Excerpt from PRIMAL LAW
Copyright © J.D. Tyler, 2011
All Rights Reserved, Penguin Group USA
Kira stared at the . . . dog? Husky? Wolf?
No. She had not seen a pissed-off Rambo wannabe burst from the shadows, strip off his shirt, and turn into a big ball of fuzz. That image had to have been a product of her terrified, overwrought mind. But it had seemed so real. She blinked, studying the animal warily as it returned her regard.
The creature was huge, with creamy white fur tipped in black and gray around its face, ears, shoulders, and back. His eyes were a steely blue-gray and seemed to look straight into her soul. Despite the blood marring his coat on his right shoulder, he was beautiful.
And he’d easily ripped apart two grown men, one of them armed. Another glance at the gore confirmed that part was definitely no figment of her imagination.
He continued to advance on her, and she shrank against the passenger’s side of her Camry, heart hammering in her throat. She couldn’t outrun him if she tried, a fact reflected in those piercing eyes. They were eerily intelligent, almost daring her to try so he could enjoy the thrill of chasing her down.
“Nice puppy,” she crooned again, voice wobbling. Holding out a shaking hand, she tried a command. “Stay!” The beast stopped, cocked his head, an almost bemused expression on his canine face. “Good boy. Sit!”
Some of her fear began to ease and she wondered how well trained the animal was. Maybe he was someone’s guard dog that got lost? He’d certainly protected her from those bastards. “Roll over.”
At that, the creature’s form began to waver. Sort of reshape. She blinked rapidly, thinking there must be something wrong with her vision. But no, she was simply losing her mind after all, because fur retracted, became skin. Paws became hands and feet with very human limbs attached. Tufted black ears went away, the snout disappeared and was suddenly a regal nose.
And now, a black-haired man crouched where the wolf had been seconds ago. A big, very naked man who unfolded his tall body and gazed down at her, one corner of his mouth quirking upward.
“I’ll do a lot of things on command,” he drawled lazily. “But I don’t roll over for anyone, sweetheart.”
Her brain fritzed. “I—I . . . you . . .” She trailed off helplessly, unable to form a coherent response.
Her eyes raked his body, and she thought he had to be about six-foot-four and more than two hundred pounds. He was pretty well ripped, his chest, long limbs, and torso sculpted with muscle. Thick, strong shoulders led to defined collarbones and a broad chest sprinkled with dark, springy hair and graced by two bronzed male nipples. His right shoulder was marred by a bloody gouge, just stopping at the edge of a large tribal tattoo of gorgeous scrollwork that spilled over the deltoid area and ran down his arm. Did it extend down his back as well? There also appeared to be some sort of design worked into the swirls on his shoulder, but she didn’t pause to study it.
Her scrutiny drifted lower to his taut, ridged stomach, the dip of his hips. Skimmed down mile-long athletic legs. A network of scars twisted around his right thigh, knee, and calf, and she wondered how the terrible injury had happened, but it did nothing to detract from his physical potency. Inevitably, her attention settled at the apex of his thighs, to the proof that whatever else he might be, one hundred percent pure male stood before her now. A well-endowed man, even in repose, his impressive sex nestled in a neat thatch of curly dark hair.
A hysterical giggle escaped before she could stop it. Her wolf manscaped. How courteous, since he obviously didn’t have a problem with public nudity.
“See something amusing?”
The frown in his tone brought her head up and she studied his face for the first time. A single word whispered through her brain, made her shiver—lethal.
If she hadn’t already known he was seriously badass, his looks confirmed the impression. He was no model-perfect pretty boy. Spiky black hair seemed to defy gravity, somehow arranging itself into an artfully messy style that reminded her of tangled sheets. Dark brows were arched above a prominent nose and full mouth with lush lips. His ears each bore a piercing, shiny black studs. His jaw was strong, dusky with a five-o’ clock shadow and a soul patch graced his chin. Normally, she preferred men without facial hair, but on this guy? It fit him.
No, not pretty at all.
Raw. Stunning. Untamed.
He spoke, and it took her a second to realize he’d repeated the question. “No, not really. I was just thinking it’s so nice that you find time to stay well groomed. When you’re not tearing out people’s throats.” What am I saying? Shut up, idiot! “Are you going to do that to me? ’Cause I gotta tell ya, I’m probably a little gamey. Really, really stringy and—”
“Relax,” he said, reaching out to caress her cheek. “I’m not going to hurt you. I heard you scream and I . . .” Suddenly he went rigid, staring deeply into her eyes. Lowering his hand, he grasped her wrist, his hold gentle but firm. His eyes glazed and he seemed to be looking beyond her somehow. Into her soul.
“What are you doing?” She tugged, trying to pull free, hyperaware of the warmth of his palm, his manly scent. A mix of fresh leaves, the outdoors, and sweat. God, he smelled good.
He shook his head, the weird moment broken. Just as quickly, his expression darkened, his mouth thinning in anger. “What are you hiding? Tell me what you stole from those bastards—the ones I killed to save your ass.”
The blood drained from her face. Oh, shit. Did he work for them, too? “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
His eyes were flinty. “Sure you do. Spill it.”
“Fuck, man, what happened here? Can’t leave you alone for a goddamned hour.”
Startled, Kira twisted and peered over the roof of her car to see two tall men—one redhead and one blond—step into the circle of light and eye the dead suits with grim expressions. The blond pushed a strand of silvery hair from his eyes and whistled.
“Shit. Cleanup on aisle six.” His voice held a note of humor, and his expression was kind as he looked up, spotting her. “Ran into a bit of trouble, huh?” So it was the pissed-off guy with the long, dark auburn hair who’d first spoken.
She nodded, windpipe shrinking to the size of a pinhole.
“Well, don’t worry, honey. We’ll take care of you,” he said gently.
Hours, make that days, of fear and worry caught up with her in a rush, and she was suddenly exhausted. The empathy from this stranger in the middle of all the chaos, not to mention the anger radiating from his two buddies, just about did her in. Tears stung her eyes and she struggled not to let them fall as her captor dragged her around the side of the car to meet his companions.
“Don’t look at them,” he ordered her, nodding toward the sprawled bodies.
Which, of course, made her look again. And almost get sick.
“For God’s sake, Law, put on some damned clothes before my eyes bleed,” the redhead growled.
“Yeah, well, it’s kinda hard not to lose the threads when we get furry, dickhead.”
Get furry. We?
Red cut her a sharp look. “She see you change?”
“Oh, fantastic. You do realize Sweet Thing is now our special guest?” At Red’s venomous glare, she pressed backward, into the man who’d come to her rescue. “We. Are. Fucked. Nick’s going to shred our asses.”
“For what?” A fourth man joined the party, jogging from the darkness. The dark-haired newcomer halted, scanning the scene. “Christ.”
“Trust me, it gets better,” Red informed him, curling his lip. He flicked a hand at Kira and the man—Law?—who now placed his body protectively between her and the others. “The fair damsel got herself into some shit. Our friend here got his hero goin’ on, wiped out the vermin, but oh, wait—the chick saw him do his White Fang impression. So now she goes with us, whereupon we can look forward to a reaming from the boss. That about right?” He snarled the question at Law.
“You got it in one,” he said coolly, eyes like steel. A muscle in his jaw ticced. “And I’d do it again. So now we deal with the mess and if you don’t like it, tough. After the cleanup, she’s my responsibility. I’ll field the heat from Nick and take care of her.”
“Damned right you will.”
“Knock it off, you two.” The blond tossed a pile of clothes at Law. “Get dressed so we can ghost out of here. I’ll go get the SUV.”
The dark-haired guy palmed a set of keys and tossed them to the blond.
Law let her go and pulled on a pair of jeans, followed by his black T-shirt. As he tugged on a pair of heavy lace-up boots, Kira found her voice. “Hang on a second,” she said, edging away from them. “Take care of me? Like you took care of them? No, thanks. I’ll be fine on my own.”
“No longer an option.” Law straightened, shot her a feral grin. “Welcome to Alpha Pack, sweetheart.”