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Jareds Wolf

MaryJanice Davidson

Page 1

  Chapter One

  Moira smelled him before she saw him.

  She had been strolling through the rose garden, which sounded nice but was actually chilly and miserable, being mid-winter on Cape Cod. She shivered among bare branches, because she couldn't bear to watch her pack leader nuzzle his mate for another second. Which made her feel like a jealous cow. Which only contributed to her misery.

  She was a werewolf. A good one, in fact, but that didn't mean she didn't get lonesome just like a regular person. It wasn't that she didn't adore Michael and Jeannie Wyndham. She would have killed for them.

  She had killed for them. They were her sun and moon and, like lovers, they established her world. She accorded her pack leaders the respect due an alpha male and female, but more than that, she loved them as friends.

  But she was alone and likely always would be. Her mother had mated with a human and it had brought her nothing but pain. She had wanted more for her daughter. Moira had promised her mother she would settle only for absolute happiness in a mate. Fine and good, except it pretty much doomed Moira to a solitary life. Which, for a werewolf, was usually a disaster.

  It was one thing when Michael had been a loner, too. Once Jeannie arrived (or, as Jeannie put it, "was kidnapped"), things were exciting for several months. Helping the new non-werewolf alpha female settle in had been one surprise after another. There had been no time to be lonesome.

  Now Jeannie had given the pack a marvelous girl-child, had made her home with the werewolves, and never gave a thought to her old life. No conflict in that time, while good for the pack, meant there'd been nothing to distract Moira from her troubles.

  Michael's utter happiness with his mate only made Moira more acutely aware of her own loneliness. She loved them, but could watch them snuggling, smell their lust, only so long before she needed to walk, or snivel in self-pity.

  The pack, Moira thought grimly, was no place for loners. Werewolves were enormously social and tended to mate for life as soon as possible. Loners got into trouble, and a loner who got into too much trouble went rogue. Rogue was bad.

  Very bad.

  She shivered, remembering Gerald. He was the only rogue male she had ever run across and, by God, he was enough. Gerald was on her mind because his estranged eldest, Geraldine, had just left Wyndham manor after a brief visit.

  After Gerald had been driven out, Geraldine had remained loyal to the worthless bundle of fur. Since no pack would welcome a rogue, the two had wandered the country for years. Admirable loyalty, but the price the poor girl had paid! Her father had been dead a year and Geraldine still roamed.

  No, a werewolf alone did more harm than good, and she had no business begrudging Michael and Jeannie their happiness. Better to leave the house and take her poor attitude with her. Thus, the rose garden in February. Thus, she would probably catch a cold from skulking in the sparse snow—and serve her right! Thus, there was a stranger on the grounds.

  Her thoughts derailed in sudden confusion as she sniffed and caught the scent again. Stranger, yes. Male.

  Not pack. Probably a reporter; Michael Wyndham was a charismatic, handsome billionaire frequently courted for interviews. Now that he'd married and had a daughter, "journalists" (her lip curled) constantly tried to get a picture of the baby for People magazine.

  She would find the man and escort him off the grounds; the Wyndham estate was private property. Her woes aside, there was, as always, duty. She turned to search and saw the stranger about fifteen yards away.

  She was suddenly furious with herself because he wouldn't have crept up on her, downwind or not, if she hadn't been busy drowning herself in an ocean of pity. And she was also amazed, because he looked

  . . . well, amazing.

  The stranger, who was rapidly approaching, had dark blonde hair pulled back in a ponytail. He was quite tall, easily a head taller than she was, dressed in jeans so faded they were nearly white, and a black duster which swept past his knees. And his eyes . . . his eyes were the color of the ocean on the first day of winter, dark blue and filled with restrained fury. She caught his scent again: clean and crisp, like freshly ironed linen. Male linen. Incredibly gorgeous, highly masculine linen. Linen she could wrap herself in, sink her teeth into . . .

  Her mouth popped open, both at the man's sudden appearance and his exceptional good looks. He was the handsomest non-pack member she'd ever seen. Too bad she had to kick him off their property.

  He opened his mouth and she spoke, too; they said in unison, "You can't be here. "

  They reacted in unison, too: " I can't be here?"

  Moira stared at him, almost afraid to speak, and heard him say, "I'm really sorry. It's incredibly dangerous here. I'll try not to hurt you. "

  His unbelievable speed so shocked her, she let him hit her. He struck her with the flat of his hand, just below her chin, hard enough to knock her back into the frozen ground, hard enough to render a human unconscious.

  Instantly, he was lifting her into his arms, carrying her away like a demented bridegroom. Demented and blind—he hadn't noticed she hadn't been knocked out.

  Outraged, she seized his nose and twisted. He howled and dropped her; her butt thudded into the dirt.

  He clapped both hands to his face, but not before she saw she had given him a nosebleed. Good.

  "That hurt. " She flipped to her feet and growled, literally growled. She could feel the fine hairs on the back of her neck come to stiff attention. If she'd been in her wolf form, her fur would have been standing out in bristly spikes. "You're an interloper, a trespasser, a creep, and this is private property. "

  "This is a derrible blace," he warned nasally, still clutching his nose. "You cad be here. " He seized her elbow with a bloody hand and tugged. She set her feet and didn't move. He pulled harder. She kicked his ankle and heard the 'crack' and his groan at the same moment. "Lady, for Christ's sake, I'b drying do save your life here!"

  "My life doesn't need saving, moron, idiot, twit. Get your degenerate hands off me or I'll snap your spine. "

  "Fuck it," he muttered. He let go of her so abruptly she staggered. Then he stepped back, pulled out a gun, and shot her in the throat.


  Jared watched the gorgeous blonde topple over and had to fight a sigh of relief. Cripes, what a balls-up!

  He hadn't thought she'd ever go down. His own damned fault—he was so worried about really hurting her he'd gone too easy. Hadn't had the heart to give her a really firm slam. And he'd paid the price: his nose was still streaming blood. The tranquilizer had worked (thank goodness for the Boy Scout motto!), but now what?

  After years of research, of greasing palms, of knocking skulls together, of doing anything to get the information he needed, finally, finally, he had the murdering bastards cornered. His reconnaissance trip had instantly been cut short when he'd run across the woman. He'd been watching the Wyndhams for weeks and had their routine memorized . . . this was the time of day when the grounds were usually deserted. But there she was—obviously she hadn't read his recon notes—right in the line of fire, looking at him with those big eyes, probably getting ready to inflate those pipes and screech like a banshee.

  Who would have thought a five foot nothing girl with eyes the color of pale violets would be so hard to knock out? Who would have thought she'd pack such a wallop?

  Who would have thought he wouldn't be able to stop staring at her?

  He knelt, pulled the tranquilizer dart out of her throat, and checked her pulse. Nice and strong. Weirdly strong. It was as if she was in a light sleep, not a drugged unconsciousness. If he didn't know for a fact that werewolves were all men, he'd wonder . . .

  He picked her up, surprised again at
how light she was. His dirty laundry weighed more. Now what to do with her? He couldn't leave such a delectable morsel lying around for anyone to nibble. Besides, if she had the freedom to wander Wyndham's grounds, she was probably a source of information. Perhaps a slave to the werewolves.

  Anger swelled at the thought of this little sweetie at the beck and call of those monsters. Well, he could help her, and she could certainly help him. When she woke up, he'd pump her for whatever info she could provide.

  The thought of pumping the blonde brought a surge of heat to his groin, which annoyed the hell out of him. You've got a dirty mind, buddy, he told himself. Just because you haven't gotten laid in a while . . .

  He started back toward his truck. Wyndham and his pack of murdering dogs weren't going anywhere.

  His sister had been waiting too long in her grave for vengeance. He'd get the information he needed, see blondie on her way, and come back to avenge his sister.

  God help anyone who got in his way.

  Chapter Two

  Moira opened her eyes and said, "I'm going to rip off your skin for that. "

  Beside her, the idiot-twit-jerkoff who'd shot her jumped in surprise. She heard the 'thump' of his book hitting the floor, and sat up.

  And nearly fell herself, as a wave of dizziness slammed into her. She quickly shut her eyes, and groped for the edge of the bed. "As soon as I get my hands on you. Death. Agony. Screaming. I foresee all of these happening to you. Perhaps several times. "

  He had picked up his book, and now she felt cool hands on her, easing her back. "Take it easy, cutie.

  The trank packs a punch. "

  "Believe me, schmuck, putz, moron," she said. "You don't know what a punch is. "

  "You shouldn't even be awake yet," he soothed.

  She seized his wrist, twisted, ready to crush the bone into splinters, already hearing his screams . . .

  "Cut that out, it tickles. "

  "Dammit! How long am I going to have the strength of a newborn?" She had meant to shout thunderously. Instead what came out was a pitiful wheeze.

  "Probably for the rest of the day. " And did the lout have the gall, the temerity, the nerve to sound apologetic? After punching her and shooting her and trespassing?

  "Why were you trespassing?"

  She opened her eyes and took in the room at a glance and a sniff: cream and white bedroom, south-facing window, double bed, wool blankets, hardwood floors in dire need of a waxing, mothballs in the closet, cedar lined wardrobe. And him , sitting on the lone chair, holding his book (Vengeance for Dummies) and looking at her with honest interest. His dark blue eyes were thoughtful, and bracketed with laugh lines. As if he ever laughed. His hair was down from the ponytail; the sandy strands brushed his shoulders.