Half-breed werewolf Sage Gallagher can’t shift, but he’s a member of the Salvation Pack and a wolf where it counts. When he finds who he thinks is a lost hiker while camping in the Great Smoky Mountains, he’s surprised to find she’s a full-blooded wolf who ignites in him the instinct to take her home to where he and his pack can protect her, no matter how skeptical and untrusting she is of his offer.
After Rina rejects her parents’ choice for a mate, she’s exiled from her pack. That’s a dangerous position for any wolf to be in, and now she has a human hunter on her trail. Rina doesn’t trust easily, especially not half-breeds—who she was raised to fear and revile. But there’s something about Sage that calls to her. Soon Rina’s in more danger than ever—danger of losing her heart.
Each book in the Salvation Pack series is a standalone story that can be enjoyed in any order.
Book #1 Wolf at the Door
Book #2 Wolf in her Bed
Book #3 Wolf on the Run
Book #4 Wolf from the Past
Book #5 Wolf on the Hunt
Book #6 Wolf on a Mission
Book #7 Wolf in his 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
Sage Gallagher inhaled the tangy scent of the nearby pine trees and tilted his head back to soak in the sun. He loved hiking in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and tried to get here at least five or six times a year. More if he could manage it.
Yes, he could just as easily hike Salvation Pack land, but there was always someone around. Sage enjoyed his solitude. There was something about being alone out in the vast wilderness that soothed the always-present ache in his soul. With over eight hundred square miles of parkland, he could walk forever without seeing a single person.
He swore under his breath and started walking again. He was way off the beaten trail, but that was okay. He did have a werewolf's heightened senses and was in no danger of becoming lost. He also knew how to survive in the wilderness. His uncle and the other members of the pack had made sure of that.
As much as he felt accepted by the members of the Salvation Pack, he knew he was different. Half-breed. A werewolf who couldn't shift.
You'd think that after a decade of living with the pack it wouldn't still bother him, but it did. He certainly wasn't lacking for people who cared about him. His Uncle Elias and Sue loved him. He never doubted that for one second. His cousin, Billy, was fully human and was totally accepted by everyone as well.
Problem was Sage was a twin. And his twin brother, Reece, could shift. Why his brother could embrace his wolf form and Sage couldn't was a mystery. One with no answer.
Sage skirted a stand of sugar maples, their leaves swishing in the light breeze. He moved easily through the forest, his booted feet making no sound. Thanks to training by Uncle Elias and Cole Blanchard, Sage could slip unseen through the woods. He felt like a ghost some days, almost as if he weren't quite real.
He growled under his breath. "Stop the pity party." He hated whining. Hated it even more when he was the one doing it. He had a good life with the pack.
He'd always figured he'd been the one to leave, to find his path away from the close-knit community of the pack. That had always been his plan. And he had gone away for a year or so, traveling and working odd jobs. In the end, he'd come home to Salvation, North Carolina, and started farming.
It still made him laugh. Him, a farmer. But he not only enjoyed it, he was also good at it. With the blessing of the alpha, Jacque LaForge, Sage had built several greenhouses and cultivated several large plots of land away from the pack houses. He grew lavender, peppermint, and other fragrant herbs. He'd planted a variety of vegetables as well, much of which was consumed by the pack. What was left over, he sold at the local farmer's market in town on the weekends.
His uncle's wife had joined him in his endeavor and made soaps and fragrant sachets out of the herbs he grew. She had an online store and also sold at the local market.
Anything organic sold at a premium price. It wasn't going to make him rich, but it allowed him to work the land. It also gave him freedom. But most of all, it allowed him to contribute to the pack that had given him, Reece, and Uncle Elias a home.
During the long winter months, Sage worked alongside his uncle building custom furniture that sold for a pretty penny at high-end furniture galleries around the country. He enjoyed woodworking, but being outside, coaxing life from the land was what he enjoyed most of all.
He paused and listened intently. His senses automatically tuned in to the world around him. It didn't pay to get careless in the woods. He wasn't so worried about the four-legged predators, but the ones on two feet. There was plenty of game around, and sometimes there were illegal hunters. The park rangers did what they could, but there was a lot of ground to cover, some of it not easily accessible. Hunters sometimes ignored the park boundaries when they were hunting deer.
Assured he was alone, except for a lone bear lumbering through the underbrush about fifty yards away, Sage began to walk once again. He veered away from the bear, giving the large animal space. Not that he was worried about the beast. With his werewolf genes, he could outrun the bear if necessary, but bears usually scented the difference in him and gave him a wide berth.
The woods were alive with sound. He enjoyed the buzz of the bees and the songs and calls of the birds. A dragonfly zipped by in a hurry to go somewhere. He caught the whisper of water running over rocks and headed toward the sound. The water was low this late in summer. It had been a long hot one.
He hunkered down by the edge of the stream, removed his knapsack, and set it aside. The shade from the nearby trees gave him welcome respite from the sun. He scooped up handfuls of water and sluiced it over his face and bare arms. It was cool against his heated skin. He raked his damp fingers through his shoulder-length brown hair, shoving the damp strands off his forehead.
He normally didn't take time away during the growing season. He had crops to harvest for this weekend's market. But he'd needed the time alone.
Even worse, his uncle had known it.
Uncle Elias and Sue had promised to keep an eye on things for him. Sue knew nearly as much about the crops as he did. And, truthfully, it wouldn't be the end of the world if he missed one weekend market. But he didn't like shirking his responsibilities. The gardens and greenhouses were his.
Yet he hadn't been able to turn down their offer.
He didn't know what in the hell was wrong with him. He just felt restless. And if he was honest, he was horny too.
He bent over the trickle of water, dipped his cupped palm in the water and rubbed it over the back of his neck. It didn't help.
His entire body tightened and his cock swelled, pushing against the front of his jeans. He'd been known to go to the roadhouse bar just outside of Salvation and blow off steam every now and again. Hell, whenever he went to visit Reece in Chicago, they went out on the town and had no trouble finding willing women, women who were only looking for a good time.
That was necessary, because Sage wasn't exactly in a position to offer a woman a long-term relationship. What could he tell her? Hey, I'm a half-breed werewolf and I live on a pack compound with a bunch of other werewolves. Yeah, like that would go over well.
Any outsider was a security risk. No way would he jeopardize pack safety, especially now that there were kids to protect. There'd been a surprising explosion of babies over the past decade. Hard to picture a badass like Jacque LaForge with kids, but he had two boys, Aaron and Nicholas, aged five and eight. Sylvie and Gator had six-year-old Etienne. And badass Cole Blanchard and his mate, Cherise, had the sweetest little girl. Amy might be the youngest at four, but she was queen of the bunch.
Thinking of the kids made him smile. They were always so lively and energetic. He stood and swung his pack over his shoulders and headed out again, doing his best to ignore his nagging erection. He'd set up camp soon, but he wasn't ready to stop hiking yet. He needed to wear himself out some more so he'd sleep.
He'd had way too many sleepless nights lately.
He sidestepped a fallen oak tree that was crawling with ants and headed west. He'd only been gone for one night. He'd planned on three but was already working his way back toward his truck. He'd left it in the parking lot at one of the visitor centers. All the park rangers knew him and would keep an eye on it for him. Sage had a reputation for being one of the best trackers around and had assisted on several search-and-rescue operations.
He hadn't planned on putting himself forward like that. Staying under the radar was what he did. The necessity for pack security had been drummed into him since he was a kid. But a couple of years ago, he'd been hiking in the park when he'd come across a group searching for a little girl who'd gone missing. No way could he sit back and do nothing. He'd gone back to the campsite where the girl and her folks had been staying and started from there. With his preternatural senses and tracking skills, he'd found the girl within a matter of hours.
The park service had his phone number and called if they needed help. As a result, he could pretty much go anywhere he wanted in the park. They knew he walked lightly on the land and left no trace. They understood they didn't have to worry about him out in the backcountry on his own.
Sage paused and squinted up at the sunlight filtered down through the trees. He'd been away long enough. It was time to head home and take care of business. As much as he loved being alone, he couldn't help shake the nagging sense that something was wrong.
It didn't feel like Reece was in trouble. As twins, they shared a unique relationship. They'd always been able to sense what the other one was thinking or feeling. Even now, when they lived so far apart, Sage could tell when his brother was upset or frustrated. He knew it was the same for Reece.
His brother had been feeling restless too. Although for his twin, it could simply be the need for Reece's wolf to get out of the city for a while so he could run. Sage didn't understand how his brother could stay in an overcrowded space when he could live on pack land. It was almost as though Reece needed to prove to himself he could live and survive on his own.
He'd asked his brother about it once. Reece had simply shrugged and told him he had a nagging feeling he needed to be in Chicago. Sage had never questioned him again.
They might not be living together anymore, but he knew his brother was there for him, would drop everything without hesitation if Sage needed him. It's just the way it was between them.
The shadows were lengthening and the sun was getting low in the sky. Time to find a place to set up camp and get something to eat. He'd stay overnight and get an early start in the morning. It wouldn't take him more than a few hours to reach his truck, but he wanted one more night lying out here under the stars. He'd be home by lunchtime tomorrow and back at work by tomorrow afternoon.
As much as he loved camping, he wouldn't mind one of Gator's mouthwatering meals right now. The badass werewolf was one hell of a cook. The woods were too dry for Sage to risk a campfire, so he was eating trail mix, protein bars, and beef jerky. Filling but not exactly appetizing.
He veered off to his left. There was a nice spot not too far from here that was perfect for him. The small meadow would give him a great view of the stars.
Irina Matheson didn't bother to look over her shoulder. She knew those men were still following her. She'd thought she might lose them when she ventured into the park. After all, hunting was illegal here.
Not that they cared. Men were all the same. Her thoughts were bitter, but she was entitled to them. Tears stung her eyes, but she blinked them away. She didn't have time to indulge in self-pity. Not now.
She might be a werewolf, but she had three experienced hunters on her trail. And they wanted her hide for their wall. She had no one but herself to blame for her current predicament. She'd gotten careless.
She ran as fast as she dared, trying not to leave any trace of her passing. It would be easier if she could shift to her wolf, but everything she owned was in her knapsack. She'd abandon it only if there was no other choice.
It might come down to that.
Plus, there was a real chance of someone seeing her if she shifted, and that was what had gotten her into this problem in the first place. The last thing she needed were the park rangers getting a call about a wolf sighting from some camper.
Hard to believe only twenty-four hours ago she'd been working at Barney's Restaurant, a local diner in nowhere Tennessee, and trying to figure out what she was going to do with the rest of her life. Waitressing was one of the few jobs that was easy to get. There were always women coming and going, leaving diners and restaurants shorthanded. Many of those places paid under the table. That had allowed her to fly under the radar in the early days. She hadn't been able to do that at Barney's. He was a stickler for rules, and she'd had to fill out all the proper government forms, but she no longer worried that anyone in her pack was looking for her.
She paused by a rock, crouched down, and listened intently. She couldn't hear them. The sun was close to setting. If she could evade them until nightfall, she could lose them. They'd have to stop and set up camp. She, on the other hand, could see as easily in the dark as she could in the day.
Rina wanted to curl into a ball and cry, something she hadn't done for months. It still hurt how easily her family had cut her out of their lives after she'd refused to accept a mating with her father's choice. She still couldn't believe her father would offer her to Alex Gribkov. The man was a chauvinist pig, and truthfully, Rina was scared to death of him. Her wolf didn't like him either. That was good enough for her.
She stayed low and started running again. She couldn't afford to stop yet. These men were experienced hunters and would keep looking until they had no light left. They might not even stop then.
The last thought gave her pause. Surely they'd have to stop for the night.
Of course they would. All she had to do was stay ahead of them until nightfall and then she was home free. Not that she had any idea where she was going. She'd zigzagged her way down through Canada after leaving her home in Alaska. From there, she'd made her way down through Montana and had been heading eastward ever since, trying to put as much distance as she could between herself and her former pack.
She was a wolf alone. A terrifying prospect, especially since she'd never been on her own for one day in her life. Being alone wasn't possible in a pack, especially not for an unmated female werewolf.
In the past fourteen months, she'd been nothing but alone. She'd kept her wolf in check all that time too. It had been the hardest thing she'd ever had to do, but she'd done it.
Until the night before last when she'd crept out behind the rundown motel where she'd been renting a room by the week. It had been such a beautiful summer night. The wind had been warm and the full moon high in the sky. Her wolf had practically clawed her way out. Rina had known she'd have to let her wolf run.
She'd thought she was alone when she'd shifted. She'd never dreamed anyone was watching her. But she'd been wrong. A regular at the diner, a man whose name she didn't even know, had started watching her. And he'd followed her home after she'd gotten off work.
"I know what you are." His words still sent a shiver down her spine. She'd been pouring coffee for him the next day when he'd whispered those words to her.
She'd frozen in place, and he'd leered at her with a terrifying hunger in his eyes. "You're going to leave with me now. Unless you want me to tell my brothers about you." He'd gripped her hip and squeezed hard. Even now, the memory if it made her skin throb with pain. "I've always wanted me a wolf-skin rug."
"I have to finish my shift." The words had been automatic.
He'd frowned and shaken his head. "Go tell Barney you're sick and have to leave," he'd ordered.
She hadn't argued with him. She'd simply nodded, walked back behind the counter, and carefully put the carafe back on the burner. Then, without a word to anyone, she'd retrieved her knapsack, which was always packed and ready to go, and slid out the back door.
She'd made it as far as the wood before she'd heard him calling her name. He must have followed through on his threat to call his brothers, because two other men had joined him in his hunt. They'd gotten terrifyingly close at times, but she'd always managed to evade them.
She cursed her father for not teaching her more survival skills. As far as he was concerned, only her brother had needed to learn how to track and hunt. Her sole purpose was for breeding.
Thankfully, her brother, Mikhail, had taught her the basics. She owed him her life.
She leaned against a birch tree and listened. She could no longer hear the men moving through the underbrush. Maybe they'd stopped to set up camp. She could only hope. The light was nearly gone now, the sun mostly hidden by the mountains.
If her luck held, she could be hours ahead of them by sunrise. All she needed to do was to find a bus stop somewhere, buy a ticket, and get far away from here. California was looking mighty good. Or maybe somewhere farther south.
Excerpted from "Wolf in His Heart"
Copyright © 2016 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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