Along with half the country, I’m visiting family this week for the holiday, and they’re none too pleased when I sneak off to type in the middle of the endless rounds of BBQs and reunions. So naturally, EVERYTHING is late. Still, I didn’t want you to miss out, so here’s a nice juicy chunk of ENSNARED to keep you occupied – hopefully have this for late July. Later this week, look for MAKING THE GRADE, followed by MORE THAN A NIGHT, and then SAFE FROM THE STORM will probably get pushed back just a bit to give me some breathing room, but certainly this month. Phew.
Intro to hot werewolves below! Enjoy!
Widow Mercy Field knows there’s something in the woods. The villagers in her small colonial community whisper about wolf-like devils and abomination, and send groups of men into the dark to hunt the monsters. But Mercy has other things to worry about – since her boorish husband’s death, the village has been pressing her to marry again, and Mercy can feel the noose tightening. One night, as the villagers celebrate their latest wolf-hunt, Mercy stumbles upon a lone survivor in the woods – half man, half wolf – caught in a trap and snagged on a thorny briar patch. Despite her fear, she decides to help the poor creature, unaware that Fate has stepped in to change their lives forever.
Shadrach knows his mate the moment her luscious scent tickles his nose, but can he accept a human woman from the village that slaughtered his people? At her mercy, Shad can only let her care for him and wonder if this shy woman is the key to the revival of his pack, or a siren luring him to his doom. Together, they must face their fears and learn to accept each other, even as the village’s horror and Shad’s loyalty to his kind threaten to tear them apart.
Not a monster, she reminded herself, A man at least in part.
She mustered up the memory of stormy blue-gray eyes, brimming with intelligence and curiosity as they watched her at the well. They were the eyes of a man. Not like the men in the village, but not a mindless animal either. Even now, as he watched her from his snare, his flesh torn and bloody from the briars, his body half-transformed into one of those fearsome wolven creatures, his eyes were filled with human emotions – rage, fear, anguish.
“I’ll not hurt you,” she murmured, stepping close, feeling her heart pounding in her chest.
This is the stupidest thing you’ve done yet, child, but Mercy ignored the good sense clamoring in her head and sank to her knees beside the thorny bush, flinching back as he snarled and thrashed.
“Stop! You’ll hurt yourself further. Can you understand me? You must remain still. Please.”
A low growl rumbled from his chest, but he subsided, and Mercy carefully moved the thorny branches back to examine the bloody metal teeth holding his leg tight. She winced at the sight of the crushed limb – he may never walk again. The rest of him was no better off, and Mercy could see that his frantic struggles to free himself had only embedded the briars deep. His fur was matted with blood from dozens of the sharp spikes.
In that moment, Mercy knew that if he were discovered and killed, she would never forgive herself. No creature should have to suffer like this. She could only pray that her instincts were right about this man.
And if he eats me, it will be no one’s fault but my own.
Mercy squinted up at the sky, where the silver moon was already waning in the cold October night. If the legends were to be believed, he would return to his human form as the full moon subsided, which explained his half-transformed state. His powerful body was thick with muscle and lush brown-and-gold fur that her fingers itched to touch. The shape of his face was different, too, with harsh planes and what could only be described as a snout over sharp fangs that could no doubt rip her into bite-sized pieces with little to no effort. Mercy’s eyes wandered lower, her breath catching at the sight of his cock, thick and huge and animal even in repose. He was powerful and male and –
And beautiful, thought Mercy, hoping he couldn’t see her blush in the dim light.
That he caught her highly unexpected shiver of arousal was bad enough. His body stilled, nostrils flaring. Mercy suddenly felt like prey, but oddly, she wasn’t afraid, just flustered. She’d spent so much of her adult life trying to force herself to feel any sort of lust for her husband or any of the suitors that had pestered her since his death, but the first moment she truly felt even a pulse of wicked heat was for a savage creature in the woods.
“I need to get a few things,” she said, clearing her throat, “To free you from that, and to tend your wounds. But you must remain silent. I’ll only be a few minutes. Do you understand?”
Could he possibly understand?
After a long moment, the wolf creature nodded and spoke.
“I understand,” he said, his voice guttural and harsh.
Mercy suppressed another shiver and started to rise, but a huge, clawed hand grasped hers, holding her fast. She gasped.
Please don’t eat me.
AT THE FIRST TOUCH of the little human’s hand, Shadrach knew. He knew. All those weeks ago by the well, he been in his human form and not close enough to scent her, though he’d stopped to admire her lovely, lithe form. Now, with her perched so close, her tiny hand dwarfed in his, the scent of beeswax and sunshine wove through his senses, calming the beast, soothing the anguish of this terrible, terrible night.
He’d lost his pack in the most brutal and tragic way possible, but he’d found his mate.
A fucking human mate. From the village.
The village that destroyed my world.
It was absurd, and fury bubbled up. She paled as he snarled, trying to pull away, but he held her fast. Human or not, she was his. Unless this was just delirium. The thought gave him hope. The pain he’d suffered, the horrors of seeing his family destroyed, and the full moon – maybe his wolf had made a serious, but understandable mistake, searching for comfort and solace in a world of chaos and blood.
She didn’t feel like a mistake, and the pain faded to the background as Shad brought her palm to his snout for a deep sniff, nuzzling the soft skin, the little calluses that spoke of hard work, and the slight fingers.
“Your name,” he demanded.
Language in this form was never easy, but the moon was waning and his human self was starting to wrest control back from the wolf.
“Mercy,” she whispered, “My name is Mercy.”
The irony was not lost on Shad, but he pushed it away, too caught up in the need to confirm that this woman, of all the females in the world, was meant for him. Only for him.
His tongue came out for an experimental lick, and the taste of her skin was like a drug. She gasped as he tested the delicate flesh between her fingers, and her little wiggle was telling. Shad cursed himself as he went hard, so swiftly he felt dizzy. If she looked down, she’d probably run screaming at the sight, but luckily his little human’s wide blue eyes were fixed on their hands.
Deliberately, he pressed her palm to his chest, letting her feel his rapid heartbeat and his heavy breathing. Her touch was like a brand, searing his skin. She seemed fascinated with his fur, and threaded her fingers through his pelt of her own accord as he forced his claws down. He was seconds away from grabbing her, and only the thought of her creamy skin torn apart by briars kept him still. Mercy tentatively stroked his chest and Shad stifled a groan. The scent of her arousal was in the air now, like honey and sweet spice, and though he was exhausted and dizzy from blood loss, gutted from the grief of the night’s horrors, the gentle touch of this little human suddenly seemed to be the only thing that mattered in the entire world.
“I’m going to take care of you,” said Mercy abruptly, avoiding his torn flesh as her gentle stroking moved down his sternum.
Lower, sweetheart, thought Shad, and couldn’t suppress the whimper as she pulled her hand away, Shit.
Mercy’s eyes widened as she finally noticed his cock, which twitched under her shocked gaze. There was interest there, too, but he saw her dismiss it as she stood, brushing off her skirts.
“Try to move as little as possible,” she said, grabbing her basket and heading for the tree line.
Suddenly, Shad didn’t want her walking alone in the woods. He should be there to protect her, to keep her safe from the dangerous creatures that roamed the dark.
He would know, as he was one of them.
He started counting the seconds even before she left the clearing, feeling vulnerable, confused, and utterly helpless as his determined, human mate swished her delectable figure into the darkness.