Pack numbers are low. The reigning pack leader, Rong, has demanded all unmated Werewolves to breed each moon cycle. Ming yearns for her destined mate, but Jason has been locked away in prison for ten years. Desperate to stay true to him and avoid the new breeding law, Ming begs the pack leader to spare her from the ruling. With a little magic, and a lot of faith, Jason is brought to Ming through a mystical realm. Now the two destined mates must run from the pack, which is hot on their trail, while Jason struggles to come to terms with his past--something he must do in order to give Ming a moon vow. Ming's fate lies in the decision Jason needs to make with his heart and soul.
He would die tonight
Jason ran at breakneck speed through the woods. Wind whipped across his face so hard it stung his flesh. Blood oozed from his chest wound. If the wolves didn't get him first, he would bleed to death.
He pushed on, ignoring the pain ricocheting through his body. He refused to make it easy for them to get him. He'd survived being beaten by his stepfather as a kid, held at gunpoint in a convenience store as a teen, and hell, he'd survived prison. He had to survive this.
“I will survive this.”
He rounded a bend, then slid to a stop to avoid running straight into a huge rock formation. A wolf bayed in the distance, the sound eerie in the misty night. A cold chill ran the length of his spine as more of them howled in response, the sound closer. The beasts were nearly upon him. They would eat him alive…like the others.
“God, help me.” His plea a desperate whisper as he tightened his grip around the handle of the blade he'd used against one of the beasts earlier, narrowly escaping the massive snapping jaws.
He crouched with his back against the rock, ready to spring, ready to fight until he drew his last breath. If he was to die tonight, he would take as many of the red-eyed monsters with him as he could.
The sound of underbrush being trampled beneath the weight of their paws rang inside his ears as they crept forward. Heart hammering in his throat, Jason began to make out their forms.
Three gray wolves stalked him, their heads low, ready to attack. They assessed him as he studied them. Two medium sized beasts flanked the larger one in the center and fanned out to cover him in three directions.
His hand tightened around the blade. He didn't have a chance in hell of getting all three, but a little relief washed over him knowing these were not the same wolves he'd seen eating people earlier tonight. Those beasts had been huge, with red, glowing eyes. Demon dogs. He'd take on three normal wolves any day over the chance of going toe-to-toe with one of those monsters. The wolf in the middle lowered itself, ready to lunge forward and rip him to shreds, but suddenly stilled, cocking its head to the side.
The hair on the back of Jason's neck stood on end and he felt it too...the sense that something far more powerful than these beasts approached. He'd no more than finished the thought when a dark shadow flew over his head.
A large black wolf landed before him. It lowered its sleek head and issued a warning snarl to the three gray predators. The gray wolves had the advantage. They outnumbered the black wolf three to one and had the creature surrounded. Jason’s jaw dropped open in surprise when instead of charging, they tucked tail and ran.
The remaining wolf turned and stared him down with eyes that faded from red to a smoky topaz. The animal tilted its head and whined. Though it looked as big as the wolves that’d attacked the people he'd been traveling with and had the same red eyes, he sensed no evil. Instinctively, he knew the animal wouldn't hurt him.
Run. Hide yourself.
He started, twisting his head around to discern where the voice he'd heard so clearly had come from. Was there another person in the woods running from the wild beasts? A woman? Had one survived?
Run, you foolish human. Go! The wolf butted against him with its head, staggered, then fell.
“No way.” He stared at the wolf and, an odd sense of déjà vu washed over him. He'd seen this animal before. He'd dreamed of running through the woods, these woods, with a beautiful black wolf just like her. He'd woken to find the gorgeous creature staring at him from across his prison cell. No way. No possible way. “I am not out here in the woods hearing animals like freaking Doctor Doolittle.”
You can hear me?
Jason’s eyes widened in disbelief. He tried to back away but the large rock formation blocked his escape route; even the jagged heap of stone looked vaguely familiar. This couldn't be happening. He was just having trouble adapting to the outside world. He'd been in prison too long. That had to be it.
“No freaking way,” he whispered as he studied the animal. She could only be described as beautiful. Strong, sleek, with fur like black silk shining in the moonlight. He narrowed his eyes as the moon showed something wet glinting off her side. Tentative and slow, so he wouldn’t startle her, Jason reached out with two fingers and touched the spot. He pulled back bloody fingertips.
“What happened to you, girl?”
I‘ve been shot, and quit talking to me like I'm some mangy mutt.
He jerked his head up to meet her gaze. The wolf stared at him with eyes so human he could be having a conversation with some woman in a bar, not squatting in the forest, talking to a wolf and hearing her respond in his mind. Jason glanced around, sensing for imminent danger. Those deadly wolves were out there and he sat crouched between a rock wall and an injured animal. The scent of their blood alone would draw all manner of beasts, but he couldn’t leave her. She'd saved his life, and he had an affinity for animals.
“Come on, girl, let's get you to a vet and then maybe I can have my head shrunk.” He bent forward to scoop up the black beauty when a threatening growl stopped him.
The bullet was silver. I don't have much longer. Run while you can. They'll kill you!Her eyes burned red, then slowly shifted back to amber.
“Silver? What the hell are you, a Werewolf?” He laughed at the ridiculous notion, but quickly sobered when the wolf didn’t even blink. Realization caused his stomach to bottom out. The wolves that’d attacked his fellow travelers were much larger than normal, and their eyes had glowed red, too.
“I have seriously lost my mind. Or maybe it's all a dream,” he added, liking that explanation a lot better. “Yeah, this is all a dream and I'm supposed to save you. You'll turn out to be a real hot woman and we'll get freaky in the woods while danger surrounds us. I can handle that.”
She growled again, the sound weaker than before. Leave, you fool. They'll kill you!
“Yeah, sure. I'm going to be killed by Werewolves.” He laughed, his muscles relaxing. “Go ahead and shift for me then. You've gotta be fine as hell since this is my dream.”
Run, you idiot! I can't shift with silver in my body and I'm too weak to protect you!
“Well, that's all you had to say.” He studied her wound, squinting to see it clearly in the dark. “I'll just get this out of you.”
Her eyes blazed red again then quickly flickered out. If you so much as attempt to stick that knife in me—
“Relax, darlin'.” He chuckled. “I happen to have a few cool tricks of my own.”
He focused on the wound, and the prickly sparks of warm energy came alive inside his body as he held his hand over the wolf, sensing for the bullet. Once detected, he trained his power on the piece of silver and quickly extracted it, catching the bullet in his hand with ease. “All set.”
How did you do that? The wolf's eyes were wide, and a sense of satisfaction warmed him from the inside.
“I told you I had a few cool tricks. Now let me see what you can do.”
They're coming.The wolf swiveled her head around and attempted to rise, whimpering in pain when the feat proved too much.
Jason’s heart went out to the animal’s pain. “I can't heal you. Will the wound be there when you shift?”
No, but I'll be weak from the exertion.
“Then I'll carry you.”
Why are you helping me?The wolf cocked her head to the side, and Jason swore the animal’s brows furrowed.
“Because I just got out of prison and wouldn't mind getting laid, even if it's just a crazy dream,” he answered with a devilish grin, growing more amused with each passing second.
Fool. She actually shook her head at him.
He frowned and started to respond, but words caught in his throat as a kaleidoscope of colors shimmered over the wolf's body. Before his eyes, the animal metamorphosed into a beautiful Asian woman with long dark hair, pale skin and lips red as rubies.
“Hey!” He took in her tight jeans and black rib-knit sweater. “If this is my dream you should be naked.”
“This isn't a dream, you stupid human.” She sat up with much effort spent on the move. “They're coming. They'll kill us both.”
“Why would your own people, or whatever they are, kill you?”
“Just run, fool!” The irritation in her tone came through strong.
‘You know, you're starting to annoy me with the name-calling.” Jason scooped the petite beauty into his arms, winced as pain ricocheted through his body from his own wounds, and straightened to a stand. “So what's your name, darlin'?”
“Well, Ming, do you know a safe place I can take you?” He shifted her more securely in his hold which pressed her firmly against his chest while he tried to place where he'd heard the name before.
“Follow the hawk. He’s my friend,” she whispered before she passed out in his arms.
“Follow the hawk? What the—”
A loud screech sounded over his head and he peered up to see the outline of a large hawk circling above him in the night sky. “Okay,” he muttered, “I'll follow the hawk through a dark forest while Werewolves are on the prowl and see how this crazy dream ends.”