Patricia Briggs Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega)

ISBN 13: 9780425261323

Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega)

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9780425261323: Cry Wolf (Alpha and Omega)

#1 New York Times bestselling author Patricia Briggs presents the first Alpha and Omega novel—the start of an extraordinary series set in Mercy Thompson’s world, but with rules of its own...

Anna never knew werewolves existed until the night she survived a violent attack...and became one herself. After three years at the bottom of the pack, she’d learned to keep her head down and never, ever trust dominant males. But Anna is that rarest kind of werewolf: an Omega. And one of the most powerful werewolves in the country is about to recognize her value as a pack member—and as his mate.

Includes a new introduction from the author as well as the novella, "Alpha and Omega," originally published in On The Prowl, that inspired the series and tells how Anna and Charles's story began.

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About the Author:

Patricia Briggs is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Mercy Thompson urban fantasy series and the Alpha and Omega novels.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Table of Contents

Title Page

Copyright Page

Dedication

Acknowledgements

 

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FiVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

TEN

ELEVEN

TWELVE

THIRTEEN

FOURTEEN

FIFTEEN

 

Teaser chapter

Praise for Patricia Briggs’s #1 New York Times bestselling Mercy Thompson novels

IRON KiSSE∂

“The third book in an increasingly excellent series, Iron Kissed has all the elements I’ve come to expect in a Patricia Briggs novel: sharp, perceptive characterization; nonstop action; and a levelheaded attention to detail and location. I love these books.” —Charlaine Harris, NewYork Times bestselling author of From Dead to Worse

BLOO∂ BOUND

“Once again, Briggs has written a full-bore action adventure with heart . . . Be prepared to read [it] in one sitting, because once you get going, there is no good place to stop until tomorrow.” —SFRevu

“Plenty of action and intriguing characters keep this fun. In the increasingly crowded field of kick-ass supernatural heroines, Mercy stands out as one of the best.” —Locus

“Briggs’s world, in which witches, vampires, werewolves, and shapeshifters live beside ordinary people, is plausibly constructed; the characters are excellent; and the plot keeps the pages flapping.” —Booklist

“Briggs has created a believable alternative world populated with strong, dynamite characters, deadly adversaries, and cunningly laid plots that leave the reader looking for more.”

Monsters and Critics

“Patricia Briggs has the unique gift of being able to make the reader believe, for the space of three hundred some pages, [in] her truths—that vampires, fae, werewolves, and magic makers live in tentative harmony with humankind. Her world is just like ours, only a bit more dangerous and a bit more sexy.” —Dear Author

“A compelling and fascinating supernatural tale that fans of Laurell K. Hamilton and Charlaine Harris will thoroughly enjoy. Patricia Briggs is a powerful storyteller who convinces readers [that] her earth inhabited by supernatural creatures actually exists.” —The Best Reviews

"Fans of Kim Harrison and Laurell K. Hamilton will enjoy this tightly plotted and fast-paced tale set in a world of vampires, werewolves, fae, and one shapeshifter named Mercy.” —Romantic Times Book Reviews

MOON CALLED

“An excellent read with plenty of twists and turns. Her strong and complex characters kept me entertained from its deceptively innocent beginning to its can’t-put-it- down end. Thoroughly satisfying, it left me wanting more.” —Kim Harrison, New York Times bestselling author of For a Few Demons More

“Patricia Briggs always enchants her readers. With Moon Called, she weaves her magic on every page to take us into a new and dazzling world of werewolves, shapeshifters, witches, and vampires. Expect to be spellbound.”

—Lynn Viehl, USA Today bestselling author of the Darkyn series

“A suspenseful read that will have you on the edge of your seat as you burn through the pages. Ms. Briggs weaves paranormal and mystery together so deftly you can’t put the book down. The cast of characters is wonderfully entertaining, and Mercy’s emotional struggles will pull on your heartstrings. For lovers of the paranormal, this is a must-read.” —Romance Junkies

“A strong story with multidimensional characters . . . Mercy is, at heart, someone we can relate to.” —SFRevu

“Inventive and fast paced . . . Mercy’s first-person narrative voice is a treat throughout. And best of all, the fantasy elements retain their dark mystery and sense of wonder . . . entertaining from start to end.” —Fantasy & Science Fiction

“I’ve never been disappointed by one of [Patricia Briggs’s] books, and this one is no exception. Mercy’s world is an alternate universe much like Laurell K. Hamilton’s Anita Blake books . . . or the Buffyverse or more recently the Kim Harrison books . . . Moon Called ends on a high note and leaves you wanting more—like a good book should.”

Fresh Fiction

“Fans of Kim Harrison’s Dead Witch Walking are sure to enjoy this fast-paced, creature feature-packed suspense story. Mercy’s no-nonsense approach and quick wit coupled with a strong story line and interesting subplots make for a thoroughly entertaining read.” —Monsters and Critics

"Mercy’s a compelling protagonist . . . The story hums along like a well-tuned engine, keeping the reader engaged through the tumultuous climax.”

Romantic Times Book Reviews

“A really good story . . . exciting, interesting, and not always predictable . . . a fun read for a lazy afternoon.”

Italics

“Authors the likes of Tanya Huff, Laurell K. Hamilton, and Charlaine Harris have successfully peopled our modern world with vampires, lycanthropes, and other supernatural beings who, to some extent, coexist politely among us mere mortals, living within complex hierarchies, bureaucracies, and clan protocols. Add Patricia Briggs to the list . . . Moon Called is an exciting new entry in the field of dark urban fantasy . . . I will be watching for Mercy Thompson’s next adventure with great anticipation.” —Rambles.net

Ace Books by Patricia Briggs

MASQUES
STEAL THE DRAGON
WHEN DEMONS WALK

THE HOB’S BARGAIN

DRAGON BONES
DRAGON BLOOD

RAVEN’S SHADOW
RAVEN’S STRIKE

MOON CALLED
BLOOD BOUND
IRON KISSED

CRY WOLF

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

CRY WOLF

An Ace Book / published by arrangement with Hurog, Inc.

PRINTING HISTORY
Ace mass-market edition / August 2008

Copyright © 2008 by Hurog, Inc.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 9781440630811

ACE
Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
ACE and the “A” design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

Amanda, fashionista, musician, and hairstyle artist.
This one’s for you.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

The usual bunch for editorial service above and beyond the
call of duty: Michael Briggs, Katharine and Dave Carson,
Michael Enzweiler, Anne Peters, and Kaye and Kyle Roberson.
My patient and terrific editor, Anne Sowards. The
Ace art team, especially Daniel Dos Santos, who keeps
giving me these lovely covers. And my research sources: my
good friend CthulhuBob Lovely (this time I hope I spelled
it right); Shelley Rubenacker and her Latin Forum buddies;
Bill Fansler, forest recreation staff officer, Kootenai National
Forest—and especially my husband, Mike, who has aided
and abetted my research attempts for years (he, unlike me,
is not shy on the phone). As usual, if it’s good, it’s their
fault—all mistakes are mine.

PROLOGUE

Northwestern Montana,
Cabinet Wilderness: October

NO one knew better than Walter Rice that the only safe place was away from other people. Safe for them, that is. The only problem was that he still needed them, needed the sound of human voices and laughter. To his shame, he sometimes hovered on the edge of one of the campgrounds just to listen to the voices and pretend they were talking to him.

Which was a very small part of the reason that he was lying belly-down in the kinnikinnick and old tamarack needles in the shadow of a stand of trees, watching the young man who was writing with a pencil in a metal-bound notebook after taking a sample of the bear scat and storing the resultant partially filled plastic bag in his backpack.

Walter had no fear the boy would see him: Uncle Sam had ensured that Walter could hide and track, and decades of living alone in some of the most forbidding wilderness in the States had made him into a fair imitation of those miraculously invisible Indians who had populated the favorite books and movies of his childhood. If he didn’t want to be seen, he wasn’t—besides, the boy had all the woodcraft of a suburban housewife. They shouldn’t have sent him into grizzly country on his own—feeding grad students to the bears wasn’t a good idea, might give them ideas.

Not that the bears were out today. Like Walter, they knew how to read the signs: sometime in the next four or five hours there was a big storm coming. He could feel it in his bones, and the stranger didn’t have a big enough pack to be prepared for it. It was early for a winter storm, but this country was like that. He’d seen it snow in August.

That storm was the other reason he was following the boy. The storm and what to do about it—it wasn’t often anymore that he was so torn by indecision.

He could let the kid go. The storm would come and steal away his life, but that was the way of the mountain, of the wilderness. It was a clean death. If only the grad student weren’t so young. A lifetime ago he’d seen so many boys die—you’d think he’d have gotten used to it. Instead, one more seemed like one too many.

He could warn the boy. But everything in him rebelled at the thought. It had been too long since he’d spoken face-to-face with anyone . . . even the thought made his breath freeze up.

It was too dangerous. Might cause another flashback—he hadn’t had one in a while—but they crept up unexpectedly. It would be too bad if he tried to warn the boy and ended up killing him instead.

No. He couldn’t risk the little peace he had by warning the stranger—but he couldn’t just let him die, either.

Frustrated, he’d been following for a few hours as the boy blundered, oblivious, farther and farther from the nearest road and safety. The bedroll on his backpack made it clear he was planning on staying the night—which ought to mean he thought he knew what he was doing in the woods. Unfortunately, it had become clearer and clearer it was a false confidence. It was like watching June Cleaver roughing it. Sad. Just sad.

Like watching the newbies coming into ’Nam all starched and ready to be men, when everyone knew that all they were was cannon fodder.

Damn boy was stirring up all sorts of things Walter liked to keep away. But the irritation wasn’t strong enough to make a difference to Walter’s conscience. Six miles, as near as he figured it, he’d trailed the boy, unable to make up his mind: his preoccupation kept him from sensing the danger until the boy student stopped dead in the middle of the trail.

The thick brush between them only allowed him to see the top of the boy’s backpack, and whatever stopped the boy was shorter. The good part was that it wasn’t a moose. You could reason with a black bear—even a grizzly if it wasn’t hungry (which in his experience was seldom the case), but a moose was . . .

Walter drew his big knife, though he wasn’t sure he’d try to help the boy. Even a black bear was a quicker death than the storm would be—if bloodier. And he knew the bear around here, which was more than he could say about the boy. He moved slowly through the brush, making no noise though fallen aspen leaves littered the ground. When he didn’t want to make noise, he didn’t make noise.

A low growl caused a shiver of fear to slice through him, sending his adrenaline into the ozone layer. It wasn’t a sound he’d ever heard here, and he knew every predator that lived in his territory.

Four feet farther and he had nothing impairing his view.

There in the middle of the path stood a dog—or something doglike, anyway. At first he thought it was a German shepherd because of the coloring, but there was something wrong with the joints of its front end that made it look more like a bear than a dog. And it was bigger than any damned dog or wolf he’d ever seen. It had cold eyes, killer’s eyes, and impossibly long teeth.

Walter might not know what to call it, but he knew what it was. In that beast’s face lurked every nightmare image that haunted his life. It was the thing he fought through two tours of ’Nam and every night since: death. This was a battle for a blooded warrior, battered and tainted as he was, not an innocent.

He broke cover with a wild whoop designed to attract attention and sprinted, ignoring the protest of knees grown too old for battle. It had been a long time since his last fight, but he had never forgotten the feeling of the blood pounding through his veins.

“Run, kid,” he said as he blazed past the boy with a fierce grin, prepared to engage the enemy.

The animal might run. It had taken its time sizing up the boy, and sometimes, when a predator’s meal charges it, the predator will leave. But somehow he didn’t think that this beast was such an animal—there was an eerie intelligence in its blindingly gold eyes.

Whatever had kept it from attacking the boy immediately, it had no qualms about Walter. It launched itself at him as if he were unarmed. Maybe it wasn’t as smart as he thought—or it had been deceived by his grizzled exterior and hadn’t realized what an old veteran armed with a knife as long as his arm could do. Maybe it was aroused by the boy’s flight—he’d taken Walter’s advice at face value and was running like a track star—and just viewed Walter as an obstacle to its desire for fresh, tender meat.

But Walter wasn’t a helpless boy. He’d gotten the knife from so...

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