Imogen and India Rose have been on their own since their parent’s untimely deaths three years earlier. When India goes missing after hiking deep in the woods looking for wolf shifters, Imogen is at her wit’s end. The police won’t seem to take her seriously and she has no-one else to turn to. Despite her horrible feelings of foreboding that almost always come true, she knows she has no choice but to go into those creepy woods and find India herself.
As she is making her way back to her car after an unsuccessful search, Imogen is viciously attacked by a huge black wolf. She is saved by the arrival of a whole pack who scare off her attacker but when the leader then bites her she thinks she is on her way to meet her maker.
When she wakes in a compound full of wolves and into a world she could only conjure up in her wildest imagination she realizes the brown wolf saved her life with his bite. Her savior is pack Alpha, Seann Donovan and Imogen is drawn to him like a moth to a flame, much to the anger and disgust of the beautiful Kandis who has already decided he belongs to her and will do anything to rid the pack of the usurper.
Imogen realizes, however, that she doesn’t yet know the whole story and Seann may have ‘Bitten’ off more than he can chew!
Her muscles screamed with fatigue and pain but she drew on the last ounce of energy and strength she possessed to propel herself across the raging river at its narrowest point, breathing a sigh of relief when she landed with solid ground beneath her feet. With no time to lose she propelled her feet forward, the cuts and grazes on her arms and face stung like thousands of pinpricks as she whipped through the trees, faster than she had ever run in her young life.
She could feel the darkness surround and suffocate her, sense it gaining ground, smell its ragged, foul breath and she pumped her arms and legs faster and faster until she finally reached the road where she had parked her car. It was just ahead in the dim light and a sob escaped her as she flew toward it, yanking open the door and throwing herself inside with just seconds to spare. She took a few gulps of air to satisfy her starving lungs and berated herself to calm down so that her shaking fingers might find the ignition.
She screamed as her car was suddenly rocked on its wheels and just as the engine sparked with life the door was pulled clean off its hinges and the car was rolled effortlessly onto its side. She was still desperately pumping the gas pedal even knowing the wheels were no longer on the road.
She was dizzy from the blow as her head smashed into the side window and she tried to scramble upwards but its massive bulk blocked out the moonlight in the open space where the door used to be. Warm, salty blood filled her mouth as the massive jaws leaned in clamping onto her neck and she faded into oblivion.
Frustrated at his lack of concern for her missing sister, Imogen turned her back on the police officer and marched out of the station and down the stairs to her car parked at the curb.
She pulled out into the sparse midday traffic, not really sure where to go next. India had been missing for almost twenty-four hours now and she was becoming frantic. Her sister had never been off the grid for this long before and Imogen had a horrible feeling that something terrible had happened to her. She was always her sister’s protector and knew in her gut that something was amiss. India and her crazy schemes would be the death of her but they shared a bond that few people would ever experience or understand.
She hadn’t eaten anything since yesterday and gave into her stomach’s noisy protests and pulled into the parking lot of Sally’s Diner on the outskirts of town. Without looking at the menu she ordered a cheeseburger and fries, every diner served cheeseburger and fries, right!
She sipped on her coke and went over everything in her head again, could she have missed something, some vital clue? She alternated between being desperately worried and then pissed off at her sister’s disregard for her own safety.
For India not to show up for work was a big deal on its own but after the strange conversation they had two days ago, Imogen was praying that her instincts were wrong this time. India also knew better than to dismiss her sister’s concerns, Imogen was rarely wrong when she had a ‘bad feeling’ about something and she had a bad feeling about her sister’s need to go into the damn woods looking for wolves. India was obsessed with the idea of wolf shifters and had been for many years since they had camped out in the woods with their parents on her twelfth birthday. She was convinced that she saw a grown man shift into the huge beast and run off into the woodland that surrounded their small town.
Imogen was just as convinced that no such thing existed and refused to help her sister in her search. She had bigger things to worry about, like how they would pay this month’s rent. Now she felt terrible that she hadn’t taken the time to listen properly and help her clear up the misunderstanding. India wouldn’t make something like that up, if she said she saw a man change into a wolf, then she believed she saw a man change into a wolf, strangely enough, she never told their parents what she thought she saw.
She put some money on the table and left half of her meal as she hurried home to look for any clues to where she could have gone. Her heart was hammering in her chest and the feeling of foreboding just wouldn’t quit.
India’s room was as neat and tidy as India’s room ever got but nothing looked to be out of place. Imogen dropped the empty fast food cup in the trash and picked up her sister’s laptop and took it through to the living room. She had given her email a cursory glance this morning but she needed to pay attention and go through her search history carefully. She popped the top off a can of soda and scrolled through India’s recent searches. She would accuse Imogen of prying but right now she didn’t care, she only cared about finding her sister alive. Her heart squeezed painfully in her chest at the alternative.
As she suspected there were pages and pages of wolf shifter information and forums on the subject, one, in particular, she seemed to be fairly active on, commenting and asking lots of quesons. Other people claimed to have seen a shifter in the same area and one woman said that she was chased through the trees only a month ago, barely escaping with her life.
“Dramatic, much,” she said aloud but opened a dialogue box and asked her where exactly this had happened. She explained her sister was missing and she was trying to locate her.
The woman turned out to be a seventeen-year-old girl named Riley who had gone there looking for proof of the shifter’s existence, just like India had. She said she felt as if she was being watched and had gotten spooked and started walking back to her car. The feeling of being watched grew stronger and she ran the last few hundred feet, got in and hightailed it out of there, never looking back. She said the closer she got to her car, the faster the thing following her was gaining on her and her instincts told her to get out of there, that whatever it was wasn’t looking to make new friends.
Imogen leaned back in her chair, she sensed Riley was telling her the truth but it was crazy, right. Wolf shifters were only in the imagination of filmmakers and novelists, weren’t they?
She typed back,
‘Would you take me to the spot where you saw the wolf,’
‘I didn’t see it but it was there, I could feel it all around me and it wasn’t a nice feeling, horrible actually, it was evil,’
‘No Jacob Black then,’ she joked but Riley didn’t reply and after a few minutes she typed another message,
‘Sorry, that was crass, just trying to lighten the conversation. Would you take me to the area where you felt it’s presence,’
‘I don’t think I can, I’m sorry. I can draw you a map of where I was though if that helps,’
‘Thanks, Riley, anything will help at this point,’ she gave her her cell number and waited.
She felt sorry for the girl and understood her reluctance but she wanted to get out there and look for India before it was too dark to see anything. The feeling in her gut that something had happened to her sister wouldn’t go away and she had learned over the years to trust her instincts.
She had felt the prickling along her spine that signaled danger whenever India had told her she wanted to go searching for the man she saw. Imogen told her she sensed she would be in terrible danger and India had lied when she promised her sister she wouldn’t go into the woods on her own.
Her phone pinged and she brought up the crude map that Riley had drawn her. She knew exactly where it was. It was a good few miles deep into the national park but a little off the beaten track. She had been there once before with her father when she was younger and remembered there was an old stone bridge over the river and a long-ago abandoned campsite.
She thanked Riley and closed the chatbox. The feeling of anxiety was stronger than ever but she needed to go and check it out. It was the last place she wanted to go but she had a horrible feeling that India’s life may just depend on it.
She cranked up her car and headed back out of town towards the area where Riley said she had felt the presence of the wolf. It was only a few miles but the narrow winding country roads as she entered the designated national park area slowed her down a little. She was beginning to think she had taken a wrong turn when she came around the corner and saw the old bridge in front of her. It was much darker in here with the tree coverage and she knew she would only have an hour or so before she would need a flashlight to find her way.
She pulled into the side of the road just before the bridge and got out of the car. She shivered and reached into the back seat for her sweatshirt and pulled it over her head. Her long dark hair was pulled up into a ponytail and she was glad she was wearing flat boots and jeans as she scanned the area around her looking for clues that someone else may have been here before her.
She walked over the old stone bridge and looked around her but everything was obscured by the trees. The only sound was the water below her as it pounded the rocks on the river bed. It had rained constantly for several days and the water was a little higher and faster than normal but she paid it no heed as she walked slowly along the road.
“Where are you India, she said quietly and then suddenly it occurred to her, what if she was hurt, couldn’t walk or something and was stuck out here in the middle of nowhere.
Imogen’s heart constricted as she thought about her sister being all alone and in pain. Since their parents had died three years ago, they only had each other and she had taken on the role of caretaker for both of them. Imogen was only a year older than twenty-one-year-old India, but at this moment she felt like Methuselah.
“India!” she called out and finding her voice she called louder, “India! If you can hear me call out, bang some rocks together, anything, India!”
The silence was deafening and she pushed her hands deep into her pockets and walked on a little further into the dense growth.
Every fifty feet or so she would call out her sisters name but there was nothing but silence in return. She stopped to look around her but as the trees got denser even the sounds of the small animals and birds started to disappear and Imogen shivered. There was something really creepy about this place and she knew she didn’t want to be here a minute longer. She called out to her sister one more time before turning to make her way back to her car.
She would need to call around their limited friends and see if she could get up a search party before coming back out here again, she was so annoyed that the police dismissed her concerns. She was going to march back there and demand to speak to someone in authority, it had gone past twenty-four hours, surely they would have to take her seriously now.
The nauseous feeling in her gut just wouldn’t cease and Imogen picked up the pace a little. She could see her car in the distance and broke into a jog, this was the creepiest place she had ever been and for the last few minutes, she felt as if she was being watched, there were invisible eyes everywhere.
She breathed a sigh of relief as she closed the distance and reached into her pocket for her key fob. Her senses pricked up and she stopped dead in her tracks, she had always been super sensitive to anything out of the ordinary and the beast that came out of the shadows was no ordinary wolf. Its head reached the top of her car and it inched toward her, huge teeth bared and salivating
Imogen stood stock still and watched as it got closer and closer to her but her senses were screaming at her, to get away, ‘Danger! Danger!’
There was nowhere to go, the great black beast was between her and her only viable means of escape, if she ran off into the woods she would be dead in minutes.
Somewhere in the recesses of her mind, she remembered her father telling her that animals would puff out their chest and make themselves appear larger and more threatening to an opponent. Mustering all the aggression she could, she stretched her arms out, stood taller and yelled until her lungs ached with exertion.
The wolf stopped advancing but it didn’t shy away from her so she took a step closer and yelled in its face again. It must have been a trick of the light but she could have sworn the damn thing grinned.
“Shoo, go away,” she yelled but it began to advance again and as it got closer she could see the dark red glow in the beast’s eyes and when it opened it’s huge jaws the putrid smell from its mouth made her gag. She held her keys tightly and when it loomed over her she lashed out with her hand and felt the sharp end of the key sink into the wolf’s neck. It reared back, yowling in pain but only for a second before it lifted one huge paw and lashed out, smashing her against the side of her car.
Her head exploded with pain and she could taste warm blood in her mouth but she was right beside her car. If she could just get inside she may be able to escape with her life. She reached for the door handle but the beast stretched over her head, putting both paws on her car and pushed effortlessly until the car slid down the slope towards the river. Her last hope was gone.
She closed her eyes as it stood over her, gagging at the stench of its breath and offered up a little prayer to a God she wasn’t even sure existed. The snarling ceased and suddenly the beast was gone, running off into the woods like the hounds of hell were in pursuit.
She forced open her eyes and saw that she was now surrounded by wolves of all shapes and sizes and she felt the wet blood and tears on her face as she closed her eyes again and awaited her fate. Wolves lived and hunted in packs, didn’t they? She rolled onto her side, wanting to watch what was coming and resigned herself. She was helpless against one wolf, never mind a pack of them. She knew she was close to passing out as she grew more lightheaded, she must have lost more blood than she thought.
The dark brown wolf was the largest and he came slowly toward her, leaning right in to sniff her. The others were behind him, gathering around her but they kept their distance. Its eyes were the color of warm amber and when she felt its warm breath on her face she was grateful it didn’t stink like the other one. She closed her eyes and felt a sting the moment the jaws clamped onto her neck, thankful it didn’t hurt as much as she thought it would and she faded into unconsciousness.
Through the thick fog in her brain, she could hear the mournful sound as the huge wolf raised his head howled into the night, the rest of the pack joined him, were they mourning her death?