Nadi has no family and no home beyond the puppy mills where she has lived since birth. Freedom calls to her until she cannot resist risking everything for a chance to run. But being free comes with dangers she’s ill-equipped to handle and a guardian who promises to protect her even as his size and brute strength terrify her. Ryan Jones spends his life rescuing abused women by day and tortured animals by night. Nothing stops him from watching over those smaller or weaker until a half-starved she-wolf leaps between him and the barrel of a gun. In a night of passion with the gorgeous shifter, everything changes. Suddenly, by pack law, he faces an unexpected role that may destroy his image and their future. Can love enable Ryan’s treasure to come home to his arms?
Life is hope. The motto often whispered in the darkest hours urged her onward. She slipped past the sleeping guard, the one called Dane by the humans, Diablo by the animals he supposedly protected. He lolled at his post, sprawled in his chair with his feet up and his head thrown back against the crib wall, throat exposed. A trickle of drool dampened his scruffy beard, and the scent of violence rolled off of him, bitter and oppressive. If she had any strength to spare, she’d rip his throat open for the times he’d left his chair to beat or humiliate the helpless females under his care.
Too weak to attack with only bared fangs, she slunk onward, silent and cautious, hugging the buildings to hide her shadow from the harsh, yellow yard lights. Brittle grass and sharp stones cut the tender pads of her feet, leaving a slick blood trail across the dark farmyard. She had made it outside the shed, but liberty remained beyond the compound. Her pulse drummed loud enough to wake the dead and would not settle, its thump the only sound in the mocking silence. A misstep, a startled night bird, anything could shatter the stillness and destroy her chance.
She stopped and scented the air. Something or someone waited beyond the unguarded gate. The subtle whisper of agitated breaths floated on the breeze. Hesitating, torn between escape and whatever lurked in the tall grass, the bitch crouched low. A coyote’s howl echoed through the long valley, emphasizing the distance between hell and the promise of peace.
Then she saw them.
Eyes glowed in the darkness. One, two, twenty pairs attached to unseen enemies. Frightened, she huddled into the niche between the babies’ play yard and the building which housed the nursing mothers. A little one whimpered, and its mother woofed it silent.
She couldn’t stay. Her womb remained barren, and it wouldn’t be long before a bullet ended her misery as it had the suffering of so many through the years. For a fleeting second, death called with sweet relief. Perhaps a similar finish lay beyond the gate in the jaws of hidden beings. Perhaps not. Searching for a path between the unknown creatures, a place to slide though undetected, she waited, trembling with fear and anticipation.
Before the answer came clear, the group rose en masse. Great beasts the likes of which she’d never seen before emerged from the shadows. Fangs gleamed in heavy jaws. Broad hairy monsters with two-inch claws stood upon the legs of men. Growls low and savage rumbled through the group. Then he spoke. The largest of the creatures hushed the others.
Get in, free the animals, and get out.
What if we get caught?
Do what you must.
Emancipation had come with glowing eyes and a comforting command.