To be released from The Wild Rose Press on June 20, 2014.
Two males…two friends…a competition for the right to claim The Heart of the Iron Stone Pack.
An alpha female at her core, Theresa Sanchez struggles to protect her young daughter, but rivalries and politics create volatility in the pack. As Theresa comes into heat, lust and need rule her body. Her pack demands only the most virile male have her. How can she choose only one mate when her body craves two—the virile beta and the man she loves?
Zachary Hunter will do anything to take Theresa as his mate, even if it means killing his best friend. However, Robert Blane is just as determined to ascend to Alpha. Both their beasts howl to mark her flesh, but only one can survive to claim her.
But with enemies circling, they must fight…for the pack, for Theresa, and for a future together.
Exclusive excerpt (Chapter One):
Bright and early Saturday morning, Theresa Sanchez opened her front door to discover Zachary Hunter clad in a bright orange dress on her porch. The loose bodice fell low on his chest, displaying dark blond curls and showcasing his broad shoulders and powerful torso. The neon hemline stopped above the knees, revealing muscular calves, strong ankles, and shapely feet.
It was unusual attire for a dominant male werewolf.
She stepped closer and sniffed, seeking to satisfy the impulses of her she-wolf. The earthy scent of him flooded her nostrils—masculine and potent—inciting the heated ache of arousal between her thighs. She licked her lips, hoping that drool hadn’t dribbled down her chin. The man made her mouth water.
“My eyes are up here, love,” Zach quipped in a crisp British accent. His hand lifted and a long, elegant finger tapped her chin.
“Oh, right. Sorry.” She forced her roaming eyes upward, away from his buff chest, striving to remember that she and Zach didn’t play like that. The man was many things to her: best friend, confidant, and protector. He fixed leaky faucets and kept her ancient car running. But of all the roles he played, he remained “lover” only in her dreams.
“Good morning, Theresa,” he said, voice rife with amusement. No doubt, the irony of his predicament had not escaped him.
“Good morning, Zach.” Smothering laughter, Theresa held a hand to her mouth to hide an irrepressible smile.
“Are you laughing at me, pet?” Zach cocked his head so that silken bangs fell across his forehead. His blue eyes twinkled and the corners of his sensuous mouth quirked in a smirk.
“Oh, yes. God, I’m so sorry.” The compulsion to laugh overwhelmed her until she felt ready to burst. Her abdominal muscles ached. She flipped long, curly black hair forward around her face to conceal her expression.
“Go on. Look your fill.” Zachary spread his arms in a display of self-mockery, causing that ludicrous skirt to rise, revealing masculine knees and athletic thighs. “Get it out of your system once and for all.”
Theresa accepted the invitation and ogled him, belatedly noticing his disheveled appearance. A full day’s worth of scruff covered his square jaw and throat. Shoulder length golden-blond hair formed a tangled mess about his striking features. He had an aristocratic brow, an angular nose, and high cheekbones set in an oblong face.
Her gaze tracked downward, irresistibly drawn to his spectacular physique, admiring everything but his choice of attire. The dress was hideous—a shapeless polyester sack, the most awful shade of burnished ochre.
“Wow. That’s just…Wow.” Theresa struggled to keep a straight face. She wanted to laugh out loud but remained circumspect out of respect for Zach’s status. He far outranked her within the pack’s hierarchy.
“Isn’t it, though?” He grinned, inviting her to laugh.
“Oh, yes.” A smile blossomed on her lips and she giggled at long last. “Are you going to tell me how you wound up on my front porch in a dress?”
Zach cocked his head and sighed. “I went running in the woods last night to clear my head.”
Theresa stared with an arched brow. “Writer’s block again?”
“I haven’t written a word in days.”
The man had a talent for gross exaggeration, so Theresa mentally revised the time frame to twenty-four hours and the word count to less than a page. She cooed her sympathy. “You poor thing. It must be so hard on you.”
He snorted. “You’ve no idea.”
“Zach, you’re a bestselling author. Can’t you afford to take a break from cranking out the murder mysteries? At least until you get your mojo back?”
“I’ve got a deadline, love. My editor is an absolute slave driver. That’s why I’m in this state.” He indicated the odious apparel with a flourish.
She rolled her eyes. “Of course. Your editor made you run through the forest in an orange dress. Makes perfect sense. I’m sorry I asked.”
He frowned. “I was running on four legs, love, not two. You know that.”
“Of course I do, but you didn’t expect anything but a hard time—showing up here in that.” Grinning, she gave him a quick up-down.
Zach chuckled. “Not really. To make a long story short, I left my clothes in a hunter’s blind but when I returned, my clothing was gone.”
“Did someone find your clothes?” she asked with a worried frown. Such a minor thing might result in unforeseen troubles for the pack. As a rule, the local werewolves went to great lengths to conceal their presence from the human population. Normal people in the small Nevada town of Iron Stone remained blithely unaware of the wolves living amongst them.
“Not someone—something,” Zach said. “Raccoons: three of the scrotty little sods. They ripped my clothes to shreds and dredged the creek with my shoes.”
“Oh, no!” Laughter again threatened to split her sides. She pressed her hands to her ribcage and gasped for breath. “Did you eat them?”
“No.” Zach looked miserable for the admission. “It was a mum and two babes. I didn’t have the heart.”
Theresa reached out and touched his hand. “You’re a good man, Zachary Hunter.”
“Thanks, but I’d rather be a clothed man,” Zach said. “I stole this getup off a laundry line in the Widow Crawley’s yard.”
“For shame! Stealing from a little old lady.”
Zach rolled his shoulders to add emphasis to the voluminous dress. “Not so little.”