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By Lisa Kessler, Jenn Mishler
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Lisa Kessler
All rights reserved.
"Damn it. No!" I smacked my hands against the steering wheel as the van sputtered and finally rolled to a slow stop on the edge of the two-lane highway. Weeks ago, I told Caldwell the gas gauge in the van was broken, but it never got fixed, and in my haste to leave town, I hadn't topped off the tank. I'd been praying I could make it to Flagstaff, safely north of Sedona, but apparently, my van had other plans. Now I was stuck in the middle of who-the-hell-knows-where Arizona. Great.
At least I was out of the Sedona city limits. Allen Caldwell, my Alpha, had some kind of supernatural GPS when it came to Pack members straying. Somehow he could focus on any Pack member and get an idea of their location. I didn't know how far-reaching his abilities were, but my sister was counting on me to get out of town and bring back the cavalry for her and the others.
I hoped I made it far enough to stay out of his reach. Outside the van, the icy January wind howled. Using my cell phone was out of the question. Just turning it on could give them a way to locate me, but I couldn't just sit and wait for Caldwell to send his bodyguards, Bo and Blake, to collect me, either.
Finally, I pressed the button for my hazard lights. Maybe a Good Samaritan would come by with a gas can — a girl could hope, right?
Hope was all I had left.
Two cars heading south zoomed past me in the other lane, and one coming north from Sedona went around me without even slowing down. So much for Good Samaritans. I broke the silence and clicked on the radio.
Music filled the interior, keeping despair and panic from settling in. The new song from Logan and the Howlers started, and I cranked up the volume, singing along.
Headlights were approaching from the north. The car slowed but didn't stop. Classic Mustang. Nice. A few months ago, I wouldn't have been able to see it in the darkness, but since being bitten by a werewolf, my human senses had been elevated to superhero level.
It might've been cool if I hadn't been trapped in the Sedona Pack.
Suddenly light blinded me from my rearview mirror. I glanced in the side mirror, narrowing my eyes. The Mustang. Whoever was behind the wheel, they'd come back for me. I grabbed my gloves off the passenger seat and pulled them on before popping open my door.
This was new, too. When I was human, I might've asked the Mustang driver to call 911 through a cracked window. Now I was strong enough to take on any human with bad intentions.
I got out, gasping at the sudden, biting cold. Behind me, a tall man got out of the Mustang. The wind brought me his scent before I could see his face. Shit.
He wasn't human. I snapped my head up, heart racing. Definitely a werewolf, but he wasn't from the Sedona Pack. He came closer, into the glow of his headlights, and my breath hitched.
His bright blue eyes locked on mine, and his chest expanded. A dark brow cocked knowingly. Oh, shit. He knew what I was, too.
I went back to the van, and his footsteps stopped. "Didn't mean to surprise you. I'm not from around here."
His voice was deep, but I didn't catch a trace of bad intentions. I was still learning to get a handle on my wolf senses, but evil had a scent, bitter and pungent, like the scorched earth after a forest fire. I'd been living with the stench long enough to recognize it anywhere.
This guy didn't reek of malevolence, but he needed to get the hell out of Dodge before my Pack changed that.
I turned around, hoping I looked casual. "My sister is bringing me some gas. You don't need to stay here."
He shrugged. "I don't mind." He started to chuckle. "Sorry. I'm trying not to be creepy, but it's really dark out here, and I'd feel terrible if I left you here and something happened."
Like an idiot, I glanced his way. Damn, he had a warm smile. But the wolves I lived with weren't bad looking, either. Better to lure in unwitting females. I reinforced my emotional barrier.
"You just passing through?"
He shook his head, resting his chiseled forearms on the roof of my minivan. "I've been living in Sedona for a couple weeks, just haven't been into town much yet."
I looked up the highway. "You're coming in from Flagstaff?" "Yeah. Just getting my bearings."
It made no sense. I'd never seen him before, but there was something familiar about him. "Are you a hiker?"
"Nah." He straightened, tugging his jacket collar up to cover the back of his neck. "I'm a horse trainer. Working over at Valley Farms."
No doubt he was a wolf, but he seemed so ... normal. Nothing like the predators I'd just escaped.
But they'd change that if they caught him. The Pack would either drive him out of town or kill him, or worse yet, infect him with their psychotic poison.
None of my business. My life was screwed enough without getting mixed up with a lone wolf. I needed to get to Reno and pray that the Pack there might help us.
He held his gloved hand out toward me. "I'm Luke, by the way."
I didn't take his hand. "I'm Raven. How long have you been training horses?"
What the hell was I doing? Small talk was not going to get me out of Arizona and safely to Reno, Nevada.
"I've been working on a ranch since high school. This is my first head trainer position."
"Congratulations." My gaze wandered over his face again. "I thought maybe I saw you on billboards or something."
A crooked smile curved his lips, and my heart thudded, surprising me. "I get that a lot, actually, but no, I haven't been on any that I know of." He glanced in each direction down the road. "Cell service is spotty on the highway. Maybe your sister is lost."
I sighed. I had a can of pepper spray, but it was in the van. "I'll check and see if she sent me a text."
I opened the van. My sister was still trapped in Caldwell's Pack, counting on me to find the Reno Wolf Pack and come back for her. The longer I stayed here, the riskier it became.
But trust wasn't something I could afford, either. I pocketed the pepper spray and walked back toward Luke, my hand clutched around the vial in my pocket.
"You seem like a good guy, so I'm going to give you a solid piece of advice. Get out of Sedona and don't look back. It's not safe for you here."
"Thanks for the tip." He kept his expression neutral, his voice so low I wouldn't have been able to hear him a few months ago.
When I was still human.
His gaze wandered over my face as he added, "Is your mate in trouble?"
"My what?" I grimaced, unwilling to imagine any of the males in the Pack as anything other than jailers. Did I give off the married vibe? Maybe he took my initial cold shoulder as being unavailable.
With his looks, he was probably used to single women falling all over him.
Confusion marred his brow. "You were bitten, right?"
"I wasn't born this way." I kept my attention on my van. "There's no mate for me. And I was serious, you should go. I won't risk warning you again."
I hated snapping at him, but if he didn't leave ... I didn't want to think about what they'd do to him.
"This isn't getting us anywhere." He walked back to his classic Mustang without any fanfare. I couldn't help but watch. His jeans fit him just right, and his jacket strained across the back of his broad shoulders.
He would've been exactly my type back when I was human.
He dug around the front seat of his car and came over with a credit card in hand. "I'll buy your gas. If you don't want me to drive you, you can use this card to call a tow. I'll cancel the card tomorrow. But I'm a horse trainer, not a rock star, so you won't be able to buy a car or a trip to the Bahamas ..."
I glanced down at the card. Luke Reynolds.
He hadn't been lying about his name. Wait a second. Reynolds.
My gaze rose to his face. No wonder he looked so familiar.
Now it seemed obvious. He had to be Logan Reynolds's twin brother. Had to be. His hair was shorter, maybe a slimmer build, but those piercing blue eyes and the strong jaw were undeniable. Now that I knew his last name, I wasn't sure how I missed it before.
He could've led with name-dropping his rock star twin brother. Instead, even when I mentioned he looked familiar, he didn't let on.
If Luke is a werewolf, Logan must be a wolf, too. The Y chromosome carried the shifter gene, so only males were born as werewolves, and they always came in sets of twins. Just like Luke and Logan.
Maybe that was why the Howlers never toured.
I lifted my gaze to his face. "You're Logan's twin brother. From Logan and the Howlers."
He raised his eyebrows with a little nod. "Yeah." He sobered. "It's freezing out here. Are you going to let me drive you to a gas station, or do you want to call a tow?"
I wasn't about to turn on my cell phone. My choices were to trust this guy, this werewolf, or wait for a human to stop. The longer I waited, the greater the chance my Alpha would find me. I shuddered and handed Luke's card back.
"I'd love a ride to the gas station. Thanks."
I went to the van to grab my purse and my phone. When I came back, Luke had the passenger door of the Mustang opened for me. I got in, and he closed the door before jogging over to his side. He already had the engine running and the heater pumping hot air. I shivered as my body defrosted.
Okay, I was not used to anyone putting my needs before their own.
He got in and checked for traffic before pulling away. We were headed north. Away from Sedona. The hazard lights on the van dimmed in the side mirror until we finally rounded a corner and it was gone.
I stared ahead into the darkness, trying not to notice how good he smelled.
He broke the silence first. "I've never met a female werewolf who didn't have a mate."
"Now you have." I turned to look out the window. It came out bitchier than I intended, but I was running low on trust these days. The only reason I was even in this car was because I was out of options.
"All right." He turned up the radio. His brother's song "Howling" filled the car. God, no wonder the Howlers' music spoke to me. Logan was a shifter, too. He understood how the secret kept us apart from everyone around us.
And something else occurred to me — Logan lived in Reno.
My head snapped toward Luke. "Are you from Reno? The Wolf Pack in Reno?"
He frowned, peering my way for a second. "Yeah, why?"
My heart raced like a jackhammer in my chest. Could something finally be going my way? I shook my head. "What the hell are you doing down here in Sedona?"
"I told you, I'm the head trainer at Valley Farms. My Alpha is head trainer in Reno, so I either stayed as an assistant trainer or moved away." He tightened his grip on the wheel. "Your pulse is giving you away. What haven't you told me?"
I opened my mouth, but the words wouldn't come. Finally, I managed to force out a whisper. "I was on my way to find you."
His brow furrowed. "Why?"
"My Alpha is going to lead the Sedona pack up to Nevada to wipe yours out."
He frowned, his grip tightening on the wheel. "And why would you go to the trouble to search us out and warn us?"
I swallowed the lump in my throat. "Because Caldwell has my sister."CHAPTER 2
Caldwell. Despite the heater blasting in my face, I shivered.
My father's old Alpha, the man who sold out my dad and his Pack to the Nero Organization, was leading a Pack in Sedona.
"Allen Caldwell?" I needed to be certain.
Raven frowned. "You know him?"
"I know of him. He was my dad's Alpha when he was my age." I cursed under my breath. "I didn't know he was ..."
"Still alive?" Raven shook her head. "Sadly, yeah, and he's after your Pack in Reno. That's how I found out you existed."
I nodded, but dread was welling in the pit of my stomach. Finding her stranded on the side of the road in the dark, it couldn't have been random. It had to be a setup. And I walked right into it. Fuck.
My Mustang ate up the curves on the two-lane highway. I'd restored her over the years. She was my pride and joy. And if I wasn't very careful, we might not be together much longer.
When we finally made it to Flagstaff, I pulled into the first gas station and got out without a word. I didn't want it to be true, but I had to face the facts. If Caldwell discovered another wolf was in his territory, what's the surest way to lure him in?
Damsel in distress. Make the damsel a werewolf, and it was a sure thing.
I paid for the plastic gas can and filled it. No eye contact. I couldn't risk it. Her dark eyes pulled me in until I forgot everything else.
That could get me killed, and I didn't plan on dying today.
After I put the gas can in the trunk, I got in and stared at the steering wheel. "Look, I know enough about Caldwell not to trust that I just happened to stumble onto a female wolf on the run to Reno to ask my Pack for help. How long has he known I was in Sedona?" Raven shook her head. "I don't think he knows you're here."
"Right." I sighed and started the engine. My Pack had heard Sedona mentioned a couple of times by Nero jaguar shifters, but I'd never imagined they were talking about another Pack led by Allen Caldwell.
I steeled my resolve and turned her way. "I'll take you back to your van, and you can tell Caldwell I'm well armed and I'll take out any wolf who trespasses on Valley Farms land."
"I'm not bait." She pulled her hair back from her forehead. "The reason I got in your car was because I couldn't risk using my cell phone. If they find me, they'll kill me. Your Pack in Reno was my only hope of saving my sister. They still have her."
I drove out and headed for the highway. "And why would my Pack help you?"
"Good question. Isabelle and I figured if Caldwell wants to kill your Alpha so bad, it must mean you all aren't on his team with Nero." She tipped her head down, looking at her hands. "Guess we were wrong."
She seemed sincere. But she also could have been an amazing actress. I focused on the highway. "If you want my help, you're going to have to meet me halfway. How did you and your sister get into a Pack without mates?"
She hesitated for a second, her voice tentative. "I was dating this guy, Bo. I didn't know he was a werewolf. He told Caldwell I was strong, and they're trying to grow this Pack quickly, so I was marked to be bitten."
My jaw went slack. What the hell? Frowning, I glanced her way. "You were bitten just to make another werewolf?"
"Something like that."
Fuck. I shook my head. "And your sister?"
"She asked me to bite her so she'd be strong enough to protect me while we figured a way out."
"Shit." I gripped the wheel so tight my gloves squeaked. "That's not how a Pack works."
"Apparently, this Pack never got the werewolf manual."
I rolled my eyes, surprised that a smile crept up on me. "There's no manual, but an Alpha should protect his Pack, and sending wolves out to bite humans is ..."
"Insane" would've been my word, but she'd shared enough that I didn't think this was all an elaborate trap anymore.
I just needed an idea.
The only thing I knew for sure was I wasn't going to let them kill her.
She crossed her arms. "So I guess biting people during the full moon isn't how you do it in Reno?"
"No, that's not how we fucking do it." My shoulders bunched with tension. I tipped my head a little. "Sorry. I'm just ..." I struggled for words. "I've never heard of a Pack doing this. If humans find out shifters are real, then we're all in danger, Nero included."
Raven shrugged. "No one outside the Pack knows we exist."
"How? How do you bite humans and no one finds out?" I turned her way for a second. "You told your sister and then bit her. You can't be the only one in your Pack who turned a loved one."
"Changing Isabelle without Caldwell's approval should have gotten me killed, but he has plans for me, so instead I've been tied to his watchdogs." She shuddered, and my gut twisted with rage. "Sucks, but it's better than being dead."
A growl rumbled deep in my chest. "This doesn't make any sense. Why change a female if she's not a mate for someone in the Pack? It's a huge risk for no reason."
"They want another generation of male wolves." She paused, slowing her speech. "You don't have to be married to get pregnant."
"You don't understand." I blew out a frustrated breath. "Marriage and mates are two very different things. You could marry anyone. Do you even know what a mate is?"
"As far as I know, it's the raging assholes your Alpha assigns to your bed. They're your mates."
Excerpted from Wolf Moon by Lisa Kessler, Jenn Mishler. Copyright © 2017 Lisa Kessler. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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