River Wolf

By: Heather Long

Dear Readers





Welcome to River Wolf. When I introduced Brett in Wolf Claim, I had little idea of how integral to the bigger world picture the Hudson River Alpha would become. From the moment he crossed a field, wreathed in his own power, to welcome Gillian and Owen to his territory, he stepped into my heart and made a place for himself. While every book in this series is designed to stand alone, I would recommend reading it prior to this book. What transpired in Wolf Claim left an indelible mark on Brett, leading to his isolating himself more and more from the wolves around him.



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As in all things, a leader should not be chasing his people to see where they are going, but instead, blazing the trail and inviting them to follow. Welcome to the first of the Wolves of Change, as Brett once again takes that mantra to heart and leads his pack. Hudson River has some colorful characters; different dynamics and an interesting mix of old and new world sensibilities. What it shares so deeply with Willow Bend are the passionate wolves who love fiercely.



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Many kind regards,



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Heather





Prologue





Hudson River Valley

Full moon…



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His wolves raced together through the state forest. For the last eight weeks, the healer from Willow Bend focused on Trent’s education, yet she’d managed to find time to bully Brett into pack-building exercises. The pack embraced her latest suggestion—a run together.

Despite the frolicking taking place below, Brett remained watchful and distant, overseeing the games from a hill where he could survey the valley and the old state road running parallel to the park. It was well after midnight, though the run began at sunset with Brett leading the way.

The families peeled away first, ushering their young children home for bed and school the next day. Exhausted and flushed with pleasure, the young healer-in-training, Trent, left with his parents. The seniors followed over the next hour, wreathed in satisfaction from playing together. The young adults, bachelors, and single females remained to play. Owen and Gillian continued to run with Brett’s wolves, but he’d excused himself once it was down to only the singles, after a handful of the females began to cast speculative looks in his direction.

He didn’t know who to trust in his pack, so the last thing he needed was a lover or the wrath incurred if he spurned one for another. Better to not involve himself at all. A faint rustle along the path behind him alerted him to the arrival of one of his Hunters. The scent of humanity twined with the wolf’s natural aroma, revealing the Hunter walked on two legs rather than four.

Pierce.

One of the four trusted with the protection of the pack, Pierce earned his place within Brett’s inner circle following the debacle with Marco. Releasing a sub-vocal woof, he granted the Hunter permission to approach. The man appeared out of the surrounding foliage and dropped to a knee next to him. Dressed in jeans and a t-shirt, Pierce was adept at blending into his surroundings. “We received a call from one of the Enforcers in Maine.”

Brett flicked an ear toward him, a silent order for him to proceed.

“Luc Danes was struck by a car and has been admitted to a hospital.” Once a part of Hudson River, the Lone Wolf left not long after Brett’s ascension as Alpha. The wolf had been Brett’s best friend—still was, in some ways. They occasionally got a beer together when Luc was in the vicinity. Their friendship survived Luc’s exodus from the pack, and it was because of Luc that Brett welcomed Mason Clayborne as a guest in the first few months when the current Alpha of Willow Bend had gone Lone Wolf several years before.

An irritatingly cheerful and charismatic wolf, Luc enjoyed living life on his terms. He was also clever and aware of his surroundings. Hit by a car? It didn’t fit.

“The Enforcer said they would monitor his recovery, but he’s in a coma.”

Brett’s gut clenched. Coma? How serious was the accident?

“The Enforcer is investigating the so-called accident but, as near as he could tell, Luc was in wolf form when he was hit. He’d shifted to human by the time he was found. We’re not in danger of discovery, but he may need a pack to lean on for full recovery…” Pierce trailed off, not adding the unspoken if he recovers.

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