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  • Writer's pictureAyla Volk

Newly Released: The Wiccan's Circle

Ayla Volk's newest title, The Wiccan's Circle, book 3 in the Wiccan Saga, is now available on:

Juniper spends time with her fathers pack learning what it means to be a sister,  daughter, and Luna. When a new threat comes after her family,  the West Moon pack stands shoulder to shoulder to help protect them, Juniper and Forest at the front. Will she be able to protect her new found family, or will their adversaries be able to break them down?



Chapter 1

~ Juniper ~

I gripped onto the worn leather reins tightly as excitement filled me. I glanced back at Forest who looked far less thrilled with the idea of riding horses than I did.

“We have horses back home,” I teased him.

“Yeah, but I leave them up to Oliver and the others to handle.”

I could hear Caspian chuckle as he lifted himself onto his saddle.

“We find it a better tactic to herd the cattle with horses. Since it is our main source of income, we all participate.” He looked over at me, “Make sure you don’t hold those too tight. The horse will feel the tension.”

I lessened my hold on the straps, eager to learn. We had been at my father's pack for a few days. Both he and June, his mate, had given us the grand tour of their land. Today we were helping move some of their cattle up to another pasture. Besides the three of us, there were a handful of Silver Ridge men heading up with us.

“Alpha Forest and yourself will stay in the back with me. We will let the others take up the sides,” Caspian told me.

“Sounds good,” I smiled back at him.

He let out a sharp whistle and everyone began moving. Snow still stuck to the shadows of the tree line, but the warmth of spring had melted it from the center of the greening meadows. It took Forest and I a few minutes to get used to riding, but the horses seemed to know what they were doing. We followed the herd of black cattle up a beautiful valley. A serpentining sapphire blue river flowed down the center surrounded by a thick sea of emerald green grass that dissipated as the trees took over. On either side of the valley the pine covered mountains sloped upwards, casting their shadows on the glen below. It looked like a scene straight out of a movie. The beauty and perfection seemed as if only fiction could have created it, yet here we were. I took all of it in, savoring each and every moment of the experience.

After nearly two hours of riding, the sun began to take hold against the shadows as the trees opened up, revealing a thriving meadow. The first colors of spring wildflowers sprinkled the landscape as bees made busy by their work collecting pollen for their hives darted from one bloom to the next.

“Right up here,” Caspian called out.

The Silver Ridge men whistled and ran their horses, directing the cattle across the shallow river into their fresh feeding grounds. I watched mesmerized as they moved them with ease.

“I wanted to show you two something while we were up here,” Caspian told us. “Let’s go up this way.”

He led us towards the hills, breaking back into the towering trees. There was a narrow dirt trail that looped its way through. I listened to the birds singing overhead and closed my eyes as I took a deep breath in. The air was crisp and fresh. I could smell the first of the flowers that had welcomed the warming weather.

“Where are we heading?” Forest asked him.

“You’ll see when we get there,” Caspian smiled back.

We started heading up the mountain through switchbacks that zigged and zagged up the slope. A part of me wished I could jump off of the horse so that I could be closer to the ground. I felt like I was missing so much from atop it.

“My father used to bring me up here all the time when I was a boy. It’s my favorite spot on all of our land.”

“I can’t wait to see what it is,” I told Caspian back.

I could hear the crashing of water ahead of us. Caspian held up his hand signaling for us to stop.

“We can unload here,” he said as he dismounted from his steed.

He tied off the horse to a branch nearby and walked back to hold onto mine as I followed suite. Forest dropped off of his own horse and tied it up by the other two.

“Just a little further,” Caspian pointed up the trail.

I was excited to be down on the trail with my own two feet as I took in my surroundings. With the strengthening sound of water, I picked up my pace, unable to hold myself back. We turned a corner, revealing a massive waterfall cascading down a rocky cliff face. A rippling pool of steel blue water sat at the bottom of the falls.

“It’s beautiful,” I gushed.

“I thought you might think so,” Caspian smiled at me.

“Can I swim here?”

“It’s probably pretty chilly. It’s all snow melt.”

“That won’t be a problem for her,” Forest told him as he watched me with amusement.

I started stripping off my clothes, nearly tripping on them as the eagerness took hold.

“Next time give your old man a heads up,” Caspian called over.

I looked back at him to see he had turned away. Forest stood next to him with his arms crossed over his chest, chuckling. I finished undressing and dove into the water. I could feel the strong flow of power pull into my body. I swam towards the crashing waters and dove underneath. It felt like an electrical charge revitalizing every inch of me. I came up on the back side of the falls and held myself tight to the smoothed granite rock face. I ran my hand up the stone, finding a good hold to steady myself as I bent my head backwards allowing the water to run through my hair. I could have stayed there all day, hidden away in my own sanctuary amongst the water. When I turned back around, I could see the shadows of Caspian and Forest come to the edge of the pool.

“Juniper,” Caspian called out.

I could barely make out his voice past the thundering waters next to me. I dove back under and popped my head up on the other side.

“Juniper, I’ve been calling for you,” Caspian expressed with worry.

“I told you, she does that,” Forest said from next to him, unfazed.

I smiled at him, “I’m sorry, I could barely hear you. I was on the other side of the falls.”

I swam closer to the edge where they were standing.

“I take it you like water?” Caspian asked.

I laid my head back into the natural pool, “I love it. It gives me energy.”

“Her witch side,” Forrest explained. “She absorbs the energy and power from the water.”

Caspian ran his hand through his thick brown hair, “I guess that makes sense.”

“It takes some getting used to. At home, I can’t keep her away from the glacial lakes.”

“I guess I chose right bringing you here.”

“Oh, yes. This is truly amazing. I haven’t had an opportunity to swim under such a powerful waterfall before. It’s invigorating.”

Caspian chuckled, “I’m glad you like it.”

“You might want to settle in,” Forest added, “I don’t foresee Juniper getting out of there anytime soon.”

Caspian nodded and took a seat on a rock outcropping nearby. I dove back under, swimming up the current. I stopped to look at the trout that were swimming by some nearby rocks. Their steady movements kept them in place against the water’s pull. I enjoyed watching them and took note of their graceful speckled colors.

It must have been near an hour before I made my way back to the side of the pool. Forest stood there with a blanket held out to wrap me in.

“You brought a blanket?” I asked surprised.

“Caspian had one in his satchel.”

“Never go without it,” he hollered from the trees.

“Thank you,” I called back to him.

I dried off and redressed, slightly disappointed to leave, but I didn’t want the others to have to wait on me any longer. I could have spent the entire day there. As we rode back down the way we had came, I felt renewed and ready to take on the rest of the day. When we arrived back at the barn, several men came out and took our horses from us.

“June has lunch ready down at the pack house if you both are hungry,” Caspian offered.

“I’m starved. Thank you for taking us up with you,” I smiled at him.

“Thank you for going along with me.”

We joined the rest of the Silver Ridge Pack, along with our own warriors as we ate a hearty lunch of chili and cornbread. It was the perfect meal after the morning ride. The Silver Ridge Pack ate most of their meals together in a large dining room in the pack house. It was served cafeteria style where everyone lined up at the kitchen window to receive their serving. Of course the high ranked wolves, including ourselves, were served at our table. We were sitting with Caspian and June.

“How was your ride this morning?” June inquired.

“It was amazing! Caspian took us up to the most beautiful waterfall,” I told her.

“It is beautiful up there, isn’t it? He took me there when we first mated. I never tire of it.”

“I don’t think you ever can,” I smiled warmly at her.

“What’s in store for the rest of the day?” Forest asked Caspian.

“I need to attend to some things in house, but you and your pack are welcome to wander around and see what you can find.”

“I’m heading into town to get some supplies if you want to join?” June added.

I looked over at Forest to see if he had a preference. He simply shrugged his shoulders at me, his go to sign for letting me decide.

“We would love to join you June. Thank you for the offer.”

“Great! We can head out right after lunch.”

Just as she promised, we loaded up into her large suburban after lunch and started on our way. I had decided to ride with June while Forest and August followed behind in their own car.

“It’s nice to have just us girls,” she smiled at me as she drove off of pack lands.

“It is. Do you go into town often?” I asked her.

“Once or twice a week. It depends on how much everyone eats back at home. You know those men. They can put it away,” she laughed.

“I never realized how much one being could eat until I joined the West Moon Pack.”

“It’s a give away for our kind. Hearty eaters,” she smiled as she turned down a road.

“My boys don’t like to join me too often. They always feel like their job is to be by their father's side but as Lunas we know that caring for the pack includes more than protection. Each person needs to be cared for from the bottom up.”

I took in her words of wisdom, thinking of ways I could do better for my own pack. The drive was fairly quick, just short of half an hour to get to the town. Old painted wooden and brick buildings lined the main street with mountains on all sides. It was picturesque. We pulled into the parking lot of a small grocery store on the far end of town and unloaded. Forest parked in the spot next to us.

“You two are welcome to join or to take a look around if you want. We won’t be too long,” June told them as they exited their vehicle.

“We will go take a walk in town and meet back up with you here in about twenty minutes,” Forest replied.

I gave him a quick kiss before following June into the store. She pulled a cart out and passed it to me before pulling another for herself. I had only been to a grocery store once before when I still lived at the coven. I had gone with my Gran to get some ingredients that had been forgotten on our weekly grocery delivery. I looked across the large space taking in the aisles of food and produce section around me. Bright fluorescents shined overhead ensuring no corner was left in shadow.

“Do you shop for everything that the ranch uses?” I asked her.

“Some of the workers come themselves to get things but since we feed them all in the main house, I do the bulk of the shopping. I have a standing order that I pick up once a week, but on days like today, I come to get some extras to tide us over until our normal pick up day.”

We walked towards the produce and started bagging up apples, oranges and a variety of other fruits and vegetables that they had a good stock of. Before I knew it, June’s whole cart was full.

“We get most of our produce from the store. Dry goods I get in bulk from the larger cities, and meat we cover at home,” she explained to me.

We went down one of the aisles and she began to fill my cart with juices and soda. We grabbed a few things down another couple of aisles before heading up to the register.

“Good afternoon, Mrs. June,” the cashier said as she started to ringer us up.

“Hi there, Carol. How are your grand babies doing?”

“Oh, you know how the little ones are. Busy as always.”

“You’re telling me. I miss when my boys were that young. Now they always have their own things to fill their time.”

“Just wait until you have grand babies of your own.”

“I have a few years yet,” she smiled back at the elderly woman.

We pushed our carts back out to the cars and began to load the supplies into the back of her car. Once it had all been put away, we walked over to Main Street to look for Forest and August. Most of the buildings contained mom and pop shops or small restaurants. There was an old stone church near the center that I stopped to admire.

“This is an old mining town, so most of the buildings are from the late eighteen hundreds and early nineteen hundreds. A few have been rebuilt or fixed up over time, but they try and keep the same aesthetic. More younger couples have been moving in and trying to modernize the shops. They’ve added some clothing stores and even a ‘chic’ dog store,” she informed me.

“What’s a chic dog store?” I asked her with curiosity.

“It’s all posh home made dog treats and designer collars. They’re cute, but I think they have set up in the wrong market. Most of the people around here with dogs are ranchers. No one is willing to spend that kind of money on their working dogs. Though they do have some nice meat covered bones, I suppose.”

From my time living amongst the pack, I had seen how shifters looked at pet stores. Watching dogs collared and leashed paraded around by a humans could hit a raw nerve to some, though I still didn’t have a problem with it. The dogs people owned were far different than what we turned into.

We found Forest and August walking out of a small store. Forest had a brown bag in his hand.

“Did you do a little shopping?” I asked him teasingly.

“I thought I would get you a souvenir from our trip.”

He pulled out a long black dress made from soft cotton. The bottom had layers sewn together as they tapered down. It was in my ‘hippy’ style, as he called it.

“Thank you,” I smiled at him as I looked it over. “It’s beautiful.”

We stopped at the little cafe and each grabbed a drink before heading back to the Silver Ridge Pack.

Chapter 2

~ Juniper ~

When we pulled up in front of the Silver Ridge pack house, several people came out from within to help unload the car. So many hands made quick work putting all of the groceries we had purchased away and I soon found my way into the kitchen where June was rolling up her sleeves to start preparing dinner.

“Do you help with all of the meals?” I asked her.

“Most. I love cooking and I enjoy taking care of our pack. Do you ever help at you home?”

“Most of the pack either eat at the diner our at their own homes. In the pack house, we have a cook so there aren’t too many opportunities to help out. Though, where I grew up I helped my Gran quite often to prepare for our family, but I never took the lead on the meals.”

“Why don’t I show you what we do here,” she offered.

“I would love that. Thank you.”

I washed up and joined her at the counter. She had several jars of dried spices in front of her along with a large bowl.

“Since we serve so many, we make things in bulk. Today, we are going to make our meat rub. First we will add the spices and some salt and pepper.”

She handed me a measuring cup and a large jar of garlic powder. We quickly went to work adding each of the spices into the bowl and mixing them together. Bryony, one of the other girls who worked in the kitchen brought over the first tray of steaks.

“Now we rub the spices onto the meat. Make sure you cover the entire steak.”

I followed her directions carefully. When I looked over, I saw that she had already nearly completed the tray of steaks where I had only done five.

“You’re fast!” I gawked at her.

“You get used to it. You learn how to massage it in, covering the whole steak. Speed is not important, it is the care you give to it.”

Bryony brought a second tray while collecting the first. I enjoyed spending this time with June. The more time I spent with her, the more comfortable I had become. This had been my first trip to meet my father’s pack and family. I had been hesitant the first few days since I was his illegitimate daughter, but they had welcomed me with open arms. We only had two days left before we needed to return to our own pack and I was determined to make the most of it.

After we had completed prepping the steaks, we moved onto peeling potatoes. June’s three son’s came into the kitchen, snagging bits of food off the counter.

“You boys head on out of here,” June warned them.

“We’re hungry mom,” Cain, the youngest protested. “And we don’t have anything to do.”

Jasper swatted his brother on the shoulder and looked wearingly at June.

“Nothing to do, huh?” June said with mischief in her voice. “Perhaps you want to take Juniper out and show her around? You boys should get to know your sister better anyway.”

I froze from her sudden suggestion. I didn’t want to feel like an inconvenience for them.

“They don’t need to if they don’t want. Besides, I’m helping you.”

“Non-sense. You four have not had a lot of time to get to know each other better. It is important for you lot to get to better acquainted, just as we have.”

She eyed her boys in warning.

“Of course, mom. We can take her out,” Jasper, the oldest said.

“Okay,” I said hesitantly.

I washed off my hands and grabbed my jacket from a nearby chair before we filed out the back door. We walked silently down a dirt trail through a meadow nearing the tree line.

“Where should we go?” Cain asked as we walked.

Jasper, who was leading us, stopped and turned around to look at us.

“What do you think Oliver?”

Oliver seemed like the quiet one of the bunch.

“You guys don’t really need to take me out if you don’t want to,” I offered before he could answer.

“What? And miss spending time with our witch sister?” Cain joked as he jumped from one foot to the other.

I tensed slightly from his words. Jasper slapped cain upside the back of his head.

“What was that for?” Cain protested rubbing the back of his head.

Jasper rolled his eyes at his brother.

“Sorry about him. It’s not a problem to take you out,” Jasper said.

“Okay,” I replied hesitantly.

“Let’s take her up to the old mine,” Oliver finally replied to Jaspers original question.

“What’s the old mine?” I asked them as we started walking again.

“It’s an old silver mine from back during the gold rush,” Oliver explained.

“It’s so cool. You can even see where the old town used to be,” Cain added.

“That sounds great. Is it far?”

“A few miles. We can shift if you prefer?” Jasper added.

“Whatever you guys want.”

I preferred to hike. I liked being able to take my time on a trail, but I didn’t want to be more of an inconvenience than I already felt. They were all teenage boys. Jasper being the eldest at nineteen and Cain being only fourteen. Cain and Oliver had been at school all day and I was sure they didn’t want to spend the little free time they had taking me on a sight seeing tour.

“We will hike then. Cain hasn’t shifted yet, and I would prefer not to carry him on my back if I don’t have to.”

“Sounds good to me.”

“Hey, I only have a few more years and then I will be faster than both of you!” Cain shouted and laughed at them.

“Sure you will,” Jasper said back at him with a smile on his face.

We followed the winding trail through the forest, climbing higher up one of the mountains.

“What do you guys usually do when you're not playing tour guide?” I asked them.

“We are usually training with our dad or the warriors,” Jasper replied.

“Why not today?”

“He had a meeting with the Beta. Usually he has us join, but not always.”

“How do you like training with him?”

“It’s fine. We’ve been doing it all our lives. Since I finished school, it has become my main job. I’m basically his shadow, following him around so that I can observe him.”

“When will you take over as Alpha?”

“Probably not for another ten or twenty years.”

“That’s a long time to train for it.”

“It’s a big responsibility.”

I thought of my own role within my pack back home. I was the Luna. I had learned over time that most high ranking daughters would be trained on the different responsibilities. June had explained to me earlier in the week that she had been the daughter of an Alpha of a nearby pack. She had been trained since she was only five on how to fulfill the role of Luna. I had only stepped into this world nine months ago. It made me question if I was doing everything I was supposed to be.

We broke through the trees to a small meadow.

“Look,” Cain called as he ran over to a row of stones hidden within the tall grass. “This was one of the old buildings.”

“Wow, that’s so neat. Are there a lot of them?”

“Yeah. I’ve found ten buildings so far. And that,” he pointed up the mountain to a dilapidated wooden frame with a pile of rocks falling down the hillside from within, “is the mine.”

“That’s just the tailing,” Oliver corrected him.

“What’s a tailing?” I asked.

“It’s where they dumped the rock they mined out. The entrance is around the side,” Oliver explained.

We wandered around the clearing. Cain pointed out each of the old foundations that were hidden amongst the wild grass before we headed up towards the opening of the mine. As we curved a corner, some still-standing wooden buildings stood out against the forested area. You could make out what once was old rail tracks leading into one of the buildings. It was made from thick wood and portions of it had caved in. We climbed inside through an opening and looked at the pillars and metal that still stood before following the tracks out and up to the entrance of the mine.

“Damn, we didn’t grab any flashlights,” Jasper said to no one in particular.

“Can’t we see with our wolves?” I asked them.

“It’s completely black in there. Even our wolves can’t help us.”

“I can help,” I offered after seeing their disappointment.

They each looked at me with questioning and wonder. 

“Like you said, I am a witch,” I smiled at them.

“That so cool!” Cain shouted with excitement.

We stood at the entrance of the darkened mine. I rubbed my hands together and held one out, palm up as I began to chant.

Cumhachd a-staigh, sruthadh troimhe, soillsich solas romham.

A flame formed at the center of my hand. I repeated my chant a few more times helping it to grow larger. When it was the size I wanted I looked up at the others. Cain’s face was elated with excitement, while Oliver and Jasper had a look of amusement, but I could tell they were trying to hide their own excitement.

“Shall we?” I asked them.

Jasper led us into the mine shaft, followed by myself then Cain and Oliver. With the fire I held in my hand illuminating the area, we could make out the old timber supports and rough compacted dirt walls. The cart tracks led down the center of the shaft. As we traveled further, I tripped over an old pick axe that was on the ground. Jasper caught me before I could fall. A swarm of bats were startled from the screech I had let out and flew towards us. We all ducked down out of their way. I could feel the wind whip by me from their movement. The stagnate smell of old water and dirt grew stronger as they brought the air from the belly of the cave to us.

“Are you alright?” Jasper asked me.

I looked back where the bats had flown before answering, “I’m fine. They just startled me.”

“Maybe they thought you were calling to them,” Cain joked.

My cheeks flushed with embarrassment, but Oliver shoved his brother while Jasper shook his head.

“You will learn to ignore him,” Jasper chastised his brother.

“My cousin who I grew up with is like him,” I smiled at them. “I can handle it.”

The thought of Meadow and how we last parted brought a sadness to me. After her mother's death and her grandmother’s banishment from our coven, she had come to stay with us for a month at West Moon. It was good for her to find some happiness again, but it made her not want to return home. We had fought over it. If she were to not return to the coven, then she too would be banished and I would not be allowed to talk to her again. We hadn’t talked since and every time I thought of her, it broke my heart into pieces all over again.

Jasper pulled me from my thoughts, “What is your cousin like?”

“She is really my second cousin, but she was more like a sister to me. We are the same age and grew up nearly inseparable.”

“Do you still see your family from…that side?”

“I do. I try and visit them every couple months.”

“What was it like growing up in a coven?”

“Different…” I started, “For one, there were only women. Men were not allowed at our home, at least besides the occasional handy man.”

“That’s what I’m talking about,” Cain chimed in.

I ignored him as I continued, “Everything was about the land and nature. We farmed and gathered. We set traps for our meat and shopped for what we could not collect or make on our own.”

“Sounds pretty similar.”

“I suppose in that way, it is. And the community. We were all very close. There are fifteen woman in my family and most lived in our main house while a few had houses of their own. My Gran raised me after my mother died.”

“Our dad mentioned that she died. I’m sorry about that,” Jasper told me as we continued down the shaft. “How did it happen?”

“She was murdered.”

It was always a big story when it was brought up and I didn’t feel like sharing it again. Perhaps another time, but right now I wanted to enjoy my time with my new found brothers. Not living in the past. From my shortened answer, they took my hint and dropped the subject.

“What about you guys? How was it being raised as the Alpha’s children?”

“Great!” Cain said smugly.

“It’s a lot of responsibility,” Jasper added. “There is a higher standard on how we behave. If our friends wanted to go out and get into some mischief, we had to stay back.”

“Except that one time you and Gavin got caught past the border,” Oliver chimed in.

“Shut it,” Jasper warned him.

“Oh come on, Jasper,” Cain goaded him. “It’s not that bad. Tell her the story.”

“It’s nothing,” he spoke as he started walking ahead.

“He’s just embarrassed that he got in trouble. He’s the golden boy,” Cain said as he walked back up to Jasper throwing an arm over his shoulder.

“What about you?” I asked Oliver.

He shrugged his shoulders, “Like Jasper said, it’s a lot of responsibility. We train more. When we aren’t training, we usually are working with our father or one of the other high ranks. It wasn’t so bad when we were kids. We were allowed to go play with the rest of the kids. Our dad goes on about how he wants us to be prepared early since he had to take over so young. I’m sure he felt overwhelmed and is trying to prevent that from happening to us.”

“Forest took over young too. I can see where he is coming from.”

Oliver nodded but didn’t reply. We caught back up to Cain and Jasper right as the shaft finally opened up. There were old wooden boxes stacked against the side of the room and tools scattered around. I heard a crunch beneath my foot as I stepped on a broken piece of glass.

“Careful,” Jasper warned.

I pulled my foot back up off the glass and carefully placed it down to the side of it.

“There are a bunch of tunnels leading out from here. We’ve been down most of them. A few are underwater now,” Oliver explained.

“What have you guys found in here?”

“Mostly what you see around here. There’s some old explosives down one of the tunnels,” Jasper explained.

“How often do you guys come up here?”

“Not as much anymore. We used to love coming up as kids to explore.”

“Our dad hates it though,” Cain smiled. “He says the mines are too dangerous.”

Oh great. Just what I needed was to anger my father after I first met him. Yet, I was happy that my brothers were willing to share this with me.

“Why do you guys like it up here so much?”

They just shrugged their shoulders.

“It’s a place to explore,” Cain finally said, “who doesn’t like doing that?”

We looked around the room for a while, checking out all of the long lost treasures that were left behind. It was like a time capsule. A look into a time long forgotten. There was even an old pair of boots in one of the corners. I could only imagine the story they could tell.  After a short while we decided to make our way back out. I wasn’t sure how long my fire would hold out as I had never kept it lit for so long. As we broke out of the darkness, we saw a breathtaking sunset in front of us. The bright orange sky warmed me from within with its beauty.

“We should head back for dinner,” Jasper said.

We started walking back down the mountainside, when I saw all three of my brothers stop in their tracks.

“What’s wrong?” I asked them.



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