top of page


Chapter One


Jake gave his head a shake and then put the window down. He was regretting trying to outdo Gary now. It had seemed easy when he was at the factory working non-stop. Now that he had been sitting and driving alone, it was all he could do to keep his eyes open. It would all be worth it when he told Gary he’d managed six more vehicles in half the time. He jolted and swerved back into his lane. If he lived long enough to get there, it would be.

He just wanted to do his part. After hearing some of the things the others came back and talked about, he needed to do more. Except for Noah, he didn’t talk much about anything, so he wasn’t going to get any updates on how the battle against Tomas’ associates was going. Christmas had been an epic celebration, though. When they’d come home and shared that they had apprehended Aiden Tomas himself, it was a week-long party. Okay, it was two days, but the buzz lasted a week.

He glanced around and was shocked to see he was almost home. The last hour of the drive had gone by in a blur. “Twenty minutes and then sleep.” His cat moved inside him. “We are not going for a run. I will be lucky if I can bend down and take off my boots without cracking my head open.” He bobbed his head like he’d just told him how it was. Him being the other part of himself.

Working at the factory and meeting some of the team members had made him feel a little inadequate. Not size-wise, not too much, at least. Sure, some of those men were giants, but Jake wasn’t a small fry or anything. They’d hang out and chat with him while he made repairs, and if he was being honest, he was a little jealous of everywhere they’d been. He’d never been out of Ontario. Up until now, he had never felt the need to. Once they rounded up all and any that had helped the Tomas family, it was going to be a different story. He just had to figure out how to tell Gage and Ed that he planned to do a little traveling.

A rabbit darted out in front of him, and he hit the brakes. A large portion of his life flashed before his eyes as the truck spun around on the slick, muddy road, and the ditch that was overflowing with very fast-moving water was a foot outside the window. When he got it to a complete stop, he looked to see the rushing water. “Damn rabbit.” Well, he was awake now.

Checking that no cars were coming. He jigged the truck back and forth to turn it around. Going too close to the soft shoulders in the spring was the fastest way to wind up in the ditch. He’d learned that when he was still a teen. Of course, after that mishap, Ed had him painting rims until he was afraid his hand would forever be in the shape of a brush handle.

Putting the truck back into drive, he blew out a breath. The guys should be a shop at this time, so he’d have the bunkhouse to himself. Once he grabbed three or five hours of sleep, he’d go out and see what he’d missed in the last week. He probably needed a shower before that. Lifting his arm, he sniffed near his armpit. Yeah, a shower would be good. However, there was nothing on this planet that smelled worse than Gary’s boots. They sealed them up in an old cooler by the door so the whole bunkhouse didn’t reek of them.

He grinned when he saw the driveway up ahead. He’d made it home in one piece. There was a van in the drive. He wasn’t sure what that was about, but unless it were of the utmost importance, it would have to wait until later.

Gage was walking across the yard with a few young guys. Maybe the training programs were starting. He was all for extra help. Blair and Noah weren’t on the vehicle maintenance rotation, so it was going to be hectic with just three of them trying to balance it and keeping up with the work at home, too.

His mind was all over the place. Of course, most of it was intentional. Jake didn’t want answers like the others did. The Alliance had lists, journals, and books that detailed what happened to countless shifters around the country. He was in no hurry to inquire. Look at how that turned out for Blair. He found out his evil brother had killed his folks. Nah, he was good with the life he’d had. It may have been shitty when he was young, but Beth and Ed had been good to him, and he didn’t need to know more.

Parking the truck, he looked at his bag in the seat and shook his head. His whole body was numb. He’d bring it in after his nap. Getting out, he closed the door and then had to force his feet to move him toward the bunkhouse.

His boots gained twenty pounds by the time he walked the path to the door. Going in, he walked a few feet and then kicked off his boots. The guys were busy, so there was no one to yell because he’d left them in the way.

He made a beeline to his bunk and whacked his shoulder on the half partition that separated the six bunks. That was going to bruise nicely. Shaking it off, he stripped without hesitation, flipped his blanket and sheet back, and made a quick check to be certain those assholes he lived with hadn’t put something in his bed while he was away. It was clear. He fell into it and pulled the covers up to his chin. It was good to be home.



A screech pierced his eardrum and had him roll, landing on all fours beside his bed. Screams followed it. Holy hell, someone was being murdered outside the window. Jake scrambled to his feet and took off toward the door. He grabbed the heavy iron skillet off the stove as he went by. Grabbing the door handle, he yanked the door open, and then his foot got tangled up inside one of his boots, and he fell on his face. His whole body burned from the impact.

He heard a deep chuckle and lifted his head. A few inches from his face were the fanciest mud boots he’d ever seen in his life. They were very feminine to go with a deep laugh. Turning his head, he saw Cooper standing there with a grin wider than his creased-up face.

“I am not living with creatures.” A woman said.

Jake twisted his neck more and saw this woman that took his breath away. He was just about to get to his feet when he remembered he was completely naked. He was naked, holding a frying pan, lying face down on the floor at the feet of a beautiful woman. He put his forehead on the floor and hoped this was really just some dream caused by exhaustion.

“It was just a baby raccoon, Rory. It’s long gone. You gave it the fright of its young life.” Coop said in a soft tone that Jake had never heard the man use in all the years he’d known him. “Come on, you don’t need to be looking at Jake’s bare ass.”


He heard the slurping sound of those fancy boots made in the mucky yard as they walked away from him. Rory? Who the hell was Rory?

bottom of page