Chapter 1 – Enticed


“I call bad cop,” I told Theo, my scent-match and pack mate, giving him a quick glance as I cut my patrol SUV through the valley on the two-lane road. It was great to have him visit, even if it was for work reasons.

“No way. I’m definitely bad cop. I’m the one from out of town,” he countered, drumming his fingers in the open window. The July day was warm and it wasn’t even lunchtime, a far cry from the late blizzard we’d had in May. Wyoming weather was fickle, no matter the time of year. “I’m the one who followed the fucking meth trail to our home town. Besides, you have to play nice because you’re an elected official.”

“True,” I admitted. It wasn’t common for a shifter to hold a human law enforcement position, but the alpha and I both agreed my role only benefited the pack. “But the ranchers don’t count. I can’t wait to see Jenkins’s face when he finds the DEA on his doorstep unannounced.”

“Fun life as a L.E.O, huh?” Theo asked. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw his brow arch and his mouth turn up in a smile. Yeah, he didn’t give a shit about playing nice. In his navy vest with DEA emblazoned across the back, he also didn’t hide the fact that he worked for the agency that cracked down on meth production.

He was right, though. Being the sheriff of West Springs, the only law enforcement officer between here and Granger, meant I had to play savior, asshole, and even a bit of politician in dealing with the humans. I had to live in the same small town with these people, even uphold their laws when I was raised to live beneath others.

Regardless, I still maintained that the ranchers didn’t count. Not after what they did.

“Just because you went off to the big city for your career doesn’t mean you get to be the bigshot. You’ll be back here when we find our scent match, and then what will you do? You’ll have to be my deputy.” I tossed a grin his way.

He snorted. Both of us were thirty-four, and we’d moved on with jobs and life and tried not to think about the moon madness that would hit us if we didn’t find our she-wolf soon. Just because Theo lived halfway across the state in Cheyenne, that didn’t keep us from staying current or being best friends.

“Always the optimist,” he said because the chances of us finding our mate were getting slimmer and slimmer. We’d been to every pack game across the country, year after year, but had yet to find her.

I shrugged, not letting my disappointment show. I knew he felt the same way, had the Two Marks male desire to find her, and claim her jointly. We had to be patient. We had no choice.

At this point, I would settle for any threesome, fated mate or not. There was no rule against claiming a she-wolf who wasn’t our true matched mate, but we’d held out hope we might stumble upon her. “We won’t find anyone to share with you living so far away. It’s pretty hard to fuck a female together when you’re in a different area code.”

He didn’t say anything for a while as the SUV bumped down the dirt road. Then he picked up our earlier thread. “After what happened with the ranchers last summer, especially Hollaroy and Jenkins, I hope to fate this meth deal leads back to them. I’d like to see them finally get more than a slap on the wrist for what they did.”

“Me too. They only got fines for killing those wolves,” I grumbled. “The shittiest part of my job is not seeing justice done, and that look on Jenkins’s face when he knew he got away with it. That asshole Hollaroy, too.”

“Maybe getting in front of Jenkins will have him doing something stupid. We can only hope.”

Nodding, I flicked my blinker on and turned onto Jenkins Ranch’s long drive. “I doubt it. He’s well-established. Look around.” I waved my hand in the air, taking in all the flat ranchland that spread across the valley. Most of it on this side of town was owned by Bob Jenkins, and dated back in his family to original homesteaders. “This isn’t going to go well. The ranchers hate the wolves encroaching on their land, taking their cattle, and he’s not going to be happy to see me again. Or you in that vest, all but accusing him of drug making.”

Theo nodded in agreement, but didn’t give a shit. “Yeah, I remember the whole fucking story. It’s not like this asshole knows you’re a shifter,” he countered.

I shook my head. “He doesn’t have reason to hate me personally for that mess, but I was involved as sheriff. So he does nonetheless.”

“I thought John Randolph with the Forest Service would have handled it.”

“Joint case,” I replied easily. The ranchers had been using tracking devices put on wolves for more than a university field study. They’d used them as guides to hunt and kill the animals far from private land. Killing endangered species was illegal, but the consequence was only a slap on the wrist, especially to a rich guy like Jenkins, whom we were about to confront. And killing a shifter wolf? Even more endangered, not that anyone knew about them.

“Meth is different,” he replied.

The house came into view. The sprawling rancher made of log and river rock was settled perfectly on a bluff. A porch wrapped around the entire home. Rocking chairs and hanging baskets of flowers made it welcoming, although I knew the greeting we’d get would be anything but.

I turned off the SUV’s engine, and felt my usual determination for catching a bad guy build. It was as simple as that, my job: seek justice, and put the bad guys away. Bob Jenkins was one, and I’d yet to make any charges stick that put him behind bars. Meth, though, and what Theo had dug up from his office, might just be what was needed. I wanted to rub my hands together in eagerness to see that done. “Let’s do this.”

Theo unclipped his seatbelt and looked to me. “If this guy’s as bad as I think, I’m looking forward to seeing him in cuffs. Not today, unfortunately, but letting him know we’re onto him, that while the meth is hitting as far away as Cheyenne, doesn’t mean there isn’t a trail. We want the fucker on edge when we leave. He’ll make a mistake then.”

I wasn’t so sure about that. Theo hadn’t met the older guy yet. In his mid-fifties, Jenkins had had decades to excel at being an asshole. I knew him from the wolf shooting incident, and other minor stir ups around town. He was smart. Rich. Powerful in the county, and one of two self-proclaimed leaders of a band of ranchers who met often at the diner in town. Hollaroy was the other, but Theo’s investigation had led us here, not to the other man’s ranch. Jenkins hadn’t made a mistake yet, so I wasn’t sure what would trip him up now. “He thinks he’s above the law,” I explained my thoughts to Theo in one sentence.

I opened my door and climbed out, squinting against the sun. The Two Marks pack lived up in the foothills, in the mountains that ringed the town. The valley was a different kind of beautiful, but I’d take the steep hills, thick trees, and cooler weather any day. I couldn’t think of anything that would get me to live down here.

Theo met me at the front of the SUV. He was taller by two inches, but I could take him, especially on a full moon run. We paced each other when we took a female together, working as an even pair to satisfy her, working off the run’s excess energy. The last time had been years ago, though. Maybe he’d stay for the next full moon. My dick got hard just thinking about having a little fun with him and a female again.

Maybe it was having him here that had thoughts about finding our mate coming up at the worst times. Like now.

I didn’t need to face Bob Jenkins with a hard dick in my uniform pants.

Theo didn’t wait, just went up the steps and rang the doorbell. He’d been waiting for this moment ever since leaving the state capitol. I followed, taking off my Stetson and standing off to the side of the doorway out of habit. I didn’t expect to be ambushed, but training was ingrained.

The door opened.

Several things hit me at once. Our lives were suddenly changed, and we were both totally fucked.

Not because of a gun or Bob Jenkins wanting us off his land.


It was her.

Our mate.

The one. She was a fucking rancher. And human.

Her sweet scent took me down like a fucking Mack truck. That hard dick? Yeah, it wasn’t going down anytime soon.

I knew she was ours from one deep breath.

But looking at her… fuck.

Theo growled, and I stepped toward him and jabbed my elbow into his arm.

We stared at her. Took in her height—probably only two inches shorter than my six feet. Took in the long auburn braid that came over her shoulder. Her brown eyes that darted between the two of us. Her full lips. The swells of her breasts beneath a University of Wyoming t-shirt. The nipples that were hardening beneath the cotton as we watched. The way her jeans fitted snugly to her solid curves.

She wasn’t a petite thing. Hell, no. Our mate was thick and curvy and… fuck me, she was perfect.

“Hello,” she said, her voice deep and husky. It went right to my balls.

Theo tugged off his hat. “Ma’am. Who might you be?”

“Ali Jenkins.”

I pegged her as being early to mid-twenties. By location, name and age, it didn’t take two law enforcement officers to put the evidence together. She was Bob Jenkins’s daughter.

I couldn’t help taking a step closer, reaching out and lifting the end of her braid. I flicked my fingers over the strands, then lifted the tail to my nose.

A gasp escaped her lips at the forward gesture, but I couldn’t help myself. I considered my action to be reserved, considering Theo and I had been waiting for her our entire adult lives.

Theo moved to stand beside me, our arms bumping.

I watched as Ali swallowed, and it was my turn to groan because I was imagining her throat working as she tried to take my dick as deep as she could.

“Who’s at the door?” a voice called from the depths of the house.

The sound startled our mate and she jumped back, her braid being tugged before I released it.

“Police!” she called, taking in my uniform and Theo’s DEA jacket.

Heavy footfall preceded Bob Jenkins.

Not happy, I stepped back, trying to get my head back on task, but it was fucking impossible. I kept glancing at Ali, afraid she might disappear.

“What do you want?” he practically snarled when he came to the doorway. He moved his daughter behind him, but she didn’t go far. Jenkins gave me a quick glance, then ruled me out as worth recognizing on his front porch.

Maybe she, too, felt the attraction between us, the need to stay together.

“Sir, I’m Special Agent Decker with the DEA.”

He responded to Theo with a quick and annoyed, “Yes?”

“Sheriff Cooke was kind enough to bring me here so I could introduce myself,” Theo added.

“Why is a DEA agent making himself known to me in particular?” he asked, crossing his arms over his chest in the blatant standoffish gesture.

Jenkins wore worn jeans, a white snap shirt with the sleeves rolled up, and sturdy leather boots. Typical uniform for a rancher. While his hair was more gray than dark brown, it had barely receded with age. He was tall and strong. Even though his property was large enough he must have many employees, he clearly didn’t run the place from behind a desk.

“The Cheyenne office has been dealing with a large influx of meth into the southern portion of the state. We’ve been able to question local dealers and track the supply this way. To Granger County.”

Theo specifically left out Wolf Springs, and even Jenkins’s large swath of land where meth could be made without detection, which was what Theo suspected.

Jenkins glanced down at his daughter. “Alison’s a little too old for me to advise her not to do drugs.”

I looked at Ali—Alison Jenkins—and didn’t look away. I listened to Jenkins continue to talk, but I was taking in the warm tan of her skin, the roundness of her cheeks. Her long fingers. The cinch of her belt around her waist. The swell of her full hips. I clenched my fingers with the need to grab hold of her and never let go.

“—sure to share your information with the other ranchers in the area,” Jenkins said, setting his hand on the open door. “We’ll keep watch for any unusual activity, and share it with the sheriff.”

At my mention, I blinked and looked in Jenkins’ dark eyes. The same ones his daughter shared. Yet while hers were filled with interest and—hopefully—newfound desire, I saw rage and guilt in his. He was involved. I knew it.

I was sure Theo knew it, too.

“If that’s all, we have a ranch to run.” Jenkins looked between us, stepped back, and closed the door in our faces. I got one last look at Ali before the sight of her was cut off—and her sweet scent.

“I don’t want you talking to those men.” With our shifter hearing, it was easy to pick up Jenkins’ angry words. And our mate’s response.

I stilled, listened.

“Why not?” she countered. “They’re doing their job.”

Theo glanced my way, and his fists clenched. We couldn’t leave the porch without hearing their argument. The words Jenkins was putting into our mate’s ears that might make her hate us.

“While Sheriff Cooke was doing his job, he defended animals, not the people who voted him into office.”

I wanted to roll my eyes, but I resisted. Barely.

“He wasn’t here about the wolf problem,” Ali replied. “What is this about meth?”

“How the hell should I know? He has it out for ranchers, obviously. Fines. Protecting the wolves—”

“You already said that. The meth? The other guy is from the DEA. They’ve got to have a reason to be here besides annoying you.”

That made Theo grin.

“Are you taking their side now?” Jenkins snarled.

I wanted to kick the door in and protect our mate, even from the angry tone of her father.

“No, of course not. I didn’t call them here. I only answered the door.”

“Then don’t answer it if they show up again. He’s obviously terrible at his job if he’s on our porch, wasting our time. We have cattle to herd.”

We couldn’t miss the retreating footsteps, then nothing. We trudged back to the SUV and didn’t speak until I was driving back down the lane.

“What the fuck are we going to do?” I asked.

“Claim her.”

Theo’s words were exactly right, except…

“How?” I asked, frustrated. “She’s going to defend her father. That’s what family does.”

That was how the pack worked too. I’d believe family or pack members before outside sources. But we weren’t just that; we were her mates.

I yanked off my hat, set it on the center console, and ran my fingers through my hair.

“You said others in the pack mated humans,” Theo said, his tone considering.

I thought of the claimings that had happened last year. Two human females were new mates in the pack. Rachel and Caitlyn. Happy and well-integrated.

“Human? You’re worried about her being human? You heard what he just filled her head with. We have to get her out of there.” I was aroused and frustrated. “My dick is hard and we’re driving away from our mate. How can you be so calm?”

He turned to me and showed me his eyes, silver and all but glowing. “I’m not calm at all. I’m dying inside with every mile you put between us.”

Good, I wasn’t alone in this. In this misery at finding our mate and being forced to leave her behind.

“We’re in deep shit here,” I snapped. “She’s a rancher, and the daughter of the guy who killed wolves for sport, and who’s most likely making and spreading meth across Wyoming.”

Theo was quiet, his fists clenched in his lap. “Yeah, this is a fucking problem. But I’m not letting anything get in the way of us claiming her.”

I smiled. He agreed with me. “We only have to take down her father, sway our alpha to the concept of us claiming the pack enemy’s daughter, and get her in bed between us, and our teeth in her sweet skin.”

Yeah, no problem at all.


Amazon US

Amazon Worldwide






Vanessa Vale