All proceeds will be donated to help support the Alzheimer’s Association in the fight to find a cure.
Warm up your chilly nights with 15 stories by some of today’s hottest USA Today, and Amazon bestselling authors as they tell you tales of vampires, shifters, elementals, fae, and demons trying to find a little love this winter.
Blood caught Brady’s attention. The coppery tang of it overpowered the crispness of the winter air. But it was not the elk they’d just taken down. Nor was it rabbit or even fox. The scent of wolf blood, as strong as if it were flowing from his own veins, rose up to smack him in the nose. And just when he’d thought things were going well. Injuries rarely happened on a hunt. Spilled blood meant a fight. And in broad daylight, when the potential to be spotted by humans was at its greatest, locating the injured before they shifted took precedence. So much for peace during the holidays.Time to go to work. Brady blew out a hot breath that turned to mist instantly as it hit the cold air. He listened, hoping to hear a rustle of branches or the whimper of the injured, but there was nothing. Frustration had him growling inside over the fact he’d spoken of peace too soon and invoked the wrath of Murphy’s Law. Wolves always found a reason to fight. The scent trail led him down into a thick patch of forest. At least a mile from their compound and buried under snow mixed with fallen leaves, he found a she-wolf, unconscious and bleeding to death. Her fur, white as the snow, had been stained black from all the blood. He shifted and knelt to inspect the wolf’s wounds. Multiple bite marks covered her body. A deep cut across her belly looked almost too clean to be from claw marks, and her front paw jutted out an unusual angle. No doubt there were more wounds hidden behind the sticky matted fur. This was no fight over a kill; this looked like murder, poorly masked as a battle. Who would do such a thing? Wolves might be treated as equals among the pack, but the thought of someone harming this girl and leaving her out to die in the open woods struck a chord deep within him. The poor thing didn’t even have the energy to shift back to her human form. Most wounds could be healed during a shift, so the fact she hadn’t told Brady she was near death, and if he didn’t get her back to the compound immediately, that would be her fate. That he couldn’t allow. Not on his watch. It was only a mile; he could make it. But he’d be near frozen by the time he arrived, having to do it naked. Brady looked around to see if anyone was nearby. He thought to howl and alert the others, but wondered if that might attract the girl’s attackers as well. He’d spent so much time with her he hadn’t given thought to who else might still be lingering. A cursory sniff of the air gave no indication of any others nearby, but even with his superior nose, there were too many other scents assaulting his senses to be accurate. Time was of the essence. Questions would have to be answered later. He could run a full sweep of the forest once he got the girl to the compound. Brady scooped her up. She was a ragdoll in his arms as he carried her back. Howls in the air signaled his approach. Other wolves, his personal guard, spotted him as he approached. Shifting to human, they came to aid him as he moved closer to the steps of the compound. “Help,” he called out, bursting through the doors as he headed toward the infirmary. “What happened?” Fallon was first to meet him inside. Without missing a beat, she grabbed a blanket from a stack and ran up, throwing one over his naked body. Horrorstruck, she spotted the wolf in his arms. Before she could ask the question, Brady blurted out, “Sniffed her out, buried in the woods. Whoever did this did not want her found.” A growl of pure anger accompanied his words. Whoever had done this would pay. “Set her over here.” Fallon retrieved another blanket from the stack. “Do we know who she is? What pack she came from?” Her questions were valid, and if he had the answers he would give them, but all Brady could muster at that moment was a grunt as he laid the injured wolf on the table, inspecting the wounds on her body. Her eyes were open, but she neither blinked nor moved to look around. Legs broken. Bite marks in her side and various scrapes and abrasions on her back. This was the work of one of their own. Whoever it was had shifted human when they were done and attempted to finish the job with that final slice across the belly. Not deep enough to gut her, thank goodness. But it was certainly an ugly cut. The fact that it hadn’t finished her off said that it had been done in haste. Brady sent his mind back, trying to recall if he had heard any signs of a struggle. He’d been so happy to watch the packs take down that last elk he hadn’t been doing his job. He should have heard something. But his memory was blank up to the point where her blood had caught his attention. The other explanation would be if she had been attacked elsewhere and dropped in the woods to die. That again pointed to one of his own kind. They were too deep into the woods for cars to have access. He had to get to the bottom of this. “What the hell did this?” Fallon’s question hit the mark. What indeed. It was one thing to fight with another wolf; that happened all the time. Hell, Brady was often more beast than man – but even so, to do this to a female? Unspeakable. To leave her alone and dying in the cold forest… Whoever had done this was truly a monster. Problem was, with so many new faces in attendance it would be hard to pinpoint who’d done the deed. Brady swore silently that he would track down the bastard. He’d exact retribution. He smelled her fur, noting the variety of scents clinging to it. Blood overpowered all. Another wolf came up behind him. “Her body is in shock. Not surprising seeing all of those wounds.” He turned angrily at first, but recognizing Emma, the pack physician calmed his wolf. Emma administered a shot of some kind to the injured wolf. “She’ll need a transfusion to kickstart her healing. She’s lost too much blood.” Brady looked down into the poor girl’s eyes. He couldn’t shake the feeling that had he had his head in the game, he might have prevented her injuries. “Take what you need from me.” He patted her head gently and then looked up to Emma. “She was found on my watch.” Fallon looked sideways in disbelief. “That’s very gallant of you,” she said, before offering her own blood if need be as well. Gallantry had nothing to do with it. He’d been on patrol. He should have been paying closer attention to what was happening in his woods. It was the least he could do. When she woke, she could point out her attacker. “Just do it.” Brady grumbled.
Remember, All proceeds will be donated to help support the Alzheimer’s Association in the fight to find a cure. Get your copy of Wicked Winter today https://books2read.com/u/bWK6w1
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Travel the galaxy with this gypsy pirate as he looks for treasure and finds trouble instead. The universe might be out to get him, but he's not giving in without a fight.
Earth: a space pirate's dream when it comes to booty, but not a good place to hide when bounty hunters come looking. Escaping amidst a hail of fire, Rafe finds himself stuck with a human passenger who seems to think she can order him around. She'll soon learn who's the captain.
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