Genre = Paranormal, Fantasy, Romance
Ariel: Nano Wolves 1
LENGTH: 60,519 words
Being a living experiment wasn’t the scientific career Ariel had planned for herself.
Despite her sharp scientific mind and her degree in bio-molecular genetics, Dr. Ariel Jones hasn’t figured out how her life changed so much in a single day. Before she can blink and ask about what is going on, she is injected with a billion nanos and some very potent wolf blood.
Now she can suddenly turn into a giant white wolf with the bloodlust of a starving animal. And she’s an alpha…or so she is told by the even larger, very male, black wolf who was used to create her. Hallucination? She wishes. Whether human or wolf, Reed talks in her head and tells her how to handle things…or rather how to kill them…starting with the men who hold them all captive. Too bad he can’t tell her how to put her life back like it was.
Admittedly, there are perks to being a werewolf, such as meeting sexy werewolf guys like Matthew Gray Wolf. Science labs aren’t overrun with sexy men in white coats. She also doesn’t mind learning about a side of herself she never knew existed. It’s great changing into a real wolf whenever she wants, but being a living experiment wasn’t part of the scientific career she’d planned for herself. Neither was falling for the local werewolf alpha, but what else is a newbie werewolf caught in her burning time going to do?
Read Chapter 1
Dr. Ariel Jones blinked at the bright lights overhead as she woke. Finding herself naked and strapped to some sort of gurney, she turned her head and saw two women similarly strapped to gurneys beside her. One was weeping steadily. The other was glaring at a fixed spot on the ceiling.
Her scientist brain got busy immediately, trying to figure out what had happened since she’d come to work that morning. Her typical day at Feldspar Research always started at five in the morning to accommodate the light limitations of living and working just outside Anchorage, Alaska.
She had processed the new set of blood samples waiting for her in the lab and instantly reported the unusually rapid cell mutation she had seen happening under the lens of her microscope. Then at about ten o’clock, she’d gone for a direct meeting with Dr. Crane, who had asked to speak with her in person about what she’d found.
One minute she had been drinking coffee and talking with a colleague. The next she was waking up naked in… where was she anyway? Looking around more, she finally recognized the place. It was where they had brought the giant wolf.
Sniffing the air, she could indeed smell the pungency of the trapped animal. It was what had bothered her most. From what she knew, he’d been here longer than she had worked for Crane. The one and only time she’d seen the wolf in person had been more than enough. He was the biggest animal she’d ever seen and bigger than any she could have ever imagined.
Now she was here—in the same room where they had kept him. The discovery brought her back to her own pressing problem of waking up naked and restrained without knowing why. A thousand thoughts raced through her mind, none of them pleasant.
“So good of you to join us at last, Dr. Jones. I’ve been delaying things and waiting for you to wake up. I didn’t want to start the injections while you were still under the effects of the mild sedative we gave you earlier.”
“You put drugs in my coffee this morning,” Ariel stated, somehow sure of it even before her bastard employer nodded and smiled.
“The sedative was the fastest way to obtain your physical cooperation. Time is critical. We don’t know how long the window of opportunity from your findings will remain open. You told me several weeks ago you had come to Alaska because you craved more out of life than sitting in a lab doing research. Well, I’m about to make your dreams come true in a way you have never imagined.”
Ignoring her accelerating heartbeat, Ariel decided she wasn’t going to get emotionally alarmed until there was a greater reason to do so than simply being naked and unable to free herself. She was used to thinking her way out of bad situations. She just needed to remain calm, ask questions, and figure out what was really going on.
“I would like to know the purpose of your actions. Are you planning to take physical advantage of my helpless condition? Who are the two women next to me? What role do they play?”
Dr. Crane smiled. “So many questions. Of course, I expected someone like you would have them. You’re going on a scientific adventure or at least your body is. The three of you are about to become the next step in the evolution of our species. But I guess it’s rather bold of me to theorize such a result without any proof yet. Part of the excitement is considering all the possibilities. Now I know your circumstances are a bit alarming at the moment, but if this experiment works, you’ll become an extremely valuable asset to our military. Even the most highly trained K-9 units won’t be able to compete with your animal skills. Alaskan wolves are quite superior to canines in nearly all areas. Everyone studies their predatory actions for just this reason.”
“I still don’t understand, Dr. Crane. I thought Feldspar was testing wolf fortitude to glean survival information for living in extremely harsh environments,” Ariel said, discreetly testing the restraints around her wrists again.
“Oh come now, Dr. Jones. That sort of work is barely fit for a second-year university student. You are here because you personally possess several strands of DNA in common with our latest Feldspar wolf acquisition. He’s been rather solemn since we informed him of your findings. He’s glaring at us steadily which I take as the highest compliment about your discovery. It’s as if he senses what we are about to do to the three of you.”
“Dr. Crane, are you saying you’re communicating with a wolf? Don’t you think that assumption is a bit odd?” Ariel asked.
“Not at all. I sincerely wish we could be communicating with his human side, but we’ve purposely kept him from shifting back to his human form by the silver collar around his neck. I think it helped greatly to leave the six silver bullets someone put into him too. He was initially impossible to capture in his wolf form. If his pack had been nearby, I doubt we would have. In fact, I don’t know who exactly did capture him. I found him both shot and tranquilized with a note pinned to his collar when someone activated the alarm on the back door of the lab.”
“I’m sorry Dr. Crane, but you sound like some crazy mad scientist out of a movie. What are you going to do to us? Seriously? You don’t have to make up such wild stories. I assure you I won’t be reduced to hysterics by hearing the truth,” Ariel demanded.
“Still the skeptical scientist, I see. In just a moment, I’ll happily explain the rest to you. Since what’s going to happen to you is beyond your control, I don’t see any benefit from not telling you the whole story.” Dr. Crane waved at the man assisting him. “Proceed with injecting the weeping one on the end. I cannot tolerate a weeping female. She is highly distracting. I can’t talk to Dr. Jones over her constant whining.”
Ariel’s head whipped over, straining to see the gurney at the end. She saw the woman’s body arch when a plunger was placed at her neck directly on the carotid artery. Whatever was in the injection, they wanted it to hit all parts of her body quickly. To her surprise, the man rolled the woman’s head, and shot a second plunger directly into the woman’s brain stem. The woman seized, strained at her straps, and then fell silent. If the second injection didn’t paralyze her spine, its content would be in every brain cell in less than ten minutes.
“Now administer the sedative and move Heidi to the last cage. Come straight back and process Brandi next. I’ll take care of Dr. Jones personally.”
Ariel looked back at the man speaking so calmly. He looked at her and offered a shrug.
“The sedative is to help keep you calm during the worst of your genetic transmutation. We’re not completely without conscience. I see no need for any of you to suffer more than necessary. Since you’re the first of your kind, we don’t exactly know how much the transpecies mutation process hurts. Our captive wolf shifter has been quite unwilling to share any information, assuming he can still speak in his wolf form. We haven’t been able to ascertain it one way or the other.”
The woman directly beside her was still as quiet as ever. So far, she had not made a sound. Ariel listened to the gurney with the now unconscious Heidi being pushed to the far end of the room. She listened to a cage door being opened and straps being undone.
“Please continue your explanation, Dr. Crane. Did I find something important this morning?”
“Yes, you did. I applaud you for being as smart as your resume indicated. People usually lie on those you know. Somehow I knew right away when we met that you were being honest. It was quite the stroke of luck your blood also showed excellent—most excellent—counts of nearly everything required for the experiment. When I personally saw the metamorphosis strand in your DNA, I was literally as giddy as a schoolboy. The strand is missing from your fellow subjects.”
“I did my doctoral thesis on the metamorphosis strand. Most in the scientific community don’t even think it’s real. But I’ve seen it. People who have it tend to die fairly young. It’s one of the reasons I left New England and came here. I wanted to explore the world a little before I came down with some disease I couldn’t survive.”
“Yes. Human subjects with the strand do tend to die young. But extending your doctoral hypothesis, I also believe the strand has a higher purpose in those who possess it. So when I saw from the extensive health exams Feldspar required that you personally had the strand, I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity. Roger, I said to myself, what would happen if someone extremely intelligent suddenly became a wild animal? Would the person be able to control their carnal nature enough to use their intelligence in their animal form? The chance to discover the truth was just too much to pass up. Now you get to benefit from the very discovery you made this morning, Dr. Jones. It’s too bad the global medical community will never know anything more about you except for the unfortunate accident which burnt your body to ashes today when you went into Anchorage for lunch. Alaskan winters can be terribly challenging on vehicles, as I’m sure your gurney mates can also attest to since they suffered the same fate.”
Ariel flinched when she heard the woman beside her hiss and swear at the depression of the plunger at her neck. When her brain stem was shot, the woman shrieked loudly and nearly broke the straps with her arching. The sedative calmed the woman instantly, but it had the opposite effect on Ariel. Starting to panic at last, because she knew the same fate would be hers, Ariel renewed her efforts to escape and twisted against her restraints. Unfortunately, she lacked the strength to break them.
She listened to the second gurney being wheeled down the hall. Again a cage door opened. Moments later, she heard it close and a key turning in a lock.
“Who gave you the right to do this to us, Dr. Crane? I came to Feldspar to do research for you, not to be your research. What you are doing is illegal and immoral.”
“I know. I do feel a little bad about hiring you under false pretenses, but your discovery this morning stacked the odds in favor of your participation. My benefactor is most anxious to see some evidence that the transpecies mutation process can work. If even one of you survives the change, he will fund me for at least another two years.”
“You’re the sickest, sorriest excuse for a scientist I’ve ever met,” Ariel declared.
Dr. Crane nodded as he lifted the first injection into the air above her. “Not anymore. Now I’m the scientist who has figured out how to make werewolves. As far as I know, I’m the only one like me on Earth. My services will be highly sought after when I show them a brilliant scientist in her wolf form.”
Ariel called out and felt fire crawl under her skin as sizzling hot liquid entered her bloodstream. “Nanos? Did you inject me with nanos? It feels like a billion ants crawling on the inside of my skin.” She saw Crane lift an eyebrow at her knowledge, but then so did she. She wasn’t even sure how she knew what they were giving her.
“You’re very sharp, Dr. Jones, much too sharp to spend your life doing research. I picked women as initial test subjects because they could be physically restrained the easiest. I did not plan on using a woman who would be able to figure out what was going on. But that’s what makes life interesting. Now the next injection has to go directly into the brain stem for best results. I’m sorry for the extreme pain it causes. Judging from your fellow test subjects, the pain won’t last more than a few moments.”
Ariel fought as the assistant turned her head and held it still while Dr. Crane positioned the plunger. The depression happened quickly. Pain more intense than anything she’d ever known shot through her head and had her calling out. Before her consciousness faded, her last thought was that Dr. Crane had lied to her. She had been spared nothing. Her head exploding from the inside was what dropped the eventual black veil over her thoughts.
She never felt the sedative working at all.
Read Chapter 2
Ariel shook with cold as she came up out of a deep, drugged sleep. Naked and shivering, she determined that she was lying on a small cot.
As she struggled to open her eyes, she could just barely make out the forms of Dr. Crane and his white-coated asswipe of an assistant. They were staring into the cages where they’d stashed the other two women who had been captured alongside her. There was a bunch of growling and hissing which kept getting louder as the men talked.
Dr. Crane looked extremely pleased with whatever was happening. The knowledge pissed her off, but her dark thoughts of doing vicious and hideously cruel things to both men surprised her.
Ariel lifted a pale hand in front of her face, which blurred out of focus, but finally came back in. So far, nothing overly unusual had happened to her body, unless you counted the sick headache she had at the moment. She felt strange though—very strange. Her stomach growled with fierce hunger and there was a steady fire burning between her legs. Those two white-coated bastards had better not have touched her. If they did, she was cutting off their man parts and throwing them in the recycler. Later, when she was more alert, she promised herself she would check her body closer.
A loud clanging against the bars of her cage had her covering her ears. Sound—all sound—hurt terribly and increased her headache. A percussion band played in her head as she fought the pain.
“I’m afraid your doctoral thesis is now a complete failure, Dr. Jones. Apparently, the metamorphosis strand is a deterrent to transpecies mutation as well as being something to shorten a person’s life. Now I have to decide what to do about you. We can’t just turn you loose in society and have you telling everyone what we’re up to here. You were certainly a waste of a couple billion very expensive nanos we can’t get back. Sadly, you’ve become the only failure case, rather than the pinnacle of our success.”
It took her a lot of effort, but Ariel finally managed to manipulate her hand enough to get her middle finger to stand up alone. Crane’s laugh at her silent rebellion grated on every nerve she had, not to mention how much his voice hurt her ears.
“When I get out of here, I may kill you just to watch you hurt,” Ariel croaked, her mouth dry as dust.
Crane laughed harder and walked away. At his departure, the growling and hissing in the cages next to her ceased. When the room was totally silent once more, she drifted back into a peaceful oblivion where she could pretend nothing had happened.
* * *
Dr. Jones—Ariel. Wake now, but do not shift. Wake in human form. Think of yourself as human and you will be one.
Ariel rolled to her side on the canvas cot and tried to pull the scratchy cover she’d found over her naked body. Even with her knees scrunched up, it was far too short. She covered her eyes with a hand as she fought off the nightmares which were now continuously talking to her. There must have been hallucinogens in what they gave her.
I am not a hallucination. I am Reed—a three-hundred-year-old alpha. You are a two-day-old version. It is very wise of your wolf to hide from those who seek to harm you.
Ariel groaned and rolled to the other side. “Head hurts. Stop talking to me.”
I know you are in pain, but you must fight off the drugs now. Crane returns soon. He is planning to move you to another facility and dissect your body to find out why the conversion failed with you. They have identified another experiment victim and she arrives tomorrow. You must rescue the others and kill Crane before he can turn more.
“Kill Crane? Sure. I’d love to do that,” she repeated, covering her eyes with her hands.
Yes. I regret the extremeness of the step, but Roger Crane must not be allowed to continue his work. You will have to destroy the lab as well. Accidents happen all the time in Alaska. I doubt Feldspar Research will fund any other scientist if we completely destroy the proof of Crane’s success.
“O-kay,” she said groggily, working her body into an upright position. Sitting up hurt as much as anything else did. “And I thought my divorce was traumatic. Either my nightmares are getting bossy or I’m hearing real voices in my head.”
Putting a hand up to her head, she rubbed the base of her skull where they had shot something into her brain stem. “Hey, nightmare, since we’re on a speaking basis, do you know what the hell Crazy Crane shot me with in the back of my head?”
My blood—I believe. He took it at the pinnacle of my wolf’s lunar cycle. Since I was already in my wolf form when he caught me, hitting the lunar pinnacle was evidently strong enough to cause a species turning. I had heard the legends, but human turnings have not been done since the middle ages. Packs prefer to propagate organically. Unfortunately, Crane found a way to take the choice from me.
Ariel laughed. Her intuition spoke to her all the time, but it usually didn’t announce she was a wolf in human form. “Hey Nightmare, are we going to keep talking in my head?”
Yes. I am your alpha. You are an alpha in training. So yes—we will talk in your head—until we can do so differently. I cannot shift from my wolf until the bullets and collar are removed from me. Silver has a restraining effect.
“Being shot with your blood doesn’t make you my dad or anything, does it?” Ariel swore her nightmare wolf tried to laugh and he huffed like a dog doing it.
No. But it does make you my responsibility until you take a mate who can look out for you. Being part of a pack is like having a large family. I think you might like it once you understand it.
Ariel snorted. “So I’m an alpha. Does being alpha mean you’re a top dog or something?”
We are Canis Lupis, not dogs. Alaska is home to more than eleven thousand wolves. More than half are what humans call werewolves. This is what you have become, Ariel Jones. You are now both human and wolf, as are the other two females. They are your charges and the first of your pack. They are your responsibility and will look to you for guidance on how to adjust to their new lives.
His comments—which she was starting to believe weren’t just voices in her head—had Ariel standing on wobbly legs and walking to the bars of her prison. In the cages next to hers, two multi-colored wolves paced restlessly. They were less than half the size of the black wolf, but still real enough to convince her she wasn’t just having a nightmare. Oh no—she was living one.
“Brandi. Heidi. Relax. We’re going to escape. I promise.” When both multi-colored wolves sat and turned to her expectantly, Ariel shook her head. She knew their names and could command their obedience. Though she’d never been a person given to swearing, there were no normal words to express the enormity of her shock. Was she truly going to one day be a wolf as well?
“Un—fucking—believable,” she whispered. She turned her head until she saw the edge of the giant black wolf as he leaned against one side of his cage. “Reed? Is the giant black wolf you?”
Yes, Ariel. The giant black wolf is me. You should see the alpha of the Wasilla Pack. Matt’s wolf is even bigger.
She felt like peeing herself when the black wolf turned his head and met her gaze like a human would during a conversation. He had the greenest eyes she’d ever seen on a man or animal. They were filled with a kind of determination she’d never felt before but had a feeling she was about to get an education in shortly.
Crane returns. I know it is him. His stench will haunt me for the next hundred years of my life.
“Okay. I’m wide awake now and mostly willing to believe you,” she said, hoping all three wolves understood she was working her way to acceptance as fast as she could. She went back to her cot and huddled under the short cover. “Hey Reed, did I get bigger or something?”
Yes. And you are strong enough to kill the men who will be trying to kill you. You have to try, Ariel. It is important to me that you and the other women survive. When they open the cage to take you out of it, call your wolf to help. She will be more than happy to answer. I’ve been helping you hold her back until the time was right.
“My mind is having a hell of a time trying to believe all of this is real, but I’m sure as hell not ready to die. Let’s say I believe you. What does my wolf look like?”
Until she comes, none of us will know. I just hope she’s big and strong. Rest now and pretend to be weak. You do not want them to know what you really are until it is too late.
Ariel leaned back on the cot and tried to look as pathetic as possible so her captors would believe she was just as harmless as they assumed she was.
Inside, she was praying that Reed—or whatever inner voice was helping her survive—was right about her being able to free them all.
Read Chapter 3
Despite the fact Reed had said he smelled Crane, it was almost a half-hour before the two men finally came back into the room. Assistant asswipe walked to her cage immediately and unlocked the door without a thought. He came in and grabbed her arm, forcefully lifting her to her feet. She jerked away from his hold and walked to the door of the cage on her own, staring at Dr. Crane, who was standing just outside, waiting on her exit. Two steps later and she was free of her prison. Something inside her seemed to expand in relief.
“What you did to me sort of negates saying you’re the worst employer I’ve ever had, Dr. Crane. So instead of saying I quit, I’m going to say I’m done being your science experiment.”
When both his eyebrows rose at her firm statement, Ariel dropped the insufficient blanket and stood in front of him completely nude. She heard asswipe chuckling behind her. She could smell their lack of concern and hear it in their steady heartbeats. Something in her rejoiced in the knowledge. Their complacency was going to be their downfall.
Assistant Asswipe suddenly smacked her bare ass and made her yelp in surprise. Crane laughed at his goon’s actions but didn’t chastise him for it.
Fire suddenly raced through her unchecked. She felt the nanos scrambling under her skin. In a blink, she was on all fours and leaping on Assistant Asswipe. One minute he was screaming in shock and the next he was silent because it was impossible to talk with your throat ripped out. She wasn’t even tempted to eat the man, no matter how much she was starving. Turning loose finally, she turned to Crane who was walking backwards to the lab door.
“Look at you, Dr. Jones. You’re absolutely magnificent. To think all this time, you were a giant golden wolf. And almost as large as the acquisition. How were you able to fight off the change for so long?”
Ariel heard him talking, but his words meant nothing. She leaped into the air and toward the bastard who had tormented her, only to feel a taser hook attach to her chest while she was still several feet away. She hit the lab floor with a thud, whimpering in pain as Crane sent voltage into her. She struggled at the end of the attached wire.
Writhing, she watched Crane walk to the wall and pull a silver collar off a peg. Ariel blinked her new eyes and recognized it was a match for the one Reed wore. She couldn’t let Crane put the collar on her. She couldn’t fail them all by letting Crane control her wolf.
Behind her, she heard Brandi and Heidi whimpering but also growling and snarling.
I know it hurts, but you must fight for us, Ariel. You killed one. Kill the other and free us all.
At hearing Reed’s encouragement in her head, she rolled to a half-sitting position, lifting what felt like a massive wolf’s shoulders from the ground. It took a lot of effort. Crane sent another shock into her as he reached out with the open collar. Though it hurt to move, she lifted a giant paw and knocked the metal from his hand. He pressed the button on the taser, only to find it was out of juice. Her wolf quivered in relief.
A low growl started in her chest as Crane set the taser aside, casually rose, and headed to the door. He was definitely not leaving, not if she could stop him. She wobbled as she stood and took a couple of unsteady steps. Crane’s hand was on the access pad. She listened to him enter the exit code. Three – eight – nine – two. Maybe she was going to like having ears that could hear this well.
She braced herself and leaped on the back of him, dragging him to the floor by his white lab coat. He yelled once as she landed heavily on his back, but stopped struggling when she chomped on the back of his neck. She bit down until she felt something crack at the same time she punctured his jugular. Hot blood rushed into her mouth. Mad still, she raised up his body with her bite, which she soon realized covered his whole neck. She shook him back and forth even though the dead man was already totally limp.
Knowing she had indeed stopped Crane was the most amazing feeling. She walked around with the scientist clutched in her teeth, even trotting back to show Brandi and Heidi. They laid down on the floor and put their noses on their paws. Her pride over his death filled her with enormous satisfaction. The crazy scientist would never torture another female.
Enough, child. Let the dead man go. Don’t contaminate your body by chewing on him. You need to change back to human form now and free us.
Whimpering, Ariel walked back and dropped Crane’s body in front of Reed’s cage. Part of her didn’t want the cruel bastard to be dead yet. She wanted him to suffer longer—suffer the way she and the women had—the way Reed had. Maybe she shouldn’t have bitten so hard. Maybe she should have done it in a way where he would have bled out and died slowly.
Ariel sat on her rear haunches and glared at the black wolf. How was she supposed to become human again? She didn’t want to be human. She was happy in her wolf form. Look at what she’d done. Her head turned and she whimpered again at the body of the man who had smacked her naked ass. She dropped her head to look at the other dead man in front of her.
If you change back, the others will follow your lead. You need human hands to unlock my cage… and theirs. You need human hands to gather up the evidence of Crane’s experiments. Dr. Jones, I’m begging you to do this. You can be a wolf anytime you want now. I promise.
Her ears perked up. Dr. Jones? Yes. She had always liked being called that. Lying down, she laid her head on her paws and thought about becoming a female again. A fire consumed her once more, but not as much as it had when she had become her wolf. Again she felt the nanos getting busy under her skin.
A tortured groan split the air when she turned and saw a bloody Crane lying next to her, his dead eyes wide with shock.
“Shit. Did I really do that to him?”
Ariel raised to her knees gingerly and stared back at the cages.
“Did I really kill both of them?”
She looked back at Reed. He blinked, but said nothing to her, not even in her head. Of course, she had killed them both. The memory of their deaths lived in her brain now. She had been a wolf, but she had been herself too. She just hadn’t cared about anything but stopping them. She had no regrets.
When she could stand, she stumbled to Assistant Asswipe and fished the cage keys out of the pocket of his bloody lab coat. She looked at the wolves prowling the cages again. “Think of the women you were and change back. If you do that, I’ll let you out.”
Brandi laid down immediately and two seconds later, she was her normal self. Heidi still paced and whimpered, reluctant to do what they’d done. Ariel walked to the cage and stared at her. “Yes, it hurts, but it’s necessary. Now do it, so we can get the hell out of here.”
Whimpering harder than ever, Heidi laid down and moments later screeched as her human form took over. Ariel unlocked both cages as quickly as she could.
“In a minute, I’m going to set off the fire alarm. While that’s distracting the building guard, go find us some long lab coats,” she ordered. “There are two techs somewhere in the building who are going to stare at you both if they see you naked. They’re harmless. Wiggle your fingers and giggle. They’ll think you’re the party girls Crane orders for entertainment on Fridays.”
Brandi glared at her for her comments, but Heidi just hung her head. Apparently, one of them was a party girl. Ariel rolled her eyes at the knowledge and headed to unlock Reed’s cage. He barely moved while she searched the keyring for the collar key. “I can’t find it, Reed.”
Leave me. Find Matt. He’ll take care of you.
“No. I’m not leaving you. I’d be dead if it wasn’t for you. You told me to save all of us and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Ariel left the cage open. She bent over Crane’s body and ripped a wide swatch of fabric from the back of his blood-soaked lab coat. She brought the fabric swatch back and wrapped it around the chain where it attached to the wall. She could feel the metal heat her skin as she tugged on it to test.
“Come on nanos. Get your little fixing asses to work. I’ve got to do this no matter how bad it hurts.” She yanked and tugged and yanked some more. At this rate, it was going to take awhile.
Brandi appeared at her shoulder and without speaking took hold of the chain too. Ariel nodded at her stare. Breasts swinging with every yank, she and Brandi pulled twice and then the damn thing popped free of the wall.
Ariel kept her fingers wrapped around the chain. Even through the fabric, it was burning her skin. Not being able to handle silver had to be some kind of metal allergy. She was going to look into it some time and see what the hell that was all about.
“Okay. You’re free now. Let’s go, Big Guy.”
Reed stood, wavered, and then braced himself for each painful step. Ariel walked slowly as he limped out the door beside her. At the lab exit, Ariel deftly keyed in the code Crane had used earlier. The doors opened smoothly. She held it wide for the women who followed behind her and Reed.
Just outside the lab, Ariel rammed her fist into the door of a locked case in the wall, the glass cutting her knuckles. She ignored the pain which was already going away by the time the fire alarm filled the air. Her gut was overruling her brain. It was an odd sensation, but something urged her to trust it for the sake of all their lives.
“Go. Find us clothes. Do what I said,” she ordered, turning to Brandi and Heidi. “Try to find us transportation too. Crane drives a jeep. Let’s take that. He’s never going to need it again.”
“Heidi, hold the door for me,” Brandi ordered. She ran back into the lab and stooped to search Crane’s pockets, brandishing jeep keys when she found them. Once she was outside the lab, Heidi closed the lab until the lock clicked.
Beside her, Ariel felt Heidi shiver. She turned and gave her a stern look. She had no time to deal with any emotional meltdowns. “Look—I don’t know you and you don’t know me. But I can tell you for certain that what was done to us can’t be undone. All we can do is move forward. Unless you want to be responsible for Crane’s backer coming after all of us, get your ass moving and follow Brandi out of here. We need to run while we can.”
Both women nodded and ran off ahead. Heidi trailed behind Brandi only by a fraction.
The lab wasn’t heavily staffed on Fridays. Knowing Crane, he’d made sure most of them weren’t around for a few days during the experiment. She and Reed stopped at Crane’s office. His laptop was open and still running on his desk. She took the time to turn off the screen lock before closing the lid and tucking it under one arm.
Next, they stopped at her lab where she tugged on a lab coat she’d left there two days ago. She buttoned it up all the way to cover her nudity. Patting Reed on the head, she dropped his chain on the floor for a moment. “Wait here a minute.”
Knowing she would heal fast because of the nanos, Ariel walked to the nearest chemical cabinet and repeated her bare-knuckled fist pump through the glass. Reaching inside, she drew out the two most volatile chemicals it contained. Dumping both in a glass beaker she’d placed in a nearby sink, she watched the chemical reaction start to happen. She wanted to make sure it was working before they left.
“Come on, Reed. Compliments of my scientific education, that mix is going to have this room in flames in about five minutes. Then the whole building is going to go up when everything else in this lab explodes.”
On the way out, she grabbed the largest microscope she could carry and tucked it under her arm. With Crane’s laptop and a strong microscope, maybe she could start to unravel what had been done to them. Not that she believed she could ever reverse it. What she had said to Heidi still reverberated as truth. Nanos couldn’t be removed once injected into you. They could be killed by extreme radiation, but never removed.
And Reed’s blood was part of their molecular structure now. She wasn’t sure how she knew that was a fact, but it felt like the same kind of truth as the nanos. Transpecies mutations weren’t anything she’d learned in any genetics class. Knowledge of her blood connection to the black wolf who patiently waited for her came from sources she hadn’t identified yet.
She picked up the silver chain still attached to Reed’s collar, forgetting to wrap the cloth around it first. It burned like fire and stuck to her fingers, but there was no time left to think about the pain. Right now, they needed to vacate the premises before they went up in flames with it. By the time she and Reed got to the front door of the building, her hand was stinging like she’d rammed it into a hornet’s nest. She was regretting her haste in leaving the fabric swatch behind.
When Brandi swerved in with the jeep two seconds later, Ariel and Reed both limped over to it. He made a running jump and nearly missed. Ariel caught his backside to push him up the rest of the way into the seat. He immediately curled up into a ball in the passenger’s seat and shuddered. The effort to leave had obviously cost Reed the last of his energy. It made Ariel angry all over again. She turned a glare on the male who yelled at her.
“Why did you bust the wolf loose, Dr. Jones? You didn’t seem the type. Are you one of those freaking animal lovers?” Feldspars’ surly guard demanded.
Ariel glared briefly and then dismissed the speaker. The man and his attitude weren’t important. Getting away was. “Yes, Frank. I’m an animal lover. I’m setting the wolf free.”
“Well, I hope you got everything you wanted because you can’t go back. This whole place is about to be blown all to hell.”
“Yes, I know… and good riddance,” Ariel declared as she climbed into the backseat, plopping down beside Heidi. “Let’s get out of here, Brandi.”
Brandi shook her head, climbed out of the driver’s side, and walked to the guard. Before Ariel could figure out her intentions, Brandi grabbed and twisted the guard’s head until she broke his neck. The man fell soundlessly to the ground. She watched Brandi drag him by one leg and throw him back into the building, closing the front door behind him. The lab techs were nowhere in sight. Ariel decided not knowing where they were was probably the best thing. She imagined they’d suffered the same fate as the irritating guard.
Fire engines were turning into the quarter-mile-long drive from the main road to the secluded facility as Brandi jogged back to the driver’s seat. “The techs we talked to on the way are already headed home. I let them go because they were grieving your alleged death, but the guard recognized you, Dr. Jones. He was a loose end and would have given people way too much to talk about later if he had lived.”
“Did you have to kill him? What if the man had a family?” Ariel demanded, biting her lip as Brandi swerved and drove down a side road she said would take them out a rarely used entrance.
“I don’t think Frank had a family. He was too good a customer at the place where I worked,” Heidi declared.
Ariel rolled her eyes. Seconds later a loud explosion rocked the air behind them. Black smoke filled the sky above a blazing Feldspar Research building.
Brandi kept driving calmly forward like buildings exploding around her happened every day. Ariel suddenly decided she wanted to know why—and why killing the guard hadn’t caused her any remorse. “You both know I worked for Crane, and I think we have a pretty good idea what Heidi did for a living. What’s your story, Brandi?”
Brandi shrugged. “I was a federal agent who was investigating Feldspar’s unauthorized use of Alaskan wolves for experiments they refused to explain to the National Wildlife Foundation. Before that, I was special forces in the military. This NWF investigation was supposed to be a break from my normal traumatic shit.”
Ariel grunted. “Reed—the black wolf up there—talks to me in my head. He’s the one they used to turn us into werewolves. Head to Wasilla, which is just a short distance from Anchorage. Reed said to look for someone named Matt. We need to get him to some sort of veterinarian too before he gets any sicker.”
Look for Matthew Gray Wolf. His pack healer will be able to help me—if it’s not already too late.
Ariel nodded, even though Heidi looked at her strangely. “Reed says we’re looking for a Matthew Gray Wolf. A werewolf named Wolf. Gee, who’s not going to figure that one out? This is some crazy shit ‘B’ movie we woke up in.”
Brandi chuckled. “Whatever they put in your shots must have been better stuff than what I got. You’re a lot sassier than the stoic scientist who kept asking all those serious questions yesterday. If I hadn’t been strapped down, I’d have stuffed something into your mouth to shut you up. I really didn’t want to hear what was happening to us. I wanted my death and I wanted it done quickly. They took me down with a tranquilizer gun when they caught me. I’m still too pissed to talk about it.”
Ariel sighed. “My default setting is to gather information. I suppose what they did to me could have affected my personality as well as my molecular structure. Killing those two men didn’t even begin to satisfy the urges I had about doing stuff to them. My entire being is on fire every second now. My wolf is there at the edge of the fire just waiting to be let loose.”
“I don’t want to fight anyone, but I would definitely like to spend time with two or three men. I woke up incredibly horny, and it’s as bad in human form as it was in the wolf,” Heidi declared.
“I feel a burning need for sex too,” Ariel said. Her gaze went to their driver. “How about you, Brandi?”
“I’d jump on anything with two legs and a big Johnson. And I don’t even like sex. This isn’t normal arousal. This shit is going to drive me crazy soon if I don’t get some. I have never had this problem in my entire life.”
Ariel nodded and sighed. “The urgent need to have sex is probably part of our change. Our hormones must be running high. When Reed comes back around, I’ll ask him about it. In the meantime, it shouldn’t be too hard to get the fire put out where we’re going. Until I do some research though, make sure the guy uses a condom and don’t kiss him. We can’t afford to exchange fluids and give away our nanos. That’s what was in the first shot we got. If you think the change to wolf and back hurts now, I bet it’s nothing compared to trying it without the nanos fixing you each time it happens.”
Ariel Rocked! I loved the concept. The characters were well developed and the storyline was fresh. Finally, something different from the same-ole, same-ole paranormal story. Donna McDonald nailed it with Ariel. Paranormal Romance at its Best! ~Deb, HEA Romances with a Little KICK, rated 5 Stilettos and a Recommended Read
”Ariel is a fast-paced paranormal romance. I couldn’t put it down! I really enjoyed the story, and I finished this book fairly quick. The characters were each unique in their own way, and I loved each and every one of if them. Donna McDonald is a new author to me, as I haven’t read her other books, but I’m so glad I found her amazing stories! I can’t wait to see what happens next in this series!” -NetGalley Reviewer
“I COULD NOT PUT THIS BOOK DOWN!!! I literally read the entire thing within 24hours!!! It was exciting, supernatural. Sciencey and funny. I actually laughed out loud a number of times (especially about the boots) The heroine really took the change in her stride and adapted quickly, instinctively knowing her priorities have shifted, she’s no longer a scientist but an alpha werewolf with her own pack too. It really highlights how different people react to loss, whether it’s family, friends, life, or oneself and how we change and shows that what we think would be our breaking point is in fact not and we can cope with far more than we realize. Also, love the Sex scenes, it’s a bit like fifty shades of wolf 🙂 hahaha! But on the whole, this was a fantastic read and look forward to reading Brandi (book 2).” -NetGalley Reviewer
“I really enjoyed this start to the series! Definitely a nice change in comparison to most shifter romances.” –NetGalley Reviewer
“I read a lot of shifter books and found this one to have a nice change to the storyline. I hope to read more about these new werewolf women. What would you do if you were drugged then injected with a serum that turned you into an alpha wolf shifter? ! That’s what happens to Ariel and her pack. The way Ariel handles it is amazing! I love her spunk and how she handles everyone around her. This book is a 5 star for sure. I love a good alpha book and this thing has 3 of them. Would I reread this book? yes. Absolutely! Would I recommend it? Absolutely! I loved it.” –NetGalley Reviewer
“I have a new favorite author to follow!!! The premise for this trilogy – nano werewolves – combines science fiction with paranormal, and the result is explosively amazing! Author Donna McDonald is exceptionally skilled at combining believable dialogue with a descriptive background, ultimately forming a tight web of subtle foreshadowing, gut-wrenching plot twists, and smooth flowing story arc. I fell in love with her characters in Ariel, and I am absolutely dying to continue their journey in the next book in Ms.McDonald’s series!!!” -NetGalley Reviewer
“This was a good new point of view for a werewolf series. A scientist uses technology to create 3 new female werewolves. Quite sexy and a wonderful love story, books 2 and 3 have some great potential. Love the characters, the tension and the setting.” -NetGalley Reviewer
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