How do you defeat an enemy that knows your every thought … even as you think it?
I thought watching my Werewolf boyfriend get arrested for murder was the worst experience of my life. But then I was knocked out and dragged off to a cell of my own by the very people who were supposed to protect me from danger.
I thought being held prisoner in solitary confinement for weeks on end was the worst experience of my life. But then a visitor came, and I realized I’d been wrong all along. There are worse things than torture and death. Much worse.
He wants my blood. More than that, he wants to get into my head. To use my bond to control his army, to wipe the world clean of anything with dirty blood. I can’t let that happen, but if I don’t he’ll kill every single person I’ve ever cared about—beginning with my Werewolf pack.
The prophecy said I would have to make an impossible choice, but I must be doing this wrong—so far every choice I’ve made has only led to more pain and danger and death. Hunters are pitted against Werewolves and I’m alone in my war against Gordon Steppe. I can’t fight him off anymore; all I can do is try to keep him out of the important places. And I’m failing at even that.
I thought the demons were out there, clearly marked and clinging to the shadows. But they’re not. The monsters are within the ranks of those sworn to protect. The enemy is among us.
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Deleted scene: Chapter One
Hunting hybrids through Wes’s eyes:
The smell of death coated my throat. I swallowed against the acrid taste of it and stared at the scene before me. We were too late. These people had been dead at least a day, probably two.
I nudged a tent pole with my toe. The fabric lay in heaps on the ground in a messy circle around the remains of a campfire. Clothing lay strewn about, bloodied and shredded. Miscellaneous items such as water bottles, purses, and cell phones littered the dirt-packed ground.
“There’s nothing here.” Cord wandered between bodies, stepping haphazardly. She’d pulled her hair up off her neck, but her cheeks were still flushed.
The humidity in Louisiana was enough to make my eyes water. I’d taken to travelling in nothing but a pair of shorts and flip flops. The backseat held a pile of t-shirts to pull on whenever I needed to enter a public place, but the heat made it impossible to stand the fabric for long. Besides, I’d lost way too many shirts these past weeks. On a hunt like this, there was rarely warning before the need to shift arose. Nor any time to undress beforehand. At least this way, I only lost my shorts.
“We’re not even close behind them, Wes. This is pointless.” Cord sounded irritated—more so than usual.
I sighed and shoved my hair back from my forehead. “I can see that,” I said, the words curt and biting. I didn’t want to be here any more than she did, but if not us, then who? If CHAS found the hybrids first they’d end up exactly like these innocent humans I stood in the midst of. Bloody. Dead. Left to rot.
“Let’s go,” I said, turning on my heel and heading for the car. I opened my phone as I emerged from the trees, heading for my car still parked at the shoulder.
No traffic passed while I waited for the call to connect and I didn’t expect any to. Not all the way out here. The people we’d just found had been guests of a remote campground. They’d been such an easy target. Probably had no clue what had hit them.
Cord joined me as I hung up with emergency. “Did you report it?” she asked in a bored voice. She pulled the visor down and checked her reflection in the mirror then used her hand to wipe under her eyes where her eyeliner had smudged.
“Yeah, they’ll take care of the bodies. It’ll probably make the news. Animal attack. Nothing we can do about that now short of burying them ourselves.” Cord shot me a look, letting me know the chances of that happening. “Right. Let’s get going.”
I started the engine and shifted into gear, easing us onto the narrow two-lane highway. Trees rose up above us, coating the cliff’s edge and closing us in. Normally, this sort of scenery would tug at me, urging my wolf out of the tightness of the car and into the wide open. I ignored the pull of the outdoors and focused on the road. The pull I felt toward Frederick Falls, toward Tara, was greater, by far, than any urge I felt to linger here.
“Where to, now?” Cord asked.
“Jack should be done meeting with our contact by now. Let’s see if he’s heard anything new.”
“And if not?” I didn’t answer. Cord huffed out a breath. “We both know he’s not going to hear anything solid. If we were going to find them, it would’ve happened already. Face it. They don’t want to be found.”
“We can’t just stop.” I kept my eyes on the road and worked the muscle in my jaw. It was a nervous habit from way back. One Fee hated and always fussed about. Her voice rang in my head and I forced my teeth to relax.
“Why? Because she won’t allow it?”
Cord’s response came out twisted with disdain. I ignored it, as I always did with Cord. I knew that deep down she didn’t despise Tara nearly as much as she wanted me to believe. If she did, she wouldn’t have protected her at Wood Point. Not even for me.
There were chinks in her stance on Tara, ones I planned to keep chipping away at until she came around. If not for my sake, then for Tara’s. I knew it bothered her that Cord disliked her.
“Because Tara’s right. They deserve a choice,” I said.
“Are you sure about that? You saw what they did back there, right? Mayhem. Violence. Half-eaten bodies. That sound like someone who needs a choice to you?”
“They may not all be monsters,” I said quietly.
As usual, whenever this subject came up, something deep in my gut tightened. I wouldn’t allow someone else to be labeled by what they were any more than I wanted someone doing it to me. So I would continue to hunt. Even though I secretly wished she’d just call me and demand I give up and come home to her. Because I wouldn’t do it unless she asked. But God, I wanted to.