She risked her life to get to him. He’ll risk his to keep her as his mate.
Ava Wright has spent her entire life feeling alone in the Red Wolf pack where her father is Alpha. Her unique visions made her a victim of suspicion and fear among the pack, and she had been kept isolated and a virtual prisoner. When a vision of her true mate comes to her, she fights her way free to find him.
River James is Alpha of the Big Dog pack of Montana. He has long given up on finding his true mate after watching both his younger brother and sister find theirs and marry. When word comes that a young woman has been found beaten and naked in his town, River races to the location, only to take one look at her and know she’s his true mate. But Ava has secrets - secrets that could endanger the entire Big Dog pack.
I bring my truck to a screeching stop across the street from Becky’s Diner. My brother-in-law, Zane, instantly spots me and jogs across the street and is waiting when I climb from the cab. “Where is she?” I ask.
Zane falls into step with me as we start back across the road. “Becky put her in a room above the diner. Doc’s with her now.”
“What do we know so far?”
Zane stops outside of Becky’s door and I stop with him. “I came into town early this morning to pick up some supplies and ran into Becky’s for coffee. When I was leaving, I heard a noise coming from the alleyway.” Zane raises his hand and points to the narrow, dark alley that runs along Becky’s diner. “I thought maybe it was an injured animal, so I went to investigate and she was just lying there. Not a stitch of clothing on and covered in bruises and scratches.”
I push my hat back and study Zane. “Was she conscious at the time?”
“Barely. I pulled my shirt off and wrapped her up before bringing her in to Becky’s. After that, I called Doc and then you.”
The thought of someone hurting someone in my town boils my blood, especially when that someone is a young woman. I’m River James, Alpha of the Big Dog Wolf pack, and if you hurt one of mine you will answer to me. “Any clue who she might be?”
Zane shakes his head. “I’ve never seen her before and neither has Becky. The verdict’s still out on Doc.”
I reach for the diner door and go to pull it open, but Zane pushes it closed. I glare at him like he’s lost his fucking mind. Zane looks through the plate glass of the diner door and then back at me. “There’s one more thing you should know, River.”
“Why do I get the feeling I’m not going to like this?” I can feel myself clenching my teeth so tightly my jaw starts to ache and I try to relax it, but I’m in no mood for games this morning. A foul taste has settled in my mouth. An innocent young woman has been left injured in an alley in my fucking town and it has me wanting to hurt whoever hurt her. It’s weird. I don’t even know her, but already I feel like we have this connection.
“She smells like red wolf.”
I search his face to see if this is some kind of bad joke. The last time red wolves ventured into our territory, they kidnapped Zane’s sister and a couple of our pack members. They had threatened to kill them all if we didn’t hand over my sister, Macy, to them. The red wolves had wanted her for breeding purposes. We killed them. Every damn one of them ripped to shreds. I regret nothing. I wanted to send a message loud and clear—I won’t tolerate any violence toward my family, or my pack. Red wolves in these parts are always bad news. “Smells like red wolf because she is a red wolf, or because she has been hanging with them and their stench has attached to her?”
Zane pulls off his cowboy hat and scratches his head, sending his fair hair sticking straight up. “See, that’s where things get kind of muddy.”
“Muddy?” I growl my frustration at him.
“Yeah, it’s hard to say. I mean you know how the red wolves treat their woman. Fuck, I wouldn’t treat a snake like they treat their own women, so it’s hard to say whether she’s one of them who managed to escape, or she’s just an innocent human victim. Hell, I don’t know. Her scent confuses me.”
“Well, what is she saying about who she is?”
Zane takes a long time to adjust the damn hat back on his hat. I recognize a stall tactic when I see it, but I wait him out even though my patience is running thin. “That’s the thing…” He stops and clears his throat. “She’s not really talking.”
I frown at him, “And by not really talking you mean…?”
“She hasn’t said a word, not one damn word, River. She just looks at you with those strange eyes of hers.”
I pride myself on being a patient man and an even more patient Alpha. Someone who will listen and respond fairly to my pack members, but my patience with Zane has run its course for the day. I place my hands on my hips and glare at him. “Strange eyes? Really, Zane? Hell, being married to my sister is getting the best of you. You’ve lost your fucking mind.”
Zane takes a deep breath and slowly lets it out. “I know it sounds weird, but hear me out. She has these big eyes that are almost purple colored. Man, I’ve never seen purple eyes before… and it’s like they can see right into your soul and shit. I know it sounds crazy, but it’s like she…she…”
“She. Fucking. What?”
“Hell, I don’t know, River. I don’t know how to explain it. I just want to give you a heads up before you go up there.”
“Fine. Strange, purple eyes, possible red wolf, and non-verbal, got it, thanks.” I yank open the diner’s door, barely noticing the tinkle of the bell above it, and head to the counter. Becky, the diner owner points up and around, and I follow her directions to the stairs along the back of the kitchen to a dark hallway with four closed doors. I hear the sound of a male voice and catch Doc coming out of one of the doors. “Hey, Doc.”
“River, it’s good to see you again.”
We shake hands and I can feel something off in the stern set of his usually friendly features and I feel myself tense for bad news. “How is she?”
“She’s young and underweight, but she’s healing quickly.”
“So, she is a shifter, then?”
Doc nods, “With the speed at which she is healing, I would say more than likely. She does carry the scent of a red wolf, and something else, something familiar…but I can’t put my finger on it.”
I nod. A red wolf. This could get complicated real damn fast. The last thing I need is a pack of red wolves hitting town, demanding one of their own be handed over. “Zane said she isn’t talking. Did she say anything to you, anything at all?”
“No, and before you ask, I’m not sure why she’s not speaking. It’s concerning. There seems to be no medical reason I can detect that would prevent speech. Her vocal chords are intact. Her throat, though visibly scratched and bruised on the outside, as far as I can see, is completely normal internally.” He shrugs, “Could be she’s unable psychologically, due to the trauma she’s suffered, but my gut tells me differently. She shows no fear toward us. There is comprehension and intelligence in her eyes. I can almost feel that she has something to say.” He shakes his head. “Her eyes are quite unique and they in themselves speak volumes.” Doc stops to scratch a spot just under his jawline. “Perhaps she’s just waiting for the right someone to speak to?”
I ponder this thought for a moment. What in the hell would a young, female red wolf be doing in Big Dog? “Can I see her?”
Doc pulls his stethoscope from around his neck and tucks it away in the small, leather bag that he’s holding. “I don’t see why not. Maybe she will talk to you, but don’t push too hard. She could use some rest and a decent meal. Given that she should be fine in a day or two. Call me if you need anything.”
“Thanks for coming, Doc.”
I watch him walk down the hall, before I turn back to the door. For some unknown reason I hesitate. I’m not sure what’s happening, but I feel a pull that I don’t understand toward the mystery woman on the other side of the door, and that’s a feeling I’ve never had before now