Saturday, 4 June 2016

To Love a Wolf (SWAT #4) by Paige Tyler


Release Date : June 7th 2016
He's a werewolf
She's his mate
Her family would kill to keep them apart.


A wolf in Landry Cooper's position doesn't really do the dating scene-there's simply no time when he's taking out bad guys practically every day of the week. But when he meets beautiful Everly Danu during a bank robbery, he's sure she's The One for him. The problem: she has no idea what Cooper really is...until his secret is exposed and she discovers the man she thought she knew is a monster in disguise.


Excerpts
                                                                           
It must be payday. Either that, or God hated him. As Cooper strode across the bank’s lobby and got in line behind the twenty people already there, he wasn’t
sure which.

He’d been so exhausted after work he hadn’t even bothered to shower and change into civvies at the SWAT compound like he usually did. Instead, he’d come
straight to the bank in his combat boots, dark blue military cargo pants, and a matching T- shirt with the Dallas PD emblem and the word “SWAT” on the left
side of the chest. He’d cleaned off the worst of the day’s dirt, but he still felt grimy as hell. He couldn’t wait to get home and throw everything in the wash so he
could grab something to eat and fall into bed.

He bit back a growl as the man at the front of the line plunked down a cardboard box full of rolled coins on the counter and started lining the different
denominations in front of the teller.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” Cooper muttered.

A tall, slender woman with long, golden-brown hair gave him a quick, understanding smile over her shoulder. He smiled back, but she’d already turned around.
He waited, hoping she’d glance his way again, but she didn’t.

Giving it up, Cooper glanced at the other line, won-dering if he should jump over there. Definitely not. It was even longer.He hated going to the bank, but his
SWAT team-mate Jayden Brooks had finally paid off the bet they’d made months ago about whether his squad leader and the newest member of the team
would end up a couple. Instead of giving Cooper the hundred bucks in cash like a normal person, Brooks had given him a frigging check. At least he hadn’t
paid Cooper in pennies, or he would have been the one lining up rolls of change for the teller to count. But it wasn’t Cooper’s fault that he was more observant
than most of the other werewolves in the Pack. Brooks had suggested the stupid bet. Cooper had simply agreed to it.

When Officer Khaki Blake had walked into the train-ing room for the first time, every pair of eyes in the room immediately locked on her— except for Cooper’s.
Oh, he’d noticed she was attractive, make no mistake about that. But he’d been more interested in seeing how the rest of the SWAT team reacted to the first
female alpha any of them had ever seen. While most of the guys had checked her out with open curiosity, none of their hearts had pounded as hard as his
squad leader’s— Corporal Xander Riggs. Cooper had immediately pegged Khaki as The One for Xander, and vice versa.

Other members of the SWAT team were still on the fence about whether they believed in The One, the mythical one-i n- a- billion soul mate supposedly out
there for every werewolf. But the way Cooper saw it, denying the truth was stupid. In the past ten months, three of the Pack’s members had stumbled across
their mates in the most bizarre and unbelievable ways. A werewolf would have to be an idiot not to see the women the guys had fallen in love with were their
soul mates. It was obvious the moment you saw them together.

But just because Cooper accepted the concept of a werewolf soul mate didn’t mean he automatically bought into the idea there were women in the world for
him and the remaining thirteen single members of the Pack. Cooper wasn’t jaded when it came to love, but he wasn’t naive either. He’d been around the world
enough times to know that not all stories had happy endings.

The jerk cashing in his lifetime supply of pocket change finally walked away from the counter, grumbling under his breath about the teller miscounting his
nickels and dimes. Cooper leaned out and counted the number of people ahead of him and reconsidered whether it was worth his time to wait. Maybe he’d
deposit the check on the way to work tomorrow. But that would mean getting up at least an hour earlier. He groaned at the thought. No way in hell was he
getting up at four thirty, not after the day he’d had.

He and Brooks, along with their teammates, Carter Nelson, Remy Boudreaux, and Alex Trevino had been working with explosive investigative teams from the
ATF and FBI since before the sun had come up. Some nut job had planted an IED in one of the parking garages of the Grand Prairie industrial area last night
and killed a young Dallas PD officer moonlighting as a security guard. None of the investigators believed Officer Pete Swanson had been the target. He’d just
been unlucky enough to be doing a security sweep of the garage when the bomb had gone off.

Instead, the feds thought the real target had been someone who worked for a company based out of the industrial complex. There were several defense firms
that used the garage, as well as a biomedical research company and a consulting group that specialized in job outsourcing solutions. In other words, lots of
people someone might want to blow up. Then again, it was also possible the bomber had picked that particular location purely by chance with no specific
target in mind. Now that was a thought to keep any cop up at night.

But Cooper and the SWAT team hadn’t been invited to the party to catch the guy. They’d been brought in to help with the long, painful process of combing the
crime scene for every shred of evidence they could find to help the FBI track down the bomber.

They’d spent the entire day on their hands and knees searching the parking garage and surrounding area, as well as nearby rooftops, storm drains, and
trees for pieces of the device. The FBI agent in charge was a friend of Cooper’s and promised to call once they got all the pieces laid out so he could help put
the IED back together. The SWAT team and the Dallas FBI field office weren’t on the best of terms these days, and the feds would have a cow if they knew he
was involved in the forensic part of the case. Between Xander and Khaki apprehending bank robbers the FBI had been chasing, and his teammate Eric
Becker unofficially going undercover to save the woman he loved and taking down a group of Albanian mobsters, the feds weren’t too happy with them. But
what the FBI didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them.

The two people ahead of Cooper got fed up with waiting and walked away. He quickly stepped forward to fill in the gap and found himself behind the attractive
woman who’d flashed him a smile earlier. He couldn’t help noticing that she looked exceptionally good in a pair of jeans. Or that her long, silky hair had the
most intriguing gold highlights when the sun coming through the window caught them just right. She smelled so delicious he had to fight the urge to bend his
neck and bury his nose against her skin. Damn, he must be more tired than he thought. If he wasn’t careful, he’d be humping her leg next.

He opened his mouth to say something charming, but all that came out was a yawn big enough to make his jaw crack. The woman in front of him must have
heard it too, because she turned around.

“And I thought I’ve been waiting in line a long time,” she said, giving him a smile so breathtaking it damn near made his heart stop. “You look like you’re ready
to fall asleep on your feet.”

Cooper knew he should reply, but he was so mes-merized by her perfect skin, clear green eyes, and soft lips that he couldn’t do anything but stare. He felt like
a teenager in high school again.

“Um, yeah. Long day,” he finally managed.

What the hell was wrong with him? He’d never had a problem talking to a beautiful woman before. But in his defense, he’d never been in the presence of one
this gorgeous.

He gave himself a mental shake. Get your head in the game before she thinks you’re a loser and turns around again.

“Catching bad guys, huh?” she asked.

“Something like that.” He gave her his best charming smile. “Luckily, I’m off duty for the night.”

She laughed, and the sound was so beautiful it almost brought him to his knees. Crap, he actually felt a little light-h eaded. He chalked it up to being out in the
hot Texas sun all day. That could be hard on anyone, even a werewolf.

She tilted her head to the side, regarding him with an amused look. “Is that your way of saying you’re free for dinner?”

Could she read his mind? “Depends. Would you say yes if I asked you out?”

Her lips curved. “I might. Although most guys tell me their names before asking me out on a date.”

Cooper chuckled. He’d been attracted to her from the moment he saw her, but after talking to her, he was even more mesmerized. He’d always appreciated a
woman who was confident enough to hold up her end of a verbal sparring match, and she seemed more than capable.

He held out his hand. “Landry Cooper at your service. Now that you know my name, how about dinner?”

He might have imagined it, but when she slipped her smaller hand into his much larger one, he could have sworn he felt a tingle pass between them— and it
wasn’t because of static electricity.

“I’m Everly Danu,” she said. “And dinner sounds great.”

Everly. Even her name was beautiful.

Cooper opened his mouth to ask Everly if she wanted to grab something that night—t he hell with going home and falling into bed—w hen voices nearby
caught his attention. Thanks to his keen werewolf hearing, he picked up every word.

“Are we still robbing the place with the cop here?” a male voice whispered.

“We’re in too deep to back out now,” another deep voice said softly. “We were going to kill the guard anyway. Just make sure to take out the cop fast.”

Cooper snapped his head around, trying to figure out who’d said that. He scanned the crowded bank, looking for anyone who stood out, and immediately,
zeroed in on a man over by the entrance. Average height with light brown hair, the guy was wearing mirrored sunglasses and a black windbreaker. On his
own, the man wasn’t that remarkable, but the small radio receiver in his ear sure as hell was. It wasn’t hard to miss the telltale bulge under the man’s left arm
or the way he kept glancing at Cooper while keeping an eye on the door.

Cooper swept the bank lobby with his gaze, looking for the man’s accomplice. He found him sitting by the manager’s desk, pretending to wait for the woman to
come back. Thanks to the identical sunglasses and the same black windbreaker the guy was wearing, he was easy to spot.

Cooper quickly ID’d two other men— one positioned a few feet away from the bank’s security guard, the other near the big row of windows that looked out
onto the main road. This one had a soft- sided computer bag big enough to hold several pistols—o r a small submachine gun— hanging from his shoulder.
Both were wearing sunglasses and windbreakers.

The guy by the door checked his watch, then nodded at his friend by the security guard. Cooper tensed. Shit, these assholes were really going to hit the bank
with an armed cop standing right in the middle. Were they suicidal or just plain stupid?

Cooper’s hand dropped to the Sig .40 on his belt.

“Landry?” Everly asked, her voice trembling a little. “Is something wrong?”

He didn’t want to take his eyes off the four guys, but Everly’s growing fear was so strong he could practically taste it on the air. Finding it impossible to ignore,
he tore his gaze from the men and turned back to Everly. “I don’t want to alarm you, but the bank is about to be robbed,” he said softly. “I need you to stay
calm, okay?”



Outside Samarra City, Iraq, 2009

Staff Sergeant Landry Cooper moved carefully through the rubble covering the floor of the partially demolished building, inching his way closer to the target. The maze of shattered brick and broken pieces of wood weren’t the biggest reason he was moving slowly, though. That had more to do with the hundred-degree temperature and the seventy-five-pound Kevlar bomb suit he was wearing. He despised the army’s suit with a passion that few people outside the Explosive Ordnance Disposal community could understand.

It wasn’t simply that it was hot and heavy. No, what he hated most about the suit was the nearly complete sensory deprivation that came with wearing it. Inside the claustrophobic helmet surrounded by a neck gusset designed to keep your head from getting ripped off your body during an explosion, you couldn’t hear much of anything, your line of sight was distorted by the thick, curved face piece, and your peripheral vision was non­existent. Having to make a manual approach—better known in EOD circles as the long walk—on a suspected improvised explosive device, or IED, was bad enough. Doing it when you had an armor-plated pillow wrapped around your head?

That sucked.

But he didn’t have a choice. Local construction workers had come in this morning and found a sus­pected IED half buried in the dirt between two build­ings. Cooper and his team had been able to use a robot to drop a small demolition charge near the device, but his disposal charge, combined with a bang from the IED, had caused part of the surrounding buildings to collapse, pissing off the locals and making it impossible to get the robot back in to clear the area.

If there was one cardinal rule in EOD, it was that you never released an incident location back to the good guys without being one hundred percent sure all hazards had been cleared. That meant doing a manual approach in the bomb suit to make sure there weren’t any explo­sive materials or secondary devices around.

Cooper wasn’t too worried about walking up to the package he’d just blown in place. While the relation­ship between the city’s Sunni population and ruling Shiite government forces would never be described as anything other than tense, lately things had been better. IED responses were way down, and they hadn’t seen a secondary explosive device, typically planted to target police and other first responders, in months.

Still, he played everything by the book, keeping the protected front of his suit facing the spot where the IED had been, and using the building’s structure for protec­tion as much as possible. At the same time, he kept his head on a swivel, looking for anything that seemed out of place.

“I’m about twenty feet from where we blew the IED,” he murmured over his suit’s radio to his team members waiting in the safe area three hundred yards away, and then remembered he was wasting his breath. The damn radio had stopped working about a month ago, and a replacement wasn’t due for weeks. He was on his own.

Sweat trickled down his nose as he stepped over a low wall and moved toward the crater where the IED had been. He automatically lifted a hand to wipe the sweat from his face and thumped against the plastic face piece.

“Shit, I hate this suit,” he muttered, forced to make due with wiggling his nose.

He reached the edge of the shallow crater and looked down. Two feet deep and six across, it looked like a big soup bowl. There were some rusty nails the bomb maker had added for fun, but the IED itself was long gone. Even better, his demo shot hadn’t exposed another one buried underneath.

Cooper pulled a sharpened fiberglass rod out of his pocket, then jumped into the crater. If there was any­thing here, the blast from the disposal shot would have uncovered it, but it didn’t hurt to check. Unfortunately, the heavy spine protector in the suit that helped keep an EOD tech’s back from being crushed if blown backward against something hard meant he had to squat down like a sumo wrestler to stick the probe into the dirt. He ignored the sweat and aggravation and made it work.

He’d moved almost all the way around the shot hole and was about to climb out to walk around the rest of the area when his probe hit something hard. He tensed, but then relaxed. He was still here, so it couldn’t be that bad. Dropping to one knee, he used his hand to slowly uncover what he’d found. When a horizontal, cylindri­cal pipe took shape, he assumed it was a water or sewer line.

They weren’t exactly common in structures as old as this one, but it could have been placed here to supply another building nearby. As he uncovered it, the pipe began to get smaller on one end. His gut clenched as realization dawned on him. He brushed off more dirt, revealing the nose of the 155-millimeter artillery round, as well as the metal electrical conduit extending out of it and running underground.

Fuck.

Cooper pushed himself to his feet and backpedaled toward the edge of the crater as fast as he could. An artillery round didn’t usually have a conduit sticking out the end. This one had been booby-trapped so the bomber could set it off manually whenever he wanted. The conduit was there so the IED wouldn’t cut the line if an EOD tech like him destroyed it. And with the conduit there, Cooper couldn’t cut the line either.

This device was an EOD killer put there because somebody knew a bomb tech would come down and look around before turning the site over to the local police.

His mind raced. A projectile this size carried fifteen pounds of high explosive. When it went off, even a bomb suit as good as the one he had on was unlikely to stop all the frag that came off it.

He reached the top of the crater and backed away as fast as he could. He would have been able to run faster if he turned around, but the weakest part of a bomb suit was the rear. If this thing went off when his back was to it, he’d have no chance.

Time slowed as a thousand thoughts zipped through his head. How he seriously didn’t want to die. How maybe the bomber on the other end of that firing line might have needed to go take a piss, and the 155 wouldn’t go off. How his parents and brothers were going to be crushed when they found out. How he should have gone to the prom with that cute girl in his math class back in high school. How one of the junior members on his team was going to be forced to step up and take over his job. How the new unit lieutenant was going to have to write a condolence letter on his first fucking day on the job.

Cooper pushed those thoughts away, yanking his hands inside the arms of the suit to keep them from get­ting ripped off in the blast as he focused his attention on moving backward as fast as he could.

Just get twenty feet away. Then you might have a chance.

He didn’t make it ten.

The blast threw him backward before his head even registered the flash of the projectile exploding. Luckily, he was so close that the wave took out the brick wall behind him before he could smash into it. But that luck ran out, and he slammed into the one behind it.

He felt a sharp stab in his back, then nothing from the middle of his chest down. The suit’s spine support had broken—and so had his back.

He hit the ground hard, tumbling like a kid’s toy until he came to a sudden stop against a pile of bricks. He felt pain—lots of it—at least from the chest up. He wasn’t sure how he was able to, but he lifted his head enough to look down, and saw long, jagged fragments from the 155 sticking out of him like he was a damn pincushion.

Cooper let his head drop to the ground and swore long and hard. He was so fucked.

A detached part of his mind noticed that pieces of the building were burning around him. That was interesting, considering how little flammable material was in the area. The flames weren’t too bad, but the smoke would probably choke him to death sooner or later. Not that he was likely to live long enough for that to happen. The frag had penetrated the bomb suit. He’d bleed out fast enough. He’d just be too numb to feel it.

Then someone was at his side, roughly prying up his face, telling him to hold on. That’s when he realized his ears weren’t working right. He could barely hear the person speaking. No shock there. The blast had blown out his eardrums.

He opened his eyes, expecting to see one of his junior teammates, and was shocked when he saw that it was Jim Wainwright, a fellow senior team leader and the best friend he’d ever had. Cooper hadn’t even known another team had arrived.

“Get the hell out of here!” Cooper shouted. Or at least he tried to. The words came out as nothing but a gurgling whisper. “Jim, you know this is stupid. There could be another device down here.”

Jim didn’t answer, but simply shoved his arms under the bomb suit, as if he thought he could pick up Cooper and carry him out of here. He didn’t bother to tell his friend how stupid that was. Besides all the frag sticking out of his body, making the task of picking him up akin to hugging a porcupine, Cooper and the bomb suit he wore weighed nearly three hundred pounds combined.

There was no way in hell Jim could pick him up.

“Go!” he ordered again. “You know I’m done anyway.”

Jim ignored him. Tears running down his face, he tried grabbing the heavy-duty rescue strap at the suit’s shoulder and dragged him across the rubble.

“Shit!” Cooper wailed in agony, white-hot fire shooting through his neck and shoulders. “Just fucking leave me alone and let me die!”

Jim disregarded that request too, grunting like a crazy man as he dragged Cooper over, around, and through the obstacles that separated them from the dilapidated building’s exit. Cooper was stunned his friend could actually move him at all. He’d heard of soldiers doing some insane shit in battle to save a buddy, but this had to be the craziest. Too bad he was already a goner. Cooper only hoped Jim would get a medal out of it. Then, at least, one good thing would come out of this day.

Cooper didn’t get much time to think about what the award write-up would sound like because the pain climbing up his neck like a wave of water drowned him until everything went black.

If you want download the first six chapters of To Love a Wolf click here>>



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SWAT (Special Wolf Alpha Team) Series:

Hungry Like the Wolf, Book 1
Wolf Trouble, Book 2
In the Company of Wolves, Book 3