BOOK: UnleashingtheAnimal
6.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
Unleashing the Animal

L Taft


Blair gets the shock of her life when she finds out the big
black wolf stalking her cabin and her sexy, rude neighbor are one and the same.
He awakens her animal passions like no man before and satisfies her every
carnal desire. Luckily he’s there to help when she unexpectedly discovers that
she, too, is a shapeshifter.

Shane is tired of waiting for the mate he’s sure is out
there. Helping his hot neighbor learn how to deal with her newfound Shifter
form, he can’t wait to see how her inner animal emerges. And when it does, his
own inner wolf drives his lust, demanding he claim her body and heart for his


A Romantica®
erotic romance
from Ellora’s Cave

Unleashing the Animal
J L Taft


Chapter One


The first time she heard it, it sent shivers down her back
and caused sweat to break out on her brow. She was in the big bed alone and she
regretted not leaving one small light on. Shivering under the covers, she began
to relax with the silence but then it came again. A long, mournful howl that
suddenly sounded closer than it did the first time.

Blair told herself to be logical—there weren’t any wolves in
this part of New York State—but as she heard the howl again she wasn’t
comforted. It certainly sounded like a wolf, a sad wolf. But that was silly,
wolves couldn’t be sad. Or could they?

She lay there perfectly still, listening to the deep, long
howls getting closer. They would stop for a full minute and then start again,
until they sounded as if they were coming from the front yard of the little

This was not what she had in mind when she bought this
little place by the lake this fall. She dreamed of relaxing days spent painting
and peaceful nights, the quiet lap of the waves of the lake and the array of
autumn colors surrounding her.

Instead she had spent the whole first day trying to figure
out how to get the fireplace, her only source of heat, to keep burning, only to
realize hours later she had never opened the damper on the chimney pipe. The
little cabin had filled with smoke faster than she thought possible, pouring
out the quickly opened windows and doors until she had heard the unmistakable
sound of sirens in the distance.

It made her wonder who had called the fire department, but
then she figured the smoke could be seen from some distance.

Fortunately the helpful firefighters had shown her how to
use the damper and assured her she would get the hang of it before they drove
off. They had treated her like a normal person, there were no sympathetic
stares and they just trusted that she was fine. It was something she had longed
for—to be unknown.

One of them had even gone so far as to tell her a quick
story about how he had done the same thing himself once.

Looking at the clock, Blair saw it was after midnight. She
was officially on day two. If this was any indication of how her new life was
going to turn out, maybe she should just listen to her parents and go back to
the city. Her mind instantly rebelled at the thought. There was no way she was
giving up.

This was her home now and damned if she was going to cower
in bed while some wild creature ran around her yard. She had moved out here
with the vow to herself that she would take charge of her life. Make her own
meals and wash her own clothes.

After all, wolves were supposed to be more afraid of humans
than humans were of them, she hoped. Tossing back the covers, she threw on her
robe and crept out through the darkened living room, noticing the fire was out

Heaving a sigh, she opened the heavy front door a crack so
she could peer out into the darkness. The moon was an almost perfect circle
glowing brightly in the sky and it illuminated the yard and some of the woods in
the distance. The sight held her spellbound, beautiful in its clarity, and she
opened the door wider to get a better view, almost forgetting about the wolf
until he stepped from the shelter of trees.

They stared at each other, both of them wary. But he seemed
to belong there, standing in the moonlight. The sudden urge to paint the scene
made her fingers itch for her paintbrush.

Stepping onto the porch, she moved slowly, not wanting to
startle the animal but wanting a better look at him. His shiny coat was
jet-black and bushy along his back and tail. Taking another step closer, she
stopped when he gave a low growl.

She had always wanted a big dog as a child but her parents
could not be persuaded to get her one. Instead she had sneaked off to volunteer
at the local animal shelter. Cleaning cages had been a small price to pay to be
able to spend time with those dogs. Even the most miserable of them would calm
in her presence and she wondered why the wolf was different.

She had never had a normal fear of animals. Other volunteers
had always been commenting about how she seemed to have a kinship with them. It
was something she had always been proud of. Something special, all her own.

He was facing her now, his ears perked and his glowing green
eyes never wavering from her. Blair held her body still even as her mind was
She sucked in a breath as the big wolf began to pace in
the yard, back and forth, staring.

It took her a few moments to realize that as he paced he was
getting closer to where she stood. Taking a small step backward, she heard the
low growl again. Curious now, she took a small step forward only to be met with
another growl. Apparently it wanted her to stay where she was.

Well, she wasn’t going to stand here all night and wait for
the dang thing to attack her. Looking back at the open door, she mustered up
her courage and, putting her hands on her hips, she quickly stepped down the
three porch stairs to the ground.

“What do you want?” she yelled at him.

His ears went back with surprise and he hung his head. Blair
waited, not knowing what to expect but getting tired of waiting. Suddenly he
trotted forward, right toward her, and stopped about ten paces away. Blair
froze, unexpected fear shivering down her back.

He was even bigger up close, watching her so intently the
hair on the back of her neck stood up and she shuddered. But she wasn’t cold.
She abruptly felt incredibly stupid, out here in the middle of the night,
staring down a wolf. After all, there was a big difference between a domesticated
dog and a wild wolf.

Without taking her eyes off him, she moved back up one of
the stairs and then another. But the wolf matched her steps, keeping the
distance between them the same. Not stopping, Blair kept on with her retreat
until she felt the wall next to the door at her back.

The wolf was now at the bottom of the stairs, staring up at
her as if she were the one who was out of place.

“I am going back to bed now. Would you please stop making
all that racket?”

It was strange but the wolf cocked his head to the side,
almost as if he understood her. Backing into the house slowly, she took one
final look at him, still at the bottom of the stairs, and then closed the door.

Anxiety overtook her and she leaned heavily on the door for
a minute before hurrying to her room to take one of her pills. She was taking
them less and less but the stress of the move must have caught up with her, she
figured, feeling her heart rate slow within seconds of taking the medicine.

Climbing back in bed, too tired to mess with relighting the
fire, she waited for the howling of the wolf to start again but it never did.

Chapter Two


Blair woke refreshed and ready to start her new, independent
life. It was chilly and she lit a fire while her coffee brewed, pleased she got
it going on the first try. At least it wasn’t the dead of winter, otherwise she
might have frozen to death.

Deciding to set up her easel at the wide front window, she
got busy dragging in boxes from her jeep. She looked longingly at the ones that
held her paints but she knew better than to even open them yet or it could be
days before she got to other things, like unpacking her clothes and buying

She already knew what she was going to paint first—her
midnight visitor standing in the moonlight. Thinking about it now, it didn’t
feel as strange. It couldn’t have happened like she remembered.

Putting in several good, productive hours of housework,
Blair decided she needed a walk. The leaves were just beginning to change color
and the birds were flocking up and hitting the skies in great, fast-moving
clouds. Grabbing a light jacket, she took a deep breath of the crisp air as she
got to the yard.

If she went straight, the yard gently sloped to meet the
lake. The town and a few other houses were miles to her left, so she turned and
headed right into the woods. Looking for signs of the wolf in the dirt patches,
she didn’t find any. But about where she figured he had come out of the woods,
there was a little dirt path.

Taking it, she followed as it meandered through the trees.
She wasn’t sure how far she had gone but she could still hear the lap of waves
against the rock shore in the distance. Pausing, she closed her eyes and
breathed in the musty, cool air scented with falling leaves and the dark soil
under her feet.

She kept her eyes peeled, hoping and not hoping she would
see her visitor from last night again, if only to assure herself she wasn’t
crazy. She had been called that enough times in her life to doubt her own mind.

But she breathed a sigh of relief that she no longer had to
listen to her parents going on about her “illness”. Yeah, she had some anxiety
and maybe she had a few angry outbursts as a teen, but she had never really
agreed with the doctors. She was just peachy.

She felt better than ever now that she was out of her
parents’ house and she was far enough away that they couldn’t stop in
unexpectedly, she hoped. All she wanted was a quiet place to paint and to make
her own decisions. She was twenty-eight, for pity’s sake, and she didn’t need
anyone telling her what to do.

She had a hard time dating and her parents had found major
flaws in the two men she had dared to bring home. After they saw how her
parents treated her like a child, they had moved on anyway. She was tired of it
and she wanted to meet a man someday and have him like her for who she was.
Without any influence from her interfering mother.

Lost in thought, she didn’t see the wolf until she was
almost on top of him. She must have startled him because he took off running in
the direction she had been walking. Not pausing to think about it, she took off
after him. Her feet pounded in the dirt as she ran but the wolf was soon out of
sight. Her speed was no match for his.

Blair didn’t let up and kept running, her long auburn hair
streaming out behind her. Coming around a bend in the trail, she came to a
stop, her chest heaving as she stared.

The trail stopped at the edge of an open field and she could
just make out the roof of a house on the other side, smoke coming from the
chimney. She could see where the wolf had gone toward the house. The tall grass
was parted. She hoped he wasn’t dangerous but she figured she should warn the
occupant of the house.

Taking off through the grass, she followed the path the wolf
had left until she came to what she thought was intended to be a yard, an
unmown, overgrown yard. The house was really a cabin, not much different from
hers, but this one had a bigger porch that was the full length of the front,
overlooking the lake. It also had another building off to the left that looked
like a barn.

Walking to the front door, she rapped lightly, her eyes
taking in the beautiful view, and she briefly wondered if the person living
here would let her paint it. No response came from her first knock so she
rapped again, this time much harder.

The door jerked open and she took a step back in surprise.
He was tall, with close-cropped dark hair and the greenest eyes she had ever
seen. He was rough around the edges and had a thin white scar that started by
his eye and came down his cheek. He wore a faded t-shirt and jeans, his work
boots untied.

“Yeah?” His voice was impatient and she knew without a doubt
he wasn’t happy about her being on his porch.

“I’m Blair Sanford, I just moved into the cabin over there?”
She pointed in the general direction of where she had come.

“Yeah? And?”

Boy was he rude! Blair had come from an upper-class family
where manners were everything and she hadn’t had the chance to meet someone who
obviously didn’t share the sentiment.

“Well, I just wanted to let you know I saw a big black wolf
and thought you should be warned about his presence.”

His eyes narrowed and he stepped out on to the porch, making
her retreat even farther.

“Warned, huh?” he said, crossing his arms over his big

“Umm, yes, I wanted to warn you,” she said, nodding.

“Do you have reason to believe the animal is dangerous?”

“No, not really.”

“Then why warn me?”

“I…” Her reasoning in the woods left her. “I’ve seen him
twice and he doesn’t seem to be afraid of humans.”

“How do you know it’s a male?”

“I don’t know, I just assumed it was.”

He took a step toward her and this time she refused to back
up. “So let me get this straight, you trespassed on my land to warn me about an
animal that isn’t dangerous?”

When he put it like that, she did sound a bit crazy.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t know I was trespassing.”

“Well, you are,” he growled as he stepped closer and loomed
over her.

She didn’t know what to say, her mind a blank as she stared
in his deep-green eyes. They looked familiar but she was sure she would
remember if she had met him before. Suddenly and irrationally she wondered what
he would look like naked.

He leaned down until his face was mere inches from hers.
Close enough to feel the breath rushing from his lips.

He spoke low and gravelly, “Get. Off. My. Land.”

She needed no further prompting, turning and jumping down
the steps and running as fast as her legs would carry her back through the
field and down the trail, finally stopping when she could no longer catch her

BOOK: UnleashingtheAnimal
6.07Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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