Chapter One

Remi felt her consciousness slide in and out as she lay in the alley. She knew she wasn’t dead because she hurt too damned much. The smell of her own blood mingled with the stench of garbage in the nearby dumpster was made ten times worse because of her shifter senses. It was her shifter blood that would save her, or so she hoped. The sound of her attackers had faded and the van they’d brought her in had driven away, so she made herself relax for a few minutes and take stock of the damage.

Her evaluation? She was so very broken. Too broken to move for at least another half hour. If she moved too soon, things would heal out of alignment and she’d have to shift to fix things, putting her out of commission for a good twelve hours. Being in wolf form in the middle of the city would be bad – very bad. She wasn’t even from this city, just passing through. Now she wished she’d passed through a whole lot faster.

She’d stopped in Crescent City, Georgia the night before to fuel up and get some sleep. Her little SUV was rigged out to allow her to camp in her car, but she’d been too tired to bother with setting up anything else that night and just put up the window covers and slept in the parking lot of the strip mall.

When morning came, she changed clothes, folded up the bedding and window covers, then shoved her wallet and keys into her pockets, grabbed her bag, and headed to the coffee shop at the end of the row of stores to get some breakfast. Her shoulder-length dark hair was pulled back in a ponytail and she ducked into the restroom to wash up and brush her teeth before she got in line to place her order. Remi had the exotic look of a model with her light tan skin, golden brown eyes, and high cheekbones. She kept her head down and wore baggy clothes that hid her shape to keep from attracting too much attention. A barely twenty-one-year-old woman on her own got enough unwanted attention as it was, she didn’t need to pull more to her by dressing seductively.

A large coffee with three shots of espresso, two breakfast sandwiches with extra sausage, and a blueberry muffin would get her through to lunch. She ate at a table in the corner while she scrolled on her phone, checking the weather and road conditions for the next leg of her trip. Her plan was to get to Windham, North Carolina by nightfall. The Windham pack was one of the smaller packs in North America that consisted of mostly family members. They needed someone to help manage the pack house and take care of a couple of the pups as the pack leader’s mate was too ill to manage it on her own, so Remi had applied for – and was given the position. It would be a probationary situation for a few weeks, to make sure everyone clicked just right – but Remi wasn’t worried about being able to do the job.

She was worried about what might happen if they found out that her maternal grandmother was a witch – that she wasn’t a pure shifter. It was the reason why she hadn’t had a pack in a very long time. There were too many packs who had a real bias against mixed-blood shifters, and the repercussions could be deadly. Her family had paid a very high price already, and she wasn’t interested in paying any more.

Remi cleared the table and carried her coffee back out to the SUV, ready to get on the road. In the time she’d been eating her breakfast, the parking lot had filled up and even the spaces in the far corner where she’d parked were filled. Once she reached the car, she tucked the cup into the holder, then frowned. Something didn’t feel right. Remi got out and walked around the vehicle, then swore under her breath. The two back tires were flat, and there was a slice in each of the sidewalls that told her someone had stabbed a blade into them. A simple swap of the spare wasn’t going to work this time, she’d need a tow and two new tires – an expense she really couldn’t afford, but she didn’t have a choice. It would figure that someone probably took offense to her living in her car and decided to punish her. She’d seen it before, and had experienced other types of vandalism to her vehicle over the past couple of years when she would car-camp.

Still cursing softly, Remi pulled out her phone and locked up the vehicle, then headed back towards the coffee shop. Maybe someone there could recommend a place nearby that wouldn’t deplete her savings too much.

The sound of a door sliding open registered faintly as she stopped and looked up ‘tire repair’ on her phone, but she was focused on her search results. As she moved to step around someone in her way, a sharp pain radiated from her thigh and that was the last thing she remembered.

The sound of the door on the van sliding shut wasn’t heard as Remi was tossed inside and they drove away.


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