He'll defy all the odds to have her as his mate.
Jack Talbot committed the unthinkable crime of touching the Pack Alpha's daughter, Allyson Diaz. Not only did he make love to the precious human living amongst the pack of werewolves, but he mated her. He paid a very big price for doing so, too.
Allyson Diaz lives a sheltered life as a perfect princess, but inside her is a rebellious spirit she calls the Huntress. Not even the alter-ego can save her from heartbreak when her father discovers she's mated the lesser wolf, Jack Talbot.
Rose-colored glasses tinge the world in blood.
Allyson Diaz laughed. Freedom sang through her veins as she crept across yet another barbed-wire, fenced-in field that was miles and miles from her bedroom. The heart-pounding, cross-country hike would have been easier if she’d borrowed one of the four-wheelers from the Broken Paw Werewolf Community, otherwise known as the Broken Paw Pack.
Still, she had no complaints. Allyson’s good mood soared, echoing the contented sleepiness that she felt through the pack bond. So did the part of her that she’d privately named Huntress. From where the Huntress came, Allyson wasn't exactly sure, but she reveled when that part of her came out to prove, if only to herself, that she wasn't the lone human in the pack.
Slapping her hand over her mouth when her chuckle echoed across the land, she winced when she heard what might have been one of her father's hunters coming to investigate the errant laugh. Thanks to her humanity, the pack bond usually gave her a general feeling of the whole, though she didn’t have the tight-knit closeness of real werewolves. Her heart thrummed in her chest. Wishing she had the supernatural hearing of a werewolf, she took a cautious step forward and then another.
She peeked over her shoulder at the compound. The lights of the main house were barely visible. Her gaze then swiveled to her destination.
Assured that she wasn't being followed, she released a breath. Then a spurt of nervous tension, mixed with a sudden burst of anticipation, ripped her worries to shreds.
This is it. This is the night.
She waved a hand in the direction of the compound; a jaunty salute goodbye. Well, perhaps more furtive than jaunty, but the intent was the same. I am so out of here. She picked up her pace. Her footfalls were as quiet as any of the wild animals that shared the night with her.
Thankfully, the trek was familiar, her hiking boots were comfortable, and she was in pretty good shape for a human. The slightly oversized boots were the scavenged castoffs of one of her father's smaller hunters, so no one would think twice if they saw the familiar boot print on the property.
Allyson could have bought her own top-of-the-line boots, but that would defeat the whole purpose of being stealthy. A fancy girl’s shoe tread in this area—where only the hunters and hardcore outdoor enthusiasts liked to roam—would stand out like the proverbial sore thumb. There were a few who tagged her with the ‘Princess Allyson’ label, though she tried not to take it personally. If she took a cross-country hike in new boots, it might warrant a nosy question or two from the close-knit community.
Since she was going through the discomfort of both stealing and wearing someone else’s shoes, Allyson was determined not to get caught. She wanted to whoop out loud in exhilaration at her own prowess, but since that would be counterproductive, she only grinned and kept moving forward. The best reward for sneaking out and courting discovery was that her very own wolf man, Jack Talbot, was waiting for her in their special hideaway.
The circle of trees hid the ugly grasshopper oil derrick from sight while the smell of machinery and petroleum masked Jack’s presence and hers from the rest of the Broken Paw Pack.
Sleeping cattle were dark masses against the thin, dry, end-of-summer hay grass struggling in the near–desert climate. She slipped past the dark lumps of collapsed hay bales brought in to supplement the cattle’s diet of scraggly grass and scrub.
It's not far now. Run to him! The Huntress’ thrill in the adventure pressed her to move on, but Allyson paused, taking a brief moment for vanity’s sake. She patted at the sweat dotting her forehead and tried not to smear her makeup or make more of a mess of her new blouse with the sheer sleeves and waist. While she was running practically “over the river and through the woods,” she certainly didn’t want to look like she had. The blouse was a spur-of-the-moment buy, and if her Papi saw her wearing it he'd throw a fit. Not that it indecently displayed her bra or her belly, because it didn't. It made her feel, well, sexy.
Still, her father saw her as daughter of the pack leader. He expected her to keep up appearances and perform the whole nine yards of bullshit that included acting the lady at all times—encouraging that whole ‘Princesita Allyson’ silliness from some of the pack. Princess indeed.
Papi could shove genteel, ladylike behavior straight up his ass.
Considering the state of her current attire, genteel had pretty much left the picture ages ago. The condition of her jeans and the ugly ‘borrowed’ boots couldn’t be helped. She was always picking up grass and sticker burrs, because Jack wouldn’t meet her anywhere a skirt and heels were appropriate.
If he’d known about them, her Papi would have had a fit over her nighttime adventures. But Celio Diaz never guessed that his little girl had been a nocturnal explorer since the age of five, when the Huntress first goaded her into rebellion. Why would he? No one dared disobey the pack alpha. And Papi had never actually told her that she couldn’t have her nighttime walks after all the good little werewolves went to bed. Yes, it was much better to ask for forgiveness later than to face the consequences of outright disobedience.
Papi meant well; after Mama’s accident, he just wanted her safe. Werewolves didn’t do well with losing their mates, and Papi had gone safety-crazy after a drunk driver had killed his one true love. Allyson had been only a few months old when her mother died. She didn’t mourn what she’d never bonded with—not with a whole pack of well-meaning she-wolves, including her aunt, trying to keep her in line.
Sometimes she wished that she’d been born to a normal human family that knew how to butt out. Werewolves were horrible busybodies—all of them, even the males. They were no better than hump-happy dogs.
Well, maybe not that bad, she conceded. But werewolves had no sense of personal space, and none were permitted to live outside of the hierarchy, where you fought for your rank and placement. Except for Allyson. Everyone knew that it wasn’t a fair fight to pit supernatural werewolf abilities against her puny human genetics.
At times, the Huntress had to be reined in before those ambitious she-wolves—in an attempt to win the alpha’s favor—put Allyson in her place with more force than a human could handle. That wouldn’t be good for her or the wannabe–alpha females trying to strike the right balance between motherly and sexy.
Their allure would work only if her father gained an interest in one of them and decided to mate. And from any angle, Celio appeared unenthusiastic to replace Allyson’s mother.
Allyson was sure that her father carried on with some of the hopefuls, but none had ever been able to take Mama’s place as alpha female and thus temper Papi’s strict regime. Anyway, an alpha female would interfere in her daddy-daughter relationship; she’d have the authority to curtail all of the small privileges that Allyson enjoyed as Celio Diaz’s human baby girl. No, thank you.
More than a little rebellion reared up in her. Everyone thought she was just a defenseless bit of fluff, which went a long way to mask her nightly escapes. Ha! Allyson knew the lay of the land just as well as any man, animal, or werewolf, and she knew how to avoid detection by those same creatures.
The tidy walls, routines, and nosy neighbors at home were claustrophobic. Alone out here there were no boundaries. She inhaled a clean breath of night air; she could stay out all night, enjoying the sounds of Texas after dark. She imagined that there was no place on earth that rivaled the surprising landscapes of her state. Where else could you see seashore, swamp, dense forest, and dry desert within a five-hour drive?
Oh, sweet Jesus, she was mentally rambling.
Allyson looked up at the crescent moon, letting the shiver of her nerves slide down her spine as she considered the consequences of her rebellion, should Papi discover it.
Boarding school. Yes, her father would send her away to a ritzy finishing academy in hopes of making her into the image of her pretty, well-behaved mother. From the little Papi had spoken of her, Mama had been the most beautiful, well-bred lady he’d ever met. Her mother would never have gone against her mate’s wishes, or done anything like her daughter’s wild, nighttime roaming.
Of course, if Papi found out, Allyson’s boarding school exile would happen after she died from the mortification of being grounded at the age of twenty. Worst of all, getting caught would push her Papi into making a public example of her, in order to save face in front of the rest of the pack.
So why do it?
Because the freedom is worth the danger, the Huntress answered. Because we want more out of life than being the alpha’s helpless human daughter. Because we want something—someone for us. Because tonight is The Night.