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Lost and betrayed by his wolf pack, Seth leaves the isle to find his destiny.
But he almost drowns and is rescued by a human--and his wolf insists she's their fated mate.
"If you love Scottish romances, paranormal romances or curvy girl romances this is a great choice. And if you're like me, enjoy all three, then it’s jackpot especially when you add in the shifters in kilts!" - A Top Pick from Night Owl Reviews
- Shifters in Kilts
- Wolf shifter
- Curvy human heroine
- Fates Mates
- Forbidden Love
Seth, wolf shifter and beta of his island's pack, had his life planned. He'd mate with the alpha's daughter and eventually they'd rule the pack with her.
When she chooses another shifter as her mate, his pride is wounded and future with the pack is threatened. Lost and betrayed, he sets off to find his destiny - or die trying.
Hailey, a park ranger in the Scottish Highlands, is on a mission to save wolves - including the one she rescues from a watery grave. When she treats the wolf's injury, she's in for the surprise of her life.
Seth knows better than to trust a human - even one as irresistible as curvy, principled Hailey.
Before long, he's not just struggling to survive - he's struggling to resist his attraction to Hailey.
His wolf promotes a course of action that would change his destiny and put his life in danger.
What's a wolf to do when his heart interferes with his pride?
Seth had prowled the Isle of Stone in wolf form for more than a fortnight, moving far from the Caledonian pack. Time away hadn’t healed any of the wounds.
He stalked the shoreline, keeping his snout low, sniffing marine life and seaweed. He avoided the forest, where he might run into one of his packmates.
How could Raina have rebuked him? And Ian, his alpha, had allowed it. Doubling the impact of that cruel blow. Seth had been loyal to Ian for many years. It figured Ian took his daughter’s side, though she was out of line. Even so, how could Ian have permitted her to mate with a gargoyle shifter? A gargoyle? Not only out of pack, but a different species; one the pack had kept their distance since the great battle on the isle twenty-five years earlier.
Raina was supposed to have mated with him. They both served as betas, as Ian’s successors. They were supposed to rule together one day and have many cubs that would continue the strong lineage in the pack. That future was destroyed.
How could he return to the pack now? With his tail between his legs, while she flaunted her relationship with someone out of species, out of pack? Not likely. He refused to be branded a bloody cuckold. The pack would regard him with pity from now on, not as the powerful alpha he was meant to be. No way would he put up with that humiliation.
If Raina planned to bring the wolf and gargoyle shifters together, she was off her head. He’d never stomach that. Never.
Seth shifted to human form before wading into the ocean. Swimming was the only way to burn off the tension. It calmed his wolf, who otherwise stalked with that explosive inner fury. He took a deep breath while focusing on the lulling sound of the waves. He rolled on his toes three times before diving beneath the surface. Slicing through the water, he beat at the demons that tormented him, mocking him, whispering how the pack would never look at him the same again. If Raina had chosen someone else, maybe he wasn’t all she hoped he would be. Perhaps he wasn’t worthy of being the pack’s leader.
Raina would lead the pack alone.
Or with that sodden gargoyle.
He reached that blissful point near exhaustion when he was too numb to think, and turned and swam to shore with weary limbs. Each day he had to swim farther until the voices in his head were drowned out. When he returned to the pebble-strewn beach, his legs were shaky. He rolled onto his back and panted as he stared at the cloud-filled sky.
He couldn’t stay here any longer. His future here as alpha was destroyed. He had to leave the pack.
After he’d regained his breath, he retrieved his red kilt from a branch in the forest. For several hours, he stayed in the fringes of wolf territory, stalking through the forest while he kept an eye on the comings and goings of his packmates in the cluster of homes that they used in human form. When the opportunity arose to talk to Ian alone, Seth approached his alpha by stepping outside his stone cottage.
“Seth,” Ian greeted him warmly. “We’ve been wondering when we’d see you again.”
Sure. Raina was likely dancing on stars hoping that Seth was out of the picture so she could cavort with Lachlan without guilt. That was all he’d sensed during their last few encounters—her guilt.
“I came to tell you one thing,” he addressed Ian. “I’m leaving the pack.”
“Come now, Seth, you’re acting too rashly,” Ian said with concern. “Things are awkward right now. But with time, it will work out.”
“No,” Seth declared as he scanned the brick and stone houses of his packmates. He’d made his decision. “I’ve considered it long enough. The best solution is that I leave.”
“Seth, if it’s about you and Raina—”
“It’s not,” he cut Ian off, not wanting to discuss that sensitive topic. “I no longer want to be part of this pack.”
Ian exhaled as he rolled his shoulders back. “I understand. Life doesn’t often go as we plan.”
Ian’s voice conveyed a wistful edge. Seth forgot his pain as he recognized Ian’s. His mate had been killed. Seth and Raina were both young cubs at the time, but old enough to see how it had ripped their alpha apart.
“Where will you go?” Ian asked.
That was a bloody good question. He scanned the wolf pack’s territory with houses, woods, and open space that allowed the shifters to live their dual lives as human and wolves. The only world he knew.
“I’ll find somewhere.”
“You need to be careful out there, Seth. There’s a reason our pack moved to the isle. It’s dangerous for shifters in a human’s world.”
Ian’s warning gave Seth a moment’s hesitation. The little he knew about humans wasn’t favorable.
“Is there some way I can help you?” Ian added.
“I need to do this on my own.”
Ian nodded. “Say goodbye to the others before you go.”
Like Raina? He gritted his teeth while picturing the relief on her face. “I will tonight.”
After leaving Ian, Seth hunted and returned to the coast late that afternoon. The reflection of the trees and leaves on the water’s surface morphed. He groaned. It was like his future—what had once been so clear was now as clouded as the distorted echoes before him.
As soon as he stepped from the pebbled shore into the ocean, the cool waters invigorated him. As he swam and turned over his shoulder to glance at the dark forests and rugged cliffs on the isle, relief swept through him for the first time in days. Like he was leaving his problems behind.
He swam for that elusive point where the sky met the sea. When he tired, he floated, before continuing. His biceps burned, but he powered on, eager to increase the distance between himself and the pack. He tried to figure out a plan. Where would he go? He’d grown up on this isle. Starting off somewhere new would be a challenge.
His options for sailing from the island were limited. He’d have to use one of the pack’s boats. That meant asking them for help—not an enticing prospect.
He lost track of time the farther he swam from the Isle of Stone. When he turned back, it was no longer visible. A moment of panic struck. His wolf cocked its head, closely monitoring the situation. He was in the middle of the ocean and nobody knew where he was. Fueled by stubborn wolf pride, he might have acted too rashly. For several frantic heartbeats, his mind raced over the options. One that repeated itself was to continue swimming.
Aye, that was the best option. It would be foolish to turn back now when he’d likely traveled miles from the isle. Sure, he told Ian he’d say goodbye to his packmates, but did it really matter? He’d been closest to Ian and Raina, and he’d already told Ian his plans. Why return to the place he was itching to leave? He’d already gone so far, he should keep swimming to the next isle, which had to be closer than turning back.
He could do it. He was an excellent swimmer. Humans swam the English Channel, and he was a wolf shifter with far greater endurance, abilities, and tolerance for cold. Since it was still summer, the water temperature wasn’t brutal. Armed with his new resolve, he powered on, hammering through the waves. He now felt as light as the clouds above, not so despondent about what lay ahead.
As the time stretched, the buoyant feeling disappeared. In the deep ocean, the coolness of the water pierced with a bite. His limbs grew heavy and his movements slowed. And still there was no land in view.
He took a moment to rest, floating on his back and searching the sky above. Panting with a racing heart, he had to calm the rising panic. The hovering clouds morphed and reshaped into different images. One looked like a sheep. Another a rabbit. Och, conjuring images of food. Now wasn’t the time to think of hunger, but staying afloat. When his body’s systems relaxed, he flipped back onto his stomach. He had to keep going, powering on. The alternative was to give up…
No, he wouldn’t think of it.
With his energy depleted, his movements grew erratic. His limbs, as heavy as ice, threatened to weigh him down.
When the next wave approached, he lacked the energy to adjust and sank beneath it, gulping a lungful of sea water. With frantic motions, he beat through the water. He choked, gasping for air as the salty liquid burned his throat.
His wolf clawed at him inside, desperate to take over and give them a chance. The fur would help insulate him. He initiated the shift to wolf form.
The shift only gave him a temporary respite from the cold and fatigue. Within minutes, he was back in a precarious state, hovering between sinking and swimming.
A painful burst exploded like fireworks blasting across his thigh. He howled as the saltwater intensified the sting.
He thrashed at the water, yelping, as he struggled to stay afloat, while his leg grew heavy and sluggish. A cloud above appeared to sneer at him. He’d swear it was a face—perhaps a bloody gargoyle or one of his packmates. Whatever it was enjoyed Seth’s struggle, savoring it with a sinister grin.
Hailey blinked, peering over the gunwale of the small power boat. No way was that what she thought she saw in the distance. It appeared to be—a wolf.
It made no sense. Why would a wolf be out here, far in the North Atlantic?
Yet, somehow, she believed it. She’d heard about the mysterious wolves who lived on the Isle of Stone, an island that seemed to have disappeared overnight. She’d been looking for it for days with her brother, Liam. That was why they’d been scouring the seas for the mysterious land after hearing reports from those who had visited it and mentioned an incident with a wolf attack.
“Go that way.” She pointed.
“What for?” Liam asked.
“It looks like there’s a wolf out there.”
He shot her a skeptical look. “Someone’s been out at sea too long. Seeing things in the waves.”
“I’m not seeing things, Liam.”
He didn’t appear convinced. “Did you drink the salt water or something?”
Ignoring him, she squinted to get a closer look. “No. Look.” She pointed again. “It’s definitely an animal. Might be a dog.”
He followed her gaze. “Shit, you’re right.” He steered the speedboat toward the animal. “How did it get out here?”
She scanned the area for land—nothing close. “If it’s a dog, maybe it fell off a boat.”
“Or was thrown,” Liam said.
“Oh, I don’t want to think of it.” As someone who focused on the welfare of animals, any stories of animal abuse ripped at her. She’d never understand how people could be so cruel.
She squinted as they approached. “No, that’s a wolf.” So many questions battled in her mind at once. She shook her head and repeated, “A wolf,” somewhat to convince herself. “The only explanation I can come up with is that it swam out here on its own.”
“For what reason?” he asked. “A wolf has no need to be out here.”
She shrugged her shoulders. “Good question.”
As they closed in on the animal, excitement shot through her. She’d spent several years involved in conservation projects, spearheaded by her father, a wealthy landowner. One of the cornerstones of his vision was bringing lost species back to Scotland, such as wolves. She’d spent most of her time growing up in the U.S. where she’d been inspired by the success of the rewilding efforts at Yellowstone National Park.
The thrill vanished, replaced by horror. The wolf wasn’t swimming—it was struggling.
It sank beneath the waves.
“Oh my God—it’s drowning!”
“What—” Liam began to ask, but the answer was clear before him.
The wolf’s head bobbed up.
“Hurry!” she said.
“Hurry for what?” he asked with an exasperated tone.
“We have to save it!”
“How? We can’t bring a wolf onto the boat. It’s clearly terrified and if we agitate it—we’re in no better shape than it is.”
He was right.
“We can’t let it drown.”
Desperate to find an answer, her mind raced through the options as quick as the humming sound of the speedboat’s engine. She reached into her bag of supplies, searching through the essentials she’d brought in case they’d found wolves on the island.
“Are you mad?” He eyed the tranquilizer gun. “It will sink and drown.”
“It’s already drowning! I have the net launcher, too. It’s the only way.”
She grabbed both projectiles, not sure if her makeshift plan to save the struggling animal would work. This was supposed to be an information gathering expedition, not a capture. She never thought she’d have to use these tools, let alone in a difficult water rescue attempt like this one. “Get closer. We have to time it right.” She struggled to keep her voice steady despite her racing heart.
“What the hell are you doing, Hailey?”
“We need to capture it and bring it on board. We have to tranquilize it.” Each of those options could go wrong in an epic flash.
“Are you out of your mind? We don’t even know if we can lift it.”
She turned to him and spat, “Do you have a better plan to deal with a drowning wolf at sea?”
For a moment, their gazes locked in battle as they moved with the sway of the boat. When he turned away, swearing under his breath, she knew she’d won.
“No,” he relented. “Fine. Let’s go for it. Even though I’m sure it won’t work.”
Despite his negativity, he appeared determined as he powered through the waves toward the struggling animal.
“It will work,” she said. It had to. She wouldn’t let the wolf drown.
She raised the net gun and aimed at the wolf’s head, the only visible spot above the water. It either heard their boat approaching—or sensed danger—because it turned its head. Intense amber eyes fixed on her with confusion and then fury.
Steeling herself not to lose her nerve, she breathed out to calm the shakiness in her arm and readjusted her aim. The wolf began to go under once again.
No! She couldn’t let it drown. Even though they weren’t as close as she liked, she had to try.
On the next exhale, she fired.