Healing of the Wolf
THE WILD HUNT LEGACY, BOOK 5
A decade in captivity tore away all hope.
But Margery never lost her resolve to help the sick. The village she’d hoped to serve as banfasa, caring for the ill and injured, is long gone. Humans captured the young shifters and killed the adults. Finally rescued, she has a chance at her dreams—at least for meaningful work. With her leg crippled and her face scarred, she knows she has no hope of ever finding love.
Tynan is ready to find their mate.
After years away from his littermate as a police officer among humans, Tynan is finally home, a beta in the wolf pack, and serving his people as a law officer. Assigned as Margery’s mentor in the pack, he patiently works to earn the skittish little wolf’s trust. Her captivity has left her with problems, including a fear of uniforms. But he’s a fixer at heart—and he’s starting to want more from the gentle female than just friendship.
Donal has no intention of making a family.
Separated from his littermate for years, Donal has remained unmated, devoting his energies to healing. Believing ugly rumors about their new neighbor—a banfasa—he won't have her in his clinic or his life—no matter what his newly returned brother wants.
But a feral shifter’s attack on Tynan shows Margery in a whole different light. She’s levelheaded, compassionate, sweet—and far too appealing. What male could resist her?
But even as the brothers work to win their mate, cruel forces move to crush their entire clan.
PRAISE FOR THIS SERIES
If you are into paranormal series, you are missing out if you haven’t treated yourself to Cherise Sinclair’s The Wild Hunt Legacy series."
~ Edgy Reviews
Once I started this I didn't, for the life of me, want to put it down! It’s one of the most memorable PNRs I have found and a definite favorite in the Wild Hunt Legacy series.
~ Marie’s Tempting Reads
Cherise Sinclair books are my happy place. Whether she's writing emotionally charged BDSM romance or just as emotionally charged MFM PNR, one thing is guaranteed; I'll be glued to the pages.
~ DG Romance Reviews
All she’d ever wanted was to belong. To help the ill and injured. Instead, she was a captive, barely existing.
A cell of four white walls, a solid door, and this bed made up her tiny world. Margery slammed her fist into the thin mattress with a muted thump. Because the weak gesture was all she could do. That sadistic guard. What she’d give to be able to kill him.
Tears stung her eyes with the memory of Gallia’s bruised face. The bloody welts on her back. Because the gangly fourteen-year-old girl had accidentally bumped into the Scythe guard. The most brutal one.
Pressing her face to the lumpy mattress to muffle any sound, Margery growled. She’d been so useless. There’d been times she could intervene to calm an angry guard and keep him from hurting one of the younglings.
Not this time. Instead, Huber had backhanded Margery to the ground, kicked her half-unconscious, then returned to beating on Gallia.
She rubbed her aching face against the rough sheet and fought the urge to cry.
The first few years she’d been a captive, she’d hoped for rescue. Managed to endure. Clung to the fantasy of escape.
Eventually, hope died.
The Scythe were too powerful. The clandestine organization of wealthy, influential humans manipulated world events to gain even more power. Just over a decade ago, they’d discovered the shifters, decided they’d be of use, and attacked Margery’s tiny mountain village.
They’d been disappointed when all the adult Daonain died, but had cut their losses and sent the young males off to train as covert operations soldiers. The young females—their sisters like Margery—remained imprisoned here in the compound to ensure the shifter-soldier’s cooperation.
To the Scythe, the shifters were freaks. Animals to cruelly mistreat. And they did. The Scythe had no compassion, didn’t hear pleas. Rarely responded to reason.
She kept trying, though. Once in a while, she could save a young one some pain.
But every time she spoke to a guard, hatred squeezed her lungs. And gut-wrenching fear froze her muscles.
At least today there had been no broken bones. In the tiny clinic, Margery’d done her best to patch Gallia up while whispering comforting words and giving quick hugs. Something every young captive needed so badly.
She blinked back tears. I need a hug, too.
With a sigh, she pulled the light blanket closer. Her thin T-shirt and sleep shorts didn’t lend much warmth, and November in the human city of Seattle was cold and damp. Rolling onto her back, she tried to ignore the nagging ache in her bruised face and ribs. Her ankle throbbed where the fractured bones had never healed right. Exhaustion dragged at her.
She was dying, slowly, but ever so surely.
Shifters didn’t survive captivity.
When the Scythe had captured her village, her littermate, Orson, died while charging a soldier. Grandmama’s body was tossed into her burning clinic. Mama died in wolf form, fighting in the streets.
Margery’s other littermate, Oliver, was taken away to be a shifter-soldier.
Imprisoned in Scythe cages, the babies and the adults—all those who had shifted once—died quickly.
Now, the rest would follow them into death.
In their early twenties, after eleven years in captivity, the females were failing. Trapped by walls, so far from the forests, and unable to shift. Beaten down, half-starved, filled with despair, the oldest of the hostages were losing their grip on life.
At the end of September, as the leaves were falling from the trees, Barbara had simply faded into death.
I miss you, my friend, but I’ll join you soon.
Margery’s miserable thoughts wouldn’t allow sleep. If she could only sit in the moonlight… No, even that wouldn’t help. Tonight, the night sky was empty of the Lady’s glow.
Pushing her tangled hair from her face, Margery wiggled into a cross-legged position and closed her eyes. There it was, deep inside her—her haven. Fragrant, green forest surrounding a peaceful mountain lake. The water was no longer blue; each year, the Mother’s waters grew grayer. The Scythe compound was so, so far from the lands of the Daonain.
But the lake still refreshed and calmed Margery’s soul.
A creaking sound broke into her peace.
She turned her head. The cells around her were quiet—no one wanted to risk a beating. She could hear the low hum of nighttime traffic in the city and the scuff of a guard’s boots outside as he patrolled the grounds.
Not that he was patrolling against a shifter trying to run. If a captive escaped or died, the Scythe would kill her brothers. Love for littermates made tighter shackles than any metal ones.
A creaking, groaning noise—the distinctive sound of the heavy door to the hallway of cells. Was there trouble?
Margery lay down and pretended to be asleep.
Keys clanked. A door somewhere unlocked and opened. Someone whispered, “Into the hall. We’re getting out of here.”
What? That was Darcy’s voice.
Margery jumped off her bed.
Her friend was alive? Last September, she’d escaped. Like Margery, she’d been rail-thin, fading, dying. Margery had thought that was why Darcy had run—just to taste freedom before her death. Soon after, the Director announced she’d been caught and killed.
Do dead people whisper?
Leaning against her cell door, Margery held her breath in hope—and listened.
Movement. More whispers.
Another door creaked open. Then the lock on her own cell turned. The door opened.
“Darcy.” Margery’s voice was almost inaudible, because her friend stood there, healthy and strong. As joy filled Margery, she reached out.
Darcy squeezed her hand, tugged her out into the hall, then moved to unlock the next door.
When the last door was opened, the captives gathered—ages ranging from thirteen to twenty-four—silently crying and hugging.
“The Director said you were killed,” Idelle whispered.
Darcy snorted her opinion of the lie. “I escaped and found other shifters. We’re breaking you and our brothers out at the same time. You need to do what I say.” Fear and determination radiated from her.
Margery stared at her in disbelief. Darcy should’ve stayed safe, not set herself up for certain death. One person might make it out. All of them? Past armed guards, powerful spotlights, machine guns in the bunkers. Over ten-foot stone walls.
We’ll all die.
Yet hope rose within her like a painful, burning brand.
Darcy moved closer, her whisper barely audible. “Go to the ground floor, out the back door, and hide behind the building.”
Little Alice, barely thirteen, tangled hair falling over her cheeks, tugged at Darcy’s shirt. “What about the alarms? The floodlights? The guards? We’ll—”
“The lights will be gone; trust me.” Darcy held up a broken-off mop handle stained with blood. “I’ll handle the guards.”
But if we’re caught trying to escape… Terror froze Margery’s muscles. Fear fogged her vision at the memory of her worst beating. The tearing gut-wrenching pain as her arms and legs broke, then her ribs. The backhand across her face—the guard’s ring ripping her face open. Her blood hotter than fire. The huge boot crushing her ankle. Her screams…
The metallic taste of panic choked her as she fought her way out of the memory. She ran a finger down the long scar on her face to remind herself it was over. In the past.
Darcy’s eyes met hers. “Can you bring up the rear and make sure everyone stays together?”
No, no. The guards are out there. Will catch us. Hurt us.
The other females looked at Margery with hope, with fear. Waiting for her decision.
Her gaze fell on Gallia’s bruised face. There was…a chance. It would be worth any torture to get the younglings out of here.
Reaching deep, Margery found some courage. She lifted her chin. “I can.”
A few minutes later, she trailed the others down the narrow staircase. Every soft footstep echoed, every sharp breath sounded like a shout.
Each time the cubs turned to look at her, she nodded reassurance and held her finger to her lips.
Her heart thumped like a wild thing inside her ribs. Every nerve screamed for her to flee before the Scythe found them. The cold sweat of fear trickled down her back.
She kept her feet moving.
She wouldn’t fail the others.
At last, the stairs ended, and she followed the group out the back door into the dark night. Darcy motioned for them to hide behind the privet hedge at the rear of the building.
At yelling from the front, everyone dove into the bushes.
Huddling down, Margery peeked around the dense foliage. The compound’s floodlights were dark. Not even the generator-run emergency lights were on. Shouting, weapons out, guards ran past, and Margery cringed as her body remembered the brutal canes, the boots, the fists.
“Stay down.” Darcy stripped and shoved her clothes under a bush. The air around her shimmered…and she trawsfurred into a panther.
Oh, Goddess. Darcy had shifted. None of the imprisoned females had ever managed to trawsfur.
Margery held her breath as awe mingled with a longing so deep it was carved into her bones.
I want to shift. To dance in the moonlight, to feel the breeze in her fur.
Inside the building, gunshots snapped. Men yelled. The door burst open, and two panthers sprang out, blood streaking their golden fur.
One shifted to human. Even as Margery blinked at the sight of a naked male, he bent and hugged the purring panther beside him, whispering, “Vicki, Vicki, Vicki, by the Gods.”
The huge, shaggy-haired male’s love for his female was almost a visible glow.
Training brought Margery back to common sense. The blood on Vicki’s fur—was it hers or someone else’s? Margery looked closer. As a pup, she’d seen shifters whose stomach fur and skin had sagged like that.
The female had recently given birth.
At the front of the compound, something crashed so hard the ground shook. Metal screeched. A pistol barked, then more guns fired in a torrent of noise.
Margery’s hands turned to ice. The guards were alerted. The captives would never get out.
The back door opened again. A dark-haired male emerged with arms around several bundles. “Hey, Alec. I think these cubs belong to you.”
When the huge male didn’t move, the dark-haired male looked around and spotted Margery in the bushes. He jerked his head. Come here.
She pulled in a breath, drew on her waning stock of courage, and stepped forward.
He handed her a baby, one of three.
Like the clear waters from a sacred spring, wonder welled up through the cracks in her soul. She held new life, a spark from the Mother of All. Her heart turned to mush, before fear blossomed again. This was no place for a newborn.
Her lips raised in a silent snarl. Nothing would hurt this kitling.
The male handed another baby to Alice. Idelle took the third.
When the male named Alec moved toward the infants, the dark-haired one blocked him. “Cubs come later, cahir. We need to get everybody to the garage.”
The garage. Where the cars were. Yes, yes, please.
“Dammit, Owen,” Alec said under his breath, looking with longing at the babies. Then he sighed and raised his voice enough the captives could all could hear. “Aye, let’s get them out of here. I’ll take the lead. Vixen, stay by the cubs. Owen, left flank. Darcy, you bring up the rear. Let’s go.”
Darcy shifted to human, yanked on her black tank and tight sweatpants, and spoke to the females hiding in the bushes. “Come on. It’s time to move to somewhere safe. Hurry.”
No one budged.
Margery’s mouth was so dry, she couldn’t even swallow. But they couldn’t stay here. Guards, gunfire… None of that mattered. The infants must be saved. She forced her feet to move forward.
No one else stirred. Just stared at the huge, naked male.
No one trusted males.
Seeing the frozen captives, Darcy shook her head. “Alec, I’d better lead.”
“Aye,” he agreed after a second. “I’ll take rear guard.”
As Darcy started across the lawn, Margery turned to the others and jerked her head, conveying an order of her own. Let’s go.
Silently, the others rose and followed her. Behind Margery, Idelle carried the second cubling, Alice the third. They moved in a line across the soft grass, staying in the shadows.
Suddenly, Alice’s baby began to cry.
Eyes wide as a fleeing deer, the girl froze.
Margery hurried back and took the babe in her free arm. Cuddling it, she rocked side-to-side, calming herself and the kit. “Shhh, shhh, shhh.”
It quieted, staring up at her, pink lips pursed. Silent. Margery’s talent for soothing had won.
“What the fuck!” a man shouted. “What was that?” Guards charged around the side of the building—straight at them.
Their flashlight beams spotlighted Darcy in the front.
“There’s the freak that escaped!” It was the worst Scythe guard—Huber.
If he caught Darcy, he’d kill her.
Instinct drew Margery forward to shield her, but she stopped midstride. The babies. The babies in her arms were helpless.
In a flash, Darcy dashed forward, luring the men away. They chased her like a vicious pack of dogs. More guards cut across the lawn, fanning out. Shooting at her.
Margery turned to the captives. “Move farther back.” With babies in her arms, she couldn’t motion, but they heard her and faded back into the deepest shadows.
A guard spotted her before she could follow. “Stop right there!”