Authors: Lily Graison
In a world where the supernatural isn't supposed to exist, one woman comes face to face with the monsters and fights to survive their call.
Investigative reporter Rayna Ford is sent to the small community of Wolf's Creek to write an expose on a town supposedly over run with werewolves. Assuming the inhabitants to be under a mass delusion, she learns quickly that all isn't as it seems. Their plans involve more than a newspaper article and her life hangs in the balance as their motive for luring her to them is revealed.
Garrett Kincaid knows a thing or two about werewolves. He is one. After leaving his pack, he's spent the last twelve years pretending to be something he isn't. His closely guarded secret threatens to destroy him when he meets Rayna Ford, the woman his wolf has claimed as his own. When he learns the pack has lured Rayna to them in order to get to him, he races to Wolf's Creek to protect her from the very thing he fears the most. Himself.
The power struggle within the pack becomes clear once Garrett reaches his old home and learns of the pack's plans for Rayna. The beast lurking beneath his skin is torn between protecting the woman he wants to call mate and keeping the balance within the pack on neutral ground. When choosing a side no longer matters, he does what he must to save his mate, even if that means making one of the most difficult decisions of his life.
When the stakes are high, and lives hang in the balance, can you ignore life as you know it to answer...The Calling.
Copyright © 2010 Lily Graison
All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted, in any form or by any means mechanical, electronic, photocopying, recording or otherwise without the prior written consent of the publisher, nor be otherwise circulated in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without a similar condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
The right of Lily Graison to be identified as the Author of the Work has been asserted by her in accordance with the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act 1988.
First printed February 2010
All characters in this publication are purely fictitious and any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.
Edited by Meg Richman
Cover by Lily Graison
ISBN: 1-906023-71-9 / 978-1-906023-71-3
The stench from the alley caused Rayna's stomach to heave. Rotting flesh, the coppery tang of blood, and the scent of human waste triggered her gag reflex. Holding her breath helped ward off some of the smell but the images of the girl would follow her into nightmares for weeks to come.
The blaring wail of rescue vehicles grew louder. Steeling her nerves to see everything she could before she was forced to leave, she took a step closer to the body to get a better look.
"You do realize you're standing in a puddle of blood, right?"
Rayna jumped, startled by the voice, and glanced down, hissing a curse at the thick, black sludge under her feet before taking a step back. She frowned at the dark splotches that were now smeared on the edge of her sneakers. Something thick and meaty was stuck to the toe of her shoe and she scraped her foot across the ground, dislodging the chunk of lord knows what that was hanging there, and felt her stomach turn again.
"Why are you at my crime scene, Ms. Ford? You're trampling on my evidence."
She knew without looking who was behind her. The condescending tone of voice told her it was Garrett. Turning her head to look over her shoulder confirmed it. He didn't look happy either.
Of course, it may have been the fact that he looked as if he'd just crawled out of bed. His white button-up shirt had more wrinkles than a Shar Pei pup, his tie was crooked and the suit jacket he wore was just as wrinkled as his shirt. His black trousers weren't much better. He also suffered from one serious case of bed-head. His dark locks were tousled and thrown askew. A days worth of stubble marred his handsome face and she cringed when she saw fire in his tawny brown eyes.
She straightened her shoulders and turned to face him. "The same reason you are," she said, using the same clipped tones he'd used with her. "To find out who's behind the series of murders plaguing our fair city."
"Bullshit," Garrett laughed. "You're after your story. You could care less who or what it is as long as your name gets put on the front page of the newspaper."
"That's harsh, Garrett."
"It's also the truth." He crossed his arms over his chest, which made his shoulders look impossibly wide, and studied her for long minutes before a tiny smile lifted the corner of his mouth. "Tell me, Rayna, I'm curious, are all reporters vultures or is that just something you've mastered?"
Rayna felt the jab like a fist to the gut. She stared at him, seeing the contempt in his eyes and wondered why he hated her so much. Just because their little affair went sour wasn't a reason for him to go out of his way to offend her every time she saw him. He was the one who decided it was over, not her, but that didn't stop his prickly stabs every time she crossed his path, which meant she was getting insulted on a weekly basis.
She studied his face, wondering how they ever managed to carry on a half decent conversation. He was still the same egotistical asshole he always had been. Smug, cocky, irritating. And way too damn easy on the eyes. The fact she still enjoyed looking at him only made her ire at him more intense. No matter how big an asshole Garrett Kincaid was, her treacherous pulse raced just a little bit faster every time she saw him.
Ignoring his barbed comment, and how said pulse was beginning to race, she smiled and said, "Well, someone has to report what you guys fail to release to the public, Detective Kincaid."
"So making yourself at home during a formal investigation is your way of what? Doing your civic duty? I should have you arrested for crossing the police line."
"You could," she said, "but you won't." She hoped like hell he wouldn't. The last time she'd crossed the police barricade he'd hauled her all the way to the police station before letting her go. Hopefully tonight wouldn't be a repeat of that bit of drama.
"And what makes you so sure I won't?"
She smiled at him and tilted her head to one side. "Because if you arrest me, that means you'll have to spend hours dealing with me and we both know the sight of me infuriates you for some unknown reason."
He heaved a heavy sigh and glanced around the alley before facing her again. "What are you doing here, Rayna?"
"I'm a reporter, Garrett, and another dead body equals news," she said smugly. Digging her voice recorder out of her bag, she turned it on before flashing him a saccharine smile. "Tell me Detective Kincaid, what do the residents of Bluff's Point need to do to keep themselves safe from the Night Stalker?"
"The Night Stalker?" He gave her an appalled look. "Christ, Rayna. Don't go printing that shit in the paper. If you give this creep a name it'll only give him more reason to hunt."
"He's going to do that anyway. How many are dead now, Garrett?"
He stared at her. "Five."
"Exactly. You have a serial killer on your hands, just like my last story indicated. It's my job to tell anyone who will listen what this guy gets off on." He didn't look too pleased with that fact. She ignored his stare and extended her arm, holding the voice recorder out to him and asked, "Was the victim sexually assaulted?"
He ran a hand over his face and looked over his shoulder. The alley was starting to fill with officers, the choppy static of voices coming through walkie-talkies filling the air. He ran a hand through his hair before turning back to face her. "We're not playing this game tonight, Rayna. You've got all the information you're going to get. I'm tired, the chief has been all over my ass for weeks now because of you and your little investigations and you being here isn't going to help my case any. I want you out of here."
"Oh, come on, Garrett," she said, resisting the urge to stomp her foot like a child. "Give me something to go on and I'll leave."
"Go home, Rayna."
She watched him for long moments before turning to look back at the body. Her stomach tried to revolt again at the sight of it. The poor girl had been nearly torn apart. Luckily it was dark enough that the bits and pieces that looked like torn clothing would let her mind think it was, but deep down she knew better.
The girl's chest was ripped open. The stench of blood and other things rolled her stomach and made her dinner sour and threaten to come back up. She'd been holding her breath before Garrett showed up. The verbal sparring with him hadn't afforded her the luxury any longer and she could smell the death that clung to the girl and the rotten waste in the alley.
Resisting the urge to cover her nose with her hand, she sucked in a sharp breath through her mouth and said, "This looks like an animal attack. Is that something new or has the police department been keeping secrets again?" She turned away from the body, putting her back to it, and took a few steps closer to Garrett. "The public has a right to know these things. How many dead women will it take before the real story finally reaches them?"
Rayna knew she crossed the line the moment Garrett's handsome face contorted. His jaw clenched, his eyes narrowing as anger washed over his features. She took a step back when he advanced on her and grabbed her arms.
"You just don't know when to let go, do you? This isn't a game, Rayna. People are dying. Women. Do you want to be next?"
"I won't be if you'll tell me what I need to look out for! Why all the secrets, Garrett? What is it the police don't want us to know?"
He stared down at her, their noses almost touching. She could feel his breath on her face; smell the clean, fresh scent of his skin. The heat from his body scorched her flesh where he touched her and she realized too late she'd leaned into him, their bodies now flush. His gaze never faltered, the anger she saw on his face slowly sliding away and he tilted his head just enough to make her think he was going to kiss her. To her disappointment, he didn't.
The anger returned a moment later but the fierce look in his eyes had changed, replaced with something she'd never seen within him before. Fear. He was scared. She could see it as he stared down at her, feel it in the way he held his body and in the small tremble in his voice. But scared of what and why? She swallowed the lump that formed in her throat and tried to ignore how good it felt to have him so close. "Talk to me, Garrett."
His gaze traveled her face, sweeping across her features before landing on her lips. "Go home, Rayna," he said softly, letting go of her and taking a step back. She felt the loss immediately.
"When will the official police report be available?"
"You'll be the first to know." He turned and walked away without another word, leaving her to stand amongst the flashing lights of rescue vehicles and the stagnant smells only a dirty alley could produce.
Rayna studied his retreating form. Since when did Garrett not give her something to go on? He might hate her now since she wasn't sharing his bed but he always threw her some tiny bit of information just to get rid of her. "I guess the honeymoon really is over," she said to herself.
Sighing, she glanced at her watch. She had just enough time to type up her report, sketchy as it was, and get it to the newsroom for the morning edition. She turned the voice recorder off and stuffed it into her bag, looking around the alley one last time before turning and walking to her car. She had all the information she was going to get tonight. For whatever reason, Garrett didn't want to play anymore.
* * * *
Garrett stood at the end of the alley and watched Rayna's car pull out onto the street. The taillights flashed, painting the night bright red before blinking out. When she rounded the corner and left his line of sight, he turned and walked back to the victim, staring down at her. The blood around the girl's body spread across the pavement in a large black puddle. The sight of it caused his teeth to ache. He could taste it on the back of his tongue, smell its stench in the air. Tainted and stale.
He could also smell Rayna. Her scent hung heavy in the air and caused other parts of his body to ache. No matter what he did to chase her away, she was always there.
He'd been the biggest ass he knew how to be around her and still, she haunted him. Nothing he did got rid of her and he knew it would get her killed eventually, but staying away from her completely would only kill her faster. The body lying at his feet proved that fact. Thankfully Rayna hadn't been able to link all the victims together yet like he had. They all shared the same characteristics. He didn't even have to ask to know this woman was in her late twenties with brown hair halfway down her back, wore a size six, and had graduated from Hamilton College.