Home > The Wolf Within (Purgatory #1)

The Wolf Within (Purgatory #1)
Author: Cynthia Eden

Chapter One

Special Agent Duncan McGuire raced around the street corner, chasing his prey even as his heartbeat thundered in his ears. Duncan’s partner, Elias Lone, was just steps behind him. No damn way were they letting the killer escape.

The twisted bastard had already murdered four women in Seattle. Slashed their bodies. Torn out their throats. This nightmare was ending.

Duncan would make it end.

The perp rushed into an alley.

Dead end, a**hole.

The killer didn’t know the city as well as Duncan did.

His hold tightened on his weapon, and he leapt right into the entrance of that narrow alleyway. “Freeze!” Duncan roared. “FBI!”

The perp—a man with long, shaggy, blond hair—was facing the brick wall that ended the alley. At Duncan’s shout, the man did freeze, for all of about twenty seconds. Then he started laughing as he spun to face Duncan and Elias.

“You humans are so out of your league,” the blond snarled. His hands were up, and, as Duncan watched, the guy’s nails began to transform—

Into long, black claws.

The blond laughed again. “Just the two of you? This should be so easy.” His teeth were lengthening. Turning into sharp fangs. As Duncan watched, the man’s face elongated. His bones snapped.

“Hell,” Elias muttered from behind Duncan. “You were right. He’s a wolf.”

Duncan smiled, but didn’t take his eyes off the killer before him. “I told you, vamps would never waste that much blood.” Since Elias had just lost the bet, the guy owed him a hundred bucks. Duncan knew his werewolves.

The blond seemed to realize that they weren’t exactly quaking in fear before him.

“What?” Duncan asked, lifting a brow. “Is this the part where we’re supposed to act shocked because you can grow fur and howl at the moon?”

“You f**kin’—”

“Sorry,” Duncan muttered, “but you’re hardly the first Para that we’ve taken down.” Actually, Duncan and Elias were part of an elite unit that only hunted the paranormals in Seattle. The paranormals usually hid in plain sight, mostly managing to pass for humans.

Until they started to eat said humans. When the vampires and werewolves went bad and humans wound up as their prey of choice, well, that was when Duncan came in.

Someone had to keep the humans safe.

Duncan’s words seemed to enrage the werewolf before him. The guy’s lips peeled back—yeah, those teeth and claws were the weapons that had ended the lives of those four co-eds—and the fellow’s body stretched as the power of the shift flooded through him.

Duncan kept his own body loose and ready. His gun was in his hand, but he wasn’t firing unless the werewolf attacked him. His orders were to take the werewolf in, not to kill him.

The werewolf’s elongated teeth snapped together.

Like I haven’t seen all this shit before.

Unlike most humans, Duncan knew the score about the supernaturals. He’d known the truth since he’d been a kid.

“Humans aren’t going to stop me!” The killer’s cry was guttural. “You can’t!” Fur burst along his skin. He fell to the ground, his knees and palms hitting the cement. His eyes glowed. “You don’t have the power!” That last was more growl than human speech as the guy completed his shift…

And became a full on wolf.

The wolf launched at Duncan. Not coming in alive. Duncan’s fingers tightened around the trigger. He fired. Once. Twice.

The bullets stopped the werewolf cold.

“Silver, dumb ass,” Duncan said with a sad shake of his head as smoke drifted from the wolf’s body. “It’ll stop your kind every time.” The fur slowly melted from the beast’s body. The bones reshaped. In death, the monster became a man again. Well, not completely a man. A werewolf still kept his fangs and claws at death.

“Nice shots,” Elias said, still from behind him.

Duncan grunted. He kept his weapon up as he eased closer to the body. Lowering the gun at this point would be a rookie mistake. Paras weren’t like humans. Even if they looked dead, half the time, they weren’t. They’d keep coming and coming and coming, just like the monsters in scary movies. Only this wasn’t a movie.

Reality was scarier than the late-night horror shows.

“You hit him in the head,” Elias said as he slid closer. “Don’t worry, man, he’s gone. He’s—”

A growl sounded from the mouth of the alley. Duncan spun around.

Too late.

It wasn’t just a lone werewolf they were hunting. He’d thought they were dealing with an isolated killer, a werewolf gone mad with bloodlust. That profile had been what the intel had showed him.

The intel was wrong.

Logan was gazing at a pack.Four other fully shifted werewolves were at the front of that alley.

They were leaping for Elias. And Elias had put up his weapon already. Rookie mistake.

Duncan rushed forward and shoved his partner to the side, barely dodging the claws of a werewolf. Duncan aimed his gun and started firing. Again and again.

One wolf down. Another—

He felt teeth tear into his shoulder.

Into his neck.

He could smell the wild, woodsy scent of the beasts. His own blood. He could feel his blood, trailing down his neck, soaking his shirt.

His gun wasn’t firing. He’d used all the bullets.

More wolves were closing in…

Just as they’d closed in when he’d been four. When they’d killed his family.

When he’d lost everything but his life.

He hadn’t been able to see the wolves then, but he’d heard their snarls and his mother’s desperate cries. He could still hear those cries in his nightmares.

She hadn’t survived the attack.

He had.

Only this time, Duncan knew he wouldn’t be so lucky.

Elias was screaming. The beasts were howling.

And Duncan—Duncan was pretty sure that he was dying.

***

“I’m so sorry, man.” Elias’s voice was shaking and miserable.

Duncan opened his eyes. Pain knifed through him. Twisting. Gutting him.

He tried to move. Couldn’t.

Not because of the pain but because…because he was strapped down?

What the hell?

“I’m sorry,” Elias said again.

Duncan’s gaze flew to the other man. Elias stood a few feet away, and the faint glow from a street light revealed the haggard appearance of his face.

Why was Elias apologizing? They’d both made it out of that stinking alley, and, wonder of wonders, they were both actually still breathing. “You…owe me…” Duncan managed.

Elias shook his head. The lines on his face deepened even more.

“Get him to the containment facility,” a hard voice ordered.

Whoa…what? Containment? Containment was where his team—the Seattle division of the FBI’s not-supposed-to-exist Para Unit—sent their captured shifters and vampires for temporary holding. He wasn’t a prisoner. He was one of the good guys.

Duncan tried to lift his head. On the second attempt, he actually succeeded, and it was then that he saw the face of his boss, Eric Pate, come into focus. “I’m sorry,” Pate said, and he actually sounded like he was, odd for the usually emotionless director, “but we don’t have an option.”

Duncan jerked at the bonds holding him down. The other agents had strapped him to a gurney and were wheeling him toward a waiting ambulance.

“You were bitten by the suspect.” Real regret tinged Pate’s voice. “You know what that means.”

Bitten. No. The f**k, no. “Kill me,” Duncan snapped. Because there was no way he’d become a monster. The werewolves only existed to torture and kill. To slaughter. Their beasts dominated. They attacked anyone and everything.

Just like they’d attacked his family.

I won’t be like that. When he’d agreed to become part of the secret division, he’d known there would be deadly risks involved in his cases. He’d known the risks, and he’d long ago decided what he would and wouldn’t become.

“No!” Elias yelled as he surged forward. “Pate, dammit, don’t! You promised—”

Screw any promises that Pate had made to Elias. Now Duncan remembered the feel of teeth tearing into his flesh. His neck. His shoulder. With all of those bites and the blood loss, he should be dead.

But he wasn’t. Because his body was already transforming.

If a werewolf’s bite didn’t kill you…if you had the DNA that would enable you to become a beast, then just one bite from a shifted werewolf would infect you. Transform you.

I don’t want to be—

“If you go rogue, I’ll put a silver bullet in your head myself,” Pate promised, green eyes glittering. Rogue. That was the term for werewolves who couldn’t maintain their control. They lost all touch with humanity. Beasts. Monsters. Pate’s gaze stayed locked on Duncan as the guy continued, “But you’re one of us, and no one is putting you down yet. We’re damn well going to give you a chance at survival first.”

Pate didn’t understand. He didn’t get it. He was a suit who saw the wolves from a distance. Duncan had seen the newly transformed up close and personal. The beast took over. It was all basic instinct. All need and bloodlust.

Pate looked up and nodded toward the agents around Duncan. “Take him to Holly. She can take care of his wounds and start to get a read on him—”

He snarled. Duncan’s body twisted and a fire seemed to burn beneath his skin. “Not…her…”

The boss didn’t know how Duncan felt for the pretty, little doctor. Holly was already his temptation with her sweet smelling skin and her f**k-me eyes. He’d tried to stay away because he’d known she was too fragile to handle someone like him.

If she hadn’t been able to handle the man he’d been, there was no way she’d be safe around his soon-to-be-emerging werewolf side.

“He’s starting to change!” Elias’s shout. “Drug him and get the guy in that ambulance!”

A needle shoved into his arm.

Duncan kept fighting and trying to get them to understand, “Not…Hol…”

They were loading him into the ambulance. They weren’t listening to him. Holly was the last person he should be around. He wanted her as a man. He knew that a werewolf’s desires were just magnified.

And what the wolf wanted, he took.

Without thought. Without remorse.

No limits. No control. No conscience.

Just the beast.

He opened his mouth and only a growl escaped. Not Holly. Keep me away from her. I’ll hurt her.

He could feel the fire spreading beneath his skin. Hands were on him, holding Duncan down because the drug wasn’t working.

“Uh, is he supposed to be this strong?” One of the agents—Shane, he knew Shane, they played cards every Wednesday—asked nervously. “Cause this hoss is—”

The strap across his chest broke free, and Duncan lunged up.

Not Holly!

Another needle was jabbed into his neck. One straight into his heart.

“That’ll stop a tiger,” Pate panted out the words.

A tiger…

Or a werewolf.

Duncan fell back against the gurney.

Holly, I’m sorry.

His eyes closed.

***

Holly Young gasped when the doors to her medical wing were shoved open. She had been packing up, ready to go home for a few hours of chilling on the couch and watching crime TV reruns but—

“Holly, an agent was bitten!”

She snapped to attention. Everyone in their division knew the risks of the job. When they started hunting monsters, they’d all realized that the agents faced the risk of one day becoming a monster. Of getting exposed.

Bitten.

She yanked on her gloves even as she motioned toward the operating table on her right. “Put him there, and let me check him out.” Her heart was racing, but her hands were rocky steady.“What are we dealing with?” Holly asked as she rushed forward. The agent was strapped down. Unmoving. She couldn’t see who it was. There were over two dozen agents in Seattle’s Para Unit.

“Multiple werewolf bites,” Pate told her.

Multiple. She gulped. “You know what’s happening to him. He’ll die from the poison in those bites.” There wasn’t much she could do for a werewolf bite. If the agent had been bitten by a vampire, she could have given him a transfusion, made sure the wound was closed. Possibly saved him.

But a werewolf bite?

Death sentence.

“He’s not dying.” Pate stared at her with narrowed eyes. “The agent has already started to transform.”

She almost dropped her stethoscope at that news.

A human transforming into a werewolf? That was so rare.

And deadly.

Her heart drummed even faster in her chest, and her hands gave the slightest tremble as she hurried toward the table. The other agents had transferred the wounded man onto the table she’d indicated, and they had already strapped him down once more. Holly elbowed them aside, trying to make her way through to see the poor agent who’d just been given a one-way ticket to hell.

She saw his dark hair first. Thick and a little too long. Then her gaze fell to his strong cheekbones, knife sharp. She recognized the hard blade of his nose, but his eyes were closed, so she didn’t see his normal bright blue stare.

Duncan?

“Get back,” Pate ordered the other agents as he lifted his hands. “Clear the room so she can work!” Then Pate’s fingers curled around her elbow, and he leaned in close to her. His voice lowered as he whispered, “You keep him sane.” An order. Or a plea?

   
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