Also thought I’d include the blurb and a short snippet…
Being the tag-along on a camping trip with Heather and Graham is not what Cassandra has in mind for her long weekend. However, when a tall dark stranger with staggering green eyes shows up to lend a hand with her tent assembly from Hell, she has to rethink her predicament. Despite the mixture of excitement and apprehension he incites with his soul-startling stare, the possibility that she’s just found her brawny Tarzan in the depths of Redwood National Park suddenly doesn’t seem so absurd.
Cray feels an equally potent draw to the fiery red head with the soft hazel eyes, attractive features, and tempting shape. Despite his resolve, she provokes a primordial calling he’s long sought to contain. He wants this female, he can’t deny, but he knows giving in to such unabashed urges can lead to disaster, and he refuses to sentence this woman to his own horrid fate.
But just as is powerful as Cray’s attraction is his unexpected surge of protectiveness. There’s something about Cassandra’s male friend that needles his suspicion. Graham invokes his predatory sense of dominance, and that doesn’t bode well. If his instincts are correct, Graham is more than he appears and Cassandra’s life is in danger.
Catching her foot on an exposed tree root, she tumbled forward, bursting through the other side of the bush in a clamorous rustle of leaves and snapping branches to land painfully on her hands and knees on the outskirts of a small clearing. Stunned by the fall, she leaned back on her haunches and wiped the remnants of dirt and twigs from her palms.
Her flashlight rolled away, coming to rest several feet beyond her reach. Despite a hard knock on the ground, it remained lit, though its beam was dull. And her knife had disappeared somewhere within a mound of leaves on her left.
When she finally glanced around her dim surroundings, she realized that she’d just happened onto the scene of something akin to a horror film. Cassandra opened her mouth to scream, but terror choked the sound from her throat. All her psychological profiling of lycanthropes fizzled away like water subjected to flame, for the shadowed creature before her—a strange mix of man and dog—couldn’t be anything human.
This couldn’t be happening. Bears and mountain lions were like house pets compared to the monstrosity before her. As though to add a little more excitement to the situation, her flashlight chose that moment to flicker and go out, leaving the moon as her only source of light.
The reddish brown pelt covering the creature’s back bristled, standing on end like the fur of a startled cat. Pausing over its feast of woman flesh, it turned toward her, a menacing growl rumbling deep within its thick, corded throat. And despite the night around them, its glowing red eyes pierced the darkness, fierce and bright, like the taillights of a braking car.
Cassandra gulped hard when the creature riveted its cold-blooded stare on her. It took a step toward her, kicking the latent flashlight back toward her. Its beam snapped on, strong and steady, fully illuminating the tiny clearing and its inhabitants with chilling clarity.
The beast clenched and unclenched its dagger like claws, readying for a second kill. Then its lower jaw dropped open, revealing a mouthful of razor sharp teeth, and issued an ominous snarl. Cassandra felt the blood drain from her face.
Heather suddenly let out a gurgling groan, sufficiently distracting the creature long enough for Cassandra to jump to her feet. Knowing she’d never be able to fight her way through the brush at her back and make it to the trail leading to the campsites before the thing ran her down, she quickly scanned the near-black foliage surrounding them.
She spied a partially hidden trail to her left. Taking advantage of the temporary diversion, she snatched her flashlight and shot across the clearing, disappearing down the path without so much as a backward glance. She could only pray the creature deemed her not worthy of a chase.
An infestation of overgrown branches stabbed the air, jutting across the pathway. With their drawn swords prepared to strike, it was as though the trees themselves sought to prevent her escape. Nature was not on her side.
They slashed at her face and legs as she raced through their formidable blockade. But she paid them little heed, preferring to be scratched and clawed at by some harmless branches than be gutted alive by the werewolf’s dagger nails and razor teeth.
The guilt of leaving Heather behind gnawed at her conscience, but there was nothing she could do for her. If she made it back to the campsite, she and Graham could use the truck to try and locate the park ranger, though the possibility seemed daunting. There were almost forty miles of vehicle-accessible roadways through the entire park, and she had no idea how many rangers patrolled at night.
An ear piercing, skin prickling howl followed by the crashing of limbs alerted her to the verity that the thing had given chase. From the way it barreled through the brush behind her—a raging juggernaut on a mission—Cassandra knew it was only a matter of moments before she’d be caught. Finally finding her voice, she drew in a large gulp of air and belted out a sharp scream.
The outcome was easy to guess. It would rip her to shreds, devour her tender innards, then leave the rest of her to rot. Of course, by the time the scavengers came behind to clean up the mess, there’d likely be little to nothing left.
Available from Amber Quill Press:
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