Table of Contents
The creature was huge, with creamy white fur tipped in black and gray around its face, ears, shoulders, and back. His eyes were a steely blue-gray and seemed to look straight into her soul. Despite the blood marring his coat on his right shoulder, he was beautiful.
And he’d easily ripped apart two grown men, one of them armed.
He continued to advance on her, and she shrank against the passenger’s side of her Camry, heart hammering in her throat. She couldn’t outrun him if she tried, a fact reflected in those piercing eyes. They were eerily intelligent, almost daring her to try so he could enjoy the thrill of chasing her down.
“Nice puppy,” she crooned, voice wobbling. Holding out a shaking hand, she tried a command. “Stay!” The beast stopped, cocked his head, an almost bemused expression on his canine face. “Good boy. Sit!”
Some of her fear began to ease and she wondered how well trained the animal was. Maybe he was someone’s guard dog that got lost? He’d certainly protected her from those bastards. “Roll over.”
At that, the creature’s form began to waver. Sort of reshape. She blinked rapidly, thinking there must have been something wrong with her vision. But no, she was simply losing her mind after all, because fur retracted, became skin. Paws became hands and feet with very human limbs attached. Tufted black ears went away; the snout disappeared and was suddenly a regal nose.
And now a black-haired man crouched where the wolf had been seconds ago. A big, very naked man who unfolded his tall body and gazed down at her, one corner of his mouth quirking upward.
“I’ll do a lot of things on command,” he drawled lazily. “But I don’t roll over for anyone, sweetheart.”
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First published by Signet Eclipse, an imprint of New American Library, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
First Printing, August 2011
Copyright © J. D. Tyler, 2011
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ISBN : 978-1-101-51740-6
To my mother, Trena Davis.
You are living proof that there is at least one angel walking the earth, who was put here to touch lives, fill them with joy and laughter, and make the world a happier place to be. God knows where I would be without your unconditional love and support, and I thank Him every day for blessing me with a mother as wonderful as you.
I love you.
Special thanks to:
My family, especially my children and my parents, for their unwavering support through an extremely difficult year. We made it, and we’re all stronger for it. I love you.
The Foxes—Tracy Garrett, Suzanne Ferrell, Addison Fox, Jane Graves, Julie Benson, Lorraine Heath, Sandy Blair, Alice Burton, and Kay Thomas. I don’t know what I’d do without you, and I’m not about to find out! Bring on the wine!
My agent, Roberta Brown—my cheerleader, friend, and rock. I can’t wait to see what fun surprises tomorrow brings for us.
My editor, Tracy Bernstein, for supporting and encouraging me when my personal life got really tough. You’re a diamond who allows your authors to shine, and I’m grateful for you.
My publicist, Erin Galloway, for your infectious enthusiasm and all the hard work you do.
Jaxon Law crouched behind a Dumpster at the rear of the old brick building, wishing he’d worn gloves to protect his hands. And not just because of the stinking garbage overflowing from the top to litter the pavement around him.
Gloves would have shielded him from the stain of the past, in the most literal sense. If he could stand wearing them, but he couldn’t. They were too hot, made his hands sweat.
Too bad, because there was a time and place to utilize his RetroCog gift and this wasn’t it. None of the Alpha Pack team, including himself, could afford a single distraction tonight. Something wasn’t right. A strange heaviness weighted the air, the sky an eerie yellow-green at midnight. A warning of wickedness. Of evil.
“We’ve got no business being here,” he muttered, eyes fixed on the building.
Beside him, Zander Cole gave a quiet huff in the darkness. “Tell that to Terry. He thinks we’re indestructible fucking superheroes—or at least he’s convinced
His best friend paused and Jaxon glanced over to see those strange onyx eyes glittering, body tense. “Got any vibes?”
“I’m just a Healer, man, remember? The only woo-woo shit I’m getting is the common sense
let’s get the fuck out of here
Zan was much more than “just a Healer,” but now wasn’t the time to argue the point. Every instinct Jax possessed, both human and wolf, was screaming at him to turn and run. Fast and far, no stopping until he’d put this godforsaken place—and the reality of what he’d become—far behind him. He wouldn’t, of course. Like his Pack brothers, he simply wasn’t made to do anything but stand and fight. Protect the unsuspecting world of humans from horrors they never dreamed could possibly exist.
Even at the cost of his own death, if necessary. But all his life he’d been protecting those who couldn’t defend themselves, so the prospect of dying didn’t bother him too much and it wasn’t what urged him to flee now. It was the inescapable fact that he’d graduated from battling human monsters to real ones, and the team rarely knew what type of slavering beast lurked behind door number three. It was the awful anticipation, and then the sinking in his gut when they encountered yet another deadly creature they had no idea how to defeat.
Sort of like playing Russian roulette with a loaded pistol.
Bullets, knives, and bombs were pretty straightforward—a soldier knows what to expect and who’s wielding them. Fangs, claws, and flesh-eating venom? Not so much. Those types of weapons sorta got left out of the manual.
But over the past five years, they’d learned, and fast. Do or die.
Ryon Hunter, the team’s Telepath and Channeler, pushed the order into their heads.
Terry says go!
They converged on the building from all sides—Jax, Zan, Ryon, Terry, Aric, Micah, Jonas, Ari, and Phoenix, or Nix, as they called him. Soon they’d learn whether their source was accurate. If so, a human family was being held captive by a coven of vampires, used as food and slave labor. They were probably terrified out of their wits, running out of hope that help would arrive in time.
Sidling up to the wall, Jax wrapped a towel around his fist to muffle the sound of the window breaking. He cleared the jagged edges; then he and Zan entered through it, letting their eyes adjust to the gloom. They didn’t need flashlights—their animal halves saw perfectly well in the dark.