Ayla Hammond has come home. After years as a lone wolf in a self-imposed exile, she's rejoining the pack and trying to mend fences with her parents. She's convinced them to accept her girlfriend, but can a lone wolf change her ways? As if homecoming wasn't hard enough, Ayla also can't help getting involved in a missing person case. With pressure to solve the case mounting from the pack alphas, Ayla is starting to question where her loyalties lie—and if a return to the pack she left behind is really what she wants.
Be Warned: f/f sex
Nightfall brought a light snow shower and flakes melted on my skin like cold little kisses as I stretched, preparing for the bone-popping pain of the change. Although the waning moon was obscured by thick snow clouds, I could still feel her energy firing through my blood. I threw my head back and howled as the change took me, relishing the answering howls that echoed through the night. Other wolves, other Pack members, ran tonight and I was one of them again. Despite all my reservations, the glow of that knowledge hadn’t diminished yet.
I padded through the streets, claws clacking on the pavement. To my wolf senses, the night was alive with sounds and scents that were muffled and dull to my human body. I could smell the gravy from the meal I’d just eaten, hear the slam of a back door a few streets away. An owl hooted softly somewhere nearby and a cat yowled in response. As I passed through the estate, a few dogs barked and snarled at their windows, upset by the presence of a werewolf.
I picked up speed as I left the estate and entered the city again.
It was getting late and most people were inside. A few small groups drifted past me, snapping photos with their mobile phones.
Snow dusted my black fur as I paused to sniff a discarded pizza box. A few shreds of pepperoni remained in the box and I gulped them down before moving on. The change burned through a lot of energy, so despite Mum’s massive meal, my stomach was already growling. As a human, I’d have turned my nose up at cold pizza, but as a wolf it was a nice little treat.
I headed west, out of the city and towards the park that bordered Foxglove. I could get a proper run there before reaching home. I could already smell the slightly sickly perfume of the flowers that gave the estate its name and hear the muted yaps of two other wolves rough-housing together. The sound tugged at me, urging me on. I wanted to join in, tussle and wrestle with them.
I found the pair of them a few minutes later as I entered the park. One adult wolf, one younger—a tawny adolescent— chased each other round, snapping and snarling at each other in that kind of play-fighting that verged on real. That drew me up short and I dropped to my belly before they saw me.
My paws crunched in the fresh-fallen snow and I laid my ears back with a whine, no longer sure I wanted to play. The older wolf, a dusky blond, bowled over the younger and clamped his teeth round the other’s throat with a rumbling growl.
There was something different about this wolf. He didn’t smell like Pack, but wildly foreign, an odor that both excited and scared me. I crouched low, ears flat, tail tucked between my legs as I watched. When he released his grip on the younger wolf with a snarl, the cub flopped to the snowy ground, exposing his belly with a whine. The dominant wolf nudged at his flanks, tail held erect in a classic posture of strength and the youngster scrambled back to his feet and shot off into the park with a yelp.
For a second I thought the dominant wolf would chase after him, ignoring me. I stayed low, hoping to avoid notice, but the breeze was going the wrong way, carrying my scent straight to him. He swung his great head straight towards me, hackles high. I held my own submissive position, quivering with a cocktail of nerves and energy. He was a feral, there was no doubt about that. In all my years as a lone wolf, I’d never met a feral. They were almost mythical; werewolves who chose to live as wolves, cutting away their humanity in favor of the wilderness that lurked in us all.
What the hell was one doing in the city limits, bullying a Pack youngster?
He bounded over to me with a sharp bark, warning me to stay put while he thoroughly investigated me, cold snout poking at my groin and belly. I closed my eyes and put up with his nosing, even if the human part of my brain was screaming in outrage. The wolf part of me knew better than to protest. He was twice my size and weight; there was no way I’d beat him in a fight. So I stayed still while he sniffed me over, fighting to ignore the hot flush of fear he gave me.
After a minute or so he backed off, letting me up. I rolled to my feet, keeping my head low. We huffed at each other, breath fogging in the night air. His hackles were down, but his amber eyes were narrowed, wary, like he didn’t know what to make of me either. I probably smelled as alien to him as he did to me: a muddle of city scents and the earthy signature of Pack.
We faced each other for a long, dark moment and then I took a cautious step forward. He rushed me, snapping at my neck with an angry yowl. I yelped as his fangs tore into my skin and dropped back into my crouch. Hot blood dripped from the wound, sending a spike of panic through me. I cowered, assuming the meekest pose I could. I didn’t want to fight him.
He chuffed at me, shaking his thick ruff, then pressed his nose to the ground, snuffling through the snow. Picking up the other wolf’s scent, I decided when he turned toward the direction the youngster had run. The feral wolf gave me one last look, feigned a snap at me, then trotted off after the youngster. In seconds he was gone, hidden by the curling mist.
I collapsed onto my side, as exhausted and shaken as if we had actually fought. Adrenaline rode me hard, the thrill and fear of the encounter twisting my stomach. I tried to crane my head enough to examine the bite on my shoulder, but it was impossible. I’d have to get Shannon to look at it.
With a grunt, I forced myself to my feet and headed home. I had to pace myself. My shoulder pulled as I walked, a tight line of pain all the way down my right foreleg. I hoped feral wolves didn’t carry any diseases. The last thing I wanted was a raging case of rabies.