The Hunted Heart - Carrie Ann Ryan
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Carrie Ann Ryan Carrie Ann Ryan

The Hunted Heart

Book 6.7 in the Redwood Pack Series

Emeline lived through her own hell when she lost her mate. Hundreds of years later, she’s considered an elder in a Pack of long lived shifters.

Only she feels like she doesn’t belong.

All she wants is a second chance and she’s afraid she’s lost her chance.

Noah knows he’s her mate. But Emeline doesn’t believe him. Not when he’s hundreds of years younger.

Though a warrior and soldier who has lived decades and fought for his Pack, his hardest battle is ahead of him.

Fighting for the heart of his mate.

read an excerpt

The Hunted Heart is Book 6.7 in the Redwood Pack series

The Hunted Heart Characters Profiles

The Hunted Heart

Chapter One

Dying was inevitable.

Being left behind was almost unbearable.

Some days she could remember the exact tone of his voice, the color of his eyes when he smiled, the way his hair looked on a breezy day.

Other days she lost all of it, the thought forgotten on the wind that carried the goddess’s voice.

Emeline never thought twice about her mind and the way it worked. Not anymore. She was far too old to worry about a memory or the lack of one. She never remembered her dead mate’s face. It had been too long, and honestly, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to remember Jeffery any longer.

What did it matter that she was almost five hundred years old and mateless? Though she called Jeffery her mate, she knew that wasn’t quite the truth. In all honesty, she’d never actually mated Jeffery. He’d left to fight a war and died before he completed the mating bond.

She’s spent the entirety of her life alone, dried up, and mateless.

What a waste.

Her phone rang, bringing her out of thoughts of dead mates, old bodies, and older souls. With a sigh, she ran a hand through her shoulder-length blonde curls, knowing she must look a fright. She got up from her spot on the floor, her petite limbs cracking from sitting on the hardwood too long surrounded by books. Oh sure, she didn’t have a line on her face, nor did she look like anything but the healthy twenty-something most wolves did, but she could sure feel her age. She might be a wolf that lived for hundreds of years—and had—but that didn’t mean her body didn’t feel it on some days.

And ever since she’d found friends within the Redwoods, she’d started to feel her age more and more.

The result of hanging with century-old and younger pups.

“Yes?” she said as she answered. She could have looked at the display on the phone, but she still wasn’t used to that. Caller ID was a new invention to her at this point.

“Oh good, I caught you. How are you, Emeline dear?”

Emeline smiled at the sound of Lexi’s voice. It never failed to make her feel warm inside when the other woman spoke. No matter how much the other woman had been through, she always put a happy face and brave front on for the world. That was how she functioned and how she made it through the day. When it became too much, Lexi had her mate, North, to rely on.

Something that Emeline knew she’d never have.

Not that she’d ever truly had it to begin with. She couldn’t miss what she’d never had after all.

“Hi, Lexi, how is your day going?”

“We’re hanging in there.” Lexi sighed, and Emeline’s heart broke once again for her.

She knew why Lexi called that morning. Why she’d called every other day for the past year and a half. Her mate, North, had been blinded by the demon Caym during one of their final battles through a spell and not by a physical injury. Because of that, they all held out hope there would be a way to fix that.

Considering North was a doctor—or had been one before the accident—his livelihood was on the line. He couldn’t practice medicine fully without his eyes. Yes, he was a wolf and could do other things, and even work alongside others, but it wasn’t the same. As it was, the new doctor, Noah, was working out, and people liked him. That didn’t mean North would be okay with that forever.

As for Noah…no…Emeline wouldn’t think about him just then.

She didn’t know if she even could. Not without feeling that odd pang in her heart.

As the months, days, and now years passed since North’s injury, the hope for his recovery was looking less and less likely.

The hope also resided on Emeline’s shoulders alone. Yes, others had helped her, but she was the one with the knowledge and, frankly, the time to spare. She was an elder, one of the oldest wolves of the Pack, and unlike those who had been part of her elder circle, unlike how she herself had been for years before that, she wanted her role to be that of a helper and not a burden.

“Talk to me,” Emeline said as she stretched down to reach her toes. She’d been sitting for hours, so entrenched in her books, she hadn’t noticed that half the day was already gone. Speaking of, she should probably get something to eat soon.

Day in and day out, the life of a wolf who lived alone—and would probably continue to live alone—seemed pretty boring. Even now that the war with the Centrals had been over for a year, the den for Emeline was quiet and peaceful.

But she wouldn’t say boring.

Not anymore.

Not since she’d moved out of the elder’s inner circle and into one of the extra Jamenson homes near the Alpha’s house.

Maybe she should get a cat or something.

Oh yes, that would be great. She could become the five-hundred-year-old cat-lady werewolf. Because people didn’t think she was crazy enough with the way her mind wandered and the fact that sometimes she could hear the moon goddess’s voice in her head.

“Emeline? You still there?”

Crap. She’d done it again. Freaking old age was killing her attention span, and she felt more like a squirrel with a new bag of nuts.

Emeline closed her eyes and tried to think back to the bits and pieces she must have gleaned from having a half ear on the conversation, only to come up short. Apparently today was one of her bad days when it came to playing normal.

“Sorry, I let my mind wander. What was it, honey?”

“Are you taking care of yourself?” Lexi asked, concern in her tone. “You’re not working too hard on your research, are you? Because…well…because no matter what happens with North, you know that we will always think of you as family. We want you to be healthy too. So don’t put your whole soul into it and hurt yourself. Your wellbeing is important too.”

“I’m minding myself, Lexi. Please don’t worry about me. Tell me about your day and that baby of yours.”

The Jamensons had found themselves in a baby boom of sorts. Each of the seven siblings that ran the Pack had recently had children. Within the last eight months, each of the Jamensons had had babies. Emeline had a feeling she knew exactly what all of them had been doing the moment they knew the war they’d fought for years was finally over.

Since the war with the Centrals had ended the year prior, seven new Jamenson babies had been born into the Redwood Pack and Emeline had a feeling everyone would be having another set in the coming years. They all loved children, Emeline as well, and though they all lived very long lives, having children hundreds of years apart never made sense to most wolves.

Emeline wouldn’t know.

She’d never had a child.

Okay, she really needed to stop feeling so down on herself. It wasn’t attractive. Not that she cared about being attractive, but indulging in a pity party wasn’t on her agenda.

“Isabelle is doing great. She’s such a happy baby. She sleeps through the night even. Something Parker never did. Though Parker might be a well-adjusted kid now, I swear it took until he was three for him to gain that temperament.”

Parker was Lexi’s son from before she’d met North and become a Redwood. North and the Jamensons had adopted him into the family without question. The whole family was like that. Welcoming, and always with open arms.

That, honestly, was most people.

Including Emeline herself. Before she’d found the Jamensons, or, rather, they’d found her, she’d stayed within the elder living area. Always. It had been over a hundred years since she’d left that area of the den before she’d found herself with the Jamensons. The late Alpha, Edward, and his wife, Pat, had come to her to meet her and talk with her. They’d even asked for her help in certain things, and she always gave what advice she could.

Just because she’d lived for hundreds of years didn’t mean she’d actually lived.


She shook her head again, annoyed with herself for letting her mind wander. “That baby girl of yours sounds like she’s right where she’s supposed to be. You’ll let me visit her, right?”

She had no idea why she’d said that, but now that she had, she wanted the answer.

“Of course, Emeline. You know you don’t even have to ask. You’re family now.”

That thought warmed her, and she smiled, letting her finger trace a line on her thigh, trying to keep her mind on the conversation at hand rather than allowing it wander. Again.

“Well…” She stopped and licked her lips. “Thank you, Lexi. Maybe I’ll stop by tomorrow.”

“Do it. Come for dinner. Please, Emeline. You need the break, and we’d love to have you.”

“Okay. I can do that.”

So odd. She’d never really done anything as simple as a dinner with friends in so long that she wasn’t even sure what she should do.

“Then we will see you there, Emeline.”

“Should I bring something?”

“Just yourself unless you want to make something. It’s up to you. We’re informal here.”

“I can bring dessert.” She loved baking but hadn’t done too much of it recently since, for years, it hadn’t been the best idea to bake only for herself.

Now, though, she had people to bake for.

“That sounds like a plan.” Lexi let out a sigh, and Emeline knew what was coming. It was always the same, and it pained her not to be able to have a good answer for the other woman. “How’s research going?”

Every time Lexi asked, Emeline pictured North holding his child, unable to see her. The hollowness within her paled in comparison to what he’d lost.

“I don’t have any answers for you yet. I’m sorry, Lexi. I’m trying, but I don’t see it yet. I’m not giving up though.”

Lexi’s silence was expected, but it still didn’t make Emeline feel any better. “Thank you. I know you must tire of me calling, but…but I need to. You know? I know you’d come and find us the moment you figured something out, but I feel like I need to call you. Just in case. If I ever annoy you, or hurt you because I call, tell me. I’ll stop.”

“You’re welcome to call. In fact, I look forward to it.” Well, that was depressing. Looking forward to a call from a woman who was breaking inside because she couldn’t help her mate. All because Emeline needed contact with the outside world.

“If you say so.” Lexi took a deep breath, audible through the phone. “Okay then. I will see you tomorrow for dinner. I can’t wait to taste what you make for dessert, and I’ll be sure Parker and North know you’re coming as well. Thank you, Emeline. Thank you for everything.”

She let the other woman go then stared at the phone, her mind on countless other things again rather than what was in front of her.

“Have you eaten yet, Em?”

Emeline screamed and jumped off the chair, phone crashing to the floor, claws bared.

“Noah?” She blinked, her chest heaving. “What are you doing in my home? How did you get in here? And why are you here scaring the life out of me?”

He smiled at her, and Emeline wanted to strangle him.

This man. This wolf.

He just wouldn’t leave her alone.

The pup was twenty-eight for God’s sake. A mere blip in the radar of her long life. It didn’t matter that her wolf practically preened when he smiled. No, she didn’t want any of that.

That stupid dimple on his cheek deepened, and Emeline held back a growl. She refused to notice the long, lean lines of his body, the waves of chestnut hair that fell to the back of his neck, or the muscles that bulged just right when he bent to pick something up.


She didn’t want this pup.

No matter what her wolf said.

end of excerpt
The Hunted Heart

The Hunted Heart

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