The last thing Tobias, alpha of the small Greenview Pack, expects is to find a lost human asleep in his storage building. As soon as he sets eyes on Pete, Tobias knows they are destined mates. But he cannot act on his attraction, no matter how much he feels compelled. Exposure to the human world could mean the end of their way of life, so he decides to help Pete get a room until he can reunite with the tour group he separated from.But Tobias’s disgraced half-brother, Zev, has other ideas. He takes a liking to Pete and decides he wants what Tobias has—both his position as pack leader and his mate. Tobias can’t let that happen, but protecting Pete means keeping him close, which only increases the mounting tensions between them.Duty, protection, desire, and secrecy clash as the darkness within Zev rises to the surface, and only Tobias can save his mate—even if he never plans to tell Pete that’s what they are.
Pete closed his eyes as he checked the outer pocket of his bag and found a flat, small, giveaway flashlight he’d received from some conference or other. He pressed the button and the tiny light came on. It wasn’t much, and the rain and gloom swallowed most of its glow, but it was enough to see a few steps ahead and that was all he needed. Pete figured he’d go a little farther and hoped he’d find shelter, because hope was all he had left. He slung his pack onto his back once again and wove around the trees and brush.
He was watching the ground and nearly face-planted into the corner of a structure. It was wooden, rough-hewn, and probably quite old, but Pete didn’t care. As long as it wasn’t a cougar den, he could deal. Slowly Pete made his way around it. His flashlight flickered, and he managed to find the door and push it open, and used the last of his light to take a look around.
It was some sort of old storage building. There wasn’t much inside, but the building seemed solid and dry enough. The back was stacked with sacks from floor to ceiling, and that took up almost half of the structure’s volume. The rest was empty except for some tarps lying on hay.
Pete knew hay meant that someone used this as a barn. But he hoped they wouldn’t mind if he crashed here. He swept the loose hay together with his foot and spread one of the tarps over it to help soften the floor a little. Then Pete dug into his wet pack and pulled out his spare clothes. The plastic bag enclosing them was intact, so he stripped out of his soaked things and dressed quickly. He wrung out his clothes in the open doorway, then closed the door and laid them to dry over a board, knowing the owner would not thank him if he got the hay wet.
Pete pulled out his last bottle of water and a granola bar, ate it and drank half the water, then set the rest aside. How in the hell did he get into these situations? He lay down on the tarp and used another as a blanket. He was still cold, but it helped some. At least he was dry, and he could listen to the rain as it beat on the roof overhead rather than onto his face. He’d had something to eat and drink. For now he was dry and safe enough, and that was all he could hope for. At first light he’d leave his shelter and make for the hill so he could get some reception and hopefully call someone to rescue his sorry butt.
Lightning flashed, illuminating the space through the single small window beside the door. Thunder rolled and wind whipped around his shelter. It sounded as though Mother Nature was letting out all her fury tonight. Pete huddled a little deeper under his tarp blanket, hoping the building remained in one piece.
Pete was weary as hell, but the storm kept him awake. Once it abated, the strange sounds from outside—including the calls and answers of wolves—scared the living hell out of him. The noises weren’t near the barn, but that didn’t mean very much. After the cat and now wolves, Pete would be happy to get the hell out of here and back home to New York, where he could stare at the walls for all he cared. He was never leaving the safety of the city again, writer’s block or not. Writing nothing was better than losing his life and being ripped to shreds by whatever was out there.
More lightning flashed and the thunder shook the barn around him. Small bits of hay floated down from the rafters. Pete wanted to cover his head, but the tarp wasn’t the best-smelling thing he’d encountered. He shook a little and prayed the storm would lessen or move on.
Unfortunately, from the sound of it, the storm seemed content to stay where it was, and more little bits floated down from above as clap after clap of thunder tried to shake his shelter apart. Pete curled into the fetal position, comforting himself as much as possible. He’d been so dumb, thinking he knew what he was doing. Even as the wind rattled the door and whistled outside, he was in much better shape than if he’d still been outside.
“Roger, if I get out of this alive, so help me, I am going to slap you silly the next time I see you. ‘Go out west. Have an adventure. See things. It will spark some ideas for your next book.’ Bastard!” He clenched the tarp as another peal of thunder rattled the building. They were supposed to come on this trip together. But no. Roger managed to get mono, probably from kissing every man in New York. In his raggedy, sick voice, the asshole had urged him to go on his own.
“The point of this trip was so you could get ideas and stop moping around. It’s a tour of Yellowstone. You’ll meet people and have fun.” Those words rang hollow now. He had met people and gotten separated from the group. This whole thing was turning into a nightmare, and the least Roger could have done was be here to suffer along with him.
After what felt like hours, the storm moved off and it grew quieter outside. Pete rested his head on the tarp and closed his eyes. If he got a little sleep, it would help him in the morning.
Being out of the weather made Pete relax, and finally, even on the hard floor, he closed his eyes, tried to picture himself at home in his warm, soft, queen-size bed, and eventually dozed off.
Dirk is very much an outside kind of man. He loves travel and seeing new things. Dirk worked in corporate America for way too long and now spends his days writing, gardening, and taking care of the home he shares with his partner of more than two decades. He has a Master’s Degree and all the other accessories that go with a corporate job. But he is most proud of the stories he tells and the life he’s built. Dirk lives in Pennsylvania in a century old home and is blessed with an amazing circle of friends.
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