USA Today Bestselling Author
Most Lone Wolves have a story—a pack they left behind,
a love they lost, or worse, one they buried.
Some leave their packs to roam because they crave
freedom and independence.
Some leave because in their hearts, they can’t bear to stay.
Some leave because they see no way to go back…
Packs attacked. Humans forced to turn. Enforcers murdered. Following near miss assassination attempts on several prominent wolves. The packs are furious, out for blood and ready for war. Julian has been juggling the conflict without a real target for months, they always seem to be just one step behind the Volchitsa and even the wolves they’ve captured can’t tell them enough. With the fate of the packs resting squarely on his shoulders, Julian, the Chief Enforcer, will swallow his pride to seek out the one wolf he knows can help them all, the one who seems to know all the players, who can think like them…if anyone can find the Volchitsa it’s the ghost he’s hunted for decades…
Dallas Dalton has lived on the run so long, she doesn’t really remember any other way of life. For an all too brief time, she had her daughter with her and the feeling of family until Julian got to too close once again. The damn wolf wouldn’t leave her be, no matter how much she’d sacrificed for him. Seeing him in Russia had been both a blessing and a curse, because no matter what she did, she couldn’t get him out of her system. Then he asked her for help…
Now side-by-side, the Enforcer and the Rogue will have to work together to deal with the Volchitsa once and for all, but can they keep from killing each other in the process?
While every book in this series has a surprise or three, this one has the most startling ones. A journey that takes us from 1971 to the present and frankly the past is what engages me the most. The young Dallas from Hudson River and the young enforcer Julian.
Julian has always been a mystery, being Chief Enforcer he keeps to himself. No one really knows him, there is an exception to that, Dallas.
Dallas is the rogue who got away and keeps getting away. We have seen her a few times since she’s Chrystal’s mother, but in this book we get to know her and Julian far better than ever before.
The Volchitsa are escalating with their attacks, and Dallas may hold the key to the mystery. Julian must form a truce with Dallas so a solution can found to that problem.
This is a favorite scene when Chrystal calls Julian.
The vibration of his phone distracted him from the dark journey his thoughts traveled. Digging it out of his pocket, he sighed at the name on the screen. Hitting answer, he put the phone to his ear. “Yes?” It was an improvement over his earlier greeting to Amelia. But only slight.
“Is my mother with you?” Chrystal’s voice betrayed only a note of trepidation. The young woman had matured since discovering the security of pack and the grounding influence of her mate along with an alpha strong enough to balance her natural gifts.
“She is,” he admitted, to alleviate her concern. “I met her in Santa Monica as planned.” Chrystal had arranged the meeting with Dallas in the first place—though her first contact offering the information included a number of caveats and the extraction of a promise from him to hear Dallas out and not to kill her.
The pleading in her voice made him agree rather than undermine the security she’d discovered for herself. Of all the Lone Wolves he’d ever dealt with, Chrystal had always been too damn innocent for her own good. It added another log to the pyre he planned to roast Dallas on—she should never have left Chrystal so defenseless.
“Can I talk to her?”
“Don’t believe me?” A part of him wanted her to challenge him. Blind faith only led to battered hearts and shattered belief.
“At the risk of upsetting you, no, I don’t. You’ve hunted my mother for as long as I’ve known you, and you’ve never been particularly forgiving where she or my father were concerned.” The chastisement reminded him of the conversation he’d had with her while driving her from Willow Bend to Three Rivers.
Julian handed her the slip of paper with the phone numbers for the two alphas—Cassius and Brett had both offered her a place in their packs. As the daughter of Brett’s cousin, blood ties secured her a place should she desire it. Carlo’s family had been more circumspect, though they put great value in their lost son. The Garcias were wealthy and influential, but it was Cassius who offered her protection. She’d need it if she went to Sutter Butte. That pack would eat her alive.
“Thank you for the ride,” Chrystal spoke in a low, almost inaudible tone. The girl was more mouse than wolf, but he’d begun to have his suspicions as to why. She wasn’t submissive, no matter how demure.
“You’re welcome, Trouble.” The nickname fit her. She spent the first ten minutes in his presence lying her ass off—terribly. What fascinated him was she had zero concept he could scent the lies or that she wore every emotion in her expression.
“You know I’m not really…a problem for you anymore. Maybe you could just call me Chrystal?” The challenge was a first. Maybe her dalliance with the arrogant Willow Bend whelp had been good for her.
A faint smile creasing his lips, he contained his amusement. “Maybe.”
“Can I ask you a question?” Another first. Impressive.
Sweat stained her scent, nervousness invading her manner but he and his wolf remained calm. She needed that calm more than she realized. “Why now? Why tell me what packs they belong to, now?”
Studying her, he debated sharing the truth. Was she ready to hear it? Could she handle what it would mean? When he’d found her, she’d been inconsolable after he’d called her on her lies. Her need to protect her mother, he understood even if the woman in question deserved no loyalty. “I didn’t know for certain which Carlo was your father,since you only had a first name. Your mother changed her last name.” It wasn’t the whole truth, but close…
“Be very careful about making accusations, Trouble.” Another first, the challenge came with no aggression on her part. “As I recall you didn’t want to know about the packs. When I mentioned them to you the first time, you were terrified.”
Actually, she’d vomited all over his shoes. Then she’d been even more horrified, and rushed into a bathroom to throw up again. It had taken two hours to settle her long enough to hear his explanation.
“I was, but in all fairness, you were scary as hell. You said you’d tracked my father, killed him, and you were after my mother…another Rogue. What was I? I thought you were going to kill me.”
“I thought about it.” Though only for a half-second. Chrystal could not be held accountable for the poor judgment of her parents. What she needed was a keeper, and since Dallas abandoned her, it fell to Julian.
“Okay, you could have lied about that.” The protest amused him. She didn’t quiver or go pale. Nor did she throw up.
She was getting stronger.
“Embracing your wolf will open the world up to you. Deceptions will become clearer, so will agendas.” Pleased at her progress, he wanted to acknowledge her growth. “I’m glad to see you’re not afraid of your wolf anymore.”
“Did you really have to kill my father?” Then again, her time with Dylan seemed to have made her bolder.
“He was a Rogue, Chrystal. Even if the relationship between him and your mother hadn’t violated the laws…what they did with you most certainly did.” A betrayal which continued to sting him even as the presence of the vital young woman next to him who reminded him of her mother in a myriad of ways.
Confronted with the truth, she surprised him with another small lie. “I’m sorry I didn’t tell you about Three Rivers.”
“No you’re not.” Chrystal had run to the nascent pack to escape him. He wasn’t a fool. “That paper has my number on it. If things go wrong here…if it doesn’t work out, call me. I will come get you.”
The alphas should have executed the Italian and her mate, then decided the fates of those they lured into the so-called pack on a case by case basis. Taking her back to Three Rivers didn’t sit well with him, but she had reached her maturity. She had the right to make her own decisions.
No matter how bad they were.
Surprise filtered through her scent and she stared at him. “Why?”
“Because I said I would. Now get out. Your Alpha is coming.” It was time for him to go. Though Luciana Barrows did not make the mistake of approaching his vehicle, the temptation to resolve the upheaval and take Chrystal back to California. “Be careful, Trouble.”
The farewell earned him a small, if honest smile. She’d been abandoned enough in her young life. Transferring his gaze to Rayne Barrows, Luciana’s mate and a former Lone Wolf now gone Rogue, Julian stared at him and his wolf peeked out. The other man fought to hold his gaze, then dropped chin in a small nod.
If anything happened to Chrystal, Julian would be back. The other man needed to understand that.
Despite his idiotic actions, the wolf seemed to read his intentions.
“Julian?” Chrystal’s voice pulled him back to the present.
“One moment.” He put the phone on mute, then touched the intercom button. Dallas had gone to the kitchen in search of a beer, which meant she might still be there or in the salon. He didn’t think about her in his salon too closely. “Dallas, your child is on the phone and requires proof of your continued well-being. Return to the bridge.” He didn’t wait for a response, simply released the button. Then he waited.
Her scent, still drenched with the musk of their sex, preceded her arrival. Picking up the phone, he turned off the mute. Quiet conversation on the other side of the phone told him Chrystal was with her mate, Dylan, as well as her alpha Mason. “Your mother is here.”
Drawing close, Dallas leaned against the console and giving him an eyeful of her toned flesh. Wolves possessed naturally fit physiques, and Dallas seemed built more like one of his Enforcers. She’d always been in good shape, but now she had nothing to spare. The faint stretch marks across her ripped abdomen added to her beauty. She’d carried a child in her womb.
Cold reality drenched him. She’d borne a child for another man.
Lust curbed, he focused on the seas before them as she took the phone. “Hello, baby.” Tenderness softened her voice, a note he hadn’t heard from her in years.
“Hi, Dallas,” Chrystal’s words carried as clear as if the phone were at his ear. Dallas could walk away if she wanted privacy; instead, she stayed by him as comfortable in her bare skin as she’d been facing him down on the beach. “I was worried about you.”
“Baby girl, I can take care of myself. How are you?” Tenderness turned to concern, but her attention was no longer on him but elsewhere. Taking advantage of her distraction, Julian studied her expression. Her barriers were up, her eyes were cool and her expression remote, a perfect contrast to the gentleness in her voice.
“You’re with Julian,” Chrystal’s voice carried warning not trepidation. “He’s been hunting you for years…and he told me he killed Carlo. Yes, Dylan, I know he can hear me, and I don’t care. He’s with my mom, and I don’t want him to kill her, too.”
Fierce. Delicate, distracted, and easy to spook, Chrystal had developed a backbone and a ferocious protectiveness. Her mate had done right by her, as had her new pack. Willow Bend might benefit from having an Omega in their midst, but the young Omega had found her teeth and claws. Dallas glanced at him, and a smile curved her lips. For a moment, they were in a perfect accord.
“Don’t worry, baby. I told you I can take care of myself, and I’m not afraid of big, bad Julian.” Her smile grew with every word. “He and I laid a few facts bare between us.”
Infuriating as she was, the woman still had the power to amuse him. He tipped his head to the side and indulged in a leisurely, long look at her. Her nipples peaked as he stared, the pebbling tightening them until they looked like the perfect dark raspberries. When his gaze collided with hers once more, he shook his head.
“I won’t put a finger on Dallas, Chrystal.” Directing the comment toward her daughter sent heat sparking in her gaze. She wasn’t the only one with the power of verbal claws.
The girl’s huffed sigh betrayed impatience. “Mason wants to know if either of you have an update.”
“Tell that pup to keep his focus on his pack, and we’ll take care of the rest.”
Heather Long. Ghost Wolf (Kindle Locations 1532-1615). Heather Long. Kindle Edition.
Dallas’ love for her daughter is very apparent in that conversation.
Julian has much to catch up on where Dallas is concerned and you won’t be disappointed as surprises start showing up.
Lots of nostalgia from the past, compiled with sparring both verbal and physical between these two. Even with that they do manage to find direction.
We get to see just about everyone in this book. Even Margo and Salvatore show up briefly.
Truths beyond games, a trial, an Alpha Conclave and some shocking surprises send this book to the top of my all time favorites.
I can’t wait to see where Heather takes these wolves from here.
5 Contented Purrs for Heather!
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USA Today bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas in the summertime.
From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories–her characters drive the books.
When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.