AVAILABLE JUNE 20TH!
STRENGTH OF THE MATE
(Book #3, The Tameness of the Wolf)
by Kendall McKenna
Adam Madison is in Iraq, driving supply trucks for the Marines, but he still can’t outrun his personal ghosts. Outside the wire, insurgents are a relentless threat. Inside, renegade werewolves are a constant danger.
Dawson Rivers is on a mission for the True Alpha—bring the rampaging shifters under control. Adam proves to be invaluable to his task. Their intense mutual attraction explodes into a powerful physical, and emotional connection.
Marchesi immediately moved in, starting back to work on Jason’s wounded shoulder. Dawson appeared in front of Adam, his broad chest blocking Adam’s view of Jason. He took the body armor from Adam, handing it off to Paul.
Adam let go of the vest reluctantly. He tried to look past Dawson so he could get a glimpse of Jason.
“Come on,” Dawson said in a low voice. “Let’s go somewhere and talk.”
“No!” Adam dug his heels into the dirt. “Jason’s hurt. I gotta stay with him.”
“Doc Marchesi is taking good care of him.” Dawson pushed gently but insistently, at Adam’s shoulder and chest. “Let’s go over here so I can debrief you about the incident.”
The world spun as Dawson gripped Adam’s shoulders, turning him away from the sight of Jase’s bloody body. Adam tried to turn back. Dawson’s rough, strong hands were suddenly cradling Adam’s head. Each time he tried to turn back, Dawson resisted. He forced Adam to keep his gaze locked on Dawson’s.
“Hey, hey, come on, Jason’s fine.” Dawson’s voice was calm. His tone was encouraging. He wanted Adam to follow him. It was important to him that Adam follow. “Talk to me, Adam. Why are you so worried about Jason? His wound isn’t serious.”
Dawson walked backward, leading Adam farther away from Jason. Adam was trapped by Dawson’s gaze, not that he wanted to look away. Reluctantly, Adam followed. He dragged his feet, still. He needed to get back to Jase.
“Jason was shot,” Adam said. Dawson had to understand. He needed Dawson to understand. “He’s bleeding. I can’t leave him. He needs help. Jason needs me.” His voice rose higher as he pleaded with Dawson. Panic made his heart race, his stomach burn.
They reached the rear of the Humvee parked just behind the medical truck. Dawson stopped walking, but he held on to Adam. He kept Adam’s face cradled between his palms. “Jason’s already stopped bleeding. Once they’re sure his leg is stable, he’ll shift. It’ll be just like it never happened.”
“Jase? Jason needs you?” Dawson drew his brows together in confusion. “Why do you have to stay with Jason? Adam? Who are we really talking about? Who’s Jase?”
Jase. Hearing his brother’s nickname on Dawson’s lips was like a dash of cold water. Adam’s mouth hung open as he gasped for breath. He didn’t know what to say. He had no idea how to explain it to Dawson, without sounding insane.
His mind filled with the image of Jase, lying on the floor; unmoving, silent, his chest drenched in blood. He struggled to replace that painful memory of Jason, unharmed, watching Adam with his laughing wolf-eyes. It didn’t work. Adam squeezed his eyes shut, but he could still see his brother’s blood-soaked body.
Dawson’s thumbs skimmed lightly over Adam’s cheekbones. The motion was soothing. “Hey, Adam. Talk to me, Adam. Tell me what’s going on with you. Let me help you.” Dawson’s voice was still gentle. He tried to coax and calm Adam.
Keeping his grip on Dawson’s wrists, Adam dug his fingers into the skin. He struggled to focus on the sounds around them, remembering he was in Iraq. Adam released a shaky breath. Maybe if he concentrated on the feel of Dawson’s skin against his palms, he wouldn’t feel lost.
Adam frowned at the worry in Dawson’s voice. His throat tightened and he swallowed hard against it. He breathed heavily through parted lips. Dawson’s thumbs brushed rhythmically over Adam’s cheekbones. It was so soothing.
“Adam, look at me,” Dawson demanded. A hint of panic colored his voice. “Come on, I need you to look at me. Tell me what’s going on so I can help you.”
Adam took a deep breath. He caught a hint of Dawson’s spicy scent, mingled with sweat. He didn’t need to open his eyes to clearly see Dawson’s lavender eyes, his dusky skin, and his full, sensual mouth. Dawson held on to Adam. He said everything was okay, so Adam could believe that it was.
Taking another deep breath, Adam opened his eyes. “Are you sure there’s not something wrong with Jason that Doc can’t see?” he asked.
Dawson nodded slowly. His eyes were intense as he studied Adam intently. “Werewolves are very sturdy. We heal up very fast. Jason’s awake and alert, and he can sit and stand under his own power.”
“There’s a lot of blood on his fur.” Not to mention all the blood on the seat of the tractor.
“He’s not all alone is he?” Adam couldn’t shake the sense that Jason would die, unless someone was with him, always watching over him.
Dawson furrowed his brow. “How do you mean? He’s being treated. The medical personnel will keep a close eye on him, until he’s cleared for duty, again. They’ll leave him alone so he can sleep, things like that. Is that what you mean?”
Now that Adam was calming down, Jason’s injury didn’t seem all that bad. As soon as he said the words out loud, Adam realized how ridiculous he sounded. “I must sound like I’m fucking crazy.”
Dawson shook his head. “I appreciate how worried you are for one of my wolves. I’m grateful that you would fight to make sure one of my pack members was taken care of. It means a lot to me.”
Adam knew his surprise showed on his face. Dawson leaned down, resting his forehead against Adam’s.
“If this ever happens again, I promise, I’ll try not to over-react.” Adam wanted to tilt his face so Dawson would kiss him.
“Are you ready to tell me what this is all about?” asked Dawson.
“When you’re ready, then,” Dawson replied. “Are you okay to drive your rig back to Camp Fallujah?”
Adam straightened his spine. “I’m fine. I can do this. I don’t have anyone to ride with me, though.”
“I’ll ride with you,” Dawson declared.
Adam started to recoil, but Dawson held on to him. “No. It’s not safe,” he insisted.
“I’m a Marine in a combat zone.”
“Not where I have to watch.”
Adam closed his eyes, shaking his head to stop the onslaught of images. Images of Dawson with Jason’s injury. “I can ride alone.”
“And risk you getting captured if an ambush succeeds? No way.”
Adam frowned. He looked closely at Dawson, seeing his genuine worry. Adam had never thought he was in danger of anything worse than another gunshot wound. Reluctantly, he nodded his agreement.
Dawson pressed a kiss to Adam’s forehead, leaving him aching for more.