Shy's stalled relationship with Meat, her alpha liger shape-shifter boyfriend, seems defunct, her teleportation abilities appear more miss than hit, and her twin boys are clamoring for a father. If her life wasn't complicated enough, her boss throws in his bid as a potential date, she's kidnapped by a snow monster while visiting the clothing-optional Yeti resort, and finds herself leading a rescue mission to save her former boyfriend's sister from an overly determined shape-shifter.
To top matters off, a shaman drops a bombshell on her world by informing her of a new magical talent she didn't realize she had. She grapples with the life-altering decision until disaster strikes.
Will love win out over the vast species differences between Shy and Meat? Can she make the right decision and save not only their relationship, but his life as well?
CONTENT ADVISORY: As part of a serial/long arc work, this book depends upon reading earlier works in the serial before this installment.
I stood up, arching my back to stretch out stiff muscles. Weeding the garden and flower beds might not be considered exercise, but obviously no one mentioned that to my protesting body. The unusually warm early spring day cajoled even the most homebound person out into the bright warm sunshine.
"What's that on your legs?" Bas asked from the nearby front porch. He'd slept in that morning after coming in quite late from another assignment. Yet his short black hair fell perfectly into place, and his snug fitting T-shirt and jeans outlined his impressive body without a single wrinkle or speck of lint.
Bas carried black panther genetics and worked for the same company as I did. The Peace Protection Division. While I held a gopher position, otherwise known as an executive assistant, Bas worked in the special ops area of the Enforcers. We'd run into one another a few times and clicked as friends. After a particularly violent skirmish, he showed up wounded at my house. I cared for him and fed him. Like a true stray cat, he stayed. Bas adopted me. Or, more accurately, we adopted each other. Though late to the role, he embraced big brotherhood with enthusiasm and dedication, playing the part of protector, advisor, and instigator to the max.
Looking down, I stared at the said extremities, searching frantically for anything crawly and icky. My faded pink cloth shorts covered everything from mid-thigh up. Bare skin existed from that point to my matching pink socks and shoes.
Not finding anything, I turned my attention back to him. "Huh? I don't see anything." Bending over, I did another quick appraisal, just in case.
He shook his head and pointed. "Is that hair?"
I scrunched my face into a frown and glanced back at him. "Yeah, so? You have hair on your legs too. It's natural. It's a mammal thing, you know."
A couple of long strides later, he navigated the front porch steps to stand at the edge of the flowerbed I currently stood in.
His brow arched, his arms crossed over his chest before he asked, "Defense mechanism against men?"
I blinked. "What? No. I'm not trying to scare men away by having hairy legs. Jeez."
"Then why haven't you shaved?"
I shrugged. Who knew a couple of weeks without using a razor would stir up such issues. "I've been busy. Besides, it's not like anyone is going to see them." His mouth opened, but I talked over him. "Don't worry. Before I dare wear shorts in public, I'll shave. I'm not entirely a slob."
"When will that be?
" "I don't know. When we run out of food or cleaning items, I guess."
"No. That's not what I meant." He shifted his weight, those dark eyes piercing into mine. "I meant, when are you going to get back to trying to curry men's attention and actually date one?"
I had managed to deflect this conversation for the past couple of weeks. Now, the obstinate brother had me trapped and appeared determined to grill me about hairy legs and lack of a man in my life. Just what I wanted to deal with... not.
I bent back over, wrapping my fingers around a henbit weed, and began to tug it out of the ground. Maybe if I ignored the overgrown housecat...
"Shyanne." The name rumbled in warning from his chest, sending the hairs on the back of my neck standing at attention.
"Overbearing mule," I muttered under my breath.
"I heard that."
"I meant for you to." With a sigh, I stood up again, deciding avoiding this conversation fell into the impossible category. "Look. I'm not sure what I want or where I stand with Meat."
"I tried." Goodness knows I'd tried. Initially, I stared at the phone, then would punch in part of his number before hanging up. After forty-eight hours, I gathered enough courage up to dial his cell number; each time it rolled over to phone voice mail. I left three messages over a two day period of time. That was just over seven days ago, and I still hadn't heard from him.
Bas uncrossed his arms, his gaze flicked across the front yard before settling back on me. "It's time you move on. I believe the saying goes 'there are other fish in the sea.'" He spoke quietly and gently, yet the message came across like a bulldozer.
"Yeah, well. Easier said than done." I turned to gingerly step over emerging tulips and day lilies to the next section of weeds. I went about my task, hoping my silence would drive my meddlesome brother away. Unfortunately, luck had abandoned me long ago.
With the fragile peace between humans, vampires, and shifters on a slippery fence, the leaders of all groups came together years ago and created the Peace Protection Division. Enforcers were hired from all varieties of genetic carrying people in order to crack down on inter-species violence. Wills, my husband, also an Enforcer with the PPD, died in the line of duty. For four long years, the company listed him as MIA, leaving me hanging without closure. Until one night, the local vampire king told me the truth. My husband was gone. Forever. I, Shyanne McDaniel, became a widow at the ripe old age of twenty-five.
After Wills' MIA status, I was devastated, being left with newborn twin sons. With great support and encouragement, I managed to pull my life back together and make steps forward, including enrolling in college classes. A research paper for psychology class on human interaction sent me stumbling into a strip club. There, I met Meat, a liger alpha shifter and the new man in my life. Ten days ago, I blurted out some information I had overheard in a private conversation, which put me on a vampire's menu, a female shifter's death list, and sent my boyfriend, the second man I ever loved, packing.
"You might want to shave those legs. There's a box with a new dress on your bed. Be ready by six." He spun and began to walk back toward the house.
I sputtered in shock. "What? Wait. What did you say?"
He paused long enough to turn around and flash a wicked grin, full of fang and mischief. "Don't be late. We're going out on the town, and you don't want people to think you're a rag mop, right?"
Before I could protest, he disappeared.
"Dang meddling brother." I mumbled to myself as I checked my watch. Wonderful. He gave me a whole two hours warning.
I stepped clumsily from the flowerbed and headed toward the front porch, consoling myself with thoughts of Bas, catnip, and pushing him into koi ponds.