Wolf Betrayed - Carrie Ann Ryan
Carrie Ann Ryan Carrie Ann Ryan
Carrie Ann Ryan Carrie Ann Ryan

Wolf Betrayed

Book 4 in the Talon Pack Series

The Talon Pack continues with the daughter of a traitor, the man who can never be her lover, and another man she should never want…her enemy.

Charlotte Jamenson was born to the Pack that threatened the world, but grew up in the one that saved it. She’s spent her entire life repenting for lies and faults that were never hers to bear. When she falls for her best friend, Bram Devlin, she thinks she’s finally found forgiveness for the blood in her veins; only a mating bond never came.

Bram knows there’s something missing within his mating with Charlotte, but there’s nothing he can do about it. Their Pack is in danger, and it’s his duty to protect their Alpha—even if it means sacrificing his life. When he’s put in charge of protecting a new member of the Talon Pack, he realizes he and Charlotte may just have a chance at something more than heartache.

Shane Bruins sacrificed his life and his future to protect the Packs from the men he worked for. Now, thanks to circumstances beyond his control, he’s not quite who he was before, and his life is on the line yet again. Only this time, he isn’t alone, and the two wolves in his path might be the only things that can calm the beast inside.

The war isn’t coming, it’s here, and the Talon Pack will have to rely on three souls who know they aren’t what each other wants—but exactly what they need—to win.

read an excerpt

Wolf Betrayed is Book 4 in the Talon Pack series

Wolf Betrayed


Chapter One

Charlotte Jamenson ducked beneath a fallen tree branch and inwardly cursed when she tripped over an aboveground root. If she’d been in her human form, she’d probably have said the word aloud and added a few others, as well. Instead, she huffed a breath, lowered her head, and moved faster through the woods.

Her wolf pushed at her, ready to take control and let the run do what it needed to: relieve the tension and stress that came with being who she was in a Pack on the brink of war. Yet she couldn’t quite let her wolf come to the surface even though she was in that form. Her human half needed to think, to feel the dirt beneath her paws, and hold on to what little control she had over her life. The war was coming, perhaps it was even here, and she didn’t have a clue how she could help.

She was the adoptive daughter of the former Omega of the Redwood Pack. The true daughter of the traitor to the Central Pack.

Yet she had nothing to show for her blood other than the guilt that came with continuing to breathe when so many others did not.

The other wolf with her nipped at her flank, and she sped up, thankful that he’d pulled her out of her thoughts of self-pity. She had enough trouble figuring out how to help her people without falling into a depression over where she’d come from yet again.

Charlotte didn’t bother to turn and bite at the other wolf for daring to touch her. This was Bram, her best friend and everything else that she could possibly ever need, he could nip at her if he wanted. She’d just nip back.

When he tried to snap at her again, she slammed her body into his. He was so much bigger than she was, though—in either form—that he didn’t budge, and she almost stumbled. He let out a soft growl, even as they continued their pace, as if admonishing her for being so careless. Either that or he worried about her too much. As this was Bram, it was probably a mixture of both.

They continued their run, their pace increasing until she was panting and losing steam. She hadn’t been sleeping well, not with the steady unrest around them and the wolf at her side, and now it was starting to show. She wouldn’t be much help to her Pack and family if she didn’t start taking care of herself. And while this run had initially been part of that, as all wolves needed the exercise, she was going to hurt herself if she didn’t slow down and head back home.

Bram seemed to sense her needs—as always—and slowed down first. She held back another sigh and matched his pace until they were both walking back toward the set of trees where they’d left their clothing.

When they reached the area, she let out a low moan, knowing the pain from the change was coming. Even though she’d done this countless times before, the transition between wolf and human, human and wolf, never got any easier. For people like Bram, who seemed to excel at everything he did, it looked as if he gently flowed from one form to another. He never showed any signs of weakness, never looked like he wanted to pass out from the pain. That was probably why he was an enforcer and protector for her Uncle Kade, the Alpha of the Redwood Pack.

And why she was still caught in the in-between without a clear duty or purpose.

Her bones popped, her muscles tearing as her body completed the unnatural change between her two forms. It wasn’t like in the movies the humans had made before the Unveiling. This wasn’t full of sparkly magic and wishes. It was an intense agony infused with faith in the moon goddess that Charlotte wouldn’t get stuck halfway between her two halves.

She’d had nightmares about that when she was little.

Of course, the fact that she’d seen it happen to her brother’s…experiments before she’d come to the Redwood Pack probably had something to do with it.

When she was finally back in her human form, she stood on shaky legs and let out another breath. Her body was sweat-slick and achy, but the run had done her good. Her wolf had needed the escape, and Charlotte had needed to be alone with Bram. Even if just the idea of it was a sweet agony.

He was her best friend. Her everything.

The one man who the goddess had chosen to be her mate.

But when the mating bond didn’t come, her heart had shattered into a thousand pieces. She’d always known she’d never be good enough for a wolf such as Bram, yet some small part of her had hoped the moon goddess would allow her that one piece of happiness. But the blood in her veins spoke loudly to those who dared to listen, and because of that, Bram would never be hers.

There would be another chance for him to mate, she knew. There were potential mates around the world for every shifter in existence. One only needed to find them. They could choose whom the moon goddess put in front of them, or wait to find someone their human half could love.

Charlotte had thought Bram was hers. Her wolf knew it to be true.

But no bond had come.

So she would remain his best friend, and when he found another wolf to complete the bond, she would step aside and shatter, breaking every day until she took her last breath.

Strong fingers gripped her chin, and she pulled herself out from beneath her blanket of self-doubt.

“Charlotte.” Bram’s voice soothed her, even as it brought her to the edge and made her ache.

“What?” she breathed.

“You need to stop thinking so hard,” he said softly. His eyes were dark, yet the yellow ring around the irises told her that his wolf was close to the surface. “You’re hurting yourself; pushing yourself until you’re bound to break.”

She’d already broken.

But she didn’t tell him that. He knew it already since he’d crumbled right next to her when the bond hadn’t come.

“I’m fine.” A breathy answer. She cleared her throat. “I’m fine,” she repeated, her voice far stronger. She was good at pretending she held a strength within herself she would never actually possess. Her sister, the only mother she’d ever known since Ellie had raised her from a small child, had taught her how to pretend, how to face her fears even if she may never fully overcome them.

Bram frowned, and she wanted to rub away the little line that formed between his dark brows. She loved that line, just like she loved every inch of his face, though she’d never told him that. She never would.

His skin was smooth, dark brown, and encased muscles that held the strength of a Pack leader. The squareness of his jaw, and the broadness of his shoulders had only intensified as he’d grown into himself and his position in the Pack, and she’d fallen for him early on in their friendship. Their one night of passion, however, would have to be the last time, as the bond hadn’t come when it should have.

Bram was not hers, and he never would be.

But she couldn’t fight for her Pack in this time of war if she spent her days mooning over a wolf she could never have.

Resolute, she rolled her shoulders and took a step back from him. The hurt that crossed his features mirrored her own, but both she and Bram were good at pretending.

Oh so good.

“Do you want to head back?” Bram asked as he fisted his hands by his sides. She did her best not to look down past his waist since neither of them had put clothes on yet. Nudity shouldn’t matter to wolves, and yet it did right then. She’d once felt his body up close, caressed every hard inch of him, but now she had to push that from her mind.

“We need to,” she answered as she bent to pick up her clothing. She hadn’t missed Bram’s gaze wander over her body, and she couldn’t allow it any longer. They needed to move on, and they couldn’t do that if they were constantly panting with need. “I promised Mom that I’d be back for dinner. Lana and Belle miss me.”

Charlotte had chosen to call Ellie her mother when she’d come to the Redwood Pack. Though technically, Ellie was Charlotte’s half-sister, it had been easier to call Ellie “Mom” and refer to Maddox as her father. They had been the ones to raise her and teach her what it meant to be a shifter in the world of secrecy and hope. Belle and Lana were technically Charlotte’s nieces, but they were the sisters of her heart. As long as she didn’t think too hard about the bonds and connections that wove through their heritage, she was fine. The fact that one of her best friends, Parker, was also her nephew—and cousin—because of the ways everyone had mated only made her head hurt. So she chose to ignore all of that and focus on what mattered.

Usually.

Bram grinned then, and she held back a moan at how gorgeous the man looked when he smiled. It simply wasn’t fair that he was so good-looking. “Let’s get dressed, then. Your sisters shouldn’t be kept waiting.”

Charlotte rolled her eyes and quickly pulled on her jeans. “You spoil them.”

“Well, duh. You tend to spoil them, too. They’re almost adults now so we need to make sure they’re pampered before we push them out into the ranking of the Pack.”

“Like Dad would ever let them be pushed out like baby birds in the nest.”

“True,” Bram said as they started back to the center of the den where most of the homes were located. The wards the witches of the Pack had put up might protect the den from the humans’ prying eyes and even more dangerous intentions, but the natural landscape of the area also provided some protection. “Maddox might not be the Omega now that Drake is coming into his powers, but the guy is more intuitive than any other wolf I know.”

Bram reached out as if to take her hand as he had countless times before but seemed to think better of it and quickly dropped his arm. She refused to be hurt because of the action. It was just the way things were now.

She gave him a falsely bright smile. “Yeah, you try growing up with a Dad who can literally feel every emotion you’re feeling. There’s no hiding from him.”

Bram gave her a look. “Considering I was at your house more than I was at any of my foster homes, I know exactly what you mean. Getting you out of there after hours so we could sneak around like any self-respecting teenagers wasn’t the easiest thing.”

Charlotte laughed, the tension of the run and what would never be slipping from her shoulders. “I still think we got off easier than Finn and the rest of Uncle Kade’s kids. I mean, Kade’s the freaking Alpha and always knew what I was up to. Just imagine his own kids.”

Bram shrugged. “Your family is so close, I’m pretty sure all the older generation knew what was going on with their entire passel of kids but let us get into some trouble anyway. I mean, it’s how we learn, right?”

Charlotte smiled and continued walking toward her parents’ home. The only reason she and her cousins had been able to run as wild as they had was because the Redwoods were healthy. Though she’d lost her grandparents in the final battles with the Central Pack, the rest of the den had risen up to protect their own. The battle that had taken Edward’s and Pat’s lives had fundamentally changed the Pack’s structure and bonds. Charlotte’s generation of wolves had been forced to come into their powers far earlier than they should have, and children like Bram had lost their parents in the seemingly unending battles.

From the ashes, the Redwoods had grown into a power to be reckoned with.

The Talon Pack, their allies and friends, were still learning how to become a Pack like hers. They didn’t have the same history as the Redwoods, and because of that, they were technically weaker. But because they were allies, and so many within each of the Packs had mated with each other, they were almost one large Pack now—with two Alphas. She wasn’t sure how things would work in the future, but for now, they had a solid alliance and shared a threat.

The humans.

When the world had found out about the existence of shifters, some humans had chosen to take them in with open arms. Others had created a war. Politics and grandstanding were now commonplace, and Charlotte’s people were on the edge of a blade that would either protect them or cut them down to nothing.

She wasn’t sure what all was coming for them, but she knew she would fight for her family no matter what…they just needed to give her a chance.

When she stepped into the first true home she’d ever known, she smiled at the sight of her parents making out in the middle of the living room. They’d been mated for over thirty years, and still, Maddox and Ellie couldn’t keep their hands off each other. The two of them were standing close together, caught in an embrace that should have embarrassed Charlotte, but merely showed her what she would never have. At least not with Bram.

Finally, the two wolves in front of her seemed to notice their presence, and they pulled apart, but not before Ellie traced her finger over the scar on Maddox’s face.

The scar Corbin—the brother Ellie and Charlotte shared—had put there in a heated rage.

Maddox kissed Ellie’s palm and pulled away to face Charlotte and Bram. “How was your run?” he asked, his wolf in his eyes.

Charlotte held back a sigh and moved forward to hug her father and mother. “Good, I needed it.”

Her dad kissed her temple before looking over her head at Bram. “Bram.” His voice was a little rough, a little cold, and Charlotte almost rolled her eyes. Maddox loved Bram like a son, but as soon as it looked like Charlotte might be mates with Bram, Maddox had turned on the overprotective father charm and hadn’t been able to turn it off again.

Bram found it funny, but it annoyed Charlotte to no end.

She met her best friend’s gaze, and he shook his head. Today wasn’t the day to get into it, she knew, but one day soon, she’d have to explain that she and Bram weren’t what the others thought. What she had hoped.

“I’m glad you’re here,” Ellie said with a soft smile. Her mother always saw too much, just like Maddox did, and Charlotte was afraid they already knew the truth about her lack of bond with Bram. “Finn called earlier and asked for you.”

“Oh, really?” Finn was the Heir to the Redwood Pack, the eldest son of the Alpha, and would one day be the Alpha in truth. He was also her other best friend and former roommate before he’d mated with Brynn, a former Talon Pack member.

“He’s headed to the Talon den and asked you to join him and Brynn,” Maddox said. “You know that we’re not letting anyone go off alone outside the den, and while Finn and Brynn would normally be okay on their own as a duo, three would be even better.”

Charlotte’s eyes widened even as a slight thread of excitement wove its way through her. She didn’t normally get picked for assignments like this. Yes, she’d fought alongside others when needed, and even helped saved some of the Talon Pack members who had been too close to an explosion, but since she didn’t have a clear role in the Pack yet, those assignments were few and far between.

“Really?”

Maddox nodded. “He’s leaving soon, so meet him at the main sentry gate if you’re joining him. I’ll phone ahead to let him know.” He looked over at Bram. “Finn also said Kade was about to do an all call for the enforcers.”

Bram’s shoulders straightened. “At the Alpha’s home, or the enforcer’s place of residence?”

“At Kade’s,” Maddox answered.

“I’ll head over there right now.” Bram met Charlotte’s gaze. “Be careful, okay?”

She looked into his eyes and swallowed hard. She was always careful. There wasn’t another option for a wolf such as she.

“You, as well,” she whispered.

Her best friend left without another word, and Charlotte was left to stare at the closed door.

“Charlotte…” her mother began.

Charlotte shook her head. “I should head out. I need to stop by my place and change my shoes. Thanks for letting me know.” She quickly kissed her parents’ cheeks and left without another word. She hated keeping things from them, hating hurting like she did, but she didn’t know any other way to live.

By the time she made it to the gate, Brynn and Finn were already waiting. Newly mated, the two of them were wrapped around one another much like her parents had just been. Everyone in Charlotte’s life seemed to be finding a mate of their own, and while she couldn’t hate them for it, that little pang of jealousy still hit her every once in a while.

“You’re here,” Brynn said with a grin. She looked like her brothers and cousins, all strength and dark hair with wide blue eyes. Finn was one lucky wolf.

“Let’s head out,” Finn said quickly. “Gideon said he had something to show us, and since Brynn wanted to see her brothers, we said we’d go.”

Gideon was the Alpha of the Talon Pack, while Brynn was Gideon’s younger sister.

“Thanks for asking me along,” Charlotte said.

Finn studied her face. “I wouldn’t have anyone else.”

She let that seep into her soul and sighed softly. He believed in her, and that had to count for something.

They made their way over to the Talons in Finn’s vehicle, aware they were being watched. The soldiers that guarded the dens weren’t on the Packs’ side, but they didn’t do anything to provoke an attack.

Yet.

Though Finn could have probably found a way to evade those on his tail, he let the others keep up with him. That way, the world could see that they were just simple people going to meet friends. It was all a lie, and would always be one, but she would do her part and protect what was hers. After they’d entered the Talon territory and nodded at the wolves who guarded their home, Charlotte followed Finn and Brynn to the infirmary.

“Do you know why we’re here?” Charlotte asked. “I mean other than the fact that Gideon asked for us.”

Brynn shook her head. “Not really. Gideon just asked us over. Kade said he’d come, but I haven’t seen my family in a week so I asked if I could come instead.”

Charlotte nodded. “Everything is so secret these days, I never know.”

Finn shrugged. “It has to be, but I wanted you here.” He met her gaze. “I don’t know why, Charlotte. My wolf urged me to bring you with, and I listened to him.”

Her eyes widened. “That’s…a little spooky.”

Finn snorted. “Tell me about it. I never used to have this connection with my wolf but after the…procedure, things are different.”

The procedure that killed him, she remembered. But if Finn’s wolf thought she needed to be here, she’d listen. He was the Heir for a reason, after all.

They made their way into the building, and Gideon came toward them. He had to be the biggest man Charlotte had ever seen, and that was saying something, considering how big her cousins and uncles were.

“Good, you’re here.”

A man’s scream echoed off the walls, and Charlotte’s wolf moved forward, ready to fight.

“What the hell?” Finn growled.

“That’s why I wanted you here,” Gideon said with a sigh. “We have a new Pack member.”

Charlotte’s eyes widened. While it was not uncommon to bring in new members of the Pack, they were in the middle of a war, and turning a human probably wasn’t the smartest thing to do. Not that she’d tell a very dominant Alpha wolf that.

“Seriously?” Finn asked.

“What happened?” Brynn said.

Gideon pinched the bridge of his nose. “He is—was—a soldier, working under Montag.”

Charlotte hissed. Montag was the General who had killed dozens of wolves in the name of science. He tortured them to discover their secrets and was one of the loudest opponents against the wolves’ right to live at all.

“I don’t know what happened exactly, but we’re going to find out,” Gideon continued, giving Charlotte a curious glance. “He saved Ryder and Leah and risked his life to do so. Then he showed up at our borders and saw through the wards.”

“Holy hell,” Brynn whispered. “Ryder told me about the human that saved him, but I didn’t know who it was.”

“He’s also the man who saved you from that bullet, FYI,” Gideon said to Brynn. “But he’s not human anymore.”

“You changed him?” Finn asked.

Gideon shook his head. “No. That’s the thing. He smells of wolf but he isn’t yet. He was dying, and the only way to save him was to bring him into the Pack. He’s not wolf. He’s not human. He’s something…different. The humans made something, Finn, something that could destroy us all if we’re not careful. I don’t know what to do with him.”

Another scream. This one louder.

“He’s in pain,” Charlotte growled. She didn’t know this human, didn’t know if she could trust him. He was a soldier—the enemy.

Gideon nodded. “And there’s nothing we can do to calm him. He’s here because Walker is trying to help, but no matter what we do, nothing seems to work. I’m at my wit’s end here.”

Charlotte was listening, but her legs had started to move without her thinking. She moved toward the source of the screaming and sucked in a breath at the sight of the man on the bed. He was chained at his ankles and wrists, but from the gouges in his arms, she figured the restraints were for his own safety.

Perhaps.

His veins stood out prominently, and he thrashed under the blanket he wore to cover him since he didn’t seem to have a stitch of anything else on. He screamed again before his eyes snapped open and met hers. His nostrils flared, and his body went rod-straight at the sight of her. Gradually, his breathing eased, and the cords on his neck softened.

Her wolf pounced, pushing at her to go closer.

But she couldn’t.

Because she’d heard a word on the wind she shouldn’t have. The one word that could break her.

Mate.

“Charlotte?” Finn asked. “What is it?”

She looked at him, her body swaying. “My wolf…” She pressed her lips together and pushed past him and the others so she could breathe once again.

“Charlotte,” Finn said once again when he came to her side. “He’s your mate, isn’t he? That’s why my wolf told me to bring you. Because he’s here…because you needed to be. It’s fate, isn’t it, Charlotte? It’s a twisted, fucked up fate.”

“Fate? You think I believe in fate?” Charlotte took a deep breath then gave a dry laugh. “Oh, Finn. How could I believe in fate? What has the moon goddess ever done for me?”

Finn’s eyes widened, and she wanted to let the tears fall. He’d been through his own hell with the bond between wolf and man, and the bond between him and his mate. Yet she couldn’t think about that, not now, not ever. “Charlotte. You can’t say that. You don’t believe that.”

“I was born to a monster. Chained to a wall for longer than I care to remember. I watched my sister, now mother, die before somehow coming back. I was the one who told them how to kill my brother, Corbin, though they didn’t have the chance. I saw more horrors than you could ever dream of before I even met the Redwoods. And you think the moon goddess blessed me? No. I don’t think so. I might have had time with a family I don’t deserve, but now what does she do? She gives me a mate that sides with the enemy. She gives me the enemy himself.”

Finn reached out, but she took a step back.

“Don’t. Don’t try to make it better. The moon goddess, in all her wisdom, gave me a human to love, a human to cherish. That…I could do. I would embrace humanity with all my heart, even if they don’t embrace us. But she didn’t just give me a human. She gave me a soldier. She gave me a man who wants to kill us. Who wants to hold us captive and dissect us.” And she didn’t let her have the one wolf who should have been hers.

“You don’t know that. He’s not the leader, Charlotte. He could be different from the others.”

She laughed, but it held no humor. “Even better. He’s a pawn with no steel, no strength. He only listens to those that fear us and want to harm us.” She rolled her shoulders and knew she had to be stronger than she was. “I’m done, Finn. I won’t mate with him. I won’t listen to the moon goddess or my wolf. He’s not mine. He’ll never be mine.”

“I’m alone.”

Alone.

Again.

She’d grown up alone. It only made sense she’d die that way, too.

end of excerpt

Reviews of Wolf Betrayed

“These three are stunning! Another great story and climactic...big battle. Charlotte and her men, woooo, it's getting hot in here.”

Hannah's Words

“Carrie Ann Ryan writes a mean and lean sexy machine m/m/f book. The story of Bram/Charlotte/Shane is a well written, action packed, sensual story that brings to a head the war between human and wolf and what lengths need to be taken to protect all worlds.”

Books are Love

“The sense of completeness, wholeness, that they feel (and that Ryan is so skilled at describing) is exactly why I think readers like the fated mates trope. We want to believe that there is a person, or perhaps several people, out there who can make a someone feel like the best, most complete, version of themselves. In Wolf Betrayed you get that sense three times over.”

Straight Shootin' Book Reviews