Elias Gallagher is the guardian of his teenage nephews, and he knows the world’s not a safe place for a werewolf without pack—especially if they’re half-breeds, like the twin boys. He’s heard there’s an accepting pack in North Carolina, so that’s where he’s headed when he runs into the one person he’d given up hope of ever finding—his mate. Even more surprising than finding his mate, is realizing she’s human.
Sue Walsh is solely focused on taking care of her five-year-old son. With her ex fighting her for custody and local hunters making her life complicated, she doesn’t have time for an attraction to a ruggedly handsome stranger, especially one with a secret that is going to rock her world.
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
Sue Walsh clutched her phone so hard her fingers hurt. "He wants what?" She lowered her voice, but there was no slowing the pounding of her heart. Had she heard her lawyer correctly? "He wants custody of Billy? After all these years?"
Billy was her son and the love of her life. She'd been his only parent for the past five years, since the moment he was born. Her ex had walked out when Billy was only six weeks old and hadn't looked back.
"I know this is hard," Randolph Owens told her.
"It's not happening," she vowed. She glanced at the corner booth in the diner to assure herself her son was still there. He was swinging his feet, his blond head lowered while he studiously colored in the new coloring book she'd bought for him.
She took a deep breath and exhaled. "What does William want?" And why now, when she was finally getting her life back together?
"He's saying that with your parents gone, you're not able to provide a stable life for Billy." Randolph paused, and Sue's stomach lurched.
"What aren't you telling me?"
"William is engaged to be married and he's stating that he can provide a better home environment."
She laughed, but there was a hysterical edge to it. "He barely sees his son once every few months and only because I insist." And it wasn't because she wanted William in her life. But Billy did deserve to know his father. "He complains every month when he has to pay child support."
A light bulb went off in Sue's head. "He knows about the trust my parents set up for Billy, doesn't he?"
"I believe there was some mention of it." Randolph's voice was low and soothing, but Sue wasn't willing to be placated.
"That son of a bitch," she whispered when she really wanted to scream. "Tell him that the trust is untouchable until Billy turns eighteen. It's for his education. Hell, I couldn't even access the money to pay the bills after Mom and Dad died. I wouldn't have touched it, but I couldn't even if I'd wanted to. You know that."
"I know. I'm drafting a letter to send back to William's lawyer letting him know the trust is untouchable and that you'll fight for custody. I'll also make note of William's infrequent visits to see his son."
"You're damn right I'll fight." Sue didn't care if she bankrupted herself and had to pay her lawyer's bill until the day she died. "He's not getting my son."
"I'm on this, Sue. Don't worry about a thing. We'll get this straightened out." Randolph paused again, and she could picture him sitting behind his desk polishing his glasses. He'd been her parents' lawyer and was now hers. "He probably thinks there's money from your parents' estate. I expect he'll offer to back away if you pay him."
Sue swallowed another hysterical laugh. "Tell him I'm dead broke. I'm not even sure he knows I sold the house." She'd hated having to sell her childhood home, the only home Billy had ever known, but there were bills to pay and no way she could afford to hang on to the large home on her own.
"I'll make sure his lawyer is aware of that fact. I'll call you when I hear back from him. In the meantime, try not to worry."
"Sure. Thanks, Randolph." Sue ended the call and tucked her phone into her jeans pocket.
"Everything okay, Sue?"
She startled and then pasted a fake smile on her face when she faced the cook and owner of Kathy's Kitchen, the diner where she worked. "Everything is fine, Stanley."
He didn't look convinced but let it go. "I'll see you tomorrow morning," he told her.
"I'll be here." She grabbed her purse and headed toward her son. Billy looked up as she approached and a fierce love welled up inside her. She'd protect her son no matter what. "Ready to go home?"
Billy nodded and began to methodically put his crayons back into the box. Her outgoing, chatty little boy had disappeared over the past two years. He was quieter and more solemn, way too serious for a five-year-old boy. But he'd seen so much tragedy in his short life. First, Sue's mother had gotten ill and died of cancer six months later. Less than a month after that, her father had collapsed after a massive heart attack. He'd pulled through and come home only to die a few weeks later.
Both her parents had loved their grandson and doted on him. Her son's world had been shaken to the core.
Sue helped him shove his coloring book and crayons into his backpack and grabbed his hoodie. "Let's go, buddy." She took his hand and the two of them left the diner and headed to the parking lot around the back.
At least her car was fairly new. Only three years old. It was the one thing she'd been able to do for herself after she'd settled her parents' estate and paid off all the outstanding medical bills and funeral costs. She'd done it because she needed reliable transportation and not having a monthly payment was a plus.
She unlocked the door and waited while Billy climbed into the booster seat in the back. She dumped his backpack next to him and made sure the safety straps were secured before going around to the driver's side and climbing in.
"What shall we make for supper?" she asked. She tried to include him in as many decisions as possible. She wanted him to feel as though he had some say in what happened in his life, even if it was only over superficial things.
He didn't answer. She looked both ways before pulling out of the parking lot. She headed right instead of left. It was still difficult to turn toward the cottage she now rented on the edge of town instead of toward her parents' home.
"How about pasta?" Billy loved pasta of any kind. "Macaroni and cheese." None of the stuff out of a box for them. She made it fresh and then froze smaller portions for those nights she was late getting off work.
She glanced in the rearview mirror and sighed. Billy was staring out the window. Maybe she should get him a pet, a living creature he could bond with. He'd love a dog, but that wasn't feasible, not with her gone so many hours of the day working. It wouldn't be fair to a dog. A cat was a possibility.
Sue tried not to worry about her ex-husband, William. She almost snorted. He'd been Billy when she'd married him, but he'd recently insisted on being called William. The name might have changed, but he hadn't. He was still looking for the easy way out, the quick buck, the big score.
She'd been young and stupid when she'd married him. She'd worked hard in those early years while he'd been in school. She hadn't minded as she'd thought they were building a life together. He'd managed to graduate college with a degree in business, and she'd discovered she was pregnant around the same time. He'd left her soon after Billy was born and she'd moved back home to Salvation. She didn't know what she would have done without her parents. They'd opened their home and their hearts to both her and her son.
Now they were both gone.
The landscape changed as they reached the edge of town. Houses gave way to wilderness. Sue drove a little longer and then turned into the driveway of their rental. It was a home she knew well.
Her best friend had lived here once.
Sue pushed all thoughts of Anny Conrad out of her head. She couldn't afford to dwell in the past. Her friend had left town almost two years ago and, other than emails and the occasional phone call, they hadn't seen each other since.
She parked the car, climbed out and went around to get Billy. He ran around the yard with his arms extended, making noises like an airplane. She grabbed his backpack and hoodie and leaned against the car. God, he was growing up so fast. He'd be starting school in less than a month.
But for now, it was still summer, and she planned to enjoy every moment of it. She headed toward the front door. "Hey, instead of pasta, why don't we barbecue some burgers?" That got his attention.
"Can we eat outside?" He ran over to the porch and raced up the stairs.
"Sure." Her son loved to be outside. If he had it his way, he'd never come inside. But she didn't like him being out alone, not all the way out here. A wild animal had attacked Anny two years ago. The authorities still debated what kind of animal was responsible, but Sue didn't care. All she knew was that Anny had almost died and everything between them had changed.
It had been the first loss in a series of them. Now it was just her and Billy.
"Why don't you wash your hands and then you can help me get the burgers ready to grill."
"Marshmallows too?" He grinned his sweet little boy grin that never failed to melt her heart. She saw it so rarely these days.
"Why not? Marshmallows for dessert," she agreed. She could cut a couple of branches for them to use to roast the marshmallows. It was a warm August evening, perfect for a family barbecue.
"Don't go far." Elias knew his warning was probably falling on deaf ears but he trusted Reece and Sage not to do anything too stupid. They were well aware there were other werewolves close by.
Sage waved a hand in acknowledgement as both boys disappeared into the surrounding bushes to explore. He wasn't worried about them getting lost. They had their wolf senses to guide them. If the unthinkable happened and they did get lost, it wouldn't take Elias long to find them.
Elias surveyed the campground they'd set up. It was rudimentary to say the least — three sleeping bags and a propane stove for cooking. They didn't need more than that. If the weather turned bad, he could build a shelter out of branches.
He hadn't wanted to stay in town and draw unnecessary attention their way, so they were camped just beyond the limits of Salvation. It was a small town, but they had a grocery store, a couple of restaurants, a school, churches and various other businesses. Salvation was holding its own at a time when many towns were struggling to survive.
Still, a hot shower would be nice. Unfortunately, he was going to have to settle for a wash in a creek that flowed not too far from here. He couldn't complain too much. It was a far cry from the Alaskan wilderness where he'd been born and raised.
The forest called to him and his wolf longed to break free and run. He kept a tight rein on the primal urges inside him. Until he knew it was safe, he wasn't taking any chances. Elias yanked his T-shirt over his head and rolled his shoulders, unable to rid himself of the tension permeating his body.
He knew Reece and Sage needed time alone. He had to give them some freedom. They were no longer children he could keep by his side.
"Fuck." Elias tossed his shirt aside and stalked off in the direction his nephews had gone. They'd just have to be pissed off with him. He couldn't leave them out there alone. He couldn't shake the sensation that something was wrong.
If he shifted, he could sneak up on them and watch over them without their knowing. He shook his head before the idea took root. If they ever discovered he'd done that, they'd never trust him again. Better to be upfront and blunt even if it irritated them. This parenting business wasn't easy. It didn't come with a how-to manual. He was winging it every single day. Being a doting uncle was a lot different from being the one in charge. He'd gained a whole new respect for his brother and sister-in-law.
Elias sniffed the air and quickly picked up their trail. The dirt and moss were soft beneath his sneakers. The air brushed over his skin like a warm caress, but it was growing cooler as the sun sank low in the sky. It would disappear totally in another hour or so.
Not that it mattered. He could see just as easily in the dark and so could his nephews. He knew Reece would be okay, but he worried about Sage. It had been a big blow to the boy to discover his brother could shift and he couldn't.
Elias was still shocked at Reece's ability to shift into a wolf. As far as he knew, no half-breed had ever done such a thing. Of course, Reece was three-quarters werewolf and that likely made the difference. But if he could shift, why couldn't Sage? There was no answer, and that made it doubly hard on his nephew.
Elias picked up his pace. Warning bells went off inside him. Something was wrong. He didn't question the feeling. As a werewolf, he lived by his instincts, and his were screaming that his boys were in trouble.
He ran, jumping over downed trees and several large rocks. He startled several squirrels and a deer, which loped off in the opposite direction. A flash of color caught his eye and he detoured toward it. He slowed and eased to a stop. He recognized the folded T-shirt and jeans. They belonged to Reece. He'd shifted.
Anger and fear warred inside him. Elias sniffed the air and set off after them again. He and Reece were going to have a long talk about responsibility when he caught up with him. He was putting not only himself, but also his brother in danger.
Sue put away the last of the dishes. The barbecue had been a huge success. Billy had eaten his burger and several marshmallows, and even laughed at the antics of a squirrel that had chattered endlessly from his perch in a nearby tree.
He'd stayed outside on the back porch to play while she'd cleared away and washed up. Even though it was still light out, Billy should have already had his bath. "Relax. It's summer," she reminded herself. He'd have to be on a stricter schedule once school started. They both would. Better to let them both enjoy these last days of summer.
She glanced out the window at the back porch. Her heart skipped a beat and she tossed aside the dishtowel. Billy had been there only a minute ago. She hurried to the backdoor and pulled it open. "Billy?" His toy trucks and cars had been abandoned and he was nowhere in sight.
"Don't panic. Don't panic." He had to be here somewhere. "Billy, where are you? Billy?" She turned in a circle, taking in the entire yard. There was no sign of her son.
"The creek." He liked to play by the water. She ran toward the path, her heart pounding and chest aching. "Billy!" He knew he wasn't supposed to go off on his own. This was the first time he'd ever done such a thing. "Billy!"
A vision from the past slammed into her. She could still remember coming out to visit Anny that fateful Saturday morning and finding her friend's bloody body. The paramedics had saved Anny's life, but nothing had ever been the same again.
Sue kept her gaze on the path ahead of her and picked up her pace. "Billy!" she yelled. "Answer me." Her phone was in the charger on the kitchen counter. She should have grabbed it in case she needed to call the sheriff's office.
No, she wouldn't think like that. She'd find Billy looking for frogs by the edge of the stream. Thankfully the water level was low at the end of the hot summer and her son could swim, or at least dog paddle.
She hurried around the final bend and her feet skidded to a halt. For one brief second, she was paralyzed, her limbs refusing to work. Then she broke free and started to move toward her son at a slow and steady pace.
Billy must have heard her coming, because he turned to her and smiled. "Doggy." His joy was evident, but she couldn't share it. His doggy was huge and was no dog at all. It was a wolf.
A wolf had attacked and almost killed Anny almost two years ago. Was this the same beast? Sue reached down and grabbed a decent-sized rock. She'd played baseball in high school and knew she had a decent aim. At this distance, she couldn't miss. "Get away from him, Billy. You know better than to touch a strange animal."
Her son frowned at her. "He likes me."
As if he understood her fears, the animal whined and licked Billy's cheek.
Obviously, wherever this animal had come from, he wasn't vicious. She was lowering her hand when she realized the dog or wolf or whatever it was, wasn't alone. A man stepped out from behind a tree. No, not a man, a teenage boy. He was tall for his age, at least six feet, maybe more.
He held his hands out in front of him. "We didn't mean any harm. Reece and I were just out exploring."
"Reece?" Her fingers tightened around the rock.
He grinned and pointed at the creature sitting next to her son.
"Billy, come here." She used her mom voice. The one Billy knew meant business. He sighed and reluctantly left the animal and came to stand beside her, dragging his feet all the way.
"Where did you come from?" she asked the teen. He might seem harmless, but she didn't know him at all, and she knew everyone who lived within a fifty-mile radius of town, because at one time or another, everyone came through the diner where she worked.
He pointed off in the distance. "We're camping and just decided to go exploring. We didn't mean any harm."
Excerpted from "Wolf on a Mission"
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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