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Excerpt #2 of WOLF RAIN
by Nalini Singh
The E stepped inside.
Wolf acting nonchalant inside him, Alexei made a show of removing his sodden boots and socks and placing them to one side of the entrance. Only after he was done did he glance back. The E was staring at the door, which was beginning to close.
“Automatic timer,” he told her. “To stop the rain, wind, wild animals from coming in and damaging the equipment on the off-chance one of us forgets to close it.”
The door shut.
Her shoulders stiffened, her hands fisting bloodlessly tight by her sides. Panic beat against his skull, the weight of the spiny and discordant emotion a hammer. And how was she doingthat in the first place? He knew Sascha Duncan had learned to unleash her empathic abilities against people of all races, used it as a defensive measure when under attack, but it had taken her time and effort to work out the technique.
No other E could assault changelings in such a way.
Most empaths could take away pain and soften the edges of emotional trauma in Psy, humans, andchangelings, but drenching others in powerful negative emotion? That was a whole other story.
Yet this skin-and-bones E was blasting at him, no holds barred.
Shaking his head in an attempt to dispel the barrage, he growled loud enough to fill the space. The emotional storm screeched to a halt; the E froze, then sent him a wary glance . . . with an edge of that delightful fury he intended to stoke into a fire.
He pointed to the panel on the inside wall. “You have the key,” he reminded her. “Stop punching me with emotion or I might decide to eat you.”
From the way she stared at him, it looked as if she was trying to decide whether to take him seriously or not. Good enough for now. At least it had stopped the howl of panic and fear that’d caused his wolf to bare its fangs. “I’m going to see if I can find us dry clothes.”
He walked off—but his hearing was plenty sharp enough that he caught the click of the door opening only seconds later, followed by the rustle of the E slipping out. Cold and wet swept inside. He squeezed his eyes shut for a second and told himself to count to ten. “Calm,” he gritted out through clenched teeth. “Be calm.”
Regardless of his yearlong black mood—a mood that had led his denmates to get him a mug emblazoned with the image of a singularly unimpressed feline—he remained one of the most patient wolves in SnowDancer. However, even he had a limit—if the E went mad and decided to run off into the snow and rain, he’d drag her back in.
The idea of it made him want to kick the walls.
Caging a wild bird never had a good outcome. Either the bird would break all the tiny bones in its body crashing into walls as it attempted to get out, or it would stop flying and starve to death. A wounded wild creature had to decide to trust, decide to stay.
“You’re a goddamn wolf,” he grumbled to himself after the ten-second count was over, not that he was any less frustrated. “Most sensible people are scared of wolves. Let her be.”
Except that he’d rescued her, muttered the mutinous wolf inside him. Surely that should’ve shown the E that he wasn’t actuallygoing to eat her. The wolf that was his other half growled at him for making that stupid threat and Alexei accepted he’d been an idiot. No more threatening the tiny E with his razor-sharp teeth.
He kept his ears open as he sent a quick message to Hawke to confirm they’d arrived safely; that done, he prowled around the substation. It had been a while since he’d been up here, but he remembered it well enough from when he’d helped with the initial setup. All of SnowDancer’s soldiers had a qualification aside from their physical dexterity, tactical ability, and strength training. Alexei was a sniper and trained others for the pack, but his civilian training was in computronic engineering with a focus on the tangible rather than the programming end of things.
These days, his duties as one of Hawke’s ten lieutenants—spread out across the pack’s massive California territory—kept him too busy to do much in that area, but he’d always liked putting puzzle pieces together to create something useful. When at his own satellite den, near the border with Oregon, he joined in with projects where he could. The den’s official computronic engineers were good sports about him nosing into their projects to put in the odd hour here and there.
It kept his skills sharp, and they never complained about his work, so he couldn’t be too bad. It had been some time since he’d done anything as complex as this substation, however. To his left was a bedroom with a couple of bunk beds for any technicians who had to stay the night. On the other side of the small hallway were the shower and toilet.
The kitchenette was at the opposite end from the entry. A locked door stood on the right side of the kitchenette area. All of the tech that ran the substation was in a climate-controlled room downstairs. The access he’d given the empath wouldn’t permit her to go into that section.
The wind cut off.
She’d finally shut the door again—and she was standing on this side of it. The look she shot him was defiant even though her bones rattled from her shivers. Alexei was fascinated by this small, angry woman who dared meet his gaze as if she were a lioness under the skin—female lion changelings had a reputation for being ornery and stubborn. Alexei had met three over his lifetime and all had proven that reputation to be well deserved.
Submissive wolves never met a dominant’s gaze in so challenging a fashion.
His wolf didn’t snarl at her. It was too astonished by this small creature who thought she could defy him. It was like being told off by a gnat. His currently habitually grumpy wolf nudged at Alexei to walk over there and investigate further, maybe use his teeth to grip the side of her neck to see what she’d do.
It wouldn’t be about hurting her, more about learning her dominance.
Alexei shrugged off the aggressive impulse. The E, he sternly reminded both parts of his nature, wasn’t changeling. Different rules applied. She had no idea that such direct and sustained eye contact with a dominant of Alexei’s power and rank in the pack was a challenge. In all likelihood, she was probably just watching him because she thought she was in danger of being eaten.
Chest rumbling at the idea of being seen as a threat by a defenseless E—next he’d hear he kicked kittens for a hobby—he stalked into the bedroom and opened the cupboard.
Excerpt from working draft of WOLF RAIN
by Nalini Singh
Subject to change.
Alexei’s claws sliced out.
Leaning forward to grip the edge of the upper bunk, his big body far too close and the heat of him nearly a touch, he said, “Yeah? Well, I consider him prey.” His voice was hard and human, but the eyes that met Memory’s a striking mix of amber and gray.
When he reached down one clawed hand to touch the side of her face, she didn’t jerk back. The deadly tips grazed her skin but instead of a spike of fear, she felt that strange fluttering in her abdomen, her breath catching. He was so close she could smell the wild warmth of his scent, catch a hint of the perspiration that had dampened the hair at his temples.
Her fingers tingled, wanting to touch his skin, feel the power of all that muscle. Gripping the mattress of her bunk to still the strange urge, she held his stare until his gaze was all amber and his chest rumbled. Memory knew that, to a wolf, aggressive eye contact was a challenge, but she didn’t care.
Never again would she back down from anyone.
He snapped his teeth at her.
It made her jump in surprise. Eyes narrowed in sheer annoyance, she bared her own teeth at him. And, since he was looming over her, she lifted her hands and pushed forcefully at his hips. Her fingers brushed warm, hard abdominal muscles, her palms braced against the cloth of his sweatpants. The raw power of him hummed through her.
Copyright © 2018 by Nalini Singh
“Singh’s third Psy Changeling Trinity novel (after Ocean Light) delights with lovingly drawn characters.”
– Publishers Weekly
“If you’re a long time fan of the series, you won’t want to miss Wolf Rain. It not only gives us the familiar characters we knew and loved, it introduces us to new and exciting ones, too.”
– Geri Reads (Goodreads)
“There should be no surprise that I LOVED THIS BOOK. If you haven’t read Nalini Singh, YOU. ARE. MISSING. OUT! Magical romances, fantastic fantasy, amazing paranormal aspects, what more can a reader ask for.”
– Beth (Goodreads)
“Both Alexei and Memory have had some traumatic and heartbreaking past experiences…The development of their relationship is multi layered and emotionally intense. You’ll find yourself transported from page one into a world of psy-changeling. The chemistry, emotions and relationship development of these two characters is intense and so satisfying.”
– Esther (Goodreads)“Ms. Singh’s finely crafted heartfelt story will please fans drawing out some very deep emotions demonstrating how love shines a light in the dark, casting out evil and filling up the broken and damaged places in the heart and mind.”– LynnL – Outlander Book Club“Favorite alpha characters weave through the story, meeting the new challenge with their typical intelligence, flexibility, and collaboration. Another Psy/Changeling page-turner from the brilliant Singh.”– Kirkus Reviews
“Stratagems, insanity, and violence are here tempered by bright humor and the warmth and importance of family, pack, and belonging. Another hands-down winner that expands Singh’s brilliantly conceived world.”
– Library Journal (Starred review)
Psy-Changeling Trinity Series
For the Complete Chronological Reading Order, click here.Psy-Changeling Series
1. Slave to Sensation
1.5a “The Cannibal Princess” – free short story
1.5b “The Shower” – deleted scene
2. Visions of Heat
3. Caressed By Ice
3.5 “Miss Leozandra’s” – deleted scene
4. Mine to Possess
4.5 “A Conversation” – free short story
5. Hostage to Pleasure
5.5a “A Gift for Kit” ~ free short story
5.5b “Movie Night” – free short story
6. Branded By Fire
7. Blaze of Memory
7.5. “Christmas in the Kitchen” – free short story
8. Bonds of Justice
9. Play of Passion
9.5a “Wolf School” – deleted scene
9.5b “Clean and Dirty” – free short story
10. Kiss of Snow
10.5 “Stalking Hawke” – free short story
11. Tangle of Need
12. Heart of Obsidian
13. Shield of Winter
14. Shards of Hope
15. Allegiance of Honor
16. The Psy/Changeling Trinity series (2017)
1. “Beat of Temptation” in An Enchanted Season
2. “Stroke of Enticement” in The Magical Christmas Cat
3. “Whisper of Sin” in Burning Up
4. Wild Invitation (featuring Beat of Temptation, Stroke of Enticement, Declaration of Courtship, and Texture of Intimacy)
5. “Secrets At Midnight” in Night Shift
6. Wild Embrace
Book 3: the Psy/Changeling Trinity series
The Psy/Changeling series