Her Viking Wolves

By: Theodora Taylor

“No! No! I didn’t do nothing! NOOOOO!!!!”

Two days before Christmas, I watch Yancey, my dad’s Beta/Sargent of Arms/Future Danny Trejo Impersonator If He’s Ever Hard Up For Money, haul a prospect up on stage. Normally this would be an honor for a young wolf. Patches would be bestowed or a brand pushed into the prospect’s naked back. Painful, yes, but well worth it in any young wolf’s mind since after getting burned, he’d be an official member of the Dark Wolf MC, the outlaw motorcycle club at the heart of our Detroit state pack.

But in this case, the pack’s hooting and hollering is a call for blood. And my father is waiting for the young wolf prospect with a sawed-off shotgun, not a patch. And instead of pulling out a brand, Yancey pulls a pair of silver handcuffs from his leather jacket, which he uses to bind the prospect to a hitching post. The hitching post, like the stage, is all black and all metal. The stage is a permanent structure in our kingdom house’s huge open ballroom, a monstrosity of metal scaffolding adorned with decorative steel spikes (courtesy of the Detroit pack’s steel factory). And it looks completely out of place in our 19th-century French Chateau-style mansion—like maybe it got lost on its way to a heavy metal concert—but hey, it does the job.

Whether they’re on the ballroom floor, on one of the two sweeping staircases leading to the upper floors or, like me, standing on the third-floor landing outside my suite of rooms, every wolf in the place has a good view of the prospect losing his shit. He’s screaming in pain, since both his wrists are bound in silver. And he’s making it worse, because he keeps tugging at his silver cuffs, trying to escape.

Watching the scene below, I feel sorry for the prospect who, only a few minutes ago, was just another guy on a crowded ballroom floor. Having a good time, drinking beer with his fellow Dark Wolf prospects, while looking hard as gangsta nails in our pack’s standard uniform of leather motorcycle pants and a jacket with the giant, blood-red wolf head logo on the back.

But now he’s shackled to the hitching post, the flesh on his wrists sizzling thanks to the toxic silver, as the crowd chants, “Party Favor! Party Favor! Party Favor!” His screaming and their chanting is so loud, if it weren’t for my sensitive wolf ears, I wouldn’t be able to make out exactly what the prospect is shouting. The gist of it is it wasn’t him who’d been skimming guns to sell on the side for profit. It wasn’t him who’d put all that cash in unmarked trash bags in the basement of his mama’s house. It was a set up. It was all a set up!

“It wasn’t me!” he screams again at the crowd, before bursting into messy tears. “It wasn’t me!”

Unfortunately, it was.

See, I would never go so far as to call my father an honorable wolf. But he’s second in the current line of bad-as-fuck Detroit Alpha Kings, and he takes a certain pride in that. He never, ever performs a Party Favor ritual unless he’s absolutely certain the guilty party is, in fact, guilty. And I know he would have had Yancey check and recheck the evidence against the now sniveling prospect before announcing his crime publically.

“So…uh…you guys do this sort of thing at every party?” my handsome prince asks beside me.

I glance over at Kyle, the insanely hot Alpha Prince of North Dakota. He’s also my fiancé—though he’s probably reconsidering his proposal as we watch my state pack chant for the blood of a sobbing male shifter.

“Yeah, I’m afraid so,” responds my twin brother, Clyde, who’s standing on Kyle’s other side.

And I quickly glance away after only a few beats of eye contact.

Despite our status as a newly engaged couple, I continue to feel really awkward around him. Maybe because I’m still trying to wrap my head around the fact that he asked me to marry him a few weeks ago. Or maybe because I feel awkward around pretty much everyone except Clyde and Iggle, the lead developer at my video game company, She-Wolf Industries.

But Kyle isn’t a work colleague and he’s not related to me by blood. And for whatever reason, I’m still having trouble believing my brother’s best friend from college took a sudden interest in me after he visited Clyde last New Year’s Eve.

Maybe you’re wondering why the Princess of Detroit can’t believe a storybook handsome Alpha prince is interested in her…

Well, for starters, I wouldn’t exactly call myself a traditional princess. I’m too dark-skinned, for one thing, and several sizes too large to be considered anybody’s idea of a Disney Princess stand in. Also, just a few days before I met Kyle, I shaved one side of my head and started wearing my hair in waist length white yarn locs for a strange mix of reasons that can only be described as “Storm Is the Shit, Why Not, Too Many YouTube Tutorials, and Happy New Year!” Added to that, as of September, I’m officially over thirty—seriously past my sell date as far as werewolf princesses go. Oh, and when I’m not doing my Detroit Princess thing, I spend the vast majority of my time in my rooms creating games and worlds for others, like me, who prefer the company of digital people to real ones. So all that alone time has made me what the nice wolves in our pack call “a little awkward,” and what the not-so-nice wolves call “crazy-ass weird.”