Wolfsbane Page 1

Chapter One

The first time Evan saw the wolf shifter, the guards were bringing him past his guard station in the basement of the huge Hunter’s complex. He’d been surprised at how handsome he was— how downright, fucking hot! Even though they’d said he would be well-built and good-looking, Evan was still surprised at his size and muscles, and so damned turned on he hadn’t really slept well since. This wolf was nothing like he’d imagined.

The man they dragged past him was really large, at least six feet four, with an amazingly large, ripped body. Evan had never seen anyone like him before. Russet-colored, shaggy hair fell over his face, almost hiding his eyes, but as they passed him, the man had raised his gaze to sweep over him, and it felt like a red hot poker had been passed over his body. The wolf’s eyes were an incredible shade of emerald green, an unusual color for a wolf, from what he understood. Wolves were usually darkhaired with dark brown, almost black eyes. This man’s green eyes seemed to glitter at him from underneath all that hair falling down across his brow, and his lips—good God, his lips. They were lush and full and sinful, and when he glanced over at Evan, he could have sworn the corners turned up in a mocking little smile.

Now as Evan sat across from his commanding officer, he tried his best to concentrate on what the man was saying about the wolf shifter. The offer he’d made him was so incredible, Evan was having trouble wrapping his mind around it. “You’re perfect for our requirements, Grant. We’re offering you a chance to literally strike at the heart of these wolf creatures. How can you even think of refusing?”

“Well, let’s see...from what I’ve been told, they’re vicious killers. My death might be a consideration.”

The major leaned back in his chair and gave Evan Grant a hard stare. Quite obviously, he wasn’t too amused by Evan’s flippant attitude. “They don’t kill their sexual partners, Grant. They dominate them. You’d actually like that, wouldn’t you? Isn’t that what you enjoy sexually? Our investigations discovered you were in a relationship like that for over a year. We understand you’re gay.”

Evan’s flush was almost painful. He had always tried to keep his sexual orientation private, let alone the bit of kink he enjoyed in his private life. Living in the Bible Belt south, with very conservative parents and family, he had never chosen to make his sex life publicly known in any way. He’d only just begun to recover from the break-up of the very serious relationship the major referred to so casually. There was no one special in his life at the moment. Sure, he’d sometimes visited the big, anonymous clubs in places like Atlanta and Charlotte since Eric left, and he’d done a few chats online, but he had no idea anyone had been watching him, spying on him. Damn! He still had no idea how the leadership had found out. His cheeks burned at the idea.

He shifted uncomfortably in the chair and raised his gaze defiantly. “I could point out that you apparently have a strange idea about what being gay means. No, sir, I do not live any kind of BDSM lifestyle. I suppose it’s beside the point to protest this intolerable intrusion into my private life.”

The major returned his gaze. “You applied to be a Hunter, Grant. You didn’t think we’d be interested in every facet of your life? It may not be politically correct, but it’s no secret our leader, Elias Winters, doesn’t exactly have a warm feeling about gays, especially after what happened with his son, Logan. Look, our operation is top secret here. We need to know everything about everyone who’s a member of our organization.”

“And if I refuse this so-called offer of yours?”

The major shrugged. “Then you refuse. You’re only the first of many thatI’m interviewing. We’ve found these creatures to be insatiable, and our plans are to stud out this wolf-shifter to our other volunteers once he finishes with you. The more willing subjects we can have, the better. For our doctor’s experiments, that is.”

When Evan still sat nervously biting the inside of his cheek, the major continued. “Up until now, we’ve only tried the wolf bites, using some of our captured rogues with, shall we say, mixed success. Look, if you don’t want to be involved, say so, though if you were really serious about joining one of the combat units, I could guarantee you a spot if you complete this assignment.”

“Really. Despite the fact that I’m gay?”

“I said Winters has a problem with homosexuals, but that doesn’t mean he overlooks their value as soldiers in this war against the wolves. And Winters doesn’t interfere with decisions I make about the men I choose for combat.”

“What exactly would I have to do again? Explain it to me one more time, because I’m a little freaked out here.”

“Have sex with the captured wolfman. Of course, he’d be in his human form. They call themselves shapeshifters. Look, I realize this is quite unconventional, but nothing about these creatures is exactly standard operating procedure. Most all of them are very powerful, very sexually active males. Handsome too, they tell me, if you like the overgrown, muscle-bound types. You may have heard of Logan Winters? Our commander’s son?”

“Yes, a little. Didn’t he live with the Dark Hollow pack as one of their...uh...mates? Until they killed him?”

The major frowned. “Yes. I’m afraid that’s true. He was their prisoner too, at one time, and the bastards forced him to mate with one of them, then assimilated him into their pack. We got our hands on him once, but lost him again and that time for good. They came for him and took him right out of our complex. Later we learned he was murdered by them, trying to escape. One of our top commanders, Major Dawson, was also brutally murdered, trying to help him.”

“So now you want to pimp me out to one of them and expect me to sacrifice myself too? What good will that do?”

At the major’s stern look, Evan realized he may have gone a tad too far, using the word ‘pimp.’ But shit, this was his body the major was so willing to give over to a monster. What if the fiend decided to kill him instead of have sex with him?

“Grant, I know this is unconventional, to say the least, and if there were any other way...the doctors tell us we have to get blood samples of the creatures’ sexual partners for them. Something made Logan different from the subjects we have tested. He never shifted his form the entire time we had him here as long as he drank the blood of the wolf who mated with him. The others we’ve experimented on have changed form during a full moon. We need to find out why Logan never changed and what the substance was in his blood that prevented it. How else can we do it? We’ve tried to kidnap one of their mates, but it’s not possible. They’re too closely guarded. No, we need to create our own test subjects from a combination of the bite and the sex.”

The major stood up and paced around the room. “I assure you we’ll keep this a controlled experiment. You won’t be physically harmed in any way. Everything will happen here at the compound. Once the captive male...um...mates with you we can take blood tests, examine you. See what chemicals the bite excretes into your blood, if any. Possibly we can come up with some kind of antidote. If we’d had one when we had Logan Winters back with us, we might have been able to save him.”

“Didn’t you have him back here at the compound for a while? Why didn’t you take some of his blood then? And back up—a few minutes ago, yousaid you’d had ‘mixed success’ with the bites. What exactly did you mean?”

“We did tests on Logan. And we found nothing, but Logan was bitten weeks before we got our hands on him. The chemicals could have already dissipated or been absorbed into his body. If we had a controlled experiment here in our facility, and we could test the blood immediately after the victim was bitten, then we might be able to find an answer. As to the last part of your question, nothing serious or fatal happened with just the bite to change our subjects. Many of them are in training now as a special force we call Wolfsbane. You’ll join them after the experiment. For now, we just want more information about how the sex might change the experiments.”

He stopped to perch on the edgeof his desk and lean forward. “Don’t you see, Grant? If we find an antidote, we could possibly free all of the unwilling human victims of these monsters.”

“Yeah, well, what if you don’t?” Evan ran a hand over his face. “Then I’m stuck being this ‘test subject’—this mate thing forever?”

The major looked annoyed. “You’re not a blood mate, Grant. They’re the only ones who get ‘stuck’ as far as we know.”

“What about Logan Winters? Was he a blood mate?”

“Logan was a special case. They wanted to make an example of him because of his father.” The major fixed him with a direct stare. “Look, Grant, we finally have a shifter captive here ready for you. Our doctors are top notch. They’re confident they’ll find an antidote.”

Evan was silent. This was all a bit much to take in at once. Something didn’t ring true about all of this.

“I realize this is potentially life-changing, Grant, and a huge sacrifice on your part, but think of what you’ll be doing for humanity—for those poor victims. As an extra incentive, the blood gives you more strength and agility, even makes you better looking, they tell me. Much longer life too, so it’s not all negative. It will greatly advance your career here with us, I can promise you. We’ll give you a little time—think it over and make your decision. Meet the captive before you decide, if you want. Have a conversation with him. I can have you assigned to be one of his personal guards. Look, the mating is only for one night. What do you say? Will you do it?”

Taking a deep breath, Evan nodded. This was what he’d signed up for after all, the chance to be a hero, to make a difference. If this experiment could actually save some of the victims, how could he say no?

The major clasped his hand and slapped him on the shoulder. ”Good man! I’ll get the paperwork processed right away. In the meantime, wait to hear from me, and we’ll contact you just as soon as we find a test subject.”