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Sometimes, I agreed with them.
But he’s my fated mate.
So when I ask for our own episode to work things out, I have no plans on making things easy on him. He’ll have to prove to me things are different this time, or I won’t see him.
Because he’s Jackson, he won’t make things easy, either.
As we go on holiday-themed dates, I realize I’ve changed too. And it’s time to redefine what it means to be the mate of an alpha wolf.
That is, if our appearance on the show doesn’t tear our pack apart.
Join The Real Werewives for our holiday spectacular! Catch up with your favorite Werewives from previous seasons, get a sneak peek at Bibi Bootcamp, and see what happens when Jackson goes on the hot seat!
- Growly, protective alpha wolf shifter
- Smokin' hot hero over 40
- Curvy heroine whose determined to make her husband win her back
- Dating Reality Show
- All the Christmas feels
Read Chapter One
Read Chapter One
Every day, I told myself I’d go home. But every night, I fell asleep with my babies in my childhood bedroom, dreaming of ways things would be different this time.
Those were the good nights.
The bad nights I spent tossing and turning, I dreamed I couldn’t talk sense into my mate and I lost everything. Too many nights I startled myself awake before I
If you’ve been watching this season of The Real Werewives, you might know that my
mate is Jackson Hunter. Alpha of the Green Mountain pack. Most notoriously known as the thorn in the side and an all-around pain in the ass of the Colorado Ranch pack.
I was smoothing things over again. That habit needed to be smashed into pieces, especially if I gave Jackson a second chance. If you’ve spent any time on the Werewives forum, chances were you’d weighed in on the Should Michelle Take Jackson Back? thread.
And most likely, you were in the
overwhelming majority who thought I should not take his ass back under any circumstances.
Sometimes, I was a member of that team, too.
I lay awake many nights thinking about my response to that thread. How I’d explain it to
everyone when I did take him back. Because Jackson was my fated mate.
We couldn’t walk away from each other. But if I couldn’t put a stop to his reckless behavior, I might not have a pack to go back to. My kids might not have a future.
Big surprise, last night had been one of the ones I lay awake, thinking of ways I could make him see the damage he was doing to our pack. Our family.
And coming up with snappy responses to my online critics.
Too bad that wouldn’t
solve my problem.
Before Tessa and Stephanie left
Colorado Ranch, they asked me if I wanted to record a statement. I said no. I’d watched too many Werewives become totally unraveled when they stepped in front of the camera.
I had to stay strong for my family, and my pack.
Which meant I couldn’t
keep hiding out on Colorado Ranch.
I had to forge a new path for all of us.
Gracie started to fuss as the darkness turned to the first gray light of the morning. She was seven months old and this
close to sleeping through the night. At least one of us was. I swooped in to pick her up before she woke up her three-year-old brother, Ben.
I tucked the sheet around Ben, and pushed a pillow near him before he realized I left.
Yeah, I was good at making the best out of less-than-ideal situations. I used to think that was what she-wolves did. Now, I knew that was a bullshit lie that had been fed to too many of us.
Slipping out of the bedroom before Gracie kicked into full-on fuss mode, I took a deep breath. Today would be the day I took my husband back.
On my terms.
I wasn’t just doing this for me. Or to make Jackson’s life difficult. I
was doing this for the baby in my arms, who would someday be claimed by her own fated mate. And all the little she-wolves in my pack who deserved better than
what we had.
The scent of sizzling bacon greeted me as I came down the stairs. Gracie’s early wakeups had
nothing on my mother.
“How are my favorite girls this morning?” Mom whisked pancake batter in a steel bowl. Ben was getting spoiled with these breakfasts, and something told me he wouldn’t readily accept the bowl of oatmeal I usually made him when we went home.
My heart wrenched just thinking about it.
“We’re great.” I slipped Gracie into her highchair—some of my packmates had brought our stuff over to The Village when I made the declaration I wasn’t
going home until Jackson changed his ways. Putting them in the middle of our fight sucked, and I’d expected Jackson to forbid them to do it.
But he didn’t.
He was wild and reckless when it came to everything outside our family. But when we were alone, he treated me like gold. He was an amazing dad. And this time apart had to be killing him.
Mom side-eyed me as I poured the egg batter into a bowl. Gracie loved her scrambled eggs.
“Did you sleep?” she asked.
“Those bags under your
eyes say otherwise.” Mom taught me to call it like I saw it by boldly leading the way.
“Christmas is coming.” Some of the houses in The Village already had their lights up. Most of them
belonged to the Werewives. Those ladies changed everything about the Colorado Ranch pack, and they had a lot to celebrate. They might have also given me the courage to take a stand against Jackson. “I’d really like to celebrate it in my own home.”
“You can celebrate here.”
This wasn’t the first time we’d had this discussion. “The kids should experience Christmas in their own home.”
“They should also learn the traditions of their ancestors from the Colorado Ranch pack. Every year, we ask you to come, and every year, you say no. You’re
here now. Let the kids experience Christmas like you did. Our traditions are fading fast, since we haven’t had any babies here
in a while.”
I closed my eyes for a long blink.
Finding the balance between Colorado Ranch pack and Green Mountain pack felt
more like a wild ride on a see-saw. Like choosing a side, and making no one happy in the process.
“We can do Christmas
stuff while we’re here. But they should have Christmas with their dad.”
Mom sighed. “Just like that, you’re taking him back.”
“He’s my mate.”
Mom shook her head. “He’s going to get himself killed.”
“I want to celebrate Christmas in my own home. The kids opening presents under the tree. But if
Jackson doesn’t change….”
I stopped—not only because I didn’t have a definite solution to that very real possibility— but because Ben padded down the hallway in his footie pajamas,
with his favorite blankie casually slung over his shoulder.
“Santa’s coming?” he asked.
This was the first year he really embraced the concept of Santa, and he was enthusiastically awaiting his arrival.
I roughed his hair, which already had a wild case of bed head. “Not yet, but he’ll be here soon.”
His blue eyes widened. “Will
Santa know where to find us?”
Benny might only be three, but he knew how to deliver a punch to the gut. “Of course he will.”
Mom squatted to give Ben a kiss. “Mema’s making pancakes, eggs, and bacon.”
“He’ll never want to go home,” I groaned.
“You could start over.” Mom never liked Jackson. She’d hoped I’d be the exception to the rule, the Colorado Ranch she-wolf who found a mate in the pack.
I tried, and the pressure to be the one who saved the pack was overwhelming. And right now, all too familiar.
But when I met Jackson, it was like lightning struck.
“Bibi and Tina are starting a new show. All you’d have to do is say the word, and—”
“The Colorado Ranch pack could assert its dominance over Green Mountain once and for all?” I
expected her gasp. No matter how The Real Werewives spun it on screen, the two packs had been looking down their noses at each other my whole life. “I’m not doing this to humiliate Jackson. I want to save my family.”
And finally figure out a way to make the two packs see eye to eye. The Green Mountain pack hadn’t exactly welcomed me with open arms, even if I was their alpha’s mate. As far as they were concerned, the Colorado Ranch pack loved to flaunt their superiority. And on the Colorado Ranch side, the wolves were waiting with bated breath for Green Mountain to get their shit together.
I stood on both sides of the fence, so I could say neither assessment was true. I’d learned, as the top she-wolf in a pack that was reluctant to accept me, to pick my battles. My first priority was talking some sense into my mate. And I held on to the
fragile hope that the rest of the issues would fall into place after that happened.
You can do this, my she-wolf
said. Both packs are looking to you to make real change.
No pressure or anything, wolf.
Mom put her hand on my arm. “All I want is for you to be happy. And for your babies to grow up in a house full of love. No matter where it is.”
I put Gracie’s eggs on her tray. Some of them would get inside her—but she’d wear as much as landed on the floor. Ben only had eyes for Mema as the pancake
batter hit the griddle.
“Would you mind keeping an eye on the kids for a bit?” I asked.
“Of course not. What are you up to?”
“I’m gonna fix this problem.”
“Michelle Marie, I absolutely forbid you from doing anything reckless.”
I laughed, startling both my kids. “I’m forty-one years old and an alpha’s mate. I know my way around reckless all too well.”
“And you’re my baby.” She grasped my chin and kissed my cheek. Ben thought that was
hysterical. “You’re more than welcome to stay here, as long as it takes—”
The fire alarm went off. Mema had forgotten the pancakes.
Once we got the windows open and fresh batter on the skillet, I put my plan into motion. I’d
have to be on my A-game every step of the way. One trait wolves shared, across the board, was they all pretty much hated change.
If my plan worked, it would change everything.
The elder wolves of the pack gave me a look of pity every time I walked through The Village. I’d
heard the rumors. They thought Jackson rejected me. They were old school, in their time, a she-wolf would never leave their mate.
They didn’t understand this was me standing by my mate.
“Where are those babies?” Blaire asked when I reached the mercantile. The Werewives had made a habit of meeting for breakfast every morning, and now that the weather had
cooled, they’d moved the tables inside the store. I had a standing invitation, and this was the first time I’d actually joined them.
You could do this with the Green
Mountain she-wolves, my wolf said. Bring the Colorado Ranch traditions to your new home.
The Werewives were all so pregnant. Their joy reverberated through The Village, and I envied them. Their new beginnings. So many possibilities.
Your fate is in your hands, my
wolf reminded me. It doesn’t belong to your mate.
My wolf grumbled, and the ladies
narrowed their eyes at me, like they could sense my animal.
This is still your pack. Having two
packs is a blessing, not a burden.
“The kids are with my mom. I was hoping I could chat with you all.”
“Of course,” a few of them said as they moved their chairs aside and gave me room to join them at the
“How are things with Jackson?” Laura put her hand on my arm as soon as I took my seat.
“That’s what I wanted to talk to you about.” My heart pounded. Jenny, the owner of the Mercantile, came over with a pot of steaming coffee and placed a cup in front of me. She was my mom’s best friend and pretty much a second mother to me.
“Did you eat?” she asked.
“No matter what the
answer is, she’s going to make you have a little something.” Sunny chuckled.
“I’ll have what these ladies are having.” I wasn’t sure if I’d be able to do more than choke a few bites down. Once I told the ladies my plan, it would be full steam ahead, Werewives-style.
“What’s up, Michelle?” Gretta asked. She settled into the role of alpha’s mate seamlessly. I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t envious. We should’ve been working with
each other to bring the packs together. Soon, we would be.
“While I’ve been at my mom’s, I binge-watched all your episodes. I love that the enhanced versions are available now with all the behind-the-scenes commentary.”
“I don’t miss the hot seat,” Sunny said, and the ladies laughed. “But
on the other hand, I kinda do.”
“I miss all the cute dates. While you were filming, everyone in The Village was so excited, like
they were the ones falling in love.” One step closer to my goal. “I miss that feeling. Can’t do that as an old
“Like hell you can’t.” Leave it to Roxy to call me out. “Damon
is constantly coming with the most adorable nights out—and the sexiest nights in.”
“Wait until that baby comes,” I warned her. “You’ll be thankful when Damon brings you a glass of water because you’re
too tired to get off the couch.”
Sunny nodded. “I hate to say she’s right, but we need to be realistic about what these babies have in store for us.”
“Look at who decided to grace us with her presence.” Bibi put her hand on my shoulder and squeezed it. “To what do we owe this honor?”
I deserved that. I’d been hiding at Mom’s, turning down invites from the Werewives—because I was afraid of what would happen if I let myself have a little fun here. If I let myself be Colorado Ranch pack.
All that was about to change.
“I want to go home.” The declaration was met by eight shocked expressions. “But
only if Jackson proves to me that things will be different. And I need your help.”
“What did you have in mind?” Tina asked.
“I want him to win me over, like I don’t already wear his mark. I want him to fight for me, like he fights for all these things that have brought my pack to its knees. And I want to film it.” That sounded presumptuous out loud. “So viewers can understand why he’s worth another chance.”
“This can be your pack too,” Jenny said when she came back with an omelet for me. “You
were born Colorado Ranch pack.”
“This is my pack. But I’m the Green Mountain pack’s alpha’s mate. I have a duty to those
wolves.” And I should’ve done so much more for them. I had to talk to them before filming started, so they didn’t think I was abandoning the pack.
“So you want to be a Real Werewife.” Bibi’s face lit up. “Would you like to be the first she-wolf to go through Bibi Bootcamp?”
Already I was in over my head. “What’s Bibi Bootcamp?”
“Oh, it’s going to be amazing. I’ll give you a complete makeover, and advise you on how to win over your mate.” Bibi took a sip of her latte. “Since it’s
Jackson we’re talking about, I’ll
have my work cut out for me. But if I can help you straighten him out, I can do anything.”
“Stephanie, Tessa, and I have been talking about a Christmas special,” Tina said. “The plan was to give updates on the couples from the previous seasons, especially since we have so many babies on the way. But they’d
both love it if we had dates to film…and the viewers are already invested in your story.”
“Don’t I know it,” I scoffed.
“It’s a good thing,” Laura said. “They want you to be
“So The Real Werewives are back?” Bibi asked. “Because we need to get started right away. We don’t have a lot of time,
if we want to get Michelle and Jackson their happily ever after by Christmas.”
Tina pulled out her phone. “Let me talk to the ladies.”
Things were moving fast. I knew they would, but there was no way to prepare myself for the real time speed. I put my hands up, but there was no stopping this train now that I’d set it into motion. “First, we need to make sure Jackson’s on board.”