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Conner’s Wolf

Supernatural Bonds

Jory Strong

Copyright 2011 by Jory Strong

Smashwords Edition

Cover design by Syneca Featherstone

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Table of Contents

Chapter 1

Chapter 2

Chapter 3

Chapter 4

Chapter 5

Chapter 6

Chapter 7


Thank You!

About the Author

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Chapter 1

He was pissed off. Royally. He considered himself a pretty reasonable guy and one hell of a detective. But at every turn, the delectable Khemirra Reis had skated on him, staying ahead of him by mere hours in some cases.

Did she know he was on her trail? Or was he closing in just as whoever she was running from was doing the same?

Conner didn't know the answer, but son of bitch, this was getting old.

He'd chewed up most of his vacation time. He'd called in favors, asking cops in Florida, Georgia, South Carolina and North Carolina to keep an eye out for her black Wrangler. And if he didn't catch her soon, he'd be hunting up contacts in Virginia. Not to mention losing most of his ass in a serious chewing out if the captain found out he was working a CSI friend who was, in turn, working a friend to monitor calls going to voice mail on her cell phone—the one he'd figured out early on she'd ditched.

Except for the friend in CSI, all the cops he worked with in Homicide thought he was kicking back at his parents' cabin, holed up writing music and playing his instruments. Or maybe holed up with some badge bunny and making a different kind of music with an instrument big enough and hard enough to be confused with a flesh-colored police baton.

The imagery made Conner laugh, unclenching his jaw in the process. Truth was he'd never invited a woman to the cabin. But the moment he'd seen Khemirra, the decision to do it had taken hold. Viscerally. As in with a cock that went rock hard every time he pictured her, as in with a hard-on that needed to be taken care of every morning because his nights were spent dreaming about her.

Goddamn, he had it bad.

He tightened his hands on the steering wheel as if squeezing it could stop the blood from rushing straight to his dick. Too late. He might be seeing the highway stretched out in front of him but mentally he was looking into the past, remembering what he'd felt the day he met her in the park while he and four other cops were working a case that had ended up with a connection between missing children and the murder of a couple of psychics.

He'd assumed Khemirra would be like most reporters, quick to cite the First Amendment. Instead she'd been open with him, a contradiction that had heightened the attraction.

She was a looker, some mix of races that had produced stunning results. She could have been a runway model with her exotic features and caramel skin, the midnight-black hair begging a man to spear his fingers through it and pull her to him, while the lithe, sleek body fueled fantasies of peeling off her clothing.

His immediate instinct had been to push her to her hands and knees and mount her. Almost every instinct following that one was a variation on a theme involving sweat-slick bodies and carnal ecstasy, although somewhere along the way, the need to find and protect had gotten as strong as the lust.

He took a hand off the steering wheel to adjust the front of his jeans. He was tempted to free himself but he ruthlessly suppressed the urge. His luck, some deer would decide to cross the highway in front of him and the EMTs would be pulling him out of his wrecked car with his hand wrapped around his dick like some perv.

Not exactly the way he wanted to be remembered if he died. And if he survived, the jokes would make him almost wish he hadn't. Cop humor was merciless.

Despite his aggravation at Khemirra's continued elusiveness, he laughed thinking about how he'd left things in Florida. Trace Dilessio, who felt the same way he did about all things supernatural, falling fast and hard for Aislinn, the owner of Inner Magick.

He wondered how Trace's partner Dylan was holding up. And his own, Miguel.

Conner shook his head. Miguel was like a guy walking around carrying a ball and chain in his arms, desperate to engrave some woman's name on it before attaching it to his ankle—or more accurately, his cock.

Well, times were changing. He could see the writing on the wall. First guy to fall hard started a trend that would end the days of them hanging out together at bars in the company of badge bunnies and lead to barbequing poolside while the wives chatted it up and the kids swam.

Hell, this chase after Khemirra was proof of it. It's not like he didn't have other stuff he should be doing. The guys he played with in a cop band were counting on him to come up with some new material. His parents were always up for a visit, so were a grandparent from each side of his family. Though without fail, right after hello came are you dating anyone seriously?

He didn't know about dating, but he was going to do some serious fucking when he caught up with Khemirra. He was going to do enough of it to either get her out of his system or move her into his place. And in the process he was going to find out who the hell she was running from and why.

He rolled his shoulders, trying to get some of the stiffness out of them. It'd been another long day. Besides calling in favors from other cops, he'd been working the magazine and newspaper angle because she'd been calling in favors from folks she knew too, picking up income by freelancing along the way, selling off articles.

Getting information out of editors and reporters was a study in frustration. His success rate was closing in on one percent, but his gut said he was getting close to her.

A little farther and he was quitting for the night. There was a country western bar off the next freeway exit. Khemirra had written a piece about the place a couple of years back, and he'd stumbled onto it.

Damn, he loved the web for making it easy to find that kind of stuff. Now if he could only catch up to the woman.

She was in this neck of the woods, as the locals would say. She'd made a call from a pay phone at a gas station to check for messages a couple of hours back and, based on the trail of red Xs he'd marked on the map dedicated to his tracking efforts, he thought she'd keep going forward rather than double back.

There was one major upside to her direction of travel. She was heading toward the Blue Ridge Mountains, where his parents' cabin was located.

He couldn't find any record of her owning property there or having grown up in the mountains, but she'd done stories about people and places all through the Appalachians. And one thing he'd seen repeatedly in his years as a cop, when people ran, they almost always ran to the familiar.

As far as he could tell, the Blue Ridge Mountains were where she'd first started making a name for herself with her writing. It's where she'd come onto the radar screen as legally existing by getting a driver's license and buying a car, a troubling discovery given she wasn't in witness protection. If she had been, then his digging would have brought some Fed to his doorstep.

His lips firmed and he forcefully silenced the internal voice questioning her origins. He'd get his answers when he caught up to her, though talking might have to take a backseat to fucking.

He reached down, readjusting his cock while fighting the urge to free it. Who knew, maybe tonight he'd get lucky. Maybe instead of questioning the bartender and waitresses about her, he'd catch Khemirra herself. If he did, he wouldn't let her out of his sight again until whatever trouble she was in had been dealt with and the attraction between them addressed.

Khemirra felt edgy as hell. Part of it came from nearly a month of being on the run. But the greater part of it came from being a day away from the full moon. It felt like her skin was going to peel away any minute and let the wolf out to play.

Not a good thing. Not out in public, and sure as hell not here, where any number of rednecks had already riled her temper by trying to feel her up whenever she left the barstool to line dance.

She lifted the mug of beer to her lips and took a drink, trying to let the cool slide of it down her throat wash some of the tension out of her body. What she needed was a run in the woods wearing fur, a satisfying chase ending in a hot kill.

A shudder went through her on the heels of that thought, coming with the remembered taste of human blood, human flesh. She took another swallow of beer in an attempt to wash it away, reminding herself as she'd done a thousand times since killing the mage that she hadn't had any choice.

She cupped both hands around the cold mug to keep herself from scrubbing them over her face like a kid rubbing away a nightmare. It came anyway, accompanied by remembered emotion.

The absolute, incredible thrill of having gotten a personal call from Armand Scholes, a multiple-time bestselling author and a guy so reclusive he made Howard Hughes seem like a socialite. She hadn't thought she had a chance in hell of being granted an interview request, and up until the moment she'd arrived at his compound and actually seen the gate slide open to admit her, she'd considered she might be the victim of a practical joke by person or persons unknown.

Uncertainty, elation, disbelief—

Lucky. She'd felt that way as she entered Scholes' compound, already envisioning how many other doors might be opened for her once the piece on him was written and published.

But in the end, her luck had taken a completely different form. And she had been lucky, so damn lucky.

First, in that her car had been in the shop so she was driving a rental when she went to do the interview.

Second, in that she and Armand Scholes were still just inside the slow-moving gate to his compound when the mage arrived.

She'd smelled the dark magic on the mage and felt the first stirrings of fear, but he'd hardly glanced at her. All of his attention had been on Scholes, and laced in with the scent of magic was excitement, anticipation, greed.

A step away from them, Scholes said, "Show me," eagerness in his voice, but a wealth of doubt too; both, in the end, contributing to a lack of judgment making all the difference for her.

The mage pulled a small, velvet-covered box from his pocket, something a ring would have left a jewelry shop in. He looked away from Scholes then, his focus on her as he opened it.

Compulsion slammed into her in the presence of the wolf-shaped charm. It was as if pure moonlight had been trapped inside the pale crystal and there was no denying its call.

She shifted without thought. Attacked without hesitation, canine teeth tearing through skin and muscle, ripping, her mouth filling with blood before intelligence intruded on instinct, urging her to take possession of the charm and run.

Seconds later and the gate would have been fully closed, leaving her at the mercy of Scholes, who'd pulled a tranquilizer gun from beneath his clothing. Lucky again that in the frenzy of the attack and escape, he'd only managed to get off a single shot. It pinged against the metal of the gate an instant after she was beyond his reach.

Closing her eyes, she lifted the mug and pressed it to her forehead in an effort to get some relief from the memories and never-ending tension. Running was taking its toll on her. But what choice did she have except to keep running, at least until she could come up with a better solution?

Because of Scholes' continued pursuit, she had the distinct feeling the charm she'd taken, and subsequently destroyed, couldn't be easily duplicated. A logical conclusion since the mage wasn't around to do it and those who practiced magic were generally fanatical and secretive when it came to the knowledge they possessed. She also guessed, hoped for the sake of other werewolves, that she was the only one Scholes knew existed, or suspected of being a Were, though she still didn't understand exactly what she'd done to make him target her.

If she could be absolutely certain Scholes wasn't using supernatural means to hunt her, she could return to the pack. But that was a big if, and besides not wanting to put them at risk, it had taken a lot to escape the pack. Not in the physical sense; members were free to come and go, if—another big if—they could overcome their instinct not to leave.

Males found it a lot easier than females. Even then, most only went to another small town in the middle of nowhere where the alpha who claimed the place allowed the newcomers in order to refresh the gene pool.

She sighed and opened her eyes to look around the crowded bar. Beneath the smell of sweat, beer and peanuts, every breath she took contained the scent of sex, arousal and a heady dose of pheromones, all of which stirred the wolf's urge to take a mate—and that was a huge reason for not returning to the pack.

She might be able to blow off some steam by getting laid in her human form, but come the full moon in pack territory and she'd find herself covered by a male Were of her wolf's choosing, his engorged cock working in and out of her until they tied in a mating that would follow her into her everyday life. Allow it to happen and she'd never be able to leave again, a major bummer, especially since she didn't think the man for her was back home.

The image of Conner Stern filled her mind, causing heat to roll through her. Under different circumstances she would have acted on the intense attraction between them. All she'd wanted to do when they first met was drag him behind the nearest wall of trees and get naked. He might be totally human, but he'd managed to make her nipples go tight and her pussy weep with need in a way no man ever had.

Blond, big—everywhere, as evidenced by the bulge at the front of his pants—he had alpha stamped all over him, even if he wasn't Were. And the way he smelled… Hot, aroused male mixed with the scent of guns and coffee, determination and strength.

Breathing him in had nearly made her lightheaded. Seeing the desire in his eyes had nearly made her start panting like a bitch in heat, literally. The wolf would be satisfied with him, even without his having a furred shape.

She choked back a laugh that might just as easily have been a cry. Conner worked Homicide, making any hope for something with him a joke.

He was all cop, a straight-up guy who was well respected by his peers. She'd researched him before agreeing to meet and talk to him after the psychic, Patrick Dean, was murdered.

There were times when being a reporter and a werewolf was not a good combination. Specifically, when the supernatural intersected with the world the majority of the human population thought was the real world. In those times of intersection, the true supernaturals—the Were among them—all tried to keep a lower profile than usual, and that was saying a lot since no one wanted a coming-out.

The urge to explore the world around her, to discover interesting stories and share them with others, seemed to run as thickly in her blood as the call to turn into a wolf during the full moon. Having that desire had given her the motivation and sense of purpose necessary to override instinct and leave the pack, but it had also led to the situation she found herself in.

A man claimed the stool next to her. His smell had her lips pulling back in a get-lost snarl. Considering how on edge she felt, she was afraid she'd bite him if he dared lay his hand on her or uttered the pick-up line his scent told her was coming.

Hell, she might just bite him for being close enough that his body heat and smell invaded her personal space. Both rubbed against her like a scouring pad.

"Hey there, sweet thing, looks like you could use some company."

Not his fault he was the last in a long line of guys who'd hit on her. Not his fault she was all out of polite. "Not interested. Get lost."

He laughed, a good-old-boy, I-don't-believe-you're-serious-about-passing-me-up sound that had her biting off a growl the tiny lizard part of his brain would recognize as the real deal.

"Don't be like that, brown sugar."

Her nostrils flared, the wolf and human aspects of her personality wholly in agreement with Darwin's theories and the need to cull the genetic pool, starting with this guy. She wasn't sensitive when it came to her heritage, or the obvious mix of Caucasian, Mexican and black in her features. The right man could call her brown sugar while he had his mouth on her and she'd say, "Eat me right up, baby."

What she was sensitive about was being in the presence of idiots who couldn't take the hint. Strike that; get lost were two short, simple words and an easily grasped concept. Not interested was the same. Ergo, this old boy was beyond classification as an idiot.

Khemirra drank the last swallow of beer and set the mug on the bar, thinking he was lucky she didn't club him with it. Time to go. And if this guy thought he was going to follow her down the road to her motel room, then she just might blow off a little steam by going furry.

She stifled a laugh. Yeah, big talk on her part. Turning wolf was the ultimate self-defense move in her arsenal. Pepper spray, making plenty of noise and avoiding dangerous situations were at the top of her list, though in between those and shifting she had some fight moves she wouldn't mind dusting off.

She slid off the barstool, ignoring her unwanted suitor. A step. Two. Her survival instincts told her he'd swiveled to watch her walk away, but other than that, he apparently had some good sense after all.

At the door she felt his attention shift to someone or something else. Some of the tension washed out of her. Not all. That wasn't likely to happen anytime soon.

She pushed through the door and stepped into moonlight. It was a struggle not to lift her face to the sky and howl, to fill the night air with a wolf song holding the longing to be somewhere safe, to be surrounded by the pack—or more accurately, given the primal nature of the wolf's desire, to be covered by a strong alpha male. By Conner.

Khemirra managed a small laugh at herself. Talk about Pavlov and his dogs. Bow wow. Soon as the words alpha male pop up, there's Conner front and center in my thoughts. Pretty soon I'm going to start salivating, not just wetting my panties with arousal.

She shook the hot need off and scanned the parking lot. There were plenty of cars mixed in with the trucks. Engines were still running in some of them, the glass steamed from activities she wouldn't mind being engaged in herself with—

Save it 'til you get to the motel room, then you can fantasize.

A few of the trucks had people hanging around, shooting the shit, or in more than one case, lifting Mason jars wrapped in paper sacks to their lips for long drinks of home brew. None of the people seemed to notice or care about her though she had the prickly sense of being watched, much, much dulled and now pretty much ever-present from being on the run.

She hated this part. The second-guessing herself, the wondering if it was really safe to stop long enough for a good night's sleep and a morning of doing interviews or research or writing the articles that paid for gas and food.

Her Jeep was tucked in behind the motel, a relatively short, very dark walk and a curve away from the bar. She'd parked in the back, facing out, the plates conveniently muddied for a quick escape if necessary.

The room was paid for. Cash, no questions asked. Proximity to the bar and the freeway generated plenty of activity the owners apparently didn't want to go on record as knowing about. It suited her just fine.

She turned to the right, toward the motel, alert to any movement, any threat either in front or behind her. A burst of laughter had her nearly jumping out of her skin. "Like a damn cat," she muttered, only barely stopping herself from whirling around.

Doors slammed behind her, mixed in with plenty of talk and laughter from both male and female voices. She didn't glance over her shoulder but kept going, moving out of the light illuminating the parking lot and into a darkness lifted only by the moon's glow.

She picked up the sound of a car leaving the highway in front of her. Its choice of destination was limited. Motel. Bar. Possibly the stretch of land dotted with homes sporting plastic deer and rusted-out lawn mowers in their front yards, or the trailer park farther down the road.

A diesel engine started in the bar parking lot, its hard throb almost loud enough to drown out the sound of night insects. She kept moving, breathing in the scent of pine and honeysuckle as she walked, filling her lungs with it and holding it there, wishing she could use it as a buffer against the stink of cleaner and cigarette smoke and old carpet that would soon assail her despite the open window of the motel room.

She was tempted to shift and sleep in the woods. The wolf would like that.

A shiver of longing went through her at imagining the feel of dirt and leaves beneath her feet, the embrace of so many exquisite smells and textures and tastes.

She resisted temptation. It was too close to the full moon to risk it.

She was the wolf, and the wolf was her. But there were degrees of separation and sometimes those degrees created a nearly impenetrable barrier. Shifting back to human wasn't often easy, especially when prey was abundant and survival easy, though transitioning between forms became easy with the taking of a mate.

As if on cue, the word mate summoned the image of Conner and thoughts of him brought the hard clenching of her channel and the tightening of her nipples. She shook the reaction off, her attention splitting between the sound of the diesel truck accelerating behind her and the gas-powered car closing in ahead of her.

Her heart rabbited in her chest, a physical reaction to the potential threat of being trapped. Her logical mind said the odds were against it and wrestled against the urge to run.

Wolves fought when cornered, but preferred to bolt. She was very afraid if she gave in to the urge to race for the nearby woods, she wouldn't be able to prevent the shift.

The truck screeched to a halt behind her and she whirled to face it. Fear-based adrenaline morphed into a blowing-off-steam kind of rush at seeing the two guys who jumped out of it. Run-of-the-mill scumbags; she was fairly confident she could handle them.

"We're going to have us some fun now," the hefty one said, licking his lips as a prelude to charging.

She was ready for him, though he made it easy to deflect his attack.

A grab of his arm and she sent him sailing past to burn his exposed skin on asphalt when he couldn't regain his balance and went down.

His scrawny companion was already in motion and unable to change his assault tactics. A duck and flip, and he went airborne, landing hard enough on his back to make him gasp and flail like a fish pulled out of the water.

She laughed, probably not the smartest thing to do when she'd just emasculated a couple of guys, but after the last few weeks, she couldn't help it.

The slab of low-grade beef got to his feet, smiling though there was meanness in it now. "I'm glad you like it rough, 'cause I do too."

His companion was still down but rolling as if he intended to stand. Beefy charged again, this time low, anticipating she might duck or try to sidestep him.

She used a foot to the gut instead. Risky if he grabbed her ankle, but she didn't think he'd be fast enough.

He hunched over at the contact. A strike of her clasped hands dropped him to the ground.

It nearly cost her.

Scrawny swung as she turned but her reflexes saved her from suffering more than a brush of knuckles against her face.

He danced backward, anticipating her foot. She was content to let him go rather than move forward and end up with one on either side of her.

If they'd been smarter, that's what they would have done in the first place. But they'd seen only a woman alone in the dark. Easy prey.

The thought made her smile.

Movement betrayed Beef Slab's intention well before he could scramble to his feet and take her out. She put him down with a chop hard enough to break a board.

His companion launched himself in a tackle, managing to take her to the ground. But with her knees drawn and her feet planted against his chest, he couldn't take advantage of the position. A shove upward and he was airborne again.

The screech of tires announced company. The shock of seeing Conner held her flat on her back for several seconds as he aimed a pistol at the two men, yelling, "Police! Stay on the ground!"

Working on the assumption she was exempt from the command, she got slowly to her feet and edged away so her assailants wouldn't attempt to use her as a shield.

Damn, Conner was a fine sight standing there in a shooter's stance, his attitude total bad ass and practically begging the two numbnuts who'd attacked her to make a move and make his day.

Her memory hadn't done him justice. He was even more devastating to her senses than she'd remembered.

* * * * *

Chapter 2

"Are these the guys you've been running from?" Conner asked.

The fierce protectiveness in his voice was like the lap of a hot, hot tongue between Khemirra's thighs and she savored the sensation, squeezing her legs together in awareness of just how swollen she'd become at his mere presence.

"I don't know who they are."

She ate him up with her eyes because making a carnal meal of him at this particular moment wouldn't be a good move. She would have laughed at how much she was channeling the wolf, except she'd been thinking about Conner off and on all night, and now here he was, his scent obliterating the stink of beer and unwashed bodies wafting off the men lying on the asphalt between them.

"They're opportunistic rapists, I'd say." She glanced at the truck, its engine throbbing and the doors open for what was probably supposed to be a quick grab followed by a hasty exit onto the freeway. "Texas plates."

"If you don't have a cell phone, come over here and get mine. Call 9-1-1."

Her amusement died. Calling the police would generate a report with her name on it, maybe even get trapped in an information filter and passed on, confirming time and whereabouts. Not something she was anxious to do. But freeing these guys and having another woman take her place for their idea of fun and games wasn't an option either, which left her with only one obvious alternative.

She skirted around Beefy and Scrawny, going to Conner's side. Keeping her voice low she said, "What about if you call it in? Say you were an eyewitness to an attack but while you were maintaining control of these assholes the woman fled the scene. It'd be my word against theirs anyway, with your testimony being the one to lock them up."

She didn't need the change in his scent to tell her how much he didn't like the suggestion. He fairly bristled at hearing it. But he was also cop enough to understand her reasons without her having to argue them.

"Fuck! I'll keep you out of this if I can, on one condition. You stick around and we talk."

Talk wasn't the four-letter word she was primarily interested in, but his showing up wasn't an accident, and agreeing to stay didn't necessarily mean revealing the worst of her secrets. Though, from his point of view, she wasn't sure which he'd hate hearing more—that she'd killed a man, or that she was a werewolf.

"I'll stick."

"Good. There are some plasticuffs in the console between the seats. Grab a couple of them."

He ordered the men onto their stomachs as she retrieved the cuffs. "You know how to use a gun?"

"Range practice every week as part of my schooling. Hunting deer, rabbits and ducks for the family dinner table as quality bonding time."

"Then keeping these two covered while I cuff them shouldn't be a problem for you."

She nearly purred at the approval coming off him, and that was a testament to his effect on her. A wolf was not a cat. "Nope, not a problem. This close, placing my shots isn't much of a challenge."

"Don't get trigger-happy."

Conner exchanged the gun in his hand for the plasticuffs in hers before making quick work of securing the men and pulling ID off them. Christ, he knew he was thinking with his dick, but right now its voice outshouted the one of reason.

He took the 9mm back, a flash of sexual heat shooting through him with the casual touch of her skin to his in the transfer. He couldn't believe he'd given her his gun, could barely accept how much effort he was about to expend to keep her name out of this, but until he knew who she was running from and what kind of influence they had, he didn't see a choice he liked better.

Instead of dialing 9-1-1, he called his CSI buddy. "You at work?"

"Yeah, so is my supervisor."

"This is official business."

"You abandon the search? Or catch up with her?"

"Caught up with her just as she was putting a couple would-be rapists down."

"I'm beginning to see why you're hot for her."

"You don't know the half of it. I need you to run the names for me. They're driving a Ford-250 with Texas plates and I'm thinking chances are good there are some outstanding warrants on these two."

He read off the information, hearing it being typed in. The wait for a hit took even less time.

"Good call. Jumped bail on charges of aggravated assault in the commission of a felony. The good State of Texas definitely wants them back."

"That's music to my ears. Thanks."

He called 9-1-1, identifying himself and the situation before directing the local police to their location.

"If you want to stay uninvolved, you should get in the car."

"I appreciate this, Conner."

She walked away. And goddamn, he couldn't take his eyes off her. It felt like there was a leash attached to his dick and she was holding the other end of it, pulling it tighter and tighter with each swing of her hips.

Talk. He'd be lucky if he managed more than two words with her. Let's fuck.

He remained hyperaware of Khemirra sitting in the dark interior of his car as the locals showed up. He half expected her to bolt as he did a song and dance with them, but luck was with him and they were content to pass the problem of the men onto Texas rather than tie up effort and generate paperwork for a case that didn't need to go to trial to keep the bad guys off the street.

He joined her in the car, a jolt of pure need going through his cock. Only stubborn determination kept him from pulling her against him and slamming his mouth down on hers.

"Were you heading to the motel?"


"What room?"

"Seventeen. Around back."

He did a U-turn and drove the remaining distance, his temper heating up at the dark stretch of road caught in the rearview mirror, cut only by his headlights and the moon in front of him. Why the hell had she walked to the bar rather than driving the Jeep he'd spent most of his vacation chasing after? Did she want to get jumped?

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