When jackal shifter Quade Danas was banished from his pack for being gay, he spent years in the military escaping his father's prejudice before returning to civilian life as a bodyguard for Roman Howell, the teenage son of a very rich man. After Roman is in an accident that leaves him physically scarred and emotionally distant, Quade is the only one who can get through to him. As Roman becomes a man, he realizes what he wants—his bodyguard by his side and in his bed. Unfortunately, Quade can’t seem to see past the kid Roman once was to the man he has become, certain Roman’s feelings are merely misplaced gratitude. But Roman knows a lot more than Quade realizes, and he’s used to persevering, no matter how many impediments life throws his way. He wants the chance to prove to Quade that he’s strong enough for a jackal alpha to call mate.
Despite the decades Quade has been away, and the heartache of his father’s rejection, his inborn loyalty to the pack remains, and his abrupt departure left the jackal shifters without an alpha heir. As a psychopath shifter staking claim as alpha draws Quade back home, and Quade feels compelled to heed the call, he may be forced to make a choice he never anticipated. But doing so means he must leave Roman behind… unless somehow they find a way to make loyalty and love work together.
IT WAS a gorgeous night for a run, which had been the reason for me slipping out. I’d been seduced by the snowfall twinkling like diamond dust in the moonlight, the deep blues of the shadowy forest that bordered the estate, and the smells carried on the crisp December air. I roamed far, crossing over the meadow, where I should not have gone, simply because the animal in me craved speed. Above the tree line I was safe, but I couldn’t run, instead only making slow progress through the deep powder. The craving to feel the wind in my fur was impossible to deny.
I hadn’t counted on the hunters being out, but I should have. Some prize Merino sheep and one alpaca had gone missing from a nearby farm. The fleece from the animals was worth a lot of money, so the owner had put a bounty on the head of whatever was responsible, promising a sizable reward to whoever caught and killed the predator or predators.
I picked up the trail of the feral dogs easily, but they had headed back toward town, and I was returning to where I would be safe, on the grounds of the château. No hunting, or even tracking, was allowed on Roman Howell’s land. He didn’t believe in the practice. So once I crossed the stream, I would be safe. The only way to reach the forest preserve was to cross the estate, so either way, sanctuary was mine.
My proximity to safety didn’t stop the sound of bullets whizzing by, sending up puffs of snow, or from splinters of bark flying in all directions. Some were in jeeps, others on ATVs, and they would have caught up with a normal animal and maybe even an ordinary pack member eventually. But I was neither of those; I was an alpha. And even though I had stepped aside, had never led the pack, there was no escaping genetics. I had been born to lead, and because of that, they had no hope of catching me.
As I ran onto the land I knew, disappearing in the thick underbrush, I heard the posse stop at the edge, frightened of the private security and the fines that could follow. I would have to remember to tell the police chief about the dogs the following day and move the suspicion away from something larger. The hunters explaining that they had tracked what appeared to be a huge wolf onto the grounds of the château would sound mad once the real culprits were caught.
I would make sure of that.
IT WAS sad, really. Ever since Roman Howell…