my rage. He didn't know misery. He knew nothing like the pain he'd caused.

"Abby was seventeen years old, and a virgin, and you let them rape her. Sara was getting married, and you let them rape her, then kill her. And you let them put their hands all over me. You let them try…"

He flinched, and I couldn't finish. He knew what he'd let them try. And from the way he cringed, I'd say the memories hurt. Good. But they couldn't hurt him like they hurt me.

"Don't you dare tell me what Mom needs. She does not need you. None of us do."

Ryan sighed and his gaze strengthened, like he was looking for something in my eyes. "I know you don't want to hear this, but she forgave me, Faythe. Why can't you? "

My fist flew before I knew it was going to. His nose crunched, then blood sprayed my shirt and neck. Ryan howled, but the sound ended in a gurgle. His hands flew to cover his face.

Marc purred and rubbed against my ankle. Ryan dropped to his knees, cradling his ruined nose.

"Mom wasn't grabbed, and kicked, and punched, and humiliated," I snapped. "She wasn't thrown around a cage in a filthy basement. She wasn't touched. She has the luxury of forgiveness because she doesn't fail to fight them off in her nightmares. Did you know I dream about it, Ryan?" I dropped into a squat in front of him and pulled his head back by his hair until I saw his eyes, already surrounded by rapidly swelling, darkening flesh. "Did you know it happens all over again, every night I sleep alone? Every night I'm too tired to fight off the memories?" I swallowed a sob and forced the next words out. "I needed you then. You were supposed to protect me. But I don't need you now."

My fist slammed into his jaw, and his head hit the tree trunk. His eyes watered, but I couldn't tell if they were tears of regret or pain. And I didn't care.

One of the guys tugged me backward by the hem of my shirt, and I stood, the cold forgotten. "We were family." I kicked, and my boot slammed into his thigh. "You were my big brother."

Meet 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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Alpha (Shifters Series #6) 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 456 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Okay so, i love this series! This book was great!I'm very sad that it has to end. With that being said, I cried at the end. Why couldn't she pick my favorite guy? I know Rachel can't please everyone but DARN IT!!!! Why did she have to do this to me???? One of the reasons that I bought the book was to see who Faythe ended up with. SIGH!!!! But overall, great book, great series!!!
HCross9820 More than 1 year ago
(Please be aware that this review contains small spoilers.) For the past three years, Rachel Vincent's Shifter Series has been "The Series" for me. It's the series in which I compare all other urban fantasy I read to. I've read each book multiple times. I've spent hours upon hours in Rachel's discussion group talking with other fans about them, and driven all over the country to see Rachel at signings. I've laughed, loved, fought, and cried alongside Faythe and her pridemates. The end of Faythe's story is a culmination of so many things for me. This book left both my head and my heart spinning, I even have the empty box of tissues to prove it. Alpha broke my heart, and gave me faith in the world all at the same time. Faythe had to face so much adversity in this book. One road block after another fell in her way, but she didn't let them stop her. She kept going, not only for herself, but for her Pride most of all. Words can't explain how proud I am of what Faythe has accomplished in Alpha. The Faythe/Jace/Marc Love Triangle: what is there to say? Basically not a whole lot, without giving away spoilers. I will say this- Faythe does choose one in the end. She isn't forced toward one guy or the other by circumstance (example: one of them is killed in battle). She made the right choice for herself, although the ride along the way is pretty bumpy. Some readers will be happy, while others will be sad. I'm pretty sure Rachel couldn't have made everyone happy, regardless of which way Faythe chose. I absolutely loved getting to know Holly, Michael's wife. She's has always been this unknown entity. I was truly grateful for her presence, late in the book. She inadvertently lent much needed comic relief to a very dark part of this story. While the ending did have it's sad points, everything ended just the way it should have. Lives were lost, and choices were made. Many characters in Faythe's world have messed up through out the series, but in the end some were able to redeem themselves when it really counted. I was also very happy to see who came back to help the South-central pride in the end. My only complaint is that there wasn't an epilogue. I wanted to know how things wrapped up after the final showdown. I just can't believe that was it, it was all over. I felt that so many important questions (at least in my mind) were left unanswered. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for a Shifter's short story to hopefully show up in the very near future. Until then, I guess I'll have to make it up for myself. Overall, I want to thank Rachel for writing such amazing characters and such a wonderful world for them to live in! Reading this series has rejuvenated my love for reading.
Novelsontherun More than 1 year ago
I am a HUGE fan of Rachel Vincent’s writing. Her Soul Screamers series ( YA genre ) is amazing writing. Her adult series, ‘Shifters’, is filled with emotion. I have come to the end of my Shifters series journey. I loved how Rachel finished the series off. This book had my heart being pulled in a tug-of-war. When I first started this series I was Team Marc, Jace was a fun guy and that was it. Rachel decided to bring Jace into a triangle that had me pulled left and right, up and down. I would be a little angry that Faythe could not easily pick Marc.......but then.....Rachel wrote Jace in a new light. I got as confused as Faythe. Jace has the less tense, more playful nature that I thought was good for Faythe....but then.....she showed me how hurt Marc was and how deep his love was. How Marc had nobody but Faythe in his sights. Then she made Faythe fall for Jace....OMG!!! Let the mind games begin. I am normally very clear cut on who is my Team guy in a book. For an author to get me so tangled up, so under the skin of her triangle guys , is rare. I was flopping around emotionally like a fish out of water. The reading kit is needed for this book: Lots of tissues. A pillow to scream into. Strong tape to hold your heart together, cause it keeps breaking. A friend who has read the series , you can connect with . And a whole lot of FAITH. There is a war brewing and all stops need to be pulled out. Oh, the guy that needs to be totally slapped with a stinky dead fish from me , had me fuming and the other guy that just needed the biggest smack down. Both so dangerous, one so corrupt, it kept me breathless how he manipulated the laws and rules. I am going to miss this series. I would love a Jace spinoff as much as I wanted an Adrian spin off from Vampire Academy series. The thing with the Shifter series is Rachel really has you in a bit of a mess after each book finishes. She really brings her characters to life, they appear to be standing before you and so real you could touch them. You ‘feel’ like you are hurting as bad as Faythe. I felt quite connected to Faythe. I highly recommend anything Rachel Vincent writes. She has a wonderful gift of the gab. FAVE QUOTE: ( Somebody tear my heart out now...) “But I love you more. He could walk away from you with a broken heart , if he had to, and live to love another day. But I can’t. Since the first time we kissed, there's never been anyone for me but you. Not in my bed, not in my life, and not in my heart. And there never will be. And that’s what I need to hear from you. Now. “ His hope and fear and desperation , were so thick in the room that I could hardly breathe. “Purgatory’s just another kind of hell, Faythe.”
Sandra027 More than 1 year ago
ARG, OK I have a love-hate relationship with this book right now. But maybe that's because I'm fresh off the roller-coaster emotional ride it caused. 1.) Huge, devastating twist... although I did see it coming it was still very upsetting and created a lot of the drama for the rest of the book. 2.) Love Triangle: UHG. I was actually surprised initially that they would be able to drag this out for as long as they did. Because although Faythe says she loves them both, she adds words like "desperately" on at the end when referring to Marc. Although, there were some surprising revelations about Faythe's parents initial relationship that led to Greg-Jace comparisons that totally made it seem like he was in the running. So I was surprised that I honestly didn't know which way it was going to go. That being said, Faythe really pissed me off. CHOOSE ALREADY! I know a lot is going on but she dragged it out WAY too long until the choice was made for her and then was a baby about it. I was happy how it worked out, but was initially pissed with her acceptance of her non-choice. 3.) I understand building a climax and creating obstacles for the heroine... but for the love of all that is holy could ONE thing go right?! It made me start to doubt her places, because I mean REALLY?! But all that being said, WOW. It was good although I feel like I need to meditate or something to bring down my racing heart rate. It had a good ending that wrapped up all the big stuff, although you know there's still a lot of work to be done. But as the final book, I would have liked to have an epilogue or something for a little more closure on the aftermath
RaeRS More than 1 year ago
I laughed, I cried, my heart ached.. This book has everything: strong characters, drama, action , and tragedy. At times I was so caught up in what was going on I forgot to breathe. But in the end I nodded in acceptance that it was a great book and it was SADLY the end of a truly great series. When you invest your time in a series you wonder if it's worth your investment, well for me the answer is a definite YES. I am bereft that this the last time for Faythe, Marc and my Jace. Bravo Rachel, job well done! And to everyone else BUY THIS BOOK it's a great ride
ReadingAngel002 More than 1 year ago
The Shifters series was one of the first paranormal series that I read when I ventured back into the genre in 2007. I have been a faithful and loyal fan ever since I ran across Stray in a used bookstore. I've bought and devoured every release in this series ever since. Faythe and the crew have never disappointed. They've always pulled me into their world and delivered an action-packed, blood-pumping thrill ride of a story. Alpha, was no exception! I'm so sad that this brought the series to a close, after all of this time I feel like I'm saying goodbye to friends. Luckily, Rachel Vincent has shown us what a fantastic writer she is, delivering another amazing addiction to the series and ending it all in a way that left me feeling completely satisfied. There was no cop-out on the love triangle, we got a solid ending with Faythe picking one guy for certain. The major dramas were all wrapped up, but it was left open enough that we can imagine how our favorite characters have went on to live their lives after it was all done. Overall, fans of this series will not be disappointed with the finale. If you aren't one of the minions that have already read this, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR????
harstan More than 1 year ago
Her brother Ethan is dead, but Faythe has no time to grieve as she goes after another sibling Ryan accompanied by her two lovers Marc and Jace. Her sibling allowed the rapes of Abby and Sara, and the sexual assault of Faythe when he failed to intervene. Faythe tells him to leave before she takes two parts of his anatomy as earrings. Faythe travels to Montana to testify against Council chair Calvin Malone, Jace's stepfather, as the territorial war between the Prides seems eminent. She knows she wants to rip the skin off Malone and his henchman Dean because she has evidence that they killed Ethan, but justice is more important in her new role as the Alpha of her Pride. Besides leading her Pride as the hostilities turn heated, Faythe must choose between loyal always there Jace and angry acrimonious Marc. The last chapter of the exciting Shifters urban fantasy saga (see Shift and Pride) is a terrific entry as the heroine shows her maturity as a leader since the first tale (see Stray). What she might do as part of the Pride is different than what she must do as the Alpha of the Pride. Fast-paced and loaded with action, fans of Rachel Vincent's entertaining romantic werewolf saga will relish the well-written final thriller. Harriet Klausner
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
good series
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Samantha57 More than 1 year ago
Such a great book and end to a fantastic series. I loved every minute of it and am sad both this book and now the series are over
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Hi can i join the pack?
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Hello?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
fabulous ending to a truely entertaining series. very satisfying wrapup, but also a great book. i would certainly recommend reading the whole seriers to watch the characters and plot evolve from the beginning
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Minakosama More than 1 year ago
I liked this book overall. The ending felt a bit rushed and kinda overly optimistic on the last 2 pages, but I could see why it was that way. I must say that Marc annoyed me enough that parts of this book were not fun to read. I can understand his characters motivation, but he seemed like from the beginning he was either being extremely aggressively possessive (to the point that I worried about it being abusive) or whiny about Faythe not appreciating his possessiveness. There were times where I had to put the book down for a bit because I found myself so pissed off by his actions. Jace I liked a bit more, but I feel like his character was not fully fleshed out. He went from background to major in a very short time. It felt like he didn't really have a lot of time to develop but had lots of potential. He was also rather possessive, but seemed more willing to let Faythe make her own choices without being patronizing. I'd be interested to see if any more books take place in this world. Overall it was an enjoyable series that I read in about a week and a half.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Ashnicole33 More than 1 year ago
One of the best series I've read!!!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago