“Stay human. Stay human. Stay human.”
Parker Berenson, alpha of Seattle’s werewolf pack, slammed the door to
his aging brown Chevrolet Caprice. “Stay human. Stay human.” Hands
clenched into fists, his feet pounded the icy pavement leading from the
driveway to his blue-gray stucco house. Though the February fourth night
was unusually bitter and he wore neither overcoat nor jacket, he
didn’t feel cold. Sweat streamed down his face and neck. His white
dress shirt was soaked, as were his trousers. Tiny tendrils of steam
rising from his muscular shoulders made him look as if he were
His wolf’s hard push against the mental bonds that held it inside
their shared body and mind made him stumble. "Fuck staying human. I want
out!" he roared.
Regaining his balance, Parker ignored his beast as best he could and
kept walking. “Stay human. Just stay human.”
“At least wait until we get inside,” he said through his teeth.
The porch light was out again, but Parker could see by the
streetlamps’ ambient glow. He shoved his key into the front door lock
and gave it a savage twist. The bolt didn’t move. Using more pressure,
Parker tried again and nearly snapped the key in two. “Open, you
sonofa…” he muttered, jiggling the key in its slot.
"That’s it," his wolf snarled and gave another hard mental shove.
"Tear the sucker--"
Just then the key turned. Parker threw the door open, stormed over the
threshold, then banged the door shut.
"One day I-swear-to-God I'm going to kill that--"
Parker leaned against the door, panting. “You and me both. Now calm
down, will you? Calm—”
"Calm down? After what he did to us? Again? Calm down my--"
“Shut up. We need a drink.”
"I don't need a drink. I need--"
“Shut up, I said.”
His wolf didn’t reply. That was a good sign.
Parker strode away from the small patch of faux-slate tiles that served
as a tiny foyer. The room he marched across comprised nearly all of the
main level. White walls supported glass and metal sculptures with jagged
edges sharp enough to carve a holiday roast. These stood in stark
contrast to the rest of the sparse furnishings—the clean, straight
lines and ninety-degree angles formed by industrial-grade steel pipe.
The black leather cushions on the sofa and chairs did little to soften
the interior’s threatening appearance.
The decor wasn’t pretty, but it had its uses. The lack of furniture
allowed enough space for all of his wolves to sit when the pack met at
his place. And in case his neighbors discovered what he was and decided
to do something about it, the wall hangings and furniture could be
broken into makeshift but lethal weapons.
Parker headed for the freestanding bar about twenty feet away. He
grabbed the jumbo-sized Jack Daniel’s bottle from the counter and then
snatched a double shot glass from a nearby rack. Pouring the glass full,
he drank it in one gulp, ignoring the liquid fire searing his throat. He
tossed down two more shots.
After his fourth drink, Parker felt at least some of the tension leave
his shoulders. Holding the glass in two large, strong, and
trembling—but very human—hands, he set it down on the upper counter.
Leaning against the marble, he closed his eyes. “Okay. We’re okay
His wolf remained silent. Another good sign. The last thing Parker
wanted was to morph into his other, a gargantuan man-wolf eight feet
tall. A forced morph was triggered in werewolves by the full moon and
sometimes, like now, by powerful emotions. And the greater the size
differences between the human and were selves, the more agonizing the
change. Parker-the-human stood six feet, six inches tall in his stocking
feet. Morphing into his eight-foot were hurt like a knife-wielding
Parker had been just about to let out a sigh of relief when he caught a
whiff of cologne clinging to his shirt. It wasn’t his. He ripped the
still-wet shirt off and threw it across the room. His broad, hairy chest
heaving with anger, he watched the discarded garment land in a crumpled
heap about ten feet away.
"No, we’re not okay," his wolf growled. "Human, when are you going to
wake up and smell the blood? That bastard is driving us insane."
“That bastard” was Kurt, the vampire Master. Old and extremely
formidable, Kurt extended preternatural protection from Seattle’s
human horde to just about every exotic— zot—that lived there. The
smell Parker had picked up was the vampire’s favorite scent.
Parker poured a fifth shot of whiskey into the glass. “Quit calling me
human. Besides, what do you suggest we do about it?” he said.
“We’re Kurt’s servant. Bound to him by blood. Day or night, he
calls, we come, and then we do whatever he wants.” He downed his drink
and grimaced. “Like we’re his damned dog or something.”
Parker felt his wolf’s anger surge. "Guess you like it, huh? Like
this, maybe?" A mental picture flashed in their shared mind’s eye, one
Parker would rather not have seen. Kurt’s grinning face was poised
above him. He heard the seductive whispering in his ear and felt the
sweet ecstasy of fangs piercing his flesh.
Parker’s face reddened. “You think I wanted to go down to Kurt’s
nightclub tonight?” he shouted. “You think I wanted his hands on me?
No. You know what he does. Takes over my mind and twists my head around
until I’m practically begging for it.” He tossed down a sixth shot.
“And while he’s doing it I sure don’t feel you trying to stop
"That’s bull and you know it."
“Shut up.” Parker poured himself an seventh shot and drained it,
which was followed by an eighth. But Jack wasn’t doing the job. The
humiliating images of what had happened to him and his wolf in Kurt’s
office beneath the vampire’s Last Chance nightclub refused to fade.
He gripped the shot glass harder. His blood pressure skyrocketed. Rivers
of sweat burst from his pores and ran down his face and chest. His
wolf’s snarling inside their shared mind swelled into a howl. Parker
started grinding his teeth, a sure sign he was going into a forced
Excerpted from "The Underground: Second Edition" by Roxanne Bland. Copyright © 2017 by Roxanne Bland. Excerpted by permission. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher. Excerpts are provided solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.