Rynn Murphy is a werewolf and she is in a state of bliss―her junkie parents are in recovery for their drug addiction. Her Grandfather, Pops, suffering from Alzheimer’s has settled into a nursing home in Utah. And she has just witnessed the bonding ceremony of her friends, Nexi and Kyden from the Otherworld. With her mate, Briggs by her side, life can’t get any better…
But this happiness is about to end as Rynn is brought to Philadelphia. As a Blue Blood Werewolf, she has been given a special gift to possess a strong scent. And after horrific murders take place in the Pennsylvania territory, Rynn must use this ability to seek the killer out…
This task does not come easily, Rynn is struggling. The human in her flees from danger. The wolf in her is desperate to end his murderous rampage. Rynn must reconcile these two halves while these murders begin to cross State lines. Soon, danger will be all around them, and Rynn will have to decide what is more important―the human who remains in her or the wolves she has sworn to protect…
Plymouth, Minnesota may have been voted America’s best place to live by Money Magazine, but Briggs would argue that point. It’s really a vague memory now. Such a short time ago, his mate had walked home from a long shift with sore feet and a deep ache to her back. What she hadn’t known at the time was that walk would change her life forever. Attacked, bitten and then transformed into a werewolf–it was of no surprise to him that she was still trying to adjust to the horrors of that night.
He looked to Rynn as she sat next him in a hard chair that was not made for comfort. Her long brown hair cradled her face as her deep silver eyes penetrated his soul. How he craved to reach out, touch her creamy skin, kiss those soft lips of hers. But when a chair shifted in front of him, the present situation drew him back to where they were and why they were here. Rynn’s parents, Warwick and Tarina Murphy.
Just a few short days ago, Briggs had forced them into drug rehab treatment at On Belay House in Plymouth, Minnesota–Rynn’s hometown. Now, her parents were in the recovery process. As he knew it, they were on still on stage one and needed to admit their lives had become unmanageable. Which is exactly why they were here now, sitting in these chairs and staring into the faces of people Briggs wished had no part of her life.
The room had soft pale yellow paint on the walls, simple office chairs with even a fake plant in the center of the coffee table–classic therapy room–to avoid distraction for the reason they were here. Briggs glanced away from the room and back to an old guy with glasses sitting low on his nose in a proper office chair as he spoke. “We are here today for Warwick and Tarina to share with you the process that they’ve been through these last few days here and to speak from their hearts. We’re not here to judge, only listen.”
Briggs’ anger grew in strides. What a ridiculous display this was. No conversation would fix what they had done. He came here for Rynn, and her alone. He hoped this meeting would give her a sense of peace. Resolve this situation in her heart. Yet, he doubted that was possible. Knowing that his emotions were running away with him, he tried his best to close off his feelings so Rynn wouldn’t sense them. He wanted her to deal with her own emotions, not his. Usually, he enjoyed the intense connection they shared as werewolf mates. Now, she needed him to lean on for support and he did his best to remember that.
But tonight, he could sense her unstable emotions. Clearly, she wasn’t sure how to feel about this meeting with her parents. They looked great, probably because they continually washed. When Briggs discovered them, they’d resorted to living on the streets, caring for nothing and no one except drugs. Pathetic couldn’t even explain how unclean and disgusting they had looked when he’d first laid eyes on them.
The Doctor’s gaze left Briggs and he gestured toward Tarina to start.
“Rynn,” Tarina said, her voice soft and reserved.
Briggs could immediately sense Rynn’s emotions crumble. This wasn’t going to be easy for her. He could feel the anger within her that they’d chosen drugs over her but there was also sadness that they had abandoned her so young.
He could throttle the two people sitting before him. They were only lucky they had gotten this far. His resolve to this problem was to see the end of them, but his mate wouldn’t have that. For her, he would sit through this ridiculous display and listen to the two individuals who had caused her a lifetime of pain. He doubted anything they said would change his opinion of them.
Tarina cleared her throat softly before she continued. “There is nothing I can say to change what has happened in the past. Nothing that will forgive what I have done.”
“You’re bloody right about that,” Briggs interjected.
Rynn squeezed his thigh, drew his gaze down and into her pleading eyes. He took a deep breath and settled back to listen. She needed his support and he would give her that. Again, he reminded himself to rein it in. But it didn’t change the underlying truth that these two sods could rot in hell as far as he was concerned.
Tarina started crying.
Briggs snorted. Her mother knew how to put on a show. How many tears had Rynn shed for them? The woman’s sadness did only one thing…pissed him off more. She was not going to earn his sympathy.
“Go on, Mom,” Rynn said and frowned at Briggs.
It only amused him and eased a bit of the tension along his shoulders. His soft mate looked so lovely when she was angry. Such a little ball of fire she was. He’d piss her off at times just to see that look, it enthralled him.
Tarina sniffed a couple times. Her look was so similar to Rynn, brown hair the exact shade, except Tarina’s was cut at her chin. Even her silver eyes were nearly identical in color and held the same round shape to them.
Yet, her eyes didn’t hold the sweet soul that belonged to his mate. That could never be duplicated. “We were never there for you growing up. Never saw you or cared for you, and that is what I’m so very sorry about. You didn’t have a family.”
“Yes I did,” Rynn retorted without a moment’s hesitation. “I had Pops and he was all I ever needed.”
If it wasn’t for Rynn’s grandfather who had taken her in when she was four, Briggs couldn’t even imagine what would have happened to her. His heart clenched just thinking about it. Now, her grandfather was sick with Alzheimer’s and couldn’t remember her.
Briggs knew the pain it caused her daily. She hadn’t been able to go and visit him since her transformation. Without the control over her wolf, she couldn’t risk shifting in front of him. Just because his mind was gone, didn’t mean that seeing a human morph into a wolf wouldn’t be shocking. No need to make his situation worse.
Soon, she would see him again and Briggs eagerly wanted to take her. She’d only been released from the hospital earlier tonight. It took a little while to recover from her recent injuries.
Injuries sustained by Danika, a wolf determined to see the end of Rynn so her daughter could bond with Briggs. The plan was so unbelievable no one had put it together. It consisted of the fake kidnapping of her own daughter, Kali, bring Rynn out into the wolf world to expose her, then have hired goons kill her.
Luckily, Danika failed, but it wasn`t without injury. Grazed by a bullet and nearly blown to pieces, Rynn was lucky to be alive. In the end, Danika was dead, killed by her mate for her acts of betrayal. Briggs was certainly glad for that. Rynn had a hard time accepting her fate and although he understood that, he wouldn’t have wanted any other outcome.
Briggs drew back from his thoughts when Warwick reached out to take Rynn’s hand. His growl came immediate. No, the man was not allowed to touch her. Warwick wasn’t as stupid as Briggs thought, he instantly placed his hand back on his lap.
Her father looked much older than his forty years. Briggs suspected this was from prolonged drug use. Deep crow’s feet that seemed to create crevasses along his face surrounded dark eyes. His hair, recently cut, had salt and pepper coloring. The man looked worn.
Warwick’s gaze left Briggs and fell to Rynn. “We’re sorry that we let our disease rule us and made us forget everything that was important. We’re grateful that Pops knew just how special you really are.”
Rynn’s eyes began to well up and tumultuous emotions ran through her. Briggs tensed and she reacted to it instantly. She reached out and ran her fingers along his tight fist. Her emotions told him that she was okay–overwhelmed–but okay.
“You have turned out to be a fine lady and are a better person than your mother and I will ever become. We owe Pops a great deal for raising you so well.” Warwick turned his gaze to Briggs. “I respect the loyalty you have to her and if I was sitting in your position, I’d be looking at me like you are now.”
Briggs arched a brow. “Would you now?”
Warwick nodded, his tone full of disgrace. “We have failed her and if you held us in high regard, I suppose that would say you don’t deserve her.”
“And do you think you are worthy of her?” The accusation from Briggs held heavy in the air.
Warwick’s head hung in shame. “No. I do not think I am.”
“Then we do agree on something.”
Dr. Wanker cut in. “We are not here to judge, only to listen.”
Briggs steeled him with a hard look. “Best we direct the conversation away from me then. I have nothing to say here that’s not judgmental.”
“We are here to help in their recovery,” the Doctor chastised.
“No, I am here because my wife wants to be here.” Briggs corrected him quickly.
Rynn stiffened at the word wife. Briggs understood why she felt uncomfortable with the title. She was his mate. The two seemed worlds apart. She gave her head a shake, then looked to Briggs. “Can we just move on please?”
Dr. Wanker pushed his glasses further onto his nose. “Yes.” He nodded at Warwick to continue.
Warwick’s gaze focused, unwavering, on Briggs. “We will make right what we have done wrong to her. We see now what our disease has done to us. We can gain her trust back.”
Briggs’ tension multiplied. He was doing his best to shield his emotions from Rynn, but suspected she could sense that he felt they could never nullify what had been done.
She ran her fingers softly against his hand to gain his attention. When he glanced at her, she gave him a little smile. It said it all. She didn’t mind his protectiveness, but she wanted her parents to get well, needed them to.
He reached up and brushed his fingers along her sweet soft cheek and Rynn leaned into his fingers. No matter what his feelings were on the matter she was his only priority.
Tarina sniffed loudly. “You seem so happy.”
Rynn moved away from Briggs’ hand and glanced at her mother. “I am, very happy.”
“Thank you for taking care of her,” Warwick said to Briggs.
Briggs thought he was in control of himself. Apparently, he wasn’t and had reached the end of his tolerance. He forced himself to keep the glare from showing on his face, but was unable to control the anger in his voice. “Your daughter needs to be taken care of by no one. If you hadn’t spent the last years out of your mind, you would know that. She’s kind, generous, loving and strong–all qualities that obviously came from neither of you.”
Briggs raised his hand to stop Dr. Wanker when he was about to speak, his scowl prevalent. “And what you should all realize is that this ridiculous session has nothing to do with you. It’s not about you.” He pointed to Rynn who had a tear falling down her cheek. He could feel the swell of love course through their bond. “It’s about her–her healing. Your words will fix nothing. Hearing you apologize is meaningless. If you want to make it up to her, get well, and begin to restore the betrayal she suffers. Show her. Not until then should you speak a word of your happiness because we all know, your word means jack shit.”
Silence filled the room. Rynn looked at her hands as she cried.
Dr. Wanker cleared his throat loudly. “I believe Tarina and Warwick have spoken what needed to be said here.”
Briggs was still furious. What had been said really? That they now realized they made mistakes? Well, it was too late for that. The damage was irreversible. The future would be what determined their fate in his eyes.
Tarina stood and went to hug her daughter, but Briggs stood quickly and stepped in front of her. “Embracing her is something you must earn and you have not even come close to that, woman.”
Tarnia dropped her arms and sobbed again, but said nothing. Warwick still sat in his chair, gaze on the floor. Dr. Wanker just looked pissed.
Briggs turned and helped Rynn to her feet. When she glanced at him, her eyes tearful, all he felt was a feeling of security. She seemed to understand what it cost him to be here. He wanted to kill them. It may be violent, but that’s just the wolf’s way. His only thought was of her, to shield her, and she was humbled by that.
He also sensed that she craved to go into her mother’s arms and tell her that she forgave her. She wanted her to know that it was all right and that she understood, but also understood why Briggs had done it. He was doing this to protect her. If she allowed herself to open up to them, they could hurt her and that was one thing he couldn’t allow. Not ever. She had already had her fair share of that. He wouldn’t see her hurt again.
With a final look at her parents, seeing them in all their misery, he pulled on Rynn’s hand and led her from the room. Just as the door closed behind them, Briggs’ phone rang. He reached into his pocket and flipped it open.
“Aye.” He listened for a few moments, then he smiled as he met Rynn’s gaze, happiness flaring through him. This call was just what they needed after this ordeal.
Rynn’s gaze turned curious. When he closed the phone, she asked, “What?”
“We have somewhere to go.”
“Already?” A little pout rose to her darling face. “We can’t go home?”
He shook his head, grinning. “Not yet, darlin’.”