Fire of the Wolf
The Gray Pack, Book 1
by Lori King
eBook ISBN: 978-1-62241-045-3
Twin werewolves Devin and Damon Gray want introverted Caroline Trainor as their mate. She doesn’t want two men; even if they are built like Adonis. Struggling with unresolved pain from her past will they be able to claim her before a rival alpha wolf’s challenge can tear them apart permanently?
Sweat trickled down her brow and into her eyes as Caroline belly crawled down the hallway as fast as her burning lungs would allow. The acrid smell of smoke made her nose run, and stinging tears spilled down her cheeks. She couldn’t give up and go back. She knew that Molly and Tyler were in the apartment down the hall from hers, and she had to get to them, had to help them.
When the smoke alarm in her apartment went off just minutes ago, Caroline nearly jumped out of her skin. She couldn’t smell the smoke until she opened her apartment door, and found the hallway outside filled with a thick black fog of it. Her mind flashed immediately to a smiling Tyler, who had been playing in the hallway just a couple of hours ago with a baseball and glove, waiting for her to come home from work so that he could show her that he lost another tooth. She had laughed and hugged him while she walked him to his apartment door, and waved a quick hello to his mom, Molly. Molly had invited her into the apartment for dinner, but after a twelve-hour shift at the hospital, Caroline just craved quiet.
She had unloaded her work bag, purse, and jacket just inside her apartment door, then she stripped her clothes off for a hot shower, only stopping on the way to snag a bottle of wine and a glass from her tiny kitchen. After a steaming hot shower to scald away the tension in her muscles, and a full glass of wine, she slipped on her comfiest yoga pants and tank top. Then she had settled onto the couch to watch her favorite Thursday-night TV programs.
Roughly sixty minutes later as she crawled for all she was worth, all Caroline could think about was Tyler and Molly trapped in their apartment and scared, or worse. She could barely think with the screaming sound of the fire alarms in the apartment building’s hallway, but her gut told her that Molly wouldn’t have chanced the thick smoke, and would have directed Tyler to the windows of the apartment to scream for help instead. Caroline knew that they had to get out of this building as fast as possible. Having been built in the early 1960s, the building was barely livable, and wouldn’t survive a fire that produced this much heavy smoke. When the building came down, she was determined that she would be safely out with Molly and Tyler.
As she pushed open their apartment door, she gasped at the fresher air she found there, and heard Molly screaming for help to her left. She was able to get up to her knees and call back to them,
“Tyler? Molly? We have to get out of the building, come to the door, and I’ll help you out! Hurry!”
“I’m scared, Caro!” Tyler’s voice came out raspy, and his breathing was wheezy, but she was able to see him about ten feet from her, curled up on the floor with Molly’s arms around him.
“No, Caroline! The fire department will come and get us. We can’t take Tyler through the smoke. Shut the door to keep it out of here.” Molly was panicking.
Caroline groaned in frustration. She understood Molly’s fears. Tyler had asthma and had to take daily breathing treatments to keep from having dangerous asthma attacks. Smoke like this was especially dangerous for him, but Caroline knew she was right about this situation.
“Molly, the fire department won’t get here in time. Tyler, pull your flannel shirt off and tie it around your face like a cowboy’s bandana. That will help you keep the smoke out, and when we get outside we will get you some medicine. Molly, grab a towel or something to cover your face, now. We are leaving this building together, right now.”
Caroline began herding the two out the apartment door when she heard the first creak and groan of the ceiling. Her heart leapt into her chest, and she tensed all of her muscles, bracing for the impact that she was sure was coming, but the ceiling stayed above her, and the floor held beneath her, so she put her hand on Molly’s butt and gave her a firm push out the door of the apartment.
“Hurry up!” she screamed as loudly as her raw lungs could take.
They all began moving down the hallway, scooting along on their bellies, because the only breathable air was next to the floor. The smoke was much thicker now than it had been just moments ago, and for the first time, Caroline began to doubt her ability to get them all out of there alive. She could feel the rough fibers of the commercial-grade carpet rubbing her elbows and legs raw. There was heat now, but she still couldn’t see flames. Despite the high temperature, Caroline’s skin crawled with goose bumps at the thought of a death by fire. Another surge of energy burst through her, and she pulled up alongside her two charges, urging them to move faster. She could hear Tyler’s gasping breaths, and the fear that rolled off of Molly was almost tangible, but she wouldn’t give up.
They made it down the first half of the stairs to the landing, and the air became slightly less smoky. Caroline could see the late evening sunlight at the bottom of the second set of steps that filled the foyer of the building. She knew that help had to be just a few feet away outside the glass doors. Suddenly, she saw little Tyler collapse in front of her, and she realized that the smoke and his asthma attack had caused him to lose consciousness. She watched in horror as Molly stopped next to her son, coughing and choking on the poisonous smoke. She looked at Caroline and seemed unsure what she should do. Following her instincts, Caroline reached for Molly, and with a hard shove she pushed her down the last several steps, so that she wouldn’t have to decide. Somehow Caroline managed to lift Tyler’s body into her arms, and tumble the last few steps herself, holding him as close to her as she could.
She lay there with Tyler on top of her, staring bleary-eyed at the ceiling or what would have been the ceiling if she could have seen through the waves of dark smoke. Just as her world stopped spinning, she felt strong hands grasp Tyler, and pull him from her, while another set of hands held her under her arms, and quickly pulled her from the floor up against a huge muscular chest. Unbelievably, she could smell this man through his fireman’s suit, and through the smoke. Her heart flipped over and her head spun.
His arms gripped her tighter, and she smiled to herself, thinking, Wow, isn’t he a fantasy waiting to happen? And then she passed out.
* * * *
Shit. Damon looked down at the scrap of a woman he held in his arms. He had just felt her go completely limp, and knew that any second this building was coming down. He had to move fast. The other two people had been taken out of the building already, and she was the last one unaccounted for. For just a millisecond he hesitated, stunned by his reaction to this woman. He had to mentally shake himself to clear the lust that was burning in his brain from just having her near him, and the smell of smoke burning in his nose reminded him of where he was.
Turning quickly, he leapt forward, and just as his body reached the glass front door of the building, he felt and heard the groan of steel and creak of wood. The pressure of the collapse pushed him and his unconscious bundle out through the doorway, landing them about twelve feet down the sidewalk. The heat that blasted up his back brought tears to his eyes, and knocked all of the oxygen from his body. His lungs seemed to collapse into themselves, and the muscles in his shoulder where he had taken the brunt of the landing trying to protect her, were screaming at him.
In slow motion he rolled to the side to see if the woman was still alive under him, and felt his heart jump for joy when he saw her breasts rise and fall. They rose above her tank top, glorious swells of femininity that just looked like they needed to be set free. Someone helped to lift him to his feet, and he saw the EMTs lifting her onto a stretcher as they pressed an oxygen mask to her face. They wheeled her quickly to a waiting ambulance, and she was gone.
Please, Please. Let her be okay, I can’t lose her now. He begged in his mind.
“What the hell was that?” the sharp voice at his side seemed angry and confused.
Damon glanced toward his brother’s dumbfounded stare. He realized that his twin had heard every word Damon was thinking as usual, and didn’t understand it one bit. Devin was almost his mirror image, and the only other person who shared all of his quirks and vices. How could he explain to Devin what had just happened to him in those few seconds when he didn’t completely understand it?
Bending over with his hands on his knees, trying to catch his breath, Damon did the only thing he could do.
She’s my mate, he thought, and he heard Devin’s sharp intake of breath before they both headed for the hospital to find her.