Authors: Chandra Ryan
Tags: #paranormal romance, #M/M, #gay romance, #LGBT romance, #werewolf, #shape shifter
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Long Road Home
Copyright 2015 by Chandra Ryan
Cover art by Fiona Jayde
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work, in whole or in part, in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
Published by Decadent Publishing Company, LLC
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Table of Contents
Black Hills Wolves Stories/Decadent Recent Releases
What a Wolf Wants
Black Hills Desperado
Claiming His Mate
When Hell Freezes
Portrait of a Lone Wolf
Alpha in Disguise
A Wolf’s Promise
Wolf on a Leash
Tempting the Wolf
Naming His Mate
A Wolf Awakens
The Wolf and the Butterfly
Infiltrating Her Pack
Claiming the She-Wolf
Worth Fighting For
A Cougar Among Wolves
Long Road Home
A Mate’s Healing Touch
Winter Solstice Run
Wolf in Winter Clothing
Also by Chandra Ryan
A Note From the Author
I’m so happy and honored to be returning to Los Lobos and the Black Hill Wolves. Hank and Thom’s story is one about trust, acceptance, and family. They have to overcome a lot of obstacles to be together. I think that’s why their story spoke to me and asked to be written. I hope you enjoy reading Long Road Home.
Long Road Home
Thom is suspicious, flirty, and—worst of all—human. He believes the whole town of Los Lobos is one large cult. And if that isn’t bad enough, somebody seems determined to kill him. The man might as well have a huge,
Do Not Touch
sign painted on his back.
None of that stops Hank from wanting the farmer the moment they meet. Just because he wants something, however, doesn’t mean he’s going to get it. He learned that lesson early on in life. Thanks to his sexual orientation, he’ll never find the one thing every Wolf craves: a pack. Best for him to do his job and get back on the road.
But time spent with a human can do funny things to a Wolf. Especially a human as addictive as Thom.
Black Hills Wolves
Drew, the new Alpha of the Tao Pack, made his case to Hank. Coming back to the pack would be good for Hank. He had missed belonging somewhere since Magnum, his last Alpha, exiled him. Exile had been awful but had it also taught him some valuable lessons—self-reliance being the most important. He didn’t know if he was ready to trade his independence to appease his need to fit in.
“If I come back to the pack….” Hank kept his gaze trained on Drew’s hands. Drew may not be
Alpha yet, but he was Alpha and he’d been a decent enough guy in their youth. He deserved the respect of a lowered gaze. “If I come back, what guarantees are you willing to give me?”
“Same as every other Wolf living in Los Lobos. A new start.” Drew leaned forward, and Hank caught the inviting aroma that always surrounded the Alpha. Back in their school days, he had imagined he’d had feelings for the man. Now he knew that hadn’t been the case. He’d mixed up respect, admiration, and pack loyalty with something else. Everything about those years had been confusing and mixed up for him. “Acceptance.”
Hank’s heart stuttered at the word. As simple as concept as acceptance might be, he’d never actually found it, and he was wary of how easily Drew offered it to him. “Acceptance, huh? You don’t, by any chance, know why your daddy kicked me to the curb all those years ago, do you?”
A soft growl rolled from Drew. He understood the anger. If their roles were reversed, he wouldn’t want to be reminded of the monster who had been the pack’s last Alpha either. Still, he had to ask the question. The challenge could prove to be dangerous for him, but the risk had been a carefully calculated one. He needed to know Drew and his old man weren’t cut from the same cloth. If they were, the meeting had been a waste of time.
He glanced up to gauge how angry the Drew had become. If he were about to retaliate, Hank needed to be ready. Instead of finding Drew half crazed, as he had feared, he found the man to be remarkably calm. The one soft growl was the only indication the question struck a nerve. An Alpha capable of self-control would be a nice change of pace. The only Alpha he’d ever had was Magnum. He’d been on his own since he’d left.
“Nope. If it doesn’t put my pack in any danger, I don’t give a shit why
His secret definitely didn’t endanger anyone. “You have my word it doesn’t.”
“Then, as far as I’m concerned, we’re good. If you remember correctly, I was exiled as well. Several members of the pack found themselves in the same situation. You’ll find yourself in good company should you decide to come back.”
“What would you want me to do? If I came back?” His stomach cramped with nerves. Everybody in the pack had to serve a purpose. They had to fill a need. Nobody had needed him in a decade. The skills his family had been known for in Los Lobos were rusty at best. “I haven’t practiced carpentry since I left. I can still swing a hammer, but I’m out of practice.”
“We do need help rebuilding, but that’s not the most pressing need right now.”
Hank couldn’t imagine what would be more important than rebuilding the town. Sure, a lot of progress had already been made. With the influx of Wolves, they would need more housing at the very least. “What does the pack need, then?”
“We need food, building supplies, and oil. As our pack gets larger, we need more of everything, and we need it all delivered on a regular schedule.”
He relaxed as Drew’s words sank in. “You need a trucker.” He’d started driving a rig a year after he’d left the Black Hills. If the pack needed someone to run supplies for them, he had those skills.
“We need a Wolf trucker. Those are rare.”
Wolves lived for pack and home. He would be willing to concede finding one willing to spend days, if not weeks, on their own traveling across country would be difficult. “They’re not unheard of. I’ve met other Wolf truckers over the years. There is a handful of Wolves out there who are loners and nomadic.”
“I need someone I can trust. We’ve made a lot of progress, but it’s a fragile progress. A nomadic Wolf is more likely to betray us than someone from our pack. You were exiled, but you have blood here. Your friends are still here. You would never betray them.”
Drew had a point, but he hadn’t managed to sell Hank on the idea of coming back. “There are people I care about here, but it’s not like this place is all sunshine and rainbows for me. The past is in the past, but it casts a shadow. You seem like a good Alpha, but I’m not sure I’m ready to walk through the shadow for you.”
“I understand what you’re saying. You’re not sure if you trust us. We threw you away once, what’s to stop us from doing it again?”
He laughed drily at how close the comment struck to home. “Something like that.”
“We might be start on a trial basis. You could work for us without officially rejoining the pack. Of course, Ryker would be keeping an eye on you during the trial. If it goes well and I prove I’m not the Alpha Magnum was, we can revisit the idea of you coming back to the pack.”
He nodded. He didn’t like the pack’s Enforcer, Ryker. The thought of the man checking up on him filled the pit of his stomach with dread. He understood the need for extra security, however. “I could work with those terms.”
Drew breathed out a sigh that sounded remarkably as if it were filled with relief. “Good to hear.”
“When would I start?”
“Today soon enough?”
He glanced up at Drew. He couldn’t be serious. Could he? “Today?”
“My people need food.” His smile held a hint of strain. “A lot of food. I’ve found a local farmer, and we’ve come to an agreement but, for obvious reasons, I can’t have him deliver. His food does me no good sitting on his property.”
The nervous energy plaguing him through this entire meeting calmed. He could make the run. As he gave himself a second to think it over, he realized he
to make the run. He did have blood in Los Lobos, and he couldn’t live with himself if he let them go hungry. “I’ll do it.”
“Best news I’ve had all day.” Drew pulled a map out of his desk and circled a section of land. “McKay’s farm is here. There’s an access road right here.” Drew put a red X where the road would be. “GPS isn’t great at giving directions out here in the middle of nowhere. You good with a map?”
He glanced over the routes from Los Lobos to the farm and picked the most efficient one. “Yeah. I’m good. Never did trust GPS. Seems there’s always a story on the news about them sending people off bridges and into cornfields.”
“I’ll call Thom and let him know you’ll be there.”
He hadn’t looked up from the map. “It’ll take a couple hours to get there and a couple hours back, but it’s early.” He looked down at his watch. “I can have it done by one o’clock.”
“Good. We’re expecting a storm this afternoon.”
He couldn’t help but smile. Could Drew Tao actually be concerned for his safety? “I’ll be sure to drive carefully,” he said in a teasing tone.
“You’d better. We need the food.”
His smile disappeared instantly. Of course Drew hadn’t been worried about him. He was concerned for his pack’s well-being. Hank had been away from Wolf politics for too long if he hadn’t figured the truth out on his own. He shook his head at his own idiocy. “Can I take the map?”
“Sure. I’d hate for you to get lost.”
“I know. The pack needs the shipment. I heard you.” Though he didn’t understand it, his voice held a sharp note of disappointment as he said the words. Why should he care if Drew cared more about his pack than him? Alphas worried about their packs. It was in the job description.
Drew stood up and walked around his desk. The man had a slight limp but he was strong, fit. Hank had no doubt he would be able to tear out his throat in a heartbeat if he wanted. “You heard me? Well, I’m glad, but I’m not done talking. I’m not your Alpha. I understand your decision. Don’t for one second think you’re not my pack, though. Regardless of your decision, I’ll always consider you family. You’re here helping us rebuild, and I’m going to do whatever I can to keep you safe. Even if it’s telling you to be careful on the damn roads. Did you hear that?”
“Good.” He held his hand out to Hank. “Drive carefully. Be cautious around McKay. He’s a good man, but he knows we’re different and he doesn’t know why. Suspicious humans are dangerous.”
His time in the human world had taught him the truth of those words. Humans were only happy when everything fit into its neat little box. “Gotcha. I’ll watch myself around him.”
McKay ran his fingers through his hair as he stared at the computer screen. The new budgeting software made keeping track of the farm’s expenses every bit as easy as it’d promised. It’d also made the slim margins his farm was forced to survive on more visible. He couldn’t hide from the figure at the bottom of the page. Every time he put a new expense in, the profits shrank. He possessed a greater appreciation for the phrase, “ignorance is bliss” these days. He didn’t want his farm to go under because he had his head in the sand, however. He hated seeing how close his family was to losing everything each and every month. Thankfully, the rumble of a large vehicle outside offered him a temporary reprieve from the dismal state of the farm’s financial affairs. He had an order to see to. Orders were always a welcomed break.