Authors: Desiree Holt
Tags: #Cat Shifters/ Contemporary/ Crime and Mystery
The words were said quietly but Lauren knew with absolute certainty that he meant them. And she relaxed just the tiniest bit.
“This is my husband, Mack.” Kelsey gave Lauren a friendly wink. “He doesn’t bite much, either. Really.”
She took the shears from her husband. Very carefully, avoiding the raw skin as much as possible, she clipped the rope and eased it off until she could toss it aside. Then she dropped down to sit cross-legged next to the chair and began handing the first aid stuff to Sierra.
Lauren tried to gather her fraying wits together while the two women attended to her, biting her lip as the medicine stung the open skin. She couldn’t believe they’d just let her into their home in the middle of the night, in the condition she was in, as if it was nothing.
Again, she thought, what if they had something to do with her kidnapping? What if this had all been a trick to get her here?
As if she’d heard Lauren’s thought Kelsey smiled at her.
“Don’t be afraid. Whatever chased you here I can promise you we’re not part of it.”
“B-but you let me in here without…without asking any questions. Or anything.”
“We’ve all had trouble at one time or another,” Kelsey told her in a soft voice. “We know what it’s like.” She looked at her husband. “Right, Mack?”
He gave her a slow smile. “Right, babe.”
Sierra nodded. “And we got a good feeling from you. If there’s trouble—and there obviously is—you aren’t causing it. And neither are we.” She squeezed Lauren’s hand. “You can trust us. I promise.”
Just like that they got a good feeling from me? How does that happen?
“Can you tell us your name?” Kelsey asked in a soft voice, her eyes filled with concern.
She hesitated, finally stammered out her first name. “L-Lauren.” Should she have told them that much? She certainly couldn’t tell them her last name. Not until she knew more about them, and about what had happened to her. The Rhodes name was like a neon sign all over New England. But how in the hell was she supposed to find out who was behind this and why, stranded in the woods like this?
“I see we have company.” The deep voice sliced through the air, low and rumbling.
Lauren looked up at a third man who’d just come into the room and despite everything that had happened to her every hormone in her body went on full alert. Her nipples stiffened beneath her ragged T-shirt and cream gushed into her bikini panties.
Lauren had known a lot of men in her life but none of them—not one—had ever drawn this kind of instant erotic reaction from her. He was tall, much taller than the other two men who had to be well over six-feet each. If she stood next to him he’d completely dwarf her five-foot-two body. Everything about him was dark, like a forbidden temptation. His hair was almost a midnight black, thick and falling just to the collar of his T-shirt. His square jaw was shadowed with end-of-the-day stubble, his cheekbones high slashes that emphasised midnight black eyes fringed with thick lashes. Sculpted muscles rippled beneath a black T-shirt and formfitting black jeans. A tiny gold hoop gleamed at one ear. For the first time in her life she had a desire to rip off her clothes and throw herself at a man.
Unbelievable, considering she was, first of all, usually a very controlled person and, secondly, in possibly the worst situation she’d ever been in, frightened out of her wits. But there was something about this man, an air that surrounded him that said she could trust him. That there was no danger here—instead he’d protect her from whatever nightmare she was caught up in.
And how much sense did
“You can take that alpha male look off your face,” Kelsey told him. “She’s frightened enough as it is.”
He crouched beside the chair where Lauren sat and rested his fingers on her knee. A blast of warmth surged through her and Lauren had that same feeling of sanctity. Security. Protection.
Where the hell had that come from?
“Hi, little one.” His voice was deep with a rich timbre to it. “Whatever sent you here in the middle of the night, you’re safe now. I promise.”
And she believed him.
Kelsey had slipped off Lauren’s sandals and was now cleaning the blisters on her feet. The man next to her placed a hand very, very gently against her swollen jaw. He smiled but the look in his eyes was murderous. If the man who’d done it wasn’t already dead Lauren was sure this man would take care of it.
“I heard you say your name is Lauren. A beautiful name. Mine’s Damien Moreno.”
Lauren looked at all the faces. “Do you all live here together?”
Sierra laughed. “Not hardly. Luke and I live here. Kelsey and Mack have their own place in town. Damien’s visiting from San Antonio.” Her face sobered. “I think you’d feel better if you could take a shower. We’re not exactly the same size but I’ll find something for you to put on. Then we’ll fix you a drink and maybe you’ll tell us how you ended up here in this condition.”
She let the two women ease her up from the chair but she noticed that Damien was right behind her.
“You can’t go in the shower with her, Damien,” Sierra said, her voice edged with humour. “You’ll have to do your guarding out here.”
“I’ll be right here when she comes out,” he answered.
The shower felt incredibly wonderful, washing away the dirt and soothing her damaged skin. Sierra had left a T-shirt for her that she assumed was Luke’s since it hung well below her thighs, and a robe that was twice too big for her but covered everything sufficiently. She winced when she looked at her face in the mirror, saw the swelling and the ugly bruise forming.
Who could’ve hated her this much?
Sighing, she opened the door to the bedroom and found the two women waiting.
“Damien’s making you an ice pack and pouring you a drink,” Kelsey told her. “We need to put some ointment on those scratches so they don’t get infected. Then we’ll go into the kitchen.”
“Can I ask you a question?” she asked when they’d finished putting the salve on her.
“Sure,” Kelsey said. “Go ahead.”
“Do you ever see wolves around here? I mean, I know the grey wolf has been reintroduced into the Maine woods but I… You’re going to think I’m nuts and I’m not. But three wolves saved me tonight and I swear they led me here.”
The two women exchanged glances.
“There are…stray wolves around here,” Sierra acknowledged. “Some of them are…quite tame.”
“Tame?” Lauren’s eyebrows shot up. “Wolves?” Then she shook her head. “Of course, who am I to argue? I’m not crazy when I tell you that I followed the three of them here.”
“No. I don’t think you’re crazy at all. But for right now come on into the kitchen. You need ice on that jaw and a drink to settle your nerves.”
About the Author
I always wanted adventure and change in my life, and I certainly got it. I grew up in Maine, a beautiful place to live, then lived in the Midwest and Florida. Now I make my home in the Hill Country of Texas, truly God’s chosen place on earth. My husband, David, was a sixth generation Texan, tracing his roots here back to the time when Texas was a Republic, so retiring here was a dream we finally fulfilled.
I’ve had a lot of firsts in my life—first female sports report on
The Michigan Daily
at the University of Michigan; first woman to own a rock and roll agency in Detroit, the home of Motown; first woman president of the Pasco (Florida) Economic Development Council.
I graduated from the University of Michigan with a double major in English and history, and a minor in economics, and went on to have at least four careers. When my children were small, I satisfied my need for writing by working for weekly newspapers. I had a wild and wacky time managing rock and roll bands. I joined the insanity of retail with a string of shoe stores. I worked in fundraising, public affairs and community relations. But writing fiction was always my dream. I had a lot of stops and starts, but it wasn’t until we retired that I could devote myself to it full-time.
My wonderful husband, David, encouraged me and supported me in my dream and you’ll find a little of him in all my heroes. Our children are all grown and on their own, and are my biggest fans.
When I’m not writing I’m an avid reader—anything and everything—and watching football, especially my beloved Michigan Wolverines. David and I golf and target shoot, and of course enjoy life in the gorgeous Texas Hill Country, where most of my stories are based.
I am a member of Romance Writers of America, and San Antonio Romance Authors, Diamond State Romance Authors, and Passionate Ink chapter of RWA.
Desiree loves to hear from readers. You can find her contact information, website and author biography at
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