Chapter 5

    “Are you sure she’ll go with me?” Argos asked Caleb again, worry evident in his voice as they climbed into the SUV.

    “She only saw me at the zoo. She doesn’t know Ragnar still rules the pack and wants her.”

    Argos shook his head. “I can’t believe she got herself locked up in a zoo.”

    Caleb gave an evil smile, the notion he’d have to rescue her from a real wolf’s attentions amusing him. “The big red wolf they tried to mate her with sure looked disappointed, hungry, and dissatisfied.”

    Caleb's cousins and Argos chuckled.

    “I can just imagine how mad she is over that.” Argos stared out the window. “I’ve always wondered if we shouldn't have tried to find a red wolf pack for her to mix with. Maybe she would have found a mate with one of her own kind.”

    Caleb started the ignition with a jerk. “We’re her family,” he said abruptly, not in the mood for hiding his feelings for her. “Besides, I doubt Ragnar would have stood for it.”

    Intent on freeing her before she turned into her human form, Caleb sped down the road. With the temperature dropping to thirty degrees and wind chilled rain making it even worse, she’d be in real trouble soon.

    He thought back to Ragnar and his desire to have Diana. Although Caleb had warred with him over her so many times in the past when he was an immature lupus garous, he’d never had a chance to beat him. Thinking she no longer lived, he had long ago ended his quarrel with Ragnar, concentrating instead on making his leather goods factory a success. But now, could he fight the leader and have the female he wanted most?

    His hands fisted on the steering wheel, and he shook his head. The notion that she loved humans gnawed at him as much as he fought not wanting to care. There was no sense in wanting what he couldn’t have.

    A police siren wailed behind him, shattering the other-wise quiet, and forced a shard of anger to rip through him. Everyone turned around to see what was wrong.

    Frowning, Caleb pulled the vehicle to the shoulder, spitting gravel out of its path.

    “Speeding a little, Caleb ?” Argos asked, his voice amused.

    Speeding a lot. Caleb tightened his grip on the steering wheel, not wanting to leave Diana in the zoo's pen one more minute. He glanced at the rearview mirror to see a policeman approaching. If Caleb tore off now, he could probably lose the cop. The officer would never guess Caleb would hightail it to the zoo.

    He slipped his foot off the brake.


    Diana had been so intent on fleeing confinement that, when the night watchmen discovered her hiding in the moat, she didn’t realize how chilled she'd become. In her wolf form, the March temperature didn't bother her. But, as a naked human, she was frozen to the bone.

    “Jesus, Randolph, she’s . . . she’s naked,” the younger male voice said, as he hung over the railing where zoo patrons normally observed the animals in the pen.

    “Yeah, Mack. Call for backup. We don’t know yet how badly she’s hurt.” He tugged off his jacket and dropped it on top of her. “Miss, we’ll reach you as soon as we can. Are you injured?”

    Her mind was fuzzy and disoriented. Hurt? Tired. Sleepy.

    “She’s probably hypothermic.” He ran toward the entrance to the wolf’s pen.

    His companion relayed the messages into a phone, his footsteps running behind the other. “We have a naked woman in Big Red’s pen, down in the moat. Yeah, yeah!” he hollered. “I’m serious. She’s naked. We don’t know if she's injured or not. Randolph says she’s got to be hypothermic as cold as it is. All right.” He snapped the phone shut. “The boss is making all of the calls. We're not to move her if she’s hurt, just try to keep her warm. But how in the hell did . . .” His voice faded; then the metal door squeaked open to the building housing the inside part of the wolves’ exhibit. They disappeared inside the building; then the door creaked open to the outer portion of the pen.

    Numb and stiff, Diana couldn’t even move to put on the jacket that the man had tossed to her. Still, the fleece helped warm her.

    The men ran across the pen to the moat from the shorter concrete wall on the opposite side. “Watch my back, Randolph, in case Big Red or Rosa get any ideas. If either injured the woman, they may still feel threatened.”

    “Rosa must be sleeping in her den. Big Red’s sitting in the corner watching us.”

    “Keep an eye on him. I’ll lift the woman to you.”

    He sat at the edge of the moat, turned, and eased himself down. When his feet hit the ground, he whipped around and ran to her. “Are you hurt?”

    Trembling so hard that her teeth chattered, she couldn't croak a word.

    He ran his flashlight over her and then helped her into his jacket. “She doesn’t appear to be injured, but she's half-frozen.” He covered her lap with the other jacket. “She’s got hypothermia really bad.” Lifting her off through pavement, he carried her to the older man, who was leaning down with his arms outstretched.

    With the two men’s heavy jackets covering her, her body warmed some while she lay on the rough concrete above the moat, yet she still shivered out of control, craved sleep, and could barely focus on much of anything.

    Vaguely, she worried about being caught, about freeing herself from her current predicament, about hiding before Ragnar found her.

    Suddenly, more shouts erupted, and running footsteps headed toward the patron’s safety railing across the moat.

    “Is she injured?” Thompson hollered from the iron fence.

    “It appears she’s just hypothermic,” Mack shouted back. “Her pulse is awfully slow. She has some scratches but doesn’t appear to have been bitten or to have broken any bones.”

    Mack rubbed her hand while Randolph wrapped his coat around her legs. The door squeaked open, and she turned her head slightly when blond-bearded Thompson dashed into the pen, his blue eyes worried.

    Yanking off his coat, he laid it over her. He touched her cheek with clinical concern. “Who are you, and how did you get in here?”

    She stared at him, hearing the question and vaguely remembering that he’d shot her with a tranquilizer and incarcerated her here. That’s how she’d gotten in here. The men’s faces wavered in front of her, and she blinked her eyes slowly, trying to focus.

    “What’s your name?” He turned to Mack. “Has she spoken at all?”

    “We heard her screaming and yelling. By the time we located her, she was crouched against the wall of the moat and hasn’t said a word. She’s barely conscious.”

    “The ambulance is on its way,” Thompson said. “What about the wolves?”

    “Big Red’s sitting over there watching. Rosa must be sleeping in the den,” Randolph said.

    Thompson crouched down in front of her and touched her wrist. “Miss, what’s your name? What happened?”

    More flashlights wavered in the night. More men were shouting, issuing directions to the wolves’ pen. Diana blinked when two policemen in their blue uniforms hurried into the pen; then she closed her eyes, wondering how she was going to extract herself from this mess.

    “What happened here, Mr. Thompson?” one of the policemen asked.

    Thompson explained all he knew and then reached over and held Diana's hand. “She’s ice-cold.”

    The men piled two more coats on top of her.

    “Most bizarre thing I’ve ever seen in the fifteen years I've been a night watchman,” Randolph said.

    “Damn,” Mack said, tightening his grip on Diana's other hand. “Here come the media.”


    Before Caleb could step on the gas and leave the cop behind in the dust, Argos grabbed his arm. “Wait.”

    The policeman spoke into his radio. “You’ve got what?” Then he leaned into the open SUV window and said to Caleb, “Got another call. Slow it down, will you, bud?”

    “Yes, sir,” Caleb said, as amicably as he could. His hands still clutched the steering wheel with a death grip. The policeman nodded and then hurried back to his

    car, shouting to the other officer, “Problem at the zoo. You’re never going to believe this.”

    Caleb glanced at Argos, whose tanned face had turned gray.

    When Caleb finally reached the zoo’s main entrance, he shut off his headlights and drove into the zoo's lower parking lot. But the sight of the police cars and an ambulance’s flashing lights washing the area near the zoo’s entrance in a prism of color sent a splinter of ice into his heart. She would live. The cold or some animal's injury—if minor enough—wouldn’t kill her, but how in the hell was he to secret her away?

    “When the ambulance leaves, follow them to the hospital,” Argos said as if reading Caleb's mind. “We can more easily slip her out of there than we could have here.”

    Sitting in the dark, like when the pack went on a hunt, they waited quietly for their prey to appear. The thought of hunting Diana sent a surge of heat through his system, a longing he had no business feeling, a lustful desire for her he could never fulfill.

    The paramedics rolled her out to the ambulance; her red hair spilled over the stretcher, the blankets burying her under the covers. Caleb could only imagine how close to death she’d come. His anger boiled deep inside. How could she be so foolish as to leave the pack as she did? This is the kind of trouble she’d get in for it. She needed a pack leader to keep her in line. No, not the pack leader . . . him.

    Despite the knowledge that she didn’t want him, or any of his kind, she was tied to him—bound together not only by the fire that killed her family but by something deeper, more primal. He sought to rise above the darkness that filled him with wanting—with the soul-wrenching yearning for the little red wolf. But part of him wouldn’t submit.

    Argos cleared his gravelly throat. “We’ll all go into the hospital and try to create some distraction so that we can remove her. Until then, I’ll let you find out where she is and how serious her injuries are. If she’s too bad, we may have to let her stay overnight and take her out sometime after that.”

    Still brooding over the circumstances of her captivity, Caleb had every intention of moving her tonight. Their own healers could take care of her much better than the human doctors could because of the many years they'd practiced medicine. Caleb and his pack mates had to remove her before anyone discovered too much about her. But it was more than that. He wanted to hold her tightly in his grasp again, to reassure himself that she was safe in his care. He wouldn’t wait a second longer than necessary.

    They followed the string of police cars escorting the ambulance to the hospital, their blue and red lights flashing against the blackness. The drive seemed interminable. But finally, the ambulance pulled into the brightly illuminated emergency entrance, and Caleb veered away from the circus of police cars following in the ambulance’s wake. Seeing the main entrance, he parked near the doors; the lot was fairly empty because of the lateness of the hour.

    Before he could jerk his door open, Caleb spied Henry Thompson headed for the emergency room doors, his stride quick and determined.

    “Damn it to hell,” Caleb swore under his breath.

    He hated for any man or lupus garou to get close to Diana, but especially some idiot who was in love with wolves. Would Diana mistake Thompson’s wanting to help wolves for desiring to have her?

    Caleb shook his head and fisted his hands, still unable to understand what she could see in human males. Yet he had every intention of making her realize how mealy a human male was, how lame and weak and fearful their kind was, and, worse, how dangerous they could be.

    “What’s wrong?” Argos asked, his voice harsh with worry.

    Caleb motioned with his head toward zoo man Thompson. “He’s the one I talked to about removing Rosa from the zoo. He’s going to wonder what the hell I'm doing here.”

    Argos watched Thompson disappear inside the hospital and then let out his breath. “Then you can stay in the vehicle.”

    Caleb jerked his door open. “Like hell I am.”

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