thought of the rogue several months ago who’d been attacking random innocents just for the hell of it. She’d killed the son of a bitch personally. But even though her goal of controlling rogues aligned with his, she’d seriously played her cards wrong by coming here tonight, even if it got her out of the damn mating ceremony.

Tonight, during her estrus, she was supposed to “choose” a male to mate with, confirming him as her destined mate. Something she did not want to do. Call her sentimental, but she didn’t want an arranged mating, even though her mate had been chosen for her when she was a child. Since Alejandro was the strongest pack male and her closest friend, her parents had chosen him for her. Better Alejandro than any other pack member, she supposed, but either way, she didn’t want this mating, even though it was required of her as packmaster. Being caught by a hunter would be one hell of an excuse for skipping the ceremony, not that her current situation was preferable.

Blood rushed to her head, pounded in her ears. She opened her mouth, not really sure what she was going to say.

He took a step closer, and his scent flooded her nose.

She sucked in a deep breath. “Uh...look, you smell...” His tantalizing scent washed over her. Man, he smelled delicious. “You smell...normal. There’s no blood on you, so I know you didn’t kill her. That means we’re on the same side. We’re trying to catch the same monster.”

He didn’t speak or move. She waited several agonizing seconds.

“Stay still,” he finally muttered. “Don’t make any sudden moves.” His deep voice washed over her, and the thought of him saying her name sent a wave of heat boiling under her skin.

Damn it all to hell. Her friggin’ estrus cycle was one of the few things she hated about being a werewolf. How the hell could she be thinking about him like that when she was staring down the barrel of his gun?

His huge, black boot broke into the pool of light. Her gaze traveled up his frame as the moonlight illuminated his face. She struggled to breathe. A simmering heat rushed down her spine and lodged itself between her legs. She was suddenly aware of how very naked she was as she stared up at the heavenly hunk before her.

His raw glare penetrated her. The color of lily pads, his eyes belonged to something vibrant, complex and daring—and, if she didn’t know better, something supernatural, not a human hunter. Strands of his chin-length, auburn hair fell into his face, accenting his sharp, masculine features. His overall demeanor screamed of danger and a rough life, but his face was flawless, perfect—he looked like a model dressed in a ragged assassin’s clothing. And his body...where did she begin?

He towered over her, well over six feet, and his physique matched his height in enormity. Muscles strained against the sleeves of his trench coat, and she bet that rock-hard abs were hidden underneath the coat. An image of her kneeling in front of him in submission settled in her mind. Whoa. She’d never wanted a man to take control of her. But as she lay on the ground, sprawled naked before his eyes, the vulnerability of her situation excited her, and the thought of him having his way with her sent a rush of wet heat between her legs.

He opened his mouth, and his voice was like a growl in his chest. “Get up,” he said, his tone gruff and angry. His gun remained still.

Frankie gaped, frozen in a mixture of desire, anger and fear.

“That was an order, not a request,” he barked.

She inhaled a slow breath, found her footing and rose to her feet. Her hands shook at her sides.

“What’s your name?”

For a moment she couldn’t remember; his nearness muddled her mind. Her logical side reared its head, and her stomach churned. This man was a hunter. If she told him her name, he would know exactly who she was, and even though she wasn’t a rogue, killing the Rochester packmaster might be too sweet a temptation for a hunter to resist. She swallowed the large lump in her throat and said the first name that came to her mind.

“Francesca. My name’s Francesca.” Her mother’s name, from which her shortened version had originated. She prayed the half lie would save her. Whether now or later, if he found out who she really was, she was totally in for it.

“Turn around.”

She circled to her right and trembled harder. She imagined him taking her from behind and choked back a gasp.

“Hands behind your back.”

“What?” she asked without thinking.

“You heard me, hands behind your back.”

No way was she going quietly. “No, let me go.”

He scoffed. “Not gonna happen. You can cooperate or I can make you.”

He drew closer, and his warmth seeped over her bare skin. To hell with her traitorous body. She was going to rip him to shreds, so he couldn’t get to her first. She would let him think she was going to cooperate, then catch him unaware. She shoved her shaking wrists behind her and concentrated on her breathing. She wasn’t going down without a fight.


She spun around and lunged for the hunter’s ankles. She threw him off guard by hitting lower than he expected as she speed shifted into wolf form. He crumpled to the ground. His elbow jabbed into her side as he fell. She yelped before she sank her canines into the muscled flesh of his forearm. He let out a guttural yell.

In a sudden reaction to the pain, his grip on his gun loosened, and the weapon fell from his hand. But Frankie didn’t care if he was temporarily disarmed, if he’d lost his advantage. The asshole deserved to be ripped to shreds for killing her kind, even if they were rogues.

Shaking her head from side to side, she continued to rip at the hunter’s arm. Without warning, he shifted onto his side and slashed his knife through the air. The blade hit her skin. She released his arm as another yelp ripped from her throat. Her fur bristled as adrenaline shot through her.

Scrambling across the pavement, she bolted down the alley. He grabbed his gun and sprinted after her. She needed to gain some distance, so she could turn and get a running start to lunge again, get her momentum going back in his direction. But shit, he was fast—too fast.

The hunter threw himself through the air, landing on her back. Her nails scraped the pavement as she tried to claw away from him.

In a moment of luck, she wriggled her way free. Turning on her attacker, she jumped for his throat. Her paws hit his chest, and he slammed into the ground from the weight of the blow. She growled and snapped at his neck, but he caught her by her scruff and tossed her aside as if she weighed no more than a child’s doll. She skidded across the pavement, her skin rubbed nearly raw. A shiver ran down her spine as her limbs and muscles contorted. Damn it, because of her estrus she couldn’t hold her shift, not with her emotions running the gamut, from anger to arousal. A loud howl escaped her lips as she slowly changed back into human form.

Before she could process what was happening, he climbed on top of her. His body was flush against hers, but she continued to fight. They rolled out of the alley and into the orange glow of the streetlights. With superior strength, the hunter pinned her to the ground and shoved the sharp blade of his knife against her throat.

* * *

JACE’S BREATH POURED from his lungs in one quick rush. Adrenaline rattled his senses, and he fought to ignore the searing pain piercing his arm. The damn she-wolf had bitten him before she’d shifted back into human form. He held his knife steady at her throat, waiting for her to respond. He had to make sure she was subdued. She lay beneath him, unmoving. With him on top of her and the knife at her throat, she wasn’t going anywhere. His nerves began to calm. He stared down at her face.

Gorgeous. Absolutely gorgeous. His cock stood at attention, throbbing and hard in a full-on salute. He salivated like a starving man as his eyes scanned over the silky, golden-brown skin of the beauty lying beneath him. What the fuck was wrong with him? A female werewolf had just tried to rip his ass to shreds, and now he was checking her out?

If that didn’t take this fiasco to a whole new level of clusterfuck, he didn’t know what did.

She was naked, every inch of her flesh bare. His eyes feasted on her body, and man, she was exquisite. As petite as she appeared, her legs stretched for miles, defined with strong yet feminine muscles. Her long ebony- black hair shone in the streetlights, barely covering a pair of high, full breasts, and he knew from his earlier view that she had a fine round ass just begging to be squeezed.

His dick twitched at the thought of those legs wrapped around his waist as he pounded into her, fisting her

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