Authors: Kate Douglas
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Contemporary, #Paranormal, #Chanku, #werewolves, #shapeshifters, #Montana, #Wolf Tales, #San Francisco, #sexy, #Erotica, #paranormal romance, #erotic romance
Emeline Cheval has always felt a darkness in her soul, an emptiness she blamed on her controlling parents. After years of unrest, Emy has finally found some sense of peace by living quietly far away from her family and her pack. But her world is thrown into chaos when she discovers a fellow Chanku trapped in a human trafficking and prostitution ring. Now Emy must turn to the very pack she left behind for help.
On the outside Gabe Cheval has it all. Stunningly handsome and strong, he’s a prominent and valuable member of the pack, but he carries a fear that he will never find a woman of his own. He remembers Emy from his childhood, and he’s shocked when he goes to help her and discovers that the silly young girl has grown into a sensuous and beautiful young woman—one who tantalizes him with the sense that she could be the perfect mate to finally end his loneliness.
But even as Gabe and Emy come together to rescue the captive woman and explore the undeniable attraction building between them, the dark menace that lurks deep in Emeline’s heart threatens to push them apart. Through Gabe’s loving and erotic touch and Emy’s open and passionate trust in him, they uncover a horrible secret that could threaten the very core of the Chanku hierarchy.
Beyond the Page Books
are published by
Beyond the Page Publishing
Copyright © 2014 by Kate Douglas
Material excerpted from
copyright © 2013 by Kate Douglas
Material excerpted from
copyright © 2014 by Kate Douglas
Cover design by Dar Albert, Wicked Smart Designs
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My sincere thanks and appreciation to my terrific beta readers: Ann Jacobs, Jan Takane, Rose Toubbeh, Angela Knight, Lynne Thomas, Kerry Parker, and Karen Woods. Thank you, ladies. I hope you realize how much your support, your terrific ideas, and your friendship mean to me.
To Bill Harris—the perfect editor—not only do you know what a story needs to make it better, you get your points across while maintaining a truly warped sense of humor (an extremely valuable asset in this business).
And to my agent, Jessica Faust—thank you for being so damned smart, and always proactive in the ever-changing publishing landscape.
December 1, 2039
Goddess but it felt good to be back in the United States, specifically San Francisco, with the clean smell of the ocean mingling with the spicy scent of tacos and salsa on one side, fiery Thai on the other. After almost two years of working and living all over Asia, the comforting mixed bouquet of Americanized ethnic cooking had Emeline practically salivating.
Water rushed down the street gutters and dripped from the tall buildings. The storm had been short but wet and windy, cleansing the air, washing trash off the sidewalk, leaving a clear trail between her office at Chanku Global Industries and the Platinum Duck, her favorite Chinese restaurant.
She flat out refused to let sixteen hours of travel and a lost bag at San Francisco International get in the way of the meal she’d been thinking of since she’d boarded the jet in Beijing.
Oh, God. Can’t someone help me?
Now that definitely caught her attention. The voice in her head, feminine, laced with terror and coming from somewhere very close by, stopped Emeline mid-step. Pausing as if to check her phone for a call, she scanned the crowded sidewalk. It was a little after seven, well into the dinner hour.
Nothing seemed out of place—except for that perfectly clear telepathic plea for help.
Where are you? How can I help you?
You can hear me? No one ever hears me! Where are you?
Em glanced at the building behind her.
I’m on Powell, south of Washington. In front of the coffee shop. The one with the Chinese dragon wearing a Santa hat in the window.
I’m north of there. On the corner. Short black skirt, red thigh-high boots. Black sweater.
I see you.
Holding her mobile phone to her ear, she walked toward the tall, slender woman standing on the corner.
How can I help?
My pimp is too close. You can’t do anything. Damn. No one has ever answered me before.
I’m going to bump into you and slip my card into your hand. Be ready. I’m wearing a red coat, black wool cap and a white scarf around my neck. My name is Emeline. Emeline Cheval.
I’m Sissy Long. I see you.
At that moment, a heavyset man walked by. Emeline stepped into his path, jostling him and managing to get herself turned around. “I’m so sorry.” She backed out of his way and nudged the woman behind her, turned, laughing as if to brush her shoulder where she’d connected and slipped her card into the woman’s hand.
Call me as soon as you can. I can help.
At that moment, a large, silent car pulled up; the back window slowly lowered and the driver leaned over. He nodded at the woman and jabbed his thumb in the direction of the backseat. She opened the door and, without a backward glance, climbed into the car and closed the door. Em forced herself not to watch as the vehicle slid back into the stream of traffic, but her last glimpse was of the blonde facing forward, looking neither right nor left.
Emeline continued on to the Platinum Duck, but her sense of pleasure, of homecoming, was gone. Now, instead of enjoying the frenetic pace of the city, she wished she were home in Montana. Home with the rest of her pack, running through the forest, surrounded by her own kind.
She’d been away much too long.
• • •
Sissy buckled herself into the backseat of the limo and kept her eyes forward, though she couldn’t have said what she actually saw. That woman had heard her! For the first time since this nightmare began, someone actually heard her silent cries for help. She’d always felt as if she were actually speaking—at least on a level that someone should be able to understand—but no one had ever heard her before. That woman, that Emeline Cheval, actually answered her! But how? And who was she? Her name didn’t mean anything to Sissy, but she’d been out of touch with the world around her for so long she didn’t even know how old she was. How long it had been since she’d first been kidnapped. First sold to a strange man for the night. All she knew was the date. The day her life ended.
Sissy fingered the business card in her hand. It was warm to the touch, and she wondered what it said, but she couldn’t look at it here. Not where the chauffeur could see and report back to Russo what he’d seen. That woman said to call her. If only . . . Sissy was never allowed near a phone. None of the girls were.
But that woman had heard her. Maybe she’d come back when Sissy didn’t call. Russo used that corner a lot when he had appointments for her to keep. Maybe Emeline Cheval would come back.
• • •
It had been so long since he’d run with anyone but a few of his packmates that Gabe Cheval had actually forgotten how much he loved running in a big pack. With so many wolves racing through the night together, it was all about the harsh rush of breath from more than a dozen sets of wolven lungs and steam trailing behind like silvery snowflakes in the frozen air of a Montana winter’s night. Snow crunched, hard and brittle beneath broad paws as they flew across the ice, so intent on the joy of running they passed by startled elk and even a moose without turning away to hunt.
Gabe followed close behind Jace Wolf and his mate, Romy, and Romy’s constant companion, Wolf. The wild wolf had adopted them late last summer and remained as Romy’s shadow. Others raced beside and behind Gabe—his sister Lily and her mate, Sebastian, had come from their home on the other side of the mountain ridge to join tonight’s run. They ran as if they’d run this way forever, though Gabe thought this might be a first for Sebastian, to run with so many wolves. He was new to his Chanku roots, still learning the ways of the pack.