When Mia Stone is asked to consult on a case in the middle of nowhere, she leaps at the chance to escape the disaster that has become her FBI career, while ignoring the threat still pursuing her. Her instincts tell her that the small mining town of Lost Lake is out of the norm, and that’s before she meets the strongest suspect, a sexy and dangerous Seth Volk who draws her in a way she can’t fight.
Seth Volk has enough on his plate without worrying about a sweet and brilliant investigator on his tail. At his heart, he’s a predator, which comes in handy as the enforcer for his family and also his pack. His secret is barely beneath the surface, and if he allows Mia too close, she’ll see the wolf he tries to hide. When an unknown threat comes out of the forest, their only path to survive is with each other, no matter how sharp his bite or how deadly her wit.
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originally published in Kindle Vella, Audio coming soon
Other Books in the Stope Packs Series
A predator stared back at her.
Mia Stone set her face into calm lines, her hand inching to where her weapon used to sit on her hip. Only a leather belt existed there now. She shook off the unease. Jail bars. Many bars, evenly spaced, stood between her and the man currently meeting her gaze without expression.
She’d faced evil, good people who’d committed evil…yet she’d never really faced someone truly unreadable. She swallowed.
His gaze dropped to her throat.
An odd quaver wandered down her spine. What in the world was wrong with her? Maybe she’d been out of the game for too long. Focusing, she did her job and studied him.
Near the end of a cot, he lounged against the far wall of the cell. Most prisoners automatically sat when doing time in jail. Not this guy. He had to be, what? Early thirties? At least six and a half feet tall, he leaned his shoulders against the worn brick. His hair was a pure black and his features masculine and solid. Though his eyes were a mix of different blues—light to dark.
A scar ran down the right side of his jaw to disappear into thick hair that almost reached his shoulders. Too rough to be called handsome, there was no doubt he was compelling.
Many killers were.
Mia cut her eyes to the quilt. Pink and homemade, the bed cover belonged in a jail cell as much as the diamond earrings she wore belonged in the small-town sheriff’s office. But she’d promised her mother, and there hadn’t been time for a fight before driving to the middle of nowhere. Still, she’d left her hair down to camouflage the sparkle.
She squared her shoulders and stepped up to the bars. “Mr. Volk, my name is Mia.”
Upon arriving at the station, she’d asked to talk to the prisoner alone and had promised to stay in the hall. The sheriff had merely shaken his head and shut the door separating the main office from the two cells. Seeing the man in the cell, gratitude filled her that she hadn’t pushed to go inside with Volk.
She tried to appear in control. “I was hoping we could talk.”
Slowly, one dark eyebrow rose. “You’re a cop.”
“No, I’m not.” She kept her face in pleasant lines, showing honesty.
“You reached for your weapon,” he said softly.
Surprise had her stilling. “Yes. I used to be a cop. FBI, actually.”
Volk straightened. “That makes you sad.” Intense, he studied her.
The breath caught in her throat. She forced herself to exhale. This wasn’t the first subject who’d tried to get inside her head. “Are you sad, Mr. Volk?”
“My father is Mr. Volk.” Two long strides, and he stood much closer on the other side of the bars. The scent of wild sage came with him. “Call me Seth.”
Courage had her lifting her chin and refusing to retreat. He could easily reach through and grab her. The last time she’d messed with a psychopath, she’d lost. “Seth.”
He cocked his head to the side. Slowly. “I like how you say my name.”
A warning trilled in the back of her mind. “So, you’ll talk to me?”
“I am talking to you.” Low, rough, his voice wrapped around the silence.
“Thank you.” She’d learned early on that respect went a long way with killers and sociopaths. “As I said, I’m not a cop, but they’ve asked me to speak with you. If you’re okay with that, we can talk.”
He quirked his upper lip, making him seem approachable. Almost. “I want to talk to you.”
She frowned. “Why?”
“Your voice is pretty.” He rubbed the stubble on his chin. “Kind of like Ingrid Bergman’s in Casablanca. Soft and classy with a hint of sass.”
Warmth messed with caution in her chest. Bogie embodied everything she’d ever wanted in a man. Plus, that was her favorite movie.
“But your eyes are sad. Haunted.” Seth’s large hands wrapped around the bars. “Who hurt you, Mia?”
She jerked her head to the side. Instinct told her to run. “I’m asking the questions.”
His expression went blank again. “You said you wanted to talk. Talking goes both ways.”
This was no stupid country hick. She stared deeper into his eyes, seeing intelligence and…what else simmered in those dark depths? An emotion deep down. Anger. The guy was pissed. “Do you have a temper, Seth?”
“Yes.” His knuckles whitened on the steel. “Did somebody hurt you?”
“Yes.” She kept her arms loose at her sides, just in case he reached for her. “Do you harm women?”
“No.” His jaw firmed. “Is the person who hurt you still alive?”
“No.” She shoved emotion into a box. “Did you kill Ruby Redbird?”
His head cocked. “No. Why did you just lie to me?”
Exhaling, he released the bars and turned his broad back to her. “Yes, you did.” Faded jeans covered a hard butt and led up to a dark T-shirt. Those shoulders spread wider than a linebacker wearing pads. The flak boots on his feet were probably size fourteen, yet he moved with masculine grace. “You can go now.”
Panic threatened to cut off her air. She needed to prove that she could still do the job. “I shot and killed the man who wanted to hurt me.” When had she lost control of the conversation?
Seth should’ve been the profiler. “I believe that man had a partner. If so, he’s still alive.” She could do this. Reveal her past pain to get to the truth.
Seth turned around. “I’m sorry.”
“Doesn’t matter—and most people think I’m wrong.” The world centered again. “If you didn’t kill Ruby, who did?”
“I don’t know. But I will find out.”
Now, he was lying. She didn’t know how she knew that, but she did. What she didn’t know was the lie. Had he killed Ruby? Or was he protecting the person who did? “I thought you disliked lying. That goes both ways, too.”
His eyes darkened as his gaze traced every contour of her face.
Nerves sprang to life as if his fingers caressed her skin. She stepped even closer to the bars. “Have you killed before?”
“Yes.” Thick boots clanged against metal as he took the final step toward her. Warmth from his massive body brushed her silk shirt. Only metal bars separated them…no air. “Besides the man you just mentioned, have you killed before?”
Her head jerked back. “No.”
“Now, who’s lying?” he asked softly, curiosity and an odd gentleness curving his bottom lip.
She blinked twice. Something about his voice was mesmerizing. A killer who hinted at safety right before murdering. His mouth caught her attention. Full, sexy, male. “I will find out who killed Ruby.”
The moment stretched until her heartbeat echoed in her head.
“Step away from the cell,” Seth said, taking a large stride back from the bars.
Keys rattled outside the exit door.
Startled, Mia shuffled across the rough concrete until her shoulders rested against worn brick on the opposite wall. There was no logical reason for her to obey his command.
Yet there she stood.
His gaze remained on her, dark and thoughtful, as the door opened.
Then a metamorphosis occurred. His expression went blank with boredom and a fierce insolence. He glanced at the two men striding toward them.
“Sheriff, you’d better have a decent reason for arresting Seth this time.” A tall man in a sleek gray Armani suit led the way, his hair a perfect salt and pepper, his skin bronzed from sun obviously enjoyed away from Washington state.
The sheriff sighed. His hair was more salt than pepper, and grooves cut lines into the sides of his mouth. Apparently, Sheriff Pete Maxwell had spent some time at the local diner over the last year if the strain on his brown uniform was any indication. “Your client is a killer,” he said shortly.
“That’s slander,” the tall guy said, stopping in front of Mia. “Who the hell are you?”
Seth stepped toward the bars.
Mia had the strangest urge to wave him back. She focused on the well-dressed man and extended her hand. “Mia Stone.”
He took her hand, gripping tightly as they shook. “Prat Lenessee, Mr. Volk’s attorney. I do hope you didn’t question my client outside of my presence, Stone.”
Mia slid her cop face into place, biting back a wince at the hard pressure. This wasn’t the first asshole lawyer she’d dealt with. “I’m not a cop.”
Lenessee released her. “If the police invited you here, then you’re an agent of the police, so you’re as good as a cop.”
Yet she wasn’t. She might not ever be a cop again. In any case, instead of wallowing, she allowed a slightly pissed-off smile to curve her lips with the unintimidating pink lipstick she’d chosen. “I’ve shaken a lot of men’s hands, Mr. Lenessee. The ones with obvious insecurities,”—she dropped her gaze to his pressed pants and then traveled back up to his face—“always grip too hard.”
Surprise opened his mouth, which he quickly snapped shut.
Her smirk widened just enough to let him know she saw the surprise. “You grip too hard.”
In her peripheral vision, she caught a flash of Seth’s grin.
The sheriff chortled, not even trying to hide his amusement.
Yeah. No doubt the lawyer thought she’d shake off the purposeful show of strength. She hadn’t been the best profiler in DC for nothing…well, until they determined she’d grown crazier than the bastards she hunted. Throwing an attorney off track was half the fun of her former job.
He leaned over her in an obvious intimidation tactic. “Perhaps you’re too soft to play with the big boys.”
Seth hissed out a breath. “Lenessee, get me the hell out of here.” His voice rumbled low with threat and danger.
The attorney straightened to stare at Seth. “Of course. Your bail has been posted, Mr. Volk.” The lawyer’s tone hinted at no deference, no affection, and no respect. If anything, he seemed indifferent to the point of condescension.
The sheriff exhaled loudly and unlocked the door, sliding it open.
Seth stepped out.
Mia glanced from Seth to the lawyer. The attorney was on guard. Just how dangerous was Seth that even his lawyer feared him?
He brushed by the attorney, heading down the hallway without another word.
Lenessee turned to the sheriff. “You had no basis to arrest him, and you know it. You might want to contact the county attorneys, because there will be a civil rights violation filed by the end of the day.”
“No, there won’t.” Seth’s low voice rumbled back before he shoved open the exit door and disappeared.
Lenessee inhaled, both nostrils flaring. Pivoting on Italian loafers, he strode after his client.
The sheriff raised an eyebrow. “Well?”
Mia shrugged. “I don’t know. But I want to find out.” Turning, she hustled away from the cells, moved through the small interior of the police station, and out to the waiting room.
The space held several worn leather chairs around a large coffee table displaying magazines about hunting, farming, and football. A wide wall of windows looked out onto the deserted Main Street.
Mia skirted the table and stared out the window.
Seth and his attorney spoke on the sidewalk, the lawyer keeping his distance. Well, the lawyer talked while Seth glanced around the quiet street. He stood next to a No Parking sign, his head nearly as tall as the placard.
His shoulders straightened, and he shifted his attention to her.
Finally, the lawyer wound down, turned on his heel, and headed for a Cadillac parked across the street.
Seth cocked his head to the side, his expression full of dare.
Mia shoved open the glass door. She should get a weapons permit if she continued to work in the state—not that she hadn’t already stuck a small Glock 43 into her ankle holster. Several steps across a rough sidewalk had her close enough to smell wild sage. Her shoulders went back.
“You’re very pretty, Mia.”
Not what she’d expected. She frowned. “Who killed Ruby Redbird?”
Seth slowly shook his head, wrapping a hand around her biceps. “That’s a mystery you’re no longer involved in.” His grip was warm and unbelievably strong.
He moved into a stride.
She tried to yank free.
His hold slid smoothly to the back of her elbow, effectively putting her in a position where she had to move, much like a parent with a wayward toddler. For the briefest of moments, she felt vulnerable—like a civilian and not a trained law enforcement officer. Confusion had her biting back an expletive. They’d traveled halfway down the block before she dug in her heels and turned to face him.
She swallowed, angling her head. Up close, he was even bigger than he’d seemed in the station. Heat cascaded off the man. “Stop manhandling me.”
“Where’s your car?” His harsh features held no expression.
She shook her head. “None of your business.”
Sighing, he glanced toward the parking lot that served the entire block and pointed to her older Toyota. “That’s the only one I don’t recognize. You need to take your sweet butt over there and go home, wherever that might be.”
Small chunks of concrete scattered when she settled her stance. “I’m trained, Volk.”
His smile was instant and almost charming. “You’re half my size, darlin’. And your training won’t do you any good.”
Something in his tone suggested she believe him. But she’d faced killers before, and she’d solved murders before. This was her chance to get back into the life she’d loved. “I’m not going anywhere until you tell me the truth.”
He released her. Almost in slow motion, he reached out to run a thumb along her cheekbone. It was a whisper of a touch that swept a flash of heat through her body.
Shock kept her immobile.
His features were strong and somehow ruthless, but he dropped his hand and released her from his spell. “Please, leave.”
Those blue eyes darkened to almost black. “Leave, or you’ll be as dead as Ruby.”
Mia retreated a step, her heart shooting into a gallop. “Is that a threat?”
“No.” A veil dropped over his eyes. “That’s a fact, Mia Stone.”
It’s a great set-up, and Zanetti writes it so well. The mystery/suspense element is strong, with lots of shady characters around town, and I was constantly guessing who the bad guy was… and I was wrong right up until the end, which is great because I love to be surprised. The wolf politics are well written and work well with the story, and I really enjoyed the world building. The romance blends beautifully with the drama, both of which bring emotion, and which also tie in really well with the suspense aspect of the story. While this book ends well, there’s a lot going on in this world and Mia and Seth’s story will continue in the next book of the series. I’m hoping that the series will branch out, because there are more characters just begging to have their story told! ~ The Escapist Book Blog
Fans of shifters, alphas and murder-mysteries will enjoy this action-packed romantic suspense. ~ Caffeinated Reviewer
I got more than what I bargained for with Wolf by Rebecca Zanetti. If you know me, you I “stan” Zanetti. She is the queen of strong-sexy-dominant vampires and shifters. Her stories don’t just pack the spicy romance, they also come with top-tier world-building and storylines. Even so, I didn’t expect to be thrown for so many twists in Wolf. ~ LITBUZZ
This story is full of danger, false trails and twists and turns. The passion is off the charts. And even when she solves this case she is still in danger. I can hardly wait for the next book. Rebecca Zanetti is my new favorite author. ~ AMAZON reviewer Cheryl
This book has all the emotional highs and lows that I love about this author, with plenty of action and danger to amp up the intensity. The characters were well developed and phenomenal! I found myself fully submersed in their world and unable to step away until I reached the very end and the HEA. I can only hope that the author will continue the series until all of the burgeoning alphas find their mates and their HEAs. This book is a guaranteed all night read and I look forward to seeing what the author thinks up next. ~ AMAZON reviewer Sydney
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