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They hunger for your pleasure. They growl for your touch. And in these sizzling stories by New York Times bestselling author Shelly Laurenston and Cynthia Eden, these sexy wolf shapeshifters are lust at first bite…
“Like A Wolf With A Bone” by Shelly Laurenston
Quiet little Darla Lewis couldn’t be happier when the most-feared member of the South’s rowdiest pack kidnaps her. A girl gets real tired of being overprotected by her own shifter family, and there’s nothing like an oh-so-big bad wolf to start a pack feud, unleash her instincts—and have her surrender however and whenever she wants…
“Wed Or Dead” by Cynthia Eden
Gage Ryder knew his human bride had a wild side. But spending their honeymoon night on the run from hunters out to finish him and his pack is sure not the kind of fun he was looking forward to. No problem—Gage will do whatever it takes to lay bare Kayla’s secrets and find the truth. If he can keep from being captured by his own seductive game…
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He spotted her as soon as she stepped out of the house and walked around her daddy’s porch to stare out into the forest surrounding the home. His brothers had called her “cute” and “kind of pretty” while simultaneously ordering him to stay away because her big sisters wouldn’t have any of it. But his brothers had been wrong. She wasn’t cute or kind of pretty.
She was astounding.
Leaning back against his 1971 Plymouth GTX, Egbert Ray Smith—Eggie to his Pack and those of the United States Marine Corps that knew of his existence—watched the She- wolf softly sighing and rolling her eyes. Occasionally she shook her head. He knew why, too. It was all the arguing going on inside the house behind her. All that damn arguing. If he’d known he would be coming home to this, he wouldn’t have come.
As it was, Eggie hated when he was forced on what the full-humans called “a vacation,” or what his military brethren called “leave.” He didn’t need a vacation. He didn’t want a vacation.
He was lucky enough to be one of the few men in the world who enjoyed what he did for a living, and what he did was kill. Not just randomly, though. He wasn’t some murdering scumbag. No, Eggie killed with purpose, for the protection of his kind and the other breeds and species that he really didn’t like or care about, but figured deserved protection just as much as anyone else who could shift into a completely different being.
Eggie was good at killing. Some would probably say it was the only thing Eggie Ray Smith was good at. So then why should he be forced away from the only thing he was good at just because his fellow Marines insisted that “Eggie’s startin’ to make us nervous.” Eggie didn’t understand how he did that. He wasn’t doing anything different from what he did on any given day.
But because his entire platoon—the platoon with no name, no number, that was only known about by those who could grow fangs and claws whenever they wanted—suggested he needed “a break,” Eggie was now on break.
So with nothing else to do for the next month or two, depending on when his superiors would need him back, Eggie had come home.
And up to three minutes ago, he was positive it had been the most idiotic decision he’d made in a long time. What with his brothers trying so desperately to secure themselves some females. Of course, for most wolf shifters, securing females simply meant seducing them or enticing them with still-thrashing elk.
Too bad the Smith males weren’t like most wolf shifters.
None of Eggie’s brothers seemed to understand the words “entice” or “seduce.” Instead they argued with their She- wolves. Constantly. It had been bad enough with Eggie’s two older brothers, Benjamin Ray and Frankie Ray, and his youngest brother, Nicky Ray, especially since one of their little gals was a bit of a spitter when she got real angry.
Yet nothing could top Eggie’s younger brother, Bubba Ray, and his She-demon from hell, Janie Mae Lewis. Their daddy liked Janie Mae because she represented the kind of She-wolf he wanted all of them to take as a mate. Strong, confident—a natural Alpha. But because Daddy liked Janie Mae so much, Bubba had to be difficult. He had to play games. Even worse, Janie Mae played those games right back. Not even properly mated yet, the pair already had two boys, the She-wolf pregnant with Bubba’s third, and still they had yet to settle down. Instead they bounced between the Pack territories of Smithtown, Tennessee, and Smithville, North Carolina—arguing the entire way, it seemed.
Eggie didn’t understand all that arguing. Honestly, he didn’t argue with people. He never had to. He either stared until the ones arguing with him went away or he killed them. There was never an in-between, so what was the point of arguing? Unfortunately Bubba didn’t seem to have the same philosophy. All he did with Janie Mae was argue. In fact, Eggie had barely stepped into his parents’ Tennessee home before his brothers propelled him back to his car and he was suddenly on his way to North Carolina. And Lord knew that had been the last thing he’d wanted to do.
Until the moment he saw her.
Yeah, she was definitely the youngest Lewis sister. The one the Lewises had never talked about whenever Eggie was around. Although, in his estimation, this sister was much prettier than the other four. She had long, straight brown hair, parted right in the middle and framing just the sweetest little face with those big brown eyes and pretty full lips. Plus she had what he could only call the cutest cheeks. Although he wasn’t sure cheeks should be cute. Like the other Lewises, her nose was long and refined but she was smaller than her sisters. Barely five-eight or so. For a Lewis female, that was kind of short. For a Smith female, it would be considered downright tiny.
Eggie thought about going over there, introducing himself the way men do when they see a pretty woman they’d like to meet. But then he remembered who he was. He was Eggie Ray Smith, trained killer. What would a girl like her do with a wolf like him? Would she want him to be chatty? Buy her flowers? Kill a herd of elk? And her entire family already hated him on principle. What he did for a living wasn’t exactly respected among many of the shifters, although it was needed to keep them all safe.
Nah. It was best not to get all involved in…anything. It was best to stay right where he was. Here. On his car. Waiting for the yelling to stop so he could find a hotel in town and get some sleep.
So continuing to stare at the woman on that porch was not a good idea and he decided to study his feet instead— until he heard someone breathing.
And it wasn’t him.
Of all the times for Darla Mae Smith’s boss to send her home for a “visit”—a visit he’d insisted on for some unknown reason—why did it have to be now?
Honestly, only a boss with his own Pack would insist on this sort of thing. Lord knew a full-human chef never would. If they had their way, they’d never give their lowly staff any kind of break. But Darla didn’t work for a full-human. No, she was an assistant pastry chef for a Van Holtz Steak House in San Francisco, and the Van Holtz wolves understood Pack life, so her boss—the executive chef and Alpha of the San Francisco Van Holtzes—had suddenly, out of the clear blue, insisted that Darla go home for a little “Pack time.” Something most She-wolves who were forced away from their kin for one reason or another enjoyed. Then again, none of them had to deal with the darn arguing!
When Darla had called her daddy two weeks ago, it had just been him, Darla’s momma, and her brothers. Her sisters were in Smithtown, Tennessee, dealing with the pain-inthe- butt Smith boys. So Darla had happily hitchhiked her way cross country, something she liked to do but didn’t necessarily mention to her parents. But by the time she had made it to her home in North Carolina, her dang sisters were back and in the middle of their dang arguments! Not with each other, which she could barely tolerate, but with those darn Smith wolves.
And it wasn’t even one argument, but several! Francie Mae, the oldest, was arguing with her mate, Benjamin Ray, about what Benji could and could not stick his big Smith nose into when it came to the Lewis family business. Roberta Mae and Frankie Ray were busy debating whether Robbie’s skirt was long enough—apparently it wasn’t— while Janette Mae and Nicky Ray were arguing about Nixon. Nixon, of all people!
But worse than all that was what was going on between Janie Mae and Bubba Ray Smith. The pair had been on-andoff- again for several years now. They played all sorts of games with each other, trying to make the other one jealous. When Janie had gotten pregnant with her first son, the family sort of sighed in relief, figuring the pair would finally become mates and end all the bickering.
That, unfortunately, did not happen. Instead, the bickering became worse. Much worse. Now, two sons later, with the third on the way, the pair traipsed back and forth between North Carolina and Tennessee, one usually following the other, stopping occasionally to argue in one of the midway rest stops that probably deserved better.
Was it really supposed to be this hard? Was love and caring supposed to be so ridiculously silly and demanding? Darla didn’t think so. Neither did her friends in San Francisco—a lovely mix of shifters and full-humans that she’d met when she’d left home at eighteen to start her internship at the Baltimore Van Holtz restaurant. Lord, it was 1974! Wonderful things were happening all around them. Times were changing. There was beautiful music and people were beginning to realize that war and violence didn’t answer all of life’s tough questions. It was a time to travel and see the world, discover new and interesting people, religions, and species.
But Darla’s kin was locked into a world Darla had no desire to be part of. One filled with jockeying for position in a Pack. Unlike their full-blood wolf counterparts, the shifters rarely settled for their position in life. They always wanted more or less or different, but never what they had. And anyone with a brain could see that what Janie wanted was to be Alpha Female of the Smithtown Pack. She couldn’t and wouldn’t settle for less, even if that meant booting Bubba’s momma out of her current position as Alpha. Of course, that was just Janie Mae’s way. And the rest of Darla’s sisters, although older, were the perfect Betas. They’d fight for Janie to get her what she wanted, even if it meant going head to head with their own mates about it.
The question, Darla guessed, became what did Bubba Ray want? A few years shy of thirty and male …he didn’t know what the hell he wanted. Especially if it meant running off his own parents. But like the true Alpha Male Bubba probably would be, he would decide what he wanted when he was dang good and ready. Something Janie Mae wasn’t happy about because even though she may not need to be Alpha today, at this moment, she wanted commitments that it would happen.
So the fighting went on. And on. And on.
If Darla had known this was going to be happening while she was here, she would have taken a break at a commune one of her friends had told her about. Or headed off to Europe and backpacked through France again. The Lord knew there was a world of fine pastries for Darla to experience and explore and learn to make in France. But she wasn’t in France, she was here.
Maybe, in a day or two, she could split. Head out after getting a little time in with her parents, especially her daddy, who hated this fighting as much as Darla did. Until then, though, she’d have to settle for walking away from all the unnecessary crap going on in the house.
Jumping down the stairs, Darla headed into the woods. She hadn’t gotten far, though, when she caught the scent of some unknown wolf on her parents’ territory, coming upwind of her.
She stopped, turned. Darla sniffed the air again, then called out, “Hello?”
A twig snapped behind her and Darla spun, her fangs instantly bursting from her gums at the sight of the gun pointed at her. The man holding that gun blinked in surprise. It was only a moment, though. Only a moment of stunned confusion at the sight of fangs on a young woman in the middle of nowhere. Then the full-human male aimed his weapon and Darla unleashed her claws, readying her body to shift and strike. Hoping the surprise at seeing her as wolf would give her the precious seconds she’d need to tear his throat out.
Darla’s muscles trembled seconds before she launched herself, shifting in midair as she flew at the man. But the gun never went off. The wolf she’d scented earlier now stood behind the human. The hand holding the gun was crushed, the neck snapped.
Yanking herself away so as not to hurt the wolf, Darla somersaulted back, her wolf body slamming into a large tree. When she hit the ground, she looked up at the male wolf. She didn’t recognize him as someone she personally knew, but she knew he was a Smith. Normal wolves didn’t have shoulders that wide or necks that thick. He also had a full beard and dark hair that hung to his shoulders and in his face, making her wonder how he managed to see anything at all.
He stepped toward her, wolf eyes glaring down at her. At least …she thought he might be glaring. It was hard to tell.
Darla started to stand up but the glaring Smith wolf pulled the biggest hunting knife she’d ever seen. Positive he was about to cut her throat because he considered her weak by Smith standards, she recoiled away from him, her back pressing into the tree.
He didn’t, however, kill her, but turned and threw that knife, impaling the human male who’d been coming up behind him.
That’s when Darla realized that the first human hadn’t been alone. Lord. How many humans were running around her little town? Where were the town’s deputies? Where were the other Smith and Lewis wolves? The bears? The lions? Was everybody at the bar just drinking? How was this acceptable?
But most importantly, why did all these human males seem to be coming to her? Honestly, Darla would be in big trouble if it weren’t for this oversized Smith wolf who looked like he never smiled.
The wolf walked over to the human male, who was now on his knees, the life from him gone. Before the body dropped to the ground, the wolf yanked the knife from the human’s head and snatched the gun from the human’s hand. The wolf had just tucked the gun into the waistband of his jeans when another human charged.
Darla would have warned the wolf but she didn’t have to. He moved so fast, yanking a second hunting knife from a sheath tied to his thick thigh. Slicing up, cutting the inside of the man’s leg, then he stood and slashed the blades across, nearly taking the man’s head off.
Again the wolf looked down at her, bringing one big forefinger to his lips. “Sssssh,” he whispered and disappeared into the woods.
Although Darla didn’t see anything, she could hear well enough. The sounds of dying men as that big wolf went about killing them. Something that would normally horrify Darla. She was a pacifist after all. And yet …she wasn’t horrified; she just didn’t know why.
Then she felt something sticky under her paw. She leaned down, sniffed. Blood. Her blood.
It must have been when she’d hit the tree. She knew she’d hit it hard but not this hard. She thought about calling out to her family. Howling. Or even calling to the wolf. But she was suddenly so weak and tired.
Maybe if she just closed her eyes for a bit . . .