Billy has always been a loner, but after being bitten by a ferocious wolf, his need for solitude becomes even greater. He can’t get a handle on the wild forces now running through him. He makes the best of it by carving out a territory in the Canadian wilderness, but he’s far from happy with his lot in this strange, new life.
Luc knows Billy is just the guy he’s looking for. His small pack is made up of men who are special even among weres. Their ability to control the elements — air, earth, fire and water — makes them uniquely qualified to act as spirit guardians. But presently there are only three, and they need Billy to complete them or Luc will lose much more than his position as alpha.
It’ll take a lot of fast talking to convince Billy to join their pack, but first the Wild Ones will have to catch him…
Now available from Changeling Press
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2023 Kira Stone
An Authorized Excerpt
The moon’s pregnant, white belly hung high over the Canadian evergreens. Billy gave it the finger, even as his body began to shift. He didn’t understand the biochemistry that transformed him from man to beast. All he knew was a full moon meant he was in for three days of sheer hell.
It had been that way for a couple months now. Each full moon he prayed he wouldn’t feel the tell-tale tingle rippling along his spine. Each month since that unlucky July evening when he’d been bitten by a rabid wolf he’d been doomed to disappointment. The change always came, no matter what he tried to prevent it.
It was more than just the transformation though. With the change came hunger. His appetite for food was only eclipsed by his craving for sex, and sating either hunger wasn’t exactly easy. He always went after big game so at least he could comfort himself with the knowledge that his victims stood a fighting chance. His human skin was scarred with reminders of each struggle, but he hadn’t lost yet.
Perhaps tonight he would.
His limbs contorted as they pursued a new shape. Hands became paws. Mouth became muzzle. Screams became howls. As the last vestiges of his humanity buried itself under a thick pelt of tawny hair, Billy pushed himself to his feet — all four of them — and sniffed the night air, searching for traces of hidden foes.
The Watcher was nearby.
The creature smelled different from other wolves… smelled almost like Billy himself, except that was impossible. There was no one like him.
Rage nipped at his hindquarters that another wolf would dare to enter his marked territory. It was an animal instinct his human side didn’t understand, to mark and defend. His wolf side demanded that the intruder be challenged. Tonight, Billy decided, he would do just that.
He loped down to the fast flowing river and then drank until he thought his stomach would burst. The change always left him dehydrated. And though he knew it would do little to assuage his hunger for meat, he munched down a rabbit that wasn’t quite fast enough to evade his powerful jaws. He needed more, much more. After he confronted The Watcher, he’d have it.
Or he’d be dead.
Either way, his problem would be solved.
Billy returned to the copse of trees where he’d gone through the change. The Watcher’s scent was still there. He’d tried on other occasions to track down the beast who’d been keeping an eye on him lately. The trail always ended in a tail-chasing circle. It had befuddled his animal mind, but the passage of time had brought about a blending between his human side and this creature he’d become. He could now think logically as a wolf, and use his animal instincts when he wore his human skin.
When it came to tracking down the interloper, logic prevailed where animal instinct had failed. He thought he knew how The Watcher could be found. Tonight, he’d test his theory.
Letting his wolf senses take the lead, Billy followed the scent trail through the woods. The invisible lines drawn by man to partition the land were beneath his notice in this form. He crossed into the territory belonging to the Iroquois Indians, a place where he’d be arrested for trespassing if he entered on two feet instead of four.
Some night bird gave a warning cry. Little furry critters scattered out of his path. The other animals sensed the tension in the air. Something dangerous was about to happen, and they didn’t want to be caught in the middle when it did.
The wind blew new information to his ultra-sensitive nose. The Watcher was close, and he wasn’t alone. Two more wolves had joined him. It was difficult to be sure where one stood in relation to the others, so close was their scent. Certainly, they were pack mates, living in the same den. And if they lived together, they’d fight together.
Three against one. The odds gave Billy pause.
This territory was his. He’d fought like the devil against other predators in the area and carved out a niche for himself. A lone wolf. A rogue. An outsider. He wanted to keep it that way. It would be far safer for their pack in the long run. Billy’d sacrifice one to save the whole from whatever evil, unholy thing he might become next.
But three against one? Surely they’d kill him. Part of him longed for that release from this nightmarish torment, but that part wasn’t currently in control. The animal in him said flight now would ensure he’d live to fight another day. Perhaps pick them off, one by one.
His decision made — at least for tonight — Billy started to turn tail and run. But then the scent of The Watcher came to him again, much stronger than before. Billy froze, his keen eyes searching the darkness around him. The surrounding forest was deathly silent, except for the sound of his own breathing.
A predator was near.
Slowly, Billy cocked his head to look over his shoulder. A pair of golden eyes gazed back at him. The beast was sitting there, waiting patiently. A skilled hunter watching his prey.
The circumstances had changed, and so had Billy’s options. To flee now would signal defeat. He’d lose face among the forest dwellers and once again be vulnerable to those he’d already bested. He had to fight now and hope the vestiges of his human logic that traveled with him in this form could out-think The Watcher and his pack mates.
Billy faced the threat, again sniffing the air to see if The Watcher’s companions had moved at all. They remained some distance behind him. Perhaps if he struck hard and fast…
Thought became action before it was fully complete. He bounded forward, prepared to knock his opponent down with sheer brute force. But when he landed, The Watcher wasn’t beneath him.
Billy looked around and spotted his quarry sitting several yards away, his tongue lolling out in a wolfish smile. Damn that creature to hell!
Leave or die, Billy yipped in warning. The temperature had dropped enough for his breath to curl up from his wet nose in spirals of white steam.
You’ll not find me so easy to kill, young one, The Watcher barked in return. Try me, if you dare.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Kira Stone lives in a warm cave tucked away in the remote Scottish Highlands, where a small band of ever-changing heroes serves as company. As they relax in front of a roaring fire, demons dance in leather pants and angels stroke tunes from the harp strings, while the Fae stop in to share tales from other worlds. Bound by pen and imagination, these are the folk who wait to greet you from the pages of Kira’s stories.