Forged in Moonfire (Amber Lee Mysteries Book 4)

By: Katerina Martinez

A predator. A hunter. A survivor.



Aaron Cooper is a werewolf. Go figure. He had always known he had a calling, but this? As the full moon wanes, Aaron sets off to the Nevada desert in search of his father and answers. But Nevada is a hot-zone of shapeshifter activity, and many of the local clans bear bloody grudges against each other. If Aaron is to find the answers he wants he's going to have to prove himself to his father and the rest of the pack by taking a trip through enemy territory.



Shouldn't be a problem for a macho-man like Aaron, though, right?



When the Mountain Cougars come skidding down Mount Charleston, claws gleaming and teeth bared, Aaron will have to dig deep if he wants to make it through because out in the desert you win, or you die.





CHAPTER 1





Leaving her was one of the hardest things he had ever had to do. Amber had saved his life in more ways than she knew, but Aaron’s hand was forced. He had to leave. There was something crawling beneath his skin, something primal and raw and angry. A monster? Maybe. Aaron had felt its terrible power coursing through him and for a while didn’t believe it was a part of him, or didn’t want to believe.

He had forgotten most of what had happened out in the woods on the night when he turned. Whenever he reached into his mind to find the memory he found a place he couldn’t enter. He would try to visualize the moment when the bullets struck and what came after, but his thoughts always drifted to the entrance of a strange cave; a cave guarded by a hulking, snarling presence with shining blue eyes and claws dripping with blood. It was as if the animal inside his heart didn’t want him to remember the things he did when it was in control.

But why would it do that? Where did it come from? And how long before it took control again?

As much as he may have not wanted to leave, Aaron had no choice. The thing inside of him posed questions Aaron had no answers to, and what was worse was that he was now being pulled toward seeing his father by some kind of strange imperative that hadn’t been there before the moment of his transformation.

He remembered his father’s old Harley. It was a red and black beast of metal and rubber and it had a beautiful grey wolf painted onto the fuel tank. His mother had painted the wolf while he and his father worked on the mechanics and made sure the bike would run. And when it ran, it roared. They had built it together as a family. It had taken months, but those months were among the best that Aaron could remember of his young life.

But that was before his father left.

In the days since Aaron’s transformation he had thought about his father more times than he had in the last half a decade. He didn’t want to think about him, but the memories came all the same as had the same imperative to go and see him. Unwanted. Unbidden. But there, and strong enough to pull Aaron away from Amber.

And now here he was, idling in the parking lot of a tattoo parlor in a suburbs of Las Vegas. The banner that went across the front of the building read Wolf Skin Tattoos and it had a picture of a muscle-clad wolf with a shoulder tattoo on it. Somehow, without any help, Aaron had found his way to the right place.

All day and all night he had driven through the Nevada desert to get to the glittering city, and when the highway turned into streets all he had to do was follow his nose. He didn’t ask for directions, didn’t stop or hesitate; didn’t even think. He simply acted, following that same unwanted imperative to its source, confident in the knowledge that it had taken him away from where he wanted to be, so it would lead him to where he needed to go.

Aaron pulled the car into a spot on the wide lot, and when he stepped outside and his feet touched Nevada earth for the first time, it was like stepping into a different planet. The sun was a shining ball of light in the clear noon sky, but although it was beating down hard on the ground its heat was negligible. Aaron and his family were from Southern California and he had only ever visited Las Vegas a few times in his life and always in the summer, so as the winter chill caressed his skin and puffs of steam formed around his breaths it struck him a little hard. This heat-less Vegas wasn’t the one he knew.

But the cold didn’t truly bother him much and so, armed with nothing but his opened leather jacket, the shirt beneath it, and a pair of dark Levis, Aaron crossed the length of the parking lot toward the door to the tattoo parlor. He was about to jerk the door open when someone pushed it out from inside and stepped into the cold.

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