What happens when an independent, strong-willed woman meets an alpha male? Now imagine their meeting occurs while Elizabeth Winters is under attack. Her assailant is among the undead, a vampire: the most feared and reviled of Earth's legendary creatures. Intent on coming to her rescue is Samuel Woods, the leader of his people and Elizabeth's one true mate. She is the Protector's destiny. Together they stand between the undead and the enslavement of all mankind.
They are members of the Loup-garou, modern-day werewolves, destined to protect humanity from vampires, while roaming the world in search of their other half. From the mountains of Upstate New York, to the Saskatchewan region of Canada, Sam and Elizabeth find themselves battling not only the undead, but traitors from within. Can they find the traitors in time, or will an ancient enemy destroy their love before it even begins?
February, New Orleans
Fierce gusts howled through the streets. Lightning blazed jagged white scars across the sky. Rain jolted her body like needles poking a voodoo doll, slowing her movements and making it more difficult to reach sanctuary. She ran for her life—for the lives of humans she never met—to protect them from her undead stalker.<
Tension pulled her nerve endings. The evil one’s hell-scented stench reached out to envelope her. The vampire had gained on her.
Elizabeth Winters slipped around the corner. Glanced back. No one yet. She dashed down the next alley and clutched her throat. No! A dead end.
“I’m going to have to fight my way out,” she mumbled. Elizabeth looked around for a weapon, anything to use should the vampire get close enough. Trash littered the ground, but she found nothing to use against the beast.
Cornered, she tossed back her head in frustration. She wanted to scream, but noise would summon the creature. Elizabeth knew she’d have to fight for her survival before the night was out.
An unnatural calm descended upon her. Fear could not force her to run. The time to stand up for herself and her people was now.
For millennia, the undead stalked and ravaged her kind. Vampires exterminated whole packs of her people so they could have free reign to enslave humans. Some inner force compelled her to turn the tables.
A foul wailing wind heralded the creature’s approach. Time had run out. Elizabeth quickly slipped off her clothes and forced her mind to go blank. Instinct took over.
Eyes closed, she let the change happen. Her muscles stretched and contorted, joints popped. Bones changed shape and grew. Power and strength surged through her body, completing the transformation. She dropped onto all fours, geared for battle, spurred more by courage than preparation. The transformation’s pain and disorientation ended as fast as it began.
Elizabeth’s lips curled, a growl rumbled from deep within. Her hackles bristled, her coat rippled, and her muscles bunched as the vampire approached.
The creature stood a few feet away. Black jeans and a tee shirt draped his gaunt frame. Gray skin stretched tightly across a hollow-cheeked face. Its teeth, yellow with decay, sent chills up and down her spine. Her fur bristled.
“What a surprise. You’ve stopped running. I would have caught you at my leisure.” His voice sounded like bones rattling, a hollow keening sound. She circled, keeping the creature in front of her.
She shivered, terrified of the monster, but unwilling—unable—to back down.
The vampire loomed over her, his tongue slid across his teeth in anticipation. “You think you can challenge me, furry bitch? You empaths are all alike, but you don’t have the fortitude or guts.” Soulless eyes swept over her, his voice dripped conceit. “I’ve won already. You might as well get down on your belly and grovel.” With a confident snarl, the vampire attacked.
A phrase echoed in her mind, overconfidence kills. Muscles tightened, thoughts churned, as she tried to assess and exploit his weakness.
The vampire reached for her, a blur. She countered, ducking under the creature’s outstretched arms. She raked his back with her claws as she passed. His fist struck her side, catching her unaware, and sending her tumbling to the ground. The rough pavement scraped the fur from the side of her muzzle. Her breath caught as fire-hot pain lanced through her.
The vampire’s blood splattered them both. The tar-thick fluid burned through her fur, skin and muzzle like acid. Elizabeth stumbled to her feet, howled in pain, in anger, then charged.
Blood loss from the wounds the vampire had managed to inflict would soon leave her too weakened to continue. She staggered, then circled the creature. She knew she stood open to his attack. Still, Elizabeth maintained her battle stance.
Sunrise lightened the sky, a soft glow on the edge of the city. She prayed for it to hurry, to send its killing rays down upon her enemy. Trembling from exhaustion and pain, she watched the vampire stalk forward for the kill. She tried, a second too late, to dodge his venomous claws.
Blood covered her raven fur as his talons raked her side. Elizabeth staggered, yet somehow remained upright. How would she survive? Too weak to fight, too weak to run, she howled in rage and pain.
As though the heavens heard her cries, dawn’s first rays poked over the horizon. The vampire shrilled, smoke curled from its flesh. His evil voice echoed from the alley as he fled, “I will find you again. No matter where you run, wherever you hide.”
Too weak to hunt for a suitable place to hide, Elizabeth conjured the last of her strength to return to human form. Her injuries would heal themselves, eventually.
Each move caused her muscles to tighten and pain to wrack her body. Her fingers stiffened, her body ached. Dressing became a slow, clumsy labor. She needed to find safety before some misguided soul called an ambulance.
Her muscles quivered in pain and exhaustion. Elizabeth made her decision. No more running. No more hiding. It was time to reclaim her life. Time to live up to her destiny. She turned toward the dawn and started home.