Cherise and her mother had to run from their pack when everyone realized Cherise couldn’t shift. Now her mother’s gone, murdered by the hunters after them, and Cherise is all alone and out of options. When the people she’s running from catch up to her in Salvation, North Carolina, she’s saved by the biggest, baddest werewolf she’s ever seen.
Disposing of the intruders on his pack’s land is easy for Cole, but convincing the skittish woman the trespassers were after that she’s safe is another story. He recognizes her as his mate right off, and he’ll protect her no matter what, even if it means risking everything to face her former pack.
Cherise never thought she’d find a wolf she could trust, but she’s never met a Salvation wolf before now, and her mate is not about to let anything come between them.
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
He moved like the mist, drifting across the forest floor, his huge paws making no sound as he passed over fallen leaves, moss and dirt. He was quiet as a man, but in his wolf form he was a ghost.
Dawn was close at hand, but night had not yet let go its grip on the world. Cole Blanchard loved this time of day, when everyone else was asleep and the world was his alone.
It had been months since the attack from the Louisiana Pack, but Cole was under no misconception that Pierre LaForge, his former alpha, had given up. Not when Pierre's two sons, his nephew and two others from his pack had broken away to start a new life here in North Carolina.
Thanksgiving and Christmas had come and gone, made special by the addition of the two women — Gwen and Anny — to the mix. Cole was happy for Jacque and Armand, that they'd found their mates. He liked to sit back and watch them all interact with one another. But he always felt apart from them. Alone.
He paused and breathed the early morning air deep into his lungs, automatically sorting through the smells. The usual small game and birds were about. Nothing out of the ordinary. Winter had released its hold on the land and now spring was in the air, a time of renewal and rebirth.
It was also a good time for Pierre and his pack to attack them again.
Cole growled and swiveled his head from side-to-side, always watchful. These men and now the two women were his family, and he'd protect them with his life. The Salvation Pack was his home, and no one would hurt any of them if he could help it.
He trotted off, content that all was well. The land where he ran belonged to the pack. There was more than enough space for their wolves to run free and not feel hemmed in. He knew Gator, his best friend and housemate, didn't like the cold weather, but Cole did. He'd always found the bayous of Louisiana to be stifling, the heat oppressive. Here he could breathe.
The first rays of light were beginning to break across the mountain, their golden and orange hues giving the forest an ethereal glow. Cole paused to admire the beauty of the moment before turning away.
Gator would be up and about and have coffee on by now. He'd probably be whipping up something for breakfast too. The man did love to cook. Although these days he had competition from Armand's mate. Anny had discovered she enjoyed cooking, more specifically baking. It would be interesting to see which one of them reigned supreme in the kitchen this morning. Either way, it would be tasty.
Anticipation thrumming through him, Cole turned to head back toward the cabin, toward home. He'd only taken two steps when he stopped in his tracks and listened. His ears twitched as he tracked the sound.
Off to the south, someone was running through the woods.
Everything inside Cole went still. It could be nothing, but they rarely had hunters stumble onto their land. The townspeople paid attention to the no-trespassing signs they'd posted. He feared their reprieve from the Louisiana Pack was over.
Cole headed toward the sound with a speed most wolves would find impossible to match. But he was bigger than most, his legs longer and stronger, and he used that to his advantage. He kept downwind of the intruders so they couldn't scent him. As he moved closer, he could smell them. He paused behind a short stand of alders and waited as the three strange wolves passed within twenty feet of him, never even knowing he was tracking them.
He frowned, not liking the situation at all. These wolves weren't from the Louisiana Pack at all. They were strangers.
What were they doing on Salvation Pack land?
He continued to watch, trailing them from a distance. With each passing moment, he grew even more puzzled. They were hunting someone. It was obvious in the way they constantly sniffed the ground and studied the surrounding landscape.
They weren't headed toward the two cabins where the pack lived, but were going deeper into the thick woods at the base of the mountain. Like a phantom, Cole followed, never losing sight of them. He also kept all his senses open in case there were more. But the more time that passed, the more convinced he became there were only the three of them.
The small wolf pack stopped in a clearing and one of the men shifted. He was just over six feet tall with dark-brown hair, brown eyes and a thick beard. "She's around here somewhere."
Something inside Cole flared hotter than a blast furnace, and he had to force the anger down. They were hunting a woman. Not on Salvation land and not on his watch. He'd seen too many women abused in his lifetime. The male wolves of the Louisiana Pack weren't known for their progressive ideas when it came to females and neither, it seemed, were these wolves.
He'd been lucky. His parents loved one another, but even his mama had played at being subservient when other wolves were around. Camouflage, she'd called it. It had made Cole's stomach turn to watch it even as he understood his parents really had no other choice. The only thing that softened his anger was the fact that his father loved and treated Cole's mama accordingly when it was only the three of them.
He often wondered what they thought of him leaving their old pack behind. It was a question he'd never be able to ask them. He hadn't dared contact them since he'd left. That would only put them in danger. He and his four friends had left quickly and in complete secrecy when they'd made the break.
And speaking of danger, another one of the wolves shifted to his human form to converse with the first. This man was a little shorter and stockier, but all of it muscle. "We followed her trail this far. She has to be here somewhere."
The taller one glanced upward. "We'll get her. She can't hide forever."
"She's an abomination." The second man spit before embracing his wolf once again. The first man nodded, shifted and raced onward with his friends behind him.
Cole wanted to know more about the woman they were chasing. What had she done to make them track her?
He kept far enough back so they wouldn't hear or smell him, but not so far away that he'd lose them. A few minutes later, one of them let loose a howl and the sound drifted across the land. It had an edge of excitement, of anticipation.
Cole quickened his pace and hunkered down behind a large boulder not far from them. They were all staring up at a birch tree. No, not at the tree, but at the woman perched in the branches about three-quarters of the way up. She clung to the upper branches and had her legs twined around the trunk.
The three men shifted, and the one who seemed to be the leader put his hands on his hips and stared up at her. "Come down, Cherise. You know you're trapped."
"Go away, Keith. Leave me alone." She was defiant, but Cole could hear the quaver in her voice. He crept closer, keeping to the shadows cast by the large trees.
"You must return to the pack."
She shook her head. "No. My mama took me from there years ago."
"But she's dead now," Keith pointed out. "You have nowhere to go. You have no one."
The woman — Cherise — shook her head again. "I know you killed her. I recognized your smell from our apartment."
The shorter man, the one who'd shifted earlier, stepped forward to stand beside the one called Keith. "Julia left the pack without permission and she took you with her. All these years, you've been living among humans in one city after another. She was judged, her sentence pronounced."
Cole saw the woman flinch, but her expression remained defiant. "And what is my sentence, Wayne? I know what I am and I know what that means."
Cole frowned, not understanding what they were talking about.
"Still can't shift, can you, Cherise?" Wayne moved to the base of the tree and shoved the trunk, using his strength to rock the tree slightly. Cherise gave a small cry and tightened her precarious hold on an upper branch, wrapping her legs more securely around the trunk.
A wolf who couldn't shift. It was virtually unheard off, a thing of myth and legend, a curse. Most packs would cull out the bad seed, not wanting to allow the male or female to procreate and possibly pass the genetic mutation along to their offspring.
The third man shifted to human form and stepped forward. "You can't run forever."
"I wasn't running, Gene. I was living my life. Mama and I were both living simply and minding our own business until you came along." Cole admired the woman, knew it couldn't be easy for her to face them down knowing she was outnumbered. They'd already killed her mama, and she knew she was next. Yet she stood up to them.
"Go home," she called down to them. "I renounce my place in the Pike County Pack. Tell them I'm dead. Tell them whatever you want, but leave me alone."
"Can't do that, Cherise. You know that."
"Is this because I turned down your advances all those years ago? My God, Keith, we were just kids."
The male wolf growled menacingly. "You should have been honored by my attention, bitch. It's not like any self-respecting wolf will ever want to mate with you. I might have been able to protect you if you'd given yourself to me." Keith strode to the base of the tree, reached up, grabbed a branch and began to climb.
Cole decided it was past time to make his presence known. He stepped out from the shadows and emitted a low, warning growl. Keith whirled and dropped back to the ground, crouching in a fighting stance. The other two rounded as well until all three were facing him.
"Shit, he's big," Gene muttered.
"We don't want any trouble." Keith held his hands out in front of him in a gesture of peace. "We only want what's ours."
And that was just the wrong thing to say. They wanted to take the woman so they could kill her. And from the look he'd seen in Keith's eyes, that's not all they wanted her for. She'd probably pray for death by the time they were done with her.
Cole released his wolf and embraced his human form. He knew he was intimidating as both a wolf and a man. He straightened to his full height of six-eight and stared at the three men until they grew restless beneath his gaze. "You're trespassing."
"We don't mean any disrespect." Keith took a step forward but stopped when Cole narrowed his eyes. "We figured we'd be in and out before you even knew we were here." He shrugged and pointed to the woman hanging up in the tree. "Runaway female. You know how it is."
"And how exactly is it?" Cole asked.
"She belongs to us." Wayne stepped forward, aggression in every line of his body.
Cole kept his arms by his sides, his body relaxed. "Now that's where you're wrong. She's on Salvation Pack land, so she belongs to us now. Go home while I've still a mind to let you."
Wayne glanced at his buddies, but Keith's gaze never left Cole's face. "Afraid we can't do that, friend." Keith kept his tone friendly, but there was pure steel beneath it. "Just walk away and pretend you never saw us. We'll be gone within the half hour."
Cole slowly shook his head. "Afraid I can't do that."
"You're willing to start a pack war over a bitch?" Keith asked, his tone incredulous.
"Won't be a war if they don't know you were ever here," Cole calmly pointed out. He was looking at Keith but had one eye on Gene, knowing he was the one with the least control over his temper. These young males were hotheads with no discipline.
Sure enough, he'd barely finished the thought when Gene shifted and pounced in one swift motion. Ignoring the razor-sharp claws and lethal fangs that raked across his arm and side, Cole grabbed the wolf straight out of the air. Using his immense strength, Cole wrapped his forearm around the wolf's neck and twisted. The snap echoed through the woods. He tossed the wolf's carcass to the ground and turned his attention back to the remaining wolves, who both appeared momentarily stunned by how quickly he'd dispatched their friend. "Who's next?" Wayne jumped at him and Cole embraced his wolf. The fierce creature jumped to the fore and attacked Wayne with a vengeance. He slashed at his opponent, raking his claws down the other wolf's muzzle. Wayne growled and attacked again. Cole kept one eye on Keith, expecting him to jump in and join the fight. When he didn't, Cole turned all his attention to Wayne. It didn't take him long to gain the upper hand. He clamped his strong jaw around Wayne's throat and held on.
The other wolf raked Cole's sides with his sharp claws, but Cole didn't flinch, didn't let go. His opponent's struggles got weaker and weaker until the male stopped moving once and for all. Cole dropped his body and turned to face Keith, but the cowardly bastard had run, saving himself while leaving his friends to die.
He glanced up at the woman they'd called Cherise. Her face was pale and she was shaking, but she pointed off to his right. "He went that way."
Cole dipped his head in thanks and raced off after the other wolf. He had to get to Keith before he escaped. Because if he didn't, Cole had just started a war with another pack.
"Ohmygod. Ohmygod." Cherise chanted over and over, her words running together, as the massive brown and blond wolf tore through the forest, racing after Keith. Her limbs were shaking. She knew she couldn't stay here.
Tears threatened, but she blinked them back. She hadn't cried since the night she'd returned home from her shift at the restaurant and found her mama's throat ripped out. There'd been no time to cry, no time to mourn what she'd lost.
They'd been living under assumed names, yet again, and none of their neighbors had really known them. Her mama's death would end up in the unsolved cases file. But she knew who was responsible. And two of the assassins had just paid with their lives.
Slowly and carefully, she worked her way down the tree to the ground, which wasn't easy considering how badly she was shaking. The distance seemed a lot farther than when she'd climbed up only a short time ago. Her knees almost gave out when she reached the bottom, but she stiffened them and stood her ground.
She took a deep breath and shuddered. Blood and sweat, anger and fear permeated the air. She might not be able to shift into her wolf, but that didn't mean all her other senses didn't work as well as any other predator.
Cherise didn't look at the fallen bodies of the two men who'd once been her friends. They'd all grown up together, playing and learning together in the wilds of Kentucky. But everything had changed when she was in her mid-teens and it was discovered that she couldn't shift.
She pushed away from the tree and staggered off in the opposite direction of Keith and the massive wolf chasing him. It was foolish of her to have come here simply because she'd dreamed of the place. What the hell had she been thinking? She obviously hadn't been.
But she was thinking now. She could use this distraction to escape. She had to find a town, one large enough to have a bus stop. She didn't have much money left, but she had enough for a ticket to a larger city, somewhere she could start over.
Even better, if she could circle around and find Keith's truck, she could take it and drive it to a major city before taking a bus to the opposite end of the country. That would throw anyone else from her old pack off her trail, at least for a few months. That's assuming, of course, the big wolf managed to catch Keith before he got away.
Cherise rubbed her forehead, wishing the throbbing in her head and the painful memories would both go away. She pictured her mama's smiling face, the lilt of her voice as she hummed a song. That was her mama, always smiling, always finding the silver lining in the dark cloud of despair. And now she was gone. Murdered by the three who'd come after them.
And for what? Because she'd dared to want to give her daughter a normal life, one free from danger and pack prejudice. Their pack was an old and established one that lived by unbendable rules. Weakness wasn't tolerated. And was there anything weaker than a werewolf who couldn't shift? Her mama's only crime had been hiding and protecting her child.
Anger filled her until she thought she might explode. Adrenaline coursed through her veins and she staggered toward Wayne's body. It was still in wolf form, even in death, and would not change back. She drew back her foot and kicked him with every ounce of strength she had. His body jolted, skidding a short distance across the dirt. "That's for my mama." Wayne's stench had been all over her mama's broken body.
Excerpted from "Wolf on the Run"
Copyright © 2014 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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