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Strained

Purple Sword Publications, LLC

Heat Rating: STEAMY
Word Count: 78,967
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Loving wife, protector, werewolf hunter. It’s what I do.

Alexa is keeping a secret from her husband and being half werewolf isn't it. After all, he’s a full-blood and doesn't care that there are those who think their union is an abomination. Despite their abnormalities, the Yorks have settled into suburbia and gone out of their way to look like the couple next door. Their ruse may have fooled an entire community, but not the Georgia Pack.

The Yorks have encroached on their territory. Most interlopers end up dead, especially when the bounties on their heads invite stalkers, killers, and psychos to collect. Despite the trouble the Yorks have brought with them, the domestic suburbanites have intrigued the pack.

Alexa’s less domestic than she seems. Eight months ago, her bounty hunting club disbanded after several team members lost their lives in an ambush. Since then, the club has reemerged and is expecting Alexa to take her rightful place among the ranks.

Keeping the truth from her husband about her extracurricular activities will strain the Yorks’ marriage and risk everything they’ve worked hard for. But, that’s the price Alexa pays when her deception becomes deadlier than her aim. A deception that also keeps her alive.

Excerpt

Melissa DuBois served one diner patron after another. When not carrying a large tray or more than one drink in her hands, her free hand guarded her pregnant belly as she skirted around the tables.
Between the dark circles under her eyes, dark brown stragglers of hair sticking out from her limp ponytail, and her pale complexion, it was obvious that nobody gave a damn about her. A real werewolf mate would’ve kept his wife like an expensive china doll, stashed away so that she could give birth to her baby or babies in comfort and secrecy. Given that the humans knew nothing of our existence that would be best for all.
Two weeks ago, our anonymous employer had put a bounty on her pack because one too many motorists had turned up missing after resting up in one of the four motels in the area. The police suspicions grew, but they didn’t have any leads other than the fact that the culprits stayed the night. The Seattle Pack noticed, but didn’t want to chance taking down six rogues. Not when rogues usually traveled alone or in pairs. This type of an extermination required specialists like our hunting club. Although, at times like this, I preferred to call us money-hungry lunatics, since the bounty was only part of the payment. The rest came from selling the pelts on the supernatural black market.
I finished the last of my tea. If I had to stay here one more hour and suck down another cup, I’d turn into Earl Grey himself. Rather than allow me to take my usual sniper position, Dane had given me this task because of the delicacy involved. A woman-to-woman sort of thing. Not only that, but pups were sacred to our species as a whole, regardless of if their parents were rapscallions or not.
A crash brought my attention to Melissa.
“What the hell is wrong with you?” the greasy cook shouted from the kitchen. “Can’t you navigate those big feet without dropping things on the floor?”
“Go to hell, Rob!” She crouched to pick up the broken pieces of glass and plates.
“I’m already there.” He slammed his fat hand on the bell. “Pick up!”
Between the shouting from the kitchen and a table of rowdy kids clapping at her distress, it was a wonder that her nerves hadn’t cracked, turning her into a werewolf on the spot.
As she bent over to pick up more glass shards, a dirty hand patted her ass.
“It’s okay, precious. Don’t let that man talk to you like that.” The gray-haired man more than twice her age chuckled so much that he went into a coughing fit.
Anger licked through me. Target or not, how dare those bastards touch her? No female werewolf was to be touched by any man without the approval of her mate. Heck, the more I stayed here, the more I wanted to leave and hunt her jerk of a mate down myself for making her go through this kind of humiliation. It wasn’t right. My husband would’ve broken the guy’s arm on the spot. I guess not everyone could be married to Matthieu York.
“Quit it.” She slapped the man away. “You son of a bitch. Keep your filthy paws to yourself.”
“By the way,” the cook shouted from the kitchen again. “That shit’s coming out of your pay.”
“Aren’t you supposed to be in hell, Gordon?” She finished picking up the pieces before storming behind the counter to empty them in the garbage. “If you left your perverts at the door, one of them wouldn’t have left their limp-ass leg for me to trip over.”
Sniggers broke out among the patrons.
“Watch your mouth. Then again, if you could do that, then your ass wouldn’t be waddling from one table to the other.”
“I hope you rot while you’re in hell. I’m taking my break.” She tossed the tray on the counter and wiped her hands on her apron.
A quick jerk of her head and her gaze met mine. It was as though her tense hazel eyes saw down to my tripping heart. Well, knowing what I knew about werewolves, I couldn’t let her intimidate me. Besides, she knew who and what I was the second I had walked through the door more than an hour ago. All werewolves identified me by my scent alone, thanks to its uniqueness. I was half werewolf and half human, also known as a human hybrid.
I tossed more than enough money on the table to take care of my tea and the half of a ham sandwich I had eaten before following her out the door. When I got outside, my heart skipped to my throat because she had disappeared.
Calm down, Lex. Use your nose, girl.
I lifted my head to the air for a quick sniff, and located her scent just around to the side of the building. Unfortunately, that side of the building didn’t have any windows for the patrons to see us.
I reached under my black vest—tailor-made to carry things like arrows, knives, and anything else that could protect my butt—and pulled out a Bowie knife about a foot long from tip to hilt. If silver bullets worked on werewolves, I would have bought stock in a silver company by now.
Werewolves weren’t like the ones on TV. They could die just like anyone else, silver not necessary. On that same note, a full moon was nothing more than a full moon. Some werewolves get a little more antsy than others, but the same would happen with three cups of coffee in one sitting. Newer wolves were more susceptible anyway.
Easing around the edge of the building, I gripped the leather hilt of my knife. I would’ve preferred my crossbow, but it might look a little awkward leaving it parked on the table next to my tea cup. Keeping the knife in front of me, I peeked around the corner.
Melissa stood with her back against the brick wall and her stomach looking about as large as a walrus belly. Seeing her with swelled ankles and a run-down look on her touched me with a hint of sadness. She shouldn’t be out here like this. She should be lauded for advancing the werewolf race. Not living like a worn-out whore underneath it. Oh, how her mate needed to have his head cut clean from the rest of his pathetic body.
“You have to get out of here.” She kept her attention turned toward the stars. “If my pack shows up, they’ll kill you.”
Did I hear her right? Was that a warning for me? I came here to do away with her because she was in league with a bunch of rogue devils, and she was warning me to leave town. What were the bad guys coming to these days?
“So, you know what I am?”
She lowered her gaze. “I don’t know anything. You smell like wolf, but...something’s not quite right.”
“Human hybrid.”