Paperback: 366 pages
Release Date: February 19, 2013
What would it be like to live in a world where you are considered abnormal to those who are above the norm?
Jenna O’ Conner has been taught her whole life to hide from everyone. Never to let anyone to close enough to know that she would prefer a shotgun for her birthday over of a bouquet of roses. She’s been smothered by her over protective family so that no one learns what she truly is. Which is not human. Nor, is she considered the norm for the supernatural Other community that is benevolent enough to share this world with the humans.
In a desperate attempt to live her own life away from the small town she was raised in, Jenna obtains her dream job as the newest member on the Wilmington Police Department’s SWAT Team. What she didn’t predict was that she would run into trouble her first day on the job, in the form of a deadly, mouthwatering man named Adam McPhee. Who is also not human, but more like a wolf walking around in human skin. He’s determined to figure out exactly what Jenna is, which unbeknownst to him, could very well put her life in danger. He’s also determined to have her all to himself.
As if that wasn’t enough for Jenna to deal with, bad news blows into town. A group of extremist Shifters who think humans are cattle and factions of Others worldwide should stay within their own species - never to intermingle. Chaos ensues. Jenna has to find a way to shut them down, but in the process of trying to do that, discovers things about herself that even she never thought was possible.
Who said the wolf was what you had to worry about?
Welcome to the real world.
Sitting on the steel bench seats that run the length of the black van with its bulletproof dark tinted windows, she does her best to ignore the eyes that are staring at her. Being the new girl on a testosterone overloaded team is more than awkward and being sandwiched in between two guys on her left, another guy on her right, and four sitting across from her makes it feel as if she’s drowning in caveman stupidity. It’s a pain in the ass, but she can’t complain because it comes with her dream job.
Jenna can deal with their basic Neanderthal urges of women being inferior, but she utterly hates being stared at. It’s annoying, and not to mention, rude. It makes her hand, that sits down to the right, twitchy to punch someone. Didn’t their moms teach them some manners? She can keep calm, though. They’re just curious to know if the new girl on the force can hang with the big bad asses they all think they are. Little do they know that this little woman can kick every single one of their mammoth muscled butts. That is part of her little secret, though.
Being a woman, who is also a dedicated cop, is sometimes hard. People tend to assume that you’re going to be the weak link in the chain. Not strong enough. Not fast enough. Too compassionate. None of that applies to Jenna, but these guys don’t know that, yet. Perhaps she can’t show them that she is capable of bench pressing a hell of a lot more than all of them combined, but she has no qualms about using some of her abilities to outrun them if the need arises. She also sure as hell isn’t known back in her old department for compassion. Heck, if she hadn’t been related to the Police Chief back home, then Jenna would have been arrested or fired for her behavior against a couple of drunk, abusive, backwoods bums.
None of that here, though. She has to keep her temper in check. Keep her secrets safe. Not to mention, she is not going to flush a Criminal Justice Bachelor’s degree, six months at the Police Academy, five years of busting-her-ass on-the-job experience and her life’s dream down the toilet. She has to prove to her family that she can live out from underneath their thumb without fucking it all up.
All of that may not seem like much of an accomplishment to the other guys sitting in this van with her, but that’s because they don’t know her circumstances. Not that she would share those facts with them anyways. When they eventually find out how young Jenna is, they will inevitably shoot her dubious looks of disbelief. More than likely, they will begin to doubt that someone so young is really cut out for the job.
Her over protective family had home-schooled her in their exuberant efforts to keep her hidden and safe. So, sitting at home with nothing to do except study with her mom, she managed to obtain her high school diploma at the tender age of fifteen. After graduating, Jenna enrolled in an online University where she finished a four year degree in three, since her mother obviously didn’t trust Jenna to be out of her sight without doing something monumentally stupid to get herself ousted for what she was. So, at the age of eighteen, she had a high school diploma and a Bachelor’s degree.
When Jenna then told her mom that she wanted to be a cop like Uncle Rick, her mother had no problem shipping her off to the academy because that didn’t mean Jenna was out of her family’s sight for six whole months. No, her Uncle Rick had a friend at the academy that knew just enough to keep an eye on her, but not enough that he would be a danger to her.
Now at twenty-three, almost twenty-four, Jenna is the youngest member of this SWAT team with a whole lot of job experience, but almost no life experience.
Leaving the small town of River Bend for the bigger city of Wilmington, North Carolina had always been a goal of hers. It had only taken five years to prove to her Uncle Rick that she could handle what he considered to be big city problems, without outing herself to the populace.
When his friend, who happens to be the Captain of one of the Wilmington precincts, told him that he was interviewing for a new SWAT team officer, Uncle Rick threw her name in.
A month after a stringent application process and many, many tests, here she is sitting in the back of this van in black BDU’s with a bullet proof vest on. She has a standard issue duty weapon strapped to her waist, an assault rifle in her hands and a solid fifty pounds of equipment strapped to her body; just like the nine other officers in the vehicle. Black hair that falls just past the bottom of her shoulder blades is secured in a tight bun at the base of her neck and the lower part of her face is covered with a black mask that only leaves her eyes visible. A helmet strapped onto the top of her head completes her uniform; she is clearly ready for action.
Heat is pumping along with excitement at the thought of going out on a suspect retrieval mission the first day on the new job. This is the kind of shit Jenna lives for. Most women want to bask in the luxuries of shopping, high heeled shoes, and days at the spa. That’s definitely not her. Sure, she has sexy clothes and shoes in her closet, but most of it was bought for undercover work. Instead of the usual womanly highs, Jenna gets off on the chase of a suspect. It’s the best high of all. If she gets to tackle the suspect to the ground and accidentally elbow them in the head, well, that’s just a bonus.
Silently running through the particulars of the suspect they are going after keeps her occupied so that she doesn’t get the urge to look any of the guys in the eyes. It isn’t that she’s afraid of any of them. Jenna could kick their ever lovin’ asses from here to China, but she doesn’t want to intimidate any of them, either. Yet. Most men aren’t used to having a woman stare them down. It unnerves them. Not to mention, gives them a bum rap with the other guys. So, she just stares off into space, in no direction in particular, while mentally going over the facts.
Suspect is a white male in his early thirties, approximately five-feet eleven; so he is seven inches taller than her. He weighs approximately one hundred and ninety pounds, sixty pounds more than her, but still not a problem; Blond hair, blue eyes; and wanted for the murder of a woman whose husband is still listed as missing. Suspect is supposed to be apprehended alive to be interrogated for information regarding the missing husband.
“Hey, O’Conner, you nervous, yet? Should we drop you off somewhere so you don’t piss in your pretty little pink panties?” Moron. Note to self–Trip jackass into a wall.
Oops. Did my foot get in your way?
Turning her head to look the idiot straight in the eyes she sneers, “I’m good, Dubinski, but maybe we should stop at the store and buy you some big boy diapers so that when you scare yourself shitless, it’ll be an easier mess to clean up.” The men surrounding them snicker as Dubinski gives her a grudgingly respectful look.
With a smirk, Captain Nelson barks from the front passenger seat, “Keep it down, kids. Our ETA is three minutes, so let’s go over the basics one last time.” As the Captain rattles off the same information on the suspect that Jenna has just been going over in her head, she takes the opportunity to get a subtle whiff with her nose, testing the air. The inside of the van smells like sweat, leather, gun oil and anticipation. No one smells scared, just a little anxious. Good. No one here is a threat that is going to freak out and freeze in a dangerous situation. Having a super sniffer of a nose sometimes comes in handy. If one of these jerks starts leaking sweat out of his pores as if he’s trying to help keep up with the water supply at Niagara Falls, she’ll have to worry about him accidentally shooting her in the back. That would make it hard to concentrate on the mission. Luckily, this isn’t the case.
The van rounds a corner quickly as Captain Nelson wraps up the specifics. “O’Conner, you’ll be right behind Kent; so, third through the door. The entrance is a kill box due to the enclosed space so we have to break the door down quickly and catch the bastard before he does something stupid. After O’Conner, it’s the usual line up. Everybody ready?”
The team nod their heads in consent as the van jerks to a stop in front of the target’s temporary residence. As one, they fly out of the van and race towards the front door. A few seconds later, a group of bodies are piled up with Captain Nelson at the front, Kent behind him, and Jenna third in line with the rest of the team at her back. Less than ten seconds later, the Captain kicks down the door while screaming, “Police!” Moving quickly through the entrance hall, she uses her nose to smell the air again. There’s a whiff of something out of the norm. Two distinctly different male scents that fill her nose and she is positive neither of them are human.
Moving quickly through the house, the SWAT team starts clearing rooms as they spread out through the small ranch home. She follows where her nose happens to lead her, with Kent behind her, towards the back of the house where the scents become stronger. Three doors are ahead of them and she can hear sounds of a struggle coming from behind the closed door at the end of the hall. Pushing forward with Kent at her back, she kicks a foot out, knocking the door halfway off of its hinges, and barks, “POLICE! FREEZE!”
Before her stands a massive guy who has mussed auburn hair that’s sticking up in almost every direction and rippling back muscles. The blond hair, blue eyed suspect is positioned across the room from all three of them, facing Mr. Messy Head, with a gun pointed at his head. In the split second that Mr. Messy Head is distracted, the suspect takes the opportunity to tighten his finger on the trigger. He’s seconds from sending a bullet into his rather large opponent who still remains between them.
Dropping the aim of her rifle from the suspect’s head to his hand, Jenna squeezes off a round just as his finger starts to compress the trigger of his pistol. Mr. Messy Head jerks his body to the side, avoiding the bullet by a hairsbreadth, before an explosive spray of red mists the air where half of the man’s left hand used to be. A cry of pain fills the room as the gun thuds to the carpet. The suspect stares at his remaining thumb and trigger finger connected to the remnants of jagged bones and uneven, ripped flesh that is bleeding profusely. At this point the stranger shoots into action, leaping to tackle the suspect to the floor. In less than a minute, he has their man belly down to the ground, with his hands bound behind his back using flexi cuffs, while she and Kent stand, blocking the door, with their guns aimed at the pair.
Kent yells, “Freeze! Hands in the air, now!”
Hands slowly lift into the air as the red-head looks up at them. Bright amber eyes bore into Jenna’s as she looks down the barrel of her gun at him. Caught slightly off guard by his startling, strong, handsome face she drags in a subtle breath, but what she finds there makes her nervous. It’s a smell she hasn’t experienced in a very long time. A smell that she has been taught most of her life to avoid at all costs. It’s the clean, fresh scent of the outdoors that is unique to shifters alone with an underlying spice that could only be singular to Mr. Messy Head. It isn’t the latter of those scents that bothers her. It’s the other smell that means trouble. This guy on his knees, holding his hands calmly in the air in front of her, isn’t human. He spends his spare time in some kind of fur, whether its cat, bear, or wolf, she isn’t sure. He is Other. Whatever it is, though, isn’t beneficial for her to be around too long. So she needs to get this guy away from her, pronto.
She is praying that Mr. Messy Head hasn’t caught any of her scent. She’s been told by one of her Uncles once that it is remarkably light and hard to define, but to an experienced shifter, it can be figured out. Observing his sudden, subtle flaring of nostrils she’s guessing that he’s trying to do just that. Damn.
Booted feet pound the hall behind them as a few of the other officers pour into the room to apprehend the two men in front of her. After Mr. Messy Head has been cuffed and pulled to his feet, along with the suspect, she slips out of the room and follows Captain Nelson to the back of the van. Jenna’s keen senses are telling her that Kent is following directly behind.
Watching as two patrol cars pull up on the street behind their van, the Captain runs his hand through his hair. “What happened, O’Conner?”
Giving him a quick debriefing of the incident, he watches Jenna with amusement, and a little bit of surprise, on his face. After ending her spiel with the arrival of the rest of the team into the occupied room, Kent pipes in behind her. “You’re one hell of a shot, O’Conner. That was impressive… makes me grateful that you’re on my side.”
Shooting him a smile over her shoulder, she takes in the respectful gleam in his eyes. He means what he says. This is a decent start to being accepted by her new squad.
The Captain claps her on the shoulder. “Nice work, O’Conner. Your Uncle said you were good, but damn, that was something else. Taking out his gun hand on the fly so that he was immobile long enough not to shoot anyone was quick thinking. Nice job, indeed. Beer is on me tonight. The boys will want to go out and celebrate after our shift. You’re coming, right?”
“Wouldn’t miss it for the world, Captain.”
“Good. You guys might as well stay here for a minute. I’ll go check on the suspect, figure out who the mystery guy is, then we can load up and head out.” He claps her on the shoulder again before heading to the two patrol cars behind them. Looking back, she sees that the suspect is sitting in the back of the first patrol car while the red-head with his unusual amber eyes holds something out for Captain Nelson to inspect. The rest of the team starts clambering around in the back of the van so she can’t hear what is being said to the Captain. As much as she is curious, though, Jenna is even more anxious to put some much needed distance between herself and the tasty looking stranger whose hair resembles a red porcupine.
Taking a second, she runs her eyes from his booted feet back to his piercing gaze. He is just over six-feet tall and probably about two hundred and twenty pounds. His fitted gray t-shirt is pulled tight across his chest and well-worn denim hugs his thick thighs. He is pretty hulking, carrying more muscle in his arms and chest than most guys have in their entire body, followed by a trim waist. He cuts a memorable picture, it’s a shame she isn’t the type to do a little flirting; he looks like a prime piece of virile male.
The Captain is handing the guy’s identification back to him while explaining something. They shake hands and then the Captain walks away from him, heading back towards the van. The stranger looks directly at Jenna and cocks an eyebrow as he crosses his arms over his chest. His stare is penetrating and demanding. It sends shivers down her spine and a rush of heat that spreads though her entire body.
The instincts she’s come to rely on all her life are running amok, telling her that instead of body burning arousal, she should be feeling fear instead. She recognizes the mannerisms of an Alpha exuding his dominance. It’s a damn good thing her logic is kicking her body’s reactions in the metaphorical head because she is barely restraining the need to close the distance between the two of them and cover his body with her own. Or worse, bare her neck to him in submission.
Jenna snorts. They’ll be serving popsicles in hell before she bares her throat to anyone.
A memory of Jenna’s only paternal family member, her Uncle Owen, flashes through her mind; them sitting on a fallen log, surrounded by the woods behind her mama’s house, patiently explaining the hierarchy of shifters. The expectations of their pack mentality.
Ole’ Alpha boy here wants Jenna to drop her eyes and look away if she won’t bare her vulnerable neck to him; that way she acknowledges who and what he is while giving him the assurance that she understands who is in charge. Instead, Jenna continues to stare back at him coolly. Silently telling him where he can take his dominance and shove it.
She has to admit, though, that it takes every fiber of her being to fight her natural instinct to look down and away from his piercing gaze.
He’s just that damn dominant; which is kind of scary since she’s never felt the urge to show submission to anyone before.
Kent’s hand lands on her shoulder from behind. “Come on, O’Conner. Get your Annie Oakley wannabe ass in here so we can go. We’ve all got paperwork to go back and fill out now.”
With no choice left, she breaks eye contact and climbs in the van, closing the door behind herself to cut off any view of the stranger. If she has any good luck left, this will be the last she sees of him. If only crossing her fingers would help those chances, she would do it. Jenna doesn’t think the guy has figured out what she is, or isn’t, for that matter. Her family has tried their best to hide her and has taught her to avoid all other shifters; she silently prays their attempts will not be in vain just because this guy got curious. Her mama has always told her that if certain shifters ever find out who or what she is, she’s as good as dead.
Here’s to hoping she hasn’t just stumbled on to the beginning of her funeral.
Adam watches as the black police van pulls away from the curb and speeds down the street with its mysterious occupant inside. He’s come here to track down his cousin’s killer and drag him back to his turf for some pack style justice, but instead, ends up having his prey snatched right out of his hands. That does not make him a happy predator. In fact, it makes him kind of snarly.
Sure, the asshole will be tried and convicted for his cousin’s wife’s murder, but Adam had been looking forward to the creep facing claws instead of steel bars. The douche bag is going to get off easy in the joke that’s the human justice system. It isn’t fair. Adam stifles the growl that churns in his throat.
That is okay, though, because he just had something else drop into his lap. That little cop with midnight black hair, bright, arctic blue eyes that remind him of an Alaskan husky, and luscious, little curves, has snagged his interest. From the moment she kicked down the door, Adam caught the almost hidden scent of something Other in her and after the way she just stared him down, he’s all but itching to find out what she is. No one ever stares down an Alpha without ending up in a lot of bodily harm. Yet she hadn’t even smelled afraid of him while she’d been doing it.
Adam is betting a shit ton of money that she knows exactly what he is. So the fact that she openly stared down an Alpha has his blood heating in preparation for the chase. Right now, he can’t decide if he wants to catch her to punish her, or to pin her underneath him. Either way, he will be catching her. Maybe he can do both. Light up her pretty little ass to a nice shade of red with a well-deserved spanking and then pin her down underneath him. He kind of likes that idea.
Adam’s phone rings from his pocket. Digging it out to look at the screen, he sees that it’s his Beta and best friend, Clay, the second in command of his pack. “What’s up?”
“Did you get him?”
He breathes out a frustrated sigh. “Almost. I had him cornered in a room at the address you gave me, but before I could cuff and drag him off, the cops busted in. They just hauled him away in a patrol car.”
Clay’s growl rumbles over the line. “At least there will be some punishment for Ellie’s death. I just would have preferred it to have been us ripping him apart instead of the tiny cage he’ll have to live in from now on. Will you be heading home now? Perhaps I could arrange a hunt for us to burn off some of our frustration?”
Adam thinks about heading home. As excellent as hunting sounds at the moment, all he can see are a pair of chilly blue eyes staring him down with a fierceness that can’t be found in any of the members from his pack. “I’ve got a hunt of a different kind to do tonight. Tell me, Clay, do you know of any blue-eyed, black-haired females of the Other variety in Wilmington?”
Clay snorts in amusement. “So, it’s that kind of hunt, is it? I gotcha. I don’t know of any females fitting that description, though. Are you sure she’s not human?”
“I’ve got no doubt she’s something, Clay, but it’s definitely not human. I just don’t know what she is. Definitely not a vampire because it’s daylight out, but her scent smells off and I’m having a hard time figuring out what she is. I want to say she might be some kind of shifter, but if she is, she’s masking her scent somehow. I think I might follow her tonight and try to figure it out. Do we have anyone we know at the Wilmington Police Department?”
“A cop, huh? Kinky. Are you going to ask her to cuff you? That would be cool, but you might want to have her leave the night stick at home. I don’t think you’d like what she could do with that. At least, not without a lot of lube.”
“Damn it! Get your mind out of the constant gutter you wallow in. It’s not in our best interest to have some unknown Other roaming around so close to our land. In our territory. Especially, one we can’t identify.” His voice growls with irritation at his Beta and his tendency to harass Adam about his sex life. Or, his lack of lately, which is what is amusing to Clay.
Until recently, Adam had no qualms about indulging in the female flesh that makes itself so readily available to him all the time. Wolves are sensual creatures with an over active sex drive. It isn’t entirely uncommon to go to the Pack’s lodge and find a free-for-all in the middle of the night. However, for the last six months or so, no one has appealed to him. It’s like he had been doused with a cold shower one day and has yet to warm back up.
“Yeah, yeah. Don’t get your fur in a bunch. We have someone at the Wilmington Police Department. Would you like me to call him or give you the number?”
“You call him. Her last name is O’Conner. Call me with whatever you find out.” Snapping his cell phone shut, Adam walks down the street and around the corner to where he parked his black custom Harley V-Rod motorcycle. The August heat is unbearable, causing small rivulets of sweat to run down the back of his neck and soak his shirt. The roar of the engine drowns out the sounds of major traffic flow as he leads his bike back to his house where he can take a cold shower. After that, he’ll do some research on his laptop to see if he can come up with anything on his own about the mysterious O’Conner.
The hunt is on.
Here I come, little rabbit.
Did you enjoy the first chapter?
If so, Go buy the book!