Shelley has been running from her past since she killed a man to escaped years of brutal captivity. There are bounty hunters on her trail and she’s all alone, a dangerous situation for a werewolf to be in. But for the first time in her life, she’s free to put the past behind her.
After a week of dealing with his late brother’s affairs, James Riley is feeling the pressure of his new responsibility as Wolf Creek pack alpha. He’s not too tired to notice his sexy waitress is a werewolf—and realize that she doesn’t seem recognize him as one of her own kind. When Shelly is fired, James offers to drive her to the next town, hoping he can convince her to come to his pack and explore what it means to be a shifter.
Shelly’s irresistibly drawn to James, but her past will not be denied...and her secrets demand a price paid in blood.
Each book in the Legacy series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed out of order.
Book #1 Alexandra’s Legacy
Book #2 Isaiah’s Haven
Book #3 Legacy Found
Book #4 Quinn’s Quest
Book #5 Finding Chrissten
Book #6 Damek’s Redemption
Book #7 Craig’s Heart
About the Author
Once upon a time N.J. had the idea that she would like to quit her job at the bookstore, sell everything she owned, leave her hometown, and write romance novels in a place where no one knew her. And she did. Two years later, she went back to the bookstore and her hometown and settled in for another seven years. One day she gave notice at her job on a Friday morning. On Sunday afternoon, she received a tentative acceptance for her first romance novel and life would never be the same.
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
Read an Excerpt
James Riley climbed out of his vehicle and pocketed his keys. Even though the air was cool and crisp, he didn't bother with his leather jacket. Taking a deep breath, he drank in the scent of the surrounding woods and damp earth. There was a hint of spring in the air despite the fact it was March and there were still patches of snow on the ground.
He raised his arms above his head, stretching out his cramped limbs as he surveyed the truck stop. He'd been on the road for a week now and was looking forward to getting home.
He was alpha of the Wolf Creek pack in North Carolina. As such, the financial concerns of the pack were his responsibility. That was the main reason for his trip. He'd been in so many banks and investment firms over the past few days he could barely remember them all. Then there had been the visits to specialty stores and markets that carried the arts and crafts many of his people produced.
He'd only been alpha for about six months and was still sorting out the mess that had been left behind when a group of young males had killed the previous alpha and threatened the security of the pack. His brother, the former alpha, had been a good male, but he hadn't had much of a head for business. Thankfully, two of the pack members were lawyers. That had helped things considerably.
His gut tightened. The memories of his brother's and sister-in-law's deaths were still fresh. He hadn't seen his brother in more than two decades, but that hadn't made the loss any easier to bear.
James swiveled his head in a one-hundred-and-eighty-degree arc, surveying the area around him. He wished he could shift into his wolf form and run through the woods, free and unfettered. Soon, he promised himself. For now, he needed to be on his guard.
He was always aware, always watching for danger. Paranormal bounty hunters were the bane of his kind. They killed indiscriminately — women, children and the elderly. It didn't matter to them. Their motto was the only good werewolf was a dead one.
There were plenty of trucks in the parking lot, which boded well for the food served inside. But at the moment there was no one in the lot but him. Everyone else was inside.
He took one more look around as he yanked his cell phone out of his pocket and dialed a familiar number. It rang twice before being answered.
The knot in his gut relaxed slightly. "Hey, honey."
"Dad. Where are you?" As always, the love and concern in his daughter's voice made him smile. He was so proud of her. Alexandra hadn't even known she'd had wolf blood in her until a few months ago. Since then, she'd embraced her heritage and mated with a strong male. He was glad to have Joshua Striker looking out for his daughter.
"I'm at a roadside diner in Kentucky. I'm going to get something to eat and get back on the road. I've got two more stops to make, but I should make it home late tonight."
"Don't push it. Stop somewhere for the night if you need to. Everything here is fine."
James didn't commit one way or another. "Let me talk to Joshua."
"Okay. Love you."
"Love you too, Alex," he answered gruffly.
A second later a male voice came over the line. "Striker."
Striker was more than just the family name for Joshua and his brothers. It was a calling. Traditionally, the men of his family were the pack enforcers. They were judge, jury and, when necessary, executioner. Joshua had already proven he was more than capable of doing the job.
James didn't waste words. "How are things?"
"Fairly quiet. Some rumblings from the Carlos and Jensen clans."
James wanted to howl with frustration. They had enough trouble as a species without infighting. But that had never stopped werewolves. Their aggressive nature would be their downfall if they weren't careful. "Serious?"
"Nothing I can't handle."
James trusted Joshua, but they were shorthanded now that Isaiah Striker had moved permanently to Chicago. "I'll be back late tonight. I'll call if something comes up."
James disconnected the call and slipped his phone back into his pocket. He'd destroy the phone as soon as he was home. Bounty hunters might be anti-government and anti-social, but they weren't stupid. They used whatever technology might aid them in destroying all werewolves and that included using the services of hackers. Every member of the pack used disposable phones, changing them frequently.
His stomach rumbled, reminding him why he'd stopped at this roadside diner in the first place. All his senses were on alert as he crossed the paved lot and pulled open the door. The smell of coffee, ham and eggs tickled his nose.
He paused in the open doorway and removed his sunglasses, tucking them in his shirt pocket as he looked around. The place was crowded, mostly with men, but there were a few women as well. Almost all the tables were filled. The sound of chatter was punctuated with the noise of utensils clanking as they all ate. The coffeepot hissed and the grill sizzled in the kitchen.
Something else permeated the air, but James couldn't quite place it. Grease, sweat and food all mixed together to dull his preternatural sense of smell. Shrugging it off, he stepped inside and let the door swing shut behind him.
Several men glanced up from their meals and stared, but most ignored him, too intent on finishing their food and getting back on the road. To a trucker, time was money.
James scanned the room and sauntered over to a vacant booth in the far corner. He slid onto the vinyl bench seat and leaned back, trying to fit his large body comfortably into the space.
From his position, he had an unobstructed view of the room and the front door. There was also a window right beside him, which would allow for a quick escape if necessary.
The diner was surprisingly clean but dull. The paint on the walls was chipped, the linoleum on the floor scarred. And the seat cushions had seen better days. But the table gleamed and the condiment bottles were full. He plucked the menu from behind the shiny napkin dispenser and scanned it.
At the far end of the room, which James assumed led to the kitchen, a swinging door popped open. A woman backed into the room carrying a tray laden with plates. She looked like any waitress anywhere — harried and overworked. He went back to studying the menu, but his gaze was drawn again and again to the woman.
Giving up on the menu, he tossed it down on the table and studied her. She appeared to be in her early thirties, but it was hard to tell. She had the look of someone who'd had a hard life. Her hair had been pulled back into a tight bun, giving her face a pinched appearance.
As he watched, she competently served up the food from her tray, distributing plates to various tables, while nimbly sidestepping the roving hands of one of the truckers. His eyes narrowed as a burly driver patted her butt as she passed by. She jerked, but didn't stop. Head ducked down, she kept going.
Anger began to burn low in his gut. It was none of his business, he told himself. He couldn't afford to get involved. Not with paranormal bounty hunters searching for him and his daughter. The last thing he wanted to do was bring attention to himself and, through him, to his pack.
Still, he couldn't take his eyes off her.
She was dressed in a tacky pink polyester uniform that hung on her slender frame. It was hard to tell her shape. It was mostly hidden by the bulky dress, which was zipped up tight to her neck and fell all the way to her knees. Her legs were bare from her knees to her ankles and she wore white socks inside her battered canvas sneakers.
The woman was continually in motion, pouring coffee and serving food. Even though she worked without stopping, there was almost a fragile air about her, as if she'd been ill recently.
He wasn't sure she'd even seen him, but as soon as her tray was empty, she tucked it under her arm and hurried over to his table. "What can I get you?" She pulled an order pad and pen out of her pocket.
James froze in place. All his senses went on full alert. Her scent was ever so faint, almost as if she were masking it somehow. But it was there. "You're a werewolf," he whispered. He was so shocked he spoke before he could check his words.
The woman paled and swayed. His hand shot out to steady her, but she quickly pulled away, taking a step backward. "What? What did you say?" Her voice grew steadier with each word she spoke.
The soft tones of her voice skimmed over James like a caress. He was struck with the urge to draw her close to him, lay his head against her stomach and just listen to her talk. But fright still lingered in her dark chocolate-brown eyes in spite of her bravado. Her fingers clenched around the pen she was holding and she took another half-step backward.
"Nothing." He kept his voice low and as unthreatening as possible. "I didn't say anything important."
She relaxed immediately, offering him a tiny smile that brightened her entire face. Up close, he could see that beneath her weariness, there was a beautiful woman. The skin on her heart-shaped face was as fine as a baby's and appeared to be incredibly smooth. Her chin was slightly pointed, her cheekbones high. And her small nose turned up at the tip. Her eyebrows curved slightly and were the same light brown color as her hair.
He sat up straighter, every muscle in his body pulling tight. Deep within him, he could feel his wolf pacing restlessly.
"If you're not ready to order, I can come back." She glanced around the room, keeping an eye on her other customers.
James grabbed the small menu and scanned it quickly. "I'll have the number three special. I like my bacon crispy and my hash browns not greasy."
"Scrambled or fried eggs?" She scribbled away on her small order pad.
"Okay." Several of the men at another table got up and headed toward the cash register. "Coffee?"
James nodded. "Please."
"I'll be back with your coffee in a sec." He watched as she hurried behind the counter and rang up their bills. The men talked and laughed, one of them a bit too loudly as he leaned toward the woman. She moved out of his reach and the man tensed.
James didn't realize he was half out of his seat when one of the man's companions slapped the trucker on the shoulder. Whatever the man said had them all laughing as they left the diner. James settled back down on the bench seat. What the hell was wrong with him?
She passed his order into the kitchen through an opening behind the counter, grabbed the coffee pot and hurried back to his table. On her way, she paused long enough to top off the cups of several other men. She turned over one of the clean mugs that rested on the table and began to fill it.
"What's your name?"
The coffee pot jerked in her hand and some of the hot liquid sloshed over the rim. Just in time, James jerked his hand out of the way.
"I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm such a klutz." She'd grabbed some napkins from the dispenser and began to wipe up the spilled coffee.
James didn't like the fear that edged her voice or the way she kept apologizing. "No harm done. I didn't mean to startle you."
She stared at him, her huge eyes blinking slowly as if she couldn't quite figure out what to make of him. "It was my fault," she began tentatively.
"No," he corrected. "It was my fault for startling you." He shifted in his seat, surprised by just how tight his jeans were becoming. He hadn't had a spontaneous erection in too many years to count. He prided himself on having total control of his body and this was more than a little disconcerting. "I shouldn't have asked you your name. After all, I'm a stranger to you. Forgive me if I made you uncomfortable."
"Shelley," she blurted out. "You can call me Shelley."
He nodded, instantly intrigued by the way she'd phrased it. She hadn't said, "my name is Shelley", but rather, "you can call me Shelley". Maybe it meant something, maybe not.
He held out his hand. "James. James Riley."
She glanced at his hand and wiped her own on the front of her uniform before shaking his. James noted the way the material pulled tight against her chest, briefly outlining her full breasts.
He gave her hand a quick squeeze, but was careful not to hold it for more than a second. She was as skittish as any wild creature around an unfamiliar beast.
"Order's up!" a deep male voice bellowed from the bowels of the kitchen.
Shelley jumped and laughed, a deep red creeping up over her cheeks. "I've got to get back to work." She all but ran from his table to the kitchen.
James sat back, picked up his mug and sipped his coffee. His nose hadn't lied at all. The lady was definitely one of his kind — a werewolf. And he was certainly attracted to her.
She obviously didn't want anyone to know what she was. He could understand her trying to hide her true identity from humans, but why was she afraid of other werewolves finding her? And why was she working in such a public place if that was a problem? Where was her pack?
And furthermore, why didn't she recognize him as a werewolf?
Because she hadn't. There had been absolutely no recognition on her face or in her demeanor to signal that she had any idea he was a werewolf.
He continued to watch the room, and Shelley, as he sipped his coffee and pondered the mystery surrounding her. She was continually in motion, her movements fluid and graceful.
James was surprised that she seemed to be the only waitress on staff this morning. It was a fairly busy spot and she hurried from the front counter to the kitchen and back into the dining room. In between, she cleared tables and pocketed the few measly tips that had been left. More than once, he'd seen the disappointment on her face as she'd cleaned off a table where the occupants had left nothing but crumbs and spilled coffee behind.
Not too much time had passed when she bolted from the kitchen, tray in hand and hurried to his table. She deposited a huge platter of food in front of him. It was filled with a decent mound of scrambled eggs, golden-brown hash browns, crispy bacon and four slices of toast. If it tasted as good as it looked, he wasn't surprised that this place was busy. Truckers always knew the best, and cheapest, places to eat.
"Can I get you anything else?"
"More coffee, please."
"Be right back."
The crowd in the diner was beginning to thin out and only a couple other tables were filled. Shelley checked on them, pouring more coffee as she worked her way back to him. He waited until she'd topped up his mug again. "Thanks, Shelley."
Her shoulders tensed and her lips tightened. Once again, he'd startled her by using her name. Wasn't she used to anyone using it? Was it her real name?
James thought about just finishing his meal and leaving, but something inside him persisted in making him ask questions. "How long you worked here?"
"Not long." She started to back away again. From him or the questions or both?
"A year, a week?" he prompted.
"A few months." Another group of men got up from their table and Shelley hurried away before he could question her further.
Frustration gnawed at James as he finished the last few bites of his meal. He really should just pay his bill and leave. He'd already spent too much time away from Wolf Creek on business. With his leadership still so new, and rumblings of unrest from certain clans in the pack, it didn't pay for him to be away for too long.
He had his plate full with pack politics and finances at the moment. Why then was he so worried about a woman he'd just met?
Shelley took the men's money as they stepped up, one at a time, to pay at the register. All the while she made change her attention was drawn back to the man sitting in the corner. Although he hadn't done anything to draw attention to himself, he seemed to dominate the entire room simply by being there.
He was incredibly handsome. No, that wasn't quite right. His features were too rough, too blunt to be considered handsome. There was just something about him that she found attractive and scary at the same time. He was tall and lean, and his shoulders were so wide he took up almost the entire bench seat on his own.
Butterflies had fluttered wildly in her stomach when he'd asked her what her name was. The way he'd looked at her, studied her, had made her very uncomfortable. She knew she wasn't pretty. Knew she was flawed. Then why was he so interested in her?
Her heart had stopped when he'd called her a werewolf and had started pounding frantically when he'd denied saying anything important. Somehow, someway, he knew.
Excerpted from "Legacy Found"
Copyright © 2011 N.J. Walters.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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