My next release is Betrayed, the 6th book in the Wolf Gatherings series. It releases October 2 with Hartwood Publishing! It should be available for preorder on Amazon any second now! Waiting… Waiting…
Heather Peters is recovering from her recent kidnapping at the sprawling Spencer ranch in northwest Texas. After witnessing more in the last few weeks than anyone should see in a lifetime, she needs the relaxation the Spencers and their ranch provide while applying for nursing jobs all over the country.
Marcus Cunningham is hovering on the edge of the Spencer ranch, watching closely to ensure the place is indeed a refuge where he might find peace from his family, the leaders of the Romulus, a subversive shifter organization run by his grandfather.
When Heather is bitten by a rattlesnake and goes down hard right before Marcus’s eyes, he has a moral obligation to approach and ensure the woman is okay. Not only is she in danger, but she’s his mate.
As events unfold, Marcus must face his mate and the Spencers with the information that will implicate his grandfather and cause a necessary battle between shifters battling to preserve their way of life, the North American Reserves, and rogue criminals, the Romulus. The future of all shifters depends on Marcus’s skill and knowledge.
Marcus watched her every expression. Heather Peters was gorgeous. He couldn’t stop panting at her feet. Her red hair was disheveled around her face, the curls falling in every direction even though she tried repeatedly to tuck them behind her ears. Freckles dotted her nose and cheeks, enticing him when she scrunched up her face. Her eyes bored into him, the green depths seeming to reveal her deepest, darkest secrets.
When she flattened and stared at the ceiling, he settled more comfortably at her feet. He hadn’t eaten since early yesterday, but he could go a long time in wolf form without food.
What he couldn’t do was stay away from Heather. He’d tried. All night he’d wandered the woods, pacing. But by morning he knew it was a lost battle. He needed to be near her. Even if he didn’t shift, he needed to know she was okay. Healing. Recuperating. The rest he would figure out as he went along. First, he could at least get a better feeling for these people inside their home rather than pacing the edge of the forest.
Not to mention the fact she was bound to tell them about him. He decided he was better off coming forward rather than being found roaming the property.
He had enough hurdles to surmount without adding creepy stalker to the mix.
What he hadn’t figured into the equation was the way her presence would slam him in the chest and take his breath away. In human form in a trapped room, it was worse. She was his. Did she know that? She seemed interested in getting to know him, but she hadn’t specifically said anything about them being mates.
“Thank you,” she muttered as she pulled her damn sheet higher.
For what? For rescuing her? He hadn’t really done anything. She’d done all the work. All he’d done was lie next to her and then nudge her into action.
Someone knocked at the door, and Marcus lifted his head and swung toward the opening, immediately going on the defense.
“You doing all right in here?” It was yet another brother. He’d ascertained there were at least three brothers. Though he thought he remembered there being a fourth from his youth. They all looked like their father, so it was easy to figure out.
The latest man glanced at Marcus and furrowed his brow. He came farther into the room. “Is he going to shift?”
“Hmm. I’m not sure. He’s not saying.” Heather grinned, and Marcus nearly swallowed his tongue when a gorgeous smile spread across her face, lighting up her eyes until they sparkled.
The newcomer smirked. “Guess not. Weird.” He turned toward Marcus. “I’m Drake. I guess you met my dad and my brother, Scott.” He stuck his hands in his pockets and rocked on his heels as he turned back to face Heather. “He’s a chatty one, huh.”
“Yeah. I can’t rest with all his yammering.” She smiled again.
Marcus would gladly stay in wolf form forever if it meant seeing the twinkle in her eye.
Drake reached a hand forward, and Marcus growled before he could stop himself, lifting up on all fours.
Drake lifted both arms up. “Easy, fellow. I was just going to pour her some water. Her lips are dry. She hasn’t had enough to drink since she was bitten.” He slowly lowered his hands until he picked up the pitcher and poured a glass, only taking his gaze off Marcus for short instances.
Heather sat up, pulling her legs away from Marcus’s snout. She narrowed her gaze at him. She wasn’t laughing now. “Stop it.”
He conceded marginally, knowing his actions were unreasonable. Everything about this decision to come forward was unreasonable. He’d done so for purely selfish reasons in the end. He needed to know if it was true. That this woman, Heather Peters, was indeed his mate. It didn’t matter he wasn’t about to shift for her. He simply wanted to be certain she was safe, healing…and his.
Now that you know, what are you going to do with that information, big guy?
“Kinda protective, isn’t he?”
“Yeah.” She looked directly at Marcus while she spoke.
Drake handed Heather a glass of water. He turned toward Marcus. “Hey, if you want to get the next glass, be my guest.” And he turned and strolled from the room.
Marcus panted. He did want to get the next glass. He wouldn’t, but he wanted to. There were a lot of things he wanted, but life didn’t always throw the best curve balls. Claiming a mate at this juncture was beyond selfish. Marcus had nothing to offer this woman except a pile of horrific information concerning his own flesh and blood. She would freak out if she knew half of the shit he’d been a party to.
“So, how long are we going to hang out like this?” She set her glass down and crossed her arms. The blankets were tucked tightly against her chest. He wished she’d let them fall.
He sat back down with a sigh, jerking his attention back to his mate. He couldn’t have answered her if he wanted to. Right now he wanted to stare at her and make sure she was safe. He hadn’t thought past that yet.
She’s safe. You can see that. Why are you still here?
Heather scooted back down and held his gaze for a long time. Finally her eyes fluttered shut, and she slept again.
Marcus inched forward slowly. He wanted to be as close to her as possible. There was plenty of space alongside her, and she couldn’t protest while asleep… He also couldn’t bring himself to leave her yet…
Someone was petting him… It felt so good, like his mother used to do when he was a small child. Slowly he opened his eyes, suddenly aware he’d fallen asleep. It had been a dream.
Only it wasn’t a dream. It was Heather. He stared into her face. Her eyes were closed, her mouth parted in a sweet position, indicating she was deep asleep. But her hand was on top of him, hugging him to her.
And he’d never been as happy as that moment. In sleep she craved his proximity. She’d pulled him closer, or perhaps she’d scooted toward him.
The room was bright. Midday. Marcus needed water. He eyed the pitcher on the bedside table with envy.
Heather stirred. A soft moan escaped her lips, and then she dug her hand deeper into his fur. A moment passed before she became alert enough to realize her position.
She bolted upright, releasing him. Her chest heaved. She brushed her hair from her face. “You scared the crap out of me.”
Marcus watched her breasts as they rose and fell, her nipples erect under the tight tank top. She was sexy as hell, and he couldn’t do a damn thing about it in this state. Or in any state, asshole.
“Still in wolf form, I see.” She inched away from him. “Aren’t you hungry? Thirsty?”
He was. But he didn’t move, not wanting her scent to disappear.
Heather shoved at him. “Get off the bed, you mutt. I need to use the bathroom.”
Marcus hesitated. If he could have laughed at her term for him, he would have. He glanced at her ankle. It looked much better. She could probably walk. He bounded from the bed, landing on all fours. He sat on his haunches as she swung her legs around and threw her blankets back.
Heather winced as she set her feet on the floor. “My bladder’s going to burst,” she muttered. She tentatively put pressure on her foot and then stood. “Ow. Son of a bitch, that hurts.”
Marcus leaped forward, though he hadn’t a clue what he could do to help.
As soon as she steadied herself enough to avoid falling, Marcus lifted his gaze from her feet. And God almighty. He sucked in a breath. Even in wolf form, he reacted to her.
Heather wore nothing but silk panties and a tank top. It was askew, almost revealing one breast. She hobbled forward, holding on to the bedside table as she moved toward the attached bathroom.
Marcus couldn’t move. He was in her way, but he was frozen in his spot, mesmerized by her sexy body. Her pale legs and arms matched her face, all wide expanse of glorious smooth skin dotted with freckles.
When she couldn’t get past him, she turned toward him. “Move. Geez.” And then she glanced down at herself. She righted her shirt and rolled her eyes. “Oh for fuck’s sake. Have you never seen a woman in her underwear? Lord, wolfboy.” She set her hands on her hips, no longer doing her best to cover herself. “Dude. I don’t know if you realize this, but it seems you’re my mate. I can’t for the love of God figure out why you’re sitting at my feet all doggy like, but move so I can use the bathroom.”
Marcus hopped up and did as she said, inwardly chuckling at her endearments. Wolfboy? Mutt? Doggy? If he’d been in human form, he would have bust a gut laughing. She was right. This was absurd. But he didn’t have the courage to change. And until this moment, he hadn’t had any intention of changing ever. Could he do it? Leave this woman and walk away?
Heather passed him and hobbled to the bathroom. She shut the door, leaving him alone in the room. He glanced around her space. It was sparsely furnished, and there was nothing to indicate it was lived in full time by any particular person. The comforter at the foot of the bed was floral. Was Heather a floral kind of girl? He didn’t think so.
This wasn’t her room. It was a guest room. Did she not live in the main house? She didn’t appear to be related to the people who’d come in and out of the room. A bit too formal. Maybe she’d been visiting.
Or maybe she’s one of the women kidnapped by the North American Reserves last month. Marcus held his breath as he considered the option. It was possible, though he hadn’t seen evidence of any of the others. He hadn’t seen more than three women on the property at any time.
He had to agree with his mother. No way were the Spencers involved in something sinister. He’d been here for hours and no one had yet been anything other than polite and accepting, even though he’d given them no reason whatsoever to trust him.
Heather hobbled back into the room. She opened a drawer and pulled out a few things. She ignored him completely, and then she headed back for the restroom. Seconds later, he heard water running. The shower.
If she hadn’t closed the door entirely, he didn’t believe he would have been able to keep from nosing it open and watching her strip out of her meager clothing and duck under the spray. He licked his chops thinking about it.
In wolf form his ardor was at bay, but barely. If he shifted now, he wouldn’t be able to control himself. He’d never wanted a woman as badly as Heather Peters in his life. And her feisty mannerisms and cocky mouth made him itch to claim her immediately. He couldn’t believe how strong the call to mate could be. Overpowering to the point of insanity.
He panted, staring at the bathroom door. He needed to shift, on a visceral level. He needed to claim this woman almost as bad as he needed his next breath. No, worse. Instead he growled low in his throat as he listened to the water running down the drain, knowing his mate was naked behind the door. Damn Fate and Her wicked, witty self.