Authors: Kimber White
Wild Lake Wolves Series
Copyright © 2016 by Kimber
No part of this book may be reproduced or
transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including
photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system,
without the written permission of the author or publisher, except where
permitted by law or for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events,
and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a
fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual
events is purely coincidental.
For all the latest on my new releases and an a FREE EBOOK AS A WELCOME
GIFT, sign up for my newsletter.
Table of Contents
The Wild Lake Wolves books have all been written so
you can enjoy them as standalones. While they can be read in any order, the
events within them do occur chronologically. For a full list of published books
in the series and their recommended reading order, visit the series page at
Most girls my age start heading off to college. They
spend time worrying about their majors or whether they have the right clothes.
Me? I was just trying not to die. So far, I should get an A+ in survival. Tonight,
though? I was about to go for honors credit.
Trusting me was a mistake. One I knew Kane would
never make again no matter what happened tonight. I pressed my back against the
wall and watched him sleep. His chest rose and fell in a rhythmic motion. With
each exhale he let out a thunderous snore that vibrated through the mattress. A
noise that would make anyone believe he had more bear inside of him than wolf.
But, for now at least, his wolf lay quiet. Still. Hopefully drifting beneath
the fog of alcohol Kane drank at dinner. I hadn’t expected him to get drunk. He
never did. But tonight, he’d been in a mood to celebrate, though he wouldn’t
let me in on why.
I took a hesitant step forward, mindful of the
creaking third floorboard. Maybe I should have just gone out the door and never
looked back. But, I had to be sure. With every step I took away from him, the
risk increased. I stood over him at the foot of the bed. The blankets tangled
around his muscled calves and he had one arm flung over his head, the other
curled in a fist across his chest. The silver light of the full moon cast him
in shadow. Had he opened his eyes, I would have seen the gleam of his wolf
eyes, flashing gold. I took another step forward, then another. I stood at the
side of the bed and pressed a hand flat against his chest. His skin burned hot
to the touch as he flinched beneath my fingertips. I traced the curving lines
of the tribal tattoo across his right bicep. He flinched but didn’t wake.
I had thought him beautiful once. Fierce, deep set
eyes and a full mouth. Commanding and strong with his pack surrounding him.
They were a huge family and fought side by side. It appealed to me. For most of
my life it had only been my brother and me. I didn’t have dozens of friends or
extracurricular activities. I’d been homeschooled, if you could call it that.
And all my life I’d heard every horror story there was about werewolves. The
minute I met Kane, I knew what he was. My father told me to stay away. Hell, I
think he would have chained me inside my room if he thought it would have
stopped me. But, the first time a wolf came calling, I couldn’t resist.
It’s a cliché, I know. Rebellious nineteen-year-old
dates bad boy her Daddy warned her about. I should have been smarter than that.
smarter than that. But, Kane Matthews had been charming and kind.
He danced with me under the moonlight and made me feel safe. I’d been naïve. I
hadn’t seen what he really wanted from me. I was a means to an end. That end
made me shudder with fear when I looked at him now. If I didn’t break free, he’d
have it. He’d win. And I’d live with that guilt for the rest of my life.
It was now or never.
I let out a measured breath, willing my heart to
beat steadily. It would have been so easy to panic. But, the minute my pulse
started to race, Kane would be able to feel it. The alcohol would dull his
senses somewhat, but not forever. I had maybe an hour. Less if he sensed my
distress. I reached up and traced the thin outlines of the crescent shaped scar
I bore at the base of my neck. Yeah, most rebellious teenagers go out and get nose
rings or tattoos. I got a different kind of permanent brand.
Thunder cracked inside my brain as a sense memory
flashed of that instant of searing pain as his teeth scored my flesh. Then the
burn gave way to waves of pleasure through my core even though my mind railed
against it. He hadn’t touched me since. Hell, he’d barely touched me then. Just
a kiss. Then a bite. And now, with each beat of my heart, Kane could sense me
and I could sense him. Unless I could get enough time and distance between us.
I tucked a hair behind my ear and turned toward the
open bedroom door. The rest of the cabin lay quiet now too. He’d sent the pack
to patrol the northern perimeter of the forest. They’d be back in an hour.
Maybe less. It was time to go.
I stayed to the wall, taking slow, gingerly steps.
Just the slightest creak of those blasted floorboards and Kane might wake.
Finally, I made it out of the cabin and down the wooden steps. The moon rose
high and bright, lighting my path to the tree line.
The hardest part was not giving in to the nearly
overpowering urge to run. But, that had been my mistake the last time I’d tried
to leave him. Kane could feel the urgent pulse coursing through my veins and
knew what I was up to. This time, I went slow and steady, staying hidden in the
thickest brush of the woods. I followed the western trail, keeping the moon at
God, I wished I could fly. I almost wished Kane had
the power to turn me. Then, I could shift, become speed, power, and strength as
I ran through the woods toward freedom.
But, I couldn’t. It doesn’t work like that. I was
only Olivia Lord. Wolf’s mate. Daughter of the Bear. And my human legs were all
I had to fight my way through the thick brush and stabbing pine branches. If I
had any luck at all, they were all I would need.
My blood ran cold when a howl rose from the south. I
dropped down into a squat, concealing myself behind a rotted-out log and
waited. One beat. Two. I kept my breath steady. Only an owl answered, and I
wondered if maybe my ears were playing tricks on me. The pack was north, and
Kane was still asleep. I headed toward the lake. It couldn’t be too far ahead
With each step I took, I began to believe that this
time, I’d make it out. Kane’s range couldn’t possibly reach to the other side
of the lake. And, once I made it across the water, he wouldn’t be able to track
me. At least, I hoped. I knew more about bears’ powers than I did wolves’. But,
I was learning fast. Even if Kane could track me, by then I might have enough
of a head start to reach my destination. Then, it wouldn’t matter. No power on
this earth would be able to make me go back. I would find my father. I would
find my brother. I would be safe. I could wash the last six months out of my
mind forever and start over.
That is, if my father would take me back and forgive
me for what I’d done. But, I couldn’t think about that now. There would be time
enough later for explanations and forgiveness. Now was about one thing.
Distance and water meant safety. I’d imagined my
path a thousand times as I lay awake or next to Kane. He hadn’t touched me
since that one night I let him, but he kept me close. I’d waited for this
cloudless night to light my path and now, finally, I reached the clearing.
I should have been more careful.
I burst through the tree line, my pulse steadily
rising. But, the water was so close. Just a few more steps and I would reach
the first of my goals. I swallowed past a lump in my throat when I saw the
outline of the overturned kayak just by the shore where I’d left it. God, I
hoped the oar was still inside of it, but it didn’t matter. I’d use my hands if
I had to.
It took everything in me not to run, not to scream
in delight. But I hadn’t forgotten how that had tipped Kane off the last time.
This time, I would make no mistakes. The brush beneath my feet gave way to
sand. Just a few more steps, but they were the most dangerous. I had to leave
the safe cover of the trees and step out into the open. I hesitated. Took one
more steeling breath, then I emerged from the woods.
I saw the wolf at the last second from the corner of
my eye. I don’t know why he didn’t sense me first. I had been so focused on the
kayak and watching the water line, maybe something else held his attention as
well. But, he stepped out on a rocky ledge to my left. The moonlight shadowed
him in silver. At least, that’s what I first thought. But, as I crouched down
and he turned, I realized it wasn’t the moonlight giving him that color. He was
made that way.
His ears pricked back and he leaped from the rocky
ledge to the water’s edge. His coat gleamed snow white under the stars. I
didn’t have to worry about keeping my breath even anymore because it left my
lungs in a whoosh. I’d never seen anything like him. And that’s saying
something. I’d spent the last six months living with a pack of werewolves and
the first eighteen and a half years before that as a bear shifter’s daughter.
But there was something different about this wolf.
He was huge, maybe as big as Kane himself. When he sat back on his haunches and
lifted his great, long head, a chill went through me. He’d hunted. Blood caked
his paws and he stepped into the water to wash it away. I realized that’s why
he hadn’t found me yet. His senses were still heightened and filled, no doubt,
with his fresh kill. But, the water that was supposed to be my salvation was
about to be my undoing. As soon he got clean, he’d be able to smell me.
I couldn’t go forward, and I couldn’t go back. Some
dark corner of my brain didn’t care. So now, I was well and truly fucked.
I sat transfixed, watching the white wolf as he
pawed the ground and shook off his fur. Fat droplets of water sprayed
everywhere. He chuffed and rolled in the sand, trying to get the scent of his
kill off him. It had been something small probably. A rabbit, maybe even a fox.
Anything bigger than that and the rest of Kane’s pack would have sensed him and
What was he doing here? These were Kane’s lands.
Every wolf pack in Wild Lake knew that. Even if they couldn’t sense it, they
could read the signs at every ranger outpost through the park. No one came
through here unannounced or crossed these lands without permission. And
certainly, no one came through here alone like he was. Or looking like him.
I’d only seen white wolves in pictures. His thick,
downy fur gave him a ghostly appearance, and he would stick out like a sore
thumb with any of the packs native to Michigan. He belonged in the arctic
maybe, where he could move undetected through the wintry landscapes. Certainly
he didn’t belong here. And yet, as he rose up on his hind legs, a tremor ran
through me and I had the strongest urge to reach out and run my hands through
his snow white fur.
I clamped a hand over my mouth as he fell forward on
his front paws. His shoulders rose high; the fur bunched and rolled. He
stretched his neck long and his snout curled. A great shudder passed through
him, and for an instant, I felt the pain of his shift.
I shouldn’t. Couldn’t. I should only be able to feel
Kane. But, when that instant, stabbing agony pierced through the white wolf’s
body, I felt it as a dull echo in mine. I took one great, gasping breath, and
the pain was gone. I must have imagined it. Become so transfixed watching him
that I let my thoughts run wild.
He rose slowly, with his back to me. Rippling
muscles and lean, solid lines. He straightened, squared his shoulders. In wolf
form, the moon had cast him in ghostly shadows. Now, the man stood before me, and
his tanned skin glistened with the sweat of exertion. I did a reverse commando
crawl, trying to make myself small and put distance between us. In another
instant, he’d surely be able to hear or smell me. And I had no way of knowing
whether the threat in front of me was worse than the one behind.
He kept his back to me and cocked his head to the
side. If he sensed anything, he didn’t react. Instead, he took a powerful
stride forward, drawing my eyes to the strength and sinew of his perfectly
curved ass. Then, he lunged forward and cut a clean, arcing line through the
water as he dove in.
I let out a breath. Now was the time to run. But
where? The only way to safety was forward through the water, and this stranger
was blocking my path. I stayed hidden. The water rippled out and bubbles rose
where he had submerged, but he didn’t surface. The water went still as glass,
and yet, he still didn’t come up for air. A full minute passed. Maybe more. My
heart thundered in my ears and I knew that more than anything spelled danger.
Kane could track me this way. I put a hand up to cover the scarred mark at the
base of my neck, as if that could somehow muffle Kane’s ability to find me.
That was probably as effective as a child closing her eyes to hide, but I did
I was running out of time. Kane would wake. The pack
would return. I needed to be on that kayak and halfway across the lake by now.
But, no plan worked unless I was on the move. So, I did the thing that had
spelled disaster the last time I’d tried to escape. I ran.
I reached the kayak and heaved it over. The oar fell
out of the middle of it, banging painfully against my shin. Rotted leaves slid
out of it along with some skittering creature across the top of my foot. I
flung the thing toward the water, wiping sweat from my brow with my forearm. As
I crouched down to slide the kayak off the sand, fingers closed around my
ankle, searing a path from my skin to my core.
I lost my balance, landing hard on my ass in three
inches of mucky water and seaweed. The stranger rose above me, beads of water
sluicing off his chiseled, naked body and his wolf eyes flashed bright as
diamonds in the moonlight.
I crab crawled backward through the muck, making
enough noise to draw the attention of anything wild around us. But, the wild
thing in front of me didn’t break my gaze. His glinting blue eyes took me in
with both smolder and ice. Though his wolf had been ghostly white, everything about
the man in front of me was hard and dark. He had a dusting of black curls over
his broad chest. One dark brow climbed into an arch as he crouched in front of
me. Only a shock of white streaking from his forehead to the crown of his jet
black hair matched the snowy wolf inside of him.
My breath came hot and my chest heaved as I sat
frozen before him. He cocked his head to the side in that wolfish way weres
like him do. Then, his full lips curved into a sly smile as he rose to his full
height, towering over me. He let go of my ankle and offered me his hand to help
I couldn’t run. My hands and feet had sunk too far
into the muck to do anything other than make an ungraceful splash as I heaved
myself to my feet. I couldn’t dive into the kayak and hope to outpace him. If I
screamed, Kane’s pack would hear me if they weren’t already on their way. The
only thing I could do was reach up and let him take my hand. So I did.
When his fingers closed around mine, it felt as
though my veins conducted electricity. A shock went through me that made my
heart trip and my breath go out. His eyes flashed silver for an instant, and I
knew he’d felt it too. The mark at the base of my neck flared hot and signaled
danger. He wasn’t pack. He shouldn’t be touching me. It was only a matter of
time before Kane woke and sensed it too.
“You shouldn’t be here,” I said, though my voice was
scratchy and dry. Soaked through, my shoes squished as I walked out of the muck
and made it to dry land. He let go of my hand and followed me.
“What are you running from?” His voice was a deep
baritone that skittered across my skin and vibrated up my spine. I turned to
face him again, willing my eyes to stay on his. I couldn’t help it though. He
was tall and broad, masculine and strong. My gaze traveled from the corded
muscles of his thighs, his hair still wet and clinging to him. His hips tapered
into a perfect V, and a blush flamed my cheeks as he stood naked before me. His
huge cock dangled as he stepped toward me unabashed and unafraid. Wolves never
are. He didn’t seem to worry that he’d just shifted in front of me. Something
about me must have told him I’d seen such things before. I lived in his world
even if I wasn’t fully a part of it.
“I’m not running,” I said, though I looked over my
shoulder. I couldn’t feel Kane. The instant of alarm raised by this man’s touch
hadn’t woken him yet. But, I didn’t have long. I either needed to get back to
Kane’s cabin as fast as I could or commit to my plan and get on that kayak. I’d
lost precious time, though. “I just needed some air, and it’s a beautiful
“You aren’t wrong about that. But if you were
planning on taking out that kayak, that’s pretty dangerous. This is a quiet
lake, but that doesn’t mean there won’t be trawlers or reckless kids on jet
skis. They wouldn’t be able to see you.”
“Thanks, but I can take care of myself.” I meant to
brush past him. Dare him to stop me. I didn’t think he would. Something about
his eyes made him seem more curious than threatening. But, a howl cut through
the air to the north of us. Then four more joined it. My blood ran cold, and I
clenched my hands into fists, trying to control my breathing. Kane hadn’t
stirred. Not yet.
He sniffed the air as his wolf eyes flashed again. He
sensed the pack. “They’re headed this way.”
I let out a noise. I didn’t mean to. But with each
passing second, my window of opportunity closed. The pack was on the move. They
must have figured out this strange were had crossed into their territory by now.
They were calling to Kane and moving fast. Unless the kayak suddenly grew a
motor, I’d never make it to the other side of the lake in time. What’s worse,
if Kane or the others caught me here I’d be done for.
The stranger stepped forward and put a hand on my
shoulder. Again, that electric arc passed between us. Danger. Not pack. The
mark flared at my neck, but my blood hummed. I had twin urges to run away from
him, and to him. I didn’t understand it. I put my hand to the scar and fought
the urge to claw it away.
“What’s your name?” he asked, his voice deep but
soft. He hooked a finger beneath my chin and raised my head until I looked in
his eyes. My knees went weak as my body railed against his foreign touch. Yet I
didn’t pull away as I should have. Even as Kane’s mark burned, I brought my
hands up and pressed them flat against his chest. He flinched. His lip twitched,
and for an instant, I knew exactly what he wanted. It’s what I wanted too. A
Oh, shit. No. A lifetime of my father’s warnings
replayed in my head. Six months of my
experience replayed in my
head. Wolves meant danger. Menace in a tantalizing package. I sucked in a
breath and tore myself from his touch, nearly staggering to my knees.
“I have to go.”
He sniffed the air again and looked at me, his dark
brow furrowed with concern. “They’re looking for you, aren’t they?”
I bit my lip and tried to think of the lie that
would serve me best. “I have to go.”
“What happens if they find you out here? With me.”
“I’m not with you. Please. I have to get back.” So
the choice was made. It was too late to try and get across the water now. My
only hope was to make it far enough back to Kane’s cabin to hide the fact that
I’d tried to escape. And it would probably never work.
“Tell me your name.” I shouldn’t have. He could be
anyone. He could be allied with Kane. Except, the burn of my mark told me he
wasn’t. But, it didn’t mean he was Kane’s enemy or my friend either. Still,
telling him felt like the one act of defiance I could get away with tonight. I took
a breath and answered him.
His lips curved into a smile and he parted them to
speak. “My name is . . .”
“No!” I put up a hand and backed away. “It’s better
if I don’t know it.”
He made a move toward me, distress creasing the
lines of his brow. A muscle twitched in his jaw. I had the urge to trace the
hard angles of it with my fingers.
“I’ll draw them away,” he said, his voice dropping
low as my heart raced. He stepped forward again and put his hands on my
shoulders. He leaned down and pressed his forehead to mine. It was bold.
Intimate. And yet, my body craved more of him. My breath came in quick little
pants. This was bad. The pack was coming. Kane was starting to stir.
“Listen to me. Go back the way you came. As fast as
you can. I’ll keep the pack busy out here long enough. It’ll be okay.” So he
became my co-conspirator. It was dangerous to let him have that little bit of
knowledge. He could have been working for Kane. Who knew where his loyalties lay?
Out of other options, I decided to trust him. If I did nothing, Kane was going
to find me out here anyway.
I nodded quickly. There was no more time to think.
He closed his eyes tightly once as if steeling himself to let me go. I felt
myself doing the same. Then, he dropped his hands to his sides. The absence of
his touch made the rest of my body burn to match the searing heat of Kane’s
mark. It was if my body was at war with itself. What in God’s name was
happening to me?
I didn’t have time to puzzle it out. The pack’s
urgent howls drew closer. They couldn’t be more than a hundred yards away
through the trees. My stranger took one last look at me, then dropped to his
knees and shifted in one great, powerful motion that tore the air from my
Then, he lunged forward and raised his howls to the
chorus of the pack’s and dashed through the trees. With the racket he was
making the pack would go after him. I felt Kane’s beating heart slam through my
chest as he woke with fury. He felt the pack’s distress and scented the
intruder. But, he wasn’t focused on me.
My stranger had given me time. I took it. I turned
toward the woods and ran as fast as I could.