Authors: Kristen Strassel
Tags: #werewolves, #alpha male, #bbw, #shapeshifters, #shifters, #shifter romance, #bbw shifter romance
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This is a work of fiction. Likenesses to any people, living or dead, is purely coincidental. This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be resold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please do so through your retailer’s “lend” function. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return it and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author. To obtain permission to excerpt portions of the text, please contact the author at [email protected]
Rescue Me, (Sawtooth Shifters, #2) Copyright 2015, Kristen Strassel
Photographer: Jenn LeBlanc/Illustrated Romance, Design by Sotia Lazu
fter six months in captivity, everyone thinks he and his brothers are dead, and Sawtooth Forest is in uproar. The packs must change their ways, or violence will lead them to extinction. To become alpha, Shadow must get revenge on his captor as well as secure the future of his pack. Easier said than done when there’s a shortage of female wolves, and they’ve been sold off to the wealthiest wolves in the forest.
fter a car accident claimed the life of her fiancé, Forever Home Animal Shelter is the only place she feels like herself, relating to animals much better than people. When the pack of wolves she rescued shape shifts into men on the full moon, their leader will do anything to repay her for her bravery and kindness. Trina knows that Shadow needs her to protect his alpha status, but soon she learns she needs him just as much.
Trina must decide if she’s ready to take a chance on giving Shadow her heart, especially when she knows how easily it can all be taken away.
hope you enjoy Rescue Me. Please make sure you read Forever Home first! It’s free.
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This was going to be awkward.
My truck was full of men who’d been wolves when my assistants, Kiera and Lyssie, left Forever Home Animal Shelter last night. We’d rescued them two weeks ago from a dog fighting ring and had no idea at the time that they were wolves. With the full moon, the wolves shifted into men like they’d jumped out of a birthday cake.
The girls waited for me in the parking lot in the soft fuzz of daybreak. Kiera looked up from the travel mug she never put down in the morning. She should’ve just opted for an IV coffee drip. Her eyes almost fell out of her head when she saw our animal wagon rambling down the dirt driveway. I’d left my beat down pickup truck in the parking lot last night. Given the all the trouble we’d been having at the shelter lately, they were definitely freaking out that I wasn’t there with it.
“Trina, are you okay?” Lyssie asked, both girls making a beeline to the truck when I parked. “We were just about to call the police. I mean, you’re truck is here, and you weren’t, and the door was locked. Kiera thought maybe you took the
rk truck to get gas or something, but if you were late, we knew something was wrong.”
Good thing I was never late.
Major Lowe snorted in the back of the truck, but the girls hadn’t seen him yet. Playing nice wasn’t his thing, and that’s what I’d asked him to do this morning. I didn’t know him in human form yet, but I’d watched him a lot as a wolf. He was going to think I owed him, even after all I’d done for him.
He’d have to get over it. I’d never been interested in pissing contests.
“Yeah. Everything’s fine.” I slid out of the truck, pushing the seat forward so the rest of my passengers could get out. Major and his brother Xavier followed, much to the girls’ open-mouthed shock. They plastered themselves against the dented body of my truck as Shadow, Baron, and Dallas Channing loaded out of the passenger’s side.
“Wh-What’s going on?” Kiera managed. I didn’t just take care of animals, I helped people get to where they were supposed to be, too. Kiera and Lyssie were with me as part of their rehab from CAST, the Center of Anxiety and Stress Therapy. My therapists had asked me to try working as a volunteer in an animal shelter when I didn’t respond to their treatment, knowing that animals could do something that people couldn’t. It worked, and I opened Forever Home in Granger Falls, Idaho, a town that was sorely lacking many things, including a safe place for animals to find their people. CAST hoped the animals could help Kiera and Lyssie the way they helped me.
Until last night, I had a much easier time connecting with animals than people. Shadow Channing unlocked a part of me I’d been terrified to face.
“These are the dogs we rescued from the fight,” I said. “Kiera and Lyssie, meet Shadow, Baron, Dallas, Major, and Xavier.” I didn’t bother with the family names. Let them draw their own lines in the sand. Like I said, no pissing contests on my watch.
Shadow stepped forward. Even thinned out from captivity, he was six feet of gorgeous, rippling muscle with long black and silver-streaked hair. He flashed that killer smile that made me forget every single one of my hang-ups last night.
What had I done? Last night, we’d had mind-blowing sex. This morning, we’d barely talked. Now it was time for the freakout. I definitely didn’t regret it (or did I?), but what if he did? He’d been stuck in his wolf form for months, starved, beaten, and close to death. Of course he wanted a woman. And I’d just handed myself over like a White Elephant gift. Now he could have his life back, and he might not want me in it. I hated overthinking things.
Shadow extended a hand, but Kiera ignored it, scrubbing her hand over her face, and turned to Lyssie. Kiera was not a morning person. “Did we drink last night? Or smoke?”
Lyssie shook her head but didn’t take her eyes off the guys. “Did the cream in the coffee go bad?”
“What the fuck, Trina?” Kiera got to the point. “What the hell happened? If you can’t talk in front of them, use some sort of code.”
“Yeah, that will work now that you told them.” I rolled my eyes, laughing. If the employees of Forever Home were good at anything, it was being awkward. “Why don’t I let one of the guys explain?”
“I will,” Shadow offered. Major glowered in the background. “We’re shapeshifters. Ryker, the guy who captured us in the dog fighting ring, is also a shapeshifter. We’re strongest at the full moon, which is why we were able to shift last night. On the new moon, we’re weak. The fight you rescued us from was the night of the new moon.”
Thank God Lyssie was leaning against my truck. All the color drained from her face, and I was pretty sure I was going to have to bust out my rusty CPR moves to revive her.
“So what does that mean for us?” Kiera’s words came slowly. “Why are you still here?”
“They’re going to help us,” I jumped in before Shadow continued. I spoke the same language as these girls. Suspicion. Cynicism. Heartache. “We could use the manpower to repair the front of the building, and Shadow said he’d help us raise money for the rest of the animals.”
“Of course he did,” Major muttered. I ignored him, but the girls jerked at the sound of his voice. If looks could kill, I would’ve given him a swift virtual kick to the junk. He couldn’t have chosen his words more carelessly.
“Thank you.” Baron stepped toward Kiera. I wondered if she noticed his blush. Oh yes, she did, and matched it with one of her own. Even I had butterflies. Kiera was a lot like me: quiet around people she didn’t know, thick in all the right places (and some of the wrong ones, depending on who you asked, but fuck those people), and no time for bullshit. “If it wasn’t for all of you, we’d still be starving, filthy, and sick. You saved our lives. We want to pay you back.”
“We need to get back to the forest.” Major stepped forward, popping the dreamy little bubble that had formed around Kiera and Baron. They both jumped like he’d hit them with a lightning bolt. “Our packs are suffering. That’s where we should be focusing. Not sucking up to humans.”
Major didn’t wait for anyone to answer before he walked away from us.
Shadow grabbed my arm, pulling me in close to his body. The butterflies were back. “He’s such an idiot. He has no idea what he’s talking about.” He sighed before calling to Major, “It’s a long walk.”
“We could ask to borrow a car,” Dallas suggested, wiggling his eyebrows at me.
Shadow looked back at me. “Could we use the truck?”
“Sure.” The girls both gasped. They had every right to be alarmed. I never acted like this. Trust wasn’t my thing. I was terrified, but something about this man melted all my defenses.
“Want a ride, buddy?” Shadow yelled.
“No,” Major called over his shoulder but kept walking. “I’m not going to owe a human anything.”
“Major is an asshole,” I grumbled as he got smaller with every step. Xavier was on his heels, like always. The ladies chuckled; I wasn’t telling them anything they didn’t already know. “This is what he does. Makes his life as hard as possible then takes it out on everyone else.”
Major jumped first and asked questions later. For years I’d let him dig his own grave, but when it became clear that alpha status was up for grabs, I had to step up. The packs of Sawtooth National Forest had taken a major hit in power, ever since we were kids. Urban sprawl claimed our land without any warning. We were nomadic creatures, but there was nowhere left to run.
Major and the rest of the Lowe clan had resorted to smuggling livestock, selling it on the black market. They were turning a huge profit now that the sprawl had driven our prey away from the forest. The Channings had always been the peacekeepers. It hadn’t been much of a role until the wolves of Sawtooth ran out of food and even worse, women.
Our generation was almost all males. Females our age had been sold to wealthier families before they were even born. Those guys weren’t interested in the crap politics of running a pack. It was a different kind of status, being alpha. It was a title held by the strongest and the smartest. The rich could opt out. But to be alpha, you needed a mate. It had never been a problem until now. An alpha without children meant the end of the line for everything the Sawtooth wolves had ever stood for.
We were all born werewolves. It wasn’t something that could be spread with a bite. Life would’ve been easier that way. The females were sought out as soon as the pregnant mother was sniffed out. Girls gave off a different scent, maybe it was similar to the smell of money. Besides my mother, I’d never been close enough to a pregnant wolf to know. The bidding war began before the baby was born, and the girls were treated like porcelain dolls all their lives, pretty things to play with gently but kept behind glass for protection.
As girls became scarcer, the wealthy packs began to have them segregated from the working class males their age. They didn’t want them to want anything other than they had. Some of the girls rebelled against the system. Their families were working class, and at first, they weren’t taken away from them. The girls had a hard time being treated differently, not realizing it was supposed to be a privilege. They’d sneak out to play with us when we were kids, meeting up with us as teenagers, testing the boundaries of these new arrangements. It was even crueler, becoming familiar with someone so soft, sweet, and stunningly beautiful but never being able to have them in the way we wanted them.
Historically the wolves had never been very friendly with the humans in town, but we needed them more than any of us wanted to admit. In recent years, many members of the pack had moved to town to survive. We needed food and stable shelter. Hiding our true nature wasn’t always easy, but we had our ways. Major’s willingness to turn his back so quickly on the women who’d saved his life shocked me. He was all wolf, no matter what skin he wore. And he was a fool in all forms.
“What a charmer,” Kiera scoffed, shooting one last glare down the road before Major faded from sight. “He was trouble the whole time he with us.” We all followed Trina to the front door. There was a strange sort of déjà vu, being on the other side. Barking and birdsong greeted us as Trina opened the door.
“Hey, guys!” She called out just like she did every morning. The residents kicked the chaos up a notch. “We’re back!”