Author Charlie Richards

Giving love and imagination free reign


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Soldier of Fortune's Downfall

Wolves of Stone Ridge: Book Eighteen

Raven cares about one person: himself--his comfort, his desires, and his freedom to do as he pleases. He's fed up with scientist Sampson Marlow making decisions for him and ready to start a new chapter in his life. One last assignment goes horribly wrong, and he's the one who ends up in a cage...of sorts. Seeing the silent war between the two parties from the shifter's point of view gets his conscience involved--not that he'd ever admit that to anyone. Upon escaping the wolves and returning to the scientist's facility--fully intending to hand over his resignation--Raven finds himself drawn to a small Arctic Fox shifter held captive by the scientists. Although it puts Raven's plans to move on and forget that paranormals exist on the back burner, he can't seem to help himself. Raven does something he never thought he'd do. He goes to the enemy for help in freeing the shifter. Raven just wants to return the little fox to his skulk. He sure as heck-fire ain't gonna keep him. Then he'll move on with his life. What could possibly go wrong?

Excerpt - Prologue for Soldier of Fortune's Downfall

The excerpt below contain explicit adult language and sexual content.

By reading any further, you are stating that you are at least 18 years of age.

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    Raven stared up at the man standing over him. He and Miach had been on the same side once. But when Miach had fallen in love with a wolf shifter, he’d chosen to switch loyalties. Fucking traitor. Choosing paranormals over his own kind.

What really burned Raven’s balls was the fact that he’d been caught. Of course, it had taken a giant thirty foot snake and an elephant to do it, but it still stung his pride. Who knew there were shifters like that out there?

“What the fuck do you want?” Raven asked, keeping his tone mild, almost conversational. “I thought you were done with me.”

Miach didn’t guard him often. Mostly, that honor went to a couple dozen wolf shifters, who’d pair up and tag teamed him. One wolf, Raven could take. Two? Not without a little ingenuity…and luck, the advantage of surprise, and a weapon. Those last two, he’d never successfully achieved. These shifters were careful.

“Why do you hate shifters so much?” Miach asked bluntly.

Raven slowly lifted one brow. Interesting. No one had ever bothered to ask him that before. He scoffed. “I don’t,” he replied. At Miach’s incredulous look, he shrugged. “I’d say I’m an equal opportunity hater, but that’s not actually true. I find shifters quite fascinating.”

Miach glared. “Fascinating? Is that why you catch shifters and turn them over to those fuckers for experimentation and torture? Because you’re fascinated by them?”

Snickering, Raven rose from his seat. Miach backed away accordingly, keeping a wary eye on him. “Ah, but you see. I’ve never caught any shifters, except that pretty little wolf.” He clasped his hands behind his back and curved his lip into a sly smile. “That was but a spot of fun. I wouldn’t have turned him over to Sampson.” He smirked. “Now there’s a real piece of work. You’d think his family was killed by a rogue or something.”

“So, what exactly do you do for the scientists…for Sampson?”

Raven actually laughed out loud. “And that, detective, it the right question,” he said, quoting one of his favorite movies.

Miach frowned. “What?”

He rolled his eyes. “I supply the scientists with information. Location of pack members. Where they like to run.” He winked. “Who’s mated with whom.”

“Son of a bitch!” Miach screamed.

Raven skittered around the couch, his hands up in placation. He was enjoying this way too much to be strangled. “Relax. I didn’t tell them anything about you. Brother-in-arms code and all that,” he said, waving a hand and shaking his head.

“I thought you were here to liberate me from the shifters,” Miach said questioningly.

Scowling, Raven snapped, “Are you not listening? I said that as part of my bit of fun. Sampson and his buddies know you won’t be back. If they had any doubt, your hand in helping the wolves blow up the facility in Idaho remedied their thinking.” He rested his hands on the back of the couch and leaned toward his seething…jailer. “I will warn you though, there is a shoot on sight order out for you.”

“Damn,” Miach mumbled, actually looking shocked by that news. Then he shook his head and frowned at Raven. “Okay, so you have no intention of capturing any of the pack-members. You just plan to tell the scientists everything about them, allowing them to capture them. Is that right?”

“Yep,” Raven replied, completely non-repentant.

“Then I’d like to offer you a deal,” Miach said.

His brows slowly lifted of their own accord. “Really?” He hopped over the couch and settled on the cushions. He spread his arms on either side of the sofa’s back and grinned. “I’m listening.”

For a second, Miach looked like he wanted to withdraw his words, but finally he said, “You promise not to tell the scientists anything about what you’ve learned here and in return, I’ll let you go.”

Well, well…

Raven remained quiet for a few seconds, searching for some sign of deceit in his old comrade. “Why would you do that?”

“Because holding a man prisoner is wrong, even if they do make you comfortable. Because I’ve been where you are and it sucks.” Miach crossed his arms over his chest. “Because I know the one thing you do keep, is your word.”

Slowly, Raven rose to his feet. “Yes, I do,” he drawled. The prospect of his freedom caused his heart to pound. Could he agree to keep silent about everything he’d learned about Declan McIntire’s pack? How the hell would he explain his absence to the guys who gave him his paycheck?

Not that he really needed the money. He’d tucked away quite the nest egg over the years. Not needing many creature comforts made hoarding money easy. His one exception was his car—a custom designed 2013 Corvette ZR1. But since he couldn’t enjoy his car stuck in here…

“You have a deal,” he said, holding out his hand.

Miach slowly took it, and they shook.

“So.” Raven released Miach’s hand and placed his fists on his hips. “How exactly do you want to do this? Got a plan? If you just let me go, they’re gonna know it was you,” he pointed out.

Sighing, Miach nodded. “I know that.” He pulled his knife from the sheath strapped to his thigh. For a second, he gripped the handle tightly, his white knuckles giving away his tension, then he flipped the knife to grasp the blade and offered it to him. “You slammed the lampshade over my head while cooking dinner, took my knife, which I conveniently forgot to leave at home, and stabbed me a couple times.” He grimaced. “Non-lethal shots, if you please.”

Raven took the weapon. Smirking, he turned around and grabbed the ugly blue lampshade in the other hand. “Better go to the kitchen, then,” he ordered dryly, already thinking of the best places to stab for incapacitation.

Miach turned and, before he’d taken two steps, Raven slammed the lamp on his head. Stumbling forward, Miach almost went down. He half-turned and glared. “Shit. How about some warning?” he snarled, rubbing his scalp.

Bringing the knife to bare, Raven swung the blade. Miach moved the arm rubbing his scalp, instinctively blocking, just as Raven knew he would. The guy was a trained soldier. It wasn’t in his nature to go passively, and if he had, the wounds wouldn’t have been believable anyway.

The sharp blade sank into Miach’s forearm. Blood spurted, but Miach didn’t cry out, instead he growled. Raven pulled the knife free, letting Miach stumble back a couple steps. Moving swiftly, Raven twirled the knife, changing his grip, then swung low into his abdomen. This time, Miach didn’t try to stop him.

Miach grunted, his blue eyes widening in pain.

Raven released the knife handle. “Leave that there for a sec, while I get the bed sheets,” he ordered.

The other man’s jaw tightened. His nostrils flared.

Quickly pivoting, Raven hustled to the bedroom and yanked off first the quilt, letting it fall to the floor, then pulled the top sheet clear. He returned to Miach. “This is going to hurt,” he warned, taking hold of the knife handle again.

Once Miach nodded, Raven carefully slid it free. The other man let out a hiss through his teeth, revealing his pain. A couple quick strikes to the sheet, and Raven cut the green garment into strips. First he wadded up one, then used several strips to bind it over the wound he’d made in Miach’s side. Next, he quickly wrapped up his forearm.

Raven knelt next to Miach. “I need you to give me two hours, then call your mate.” He smiled slightly. “Nick is going to freak the hell out,” he mumbled. For just a second, Raven wondered what it’d be like to have someone worry about him. Raven shoved the useless idea away.

“Got it,” Miach replied gruffly.

Nodding, Raven climbed to his feet and headed toward the door. He paused and gave his injured ex-comrade a smile. “Thanks.”

Miach grunted and nodded slightly.

Turning away, Raven slipped the knife into his belt, and headed outside. Sucking in a slow deep breath, he assessed his location and surroundings. The scientists had manipulated his olfactory senses, allowing him to smell as well as any canine. They’d also altered his scent, making him smell like sage and moss, which made in nearly impossible for shifters to track him. He’d used both advantages in the past.

Choosing a direction, Raven started jogging.