working at the shelter. With her new sister-in-law taking over the Yuletide
Gathering, it’s run for the hills or wind up covered in glitter. What she
doesn’t anticipate is her brother lining up yet another in a long string of
bodyguards. She might be a wolf who can’t shift, but that doesn’t mean she
needs anyone’s protection. When things heat up during the festivities, she
finds herself face to face with the one man who just might hold the key to her
of hybrid wolves, not a babysitting gig for the spoiled sister of the Westmore
Pack Alpha. But when Thorne sets eyes on the curvy brunette, he finds a fierce
beauty with a soft interior just begging to be tamed, and he’s just the
gargoyle to do it.
Thorne sat across the desk from his new employer and tried unsuccessfully to shake away the incredulous feeling gnawing at his gut. He’d come to Westmore with the understanding that this would be a two-week Ops mission to locate and destroy the violent hybrid wolves he’d been hearing about. They a role to play in his father’s death, he was certain of it, and now he could finally get the answers he was seeking and kill a few in the process. But, as he sat across from the Westmore Pack Alpha, he found himself staring at the man, completely disbelieving his ears.
“That wasn’t the job.”
“I want her protected.” Thorne met Carrick’s eyes, and Thorne struggled to hold in his frustration. This was why he’d been brought to the famed Westmore Estate? The Alpha was legendary for taking down his predecessors with nothing but brains and his own two hands…but to suggest he babysit a female? He was no one’s nanny.
“You want me to be a bodyguard? For a woman?” Thorne sputtered and erupted from the chair, stalking to the window. He kept one eye on the comings and goings outside and another on the man behind the desk. Thorne had come at night, as requested, to see the estate at its most vulnerable. What he hadn’t expected was to be insulted.
“Not just a woman. My sister. And the job is a trial period for two weeks.”
The Alpha thrummed his fingers on the desk. “We’ll talk about that if you’re still here.”
What the hell was that supposed to mean?
The door opened and another man entered, closing it behind him. Thorne eyed the man and waited to be introduced. The pinched look of the other man’s mouth and worry lines in his face indicated he cared about this woman. Interesting.
“Where is she?” the Alpha demanded.
“Probably at the shelter again. She’s not in her room and the guard at the front gate said she took off around eight this morning. Something about an adoption drive at Barks.”
“Thorne, this is Reid, my second in command.” Carrick ran his hand through his mane of dark hair and frowned. “Jesus, she knows I want her to be careful. I keep telling her to quit, but she won’t listen. After what happened with that fucking dragon…”
The other man, Reid, unconsciously rubbed at his arm.
“You were injured.” Thorne stepped away from the window and moved deeper into the room. He could sense their unease. Perhaps something more was happening here than met the eye.
Dragons? Now that was interesting.
“I was told there were hybrid wolves.”
“Originally, that was the contract. Yes.” Carrick rose from the chair, came around the desk, and leaned against it. “But we’ve come to find out that the previous alpha may still have some support out there.”
“A dragon?” Thorne raised an eyebrow. Dragon kind and Night Wing gargoyles were not on friendly terms. Territorial disputes in his homeland had made them natural enemies. But here? That would remain to be seen. Not that he would mind tangling with one.
“An old bastard of a firefighter, too. Seemed like he was setting more blazes at the end rather than putting them down.” Carrick’s lips thinned and his jaw clenched. “He endangered the life of my mate.”
Thorne considered the Alpha carefully.
“If you’ve rooted him out, then why am I here?”
“He’s not the only one,” Reid bit out. “We know there are more out there. What remains to be seen are when and where they choose to rear their ugly heads.”
“Why don’t you go to them?” It seemed a simple question, but the shuttered looks from the men in front of him stopped the suggestion before it could go any further.
“The Yule Gathering is coming and I want no complications. Likely as not, there are more of them out there and I won’t take a chance with my mate, my sister, or my pack. I spoke with your last employer and he said you were the best, most unobtrusive operative he had.”
And Thorne could find the creatures the Alpha sought. All he had to do was give the command.
Thorne wasn’t boasting. It was the truth. People paid for his work and paid him well.
“Good,” Reid snorted. “If you’re tailing Jess, you’re going to need it.”
“Is she your mate, this…Jess?”
“No.” A shade of pink crept up the sides of the other man’s face. “More like…a sister, if you want to know the truth.”
The Alpha sighed. “And she’s stubborn.”
The two men glanced at each other, a pregnant pause filling the room. Any information withheld could jeopardize Thorne meeting whatever goal they had in mind.
“What aren’t you telling me?”
“Her last bodyguard didn’t make it longer than a day.” Carrick closed his eyes, a twitch of humor playing at his lips.
This ought to be good.
“May I ask why?”
“He, ugh…went up in flames.” Reid coughed, but underneath the sound Thorne was certain he heard a note of laughter.
“What did she do, torch him?”
“Not exactly.” Carrick cleared his throat and turned his face away in what Thorne was sure was an effort to compose himself.
Were they hinting he couldn’t handle a woman? It didn’t sound like she needed protection in the least.
Thorne’s lips curved up in a humorless smile. “If she’s such a force of nature, then why the protection? I thought your females were fierce.”
Reid met Carrick’s gaze and the Alpha cleared his throat until his second glanced away, his eyes finding Thorne’s.
“She can’t shift.” The Alpha sighed.
Reid crossed his arms over his chest. “Won’t shift. There’s a difference. She can but she doesn’t want to.”
“I don’t accept that.” Carrick pushed off from the desk and went to the window.
“Well, you’d better start. You and I both know that bastard damaged her. She may be strong for a female, but her wolf is broken,” Reid replied, his tone filled with frustration.
Thorne’s stomach lurched at the thought. To hear that her beast had been harmed was unacceptable. War with men he understood well, but not females. Women being abused made his skin crawl. He’d seen much in his line of work, but that was one thing he would not tolerate. It took a good bit of doing to squelch an animal. He should know.
“You’ve heard what took place here? What the previous alpha did? The atrocities and the genetic experiments?” Reid asked with a bitter twist of his lips.
“I have. The overthrow of the previous regime was unavoidable. Your prowess in battle is legendary.” He nodded to Carrick in a show of respect. He’d found the main source but some of the tendrils remained. And he fucking wanted to tear out the rest of them by the roots. That was why he came here.
Reid shook his head. “That’s not what I mean. He took them…the girls. The women. He…”
“Stop.” Carrick’s voice was strained and his stance was tense. “We don’t need to hash out any of the details.”
award-winning and bestselling author who loves to write naughty stories. She is
the author of Lipstick, Crave, Snow (Three Times More Lucky Box Set),
Malediction (A Wicked Halloween Box Set), Map of Bones (A Wicked Affair Box
Set), Sanguine Shadows (Vampire Bites Box Set), The Science of Lust, Wicked for
You, Heart’s Protector, Burning for You, Taming the Beast, Mistletoe Kisses,
Surrender, Under Cover of Darkness (2017), Three for Two (2017), Hedging Her
Bets, Cat’s Got Her Tongue (Alpha Heat Box Set), Kitten Around (upcoming),
Torment (Feb 2017), Arcane Imaginarium: Spirit Board, Holidays in Hell,
Mallory’s Mark (upcoming),The Devil’s Due (upcoming), Charity Benshaw’s Enchanted
Paddle Emporium (upcoming), Club Beam, Pomegranate, A Red Dress for Christmas,
The Black Magic Café, Sweet Seductions, The Erotic Pagans Series: Beltane
Fires, Samhain Shadows and Yuletide Temptation along with being a contributor
to many anthologies. She lives in Texas with her husband, furry children and
can often be found lurking in local bookstores. She loves to bake, make naughty
crochet projects and watch monster movies.