Home > Cursed (Nightwind Pack #3)

Cursed (Nightwind Pack #3)
Author: Laurann Dohner

 


1

 

 

Shawna Paltner never thought she’d return to Hollow Mountain.

She’d fled sixteen years before and swore to herself that she would never come back.

Never say never.

She climbed out of the Jeep slowly and reached behind the seat. It only took her moments to prepare herself. She released the safeties of all four weapons and shoved each one back into the holsters strapped to her body. Next, she removed her loose trench coat from the Jeep, put it on, and pulled out her long red ponytail so it hung down her back.

Shawna slammed the driver’s-side door before she could change her mind and hightail it out of there. She wasn’t the sweet, naive girl she once was. Not that she’d ever been, really. Life had thrown her a pile full of bullshit since the start, but these days she gave it back tenfold. She slipped on her sunglasses last, and then observed the bar with apprehension.

The Barn.

The bar had been around for as long as she could remember. Her parents, the ones who’d adopted her after her birth parents had died in a car accident, had frequented this place.

It was a local hangout for werewolves.

She knew things in Hollow Mountain didn’t change much. Time had brought in new homes and more people, but it was still werewolf territory.

Rosa and Henry Markum had taken her in when she was nine years old. They had two teenage boys, but no daughters. Ralph and Morgan had been thirteen and fourteen years old, respectively, when Shawna came to live with them. She had instant hero worship for her new older brothers, and they looked after her. She adored both boys, but she knew within the first week that her adoptive family was different. Two teenage werewolves were an impossible secret to keep from the human child living in their home. They weren’t old enough to hide it like their parents did.

Maybe it had been her young age, but she’d taken the existence of shifters as a reality easily. So much so, she had actually fallen in love with a werewolf in her teens…but she refused to let her mind focus on that.

That girl who’d fallen in love with the tall, blond wolf with beautiful blue eyes and an easy laugh had died a lifetime ago. She’d perished in a small corner of the vast woods that surrounded Hollow Mountain one summer afternoon at the young and tender age of fifteen.

Shawna took a deep breath and blew it out. Then she rolled her shoulders and marched toward the bar. She called home rarely, since they all agreed it was safer, but four days before she’d talked to her adopted parents for the first time in over a year.

That’s when she’d learned about Ralph.

Pain stabbed through her as she remembered her adoptive mother telling her, through tears, that he’d been dead and buried for a long nine months. Ralph had been her family. She’d loved him as if they’d been blood. His life had been wrongly taken and she was about to be avenged.

She pushed open the door to the bar and stopped inside as it swung shut behind her. Shawna’s vision adjusted to the dim room easily with her specially tinted sunglasses to help her see in darker places. The lightened lenses had reflective capabilities with mirrored interiors. They were expensive, but worth every penny. Her gaze slowly roamed the bar from left to right.

The inside of the bar hadn’t changed much, with the pool tables sitting deep in the back. A dance floor area was dead center along the back wall and the long, curved bar sat to the left. Tables filled the space between on all sides. She knew the place would be packed on a Friday night. The sun hadn’t gone down yet, so it wasn’t standing room only, but the seats were filled.

She ticked off a headcount of men. There were at least forty-six of them in the room. She searched out women next, only finding twelve. Some things never changed. The men outnumbered the women by far.

She scanned the room once more and spotted her target. He was from the same pack that her adoptive family used to belong to, but he’d been a teenager the last time she’d seen him. It didn’t matter. He still looked like the same thick, dumb werewolf, only taller and buffer.

Shawna ignored the soft sniffing she heard around her. She saw heads popping up and turning her way. She clenched her teeth. Her fingers itched to reach inside her coat, but she kept her hands calmly at her sides. Her body was tense, but she outwardly hid that fact. She commanded her hammering heart to slow. She knew predatory wolves like the one she was hunting loved the smell of fear and female. They were sick that way. It turned most of them on.

Her target lifted his head fully and grinned.

Shawna wanted to wipe that smile off his face. She stopped about six feet from the table, keeping the heavy wood surface between her and her target. Weres had the ability to move inhumanly fast. They were amazingly strong too. She knew a lot about fighting shifters these days.

She smiled in earnest. Hell, she thought, this should be fun.

He’d never been her favorite werewolf, even before he killed her brother.

“Hello, Merl,” she drawled loudly. “How are you today?”

Merl’s grin faded. “Do I know you?”

She’d anticipated him not recognizing her, planned on it, actually. Everything from her body shape, to hair color, to her eyes were different than what he would remember.

“No, but I’ve heard things. I came a long way to say hi to you, baby.”

He blinked, looking unsure, but then he smirked again. Merl hefted up his large frame until he was on his feet. He looked and dressed like a biker, and it took genuine effort for Shawna not to roll her eyes. It seemed that a lot of the wannabe badass shifters thought the biker look was in. Her gaze flew over his leather jacket, the t-shirt that was tucked into a tight pair of jeans, and his black leather boots.

“Tell me what you heard.” His voice dropped into a soft growl. “Was I that good?”

She wanted to flinch, but she got in his face instead. “Not by a long shot. Actually, I heard you were about the worst damn lay a woman ever had. Kind of pathetic, to be frank with you, Merl. It was just sad and sorry to hear. You put all your kind to shame. I’d tuck that sorry excuse of a dick you have between your legs and go hide somewhere if I were you.” She drew out the word were, pronouncing it like ware, implying werewolf instead.

He snarled and showed teeth. His beefy hands clenched at his side and a low growl tore from his throat. “Who the fuck are you? That’s the stupidest thing anyone has ever said to me.”

Shawna saw movement and her gaze darted to the side for a fraction of a second. A few of the men had stood. They didn’t move for her though. If they did, she’d react. As a warning, she decided to say something to try to dissuade his pack mates from coming to his rescue.

“My fight isn’t with anyone but Merl here. Back off, please.”

The male bartender was frowning. “What’s going on?”

“Merl and I have something to settle,” Shawna said loudly, and moved her jacket, showing off her weapons. “I’d clear the bar if I were you. Emphasis on the were and who needs to be cleared.”

“Clear them out,” the bartender called out after a few stunned seconds. “Now. Move it!”

Yeah, it’s still a were bar.

She saw most people leaving, being ushered out by some of the other patrons, but half a dozen stayed. The whole time, she stood there staring at Merl, who never once stopped glaring back.

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