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My initial impulse was to take off in search of my erstwhile companion, but the oncoming vehicle had already purred to a halt before I could make my move. And as I stood eying the expanse of sleek, shiny metal, a tinted window rolled down to reveal a man twice as beautiful as the hunk of steel that surrounded him.
“You called an Uber?” the driver asked, sable hair floating down to partially obscure equally dark and mysterious eyes. Despite myself, I leaned in closer to harvest a sniff. Soap, smarts, confidence. The scent was intoxicating.
The driver was human, though, which in this era of extreme shifter secrecy meant he was also entirely off limits. Forcing my head away from the open window, I bit my lip and squashed the hum of lupine interest threatening to rise up through my human throat. Never mind the rules—there was no point in considering a relationship with a one-body when I had no intention of mating outside my pack.
My wolf whimpered within my stomach, chastened by the reminder. But it was the muffled shriek—just distant enough to be indiscernible to a normal human—that pulled me back to the present with a jolt. “I forgot something down there,” I said hurriedly before twisting my arm to gesture awkwardly at the suitcase by my feet. “Help yourself to a cupcake,” I added, “and I’ll be right back.”
Hoping the treat would keep my driver occupied while he waited, I took off at a run just barely slow enough to appear human. Then even that pretense fell away as shadows settled around my furless skin and shielded me from view. I’d made one mistake already in letting the stranger off scot-free. I had no intention of allowing him to harm a human on my watch.
Still, even as I raced down the dark alley intent upon rescue, my mind was attempting to assemble a puzzle whose pieces didn’t quite add up. I was new to this city and unfamiliar with local customs, but it made no sense for a shifter to be attacking females willy-nilly. After all, the Greenbriar alpha would be acting under the same mandate that guided Dad’s governance—the imperative to keep the peace within his pack while also ensuring werewolves remained hidden from prying human eyes. Moral implications aside, Chief Greenbriar would have to be an idiot to allow underlings to draw attention to themselves by breaking one-body laws.
Shivering despite the warmth of the night, I allowed my wolf to rise up and join me within our human skin at last. She wasn’t concerned about the inconsistencies presented by this city’s rotten underbelly. Instead, her attention latched onto the renegade werewolf who’d cornered a human woman in the shadowy enclave between a metal dumpster and an unyielding brick wall.
Despite the darkness, my shifter senses made the scene all too clear. And I winced as I realized the attacker had taken yet another step into the unthinkable during the moments he’d spent alone. Because he wasn’t a wolf now. Instead, the male was two-legged and naked, presumably having transformed right in front of the young woman he was currently attempting to maul.
Unsavory repercussions flew in front of my mind’s eye in one jumbled heap. There was no wiggle room in this particular law. No way to save a human who had been privy to a shifter’s transition from wolf to man. Instead, if this woman had been able to discern her attacker’s shift despite the darkness…well then, she’d have to be killed for the sake of werewolves everywhere.
I’d just have to hope the woman’s eyesight wasn’t up to the task.
The victim didn’t need night vision, though, to be terrified. Not when her attacker had ripped open the front of her blouse, his other hand fumbling with the buttons of her jeans. “You’re fertile,” the male murmured, his words more wolf than human. “Ripe, round, ready.”
And despite my former intentions not to make waves, I abruptly saw red. This wasn’t the way werewolves acted. Forget the mandate not to show ourselves in public, this was uncivilized.
Uncle Hunter would have punched out the attacker’s lights. Dad would have shifted into lupine form and torn into this stranger with tooth and claw. Right now, either option seemed like a good one to me.
But stumbling footsteps in the alley behind my back marked the approach of my Uber driver, his advance slow but steady. Darn his cute face, the guy was too chivalrous to allow me to be assaulted in a dark alley on his watch.
Which meant, unfortunately, I didn’t have the wiggle room to assault anyone in a dark alley either.
So, instead, I readied the talent I’d rejected earlier as akin to killing a mosquito with a sledgehammer. This time around, I figured the bug in question deserved to be squished. “Go home,” I ordered, my voice too quiet for either human to hear.
The stranger, though, not only heard but felt. Predictably, he jerked like a puppet whose stage manager had pulled the strings and bade him to dance. But the shifter didn’t flee immediately. Instead, the bastard tried to fight against my overt command, swiveling around to glare at me over one naked shoulder as he fought against the compulsion to obey.
Then the Uber driver was in the alley behind us. His flashlight shone across the wall and dumpster before glinting against the woman’s eyes…and that was all the illumination the latter needed to raise the canister of Mace she’d been clutching in one white-knuckled grip and spray it directly into her attacker’s face.
My shifter dominance would have done the trick eventually…but I have to admit the effects of pepper spray were far more satisfying. Because the attempted rapist yowled as if his victim had stuck a knife through his groin. Then he was running down the alley in the opposite direction, air humming with electricity as he shifted into lupine form just out of sight.
Breathing a sigh of relief, I crossed my fingers and hoped the two humans didn’t realize they’d just sighted the impossible—a person able to transform into the body of a wolf at will. Because if they put two and two together, the law said I had to put them down.
I definitely didn’t have enough cupcakes on hand to deal with that sort of catastrophe.
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