Narrated by Holly Holt Duration: 4 hours 57 minutes
Michael Andrews is the last of his brothers to find his mate. He’s played it tough, trying to convince his family that a mate is the last thing he wants, that he enjoys having a different woman every week. In reality, he’s afraid. He wants to find his mate and thinks he may already have, but what if he won’t be a good husband? Maybe, he just isn’t made to love someone.
Chloe Stevens is on her last leg. She found a guy she thought was great, only to end up pregnant and have the guy vanish into thin air. Then, she lost her job and consequently, her car. Now, she’s facing eviction. Five months pregnant, no job, no car, and now, no home have forced Chloe to do the one thing she swore she wouldn’t: contact the father of her baby. She may have just been a fling to Michael, but their few days together had meant more to her.
When a pregnant Chloe shows up looking for Michael, he’s stunned to find out that he’s going to be a father. It appears that fate is determined to put the woman in his path. But is Michael willing to fight for Chloe when another werewolf decides to claim her?
Alpha werewolf Gabriel Andrews is content with his life, even if it’s a bit lonely. He wants what every wolf wants — his mate. When a stunning woman darts into his garage, panting for breath and looking more than a little frightened, his wolf sits up and takes notice. She smells enticing and a hunger grows inside of Gabriel, and he knows he must have her. But loving Kiera will not be an easy task with a ravenous vampire hot on her trail. It seems his little shifter mate is something a little more, and it will take him and an entire pack to keep her safe.
Kiera ran on silent feet through the darkened alley. It probably would have been easier to escape if she had shifted into her animal form, but then she would have been stuck without clothes later. That would have been a little hard to explain to the average human.
Running for all she was worth, she could sense the vampire’s presence not far behind her. Going into that bar was the dumbest thing she had ever done! Why had she allowed the girls to talk her into it? Shaking her head, she continued to the end of the alley. Hopefully, she would live to see another day.
When she reached the corner, she looked around. There wasn’t much nearby except an old Victorian home and an auto repair shop. Noticing the lights were on in the auto shop, she hurried across the street. Reaching for the door, she glanced over her shoulder and gasped. The vampire was standing on the corner under the street lamp. To a passerby he would seem harmless, but Kiera knew better, knew him for the predator he was. She was trembling as she watched the vampire; she knew he could smell her fear but was helpless to do anything about it.
Pushing the door open, Kiera rushed inside. As soon as she closed the door, she turned the lock. The logical part of her brain was calling her an idiot for thinking a lock would keep out a vampire, but her self-preservation skills were kicking in. That small piece of metal made her feel a little bit safer, even if her safety was nothing more than an illusion.
Across the room, Gabriel heard the door close and lock. As he slid out from under the Mustang he had been working on, he noticed the disheveled woman warily watching the street through the glass door. He got up and walked slowly toward her. Taking in her creamy complexion, petite stature and long ebony hair, his body immediately responded to her. She was definitely something to look at, curved in all the right places.
“May I help you?” he asked.
Kiera gasped and spun toward the deep voice. Momentarily startled, she regained her composure, trying to keep her expression as neutral as possible. “Is it alright if I stay here for a minute?”
Gabriel casually looked her over, appreciating the way her black dress clung to her curves. “Everything okay?”
Kiera glanced back outside. The vampire was still on the corner, watching her every move. She knew that he was waiting for her to leave. It wasn’t fair to involve this stranger in her problems, but she didn’t have much of a choice if she wanted to live. And she definitely wanted to live!
Looking back at Gabriel, she said, “That man across the street has been following me. I’m a little nervous about going back outside.”
Gabriel looked through the glass door. Sure enough, a tall blond man was standing on the corner, watching them. An inner voice was screaming at him that the man was a vampire and to be wary. Gabriel shook his head, clearing the ridiculous thought from his mind. Vampires? He was starting to lose it. Granted, being an alpha werewolf made him believe in the impossible, but he had yet to see proof that vampires existed.
Gently taking her arm, he pulled her away from the door. “You’re safe here. You can stay as long as you need to.”
Kiera gave him a shaky smile. “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that.”
“Since I’m offering sanctuary, mind telling me how that guy ended up following you?” If he was getting pulled into a domestic dispute, now was the time to find out. The last thing he needed was an angry husband coming after him.
Kiera sighed, realizing she could only tell him half of the truth. If she said that a vampire was following her, she had no doubt she would be dragged off to the loony bin. Granted, that would be the perfect ending to her not so perfect day, but she would prefer to not land herself in a padded cell.
“The short version is that he tried to pick me up in a bar. I told him that I wasn’t interested, but he wouldn’t take no for an answer. When I left, he followed me. He kind of gave me the creeps so I ran.”
Something seemed a little off with her story. If she had been running, why wasn’t she winded? Not that he wouldn’t have enjoyed watching her run in that skin tight dress and heels; it definitely would have been a sight to behold, especially with her being so top heavy. He almost grinned at the image his mind was creating.
Giving himself a mental shake, he asked, “How did you end up here at my garage? There isn’t a bar for at least three or four miles.”
Kiera hoped the shock didn’t show on her face. Had she really run that far? “I guess I got lost. I was just trying to get away from him and didn’t really pay attention to where I was going.”
She knew her excuse sounded feeble, but she couldn’t very well tell him she was a werefox, giving her more agility and stamina than your average human. There were some things that humans just weren’t prepared to hear. The fact that “make believe” creatures really existed ranked high on that list.
Gabriel looked skeptical. There had to be more to her story than that, but obviously she wasn’t going to share the full tale. “What’s your name?”
Kiera smiled. “It’s nice to meet you. I just wish it was under better circumstances.”
“Do you need to use the phone to call someone? It doesn’t look like that guy is leaving anytime soon,” Gabriel said, glancing out the door.
“Oh.” Kiera followed his gaze. Sure enough, the vampire was still watching from across the street. “Um, I don’t really have anyone to call.”
Gabriel arched an eyebrow, but didn’t say anything. Just what kind of trouble was she in? She didn’t look more than twenty-one or so. A deep primal instinct arose, making him want to comfort her and protect her. The wolf in him responded to her soft feminine scent while the man responded to her lush curves. She didn’t even reach his shoulder, which told him that she was under five-foot two since he was a little over six-feet tall. She wasn’t bone thin like a lot of woman he’d met, but she wasn’t fat either. Her elfin shaped face held full rosy lips and beautiful green eyes that were almost almond shaped. They reminded him of cat eyes.
Kiera noticed the appraisal. “I don’t want to keep you from your work. Please don’t feel like you have to keep me company.”
Gabriel grunted, noting the obvious dismissal. Evidently mechanics weren’t good enough for her. He should have known that a woman as pretty and as well dressed as this one was would have an attitude. Paper pushers were probably more her style; wealthy paper pushers.
“Guess I can finish up this job while you wait to see if your admirer goes away.”
Walking away from her, he slowly climbed back under the Mustang. It was difficult to concentrate on his work, but he managed. There was something about her that wasn’t entirely human. He knew she wasn’t a werewolf, but she was definitely something special. His alpha instincts told him that she was a mate for his pack. Since Cole was already married, that meant that she belonged to either him or Michael. Just thinking of Michael being with her made him grind his teeth.
Kiera watched Gabriel effortlessly slide under the car. She started feeling light headed and realized that she had been holding her breath. He was the most gorgeous guy she had ever seen! Easily over six-feet tall, he had medium length black hair, piercing blue eyes, and was well muscled. It had been difficult to not throw herself into his arms. If he had stood by her much longer, she wouldn’t have been able to keep her hands to herself. She hoped that he hadn’t noticed the effect he had on her. Her animal instincts were going to get her into trouble one of these days.
As she glanced back out the door, she realized that the vampire was crossing the street. Startled, she instinctively started backing toward Gabriel. It wasn’t fair to ask for his protection, but she had never been so terrified in her life. She couldn’t put her finger on it, but something about the mechanic made her feel safe and protected.
Hearing her footsteps drawing near, Gabriel slid out from under the car and looked up at her. “What’s wrong Kiera?”
“He’s coming over. I know that I have no right to ask this, but please help me.” As she looked down at him, her eyes were wide with fear. Her heart had doubled its rhythm and felt as it would burst from her chest.
Imprisoned by the dark fae for crimes against her people, Tulip was left to rot in the palace dungeon. When she finally escapes, she wills her magick to take her to Ashton Grove, in hopes the wolf pack will help her. She never counted on coming face to face with the most intriguing male she’d ever met, or that he’d be growling and intent on making her pay for a crime she never committed.
Vaughn doesn’t trust the dark fae, especially ones who pop up out of nowhere, but it doesn’t take him long to realize that Tulip is different. His beast rumbles in pleasure when she’s near, and the wolf has never shown the slightest bit of interest in a female before. Claiming her for his mate was never part of the plan, but now that she’s his, he’ll do everything he can to protect her. Even if it means welcoming more fae into his home.
Tulip tentatively pushed on the door of her cell. It opened with a loud creak that made her wince and she checked the dungeon entrance for approaching soldiers. There had been a shift in the air, and for a moment, it felt like the magick of the dungeon had dissipated. Since Onyx had died at the hands of a wolf pack, she’d been confined to this cage, left to rot. The palace dungeons were spelled to keep even the most powerful fae under lock and key, but for whatever reason, the spells had failed. Tulip crept from her cell and to the large arched doorway that led to freedom.
Her body was weak, and her legs barely held her. Her hands shook as she felt along the dark, damp walls in her search for freedom, the slick stones scraping against her palms. The hair hanging in her face was matted and dirty, and grime covered the rest of her body. It had been months since she’d been put in the dungeon, maybe longer. Time had passed slowly, even for a fae. Taking away her freedom, and locking her in the dark, was cruel for someone who would live for thousands of years. She had little doubt they’d have left her down here for a few hundred years or longer, before remembering she was a prisoner.
As she pressed her back against the wall, Tulip opened her senses and tried to feel for any vibrations in the air that would signal someone’s approach. The dungeons remained cold and silent. Creeping around the corner, she stepped into the corridor and looked around for any signs of nearby soldiers. The place was empty. A shiver raked her spine as she took in the changes to the dark palace. The tapestries hung on the wall like specters and dust covered every surface. Had it been abandoned? Had she been abandoned?
Tulip didn’t dare breathe a sigh of relief just yet, and made her way through the palace and out to freedom. Darkness clung to the palace walls, shadows reaching for her. The air was damp and suffocating; the must from unused rooms surrounded her. She eased through the door and into the courtyard, a place once filled with life and now covered in death and decay. There wasn’t a living soul around, so Tulip closed her eyes and willed herself to the mortal realm, her thoughts on the Ashton Grove pack and safety––and ended up straight in the middle of a bar fight.
The force of a male body slammed her to the sticky floor, the floor hard and unforgiving beneath her slight frame. She cried out as pain rattled her from head to toe. She’d been without magick for so long that she didn’t know if she’d be able to heal herself or not, already feeling bruises form along her hips and back. She shoved at the brute on top of her when he was suddenly lifted and tossed aside. Tulip looked up into the gaze of the most attractive male she’d ever seen. Dark blonde hair fell across his forehead and stormy blue eyes peered down at her. Tattoos peeked out of his shirt and she felt the urge to trace them with her fingers.
Then his eyes flashed yellow, and his fangs lengthened. Tulip let out a small squeak as she scurried away from him, putting a table between them, and nearly falling in her haste. Her legs trembled from the effort of holding herself upright. What she needed was a bath, food, and rest. Lots of rest. She’d been too scared to sleep in the dungeon, for fear things would creep into her cell and nibble at her fingers and toes.
“Fae,” he snarled.
“I’m not here to cause trouble.” She put her up hands. “I need your help.”
He growled and two more wolves joined him, their eyes flashing with anger. She could understand why they wouldn’t trust her kind, after what was done to the alpha’s mate, but it hadn’t been her fault. She’d heard of the plot against Autumn and had done everything in her power to stop Onyx, landing her in the dark fae palace dungeon.
“Why would we help you?” one of them snarled.
“Please, if I could just speak with your alpha.” Her lower lip trembled and she fought back tears. The emotional and mental stress from the last few months was starting to take its toll. The last thing she wanted to do was fall apart in front of the wolves. She needed to be strong. She was strong! But there was only so much a fae could take without feeling a little bit broken. Tulip straightened her shoulders. She hadn’t come this far to fail now.
“You think tears are going to spare you?” the hunky wolf asked.
He snarled at her and leapt across the table, grasping her in a tight grip. Pain ricocheted through her body from his rough treatment and she couldn’t stop the whimper that escaped her lips. Tears pricked her eyes as she stared up at the handsome wolf. It hardly seemed fair that someone so attractive was so vicious. Or maybe it was only because she was fae. She’d hoped the wolves would be understanding, that they would hear her out. Now she wondered if she’d made a mistake. Perhaps she should have run to the light fae and begged for mercy. A swift death would have been preferable to whatever torture the dark fae had planned for her.
“I’ll call the alphas,” one of the other wolves said. “They’ll want to speak with her.”
The third wolf growled low. “I say we tear her apart. Her kind would have done worse to Autumn.”
Tulip’s heart raced as fear coursed through her veins. They wouldn’t really harm her, would they? She’d thought the wolves in Ashton Grove were civilized. Had she been wrong to come here? She’d willed her magick to bring her to the wolves and safety, and it had chosen this bar and the unfriendly wolves in front of her.
She stared up at the wolf holding her and willed him to see her for who she truly was, and not just an evil dark fae. Tulip had never done anything wrong a day in her very long life. It wasn’t her fault she’d been born amongst the dark fae. Her mother had protected her as much as she could, but Tulip had always felt like an outsider amongst her people.
“I’m not like the others,” she told the wolf softly. “You have no reason to trust me, but I honestly mean no harm to anyone in your pack. I have nowhere else to go and need your help.”
“Why would we help you?” he asked harshly.
She wiggled in his grasp. “Please. I’ll show you, but you have to release me.”
His grip loosened and she turned, lifting her hair. She heard his gasp a moment before a callused finger traced the ridges where her wings had once been. She hadn’t seen them, could only feel the pain, but she knew the puckered, angry skin had to look ghastly.
“This is what happens to a fae when she betrays her people,” Tulip said softly. “I did everything in my power to free the light fae, and tried to stop Onyx from coming after your alpha female. This was my reward, along with a trip to the dungeon, where I would have been left to rot until they got around to torturing and killing me.”
So, what did it take for this book to come into being? TONS of caffeine, some really good music, and a lot of patience from my family. I may or may not have burned dinner a time or two while working on this book. I think “in a minute” became my go-to phrase for a few weeks.
I’m often asked if there were particular songs or movies I listened to or watched while working on certain books. For me, a playlist doesn’t so much have to do with the lyrics as it does the beat. Looking at the song titles for my playlist of this particular book won’t give you much insight into what was going through my mind, but I’m going to share it with you anyway. As you can see, I have rather eclectic taste LOL
Winnie loves her son and would do anything for him, even apply for demeaning jobs, if it means putting a roof over his head. Spending their days in her car, and their nights at a shelter, hasn’t been easy, but she does whatever she must to keep him safe, even if it means sleeping with one eye open. She’s never asked for a handout, and she’s never expected one. Hard work is all she’s ever known, but sometimes that isn’t enough. It’s been so long since she has believed in fairy tales that the last thing she expected was for Prince Charming to come along and save the day.
Braxton has no idea what it is about Winnie that draws him like a moth to a flame, but his wolf is intrigued by her, and that’s more reaction than he’s ever gotten from the beast where women are concerned. When he overhears her conversation with her son, he knows he can’t let them spend the night somewhere as unsafe as their car or a shelter. But getting Winnie to let him help is another matter. A woman like her isn’t going to trust easily.
Despite her hesitancy, Winnie allows the wolf to help for the sake of her son, even though she knows getting close would never be wise. But the more she gets to know the stubborn man, the more she realizes the kindness showing in his eyes isn’t a mask. Sawyer doesn’t want anything from her that she isn’t willing to give, which makes him all the more intriguing. Can Winnie put her past behind her and trust a man again? Sawyer makes her want to believe that fairy tales really do come true.
Sawyer Braxton sipped his beer as he looked out over the crowd at Lagoona’s. He’d been watching the woman at the bar, for the last fifteen minutes, as she filled out an application. There was something about her that drew his attention. Her clothes were worn in places, her hair unkempt, but her tiny stature and dainty features made his protective urges rise to the surface. Even from the span of the four tables that separated them, he could see a dirt smudge on her cheek, and he wondered where it had come from.
She handed the application over to the bartender and then turned to leave. She hadn’t taken three steps before the asshole behind the bar ripped her application in half and tossed it. Sawyer bit back a growl as he rose to his feet, intent on going after her. Something didn’t seem right, even if he couldn’t figure out what. She cleared the door before he could catch her and he raced into the parking lot. Scanning the bumper to bumper cars, he saw her slip into an older hatchback with more than its fair share of dings and scrapes. A small figure moved in the backseat.
Not wanting to scare her, he walked slowly toward her car, his keen sense of hearing picking up the conversation she had with what he assumed to be her child. He’d never been one to chase after a single mom before, assuming she was single, but for some reason, he wanted to get to know this woman better.
“I’m sorry, honey,” she told the child. “We missed curfew at the shelter. We’re going to have to sleep in the car again tonight.”
What the hell? Was she living out of her car, with a small child in tow? He didn’t know how she’d fallen so far, but Sawyer knew that he couldn’t leave them in this parking lot with their future so uncertain. If anything happened to them, he’d never forgive himself.
Sawyer approached the vehicle and hunkered down next to the door, in hopes he wouldn’t frighten them. The woman was turned toward the back, still talking to her child.
“Benjamin, I’m doing the best I can.” She sounded tearful. “We’ll get to the shelter on time tomorrow, okay?”
“I don’t like the shelter,” a small voice said. “Why can’t we have a house again?”
“Soon, baby. Mama just needs to get a job first.”
Sawyer tapped on the window, making the woman jump. It was cracked enough that he could talk to her, without her fearing for her safety.
“I didn’t mean to eavesdrop,” he said, “but it seems you’re in a bit of a bind.”
Her lips thinned, and her eyes flashed. “And let me guess, in return for certain favors you’ll get us a motel room for the night.”
He sat back on his heels. “Um, not exactly.”
“Then what do you want in exchange for a place to stay?” she asked, distrust etched on her lovely features.
“Nothing. I just want peace of mind from knowing that your son and you are safe for the night. I heard you say something about sleeping in your car, and despite how small Ashton Grove is, that still isn’t the safest thing you could do.”
“You really just want to help us?” she asked, seeming uncertain.
“That’s all I want. I’m in the blue truck over there,” he said pointing to his new ride. “Why don’t you follow me? I’ll get you a room at the motel for the night, and then I’ll pick you up for breakfast in the morning, and we can figure out something more permanent for you.”
“Permanent?” The distrust was back in her voice.
“I work construction for the local wolf pack. My boss and alpha might know of a place where you could stay while you get back on your feet.”
Her eyes widened. “You’re a-a-a wolf?”
He nodded. He scented the air and didn’t smell fear. Curiosity and a hint of…arousal? Interesting. Maybe she was just as intrigued with him as he was with her. The boy in the backseat gazed at him with a bit of wonder in his eyes.
“I’ll wait to make sure your car starts, and then I’ll get my truck,” he said.
Genre(s): New Adult, Paranormal, Mainstream
Published: May 3, 2017
Broken. Damaged. And nearly without hope.
Aria McFay has suffered at the hands of her uncle and his twisted pack, but she’s not giving up just yet. When she manages to escape, the first place she runs is to Ashton Grove, Georgia, and her childhood friend, Lucas Adams, in hopes the pack will take her in and protect her.
Heartbroken, yet determined.
Seeing Aria again only serves to remind Lucas that he’s known his destined mate since he was ten years old, except Aria never knew, because Lucas didn’t feel worthy of her. He’s worked hard to build a life for himself in Ashton Grove, but how can he claim her after everything she’s been through? Even he isn’t that selfish.
What the heart wants…
Aria may be damaged, but she still wants Lucas just as much as she did when they were kids. But the sexy wolf seems determined to keep their relationship as friends only. What will it take to make him see her as something more than his childhood friend? If Aria can’t have Lucas, she doesn’t want anyone.
Aria’s body ached, her latest beating having left fresh welts and bruises. She felt like one, big, walking sore, but no matter what they dished out, no matter how severe her punishment, she refused to bend to her uncle’s wishes. It would be a long, cold day in Hell before she’d bow and scrape before the likes of Boudreaux LeBlanc, her uncle’s best friend. The man was insane, not to mention the meanest son of a bitch she’d ever met. He’d never had a kind word for anyone in his life, and now her luck had run out because he’d decided he wanted her for his mate. Even worse, her uncle was in complete agreement. Sadistic bastard.
Boudreaux wasn’t the first man her uncle had tried to pair her with. There had been three others over the past two years, and Aria knew what would happen when she refused to back down. The pain and horror of what happened those other times lived on in her mind. While it may not have scarred her physically, emotionally…well, let’s just say she wasn’t going to trust men very easily ever again.
She pushed the curtain aside and peered through the window. It had been quite a while since she’d been free to roam the pack grounds. Uncle Remus had deemed her unfit company until she’d give her word that she would mate with the loco Boudreaux. Because she had refused, she’d been locked in her room for a week now, and it was never going ot happen; she’d never give her word to mate with him. She was lucky her small closet had been turned into a tiny half-bath when she’d joined the pack shortly after her eighteenth birthday; otherwise, she wouldn’t even have had a toilet to use, or a sink so she could wash up. Her hair was filthy, the long strands greasy and repellent. She’d plaited it, doing the best she could with what little she was given.
Uncle Remus was afraid if he let her out of her room, she’d find a way out of the small cabin, and once that happened, he knew she’d hit the road. Well, swamp. It was a long way to the nearest town. What he didn’t realize was that the boards in the corner of her room were loose, enough so that she’d been able to dig a little each night. It wasn’t a big hole, but it was big enough for her animal to fit through. All she had to do was shift, dig the rest of the way out, and she would be free! Naked, but free. But hey, everything came with a price. At this point, anything was better than prostituting herself to an abusive asshole for the rest of her life. However long that might be. Boudreaux had already had one mate. She’d died less than a year after their mating ceremony. There were rumors that he’d killed her, not that anyone was going to step up and do something about it.
She winced as she moved, her muscles pulling and contracting painfully. Aria had heard murmurs in the hall earlier, when no one thought she was listening, or maybe they just didn’t care if she knew her fate. Her uncle was desperate and had determined the best way to control her would be to drug her. He’d ordered Ruth Ann, the pack cook, to dose her food with sedatives, like valerian root. She was certain there would be other things in there, things meant to keep her calm and docile. She had little doubt they would continue to dose her food until it took effect, and since she didn’t plan to eat it, that could be a while. Well, either that or she’d starve to death.
No, she needed to escape, and she needed to escape right now.
A glance out the window showed the sun was setting, which meant the guards outside the cabin would be changing shifts. If she was going to run away, it was now or never. Aria slipped out of her clothes, shifted into her animal, and dug her way out of the room. Once she popped out on the other side, nose twitching, she froze and scanned the area, looking for signs of trouble. It looked like no one was paying attention to her. Fast as she could, she made a dash for it, leaving the pack behind her.
Aria didn’t stop until she reached a small settlement not far from the highway. She shifted back, grabbed some clothes off a line in someone’s backyard, and made her way to the road. She’d have to be careful, if her pack had realized she was missing, they would be searching for her. Watching from the tree line, she waited until she saw a car with out-of-state plates on the front. Texans were friendly, right? Then again, they probably ate rabbit stew.
Stepping up to the edge of the highway, she held out her thumb, hoping they would stop and give her a lift. Hitchhiking was dangerous, but it had to be safer than staying with her family. Anything had to be safer than that.
The car slowed and pulled over. The man behind the wheel appeared to be in his sixties and gave her a kindly smile. Aria pulled open the door and slid into the passenger’s seat.
“Thank you for stopping,” she said.
“Young thing like you shouldn’t be hitchhiking.” He noticed the bruises on her arms and frowned. “Are you in some sort of trouble?”
“My family can’t find me,” she confided. “I need to get as far from here as possible, as fast as possible.”
He nodded and put the car in gear. “Buckle up. I’m on my way to Chattanooga. You just tell me when you want to be let out.”
“Is Ashton Grove, Georgia on the way? I think it’s in the mountains.”
He smiled at her. “Well, if it isn’t, I’ll get you as close as I can. You just sit back and rest. We’ll have you somewhere safe soon.”
“Thank you.” Aria let her eyes drift closed, finally able to relax for the first time in a while. Not much longer and she’d be safe with Amber, the shifter she’d been talking to in Ashton Grove.
When the call had gone out last year that the Ashton Grove pack was seeking new members, she’d contacted them, without her family’s knowledge. She knew at least two members of the pack and thought it would be a nice place to call home. Now, things were different. She didn’t delude herself into thinking she’d have a happily-ever-after there. It would be a resting spot. Maybe the alpha would be able to give her sanctuary while she figured out the next leg of her journey. That’s all she would ask of him. It wouldn’t be fair to bring danger to his door, not after everything the pack had been through. Her friend, Amber, had told her demons were on their way to Ashton Grove; of course, that was more than six months ago now. She hadn’t heard from Amber in a while, and she worried about her friend, but she was trying to keep her contact with Ashton Grove to a minimum so her family wouldn’t look for her there first.
Letting the hum of the car lull her, she fell into the first restful sleep she’d had in a week or more.
Jessica Coulter Smith is back to writing werewolves. If you enjoyed the Ashton Grove Werewolves, get ready to meet the Iron Hills Wolf Pack! The all new series kicks off in October with Wolf Charming, with many more to follow. If you’d like to hear about future releases, please take a moment to sign up for Jessica’s newsletter.
About the Book
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: October 10, 2016
Weston Drake is a lot of things. Player. Bestselling author. And stubborn as fuck werewolf. At least, he’s stubborn when it comes to his mate. He’s known that Abril Forrest belongs to him for the past five years, but their fourteen year age gap has kept him away. She’s more than legal enough now, but his thirty-five to her twenty-one still makes him feel like a lecherous old man. No matter how much his wolf craves her company, and his body craves her touch, he resists the lure of his chosen one. What would a sexy woman like her want with an older man like him?
Abril has fought like hell to carve out a life in Grover Falls, despite her dismal beginning. Raised in the trailer park with her junkie mom and a father who would just as soon sell her as look at her, she’s worked hard to leave her past behind. But in small towns, people never forget. Men think she’s easy because of who her parents are, so she’s always avoided relationships, or dating in general. But there’s one man she’d give herself to in a heartbeat. Weston Drake is everything she’s ever wanted, but he’s never once looked her way.
His brother, Zach, nudged him. “You’re drooling again. If you aren’t going to man up and talk to your mate, you could at least appear a little less like a stalker.”
Weston scowled at him.
“Look, you know the two of you are meant to be together. What would it hurt to introduce yourself and ask her out for dinner? If you don’t claim her, your wolf is eventually going to go insane.”
Zach wasn’t telling him anything he didn’t already know. His wolf was already going a little crazy without their mate. Weston had thought about approaching Abril several times over the last few weeks, as his wolf had gotten more insistent, but he always drew back and kept his distance. She was so young and had so many possibilities in front of her. It would be wrong of him to claim her. The last thing she needed was a serious relationship when she should be partying with her friends and having a good time.
“Weston, please talk to her. Don’t make me put you down. You know if you lose control of your wolf, I won’t have a choice in the matter. The town may know about our dual nature, and they tolerate it, but a loco wolf isn’t going to go over well.” Zach placed a hand on his shoulder. “She’s yours, and you know it. Go to her.”
“No.” Weston tore his gaze from his tempting mate and faced forward again. Keeping away from her was the hardest damn thing he’d ever done.
A new bonus novella is available in the Ashton Grove Werewolves series!
Allie Jenson has drifted from one pack to another, ever since her family died. She thinks she might have finally found a home with the Ashton Grove pack, but her life is not easy. She has a job she hates, and none of the males want her for more than sex – not that she’s giving it up. When were-tiger Cain Boudreaux takes it upon himself to “save” her from a handsy customer, by claiming her in front of their packmates no less, things get a little out of hand. He’s rude, chauvinistic, and totally not her type. Well, maybe he’s not completely not her type. He does have that tall, dark, and sexy thing going on. And that Cajun accent slides across her skin like warm silk. But what in the heck is she going to do with a man who thinks her place is barefoot and in the kitchen?
Amazon US – http://www.amazon.com/Moonlight-Drifter-Ashton-Werewolves-novella-ebook/dp/B00ME04DYI
Amazon UK – http://www.amazon.co.uk/Moonlight-Drifter-Ashton-Werewolves-novella-ebook/dp/B00ME04DYI
All Romance eBooks – https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-moonlightdrifteranashtongrovewerewolvesbonusstory-1587641-140.html
To fully appreciate the story, you should read the series in order:
About the Author:
Jessica lives in a world where warlocks, shapeshifters and fairies exist, and everyone deserves a happy ending — from tragic vampires finally finding love after centuries of being alone, to super hunky womanizing werewolves finding their destined mate –- it’s all in a day’s work.
Unable to find a werewolf of her very own, she decided to marry someone who thinks he’s one -– minus howling at the full moon, fleas, and a rousing game of chase-the-mailman. Okay, so he sometimes howls at the full moon.
When she isn’t writing, Jessica enjoys spending time with her family, reading (mostly romance), or going to the beach. She’s especially fond of bookstores and Starbucks!
The angel Adriel has faced hard decisions before, but deciding to give up his wings for the smallest shifter in the Ashton Grove pack was a no-brainer. All right, so maybe he shouldn’t have rushed things. Maybe he should have waited until they actually met, but after keeping tabs on her from Heaven for the past month, he knows she’s exactly what he wants.
Kinley Taylor, Aussie transplant and only sugar glider in the Ashton Grove pack, decided long ago she didn’t believe in mates. Well, not for her anyway. People are pairing up all around her, falling in love, binding themselves to one another, but she’s holding out for something more. No ordinary wolf or shifter is going to hold her attention, of that she’s certain. Imagine her confusion when she’s attracted to someone new in town – and he’s human! What would her dearly departed parents think of such a match?
Adriel is determined to show Kinley that he’s everything she’s ever wanted, and more than she’ll ever need. If he can’t persuade her with words, he’ll just have to keep his mouth occupied with other delights – like kissing her senseless.
*NOTE: If you read this before reading Moonlight Warrior, you’re going to be very confused
Adriel stood before the Archangel Gabriel, hoping he wasn’t making a huge mistake. In his heart, it was the right thing to do, but so many things could easily go wrong with his plan. His fellow angels couldn’t believe what he was going to do, had in fact tried to talk him out of it, but Adriel wouldn’t be swayed.
He’d seen her once, across the battlefield during the demon war in Ashton Grove. The moment he’d laid eyes on her, something inside of him had shifted, warmed, and he’d felt a certain rightness as he gazed upon her. She’d fought valiantly, attacking the demons who chose to pick on her for petite size with gusto, her long blonde hair cascading down her back in a ponytail that whipped around with her movement.
Fighting the demons that came his way, he’d kept an eye on her, making sure no one dealt a deadly blow. When he saw two other packmates join her, he was relieved. The three women worked together, protecting themselves, hacking and slashing at anything that came their way. When the last demon fell, and all that could be heard were the painful moans and cries of the injured, Adriel’s gaze had sought her out once more, grateful she seemed to be okay.
He’d wanted to walk up to her, introduce himself, maybe even touch her sun-kissed skin that looked silky smooth. But he’d felt the pull of Heaven and knew that his time on Earth was at an end. With a heavy heart, he’d ascended into the Heavens, taking his place beside his brothers and sisters once more, left with nothing to do but observe those down below.
It had been a month now, and every day he watched the woman he’d learned was named Kinley Taylor. He had watched over her, guided her actions, and made sure no harm came her way. And if he deterred an amorous male or two in the process, well, no one was the wiser. She deserved better than the horny wolves sniffing around her skirts.
Gabriel cleared his throat, bringing him back from his memories, his cheeks warming in embarrassment. One did not wander off, mentally or otherwise, when facing one of the archangels. They were God’s generals and oversaw the running of Heaven.
“Are you sure about this, Adriel? There’s no coming back from this.” Gabriel’s blue gaze drilled into him.
“You would give it all up, for a human you don’t even know? What if she turns you away? Did you stop to think that maybe you aren’t her destined mate? Perhaps there’s a shifter out there, maybe even a wolf in the pack, who has been biding his time to claim her.”
He felt a growl rumble out of him before he could think better of it. “No one will touch her! Kinley is mine!”
“If you go through with this,” Gabriel said, “your only way back into Heaven is to live a life without sin. I can read your thoughts, Adriel. You’ve already sinned over and over in your mind. If you do this, you may never see Heaven again. Are you willing to take that chance?”
He stiffened his spine, lifted his chin, and stared Gabriel right in the eyes. “Yes. I’d rather have one lifetime with Kinley, than an eternity without her.”
Gabriel sighed. “Very well.”
Adriel held still as Gabriel reached out and placed his fingers against his forehead. There was a warmth that suffused him from head to toe; then, the world tilted. Heaven fell away, and Adriel was free-falling to Earth, his wish having been granted. Pointing his feet toward the ground, he landed with a thud that vibrated through his whole body. There was a slight indention in the ground as he moved toward the road in front of him.
To the left, lay an open two-lane highway with nothing but trees and hills. To the right, the most beautiful thing he’d seen yet today–Welcome to Ashton Grove. He smiled at the sign and began walking toward town. Now that he was here, he didn’t have a plan. He couldn’t very well walk up to Kinley, declare himself her mate, and cart her off to the nearest bedroom, much as he’d love to. It just didn’t work that way.
As he meandered the streets of Ashton Grove, he found himself on the doorstep of none other than Colin Tierney. He shouldn’t be surprised, really. He’d gotten to know Colin rather well when they prepared for the war. Maybe the wolf would have some idea as to what he should do. Adriel had nothing – no clothes, no money, no job. Heck, he didn’t even know where he was going to sleep tonight. Perhaps this hadn’t been the best laid out plan ever, but he was here now, and he wasn’t leaving anytime soon. Not unless the pack forbade him from seeing Kinley. He hadn’t thought of that before.
He rang the bell and waited patiently. When the door opened, a tousled Colin answered, and he winced, realizing he’d probably interrupted a rather delicate time for the couple. It was nightfall, after all.
“Adriel,” Colin asked, his brow furrowed, “What are you doing here?”
“I’m not exactly certain. I just started walking, and this is where my feet led me.”
“A lot has changed since we last saw one another.”
Colin shoved the door open further. “I think you should come in. Kendall will be happy to see you.”
Adriel wiped his feet on the mat and brushed past the wolf. The last time he’d been in their home, it hadn’t been under the best of circumstances. Now, he took the time to look around, taking in his surroundings. The furnishings were comfortable; their home, inviting. He could see Kendall’s subtle touches here and there, in a vase of flowers or set of knick knacks–things only a woman would think to add.
“Why don’t you have a seat?” Colin gestured. “I’ll go get Kendall.”
Adriel obligingly made himself comfortable on the sofa, . He was starting to wonder how he was going to pull this off. When he’d asked to be made human, he hadn’t thought about his daily needs. Having been created an angel, he’d never had to eat or drink, never had to worry about a roof over his head, or a change of clothes. What could one of God’s soldiers possibly do here on Earth? He no longer had any of his heavenly powers or connections. He was human, with all that that entailed.
Kendall stepped into the room, giving him a warm, welcoming smile.
“Adriel, it’s so nice to see you.”
He rose and gave her a hug. “It’s good to see you, too. I’m sorry to just show up on your doorstep like this, uninvited and unannounced.”
“You’re always welcome in our home,” she responded.
“What brings you back to Ashton Grove?” Colin asked. “There aren’t more demons coming, are there?”
“No. Nothing like that. At least, not that I know of.”
Colin laughed. “And here I thought you knew everything.”
Adriel rubbed the back of his neck. “Not anymore. I’ve sort of been expelled from Heaven.”
Kendall’s eyes widened. “Expelled? But… what did you do?”
“I asked to be made human, so I could be with someone special.”
Colin smiled broadly. “You’re in love? How splendid! Who’s the lucky lady? Anyone we know?”
“Yes. Well… about that. She doesn’t know me, has never met me. Not officially, anyway. I’m sure she knows of me, but…” He sighed. “I’m in love with a woman who doesn’t know I exist.”
“You gave up Heaven for someone you don’t even know?” Kendall asked. “Adriel, how could you do such a thing? What happens if she never returns your love?”
“Then, I’ll have given it all up for nothing,” he said softly. “But I have to try. The moment I saw her, I knew she was special, that I wanted to be with her. Angels have been left to roam the world for far less than falling in love. At least I had a good reason to become human.”
Moonlight Protector – Ashton Grove Werewolves, Book 1
Cole Andrews, biologist by trade and werewolf by blood, is tired of being alone. He and his two brothers live in the large Victorian home that had belonged to their parents. He’s always wanted to find his mate and start a family. Now that he’s in his thirties, he’s starting to give up hope. He’s already seen all of the women available in his small town of Ashton Grove and so far none of them are “the one.”
Marin Thomas is fleeing for her life. After being abducted and held hostage, she is determined to escape the maniac once and for all. Stealing his car, she travels as far and as fast as she can – until a car accident lands her in some woods near Ashton Grove, Georgia. Fighting for her very life, she finds herself begging a wolf for help.
Is Marin the mate that Cole has been waiting for? Or will she end up with one of his brothers? One sniff tells him that she belongs to his pack. The only question that remains is who will win her heart?
Moonlight Hero – Ashton Grove Werewolves, Book 2
Alpha werewolf Gabriel Andrews is stunned when his mate comes bursting through the door of his garage. Running from a ravenous vampire, Kiera is happy to see the hot mechanic. A confrontation between the couple and the vampire forces Gabriel to announce Kiera as his mate. When the vampire throws down the gauntlett, demanding that Gabriel and Kiera marry in order to prove that she’s really the alpha’s mate, Gabriel is only too happy to agree. Kiera on the other hand has her doubts. Coming from a small town in Tennessee where werewolves do not assocaite with other shifters, the little werefox can’t believe that Gabriel could really want her in his life.
Will these two have a happily ever after? Or will Kiera’s past life and an angry vampire keep them apart?
Moonlight Guardian – Ashton Grove Werewolves, Book 3
Michael Andrews is the last of his brothers to find his mate. He’s played it tough, trying to convince his family that a mate is the last thing he wants, that he enjoys having a different woman every week. In reality, he’s afraid. He wants to find his mate and thinks he may already have, but what if he won’t be a good husband? Maybe he just isn’t made to love someone.
Chloe Stevens is on her last leg. She found a guy she thought was great, only to end up pregnant and have the guy vanish into thin air. Then she lost her job and consequently, her car. Now she’s facing eviction. Five months pregnant, no job, no car, and now no home have forced Chloe to do the one thing she swore she wouldn’t… contact the father of her baby. She may have just been a fling to Michael, but their few days together had meant more to her.
When a pregnant Chloe shows up looking for Michael, he’s stunned to find out that he’s going to be a father. It appears that fate is determined to put the woman in his path. But is Michael willing to fight for Chloe when another werewolf decides to claim her?
Moonlight Champion – Ashton Grove Werewolves, Book 4
The last thing Connor Tierney expected was to have his mate dumped in his lap – literaly! After a hard day at work, Connor is relaxing when Aislinn Walsh materializes in a ray of light. Seeing at once that she’s injured, he does all he can to help her.
Aislinn has been married to an abusive husband for the past year. When she finds out she’s in Aston Grove, she finds it unbelievable. Even more unbelievable is the handsome man taking care of her. Claiming to be her mate, does she date trust him with her heart? She’s been waiting a long time for a knight in shining armor. Little did she realize it would be a night in furry armor!
Purchase this set today for $8.99 and save $6! Be sure to check out the prequel to the series if you like ghostly romances.
Book 6 in the Ashton Grove Werewolves series releases this month! I know it’s been a long time coming, and hopefully you won’t be disappointed. I struggled with this one, deleting it and starting over several times. I know some people are going to be angry with me by the end of the book, but just remember that everything happens for a reason.
The Ashton Grove pack has been on the verge of war for months, and now the time has arrived. The Skulls of Hell are on their way to the small sleepy Georgia town with destruction on their minds. But a new voice in the pack wants to know why.
Kendall Wright has lost one battle with the Skulls already and she isn’t anxious to face them again, but as Colin’s mate she knows it’s her place to fight by his side. But if she’s going to forfeit her life for the good of the pack, she wants to know why.
Colin has to admit his mate brings up a good point. Why travel such a great distance to wipe out a small pack of werewolves? There’s nothing special about the Ashton Grove pack, or is there? Can the mystery be solved before the war begins?
Kendall leaned against her car and tried to get a signal on her phone. She was stranded in the middle of nowhere with no way to contact anyone. Her car had died and refused to start again. She fought the urge to smack her phone against the car. Not only did she not have any reception, her 4G was out as well. Not that the internet did her much good, but at least she could’ve emailed her friend and hoped he got the message. If it hadn’t been daylight, she would’ve just shifted and found the nearest town. Then again, she’d be naked when she shifted back so maybe that wasn’t such a great idea.
Just when she was giving up hope, she heard a loud engine. Shading her eyes from the sun, she smiled when she saw a large truck rumbling her way. With any luck, the owner would be a guy. A guy knowledgeable about cars, she amended. Maybe she’d be on her way in no time!
The truck pulled over to the side of the road just behind her car. But as the doors opened, she realized her mistake. She should’ve waited for them inside her car. Now she was in the open and exposed. She watched as five of the hardest looking men she’d ever seen got out of the vehicle. Despite the hot June weather, three of them wore black leather jackets. She had a really horrible feeling about this.
The way they moved told her they were something other than human, but she wasn’t sure exactly what they could be. They didn’t smell like shifters. There was a foul, almost rancid, smell coming from them and it made her want to gag. She edged closer to the driver side door of her car, wondering if she could make it in time, but one look at the approaching men put a nix on that idea. They were too close and she had a feeling they were faster than they looked.
They circled her, penning her in, making her feel like a trapped animal. Her other half, her animal half, yowled in protest. She could shift, but that would only make her more vulnerable. Sure, she’d get in a few good licks, but her cat was small and they would overtake her quickly. There was little doubt in her mind that the more she fought them, the more pain they would inflict. Now that they were closer, she could see the evil lurking in their coal black eyes. There was only one type of being with eyes like that – a demon. The skull and crossbones on the front of the leather jackets gave her a clue as to who she was dealing with.
Fear snaked through her, seizing her. They tightened their circle, closing in until they were near enough to touch her. Her brain was telling her to flee, but her body was locked in place. A tremor ran down her spine, shaking her from head to toe as the leader reached out to touch her, running his fingers through her spiky red hair. Another ground against her from behind and she nearly wet herself. What were they going to do to her? Would she survive?
“Tie her up,” the leader commanded.
The demon behind her grabbed her hands, jerking them behind her back. Another produced a length of rope and tied them together, nearly cutting off her circulation. Next, they tied her feet and she was slung over someone’s shoulder and carried to the truck. Dumped in the bed of the truck, one of the demons launched himself into the back, presumably to keep an eye on her. As if she could escape like this! Bound as she was, it would be impossible for her to shift. Had they tied her on purpose, perhaps knowing she was a shapeshifter?
She stayed silent, not voicing the multitude of questions she had, doubting that she would receive any answers and would most likely be punished for daring to speak. Her heart raced as the worst possible scenarios tumbled through her mind, one following the other in rapid succession. They hadn’t gagged her, which meant they didn’t care if she screamed, perhaps even wanted her to. She didn’t know a lot about demons, but what little knowledge she did have told her she didn’t have a prayer of escaping. They would torture her, and possibly kill her, but one thing was certain, she would not give up her soul. With there being five of them, chances were, they didn’t even want it. Which meant they’d captured her strictly for torture.
Bile rose in the back of her throat and she forced it down. She didn’t want to show any signs of weakness, no more than she already had. They would try to break her, and if she gave in too soon, if they thought for one moment they’d already accomplished their task, her life would be forfeit. And she wanted to live! Oh how she wanted to live. There was so much she hadn’t done yet, so many places to see, people to meet. There weren’t many who would miss her if she were to disappear. She had one close friend at home, a guy that really fell into the “friends with benefits” category, but there was no love between them. She’d never been in love and the thought saddened her.
She felt the truck bump along and looked up. The sky gave nothing away, but the position of the sun seemed off. Had they gone off-road? She broke out in a sweat at the thought of being taken further into the desert, where no one would hear her, no one would find her. They would be completely isolated, left to do to her whatever they pleased without interference. Not that a mere human could stop them even if they tried. No, maybe it was better this way. At least she would be the only one at their mercy.
After what seemed like hours, but was surely only twenty minutes or so, the truck came to a stop. The demon beside her rose and hefted her over his shoulder. Once more, she was looking at the world upside down, mostly seeing his denim-clad rear. A sight that made her ill. After stepping around a cactus and a small rock formation, she was dropped, her bones rattling as she landed on the hard ground.
Looking around, she resigned herself to her fate. They’d bolted manacles in the rocks, the perfect way to detain their prey, and an assortment of tools lay nearby. The sight of a branding iron made her flinch and she hoped and prayed that she either passed out before they used it, or that her life would cease before then. She didn’t think she could handle the pain of such torture. The other items didn’t look pleasant either, but they didn’t terrify her as much as the thought of her flesh burning, of being marked for all eternity as their plaything.
One of the demons, whom she’d come to call demon 3 in her mind, cut the ropes binding her and dragged her over to the rock. Snapping the manacles in place, he ripped her shirt, dropping the shredded garment to the ground. Cutting her jeans from her body, he gave her a salacious look that made her skin crawl. Left bare except for her skimpy bra and panties, she shivered in anticipation of the atrocities yet to come.
Demon 2 picked up a long whip, the kind she’d always associated with cattle drives and cowboys, and flicked it, making it snap. She flinched, unable to stop the involuntary motion. Demon 4 picked up a large knife that looked like it had been sharpened to within an inch of its life. The others settled in, obviously wanting to observe, and more than likely wait their turn. She didn’t doubt for one minute that this was only the beginning.
The whip sang through the air, the crack making her tense, waiting for the pain to begin. The next flick sent it across her tender stomach, leaving a long red welt in its wake. Kendall clenched her teeth, determined not to utter a single whimper or cry of pain. The whip whistled through the air again, landing across her right breast. She ground her teeth and bit her tongue, each lashing making it harder and harder to keep quiet.
The whip kissed her flesh again and again, harder each time until it drew blood. Demon 4 licked his lips and moved in closer. She knew the real pain was about to begin. The closest she’d ever come to pain was a broken ankle when she was a kid, courtesy of a trip off a trampoline, and a bad cut to her palm when she tried to stop her forward momentum by slamming her hand into a window pane. None of that compared to now. She wasn’t sure anything could have prepared her for this.
The first cut was small, down the inside of her right arm, and made her hiss, despite her intent to remain silent. The demon grinned even bigger, his eyes growing even darker, if such a thing was possible. The blade of the knife caressed her breasts, but didn’t break the skin. He moved down her abdomen and made a vertical cut that stopped just shy of her navel.
Silent screams echoed in her head, making her ears ring. The taste of blood filled her mouth from biting her tongue so hard. The knife moved down her body, sliding over her panties. She broke out in chills just thinking of the damage he could do to her there, but he moved on. Digging the tip of the knife into her upper thigh, he broke the skin and sliced downward, leaving a four-inch gash in her leg.
Unable to stop herself, she whimpered and jerked at the manacles. The demon threw back his head and laughed before tossing the knife aside. She watched as he sat and another rose in his place. The leader brought her worst fears to life. Picking up the branding iron, he plunged the hard metal into an open flame nearby. She watched in absolute terror as the metal turned orange. When the demon was satisfied it was hot enough, he removed it from the fire and approached her, an unholy light in his eyes, his lips twisted in a sneer.
“Not going to make any noise, are you?” he taunted. “We’ll just see about that.”
Placing his meaty hand on her ribs, he held her still as he placed the red-hot iron against the skin of her hip. Kendall did the only thing she could. She screamed long and loud until the pain overtook her and she blacked out.
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