What do you do when your ex’s werewolf boss wants to feast on the mortal you’ve sworn to protect?
Quinn was unaware of the love potion her meddling cat dumped into her tea, so when Ian Hannigan ends up injured on her property, she thinks she’s dealing with another mortal, not the man who can help mend her heart. Her life becomes a balancing act as she attempts to keep him safe while hiding secrets better left buried with the dead.
In a realm filled with things that go bump in the night, Ian didn’t expect to find security and happiness in the arms of a green-skinned witch, yet for the first time since his parents’ tragic car crash, he’s found some measure of peace. The rumors he hears in Clayridge aren’t pleasant, but Ian knows there’s more to Quinn than what people would have him believe. If he’s placed his trust in the wrong hands, he’ll be paying with more than just his heart. He’ll pay with his life.
Ian raced off as fast as he could, but she was faster. Of course, she was faster; she was a fucking vampire.
When she blocked off his retreat, he turned and started in another direction. Her laughter followed him. Like a cat with a mouse, she toyed with him. Mocking him, taunting him, and foiling each escape. He was under no false assumptions. She was playing with him.
“Little human, come with me,” she whispered. “I’d love to take you home for dinner.”
This time, when she spoke, no haze encircled him, just fear and dread. Her laugh was cut short when a wolf howled in the distance. Seeming on alert, her posture changed, and she lunged for him, all her teasing gone. He braced himself for her attack, sheltering his face as best he could, but her weight never hit him.
Mid-jump, something tackled her to the ground.
A beast, something definitely from a horror flick, rose up over her. It stood at least seven feet tall on its hind legs. Brown fur covered most of its body. It had a wide chest and wolf-like features but walked on two feet. Saliva fell from its mouth, dangling from its teeth like some rabid dog. Its attention turned to him but flickered back to the woman when she attacked it, kicking at its legs before launching nails-first toward the creature’s throat.
Movement behind him caused Ian to turn. More wolf-like creatures were barreling toward them, snapping tree limbs and leaving claw marks in the earth.
Abandoning the skirmish, Ian ran once more.
At one point, he’d been in fine shape, his body toned, his cardio excellent, but in the last year, he’d let physical exercise lapse, and now he felt the repercussions. His lungs burned, his legs ached. He wouldn’t be able to keep up this pace for long. He needed to find help or shelter. Somewhere to hide.
He didn’t bother to look back when he heard something, or more correctly, somethings, from the sound of it, in pursuit of him. He simply pushed on. Nightmare or not, it was his only chance. Praying he’d wake up, he tried running in a zig-zag pattern, but something threw him to the ground, and a second later, pain sliced across his back. Harsh, unforgiving, and deep, claws sunk into his skin.
He screamed in anguish, tears rushing to his eyes. Not a dream. So not a dream.
He was done for. This was the end.
Unexpectedly, the weight above him was removed. Ian pushed up a bit and watched as the vampire woman from before fought against the brown wolf creature.
Pushing to his knees, Ian felt blood dripping down his back. His shirt hung off his body, shredded by the wolf-man’s claws.
He staggered a bit, trying to get to his feet. That’s when he felt hot breath against his cheek. Twisting his head, he came face to face with another wolf-man. This one seemed bigger, its eyes black as night, as it stared at him, spittle hanging from its jowls.
The creature opened its mouth and released a horrific roar.
Spit hit Ian’s face. The power behind that fierce sound moved Ian’s entire body, pushing him backward, like a fat pig blown from its straw house by the big bad wolf.
The creature stalked toward him, and once more, Ian’s legs propelled him forward. A few hundred yards, and he dove behind a pile of brush. He cowered there, knowing it was only a matter of time before they nabbed him.
With one hand, he reached back to assess the damage. The wound was deep. Three, maybe even four slashes across his skin. He’d need stitches or staples, and if he didn’t get help soon, likely a blood transfusion.
A low growl drew his attention. He peeked around the pile of twigs and leaves and spotted the two wolves pacing along what seemed to be an invisible line on the ground. Standing against a tree trunk further back was a woman.
“Why aren’t they attacking?” He wondered out loud as he used his sleeve to wipe sweat from his brow.
“Because they aren’t allowed to hunt on my territory.”
Ian’s gaze swung to the newest voice. This new being was just as shocking as the rest, with a purple and black dress that draped from her body, cut high in the front, revealing shapely thighs covered in torn stockings. Brown hair hung in ringlets around her shoulders, tumbling out from beneath a wide-brimmed pointed black hat. One hand was propped on her hip, and the other was wrapped around a corn broom handle. A heavy metal talisman hung around her neck. The green hue of her skin made her look as though she’d walked off the pages of a comic book and left absolutely zero question as to what she was.
A witch. Now there’s was a witch.
The vampire had been breathtaking, in a drugging sort of way, but this woman was stunning. Her beauty was raw and real. Or maybe that was just his loopy brain trying to make sense of this crazy world he’d stumbled into.
“Yes.” Her gaze dropped to him, and her mouth turned upward in a kind smile. “This is my land, and you are safe here.”
“You can’t keep him there forever, Quinn,” a deep voice spoke from behind the pile of forest rubble.
Ian took another look around the brush. Two men, both naked, one with raven hair and the other with sandy brown, paced that invisible line. “He won’t be leaving tonight, Draven. Go home.”
A snarl came from the brown-haired man. “I’ve tasted his blood, his flesh. Give him to me.”
The vampire, presently fixing her wild hair, sighed. “I’m going to find a new quarry. Enjoy your mortal, Quinn. You know where to find me if you want rid of him.”
Ian watched the exchange with interest. In fact, he was quite invested, as it seemed his life was being negotiated.
Faster than he could see, the vampire disappeared between the trees, but the men remained.
“I want him, Quinn. Give him back.”
“You’re wasting your breath, Draven. Leave now, or I will turn away all business that comes from your pack.”
Draven, the man who had taken a pound of flesh from Ian’s back, growled. “This isn’t over.” Then as Ian watched, he transformed back into a wolf creature and fled, leaving the raven-haired man behind.
He exhaled rather loudly. “I hope you aren’t making a mistake, Quinn.”
Ian glanced to the witch, whose eyes narrowed. “Think carefully about what side you’re on, Alec, and about what your conscience can live with.”
“The pack comes first. Always.”
“And you don’t ever let me forget it,” the witch—Quinn—said.
The raven-haired man looked as though he wanted to say more, but he merely shook his head, turned, and shifted into wolf form before following in the direction Draven had taken.
Blinking, Ian tried to make sense of any part of what had happened. One minute he was fighting with Priscilla, and now he was face-to-face with a witch.
He glanced up at her, wondering if he should start running again, but when he tried to move, his body gave up, collapsing in pain.
The broom dropped to the ground as Quinn came closer, tsking softly. “And just what sort of mess have you gotten yourself into?”