Authors: Terry Spear
Copyright © 2008 by Terry Spear
Cover and internal design © 2008 by Sourcebooks, Inc.
Cover photo © Corbis
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Published by Sourcebooks Casablanca
an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc.
P.O. Box 4410
Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410
Fax: (630) 961-2168
Printed and bound in the United States of America
To my mother, daughter, and son with all my love for their support in my writing endeavors.
To Deb Werksman, who believed in the world I created and gave me the chance to share my story. And to my critique partners who have been there every step of the way. Thanks Rebel Romance Writers, Vonda, Judy, Pam, Randy, Tammy, Carol, Betty, and Darcy!
As soon as he stripped naked, he’d be hers.
Unbraiding her hair, Bella’s blood heated with desire while she observed the dark-haired boy. He looked about eighteen, two years older than she. He yanked off one boot, then another, at the lake’s edge. It wasn’t the first time she’d watched him peel out of his clothes, but it
the first time she’d join him. If he had a taste of her, wouldn’t he crave her? Hunger to be like her? Wild and free?
She swallowed hard, longing to be Devlyn’s mate — rather than some human’s — but it would never be. Lifting her chin, she resolved to make the human hers. She untied her ankle-high boots, then slipped them off her feet.
The human boy’s pet gray wolf rested at the shoreline, his ears perked up as he watched her. But the boy didn’t see her — he was unobservant, as most humans were.
However, a boy who cared for his wolf such as he did would care for her, too, wouldn’t he? He’d studied her when she swam here before, naked, splashing lazily across the water’s surface, attempting to draw him to her. Though he’d tried to conceal himself in the woods, she’d seen him. And heard him with her sensitive hearing when he stepped on dried oak leaves and pine needles to draw closer, to see her more clearly. She’d smelled his heady man-scent on the breeze. He’d desired her then, setting her belly afire; he’d desire her now.
Tilting her nose up, she breathed in his masculinity. Masculine but not as wild as her own kind —
A human who treated a woman with kindness, that’s what she desired.
She tugged her pale blue dress over her head, struggling to shed her clothes as quickly as she could now. Wanting to get her plan into motion, before she changed her mind, or one of the pack tried to change it for her.
Adopted by the gray pack, she wasn’t even a gray wolf. So why should it matter if she left them and chose the human boy for her own? Volan, the gray alpha pack leader, wanted her, that’s why. Her stomach clenched with the thought that the man who’d nearly raped her would have her if she couldn’t find a way out of the nightmare.
The human pulled off his breeches. A boy, still not well muscled, but well on his way. A survivor, living on his own, that’s what intrigued her so much about him. A loner — like a rogue wolf — determined to endure.
Only in her heart, she desired the gray who’d saved her life when they were younger — Devlyn. Even now she had difficulty not comparing his rangy, taller body with this boy’s. They had the same dark hair and eyes, which maybe explained why the human had attracted her. She wanted Devlyn with all her heart, but craving his attention would only result in Volan killing him. Best to leave the pack and mate with a human, cut her ties with the grays, and start her own pack.
She’d watched the human ride, run, hunt with his rifle, but she admired him most when he swam. Her gaze dropped lower to the patch of dark hair resting above his legs and...
She raised her brows. A thrill of expectation of having his manhood buried deep inside her sent a tingling of gooseflesh across her skin. If her drawers hadn’t been crotchless, they’d have been wet in anticipation. She smiled at the sight of him. He’d produce fine offspring.
He dove into the water with a splash. With powerful strokes he glided across the placid surface of the small, summer-warmed lake. She slipped out of her last petticoat, then her drawers. Without a stitch of clothes on, she stood on the opposite shore, waiting for him to catch sight of her. Wouldn’t he yearn for her like her own kind did?
She had to entice him to make love to her. Then she’d change into the wolf and bite him. And transfer the beauty of the wolf to him in the ancient way.
Running her fingers through her cinnamon curls, she fanned them over her shoulders, down to her hips.
They’d live together in his log cabin, taking jaunts through the woods in their wolf states under the bright moon forever. His mother, father, and little sister had died during the winter, and none of his kind lived within a fifteen-mile radius. He’d want her — he had to. Like her wolf pack, most humankind desired companionship.
She stepped into the water.
Then he caught sight of her.
His dark eyes widened and his mouth dropped open. But he didn’t swim toward her as she expected. He didn’t come for her, ravish her as she wanted. His eyes inspected every bit of her, but then he turned and swam away from her, back to the shore and his clothes. What was wrong with him?
Her mind warred between anger and confusion. Didn’t he find her appealing?
She swam toward him, trying to reach the shore before he dressed and headed back to his cabin. But by the time she reached the lake halfway, he’d jerked on his breeches and boots, not even bothering with his shirt or vest, and vanished into the woods with his wolf at his heel.
In disbelief, she stared after him.
“Bella!” the leader of her pack hollered, his voice forbidding and warlike.
She snapped her head around. Her heart nearly stopped when she saw the gray leader.
Volan stood like a predator waiting for the right time to go after his prey. His ebony hair was bound tight, and his black eyes narrowed. As a wolf, he was heavyset, broad-shouldered and thick-necked, the leader by virtue of his size, powerful jaws, and wicked killer canines. But now he stood as a man, his thoughts darker than night, his face menacing as he considered her swimming naked in the lake.
Did the boy get away in time, before Volan caught sight of him? How could she be so naive as to think that Volan would let her have a human male?
She paddled in place and glared at him. “What do you want, Volan?” she growled back, unable to hold a civil tongue whenever he stood near.
“Come out at once!”
He turned his head toward the woods.
Had he smelled the human? Her heart rate quickened. She swam back to her clothes, determined to draw his attention away from the boy.
Then she spied Devlyn, watching, half hidden in the shadows of the forest, as if he and the pack leader were maneuvering in for the kill. A pang of regret sliced through her that Devlyn might have seen her lusting after a human. Three years older than she, he still vied for his place within the pack. A strap of leather tied back his coffee-colored, shoulder-length hair, and she fought the urge to set it free, to soften his harsh look. His equally dark brown eyes glowered at her, while his sturdy jaw clenched.
He stepped closer, not menacingly, but as if he stalked a deer and feared scaring away his prey. She raised a brow. This time, he seemed to have Volan’s permission to draw close.
She growled. “Stay away.” Wading out of the water, she distracted Volan from considering the woods or who might have disappeared into them. Devlyn, too, eyed her with far too much interest.
She hurried to slip into her clothes, irritated to have the wrong audience. Still, the way Devlyn closed in on her, only keeping a few feet from her until she was dressed, while Volan remained a hundred yards away, sent a trickle of dread through her.
Volan never allowed males to get close to her when she was naked, and normally she wouldn’t have permitted it either. So what were they up to? She left her wet hair loose, then Volan nodded.
As soon as he signaled to Devlyn, her heart skipped a beat, but she didn’t react quickly enough. Devlyn surged forward and grabbed her wrist. In the same instant, Volan charged in the direction of the woods where the young man had disappeared.
“Volan!” she screamed.
He intended to murder the boy. Only
had really killed him, as surely as if she’d ripped out his throat herself. Wanting to save him, she struggled to free herself from Devlyn. “Let me go!”
He gripped her wrist tighter and hurried her toward their village.
“He didn’t do anything!”
Devlyn glared at her, his eyes unforgiving, blacker than she’d ever seen them. Anger smoldered in the depths. An anger she couldn’t understand.
“Please,” she pleaded, trying to soften his heart.
She tried to break free, and he wrenched her back to his side. “You’re a fool, Bella.”
“I won’t be Volan’s mate!”
For an instant, Devlyn’s grasp on her arm lessened. Then he tightened his grip again. “You have no choice. And after what you’ve done here, he won’t wait any longer.”
Was there regret in his voice? God, how she wanted him to save her from Volan... to be her mate.
A howl sounded in the distance, and she sank to her knees. Volan had murdered the young man and shouted his actions to the world with great pleasure.
Devlyn yanked her from the ground and hurried her on their way.
“You won’t ever leave the pack, Devlyn. You’ll always be nothing but a follower!” She hadn’t meant to say the hurtful words, but the anger she harbored simmered red-hot, like molten lava beneath the surface. “Why can’t you run with me? Why can’t you take me for your own somewhere far from here?”
He glared at her. “They’re my family. They’ll always be my family. Something you don’t comprehend, apparently.”
“I — I thought you felt something for me.”
Devlyn pulled her to a stop and grabbed her shoulders. “It can never be between us! Volan would hunt us down, both of us. What kind of a life would that be? He’d kill our offspring, too. Is that what you want? Maybe if I’d been older, stronger, but now he won’t wait to have you.” He shook his head. “Dammit, Bella, as far as the human was concerned, he wouldn’t have wanted you! Can’t you see that? If he’d seen you changed, he would have been repulsed. If he could have discovered a way, he’d have killed you.” He held her tightly, staring into her eyes with a mixture of anger and hunger. “You know what I want from you.”
He was hard and smelled of sex. She sensed that his hormones raged, urging him to mount her. Her breath came quickly as she desired his attentions, but feared them, too. Feared them because of what Volan would do to Devlyn if Volan caught him lusting after her. She’d never seen Devlyn so outwardly angry, so filled with venom — so sexually alive.
“You could smell his putrid fear, woman!” He pulled her against his body and kissed her hard on the mouth, no teasing or waiting for her approval — just pure lust, conquering and decisive. And she loved him, every bit of the dangerous and feral
that he was.