Traduction Personnelle :
Dans le dernier roman de la série des Exilés d’Austin, un homme s'est résigné à une vie à moitié vécue. Mais une belle et courageuse femme le pousse à en désirer d’avantage ...
Graham McNeil sait que sa meute est indisciplinée, mais il n'est pas sûr de pouvoir franchir le pas qui la conduirait à la stabilité. Après avoir perdu sa première compagne il y a longtemps, Graham a travaillé dur pour garder le contrôle de son cœur. En outre, même s'il était enclin à choisir une nouvelle compagne, sa petite amie, Misty, est humaine – ce qui ne colle pas vraiment avec la meute old school de Graham.
Mais Misty traverse elle-même une crise, une de celle qui apporte mort et danger à la meute.
Avec des loups d’autant plus convaincus que la meute a besoin d’un complet bouleversement, Graham va devoir défendre son leadership et sauver la femme qu'il a fini par aimer - avant que la ville Garou ne sombre dans une guerre totale.
Les Exilés d'Austin, Tome 6 : Wild Wolf
** Extrait offert par Jennifer Ashley **
Misty started to shake. “Oh, right. Don’t worry. I was sitting here tied up, and you get shot, and you don’t want me to worry.” She swallowed, her throat dry. The thin-walled shack with its many cracks was like an oven. “You’re a shithead, Graham.”
“That’s what everyone tells me.”
Misty couldn’t move her hand from his arm. She felt his strength beneath her grip, comforting her even now.
Graham was a big man, loud-voiced and full of arrogance. Other Shifters were afraid of him, including his own wolves—his Lupine pack, he called them. Humans backed away from him, and even Shifter groupies only watched him from afar, too scared to approach him.
Misty, though, couldn’t bring herself to be afraid of Graham—or at least, not terrified of him. She remembered the first night she’d met him, in a Shifter bar called Coolers. She’d found herself sitting on a barstool next to him, Graham all banged up from a bout at the Shifter fight club. He’d looked disgruntled, angry, and very lonely. She couldn’t ever forget what she’d seen in his eyes that night, a man searching for something, though he didn’t know what.
Not that Graham had ever showed Misty his softer side. But he’d let her see a hint that maybe he had a softer side—deep, deep, deep down.
Graham turned from her, and Misty’s fingers slid away from him. “Dougal!” Graham bellowed as he banged out of the shack. “Stop whining. You need to take this bullet out of me.”
“No, you need a hospital,” Misty said, following him. “Maybe we can make it to the road, or at least close enough to find a cell signal.”
“I’m not walking anywhere, sweetie. I have a bullet stuck in my side, and it could lodge in a bad place if it doesn’t come out now.”
“Can’t you shift . . . ?”
“Sure. Then I’ll be a wolf with a bullet stuck in my side that could lodge in a bad place. Dougal can take it out. He knows how.”
Misty didn’t know much about Graham’s nephew, Dougal Callaghan, who lived with Graham. Graham had said that Dougal’s mom died giving birth to him—bringing him in, Graham had called it. Dougal’s dad had deserted him a long time ago, back before Shifters had been rounded up and put into Shiftertowns. Graham had never been able to find the dad, who’d probably gone feral, whatever that meant. Graham had raised Dougal himself, and apparently, Dougal had been a handful.
Dougal came running to them, in his human form now and stark naked. Misty’s face went hot, and she spun around and faced the shack’s sun-bleached wall.
“She’s human,” Graham growled at Dougal. “She expects pants.”
“Goddess,” Dougal said in disgust then ran off again.
Graham said nothing, making no apology. He leaned against the shack’s doorframe and closed his eyes, his face losing a little color. Misty turned and laid her hand on his arm again, wishing she could do more.
But she wasn’t an ER nurse, or a doctor, or anything useful like that. She ran a flower shop. She knew everything about flowers—their names, types, and popularity; how they were cultivated; traditional meanings of each flower; which ones were appropriate for what occasion; how to arrange them; and which ones sold the best. Great information for running her business, nothing that would save a Shifter who’d been shot.
Dougal returned, jeans on and belted. The morning had turned hotter—August days generally reached the triple digits. Clouds were forming over the mountains as well, signaling a monsoon storm that would be ready to come in during the afternoon. If the three of them were out here then . . . Storms had deadly lightning, high winds, and hail, not to mention the flash floods that tore along the washes and overflowed their banks. The three of them could be cut off until the washes ran dry again.
Dougal ducked under Graham’s arm and helped him around the tiny shack to it shady side, where Graham stretched himself out on the ground. There wasn’t enough room for him to lie inside the shack’s small interior, especially when its floor was covered in rusty bits of metal.
Dougal peeled Graham’s shirt from him, Graham grunting as the cloth came unglued from his skin. Graham’s six-pack abs were covered with blood, which continued to seep from the slash in his abdomen. Dougal used Graham’s shirt to wipe off excess blood then he stretched Graham’s flesh apart and started to reach inside to pull out the bullet.
“Wait!” Misty cried.
“Can’t wait,” Dougal said. “He’s going into shock. You have to help me.”
Misty’s head spun, but she knelt beside Dougal. “What do I do?”
“Hold this open.” Dougal indicated the lips of the wound. “It’s going to be messy.”
“Not to mention not sterile,” Misty said.
“We don’t have a choice. Don’t worry, I’ve done this lots of times.”
“Really?” Misty put her fingers where Dougal guided her. “Graham gets shot often, does he?”
“Not always Uncle Graham. But other Shifters. Hospitals were too far away from our old Shiftertown, and hunters liked to take shots at us.”
Graham gave another grunt. “Hunters and old Craig Morris.”
Dougal snorted a laugh. “Yeah.”
“Who was he?” Misty asked. She pressed down as Dougal showed her and spread the wound. More blood poured out, which Dougal mopped up with the T-shirt.
“Old Shifter,” Graham said. “About three hundred years old when we were rounded up. He hated living so close to other Shifters—he should have stayed in the wild and died with some dignity. He’d been alone a long time, and bringing him in and giving him the Collar was tough on him. He used to shoot anyone who came too close to his house. His eyesight was going by then, so his aim was usually off, but once in a while, he got lucky. Shit.”
Dougal had dug his fingers into the wound. “Press down hard,” he told Misty. “We have to keep him still. This is going to get bad.”
“Don’t worry.” Graham’s words were tight and faint. “I’ll try not to kill anyone.”
“That’s what you always say.” Dougal put his hand on Graham’s shoulder as he started fishing around for the bullet.
Graham roared, fingers sprouting claws as he reached for Dougal’s throat.
“Grab him!” Dougal yelled. “Hold him down. No matter what happens, hold him!”
Misty caught Graham’s wrists and quickly laid herself across his chest and shoulders. She knew she wouldn’t have the strength to grapple with him, so she used her weight to keep him down.
Graham growled, his body rippling beneath her. Misty felt him change. Fur burst across his bare chest, his face elongated into a muzzle, and his eyes went silver gray.
“Don’t shift!” Dougal shouted at him. “Hold him, Misty.”
Misty pushed her face at Graham’s terrifying wolf one, which was emerging from his human’s. His eyes were white gray, and full of pain, rage, madness.
“Stop!” She tried to sound firm, but everything came out shaky.
“I’m touching it,” Dougal said. “Just . . . trying . . . to grab it.”
Graham’s growls grew more fierce. Blue snakes of electricity arced around his Collar, the sparks stinging Misty’s skin. She pressed him down, her head on his shoulder.
“Hang on,” she said. “Almost done.”
More snarling, but she felt Graham strain to hold himself back. All that strength—he could snap her in half and Dougal too, but he didn’t. Graham’s hands balled into huge fists, claws jabbing into his own skin.
“Hang on,” Misty whispered.
“Got it!” Dougal lifted his hand, coated with gore, and held up a piece of metal. He whooped in triumph, then grabbed the T-shirt and jammed it over the wound.
“Keep pressure on that,” Dougal said to Misty. “I’ll try to find something to help patch the hole.”
Misty pushed down on the cloth, which was already red and sopping. Graham’s face gradually returned to human, and his Collar ceased sparking. But his skin was sallow, his breathing rapid.
Graham opened his eyes to slits, the silver gray of the wolf shining through. “Was it good for you?” he asked, his voice a scratch. “’Cause it sucked for me.”
“It really sucked for me too,” Misty said, giving a breathless laugh.
Graham reached for Misty’s hand. She slid hers into his, his fingers barely squeezing.
“What do you know?” Dougal said, returning from inside the shed. “Duct tape.”
Graham let out a chuckle, closing his eyes again. “One human invention that’s useful.”
“Lots of human inventions are useful,” Misty said, babbling while Dougal peeled off pieces of tape and ripped them from the roll with his wolf teeth. “Cars, for instance.”
“Paved the world and clogged all the clean air with crap,” Graham said. “Destroyed Shifter territory and made us vulnerable to humans.”
“Sure thing, sweetheart.” His eyes opened again. “Are you going to tape me up anytime soon? Like before my guts fall out?”
Dougal wiped the wound as clean as he could with the soaked T-shirt, then Misty helped him hold Graham’s skin together while Dougal taped it closed.
“This will hurt like hell when you pull it off,” Dougal said.
“Yeah, well, it hurt like hell going on,” Graham said. “Now you need to get out of here and look for a spot with a cell phone signal. If you have to go all the way back to Shiftertown for help, do it.”
Dougal stared. “You want me to go?”
“Yes, you. Misty will never make it across fifty miles of desert on foot, without water. Right now, I’m a wuss because I’ve been shot, had a hand dug into me, and am being held together with duct tape. That leaves you.”
Dougal gazed out at the empty land, his fingers picking at the roll of tape in his hands, his face almost gray. Dougal, though in his early thirties, was considered barely an adult by the Shifters. Graham had told her Dougal had come through his Transition—whatever that was—and had been an adult for about a year. But though in years Dougal was older than Misty, in many ways he acted like a scared teenager.
“Your wolf can do it,” Graham said. “Follow the scent trail back to the dirt road. Call Reid, tell him what happened. And for the Goddess’s sake, don’t tell Eric.”
Dougal nodded, but numbly.
“Promise me,” Graham said. “Not Eric. I don’t want him all up in my face about this. He’ll blab all over Shiftertown that I’m hurt, and we can’t afford for some of my wolves to know that. Understand?”
Dougal’s eyes cleared a little, and he nodded again. “Yeah, yeah, I got it.”
“Now, go. It’s getting hot, and I’m looking forward to that other human invention—air-conditioning.”
Dougal plucked his cell phone out of his pocket at the same time he unbuckled his jeans again. “How am I supposed to carry this as wolf? If I have it in my mouth, I’ll bite through it.”
Graham grinned and pointed a shaking finger at what Dougal had dropped. “Duct tape.”
“Shit,” Dougal said.
Dougal at least hid in the shed as he shucked his clothes again and changed back to his wolf. In a few minutes, a black wolf with light gray eyes emerged from the shack, his fur shaggy and rumpled, his tail almost dragging on the ground.
He looked so dejected Misty wanted to put her arms around him and hug him, but she’d learned she shouldn’t do that to a Shifter without permission. Shifters hugged each other all the time, including male-to-male hugs that would make some humans uncomfortable, but an outsider didn’t join the hugging group until invited.
Misty did give Dougal a gentle pat as she started taping the cell phone between his shoulders. Dougal growled while she fixed the phone in place, but his Collar didn’t spark, which meant it wasn’t a growl of aggression.
Dougal went to Graham before he went, pushing his muzzle at Graham’s face. Graham let Dougal touch his wolf nose to Graham’s, and Graham brought his hand up to pat Dougal’s side. “Go on,” Graham said.
Without looking at Misty, Dougal turned away from them and trotted down the little hill and into the desert. Misty watched until the wolf slunk away into the shadows of tall creosote, and then he was lost to sight.
Misty knelt next to Graham, who had closed his eyes again. “Don’t go to sleep,” she said sternly. “You lost a lot of blood. You need to stay awake.”
“Shifter metabolism is different from a human’s,” Graham said without opening his eyes. “I’ll be fine.”
“Then you need to stay awake to keep me from worrying about you. It’s my fault you’ve been shot, so I need you to live.”
Graham’s eyes opened a slit. “How is this your fault? You didn’t pull the trigger.”
“You getting mixed up in my problems, that’s my fault.” Misty hugged her arms across her chest, her shirt sweat-soaked and dirty. “I gave Sam Flores your number.”
“That was smart. Stupid human thought I’d bring Paul out here so he could be ambushed and killed.” Graham’s brows drew together. “Too stupid. Something’s wrong.”
“What’s wrong is I need to warn Paul. If Sam tracks him down, he’s screwed.”
“Let’s make sure we’re not screwed first, all right? It will take Dougal a while to find civilization. Good thing Shifters heal fast.”
Graham already sounded a little stronger, but when Misty took his hand again, his grip was slack. “All that with Dougal—making him take out the bullet and then sending him for help—you did that so he wouldn’t be scared.”
Graham’s grin cracked through dirt on his face. “Yeah, you caught me.”
“Will he be all right?”
“Probably. He’s been through a lot, and he’s learned to be tough. Poor cub got stuck with me to bring him up. I’m the alpha of the alphas, but Dougal’s not that dominant. Other cubs gave him hell for it when he was growing up, and my pack still does. He’s the natural choice to be my successor, but they know he’s not strong. The minute I drop dead, they’ll be all over him trying to throw him out and take over.”
Misty’s mouth popped open. “That’s terrible.”
Graham shrugged. “It’s a Shifter thing. They won’t touch him while I’m around, and I’m coming up with ideas to keep him safe. But having to fight back all the time has made Dougal stronger.”
Misty squeezed Graham’s big hand. “You’re good to take care of him.”
“He’s my sister’s son. I didn’t have a choice. That’s another Shifter thing.”
“I bet you did have a choice. You could have had someone in your pack help you with him, right? You did it yourself because you felt sorry for him. You were being nice.”
Graham gave her a faintly startled look before his grin appeared again. “Don’t tell anyone, all right? I’ve got a rep.”
“You’re nice to me,” Misty said, stroking his shoulder.
“Because you’re sexy as hell.”
He was joking. Graham always joked. In all the time she’d known him, he was either yelling at someone or joking with them. A serious talk was not something Graham did.
Also, in the eight months Graham and Misty had been going out, he’d never made any move to take Misty to bed. He’d kissed her . . . Wow, had he kissed her. Blood-sizzling, she-could-have-an-orgasm-just-kissing-him kisses. But nothing more.
Mostly Graham took her to clubs, like Coolers, or to out-of-the-way restaurants and bars that allowed Shifters. Other Shifters were always present at these sort-of dates, and much of the time, Misty had to drive herself to meet him there. Graham was very attentive during the dates, sitting with his arm around her, interested in her talk about her day and her opinions on whatever they discussed. When the date was over, he’d walk her to her pickup, kiss her good night, and wait until she drove safely out of the parking lot. Then she’d go home—alone.
Misty had been to Graham’s house, where he lived with Dougal, but Graham had never let Misty go to the fight club—an unofficial arena where Shifters battled it out with each other for fun. Misty also never stayed the night with Graham, and he’d never been inside her house, though he knew where she lived. He’d come to her flower shop once, but only once—some customers had been reluctant to enter when he’d been there. Graham had decided he shouldn’t scare away Misty’s business, and never went back.
They’d never talked about their relationship. Graham didn’t seem to be the kind of guy who wanted to discuss relationships. Misty was afraid he’d start ignoring her altogether if she brought it up.
Misty had her own friends now in Shiftertown, like the party-happy Shifter girl Lindsay and Cassidy, a wildcat who was the sister of the Shiftertown leader. Lindsay, the font of all Shifter gossip, told Misty Graham wasn’t seeing anyone else, so that wasn’t the cause of the distance he kept with her. He wasn’t gay either . . . that fact would be all over Shiftertown too.
Graham might die today. The sun was reaching its zenith, the shade from the shed narrowing to a sliver. In a few minutes, it would be gone altogether.
“Stay with me, Graham,” Misty said, massaging his shoulder.
“I’m not going anywhere, sweetheart.”
The shade disappeared. The sun burned down on them, beating through Misty’s thin tank top. She was in shorts too, which she wore when getting deliveries ready to go in the mornings, and the sun was hot on her skin.
Misty had lived in southern Nevada long enough to know what over a hundred degrees felt like, and this was it. It might get up to a hundred and ten today, and possibly higher than that. Out here, the temperature of the desert floor could rise to a hundred and twenty and more.
“We need shade,” Misty said.
“No kidding,” was Graham’s helpful answer. “Not in that shed. Don’t feel like lying on a rusty nail right now.”
Blood poisoning would finish him. There was only so much even Shifters could take.
A nice cool cave with an underground spring would be perfect. That was too much to hope for, but the mountain they were up against might have a niche or something out of the sun. The mining shaft was out, even if it hadn’t been filled in. Old shafts were dangerously unstable and full of vertical shafts that could drop hundreds of feet.
Misty had done enough desert hiking to know that rocks in shade absorbed coolness overnight, and gave off that coolness during the day. Even on the hottest afternoons, a niche that had stayed in shadow all morning could be twenty degrees lower than the rocks just outside it.
Misty squeezed Graham’s shoulder again. “I’m going to look for shade. I don’t like to move you, but I don’t want to watch you burn to a crisp either.”
“I’m worried about you more.” Graham reached for her hand, his brows drawing down. “Humans die fast in the heat.”
“I’m not that delicate. I’ll be right back. Don’t go away.”
“You are that delicate. And you think you’re funny too.”
Misty leaned down and gave him a soft kiss across his cracked lips, her own as dry. Graham could barely move his mouth in response.
When Misty lifted her head, she saw a flash of naked emotion in Graham’s eyes. Need, longing, loneliness, the weight of his position as alpha. On top of that, a tenderness for her.
Misty stilled a moment, soaking it in. She’d never seen any kind of sentiment in Graham for her. Liking yes, and he’d charged out here to rescue her today, but she’d never seen this flash of stark feeling.
She hated that this might be the last time she saw it. If he died today . . .
Misty wouldn’t let him. She kissed Graham one more time then rose and brushed herself off. Graham watched her, still frowning. “You be careful, understand me?” he rumbled.
“If I have to come looking for you, I’ll be pissed off.”
“I know.” She sent him another smile. “Be right back.”
Graham didn’t answer. He moved a little, grunting in pain, but Misty made herself walk away from him.
She started for the ridge above them, finding a narrow wash that gave her a clear path upward through the scrub. She went slowly, picking her way along, the wash full of loose rocks. If she fell and broke something, they could both die out here before Dougal returned.
Misty made for a fold of rock that jutted out into the slope from the desert floor. These mountains looked smooth from the distance, but close to, they were clumped with boulders, tough weeds, creosote, and critters. The critters were mostly lizards and birds for now—not too many bugs liked the hot, dry afternoons. But in the evening, crawly things would be everywhere, including snakes. Snakes liked dusk, when they slithered out in droves to soak up the last warmth of the rocks. When the snakes emerged, so would the coyotes.
Misty rounded one particularly large clump of boulders and was rewarded with the sight of a narrow opening between two big rocks. Going carefully, keeping an eye out for snakes that might have come out early, she squeezed herself through the niche.
It was a tight fit. Misty held her breath and inched along, promising herself she’d go back if it got too tight. She couldn’t afford to get stuck, and if Graham couldn’t fit, the shelter would be useless to him.
Once more step, and Misty popped through. She stopped, looking around in surprise.
A giant cave opened out from the rocks, lit by sunlight streaming through a hole in the granite wall high above. Reflections danced everywhere, caused by a burbling spring that spread out into a pool at the far end of the cave.
“A nice cool cave with an underground spring,” Misty whispered. “What do you know?”
Peu de chances de le voir un jour traduit par les éditions J'ai lu étant donné qu'ils ont fermé la collection Crépuscule... Encore une bonne série qui ne sera pas terminée, à l'image des Femmes de l'autremonde, Rachel Morgan ou autres Dark Hunter... Ca devient fatigant ce mépris du lecteur...
Un tome bien écrit ou l'on voit entrer une noucelle race. Graham est fidèle à lui-même et Misty est très sympathique.
A lire pour passer un excellent moment
Quand doit il sortir en France merci de me répondre
Veuillez choisir un nouveau mot de passe et indiquer le code secret qui vient d'être envoyé sur votre email