Book 2 in The Lone Wolf Trilogy
The journey to become a better man isn’t easy, especially when there’s something worth fighting for.
Evan has been alone since Kaine’s death, moving from place to place, and for the most part, keeping to himself. He never expected to cross paths with Mason and Niall again. When he gets caught up in something bigger than himself, he is left injured, scared, and with nowhere else to turn.
Michael is like no wolf Evan has ever met before. Born a werewolf, Michael is stronger and faster, but has yet to truly tap into his abilities. Taken in by Mason and Niall, Michael struggles to come to terms with the horrific events in his past and the loss of his family. In Evan, Michael finds an unexpected focus. And despite warnings of Evan’s own dark past, Michael finds Evan to be someone worth fighting for, and someone who can help him understand exactly what he is capable of.
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Nine years ago.
“Mr Roth? Can you hear me?”
Evan fought against the hands of the people holding him down and desperately clawed at his face. Where was he? What the fuck was going on? He felt like he was being smothered. Something covered his mouth and nose, confining and hot against his skin. His vision blurred. A bright light disoriented him, and all he saw were black spots bursting across a white background.
“We need to get him stabilized…type and cross-match…get a line in.” Barely hearing the jumble of orders shouted over him, Evan focused on the key words.
Was this a hospital? Was that where he was?
In a brief moment of clarity, he looked around. A sea of people frantically moved about him, passing objects over him. They were dressed in white and green, and it became clear to him he was in the ER.
What the hell had happened? He’d been at a nightclub called Shiver, all dark, close spaces full of too many hot bodies. He remembered drinking, dancing, some guy feeling him up. Evan had been out with friends. It was supposed to have been a night of fun and catching up. It had been too long since they’d all met up and done something together as a group.
Am I dying?
Pain knifed through him as he struggled to sit up. He wanted out. He hated hospitals. He hated the smell and the cloak of death that hung around them. His father had been in and out of the hospital, helpless and wasting away from colon cancer that had been caught too late.
“Mr Roth, can you hear me?” Evan stopped struggling and looked up into the clear blue eyes of the young woman standing over him. She held his head and he focused his gaze on her. She must be an angel. Was this it? Was this how his life was going to end, bleeding out on some ER table?
“You need to let us help you,” she continued. “Don’t fight us.”
Evan swallowed awkwardly, the taste of his blood metallic and bitter in the back of his throat. He didn’t want to die.
“Do you understand?”
Nodding, Evan reached out and grabbed her wrist. He understood. “Please,” he managed from behind the mask. His hold weakened as the room darkened around him, a vast black space sucking him in. Please don’t let me die.
The desperate plea caught in Evan’s throat. Opening his eyes, Evan tried to sit up. His heart beat madly in his chest and pain shot through him, forcing him to give in. He fell back against the pillow and steadied his breathing. It took a moment for him to realize where he was, and he slowly curled his fingers in the starched white sheet of the hospital bed. The bed was solid and real and he thanked God he was alive.
Last night was a blur of blood and pain. If he was honest, he wasn’t sure he wanted to remember, though little flashes of memories were slowly knitting together to form a terrifying picture. From the nightclub, he’d foolishly thought walking home was a good idea. Yes, shit happened, but shit happened to other people, not him. He was happy in his little world of Evan, safe and sound. But last night, he’d been terribly wrong.
The path through the city park was poorly lit. It had been for years, despite the handful of petitions to the city council. Evan had walked through the park what must have been a hundred times before, and not once had he ever considered himself in danger or potential fodder for some serial killer. He was a strong young man. Guess he’d learned his lesson. The attack had started with the simple sense of being watched. He recalled strange growling and the rustling of leaves, the hair on the back of his neck standing up, and then the blur of motion before he was dragged from the path and into the bushes.
Teeth, claws, pain—how was he even alive after that? A wolf. It had been a wolf. He remembered now. A large, black-furred wolf with pure white eyes. Uncomfortably, he scratched at his bandaged hand and fingered the line in his arm. His breathing became ragged, and he wondered where to find a nurse. He wanted the line out and to put on his clothes. He wanted to get out of there.
“You shouldn’t play with those,” someone said from the corner of the room.
Evan looked fearfully to the shadows, surprised to find a man standing in the dark. Had he always been there?
The man stepped forward. “You should rest. Looks like you had one hell of a night.” The man wore his long dark hair back from his face and the overhead fluorescent light reflected in his eyes, making them seem almost silver in color.
Eyeing the man curiously, Evan noted the look of amusement and pleasure on the man’s face. He was dressed in jeans and a dark jacket, and Evan was sure the man wasn’t a nurse or a doctor.
“Who are you?” he asked. The man stepped forward and an unwelcome feeling settled in Evan’s gut. The heated sensation of familiarity spread through him, but he swore he didn’t know the man. The heat sparked in his gut and mixed with something more. Was it fear? Attraction?
The man moved closer and came to stand beside the bed. He looked Evan up and down and grinned. “You mean you don’t know?” he said as he reached out. Delicately, he ran his fingers over Evan’s bandaged side.
Evan swallowed uncomfortably as his chest ached at the man’s touch.
“The name’s Kaine, and I have a small proposition for you.”
“I don’t understand.” Evan took an unsteady breath. A proposition? What could this man, Kaine, possibly want from him?
“You will,” Kaine said and suddenly Evan was seeing red and white in a scalding pain. Kaine pressed his fingers ruthlessly into Evan’s side, bringing his other hand up to cover Evan’s mouth and smother the sound of his scream. “And when you do, I want you to come see me.” Just as quickly as he’d ignited the pain in Evan’s side, he pulled back his hands and stepped away.
Evan coughed and pressed his hand to the now blood-soaked dressing. Carefully, he cradled his injured side, a wave of nausea crashing over him as he watched Kaine. What was this, some fucked-up dream? This couldn’t be real. This creep of a guy was a figment of his morphine-indulged imagination. “Who are you?” he asked again.
Kaine gave a tooth-filled grin, only to quickly step back as the door to the room opened and a nurse walked in.
The nurse stopped dead and looked between the two of them. “You shouldn’t be in here,” she said, directing her words at Kaine. “You know that.”
What the hell?
The nurse moved closer and audibly sighed as she caught sight of Evan’s side. “You’re such an asshole,” she stated with a sideward glance at Kaine. She brushed back her long blonde hair. Her skin was fine and pale like porcelain, almost translucent as she leaned over him and into the light.
She smiled sweetly at Evan, her six-foot frame made no less imposing by the curl of her lips and her soothing sounds as she attended his wound.
“Go now,” she said, though she wasn’t talking to Evan. Kaine hesitated but eventually left without another word.
The nurse removed the dressing covering Evan’s stomach and gazed at the jagged wound. “The stitches are fine. It’ll clean right up.”
Evan stared at the pattern of his wound and gauged the size of the bite mark. The wolf must have been huge. How was he not dead? He turned away as the nurse worked. His memories brought forth another question. Had there been someone else there? He was alive. Was that because the wolf had stopped, or was he right and someone else was there? Did they save him?
“There,” the nurse said, pulling Evan from his thoughts. “Good as new.” She smiled again as she rolled off her latex gloves. “You’ll be fine.”
“Who are you?”
Sian,” she said. “My name’s Sian.” She flattened down the front of her pale green
“And who was he?” Evan asked. It was clear she knew this Kaine guy.
The nurse chewed thoughtfully on her lip. “A friend. He can be your friend, too.”
“Why would I want him to be my friend?”
More riddles. “Right,” he said, dismissively. “And how will I find him if I need to?”
Stopping by the door,
back at him. With a smile, she simply said, “You just will.”
“You want fries with that? Salad? Onion rings?”
Evan eyed the plump waitress from over the top of his menu. “Just the burger,” he said, lowering the menu and smiling politely. He could remind her he had told her once already, but that was likely to result in her spitting in his meal. “Please.”
“Okay, sugar. Burger and a Coke coming right up.” She pushed out her chest slightly as she leaned forward to take the menu. A sliver of each strap of her red push-up bra was visible from beneath her open-necked uniform as the crease of her middle-aged cleavage came too close to his face for comfort.
Evan did his best not to shy away and offend her. He cleared his throat and glanced at her name badge. Tammy. He’d known a Tammy once, back home in
when he was a sophomore in high school. She’d had a thing about sticking her
tits out to impress the guys, too. Pittsburgh
With a flirty wink, Tammy swayed toward the counter with his order, leaving Evan to relax before sliding lower in the booth. With a sigh, he rested his head against the window and looked out at the gloomy world. It was a little after six in the evening, and already nighttime was settling in. He looked at the half-filled lot and noted a couple standing beside a dark SUV. Not a couple, he hoped, as he realized just how large an age gap there was between the two of them. Father and daughter, maybe?
Shit. He watched as the man pushed the girl roughly against the side of the vehicle. Regret lurched in his chest as he turned away. He was just passing through and couldn’t afford to get caught up in some domestic dispute.
He had gotten into town late last night and had slept fifteen hours straight. He had been exhausted. The last forty-eight hours had felt like they’d never end. After running into trouble in
, he had spent the last two days
looking over his shoulder and putting as much distance as he could manage
between him and the city. He’d headed north, figuring it was as good a
direction as any, and out to the mountains near the border. Plenty of space to
keep to himself. The forests would be a good place to let his wolf roam free,
uninhibited and stripped to its basic instincts. Being in control was tiring
and he just wanted to let go for a little while. Atlanta
The full moon was in a little over a week and Evan guessed it would be easy enough to lay low in the small mountain town of
until then. He looked back out the
window. The man and girl were gone. He stared at the handful of cars. Would it
really be as easy as he thought? Smaller population, everybody knowing
everybody. He’d stand out like a sore thumb. Shit. He’d been alone for four
years. Blackhill Sian, Kaine, the others, everybody had
either left or were dead. From having people—a pack—he trusted, he now had
nothing and no one.
It had been strange at first. He was a free agent, his own man. No Kaine telling him what he could and couldn’t do, who he could and couldn’t see. It was kind of liberating, but also incredibly sad. He had no clue how to connect with anyone anymore. So instead, he kept to himself, below the radar. Or he had until
A night spent drowning his sorrows and he’d lowered his guard. He’d wanted a connection and to spend time with someone who was just like him. She’d approached him first, all long blonde hair, big tits, and legs that looked like they could crush a guy’s head. Her name was Jenna, and God how she had reminded him of
Sian, her looks, her voice, and her
scent that was distinctly female, distinctly wolf, but also distinctly alpha.
And then there was her beta, her mate, equally blond, and equally desirable.
Evan should have known better, but he’d been so damn lonely, and the temptation
of the warmth and solid feel of another man, another wolf, was too much to
The alpha’s heady scent had made Evan follow the two of them to the dance floor. The beat of the music, the dreamlike intoxicated blur of his vision, his lowered inhibitions, and the feel of two sets of hands on his body brought out feelings in him he couldn’t ignore. He had felt like he was losing his mind. The assault on his senses was crazy, and the three of them could have been fucking right there and then in the middle of the club.
Following temptation, he’d returned to the woman’s home and engaged in a twisted threesome among silk bed sheets. Evan had been a fool, caught up in the lust and heat of the encounter. His attention had been firmly on the male, the beta, Adam. Stupid mistake.
“One Coke and one burger,” the waitress said, returning to his table. “Anything else I can get ya?”
Evan shook his head. “I’m fine. Thanks.”
With a smile, she then headed toward a table at the other end of the diner where a young couple had just sat down.
Staring at the large glass of Coke, Evan watched the fizz of tiny bubbles on the inside of the glass. He stirred the drinking straw and the bubbles scattered, escaping in a frantic crackle across the surface of his drink. Worrying his lower lip, he released the straw and sat back, leaning his head against the back of the booth, breathing in the scent of the cooked meat patty as his stomach growled to be filled. Bumping his arm on the table edge, he grimaced. Slowly, he rolled back the sleeve of his jacket and looked down at the end of the long wound that traveled up the inside of his arm. It would heal eventually, but for now it was a reminder of his stupidity.
For two weeks, he had been caught up with Jenna and her kinky games of wax and wolfsbane. She liked taking pain and inflicting it, and in some ways Evan had, too. But then there was Adam and the fleeting, tender moments between them, the looks, the touches. Adam was strong and powerful, and temptation and lust had gotten the better of Evan. They should never have dared to embark on something together. Just the two of them.
Evan rolled down his sleeve and leaned forward, picking up his burger and resting his elbows on the table. He took a bite and chewed the overcooked patty. He wondered if Adam had survived that night, Jenna having caught them in the act, naked, and Evan buried balls-deep in Adam.
Do you really care?
Sure he cared. Evan closed his eyes and took deep breaths. Who was he trying to kid? It had just been sex, the need of a warm body to fuck and hold. It had been a long time since he’d cared about anyone but himself. He’d been loyal to Kaine,
Sian, and the others, but
he wasn’t sure he’d managed to care, not even when they were gone.
Another deep breath and Evan opened his eyes. A scent hit the back of his throat and familiarity made his chest ache. Lifting his head, he scanned the diner’s patrons. The scent was like Kaine’s, his alpha, but it wasn’t him, couldn’t be. Kaine was dead. There was something different, a mix of Kaine and…
“Mason,” he said in a hushed voice. He dropped his half-eaten burger on his plate.
Evan hadn’t seen Mason since the night of Kaine’s death. He had watched through drugged, half-lidded eyes as Mason’s wolf had torn out Kaine’s throat and Kaine’s black wolf had breathed its last as it bled out across the dusty theater stage. That night felt like a lifetime ago. Kaine’s stupid desire for revenge and control had gotten him killed,
too. Evan never imagined crossing paths with Mason again, not after saying his
goodbyes to Mason’s lover Niall in a parking lot outside a diner not all that
different to this one.
Evan subtly sniffed the air and finally found the source of his torment. He shrunk away as Niall, not Mason, exited the bathroom and stopped at the counter. He watched as Niall collected a small cardboard box and thanked the man at the register. The human smelled like his lover, and Evan imagined the scent of Niall was equally strong on Mason.
There was an easy smile on Niall’s face as he headed to the door and out into the parking lot. Evan stayed low in his seat, narrowing his eyes as he peered through the window. As he had said to Niall four years ago, he had no intention of seeing either man again. They weren’t a threat to him and he had no intention of going up against Mason.
The man, his wolf, had taken on Kaine and won. Maybe if
Sian had still been around, he could have been convinced
to seek revenge. But if he was honest, Kaine had deserved it. He’d been a
murderous bastard, cruel, cold, and calculating. Kaine had known what he
wanted—power and a pack to rival all others.
Evan took another bite of his burger and fished some coins out of his pocket, dropping them with a clatter on the table as he quickly got to his feet. Curiosity had gotten the better of him. Mason was all over Niall, and the smell of the connection they’d once shared through Kaine was driving him near crazy. He wanted to know and see what Mason had. Was it just him and Niall? Did they have a home? Did they have friends, family?
Stepping outside, Evan glanced around the parking lot. An engine started and Evan watched the Honda truck pull away, Niall seated in the driver’s side. Quickly, Evan got in his own car and made to follow Niall. Reversing out the space, he suddenly slammed on his brakes as someone appeared behind him in the mirror. He turned around in his seat and looked over his shoulder. She looked like the girl he had seen arguing with who he had assumed to be her father. She was maybe eighteen—though it was hard to tell in the dusky light—skinny, dark-haired, with a strange look on her face as she stared at him through the rear window.
“Get out the way, you freak,” he said through gritted teeth, too quietly for her to hear.
A smile spread across her face and she lowered her head. She turned away, walked from behind the car, and up toward the diner. Evan eyed her suspiciously, though she never looked back, simply going inside the diner and out of view.
What the hell was that about?
Dismissing it as no more than small town behavior, Evan finished his maneuver. Keeping some distance between him and Niall, he followed the Honda up into the hills. The ride didn’t take long. Fifteen miles in, the pickup took a right down what appeared to be a private road. Evan drove past, slowed down, and then backed up. He sat at the end of the road and stared down what looked like nothing more than a dirt track through a dense wall of trees. Chewing on his lip, he considered what to do. He didn’t want to make his presence known, but he was damn curious to see what had become of his old pack member.
There was no harm in looking. Evan made his decision and turned into the track. He drove a little way before finding somewhere to pull in. From there, he went on foot, following the track until the trees thinned and he could make out a house ahead of him. Detouring among the trees for cover, he kept to the shadows and circled the property. If on the ball, Mason would easily catch his scent, as he had Mason’s. Silently, he moved through the brush and around the back of the house. Finding a spot overlooking large glass doors, Evan crouched down. An ache formed in his chest as he caught sight of Mason. The man looked good. There was an ease to the way he moved, no longer the guarded and wary man Evan remembered. Above everything else, from where Evan was standing, Mason looked happy.
Evan shifted his position to rest on one knee and folded his arms, resting them on his other. Envy twisted in his gut as Niall entered the room and wrapped his arms around Mason’s waist, handing over the box from the diner, which was revealed to contain two large muffins. Niall kissed Mason’s cheek and neck, and the two shared a smile and laughter.
Lucky bastard. Evan wondered what it must feel like to be loved, really loved, and not just some casual fuck. Kaine had only wanted him as a number, one of the pack. He had been newly twenty-one when Kaine had turned him, never been in love, and the only love he’d had was from his family. Regret lurched in his chest as he remembered his mother and the night he had killed her. Too easily he had forgotten what Kaine had encouraged him and others to do to their loved ones. Not really him, he figured. Together as wolves, he and Kaine had ripped his mom apart in her bed and brutally slain her new lover who was lying beside her. Evan truly hoped they had been asleep, that their murders were over too quickly for them to have woken or suffered.
Oh God. Evan pressed the back of his hand to his mouth as nausea washed through him. He hadn’t thought on them in almost nine years. Now was not the time to get all sentimental. They were dead and buried, much like his heart.
Looking back at the house, he was surprised to see another person inside. Evan eyed the newcomer with interest. The man appeared younger than the others and held himself a lot like how he remembered Mason had done once upon a time—hesitant, wary, and on edge. Though he knew he would never have an answer, he wondered what had happened in the young man’s life that had made him look so vulnerable, so in need of love and support.
Slowly, Evan got to his feet and began to back away. This wasn’t his world, and he had invaded upon it for too long. He should return to his motel room before night settled in and try for a good night’s sleep. He shouldn’t stay in the town now he knew Mason was here. Evan figured he could keep out of the man’s way. He was too tired for games and watching every step. A reunion would not be welcomed by either of them, and Evan doubted a meeting would end well for him. Mason clearly had people and a home worth fighting for. No, tomorrow he would move on, head cross-country and find anonymity in a different town.
He took a last look at the three men. He was better off alone.
The ride back to the motel had been one filled with uncomfortable thoughts. Ones of what if? What if he hadn’t gone out that night nine years ago? What if Mason hadn’t stepped in and stopped Kaine from killing him during the attack? What if he’d been more like Mason, stronger and rejected Kaine’s ideals and influence? So many people might have still been alive now, his mother included.
What if? What if? What if? Evan slammed his fists against the steering wheel of his parked car and closed his eyes. He was lost and confused. He didn’t know what to do. Keep to himself? Join others? Start his own pack? As of yet, none of those options had appealed to him and each one brought its own risks and problems. He wondered if there was a way he could ever lead a normal life. After everything he had done and the people he had hurt, how could his life ever be normal again?
Taking a deep breath, he opened his eyes and looked through the window. Evan sat back, narrowed his eyes and stared at the girl standing in front of him. She was the same girl he had seen before at the diner. She was dressed in black jeans, a leather jacket, and heeled boots that lengthened her slim body. Her dark hair hung limply on either side of her thin face and her dark eyes locked with his. There was something scary but sad about how she looked at him. Evan leaned forward, resting on the steering wheel as he considered her thoughtfully. What was up with her? Was this how the locals hooked up? Or was this more a case of a business proposal? Not that it mattered. She was far from his type and barely looked legal.
Evan pressed his mouth in a line, before pushing open the car door and getting out. He stood for a moment behind the sturdy door.
“You okay?” he asked. Maybe she’d had more than a spat with her daddy. Maybe she really needed help. The girl didn’t say anything. She simply stood and stared back at him.
“Great,” he said and pushed shut the car door with a grating creak. “Are you out here alone?” She looked like she wanted to say something but remained silent. What should he do? Keep pushing? Walk away? He wasn’t in the mood for games. “Remind me never to play the Good Samaritan ever again,” he said to himself and then looked at the girl. “Okay, well, night.” She was a little too weird, even for him.
He locked up and headed for his room. As soon as he moved, he stopped again at the sound of movement from behind him. Looking over his shoulder, he discovered the girl had taken several steps toward him. She held something in her hand and to her chest. From the look in her eyes, he swore she was apologizing. He turned around and stared at her thoughtfully. He went to offer his help again but was surprised as a bright light shone in his face. The girl had a flashlight and all Evan saw was an explosion of white.
“What the hell?” He stepped back and shielded his eyes. This girl was nuts. Lowering his hand, he blinked away the white fuzz. The girl was gone. Evan scanned the area when a sharp click drew his attention to the shadows. He tilted his head at the familiar sound. It was a gun. Before Evan had a chance to react, a loud pop was accompanied by excruciating pain. The smell of grease and gunfire filled the air around him, and Evan stumbled backward. A second louder shot from a different weapon rang in his ears and Evan cried out in pain. His shoulder, chest, and stomach burned and he clawed madly at his clothing as he spun around and fell to his knees behind the car. The ammunition was made from silver and Evan hurt like hell. Blood covered his hands and attacked his senses in a metallic burst. He could smell his own burned flesh.
Footsteps closed in, two, three—no, four people, maybe more. Grabbing the trunk of the car, Evan dragged himself to his feet. He didn’t risk looking at who had attacked him. There was no time, and as far as he was concerned it was better to run and live than try and fight his attackers. With that in mind, he ran as fast and as far as he could in the direction of what he considered was his only salvation. He ran for miles and time passed in a fuzzy haze. He ran until he could run no more, and exhausted and bleeding he fell to the leaf-covered ground. His breathing was ragged as he rolled onto his back. Pressing his hand to his stomach, he stared up at the canopy of trees and then arched back his head and looked around. Nothing looked familiar. He had run for miles and had no idea where he was. All he knew was that he was done. Holding his side, he dared to close his eyes.
I need to rest. Just for a moment. Just for a little while.