The Pack 4: Full Moon City by Lia Connor

Full Moon Heat Collection by Lia Connor

Full Moon Heat Collection
by Lia Connor

Changeling Press

eBook BIN: 06058-01944

Shanda’s made it her mission to find Dashika, even after the police and the PI’s have given up. Hunter contacts Shanda with the best lead yet: Mark Spirit Talker. They’ve run together in a wolf pack every night in her dreams. But that’s just fantasy. Isn’t it?

This collection contains the previously released novellas Full Moon Heat, Full Moon Rising, Full Moon Night, and Full Moon City.

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Chapter One
Full Moon City [Book 4]

Die. Oh my God, I’m gonna die out here all alone.
Shanda tore through the thickly wooded forest that surrounded her on all sides. She’d found a trail — by chance or just a lucky guess — which was so choked with rotten leaves she could tell it hadn’t been traveled in ages. Hard to follow, but there was just enough left of the narrow, winding path a woman could take when she got busy running for her life.
Behind her, a wolf howled.
Shanda fought back a shiver of fear. Wolves don’t howl like that in real life, just in the movies. These animals are smart though, and they’re trying to scare you.
Bad luck for her, their tricks happened to be working.
Running. Running without stopping was the only chance she had. If she got lucky, the wolves would tangle up in the heavy growth.
If she were unlucky, they’d follow her scent and barrel right after her, sharp teeth good and ready to take a bite. From the look she’d gotten before she decided to get the hell out of there, they were vicious-looking beasts, standing tall as her thigh. Barrel-chested and strong-limbed. Not hungry enough to be chasing after food.
Nuh-uh, her they were going after for the pure fun of the chase.
How’d I get myself into this? Shanda couldn’t remember. One minute she’d been rummaging through the debris at the side of the road, looking for — something — anything that could give her a clue as to whether or not Dashika had been around — and then the wolves had surrounded her.
One look and Shanda hadn’t stuck around to see if the wolves were friendly or not, no way. She’d taken off running, and damn them, they’d come after her.
Big trouble.
These monsters didn’t play around. They wanted to chase her down, and Shanda knew they probably would. An ordinary woman with a few extra pounds didn’t stand a chance against a hungry pack of carnivores with a craving for her hide.
Damned if she’d go down without making them pay for every pound of flesh though.
Keep going, girl, she ordered herself, forcing her aching leg muscles to keep running. Climbing a tree might have been an option, but she hadn’t seen one yet she could clamber up in. The branches were all too high.
So — run.
Shanda ran, churning up the mat of dead leaves clogging the path. Rocks and fallen twigs jabbed into her bare feet. The sting made her want to stop and cuss and check for damage, but she had no time. Had to keep going.
Her shins tangled up with something that twisted, bit into her flesh, and sent her sprawling. Shanda did swear then. Thorns! They’d dug deep, too. Pulling them loose drew fat beads of blood to the unprotected skin of her calves and slowed her down.
She could hear the wolves getting closer.
Shit. Get loose and get going.
Shanda tore the last of the thorns free and scrambled to her sore feet. She found the faint path again and started off hell-bent-for-leather. God, if this led to a main road, where traffic might scare off the oncoming wolves, she’d start going to church again and sing Holy Hallelujah.
Didn’t seem to though. The trail just went on and on, making Shanda think she was headed deeper into the forest, not out of the close-growing trees.
A girl can’t get a break, she thought. She would have despaired if it weren’t against her nature. Pure stubbornness mixed with a powerful will to survive whatever got thrown in her way kept her going.
The wolves were closer now, yipping and barking. Sounded almost like they were talking to one another, making jokes about their prey like a bunch of rowdy country boys out chasing down a coon or a rabbit.
Shanda put on an extra burst of speed despite her burning lungs and her shaking legs. Not gonna go down like this. You can’t shoot a man born to hang, and this is not my time. Not like this. Not now.
Not before I find out what happened to Dashika.
The lead wolf got close enough for Shanda to feel his hot, panting breath on the backs of her calves. She fought to get some distance between them, but with a yelp that sounded like a laugh, he knocked her to her knees. His vicious teeth caught the meat of her leg.
Caught, and held her in place, growling around his mouthful.
Shanda froze. If she moved, those choppers would tear her in half. But if she didn’t run, what was she but a wolf version of Hamburger Helper?
Twisting around to look down at the wolf, she found herself startled by its expression. The yellow eyes stared at her with a look so intelligent Shanda would have sworn the beast was smart as a human. He seemed triumphant at catching his prize, sure, but also amused… and patient?
His brothers swarmed in, furry bodies twining around Shanda’s legs and the wolf who’d captured her. They carried on their weird sort of conversation, chuffing like they were laughing.
“Good boys,” Shanda ventured, although she wasn’t dumb enough to reach down and try to pet any of those vicious heads. “Good boys. You want to let Shanda go now? You’re big, tough guys. You win. Let a girl get back on her way, all right?”
The wolf holding her leg rumbled with what she’d swear was amusement. Way too intelligent for something on four legs. Shanda stared at him. Words bypassed her brain and tumbled out her lips: “Who are you?”
A chorus of yips, just like a ripple of laughter, filled the woods. Shanda’s wolf let go of her leg and gave her a nudge. His tongue lolled out with good humor.
Dear God, were they just playing? A pack of brutes like them?
Giving in to impulse, Shanda reached down and closed her fingers around a half-inch-thick branch. She waved her homemade switch in front of her particular wolf’s eyes.
He yelped in glee, for all the world like her neighbor’s old beagle.
Why the hell not?
“Fetch!” Shanda yelled, hurling the stick as far ahead of her as she could. “Go on, boy, fetch!”
The wolves howled — delighted? — and took off after her projectile. “Her” wolf joined their chase, and pitched into the tussling mass of beasties wrestling over the spot where her stick had landed. He looked to be stronger than them, and after some snarling and nipping at other hides, he was the one who came out triumphant, stick clamped between his jaws, tail whipping back and forth.
Shanda let out a laugh. God almighty, they were just out to have fun. A big old bunch of dogs having a jamboree in the woods.
“Her” wolf trotted back and laid the branch at her feet. He tossed his head, the gesture once again too close to humanity for her peace of mind, then bounded ahead on the trail. He looked back once or twice like he was asking her to follow.
Be damned. The wolves, or at least this one, wanted her to join their party. A laugh bubbled up in Shanda’s chest, sheer disbelief mixed with a dash of hysteria. When in Rome, right? She gave a pretty decent imitation of a bark and started running after the wolves, not in front of them.
Oh, now they liked her joining in. The wolves howled again, eerie sounds if you weren’t looking at them bumping and tussling like puppies. Shanda waded into their midst without fear, “her” wolf by her side and occasionally brushing up against her legs.
Her heart filled with a strange but definite joy. Felt like she was flying. Her legs weren’t even sore anymore; she could have gone all night if the wolves had a mind to run so long. The wolf beside her whuffed with pleasure as she kept up, God only knew how.
Then he winked at her. The damn four-legged lupine beast winked!
Putting on a burst of speed, going so fast Shanda knew for sure now the pack had only been teasing her before, he tore through the ranks of wolves and disappeared up around a bend.
“Hey,” she protested as he left her in the dust. “Where you going, boy?”
The other wolves bayed at her like they were cheering her on. Without any other idea about what to do, Shanda followed them around the curve “her” wolf had taken.
When they stopped abruptly, so did she, stumbling in surprise.
“Brave heart,” a man said in a warm voice. “You are a tough one, are you not?”
Shanda blinked. Had she started imagining things? She’d swear she saw a tall Native American, built solid through the shoulders with thick arms, his rippled stomach trailing down to a narrow waist which led to long, corded legs. A wet dream standing smack dab in front of her on the path.
Naked. Very, very naked.
Shanda swallowed.
Naked and aroused.
His cock, copper-colored and uncut, long enough to arc up against his lower belly, looked hard as stone. He was the most tempting thing Shanda had seen in a month of Sundays. Gazing at this man, looking like something born in a Western-lover’s hottest fantasy, she felt her pussy start to tingle with excitement.
The Native American took a deep breath, tossing his head as he inhaled. Looked like a man at a wine tasting, considering flavor and bouquet. Fuck, was he smelling her?
His eyes went half-lidded, sexy as hell, as he looked down at Shanda. “You smell of so many things,” he crooned, that rich voice just as tasty as the rest of him. “Sweat from honest exercise, rich earth, trees… and a thick tang of desire.”
Shanda licked her lips. Well, hell’s bells, what could you expect from a woman with a healthy sex drive when she faced down a man like this? A man all bronzed and muscled, commanding enough that the wolves had backed down in a half-circle around them with muzzles on their paws. “So you get me hot. Don’t tell me you don’t know you’re all that. Doesn’t mean anything.”
“It means everything. Come here.”
She found herself walking forward automatically, as if she were under some kind of spell. When Shanda realized what she was doing, she tried to stop and turn back — she didn’t ask “how high” when anyone or his brother said “jump” — but found she couldn’t. Her legs carried her forward, straight into the Native American’s arms, which wrapped around her back and held her tight.
Her full breasts pressed up against his chest, the feel of hard muscle and slick skin making her nipples swell. Up this close he smelled musky, raw, and good enough to eat. Oh, yeah, she liked what she saw, and even if they were strangers it felt good, good, good to be this close to him.
Unzipping Shanda’s top, he bared her breasts to the cool night air and kissed his way from one side to the other. He licked the swell of her ample breasts, then nuzzled down to take the right nipple in his mouth. When his tongue touched that swollen bud, bolts of desire shot through Shanda. Her pussy began to cream up as he licked and kissed, nipping then soothing.
Oh, God, what would his mouth be like on her cunt? Somehow she could imagine this man being the kind who loved to feast on a woman’s juices.
Letting go of her breast, he slid that hand down between them to cup her mound. His fingers teased at the seam of her pussy, just letting her know he was there and interested. “Do you want this?” he asked, husky with a man’s desire for a woman. Primal. “If you say yes, I will fuck you through the ground.”
Shanda bucked her hips forward in search of harder, delicious friction against her pussy. Hell, yes, she wanted the man. Wolves, forest, what did it matter? This Native was the kind of man any sane woman would lust after, and even in an insane situation Shanda’s libido was ready, able and willing.
He moved the hand supporting her back down to squeeze one rounded ass cheek. “I’m waiting for an answer,” he teased.
Shanda opened her mouth —
“Shit!” Shanda shouted in frustration as her eyes opened, not to a thickly wooded forest, but the neat confines of her apartment’s bedroom. “Not again!”
The urge to throw her phone against the wall was damped down by knowing the cell, last year’s model, was all she had and she couldn’t afford another one. But damn, to drag her from a dream like the one she’d been having!
Shanda rolled over in her bed, disgusted. She was fully clothed and on top of the covers where she’d collapsed. Another long day of playing hooky from work to argue with private investigators over trying, yet again, to figure out where her best friend Dashika had disappeared to. She’d been wiped out and frustrated past the point of screaming, so she’d escaped into sleep.
She eyed her phone balefully. Whoever happened to be calling was a tricky bastard, hanging up before the final ring which would send them to voice mail, then dialing right back.
Caller ID said “Unknown.” Shanda fell back on the bed and pressed the “talk” button. “If you’re a telemarketer, I am gonna have your head on a silver platter,” she said flatly. “Who is this?”
A low chuckle greeted her. “Now, who else can you think of who just doesn’t quit?”
Shanda recognized the man’s voice right away. “Hunter,” she said, slightly wary. She was pretty sure “Hunter” wasn’t his real name, but it’d been the only one he’d ever given her. When the regular PI’s came up dry, she’d gone searching on the down-low, digging for anyone who might possibly take chances the professionals wouldn’t when it came to locating her friend.
She hadn’t found Hunter. He’d been the one to come sniffing after her trail.
Kind of a double-edged blessing/curse.
Hunter was a dangerous man, no two ways about the fact. But when she’d checked him out through her network of underground contacts — which the man had welcomed her to do — the reactions had been mixed between fear, awe, and respect. If it was worth knowing about, Hunter knew every detail. And what he didn’t know, he could find out. The man had a rep for being ruthless and stubborn as the devil.
Just the kind of guy Shanda had been looking for. She didn’t trust Hunter, not so far as she could throw him, but she needed his skills.
Shanda didn’t bother with pleasantries. “You have something for me?”
“I might.” Hunter always did have to be cryptic over the phone. “Come see for yourself.”
“Warehouse on 45th Street.”
“Lots of warehouses down there.” Every one of them abandoned, too.
He laughed again, the sound setting Shanda’s nerves on alert and going straight to her pussy. A laugh like his could light a woman on fire, and he knew it too, the bastard. “You’ll know which one when you see it. Come alone.”
He disconnected.
Shanda swore at her phone. Any other man, she’d have called him right back to tear a chunk out of his hide for playing her. But Hunter? He was as untraceable as a ghost, the way he liked things. Slipping in and out of shadows, only found when he wanted to be.
But he didn’t make false promises and he didn’t exaggerate. If he went so far as to suggest he had something Shanda might find interesting, she knew damn well he had his hands on the mother lode.
Nighttime and not a safe neighborhood at all to be heading for. But what the hell, right? You only live once, and Shanda had sworn she wouldn’t rest until she either found Dashika, found out what had happened to her, or passed over to the Promised Land.
Shanda rolled out of bed. She’d take a shower to get rid of the smells of sex and sweat she’d worked up in her dream, then change into clothes good for sneaking around in.
Hunter had something for her all right.
And come hell or high water, she meant to find out what that might be.

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