After being held captive at the hands of a serial killer, Holly Lawrence is the only one who’s ever managed to escape the werewolf known as the Hunter. As a Hound for Shifter Town Enforcement, it was her job to track and find the killer; instead another girl died the night that she escaped. Now, the Hunter is changing his game and he has Holly in his crosshairs, all he needs is a good chase.
But when he targets the pack of Sanctuary Falls, alpha werewolf Caine Morgan is determined to protect them–and he’s not the only one. The Hunter is using Sanctuary Falls in a terrifying cat-and-mouse-game as he zeroes in on the one prey that ever got away: Holly. As Holly struggles to stay one step ahead of the Hunter, it’s up to her and Caine to work together to save herself and his pack…
But with the body count rising with every full moon, this killer won’t stop until Holly cries sanctuary….and runs.
Genre: Paranormal Romantic Suspense || Length: Novel
Six Sentence Sunday Teasers:
5/13/2012 – Ollie faces off with the Hunter
5/20/2012 – Ollie and Caine get some alone time
5/27/2012 – Caine’s first glimpse of Ollie
6/24/2012 – Ollie’s first glimpse of Caine :-p
7/1/2012 – Caine decides to eavesdrop…
Lennox Donnelly’s voice came sharp and clear over the phone. “Dammit Ollie, answer your phone. You’ve missed two check-ins. We need to hear from you.”
The voicemail clicked over and Holly Lawrence winced. Right now, she’d have given anything to call her boss back and check in, but she couldn’t. Not with her hands strung up over her head as she hung from the rafters in a dilapidated shack in the middle of nowhere. Her arms trembled under the strain, the muscles in her shoulders slowly tearing, and she had to fight the urge to whimper as the Hunter stepped closer, head cocked as he grinned at her. It wasn’t his name, she didn’t know his real name, but it was what the press called him now. Ever since someone had let it slip in an interview that he liked to hunt his victims down before he killed them.
“Your boss sounds so worried about you.”
He reached out to touch her and Ollie jerked before she could stop herself, a pained hiss sliding out between her teeth. Damn. His grin flashed wider, canines too long to be human teeth. This time when his fingers reached for her, she didn’t jerk away. Instead she let the son of a bitch run his hand over her hip, down her thigh, watched the frustration flare in his eyes.
“You think you’re so strong.” The Hunter drew his fingers in a circle over her belly and she had to force herself to hold his wolf-bright eyes. Do not flinch. Don’t give him the pleasure of making you squirm. The muscle in her jaw twitched. “But they all break. You will too.”
He pulled back and rammed his fist into her gut, driving the air straight out of her lungs in a hollow grunt. Her body swayed on the rope. The barren wood shack blurred around her, the Hunter’s face the only thing that stayed clear while the rest of the world spun.
“Just like you,” he crooned and Ollie watched as he knelt by the woman on the floor, his fingers twining through long blonde hair. He yanked Rosalie Myers’s head back, exposing the long, pale line of her throat. Her glasses lay smashed in the corner, pink cat’s-eye frames that were now nothing more than bits of shattered plastic. The Hunter leaned in close and Rosalie flinched, her eyes squeezing shut. Fear radiated off her. It hung in the air, smelling like thick sweat, clammy skin, blood, and urine. Ollie’s heart gave a painful, longing twist. The woman had been trying so hard to believe her, to listen, but as the Hunter ran his thumb over her cheek, Ollie could see she was ready to break.
He leaned in close enough to brush a kiss against Rosalie’s cheek. “You want out of here yet?”
His finger trailed down the exposed line of Rosalie’s throat and Ollie watched as she shivered, her own fear rising like bile in her throat. “Don’t,” Ollie whispered, pleading with the woman on the floor every bit as much as the Hunter. Don’t run. Don’t hurt her. They were twin chants she’d been begging and screaming since he’d dragged her in here. “Don’t.”
The Hunter spun on her, tossing her phone to the ground as he yanked Rosalie Myers backwards, dragging her over the concrete floor. “Shut up. Fucking Hound, shut up.” Her phone hit the ground with a clatter and he stomped on it, the black case shattering under his boot.
Combat boots, laced halfway up his shin. Ollie forced herself to focus on the details, her gaze traveling up the length of him to his face. He could say whatever he wanted to say to her, she didn’t care. As long as it gave the woman on the floor a chance. And every extra detail she could remember would help her later if he got away. If she was still alive.
He yanked Rosalie Myers to her feet, and Ollie saw tears brimming in her blue eyes. The woman had been missing for eight days before Ollie got lucky. The Hunter liked to let his prey go on the full moon. Nights like tonight. He caught and kept them for weeks until then, raping them, but otherwise keeping them healthy, fit, and strong. Then as dusk ate away the sky on a full moon night, he let them go.
Only to hunt them down in the woods and kill them.
The chase was why he hunted.
Chasing them, he hunted as a wolf, proving he was the same as his victims, but in the end he always shifted back. Always shot them.
He’d been trying to get Rosalie to run for the last two hours, beating her, screaming at her, threatening everything she held dear. So far, she’d held strong. But one look in those shimmering blue eyes now and Ollie knew she was about to break. Ollie shook her head. “He wants you to run. He can’t kill you if you don’t run,” she whispered.
He laughed at that, a thick, menacing sound that echoed through the shack as he pulled Rosalie’s head back, forcing her to look at him. “Like I couldn’t hurt you? You going to keep listening to her, or do I have to keep proving her wrong?”
“He lives for the hunt. Rosalie if you run out that door you’re going to die.”
“Maybe.” His hand tightened in Rosalie’s hair, his eyes locked on hers. “But you’ll also have a chance to get free. Just shift. Be a good little tiger and run. You’re bigger than me; fight me if I catch you. Surely a big cat like you can take on a wee little wolf like me.” He caressed the ugly bruise on her cheek. “Or stay here and let me rip you apart slowly.”
Rosalie glanced between them and the Hunter snarled. The sharp crack of his hand against her face filled the shack.
“She thinks she knows me? This bitch doesn’t know shit. She’s up here just like you. Mine.”
“I do know you,” Ollie snarled. “I study bastards like you for a living. I know every case. I know what makes you tick. I know if she doesn’t run and the sun comes up, you’re fucked.”
His hand slammed down against Rosalie’s back, claws sprouted from his fingertips, and he raked them down the woman’s spine before pulling back, barely keeping the wolf under his skin. “Run or die.”
His boot swung back, and Rosalie threw one last desperate glance at Ollie hanging above her. She couldn’t blame the woman at all. Rosalie Myers didn’t have the luxury of confidence. She was running and hoping that the lies he was feeding her were true. That running gave her a shot. That maybe as a tiger she could beat him.
“Don’t,” Ollie managed to whisper right before the woman darted out the front door.
The grin that slid over the Hunter’s face was triumphant. He turned those gold eyes back towards her. I win, that gaze told her, screamed it at her. Then he shuddered as fur washed out over clothing and in a blink of an eye, the monster that was the Hunter—the man who had killed fourteen people over the past two years—became a lean, black wolf.
Dark and deadly, he slipped out the door into the dwindling evening light and Ollie Lawrence knew that, tiger-shifter or not, Rosalie Myers didn’t stand a chance.
“Damn. Dammit.” Ollie squeezed her eyes shut against the rush of tears. Crying wouldn’t get her down from the rafters, it wouldn’t get her out of this shack, and it damn well wouldn’t save the fool woman running through the woods. Her arms were going numb, from the lack of blood and the pain. She didn’t have long to come up with a plan.
Breathe. Unlike the last time she’d tried this, the Hunter wasn’t standing in the room to beat her for trying to escape, and the man had been just stupid enough to use normal rope. No, not stupid. He wanted his victims to escape. To run. “Gonna get what you wish for then,” she muttered and called up her inner dog, felt the shape-shift start in her bones.
The faint tingle of magick slipped through her skin, and Ollie focused on her wrists. Her limbs thinned, her normally chubby body twisting into the lean form of an Irish wolfhound. Even as big as her shaggy dog-self was, the noose wrapped around her hands was too big. She slipped loose and hit the ground with a yelp. She gave the broken cell phone one last look of longing, then shook off her fall and bolted out the door. Scruffy gray muzzle pressed to the ground, she loped after the combined scent of woman and wolf, smelled the moment Rosalie Myers became a tiger. Please, please don’t let it be too late.
About a mile from the shack she heard Rosalie roar, the sickening snarl of a wolf after that. They were close. A hundred yards out, max.
Ollie shifted back, her empty gun holster swinging at her hip. She wished he’d have left her gun. But as much as he’d wanted his victims to run, wanted them to fight back, a Hound from Shifter Town Enforcement still armed was apparently a bit too much for the cold blooded bastard.
Her boots broke through the layers of dried leaf litter on the forest floor, acorns cracking under her weight, just as a gunshot ripped through the darkness. A sharp, piercing boom that eroded the peaceful quiet of a summer night and left it hollow. Barren. Even the crickets stilled in the grass. Rosalie gave one last snarl and the gun fired again, followed by the heavy thud of Rosalie Myers’s dead body hitting the ground.
Ollie stood in the darkness, the black arms of the trees waving in the wind as she listened to the sound of the Hunter’s boots crunching over the forest floor. She heard his low, satisfied chuckle. The deep bass of a howl tearing out of his throat. Wrong coming from a man rather than a wolf.
“Your turn,” he called out of the darkness, but Holly didn’t move.
The crack of his gun sounded again and pain lanced through her right arm as the bullet tore through the fat of her upper arm and spun her around, knocking her to her knees. It wasn’t silver, about the only luck she had going for her tonight. He always planned on being close enough for a kill shot.
She closed her eyes to stave off the tears.
He wanted her to run. She couldn’t give him that. Another gun shot rang out and the ground spit dirt in her face as it swallowed the bullet. Another shot and she jerked as it hit the ground again, this time to her other side. “Run, run, run.”
Ollie forced a smile to her face. She breathed out a slow breath. He could only kill her if she ran. “I told you. I know you.”
Black boots appeared out of the shadows on the ground in front of her, and she could hear him breathing heavily, feel him staring down at the back of her head. She refused to look up.
“It’s not fun for you if I don’t run.”
His knees bent as he reached down to drag her to her feet. To beat her. She didn’t give him the chance. Ollie launched up and into him, ramming into his midsection hard enough it sent him toppling backwards. Her hands scrambled for the gun, wrenching it out of his hands as she stumbled. She whirled, catching herself before she fell, the Glock wrapped firmly between her hands as she lifted it to aim.
A black wolf split the night shrubs and was gone.
One shot rang out, followed by the hollow thud of a bullet biting into the trunk of a tree.
Gone. A cold vise clamped her heart as Ollie stood there alone in the dark, Rosalie’s still-warm body somewhere nearby the only company left in the forest. It would be a long hike back to the nearest road, but at least she could show them the body. Give a description to a sketch artist. Have another chance to go after the bastard.
Finding the gold and black body of Rosalie sprawled out over the forest floor, she stared down, thinking of the fourteen other victims. She should have had him. Should have saved Rosalie Myers from becoming number fifteen. She should have done more. Instead, he was free to kill again.
To hunt again.