Today I released the final wrap-up ―(hush, Simon, yes, actually final)― novella of the Hidden Wolves series – Unplanned Coda. Paul has a few rough moments in here, and Simon wanted the story, and their triumph of an HEA against those impossible odds they first faced in Unacceptable Risk, on the page.
You can find Unplanned Coda – Book 7 on almost all vendors. It’s up on Google Play, but may not be live yet for you.
(If you have the original series, only books 6 and now 7 are new, but consider getting the FREE book 1 Unacceptable Risk, which had a polishing edit. And Book 2 – Unexpected Demands is on sale for .99 until Oct 31st, for those new to the series.) My werewolves should be read in order.
Unplanned Coda – Book 7 excerpt:
Paul knelt beside Lucas, who was stretched out on a mattress on the cabin floor with his eyes closed, blood soaking his ribs all down one side, seeping into his shorts. After a quick hand-gel cleaning, Paul reached to check the injury. Lucas rebuffed his touch with a snarl, intimidating despite being on Lucas’s human face.
“Let me.” Aaron bent over them. Lucas was decades older than Aaron, more muscular, and had an acid tongue when he chose, but one command of “hold still” from his Alpha, and he let them strip off his shorts, then lay motionless for Paul’s touch.
Two deep, raw holes in Lucas’s side and stomach trickled blood. On Lucas’s human skin, those two spots didn’t line up into any kind of straight path for a bullet. On his wolf… Paul kept stumbling across little things that brought home werewolf reality.
“Looks like the bullet went right through his abdomen in wolf form.” Paul dug a stethoscope out of his bag and listened to Lucas’s steady heartbeat. “He could be bleeding internally. Or have a punctured bowel.”
“What do you need to do?” Aaron set a hand on Lucas’s shoulder to keep him quiet.
“If he was a dog, I’d operate, go in and check things out. A bleeding spleen or leaky intestine could be a slow death sentence.”
Lucas grunted. “Fuck if I’m letting any fucking butcher chop me open.” At a growl from Simon in the doorway, he added, “Not even a decent vet.”
Aaron said, “You’ll do as you’re told.”
“I can shift again.” Lucas opened his eyes to look up at Aaron. “I’ve already done it once, so probably any bleeding is stopped. I’ll be fine.”
Paul wanted to argue, because “I’ll be fine” sounded like a form of Russian roulette, but he had far less experience with shifter healing than any of these men.
Aaron said, “All right. One more shift and then you eat. And stay wolf for a bit. Then if you do need surgery, Paul can borrow the local veterinary clinic facilities.”
When the wolves came out, Paul had figured his days as medical provider to werewolves were numbered. After all, they could now take full advantage of a human hospital. He’d planned to point that out to Aaron the next time someone was hurt, but somehow at this moment, with Aaron’s eyes on him, he said, “Yeah, I guess so.”
He stood and backed up as Aaron took Lucas’s hand in his, squeezing Lucas’s fingers, while a look that was almost intimate passed between them. If Paul hadn’t known how hung up Aaron was on Zach, he might’ve imagined something more there than Alpha and Third. But that closeness was just pack, like a family. Family the way it ought to be, not like what I grew up with. He pushed the bitter thought away and focused on watching Lucas’s breathing as the older werewolf settled down to shift.
Simon came up behind him and slung an arm across his chest, pulling Paul back against his sturdy, muscular body. “Pack,” he murmured in Paul’s ear. “It’s there for you too, you know. Even if something were to happen to me, you have family now.”
Paul didn’t question how Simon had read his thoughts, just let himself be held, and watched as a member of his family writhed and deformed, and reformed, in gray fur and narrow muzzle and long, panting tongue. Nice and pink. Good color. Breathing easily enough. Focusing on the veterinary side let him shove the personal back out of mind.
When Lucas was fully wolf, Aaron checked him out, demanding nods and headshakes to verbal questions, blocking Paul from approaching. Simon murmured, “Sometimes after a rough shift, we get lost in the wolf for a bit.”
His arm across Paul’s chest was an iron bar, until Aaron said, “Right, Lucas, Paul will check you over now. And you’ll do what he says for tonight. I’ll fetch you some food.”
As Aaron left, Paul knelt beside the hundred-and-seventy-pound werewolf on the mattress. A thorough exam got him a couple of muffled rumbles from Lucas, and the suggestion of a thermometer up his butt was rebuffed with a whip of heavy, plumed tail, but Lucas looked good, for now. Paul settled in the doorway to the bedroom, where he could see the sedated elderly lone wolf sleeping peacefully on the bed, despite his bound legs, and also monitor Lucas on the other side.
Lucas’s muzzle wavered, lowered to the mattress, and he took a slow, snoring breath.
Simon sat beside Paul on the lone wolf’s side, tucked a pillow under Paul’s ass that he wasn’t stubborn enough to reject, and slung an arm across his shoulders. “Never a dull moment, huh?”
“You could say that, yeah.” He let his tone sound acid, but when Simon’s face fell, he added more warmly, “But I wouldn’t have chosen to do vet med if I liked dull, right?” It wasn’t Simon’s fault some idiots had shot up the pack. It wasn’t even Aaron’s fault, as much as Paul liked to give his Alpha Majesty a hard time.
“We could back away from the pack a bit.”
Paul elbowed his mate gently and leaned against him. “Right after you got done telling me this was my family? Nah. What would I do with my time?”
Simon nuzzled his ear and breathed, “I might have some ideas.”
A wash of sweet affection went through Paul. How the hell did a bitter loner like me with no idea how to do relationships end up with a guy like Simon? Paul knew he was the difficult one, the one who pushed and picked at the love that lay between them, while Simon patiently gave way and mended and kept his faith. Paul tried to ease their mate bond wide open. I love you. Could Simon feel that? I don’t deserve you, but you mean everything.
Simon nipped at his ear, then kissed his temple and laid a cheek on his hair. Satisfaction echoed between them, and trust, and contentment, in a cycle that built from his heart to Simon’s and back again, sweet and warm.
The click of the door latch made Simon raise his head, but not with any feeling of urgency, and Paul realized he’d identified Aaron before the door opened. A sharp meow heralded the arrival of their two feline family members as well. Nimbus trotted over and jumped into Paul’s lap with the entitlement of a thoroughly spoiled cat, rubbing long, white hairs off on his chest. Fractal hovered at Aaron’s feet, winding around him so the Alpha had to dance to avoid tripping, the cat’s tabby face intent on the bowl of food in Aaron’s hands.
“Simon, control your cat,” Aaron snapped.
Aaron has the big picture in hand, or so he hopes. But back home, Paul’s past is about to meet his future. Find out how that happens in Unplanned Coda – Book 7.