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What This Wolf Wants

By:Jennifer Dellerman

howed up. She always found it amusing that ER staff and cops alike equated the full moon with an increase in accidents and crime. For her, it was actually the week leading up to the full moon. The male wolves had a tendency to get restless. Many became short-tempered. Others got downright cranky, and they were all horny. To the nth degree.

Jackie grinned around a mouthful of pizza. She thought of the week leading up to the full moon as a male shifter’s PMS, Pre-Moon Syndrome, and she knew she wasn’t alone in that regard. Hell, even her soon-to-be Lupa, Dean’s fiancé Kaylie Gentry, often joked about it. That woman was a spitfire, smart as a whip, easy to get along with, and one fantastic veterinarian. Even though she was fully human, Jackie couldn’t think of a better mate for her Alpha. The man had been on the edge of losing control of his wolf. Too serious, too self-contained, and so full of a barely controlled fury that she’d harbored some doubts about his stability. But Kaylie centered him, calmed him and most importantly, made him laugh.

If nothing else, that alone earned the human Jackie’s love and loyalty.

The sound of an engine brought her around and she shoved the pizza aside, quickly washing her hands once more. By the time she opened the front door, Ben Anderson, one of Dean’s leaders in the pack, was there.

“Evening DocCha.” Though long used to the nickname, an abbreviated term for Doctor Chavez, Jackie blinked at the man with some surprise.

“You okay, Ben?”

“I’m good.” Though the welcoming grin faded to concern, it did little to detract from his rugged handsome looks. Jackie liked Ben, as did most of the ladies, and had been a little sorry they weren’t mates. If one looked beyond the serious eye-candy and jovial attitude, they would see a highly intelligent man. The breadth of his shoulders and the muscles she knew roped his abdomen—hey, she was his doctor after all—weren’t just from being a shifter. Ben worked the winters up at the ski lodge, usually search and rescue, and in the summer months he logged at the Woodcliff Lumber Company, now owned by Dean Kinigos. She’d also seen him doing odd jobs throughout the years that required not only physical strength, but people skills.

It was rare that a pack leader not have a stable job, but then again, the man exuded strength, stability, and empathy. If Jackie had to guess—which she often did out of shear curiosity—Ben was Dean’s feeler. Checking into the lives and concerns of the pack members in a more informal way. Not that he wasn’t sincere, but because the pack was so large that even with leaders, sometimes issues went unvoiced.

When Dean had become Alpha he’d created a council of eight individuals that represented his pack. Each of the eight had their own, smaller tribe to watch over, protect and guide. The eight, along with Dean, voted on issues that affected the whole pack. While majority ruled, Dean was still the alpha of the pack and could veto any suggestion at any time. His final word was law. If a pack member didn’t like it, they could leave the pack and the town, or challenge Dean for alpha position. However, in the nearly four years Dean had been Alpha, no one had challenged him and it was doubtful anyone would. The man was well-liked, respected by both shifters and humans, and oozed strength and power from his pores. He could hold a room from his very presence alone.

Dean created Woodcliff into a haven for wolves and had become the example that other pack alphas were anxious to follow. After all, while only a handful of wolves could be strong enough to be an Alpha, they couldn’t hold the position of one if he didn’t have a pack.

“There’s something weird going on.” Ben’s voice broke into Jackie’s thoughts and she followed the man’s gaze to land on Dean. Whatever it was that he held wrapped up in a blanket in his arms was very large, and limp. She could scent the blood and see the flop of furry legs.

“A wolf?” she whispered to Ben in a quizzical tone.

“Shifter.”

“Strong one if he can shift outside the full moon.” Her mind raced, flipping through a mental log of shifters she knew who were capable of such a feat. “Who is it?”

“Don’t know.” Ben shook his head, the bright porch light turning his streaked-blond hair into spun gold.

Jackie frowned. An unknown shifter that had the ability to fully change from man to beast outside of the pull of the full moon could mean serious trouble.

“What happened?” she asked as Dean walked over the threshold, adding, “Down the hall to your right.”

It was Ben that answered her. “Dean and I were at the Haven,” he said referring to the wolf compound built outside of town to contain and protect the male shifters each month, “going over inventory when we heard gunshots.”

Her eyes widened as she hustled after Dean. “Gunshots?” Not a common occurrence in Woodcliff.

“Hmmm. When we went to investigate, we found him.”

“Idiots,” she glared at them both over her shoulder, snapping on gloves at the same time. “Both of you could have been shot as well.” Cautiously she drew the blanket away from the wounded animal, remaining on the side of the bed away from its dangerous muzzle. One snap of those sharp teeth and powerful jaws would really ruin her day.

“He’s out cold.”

Jackie didn’t even glance at Dean. “I would be too if I were shot, but I don’t take chances. Not when he could rip my hand off without a thought.” She ran said hands gently through the thick, dark brown fur. “He’s got a deep gash along his left hindquarter and a smaller one across his shoulders. The round wound in his side looks to be a bullet entry but I need to shave the areas to be sure.”

She stripped off her bloody gloves and moved to the metal cabinet. There she pulled out scissors, a razor, and a comb. “I wasn’t expecting a wolf, Dean. While most of my patients are shifters, I’m a human doctor, not a veterinarian. You need Kaylie.”

“She’s on her way.”

Jackie p

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