Marooned. Alone with only the voices in my head -- and an island full of sex crazed wolfmen... They call this Paradise? Really?
What started out as a romantic cruise -- a last ditch effort to save our fading marriage -- turned ugly when my wife, Cecily, dumps me off me on an island in the middle of the Caribbean. To be fair, the virus was turning the men into monsters. All the men got left behind, to keep the women safe. But did she have to look so happy to get rid of me?
Immune to the virus that's ripped our world apart, I'm the only human left on this damnable island. I'm a slightly neurotic forty-year-old college professor playing Robinson Crusoe on the Island of Dr. Moreau.
"Oh please, Ari. You're far from Robinson Crusoe. He was a real man."
Oh, and my wife? She's still nagging me, if only in my mind. And now there's a certain wolfman after me who just doesn't understand I'm not looking to switch teams. Then there's the heat and humidity, wild wolfmen ready to attack, and a hurricane looming on the horizon.
Island life is far from paradise.
"Zack is incredible and his pack members are fascinating. They are a powerful combination of innocence and instinct... all the makings of another great ride. I can't wait for the next."
"This book was a great read. Each of the characters vividly come to life and emotions jump off of the pages in this story."
"I grinned when I first read the blurb for the first book of the Island Wolfman series. I was going to get more of the rough stuff, meet new characters and just enjoy Black's terrific world. I got just what I had expected. Recommended for readers who like it different."
-- 4 Stars from Valentina Heart, The Romance Reviews
Island Wolfmen: Paradise
All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2012 Brannan Black
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I fled through the trees, ducking and squeezing between trunks and bushes. I could have run faster out in the open but I had no chance of outrunning the monsters chasing me in a straight race. I slammed through the brush, squeezing through thickets too dense for their larger bodies to pass. They'd have to tear through the vegetation or go around, hopefully slowing them down enough to allow me to escape. Or convince them I wasn't worth the trouble.
A slim hope, but all I had. Never before had they come to this side of the island. Not in all the years we'd been marooned here by an insidious pandemic that provoked a worldwide panic. A panic way too late to stop the spread, I might add. That virus turned men into monsters. Werewolves, the talking heads crowed. These man-beasts don't shift back and forth. They're wolf/human hybrids all the time. But that wasn't sensational enough for the media. Stupid media; I hate when they mislabeled things just for the thrill factor.
"Focus, Ari! Run!"
Why the hell don't they give up? My lungs burned with the exertion. Fleeing for my life fueled my legs, but that energy was burning out fast. I enjoy the outdoors, but this? This was way beyond any extreme sport I'd ever heard of. Certainly not the kind of thing a tenured professor like myself indulged. Not to mention I'd just celebrated my fortieth birthday, I think. I dodged a tree and jumped the roots. And slipped in the constant mud.
I shot down the slick game trail, headed straight for the cliff. I scrambled for purchase, snatching at vegetation only to have it tear loose. A second hasty handful sliced open my palm. I slipped over the lip and, by some miracle, grabbed a vine that held. Mulch sprayed off the cliff side, rocks jarred loose and rattled against the sides.
I flew out just a bit before my grip slammed me against the side of the cliff. A jutting rock kicked my chest hard enough to knock a grunt loose. Only instinct kept me holding on. I struggled to breathe, dimly aware of the hundred-foot drop to the small stream in its rocky bed below.
"My, my, that was impressive. Planning a career as a stuntman next?"
I squeezed my eyes shut. "Not now, Cecily, hanging on for dear life here." I knew she wasn't really here. She was on the cruise ship with the rest of the women, staying safe from us virus-twisted men.
The real irony? She was the one who insisted we come on this cruise -- to "save our marriage and reignite our passion." Every time I thought about it I wanted to laugh. Except right now, while swinging from a vine, hanging on for dear life.
My hands cramped; the sliced right one screamed for me to let go. My arms burned and my whole being narrowed to my hold on those vines. I twisted slightly, coming face to face with the cliff. My feet scrambled for purchase, sending cascades of rocks and dirt pinging down the rocky wall.
Blood slicked my cut hand, which kept sliding on the vine. My left hand, arm, and shoulder, had most of my weight. They ached. I was going to fall! Panic raced through me, shooting adrenaline through my veins. My heart pounded so hard I thought a heart attack was imminent.
"Breathe, Ari, just breathe." Years of solitude, and I talked to myself as well as my long gone wife.
"Sure, blame it on the solitude, Ari."
I really wished she'd shut up.
From above, a strong grip circled my wrist. Saved! I didn't pause to think. I twisted my hand to grab that muscled arm... At the same moment as a strong yank pulled me up, nearly ripping my arm from the socket. I might add, I noted the claws on those fingers.
Damn it all! Wolfmen. Out of the frying pan, into the fire. Guess they preferred their meat alive and kicking rather than splattered all over the rocks.
He yanked me over the edge and face down in the muddy trail. Would I have been better off falling? At least the cliff wouldn't rape me and eat my alive. A little luck and I'd have been unconscious before it hurt too much. Uh huh, wishful thinking, Ari.
He let go and I scrambled for the brush. A clawed foot dug into my back, pressing me down and tearing into skin and flesh. I screamed like a bimbo in a slasher movie, surprised I still had the breath, but a kick knocked the scream right out of me. I gasped, got a knee under me and heaved, twisting as I did. Unbalanced him enough he stumbled off, leaving a trail of gouges behind.
Big mistake. The rest pounced on me like starving dogs on road kill. Claws bit into tender flesh as a fight broke out over possession of my bleeding soon-to-be corpse. Instinct kept me fighting, blocking blows and curling to protect vulnerable soft spots. Fangs raked across my throat, but the owner of those fangs was tossed aside before they could close around my windpipe.
Snarling, a trio of beasts ringed me, fighting off the others. Most backed off, heads down, shoulders slumped in submission. One of the trio, a buff blond, pulled me out of the way and shoved me down, keeping a vice-like grip on my shoulder.
Blood flew, with snarls and mud churned from the ground as the other two fought off four attackers. Clawed toes bit into to the mud for traction right in front of me. The two defenders looked like the fight wasn't going their way, being outnumbered two to one. The one holding me leaped in to save his buddy from getting his throat torn out.
One of the attackers darted around, reaching for me. They move inhumanly fast, but he must have expected me to run or it wouldn't have worked. I came up inside his reach, twisted, and used his momentum to toss his very heavy ass to the ground, followed by a kick that sent him sliding through the mud to knock others down. They pounced on him.
I dove for the brush but didn't make it. The yank on my hip twisted me into a tree, slamming my head against a low branch. Stunned, I crumpled to the ground, easy prey for the winners. Claws pricked at the skin on my neck as a hand closed over the back of it and shoved me hard into the ground.
I gasped out a breath, more sob than anything. I didn't have the strength to keep fighting. I was done.
Claws sliced through the bloody tatters of my last shirt. I closed my eyes, tried to focus on happy memories, determined to spend my last moments at peace. Prayed my kids were safe somewhere.
But instead of claws or teeth digging into me, soft dabs wiped mud from the furrows in my back. I sucked in a breath at the sudden pain. A hand gently stroked uninjured skin. I shivered, more than a bit freaked out by the contact. It'd been years since anyone had touched me at all, much less so sensually.
Hell, my wife barely even touched me like that during sex. Touched me like I was precious.