Scroll down for free chapter

A Wolf's Wounds

A Wolf's Wounds

Romance

Celia Kyle

ONGOING
844
10.0

Discover dangerous secrets, fated love, and a town on the brink in this thrilling enemies-to-lovers werewolf romance. Ryder Stone is known more for being a playboy than he is for being second-in-command of his pack. And even Dr. Hannah Kelly, the new girl trying to escape the shadow of her stepfather’s pack, can tell that he’s trouble. But there’s something more to be wary of in this town: a rogue wolf that Ryder accidentally created. The rogue is planning something terrible and only Ryder and Hannah can stop him. Can they set their animosity aside and work together as fated mates to uncover the enemy’s identity before its too late? WARNING: This story contains depictions of sexual content, violence, and other content that may not be suitable for all readers. Reader discretion is advised. Cover design by Mayhem Cover Creations

Werewolf/ShifterParanormal

WARNING: This story contains depictions of sexual content, violence, and other content that may not be suitable for all readers. Reader discretion is advised.

Chapter 1

HANNAH

“I don’t think it’s going to fit.” April and I stand in the hallway, our heads cocked to the side as we stare at my mattress wedged into the room beyond.

April’s spare bedroom is tiny. My California king is decidedly not.

“Damn it.” I groan, and there’s a reproachful squeak from my pet raccoon, Shadow. He doesn’t like it when I cuss. April turns her back to me, and I take the moment to whisper a quick “shut up” at the ball of fur, earning a glare from my pet.

“Well, what are we going to do?” April spins back to me, eyes glinting, hands on her hips.

“I don’t know…” I grumble the words, exhaustion in every syllable. This move from Blackwood pack lands to Stonehaven has taken almost every inch of my fucking patience and every ounce of energy. If I have to give up my bed—the most expensive purchase I’ve ever made—I’ll snap.

Okay, real talk, I know I’m being unreasonable. Truthfully, I’ve been unreasonable for roughly five days. But this move is threatening to unravel what last bits of sanity I possess.

I was excited when I graduated from veterinary school with my degree. Even more so when I got into Othercross University and qualified for Arcane-assisted (go witches!) schooling to become a healer for shifters. On two feet or four, I’m qualified to treat anyone.

It is possibly my largest accomplishment to date, and when I landed the job in Stonehaven, I was finally able to exhale with relief. Student loans aren’t gonna pay themselves. Right?

Okay, so I had a little help landing the position. Help that required negotiations between Mason Blackwood of the Blackwood pack, my stepfather the ex-enforcer, and Gavin Stone of the Stone pack.

But it doesn’t matter. I’m here, far away from my loving but interfering family, and I can finally have my own life. Outside the pack, like a normal human.

Well, if my bed fit.

“Listen, we’ll figure this humongous bed out later.” April waves her arms to encompass the monstrous mattress. Her face twitches with equal parts excitement and impatience. “We’ll unpack your most important things, the stuff you need now, and sort out the rest eventually.”

I met April in vet school. She specializes in small animals, and is, in my eyes, a modern-day Snow White. Small animals, especially wild animals, are the most difficult in my opinion. Their bodies are delicate, fragile, and miniscule. They require a gentle hand and twenty-twenty vision—something I lack. I’ve always admired April for her abilities in the classroom, and I know she’s an amazing vet.

“You’re raring to go today,” I murmur as I open a box—underwear. Definitely need those. “Do I smell a man on the other side of this enthusiasm?”

April has been determinedly looking for a husband since the beginning of our graduate program.

She gushes over him the moment I give her an opening. “He’s amazing. He is the dreamiest guy I’ve ever met. His smile sends electricity right to my—ahem—if you know what I mean.”

We both burst into giggles, and Shadow squeaks again. Thank God April is a vet and loves animals like I do. I don’t think any other roommate would have allowed a raccoon in the house.

Or a “trash panda,” as the last potential landlord called him.

“Yeah, so I’m going out with him tonight. And he is perfect, a specimen of what all men should be.” She sighs, her eyes glazing over slightly, and I wrinkle my nose at the images that are probably floating through her mind. “He could be it!” she continues as I pull out my toiletry bag, which also has my stethoscope in it for some reason. Huh.

The guy she’s meeting with does sound perfect. Suspiciously so. He’s muscular, tall, with chocolate-brown hair that has honey streaks. April’s description, not mine. According to her, he has twinkling brown eyes that are bright and sharp, with lighter brown flecks around the irises.

I can’t help but smile at her zeal.

“Where exactly did you find this perfect guy?” I glance at her, eyebrows raised. Not that I’m looking. I nearly shudder at the thought of being tied down now that I’m finally free.

I just left pack life. I’m not ready to become some man’s forgotten appendage. I’m not ready to be referred to as someone’s girlfriend, yet. Not when I’m only establishing my life.

A life that I can’t fully share with April, unfortunately. I love her, but I’ve had a very different life from her own. I grew up in a pack of shifters—wolf shifters to be exact. I spent my life surrounded by the extraordinary, by the amazing. But I also spent it as a human, while in a pack of powerful, supernatural creatures.

My stepdad, a wolf shifter and the ex-enforcer for the previous generation of the Blackwood pack, has never treated me differently, even though I’m human. In fact, he adopted me, caring for me like his own—as though I was simply a pup.

He mated with, and married, my mom when I was five, and I love him and the pack desperately. But I realized, as I grew older, that it is difficult to have any kind of separate identity.

Instead, I was just another pup, and the enforcer’s daughter. My mother became just another mate of an important wolf shifter, even though she was turned into a strong wolf in her own right.

Leaving the pack to start out on my own was the only way for me to get my independence—to be myself and have my own identity.

All I want to be in Stonehaven is a vet—Dr. Hannah Kelly.

Though there is a caveat. There’s always a caveat with wolves. They’re trickier than foxes, dammit.

My stepdad couldn’t just let me go and be on my own in a strange town. He had to help me find the clinic in Stonehaven, and when he demanded he be the one to negotiate the deal with Gavin Stone, I finally understood his angle.

In Stonehaven, I will be a nothing but a vet to the humans of the town.

But I’m also the healer for the Stone pack should they need assistance.

And oh! By the way, I’m under the pack’s protection now.

Goody.

I almost groan at the memory, but swallow it down and refocus on April as she chatters on about the man she’s soon to meet.

“He picked me up in a bar,” she confesses, wrinkling her nose just a bit, and I mirror the expression.

“Wow,” I deadpan, my voice dry with teasing sarcasm. “Exactly where I’d want to find my Prince Charming.”

“It isn’t serious. Yet.” April shrugs. She nudges my shoulder then. “But maybe I should find out if he has a friend. You could do with some…” She waggles her eyebrows.

“Yeah, maybe. We’ll see.” I’m eyeing the bed again.

Veterinary school can be tough, especially when some patients get stuck in fences at two in the morning. I realized a long time ago that sleep is my most precious resource. The bed was my only damn concession. This time, I keep the expletive inside. I don’t need another grumbling lecture from Shadow.

“Anyway, I have to get ready. I’ve helped all I can. I don’t know about the bed, honey. Maybe I’ll find a chainsaw on the way home.” She wiggles past the bed and down the hall to her own room.

“Don’t you dare!” I call to her as she hurries to get ready for her date.

April is out the door twenty minutes later. If only getting ready was so simple for all of us.

The place is too silent after April leaves. Things are never silent with my BFF around. She keeps up a stream of chatter going at all times, unless she’s at work, then she’s all business. I didn’t realize how comforting it was until she’s gone.

So, I turn on the television in my new bedroom and flick through the copious shows until I settle on something I like. God, April would cringe if she saw that I was watching another David Attenborough special.

I zone out while Sir David speaks about the eating patterns of whales and go about unpacking more boxes. While my bedroom may be small, I do have a lot of space to myself.

I have my own bathroom, and a small living area with lots of storage. There is also a shared living area with a kitchen and a shared bathroom. All in all, I think I’ll be pretty comfortable living here.

I’m nearly finished unpacking when there’s a knock on the door. I look up, dazed, and see that only an hour has passed since April left me to my own devices. It’s still early in the evening—maybe April’s date was late and she slipped back to change her outfit?

Or maybe she forgot her keys?

I hope it’s her and not someone from the Blackwood pack, coming over to “pop in” because they were “in the area.”

Knowing my parents, they’ve already got someone in the neighborhood to keep an eye on me. Like I said, tricky, tricky wolves.

I’m pretty convinced that it’s a keyless April at the front door as I maneuver my way through the various boxes strewn all over the place.

Maybe if it were anyone else, I’d throw on a robe. All I’m wearing is a pair of loose shorts and an oversized shirt. I’m walking barefoot, and my long hair is in an unkempt bun. I haven’t had the willpower to brush my hair or put on real pants since the move began.

Besides, summer is settling into its peak, and sweat has already gathered at the nape of my neck and at the small of my back.

“Coming, April,” I call out as I look around for her set of keys. “You need to get your head screwed on right.” They must be in her room, I conclude as I reach for the dead bolt. “What if I’m not here when you forget your keys next time?”

The door is only half unlocked when it bursts open, the force sending me stumbling back. Wood splinters fly through the air, spinning and twisting in the crowded entryway.

For a moment, I’m frozen even as I fall. My mind can’t process any information except the debris clouding the air as my body moves unbidden. Until movement near the entry draws my gaze, and I stare as a body moves toward me. A man bursts through my door. He’s average-sized with his shoulders hunched, but that is all I can see of him.

I scramble to regain my balance and clamber to my feet, wincing when I stumble against the hard edge of a side table. My movements seem to have spurred him into action as the man dives for me, hands outstretched and fingers curled, and I get a clear view of his face.

I struggle for air when the stranger’s hand wraps around my throat. I scratch at his hardened arms and steellike fingers, twisting and turning in an attempt to break free. But it’s only when he speaks—screams—that I realize he isn’t a stranger at all.

He’s a local councilman—a plant for the Stone pack in local government—and his hand tightens around my throat as he snarls. “You made a big fucking mistake coming here!”

As my vision blackens, I realize he might be right.

Dammit.