Authors: Lily Graison
Tags: #romance, #paranormal romance, #paranormal, #werewolves, #series, #shifters, #shifter romance, #werewolf romance, #night breeds
The Gathering by Lily Graison
(Night Breeds Series #2)
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Copyright © 2011 by Lily Graison
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THE CALLING changed Rayna Ford’s life
forever, now in THE GATHERING, she will find out what she’s truly
Rayna Ford didn’t believe in monsters, until
she became one herself. As a newly turned werewolf awaiting her
first shift, Rayna puts all her trust in Garrett Kincaid, the man
who accidentally infected her and changed her life forever. But
when old enemies resurface and take her from the one man who vowed
to protect her, Rayna must face her fears alone.
The Collective, the Breed leaders of all the
preternatural species, haven’t abandoned the dream of announcing
their presence to the world and they still want Rayna to be the one
who integrate them into human society. Her only chance at survival
is to reveal the secret the breed leaders want her to show the
world, but in doing so, she may alienate the very creatures she
wants to protect and endanger her own life in the process.
The wolf was coming.
Rayna burst through the tree line, pain
racing through her limbs like fire eating at her flesh. Her heart
raced, the sensation of not being in control of her body caused a
terror so immense it blurred her vision until she couldn’t see
anything but shadows.
She looked down as heat spread through her
fingertips. The sight of her nails growing into what could only be
described as claws made the world go fuzzy. She stumbled before
coming to a stop and stared at her hands. Watched, as those claws
grew longer and hair sprouted on the back of her fingers.
A scream tore from her throat, the sound
tinged with a rumbling growl. Her name being shouted repeatedly,
and the heavy footfalls of someone behind her, grew closer.
Pain ripped through her body in blinding
flashes and she staggered as the wolf tried to claw its way from
her flesh. She ran again, racing through the trees. Heat caused her
skin to slick with perspiration as tears clouded her vision.
Someone grabbed her and tackled her to the
ground, the air in her body leaving in a whoosh upon impact with
the leafy forest floor. She gasped, filling her lungs before
screaming and clawing at moist soil. Her name rang repeatedly
through her head as she was flipped over onto her back.
“Rayna! What’s wrong? Hold still!”
She kicked, slapped and clawed, barely
grabbing enough air to scream as she felt those hideous claws
protruding from the end of her fingers tear into soft flesh. The
scent of fresh blood hit her seconds before a warm spray splashed
across her face. A pained yell followed.
Her hands were thrust above her head and held
to the ground with enough force her vision blurred as pain raced up
her arms. Weight fell on top of her, effectively stilling her
movement’s moments later. A low growl sounded by her ear and
slowly, the panic started to recede, her vision cleared and the
pain and heat in her body dissipated.
The wolf retreated back into her body to lay
Garrett, pack leader in Wolf’s Creek and mate
to the wolf lurking beneath her flesh, hovered over her, his lips
pinched together so tight they looked bloodless. His eyes weren’t
the tawny brown she was used to seeing but the eerie amber of the
wolf. Rayna blinked at him. “Garrett?”
He exhaled and closed his eyes, laying his
forehead against hers. He sucked in several deep breaths and
released some of the pressure on her arms before raising his head
again. His eyes looked normal now, the color also coming back to
his lips as he sat up, climbed off of her, and pulled her into his
arms. “Don’t ever run from me again.” His voice sounded garbled.
The wolf wasn’t far from the surface.
His arms felt like bands of steel wrapped
around her and Rayna stared at the surrounding trees as he stroked
the back of her head. Her pulse started to slow to normal, the
restless pushing she’d felt inside her body slowly dying away. She
fell limp against him before tears she couldn’t hold back fell from
“Shhh. It’s all right now. I’ve got you.”
“I don’t know what happened.” Rayna blinked,
trying to clear her vision. “I was watching Mitch and the wolf...
it just started and I couldn’t stop it.”
Mitch Pierson, Rayna’s old newsroom partner
and friend from Bluff’s Point, was now one of the monsters. The
moon was full and with the help of Bryce, Garrett’s second in
command, Mitch’s wolf was brought to the surface. She’d watched in
horror as the change took him, his bones shifting under his flesh
while his screams echoed through the forest. Screams she’d hear
every night for the rest of her life.
She shuddered at the memories. “I felt her,
Garrett.” Rayna sniffed back tears and took a deep breath. “I did
more than feel her. She tried to get out.” She pulled away from him
and held up her hands. “Look.”
The claws that had been present were now
gone. Nothing but her short clipped fingernails remained, dirt
shining in ugly half-moons under the tips. “I had claws,” she said,
She looked up at him and saw the torn flesh
and blood on his neck. “Garrett! Your neck!” Rayna reached up,
clamping her hand over the wound before grabbing the ripped edge of
his shirt and tried to staunch the bleeding.
He winced, sucking in a harsh breath before
turning his head to the side. “It’ll stop bleeding in a minute. I’m
sure it looks worse than it is.”
Rayna leaned back and stared at the ragged
cuts. They started just under his ear and slashed down the length
of his neck to the center of his chest. Four jagged wounds made by
her claws. Tears burnt her eyes as she glanced at his face. “I’m
“I know.” He pulled her back into his arms
when the first tear fell. “Shhh, stop crying. I’m fine.”
“I don’t know what happened.” She clung to
him, closing her eyes to try and stop the tears. “I haven’t felt
her once in all this time. Why now?”
“Watching Mitch probably triggered the
change. You should have stayed at the house like I told you
In the two months since she’d been infected,
Rayna had waited for her own wolf, the one lurking beneath her
flesh to make her presence known. Before tonight, she hadn’t felt
her. Watching Mitch shift, knowing his fate would soon be her own,
had been gut wrenching.
She’d sat on the rock face, listening to his
screams, watching his bones shift beneath his flesh and felt her
own beast answer. The pain had been intense; the terror she’d felt
erased every thought other than getting away. To stop whatever was
“You shouldn’t have fought it, Rayna. It’s
going to happen whether you want it to or not.”
“Why shouldn’t I fight it?”
She pushed away from him when he said her
name, the soft tone of his voice angering her more than it should
have. “Garrett, I don’t want this! I’ve never wanted it.” Turning
her head, she stared into the forest and fought another round of
tears. “The thought of it makes me sick. I want my old life back.”
She swallowed the lump in her throat and faced him again. “I don’t
want to be one of the monsters.”
The look that crossed his face pierced her
heart. He stared at her with such regret and guilt it was almost a
tangible thing. She opened her mouth to take the words back but a
commotion in the trees caught her attention. Three wolves walked
into the clearing. The one in front was Judith, one of the oldest
pack members in Wolf’s Creek. Rayna could tell by the patch of gray
hair around her ears. The wolf’s head was low to the ground. She
approached them cautiously, her steps slowing the nearer she
Garrett stood without a word and walked
toward the two wolves still near the tree line, saying, “Stay with
her,” as he passed Judith. Rayna watched him go. He never turned to
look at her before he disappeared into the trees. The wolves turned
and followed him.
Rayna looked over at Judith. She was still
slowly advancing, her body tucked low to the ground. When she
reached her, she lay down by her side, nudging Rayna’s leg until
she lifted a hand and laid it on the wolf’s head. She sighed and
looked back toward the trees.
Since the day she’d been infected, Rayna had
never blamed Garrett, even though it was by his hand she was now a
creature she still feared to some degree. His guilt was evident
every time she spoke of turning into a wolf and she’d spent hours
reassuring him that she held him blameless. Now, he knew
differently, and so did she.
Her guilt at throwing those hurtful words at
him was like a knife to the gut. Tears fell freely down her face
and her heart felt as if it was breaking. “I hurt him.” She wiped
her face and knew nothing she said would ever erase what she’d
said. “I practically threw the blame in his face and called him a
Judith nudged Rayna’s leg with her nose again
and whined. She glanced down at her, those large amber eyes shining
wetly, and she knew, if Judith had been able to talk, she would
have told her not to worry. That Garrett knew she didn’t mean
She wasn’t so sure about that, though.
A series of howls echoed through the trees
and Rayna watched the moons ray’s dance across a cloudless sky.
Since coming to Wolf’s Creek, this was the first time Garrett had
left her to run with the pack. She felt bereft at his absence. She
wasn’t exactly sure what the wolves did once they ran for the
forest. Hunt and mate, she’d been told, and the thought of Garrett
chasing another wolf with the intention of mating her….
The anger that followed the thought brought
her to her feet. She paced the small clearing, visions filling her
minds eye of him doing just that. When she turned to look back at
Judith, she saw her standing. “A mated wolf won’t look for another,
Judith’s lips curled back, exposing her
teeth, before she growled.
“You don’t think Garrett would…” Rayna sighed
before rubbing a hand over her face. Visions of him with someone
else flashed before her mind’s eye again. Charlotte, a redheaded
woman who everyone said was Malcolm’s favorite came to mind. Rayna
had never spoken to her personally but Garrett had. How many times
had she walked up on the two of them while they laughed about
something neither felt the need to share? “I guess I wouldn’t
really blame him if he did.” She laughed to keep from crying again.
“Some mate I turned out to be. He’s probably regretting that
decision as we speak.”