His plans to escape are foiled when he is blackmailed into finding a new alpha capable of controlling the largest pack in New England before the Amazons cull it. Josh has no clue how he is going to accomplish this task, let alone stay out of the sights of his power-hungry cousin, Bryce, who is convinced he is the pack's next alpha.
Josh befriends Andrea, an erratic Amazon trainee, who talks to the ghost of her dead mother and has her own agenda when it comes to the wolf pack. When he is rescued by Gavin, a handsome park ranger driven to live in the furthest reaches of civilization, Josh feels a pull toward him that is more than just physical attraction. The three develop a bond that is stronger than friendship and tested at every turn.
With the help of his new family, Josh must find the strength within him to save the Silverbane pack and defeat the evil that threatens to turn them into killers. Only then can he finally be free.
"I don't know about this." Josh waited with Andrea outside the ranger station.
Gavin would be off duty in a few minutes. Andrea's hare-brained scheme was the only plan they had time for. Instead of slowly baiting Gavin into revealing his true nature, they were going to have to shock him into it, but Josh was starting to have doubts.
"What if he isn't a werewolf?"
"Okay, what if he is and he tries to kill me?"
"I'll protect you," Andrea said, but it didn't give Josh much assurance.
"Have you ever won a fight against a werewolf?"
Andrea tore her shirt at the collar, then unbuttoned her jeans.
"Almost," she said with a smile.
Josh didn't have another second to protest. Andrea pulled him against her so suddenly that their lips collided and her teeth cut into his lips. Just as suddenly, she was pushing him away and screaming.
"No!" Andrea fought to get away from him without really letting go of him. She shook him back and forth. "You're hurting me!"
Then, Josh was being hurled backwards.
"What the fuck is going on?" Gavin shouted.
Josh scrambled to his feet.
"I don't know," Andrea said through sobs. Blood smeared her lips and tears drenched her cheeks. "He said he wouldn't share me, that I was his."
As ridiculous as it sounded, Gavin looked utterly convinced that Josh had attacked Andrea. Gavin's chest expanded from more than just heavy breathing. The fabric of his uniform strained against flexing muscles, but it was the wild look in his eyes that worried Josh. Gavin was on the verge of losing control. He actually looked like he could transform.
"Go inside," Gavin said to Andrea, without taking his eyes off Josh. "I'll deal with this bastard."
Josh scrambled backwards as Gavin stalked toward him. The normally good-natured ranger was seething with rage. His soft brown eyes were hard and flinty.
"I told you to stay away from her." He hauled Josh up by his collar and threw him against a tree.
Josh cowered against the tree trunk and waited for the inevitable beating. Gavin loomed over him, his breathing ragged, but no blows came. He seemed to be struggling within himself, his hands clawing at the tree bark and his eyes shut. Josh could see him regaining control over his anger. If he didn't act soon, Gavin would calm himself enough that Josh would never know if he could save the pack.
"She's mine," Josh said. It was a timid challenge, but a challenge nonetheless. "I saw her first. I'm not going to give her up without a fight."
He stripped off his shirt and tried to remember how Silverbane looked just before he transformed. At a foot shorter and fifty pounds lighter, Josh wouldn't have been surprised if Gavin laughed at him. But Gavin was lost to his anger, taking off his shirt and backing away, ready to fight.
"Come on," he said, and motioned for Josh to attack him. "Let's settle this."
The air was electric on Josh's skin. He could feel the gravel shift under his feet. He smelled the forest behind him and the testosterone of the menacing male in front of him. For the first time in his life, he was going to have to fight to save those he cared about. Even if it meant getting hurt or dying, Josh had to bring out Gavin's beast and test him as Elaine would.
He took a swing at Gavin, but Gavin had already moved to the side. A crushing pain in Josh's ribs was followed by a blow that knocked him from his feet, and he scrambled to put space between them. There was no doubt that Gavin could best him in a fist fight. The only other person Josh had ever taken a swing at was Andrea, and she had dealt with him like he was no more than a child throwing a temper tantrum.
If he was going to challenge Gavin, Josh had to transform. He felt close to it. His muscles ached to expand. Inside his body, he felt the howl of the beast that cried to be set free but refused to break the invisible pack bond that held it in check. The full moon was so close. Even Elaine and Bryce looked ready to heed its call earlier. Why couldn't Josh?
Gavin attacked, but it was Josh's turn to evade. He might not be a fighter, but he was an expert in avoiding getting hurt. The more he evaded Gavin, the angrier Gavin got. His body was beginning the transformation. The seams of his pants split and the leather of his boots creaked under the force of expanding feet.
"Fight me." Gavin's voice was little more than a barely intelligible grunt. "Fight."
As close as he was to transforming, something was holding him back. Maybe he didn't have control over it.
Josh had seen teenage pack members experience their first transformations without a command from Silverbane. It was a struggle that could last hours. His own first time had come at Silverbane's command. He'd been fourteen, older than most werewolves who transformed when they reached puberty, and even after he'd taken wolf form, he had cowered until Silverbane released him.
Gavin's swings were faster and harder, but less coordinated. It was getting harder for Josh to predict where they'd come from and how to avoid them. Josh had only transformed a handful of times under Silverbane's command. Now that his alpha was gone, he had to find out if Gavin was his new alpha.
"You want me to fight?" Josh said stepping out of the way of a wild haymaker.
"Yes, fight me now."
The pull from Gavin was undeniable. Josh realized then that there was nothing he could refuse Gavin; not because he was infatuated with him, but because Gavin was his alpha. Josh would do whatever it took to satisfy him. Right now that meant having the strength to give him the fight he needed.