Authors: Celia Kyle
Tags: #romance, #paranormal, #werewolf, #bbw
Brenna’s best friend, Dr. Harper Morray, had jumped off the deep end. No, she didn’t just jump. She’d sailed right over it and crashed amongst the jagged rocks of sanity. All those late nights and working twenty-four hours straight had finally broken her mind. Really. Brenna wasn’t lying.
“Wait. What? What’s a
?” Brenna’s tone leaned toward interested, yet neutral. She didn’t want to lead her friend on, but also didn’t want to outright call her a liar. Not when it seemed she was so close to a psychotic break.
. And that’s you.” Harper looked so cute in her dementia. Like a little stethoscope-wielding pixie. Brenna wondered if she should call Harper’s husband before, or after, she called the loony-bin.
, what?” she tried again, gauging the extent of her friend’s delusion.
“Wolf.” Harper gave a brisk nod, as if that would settle things.
Not so much.
“Huh? You’re losing me. Back up, sweetie. Little words, and say ’em real slow. Ten margaritas makes my brain a little fuzzy.” She gave her a nice, serene smile. One that said Brenna thought she was bat shit crazy, but still loved her to bits. “Now, how did you decide I’m a
… a werewolf?” Brenna raised her eyebrows, humoring Harper. Isn’t that what people did for crazy freaks? Humor them?
That earned her an eye roll from Harper. “Keith was so not worth getting drunk over. He was an ass.”
Yeah, but he was Brenna’s ass. For two years, his ass belonged to her. Or hers belonged to him. Whatever. “We had a history, Harps, and I deserved a drink or two.”
“Uh-huh.” Her friend gave her a small, sympathetic smile. “He wasn’t worth last night’s drink napkins and if I’d known what you were going through, you know I would have been there for you.”
“I know.” She wasn’t gonna tell Harper she was right about Keith. He really
worth last night’s drink napkins. Especially since she owned the house they’d shared and he hadn’t been working for the last six months. Now she knew why. Apparently keeping his dick hard and inside the teller at the bank down the street was really tiring. “But, aside from this dog bite, I’m fine. A bite, by the way, you’re supposed to be treating.”
Harper’s pitying grin turned into an excited smile again. Damn, here came the delusions again. “I’m getting there. Let’s back up to the
thing. That’s the important part.”
Brenna did not think it was important. At all.
Harper did not seem to care what Brenna thought and continued. “You were human.” She raised her left hand. “And now you are a werewolf.” She raised her right. Then Harper’s gaze swung back and forth between them. “Human. Now you’re a
. Oh! Once human.” She lifted her left again, shaking it. “Now you’re a kick-ass were. Go team furry!” Harper then raised her right hand high, fingers wide as if hunting for a high-five.
So not happening.
Coming to her best friend’s veterinary practice had seemed like a good idea when she’d woken with a nasty bite on her arm and a hangover to end all hangovers. Her insurance had a ginormous deductible, so the ER was out. Harper treated her for free. Score!
But now that she was in an exam room with Harper, the woman smiling wide and her face flushed with excitement over some
thing, Brenna realized she’d made a mistake. Or rather, the state’s veterinary medical board had made a mistake by licensing the woman.
Trapped in the small room, nothing more than a solid steel table separating her from Dr. Crazyton, Brenna sorted through her options. She could perform an awesome ninja flip move and fly over her friend. Or one of those really cool floor-roll things where she’d conveniently spin out of reach. There was also straight-up hand-to-hand combat as she fought through a war zone. Gauze would go flying to the left, cotton balls to the right, and Harper would get a box of medium-sized-dog flea repellant in the face.
Since she really didn’t think Harper was physically dangerous, she decided to merely call in reinforcements.
Okay, the truth was Brenna wasn’t a ninja, probably couldn’t get off the floor if she got down there, and her hand-to-hand combat skills included rapid flailing of arms.
Right, reinforcements it was.
Brenna kept her attention on her best friend’s smiling face while she dug into her pocket and pulled out her cell phone. She was quick to unlock and dial. Harper’s hubby should be in on this conversation. Especially if it ended in a new white wardrobe for Harper.
“Of course, honey. Go team furry. Absolutely. You know I came here for a dog-bite thing, honey. I really just need a few shots of whatever the hell is given to people who’ve been mauled by a wild animal.” Brenna was never getting drunk again. Ever. One margarita had turned into two which had then led to a dozen more and Brenna stumbling home from the bar. Fortunately, it’d only been a block. Unfortunately, it was long enough for some animal to try and make her a midnight snack. Or a 3 a.m. snack.
She reached up and patted Harper’s upraised hand with her own in some half-assed high-five. It kept the woman occupied.
The low-pitched ring of her phone filled her ear and at the same time, something changed in her friend’s demeanor. Her eyes stilled, smile sliding from her face, and she cocked her head to the side as if listening for something.
Connor Morray’s deep baritone reached Brenna when he answered. “Hello?”
It was as if a switch were flipped. Just as quick as Harper’s posture had changed, she suddenly lunged for Brenna’s phone, yanking it from her hand and bringing it to her own ear.
“Connie!” Man the woman could squeal. And she always seemed so thrilled at talking with her husband. “Guess what?” She bounced up and down on her tiptoes as if she couldn’t wait to share her delusions. “Bren-Bren is part of team furry!”
She winced. Because, yeah, Bren-Bren was not one of her favorite nicknames. Actually, she hated it. If it weren’t for the fact it’d been given to her by Harper’s daughter, she would have demanded the name be banished for eternity.
Brenna mentally sighed. But Harper made such pretty babies and she didn’t have the heart to tell the little one to speak clearly already.
Brenna waited, trying to listen for Connor’s response. She didn’t hear any screaming or yelling, so either Connor shared his wife’s delusion or the guy knew how to handle crazy people. Since he happened to be the town sheriff
he was married to Harper, she figured it was a bit of both.
More murmuring was exchanged, Harper’s eyes dimming ever so slightly but the excitement still remained. The tiny woman’s enthusiasm thrummed through her.
“Uh-huh.” Harper nodded. “I know, right?” Her friend shifted to her right. “Well, she does have a little bite… But it’s still
.” That had the woman bouncing in place once again.
Amazing? Brenna didn’t want to have anything to do with amazing or fantabulous or fan-friggin’-tastic. None of it. Hard pass.
Then Harper focused on her and she realized a few things at once: she had a bite on her forearm that hurt like hell, Harper blocked the only exit from the exam room, and someone, somewhere, smelled really fucking good. Like, give her over fifty different types of chocolate coated with whipped cream, good.
Declan tugged on the vet clinic’s door, hitting the “send” button on a text as he stepped inside. Between texts and calls, he spent more time staring at that small screen than looking at his surroundings.
The second he stepped into Harper Morray’s clinic, the stinging scent of disinfectant and dog hit him in the face. His wolf growled as the aromas sank into him, his inner-animal hating the presence of other beasts. Conceptually, the beast knew it was stronger than any other animal inside the building. Realistically, it wanted them to submit to him. Now.
Fucking aggressive animal. He cursed the wolf as often as he loved it. The power of his beast let him race over forest floors and tackle prey. But it also came with the fierce need to pin just about anyone to the ground and demand their submission.
Just as the glass door swung closed behind him, yet another text came through and he mentally groaned. This one from his Beta, a man who also happened to be his closest friend and Swan Mountain sheriff.
He pressed the icon that opened the text and scanned the words quickly.
Another dog @ Harper’s.
Werewolves always had to be careful of discovery, so Connor’s text was purposefully obscure. There was no telling who would stumble across a pack member’s phone and dig through the device.
So, Connor’s message was vague yet the meaning was clear. The rogue had attacked another person and the victim was at Harper’s clinic.
Convenient but unsurprising.
She’d been taking care of each victim, treating them for the bite and then waiting for the blood tests to come through. The wounded hadn’t bitched too hard about seeing a doc “off the clock” rather than the hospital. Especially when they learned it wouldn’t cost them a dime. The story constructed was that it was Connor’s dog who’d bitten them and “my wife is a doctor, let’s have that looked at.”
Thankfully the injured weren’t that smart. At least, so far.
He was just glad they hadn’t complained about the test or wondered what they’d been tested
. Especially when it’d tell Declan if he’d have another wolf come the full moon. If the victim had been changed, they went home with Declan. If they weren’t, they were sent on their way with an apology.
Declan strode toward the reception desk, giving the human woman a grin. She was pretty. Not his type, but still a beautiful woman. The moment he stepped close, the scent of her desire slithered over him, hugging him with her need.
The wolf snarled, wanting to get away from the female, which surprised the hell out of him. The animal was always ready for a quick fuck, a way to brush off the day’s tension. No, it sensed something else, something it wanted more than an easy lay.
“Is Harper in?” He leaned against the counter, fighting his wolf with every flex of muscle. It battled his control, straining against the mental bonds that held it at bay.
“Sure.” The human female fluttered her lashes and flashed him a smile that practically screamed “take me now.” “She’s in with Brenna, but lemme poke my head in.” She pushed to her feet, straightening her tight skirt as she rose and running her hands over her hips. “I’ll be right back.”
Declan leaned against the counter, propping his elbows on the hard surface. He flicked through the other five messages that arrived as he spoke with the desire-drenched female. Two asked about the upcoming run and he shot those off to one of his gammas. The next whined about who owned a tree between two pack houses. That went to Connor. He wasn’t getting into that shit and the Beta could handle that decision. The last two mentioned the rogue.
Damn it, how hard is it to find one wolf on the fucking mountain?
The click-clack of the receptionist’s shoes on the smooth tile announced her return. Good, at least he could get this over with so he could return to work. So far none of the attacked were turned; the rogue was too submissive—weak—to actually transform someone to a
. He imagined the latest victim would be the same.
He replied to the two mentioning the rogue with a terse “on it,” before he locked the phone and tucked it into his pocket.
Just as the woman entered the lobby, she brought a new scent with her. It had the wolf howling in approval and demanding they hunt the source. It craved the flavor’s origin and was desperate to bathe in every drop. Now. Not in five minutes, not in five seconds. Now.
Declan’s skin rippled, the beast moving beneath the surface and scraping him. His pores stung, stretching with the emergence of his fur. Then his bones throbbed with an ever-increasing ache, a precursor to the rapid snap and break that accompanied his shift.
The aroma wasn’t even sweet. No, it was deep and hot, earthy yet tempting with a hint of honeysuckle. However he described it, he needed it rolling over his tongue and coating his fur. The sooner the better.
“Give her a few minutes. She’s still got Brenn—”
A few minutes? Hell no. Declan pushed past the receptionist, careful not to injure her frail body. He also didn’t allow her to impede his progress. The source of the aroma was in the building and it beckoned him.
With a growl, he stomped down the hallway, drawing in more of the office’s air as he traveled. He didn’t care if he huffed and heaved like a damned train. It was here somewhere.
was here somewhere. With each pounding step, the wolf snarled louder, pushed harder, and nearly shoved past his human body in its race for her.