Authors: Katt Grimm
Tags: #paranormal romance
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Published by The Hartwood Publishing Group, LLC,
Hartwood Publishing, Phoenix, Arizona
Copyright © 2016 by Katt Grimm
Digital Release: September 2016
All Rights Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination, or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locales, or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Katie Duncan has been on the run for a long time, hunted by her ruthless stepfather and haunted by her own werewolf nature. She has found refuge in the picturesque mountain town of Blowing Rock, North Carolina, with her were-bear “Uncle” Frank as her guardian.
David Finn has discovered something beautiful…Katie Duncan, the tenant in one of the cottages on his property on Shadow Mountain. While keeping a discreet eye on her in his wolf form, he suspects Katie is being watched by someone else, a menacing presence he feels compelled to investigate. David is attacked and knocked unconscious in the middle of a snowstorm outside of the cabin, confirming his suspicions.
When Katie discovers a naked man in a snow bank by her cabin, it does not take long to discover that David is her fated mate. And she knows it will not take long for her stepfather to hunt them both down, take her, and kill the man who can make her heart stop with a look.
His people are under attack, and David suspects his new mate’s past holds answers for him. But how can he fight to protect a woman who cannot trust him, despite the fact Nature has chosen them for each other?
To protect her mate and taking vengeance on the man who destroyed her life, will Katie embrace her inner wolf and face her destiny?
Blowing Rock, North Carolina
Secrets crept in with the night’s snowfall in the ancient Uwharrie Mountains that formed that part of the Blue Ridge. A form that resembled a huge ink-black wolf sat in the snow on the hillside above a shed. If there were a lone observer on this solitary night, she might wonder at the anomaly. Wolves hadn’t roamed these mountains in centuries. Nor did they grow to the size of a large pony.
Wolves that hadn’t started out the evening as a human, that is.
It’s damned cold out here,
the creature thought, a distinctively human complaint drifting through the mind of an animal.
It was a formidable creature, twice the size of the largest wolves on record, packing at least two hundred pounds on its predatory frame and standing forty-five inches at the shoulder. It was lean and muscled, covered with a pitch-black pelt, epitomizing deadly grace.
In human form, however, he was the landlord of the small cabin below him.
For the past month, David Finn had patrolled the grounds around the little house, telling himself that he was keeping watch over his solitary tenant. In reality, he was there to gaze upon the face of a woman he had never met. A real estate agent in Blowing Rock had leased the cabin on Shadow Mountain to Katie Duncan months ago.
Another human thought crossed behind the animal’s eyes.
That realtor all but stalked me until I rented the cottage to that woman. I lost a chunk of privacy, and then I obviously lost my mind.
If anyone was there to actually see the creature at that moment, they would probably swear the wolf sarcastically rolled its eyes and grimaced.
David had discovered his beautiful neighbor on one of his lonely evening runs. That night Katie had been sitting in the moonlight on a cliff near her home, gazing out at the mists that sank into the valleys nestled between the midnight blue mountains. Her face seemed oblivious to the presence of a mythical being hiding in the nearby blackberry bushes—which had managed to embed a dozen thorns in his fur that would be extremely painful when he Changed back into his naked human form. David felt her pain and fear as well as her wonder at the splendor of the night. He also sensed a threat to her that he could not define. He had been engrossed in the intoxicating and confusing mix of scents emanating from the woman.
For that moment he forgot his own sorrows as he drank in her beauty. The light of the moon turned her long blonde hair to silver, and shadows played along the slim lines of her face. She turned and looked in his direction, and he saw her extraordinary golden eyes—a timeless silent angel of the wood. Though he leaped away like the hounds of hell were on his heels, he returned again and again, feeling oddly protective of this lone, self-possessed woman. Now, this November night found him sitting in a snow bank, freezing his balls off, all for the sake of a woman who did not know his face.
This has got to be one of the most idiotic things I have ever done,
he thought as snowflake after snowflake landed on his nose.
David knew it was nuts for him to be in wolf form in the middle of a snowstorm. Especially since an unknown force now hunted his people across the globe with the stealthy skill of a master. The acute senses of the Were race that had served him well all of his life had awoken him earlier, informing his territorial soul there were intruders in the woods—
woods. They were near the tiny cabin inhabited by the woman he had only glimpsed from afar. That part of the mountainside,
mountainside, was beginning to get very active and increasingly risky for him. Several of the luxury mountain getaways in the area had large dogs in outdoor kennels, which sent up frantic yelps of either fear or delight whenever he approached in wolf form. But when possessed by his wolf spirit, there was nothing David could do about spooking the animals. The lesser creatures sensed his presence immediately when he passed and went wild. The dogs’ owners were probably nervous about the behavior of their animals. Although most of the mountain belonged to David, the few holdouts who would not sell their property to him were a nuisance.
David’s work took him out of the area for long periods of time, but the repercussions of his profession could very well come home to haunt him. The latest in security technology had been installed in his residence and property, but so far he had not thought it necessary to wire the entire mountain. Now, though, it was definitely on his to-do list after this dark night.
I just won’t bother to ask the other landowners before wiring their land.
The luxury getaway homeowners would never notice. They didn’t spend enough time in their second homes to get the houses even slightly shabby.
In search of the interlopers who had invaded his domain, the black wolf inspected the entire area. The scent of danger had faded, although the strangers’ large, military-style boot prints were still fresh. The tire tracks where they had parked their vehicle a mile from the cabin mixed the snow, mud, and gravel into a foul stain.
There was an alarming mix of man-sweat, cologne, and gun oil in the air. The intruders had left his territory and didn’t seem interested in David’s house. They weren’t the hunters he had been desperately searching for over the last few years. Instead, surprisingly, they had focused on the small cabin under the evergreens.
He’d decide whether or not to warn the lovely Katie about her visitors later. Getting involved with humans wasn’t something he wanted to start up again. He had his own battles to face. Dealing with people always got him into the very center of the cook pot—alone—no matter how hard he tried to do the right thing.
I need to get a hobby.
Other than watching over his tenant. His wolf side was driving him to watch and protect the female who dwelt in his territory, a female who was not his mate. The human side of David’s brain kept trying to talk sense to the wolf, telling him she was not in danger and was none of their business. But the wolf had won the argument every evening, forcing David into wolf form to patrol the mountain. A thin layer of menace hung over the little cabin down the hill. And that hint of danger was compelling the wolf to roam outside no matter how crappy the weather was.
The snow slacked off and allowed him to see through the steaming windows of the cabin. She stood there with an animal grace in front of an easel, her golden hair flowing over jutting breasts underneath her artist’s smock. After a while, David regretfully turned toward home, beginning the two mile run through the black and white countryside. The flannel blanket on his armchair in front of one of the fireplaces in his home beckoned right now. A crackling fire, an excellent book, and a snifter of warm brandy…life would be good.
But life would be better if Katie were waiting for him in front of his fireplace, her long, golden body stretched out for his pleasure on his thick New Zealand sheepskin. He wouldn’t wait to shed his clothes. He would fall upon her to suck and caress her beautiful breasts. He would savor each perfect nipple, taking his time pleasuring her as he drowned in the exquisite agony of finally running his hands over the silk of her skin. And when she began to writhe against him, her arousal well stoked, he would then trace his tongue slowly down her flat belly to the tangle of gold curls that topped her pussy. His mouth watered at the thought of tasting her.
That could never happen,
a silent, stern voice said within his head.
David had resigned himself years ago to the occasional no-strings-attached affair, carefully protecting his heart with a concentrated effort to maintain a safe distance from feelings of commitment to any one woman. Katie wasn’t the kind of woman he would be able to walk away from. He knew this instinctively. With Were or with human, werewolves mated for life. There were very few of his people left in the world, fewer still since the killings and disappearances began. He had not yet found a mate to stir his soul among them. He had dated only human women in the last few years, but these sterile relationships inevitably ended in disaster, as a relationship with Katie would be destined to end. There was a legend among his people that there were a few human women that could successfully mate with a Were, but he considered it just that—a legend, nothing more than a fairy tale. He could not get involved with anyone who might stir these feelings that were inextricably a part of his very essence, his being. It would kill him when she inevitably fled from what he was.
I need to fuck somebody…now…anybody…but her.
His wolf had become inflamed with lust and longing while he worked his way down the path through the woods. Torn between desire and duty, he was struggling so deeply within himself that he didn’t notice the shadow lurking behind a rock outcropping on the barely visible path until it was too late. The shadow raised a sleek pistol and fired through the curtains of the storm. The bullet bounced off the back of the wolf’s skull, and darkness overtook his consciousness.
The assailant approached and stood thoughtfully in the snow next to the still-breathing figure of the wolf. He raised the gun to fire again, this time into the animal’s skull. A call from one of his companions came from behind the gunman, and he stopped short, putting away his weapon.
“You are definitely
a golden wolf, are you? This should make life interesting for the old man.” With a snort of self-mocking laughter, the gunman turned on his heel and headed in the direction of his companions, leaving the wolf in the snow, alive.
The gunman did not see the lightning flash of blue that ripped through the snow-flurried air when David’s body began to morph back to its human self. He knew it would happen, however. Leaving this newest player in the game alive suited the stranger. The girl needed all the help she could get.
The growl of the start of vehicles broke the heavy silence. Moments later, the two black Suburbans began the trek down the mountain, crisscrossing the terrain as the men evaluated possible escape routes and security measures.
As his attackers wound away out of the woods, leaving behind a faint echo, the wolf rolled in the snow and continued to glow with an eerie blue light as the animal’s form faded, writhed, and turned, impossibly morphing into the form of a nude man lying in the snow.