When Justin appeared outside of my cage at the pound, I let out a dismayed whimper. Of all the werewolves in the pack to witness my shame, why did it have to be him? Why Justin, the sexy alpha I’d had a crush on forever?
“Yes, she’s mine,” he told the interested female employee, who trailed her fingers over Justin’s large hand as she handed a thin nylon leash to him. I growled at her. Justin’s eyes laughed at me but he kept a straight face. “Good Chrissy. Good doggie. I know it’s been traumatic for you, but I’ll take you home and everything will be okay.”
For a moment I was tempted to believe that everything would be okay. I wagged my tail at the thought of going home with Justin. If anyone could make my life okay again it was Justin. But then I remembered. I’d turned into a dog. Not a wolf.
Not even a predator of a dog. I looked down at the black fur covering my plump figure, the gentle swell of the little belly, the long pointed tail. I shook my head to clear it. Floppy ears flapped. Adorable. Domestic. Embarrassing as hell. I was a Labrador Retriever.
Nobody had warned me this could happen to me.
Of course, the pack members who might have warned me had collectively turned their backs on me the night that skinny bitch Meredith brutalized my pet. Hunting in her werewolf form, she’d caught my dog Digger. She’d proceeded to play with her like a cat with a mouse. She broke all four of Digger’s legs, blinded her in one eye, sliced deep enough into her abdomen that viscera bulged out, and ripped open her throat. It was a miracle my dog lived.
I guess people were surprised by my response when I caught Meredith still at her play. I tried to kill her. I didn’t succeed at killing Meredith—werewolves are much tougher than teenage girls—but I managed to inflict a permanent scar. One little scar at the corner of her vicious mouth.
That, however, was one scar too many. Pack rules were absolute: any human who injured a werewolf on pack land had to leave. No further contact with werewolves was permitted. Pack law allowed no exceptions.
At the time of the incident l unfortunately still qualified as human. Since I hadn’t changed into a werewolf yet, even at the relatively mature age of seventeen, it seemed likely I never would. Most people managed the trick during puberty or just post-puberty.
Being thrown out of the only home I’d ever known had hurt. I hated leaving the house where my parents had raised me before the car accident claimed them. I hated saying goodbye to both my heritage and my friends.
I hated leaving Justin.
But I hadn’t had a choice. I took Digger and found a cheap apartment down in the city, a tiny place of my own where I could nurse the poor dog back to health. She still had trouble walking.
As if I didn’t have enough problems, this afternoon while walking to work I turned into a dog. My memories are hazy after that, but I remember sniffing at bushes and peeing on someone’s lawn. Animal control picked me up.
I walked around my cage, exploring. I glanced at Justin. He was suddenly looking at me like I’d grown another head. I realized I’d forgotten about him for a minute. Had I been barking at the beagle in the cage next door? Barking? Oh, crap. I sat down abruptly with a distressed whine. I was losing my identity, my memories of being a human. That was bad.
Justin’s eyes tracked every small movement of mine. His mouth hardened and his brows came together in a slight frown. “Chrissy, I’ve got to get you out of here now.” He looked at the female attendant and for the first time I felt his alpha power surging. “Unlock the cage,” he commanded her in a seductive growly tone.
His eyes watched her with a predator’s gleam. I knew Justin targeted her to make her submissive and compliant for his own purposes. It was an alpha’s right. His voice did delightful things to my nerve endings, but of course I wasn’t the voice’s target. The very thin and pretty woman was. She looked stunned and delighted by Justin’s attention.