Book four in the Wahyas of Walker’s Run series is now available! Here’s a peek at the first chapter.
Watching two wolves copulate wasn’t how Bodaway Gryffon wanted to spend his evening.
In his raven form, he’d flown into the Walker’s Run Cooperative’s wolf sanctuary to scout possible locations for his daughter, Willow’s Transformation Ceremony taking place on her sixteenth birthday—the age their kind, the Tlanuhwa—an ancient Native American clan of raven shifters, developed the ability to shift into their bird forms.
Bodie had first learned of the Walker’s Run Co-operative and their commitment to conservation and the preservation of wildlife a few years ago while working with other state, federal and local agencies to contain a massive fire within the Chattahoochee National Forest.
Recently moved to the area, Bodie now had the opportunity to explore the Co-op’s protected lands with the hope of finding a safe and permanent home for Willow, his mother and himself.
Ignoring the activity below his perch, Bodie lifted his gaze to the full moon, a large, bright, unblinking eye that watched over the earth—or at least the wolf sanctuary. He wondered if its bluish glow served as an aphrodisiac for the wolves, considering the number he’d seen mating tonight.
Peripheral movement in the distance drew his attention and he launched from his perch to investigate. Weaving through trees with branches still weighted with lush, green leaves, he honed in on the she-wolf leisurely padding ahead. Thick reddish-gold fur covered her sleek, toned body. Nose twitching, she tilted her head and watched Bodie alight in a nearby tree. Curiosity shimmered in her cobalt blue eyes and as she examined him inch by inch, an indelible warmth spread across Bodie’s skin beneath his dark feathers.
Inspection complete, she continued on her trek and he felt an unusual tinge of sadness at her departure. Before the she-wolf disappeared completely from view, she looked over her shoulder directly at him.
Bodie wasn’t presumptuous enough to simply assume that he was her visual target. His vision was as sharp as any raptor and he could see her blue gaze fixed on him as clearly as if they were standing nose to beak.
Could wolves actually smile?
Damn curious, Bodie took off from his perch and landed in a tree near where the she-wolf waited. No sooner had he settled than she restarted her journey.
Following along, he flew from limb to limb. She didn’t look back at him again, but if he waited too long to catch up, her pace slowed.
That she wanted Bodie’s company gave him a rush. Although he couldn’t physically smile with his beak, mentally he couldn’t seem to stop himself. If all of the Co-op wolves were this friendly, then the sanctuary would be ideal for Willow’s ceremony and a great place to teach her how to fly.
The she-wolf made her way to a wide, peaceful stream. Gently flowing water sparkled with the moonlight. She eased into the water, as graceful as a nymph, and Bodie landed on an outcropping of rocks at the water’s edge. Leisurely, she swam without once casting her gaze in his direction. He shook off the unexpected annoyance, ruffling his feathers.
A few minutes later, she leaped from the stream and shook. Hopping backward to avoid the spray, Bodie slipped on a slick spot and one of his three-toed feet wedged inside a small crack in the giant rock. A shock of pain shot up his leg and he squawked.
Wiggling his toes didn’t cause further pain, so nothing was broken. Gently, he tried to pull his foot free. But again, something sharp in the slim crevice kept him pinned. Even clenching, then unclenching his toes as he lifted his foot didn’t work.
He tilted his head and peered inside the crack at the jagged piece of debris. With a spaghetti-thin stick or perhaps a pine needle, he might be able to dislodge the obstacle. Too bad nothing was in reach of his beak.
An ominous prickle crawled up his spine and he became aware of the sound of nails clicking against the rock. Slowly, he turned his head and saw the she-wolf peering down at him.
Trying to remain calm, still and avoid sudden movement, Bodie tried again to lift his foot free of the crack. He got the same result—a stabbing pain when he bumped against the sharp debris.
Nudging him, the she-wolf snorted softly, blowing air through his feathers. His heart stopped and panic exploded in his mind. He didn’t think about death often, but on the occasion he did, getting eaten by a wolf was not one of the scenarios his mind conjured.
Attempting to shoo her away, he squawked and flapped his wings. Her nose wrinkled in a grim expression, then she planted her rump on the rock.
The silvery light that flashed along the tips of her fur wouldn’t have bothered Bodie in his human form. However, to his bird sight, the brightness was blinding. When he finally lowered his wings from his face and the black spots faded from his vision, he saw a beautiful, naked woman crouched where the she-wolf had been.
Shock threw his brain into flight mode and the only clear thought he had was to escape. Wings flapping, he intended to soar upward. Pain anchored his trapped leg and he fell flat on his beak.
“Easy, little one.”
Indignation nearly overrode his sensibility. Too bad it would be really awful for him to shift right now.
“Ouch!” The woman drew back her hand. A perfectly round drop of blood formed in the spot where Bodie had pecked her.
“I’m only trying to help.” She pressed the small wound against her mouth.
Yeah? Well, Bodie didn’t know that when she’d reached toward him and he had defended himself with the only weapon he had, his beak. He felt bad about breaking the skin, though. But his reflexes were hyped on adrenaline. Having never encountered a shifter species outside of his own, his linear view of reality had suddenly turned kaleidoscopic. As a matter of survival, Tlanuhwas like himself were extremely secretive about their ability to transform into ravens.
“I know what it’s like to feel trapped and afraid,” the woman cooed.
Now sympathy overran the adrenaline, awakening Bodie’s protective nature and flooding him with an undeniable need to safeguard the she-wolf. Instinctively, his chest puffed and his feathers fluffed.
“Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you in my human or wolf form. Wahyas are forbidden from harming other creatures, especially inside the sanctuary.”
So that’s what they called themselves. Bodie repeated the word in his mind. Wa-hi-ya.
Filled with suspicion, her eyes inspected every inch of him. “You look different from the ravens in these parts.”
That’s because I am.
Double the size of ordinary ravens, Tlanuhwa had inky black feathers that shimmered with a silver iridescence in moonlight and their eyes were golden rather than black.
“If you’re scavenging for leftovers, you won’t find them here.” She eased forward. “No hunting of any kind is allowed inside the sanctuary. Our sentinels will hunt down anyone who tries.”
No hunting allowed.
Bodie wanted to kiss her. Would have in fact, except for…well, him being a bird with his foot stuck in a crack.
He looked at her. Really looked to see the woman, not the she-wolf.
Her long, strawberry blonde hair was damp, rumpled and sexy. Her captivating eyes had remained the same beautiful blue as her wolf’s had been. Tiny crinkles around her mouth and the faint lines in her forehead said she experienced the ups and downs of life head-on. He’d expect no less from a she-wolf.
High cheekbones flanked her straight nose, neither too long nor too short, and the slightly upturned tip was the perfect place for a teasing kiss. The faintest freckles dotted her creamy skin and the delicate expanse of her slender throat inspired visions of delicious nips and licks.
Any man would be honored to be held by such soft, round shoulders and sleek, strong arms. Her breasts were full and perfectly shaped and the pale, pink nipples made his mouth water even though his throat went dry.
“Hey!” She snapped her fingers in front of his face. “Unbelievable!”
His gaze naturally found her chest again.
Oh, so not sorry.
“Show some respect or I’ll leave your feathered ass here. None of the animals will hurt you, but the ants are bitches.”
The threat snapped Bodie’s mind back to where it needed to be.
“So you do understand me.”
He answered with a deep-throated croak.
“If I’m going to get you unstuck, I need to see what your foot is caught on.” Slowly, she leaned down.
He froze, unable to breathe. His form might be that of a raven, but he was still male. Hot-blooded and drowning in testosterone.
“How in the world did you manage to get stuck like that?” she said, staring down into the crack.
Funny story. Maybe I’ll tell you one day.
“I’m gonna need something to dislodge that pebble.” Frowning, she glanced around.
Hey, beautiful, what’s your name?
Crouched on her hands and knees, she leaned over the boulder and reached into the water.
Come here often? I’d really like for you to show me around. Show me a good time.
Unable to resist, he cautiously stretched out his wing so that the tips of his feathers grazed her backside.
“Hey!” Clutching a thin reed, she sat up and looked around.
Bodie quickly pointed his beak in the air looking everywhere except at her gloriously naked body.
“Weird,” she mumbled, moving back into position to peer into the crack.
He couldn’t see what she was doing but he felt the debris fall away from his foot. In his excitement to be free, Bodie accidentally slapped the woman’s face with his wing.
Sorry! This time he meant it.
On his good leg, he hopped in circles, trying to inspect his other foot. Thankfully, it wasn’t bloody or mangled.
“You should be all right now.”
He eased his foot down until it was flat against the boulder. After a few tentative steps, he put his full weight on it. It didn’t buckle and he felt no pain.
Croaking gratefully, he bowed to his lovely rescuer.
His reward was a soft smile. This time, when she reached toward him, Bodie didn’t strike back.
She gently stroked his chest. His insides got all warm and fuzzy, and he felt a little drunk. He blamed the sensation on his relief at being freed.
“Aren’t you cute.”
Cute was for teenagers. When she saw him in his human form, that would not be the first word that popped into her mind.
A howl rose in the distance.
“Gotta go, little one,” she told Bodie before shifting into her wolf and leaping from the boulder.
Oh, he couldn’t wait to show her how little he wasn’t.
~~Excerpt, Captivated by the She-wolf, by Kristal Hollis. (c) All rights reserved.
Available in ebook and paper back at online retailers.
To check out other books in the series, visit Kristal’s Amazon page.