Dark Wolf (Spirit Wild) - By Kate Douglas


I’ve wanted to write this series since the day I typed the final page of Wolf Tales 12, but for a long time I wasn’t sure if I’d have that chance. Publishing is a fascinating and sometimes frustrating business, but it’s one I’ve grown to love with all my heart—along with the wonderful people I’ve met along the way.

I want to thank my agent, Jessica Faust, of BookEnds Literary Agency, for her support, her advice, and her ability to get me pointed in the right direction. It’s not an easy job, believe me! I also want to thank my editor at Kensington, Audrey La Fehr, who bought my very first Wolf Tales in 2005 and is still reading my convoluted tales of the sexy Chanku shapeshifters. She’s been amazingly supportive, which is a wonderful confidence builder for an author. But most importantly, she has encouraged me to write my stories my way, and that alone is a gift beyond price. My sincere thanks also to Martin Biro, assistant editor extraordinaire—if I have a question, Martin can answer it, and if I need something, he takes care of it. He keeps me sane . . . relatively speaking.

This first book of the second generation of Chanku has truly been a labor of love, but I always need someone to read for the inconsistencies and gaffes that can so easily slip through. My wonderful beta readers read, commented, and critiqued on a tight schedule without complaint. Many thanks to Nicole Passante of sharearead.com, Rhonda Wilson, Lynne Thomas, Kerry Parker, Rose Toubbeh, Jan Takane, Ann Jacobs, Karen Woods, and Lynn Sicoli, who not only gave me a really fast turnaround, but also asked the right questions. I just hope I found the right answers.

The original idea might be the author’s, but the final book goes through many hands. Thanks to the many hands who have left and will leave their fingerprints on Lily and Sebastian’s story.


Crickets chirped. An owl hooted. A dusting of starlight shimmered faintly against granite peaks, but here at the forest’s edge, all was dark. Shivering slightly in the cool night air, Sebastian Xenakis stood beneath the gnarled oak, just one more shadow among many. With great humility and as much confidence as he could muster while standing naked in the darkness, he raised his arms, drew on the magic coursing through his veins, and once more called on the spirit within the tree, one he affectionately thought of as the lady, humbly asking for her strength.


“Damn it all.” He exhaled, accepting the rush of air for what it was—a huge blast of frustration at the serendipitous nature of his magic. He stared at the massive tree towering overhead and methodically emptied his mind of all thoughts, all distractions. He put aside anger and frustration, fears and hopes, leaving room for nothing but here and now. Focusing everything within, he opened his heart to possibilities, and waited.

A few long, frustrating minutes later, he felt her warmth envelop him. An unexpected frisson raced across his bare shoulders, along his arms. It caressed his naked buttocks and swirled over his belly, lifting the dark line of body hair that trailed from navel to groin. Then it slithered along his thighs, circled his calves, and tickled across his bare feet. His cock, flush with hot blood, swelled high and hard against his belly, giving homage to the gift of power.

Then, sliding away as soft as a whisper, the intimate sense of touch, of sentient communion, bled off into the damp loam and returned to its source through thickly tangled roots. Sebastian sighed, a shuddering acceptance of sensual pleasure, the gift of contact with such a powerful force.

The lady of the oak.

His erection remained, strong evidence of her touch, the visceral connection he’d made with a spirit ancient beyond recorded memory. His body thrummed with her life force, with her power, until Sebastian felt each and every one of her thick and twisted branches spreading far and wide, until he bowed beneath the age and innate wisdom of the ancient tree. This mother oak must have stood here, a silent sentinel of the forest since long before the dawn of modern history. A few heavy branches had fallen over time, but he knew her roots were strong, her branches healthy. As if challenging time itself, the graceful beauty and symmetry of the tree remained.

He remembered the first time he saw the oak, recalled the sense of life, the sure knowledge of the tree’s spiritual power.