Lisa's Lair

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Chapter One
Sebastian

The bitter wind matched my mood. Snow still dusted the
tops of the red mountains of Sedona, Arizona. Not my first
choice of destinations, but Allen Caldwell was dead, and,
sadly, my father’s desire to see the two werewolf Packs
destroy each other hadn’t died with his old friend.
Again it fell to me.

Being the heir to the Nero Organization, and the right
hand of Antonio Severino, was a bloody existence, but it was
the only one I’d ever known. Although I had no interest in
killing the Pack in Reno, Nevada, if I refused my father’s
vendetta, my own life would be at stake.

And I had a vested interest in that.

I threw open the door to the Wolf Pack Bar, my eyes
quickly adjusting to the dim light. Almost without conscious
thought, I pulled in a deep breath. Two werewolves, four
humans, and a jaguar shifter, my one ally.

The werewolf bartender lifted his head, defensive until
he recognized me. “Well, look what the cat dragged in.”

I ground my teeth at the jab to my true nature. Tasteless
and reckless with humans present, but I expected as much
from a wolf.

He straightened up behind the bar. “What can I get you,
Sebastian?”

I waved him off. “I’m not here for a drink.” I approached
Vance, taking the stool beside him.

He glanced over at me. “This can’t be good news.”

“I guess that depends which side of the chessboard
you’re sitting on.” I shrugged.

Vance chuckled, shaking his head. “And which side are
you on today?”

There were only two people in this world who really
understood me. One had married into the Wolf Pack in
Reno, and the other was Vance Park. Although he wore
an easygoing smile, Vance was one of the deadliest jaguar shifter
assassins the Nero Organization had ever turned out.

“I haven’t decided yet.” I leaned on the bar, keeping my
voice low. The werewolves would have no trouble hearing,
but I wouldn’t say anything in mixed company that could tip
my hand. “Either way, I’m going to need your help.”

Vance got to his feet, but his eyes betrayed his wariness.
“This Pack isn’t ready for a fight. Not yet. They’ve lost too
many.”

I eyed the bartender. He was helping the human
customers at the other end of the bar, but his jaw clenched
as he glanced my way.

“I need some sleep. Then we’ll plan. Come to my hotel
in the morning. I’ll send you a text with my room number.”

Vance nodded. “I’ll be there.”

“Good.” I kept my attention on the bartender as I went
to the door.

As soon as he turned his back on his customer, he took
out his phone, firing off a text. Shit. No doubt someone
now knew I was back in town, but without an Alpha in this
Sedona Pack, I had no idea who to expect might jump me.

Not that it mattered. I was ready. Always.

Outside I scanned the parking lot behind the bar. As a
jaguar shifter, my sense of smell wasn’t as keen as the wolves’,
but my night vision was far better than theirs. I tugged the
collar of my wool-lined trench coat up and slid my hand
inside, stroking the cold metal of my handgun.

When I reached the black Mercedes rental, I walked
right by. I had a stalker, and rather than lead them to my
very public hotel, I’d prefer to solve the problem under the
cloak of darkness.

Far from the yellow floodlight on the back of the bar, I
stopped and turned around. A shadow crouched behind a
power box. A slow breath told me it was a werewolf, but not
one that I recognized.

“Are you going to introduce yourself, wolf?” I didn’t
draw my weapon. Not yet. I could handle one wolf without
wasting a bullet.

“Who I am doesn’t matter.” A woman’s voice.

Unexpected.

“I beg to differ. The bartender wouldn’t have alerted
you that I was in town if you didn’t matter.” I took a couple
slow steps in her direction.

“I was hoping you’d show your face again.”

I listened for her footsteps. “And why is that?”

She bolted and I widened my stance, bracing myself
for impact. Adrenaline was on her side. The female wolf
rammed me so hard we both toppled over. A sharp pain
burst through my chest.

A familiar pain. The wolf’s blade was buried in my
shoulder.

She lifted her head, staring down with hate in her eyes.
I vaguely recognized her from my previous meetings with
this Pack. I’d see her before, but I didn’t know her name.
Hard to trust my recollections while fighting for my life, but
I thought Caldwell had mentioned she was a bounty hunter.
There were probably plenty of bounties on my head. I
wasn’t surprised by her attack.

What surprised me was that I was still breathing. Why
not deliver the killing blow she obviously yearned for?

She yanked the blade free and pressed it to my throat.
“All these years, I thought my father abandoned us. I
wondered if I’d done something wrong to make him walk
out.”

My left shoulder was hot and wet with blood. While she
spoke, I weighed my options. Although my father had spent
years trying to beat my mother’s influence out of me, she
still lingered in the shadows of my heart.

A conscience I sometimes wished I could silence.

My job would be much easier without her voice
whispering in my ear.

And right now, if I didn’t get this woman off me, I might
be seeing my mother sooner than I expected. A hard blow
to her kidney would stun her long enough for me to roll her
over.

Easier said than done.

I had very few moral lines in the sand, but hitting a
woman was one of them. “Killing me isn’t going to bring
back your father, but I can promise you if you do kill me, my
father will not stop until you, and everyone you care about,
are dead.”

“Shut up.” She pressed her free hand over my mouth.
Suddenly her pupils dilated, her lips parting slightly. She
snapped them shut, shaking her head like she could free
herself from some kind of spell.

“No.” Her nostrils flared. “You’re shitting me.” She
blinked hard, her hand trembling as if an invisible force kept
her from burying the blade in my throat. “Damn it. No!”
Her dark hair framed her face, and even in the dim light,

I had no trouble admiring her bright green eyes. If I died
tonight, her face would be a beautiful image to take with me
as I left this world.

But I had no intention of dying. Not yet. There were still
too many loose ends to tie up.

Before she could sink the dagger into me again, I
grabbed her wrist with my right hand and kicked my legs,
rolling her over to pin her underneath me.

She struggled, and with my strength draining out along
with my blood, it took all my focus to keep her down. “I
don’t know who your father was, but I’m sorry you lost him.”

“Fuck you, Sebastian.”

I raised a brow. “So you know my name, but I don’t
know yours.”

“I’m Isabelle, and I’m going to end you and your father.”
Her threat fell on deaf ears. Isabelle was all I heard. My
heart stuttered. It couldn’t be.

“Who was your father?”

She stopped struggling for a moment. “Solomon Wood.”

A chill crept up my spine. I recoiled, releasing her and
stumbling to my feet. Stars danced at the edge of my vision,
reminding me I needed to stitch up my shoulder. Soon.

After all these years, just as the clairvoyant predicted.
Well, not exactly. The letter Solomon gave me before he
bit down on a cyanide capsule hadn’t mentioned Isabelle
attempting to kill me.

She scrambled to stand up, her knife still tight in her fist.
I had no idea why she hesitated to attack me again, but if I
was going to die tonight, it would have already happened.

I searched her face again, recognition dawning. She had
Sol’s eyes. My hands trembled at my sides as the old wound
ripped open.

She frowned. “Are you going to try to deny Nero
murdered my father?”

Charlotte Brontë rolled off my tongue before I could
stop it. “There’s little joy in life for me, And little terror in
the grave; I’ve lived the parting hour to see, Of one I would
have died to save.”

A crease marred her brow. “You’re seriously quoting
poetry now, while your blood is on my knife?”

I sighed, suddenly reminded I was in the company of a
wolf.

A wolf. I crossed my arms, biting back the pain in my
shoulder. “You can’t be Solomon Wood’s daughter. You’re
a werewolf.”

“I was bitten.” She shook her head. “And what does that
have to do with it?”

So she had no idea her father had been a jaguar shifter.

And until I had a better grip on my emotions, I wasn’t ready
to wander down this path with her.

“I knew your father. He was a good man. A mentor to
me.”

My blood dripped off the tip of the knife at her side. “If
you were such good friends, why did Nero kill him?”

It was my turn to be confused. “Why do you think Nero
killed him?”

I wasn’t surprised by her conclusion. My father’s
corporation, the Nero Organization, supplied assassins for
hire. Killing was our business, and business had been good
for years.

What had my mind buzzing was how she had connected
her father to Nero. If she didn’t know her father was a shifter,
he wouldn’t have told her about his job with Nero, either.

“I don’t think, I know. He was listed on an old operative
roster in Caldwell’s files. I did some hacking of encrypted
files and found a second, more recent list. ‘Eliminated’ was
written beside my dad’s name, and the date is a week after
he walked out on us. Doesn’t take a genius detective to put
it all together.”

Beautiful and intelligent. And a wolf. Deadly
combination.

“I was with him that day.” I struggled to keep my eyes
open. Blood loss was catching up to me. “He sacrificed his
life to protect…his family.”

My legs gave out. I dropped to my knees, wincing as I
fought the darkness encroaching at the edge of my vision.
“Your mother…”

My thoughts scattered as the blackness consumed me.

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