There was nothing simple about what Brody Carter had to do...With any other woman, it would be. But not with Michaela Doucet. He barely knew the provocative Cajun, but already her beautiful face haunted his dreams. True, women like Michaela never took an interest in guys like him--ones who were scared and bitter enough not to care what the world thought about them. But that had no bearing now that he had to protect Michaela from the Lycans who wanted her dead. Even if this decision would change his entire life. Even if it was pure madness.Brody had no other choice. He never had....
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April 30, 2008
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Excerpt from Last Wolf Watching by Rhyannon Byrd
Eighteen hours later...
Fear 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 blood-lines, 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.
Even as an outsider in this ominous setting, she understood instinctively what the menacing energy permeating the night signified. They were ready--the Silvercrest pack's anticipation ripe for the ceremony that would soon begin.
Hold it together, she silently scolded. Do not fall apart.
Willing her backbone to keep her upright, Michaela focused on the towering blaze of a roaring bonfire that rose from the far side of the clearing, its orange flames burning with maniacal zeal against the ink-black curtain of night. Not even the stars shone in the eastern sky. Only the moon burned in the stygian darkness of the heavens, its yellowed mass seeming to reflect the fiery glow of the sinister flames.
The mountains were silent but for the low, nearby noises that filled her ears, more animal-like than human. This was Silvercrest pack land, and the werewolves were tired of waiting. Michaela kept her gaze fixed on the fire, aware that many of the Lycans had already shifted into their preternatural shapes, their fur-covered bodies standing like monstrous shadows at the edges of the forest as they waited with restless expectancy.
If not for her friends, she'd have thought she was in hell. But she wasn't alone, thank God. Mason stood on her left, while Torrance moved in closer to her right side and grabbed her hand, squeezing her icy fingers in support as the wind surged around them, rattling the autumn leaves upon the gnarled branches of the trees, scattering others in the ravaging gusts. It still seemed astonishing that her best friend, who'd always been wary of the supernatural, had married a man who could howl at the moon, but Michaela liked Mason, as well as respected him. And there was no denying that the gorgeous half-breed was head over heels in love with his redheaded wife.