Half wolf, p.1

Half Wolf, page 1

 

Half Wolf
 



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Half Wolf


  His Secret…or Her Salvation?

  When he stumbled upon a beautiful woman who’d been the victim of a vampire attack, Alpha wolf Michael Hunter faced an impossible choice. His honor dictated that he save her life. But the only way he knew to accomplish that was to make her one of his own. Now Kaitlin Davies was half Lycan and his responsibility as she underwent a dangerous transformation to full wolf.

  Something within Kaitlin called to Michael’s inner wolf with an intensity he’d never felt. He wanted her. But as he witnessed the changes occurring in her body, he wasn’t sure what she was becoming. Had Michael created something that could destroy them both…or was her transformation as preordained as their passion?

  What is it about you, woman?

  Michael’s muscles twitched in response to his silent question because even in her rapidly declining state, the woman in his arms was irresistible. She was seductive in an ethereal, ultrafeminine way. Her gray eyes, her flowery scent and white face were lures he hadn’t been able to resist. Hell, he couldn’t resist them now.

  In his defense, Michael concluded that a good excuse for his behavior was that she probably wouldn’t harm a fly. Even if she discovered that werewolves still existed, it would be a shame for the world to lose such a small bundle. He just couldn’t imagine the alternative. Because if she did live and decided to expose his kind, the job he faced was unthinkable. Saving her life would have been for nothing.

  “Breathe,” he said to her. “That’s right. Now breathe again.”

  Dear Reader,

  Werewolves. Secret desires. Danger. Full moons. What’s not to love about a mix like that?

  I really enjoy writing about Weres and always look forward to finding out what the words tall, edgy and gloriously sexy can do to make my blood boil.

  Whether genetic Lycans or newly initiated into the werewolf clan, my heroes are take-charge guys that can be a bit beastly during the full-moon phase. But my wolves always possess certain qualities that make me fall for them. High on that list are intelligence, loyalty, nobleness of heart and the desire to help others in need.

  In Half Wolf, we’re going to a college town where bad guys are preying on the innocent and a wolf pack guards the gates. And where something else, something Other, is coming to town to surprise everyone (including me!). I do hope you’ll love Half Wolf as much as I loved writing it.

  Please do check out my website to read more on this newest addition to the Wolf Moons series of Wolf Born, Wolf Hunter and Seduced by the Moon, and to keep track of what’s coming up next. Connect with me on my Facebook author page. I’d love to hear from you.

  Cheers and happy reading!

  Linda

  www.LindaThomasSundstrom.com

  www.Facebook.com/LindaThomasSundstrom

  HALF WOLF

  Linda ThomasSundstrom

  Linda ThomasSundstrom writes contemporary and paranormal romance novels for Harlequin Desire and Harlequin Nocturne. A teacher by day and a writer by night, Linda lives in the West, juggling teaching, writing, family and caring for a big stretch of land. She swears she has a resident Muse who sings so loudly, she often wears earplugs in order to get anything else done. But she has big plans to eventually get to all those ideas. Visit Linda at lindathomas-sundstrom.com or on Facebook.

  Books by Linda ThomasSundstrom

  Harlequin Nocturne

  Red Wolf

  Wolf Trap

  Golden Vampire

  Guardian of the Night

  Immortal Obsession

  Wolf Born

  Wolf Hunter

  Seduced by the Moon

  Immortal Redeemed

  Half Wolf

  Blackout

  Wolf Bait

  Moon Marked

  Vampire Lover

  Night Born

  Harlequin Desire

  The Boss’s Mistletoe Maneuvers

  Get rewarded every time you buy a Harlequin ebook!

  Click here to Join Harlequin My Rewards

  http://www.harlequin.com/myrewards.html?mt=loyalty&cmpid=EBOOBPBPA201602010002

  To my family, those here and those gone,

  who always believed I had a story to tell.

  Contents

  Chapter 1

  Chapter 2

  Chapter 3

  Chapter 4

  Chapter 5

  Chapter 6

  Chapter 7

  Chapter 8

  Chapter 9

  Chapter 10

  Chapter 11

  Chapter 12

  Chapter 13

  Chapter 14

  Chapter 15

  Chapter 16

  Chapter 17

  Chapter 18

  Chapter 19

  Chapter 20

  Chapter 21

  Chapter 22

  Chapter 23

  Chapter 24

  Chapter 25

  Chapter 26

  Chapter 27

  Chapter 28

  Chapter 29

  Excerpt from Tempting the Dragon by Karen Whiddon

  Chapter 1

  Pain, sharp-edged and nasty, hit Kaitlin Davies in an undulating wave, pulsing in time with the spike in her heart rate.

  God, she thought. Can this be happening?

  The guy who had just seconds ago seemed like any normal male—short hair, jeans, old white T-shirt—had her by the neck before she could shout. So fast she couldn’t draw a breath. The asshole actually bit her, breaking the skin beneath her right ear. He kept his teeth clamped to her neck and seemed to get a kick out of it. He was making happy noises.

  Shock made screaming impossible. The a-hole had her pinned to a tree with some kind of supernatural grip.

  Her bags fell to the ground. A hideous sucking sound, like someone knocking back a smoothie through a narrow straw, caused her stomach to turn. Something wet trickled down her throat, forcing a gag reflex, but she was too stunned to do anything other than try to breathe.

  The scent of blood saturated the air. Her scream was internal, silent.

  No…

  The last rush of her frantic energy ebbed with a sensation similar to a tumbling wave’s retreat. And then another jarring spike in her pulse hit, fueled by adrenaline with nowhere to go.

  Scream. Shove. Knee him. Fight.

  That was what the rules of self-defense said to do if she were ever to find herself in trouble.

  Yell. Make as much noise as possible. Draw attention.

  Don’t talk to strangers.

  While it was a safe bet that every single female across the country had been given those same rules, no one had mentioned the fact that they might not work. She hadn’t spoken to anybody, had just been minding her own business walking across university grounds from the library to her studio apartment.

  Searing red flashes behind her eyes warned that she was going into shock, and still standing only because the creep held her upright. She no longer felt her hands or feet. Nerve twitches that should have instigated muscle movement produced no response at all.

  Shit.

  Help me!

  She was so very scared, and cold, though she had started to sweat. Inside, she was fighting, struggling. Outwardly, she did zip. This attacker’s maniacal strength and the speed with which he had executed it severed any prospects of a worthwhile reaction.

  What sort of creature bit a person?

  Pervert.

  Animal.

  Monster…

  Her thoughts began to fuzz over. Blackness floated in from the periphery of her brain like spilled ink spreading on a flat white surface, threatening a last hold on sanity.

  Would she ever see her family again?

  Tingling sensations accompanied her blood pressure’s plummeting descent. Dark thoughts dangled. Th
e monster was going to kill her beneath the trees bordering the pathway. She was on her own here because this was Friday night, and everybody else would be either prepping for the weekend or hitting the books. She had walked here at least twenty times this past semester, thinking it safe.

  And now she was going to die. Out here. Alone. Just weeks before presenting her doctorate thesis.

  She did not want to die, not like this or any other way. Her life hadn’t really started yet.

  Don’t deserve this.

  She had no energy left to finish the argument. The night had grown darker.

  Somebody help me.

  Anybody. Please…

  Kaitlin prayed, chanting inwardly and straining to keep her eyes open for the last few precious seconds of life. Nothing seemed real. Nothing felt real.

  Stomach convulsing, head exploding in a last hurrah, she heard another sound break through the darkness, stirring an internal response. It sounded like the growl of a large animal. Low, guttural and unmistakably menacing, that growl rolled toward her.

  But maybe, just maybe, this was merely the sound a soul made when prepping for flight.

  Her soul.

  No. Not that. God, not that, because the monster beside her also heard the noise. When he lifted his head, part of her T-shirt hung from his teeth, soaked in blood.

  His sudden withdrawal was more painful than the initial attack had been. The world began to spin, mingling with the sound of another ferocious animal growl that came from right on top of them.

  Can’t hold on…

  The monster released her. She fell, sliding down the bark of the tree, sinking onto numb buttocks with her legs folded. In the dullness of tunneling vision, she witnessed a blur of black on black, deeper than the night itself, approaching.

  Like a whirlwind, the blur of fluid darkness swept her attacker aside, seeming to temporarily shift things in her favor. In life’s favor. Too weak to make any kind of acknowledgment, Kaitlin fought the wave of light-headedness threatening to overtake her.

  In her dimming periphery, squeals broke through the silence—sounds reminiscent of fierce fighting that seemed to come from every direction at once. A high-pitched whine was followed by a scream and the unmistakable sound of flesh tearing. But it wasn’t her flesh being torn this time.

  Not this time.

  Kaitlin heaved up one final inward cry. Tears were running down her cheeks. When the night became quiet, the silence was scary. And then an artificial softness descended like a cloud, as if she’d been covered by a fur coat. That softness caressed her legs and thighs beneath the hem of her denim shorts.

  After the terrible events of the past few minutes, sensation of any kind seemed odd. So, was this gentle caress a sign of Death knocking at her door?

  With great difficulty, Kaitlin cracked open her eyes. Looking out through teary slits, she found the face of a man kneeling beside her—a half-naked man, his skin gleaming from the waist up in the dappled moonlight filtering through branches.

  This wasn’t the creep that had tried to steal her life force. This guy had broad shoulders and a sculpted chest etched with scrolling tattoos. His hair was dark, long, and a stark contrast to his face.

  Could this be an angel?

  Moonlight encircled his position as if he sat in the center of a searchlight beam, but his features were hidden by shadows. He didn’t speak, just sat there looking at her as if appraising the situation. If this was a trick, if he wasn’t to be trusted, well, there wasn’t much left for him to take.

  When gentle fingers touched her face she winced, because tenderness in the malignant moonlight felt wrong. Her visitor finally spoke in a deep, hushed voice. “It’s all right now. That thing is gone.”

  He moved inches forward so that moonlight flooded his face with a wash of pure silver. Kaitlin couldn’t see much past the splashes of blood on his lips and chiseled cheeks. That blood was as black as his hair.

  She did a quick reassessment, wanting to understand what kind of an angel would appear like this. Fear made a comeback. Rattles of protest welled up in her chest. Was the blood on his face hers?

  The man’s fingers slipped to her chin, which he tilted slowly upward. “You’re safe.”

  I’m dying, she wanted to say.

  As if he had heard the words, he brought his face close to hers. From inches away, he observed her with the brightest eyes she had ever seen—eyes that glowed a light luminous green and shone with intelligence and understanding. Beautiful eyes. Kind. Sympathetic. Not quite human.

  His attention made the last wisp of her consciousness flicker way down deep inside her, almost in a sexual way. Kaitlin wanted to reach out and touch those angular cheeks. She wanted to wipe the slashes of crimson away and thank him for helping her.

  She couldn’t do any of that.

  He spoke again, slowly, so that she could hear and comprehend.

  “You can be healed.”

  There just wasn’t one bit of energy left to argue with him. Threads were separating. She’d been attacked, mauled, only to be saved by a what? Man? Angel? Madman? Beast? He hunched there like a predator, with radiant eyes indicative of some animal species. She sensed an edge to his sympathy. He hadn’t picked up a cell phone to call for help.

  His presence kept her from drifting off. Kaitlin willed her body to hang on for a few more seconds, afraid he would leave, afraid that if she closed her eyes she’d never open them again and die alone.

  Please stay with me.

  Help me.

  Did he hear her plea? He nodded as if he had.

  When he put his arms around her, a strangled moan erupted from her throat—the pain was so very great. Her head hit his solid, soothingly bare chest as he lifted her into his arms, high off the ground.

  An odd thought wafted through her mind that it would have been tough for an angel to manage the saggy mess of a twenty-three-year-old woman. Yet if this was an angel, who was going to argue? If he were to take her to heaven, she was in good hands.

  Or so she thought until he shifted her weight and the pain came crashing down—crushing, pulverizing, boiling—as though she had imploded.

  But it wasn’t over yet. He gripped her with care and whispered assurances. As he turned, cradling her against his body, Kaitlin’s soul-wrenching wail was finally freed. She screamed and screamed. Feral cries. Helpless noises.

  The shouts didn’t frighten this man, this angel, this questionable soul who held her. Taking a deep breath, he placed his mouth on hers and blew a warm stream of air into her lungs that tasted of grass and meadows, not the bloody brutality of a savage monster.

  His lips lingered on hers, forcing her to swallow past the pain, quieting the riot. She took in each breath he gave her. His long hair brushed her cheeks with a silkiness that was as light as day.

  Who could have anticipated a kiss on death’s threshold? The intimacy of their mouths touching and their breaths mingling held a surreal beauty that continued until Kaitlin was able to breathe on her own. Soon after that, the mouth she had depended on left hers.

  Wait, she wanted to cry. With his kiss, the pain had lessened. She’d felt as though she actually might survive.

  The heat radiating off this stranger’s bare chest brought another level of awareness to her broken body. Her rescuer was muscled and extremely hot. Being held by him was like confronting a bonfire.

  She parted her lips for speech that didn’t come. The hovering unconsciousness, temporarily held at bay by a pair of green eyes that continued to stare into hers as if urging her spirit to continue, floated on the sidelines.

  “You have to be willing,” he said. “That’s the way this works.”

  What did that mean? What did any of this mean?

  “There’s no time to explain. But it’s the only way you’ll make it. Nod your head if you understand.”

  In the end, it didn’t matter what he might be suggesting, since she’d do anything to stay alive. With great effort, Kaitlin lowered her chin.
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  “I’ll take that as a yes,” he said. “Be brave. Hang tight and remember that I gave you a choice.”

  His finger tracked a tear sliding down her cheek. Then he nestled his face into her neck, right above the attacker’s deadly wound.

  Oh, God, she thought. Not this.

  Taking her skin between his teeth lightly, he paused as if waiting for her to change her mind. After that, he bit down.

  The sky collapsed in on itself. The earth rose to envelop her. And somewhere between the two, Kaitlin Davies became one with the dark.

  *

  What he was doing was a sin, and unforgivable. So why had he considered it? Why, on the spur of the moment, had Michael Hunter broken every rule governing Lycan behavior to try to save a human female he’d never met—when no human had ever done anything to help him, and in fact had left him with his greatest heartache to date?

  His pulse was racing. He knew better than to cross the line.

  And just couldn’t help himself.

  The woman in his arms was slender, and small-boned to the point of being fragile. But she was no child. Behind the torn T-shirt, her shape was visible. Lean legs, lightly tanned, were shown off by a pair of shorts.

  Blood spatter covered everything, and the scent of that blood had already been dispersed through the air. If he didn’t hurry, other bloodsuckers in the area—if they dared to show their fangs to a prowling werewolf—would come calling.

  She was seconds from death. He recognized the signs. But death wasn’t the worst scenario here. The worst-case outcome would be hearing her last strangled breath, and then watching her morph into the same kind of monster that had savaged her.

  Vampire saliva was highly toxic. The ultimate poison. All it took to kill and then resurrect a human being to the dark side were four or five drops dribbled in an open wound. Rogue vampires didn’t even wait around to see the rise of the night creatures they created. New vampires with no idea what had happened and nowhere to turn except to the raging thirst would be a threat to everyone.

 
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