I had so much fun writing each of the books in The Crane Curse trilogy–Charming the Alpha, Resisting the Alpha, and Needing the Alpha, that I decided to go back and write a new ending to Charming the Alpha.
If you’ve already read Charming, you’ll see that this new chapter brings you more into what’s going to happen in the rest of the series. The chapter is told from Abel Barlow’s point of view and gives a little more insight into the curse and what Abel sees between Faith and Erich even though they don’t. It does not change anything with the rest of the story between Hannah and Caleb. I hope you enjoy it!
New Final Chapter to Charming the Alpha
One Month Ago
Everything was going exactly as planned until Caleb showed up, Abel thought. Wanting the comfort of his fur, Abel Barlow shifted into coyote form as he escaped from the main room. Since letting his coyote spirit rule him, he had achieved a freedom and heightened awareness he never thought was possible.
No wonder the elders frowned upon it. If shifters knew how powerful they could become by giving in to their animal spirit, none of them would retain control. It would destroy the hierarchy of shifter councils since those in power would lose it.
Granted, he saw the affects the coyote was having on his human appearance, but that was a price he was willing to pay for power. Especially if he got what he wanted–access to the dimensional portal that was the truth behind the Crane Curse.
Abel knew Hannah Crane believed she figured it out. He found her ridiculous and naive, but what she discovered was only the tip of the iceberg. The Crane women had the ability to control the gateway between the human and spirit worlds, of that he was certain. Abel had been dreaming about that ability and what he would do once the portal was open.
Hannah would never find out about the portal because that piece of the puzzle was buried in a place she would never have access to. The only thing Abel couldn’t figure out was why the curse was linked to a charmer when it didn’t seem like any of the Cranes had the ability.
It didn’t matter that the Cranes couldn’t charm. That was the problem with doing research in a town as old as Leeds Point–it was hard to tell the difference between fact and fiction. Even the tale of the Jersey Devil had some fact to it, but who knew what was true and what was merely vicious gossip.
Regardless, Abel always had a backup plan and this time it was his witch, Faith Galloway. Faith was a powerful witch and charmer. If he could get the portal open, he could summon the Alpha spirits of the past and have Faith charm them, giving him control.
He didn’t care so much about charming wolves. They were simple minded creatures anyway. With enough training, he thought Faith was capable of anything and planned to use her magic to make him more powerful.
Abel planned to build a pack of Alphas who only responded to his command. The experiments on his prisoners were just distractions while he waited to capture Hannah. He was sure she was the key. Once he had his spirit army, Abel would take over everything the Council controlled. Nothing and no one could stop him.
As he ran down the corridor away from the fighting, the tapping of Erich’s bear nails on the cement floor chased him. That dimwitted bear was too afraid of losing his position on the Council to admit what he really wanted. But Abel was sure Erich was keeping something from him, there was something else motivating him to help Abel.
Abel caught Erich staring longingly at his witch too many times. Faith with her long blonde hair, green witch eyes, and lustful curves had been Abel’s mate for well over a decade. What was left of the human within him loved her and remembered that feeling of serenity he got from just being near her. But the coyote could care less. The coyote only cared about what she could do for him.
Faith was a powerful witch and charmer. She was much more talented than she realized. There was something about how vulnerable she was that still drew Abel to her after all these years. His human side wanted to care and protect her at all costs, but his coyote side left her out there with only a bow and arrows to defend herself. Abel knew she wouldn’t use witchcraft against Hannah and Caleb unless she had no choice.
She came in handy and had her purpose, but he still didn’t like the way Erich looked at her. Erich should know better than to mess with another Alpha’s mate. Abel didn’t care that Erich was stronger or bigger than him, he would fight Erich to the death for Faith’s love.
Or would he? he thought as the coyote took over his thoughts again. The coyote didn’t care about her and would be happier if she was gone. She couldn’t be trusted and the coyote believed the portal was connected to Hannah, that only she could open it and give him access to the spirit world. Faith was expendable.
But it was the human Abel who kept her around. It was his one small grasp at the man he once was. Abel had seen how Faith’s eyes roamed over Erich’s physique. It was sickening to think she found that brawny muscular oaf enticing, but what was left of his human self railed inside him at the thought of her loving someone else.
Abel pushed the coyote out of his mind as he easily maneuvered a sharp turn and stopped. They were far enough away for Erich to speak freely. As much as it pained him, Abel had to rely on Erich for a place to hide.
Abel wasn’t prepared for Hannah to be Caleb’s mate. Had he realized such a thing was possible, he would have been more careful. He didn’t expect to lose everything at the hands of a wolf and now most of his pack had been captured.
Abel needed the protection of his pack while creating the spirit one. The thought of everything he had been working towards being ruined by some ridiculous group of shifters was enough to make his body shake with anger. He needed another plan.
As he shifted back into human Abel’s snout shortened, his ears pulled down to his balding head, and his shoulders hunched forward revealing Abel as the ghost of the man he once was. Coming around the corner, his large bear feet unable to gain traction on the wet cement, the grizzly slid into Abel and knocked the naked and frail-appearing man over.
“Get off me, you oaf!” Abel said annoyed, his voice echoing into the darkened corridor ahead of them.
Erich shifted back into his human form and stood to his full height. He narrowed his eyes at Abel before extending his hand to help him up.
Maybe Erich isn’t as dumb as he looks, Abel thought as he stood then turned to grab some clothing he had hidden earlier.
“Caleb and Joaquin are here. You know they can’t find me talking to you,” Erich grumbled.
“Yes, your beloved shifter council. A bunch of do-good Cub Scouts if you ask me. I know the real reason you’re here with me, you know I’ll rule them all very soon. You want a place beside me. Must be hard always living in that wolf’s shadow,” Abel said.
Abel couldn’t help but press Erich’s buttons. He knew Erich was lying when he told him he wanted power. The truth was Erich would do anything to make sure Faith was safe. Shifters were pitiful with their emotions and could rarely hide them, himself included. When he recognized Erich’s feelings for Faith, Abel knew he needed to use it to his advantage. As if on cue, Erich spoke again.
“There’s an empty cabin in the woods, in neutral territory,” Erich said. “Go there and take the witch with you. I’ll do what I can to free her and give you two time to get away.”
Abel nodded, happy to have a safe place to regroup, then tossed a pair of jeans to Erich. As he pulled the jeans on, a woman’s scream echoed down the hall. Faith was in trouble. But before Abel had a chance to react, Erich was already sprinting down the long corridor towards her.
Abel stroked his chin as he watched the large man disappear. He might have lost his pack, but he gained an Alpha. Erich would do anything to protect Faith and Abel planned to use that to his advantage.