Blood Line

Noble Romance Publishing LLC

Heat Rating: No rating
Word Count: 75,000
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Truck driver Joshua Kaine and his wife, Jessie, enjoy the freedom of the open road, until the night Josh is attacked by a rabid dog. Josh kills the animal, but his and Jessie's troubles have only just begun.

Following the attack, Josh becomes deathly ill, but three weeks later he's feeling much better - much stronger - much more alive. When the moon rises full and bright, Josh experiences the change for the first time, his body morphing into that of a large, gray wolf. His appetite - for both food and sex - is enormous, and he spends every waking moment feeding his hunger.

Jessie doesn't know what's come over her husband, but she's not complaining. At least, not until a clan of werewolves comes after her and her family, intent upon seeking revenge for the death of their leader.

From a remote mountaintop to the swamps of Louisiana, Josh searches for a solution to their dilemma, but time is running out. When the absolute worst happens, Josh is forced to turn the tables and the hunted becomes the hunter.

Blood Line
0 Ratings (0.0)

Blood Line

Noble Romance Publishing LLC

Heat Rating: No rating
Word Count: 75,000
0 Ratings (0.0)
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Excerpt

Chapter One

The semi truck rolled down the back roads, its engine loud in the still of the night, echoing across the pastures. Joshua Kaine preferred to make his trips at night when there was less traffic. His wife, Jessie, rode with him and shared the driving, but tonight she sat staring out the window across pastures that slid quickly by. The moon was full, illuminating the fields, and she could see a black shape move in the dim light. A horse or cow, she thought, as the beast raised its head. Then, suddenly, the animal started moving, catching up to the truck easily, loping alongside the barbed wire fence at a steady pace.

"What is that?" Jessie asked, peering intently out the window. "A horse?"

"I dunno, can't see it," Josh said.

She shrieked. "It's not a horse! It jumped the fence!"

"Horses can jump," he said without much interest.

"Horses cannot outrun a semi!"

Josh leaned over the steering wheel and peered into the deepening shadows, only to draw back as the beast thudded against the passenger side door and clung to it.

He slammed on the breaks, punched in the clutch and downshifted.

"What the hell is that?" He grabbed Jessie's arm. "Pull the door handle! I’m gonna try to get that thing off the truck."

She pulled the handle and the latch disengaged. He grabbed her arm and pulled, but the seatbelt held her fast. She fumbled with the latch, finally managed to release it, and then slid between the seats to the floor.
Josh pushed the gearshift into neutral, and with one hand on the steering wheel, slid across the cab and kicked the door as hard as he could. It swung out and he scooted back into his seat, hitting the breaks hard, hoping he wouldn't jack-knife as the truck hopped and bounced to a sudden stop, slinging his wife and everything that wasn't secured, forward.

The beast lost its hold and flew through the air, bounced off the hood, rolled and landed twenty yards up the road. Josh held his breath and waited, but the thing didn't move.

"Is it dead?" Jessie asked and pushed herself off the floor.

"I don't know." Josh caught a gear and the truck rolled slowly forward. He was changing gears as he approached where the animal lay in the road. Suddenly, the beast rose to its hands and knees, looking almost human.

"You're going to hit it!" Jessie said.

"I don't give a damn." He clenched his teeth and pushed the accelerator to the floor. The animal disappeared from view and the front end of the tractor thumped and shuddered as it ran over the figure. The truck limped forward a few feet, and then the front end shuddered.

"Fuck. Stay in the truck, Jess," he said. He swung the cab door open and jumped to the ground, grabbing the knife he kept sheathed by his seat. The weapon, made from heavy, folded steel, had a twelve-inch blade with a curved tip. Josh gripped the bone handle in his fist. Jess had a fit about him keeping it in the truck, but Josh had wanted some type of protection. He had practiced kendo and sword fighting since he was a teenager, and considered himself adept at the art, but he felt better having some type of weapon in the truck, and now, holding it in his hand, he felt reassured by its weight.

"No, don't . . . ," Jessie said.

"Just stay in the truck," Josh told her, and slammed the door shut on her objections.

Jessie leaned forward, staring through the windshield, but she couldn't see anything over the nose of the truck. Then she saw the huge, black animal crawling slowly into the beam of the headlights, and her breath caught. The beast looked dazed more than injured. Her husband slid around the side of the truck, took two slow steps forward, the knife held at his side.

The animal shook its head and then began slowly to get to its feet. The look on the creature's face made Jessie's blood run cold and a shiver of fear raced up her spine.

She bailed out of the truck screaming, "Josh-u-a!"

"Damn it," Josh yelled, "get back in the truck!"

But Jessie couldn't move. She watched in horror as Josh lunged for the animal, plunging the knife deep into its belly.

The beast reacted immediately, swinging one huge paw in a powerhouse blow that sent Josh flying through the air. He landed hard on the pavement, flat of his back.

Jessie wanted to rush forward and help him, but her feet felt rooted to the spot. Josh rose on his elbows, trying to drag a breath into his lungs, trying to get his wits together. Blood covered his hands, and the knife felt slippery in his grip. He quickly wiped his palms on his jeans as he struggled to his feet. He turned to resume his attack on the beast.

But before he could react, the animal moved. With lightning-fast speed, it pounced, landing on Jessie. It knocked her to the ground and straddled her between its four enormous legs.

Jessie screamed and pummeled the beast's chest. She kicked her feet, fighting for her life, as the creature raised its head skyward and let loose an ear-shattering howl.

Snarling, it lowered its snout and bared long, razor-sharp fangs inches from Jessie's neck.

With a roar, Josh leapt upon the beast's back and slid the knife into its throat. Jessie rolled out of harm's way as the creature turned, trying to fling Josh off its back. Josh locked his legs around its torso and plunged the knife into the animal's neck and throat, over and over again.

The animal howled in rage, and then sank its fangs into Josh's shoulder.

"Ahhhh!" Josh’s scream pierced the night and brought Jess back to her senses. She picked up a fallen limb from the side of the road and began hitting the animal with it as hard as she could. The creature released its grip on Josh and went for the limb. Josh jumped on the animal's back, and began thrusting the knife into its throat.

The creature fell to its knees, and Josh grabbed a handful of fur and pulled its head back. With one swift slice, he cut through the carotid artery and the windpipe. When the animal fell backward, Josh kept cutting until he'd severed its head. Holding the head in his hand, Josh stared at it mutely, his breathing heavy and labored. Without warning, the severed head burst into flames. Josh slung it into the air, watching as both head and body burst into flames. The fire grew larger, hot and bright, shooting blue, red, and then white flames into the night sky. As the fire fizzled out, ash filled the air.

"Come on!" Josh grabbed Jess's hand and pulled her to her feet. "We have to get out of here; there might be more of them. Come on!"

He dragged her roughly behind him to the door of the truck, pushing her up in front of him. He went back to check the front of the semi to make sure the tires were intact, then climbed into the driver's seat and fired up the engine. Lighting a cigarette with shaky hands, he dragged the smoke deep into his lungs.

"Give me one," Jessie said weakly. He handed her the one he'd just lit and lit another for himself.
She inhaled, choked and coughed, then handed it back to him. "I don't smoke."

"I know." He took the cigarette, pitched it out the window then put the truck in gear.

They started down the road, driving in silence for the better part of an hour. When Josh found a place he could get the truck safely off the road, he pulled to a stop.

"I've got to get out of these clothes and my shoulder aches like a bitch in heat," he said.

Stepping into the sleeper area, he turned on the overhead lamp. Jessie followed him, her gasp drawing his attention to his torn and stained shirt. Blood covered his clothes, his skin, and even his hair, and he briefly wondered how much belonged to him, and how much had come from that thing he'd killed back there on the road.

"Take those off outside," Jessie said.

"Hell, no!"

"Josh, just step outside and take the damn clothes off! You're going to get blood all over the bed. I'll go with you."

Josh lit another cigarette, cursing a blue streak as he got out of the truck.

"I heard that," Jessie called after him.

"Bitch," he said, but he was smiling, and he kissed her when she climbed down behind him carrying a couple small, white trash bags.

He peeled off his shirt and handed it to her.

"This is beyond help," she said, dropping it into one of the bags. She wrapped the rest of his clothing in the other bag and tossed it back up into the cab.

She got a gallon jug of water and began helping him wash off the blood. With a cloth, she wiped his shoulder.
"Nothing life-threatening," she told him, "but a couple of these puncture wounds look pretty deep."

Josh eyed his scratched and bruised body as Jessie poured peroxide freely over the wounds. The cleansing agent foamed and bubbled, burning like a bitch, and Josh cursed again as Jessie poured on more.

Finally, she allowed him to climb back into the truck. He went into the back and put on clean clothes. Damn, his shoulder hurt. He winced against the pain as he stuck his arm through a sleeve.

"I'll drive, baby," Jessie said softly and kissed his cheek.

Nodding, he sat back heavily in the passenger seat, and lit a cigarette while Jessie started up the semi and put it in gear.

Jessie drove through the rest of the night and just as the sun began to rise, she wheeled into a truck stop, and backed into a slot in the rear of the parking lot.

Jess let the engine idle and released her seatbelt, then wearily stepped into the sleeper area and sat on the bed. They were well equipped with a TV, DVD player, Play Station, refrigerator, microwave, coffee maker, and other conveniences that made the truck their home. Pouring water into the coffee maker, Jessie measured out the grounds, and placed them in the machine so she would just have to press the on button when they woke up.

Josh stepped in the back with her and she pulled the blackout curtains around the windshield and door windows for privacy and darkness so they could sleep. Then she helped Josh pull the T-shirt over his head.

"That shoulder isn't looking any better," she said, reaching for the bottle of peroxide. She poured a liberal amount on his wound and waited while it bubbled, and then wiped if off. She followed this cleansing by applying a liberal amount of anti-biotic cream from the first aid kit.

"You need to see a doctor. That thing could've had rabies," she told him as she taped a gauze pad over the freshly cleaned wound.

"I don't need a doctor," he said, shaking his head and waving the idea away.

"You need a tetanus shot, too," she said, ignoring his objection.

"I need some sleep. I'll be fine when I wake up." He pulled the blanket back and slid between the sheets.

Jess slipped out of her clothing and slid in beside her husband. She loved the feel of her skin against his, and after ten years of marriage, she still loved him as intensely as she did when they were first married right out of high school.

She'd met him her junior year when her family had moved from California to Oklahoma. He'd been born and raised in the same town where his father had been born and raised, and although all of the girls in school were attracted to him, he didn't seem very interested in them. He was quiet and appeared a little shy around strangers, especially girls, but Jessie had been attracted to him since she first saw him in Mrs. Baker's English class. He wasn't very tall – only an inch or so taller than she – and he wore his hair as long as she wore hers. But her blonde hair hung straight, while his dark auburn locks hung in tight ringlets. Her eyes were blue, and his were the same color green as the ocean she had grown up near in northern California.

After waiting nearly two weeks for him to make the first move, it didn't appear he was ever going to speak to her, and in fact, he seemed to look away from her whenever she tried to get his attention, so she cornered him one day after school while he was at his locker. He didn't say too much, but she did. And every day after that she'd catch him at his locker, or if he managed to avoid her at the locker, she'd wait for him at his car.

Finally, he offered to give her a ride home, and as simple as that, they'd become an item and hadn't been separated since. That was nearly twelve years ago, and she still considered him the sexiest man she'd ever known. He made her feel things she never dreamed possible, and the first time they'd made love had been the first time for them both. Jessie never regretted not having shopped around a little more before deciding on Josh. Now, as she lay next to him in the darkness of the sleeper, she wrapped around his sleeping body and closed her eyes.

When she woke, she switched the light on and looked at the clock. Nine hours had slipped by and she needed to get the truck on the road. She shook Josh, but he didn't respond.

"Come on, we've got to get going," she said and shook him harder. He moaned and she moved her hand to his face and felt the heat on his brow. He was running a fever.

She slid from beneath the covers, and threw on her clothes. Rummaging through the first-aid kit, she found a bottle of fever reducer and filled a glass of water from one of the jugs.

"Josh, baby, here, you need to take these."

He opened his eyes and she helped him lift his head enough to swallow down the medicine, then she pulled back the bandage to get a look at his wound.

"Holy shit. Dammit. I told you. You need to go to the doctor; it's infected." Her stomach tightened with worry as she examined the pussy, red-ringed wound.

"No," he murmured. "No doctor."

"Look, you're sick and you won't be able to drive or anything else in this condition. I'm getting you to a doctor."

He grabbed her hand, squeezing it hard. "No doctor," he whispered again and kissed the back of her hand.

"Okay, okay," she said. Josh hated doctors, had an irrational fear of them. "But if you aren't better by the time we make this drop, you go to the doctor, understand?"

"Mmmm-hmmm." He moaned, whether in agreement or not, Jessie couldn't tell. And she didn't care. She would make sure he saw a doctor—one way or the other.

Leaving him lying in the sleeper, she climbed back into the cab and got the truck ready to roll. Pulling out of the parking lot, she made the easy maneuver onto the freeway.

The drive to Memphis was uneventful, but as she backed the semi into the dock, Josh still hadn't woken up.
She sat with him while she waited for the truck to be unloaded, mopping his fevered brow with a wet cloth. She forced him to take two more pills, and decided she had waited long enough.

When the truck was unloaded, she drove to a truck stop, parked the rig in the first slot she found, and used her cell phone to call a cab.

A short while later, they arrived at the hospital, and Jessie gave the doctor a brief description of their encounter with a vicious dog. After the exam, the doctors admitted Josh, hooking him up to an IV filled with antibiotics. Then they waited.

Two endlessly long days passed before Josh opened his eyes again.

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