Ignorant of his true heritage, half-breed Slade Donovan is fated to feel like an outsider among his clan. Until a mysterious woman arrives with the ability to unlock his secrets--and make him crave a future he never believed he could have....
As a game warden, Raina Ravenwing has only one mission in the Cascade Mountains: to hunt down a pack of rare wolves that is terrorizing her tribe. Her instant attraction to Slade is a distraction the beautiful wolf whisperer can't afford, unless she agrees to let him help her. Yet working so closely together only intensifies their passion...even as the unfolding truth of Slade's identity threatens everything Raina holds sacred.
Something big and dark slipped into the shadows at the tree line, disappearing from view among the jagged rocks.
Slade Donovan lowered the throwing star he'd been prepared to let fly if the animal had moved any closer. It'd been too big for a coyote. Maybe a cougar? But it hadn't smelled like one. It had smelled...like wolf.
Overhead the crescent moon sliced through dark scudding clouds. Rain was coming in tonight on a cool wind. The scents of ocean and wet fir trees blew in gusts across the Puget Sound through Snoqualmie Pass, rustling Slade's dark hair with invisible fingers.
He pocketed the metal star and crouched into lurk mode. Two more hours and his shift would be over. He glanced back at the waxing moon. They'd already had one full moon this month. And, lucky him, there was another on its way.
The vamp doctors at Cascade Clan headquarters couldn't explain his moon sickness. Shaking sweats. Feeling like his skin was about to split into ribbons. An ache in his fangs so bad Slade had seriously contemplating having the bitches pulled, if growing them back in wouldn't have been just as painful.
Lots of agony, but no explanations.
It didn't help that he had nothing to go on as far as medical records or family history. His first memory had been of waking up in Seattle alone and terrified. For two years he roamed the streets. He'd been eightish they figured. The vampires of the Cascade Clan had taken him in and trained him as a Shyeld, until he was old enough to decide if he wanted to become one of them. He hadn't been too keen on finding out exactly how or why he'd been thrown away in the first place. He was more of a live-in-the-moment kind of guy.
Slade rolled his tight shoulders, the tension the moon brought out in him already coiling there. He forced himself to relax. He needed to think positively. The full moon would come and it would go. The pain and agony would pass, just like it always did.
He scanned the darkness for whatever had been lurking there a few minutes before, and wondered what kind of creature would be out here hunting in the woods. He was fortunate he didn't have the security team day shift. That one sucked. He'd done that a time or two and ended up with the mother of all migraines the next night and a sunburn he doubted he could have prevented even if he'd slathered on SPF one million. Working out in the sunlight wasn't fun when you were a vampire, but it could be done.
He was just grateful he had the night shift, which, hell, had its own problems.
Behind him the wind shifted for a moment. His nose filled with the scent of predator, wet dog, but more feral, and the odd scent of something sweet and feminine, close. A pack of whatever those creatures were was inching toward him from what had been downwind until a second ago.
As the hair on the back of his neck lifted in warning, he slid two fingers into his pocket and pulled out his throwing star.
A shadow darted through the base of the trees, followed quickly by two more. He heard their guttural growls and yips to one another, a language he could somehow understand, although he'd left that little tidbit out when talking to the clan doctors. Moon sickness was enough of an oddity among vampires. No need to be thought of as an even bigger freak.
"Think we can take the bloodsucker?"
A loud sniff. "There's only the one. Easy."
"But what if he's the one Bracken's been searching for?"
"Then all the better. We kill him now, quick and clean, before he can disrupt the pack."
The wind shifted again and the scents disappeared, but Slade readied himself,...