43 Chapters
1872 Colorado. As soon as he stripped naked, he'd be hers. Unbraiding her hair, Diana's blood heated with desire while she observed the dark-haired boy. He looked about eighteen, two years older than she. He yanked off one boot, then another, at the lake’s edge. It wasn’t the first time she'd watched him peel out of his clothes, but it was the first time she’d join him. If he had a taste of her, wouldn't he crave her? Hunger to be like her? Wild and free? She swallowed hard, longing to be Caleb's mate—rather than some human’s—but it would never be. Lifting her chin, she resolved to make the human hers. She untied her ankle-high boots, then slipped them off her feet. The human boy’s pet gray wolf rested at the shoreline, his ears perked up as he watched her. But the boy didn't see her—he was unobservant, as most humans were. However, a boy who cared for his wolf such as he did would care for her, too, wouldn’t he? He’d studied her when she swam here before, naked
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Chapter 1
Present Day Portland, Oregon One hundred and fifty years later—aging one year for every thirty that passed once a lupus garou reached puberty—Diana was the equivalent of a twenty-one-year-old human. She longed more than ever to have Caleb for her mate, wishing she hadn’t had to hide from the pack all these years. The burning desire for him flooded her veins whenever she came into the wolf’s heat. Her body craved his touch, but her mind had given up hoping to ever have him for her own. If she could find a strong, agreeable human mate, she could change him into a lupus garou, and he would keep her safe from Ragnar. She shook her head, trying to rid herself of the image of the brutish fiend, and continued to pack her overnight bag. Any man would be better than he—a good mate who would help her establish her own pack. She turned to look at Caleb's photo sitting on the bedside table, the most recent one that Argos, the old, retired pack leader had sent her. Taking a deep br
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Chapter 2
The Wolf's amber eyes captured her, held her hostage, but her gaze held him captive, too. But only for a moment. His head whipped to the side. Another flash of fur, and another male appeared. Then, the wave of a wolf’s tail as the lupus garou made a hasty retreat. She should have heeded the instinctual warning. Instead, she gauged the remaining wolf’s posture, the way he turned his attention back to her, closed his mouth, and almost seemed to smile before dashing after his companion. The crashing through the underbrush couldn’t hide the most dangerous sound known to wildlife—a trigger clicking on a rifle. Nothing could disguise the sound of death. Immediately her tail stood upright, and the hair on her back and neck stood on end. A chill hurtled down her spine and she dashed through the creek, her heart thundering. Her ears twisted back and forth, trying to identify where the hunter stood. The sound of a crack rang across the woods and open area, and a sharp pain s
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Chapter 3
She had to make her escape before that happened–before she became a human with no chance to remain a wolf, not until the return of the moon. It would be seven days until the new moon from the beginning of the waning crescent. But three days had passed and when she took her fatal run she’d already observed the waning crescent for...she couldn’t remember. Two days? Three? Damn. “There’s been some unusual recent interest in her,” Thompson said. She stopped pacing and turned to listen. Thompson placed his hands on his hips. “Now isn’t it interesting how she listens to our conversation?” “She seems to sometimes. She’s really gentle.” You should see me on a bad day. Thompson shook his head. “A wolf is a wolf, still wild at heart. Anyway, a man was interested in transferring her to another zoo. But...” He looked at his feet. “I don't know. I didn’t trust him. He seemed to have something else in mind.” When he looked up, his blue eyes widened, and he straig
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Chapter 4
Caleb stared at the inky sky from the balcony of his hotel room, his heart pounding furiously as he considered how Diana had been locked up in the zoo. He never thought he’d see her again, but she was even more beautiful than before, if that was possible. He recognized the longing in her whisky-colored eyes. 'Save me', they pleaded. And the smell of her—wild and ripe for the picking. God, how he wanted to claim her heart and body for his own. He gritted his teeth and fisted his hands. How many times did he have to rescue the woman before she recognized how. . . . He shook his head. It didn’t matter how he felt. She could never be his. Even if Ragnar didn’t lead the pack, it wouldn't matter—Diana was so hell-bent on having a human for a mate. His neck muscles grew taut. The door adjoining his room squeaked open. He turned. Gray-haired, wiry Argos nodded. Once the leader of the pack, he had stepped down when he’d grown too old. “Are you sure she’ll come to me?”
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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 turn
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Chapter 6
The smell of antiseptics wafted in the room, and the air conditioner poured out of the vents, intent on putting patients into a deep freeze, Diana was certain. Feigning sleep, she lay quietly in the hospital bed, the highly starched sheets scratchy against her exposed backside where the gown opened up. The white woolen blankets, piled four or five high fresh out of a blanket warmer, buried her, raising her internal temperature. But the knowledge that she wasn’t safe yet chilled her all over again. The room remained quiet, all except for the sound of hearts beating nearby. Once she was hooked up to the I.V., the medicine whooshing through her veins, heating her blood, the nurse left the room. But Thompson and the doctor stood silently watching her. “Does she have any injuries, Doctor?” Thompson finally asked. “Just hypothermia. As low as her temperature was, it’s a good thing your staff found her when they did. Another couple of degrees drop and she wouldn’t have survived. She hasn’t
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Chapter 7
He walked her back into the hall toward the center of the building, his stride long and indomitable, his arm wrapped tightly around her waist. His touch should have warmed her . . . well, hell, it did. But for all of the wrong reasons. She craved more of his touch, at the same time resenting the implication. He was her captor, her new zookeeper; her blood sizzled. When they walked past the nurses’ station, a woman wearing polka-dot scrubs spoke on the phone, her eyes wide. “The patient is missing?” His jaw tight, Caleb hurried Diana toward the door past the station. The woman said, “Wait! Sir! Miss!” He hit the door with his shoulder and yanked Diana outside into the crisp, cold air. Grabbing her up in his arms, he ran for the black SUV parked curbside. Gray-haired Argos tugged the door open. “Argos,” she said under her breath, the pleasure at seeing him overshadowed by the realization that the pack was returning her to Ragnar. She clenched her teeth. “
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Chapter 8
Diana stroked her bottom against Caleb's raging arousal, triggering an undeniable lust for the woman he'd coveted endlessly. “Damn it, Diana, stop it.” To still her actions, he tightened his hold on her waist, the insatiable urge to take her filling him with feral aggression. “I can’t help it. Your scent and your touch are driving me nuts,” she growled. “You only say that because you want me to let you go, but I don’t trust you.” Ignoring him, she pressed herself hard against him, challenging him to mate. No human or lupus garou bitch boasted the same alluring scent as Diana. Taking a deep breath, he drank in her wild fragrance, a heady aphrodisiac compelling him to mate with her against all common sense. He nuzzled his face in her silky red hair, making the attraction stronger, not controlling his behavior as he should. Caleb ran his hand over Diana's side, down the gentle curve of her hip, to her inner thigh. She parted her legs for him, and he groaned wi
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Chapter 9
“You’re not worried about them, are you? We left the zoo and then ended up at the hospital and now here. They won’t be able to follow me.” “The news will carry the story about your hospital stay and subsequent disappearance. The mystery woman found in the wolf’s pen, without clothes, the disappearance of the red wolf, and most likely my description, too. If the red who targeted you is a pack leader, no one would cross him. So he’d know I was from out of town,not a member of his pack.” “He was young, your age . . . early twenties, small. He wouldn’t be a leader.” “Reds are smaller.” He wasn’t dismissing the fact that they could have more trouble than they bargained for—first zoo man Thompson, then the cops, and now a pack of red wolves. “Besides, Caleb, I am selecting my mate.” “That’s what this is all about? You want to choose instead of a male choosing you?” His voice sounded as incredulous as he felt. “This is all about not wanting to be Ragnar's mate. Do
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