She didn’t know why she felt the need to leave her house in the middle of the godforsaken night and follow a whimper she'd heard in the darkness. She’d checked on her animals and none of them had taken on any new injuries. The small red wolf she had for rehabilitation was going strong and resting comfortably after a tangle with a trapper’s claw. The cow, three horses, and a group of other wolves were all okay. So, for some reason, Dr. Sonja Taylor was driving around the three square miles of her property following a damn cry. She should know better, but something was calling her. She couldn’t quite explain the feeling, but she knew she was needed and she couldn’t seem to settle back into sleep once the sound had awoken her. She’d felt an overwhelming urge to find the source of that plaintive wail. As a veterinarian for five years, she had yet to learn to be somewhat detached in her work. She still cried after every death on her operating table, mourned animals abused by their owners, and had a tendency to take in strays like she could save the world. Her assistant had told her she would have to learn someday, but she didn’t want to.
She’d started her job out of pure love of animals. Something about the feel of soft fur, the sleekness of a horse’s flank, and the soft cooing of a bird made her feel such love in her heart. She couldn’t save every animal in the world, she knew that, but she would at least try her best. That same want, well a need really, dragged her out of bed in thirty degree weather with only a windbreaker, jeans, and a T-shirt on to find the animal that now needed her help. She depressed the button on her searchlight to make it stay pointed on one side of her utility truck. She’d search that one side and then come back up the other when she got to the end of the road. She scanned the grounds to the right of her truck as slowly and thoroughly as she could. She knew that a wounded animal could be dangerous and had a tendency to hide—they wouldn’t realize she was trying to help them when she came upon them. She patted her tranquilizer gun reassuringly to make sure that it was there. She didn’t like to use it, but she knew the necessity if she was taking in a wild animal.
She saw a flash of a shiny black coat of fur and stopped her truck. She turned her searchlight in the direction and spotted one of the most beautiful examples of a wolf she had ever seen. He was massive. She knew wolves, and even by extreme standards, he was larger than he should have been. As she recalled, the largest reported was one hundred and ninety-five pounds. He could easily weigh twenty to thirty pounds more than that. His gaze, a piercing dark brown, nearly black in the night, was locked on her approach. She moved toward the wolf as slowly as she could, looking for injuries as she went. The same sad whimper that had dragged her from her bed leaked out once more as the wolf trembled. She knew his thick coat would protect him from the weather. He would be warm while she was quaking in the wind. His trembling told her he was in extreme pain. She had to be careful. If she didn’t come at the wolf just right, he would attack her and they would both be in deep trouble.
“Come on, baby, let me see.” She used a calm, steady voice as she spoke, easing her way beside the wolf. “I want to help you, but you have to let me see what’s wrong.” The wolf laid his head down and closed his eyes as if giving her permission, and she used that to get closer to him. Once she was nearly on top of him she knelt, with the tranquilizer gun at the ready and looked around the wolf’s body. Dark, thick blood pumped from him near his stomach. All thoughts of fear and worry vanished. She went instantly into fix mode. One time she remembered her assistant telling she did crazy things in that state. Sonja supposed, then, her assistant would think she was a lunatic for what she did next. She lay the gun down at her side and stroked the ruff of the wolf’s neck.
“I need to get you in my truck. I have a pulley that’ll help. It’s going to hurt, but I promise that I’ll make it better.” There was no way she was going to lift the wolf herself, and she wasn’t even going to try. She got back up, packing her rifle into the car before circling around the back to grasp the hook of her pulley. It latched into a bed of sorts that she would attempt to roll the wolf over on. She’d have to tranq him if he put up a fight. On second thought, she may have to do it before she moved him. She pulled the pulley around and laid the bed next to him, then retrieved her rifle again. Next to the wolf again, she knelt.
“Okay, big boy, I don’t want to have to shoot you with this medicine, but I will. Let’s go.” She reached for his legs so she could roll him easier, and the wolf twisted, baring its teeth. She leaped back and palmed her rifle, heart pounding.
“Don’t make me shoot you. I’m trying to help.” The wolf turned a plaintive gaze toward her, and Sonja got an eerie feeling that he was trying to communicate something to her. She tried to move him again and he twisted from her grasp, head slamming to the ground and pointing toward a hedge bush. He clawed at the ground as if trying to get to the bush.
“The hard way then,” Sonja began and then froze. Another, softer, cry filled the night air and Sonja ran back to the truck to adjust her light. There in the bush was a black and white timber wolf that was nearly as big as the one she’d found first. Too big to be a female, she thought to herself.
“You are calling for your friend over there? I’ll bring him along, too.” She didn’t know why she was having a conversation with the wolf like he could answer, but when he ceased struggling she thought that maybe he could understand. She eased toward the salt and pepper, her exhale catching in her throat when she saw that this wolf had a deep wound to the neck. If she didn’t get him to her home quick, he’d die out here. She retraced her steps back to the pulley and then dragged the bed to the wounded wolf. He didn’t fight, too lost to pain and his subconscious to know she was there. She rolled him into the pulley, secured him, and then went to the motor. She hit the switch and watched the chain as it dragged the wolf from the bush and near the black wolf. She then moved him, happy he didn’t fight, and secured him. She hit the motor again and then guided them safely into the truck bed. As she drove home she didn’t know how she was going to be able to work fast enough to save both wolves. They had some serious wounds. She was more worried about the neck wound, but the stomach wound of the other one could easily become an issue if she didn’t stop the blood loss and make sure no vital organs had been hit. She drove as quickly as she could back to her house, praying that her speed didn’t jostle her injured charges. Once at her home she used her pulley and a sliding table to transfer the wolves to her surgical space. In minutes, it seemed, she had IVs started on both animals, medicine quickly pumping into their system, and their tongues lolling out of their mouths. A quick buzz of her clippers cut away the thick pelts around the area so that she could see the ragged edges of their wounds better. They’d been shot. She grabbed her forceps, wanting to get the bullets out and the wounds closed. She had to stop the bleeding.
“What the hell?” She dropped intricately designed silver bullets into her pan from the wolves. Each of the four bullets she extracted was tipped with crosses and the sides deeply grooved from what she could see. She was amazed the bullets hadn’t crumpled on impact. She’d never seen a bullet stay intact after hitting flesh and colliding with bone. These wolves were lucky they hadn’t gotten ripped up by fragments. It would have caused even worse damage. If she had seen the poachers, she would have tried to rip them a part herself. The wolves may be large and dangerous, but they could have been captured and released safely. They didn’t have to be shot up, and with silver bullets no less, like they were some kind of damn werewolves. Sonja shook her head. Pushing dressing into the wounds to clean them, she then ran to get gauze and wrappings to have on hand after she sutured some of the torn edges. She hadn’t been prepared for surgery tonight, let alone two. She was dripping in sweat, drooping with exhaustion, and worried that, even with all of her work, the wolves may not make it through the night. She gathered all of the supplies as fast as she could, along with more medicine bottles, and rushed back to her patients. Then stopped in her tracks.
Where two large wolves had been, now two really naked, men lay. One, with soft, slanted eyes, bone-straight black hair, and a chiseled frame, looked as if he were Asian in ethnicity. The other, a salt-and-pepper haired god of roped muscles and full lips, looked like the best damn cowboy she’d ever seen. Something in the set of his jaw gave him a rugged appeal she’d always imagined belonged to the men of the horseback lifestyle. Call her naive, but she found it damn sexy.
“The Marlboro Man and the Last Samurai are in my house,” she said nervously, not sure if she wanted to faint or laugh her ass off. When one moaned and twitched, it somehow sounded like the cry she’d heard from the black wolf earlier, she figured she go for the former.
When Sonja senses an animal in pain, she can do nothing more than find it and fix it. When her senses lead her to two large wolves, she springs into action. But when those wolves change to men, she does what any self-respecting woman does…she faints. Tobias and Hideki know as soon as they see and scent Sonja that she is their mate. But how can that be, they are not brothers destined to share. When they issue a mate challenge, Sonja knows she can’t choose. But will either male let her go or will they listen to what fate has decided for them all?
Accepting Their Claim by LaTeisha Newton is third in the Claimed series. Although you can figure out what is going on, this story is best read in chronological order. I hadn’t read the prior stories but was able to figure out the dynamics of the characters. Sonja is a vet and unable to leave an animal in pain. Her entrance into the world of the paranormal was covered in blood and hatred but she maintained her determination to continue her life. Tobias and Hideki have a connection few know about and Sonja enters their world and throws it into chaos. Through pain and hurt feelings, they must show the one fated to be their mate that they can put her first always.
This was my first time reading this author and I thoroughly enjoyed my introduction. I like the characters individually and together. They were well developed and worked to fit together in a committed relationship once misconceptions and hurt feelings were addressed. And they were addressed after a fashion. There were slight editing issues but overall this was a well written story. This will not be the last time that I sit down to enjoy this author’s work.
Manic Readers receives books from authors, publishers, and publicists which are given to
reviewers in exchange for their honest opinion. Each review represents the opinion of the reviewer
which may or may not have been influenced by receiving the book at no cost.