Authors: Rose J. Allister
The other man nodded. “Sure, I had cow hands. Fired the lot of ’em after what happened that first full moon.”
“What did happen?” Aimee asked.
He picked at a bit of dirt beneath his fingernail. “Didn’t take long for me to figure out I couldn’t be in charge of range work anymore. I couldn’t get near any of my animals—not even Monty. Went out to curry him the next day, and that son of a bitch bucked and whinnied like I was about to rip his throat out. I promoted one of the hands to ranch boss within the week, makin’ up some cock-and-bullshit story about needin’ more time to manage the books. Thought I had my situation nailed down and sealed tight.” He shook his head. “Then the full moon hit.”
“And no one to help you through it,” Dillon said. “Not an experience I wish on anyone.”
Kyle glanced at Aimee. “You saw what David went through with his first shift.” She nodded, her spine crawling with the uneasy feeling that she knew where his story was headed. “I was alone in my study when my body started rippin’ itself apart. When I changed, instinct took over. I busted right out the window and headed for Solomon—I could sense him out in the woods. I could sense trouble. When I caught the animal scent from the barn, however, a whole other instinct took over. Went straight for Monty and took him down right in his stall. Poor bastard.”
He paused, and Aimee swallowed down a greasy churn of nausea.
“It wasn’t until I was tearin’ up the carcass that I picked up a whiff of human scent. My new ranch boss had stayed behind to finish up some work. He wanted to impress me.” His eyes gleamed with dark fire. “He heard the commotion and pulled a pistol on the wolf tearin’ up the barn, but I turned on Jack before he could get a shot off. Not that it would have done him a lick of good, anyway.”
Aimee sat straight up, away from Dillon. “Jesus.”
“That’s when the pack showed up. Solomon had meant to come for me before the change hit, but he got waylaid by one of Blaise’s frequent pissin’ contests.”
Dillon muttered something unintelligible under his breath.
“Solomon got there in time to keep me from killin’ Jack, but I’d already had my teeth in his flesh. With the moon in full swing, the change came on him in minutes. The barn was full of nothin’ but howls and agonized screams.”
“Wait. Jack?” Aimee asked. “You don’t mean Jack from the cave the other night?”
He nodded. “The one who turned David. Ironic, ain’t it?”
She swallowed. “Solomon took over as his alpha when you turned him, same as he did for David.”
“He marked Jack as his own and took him into the pack, after all but beatin’ the bloodlust out of me, that is.” He turned to Dillon. “Bet you didn’t realize my past was quite so colorful.”
Dillon got to his feet. “Can’t say I’d have guessed it. But what happened was an accident. Believe me, I saw much worse livin’ under Blaise’s snout.”
While the three of them dressed in silence, Aimee contemplated what he must have gone through. “What happened once you shifted back?” she asked. “How did you deal with it?”
Kyle pulled on his hat and bent over to pry up the metal stakes they’d driven in the ground. “Once I came back to myself, I didn’t even want to live. I couldn’t face what I’d done. I knew then and there that I couldn’t risk hurtin’ anyone else. I fired the rest of the hands and sold off my livestock, along with most of the equipment. Since then, I’ve spent most of my time with Solomon and learnin’ ways to tame my nature.” He stood up, brushing dirt off his bare backside as he gazed around. “I rarely come out here anymore. Bad memories.”
“Why not just sell the land, too?” Dillon asked. “Get rid of the memories altogether.” His biceps bulged beneath the short sleeves of his tight, black T-shirt as he buttoned his jeans, and despite the somber direction the afternoon had just taken, Aimee couldn’t help but feel a small current of desire watching the muscles flex.
Kyle’s gaze hardened. “There are some memories we can’t afford to forget. I come back here every year on the anniversary of that night and sleep in that barn. I have to remember what I am and what I am capable of.” He dropped the chains in a pile and rose.
His blue eyes reflected not only the sky overhead but the blue checked pattern of his shirt. She wandered over to him and wrapped her arms around his taut waist. “I’m so sorry you had to go through all that. I’m surprised that you’d bring me here at all, if this place stirs up such difficult memories.”
His arms circled her as well, and he pressed a kiss to the top of her head. “It was long ago, and high past time to start buildin’ some new memories at the former West Ways Ranch. Memories I want to make with the two of you.”
Dillon strode up, setting his hat high on his head. “I’d say you’re off to a good start after the rather exhilaratin’ time we just spent with our lady.”
She loosened her grip on Kyle to catch hold of Dillon’s hand. “I’ll say. I won’t be forgetting that anytime soon.”
“Thought I might swing us by the house next,” Kyle said. “Let you two have a look-see. I figure it’s time to move back into the old homestead.”
Dillon raised his head to eye Kyle from under his Stetson. “Is that an offer to be bunkmates?”
“Unless you prefer sleepin’ under the stars when you ain’t chained up in a cave.” Kyle nudged Dillon’s arm with his elbow. “But if you do, one of the spare bedrooms has a hole in the roof that almost qualifies.”
“Beats freezin’ my ass off in winter when I’m shiverin’ too hard to manage a shift and pop out some warm fur.”
Kyle nodded. “Better than bein’ out in the woods where other packs and crazy redheads are lookin’ to take out hostility on the lone wolves.” He sighed. “I will warn you, though, the place has been neglected. Definitely needs some work.”
is my middle name,” Dillon said with a sexy grin that quickened Aimee’s pulse.
was your middle name,” she teased.
“I think Kyle will find I made a fair use of my hands back in my ranchin’ days.”
Kyle grunted. “Oh, I’ve experienced fair use of your hands, among other things.”
The men exchanged a heated glance that had Aimee licking her lips.
“The offer applies to you as well, Aimee,” Kyle said, picking up her hand and kissing the back of her ring. “Whenever you’re ready to leave the city grind and move up here with a couple disowned cowboys, you can call dibs on the side of the bed you prefer.”
She cocked her head and pretended to ponder. “Hm, that depends. Do you steal the covers?”
“No.” Kyle grabbed her around the waist and swung her around. “But I might just steal you out from under Dillon’s stiff cock every now and then. Alpha’s rights, you know.”
“That sounds fair. And definitely enticing enough for me to consider commuting to work. I call dibs on the middle of the bed, then. Right between the two of you.”
“Good.” He lowered her to the ground, letting her slide down his body to feel that his cock was getting hard again. “That’s where you belong.”
“Maybe I can catch rides from David,” she said, suddenly feeling breathless. “He plans to spend a lot of time up here as well. How do you feel about me carpooling with a fellow werewolf?”
“Just so long as the fellow werewolves you come home to are the ones standin’ right here,” Dillon said, pulling her to him and slipping a hand inside her blouse. Her nipple tightened, cutting loose a new swarm of butterflies in her stomach.
Kyle leaned over to flick his tongue over her lower lip. “Let’s hop in the truck so I can take you over to check out our new digs,” he breathed against her.
She nodded as a surge of contentment and anticipation bubbled up inside her. After years of struggle to take care of responsibilities and keep a roof over her head, she’d finally come home.
Dillon grunted as he grabbed a bigger handful of her breast. “First thing is to test out each and every mattress in the place,” he said gruffly. “We need to decide which one is most fittin’ to ravage you on all night long.”
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
When she’s not conjuring tales of hot cowboys under a full moon, J. Rose Allister enjoys her garden, cooking, movies, and hanging out with her author husband and family in their Southern California home.
Also by J. Rose Allister
Siren Publishing, Inc.