Wolves of Willow Bend
The Italian Alpha, Salvatore Esposito, crossed an ocean and dared to venture into unfriendly territory to hunt for his missing sister in Willow Bend. He’ll do anything to get her back, even if it means he must resist chasing the fierce enforcer who wakens his primal beast…anything.
As an enforcer, Margo Montgomery monitors the lone wolves. She is in the middle of investigating missing wolves from multiple territories when the order comes in to escort the Salvatore to Willow Bend. There’s bad blood between her and the current Alpha of Willow Bend, but they soon discover a new danger—a lone wolf gone rogue.
Now Margo must hunt the rogue—a pursuit made all the more dangerous because it becomes readily apparent the rogue they seek isn’t alone and Salvatore refuses to be left behind—not when wolves are vanishing without a trace…
Book #4 in the Wolves of Willow Bend Series
Series Reading Order:
Wolf at Law (Prequel)
Book 1: Wolf Bite
Book 2: Caged Wolf
Book 3: Wolf Claim
Book 4: Rogue Wolf
About the Author:
National bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime. From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories—her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.
Five cups of coffee and over a thousand miles later, she waited against the wall in the international arrivals area of Midway airport. Julian came through with the name of the airline—a flight via Canada—and the time of arrival. They had no photo of the Alpha and only his name. Plenty of humans stood around holding placards with names written on them. Margo didn’t bother.
The number of scents trailing around her—from the over-perfumed to the under-bathed—threatened to give her a headache. She’d taken an hour at a hotel to shower and change into fresh clothes. Fortunately, she hadn’t bloodied any clothes on her current assignment. Jeans, boots and a denim jacket over a dark green turtleneck fit for the current weather outside. She didn’t stand out, though a number of human males gave her a lingering look. Ignoring them, she scanned the new arrivals passing through the sliding glass doors with their bags.
Arms folded, she braced one foot against the wall. More arrivals spilled through the doors into the early morning light. She dismissed three men immediately. One dripped sweat, the second dripped illness, and the third—her nostrils flared—he avoided looking at anyone. She may not know her target’s appearance, but no Alpha walked with their head down and their gaze on the path in front of them.
A collection of women came through, all chattering about the delicious passenger—his height, his accent, his eyes—on their flight. Home from a holiday it would seem, and apparently the view on the plane trumped anything they’d seen on the ground.
The doors swished apart and fresh odors wafted toward her. Sampling the air, she scented him before she saw him. The hint of sweet-floral fragrance with an element of citrus, but beneath it all a distinctly masculine bite of hot sun on fur, and something her wolf couldn’t sort out.
A stream of businessmen waded through the travelers. Their suits were a dead giveaway, though so were the harried looks, cell phones in hand and rumpled appearances. Dismissing one after another, she stilled.
Awareness swept over her and she canted her head slowly to find one man had stopped a half-dozen feet away. Well over six feet in height, he towered over her five-foot-ten frame. Jet black hair crowned a deeply tanned face. Black eyes—true black, so dark she couldn’t make out a pupil—stared at her.
More than one set of eyes in the room turned toward him, and the crowd parted to walk wide of him. No one dared invade his space.
“Hello, Mr. Esposito,” she said, barely raising her voice. If he were who she believed him to be, he’d hear her anyway. The corner of his beautifully formed mouth quirked, and he made his way toward her. He carried only one mid-sized bag and moved with a tireless grace. The group of women who’d been gushing only moments before fell silent.
Yes, definitely Alpha. He had every woman’s attention and the men who weren’t admiring him, did their damnedest to stay out of his way. Straightening, Margo ignored the faint hint of heat licking along her skin. As the distance between them closed, her wolf quieted further, watchful and wary. An unfamiliar wolf in their midst—would he be friend or foe?
“Buongiorno, signorina Montgomery.” Smooth. His accent stroked her senses, and she narrowed her eyes. For all the attention his looks received and the exotic bite of his scent, the handsome man before her didn’t radiate Alpha. His power didn't sweep out to encompass her like so many Alphas did on approach.
As a matter of fact— “Good morning, Mr. Esposito. Welcome to the United States.” Though the throng of the airport was heavy with new arrivals and those waiting to greet them, the crowd continued to avoid running into him. “Where is your pack?” Alphas might be the most powerful in a pack and they might rule with a velvet glove or iron fist, but they did not take sojourns into foreign lands without backup.
It wouldn’t be sane.
“They are not here,” he answered, then smiled. “You will take me to Willow Bend, yes?”
Cagey bastard. She refused to smile, however, no matter how charming his accent sounded and regardless of the way a shiver chased along her spine when he rolled his ‘r’s. “No, I’ll put your ass back on a plane if you don’t tell me where your pack is.” A lone Alpha? No.
“It is so hard to believe I would travel without an entourage?”
Holding his gaze proved a challenge, but he was not her Alpha. As an Enforcer, she bowed to no one. Keeping her posture relaxed, she raised her eyebrows. “No, not at all hard to believe if your wolves are elsewhere causing mischief.”
Pursing his lips, he squinted briefly. “Mischief—trouble? You’re worried my pack is doing something they shouldn’t?”
“We can stand here all day, Mr. Esposito. Until you tell me where your pack is, how many you brought, you’re not going anywhere. I won’t lead a Trojan Horse into any pack. If you’re a planning a coup or other trouble for any of the U.S. packs, you’ll have a problem with me. Capiche?”
His expression tightened briefly. “You do not carry the scent of pack,” he said as though it were a puzzle.
“No, I don’t. I don’t need to in order to deal with you.”
Sweat trickled down the back of her neck, and her wolf shifted within her restlessly. No power leaked from the presence within the man standing before her, but she and her wolf both knew he weighed, measured, and studied them. After a long moment, his lids dropped to half-closed and he took a step forward. The nearness amped her wariness. “Would it suffice for me to offer my word that they are performing no mischief?”
“At the risk of being insulting and challenging you directly…” She let the last three words hang in the air between them for a moment before continuing. “You are a stranger, so your word has no value.” Admittedly, he hadn’t lied to her as of yet and she gave him points for honesty.
“Admirable.” He made it sound like a compliment, if one left him perplexed. “Few would willingly oppose my desires, at least openly. Fewer still would refuse to back down.” Though his English was flawless, she didn’t let his comment sway her determination.
“Still not an answer to my question. Where is your pack, Mr. Esposito?” The perspiration sliding down her neck threatened to soak her shirt. Thankfully she’d worn the jacket, though even in the dense cloud of human bodies that made up the airport population, she didn’t doubt he would scent her distress sooner rather than later.
Neither she nor her wolf cared to rouse whatever sleeping beast the Alpha possessed, but they couldn’t afford to back down. If he proved intractable, she’d have to deal with him there and find an excuse to toss him back onto a plane. No one ever said the life of an Enforcer would be boring.
“Bella, you amuse me, but I have little time for play.” A hint of authority crept into his words. “I will, however, show you courtesy as you made a request and your assistance would be useful as you know the terrain and I do not.”
Rather than interrupt, she simply raised her eyebrows and waited.
A frown, like a swift moving storm, gathered his brows together before they relaxed and the expression erased. Yep. She was pissing him off, a talent she had in spades.
“They are in Canada, in unclaimed territory. They will not cross into the United States until I send for them.”
“What part of Canada?” She pulled out her cellphone.
“A little town on the other side of border called Pierre St. Pete.”
Weird name, but it was Canada. She dialed Hadley as, last she’d heard, Hadley was in that area. “Hey, it’s me. I’m in Chicago. We have—” She glanced Esposito. “How many?”
An aggravated sigh, and his teeth gave an almost audible click. “Four.”
Gauging his expression, she tested a theory and simply raised her eyebrows again. Something was a tad off in his scent, but the exotic richness of it worked like a drug against her tired system, so she wasn’t sure if it was quite a lie.
His eyes didn’t change color but the weight of his stare seemed to double. “Four.” He repeated, “Only four.”
Hadley didn’t interrupt, but then she could hear the conversation clearly. “Four wolves from the Seven Hills Pack, Italy, in Pierre St. Pete, Canada. Keep on them, don’t engage. They’re waiting for word from their Alpha, who is here in the States with me.”
“Why do you get all the fun assignments?” Hadley teased. “Are any of his wolves hot?”
The Alpha’s lips twitched, and his bad mood evaporated. “Ask for Giovanni. He is very popular with the ladies in Rome.”
After clearing her throat, Hadley whispered. “Will do. Should I check in with you, Margo, or you want me to call Julian?”
Still eyeing Alpha Troublemaker, Margo said, “Julian, unless you think I need to know. I’m escorting him as far as Willow Bend.” Then because his smug smile annoyed her, she added, “Where he will be Mason’s problem and not mine.”
Goodbye, knowing smirk. Disconnecting the call, she motioned to the doors. “Shall we?”
“After you,” he said. “You know the way and, I promise, I will guard your back.”
Fantastic. A foreign Alpha with an agenda behind her, four foreign wolves waiting on the other side of the border, and she was on her way to see another Alpha who hated her.
The trip just kept getting better and better.