Excerpt: Ghost Wolf by Michele Hauf

Right in time for Halloween is Ghost Wolf, a new werewolf romance by Michele Hauf. Get ready for this sexy paranormal romance with an excerpt below and pick up your copy today wherever Harlequin Nocturne books are sold.

About Ghost Wolf:

The Lone Wolf’s Salvation…

When Daisy-Blu Saint-Pierre starts investigating the mysterious ghost wolf that’s been menacing hunters in Tangle Lake, she encounters a juicier sort of discovery in sexy lone wolf Beck. Beck, with his rugged, raw energy and virility to burn…

A tragic accident has left Beckett Severo hungry for revenge. Now faery magick has turned him from a werewolf into something more powerful. The lovely Daisy is a great distraction. Time spent in her arms almost makes Beck forget the danger they’re in. Almost.

Daisy and Beck must risk losing who they are to become what they are meant to be…together.

Excerpt:

Beck stumbled to the edge of the forest, tugging up his jeans as he did so. His breaths fogged before him. The mercury had topped out at ten degrees at noon; it had only fallen since then. He’d come out of the shift and retrieved his clothes from the hollowed-out oak stump where he always kept them. Wouldn’t do for a werewolf to shift to human shape without clothing to cover his shivering mortal flesh. He didn’t relish the idea of walking home naked, or trying to hitch a ride.

Though, to imagine hitching naked perked up his smile. If a carload of pretty women drove by? They’d pick him up for sure.

Nah. He’d keep his clothes on. The bitter January chill did not bother him while in wolf form, but his human skin wasn’t so durable against the temperature changes. Good thing he had brought along his winter coat.

He zipped and buttoned his jeans. Shoving his feet into his pack boots, he wobbled. A swirl of dizziness spilled across his vision, and he had to put out his arms to stabilize his stance. Tree stalks blurred, and for a moment the sky switched places with the snowy ground.

“Weird,” he muttered, and gave his head a good shake.

Shifting took a lot out of him. More so lately. But this was the first time he’d felt so odd. Like he wasn’t right with the world. Must be because he’d eaten a light lunch. Earlier in the day, his date had suggested he try a salad instead of a steak. Why he’d succumbed was beyond him.

Ah hell, he knew why. He’d wanted to impress her. Guys did stuff like that. Stupid stuff like eating leaves instead of a juicy slab of steak. Never paid off. Later, the woman had giggled while standing before her door and told him she’d see him again sometime soon.

Sometime soon? Vague, much? For not having dated in months, the step back into the pool had resulted in a cold splash to his ego. He’d added her to his mental “don’t bother again” list. A guy could only listen to a woman rave about the latest fashions or which movie stars were doing each other for so long.

Turning over the thick knit sweater and sticking his arms into it to find the sleeve holes, Beck raised his arms over his head to shuffle it down over his face when something rammed into his side, knocking him off balance.

Quick footwork prevented him from taking a fall. Beck whipped around to snarl at—a pretty woman. Out here in the middle of no-place-she-should-be.

Beck’s odd meter zinged far to the right.

She was petite, the crown of her head leveled at Beck’s shoulder. From under a black knit cap that sported cat ears, pink hair spilled over her shoulders and onto a bulky gray sweater, beneath which perky nipples poked against the fabric, luring his interest. She clutched a pair of knee-high riding boots—she was barefoot—and blew out an annoyed huff.

As if upset because he had been the one to bump into her. Really?

Beck instinctively knew what breed she was. It wasn’t a sensation he got from touching his own breed—such as vampires were capable of—he just knew when he was around another of his kind.

“Out for a run in the woods? Did you forget your glasses at home?” He rubbed his elbow, drawing attention to where she had run right into him.

“Aren’t you the funny one?” She bent to tug on a boot, followed by the other. Slender-fitted jeans wrapped her legs, and the oversize sweater fell past her hips. She looked cozy and sexy and so out of place. “I wasn’t aware a big ole lug would be blocking my path.”

“Trust me, the lug did not intend to get in your way. You just shift?” he asked.

“I, uh…”

Apparently she hadn’t guessed the same thing about him, but quickly realization crossed her gaze as if sun flashing on metal. Pretty eyes that looked half gold and half violet and were framed by thick lashes. Her hair matched her plump lips, sort of a bleached raspberry shade. He liked it. Looked like some kind of dessert.

“Yes,” she finally said. “I’m headed home. I’ve got a friend waiting in the car.”

Beck glanced over a shoulder. He didn’t recall seeing a car parked along the country road that was closest to where they stood. No vehicles out here for miles. Then he guessed she was leery, didn’t want him to think she was out here alone. Yet he scented not so much caution as challenge from her. Interesting.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” he felt compelled to say.

“Says the pervert before he kidnaps the girl and shoves her in his trunk.” She pushed past him and walked quickly out of the forest and into the wheat field that boasted ankle-high dried stalks jutting up from the foot-deep snowpack. “Don’t follow me!”

Beck couldn’t not follow her. The road edging the field led to town. And it had started to snow in tiny skin-pinging pellets. He wasn’t going to wait for her to disappear from sight before he could take off.

He paralleled her rapid footsteps.

“Seriously, dude, would you stay away from me?”

“You think I’m going to shove you in my trunk? I think you’d scratch and give a good fight if I even looked at you the wrong way.”

He noticed the curling corner of her smirk, though she maintained her speedy gait. She liked him; he knew it. But it didn’t matter much. It was a rare pack female who would give a lone wolf like him the time of day.

“Do I know you?” he asked. “I’m not trying to be a creep. I promise. I just— I’m familiar with most of the wolves in the area packs. I think I’d remember a pink-haired wolf. Unless this is a new color for you? I like it, by the way. The cat ears, too.”

She huffed and picked up into a jog. He was tired out from his run, but Beck could keep up with her if he had to. And he wanted to. But—hell, he was winded. What was up with that? Normally shifting invigorated him.

“Who are you?” she blurted angrily.

“I’m Beckett Severo.”

The pretty pink wolf stopped abruptly, dropping her hands to her sides. Flipping back her hair with a jerk of her head, she eyed him up and down more carefully than he’d taken when looking her over. “Oh.”

“Oh?” Beck slapped a palm to his chest, feeling as though she’d just seen parts of him he’d never reveal upon initially meeting someone. “That oh sounded like you must have heard of me?”

“Uh, yeah. Something about your father?”

“Right.” Beck looked away. Shoved his hands in his back pockets. He didn’t need this conversation. It was still too raw in his heart. He hadn’t spoken to anyone about it yet. Not even his mother.

Didn’t matter who this pretty wolf was. If she knew about his father, he didn’t want to listen to the pity.

The walk into the closest town was fifteen minutes. His town was ten miles north by car. And the small bits of sleet were starting to stick to the back of his head and shoulders.

“You shouldn’t run around in the forest by yourself,” he said, changing the subject and keeping his back toward the brunt of the sleet. “The local hunters have developed a bloodlust for wolf pelts.”

She shrugged and turned to walk, but slower now, unmindful of the icy pellets. Tugging a pair of black mittens out from a jeans pocket, she pulled them on. “I trust this neck of the woods.”

“You shouldn’t,” he said with more authority than he wanted on the subject.

Beck was a werewolf. Like it or not, he made it a point to know what the hunters were up to. Because even though they didn’t believe in his kind, and they hunted the mortal realm breed of canis lupis—the gray wolf—when in wolf form, his breed could easily be mistaken for the gray wolf. And thanks to the DNR delisting the wolf from the endangered species list, the hunt had become a free-forall.

A fact he knew too painfully well.

“Didn’t you hear the gunshots earlier?”

She shook her head.

“There are hunters in the vicinity.”

“Maybe the ghost wolf warned them away from me?”

Beck chuckled. The ghost wolf was what the media had taken to calling the recent sightings of a tall, wolflike creature that seemed to glow white. Scared the shit out of hunters.

“You shouldn’t put your faith in a story,” he said to her. “You’re not safe in the woods, plain and simple.”

“Well, you were out alone.”

“Yes, but I’m a guy.”

“Do not play the guy card with me. You think I can’t handle myself?”

“No, I just said you could probably scratch—”

The petite wolf turned and, without warning, punched him in the gut. It was a good, solid hit that forced out Beck’s breath and jarred his lower ribs. Picking up her dropped mitten, she turned and walked off while he clutched at his stomach, fighting his rising bile.

“Thanks for the chat!” she called. With that, she picked up into a run.

Beck was perfectly fine with letting her run off and leave him behind. He swallowed and winced as he fell to his knees amidst the wheat and snow.

“The guy card?” Swearing, he leaned back, stretching at his aching abdomen. “She’s got a great right hook, I’ll say that much.”

And he was getting weaker with every shift he made to werewolf. That was not good.

Daisy Blu Saint-Pierre landed at the edge of town just as the headlights of a city snowplow barreled past her on the salt-whitened tarmac. She’d left her winter coat at home, not expecting it to snow tonight. She never took along more clothing than necessary when going out for a run. Chilled, but still riding the high from the shift that kept her muscles warm and flexible, she picked up into a run.

Her teeth were chattering by the time she reached her loft in the Tangle Lake city center. There were three other occupants in this remodeled warehouse that featured lofts on the second and third floors. She wandered up the inner iron staircase, cursing her need to not drive unless absolutely necessary. Blame it on her parents, who were uberenvironmental-save-the-planet types. Her dad drove an old pickup that must have been manufactured in the Reagan era. She suspected it would be more environmentally friendly to put that rust heap out of its misery and off the road, but her father, an imposing werewolf who could silence any man with but a growl, wouldn’t have it.

Once inside the loft, she stripped away her clothes, which were coated on the back with melting sleet. Leaving them in a trail of puddles behind her, she beelined toward the shower and turned it on as hot as she could stand.

The last thing she had expected while out on a run was to literally collide into another werewolf. Though, why not? should be the obvious question. The wolves in the Northern and Saint-Pierre packs used that forest all the time. Yet lately, with the hunters spreading out and some accidentally trespassing onto private land, even that forest had grown less safe.

She never ventured too near the forest’s borders, and always kept an ear and nose out for mortal scent and tracks. The gunshot had been distant. She’d not smelled the hunter, and usually, when out in nature, she could sniff out a mortal scent two or three miles away.

Beckett Severo, eh? She’d heard about his father’s tragic death not long ago. Killed by a hunter who must have assumed he was just another gray wolf. Must be awful for Beckett. She had also heard he had been there with his father when he’d been shot.

Daisy felt awful for punching him, but it had been impulsive. She didn’t know the man, and couldn’t trust him, and he’d been all in her face and trying to chum up to her. She preferred to meet her men in public places, and preferably with an advance review from a friend so she knew what she was getting into.

So maybe she wasn’t an expert on meeting people. Her defenses tended to go up for no reason other than that she was uncomfortable making small talk.

Because really? That man had been one fine hunk of wolf. He’d towered over her, and looked down on her with ice-blue eyes. She’d never seen such clear, bright irises. His sun-bleached hair had been tousled this way and that. A scruff of beard had shadowed his chiseled jaw. He’d reeked of strength and—she could admit it—sensuality.

What a man. What a wolf. It was rare Daisy met a male werewolf who appealed to her on more than a simple friendship basis. It was much easier to be a guy’s buddy than to flirt with him.

He hadn’t known her? Probably because he wasn’t in a pack. Yet she knew about his family. Severo, his father, had been a grizzled old wolf. Unaligned with any pack, but respected by many pack wolves for common sense and wisdom that had come from centuries of life. Surely Daisy’s father had mentioned Severo reverently a time or two.

Maybe. Didn’t matter. She didn’t intend to bump into Beckett again soon, so she’d have to satisfy herself with a few fantasies about the sexy wolf.

With the way her shifting abilities had been testing her lately, she was more self-involved than she cared to be. Much as she preferred shifting to wolf, the faery half of her always vied for superiority. She wasn’t sure what the deal was with that, but it was annoying. And embarrassing. She couldn’t remember when she’d last shifted around a family member. So she spent much time in her human shape, which was all right by her, save for her lacking social skills.

She was trying to break free of her introvert’s chains by competing for a freelance internship for the local newspaper. Every January the Tangle Lake Tattler offered an internship to a journalist who offered the winning story. Story competition was never fierce. She had two opponents. But that didn’t mean Daisy wasn’t giving it her all.

Researching the story got her out into the community and forced her to talk to others. She enjoyed it, and she was growing more at ease with introducing herself to strangers. Albeit, with a handshake. Not by charging into them while running out of the forest.

The story she knew would be the winner was the ghost wolf. Which is why she’d been out in the woods tonight. The great white wolf had been sighted twice in the last month. Daisy suspected the creature was werewolf due to the description the local hunters circulated on the rumor mill. Save for one odd detail. Hunters had noted the wolf glowed, as if a white specter. Thus, a ghost wolf.

If it was a werewolf, she wasn’t sure how to handle the story. Her breed valued their secrecy.

She’d deal with that if and when she needed to. Should have asked Beck if he knew anything about the ghost wolf. Hmm.

Good reason to see him again.

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2 Responses to Excerpt: Ghost Wolf by Michele Hauf

  1. Would you please list the Nocturn editors’ names for me. I’m trying to submit a professional looking query letter.