Bray isn't a good man, but he's a good wolf. He has one goal - keep his pack of young dominant males from killing each other. Bray's wolf has another goal in mind. Find a mate.
When a female strong enough to handle his pack crosses his path, she's perfect for him. Vixen is smart, sexy as sin, strong, and fierce. There's only only problem. She's not a wolf.
Vixen isn't a good woman, but she's a good assassin. The only thing she cares about is staying one step head of the team sent to retire her. When Bray saves her life, she falls under his protection, and the Alpha wolf wakes up more than the emotions she keeps safely locked away.
Vixen is the mate Bray has been waiting for his entire life, but to keep his pack safe Vixen needs to disappear. Bray has to convince her to stay, or the shifters will lose their sentinel, and he’ll lose his mate.
GPS pinned their location as somewhere in the center of Appalachia. The file, open on the tablet in Vixen’s lap, sent them to the isolated region of the eastern mountain range. It made sense on paper, or in this case, on screen. That was before she had examined their target’s details.
The target was headed towards a region they knew to be a refuge. A sanctuary of sorts. The military couldn’t send a team into the area without causing problems. Instead, they would send in a special unit to eliminate the target.
Men and women who fought private wars, either for their government or the highest bidder, didn’t run to their families. They ran away. They separated from parents and siblings. The calls from family inviting them to the holidays went ignored until the calls stopped coming. If that didn’t work, they died. Or at least invented a death. But those were complicated and messier than convincing your family you didn’t care about them.
There was no way their target was headed to the heart of his family. Especially not if he thought he was in danger. He’d lead that danger far away. Running home wasn’t the only clue the details weren’t kosher. The little voice in Vixen’s head posed questions that Vixen couldn’t answer.
Despite the signs in the file pointing to the rural and isolated area of West Virginia far away from any of the main highways, Vixen couldn’t shake the feeling that something was off. The voice in the back of her mind had yet to fail her, and she wasn’t going to ignore it now.
Turning to the passengers in the back seat, she leveled her gaze on the man sitting behind the diver. He refused to look her in the eye.
Normally she didn’t mind men not looking her in the eye. After all, she spent years cultivating a reputation as a bringer of death. But that was with her enemies, not the men and women she routinely pulled out of shit situations after the government exhausted all other resources.
“You’re sure about this intel?” Vixen waited for the member of the special forces team assigned to work with her to meet her gaze. It never happened.
“It’s good.” The answer came from the driver. He had been the only one willing to say more than a few words to her since she climbed into the armored SUV in Virginia.
She could ask for more. They wouldn’t question her want for further confirmation, but the little voice, the guardian angel who lived inside of her head, spoke up.
They won’t give you what you want. Use your time better.
Either the men in the SUV didn’t have the answers she wanted or they wouldn’t give them to her. Vixen lifted her chin in an approximation of the nod so many men in the military used as a way of greeting or acknowledgment and returned to studying the file on the tablet.
The data was off. Sure, it had a name and a picture, but never, in her sixteen years of service, had they given her a target that was perfect. All the cues were there—isolation, distrust, paranoia, damage to his family, growing resentment, and disappointment in not finding help. And finally, the death of his sister. That was what bothered her. The profile was a textbook version of an individual whose intent was to wage a one-man war against the government and country she swore to defend at all costs. Even at the loss of her humanity.
The streets turned to roads and the heavy truck bounced along the pot-holed ridden surface. Rows of well-maintained, if old, houses devolved into what could only be described as shacks. She tracked the scenery through her peripheral vision. Not in appreciation of the beauty of the landscape, but to keep track of her surroundings.
Why the fake target?
Vixen didn’t need to look far for an answer. It was the same answer to why they placed the target in such an isolated location and insisted a team accompany her. The time had come for her retirement. She didn’t think a military team would have agreed to it though. The military was loyal to Vixen. At least those who didn’t consider her a legend or myth. If the men with her weren’t military, then they were mercenaries.
Mercs couldn’t be trusted. They sold themselves to the highest bidder and didn’t question the ethics of the assignment. Vixen might not be the most moral of women, she had enough red in her books to guarantee a one-way trip to hell, but she had ethics. She couldn’t say the same for her mercenaries in the SUV with her.
The GPS declared the estimated arrival time to be less than thirty minutes away. Assuming Vixen could trust the GPS. Thirty minutes of studying maps that hopefully hadn’t been manufactured with the rest of the file.
Not an ideal situation, but she had found herself in worse places. Besides, even if the maps were doctored, they would probably be accurate enough to be an asset instead of a hindrance. It wasn’t what the maps told her, but what they didn’t tell her.
The maps, clock, and GPS became her focus. After five minutes it was obvious the details had been shifted. Not in any significant way so someone would notice with a cursory looking over.
Whoever tweaked the GPS just moved the image or screen to be five minutes ahead of reality. Either the one tasked with the job was lazy, or possibly knew the real target and wanted to help Vixen. By using the GPS image, she reconciled the maps with her mental maps of her current location and their destination.
Once they stopped she wouldn’t have much time. A minute or two tops before they realized her stalking off to survey the entry point was her exit strategy. An exit that didn’t include a bullet through the back of her head and an anonymous grave. For the first time since Vixen gave up her humanity, nerves struck the center of her chest like a boot from an enemy combatant.
Complacency will kill you every time. You know that. You aren’t complacent.
The voice in Vixen’s head returned her to the present. She brushed away the nerves with a quick shake of her head.
War. It wasn’t just the name of the town they drove through. It was the state Vixen was about to enter.
She needed to be ready for it.