Last Wolf Watching(2)

By: Rhyannon Byrd

He was a Bloodrunner, the offspring of his human mother and Lycan father. A hunter of rogue werewolves. A protector of the Lycan way of life for the Silvercrest pack. But unlike his fellow Runners, Brody knew that in some ways he was more monster than man. He walked a delicate balance between the two opposing worlds, and the woman inside this house upped the stakes to a dangerous, deadly level. For too many months, his beast had been denied the physical pleasures that fed its soul, not unlike the way a wild kill fed his animal appetites. By the time he’d understood the dangerous effects of his self-imposed celibacy—it was too late. He hadn’t dared to seek out a woman, even a Lycan one, because he didn’t trust his human half to be able to master the savage urges of his beast.

Then Michaela Doucet had walked into his life, and Brody discovered what it was like to live in true fear—what it was like to live in hell. Every moment spent in her company took him one step closer to the crumbling edge of his control, until he could all but feel the fires of damnation licking at his skin.

“You need to go home, grab a bottle of Jack and find a way to forget she even exists,” he muttered to himself, squeezing his eyes tight as he lifted his fist and knocked harder, all but shaking the sturdy door within its frame, nearly cracking the wood. The wind grew savage, riffling through his hair, pulling the dark auburn strands across his face until he had to swipe at them with his hand. Drawing in another deep, ragged breath, Brody hammered at the door again…and again, feeling every bit the part of the Big Bad Wolf getting ready to huff, and puff and blow her picture-perfect world to pieces.

Finally, the lock on the front door clicked, the handle turning, and Brody shoved his shaky hands deep in the pockets of his jeans, steeling himself to get what needed to be said over and done with as fast as possible. After all, he’d come tonight to tell the woman who’d become his secret obsession that she’d lost her brother—or rather, the brother she’d always known.

The boy she’d raised was gone. Forever.

“And you get to be the lucky bastard who tells her,” he snarled, the whispered words so guttural, they barely sounded human.

Brody muttered a foul word under his breath, and with the rasping ease of an old, comfortable house, the front door quietly opened…

Chapter 1

Eighteen hours later…

F ear sat on the tip on Michaela Doucet’s tongue, as bitter as an aspirin waiting to be swallowed. It possessed a sharp, acidic flavor that made her mouth water in the way that it does when you’re about to be sick, while her eyes burned with a stinging wash of gathering tears. She willed them back with the sheer stubborn force of her will, reminding herself again and again that Doucets weren’t ones to cower. Raised in the superstition-rich environment of the Louisiana Bayou, she’d grown up on whispered tales of ghosts and goblins, vampires and werewolves.

Yes, she’d always been a believer, even if she’d never seen proof of the paranormal creatures most humans consigned to the realm of fantasy and fiction. But now the veil between the two worlds had been lifted. Two weeks ago, she and her brother Max had learned the truth about the secret that resided in the eastern mountains just a few hours’ drive west of their home in Covington, Maryland. Werewolves did indeed live among us. Some good. Some bad. Some so evil, they were more monsters than men.

And then there were others who were truly heroes. Dark, dangerous and tortured ones, yes—but undoubtedly heroic.

Michaela’s best friend, Torrance Watson, had fallen in love with one such hero: Mason Dillinger, a man who was half human–half Lycan. Mason was one of a select breed of hunters known as Bloodrunners who were committed to hunting down and exterminating the rogue Lycans who’d begun murdering humans. Because of their half-human bloodlines, the Runners lived separately from the Silvercrest werewolf pack they protected, in a place named Bloodrunner Alley.

The Doucets had been under Bloodrunner protection ever since a rogue werewolf had made a move on Torrance’s life. And while Michaela didn’t care for the lack of privacy, Wyatt Pallaton and Carla Reyes—the Bloodrunning team assigned to their protection—had become friends to both her and Max. She had been thankful for their watchful eye, especially for her brother’s sake.

Yes, she could accept the existence of werewolves. She’d even begun to embrace a few of them as part of her family. But tonight, terror consumed her.

Beneath the wraithlike streams of silvery moonlight, the autumn wind whistled past her ears, reminding her of a specter imparting secrets, the cool frost of its voice chilling against her skin. Shivering, she inhaled deeply through her nose, searching for the fresh scents of the surrounding forest, for pinesap and juniper and the moist smell of the soil. Like a frightened child grasping at a frayed security blanket, she needed the familiarity of those things to ground her in a world that had tilted on its axis, knocking her off balance—but all she could find was the acrid stench of aggression. Feral and thick, the heavy scent closed around her like a physical vise, banding her chest, making it difficult to draw enough air into her lungs.