Authors: Donna Oltrogge
#1 in the Wolfe Series
A Novel by
ooks by Donna Oltrogge
Love’s Lasting Promise (Book 1 of Trilogy)
A Warrior’s Heart (Book 2 of Trilogy)
Heart of the Hawk (Book 3 of Trilogy)
Her Heart’s Desire (Sequel)
Heart of Darkness (Coming soon)
The Golden Rose
Always & Forever
The Wolfe Series:
The Searcher (coming soon)
The Sentinel (coming soon)
t was the age of gods and mortals, a time when men believed in the Olympians residing atop Mount Olympus under the watchful eye of Zeus, king and father of all gods and men.
He was the god of sky and thunder, his symbols the thunderbolt, eagle, bull and oak and he presided over the Olympian pantheon and the twelve Olympian gods of the ancient Greek world.
The gods were considered immortal and their unfading youth was insured by the constant use of nectar and ambrosia which renewed the divine blood flowing through their veins.
Zeus watched as Aphrodite, the goddess of love and beauty took her seat beside Ares, the god of war. Hades, the ruler of the underworld, was sitting as far away from the others as he possibly could, especially Athena, the goddess of wisdom and courage who took every opportunity to let him know how far beneath her she thought he was. Apollo and Artemis, as usual, sat huddled together discussing who knew what as Hestia and Hermes took their seats on the left side of the dais. Zeus knew the others would be coming soon, Hera, goddess of women, Poseidon, god of the sea, Demeter, goddess of the harvest, Artemis, goddess of the hunt and Hephaestus, blacksmith of the gods. Zeus shook his head. So many gods and goddesses, so much power, and so very hard to control. It was his job as king to control them and he took that job very seriously.
They were all meant to be here today but probably not soon enough for what he was certain was about to transpire. He had heard rumors about the king who was striding toward him so confidently. His name was Lycaon and he was aligned with both the king of Thessalia and the king of Athens which made him a powerful man indeed. He was reported to have more than fifty sons and many of the towns and villages of Arkadis
had been named after them.
aon was a strong man, an arrogant man, a hard man, a man used to having his own way and not above using unsavory means to accomplish his goals. He had always been jealous of the power Zeus wielded and his goal in coming to Mount Olympus that day was to test the divinity of the god, and to discredit Zeus in the eyes of the other gods. He had found an extremely inventive way to do just that and felt no regret or anguish at having slaughtered his youngest son, Nyktimos. The boy had been a means to an end, nothing more, nothing less. After all, he had fifty other sons to carry on his glorious name after he was gone.
aon carried a silver bowl in his hands and held it out toward Zeus as he knelt in feigned obeisance. “A delicacy, my lord,” Lycaon said in his deep, rumbling voice. “Made especially for you by my favorite wife.” He took a bite of the delicacy himself to prove that the food wasn’t poisoned. “To enhance the friendship between us.”
Zeus felt shafts of lighting
streak through his veins and toward his fingertips and he had to fight to keep from incinerating the man on the spot. He had no intention of accepting such an abomination and new it for the test it was. Slowly and with great restraint Zeus rose to his feet and spread his arms wide, the long flowing sleeves of his white robe almost touching the marble floor.
Aphrodite shuddered when she saw the look on Zeus’ face and gripped the arms of her chair until her knuckles
turned white. Ares rested his hand on the sword he always carried at his left side, deep grooves bracketing the sides of his mouth as his eyes narrowed on their visitor. Hades smiled grimly knowing that soon he would be adding more human souls to his dark underworld. The others held their collective breath and waited for the explosion they knew was to come.
u will pay for this abomination!” Zeus thundered as jagged bolts of lighting split the heavens. “You and those who follow after you will pay for this affront for all eternity.” He pointed toward the offender. “Hence forth you will be part man, part wolf, walking two different worlds, yet fitting into neither.” A lighting bolt flew from Zeus’ fingertips and knocked the silver dish from Lycaon’s hands. Immediately the contents of the bowl started to transform, slowly at first and then more quickly into the shape of a young boy. Nyktimos blinked his eyes unbelievingly and trembled as he stared up into the face of the fearsome god towering over him.
Athena rose quickly to her feet. “Mercy, great
Zeus. Allow the generations who will follow to do good instead of evil as this one’s father has done. Charge them with protecting the innocent and the weak wherever they may find them.”
reluctantly allowed Athena’s words of wisdom to cool his anger although it was already too late to save Lycaon’s many sons who had already been incinerated by his fiery wrath. Of all Lycaon’s sons there was only Nyktimos left alive.
“Your words have value, Athena,” Zeus said
as he raised his hands again and Lycaon was transformed into a wolf before their very eyes. And not just any wolf, but a wolf of majestic size and stature, a wolf as black as midnight to strike fear into the hearts of all who might see him.
at Athena who had moved to stand protectively next to the boy. “I’ll not make it too easy for them, though.”
it began. The curse of Zeus upon the generations of Lycaon males that would be passed down from father to son throughout the centuries, a curse that would never be broken, a curse the descendants of Lycaon would be forced to live with until the end of time.
he wolf was huge and black, an alpha male, four times as large as the gray wolves that ranged the Northern Rockies and Southwestern United States. Those who were fortunate or unfortunate, depending on your point of view, to encounter the animal trembled in fear at the size of the beast and the unholy light that glittered from it’s blazing mid-night blue eyes, eyes that could assess a man’s worth or intent in an instant and kill or release the man just as quickly based on that judgment.
was a supreme predator, a killing machine, ruthless to his enemies and those who would harm the weak or helpless. He was called Lobo Diablo or Devil Wolf, by the drug runners. He hated them and hunted them with an all consuming passion, especially the men who were called “coyotes”, those men who trafficked in human misery, leading illegals into the desert and many times to a certain death. The cartels had placed a very large bounty on Lobo Diablo’s head and that of his brothers little knowing that he and his brothers had them at a very distinct disadvantage with their enhanced senses and strength.
They were shape-shifters,
Jake and his brothers Taggart and Rand. As far as any of them knew it had all started with a curse and the telling of the story had been so diluted over the centuries that no one was certain what had happened to cause the curse on his family or when it had taken place. They just knew that they were forced to live with the curse every day of their lives just as their father had and his father before him. They were humans with the ability to shape-shift into a hybrid wolf with strength and speed far beyond those of wolves or men. They had decided even as young boys that they would consider their shape-shifting ability, strength and cunning a gift and use it to help others. And that’s what Lobo Diablo had been doing tonight. Helping others.
Effortlessly the great wolf shifted into his human form, his muscles popping and his body
lengthening, the transformation from wolf to man much easier than from man to wolf. Jake Wolfe walked cautiously toward one of the stashes he had placed throughout the desert, his senses alert, his ice-blue eyes scanning the surrounding area for any men who might be pursuing him. He and his brothers were always meticulous in their planning and had medical supplies, weapons and escape routes placed throughout the desert in case one of them was wounded or being pursued, which they often were.
Jake was a
large man standing well over six feet tall with broad shoulders and narrow hips. He was comfortable in his nudity as he grabbed the medical kit from between the boulders where he’d stashed it several days ago. Jake Wolfe was a man in his prime. His arms and shoulders rippled with muscle, his stomach was flat and washboard abs attested to his dedication to keeping himself in top physical condition. He was a runner in his human form although he couldn’t begin to match his wolf’s tremendous speed and agility even on his best day as a human.
Jake chose a flat rock and sat to inspect the wound to his left leg. The gash was deep and would require stitches but those would have to wait until he got home. The bleeding was minimal so he applied a generous amount of salve before replacing the medical kit back in its hiding place and getting to his feet.
Jake scanned the surrounding desert that he loved so much. The desert had a stark beauty all its own. Sandy and barren in areas, cooler forested areas and mountains in others, the desert provided habitat and food for a great variety of creatures. His senses told him that a mountain lion had prowled the area earlier. The big cats were shy and elusive and despite their size they were not usually a threat to him. A gentle breeze filled his nostrils with the scent of javelina. The little pig-like creatures tended to give him a wide birth, only charging when he accidently cornered one of them. He looked up at the boulders over his head and knew that Big Horn Sheep roamed there. Sturdy and agile, their keen eyesight on the steep slopes allowed them a clear view of the surrounding area and of any approaching predators. He could hear Gambrel Quail talking to each other as they roamed the desert floor searching for seeds and insects, their little top knots nodding with each step they took. Even though the desert looked barren, Jake knew there was life everywhere if you only knew where to look for it. Rattle snakes, scorpions, and road runners abounded. Red Tailed Hawks floated high on the desert wind currents, their keen eyes intent on the ground below, searching for that mouse or prairie dog foolish enough to be caught in their range. Jake could see four Turkey Vultures circling lazily over the tops of several Palo Verde trees in the distance and knew that there was carrion of some type beneath those trees. He only hoped it wasn’t human carrion. Jake sighed, knowing that he didn’t have time to check it out on this trip and that it was too late for whoever or whatever it was anyway.
Jake was certain he’d lost his pursuers but
he wasn’t taking any chances as he shifted back into his wolf form for his final run toward home, his bones popping and contracting, his jaw turning into a muzzle filled with razor sharp teeth that could rip and tear flesh, sinew and bone. In his human form Jake was magnificent, in his wolf form even more so. Four times the size of a normal wolf with strength and speed that were mind numbing for those who witnessed it. He could run for miles without tiring and leap great distances. There wasn’t a fence high enough to keep him out if he wanted in. His sense of smell was extraordinary, even greater than the coyotes that sometimes tried to challenge him. The coyotes were becoming more and more bothersome and he wondered if they weren’t being manipulated somehow, which he thought strange but not impossible considering his own situation.