Broken by the Wolf is Book 4 in my Werewolf Fever series, due to publish in August 2017. I hope you enjoy this sneak peek at Katelyn and Soren’s story!
Katelyn Moir ran her hand along the banister. The wood was cool under her fingers; the balcony she was standing on was too far from the brilliant chandeliers for their heat to reach her.
Gold light blazed from thousands of candles, burnishing the white marble of the ballroom. The candlelight transformed the floor-to-ceiling columns into pillars of fire—and at the end of the room, beyond the gathered guests, the light filtered out into the shadows of the garden.
Katelyn dragged her gaze back to the guests. Normally she wouldn’t stay this long, but this was the most ambitious packmeet she had ever organised for Lord and Lady Blackpaw. There were representatives from eleven Packs here tonight. She wanted to at least stay for Lord Blackpaw’s speech as he welcomed his guests.
But she would leave immediately after that, of course. Katelyn was proud of her achievement planning the event, and she’d done her homework: she knew the Pack affiliations and public history of every one of the mated and unmated werewolves who were here tonight.
That didn’t mean she wanted to stay and watch the wolves hunt their would-be mates.
Katelyn tapped her fingertips nervously on the banister. The human women below stood out like stars in the night sky. In stark contrast to the werewolves, they were all wearing white: long, gauzy gowns that covered them from neck to toe. All of them had their hair loose.
They all knew what they were getting into. Katelyn didn’t understand it—she never would—but these women had chosen to seek werewolf mates.
No, that wasn’t right. The women weren’t the ones doing the seeking. They offered themselves up, and the werewolves took their pick.
Or used them, and abandoned them.
Katelyn suppressed a shudder. That will never be me.
She rubbed her arms quickly. It was too cold, up here on the balcony. And Lord Blackpaw was raising his glass—the guests were politely applauding—the hunt would begin soon.
It was time for her to leave.
Katelyn spun on her heel and found herself face-to-face with a werewolf.
She jumped back automatically—and then leaned farther away. God, he reeks!
The man looked like he was in his early twenties, probably a few years younger than Katelyn herself. She recognised him at once: Ben Fisher, a very junior wolf of the Saltfang Pack, from up the coast.
I should have done a headcount and confirmed with Security that all the guests were in the ballroom, she thought, her stomach sinking. Instead of—ugh.
“I see you’ve been enjoying the Blackpaws’ wine cellar, Mr. Fisher,” she said crisply, trying not to let her disgust show on her face. He smelled like he had just come off a week-long bender. Surely he can’t have gotten that rank from a few hours on the lash? Ugh. Werewolves. “You’d better head back downstairs to the ballroom, or you’ll miss all the… fun.”
She sniffed again. Gross. Actually, maybe it’s better if Ben here doesn’t make it back to the ballroom. I wouldn’t wish him on any of the women down there.
“Or if you wanted something more substantial than the canapes being served downstairs, our kitchen is fully stocked and I’m sure the chef would be happy to put something together for you—”
Fisher lurched forward, belching stale breath into Katelyn’s face. She wrinkled her nose and backed up—and didn’t realise he’d penned her in until she felt the cold stone of the banister against her lower back.
“I know what I want to get my teeth into,” Fisher leaned forward, one hand on the banister either side of her. “You.”
Katelyn’s heart was thudding in her ears, but she managed to screw her face into a haughty sneer. “What the hell do you think you’re doing, Fisher?”
“Come on, Moir. Give it up. You know one of us is going to get you eventually.” He loomed over her, leering. “Every wolf in this hall wants to be the one to break in the Blackpaws’ precious PA.”
Katelyn jerked back as though she’d been slapped, and Gyre’s leer grew wider. “What the fuck?” she hissed.
Gyre laughed wetly. His eyes glinted and he was suddenly far, far too close. “You know there’s a betting pool going? For who fucks you first.” His teeth gleamed yellow-grey. “And second. And third.”
A pit opened in the bottom of Katelyn’s stomach. “That—that isn’t true,” she protested, her voice wobbling.
Gyre leaned in so close she could smell his breath. “Wanna bet?”
Katelyn tried to dodge away—but there was nowhere for her to go. Fisher was pinning her in on both sides, and it was a twenty-foot drop off the balcony to the floor below. A werewolf might survive a fall like that. She wouldn’t.
Which Fisher must be betting on. There was nowhere for her to go except through him.
She flattened her palms against the banister, searching for a way to put off the inevitable. She risked a glance over her shoulder. The group around Lord Blackpaw had mostly dispersed, but there were still a few werewolves in the ballroom.
So far they’d been speaking in hushed whispers. If she shouted, someone would come running. But she didn’t want it to come to that. Escalating the situation would just make Fisher more dangerous.
Katelyn licked her lips. “Come on, Fisher. You know you don’t want to do this. When my alpha finds out—”
“Don’t tell me what I want to do, human bitch,” Fisher hissed, grabbing her arm. “You’re going to make me rich tonight. And by the time your alpha finds out, it’ll be too late for you.”
Panic tightened Katelyn’s throat. She scrambled under her dress with her free hand. Fisher’s eyes gleamed—until she pulled her hand out and pointed the screamer at him.
In most civilised countries, silver was highly regulated, if not illegal. But screamers were 100% legal. The small devices were the size of a thumb, and delivered an audio punch that hurt werewolves’ super-powered ears, but didn’t affect humans at all.
“Don’t make me use this Fisher,” Katelyn said in an undertone. “Go downstairs. Find your alpha and enjoy the packmeet. Have a nice night.”
Fisher’s face twisted. He dodged away from the screamer—but didn’t let go of Katelyn’s arm. Something close to desperation flashed in his eyes. “Come on, Moir. I’ll split the pot with you. Fifty per cent!” He pulled her close until she thought she would choke on his rank breath. “Just give in, will you? You know it won’t go anywhere. Just one fuck, and I’ll give you half the winnings. Everyone knows the Blackpaws don’t pay you worth shit, you must be gagging for a bit of pocket money—”
“Get off me!” Katelyn tried to pull away from Fisher, but he was too strong. She tightened her grip on the screamer.
Something was moving in the corner of her vision, but she ignored it. She had to get away from Fisher. Her pulse was thundering frantically in her ears.
She hit the trigger.
Fisher recoiled, slamming his hands against his ears. His face was rigid with pain, eyes bulging and bloodshot.
“Time to leave, Fisher,” Katelyn said evenly. When he didn’t move, she stepped forward, holding the screamer in front of her like a gun.
Fisher hissed with pain and shuffled backward. “You stupid bitch. You should be fucking begging me. You don’t know—”
Katelyn surged forward, aiming the screamer at Fisher’s head. Blood vessels around his eyes started to bulge.
Fisher snarled, gold flaring in his eyes. Katelyn jerked back. He can’t go wolf. It’s weeks until the full moon—
A dark figure strode onto the balcony and grabbed Fisher, spinning him around. The maddened werewolf snarled with fury.
“We’re busy! Get your own whore, Erlsson!”
Katelyn froze as Soren Erlsson’s voice thundered out of the shadows. “Leave.”
Fisher snarled wordless defiance. Then, clutching his skull, he fled.
Katelyn lowered her arm, shaking. That had been close. Too close.
She’d always thought her position in the Blackpaw Pack would keep her safe. She wasn’t a werewolf, or mated to one of the Blackpaw wolves, but she’d worked for Lord and Lady Blackpaw for the better part of a decade. They’d taken her in when she didn’t have anyone else to turn to. She was more than an employee—she lived with the Pack, under the Lord and Lady’s protection.
She hadn’t realised it would make her a target.
A betting pool? How… crude. Katelyn hugged herself. Even just the idea made her feel dirty. And the more she thought about what it meant, the worse she felt. She’d sworn never to let a werewolf touch her. Did her decision mean nothing to these people?
Worse, did it make her even more tempting a conquest?
Bile rose in the back of her throat and she shook her head. She’d already lingered too long; it was time to go home. She could talk to Lord and Lady Blackpaw about this in the morning.
Wait—no, she couldn’t. They were leaving on a vacation retreat the next day, off to the Alps for five days. Damn it. Next week, then. She could hold it together until then.
Katelyn jumped. She’d been so relieved that Fisher was gone… she’d forgotten there was still another werewolf only a few feet away from her.
Soren Erlsson was a werewolf in his early thirties. He was a close business associate of the Blackpaws, working with them on Pack land and succession treaties, and trusted enough to have his own access key to the Blackpaw London property.
That was an accurate description. But it wasn’t the whole truth. That was just what he was. Not who he was.
Soren wasn’t an alpha, but he radiated the same quiet power that all the most powerful werewolves did. Even in human form, there was something wild and fierce lurking behind his civilised façade. His skin was icily pale; his cool blond hair never had a strand out of place. And his eyes, glacier-green and sharp as knives…
Katelyn gulped. Soren Erlsson was the only werewolf who had ever made her think about breaking her promise.
Right now, he was wincing. Katelyn gasped and turned off the screamer. “Sorry.”
He dismissed her apology with a curt shake of his head.
“You should be more careful.” His voice was even, but something dark flickered in his eyes. “Why are you alone up here?”
“Careful? Did you not just see me drive him off?” Katelyn fought the urge to snort. She’d worked with Soren on a number of projects—but that didn’t make them friends. While she was on duty, she had to keep up a professional front. “Besides, no one would dare hurt me here on Blackpaw territory.”
At least, that’s what I’ve always thought.
“Don’t be so sure of that.”
Katelyn stared at him, shocked. His words echoed her own thoughts so clearly—
What does he know?
Her breath caught in her throat. With the screamer silenced, Soren had stepped closer to her. He filled her vision, so close she could count the individual lashes around his eyes.
Did I think his eyes were green? She’d never been this close to him before. Now she could see chips of blue in the green, and gold, too. Werewolf gold.
Soren looked away and Katelyn seemed to drop back into her body with a thud. Her breath was shallow, her heart thundering in her chest.
Soren cleared his throat. “Don’t treat this like a game, Ms. Moir. You know what unmated werewolves are like. All it would take is one of them deciding the reward is worth the risk… and the pot for this particular bet is getting bigger every month.
Katelyn stepped back, stung. “What would you know about that? And—what are you doing up here, anyway?”
After all, you’re one of those unmated wolves, aren’t you? He should be down on the ballroom, stalking some white-gowned young woman who might turn out to be his mate…
Katelyn clenched her hands into fists behind her back. An irrational, indefinable frustration boiled up inside her. She closed her eyes. Forget the treadmill. When I get to the gym, I’m going to beat the hell out of a punching bag.
Soren stayed silent. Katelyn stared up at him, suspicion dawning cold in her stomach. “Why are you here, Soren?” she asked again. “Did you follow me?”
His jaw set. “Don’t ask questions you already know the answer to.”
Katelyn leaned back against the banister, her head spinning. He couldn’t mean—no. she was being ridiculous. He must have seen Fisher come up here and followed him to stop him making trouble.
“I don’t need you to keep me safe,” she said, her voice too rough to be entirely professional.
“That wasn’t my primary concern.” Soren strolled closer. Too close. Katelyn could hardly breathe. “I don’t want you to be safe. I want to make sure that if anyone touches you, it’s going to be me.”
Katelyn couldn’t identify the emotion that flooded through her at his words. Horror—it had to be horror. Fear. Her heart was going a mile a minute, and every detail of his face as he approached her was branded into her mind. The glint of teeth just visible behind his lips. The color rising in his pale cheeks.
The werewolf gold in his eyes.
Soren’s fingers closed around her wrist and she jerked back, feeling sick. Fear and disgust mingled inside her, transforming into anger.
He’s just like the rest. How else would he know about the betting pool? He can’t need the cash—he must be after the bragging rights. Putting one over the other unmated wolves.
And once he’s used me, he’ll leave me broken and alone.
Fury surged through her, and she wrenched her arm out of his grip. “No one is going to touch me,” she hissed. “Not you, or anyone else.”
She stormed away, her head raging in conflict with her heart. Some part of her, some stupid, weak part, actually wanted to give in, even knowing what he would do to her.
But she had to force that part of her back. Had to be sensible. Had to protect herself.
She knew what happened to women who gave in to werewolves. They weren’t all like the women in white down in the ballroom, glowing with hope and excitement. The werewolf fever took everyone differently… and some women broke under it.
She had sworn long ago that she would never submit herself to that sort of humiliation. Not even for Soren Erlsson.
He watched her leave, staring at the empty door until every trace of her scent had vanished.
Fool. He clenched his fists at his sides, feeling his claws slide out and cut into his palms. Good. The pain was good. Maybe it would remind him to hold back next time he decided to destroy everything he’d worked so hard to create.
The delicate, silvery thread of trust that had grown between Katelyn Moir and him in the months they’d been working together—gone. All because he couldn’t stand seeing that little shit Fisher touch her.
He closed his eyes. It was no use. He could still smell her scent, lingering on the air long after she was gone. And below it, the rancid reek of the Fisher cur.
His eyes snapped open. If that bastard found her again…
He moved silently, prowling down the staircase to the ballroom level. Fisher’s stench grew stronger—and disappeared into the ballroom, while Katelyn’s sweet scent led him out to the car park.
She had been so frantic to leave, she hadn’t closed the door behind her; Soren rested one hand on the frame, staring out into the cold night. There.
Eyes hooded, Soren watched Katelyn dig her keys out and fumble them into her car’s door. Her whole body was shaking with tension. When she finally managed to wrench the door open and fling herself inside, it was like something broke inside her: she sagged, her head dropping to rest on the steering wheel.
She didn’t see him. Soren was careful not to let that happen.
Bad enough that he’d let Fisher goad him into admitting his plans for her.
Worse, the look on her face when she realised he wanted her.
Damn it, he’d been so careful. From the moment he first saw her, he’d been determined to have her. She captivated him—and, God, he wanted to capture her.
He knew about her pledge never to let a werewolf touch her. And he understood it, which was why he was here, watching from the shadows as she drove away, instead of bending her over the trunk of her car.
God, he wanted to break through that icy shell of hers. She tried to hide it, but he knew her prim persona must hide a luscious, sensuous body that Soren burned to taste. Just as he hid the depths of depravity within his own heart.
But what if that was all it was, this insatiable, burning lust—just his wolf’s desire to destroy, to conquer what it couldn’t have? He wasn’t a fool; he’d seen it happen before. Werewolves moved heaven and Earth to take a woman—and then their wolf grew bored, and they abandoned her to the fever. Left the woman to be taken by other werewolves, again and again, until one her as his mate.
If he sated his curiosity and his lust on Katelyn Moir—and that was all his wolf wanted? He’d be everything she feared.
And he didn’t know who would hate him more for it. Her—or himself.