New Moon, p.1
Table of Contents
About the Author
Discover more Entangled Select Otherworld titles… The Red Lily
When Danger Bites
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2017 by Lisa Kessler. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Entangled Publishing, LLC
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Fort Collins, CO 80525
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Select Otherworld is an imprint of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
Edited by Jenn Mishler
Cover design by Liz Pelletier
Cover art from iStock
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Edition June 2017
This one is for all the Moon Series readers.
Thanks so much for your support for the Wolf Pack…
The bitter wind matched my mood. Snow still dusted the tops of the red mountains of Sedona, Arizona. Not my first choice of destinations, but Allen Caldwell was dead, and, sadly, my father’s desire to see the two werewolf Packs destroy each other hadn’t died with his old friend.
Again it fell to me.
Being the heir to the Nero Organization, and the right hand of Antonio Severino, was a bloody existence, but it was the only one I’d ever known. Although I had no interest in killing the Pack in Reno, Nevada, if I refused my father’s vendetta, my own life would be at stake.
And I had a vested interest in that.
I threw open the door to the Wolf Pack Bar, my eyes quickly adjusting to the dim light. Almost without conscious thought, I pulled in a deep breath. Two werewolves, four humans, and a jaguar shifter, my one ally.
The werewolf bartender lifted his head, defensive until he recognized me. “Well, look what the cat dragged in.”
I ground my teeth at the jab to my true nature. Tasteless and reckless with humans present, but I expected as much from a wolf.
He straightened up behind the bar. “What can I get you, Sebastian?”
I waved him off. “I’m not here for a drink.” I approached Vance, taking the stool beside him.
He glanced over at me. “This can’t be good news.”
“I guess that depends which side of the chessboard you’re sitting on.” I shrugged.
Vance chuckled, shaking his head. “And which side are you on today?”
There were only two people in this world who really understood me. One had married into the Wolf Pack in Reno, and the other was Vance Park. Although he wore an easygoing smile, Vance was one of the deadliest jaguar-shifter assassins the Nero Organization had ever turned out.
“I haven’t decided yet.” I leaned on the bar, keeping my voice low. The werewolves would have no trouble hearing, but I wouldn’t say anything in mixed company that could tip my hand. “Either way, I’m going to need your help.”
Vance got to his feet, but his eyes betrayed his wariness. “This Pack isn’t ready for a fight. Not yet. They’ve lost too many.”
I eyed the bartender. He was helping the human customers at the other end of the bar, but his jaw clenched as he glanced my way.
“I need some sleep. Then we’ll plan. Come to my hotel in the morning. I’ll send you a text with my room number.”
Vance nodded. “I’ll be there.”
“Good.” I kept my attention on the bartender as I went to the door.
As soon as he turned his back on his customer, he took out his phone, firing off a text. Shit. No doubt someone now knew I was back in town, but without an Alpha in this Sedona Pack, I had no idea who to expect might jump me.
Not that it mattered. I was ready. Always.
Outside I scanned the parking lot behind the bar. As a jaguar shifter, my sense of smell wasn’t as keen as the wolves’, but my night vision was far better than theirs. I tugged the collar of my wool-lined trench coat up and slid my hand inside, stroking the cold metal of my handgun.
When I reached the black Mercedes rental, I walked right by. I had a stalker, and rather than lead them to my very public hotel, I’d prefer to solve the problem under the cloak of darkness.
Far from the yellow floodlight on the back of the bar, I stopped and turned around. A shadow crouched behind a power box. A slow breath told me it was a werewolf, but not one that I recognized.
“Are you going to introduce yourself, wolf?” I didn’t draw my weapon. Not yet. I could handle one wolf without wasting a bullet.
“Who I am doesn’t matter.” A woman’s voice. Unexpected.
“I beg to differ. The bartender wouldn’t have alerted you that I was in town if you didn’t matter.” I took a couple slow steps in her direction.
“I was hoping you’d show your face again.”
I listened for her footsteps. “And why is that?”
She bolted and I widened my stance, bracing myself for impact. Adrenaline was on her side. The female wolf rammed me so hard we both toppled over. A sharp pain burst through my chest.
A familiar pain. The wolf’s blade was buried in my shoulder.
She lifted her head, staring down with hate in her eyes. I vaguely recognized her from my previous meetings with this Pack. I’d see her before, but I didn’t know her name. Hard to trust my recollections while fighting for my life, but I thought Caldwell had mentioned she was a bounty hunter.
There were probably plenty of bounties on my head. I wasn’t surprised by her attack.
What surprised me was that I was still breathing. Why not deliver the killing blow she obviously yearned for?
She yanked the blade free and pressed it to my throat. “All these years, I thought my father abandoned us. I wondered if I’d done something wrong to make him walk out.”
My left shoulder was hot and wet with blood. While she spoke, I weighed my options. Although my father had spent years trying to beat my mother’s influence out of me, she still lingered in the shadows of my heart.
A conscience I sometimes wished I could silence.
My job would be much easier without her voice whispering in my ear.
And right now, if I didn’t get this woman off me, I might be seeing my mother sooner than I expected. A hard blow to her kidn
Easier said than done.
I had very few moral lines in the sand, but hitting a woman was one of them. “Killing me isn’t going to bring back your father, but I can promise you if you do kill me, my father will not stop until you, and everyone you care about, are dead.”
“Shut up.” She pressed her free hand over my mouth.
Suddenly her pupils dilated, her lips parting slightly. She snapped them shut, shaking her head like she could free herself from some kind of spell.
“No.” Her nostrils flared. “You’re shitting me.” She blinked hard, her hand trembling as if an invisible force kept her from burying the blade in my throat. “Damn it. No!”
Her dark hair framed her face, and even in the dim light, I had no trouble admiring her bright green eyes. If I died tonight, her face would be a beautiful image to take with me as I left this world.
But I had no intention of dying. Not yet. There were still too many loose ends to tie up.
Before she could sink the dagger into me again, I grabbed her wrist with my right hand and kicked my legs, rolling her over to pin her underneath me.
She struggled, and with my strength draining out along with my blood, it took all my focus to keep her down. “I don’t know who your father was, but I’m sorry you lost him.”
“Fuck you, Sebastian.”
I raised a brow. “So you know my name, but I don’t know yours.”
“I’m Isabelle, and I’m going to end you and your father.”
Her threat fell on deaf ears. Isabelle was all I heard. My heart stuttered. It couldn’t be.
“Who was your father?”
She stopped struggling for a moment. “Solomon Wood.”
A chill crept up my spine. I recoiled, releasing her and stumbling to my feet. Stars danced at the edge of my vision, reminding me I needed to stitch up my shoulder. Soon.
After all these years, just as the clairvoyant predicted. Well, not exactly. The letter Solomon gave me before he bit down on a cyanide capsule hadn’t mentioned Isabelle attempting to kill me.
She scrambled to stand up, her knife still tight in her fist. I had no idea why she hesitated to attack me again, but if I was going to die tonight, it would have already happened.
I searched her face again, recognition dawning. She had Sol’s eyes. My hands trembled at my sides as the old wound ripped open.
She frowned. “Are you going to try to deny Nero murdered my father?”
Charlotte Brontë rolled off my tongue before I could stop it. “There’s little joy in life for me, And little terror in the grave; I’ve lived the parting hour to see, Of one I would have died to save.”
A crease marred her brow. “You’re seriously quoting poetry now, while your blood is on my knife?”
I sighed, suddenly reminded I was in the company of a wolf.
A wolf. I crossed my arms, biting back the pain in my shoulder. “You can’t be Solomon Wood’s daughter. You’re a werewolf.”
“I was bitten.” She shook her head. “And what does that have to do with it?”
So she had no idea her father had been a jaguar shifter. And until I had a better grip on my emotions, I wasn’t ready to wander down this path with her.
“I knew your father. He was a good man. A mentor to me.”
My blood dripped off the tip of the knife at her side. “If you were such good friends, why did Nero kill him?”
It was my turn to be confused. “Why do you think Nero killed him?”
I wasn’t surprised by her conclusion. My father’s corporation, the Nero Organization, supplied assassins for hire. Killing was our business, and business had been good for years.
What had my mind buzzing was how she had connected her father to Nero. If she didn’t know her father was a shifter, he wouldn’t have told her about his job with Nero, either.
“I don’t think, I know. He was listed on an old operative roster in Caldwell’s files. I did some hacking of encrypted files and found a second, more recent list. ‘Eliminated’ was written beside my dad’s name, and the date is a week after he walked out on us. Doesn’t take a genius detective to put it all together.”
Beautiful and intelligent. And a wolf. Deadly combination.
“I was with him that day.” I struggled to keep my eyes open. Blood loss was catching up to me. “He sacrificed his life to protect…his family.”
My legs gave out. I dropped to my knees, wincing as I fought the darkness encroaching at the edge of my vision. “Your mother…”
My thoughts scattered as the blackness consumed me.
“Shit.” I dropped the knife and knelt beside him, pressing my fingers to the side of his neck to check for a pulse, and loathing the instinctive pull to protect the worthless bastard. He’d just admitted he was with my dad when he died.
His pulse was strong, so I hadn’t hit an artery. Taking a shifter to a hospital was out of the question. With all this blood, it would be too easy for the doctors to stumble into discovering shifters existed. All it would take was one medical researcher to examine our DNA under a microscope.
I dug out my cell phone and touched Ryker’s number. Ryker was our new bartender at the Wolf Pack Bar since my sister moved to Reno with her mate.
He answered immediately. “Did you get him?”
“Yeah.” I nodded, staring at Sebastian’s face. He had strong features, almost noble when he was out cold. It was when he was conscious that you had to be wary. “I need some medical supplies.”
“You didn’t kill him?”
I had no intention of discussing this with Ryker. “Get your ass out here with the first-aid kit. Now.”
How could I explain any of this? Tonight I’d planned to kill Sebastian. His death would protect this Pack from his leadership and maybe settle the score for my father, but the moment I pressed my bare hand over his mouth, the wolf inside me came unglued.
From the core of my soul, she howled, clawing her way forward and denying me the ability to harm him. The world lost focus, and when it came back, the urge to protect Sebastian, to stop the bleeding, swamped me. These were the primal wolf instincts somehow hardwired into my DNA whether my human side wanted to admit it or not.
My wolf didn’t understand that this man—our mate—was evil.
And I didn’t know how to explain it to her.
Ryker jogged toward me and knelt down with the kit, confusion written all over his face. “I thought we were cutting ties with Nero.”
“Plan has changed.” I opened the bag and pulled out the sterile pads, shoving them at Ryker. “Put some alcohol on these for me.”
I opened Sebastian’s trench coat and tore his button-down shirt, buttons flying, only to find a tank undershirt soaked in blood. With my new werewolf strength, I had no trouble ripping it down the middle to get at the wound. I held out my hand, and Ryker placed the cold, wet pad inside.
There was no love in my heart for this man—hell, I didn’t even like him—but that didn’t stop my hand from trembling as I pressed the pad against the wound. He groaned, his eyes popping open.
“Don’t move,” I warned. “I’m trying to stop the bleeding.”
“With what? Acid?” he growled.
“I wish.” I nodded to Ryker. “I’ve got it from here. Go watch the bar.”
Ryker shook his head like I’d suddenly grown a second one. “I guess you’ll tell me the new plan later?”
Once I figured out what it was.
Ryker marched toward the bar without looking back. I glanced down at Nero’s golden boy and sighed. His eyes were closed again, but the bleeding seemed to be slowing. Good sign. I reached for a dry pad and the tape.
After cleaning the area, I carefully bandaged the stab wound and fought the urge to touch him more than I had to. It was difficult to describe the battle going on inside me. Almost like I suddenly had a split per
Maybe I had a death wish, because sure as shit when he healed, I’d be at the top of his hit list. From everything I’d learned about Sebastian in Caldwell’s file, he was the top assassin for Nero. People paid a high price for him to kill on their behalf.
Enough. I could worry about the future later.
Right now, I had to get him out of the parking lot. According to my younger sister, who had recently found her mate, the bond got stronger with every touch. I slipped on a pair of latex gloves from the kit, denying the wolf any more skin-to-skin contact as I tapped his cheek.
His dark lashes fluttered, and suddenly his gaze locked on mine. “You’re Isabelle. Isabelle Wood.”
“Yeah.” I nodded. “And we need to get you out of here.”
He started to sit up and winced. I braced him. “Easy. You need some stitches.”
“I’m aware of that.”
I helped him to his feet. “The Mercedes?”
“I’m in no condition to drive,” he hissed through gritted teeth.
I helped him toward the passenger side. “That’s why I’m driving.”
What the hell was I saying? It was like I’d wandered off the path and suddenly found myself in quicksand, sinking deeper by the second.
“The keys are in my coat pocket.”
I reached around him and dug out the keys, then opened the door and braced him as he lowered himself into the car. Popping the trunk, I stashed the first-aid kit and blew out a frustrated breath. None of this made sense.
But I couldn’t let him die. Physically couldn’t. Not happening.