The night closed around Dolf as he got out of his black Porsche 911 Carrera S and headed out on the hunt for the werewolves sired by Fenris the wolf. At one time, he'd lived for it. As one of the warriors that Tiw, the Anglo-Saxon god and Sky Father, had charged to protect mortals from the beasts who hunted them, Dolf was good at what he did. He was his happiest while wielding a sword in his hand as he struck down his enemies. That was, until he'd found Maggie.
Walking down one of the streets in Norwich, it appeared to be like any other English street. Except around here, one never knew what could be lurking in the dark shadows, ready to spring. It only took a single bite from one of Fenris's get to change a mortal into what had attacked him.
Dolf kept his senses alert to his surroundings, hoping to come across his prey. There was one bastard in particular he wished to find each night he hunted--the pack leader of the enemy. It was because of Stephen that Maggie, Dolf's would-be mate, was absolutely terrified of werewolves. That included Dolf, since Tiw had given all of his warriors the ability to shift into what they hunted to give them a better chance of taking down the beasts they faced.
If Dolf ever managed to get his hands on Stephen, he'd tear the fucker apart with his sharp teeth and claws while in werewolf form before sinking his silver-steel sword through his black heart. After abducting Maggie and keeping her prisoner in his pack's den, Stephen deserved it. Dolf wouldn't rest until he put the bastard down. He'd watch as Stephen's body was consumed by Tiw's god-fire, wiping him out of existence as if he'd never been.
Thoughts of Maggie and what she meant to Dolf had his wolf throwing back its head, howling mournfully. Both it and the man longed for their mate. He ached to seek her out at her parents' house, drag her into his arms, and never let her go. But the way things now stood, that would never happen. He'd tried to see her shortly after he and his fellow warriors had rescued her, but all he'd gotten was the door slammed in his face after he'd seen the terror in Maggie's eyes. That had felt as if someone had taken a knife to his guts.
Catching a scent on the slight breeze blowing in his direction, Dolf slowed his steps. A werewolf was nearby, not the one he sought, but still one of his prey. In the area where he hunted, the homes were spaced out with large back gardens and ample places to hide in the shadows.
Dolf stopped in front of one house that was cloaked in complete darkness, giving away the fact that no one was home. He sniffed the air, following the scent trail around to the side of the property. Several tall bushes were planted there, and the werewolf's scent seemed to be coming directly from them.
He shook his head at the beast's stupidity. Where he hid offered no protection, nor did it stop Dolf from being able to detect him. With stealthy movements, he worked his way to where his prey was concealed and willed his sword onto his back. He reached over his shoulder and grasped the handle to unsheathe it. The blade quietly hissed as it came free of its scabbard. The silver mixed with the steel shone in the moonlight.
A blur of dark brown fur shot out from the bushes and charged Dolf. He deftly stepped out of the way and, at the same time, brought up his sword, catching the werewolf across its chest. The beast howled as its skin sizzled from making contact with the silver. Dolf expected another attack but slowly lowered his weapon when the werewolf shifted to his human form.
"What the fuck," his prey said while he pressed a hand to his wound and scowled.
To say this was unlike any normal werewolf behavior he'd witnessed would be an understatement. Fenris's get usually didn't back down, especially when confronted by one of Tiw's warriors. Their pack members knew all about them.
"Tell me you did not just cut me with a fucking sword," the werewolf spat.
Dolf frowned. "Ah, yeah, I did. It's what I do."
"So you go around jabbing it into innocent people, whenever you feel like it?"
Now, this was getting downright weird. "I'd hardly call you innocent. You're a werewolf."
The other man sniffed the air. "By your scent, I'd say you are too."
It was Dolf's turn to scowl. "I'm nothing like you. I can shift into werewolf form, but I'm one of the Anglo-Saxon god's warriors."
"A god? You expect me to believe that shit?"
Dolf was really confused now. "Are you playing some kind of game to delay the inevitable? All the members of your pack know about me and my fellow warriors. You consider us the bad guys because we kill as many of your kind as we can. It's our job to protect mortals from Fenris's get. And the best way to do that is to end your existence."
The werewolf shook his head. "I haven't a fucking clue what you're talking about. I don't know about any pack. I've been on my own."
"How can you be? When was your first shift?"
"Two nights ago."
Dolf gave the werewolf a direct look. "You should've been drawn to the pack's den by instinct after you were bitten. Then, on the night of the first full moon, you shift while another pack member takes you out and watches over you as you claim your first victim."
"You mean, kill someone?"
He nodded. "Yes. That's what your kind live and breathe for--bloodlust and death."
"No, man," the werewolf said as he shook his head in denial. "No fucking way. I don't want to kill anyone, though the idea of hunting down a rabbit, or even a deer, doesn't sound too bad. But not people. Never that."
Dolf felt as if everything he'd ever known about werewolves sired by Fenris had gone straight out the window. This newly turned didn't act like one of his kind should. And the fact he hadn't found the pack had Dolf wondering if it had disbanded. The night he and his fellow warriors had rescued Maggie, they'd learned the werewolves had become divided. Not all of them had liked Stephen being the leader.
He scratched his head. Dolf believed him. The werewolf didn't show the typical aggression associated with his kind. Looking into his eyes, Dolf didn't see the soul of a killer, either. "If that's the case, I have to admit I haven't a clue what to do with you. My gut is telling me you aren't like the others."
"Then let me just walk away."
Dolf shook his head. "I can't do that. You're still a threat to mortals. You might not go around killing them, but one bite from you will turn them."
The werewolf held up his hands as if to hold Dolf off. "I'm not going to do that. You have my word."
"Shit," Dolf said under his breath. He couldn't do it. He couldn't take the werewolf's life just because of what he was. If he did, it would make him no better than the beasts he hunted each night. He trusted his gut, and it usually wasn't wrong. He couldn't believe he was going to do this, but he didn't see any alternative. "What's your name?"
"I'm Dolf. Well, Chris, I think you need to come with me. I can't leave you running around loose, especially if you're lurking in bushes."
"I wasn't doing that." Chris gave him a sheepish look. "I-I was hiding."
"You. You smell like a werewolf. I don't know how the hell I know that, I just do. The encounter I had with the one who attacked me was more than enough."
Dolf shook his head in disbelief. "It's called instinct, Chris. And it goes to show you can't be left to your own devices. Let's go."
"Nowhere bad. I have to bring you to someone who'll have the final decision about your fate."
Chris backed up a few steps. "Ah, I really don't like the sound of that--deciding my fate. I'm not going anywhere with you if it means I'll end up on the tip of your wickedly sharp sword."
"What would you rather do? Wait around until you finally run into another of your kind? I can tell you right now you'll be considered weak and fair game. You'd come out the loser in a fight. And I know for a fact you wouldn't survive it."
A look of uncertainty flashed across Chris's face before he blew out a deep breath. "All right, I'll go with you, but you have to promise me you won't just up and kill me without giving me a chance to defend myself. My life has gone to the loo enough already."
Dolf held out his hand. "You have my word."
Chris hesitated for a second before he closed his around Dolf's and they shook. "I'm going to hold you to it."
"It goes against my honor to do anything less. Come on, I have to stop somewhere first." He sheathed his sword at his back and then willed it away.
Dolf led Chris to his car. The other man whistled. "You have a sweet ride, Dolf. Any chance I can take it for a spin?"
"Not in this lifetime," Dolf said with a snort. He aimed the remote on his keychain at the Porsche and pushed the button to unlock the doors. "Get in."
Once they were both buckled in, Dolf started the car and drove away from the curb. He had no idea what Raed would say about him bringing a werewolf to the mansion, but Dolf still didn't know what else he could do. As their leader and one-time king, Raed would have the final decision. But he had to make a stop before returning home.
Having driven this same route every night for the past couple of months, Dolf could do it with his eyes closed. It didn't take too long to arrive at his destination. He pulled over to the side of the road and looked at the house across from him.
It was torture, but he couldn't resist going to Maggie's house to check and make sure she was safe. She was his mate, and it was his right to protect her. Each time he came, he hoped like hell he'd be able to catch sight of Maggie. Even a quick glimpse would do, something just to tide him over for another day. So far, he'd driven away disappointed each time, feeling as if he were no closer to making Maggie his.
Out of the corner of his eye, Dolf caught a shadowed figure walking down the sidewalk toward the house. His whole body seemed to come alive when he turned his head and saw it was Maggie. Alone. That had him growling softly as he shot out of the car and headed to intercept her before he could think about what he was doing.
"What the hell do you think you're doing walking around outside at night by yourself?" he asked gruffly. "It's not safe for you."
Maggie came to a sudden stop, her eyes widening. "Stay away, Dolf. Leave me alone."
Dolf fisted his hands at his sides, fighting the urge to pull her close. Standing in front of her, smelling the scent that was uniquely hers, made his cock go instantly rock hard. Inside, his wolf threw back its head and howled, longing for his mate, wanting to claim her. But he made no other move to get closer, not when he could smell her fear and hear the sound of her heart beating at too fast of a rate.
"Then answer my question," he said in an even tone, not wanting to scare Maggie any more than he knew she already was.
She took a step back. "It's none of your business."
Dolf had to stiffen his body to stop himself from closing the gap between them. "It is, and you know the reason why. Tell me," he said through gritted teeth.
Maggie shook her head. "I won't accept you. Not ever. I can't."
Though it felt as if someone had taken his sword and stabbed him through the heart, he showed no outward sign how much her words had hurt him. "That might be so, but it doesn't make it go away. Not for me. You're my ma--"
She quickly cut him off before he could finish. "Don't even say it. I don't want to hear it."
Dolf sighed. "I'll let it go for now. Just tell me why you're out here alone."
Maggie looked undecided, but then she surprised him when she lifted her chin and met his gaze. "I've cowered enough. I'm not going to let what happened make me a virtual prisoner in my own home, scared to leave it in case I get taken again. I'm not going to live out the rest of my life being afraid of my own shadow. If I do, the bastard will have won."
A surge of pride washed through Dolf. This was the Maggie he wanted to see, to get to know better, not the woman who looked at him with fear. He ran his gaze over her long, black hair and pretty face before he settled on her green eyes. He ached to touch her, to claim her kissable lips while he learned her taste.
"I commend you on what you're doing, but it doesn't make it any safer. Stephen is still out there. We have no idea where he is."
Maggie's face turned white, but she seemed to be keeping it together. The only other thing that gave her away was the scent of fear growing stronger on her skin. "I can't keep looking over my shoulder. It'll drive me crazy. I want my life back to the way it used to be before I learned werewolves existed ... before I met you."
Dolf took another shot to the heart. "I would never do anything to hurt you." No longer able to keep his distance, he shifted closer. "I'd give up my life for you," he said softly.
Maggie silently stared at him. Dolf looked into her eyes, trying to show her with his gaze that he meant what he said. He'd been alone for so long, and now that she'd come into his life, he didn't want to give her up. They barely knew each other, but that didn't mean she hadn't impacted him greatly. He'd never be the same without her.
A moment seemed to pass between them when it looked as if Maggie really saw him for the first time. As if she'd seen past what he was to peer inside at the man, not the immortal werewolf warrior. Dolf slowly raised his hand, wanting to reach for her. To touch her skin. But the spell that had come over them suddenly shattered when a male voice called Maggie's name.
"Maggie?" Chris called again as he crossed the street. "Is that really you?"
She tore her gaze off Dolf and turned to the other man. A large smile spread across her face, one she'd never given to Dolf. "Chris! It seems like ages since I last saw you."
Dolf held back the growl that threatened to rumble out of him as he watched his mate walk into Chris's arms and hug him, giving another man what he so desperately craved.
Chris released Maggie and smiled. "I thought you were still in Canada, going to school. When did you get back?"
"A couple of months ago. After I finished university, I decided to come home."
"Why didn't you get in touch with me?"
Maggie took a quick glance at Dolf before she said, "I would have, but I got caught up in something. It's okay now, though."
Dolf cleared his throat loudly, not liking the idea of being left out of the conversation. "So, Chris, you know Maggie then?"
The werewolf nodded. "For quite some years now. We went to school together. We actually went out on a couple of dates but decided very quickly we were better as friends rather than boyfriend and girlfriend."
Maggie looked at Dolf and then back to Chris again. "You know Dolf?"
Chris nodded. "We just recently met."
Ignoring Dolf, Maggie said, "Oh. Look, I have to get back inside, but we should get together, Chris."
"I'd love to. I'm not sure when yet." Chris's gaze flicked over to Dolf. "How about I email you."
"All right. You already have my address." Maggie hugged Chris again. "It was really nice seeing you again. Hope to hear from you soon." Without a backward glance, she walked away and headed into the house.
Once she was out of sight, Dolf took hold of Chris's arm and walked him back to the Porsche. He didn't say anything until they were inside and driving away. Mostly because Dolf needed the time to get his emotions back under control. Seeing Maggie touching Chris so easily made Dolf want to rip the werewolf to shreds. And it had everything to do with him feeling jealous.
Finally calm enough to talk without a growl lacing his words, Dolf said, "Maggie and you are obviously close."
"Well, the fact you are might've just saved your ass."
"Maggie is my mate, and you're going to help me get her over her fear of werewolves. In my book, you've just become a valuable tool. You're going to show her that not all of us are bloodthirsty killers."