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The last run of the day.
Damon climbed off the chairlift for one last check before he could head back to his cabin and unwind with a hard cider. Come dusk, he’d head into the forest so his wolf could hunt.
As part of ski patrol on Franconia Mountain, his responsibilities included ensuring that all the guests were safely off the mountain. This double black diamond trail had left more than one skier or snowboarder removing their equipment and walking down the steep pitch after discovering they weren’t up for the challenge.
Damon positioned his skis downhill and scanned from left to right for signs of any struggling skiers as he navigated downhill. Some of the fresh snow from last night had been brushed away by a full day of skiers and snowboarders, exposing a few icy patches. He steered around them. Approximately a third of the way down the mountain, ski tracks veered into the woods.
Either it was someone trying to ski off trail in a dangerous location—or someone was in trouble.
He skied toward the tracks. And then it hit him like he’d suddenly bolted awake from a dream—her scent.
His wolf stirred. We found her.
Damon grunted. He’d been arguing with his wolf for six months, ever since Sophie had run out of that club in Massachusetts. His wolf had urged him to pursue her, insisting they couldn’t let their mate get away. But Damon had refused.
He wouldn’t let one dance with a woman upend his life and all the drama he’d struggled to keep out of it. He wouldn’t be swayed by the notion of one fated mate—especially a human.
Still, he couldn’t deny the primal need that Sophie had stirred within him when they danced. It returned now as instinctive as muscle memory.
Was he imagining it? He took another inhale. It was her, no doubt. All his instincts flared, and his focus homed to one critical task—to find her.
He took a deep breath to steady himself and tried to calm his excited wolf. He would go after her, yes, but simply because it was his job. He had to make sure this woman was safe—if she was even in the woods.
The scent was fresh though, and as he followed her ski tracks into the woods, it grew stronger. His wolf clamored inside, hyped up with tremulous anticipation.
She’s close. Our mate!
Damon grunted and refused to acknowledge his wolf.
The terrain was steep. She had to be an expert skier to navigate the tree line. Hmm. Maybe not. No tight turns around the trees. The path veered off to one straight line through the trees, indicating that she might have lost control.Sophie could be hurt. Or worse.
Damon’s throat felt tight and parched. He swallowed. He would find her.
He had to find her.
The ski tracks ended and were followed by footprints. She must have removed her skis and attempted to walk. But where was she going?
The direction was bad. She was heading diagonally across the mountain toward the Sacco pack’s territory—which was off limits to his pack.
Damn it. Damon had to go after her.
He took off his skis as well, since it was far too dangerous to try and navigate this pitch through the dense forest. Her scent grew stronger. His wolf romped inside. We’re close.
And so was the boundary to Sacco lands.
Her footprints crossed it.
Damon’s heart thumped like a warning signal. He stared at the invisible boundary line between the mountains that every pack member knew not to cross. To end territorial battles, the Sacco and Franconia packs had come to an agreement ten years ago, dividing the mountains.
The differing pack mentalities had exacerbated their differences. While the Franconia pack led by their alpha Rafe developed their lands into a massively successful ski resort with a flourishing village that welcomed humans, the Sacco pack chose to live in solitude, embrace a simple life in nature. The peace treaty agreed to live and let live, and that meant staying off each other’s lands.
A breach would break the treaty. Breaking the treaty could lead to a renewed battle over territory. A battle over territory could lead to full out war between the packs.
Damon had a choice. He could turn back to keep the peace and stay off Sacco land. Or…
Find her, find her, his wolf insisted.
She was in Sacco territory. What dangers awaited her there, he didn’t know. With their aversion to humans, he couldn’t risk it.
Or one of the wolves could try to claim her himself.
Damon growled. He wouldn’t let that happen. He’d never let that happen.
In the end, he didn’t have a choice at all. Instinct took over, and he leaped across the boundary, into forbidden territory, breaking the treaty with the Sacco pack.
He had to protect Sophie.
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The Reluctant Wolf and His Fated Mate
White Mountain Shifters 1
Mates were trouble. That’s why Damon would never commit to one.
Sophie escapes to the White Mountains with her friend for a ski weekend. When she skis off trail and gets lost in the mountains, she stumbles into the path of a wolf. Only it’s bigger than any she ever thought existed, and it’s baring its fangs at her…
Damon has refused to mate with another after seeing his father go mad. When he meets a woman his wolf recognizes as his mate, the call is more difficult to ignore. And when he catches her scent on the mountain, he can’t fight it any longer. He tracks her through the forest to ensure she’s safe.
Only Sophie has stepped into another pack’s territory.
If Damon crosses the boundary, he’ll break the treaty between their packs.
Mates–not just trouble. They could lead a shifter to his death…
Fated mates and forbidden love. Escape into the magic of the White Mountains with the Franconia shifters.