Read River Wolf Online

Authors: Heather Long

River Wolf

River Wolf
Heather Long

C
opyright
© 2015 by Heather Long

E
dited
by Virginia Nelson

Cover Art by Scott Carpenter

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means, including information storage and retrieval systems, without written permission from the author, except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

ISBN: 978-1-311-15463-7

Series So Far

Wolf At Law

(prequel)

Ryan & Tiffany

Wolf Bite

Mason & Alexis

Caged Wolf

A.J. & Vivian

Wolf Claim

Owen & Gillian

Wolf Next Door

(
Under a Wolf Moon
Anthology)

Tyler & Claire

Rogue Wolf

Salvatore & Margo

Bayou Wolf

Lincoln & Serafina

Untamed Wolf

Dylan & Chrystal

Wolf with Benefits

(Found in Romancing the Wolf)

Matt & Shiloh

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River Wolf

B
rett Dalton
, Alpha of Hudson River, isolated himself from his pack mates after one betrayed him. The once, easygoing Alpha has become taciturn, remote and unforgiving. His pack worries for him, but they too have suffered a devastating blow. When several members leave to join Three Rivers, the pack faces the threat of dissolution until Brett's best friend and Lone Wolf, Luc Danes returns to Hudson River accompanied by a beautiful young human—or is she? Something about the woman consumes Brett. Has Luc come home to help or to take the pack from Brett?

C
olby Jensen wrapped
up thousands of hours of community service working at the hospital in Maine when an injured Luc Danes rolled through the door. The impossible patient drove the nurses crazy, but when Danes offered her money no strings attached to drive him to New York, she agreed. The last thing she expected was to arrive in the small Westchester County town and to meet the craziest collection of residents—especially the devastatingly sexy Brett Dalton. Part of her wants to hit the road, the rest wants to make him smile and he keeps making excuses for her to stay.

T
hen she sees the wolves
...and is exposed to a world she can barely imagine. When Brett discovers a secret about her, nothing will be the same again. Now she will find herself torn between a world she isn't sure she can understand and the man who has taken her heart hostage...

Wolves of Willow Bend Characters

M
ason Clayborne
—Alpha of Willow Bend, mate of Alexis, father of Melissa, son of Andrew and Melissa Clayborne (both deceased).

Alexis Clayborne
—Mate of Mason, mother of Melissa, daughter of Ryan and Tiffany Huston (adopted by Ryan), older sister to Kyle Huston.

Serafina Andre
—Alpha, Delta Crescent

Owen Chase
—Hunter, Willow Bend, counselor to Mason and mate to Gillian.

Gillian Chase—
Healer, formerly apprenticed to Emma, trainer for Trent and mate to Owen

H
udson River Wolves

B
rett Dalton
—Alpha of Hudson River

Luc Danes
—Former Hudson River wolf, now Lone Wolf. Brett’s best friend.

Colby Jensen
—Human nursing assistant, gives Luc a ride home to Hudson River territory.

Charles Dalton
—Father of Brett and mate to Margie, chef. Son of previous Alpha.

Margie Dalton
—Mother of Brett and mate to Charles, nurse. Daughter of Hatcher, previous healer

Babette Danes
—Mother to Luc, Samantha, and more. Something of a gossip.

Samantha Danes
—Daughter of Babette, sister to Luc. Wary with a chip on her shoulder.

Pierce Donovan
—Senior Hunter for Hudson River, counselor to Brett.

Trent Lawson
—Twelve year old wolf with Healer Potential, apprentice to Gillian.

Dear Readers

W
elcome to River Wolf
. When I introduced Brett in Wolf Claim, I had little idea of how integral to the bigger world picture the Hudson River Alpha would become. From the moment he crossed a field, wreathed in his own power, to welcome Gillian and Owen to his territory, he stepped into my heart and made a place for himself. While every book in this series is designed to stand alone, I would recommend reading it prior to this book. What transpired in Wolf Claim left an indelible mark on Brett, leading to his isolating himself more and more from the wolves around him.

A
s in all things
, a leader should not be chasing his people to see where they are going, but instead, blazing the trail and inviting them to follow. Welcome to the first of the Wolves of Change, as Brett once again takes that mantra to heart and
leads
his pack. Hudson River has some colorful characters; different dynamics and an interesting mix of old and new world sensibilities. What it shares so deeply with Willow Bend are the passionate wolves who love fiercely.

M
any kind regards
,

H
eather

Prologue

H
udson River Valley

Full moon…

H
is wolves raced together
through the state forest. For the last eight weeks, the healer from Willow Bend focused on Trent’s education, yet she’d managed to find time to bully Brett into pack-building exercises. The pack embraced her latest suggestion—a run together.

Despite the frolicking taking place below, Brett remained watchful and distant, overseeing the games from a hill where he could survey the valley and the old state road running parallel to the park. It was well after midnight, though the run began at sunset with Brett leading the way.

The families peeled away first, ushering their young children home for bed and school the next day. Exhausted and flushed with pleasure, the young healer-in-training, Trent, left with his parents. The seniors followed over the next hour, wreathed in satisfaction from playing together. The young adults, bachelors, and single females remained to play. Owen and Gillian continued to run with Brett’s wolves, but he’d excused himself once it was down to only the singles, after a handful of the females began to cast speculative looks in his direction.

He didn’t know who to trust in his pack, so the last thing he needed was a lover or the wrath incurred if he spurned one for another. Better to not involve himself at all. A faint rustle along the path behind him alerted him to the arrival of one of his Hunters. The scent of humanity twined with the wolf’s natural aroma, revealing the Hunter walked on two legs rather than four.

Pierce.

One of the four trusted with the protection of the pack, Pierce earned his place within Brett’s inner circle following the debacle with Marco. Releasing a sub-vocal woof, he granted the Hunter permission to approach. The man appeared out of the surrounding foliage and dropped to a knee next to him. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, Pierce was adept at blending into his surroundings. “We received a call from one of the Enforcers in Maine.”

Brett flicked an ear toward him, a silent order for him to proceed.

“Luc Danes was struck by a car and has been admitted to a hospital.” Once a part of Hudson River, the Lone Wolf left not long after Brett’s ascension as Alpha. The wolf had been Brett’s best friend—still was, in some ways. They occasionally got a beer together when Luc was in the vicinity. Their friendship survived Luc’s exodus from the pack, and it was because of Luc that Brett welcomed Mason Clayborne as a guest in the first few months when the current Alpha of Willow Bend had gone Lone Wolf several years before.

An irritatingly cheerful and charismatic wolf, Luc enjoyed living life on his terms. He was also clever and aware of his surroundings. Hit by a car? It didn’t fit.

“The Enforcer said they would monitor his recovery, but he’s in a coma.”

Brett’s gut clenched.
Coma? How serious was the accident?

“The Enforcer is investigating the so-called accident but, as near as he could tell, Luc was in wolf form when he was hit. He’d shifted to human by the time he was found. We’re not in danger of discovery, but he may need a pack to lean on for full recovery…” Pierce trailed off, not adding the unspoken
if he recovers.

Switching his attention to the healer, Brett considered his options. Gillian’s link to him gave her access to his energy and her boundless enthusiasm for caring had made her an ideal fill-in healer while she trained Trent. The young man, though, was years away from assuming his full duties as pack healer. Hudson River didn’t possess a full-time healer. Could he ask Gillian and her mate to travel to Maine and check on the Lone Wolf?

They were due to return to their pack in a couple of short weeks, and they would take Trent with them. They would return in the winter and continue to divide their time between the two packs. A perfectly equitable—he stifled the growl before it formed in his chest.
Nothing about the solution is equitable, but demanding more would be an insult to Mason. Worse, it would be an insult to Gillian.

Adoring the healer compromised his emotions. The desire to see her happy conflicted with his desire to protect his pack. If he could lure Gillian into not only leaving Willow Bend permanently and attaching herself to Hudson River, but also to being happy about it…
Enough. She loves her pack and has every right to refuse the concessions she’s already provided.

Pierce cleared his throat, a subtle reminder that he waited for a response. The trouble was, Brett had no quick response. He had no healer to send to Maine. Another failure on his part—no, Luc wasn’t a part of his pack, but he was a friend. The churn in his stomach soured his disposition further. Letting the fur slip away, he shifted while trusting Pierce to hold his post on bended knee.

The Hunter didn’t disappoint. Standing, Brett blew out a breath. “Ask the Enforcer to keep us informed. If Gillian will consent to going north, I’ll send her and Owen to check on him. We can do no more at this time.” As much as the fact chewed on his soul, he had no other resource to send to Luc’s aid.

“As you say, Brett.” Pierce didn’t leave immediately. Instead, he waited and a question lingered in his scent.

Glancing at his Hunter, Brett raised his brows. “Ask.”

“Do the Enforcers not have a healer of their own they can send?”

“Not that I’m aware of.” Although he wouldn’t put it past Julian to keep the information under wraps if he did. The Enforcers were an entity unto themselves. “If they do, and they are that concerned for Luc’s well-being, they will most likely dispatch the healer.”

Frowning, Pierce scratched his chin. “I never thought about how Lone Wolves cope without access to a healer.”

“A lesson we are learning.” Brett returned his attention to the pack. The males were showing off, battling and gamboling through the underbrush as they wrestled for dominance. Owen was close enough to intervene if anyone got too stupid, and none of his pack was so foolish as to challenge the Willow Bend Hunter. Gillian had been right.
Again.
His pack needed to play together more. They were all isolating themselves. “Pierce…wait to call the Enforcer. I’ll talk to Gillian first. Luc may be a Lone Wolf. But he was ours before…he belonged to Hudson River. He didn’t follow the other idiots to Three Rivers last summer. If we can help him, we will—and if he needs a place to recover…” Pausing, he considered their options. He’d given the use of his grandfather’s house to Gillian and her mate. It was equipped for a healer, close to his home and he could protect them, but also not
in
his home which alleviated Owen’s territorial nature where his mate was concerned. “He can stay with Gillian and Owen—or at least in my grandfather’s home after they return to Willow Bend. He can convalesce here.”

“Yes, my Alpha.” Pride surged beneath the other wolf’s tone. Pride and perhaps relief. “Should I ask the Enforcer to bring Luc here?”

A possibility
. “Tell him to use his judgment. The last thing we need is widespread human discovery, however Hudson River doesn’t leave our wolves behind.”

“Yes, sir.” A moment later, the wolf vanished along the trail, a fresh spring evident in his step. Was the Hunter so pleased with Brett’s taking responsibility? Or did the pleasure root in the idea of Luc coming home?

Probably both.

Crossing his arms, Brett remained in his human form as both he and his wolf watched over their pack. No one would hurt them again.

He’d failed them once. He’d die before he allowed it to happen again.

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