Wolfs ascension, p.1
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       Wolf's Ascension, p.1

           Lauren Dane
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Wolf's Ascension


  Wolf’s Acension

  By Lauren Dane

  Attacked by werewolves. Mated to the Alpha. Declared a queen. Kari is having an unusual day.

  In the Cherchez wolf pack, loyalty is earned, not given. For Andreas, the pull he feels toward Kari cannot be ignored, a physical bond immediate and unbreakable—though Andreas wants to win Kari’s heart as well as her body. But someone isn’t happy about his new mate, and Kari’s just beginning to trust him and the pack when attempted murder threatens their newfound happiness.

  Andreas brings out the deepest hunger in Kari, a sexy, passionate side of herself she never knew was there. And her new life as werewolf queen is turning out to be surprisingly emotional in other ways, as well. The bond she feels with Andreas extends to the others in the pack—others she’s now bound to defend.

  And as the pack’s enemies are about to discover, Kari will do anything to protect her new family.

  Previously published under a different title, newly revised by author

  Dear Reader,

  If there’s one thing we have learned from the kickass heroines of the fiction we read and publish, it’s that you should always be in control of your own happiness. And, if you’re reading this, I’m guessing you’re like me and books make you happy. So this February, during Valentine’s month, instead of waiting for someone to put some romance in your life, go ahead and do it for yourself: buy yourself all the books!

  Shannon Stacey always brings a fantastic blend of humor, heroes and sigh-worthy romance, and her novella A Fighting Chance is no different. All work and no play makes Adeline Kendrick a dull girl, so when she heads to a casino resort for a friend’s bachelorette weekend, she’s ready to have a good time. Until she runs into Brendan Quinn, professional fighter and the one who got away—the one her family drove away—and things take a turn for the interesting. When the weekend is over, Adeline isn’t ready to give up her second chance that easily.

  An unexpected fresh start leads to an unlikely—but absolutely perfect—pairing in Getting Him Back, a male/male contemporary romance from bestselling gay romance author K.A. Mitchell. Ethan may have followed his high school sweetheart to college only to get dumped his first day there, but he’s not going to let that stop him. And then there’s Wyatt. Mysterious, grouchy…hot. And possibly not gay. New college goal? Get Wyatt into bed and into Ethan’s life.

  In Anna del Mar’s debut romantic suspense, The Asset, a woman fleeing from her sinister past must defy her fears and risk her life to care for a wounded warrior, a SEAL who will push the limits of his broken body and protect her to his very last breath. Don’t miss this first Wounded Warrior novel.

  If you’re looking for a melt-your-panties hot erotic romance read, look no further than Wolf’s Ascension by Lauren Dane. Attacked by werewolves. Mated to the Alpha. Declared a queen. Kari is having an unusual day. In the Cherchez wolf pack, loyalty is earned, not given. For Andreas, the pull he feels toward Kari cannot be ignored, a physical bond immediate and unbreakable—though Andreas wants to win Kari’s heart as well as her body. And be sure to watch for book two, Sworn to the Wolf, on sale in March 2016.

  In the explosive follow-up to Joely Sue Burkhart’s darkly erotic romance One Cut Deeper, life on the run with an assassin isn’t what Ranay thought it would be. In fact, parts of it more closely resemble a sex-fueled vacation—until duty calls. The FBI believe Charlie’s brother is working for a human trafficking ring, and Charlie is the only one who can bring him down. Two Cuts Darker brings you back into the world of dark romance but delivers the same satisfying happy ending.

  The only doctor who can stop a man-made killer flu couldn’t hit the broadside of a barn with a grenade launcher—so his bodyguard, Sergeant Ali Stone, has her work cut out for her in Viral Justice, the last book in the Biological Response Team romantic suspense trilogy by Julie Rowe. And you can still pick up Deadly Strain and Lethal Game wherever Carina Press ebooks are sold!

  Tempted to off your significant other for forgetting Valentine’s Day again? Satisfy your more murderous urges with our two mystery offerings this month.

  Jonathan Watkins combines mystery with romance in A Devil’s Bargain. Past sins and dark secrets threaten to blow apart the lives and careers of criminal defenders Issabella Bright and Darren Fletcher when their friend, Theresa Winkle, is charged with the vicious murder of a man behind her bar—a man Darren learns is connected to his own family’s corrupt history and to the one case that has haunted him for years. Go back to the beginning of their romance, and indulge in all of the fantastic Bright & Fletcher mysteries now available: Motor City Shakedown, Dying in Detroit and Isolated Judgment.

  In Brenda Buchanan’s latest Joe Gale Mystery, Truth Beat, a newspaper reporter struggles with unreliable sources while covering two explosive stories—the apparent murder of a priest who stood up to his church and a spate of increasingly destructive bombings.

  Last, this month I’m excited to present a new romantic suspense series that I’ve been highly anticipating from Carina Press author Nico Rosso. Undercover agent Art Diaz had no choice but to drag Chef Hayley Baskov into the world of Russian mobsters, but when her tentative trust turns to full passion he vows to stop at nothing to protect her during the final strike. Be sure to pick up the first in the Black Ops: Automatik series, Countdown to Zero Hour.

  So kick off your shoes, curl up in your favorite cozy spot, and treat yourself to a Valentine’s month of books. (When it comes to books, one day of indulgence is never going to be enough.)

  And then look forward to next month, with releases from Shannon Stacey in contemporary romance, Dee Carney in paranormal romance and j. leigh bailey in male/male romance.

  As always, until next month here’s wishing you a wonderful month of books you love, remember and recommend.

  Happy reading!

  ~Angela James

  Executive Editor, Carina Press

  Dedication

  To Angela James and the Carina Press team, who have been nothing but good to me.

  Author’s Note

  This book was previously released in 2007 by another publisher under the title of Ascension. It has been revised and updated for re-release with Carina Press.

  Wolf’s Ascension is not set in the same universe as my Cascadia Wolves. The stories and Pack hierarchy and history are very different, and the Cherchez Pack will go on a journey that is quite unlike that which my Warden family will endure. I hope you all enjoy these wolves with their stories as much as you do my Cascadia wolves.

  Contents

  Prologue

  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Epilogue

  Excerpt from Goddess With a Blade by Lauren Dane

  Prologue

  Kari Warner walked down the alley, well aware that something was following her. No, not following—stalking. The alley was wide and the sounds of her heels as she moved along quickly echoed through it, bouncing from the dingy walls back at her. Heart in her throat, her quick walk became a slow run. Fear choked her as she heard the corresponding quickening of the footsteps of her pursuer. Cursing her stupidity, she sent out a brief prayer, exchanging chocolate for safety.

  Leaving the nightclub a few minutes before, she’d known she should’ve taken the long way. But she’d been so tired and had opted for the shortcut through the alley. She’d gone that way a dozen times befo
re.

  She felt the weight of eyes on her, watching, measuring, waiting. The corner and the streetlight were only half a block away. Hope bloomed in her chest as she began to believe she was going to make it. The light cried safe haven. She held on to the light like a lifeline.

  Suddenly a low growl split the air and the hair on her arms stood on end. A queer electric hum began at the base of her spine, riding up into her hairline.

  What was that? her panicked mind screamed.

  Eyes wild, she looked up to see a massive dog jump at her, knocking her over, ripping into her flesh with its teeth. She drew in breath for a scream, but in those short milliseconds her throat was crushed as its jaws closed in over her neck and bit down. Razor-sharp teeth tore at her. Its unbelievably strong jaw gripped tight as its head jerked from side to side, shredding her neck. Her hands pushed against the massive head as the long muzzle pressed against her open wound. Her mind, unable to accept the entirety of the experience, slipped into a state of unreality for a long moment and she felt herself drifting away. No!

  Fighting, body screaming for air, she pushed up frantically, trying not to panic. Her strength ebbing, she had a hard time gaining purchase as she kept slipping in the blood she was losing. Her hands grappled with the dog, the hard muscles rippling beneath the fur. She wanted to just crawl away, to get far from the thing now tearing into her stomach with its teeth. But it was so strong, so big, that she couldn’t knock it away, or even push it off-balance enough to get away. God, he’s so soft, she thought until everything went black.

  Chapter One

  Beep, beep, beep, beep, beep.

  Everything hurt. Kari tried to swallow around the fire in her throat. Her eyes fluttered open.

  “Kari? Get the doctor, she’s waking up! Kari, honey?”

  Kari tried to focus on the man next to her bed. It was her brother. Jack gripped her hand until she winced.

  “Sorry.” The grip lessened, but he didn’t release. “How do you feel, sweetie?”

  She tried to speak but all she could manage was a croak. So she just smiled at him, hoping to reassure him. Cool hands offered her a straw and urged her to take a drink.

  “Small sips, don’t drink too much or you’ll be sick,” a woman’s soft voice cautioned.

  Kari had to fight against her instincts because the cool water felt so good on her abraded throat and she wanted to gulp it down.

  “That’s it. Good, Kari. I’m going to set the water down for a moment, okay? I’m just going to check you out. See how you’re doing.” The owner of the voice moved into Kari’s line of sight. She was a nurse—no, a doctor. Large brown eyes looked her over. Close-cropped, chic gray hair and a long, tall frame completed the package. The embroidered name on the blue coat said “Dr. Elaine Kennedy.”

  “Kari, can you try to talk?” Dr. Kennedy’s cool hands smoothed over Kari’s throat where the dog had bit her. Panic rose momentarily as she recalled the size of that dog, the intelligence she remembered in its eyes. As if sensing her panic, Dr. Kennedy made a soothing sound and touched Kari’s arm softly before undoing the front of her gown to look at her stomach. Kari relaxed. Something about the other woman made her feel more secure, safe.

  Kari swallowed a few times. “Wha...what happened?” Her voice was hoarse, raw.

  “We don’t know exactly. You showed up in the driveway of the emergency room. You were pretty beaten up. We got an anonymous call that you were out there. Do you remember anything?”

  “Dog. A big dog jumped me.” Kari moved her free hand to her stomach, where the dog had ripped into her flesh, and was surprised that there were no stitches there. “It bit me, tore into me, here.” Craning her head to look took too much effort and she slumped back, exhausted, against the pillows.

  The doctor looked at her kindly, smiling as if she was not quite right in the head. “It will all come back to you with time. But you can see for yourself that you have no wounds there, just some extensive bruising. Your throat took a beating, though. Looks like your larynx was pretty severely damaged. You had a concussion and some swelling on the brain, which has lessened considerably.”

  “How long have I been here?” Damn, it hurt to talk. She tried to swallow but it was so painful. “Water, please,” she asked and Jack brought the straw back to her lips.

  “Three days. You came in at two thirty on Saturday morning. It’s Tuesday.”

  “Jesus. Three days?” Groggy, her head hurt. No—her entire body hurt. And where on earth did the dog go? Had she imagined it? No, there was no way she could have imagined such a thing. That dog had been massive. She could still feel the razor-sharp teeth rending her flesh. The silky texture of the fur under her hands. She tried to work it through but she kept losing track. The medication made her drowsy, messing up her thought processes.

  “Will she be okay?” Jack watched her, concern written all over his face.

  “Well, her pupils look good, reactive like they’re supposed to be. Her pulse has remained strong. The swelling has gone down to nearly normal. It looks good for her. We will, of course, keep her in for at least another day or two for observation, just to be sure.”

  Dr. Kennedy smiled at Kari, patting her hand before walking to the door. “Just take it slow, and everything will be all right. Get your rest now. Have your brother help you bring the level of the bed up a bit. Watch some TV or listen to an audiobook. I’ll be back in a few hours.”

  * * *

  “You’re lucky Elaine was on shift.” Andreas angrily paced the elegant, wood-paneled library. If he stopped moving, he’d be far too tempted to punch someone. “She just called. Kari’s regained consciousness and will recover.” He slammed his hand down onto the side table so hard it split into pieces. “Idiot! I told you it wasn’t the plan to change her for another month or two. Until after I’d met her and she’d gotten to know me.”

  Michael, the man in the chair receiving the angry lecture, winced. His blond hair fell over his eyes, hiding his expression. Andreas wanted to curl his lip. Wanted to cuff his cousin for being so stupid and impulsive. Impulsive was dangerous in general. For werewolves, it could be deadly.

  Andreas glared at Michael once more as he picked up his stalk. Back and forth across the floor. Fists clenched, rage vibrated through him. His Mate had been put in danger and his plans to meet and woo her without frightening her had been upset. His primal need to protect her—to bring her to him in a way that made her the most comfortable—had been challenged. “Lucky for you the wounds have healed already so Elaine was able to blow them off and focus on the concussion. She wouldn’t allow too close an examination by Kari’s brother, so no one saw the bites but Elaine and Henry.”

  Laurent Cole strolled into the room, pausing to sigh at the wreckage of the broken table. “You’ve got to stop breaking the furniture, Andreas.” He cleared away the pieces before dusting off his hands, grabbing an apple and tossing himself into a chair. He watched Andreas pensively. “What are we going to do?”

  “It’s too late to delay. The change has already started. Elaine can manage to hold Kari’s brother off for a few more days. She told him they planned to keep her there for another two days. Obviously we need to get her out before that attention.”

  There was no real alternative. Her accelerated healing would garner unwanted attention. Laurent nodded. “Makes sense. How are we going to handle the brother?”

  With a heavy sigh, Andreas made himself cease prowling. He moved to the chair behind his massive desk, letting the sun shining through the window warm him, calm him. He ran his hands over his face and through his hair. His muscles ached, tight with repressed fury and stress.

  “Yeah, well, I don’t have any idea. We don’t have a contingency. This wasn’t meant to happen for another two months. Full moon is in three days; she’ll need to be here. With us. She can’t transform the first time alone, she wouldn’t survive. We don’t have the luxury of slowly bringing her into the Pack.” Andreas’s voice was weary, resigned.
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  He continued, “We’ll have to go to her and explain. Or rather, we’ll have to bring her here and explain. Make amends. She won’t believe us, of course, so that’ll make the transformation even more difficult. I hate to start off with her with distrust and fear. I wanted it to be different.” Andreas stared out the window at the pine trees surrounding the large house, toward the lake and sighed. A wolf like him fed on control. But in this situation he had very little. It ate at him.

  He deliberately avoided looking back to Michael. His cousin was weak. Not in full control of his instincts. Any other wolf in the Pack and Andreas would have beaten the hell out of him. But Michael had always been sheltered. First by his parents and then by Andreas once he’d taken over from his father.

  “She’ll have to deal with it, Andreas. She has no other choice. We have no other choice. We need her,” Laurent said with an elegant shrug. “The Pack needs her.”

  Phillip, the final man in the room, growled. “If Michael had just kept his shit together we wouldn’t be dealing with this.” One leg crossed over the other, swinging back and forth. The movement seemed casual but there was menace there just beneath the surface.

  “But he did. And so it has to be done. She may well hate us all for a long time but it’s too late anyway. She’s going to transform in three days and she’ll be far worse off without us than with us. Michael will have to explain himself to her later. The Pack needs an Alpha-bitch. We need to continue and we can’t do that without females.” Laurent’s tone was matter-of-fact.

 

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