Anya sneaks off to the ancient ruins on Temple Island in the hopes that the legends are true, but it lies in enemy territory. The one thing she desires the most she hopes to find there. Her excursion takes a catastrophic twist, and she ends up a prisoner and her captor uses her for the safe return of his sister. But the tug of an ancient longing—one her brother will never allow—claims her.
Dante catches an interloper in his pack’s territory. The pretty young female werewolf captures his attention in ways he never thought possible. He hoped to use her to learn of his sister’s whereabouts, but he soon feels the pull to keep Anya for himself.
With outside forces trying to come between them, the love they share is put at risk, and Dante may lose Anya forever.
The warm breeze had all but died down as Anya slipped into the shelter of the ancient stone structure. The air within was dusty, and the rays of the late day sun caused the dust in the air to glitter like floating specks of gold. The moss-covered stone walls had stood there for more years than anyone knew. At the center of the large open space was a raised dais. A stone altar of the blackest basalt stuck out in the otherwise empty room.
Anya’s legs trembled ever so slightly as excitement and fear filled her. The legends had to be true, she thought as she walked carefully over and leapt up onto the altar. The pool sat there just as the tales had told, her reflection looking back at her in the brackish water. Gingerly, she sniffed it. It stank to high heaven. Twitching her ears, she steeled herself, pawed the water to get the film off the top and took a tentative lap.
The taste nearly made her regurgitate the water, and she shivered as a bone-chilling feeling coursed over her. It was as if a cold icy shroud had enveloped her. It gave her goose bumps even in her wolf form. For a brief moment, she thought she saw the reflection of a woman’s face in the water staring back at her. The ghostly image was superimposed over Anya’s white furred face on the surface on the water. She shook her head and it was gone.
A sudden snapping sound from behind her caused her to leap from the stone surface. She knew in an instant she’d been discovered, and she bolted for the small cave-in at the far corner. Squeezing through it was easy, and Anya didn’t bother or wish to turn around to see the cause of the noise. She caught the scent of horses and men as she fled down the stone path, which led out of the ancient courtyard around the temple. As she ran down it, she heard the quick, hard pounding of hooves on the hard-packed trail.
Weaving in and around trees, over deadwood and down a sloped embankment, she was hard-pressed to lose them. The forest was only thick in a few places, not making it easy for her to evade them. Their horses were able to follow unhindered by the sparseness of the underbrush. Anya’s only hope was to make the water before they caught her.
Racing down the path toward the shore, Anya felt as if her heart would explode. Her own heavy panting filled her ears as her paws dug into the soft soil of the small fallow field overlooking the bay. The muscles in her legs and chest burned. She ran as fast as she could for the next half hour on adrenaline as her energy diminished. She’d managed to just keep ahead of them, but if she slowed, they’d be on top of her.
Anya had planned on being home long before dark. The small outboard motor boat had made the trip in less than two hours, and if her brother, Mitch, found it missing he would have a fit. Now, as she propelled herself toward the cove where the craft was hidden, she realized she was in a whole lot more trouble than what her brother would dish out. The sun was already starting to set, and if she didn’t make the bay before her pursuers, she might never get off the island alive. Mitch, or anyone else in her pack, didn’t know where she’d gone, and now she really wished she hadn’t come there.
The rustling sounds of someone breaking through the small trees and shrubs from behind her had her trying to run faster. Her thick fur coat had protected her from the brambles when she bulldozed through the same area her pursuers now followed her from. Fear gripped her heart. She saw the small embankment just before the shoreline.
The sudden retort of a rifle echoed through the air, and the bullet whizzed across her flank. She felt the brushing of something against her, and it took a tuft of fur with it. Never in all her life had she been so utterly terrified. She started running in a more rabbit style, shifting her movements from left to right, trying to make it harder for whoever was shooting at her. Anya really wished she’d heeded her brother’s words this morning about not to straying too far from home.
With the bank so close, she pushed even harder, leaping over a fallen tree in the hopes it made it harder for the hunters. Her paws barely touched the soft muddy slope as she skittered down it. There being just over twenty feet to the water, she felt elated as her claws ripped up the sandy shore. Just as she made another jump to clear the last few feet, something slammed into her right haunch a split second before the retort of the rifle. The burning pain elicited a yelp from her. She was hit.
As her body hit the cold water with a splash, shock washed over her. Anya went into instinct mode as her mind fought not to be lost in the surge of panic flooding her. Doing the dog paddle with her front paws to try to gain some more distance, she weakened very quickly. She realized her back legs were not working. Her hind quarters dragged her down.
When her head dipped under, she tried not to swallow any of the salty sea water. Struggling to get her face back up for air didn’t work, and she sank lower. All around her the waters were being stained a muddled pink. As her paws clawed at the water, it stirred the murky color around, making seeing impossible.
The necessity to breathe had her lungs on fire. The pressure building inside her as the need became all she could think about. I’m going to die, she thought as her lungs forced her to inhale. Water rushed into them in place of the air they craved. The painfully invasion of salty brine tore at her lungs as her mind struggled to stay conscious. Anya lost the battle, and just as everything faded into darkness, she felt a large, powerful hand grip her by the fur on the scruff of her neck.