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Ravenous Predator: A Dark Mafia Shifter Romance by Piper Stone – Sample

Chapter One



Some say the moment is sweet, but in my world, the reality of seeking it, hunting down the perpetrator like the true predator I was had become toxic. I wanted more. I craved more.

I had several reasons to shift away from my humanity, becoming a monster. The last few months had dug into my skin like claws of a dragon, pulling away at my moral fibers. There wasn’t a human alive who hadn’t experienced the darkness dwelling within, intense cravings lurking for the right moment we’d forgo everything we’d been taught as children.

To honor and respect.

That life was precious.

That evil would only result in prolonging whatever tragedy or betrayal we’d been forced to endure.

But I was becoming less of a man, my humanity breached more than once, the challenge of dragging it back to the surface no longer palatable. My beast was clawing at the surface, ready to strike over and over again, sinking his canines into the flesh of a single man. The hunger burned within me, pushing me to the point of no return. Soon, I would lose all control.

And I would enjoy every minute of my revenge.


There was nothing like the taste of it in my mouth, the coppery sweetness and slight tang invigorating my senses as it slid down the back of my throat. I’d enjoyed sinking my teeth into flesh and bone more over the last few months than I’d ever imagined, savoring the flavor then later rinsing it down with a nice glass of scotch.

At least I’d refrained from killing innocent humans.

Hunting in the darkness had always felt so freeing, providing the ability to shed all the bullshit day to day strife and anxiety about my financial holdings or which enemy was planning another attack. My gut told me all that was about to change.

Light mist covered the dense terrain of the small section of forest, every scent more intoxicating given the heavy dew. I took a deep whiff, savoring the moment, but patience would be needed.

For now.

There was a feast waiting for consumption, creatures large and small who could never outrun a wolf, especially an alpha. The stench of the world surrounding the pristine area was strong, a constant reminder of my humanity.




And a hint of the sweetest perfume, the lovely fragrance created from roses and jasmine, honeysuckle and cinnamon. My mouth watered just thinking about the beautiful creature who would wear something so stimulating.

What would happen if the innocent humans found out that I was a creature of the night, capable of vile deeds? What if they knew I could kill them in their sleep, slicing through tendons and bones without exertion?

Would they run screaming from me into the night? Or would they succumb, surrendering to me body and soul?


The feeling furrowed inside my body, festering like a sore oozing its poison all throughout my system. The desire to feed continued to build to the point it was becoming more and more difficult to control my carnal longings. I was nothing but a beast, no longer a man forced to endure a curse but a flesh-eating monster who had the capability of destroying an entire family without questioning my needs.

A bead of sweat appeared at my hairline, another disgusting reminder that I would need to surrender to my primal hunger tonight. I took a deep breath, fisting my hands as visions of the last hunt rushed into my mind.





As I licked my dry lips, I did what I could to shove aside my wolf, snarling under my breath so my Capo wouldn’t become concerned. I had a job to do. I continued to envision the forest near my house, my favorite place to hunt. My excursions used to be once every other month. Now they were every other night. Soon, I would need more.


As I climbed out of the rented Escalade, I rolled my tongue over my slightly exposed canines, piercing the tissue. The taste of blood filled my mouth, my stomach rumbling in response.

Sadly, until my work was completed there would be no such satisfaction. I was here for one objective.


But later I would feed, indulging in a feast meant for a king. I took a deep breath, holding the glorious scents in my mouth. Let every human in the city be afraid. Very afraid.

A wolf was coming…

“You’re certain we’re in the right place?” I asked, shaking my head given the location.

“Oh, yeah. I’m sure. Worthless bastard,” Wally said gruffly under his breath, already prepared for a fight.

I tossed him a look, buttoning my suit jacket as I scanned the perimeter of the street. While it was early in the morning, four a.m. to be exact, there was always activity in this part of Philadelphia. I slowly shifted my heated gaze to the third floor of the aging brownstone, content with the fact there were no lights on in the small apartment. Located over a twenty-four-hour laundromat, the place was convenient however unsafe the neighborhood.

My world was all about control. Controlling the dozens of soldiers working for my organization, both legal and illegal. Controlling the enemies, bastards who attempted on a regular basis to bring down my empire as well as my family’s dynasty. Controlling the streets and all the little people who’d requested protection from the everyday riffraff of criminals who’d previously threatened them.

And I was damn good at it.

My family’s power had evolved over several generations, my four brothers controlling different areas throughout the country while I handled Philadelphia. My success in shipping, real estate, and import-export had garnered me wealth beyond my means, my legitimate businesses poised to surpass the illegal activities. There were few Mafioso families who could challenge us, although several had tried over the years.

Sadly, those involved with organized crime, no matter how powerful they’d deemed themselves to be, weren’t our number one enemy any longer.

Time had taken care of that. Time and a vindictive curse placed on my entire family over a hundred years before, the high priestess of dark voodoo still playing a vicious game long after her death.

Sighing, I waited until my Capo closed the door, both of us moving to the sidewalk. Wally had been with me for almost five years. While I trusted him implicitly, he was far too savage, which said something given my reputation for brutality preceded me everywhere I went.

“We’re here to find out the reason why,” I said quietly, although my ultimate decision would depend on what Travis had to tell me. The kid was brilliant, the kind of man who made computer technology look easy. He’d given me a crash course in ways of expanding my businesses, better able to keep control over the organizational needs as well as details to keep enemies from hacking into our system. His expertise also included the financial aspect of my organization, a program he’d designed providing a quick portfolio of all my various accounts, including those handled offshore within seconds.

I credited him for increasing my wealth an additional seventeen percent in the last year, making me the wealthiest man up and down the East Coast.

Then he’d stolen from me.

My mother had always told me that if something looked too good to be true then it usually was. I should have paid more attention to the bottom-line financials, the scraps of money that could easily disappear without being noticed. I had to know for certain whether Travis had betrayed me. I wanted to look the pipsqueak of a man directly in the whites of his eyes and have him try to deny stealing from me. I’d easily be able to tell if the fucker was lying.

And if he was?

Then I would likely add to my nasty reputation, making an example out of him. And I really didn’t want to do that. I’d been in such a good mood lately.

“Did you hear about the brutal murders in the city?” he asked.

Brutal murders. They were increasing, dozens of cities across the United States and into Canada reporting an uptick in what most called animal attacks and they were right. Wolves had surrounded cities and suburbs, hunting humans for sport as well as food.

And it was only going to get worse.

“I’ve heard. They have nothing to do with us.” My answer was a lie, but one I continued to perpetuate to keep order amongst the ranks. Only a few of my men had been brought into the inner circle, privy to the fact I was a Lycan. They certainly didn’t need to fear their commander.

“If you say so, boss. What about the lying sack of shit?” Wally hissed, his hand already wrapped around his weapon.

I placed the back of my hand against the man’s chest, shaking my head. “We don’t make an unnecessary scene. Understood? We’re going to… talk to Travis.”

“Yes, boss.”

His reluctance to back down was another thing I respected about the man, but his hair-trigger actions had nearly gotten some of my men killed.

I glanced into the empty laundromat before heading into the second entrance, the narrow stairs creaky as hell. I wasn’t certain how anyone could live in a shithole of a space like this when they could afford more luxurious accommodations, but Travis was a one-of-a-kind kid, saving every penny he made, investing most of his earnings into stock options. He’d even given me some tips along the way, adding more money to the coffers.

I didn’t bother knocking, just kicking in the door, then taking long strides through the four rooms, finding him in his bedroom slumped over a computer. I flipped on the desk lamp, laughing softly under my breath. The kid needed to get a life. Hell, he needed sun on his face.

Wally placed his massive hand on Travis’s shoulder, jerking him back.

“What?” Travis whimpered, immediately reaching for his glasses, yanked out of a restless slumber.

I allowed my junior accountant to slide the wire frames onto his face before I leaned over. His eyes opened wide the moment he realized who was standing in front of him.

“Oh, God. Mr. D,” he huffed.

He was the single person in my world that I allowed to call me something other than Mr. Dupree, sir, or boss. Actually, I kind of liked the moniker.

“It would seem you’ve been a very bad boy,” I said quietly as I placed my foot between his legs on the rung of the chair.

He shifted his gaze to Wally then back to me, sweat already starting to break out across his forehead. “Wa… What do you mean?”

“Let’s not play games. You are well aware money is missing from several of my accounts. Aren’t you?”

Swallowing hard, he chewed on his lower lip. While the kid had always been the nervous type, he was more rattled than ever before, which usually indicated guilt but, in his case, I had a feeling he wasn’t the person responsible for stealing from me. “I… I was trying to find out where it went. I swear to God on my mother’s grave.”

“Son, your mother would have to be dead in order to make that statement and from what you’ve told me, she’s very happy living in a retirement home in Florida.”

He laughed nervously, shifting enough in his chair that Wally wrapped his hand around the kid’s shirt collar, holding him in place. “I was just trying to show you something. That’s all.”

I nodded to Wally, lifting an eyebrow when my Capo didn’t immediately release the kid. “Then show me. All I know is that at least seventy thousand dollars is missing collectively from several of my accounts.”

Travis grinned, his eyes twinkling. “You were paying attention. Good for you, Mr. D.”

The young man either had balls the size of melons or he couldn’t understand the gravity of the situation.

No one stole from me and lived.

When I didn’t say anything, Travis reacted immediately, pressing the space bar on his computer and allowing his fingers to fly. “I thought I developed a hack-free program, but there are some brilliant assholes out there,” he said as he moved from screen to screen.

“So you’re saying our system has been hacked,” I growled.

“That’s exactly what I’m saying, although the dude is really good. I mean the best of the best. See here. You can’t tell that the numbers were doctored, but if you go to this page,” he continued, doing a split screen in order to show me what he was talking about, “the numbers are different, but only by a small amount. The average joe wouldn’t notice the discrepancy unless they had their books audited.”

“When did you notice something was wrong?” I asked, moving away from his chair to allow him full access.

He shrugged, although I could tell by his expression that he knew the exact date and time. “A couple, three days ago.”

“You should have brought it to the boss’s attention,” Wally barked.

“I thought I could locate the source. You know, become a hero,” Travis countered, and he actually believed what he was saying.

“Have you found the person responsible?” I pushed.

Travis swallowed several times, a nervous tic appearing in the corner of his mouth. “Na… No, Mr. D. I thought I was getting close but whoever is doing it is damn good. No signature, a switch in how they’re handling the money every time. I managed to track a couple transactions for a blip of an eye, then they were gone. And I could swear the person is turning the stolen funds into bitcoin.” He laughed, obviously admiring the hacker’s work. “Anyway, hackers usually leave a calling card.”

“A what?” Wally demanded.

“A calling card. You know, taking credit for their work. They use a fake name, like a handle and they brag about their successes on the dark web,” Travis said quickly, more animated than I’d seen him in a long time.

“The dark web?” I asked, my patience wearing thin.

He nodded several times. “Put plainly, it’s a location on the internet that isn’t accessible by search engines. You need an anonymizing browser to access it.” Travis glanced from Wally to me, still animated. “You know, a place with a lot of illicit and criminal activities. That’s where hackers go to brag. There are even some chat rooms dedicated to the adventures of hackers. But this dude is cagey, refusing to take credit. Maybe he doesn’t know who you are because I assure you if he did, he’d be all over the dark web shouting it out to the world.”

“And you have access to this freaking dark web?” I gave him a stern look. The thought was disgusting but I had to admit that it gave me a few ideas in the back of my mind, devious ones that I’d have to think about before I put anything in motion.

Now he seemed embarrassed. “Yes, Mr. D. I make it my business to stay up to date on the various criminals.”

“A regular entrepreneur,” Wally snorted.

Sighing, I sat on the edge of his desk, rubbing my jaw as I thought about how to handle the situation. While I believed he wasn’t the person who’d stolen the money, the fact remained that he was responsible for allowing that to happen as the program designer.

I should kill him without hesitation, but he had me in a bind, being perhaps the only person who could find the asshole responsible for stealing my money. I took a deep breath, fisting my hand as a sharp pain erupted behind my eyes.

Then a flash entered my mind, a vision that caught me off guard.

A woman.

Not just any woman.

My mate.

What the hell?

A beautiful vibrant woman appeared like a beacon of light. I’d seen her before in my dreams, but not to this extent. Goddamn it. I didn’t need this shit right now.

I hadn’t been searching for anyone, even though my species depended on locating my fated mate, just like my brothers had been forced to do. I rubbed my forehead as I closed my eyes, the vibrant images slamming into my mind, my muscles tensing.

“Remove your clothes,” I growled, the darkness unable to prevent me from capturing the look in her eyes. She was terrified of the beast standing in front of her.

As she should be.

“No,” she hissed, immediately shifting toward the knife she’d positioned on the table.

Reacting quickly, I grabbed the handle of the blade, flicking it back and forth in front of her. “I suggest you learn to obey me.”

“Never.” She smacked her hand against my chest, gasping the second I sliced the blade from the bodice of her dress all the way down. Even though she clutched at both sides, doing everything she could to hide her luscious body from my view, she failed. I jerked the remnants from her, tossing them away then yanking her arms over her head.

“You’ve met your match,” I growled as I captured her breast with one hand, pinching her fully aroused nipple between my fingers. “Now, I’m going to devour you.” As I slid my hand between her legs, she moaned, the sound invigorating. When I thrust my fingers past her swollen folds, I threw my head back and howled.

Jesus Christ.

The vision was far too real. I took a deep breath, the vibrant images slowly fading away. I’d had far too many moments where my reality had been yanked away, replaced by unwanted hallucinations, or so I’d thought that’s what they’d been. Only tonight, the pictures made my cock hard. A few seconds later, I snapped my head toward my employee, able to rid myself of the vile thoughts.

The ridiculous images reminded me of a recent phone call with my mother and her reminder that I needed to find the love of my life. Love. Dupree men didn’t fall in love, not that I’d ever considered it or given a shit. We weren’t allowed to nurture something special. At first it had been because of our position in society. Our father had wanted us to appear normal, whatever that meant. The truth was we were dangerous, brutal men. There wasn’t a woman alive who would want to become a part of our worlds.

Then everything had changed.

Now we were required to find mates. It didn’t matter if we liked the woman or not. We would simply take her as our possession, forcing her to surrender to our wants and needs. That much I could handle, even if I loathed the concept of mating to my soul.

“I like you, Travis. I always have. You’re a good kid, even if you don’t have much of a life. So, here’s what I’m going to do. You’re going to hunt down this hacker no matter how you do it. You have forty-eight hours to do so.”

Travis’s lower lip quivered. “What if I can’t do that?”

I lowered my head by several inches. “Then I’ll be forced to place you solely responsible for the crime. And you won’t like what happens if I do. Are you clear? Do you need me to explain it for you again?”

He shook his head over and over again. “No, sir.”

Now he decided to call me ‘sir.’ Unfortunately, sucking up wasn’t going to go very far. “Good boy. Very good boy. I’ll let you get back to work. I’ll expect a full report from you very soon.” Several thoughts entered my mind, a way of handling our ultimate enemy. Maybe it could work.

As I moved away, a smile crossed my face. If the hacker could be found, the two of them would make a very powerful team. There wouldn’t be a single computer system that couldn’t be hacked, especially those belonging to the Dupree family enemies, including the direct descendant of the woman who’d cursed our entire family. If that became possible, we would hold the ultimate in power.

After that, no one would fuck with us again.

As I walked outside, I took a deep breath, holding it in my lungs.

Then a sharp pain slammed into my system, brutal and biting.

I stumbled forward, using the roof of the SUV to steady me.

What the fuck.



A stench.


Then I could swear I heard screams, the sound so loud I was forced to place my hands over my ears. Pain rushed into every cell and muscle, every second the anguish becoming more debilitating.

I jerked forward, struggling to remain standing. More images.

A brutal vision but it was foggy.

Doubling over, I could no longer catch my breath, the stench overpowering, coppery and disgusting, clinging to my lungs.




I dragged my tongue across my lips as the stink suddenly became the sweetest fragrance on Earth. I clawed at the SUV, my nails digging into the paint. I could feel the powdered substance under my fingernails. With another hard push, I managed to shove my body away and into the street, the streetlight blinding. I tossed my head from side to side, lifting my arms to hide the glare.

As a continuous shimmer of light flashed across my hands, my hazy mind was able to capture what I was seeing.


I was shifting without any control, my wolf seeking the surface.

My beast hungrier than he’d ever been.

Panting, I lumbered into the street, trying to find refuge in the darkness as the wretched visions continued. A massacre. Blood everywhere. Humans. Bodies.

My God, I was famished. Feast. Food.

Yes, I would have it. I would take what I wanted.

Another growl erupted into the night, the uncontrollable shift continuing. There was nothing I could do, my control ripped away. My body arced, the wave of agony forcing an ugly scream from my mouth.

I was no longer human.

Feed. You must feed.

When I heard human laughter, I almost lost what was left of my humanity, lunging for the innocent victims. Using what was left of my strength, I struggled but bounded across the street, hitting the edge of the brick building. Nothing would stop my wolf from surfacing.

I made it into the alley, dropping on all fours. Then I threw back my head, issuing a keening bellow as my snout erupted from the middle of my face.

God help me.

No, God help all humans…

Chapter Two



The sound came from the shadows, the second growl I’d heard in the last two minutes. I refused to look over my shoulder. The last thing I wanted to do was to give the asshole trying to scare me credence. In fact, a part of me wanted to egg him on, continue walking past my apartment into one of the dark alleys, waiting until he jumped me. Then the poor fucker would realize within seconds that he’d attacked the wrong chick.

It wouldn’t matter his size or the kind of weapon he wielded. I’d kick his ass in a matter of seconds. Most women would begin to panic at this point, especially given the lateness of the hour and the fact almost no one was out this late at night. Or maybe I should call it early in the morning. I did some of my best work after the sun went down and all the little city dwellers thought they were safely tucked away in their beds.

Fear of the unknown, a horrible experience.

Almost everyone I knew always gave in to their fears. For me, the addictiveness of adventure was something I’d always craved. They called me an adrenaline junkie, the kind of girl who laughed danger in the face. Some would say it was because of my military training, but I knew better. I’d been born with the gene. My mother told me it would get me killed some day. At least I would die with a smile on my face.

Oh, what the hell. I couldn’t fucking resist taunting the pricks.

I turned, laughing as I hunkered over, issuing my own growl in the night. “Come on, you fucker. Come get me.” I beckoned with my hand, which was ridiculous, and I knew it. When the asshole didn’t have the balls to come out of the shadows, I returned to my full height. The poor dumb jerk had no idea that my hands were considered lethal weapons.

Be careful. Just be careful.

While I usually listened to my inner voice, I was so much on edge that very little fazed me any longer. Not pain. Not danger. Not fear.

Just anger.

And tonight, I was furious with life in general.

Besides, I had a feeling I knew who the hell was following me, keeping tabs. They weren’t here to provide pain, just annoy the crap out of me. What was wrong with giving it back to them?

After waiting for a full thirty seconds, I started to whistle, turning around and continuing my path. I had incredible senses, and had since I was a child: better than 20/20 vision and the ability to hear a pin drop from across a room.

Finally, I heard a strange noise, one that was difficult to describe, like fingernails scratching down the surface of a blackboard.

Like claws shifting against the concrete sidewalk.

Where the hell did that come from?

A flash, a vision rushed into my mind. I was frozen for a few seconds as the scene unfolded like a movie.

“You can’t run from me, Suzette. You belong to me.”

“I don’t belong to anyone,” I yelled over my shoulder as I continued to race into the woods. He was following me. No, it was following me. My legs pumping, I powered on, ignoring the cracking tree limbs and the animalistic bellows only a few yards away. Run. Just run. Keep running.

“I’m coming for you, my love.”

The sound echoed in my ears. I could no longer catch my breath, my heart racing. Terror swept through me, like claws wrapped around my neck. I refused to stop, blocking out the beast’s growls. Then the ugly sounds seemed to fade away. I threw another look over my shoulder, unable to see anything but the blackness of the thick forest.

Panting, I zigged and zagged then burst through the dense trees into a clearing, the momentum driving me forward by several feet. When I heard waves crashing against a shoreline, I managed to jerk to a stop just seconds before flying off the craggy edge. Panting, a series of shivers raced throughout my body, and I almost lost my balance, pitching over the side. A moan escaped my lips and I backed away, shaken to the core. The ocean was hundreds of yards below, sharp rocks outlined in the bright moonlight.

I had to turn around. There was nowhere else to go. I bit back another cry then jerked toward the other direction, skidding to a stop.

The beast stood only a few feet away, his glorious onyx fur glistening in the moonlight. After pawing the ground, he lifted his head, issuing a keening growl as his eyes pierced mine.

His crimson eyes were rimmed in gold.

The imagery was vivid, forcing me to a direct hard stop as I tried to catch my breath. I’d had visions before, but mostly as dreams and nothing so real, so… alive. I laughed nervously, my hand shaking as I slid it through my hair, realizing I had a single bead of perspiration trickling down from my hairline. This was stupid. It was time to get home. I moved quickly at first until I realized I was fearful because of a stupid little vision? That was crazy.

I shoved my hands into my pockets, slowing my gait until I was sauntering instead of walking in long strides like I usually did. If one of the asshole’s goons was following me, I was ready for them. As I startled to whistle, I felt a hell of a lot better. I was playing with fire, but I was in the mood to provide a good ass whooping. It had been far too long since I’d been allowed to do so. I gave my mind permission to wander to that time as I moved around the corner, headed for my place.

Not since a single barroom brawl two months after I’d gotten out of the military. That had been almost three years before. Damn, time flew when you weren’t having fun. I snickered under my breath, stopping just long enough to listen for any sounds the fucker was following me. Hearing nothing, I shrugged, almost disappointed he’d lost interest.

I had work to do anyway, a goal to obtain, and I never backed down after establishing my objective. A few seconds later, my apartment building came into view. Maybe I’d have a drink tonight to celebrate the recent successes. I deserved that at least. The moment I placed my foot on the bottom step of the brownstone, I heard the sound again, only this time, it was coming from directly behind me.

The sound deep and dark, I immediately sensed real danger.


I’d heard many a man growl, whistle, cackle, bellow, and moan in ecstasy, but the sound I heard was entirely different. It was… savage, like from an animal. A very hungry animal. There were stray dogs everywhere, but my keen senses told me this was no dog.

I’d left the house without my weapon, which wasn’t like me. Even though I could wrestle a man to the ground, my training allowing me to snap his neck within seconds, the bowels of Chicago had become dog-eat-dog in certain areas, gunfights an almost everyday occurrence. It paid to be cautious. I hoisted the small bag of groceries to my other hand, the twenty-four-hour location my preferred place to shop for my favorite treats, and grabbed my keys from my pocket.

Even though I could bound up the stairs in two seconds, the problem would be getting my key into the old-fashioned lock before the animal struck. Plus, the creature would have me at a disadvantage. Might as well charge him, trying to scare the little shit away. I turned and did just that, lunging forward with a keening growl of my own.

Then I stopped short at the edge of the sidewalk, peering out into the darkness. The creature was definitely out there and hadn’t moved and wasn’t scared in the least by my actions. While the beast made no advances, he did release a low rumbling growl that cut through me like a knife, my blood curdling.

That wasn’t the worst of the situation. As I stared into the blackness, I could see the creature’s eyes.

And they were red, rimmed in gold.

There was no way what I was seeing was like the dream.

I had to be seeing things. Maybe the lack of sleep over the last few nights was the reason. Shit. Was I hallucinating? Against all my extensive training with the Navy Seals, I closed my eyes, counting to three. When I opened them again, I took a deep breath. There was no sign of the mysterious beast.

“You’re losing it, girl. Time for a vacation,” I whispered to myself as I backed away, bounding up the stairs and jamming my key into the lock. My hackles remained raised, but at least I wasn’t ripped to shreds by sharp claws. I laughed softly, darting a look over my shoulder through the all-glass door. There was no movement whatsoever.

Exhaling, I headed for my apartment, grateful when I was inside behind a locked door. It was time to forget about the walk and get to my job. I tossed my favorite cookies onto my makeshift desk, the six-foot table I’d purchased from a big box store suiting my needs, then moved into the kitchen to put away the other items. After making a drink, I retired in front of my three computers, touching the space bars on all of them, then taking a deep breath as my world was ignited.

I tore open the cookies, shoving two into my mouth, wiping the crumbs on my jeans as I munched then took a gulp of my whiskey. Tonight was going to be a very good and highly profitable night. I deemed it so.


I’d flirted with the understanding of what it meant my entire life, constantly tiptoeing around the thought of right versus wrong. However, I’d finally crossed the threshold, a line that I knew could never be walked across again to the other side.

I’d become the kind of criminal that I’d hated my entire life, fighting against it for years in the Navy. But I’d had no choice. None. It was either shove aside every ounce of morality or lose something that was precious to me.

The only tether remaining to my past.

As I allowed my fingers to fly on the keyboard, shifting from one account to the other, I was very careful not to leave a trail behind me. I watched as the dollars in my four bank accounts began to increase, more excited than I’d been in a long time. I’d amassed a fortune over the last six months, more so that I would have been able to accomplish if I’d stayed on with the government. While I’d learned a lot while working there, able to use my extensive knowledge about computers, programming, and the internet as I searched for hackers, it had been boring with no possible chance to achieve my goals.

Now I was the master of my own regime, improving my financial standing in the world. Plus, there wasn’t a computer I couldn’t hack into. This wasn’t about making a statement or stopping the world economy. This was entirely personal. I also enjoyed what I was doing while building my wealth. Although… it was about time I left my calling card, building my reputation as well. I might as well put the fear of God into people.

I took another sip, contemplating if I was doing the right thing. I had to be very careful because leaving any indication of who I was meant I was entering into the danger zone.

After a few seconds, I snickered. What the hell. You only lived once, right? Plus, I’d saved the best for last. Hacking into the computer system of the most notorious, dangerous mafia leader on the East Coast was risky as hell. However, I couldn’t stand what the fucker stood for. Maybe I was infusing a few of my beliefs into my work. Hmmm… As I moved through the man’s accounts, I decided to be bolder than ever, grabbing more money than I’d done the previous six times I’d hacked the system.

When the transactions were completed, I swiveled in my chair, folding my arms behind my head. “Do I, don’t I?” After a few seconds, I tapped my fingers onto the table then laughed. “You go, girl.”

Devil Dog.

I left a signature for the very first time.

Let’s see if some smart asshole could figure that one out.

I clicked off the computers then polished off my drink. It was time for bed. My net earnings of the night?

Four hundred seventy-six thousand, nine hundred twenty-two dollars and change.

A damn good night.

As I stood, the hair on the back of my neck stood up. I moved toward the window that overlooked the street below. I allowed a ragged breath to escape, my heart racing.

The creature was there, his red eyes piercing mine.

Then he moved out of the darkness until the ugly glow of the streetlight showered over him for a brief few seconds.

And I would swear on my mother’s grave the beast was one huge black wolf.

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