Unacceptable Risk – Hidden Wolves Book 1 – is now available from most ebook vendors. You can find it via this Universal Link for $2.99.
I hope new readers will enjoy meeting gay werewolf Simon, his human mate Paul, and the ruthless and messed-up pack they must deal with. When Simon falls in love with Paul, a human man, even his Alpha’s grudging tolerance won’t protect him. He must keep Paul from discovering the truth about him and the secrets the pack jealously guards, or it’s not just their love that’ll end up dead.
For those who have read this story, this is a light re-edit, with the 1.15 short story Unsettled Interlude included.
Here’s an excerpt from Chapter 1:
Simon hurt, worse than he ever remembered hurting before. And that was saying something. Over the years he’d had torn muscles, lacerations, even broken bones, from fights, from punishments. He was barely tolerated in the pack, and plenty of wolves had made that plain to him, with fists or teeth. But he’d never felt pain like this.
They didn’t kill me, but it feels like they came close.
The pack Second and his followers had dumped Simon on the road, laughing about his odds of freezing or getting run over, and he’d understood that stopping before they did the final deed wasn’t meant to be a kindness.
He’d landed bleeding in wolf form on the icy pavement, unable to force himself to his feet, barely fighting off unconsciousness as his tormenters drove away. Even in fur, he’d felt the pavement’s chill seeping into the very marrow of his bones, felt the flesh of his paws numb and begin to freeze. The cold had slowed his blood loss, but heat and life seeped out of him onto the black ice.
Shift. Heal. Better. Less pain. Shift. That promise tempted him as he lay fighting for breath. But a shift took more energy than he had left and would’ve left him naked in his human skin on the snow. He drifted, dreaming of shifting and healing, too weak to try. By the time he raised the energy to even push to his feet, he was frozen tight to the surface.
He’d fought then to free himself, his efforts too feeble to work. He couldn’t catch his breath. A great weight seemed to press on his chest, binding his lungs and robbing him of air. He’d thought his legs were moving, but black spots filled his vision and he was no longer sure. Then as he paused to gasp for air, he heard the rumble of tires. Saw headlights approaching. He’d raised his head to look his fate in the eye. Werewolves were hard to kill, but in his condition, he’d never survive being hit by a truck. He wondered dully if death would at least stop the pain. The vehicle approached slowly, inexorably, tires crunching on the icy road.
And then it stopped.
Now he swayed in the back of the SUV, feeling the truck slide as the driver pushed the limits of safe traction. The heat was on full, blasting warmth over him. It was glorious and excruciating, as the throbbing burn of returning circulation clawed its way up his legs and down his ears. He shivered uncontrollably, feeling his cells suck in the heat. Werewolves were tough, and his body was doing its best not to die after all.
The scarf muzzle around his face was driving him crazy. He wanted to rip it off, except his legs didn’t seem to work right. He strained his jaws apart as hard as he could, and the soft fabric gave a little, but the added opening didn’t help him get his breath. His vision tunneled in around the sole task of pulling in the next gasp of air, and the next.
He barely noticed as the truck slowed, turned, and stopped. The driver got out, letting in an icy draft that shook Simon out of his daze. His sensitive hearing picked up a building door opening, then after a pause, an unfamiliar metallic rattle. The back door of the truck opened.
“Okay, sweetie,” the man’s light tenor said behind him. “I’m going to pull you out now. Don’t fight me, baby. Just stay, okay. Stay.” Hands gripped Simon’s hips, pulling him backward. For a moment pain flared, and he hung onto consciousness by a thread, clenching his whole body on the brink of darkness. Then he was flat on his side on a cool surface, moving, vibrating and swaying. He forced his eyes open, and recognized some sort of metal trolley, barely big enough to support him. The man pulling it cursed as the wheels bumped and caught in the snow. Then he was hauled through a doorway into wonderful warmth and dryness.
“Stay. Just stay.” The man pushed the cart down a hallway and into a larger room, switching on the lights. Simon looked around and choked, a half-sob half-laugh coming out like a strangled cough from his laboring throat. It’s a veterinary clinic!
Had to be. There were posters of the internal organs of a dog and cat on the wall, and a microscope on the counter beside other medical-looking equipment. Glass-fronted cabinets displayed pill bottles and supplies. A rack held fabric muzzles.
Out of all the gin joints in all the world, I’ve been plucked from my icy grave by a veterinarian.
He was so fucked.