Cowboy in Wolf’s Clothing
By Kait Ballenger
Publication Date: June 25, 2019
“Kait Ballenger is a treasure you don’t want to miss.” —Gena Showalter, New York Times bestselling author
Born a cowboy and bred a warrior…
High Commander Colt Cavanaugh has spent his life defending his pack and its sprawling ranchlands. But the hardened Grey Wolf soldier has a dark secret that could destroy his life forever.
Belle Beaumont is a wanted woman, on the run from the wolf pack that kidnapped her. When fate brings her face-to-face with the Grey Wolf High Commander himself, rivalry becomes passion, and suddenly more than just her freedom is at stake.
Colt will fight to the death for the healing Belle brings to his battle-worn heart—and for this cowboy wolf, all’s fair in love and war…
Seven Range Shifters Series:
Cowboy Wolf Trouble (book 1)
Cowboy in Wolf’s Clothing (book 2)
What People Are Saying About Kait Ballenger:
“Kait Ballenger is a treasure you don’t want to miss.”—Gena Showalter, New York Times bestselling author
“Paranormal fans have a new voice to check out…intense and riveting.”—RT Book Reviews for Twilight Hunter, 4 Stars
“An extremely promising high-voltage start…”—Publishers Weekly, STARRED review for Twilight Hunter, a PW Top 10 Romance Pick
Kait Ballenger earned her B.A in English from Stetson University followed by an M.F.A in Writing from Spalding University. After stints in multiple careers, Kait finally decided that her eight-year-old self knew best: that she was meant to be a writer. Kait lives in Florida with her husband and young son. Follow her at www.kaitballenger.com
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Author Website: www.kaitballenger.com
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“I guess this is goodbye then.”
He gave a curt nod, refusing to look at her as he crossed back to the mantel. He placed his hand over the marbled edged and stared down at the fire. Once again, he didn’t allow her to see his pain, but she knew it was there. She felt it.
As her hand connected with the smooth, round brass on the doorknob, she hesitated. Her chest ached. This would likely be the last time she’d ever see him, and that pained her more than she’d anticipated…
And she could tell it pained him too.
Her hand fell away from the door handle. “Before I go, I should probably look at your wounds again. Just to make sure they healed properly.” It was an obvious stalling tactic.
Maybe if she had a few more minutes to process, she could find the words to tell him how she felt.
He glanced up, his brow furrowed in mild confusion. “Sure,” he muttered.
Crossing the room toward him, she stood in front of him. He gestured to the buttons of his shirt, and from the smirk that curled his lips, she realized he wasn’t going to make this easy on her. She gripped the hem of the material, tugging him toward her with confidence as she started in on the top button.
As she worked her way down, he cleared his throat. “Why did you leave?” he asked.
She was about to admit that she wasn’t quite ready to leave when he clarified, “Why did you leave the rodeo?”
It was a personal question, but after the kindness he’d shown her, she felt compelled to answer. “I had some good people in my life, and I enjoyed my work, the travel, but I…I moved around so much I didn’t have any close friends.” She opened the sides of his shirt, revealing the bare chest beneath. Her fingers danced over the skin where the wound had been. It was barely more than a puckered scar now. It would likely be smooth in a few days.
“I wanted friends, a family, and a…” A lump formed in her throat. She could barely speak around it. The truth was difficult to admit to a Grey Wolf cowboy like him. “And a pack,” she finally managed. “That’s how I fell into the Wild Eight’s hands. I wanted that kind of life so badly that I…I didn’t even see the way they were using me. Not at first.” She blinked away her gathering tears and forced a laugh. “Boy, was I stupid, huh? As if a Rogue could ever have any of those things…” With his wound clearly healed and no more excuse to stay, she moved to turn away, but Colt caught her chin in his hand.
“Don’t.” His command was firm yet gentle as he forced her to meet his gaze. She couldn’t have looked away if she’d wanted to. The steel of his eyes had melted, leaving a warmth and a depth that bored straight through her. The burning glow of the fire reflected in his gaze.
“Don’t tear yourself down like that,” Colt said. “You may be a Rogue, but everyone deserves a family, a pack, happiness. And I can tell by the way you cared for me, saved me—all when you thought I was your enemy—that you’re more than decent, Belle Beaumont. You’re a kindhearted woman, and you deserve happiness. Don’t ever deny yourself that.”
He released her cheek and she lowered her head, searching for some way out of the raw, vulnerable feeling in her chest. She’d never felt so open, so bare, even when she’d been standing nude before him in the clearing, and in that moment she wanted to believe his words were true with every part of her, so badly it made her ache.
“Thank you,” she whispered, still blinking away tears.
“Few people want anything more than to be accepted for who they are. I’m certain of that.” His voice was graveled at the edges, like he held back emotions of his own. He sounded as if he spoke from experience.
Had Belle been a braver person, she might have asked, but she didn’t dare. This man was off-limits for her in so many ways. Instead, she reached toward his scar, running her fingers gently over the surface. Inches away, she felt the steady thrum of his heart.
“It’s healed,” she whispered.
Her fingertips brushed against the warmth of his skin, and he growled.
Her hand lingered against his bare flesh. Colt’s eyes blazed the golden of his wolf’s. Fierce, powerful, and hungry.
“I…” She didn’t know what to say.
The tension between them heightened with each passing second. Belle felt her own eyes flash to the golden of her wolf’s as the fresh scent of sandalwood and soap on his skin overpowered her senses. She wanted him, plain and simple.
Gently, she eased away, fleeing toward the safety of the door. She felt his eyes follow her as she went. Nerves and indecision churned in her stomach. Once again, she felt like the timid woman she’d always been. The way she’d been before she met him. Unable to form words in the face of a stranger, at least when she wasn’t donning her lab coat. Escaping from the Wild Eight had changed her, forced her to harden.
But this cowboy was quickly becoming more than a stranger to her, and she found she didn’t want to go back to the tender woman she’d been before, the one who’d allowed countless other wolves to hurt her, take advantage of her. She wanted to be the kind of woman who took her destiny into her own hands, who made her own decisions, who didn’t define herself by what she should or shouldn’t do.
By what was forbidden to her.
Steadying herself with her grip on the doorknob, Belle inhaled a deep breath.
“Colt,” she said without turning to look at him.
“Yes, sweetheart,” he drawled.
“When we were in the forest, you said you thought it would be good between us?”
His tone lowered. “I did.”
“And do you still think that?”
“Yes, Belle.” His voice was graveled, growing strained. “I know it would be good between us. Better than good.”
She nodded even as her hands shook. She swallowed, hard.
“I do too.” She sighed. “One night never hurt anything.”
The aroused growl that rumbled behind her was all the confirmation she needed.
Excerpted from Cowboy in Wolf’s Clothing by Kait Ballenger. © 2019 by Kait Ballenger. Used with permission of the publisher, Sourcebooks Casablanca, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc. All rights reserved.