by Rebecca Royce
Westervelt Wolves - Book 3.5
Available from Liquid Silver Books
Download for Amazon Kindle
Jana thought she was through with Westervelt. Fleeing for her life thirty years ago, she’s hidden as a human ever since. But a strangely worded Valentine delivered to her desk at work has given her pause.
Malcolm never expected to find his mate working for a crooked company he was sent to investigate in New York City. But there she is. Now, on Valentine’s Day, the two will battle their attraction for each other while taking down a conglomerate built for the sole purpose of destroying the Westervelt Wolves.
Will love win the day?
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Happy Valentine’s Day—to my Mate.
It was like a goddamn nightmare come to life. The M word, she’d not seen it or heard it in thirty years and she could have gone another hundred without seeing it again. When she’d lived on the island it had been a constant reminder of what she didn’t and might never have.
Jana crumpled the red heart-shaped paper in her hands and threw it as hard as she could into the garbage can next to her desk. Sinking into her chair, she considered two possibilities for its origin.
One, someone had found out what she was, even though she never shifted unless absolutely sure she was alone, and even then only at her house in upstate New York...or two, the curse had been lifted and she now had a mate who had found her in Manhattan and sent her a card.
Maybe it is the second one.
Her wolf didn’t usually speak to her during business hours, finding advertising to be truly dull; she slept most of the day. The card must have woken her. Picking up the paper, she took a deep sniff, letting the canine inside of her take a gander at the scent.
Still bored with the idea, her wolf snuggled back down to sleep.
Jana scoffed at the second possibility. Surely if the nightmare Kendrick Kane had inflicted on all of them had gone away, she would have felt some sort of inclination to go back home to Westervelt. Shrugging, she placed her head in her hands. Or maybe not. The remote island off the coast of Maine felt so removed from her real life it was almost as if she had imagined the whole thing.
There was still the problem with the fact that she didn’t age, ever, and had zero sexual interest in any men she met ever. Plus, she shifted as often as she could into a wolf and ran through the woods at night.
A knock on her office door startled her and she jumped. Checking her appearance in the mirror on the wall to make sure the strong outer exterior she presented to the world was in place, she stood up. Picking up her cup of coffee, she took a sip and smiled. “Come in.”
Malcolm Denon entered the room. His long dark hair was tied neatly, as always, behind his head in a braid while his crescent shaped blue eyes examined her closely from the doorway of her office. Jana didn’t understand why Carl let him wear his hair like that when everyone else in the building had to be clean cut to even enter the building.
Then again, Malcolm didn’t exactly work for them. He consulted, so he got to do exactly what he wanted. Swallowing, she took a deep breath. No wolf. Malcolm was all man, but not a shifter. Raising her gaze, she caught for a second what looked to be curiosity in his eyes before they hid away any emotion.
She was half-certain his blue-eyed gaze could see right into her soul.
If he could see that, he’d know about me.
Jana tried to keep the smile from her face and had no idea if she’d accomplished her goal. Malcolm was enough of a presence that even her wolf perked up to take note when he was around. But sadly, he wasn’t a wolf, and her canine companion had shown over and over again that she was not going to mate with a human. She wanted wolf, she wanted pack.
Truthfully, so did Jana. It had been too long since she’d been anything other than a lone wolf.
“Am I interrupting something?” Malcolm raised a black eyebrow and she wondered, not for the first time, if he had any Native American in his background. She didn’t dare ask—that would mean opening up a dialogue she simply avoided ever having with people about their personal lives, but his high cheekbones and long black hair reminded her of the Passamaquoddy tribe that resided in Maine. That was the problem, she decided, Malcolm reminded her too much of home.
Clearing her throat, she smiled her best corporate smile. It said to the world, I’m interested, but I don’t want to be your friend. Everyone was safer that way. “Of course not Mr. Denon, have a seat.”
Malcolm walked to the chair in front of her desk and sat down in it. After a moment, he seemed to get comfortable in the wooden office furniture. At his height, which she would guess at being at least six foot five inches tall or perhaps a little more, it couldn’t be easy for him to fit into basic chairs. There weren’t too many men she ran into who were the sheer size of the one in front of her. Even if they were as tall as he, they didn’t have the broad shoulders and the wide muscular chest, legs, and arms.
She waited a beat to make sure he was comfortable before she began. “What can I do for you, Mr. Denon?” “Please call me Malcolm.”
Business pleasantries. She was used to them. “Okay. Then you call me Jana.”
He nodded and looked down at her desk. She’d taken great care to make sure that her office was filled with things that people looked at but didn’t question, and she never displayed a picture of anything anyone would want to talk about. Coworkers felt compelled to make conversation about them and that led to too many inquiries about Jana’s coming and goings that she didn’t need.
“So what can I do for you, Malcolm?”
“It’s really more of a question as to what I can do for you. You still haven’t come to see me.”
She raised her hands slightly. “I’ll admit, I have no use for security. No one wants to kill the advertising girl from a shoe company. I write copy, Malcolm—good enough copy that Carl Elders doesn’t have to employ outside agencies to do more than film the commercials that I write—but none of those skills are going to get me in too much trouble, other than dirty looks from the top firms that would love to land us.”
“A major shoe company, sporting goods really.” Malcolm’s eyes said he found her downgrading the size of their athletics company less than amusing. “And evidently someone found it important enough to threaten the top executives here, or Carl wouldn’t have brought my firm on board to protect his top people.”
She smiled, showing no teeth as she feared her mouth would look too wolfish. With her luck, her fangs would have elongated and he’d either shoot her or go running from the room in terror. “I’m hardly a top person.”
“He’s very kind.” Malcolm’s strong gaze made her cheeks flame and she hoped she wasn’t blushing. It really was too bad he wasn’t a wolf.
Too bad indeed. If he was a wolf, I would like him.
I know you would. Jana would too.
Malcolm leaned forward, his gaze looking nothing less than predatory, and Jana stopped breathing for a moment. Her wolf awoke, rushing to the forefront of her consciousness. Was she being threatened? It certainly felt that way or at least close to it. Holding on as tightly as she could, she begged her wolf to stay hidden, promising her a run tonight. They’d take the eight o’clock train out of Penn Station and be running by eleven. Together they could run all weekend if she just restrained herself now.
What was it about Malcolm that made her insides go nuts?
“Your relationship with Carl, what is it exactly?”
Jana raised an eyebrow. “And that is your business why?” Truth was, she and Carl had a very good working relationship but that was it, and that was all it would ever be, despite her employer’s desire for more. It had been years since Carl suggested it be anything else. She suspected he’d forgotten it by now.
“I’m supposed to be protecting everyone. If two of my charges are more than just colleagues or friends, it is my job to know about it so I can account for it.”
Shrugging, Jana tried not to smile at the aggravation that had shown up in the otherwise unflappable Mr. Denon’s voice. “Seems like a pretty weak argument to me. Wouldn’t sell in my line of work.”
Leaning back in his chair, unfettered amusement lit his complexion before he grinned. Jana couldn’t help responding. She didn’t have friends but she wouldn’t mind keeping this man around for a while to test her wit and intellect. He would be a worthy opponent. Back on Westervelt, even though he wasn’t a Kane, he would have been considered among the top advisors to the Alpha for his sheer audacity.
“It’s Valentine’s Day.”
She nodded, remembering the crumpled up card in her wastebasket. “Yes, it is.”
“Have dinner with me. Unless, of course, you’re having dinner with Carl.” The way he said their boss’ name was akin to his having suggested she was having dinner with a dictator, or a person responsible for mass genocide, not the head of a sporting goods company.
“I am not having dinner with Carl.”
She had, however, promised her wolf a nice long run. But she could still do that, she’d just have to take the ten o’clock train and make it to her running spot later than usual. It wouldn’t be a problem considering she hardly required any sleep to function and she had all day Saturday or Sunday to sleep if she needed it.
“Good. Then you’ll have dinner with me.”
Jana couldn’t recall actually saying she would eat with him but she nodded like she’d agreed to it just the same.
“I’ll pick you up at eight.”
So maybe she’d have to make the eleven o’clock train instead. “I live at...”
He flashed a grin and winked. “I know where you live.”
“I’m good at what I do, and knowing where you live is one of the things I have to know.” Reaching out he stroked the side of her face with his long callused finger. She jumped at the contact. When was the last time someone had touched her unexpectedly? Her heart pounded. “I’ll see you at eight.”
As she watched him walk out the door, his hair in the braid swinging behind him, Jana couldn’t help but smile. She had a date. So what that it could never go anywhere? It was a date and she would enjoy it as just that. An evening alone with an interesting man she wanted to know more about.
Swinging around in her chair, she stared out of her large window at the Manhattan skyline in front of her. A million plus people lived their lives in this city every day and she would hasten to guess that quite a number of them had dates for Valentine’s Day and now she was one of them. Alone, she let herself grin.
* * * *
Malcolm stomped out of the high-rise office building at full speed. Walking down Park Avenue, he stared at the window displays even as he moved faster than he probably should, given the surroundings. She’d thrown out his damn card. Maybe it was pathetic but it had taken him the better part of the day before to decide how to phrase that card and the woman had put it in the garbage.
What do you want? It’s not like she knows you are who you are. You don’t even smell like a wolf.
The herbs Theo Kane ordered them all to take when they were out on assignment rid them of their shifter smell so they couldn’t be scented by Kendrick’s created wolves. It had never bothered Malcolm before; however, knowing now that he could scent his mate as clearly as he could breathe in the soot, sewer, and leftover sludged-up snow of New York City and she didn’t react to him at all made him crazy.
Perhaps you should have just signed your name.
His wolf was not in the habit of not saying ‘I told you so’ when appropriate.
You would think she would know, she gets a card, signed Your Mate and then I show up and she doesn’t put two and two together?
She’s having dinner with us. What more do you want?
Well truthfully, that was bugging him too. She didn’t know who her mate was and so she was having dinner with a man she couldn’t be sure was her destiny? The woman infuriated him. Why wouldn’t she just tell him if she was dating Carl? Did shifter women away from Westervelt just date?
His cell phone began to vibrate and he groaned as he pulled it out of his coat pocket. Malcolm looked down at the display, recognizing one of the secret numbers from Westervelt. Moving to the side of the street to avoid oncoming pedestrians, he leaned up against the jewelry store window earning him an odd glare from one of the employees coming out. It had to be a big day for them; maybe they didn’t want to miss out in sales based on his blocking the storefront. Who the hell knew what these humans did or did not want?
“This is Denon.”
Malcolm watched his breath form into tiny crystals in front of his face as he spoke. He needed one of those hands free devices but he still hadn’t gotten around to getting one so he had to hold it. Most of the people on the street wore gloves to prevent the cold but he just didn’t find fifteen degrees to be that chilly, not when he’d been raised in Maine and carried wolf blood.
“It’s Theo.” Malcolm could have guessed. The fourth Kane brother had designed this mission and micromanaging was his middle name.
“What’s going on?”
“How is the mate thing going?” If he heard amusement in the prince’s voice, he decided to ignore it. Theo had had to fight off demons to mate with Faith. He supposed the man had earned the right to find the love lives of others amusing. Even if Malcolm wasn’t in the mood to listen to it at the current moment.
“I have a date with her tonight.” Looking at his watch, he saw it was almost five o’clock. That gave him three hours to change his clothes, pick her up, and decide where the hell they were going to eat. It was next to impossible to get a restaurant reservation on Valentine’s Day.
“Date? She wants to date?”
“Still doesn’t realize I’m her mate.”
There was a pause on the other end of the phone. “You know you can stop taking the drugs long enough to expose your wolf scent to your mate, right?”
Now there was some information he could have used a week ago. “No I was not aware of that.”
“You could have just asked, Malcolm.”
“My prince in charge of safety of our pack tells me to disguise my scent, I disguise my scent. Your order is a direct order from our beloved Alpha.” It wasn’t lip service to Malcolm. He meant it. They’d been through hell and back, saved only by Tristan becoming their Alpha. He’d rob, destroy, or kill anyone that tried to harm Tristan Kane or any of the Westervelt Wolves.
“We know you feel that way. I suppose I should have realized when I sent our Warriors out to investigate this problem with the made-wolves that fate would give some of you your destined mates and that the scent would be a problem.”
Malcolm nodded even though he knew Theo couldn’t see him. “You’ve been working on keeping us safe. That is certainly enough without considering our love lives.”
“Your love lives are what will continue this pack and our traditions. Ha. Unless we all rely on Tristan and Ashlee to produce endless heirs.”
“Did the Alpha’s wife give birth?”
Malcolm couldn’t help letting his mind wander to Jana. The woman was exquisite and now that he had scented her, found her, and claimed her—at least in his mind—he could understand his Alpha’s desire to continuously procreate with his mate. Jana’s long dark hair that nearly touched her waist when she didn’t keep it tied up at work would hang down below her belly as it grew with his child. He closed his eyes on the image. They had to ‘date’ first.
“So I have your permission to reinstate my scent for the moment.”
“Yes you do, but it’s not why I phoned.”
Malcolm could have guessed that. “Has something happened?”
“Tristan sent Michael to Louisiana. We found the other pack.”
Michael was the oldest Kane, but he wasn’t their Alpha. That role had been destined for Tristan, the third Kane brother. The news of the other pack was interesting but Malcolm didn’t think that was why Theo had called. The Kane’s quest to find their sister was not on his agenda; at least he didn’t think it was at the moment. “Uh-huh. And?”
“And Gabriel, Stow, and Lance were attacked on their way into the subway about an hour ago.”
Now that was interesting. He felt his eyes turn wolf as he scanned the area around him. Nothing looked threatening. A lot of people walking cautiously up and down Park Avenue, not an easy task considering it was the one street in New York without Walk/Don’t Walk signals.
“Are they okay?” He fisted his free hand. Without a second thought he would pursue their attackers.
“Yes, they managed to capture a whole bunch of made-wolves and they’re on their way back here. I just wanted to change your objective slightly.”
He’d had an objective? He thought it was to seek and catch as many made-wolves as possible and in his case, mate Jana. “What would that be?”
“We need you to stay where you are. You’re definitely onto something. Carl Elders has been funding several of the clinics we have identified as sending patients to Kendrick. Follow the money. It can’t be a coincidence that so many wolves are prowling around in New York City where Carl is.”
Malcolm agreed. With Kendrick in Arizona, someone was feeding the lab-created wolves the drugs they needed to stay alive. He just hadn’t figured out how it was getting done yet. “I’ll figure out how they’re doing it.”
“I know you will. Just be diligent and safe.”
“Give the pack my regards.” He hoped he’d be returning there with his mate, which reminded him that he needed to get changed. Walking briskly, he looked up to see snow flurries starting in the sky.
Snow just wasn’t the same here. It never had been. For the last twenty years he’d run one security consulting company or another in a major city somewhere in the United States or Europe. There was never a time he didn’t prefer to be home on Westervelt with the small mountain, surrounded by water.
The first attack took him down as he crossed from Park to Eighty-Third Avenue. Hitting the ground, five wolves bit and growled as they assaulted his human body.
He didn’t need to be told twice as he let his wolf do what his wolf did best and shift into his canine form. What the hell were they doing? It was still light out and it was the middle of New York frickin’ City. He waited for the shift to complete, protected for a moment by the warm white light that accompanied the change the Westervelt Wolves went through but the made-wolves did not.
He did a quick glance around, growling as he bared his fangs and arched his back at his five soon-to-be-dead assailants. None of the humans passing them on the street seemed to notice there was a wolf fight going on right in front of them.
Shifting completely, he was still a huge wolf. Mostly black with white spots and a white underbelly none of his current companions would ever see, he was still over five feet tall, much larger than the five who had signed their death warrants when they’d come at him on the street.
He growled and leapt at the first one to his right. It was a small, dirty grey wolf that looked too sick to even be standing let alone attacking him. He grabbed it by the scruff of its neck and threw it in the middle of the street. Whatever protected them from being seen did not stop it from being struck by a yellow cab racing through a light.
The front window of the cab shattered as the car screeched to a stop. Clever manipulation of the other cars prevented a major pile up and Malcolm heard people start to scream and yell. They couldn’t see the wolf that lay sprawled out in the middle of the street until it shifted back into its human form. By the angle of its neck, Malcolm knew it was dead.
It wasn’t that he didn’t care of the loss of life—he never would have attacked them but given that they had just assaulted him, he couldn’t feel too sorry about it.
The other four wolves leapt at him all at once. As the first one made contact with his fur, he growled. It was going to be a very long night. One way or another he would be rid of them.