The Wolf's Surrender

Prologue

Mia D’Alessandro ran into the darkness, knowing he followed, that he was toying with her before the kill. Shaking all over, blood oozing slowly from the jagged wounds on her shoulder and neck, she stumbled into the night’s cold embrace.

He laughed, a breathy growl full of dark amusement that echoed hauntingly in her ears.

God, he’s right behind me.

“Don’t be afraid, baby. I’ll make it good for you, I promise. Just wait until you see what I have planned for us....”

He was close, so close. But these woods were unfamiliar to her and, even with the moon riding high above, it was all she could do not to run headlong into one of the trees that lurked just out of sight, hulking menacingly in the deep shadows. A sound escaped her, a soft, pitiful moan of fear that she was barely aware of in her desperation to get away. And she couldn’t hear him, couldn’t hear anything but the crunch of her feet over dry twigs and hard earth and the ragged sounds of her own breathing.

But he...he made no sound at all.

It was unnatural for someone to be so quiet, so light of foot that there wasn’t the tiniest hint of a footfall that reached her ears, she thought wildly, her terror now verging on hysteria. But then, there was nothing natural about the man who had only minutes ago sunk his teeth into her and torn her shirt wide open with his claws.

Claws. They were claws. And his teeth had been so sharp.

The stone, jutting about an inch out of the ground, seemed to appear out of nowhere to catch the toe of her shoe. Mia nearly lost it then, stumbling forward into the thick, oppressive blackness and only just catching herself. But the split second it took to right her balance had cost her, and she knew it. Any second now, she would feel his hand wrap around her arm, feel his claws sink into tender flesh that had already been scored and bitten.

Jeff Gaines, the wealthy entrepreneur.

The yellow-eyed monster.

She’d been giddy from the wine, the excitement, the pleasure of having attention lavished on her by the handsome man who’d swept her away for a romantic weekend. It had never occurred to Mia to refuse his offer of a moonlit walk. By the time she’d noticed the change in him, it had been too late. His hand had been over her mouth.

His teeth had been in her flesh.

“I don’t know why you’re running, Mia. I can see you. I can smell you. And I’m going to have you. You can’t hide from the big bad wolf.”

Somehow, she managed to find enough breath to scream. It felt as though she’d dragged it up from the very core of her being, a tortured, full-throated rail against what was being done to her, a demand that she be allowed to live. It echoed into the cold night sky, a final plea to an indifferent moon as Mia struggled forward, nearly sobbing with the effort. Time seemed to pause for a few precious breaths.

Then all hell broke loose.

Jeff’s hand, hot and strange, clamped onto her wrist and dragged her forward as he gave a wild, triumphant growl that was utterly inhuman.

“Your blood is mine,” he said, his voice thick, unrecognizable from the cultured tones of the man she’d come here with. “Did you really think you could hide it forever? I know what runs in your veins, witch.”

The blood he spoke of went to ice in an instant. She’d been warned—she’d been so stupid—but she’d never imagined the threat drummed into her for