Nora snarled and backed into the boulder. Could this night get any worse? First her car broke down, and then she discovered she'd left her cell phone back at her dorm. Her visit home had turned into her own little nightmare.
Now she was in her wolven form, stuck between a rock and teenage boys out for a joy ride. Just her luck they found her more fascinating than riding their dirt bikes in the sand pit to her right and behind. She'd been so lost in her thoughts while running through the forest that she hadn't paid attention when she'd heard them riding by. The next thing she knew, they'd herded her against the stone.
Males. She hated them. They made her skin crawl. It had always been that way for her. Sometimes she wondered if she were broken inside. However, these were worse than most.
The teens revved their motorcycles, laughing at her predicament.
While trying to find a phone to get an easy ride, she'd caught the scent of an unknown wolven male. She'd run out of the bar as if her tail were on fire, not ready to face an unknown wolven. Experience told her they were too hard to handle, too frustrating to deal with on a night like tonight. An escape had seemed like a good idea at the time. But, so had using the phone at the bar, and that hadn't turned out so hot. After hiding her clothes behind the bar's ugly green dumpster, she'd shifted, transforming into the animal she held at her core.
At times like this, she was glad she wasn't human. True, she had a human form, and she could no longer count the number of times she'd been mistaken as Native American. In human form, she could probably run a mile or two, but now, in her wolven form, she was set for up to fifty miles in a day. The problem was, home was more than fifty miles away, and, right this moment, fifty miles might have been five hundred for all the good it would do her.
If she jumped onto the stone, perhaps she could leap over their heads and run.
"Hey, Joe, do you think that might be a wolf?"
"Naw, there are no black wolves in North Carolina. Just red ones, and they're hundreds of miles from here. Probably just a big German Shepherd. Look how black it is."
It wasn't bad enough they had her trapped, but now they had her confused with a dog. She sneezed and growled, taking a step forward. I'll show them what a dog I am.
But they didn't move back. Instead, they laughed.
"Good, doggie," the boy on the right mocked, and they all cracked up again. Nora grumbled her displeasure, her lips curling.
"Cameron, that mutt thinks it can take us on. I say let's have some fun." The boy reached in his pocket, a flash of silver reflected beneath the moon's light. Nora's heart fluttered. A knife. Memories played in her mind, and fear bubbled in her throat. If she were in human form, she'd have cried. Shaking her head, she shoved away the dark images of the past.
She sniffed the air. The tell tale scent of silver was absent. She breathed a sigh of relief. Steel. Damaging yes, but survivable.
A quick flick of his wrist and a four-inch blade snapped into place, glistening in the light of the full moon. Nora bared her teeth, saliva dripping from her fangs.
"I'm telling you guys, that's no dog. Look at those teeth." The youngest of the boys revved his engine, turning to leave. "I say we leave it alone."
"I don't think it really matters," said the first one. "Watch this." Gripping the knife in one hand, he swung one youthful leg off his bike and stalked toward her. Nora glanced around, desperate for an escape.
There was none.
The roar of another motorcycle stormed toward them. Great. All I need is another brat. The sound thundered closer, and the teen in front of her cocked his head to listen.
The earth beneath her feet vibrated with the power of the oncoming machine, and it swung into view, barreling straight for the boy with the knife. The huge Harley spun about in the sandy surface between Nora and the teen, forcing the boy to jump back.
One black-gloved hand twisted the accelerator, revving the massive engine. The bike answered with a deafening roar, drowning all forest sounds, shocking the insects to silence, the animals having already taken cover. Disrupted sand slowly settled back to its comforting bed of earth.
He cut the engine, and the night reverberated in the sudden stillness.
One of the boys spun his bike and disappeared into the darkness of the trees. The others stood their ground, their eyes wide with fear at the impressive male's predatory glare.
Nora didn't need her enhanced senses to know it was the wolven she'd scented at the bar.
An alpha male.
Everything about him screamed of power. It showed in the aggressive set of his shoulders, in the white slash of a scar that could only be left by silver. The flash of damaged skin enhanced the harsh edges of his sharply angled jaw.
With deliberate confidence, he removed his gloves, plucking them off one finger at a time, his gaze sharpened on the boys. He was a male who clung precariously to the edge between wildness and civility.
He leaned back, his hand dropping to the tank of his bike. The boys shifted and shuffled on their bikes, glancing at one another, averting their gaze. The only one willing to meet the wolven's eyes was the one who held the knife in a tight fist.
"What are you boys doing?" He slapped his gloves onto the tank in front of him.
The boy swallowed. "Just having some fun."
One jean-clad leg swung off the bike, and he stood. Nora watched, her mouth tight in unexpected appreciation. Everything about him appealed in ways no male ever had. Before this moment, she'd never found aggression attractive. Though she didn't really wish to see the young boys hurt, her hormones found every step, every flex of muscle arousing. A predator so confident in his power. A soft rumble of approval rolled up her throat again. He ignored her, moving toward the leader of the group.
The boy stumbled back, his face pale.
"You're on my property," the alpha said. Nora watched him struggle to hide the fangs beneath curled lips.
The boy's throat convulsed, and he tipped his head to watch the male approach. The alpha towered above the young man. His huge frame blocked Nora's sight of the boy, but her nose worked fine, and she smelled his fear. Its rancid scent burned her nostrils and turned her stomach.
"Sorry, sir, we just--"
"Get off my land."
His voice resonated through Nora, like the vibration of thunder on a hot summer's day. So sexy. Decisive aggression radiated through the atmosphere, flipping some kind of switch deep inside her, some long dead part of her that uncoiled, hungry for more.
Whatever havoc the male was wreaking on her system, it had the opposite effect on the teenage boys. They scurried about, tearing off through the trees. Their bikes shrieked the high pitch whine of speed.
The male stared after them until they were gone, the silence of the night returning.
The crickets returned to normal, their song filling the cool night. The male, at long last, turned his head in her direction. Nora's breath caught as the heated gold in his eyes slowly faded to icy blue. His lip curled, and her heart thumped inside the wolf.
He swiveled to face her.
"Shift," he ordered.
Nora stopped herself just short of complying. Clothes. She whined and shook her head.
He smirked. "What's the matter, shewolf? Scared?"