Duncan tried to slow his racing heart, but it was impossible to do with his mysterious lass sitting right beside him.
Right there beside him.
In his Jeep.
Blethering on with him about the wolves who had come into the club and ruined his night.
that it hadn’t already been ruined by the fact that his mysterious
stalker had been about to leave with someone else. A human, for Christ’s
sake. And one wearing one of those stupid hats.
had started the brawl? Aye, he’d be thanking him the next time he saw
him. Buy the man a beer. Because of him and his temper, Duncan had had
the perfect opportunity to hold the lass in his arms. To feel her soft
curves and smell her sweet scent.
It was as though fate had
intervened to put the two of them together. Aye, it was fate, and had
nothing at all to do with the fact that he’d barreled through fists
flying at his face and leapt over tables to get to her. Luckily,
everyone had been too busy either fightin’ or fleein’ to pay much
A quick look in the rearview mirror confirmed the
lass was right. Those three wolves were running full out behind them
now, not caring at all who might see them. Duncan growled low in his
throat and she looked over at him, one eyebrow lifted in question. Gods,
but she was bonnie. A braw female, for sure.
And she was a Faerie. Of the na maithe tribe, if he were to take a guess. Because if she were anything else…
No. He wouldn’t even think of it.
figured it out the first time he’d seen her when she’d run off with the
speed of a vamp. If it wasn’t for the fact that it was day at the time,
he couldn’t have been convinced she wasn’t one. However, vampires would
never be running about in the woods in the middle of the day. Even with
the canopy of the trees, it was too risky. They could be exposed to the
sun, and anything more than a few seconds and they’d be a cloud of ash
blowing through the pines.
And he’d known she wasn’t a shifter.
He would’ve scented another of his kind a mile away out in the open like
that. So, that left only one other thing he knew of that she could be.
And tonight, when he had her wee self in his arms, he’d caught a
good whiff of her. She didn’t smell like a wolf, or a vamp. She smelled
like primrose, blooms from his homeland.
And he would bet she tasted just as sweet.
growl rose in his throat, this one hungry with lust. To feel this way
again shook him through and through, and he cleared his throat, trying
to disguise the sound before the lass heard.
“They’re getting closer,” she said.
closed his eyes for a second, letting the sweet tones of her voice rain
over him. “We’re almost tae th’ freeway. They will no’ be able tae keep
up with us then.”
“Are you sure about that?”
infused his back and he gripped the steering wheel as he told her, “Aye,
lass. I will no’ let them get tae ye. Dinna fash yerself.”
“How are you so certain they’re after me?”
the last minute, Duncan spun the wheel, heading east instead of north.
He’d lead them out to the mountains. If this came down to a fight, it
would be better to be away from his home and out of sight of the humans,
and there would be less traffic this way. “I saw th’ way th’ leader
latched on to ye at th’ club. They had no interest in me at all, and
they knew I was there.”
“Are you sure about that?”
lass. I can smell another wolf th’ second he or she comes into th’ room.
Miles away sometimes if we’re out in th’ open. It would be th’ same for
“Really? That far?”
“Aye.” Duncan checked the mirrors and merged onto the highway. Making his way to the far-left lane, he stomped on the gas.
“What’s your name, wolf?”
He opened his mouth to tell her, paused, and only said, “Duncan. My name is Duncan. What’s yours?”
She repeated his name, then told him hers. “Ryanne.”
He felt her eyes on him. Watching him for a reaction. “Ryanne,” he repeated. “That’s a bonnie name. It suits ye.”
felt her visibly relax beside him. It was obvious she didn’t want him
to know a lot about her. But if she was there on some kind of secret
mission, why follow him around? Why expose her presence when she did?
“They shifted,” she told him. “They’re coming,” she added a little louder. “Duncan.” Facing front, she tightened her seat belt.
I see them.” He stomped down on the clutch and shifted into fifth gear,
hitting the gas hard. The fookers were fast, but he knew these roads.
Knew these woods. And he was faster. He had to be. There was no way he
was going to let them get their paws on Ryanne. He didn’t know why they
were after her, but he assumed it was because she was Fae. Even though
the war was over, there was still a lot of packs who hunted them.
himself, was still somewhat wary of the forest people. Although a few
of his friends and pack mates had mated with Fae lasses, and Duncan
tried not to treat them any differently than any other, if he were to be
honest with himself, they still struck fear in his bones.
Even the sweet thing sitting beside him.
that hadn’t stopped his wolf from rushing to her side when danger
arose. And once his beast had made it’s mind up about something, there
was no stopping it.
Even if it meant taking on the three who were following them.
was a perplexing thing, that the beast inside of him was so adamant
about this particular lass, and it was definitely something to think
about when he had a moment’s peace. However, Duncan quickly shoved the
thought aside. He had no time to worry about it at the moment. Right
now, he just needed to get her to safety, and then get back to his pack
and tell them what he knew about these wolves who were invading Cedric’s
territory without the alpha’s permission.
“I think we’re losing them,” Ryanne said. The relief she felt was evident in her tone.
Duncan checked the mirror. Then he checked again. He looked to either side of the vehicle, then behind
only two wolves back there,” he told her. “I dinna ken where th’ third
one is.” Duncan floored the gas pedal. The police could just add to the
chase if they happened to see him.
Ryanne held one hand up the
window, shielding her eyes from any glare from the lights on the
dashboard, though he knew she could see as well as he could in the
darkness. Twisting around, she searched behind them, then leaned across
his lap to look out his window, the dark curls pulled on top of her head
softly brushing his jaw.
He inhaled the sweet smell of her.
insides twisted, and for a few seconds, he completely forgot where he
was and what he was supposed to be doing. But then she was gone again,
back on her own side of the Jeep.
His wolf howled at the loss,
pacing restlessly beneath his skin. Duncan took a deep breath and
focused on the dark road ahead of him.
“Where did it go?” she asked him.
“I dinna ken. But this can no’ be good.”
“You have to lose them. If they catch me…” She let the words trail away.
knew well what would happen if they caught her. The Fae weren’t ones he
would ever mess with if there was no need. At least not one on one. But
there were three of those wolves. If he thought he could take them
alone, he’d stop the Jeep and shift, but one against three weren’t very
good odds. If he took on one, or even two, that would leave the last one
to go after Ryanne. And it was very possible, in all the confusion of a
fight, it would get its jaws around her wee throat before she could
protect herself. “I’m tryin’, lass.” He glanced over.
She was looking at him with large dark eyes. Eyes full of worry and something else.
will no’ get their paws on ye,” he promised her. Motioning with his
head, he indicated the “oh, shit!” handles beside her seat and along the
top of her window. “Hang on, Ryanne. We’re aboot tae go off road.”
behind them, he saw he was finally gaining ground, although there was
still no sign of the third wolf. Of course, it didn’t mean anything. It
could’ve broken off from the others in an attempt to cut them off
Or maybe he’d gotten taken out by one of the big
trucks, the only other vehicles on this dark highway this late at night.
It wasn’t likely, but one could hope.
Perhaps if they fought together…
No, he couldn’t risk it.
He wouldn’t take the chance of getting hurt, or even killed, and leaving his female defenseless.
Duncan frowned. Where the fook had that come from? The lass wasn’t his.
Did he want her to be?
Och. Now was not the time to be thinking about such a matter. Their only chance was to get out of their
sight and lose them, then circle back and get to his pack.
watched the landscape as they sped down the highway. The turn he was
looking for would be coming up very soon. If he could get around it,
their pursuers would lose sight of them, and there was a turnoff on the
left. An old, dirt road that led up the mountain, completely
unnoticeable if you didn’t know it was there, half covered with
overhanging branches and brush covering the tire tracks. The highway
began to weave in and out through the mountains here. With any luck,
they could disappear into the trees and be gone by the time the wolves
chasing them came around the corner.
“Hang on,” he told his passenger. “The turn off is just ahead.”
Ryanne gripped the handles, leaning her body forward. “I don’t see anything.”
it’s there,” he told her. “Just a little ways more…” He checked the
mirror as they started around the curve. The wolves disappeared from his
line of his sight just as he’d hoped. Cutting off the headlights, he
wrenched the steering wheel to the left, cut across the grassy
median—just missing an oncoming truck—and drove straight into the trees.
Downshifting into low gear, Duncan crawled up the side of the
mountain, praying to all the gods the big engine of that truck would
hide the noise of the Jeep. He didn’t worry about them seeing him. His
Vina was painted the perfect color green to blend in with the forest
around them, just like the lady she was named after.
laughed as they bumped along up the mountain, soft, throaty notes that
were music to his ears, and despite the danger they were in, he couldn’t
help a small smile in return.
About a mile or so up, he pulled off the trail, wedging the Jeep between some thick pine trees, and cut the engine.
“What are we doing?” Ryanne asked.
waiting,” he told her. “If I keep going, there’s a verra good chance
they’ll double back and hear us. So, we’ll sit. And we’ll wait. And stay
inside where they will no’ scent either o’ us.”
“For how long?” She sounded almost disappointed that the excitement was over.
“As long as it takes, lass. Sometimes, although it may no’ be as exciting, patience is th’ best practice.”
didn’t look convinced, but she didn’t argue anymore. Sighing loudly,
she stared out the front windshield. Duncan did the same, cracking his
window a bit, but there was no sign of the strange wolves by sight,
sound, or scent. Only the pungent aroma of the pine trees, wet from the
Now that they were out of danger, at least for the
moment, Duncan found he could think of nothing at all to say. His usual
sugary tongue felt like it was coated in tar, heavy with bland and
boring words, just like the one other time he’d tried to speak to her.
It was a predicament, and he didn’t know what to do about it. Talking to
females was not a problem he’d ever had before. So much so, he was
often accused of being a flirt.
And maybe he was. Though most of
the time, he did it on purpose just to rile up their males. And other
times, he did it just to prove that he could…
He gave himself a mental shake. What had he been thinking about?
aye. The lass beside him. She was a mystery. But more than that, there
was something unique about her. He found himself craving her company at
odd moments, and yet he could barely utter a word when he was finally
near her. He felt like a right eejit, hoping every day to see her, and
then not knowing how to act when he did.
“So, what pack are you from?” she asked, pulling him from his contemplations.
question surprised him. “Ye dinna ken?” When she shook her head, he
told her, “I’m part o’ th’ Pacific Northwest pack.” He paused, but only
briefly, because for some reason he could only say nothing at all or
blather on like he didn’t have an ounce of sense in his head when he was
around her. “I live here. I’m supposed tae be here. I’m no’…” he
stumbled to a halt. Och. Why could he not seem to form a coherent
thought? It was better when the wolves were chasing them. At least then,
his own wolfish instincts had taken over and kept him focused.
For the most part.
“Does it hurt?”
frowned, wondering if she could read his thoughts. Aye, it did hurt.
Verra bad. He was not the stumbling fool she must think him to be. And
honestly, he didn’t know if his ego could take the beating.
“When you shift. Does it hurt?”
Oh. That. “Aye, it hurts.”
“Can you stop it?”
“Stop it from hurting?”
“No. Stop the shift. Can you stop it from happening?”
Duncan didn’t see the harm in telling her. “Sometimes. Sometimes no’.”
“Like when you’re angry?”
“Aye, if my temper gets th’ best o’ me.”
“Can you shift at will? Or do you have to be mad or something?”
tried to guess the reasoning behind her questions. “If yer worried
whether I can take care o’ ye if those other shifters show up, dinna
fash yerself. Me and my wolf will do what needs tae be done, and all ye
will need tae do is run th’ way I seen ye do before.”
Something hit the windshield, and she jumped.
“It’s just a pinecone, lass. Knocked down by the rain.”
watched drops hit the windshield, nodding. But he could hear her heart
pounding and her breath whooshing in and out of her lungs at a rapid
rate. Tentatively, he reached over and placed his hand over hers, still
tight on the hand grip. “Ryanne, I swear tae ye, I will no’ let them
harm ye. I will protect ye with my life if th’ need arises.”
Her head tilted, little lines furrowing the smooth skin between her eyebrows. “Why would you do that?”
indeed? He didn’t know, but he felt it with certainty all the way down
to his bones. “Yer…” He started to say something along the lines of her
being a female, and therefore needing his protection. But then he
stopped. That wasn’t right. She didn’t need his protection. He knew
firsthand what a Fae lass was capable of. Although three wolves at once
would be a bit much, she could easily outrun them if she had a head
Duncan thought about that for a minute.
up his neck to burn his cheeks. Had she been playing with him? Allowing
him to play the big, strong male and lead her to safety? “I dinna ken,”
he ground out. “Ye obviously dinna need my help.”
She gave him a funny look. “No, I probably didn’t. But it was nice to have it anyway.”
his face burned before, now it was so hot he raised a hand to touch the
skin of his cheek, just to check if it was melting from the bone. He’d
acted a fool. Involving himself in something he shouldn’t have, when
what he should’ve been doing was hightailing it out of the club and
reporting back to Cedric.
Conflict rumbled deep in his chest, and
he rubbed the center of it. But what if something had happened to the
lass? What if she wasn’t able to get around the humans? What if she’d
been seen as the supernatural she is? Or worse, what if the wolves had
caught her before she got out? She could be lying in a ditch on the side
of the road, the life seeping out of her…
Och. He was turning into his maw!
The gods rest her soul.
He pulled himself from his thoughts. It was hard to look at her, feeling foolish as he was, but somehow, he managed. “Aye?”
smile that lit her face was tiny and sweet and stopped his heart
completely. “Thank you. For helping me get out of the club and to
Words tumbled around on his tongue, but his throat closed and he was unable to utter any of them. So, instead, he just nodded.
“Do you scent those wolves? Are they anywhere near us?”
He turned his nose to the window and breathed deep. Turning back to her, he shook his head.
unbuckled her seat belt. Leaning toward him, she caught his eyes. “It’s
very, very important you tell no one about me. No one,” she emphasized.
“Not even your alpha. Okay?”
Overcome by the sight and scent and warmth of her so close to him, Duncan nodded. “Aye, lass. No one will know ye were here.”
you,” she whispered. Then she pressed a kiss to his still-burning
cheek. Before he could regain the ability to do more than blink at her,
she opened the door and hopped out into the rain.
out his side and ran around the front of the Jeep. To do what? Say
something to make her stay? To see if he would ever see her again? But
she had left him as she had before, running away into the forest faster
than his eye could track her. The rain that kept them hidden from the
wolves also washing away her scent.
Arrows tore through his chest, until he was near doubled over from the loss.