For Ages
12 to 99

Unleashed is a part of the Wolf Spring Chronicles collection.

Katelyn McBride's life changed in an instant when her mother died. Now she has to start over in Wolf Springs, Arkansas—a tiny village in the Ozark Mountains. Like any small town, Wolf Springs has its secrets. But the secrets hidden here are more sinister than Katelyn could ever imagine. It's a town with a history that reaches back centuries, spans continents, and conceals terrifying truths. It's a town full of werewolves.

An Excerpt fromUnleashed

1 I can fly.
Katelyn Claire McBride was the girl on the flying trapeze. Her sun-streaked blond hair streamed behind her as she soared above the crowd on the Mexican cloud swing. Thick stage makeup concealed her freckles, scarlet smudging her mouth, which she had always thought was too cupid-cutesy. Smoky ash-gray kohl ringed her light blue eyes. The soaring melody of “Alegría” moved through her like blood. Music gave her life. Movement gave her a soul.
She had made it. After years of sweat, blisters, pulled muscles, and sprains, she was finally performing in the Cirque du Soleil. Far below, in the massive audience, her mother looked on with her dad, their fingers entwined. Their faces shone with pride and maybe just a few hundred watts of suppressed parental fear.
Like all performers, Katelyn was a chameleon. Away from the spotlight, she was a tanned California girl who preferred Indian-print camisoles, jeweled flip-flops, and big sunglasses decorated with flowers. But now she looked like a dramatic flamenco dancer . . . and much older than sixteen. She wore a black beaded leotard trimmed with stiff silver lace. A black lace choker encircled her neck, and in the center, a large red stone carved to look like a rose nestled in silver filigree.
The Mexican cloud swing was Katelyn’s specialty, and she pumped her legs back and forth as she sat in the V created by the two long pieces of white braided cotton fibers. A kind of crazy mania worked its way through her as she breathed deeply, preparing herself for her last trick—her death-defying escape from gravity.
I’m the only one here who can fly!
She swung higher, then grabbed the rope dangling from the complicated overhead rigging and, with practiced circular motions of her foot, looped it around her right ankle. The familiar texture of the cotton rubbed against the toughened skin. She looked delicate, but like all dancers and gymnasts, she was made of muscle.
Cool air expanded her lungs as she leaped, arching like a swimmer and grabbing the V as it went taut. Gracefully she held the pose as applause washed over her. Scarlet rose petals showered her from overhead, high in the rigging, and at the crescendo, she defiantly let go. Thrusting back her arms, she raised her chin, ignoring the forbidden camera flashes. Fearless. Of course she was.
Yet gasps changed to screams as she plummeted down, down, headfirst, air rushing past. In that split second, her joy flashed into panic.
The net’s gone!
The ground rushed up and she flailed wildly.
I’m going to die!
Then the floor split open. From the deep, jagged fissure, flames shot up, straight at her. The heat slapped her face as she kept falling, straight into hell—
“Katie, Katie, oh, my God, wake up!” her mother shouted into her ear.
Katelyn’s eyes flew open and just as quickly squeezed shut. Coughing, she opened them again. Half-smothered in smoke, she was lying on the sofa in the TV room, and her right arm was slung over her mom’s wiry shoulder. The Art Deco floor lamp behind the sofa tumbled light over the rolling layers of smoke. The feet of the sofa rattled like a machine gun against the hardwood floor; the plaster ceiling was breaking off in chunks. Her mom was wearing her old Japanese bathrobe—nothing else.
“Earthquake,” Katelyn slurred. Her gymnastics coach had given her something to take for the swelling and pain after she had twisted her ankle in practice, and it had knocked her out.
“Alors, vite!” Her mom was losing it, screaming at her in French to hurry. She yanked on Katelyn’s arm, then draped her across her back like a firefighter and began to straighten her legs. Katelyn slid off, grabbing her mother’s wrist, trying to fan the smoke away as she doubled over, coughing.
Clinging to each other, the two staggered through the acrid haze. Katelyn knew she was holding her mother back. She was slow—still not entirely awake because of the painkiller—and incredibly dizzy. She stepped on something hot, searing her instep, one of the few places on her feet not protected by calluses. The room shook and swayed. The lamp fell over, throwing light against the portraits of her mother, the famed ballerina Giselle Chevalier, as they jittered against the cracking walls and crashed to the floor.
“Get under the doorjamb!” her mom yelled.
Katelyn was so disoriented that she couldn’t remember the layout of the living room. For a moment she froze, foggy and confused. Her knees buckled and her mother clung to her, keeping her from collapsing completely.
The room was exploding around them. Katelyn fought hard to make herself move, to wake up. Her lungs were ­burning.
The lights went out. Then her mother moaned and let go of Katelyn’s hand.
Katelyn swayed, reaching out into the darkness for her mother and stumbling forward. Her toes collided with something soft. Her mother’s face. Then something hard: a huge chunk of plaster, on top of her mother’s head.
Katelyn dropped to the floor and threw herself over her mother’s still form.
Her mother groaned. “My darling, run,” she managed to say.
Then the floor opened up.
And Giselle Chevalier was gone.

Two weeks later Katelyn was on a very small jet and swathed in black. Black leotard top, black wrap sweater, jeans, and riding boots that were a little too snug around the calves. She wasn’t wearing makeup and the black washed her out. She looked how she felt—drained and half dead. It was better than shrieking with grief—or having another nightmare. She counted off the last three: a repeat of falling to her death in the Cirque du Soleil; dancing the Black Swan in Swan Lake as the roof of the theater crashed down on top of her; and bursting into flames as she carried the Olympic torch for the USA gymnastics team. Her best friend, Kimi Brandao, told her it was survivor’s guilt and to get over it—Giselle Chevalier would have been glad her daughter survived . . . even if she herself had not.
Blinking back tears, Katelyn hunched her aching shoulders. She was trapped up against the window. Unfortunately, the purple overnight bag containing her iPhone, which Kimi had helped her load with music for the journey, was stuffed into the overhead compartment three rows away.
She had figured she could get it once they were airborne, but then the guy on the aisle had made the woman next to her straddle him in an effort to escape the row and use the rest­room. Katelyn had decided to stay put. She wasn’t about to straddle anyone. So she sat and tried very hard to ignore the man and woman sitting next to her.
“Jack Bronson is a genius,” the man was saying to the woman, who grimaced politely at him as she clutched her e-reader with her French-manicured nails. Everything about her body language screamed that she wanted him to shut up. “I’m going to his seminar. Actually, it’s more like a retreat. For executives.”
The man puffed up a little. He had thin, mousy brown hair and he was a bit on the jowly side. He didn’t look like he was from Los Angeles. In L.A. executives worked out. A lot of them even got plastic surgery. Image was more than half the battle.
“You need to embrace the wolf side of your nature.” He flushed slightly, as if he just realized he’d said something risqué. “I mean, to achieve your goals.”
A pause. “What is the wolf side?” the woman asked with a slight Southern accent, and Katelyn couldn’t tell if she was curious or just trying to humor a stranger.
“It’s the side that knows no fear, that sees what it wants and goes after it.” He leaned toward her with a lecherous smile. Blech. “Committing completely to the goal.”
Blech to the nth degree.
Maybe that was why Katelyn was stuck on the airplane. She hadn’t fully committed to the goal of emancipation. Ultimately her grandfather had refused to let her stay in Los ­Angeles—to try to live her life on her own. She had just started her senior year and would be seventeen in one day shy of six weeks, but that hadn’t mattered to him. He said sixteen was too young. Blindsided with grief, she had caved without protest, even though Kimi had begged her to stay. Kimi’s mom, an attorney, had offered to help her petition the court for ­emancipation—or at the very least, let her spend senior year living with them.

Under the Cover