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Authors: Angela Addams

Tags: #Huntress, #werewolf, #The Order of the Wolf, #Wolf Slayer, #Hunter

Wolves’ Bane

BOOK: Wolves’ Bane
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Her destiny is etched in his skin…and carved in her heart.

Order of the Wolf, Book 3

Morgan Stills is a woman without a future. At least, that’s what the carnival psychic tells her. Love is foretold as well, but too bad. She’s already been marked for death.

She no sooner flees the psychic’s tent when she’s confronted by the biggest wolf she’s ever seen. A wolf that
talks
to her—right before she’s enveloped in a black cloak and dragged away.

Caleb was born for one purpose: follow the burning of his tattoo to find and protect his destined mate, the Huntress. When he rescues her from Lazarus, the king of beasts, what thanks does he get? A swift kick in his tender parts that leaves him writhing in a ball of pain.

Morgan quickly realizes her destiny lies with the Order of the Wolf. The only catch—she must choose between two sworn enemies who vie for her body, heart, and soul. Marked as a Huntress, thrust into an ancient feud between werewolf and Hunter, she must pick up a sword or die. And somehow learn to live without the man she is destined to kill.

Warning: Be prepared for fiery hot, melt-your-panties men, all muscle and sinew, searching for their one true mate. Committed, hot, and horny. What could be better?

Wolves’ Bane

Angela Addams

Dedication

This is a very important dedication because this book is an achievement of a life goal for me. When my editor, Holly Atkinson, offered me a contract for
Wolves’ Bane
I wanted to cry (and I’m not a crier). Not only was she offering to continue the series we started with
Cursed
and
Wolf Slayer
, but she was offering me my first full-length novel contract—a dream come true. I cannot thank her enough for that.

The journey to publication for
Wolves’ Bane
has been a long one, with many people helping me along the way. The usual suspect, Dianne Waye, helped me with her keen editing eyes as my beta reader. D.B. Reynolds has always been a strong support for me with her experience and advice, but she also gave me some valuable editorial feedback and helped me write my original blurb. To my husband, Yendor, who is my voice of reason, who manages my website, creates beautiful bookmarks and who I don’t thank enough. To my parents who are determined to read every raunchy thing I write, no matter how awkward it gets during visits. And finally, to some of my closest friends (and colleagues): Beverly Woodfine who taught me a lot about MMA fighting, Michelle von Enckevort and Kate Riddell who helped me brainstorm title ideas and ultimately came up with
Wolves’ Bane
, Anne Michaud, Tammy Crosby, Michelle Beaton, Leslie Leamen and Karen Sorbera for being novel pimpers and cheerleaders. I can’t thank you girls enough for your help, support and enthusiasm.

Chapter One

Predictions

It seemed like a good idea at the time.
At least that was what I kept telling myself as I scanned the ghoulish interior of the psychic’s tent and stifled yet another shiver.
Sure, ten bucks for a reading, greeeaaat idea!
I shifted in the uncomfortable wooden chair, my uneasiness growing as the smell of some pungent herb assaulted my nose.

I eyed the jars that ran along one of the tent’s lopsided shelves, wondering if there was something dead—or deadly—pickling in each of them, imagining that I could see an eyeball pressed against the cloudy glass of one of them. My stomach clenched at the thought.
Get a grip, you wuss.
I blew out a long breath and ran my fingers through my hair. This was definitely one of the more elaborately decorated psychic spaces I’d encountered. So what if the place was creepy?

“I’m going to kill Rachel,” I muttered as I pulled my jacket tight around my waist. I was the worst person to be sitting in a psychic’s tent. Thanks to my crazy drunk of a mother, I was certifiably superstitious and a self-admitted gullible dope when it came to the all-knowing fortune-telling scams.

And yet, even knowing this, I didn’t dare get up and leave. I couldn’t walk away, not when there was a chance that this might be the one psychic who got it right—who could tell me what I needed to do to fix my life, get back on track with my grad work, find love, and become a whole person again.

“Um, excuse me? Ma’am? Miss…uh…Mistress Fiona?” I said as I craned my neck, trying to see beyond the back panels of the tent. I knew there was someone in there. An old, gruff-sounding, disembodied voice had bellowed for me to take a seat when I’d first come in. “If you’re too busy, I can always come back.”

“Nonsense.” The word came from right behind me.

I spun on my chair to find an impossibly short woman standing at the opening of the tent, incandescent blue eyes and luxurious long locks of dark curls making her look like some kind of fairy.

“I thought…” I stumbled for some words. I could have sworn the voice I’d heard earlier had come from the back of the tent. Now this beautiful, little woman was standing between the open panels at the front, the sparkling lights of the carnival games and rides cascading over her olive skin with a shimmering glow. “Mistress Fiona?”

The little woman nodded, her generous mouth lifting into a bewitching smile. “I am.”

She moved closer to me, the panels of the tent closing behind her, deadening the thudding sounds of the carnival rides and music. I closed my eyes and drew an involuntary, deep breath. Fiona’s rich, warm fragrance enveloped me, easing my tension.

“You have come for a reading.” Her words were accented with thickly laced French undertones.

I nodded, snapping my eyes open and found Fiona had somehow soundlessly moved to the other side of the tent and was now seated opposite me. A wave of excitement swept through me, fluttering in my stomach as I eyed the woman with a mixture of curiosity and nervous expectation.

“My friend thought it would be fun,” I blurted out. It was the same friend who’d refused to enter the tent herself, citing the age-old excuse of heebie-jeebies, though I didn’t tell Fiona that.

“Fun?” The woman narrowed her eyes. “Is this a joke to you?”

I flinched. “No, of course not, I take this very seriously.”
Too seriously
. With that sudden moment of clarity, uncertainty slipped in. I’d spent hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars on psychic, palm, tarot, whatever, readings—anything and everything that would allow me a supposed glimpse into the future. Perhaps it was time to snap out of it, to accept the unpredictability of life, choose reality over superstition for once and get some prescription drugs to help me out of the slump I’d been in for so long.

Yes, that’s what I need to do, get up and leave. This is a foolish waste of time.

“I should leave.” With my mind made up, I tried to push my chair back but found myself stuck as it snagged on the carpet.

Fiona’s hand shot out, capturing my wrist and pulling me forward so that I almost fell across the table. “No!” Her intense gaze bore into mine. “You
must
stay. I
must
do your reading.”

Startled, I tried to pull my hand back, a thick lump of fear clogging my throat, preventing me from crying out to my friend. Fiona’s grip was strong. “Please…let me go!” I pleaded.

Her eyes lost their hard glare, and she relaxed her hold on my wrist as she gently began to stroke the lines etched in my palm.

“No, my dear. Don’t be frightened. I didn’t mean to startle you. Please stay. I have
much
to tell you. I will make it worth your time and”—she motioned to the small jar filled with cash on the side of the table—“your money.”

“You have information for
me
?” Knowing I was being baited but unable to battle the thrall, I swallowed slowly and nodded. “How much?”

Fiona’s smile widened. “Only twenty dollars, my dear.”

I frowned. “But your sign said—” The grip on my wrist tightened, and Fiona’s sharp nails scraped on my palm. “Ouch, okay, okay. Twenty, fine.” With my free hand, I dug into my pocket and pulled out a crumpled twenty, then shoved it into the jar with a frustrated sigh. It’s not like I hadn’t paid hundreds of dollars already on psychic readings over the years.
What’s twenty dollars more?

“Ahhh, okay.” Fiona’s grip loosened once again as she slid her eyes closed and slowly began to trace circles with the pads of her fingers over my upturned palm.

This is different.
Different but also nice—tickling me, sending tendrils of pleasure up my arm almost to my neck, disarming me and somehow easing the fear and frustration.

After a few more swirls of Fiona’s fingers, I closed my eyes too, reveling in the strange intimacy of a psychic caressing my flesh. The sensation slowly began to trail up my forearm, sending both goose bumps and tingles all the way to my scalp. A soothing kind of dizziness washed over me.

I wanted to open my eyes, to see what the psychic was doing, but found that desire fleeting. My mind became unfocused, as if I was drifting into a darkened room, my body sliding onto a soft, down-filled mattress, my limbs heavy and my eyes so firmly shut I didn’t think it would be possible to open them. So why try?

“You have been living in a world of sadness.” Fiona’s voice echoed in my mind, so light it was almost a whisper as her fingers continued to dance across my skin. “You have been living without really living. You lost something, something important.”

I licked my lips, my mouth suddenly parched. “Yes,” I croaked. Sorrow clenched my heart, reminding me why I hadn’t ventured out to be with friends for so long.

It wasn’t supposed to be this way. He was supposed to love me. I gave him all of myself, and he threw it away.

As if reading my thoughts, Fiona sighed deeply. “Yes, a common tale of sadness, I’m afraid. Young girls fall into this trap of heartbreak. I see it often enough.” The swirl of her fingers laced back down my arm, centering once again on my palm. “But there’s more to it than that.” She sighed again. “Do not be distressed by your past failures at love—there is only one man for you and he is coming. Oh, yes, he’s coming to claim you.”

A shot of excitement licked down my spine—this was what I craved, this was the kind of portent I so desperately wanted.

“What does he look like? How will I know he’s the one for me?”

“There will be a battle for your affection—two men who will want you more than anything. Your destinies are entwined.”

“Two men!” I gasped.

“Yes, both capable of much passion—both demanding different things from you. You must choose which is the right one for you, the one who will be the love of your life.”

“How will I know?” I frowned, a weight descending over me.
What if I make the wrong choice?

When several heartbeats passed without Fiona uttering a sound, the weight turned into a strong sense of foreboding. I snapped my eyes open to see Fiona’s beautiful face pulled into a tight grimace, her eyes closed and her brow furrowed with concentration. With one hand, she held my wrist tightly. With the other, she continued her circles, using her nails to scratch along my palm.

“Ouch, that’s starting to hurt.” I tried once again to pull my hand away, but Fiona’s grip was like steel. “Fiona, let go!”

But she seemed to be caught up in some kind of trance, her body swaying, her lips moving in silent speech. My eyes grew wide and my stomach lurched. The room got darker, the lanterns grew dimmer.
What the hell is going on?
The chill was back, gripping me fiercely as I tugged on my arm, increasingly frantic for escape.

And then Fiona gasped, her skin flushed as she slowly opened her eyes. Her look was haunted.

I instantly ceased my struggling to stare at her.

“The hunter seeks you. Your life is in danger.” Her voice was gruff, aged, her eyes vacant as if she was lost in her own world, not really seeing me, yet staring right at me.

Her words sounded like a death sentence. I felt the blood drain from my face as I raised my free hand to cover my mouth. Dread washed over me. “What?”

“You are being hunted. Beware of the beast. He comes for you.”

Tears welled in Fiona’s eyes and rolled down her cheeks. She did nothing to stop them as she uttered her final foretelling of doom.

“You are marked for death.”

Chapter Two

Hunted

I yanked at my hand and finally broke free, the momentum pushing me back so hard my chair almost toppled over. I stumbled to stand, my body shaking, my legs weak.


No
! You can’t say that kind of stuff—you can’t talk about death like that!” I bolted through the closed tent panels, my mind reeling at the bizarre words that kept repeating in my head.

You are marked for death.

The humid night air assaulted me when I exited, sucking my breath away. I panted as I tried desperately to get my heart to slow and my nerves to calm. That woman was crazy. No psychic in their right mind would give a prediction like that. Who would want to know something so dreadful? I stumbled a few paces away, then scanned the noisy fair grounds, the flashing lights and yelps of pleasure doing nothing to relax me.

Where’s Rachel? She said she’d wait right outside the tent.

Someone jostled me and I turned, expecting to see my friend and ready to blast her for making me venture outside of the safety of my home, but strangers surrounded me. I spun around, disoriented and lost in the hectic movement of the crowd and enveloped by the loud, claustrophobic noise.

I squinted, raising my hand to shield my eyes from the glare of the carnival lights. My awareness sharpened as the noise truly became clear.
Screaming
. But not the usual, happy reveler type of screaming. No, this was more like screams of terror. I turned again, scanning the crowd that continued to bump and push past me. This wasn’t a slow moving group of partiers. This was a panicked exodus. All of these people were running away from something. And there I stood, dumb and still, being pushed and shoved, lucky to be standing at all.

“What the eff is going on?” I whispered, narrowing my eyes into the darkness beyond the carnival lights as the last of the group moved past, ignoring my unmoving form.
I should be running too
. But confusion rooted me in place. The carnival sounds seemed to have stopped, the only noise coming from the people who’d already escaped, their screams echoing behind me.

An eerie feeling of disquiet settled over me—a sense of being watched.

In the distance, glowing orbs blinked into existence, twin yellow bulbs floating in the darkness that surrounded the outer boundaries of the carnival. I narrowed my vision even more, until I locked onto those two bright beacons. I took a hesitant step forward, then another, all the while staring in confusion, my mind puzzled, reason fleeing.

I shivered. The orbs matched my movement. For every step I took forward, they did the same, until finally as I lowered my hand from my brow, the pulsing lights of the carnival revealed what the orbs truly were.

My scream remained trapped in my throat as I jerked backward, stumbling before my body tensed and my legs locked. I wanted to run but found myself standing, foolishly still once again—this time frozen by fear—my gaze riveted on the gigantic wolf moving closer to me.

Vomit surged with my fright, a disgusting lump in my throat that I struggled to control.

The wolf’s yellow eyes glared at me, its teeth bared as it sniffed the air, and then licked its long tongue across its nose.

I didn’t know much about wolves, but I knew enough to guess that if I spun and ran, the beast would be on me in seconds. The thing was so huge its head was higher than my waist, and I was a tall girl. I’d never seen a dog, even the big breeds, who matched this animal in size.

The wolf regarded me for a moment longer before it raised its monstrous head and howled into the night.

Full-blown terror slammed into me as the wolf’s cry was echoed by another in the distance, and then another, and another. I jerked my gaze to the tree line surrounding the carnival and I knew, even if I couldn’t see them, the wolf had a pack. And he had just called them for dinner.

I swiveled my gaze back to the wolf, startled to find it had moved even closer to me, now stood less than a few feet away. The smell of its rank breath as it puffed air from its body was made worse by the constant rolling of its tongue along its snout, which coated its muzzle in slime. I started to take a step back—one foot raised, just a tiny movement—and the wolf growled, baring its impossibly large fangs, snarling until I placed my foot back on the ground.

In a crazy moment of desperation, I raised my hands in front of me.

Maybe it just wants to smell me, and then it’ll leave me alone.

The psychic’s words flashed through my mind.
You are marked for death.

Feeling like a fool, I pulled my hands back and wrapped my arms around myself.

The wolf regarded me, its head cocked as if studying my behavior. Something flashed across its eyes—something I couldn’t quite explain, an intelligence that made me feel all the more vulnerable. It took another step in my direction and then awkwardly lurched backward and raised itself onto its hind legs.

My eyes flew open wide, the strangeness of the situation momentarily dispelling my fear. I was shocked even more when the creature moved toward me with a grace that suggested it walked on its hind legs regularly. I choked on a hysterical kind of giggle. This had to be some kind of prank, a trained animal that the carnival owned. Maybe the wolf had escaped from its cage. My heart thudded painfully as I prayed some trainer would come and call his pet off.

Beware of the beast. He comes for you.

It moved closer, its fangs flashing in a silent growl. I forced myself to swallow the lump in my throat, struggling not to sob, not to beg for my life, all thoughts of laughing gone. I knew that there was no trainer. I knew that no one would come to my rescue. I slid my eyes closed, unable to face the hideous monster glaring down at me.

I felt its horridly hot breath against my skin, smelled the rancid scent of decaying meat caught in its teeth, could almost feel its tongue upon my flesh as it licked its snout again and again.

For once, a psychic was right. I’m going to die.

“You are mine.”

Huh?
My eyes flew open as disbelief and confusion rushed through me. The beast stood looking down at me, its eyes showing that same intelligence I’d had a fleeting glimpse of moments before. Human intelligence.

Holy shit!

“You are mine,” the wolf repeated, its garbled words almost unintelligible, slurring like a drunk as he sprayed my face with spittle. “You are my bride.” He gave a rough laugh, almost like a bark. “I will claim you.”

My already racing heart kicked into a frenzy, fight or flight instinct making my knees wobble
. What the eff?
I struggled to speak, to untangle my tongue and make some sense of the situation. Talking wolves. Wolves that stood on two legs, walked and talked.

“I must be dreaming,” I murmured, dizzy all of a sudden. My vision wavered. This had to be a dream. I was probably still in Fiona’s tent, dead asleep.

“No dream, Morgan.”

I startled violently at the use of my name, and snapped out of my frozen state. I took a stumbling step back only to have the beast follow me once more. “Oh god.”

“No escape.” He growled. “You are mine.”

I turned my head, the smell of the wolf’s breath almost unbearable to my senses, searching for a way to escape, tears burning my eyes. Much to my horror, the wolf raised its paws and gripped either side of my face, its long claws pressing into my flesh—threatening to break the skin, forcing me to look at him again.

“Submit to me,” he ordered.

As I opened my mouth to speak, another sound reached my ears. Boots on gravel. The sound of someone running, someone coming closer. Hope trickled through my paralyzing fear.

The wolf turned its massive head away, looking toward the sound, releasing my face. His eyes widened with shock or recognition, and I turned to see what he was looking at.

But all I saw was black.

BOOK: Wolves’ Bane
9.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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