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(Read by Author Esther Mitchell)

The sound of a wolf howling, followed by the siren sound of the end of the world, accompanied by the bright flashing of lights outside her window, brought Addie's eyes open with a snap, even as she bolted upright in bed.

Shit. Were they under attack? Leaping from her bed, she grabbed up her S&W, grateful Gavin returned it to her, even if he'd changed out the bullets for some he kept in a carved wooden box, an odd expression on his face as he did. Whatever ammo he put in there, she trusted it was meant to save her life.

Vaulting for the door, she unlocked it, opening it just an inch before swinging her body quickly to the wall beside it and using her foot to kick it open. Outside, she found a house in uproar, with people moving quickly toward the hidden back stairway she found weeks ago. It led to a dead end wall she assumed opened into a panic room, though she never found the release for it.

 

Just as she edged into the hallway, a hand grabbed hold of her arm, and she spun to the right, intent on pumping her attacker full of lead, until she realized whose hand was on her, a watchful hound tensed at his side.

 

"Gavin!" She clapped her free hand to her ear, even as she yelled, "What's with all the noise?"

 

He moved closer, leaning in until his lips brushed her ear, where he said, "We have intruders. Heavily armed. They set off the wards. You need to go with the others to the panic room."

 

"Like hell," she yelled back, yanking away from him with satisfaction as he winced at her volume. "I'm a trained federal agent, and I'm armed. You need me."

 

Something flashed in his glowing, copper eyes, before he nodded. "Be careful. Take Conall with you."

It wasn't a suggestion. She could see the command in his eyes, and knew the dog understood it, too, as he moved to plunk himself at her feet. Before she could argue the point, Gavin stepped back, and literally disappeared into the hallway's shadows, as if he'd never been there at all.

 

"Someday, you're going to have to teach me that trick," she muttered, then glanced down at Conall as he came to his feet. Nodding toward the stairs, she raised a brow. "Shall we?"

 

Following the huge wolfhound, she crept along the walls and carefully down the staircase, alert for movement in the shadows downstairs that might be an assailant. One thing was for certain -- whoever invaded Gloria House had some balls. That he -- she could only assume it was a he -- threatened the safety of all these innocent people made her blood boil. She didn't understand this howling need to protect this space and these people -- most of whom she didn't yet know that well -- but right now she wasn't going to question it.

 

All she was going to do was rain down hell on whoever shattered the peace and safety of this place.