King Terfel had given her very strict orders: her pack was not to become a female dominated pack. The order had riled her, made her growl, but Regent Gauwyn—the king's chosen mate—had calmed her, as he usually did.
"It isn't out of a desire to continue the oppression of the women," Gauwyn had said with a smile. The Ice Elf, so different from his Wood Elf mate, had a smile that could calm a rabid wolverine. "It's about equality, Sasha. It would make you no better than the men who forced alpha females to behave as kicked puppies for millennia."
And, damn him, he was right.
The House of Wood was beginning to see how the interloper to their ways was almost always right when it came to such matters. Maybe the Wise Woman had been right: change came with an icy hand.
Sasha was an anomaly. She was one of a handful of alpha females in the House of Wood that hadn't had the alpha beaten out of her over centuries of abuse. Out of women capable of being the alpha of a new pack, she had been chosen due to seniority. Age, it seemed, still had its benefits.
Pale hands slid over her shoulders, looped around her neck, and Sasha leaned back into the warm scent of fur and heather.
Aneira had been running in the woods.
Sasha tilted her head back and smiled up at her lover. "I missed you."
"I missed you, too," Aneira whispered, dipping down to brush her lips over Sasha's. "But, I understood. A summons from the king could not be ignored. What did he want?"
Sasha rubbed her hands along Aneira's sun-kissed arms. "He has asked me to form a new pack. I am to turn in initial numbers within the week."
Aneira stilled against her. "You will be pack alpha?"
"Yes." Sasha smiled. "You will be the pack alpha's mate."