Discover the series readers love!
“I love the Wolves of Willow Bend and this may one of my favorites of the series.”
“Heather Long takes you to the heart of what it’s like becoming mates.”
“I think Mrs. Heather Long created something here, something great and she has made a fan in me.”
“This book has all you will want in a book suspense,action,humor and super hot romance!”
“This book has all you could want in it and more. Action, humor, sweet loving, suspense, beautiful little spitfire she wolf, sexy hot rough but tender alpha male wolf. “
“Loved the ending and this story makes the Wolves of Willow bend more and more interesting, I can’t wait for the next story!”
Dylan Royce, Willow Bend Hunter, is a natural flirt and courted his fair share of she-wolves, but he’s never found the woman who makes his pulse race. With the new pack’s borders verging on Willow Bend territory, he’s tasked with keeping an eye on them. His job grows more challenging daily, especially since one seductive female keeps crossing the line.
Chrystal Landros knows she’s supposed to keep to her side of the Three Rivers-Willow Bend line. But she loves to explore, and Willow Bend is home to some spectacular sites. As a former Lone Wolf, she hasn’t always been certain of her welcome, but her new home in Three Rivers opens a wonderful world of unfamiliar opportunities. Too bad the wolf who makes her blood heat is tasked with keeping her away from the places she wants to visit.
While Dylan and Chrystal clash repeatedly over her border incursions, the game between them threatens to turn deadly. Tensions between Willow Bend and Three Rivers continue to rise. Could their forbidden dalliance be the spark to ignite a war?
Read the first chapter right now!
Racing the wind, Dylan Royce danced over a thin shell of
snow without sinking into the powder. A recent blizzard dumped three feet of
fresh accumulation in twelve hours, all of it atop the ice-hardened pack
beneath. Cold, crisp air flooded his lungs with his every footfall. Invigorated
by the chill, he kept his mouth open to sample the breeze. The natural wonder
from the weather made running his circuit a pleasure rather than a chore as he
spun through the remote pack campgrounds.
Human families escaped to these campgrounds during the
warmer summer months. The remote location, coupled with the bordering state
park, also made it ideal for young wolves to learn to hunt, stalk and play away
from day-to-day life. Winter often proved the second favorite season for
families with older youths to escape and romp in the snow. With Three Rivers’
border so close, however, Mason slapped a moratorium on any vacation plans to
the area for the pack.
The usually populated area remained virtually abandoned
during Dylan’s tenure as Hunter guarding the border, a downside to Mason’s
order. Such a critical position would typically have fallen on Owen Chase, but
their Senior Hunter left for Hudson River eight weeks prior with his mate to
train the pack’s young healer and to provide assistance to the Alpha.
So, while Dylan landed the miserable position, at least he
got to enjoy the snow. And, in a few hours, he would get to enjoy Tawny, the
sleek, svelte law student interning with Ryan Huston. Dylan pursued her for
months before she finally consented to a drink.
Where he spent his weekend off hinged on the date. His wolf
thrilled at the challenge. They would definitely enjoy taking a bite out of her
taut ass. Still, better to burn off some of his frustrations…plus, he had all
the gorgeous unbroken snow to himself. After climbing to the highest vantage,
he growled his approval. Pristine powder lay in smooth waves down the hill.
Testing the ice crust, he found only soft powder. It clung
to his fur and bunched between his claws. The swirling breeze carried the
promise of more snow. Panting, he arched his head back and loosed a single
call. Infusing power into the call to demand a response, he cut it off abruptly
Any wolves within his range would respond. Flicking his
ears, he heard only the wind brushing the trees, the faint groan of branches
heavily laden with winter’s kiss and the whuffs of his breathing. No scents
teased his nostrils, no sounds alerted him to intruders, and all the
magnificent snow lay waiting for him to play.
Tail wagging, he danced away from the edge and trotted
several paces. Judging the distance to be perfect, he dashed forward, rushing
on adrenaline-fueled muscles until he reached the edge and flung himself onto
the slope, legs sprawling out. His trajectory and angle gave him additional
speed. He flew to the base of the hill and crashed into a snowdrift.
Bounding out, he shook to free his coat of the snow and
sneezed. Damn, that’s fun. He turned
to make another climb and repeat the wild ride when a tangle of lemon and
orchid teased his nose.
Whirling, he raised his head to catch the direction of the
scent, because beneath the citrus was the musk of wolf—a wolf he’d already
tossed three times in as many weeks.
All at once, his plans for the evening began to disintegrate. If the Three
Rivers bitch hightailed it over the line again, he’d have to track her, catch
her, punish her, and drop kick her ass back to Luciana “I Have No Idea What the
Hell I’m Doing” Barrows.
Tawny wouldn’t wait for him, either. Five minutes late,
she’d warned, and he would be out of luck.
Snarling to himself, he trotted west slowly and caught the
trace of Chrystal’s scent again. The swirling wind kept yanking it away from
him like a tease, but he was a Hunter.
He would find her.
An hour of stalking and two false trails later, he’d finally
narrowed her scent to a tract of land below the campgrounds near the old falls.
The snow continued, fat heavy flakes crusting on his coat. His phone—like his
clothes—were in his truck, parked more than a few miles away. He tried to bury
his sour mood, knowing his date with Tawny slipped further and further out of
Pausing in the shadow of a tree, he scanned the rocky slope
where the water spilled from any icy crevice and flowed down into a sluggish
moving pool. Ice shimmered around the shores, slicking the hard surfaces.
Despite the wind, Chrystal’s scent grew stronger with each blast of wind
skimming the pseudo valley.
With so much white on every surface, he expected to find her
swiftly, but it took him some time to pick her out. She climbed the icy rock
face along the edge of the waterfall.
His irritation switched to concern. What the hell is she doing?
Dressed in jeans, a sweatshirt, and a too-thin jacket, she
climbed with determination, fighting for every hand and foothold as the
slippery ice gave way beneath her grip. Straightening, he followed her progress
and eyed the landscape in search of his best route to the top. A skittering of
skin and shoe against the slick rock jerked his attention back to the curvy
little pain in his ass. She’d dropped a foot from her upward progress and clung
to the rock through will alone.
The little minx needed a damn keeper. Inch-by-inch, she
continued her creeping ascent of the sheer shale. Between the composition of
the stone and the ice, she risked serious injury to her bare hands. Even from
his position, he could see the dampness soaking her jeans.
What the hell could be
worth courting frostbite? With a leap, he bounded into the dip and sank
into the wetter snow around the waterfall’s pool. Fording through the dense
drifts, he found the path he’d been seeking and began to climb along the outer
rim. Worn by the passage of many feet over the years, faint stone steps existed
deep beneath the snow. In midsummer, the waterfall served as the perfect diving
point. The pool below was a good twelve to fifteen feet deep, which meant high
divers didn’t usually crack their skulls. Of course, the water wasn’t
half-frozen or frigid in the middle of summer either.
Chrystal continued easing her way to the precipice. Ahead of
her finally, Dylan scrambled onto the ledge and leaned over to judge the
distance between them. He’d need to shift to grab her. She was beyond his neck
range, even if he were able to snag her damp jacket. If she ascended another
foot or two…only she didn’t. She stopped.
Dylan stared, disbelief sinking into his bones. Instead of
climbing—or even holding on with her flimsy grips—she slid her free hand into
her jacket and pulled out a cell phone. She stretched the phone away from her,
angling toward the plunging water…why?
Forgetting the idiocy of her actions, he rushed his shift.
Fur slid away, muscle twisted and bones snapped. Part of Hunter apprenticeship
required shifting under high-stress situations. His mentor’s lesson had been
brutal on the point. They needed to be able to change on the fly and, since
they were at their most vulnerable mid-shift, hurrying the process was the only
Bliss and agony intertwined until he suddenly knelt in the
icy snow with his palms flat against the chilly surface. The cold assaulted his
overheated and sensitized skin like so many needling daggers plunging into his
flesh. Fuck me. Blowing out a frosty
breath, he did his best to ignore the wind shivering his balls and threatening
to geld him.
The trembling in his muscles had more to do with the
temperature than his shifting. Pushing to the edge, he found the idiot wolf
with her phone angled at the spraying water, her thumb hovering over a button.
What. The. Hell?
He opened his mouth to snarl at her, but she hadn’t glanced
toward him once and her scent hadn’t changed. Focused on whatever the hell her
goal was, she failed to notice his position or the precariousness of her own.
If he snapped at her…he clamped his teeth together, molars grinding, and
Hating himself—and her more—he flattened to the snow.
Working to ignore the way his dick threatened to fall off, he stretched out an
arm. He could reach her. The snow blew sideways and a faint flicker of sunlight
broke through the cloud cover. The light hit the water as his fingers brushed
the back of her jacket.
“Yes!” she whooped. Her thumb slapped against the shutter
control, snapping several shots in a row. The thin tendril of sunlight lit the
water, dancing off the frost and ice around it, to shatter into prisms. Dylan
might have even enjoyed the sight, save for Chrystal’s enthusiasm as she leaned
further away. One moment, she dangled precariously. The next, she slid.
Even a wolf would take a beating on the rocks below.
Fisting her jacket, he ignored the scream in his bicep from
lifting her falling deadweight and hauled her upward. Yes. I have her. Her howl of surprise gave him a measure of
satisfaction. So did jerking her over the edge then tossing her sweet ass into
the snow. She came up spluttering as Dylan rose above her and scowled.
“What the fuck are you doing Chrystal?” Not bothering to disguise the growl rumbling
in his voice or the fury filling his veins, he glared at her. Instead of
responding to him directly, however, she let out a sub-vocal moan and began to scramble
through the snow.
“Where is it?” she muttered, not glancing at him once.
“Where is it?” Plunging her already reddened palms into the slush, she spun
onto her hands and knees. Panic wreathed her.
Insane. The little
she-wolf was categorically insane. Seemingly oblivious to continued saturation
of her clothing, she kept digging until she let out a whoop. “There you are!”
She rose to her feet, phone clasped in her hands. Rubbing it
hurriedly against her shirt, she checked the screen twice before she turned
those walnut colored eyes on him. Nose wrinkling, she held her phone toward
him. “I thought I lost it. Give a girl some warning next time. Do you know how
hard I had to work to get that angle?”
Folding his arms, Dylan wiggled his toes to test for feeling
still in them despite being calf deep in snow. “You’re in Willow Bend
“No, I’m not.” She returned her attention to the phone and
let out a deep sigh of relief. “Oh good. The snow didn’t hurt it. And, yes!”
Her shout, accompanied by a fist bump to the sky sent a shock skating through
him. “I got it! Isn’t it perfect?” She thrust the phone at him again. The thin
tendril of sunlight refracting through the snow and water created an almost
ethereal glow, rainbows exploding like fireworks.
Despite admiring the shot, he riveted his attention on her
face, locking gazes with her. Aggravated both by her careless disregard for her
own safety and the loss of his possible date with Tawny, he tapped two fingers
on his arm. “You are on Willow Bend territory. You crossed the border more than
a mile back.”
“No, I didn’t,” she protested, though her gaze slid away
from his first to glance at her phone, then at the snow. She shuddered. “I
mean, I don’t think I did. Sir.”
Shock mingled with his disbelief. “My name is Dylan.” Which
she knew, since they’d met several times over the last four weeks. “Not ‘sir.’”
“Well, I know your name, sir, but Luciana said we’re always
to use proper address with outsiders, to show how polite we are.”
Really? Because polite
Shaking his head, Dylan snagged her arm. “You’re going to
freeze to death, since you’re soaking wet, and…”
He flipped her hand over. The red, chapped skin across her palm boasted several
slices. Chances were, she didn’t feel the damage. Her low squeak of surprise confirmed
his assessment. “Did you drive?”
“What?” Her gaze jerked to his again. Her pupils dilated a
fraction and her nostrils flared. Yes,
little missy, I am indeed angry.
She bit her lower lip, and her shoulders collapsed inward as she angled away
from him. “No, I hiked.”
closed his eyes and counted to fifty.
While they were less than a mile from the border of the
territory granted to Three Rivers, none of the Three Rivers wolves lived within
fifty miles of the actual border. Most were contained within their town,
located more than seventy-five miles from their current location. “How far did
you hike?” Maybe if he displayed patience he didn’t feel, she’d give him a more
Chrystal rocked on her sneaker covered feet—which were likely
soaked from the snow. Squirming, she tugged her arm. The motion wasn’t enough
to really challenge him, but sufficient to demonstrate her desire for release.
Refusing the nonverbal request, he tapped her chin with a light finger, urging
her to face him.
“How far?” he demanded.
“I don’t know,” she admitted. Her chapped cheeks turned a
deeper shade of rose. “I…I’ve been trying to get some shots for my next set
of paintings. You have so many spectacular sites here. I’ve been trying to find
them, so I just…sort of…wandered.”
Wandered. In a
blizzard. Well, to be fair, it was a steady, but light, snow. Still,
wandered? Her pack needed to assign her a keeper. Grinding his teeth together,
he nodded once. “I’ll drive you back. My truck is a few miles from here, so we
can get there faster if you shift.” She’d also be warmer. Plus, it would give
her time to heal the injuries she’d given herself.
“I can’t leave my phone here. It will be ruined!” Panic
resurged in her scent. Dylan fought the urge to roll his eyes or haul her over
his lap and spank her silly ass for suggesting the phone was more important
than her personal safety.
Snarling once, he plucked the phone from her hand and
released her. “Strip.” Command flowed through him and he knew his order would
be obeyed. She didn’t have enough dominance to fight him. “Now. Shift.”
Still, she apparently intended to try. “But…?”
Implacable, he drilled his stare into her until she began to
fumble with her clothes. He caught her jacket before it hit the snow and used
it to make a bundle. One by one she passed him the other garments until she
danced in the snow, her teeth chattering. He set her phone in the center of the
driest piece of clothing then wrapped the others around it, one-by-one, until
the jacket became the outermost layer. It was at least mostly waterproof.
“You’re making it into something I can carry.” She exhaled
between clicking teeth. Instead of shifting, she rubbed at her arms and kept
dancing on her bare feet in the snow. Even her socks were soaking wet, so who
knew how long she’d been out hiking
in the snow.
“Yes,” he said, tightening the sleeves to form a noose. No,
he wasn’t thinking about hanging her. Much. “Shift, woman, before you do get
Wide eyes blinking at him again, she swallowed. “You’re
“No kidding. And if my balls get frostbite, I’ll do more
than snarl at you. Shift.”
“But you’re staring at me.”
It was Dylan’s turn to blink. Nudity wasn’t a big deal. She
certainly had nothing to be ashamed of. Her long tumble of brown hair fell in
damp waves against her soft olive skin. Blessed by generous curves and full
breasts, she lacked tight muscle definition but her plush form didn’t betray
any hint of weakness. If anything, it reinforced his need to see her safely shifted
to a warmer form and out of the snow before she caught a real illness. Though
wolves rarely sickened the way humans did, they could get ill if they didn’t
take care of themselves.
Or if those who are
supposed to be taking care of her fail to look after her properly. The
failure to do so added another black mark against the new so-called Alpha, as
far as he was concerned. “Just change, Chrystal. The faster you do, the faster
I can slip this on you and change myself.”
Another hop from foot to foot as misery burst like a rain
cloud over her head. “I don’t know if I can do it while you’re watching.”
Not a refusal, not a challenge, a cry for help. Grunting,
Dylan said, “I’ll watch the tree line, but I’m not turning my back on you.” Then, because her continued quaking
left him feeling like an asshole, he gentled his tone. “You’re safe, Chrystal.
Nothing will touch you while you shift. I promise.”
Doubt clung to her expression, a though her eyes remained
downcast. She nodded slowly. “Thank you.”
Yep. Her gratitude
at being granted protection while she did as he’d ordered increased his sense
of being a jerk. The little wolf was in the wrong, and it was his task to
correct her and send her from their territory. Her constant flouting of the
rules, however, needed to be quashed. How the hell did she survive as a Lone
Wolf when she didn’t know how to follow the simple restrictions outlined by the
probation treaty offered to Three Rivers?
Scanning the tree line, Dylan waited for the sounds of her
shift, but none seemed forthcoming. Sparing her a glance, he found her arms
folded tight against her chest while she continued to alternate from foot to
foot. Her shivering increased ten-fold, however, and a faint tinge of blue
touched her lips.
“What’s wrong?” Why
the hell isn’t she shifting?
“I don’t know,” she said with more fear in her tone than
bite. “I’m trying, but nothing seems to be happening.”
Disregarding her earlier discomfort at his stare, Dylan
studied her. Her shivering increased. His wolf rousing from their shared
grumpiness, he clasped her shoulder. If she couldn’t shift, she was in a lot
more trouble than frozen clothes, frostbite and violating Willow Bend
territorial boundaries. “Chrystal.” He snapped out the two syllables of her
name and her gaze jerked to his. Calling a wolf out was a job best left to an
Alpha, but dominant wolves could do it if they could override the more
submissive wolf’s tendencies.
His vision flickered as his wolf peered out of his eyes.
Growling, he uttered the command, “Shift.”
One blink. Then two. Her walnut eyes bled gold as her wolf
glared out at him. No, not glared. Her wolf wasn’t angry; she was terrified.
Fisting his control, Dylan let his anger and frustration bleed out of him.
Ordering her wolf around when she plainly didn’t know how to cope with a more
dominant animal served no one.
“Come on, darling,” he murmured, giving her shoulder a
squeeze. “Come on out and play.”
The change rippled over her, and her eyes went completely
wolf. When the muscles beneath his hand began to tug, he released her and
stepped back to give her space. Shivering cascaded into the violence of her
change. Her moans turned to whimpers and growls. Finally, fur glided over her
shifted bones and form. She landed on four feet in front of him, panting hard.
Giving her a moment to reorient herself, Dylan lowered to a
crouch rather than towering over her. The stink of fear occluded her sweeter
scent. Yes, she needed discipline. Yes, she broke their treaty. Yes, he needed
to kick her ass, but none of those offenses interested him at the moment. The
she-wolf’s terror ignited every protective instinct he had.
Extending a hand, he said, “Good girl. Beautiful job.”
A low whine vibrated in her throat, and she dropped to her
belly. Dammit. His wolf’s frustration
mirrored Dylan’s. They didn’t want her crawling. If he dragged her to him and
gave her a hug, he’d likely scare the shit out of her. Settling his palm
against her head, he gave her a gentle scratch.
“Sweet girl, thank you.” The wolf’s ears flicked toward him.
She was a dusky black and white wolf, darker hairs sprinkled amongst the silver
and white. In low light and at a distance, she’d look more like a husky than
wolf. Her slighter build would help her
blend in more urban areas. When she dared a glance at him, he gave her a small
“Can you stand up, beautiful? Need to put these clothes over
your head and around your shoulders.” If he fit it snug enough, they wouldn’t
hamper her movements. With great hesitation and care, she rose to her feet, but
kept her whole body hunched and tail tucked between her legs.
Ignoring the frigid air and his own discomfort, Dylan kept
his touch on her light. Gradually, her slunk gave way to a better posture, and
she darted another look at him. Maintaining a smile, he said, “Ready when you
She bumped his hand with a nod. Trusting her word, he
retrieved her clothes then slid the sling he’d made of the arms over her head.
Afterward, he checked the fit against front. She was so damn tiny. Getting the
sling on her tight enough to stay yet not trip her gave him a moment’s pause.
To the little wolf’s credit, she held still while he got it sorted. Once he
finished, he rubbed between her ears again. “Test it for me, darling. Let’s see
how you move.”
Chrystal took a couple of trembling steps, floundering in
the snow, but the pack of her clothes and phone remained snug across the top of
her shoulders. She tossed him a glance, and he read the question in her eyes.
“Looks good to me, sweetheart. What do you think?” The
calmer he kept his voice, the more she relaxed. Though the little wolf might be
a pain in the ass, he’d prefer her to bite and scratch back if he snarled. When
she sank to her belly on the ground, it undid him. He didn’t see himself as
cruel or unkind.
She bobbed her head slowly, taking a couple more steps and
tested a leap—one that landed her smack in the middle of another drift. Biting
back a smile, Dylan braced his fist to the ground.
“I’ll shift, you follow me.” He added a bit more command to
Pausing, snow on her muzzle, she canted her head and watched
him. Taking the risk, he called his wolf. The twisted bliss and agony rode over
him until he stood on four legs. Chrystal didn’t make any move toward him as he
rose. At nearly twice her size, he dwarfed her. Head down, she sidestepped
Everything in her posture was non-aggressive. Nuzzling her ear
once, he closed his jaw lightly around her muzzle. She relaxed at the touch.
Once certain she’d obey him, he released her and glanced toward the snow-covered
steps he’d used to make it to the top of the falls. She sidled into him and he
turned, taking lead with the tiny wolf pacing his every step.
Plowing forward, he made way for her through the denser wet
snow so she didn’t have to flounder. When they reach the ice crust, he danced
atop it then paused. She tested a paw, then a second. Once she was certain the
snow wouldn’t give way, she gave him a little yip of joy.
Amused despite his earlier sour mood, he whuffed at her to
get her ass in gear and catch up. She scrambled toward him and he trotted,
gradually increasing his speed as long as she didn’t seem to struggle. He’d see
her safe out of the storm and back to where she belonged.
It was his job.