that will turn her entire world on its axis.
kidnapping, torturing and killing their people, he’s pulled from
the case by his High Alpha, Rob Bryant, to locate and return the
daughter of their most valuable and gifted shifter. If he doesn’t,
their entire Wolf Pack in the Pacific Northwest might collapse and
lose all hard-won territory, shifting the balance of powers and
throwing the entire were-kind species into a world war.
acquire her for several unspeakable reasons.
woman he’s had the displeasure to rescue. And he may very well be
falling in love with her.
attractive Erik Leonid bursts into the café where she sits eating
alone that afternoon. Then her entire world, and all of her
preconceptions, turns upside-down and will never be the same.
That means learning to love someone from the inside-out regardless of
her fears and those seeking to harm them both for their forbidden
then every tale she imagined had a romantic element that grabbed
front and center. She is absolutely in love with love—giving it,
receiving it, then sending it back out into the world. She believes
there is something miraculous and supernatural about true love in
every form, and incorporates this magical element into all of her stories.
mountains and ocean, and enjoys hiking, camping, horseback riding and
star gazing. She also bakes, knits and sews, which she never has
enough time for. She attempted mastering several musical
instruments, singing, painting, photography, dancing and archery, but
always returned to writing and storytelling as the “one true love”
of her life.
all over the west coast (and the world), now living
happily-ever-after with her family in the Pacific Northwest in
Alexia Raine stood frozen from fear or shock or disbelief, unable to move or scream as she stared down at the bloody heap that was her fellow surgical intern and boyfriend. For all of her training, she couldn’t even reach down to feel for a pulse. She only gaped at his eyes staring back—fixed, dilated, glassy.
“Out of my way, kid.”
The disturbance jolted her out of that horrific memory and back to the present. She might’ve even thanked the obnoxious Cretan cutting in front of her in the Starbucks line for it, except the bulky, smelly man nudged in front of a teenager as well.
“Hey, you can’t cut in line!” the boy protested.
“I was here just a minute ago.”
It was the end of a grueling week medical assisting for her uncle who had a general practice in the outskirts of San Diego. She was just grabbing a vanilla latte before heading to her apartment a few blocks away. Now she wished she hadn’t even stopped at the coffeehouse.
“No, you weren’t,” the kid.
“I was, and now I’m back. Get over it.”
Alexia might’ve let it pass like everyone else in line. Until the boy nudged his way ahead of the man who then physically shoved him aside.
“Hey, jerk face, leave the kid alone and go to the end of the line,” she yelled at him.
The man snarled back at her. “Shut up and mind your own business, girl.”
Her eyebrows shot up. “Look, Bad Grandpa, if you don’t step back, I’ll give you a shove in the right direction myself.”
“Just keep your godda—Arrh!”
His arms shot out as steaming coffee splashed down his polo shirt as a four-pack of Grande drips was dumped onto him.
“Oh, I’m so sorry!” the lady who lost her load raced out, frantically dabbing his shirt with a bundle of napkins. “Really, I don’t know—!”
“Just get off me!” he shot back, pushing her away.
Alexia should have felt bad for him, but the guy really deserved it. The look on his face was priceless too, making her snicker.
He splashed her with a rough shake of his arms. “What, you think this is funny, bitch?”
One of her worst traits—she didn’t take insults well. And no one called her the B-word who didn’t want to pick his dentures out of the glass entrance door.
Fury prickled her eyes and ears as heat flooded her face and radiated all the way through her veins and down to her fists now clenched at her sides.
“Have a nice fall on your way out,” she stated hard and deadly through gritted teeth.
Instantly the old man was airborne.
There was a thud and airy “oof” as he landed flat on his back in a puddle of coffee. Two seconds later he was yelling bloody-murder.
The baristas went into action, two picking up phones as the others circled around the counter. He thrashed about in his liquid mess like an overturned turtle while threatening legal action as a few do-gooders tried to help.
Panicking, Alexia shoved through the crowd as fast as she could, then locked herself in the restroom. Within seconds she vomited everything but her socks, the dry heaves leaving her flushed and sweaty.
Slightly better, she splashed icy water on her face, rinsed the sour bile from her mouth, then breathed deeply several times as she gripped the edge of the porcelain sink.
“Just a coincidence, Alexia. Not your fault,” she whispered.
Not that it alleviated her guilt any. Not that she had even touched the guy. So, of course, it wasn’t her fault. Of course not.
Just because she wanted to humiliate the old man for being such an obnoxious, entitled jerk and hot coffee happened to dump all over him at that very moment, it didn’t mean anything.
And okay, she also wished that he would fall on his butt after that nasty crack, and he did, hard, it didn’t mean…He probably just slipped on the wet floor. Just a coincidence, that’s all.
Unfortunately, Alexia Raine didn’t believe in coincidences.
And this hadn’t been the first time.
She squeezed her eyes shut for a long moment, then reopened them to look up at her reflection in the dim mirror, gasping at the swirling kaleidoscope of color in her irises—blue, green, gray, lavender, pink. She blinked hard and pinched her eyes until the weird prickly sensation calmed down. When she checked them again, they were light gray as normal.
Okay, what the Sam frigging Hill was that?
An optical illusion maybe?
Probably. Of course.
Brought on by stress mixed with bad fluorescent lighting and the dark walls all Starbucks stores insist on painting themselves to appear trendy.
Alexia leaned closer to the mirror for a better look when spotting another dark, silvery streak of hair, this one framing her right cheek. Added to all the recent others, it looked like she had highlighted her shoulder length blond hair.
The first one appeared six months ago, but the others started a few weeks back after her twenty-fifth birthday. Too minor an issue to ask her uncle about. Too weird to completely ignore though.
Her fingers touched the antique silver rose locket hanging on a thin tarnished chain around her neck, a family heirloom given by her mother on her eighteenth birthday.
“Always wear it against your heart,” Rebecca Raine told her when she opened the gift box. “Use it as a talisman, your protection from the blues.”
Her mom was always saying sentimental, Hallmark channel type of things like that. The locket was so old the two halves were fused together and wouldn’t even open. Still, it was kind of pretty, and it did give her a sense of security. She usually wore it underneath her clothing hidden from view, her secret armor against the monsters of this world.
Alexia stayed in the restroom a few more minutes until she heard the paramedics rush into the building. When she walked out and saw the man sitting upright on the ground, she almost felt bad for him. Until he angrily batted at the female paramedic, demanding only to be aided by her male partner.
Misogynistic old coot. Hope he broke his ass-bone.
The earlier crowd had thinned out now, the only reason Alexia considered still buying a latte before heading home. That’s when she spotted them—two very large, rough looking men, one redhead and the other with curly brown hair and a thick moustache. They were hovering at the furthest end of the store near the pickup counter.
She wouldn’t have cared much, but they were way out of place in their black leather jackets, black shirts, black jeans and biker boots. All they needed were the dark sunglasses to be classic Arnold Schwarzenegger Terminators. Sunny San Diego natives wore light, loose clothing, even in mid-April. Not that there weren’t tourists who soon reversed their error after sweating their family jewels off.
Somehow, though, they didn’t seem to be the typical Southern California visitors on a fun family vacay.
The two men continued to scan the crowd, their duplicate expressions serious, robotic. It was the redhead who froze when locking eyes with Alexia’s, and her stomach did an anxious backflip. He elbowed his partner, jutting his chin in her direction, and the other guy narrowed his dark eyes when honing in on her.
Just my imagination, Alexia told herself.
She looked over her shoulder, expecting to see someone waving them over to confirm her paranoia, but no one was there. She turned back to them. Both now had their bodies shifted away while carrying on a conversation.
Okay, fine. Maybe she had just imagined things. Wouldn’t have been the first time.
Her need for a latte vanished now. All she wanted then was to be home in her apartment a few long blocks away.
Quickly Alexia pushed out the front entrance, venturing a last look behind her shoulder. The two men didn’t move from their spot, both still talking, and she exhaled heavily, everything within her relaxing.
Good. She had enough drama for one night.
Quickly she headed down the twilight darkened street lined with various interconnected shops and cafés. Sometimes she walked to work as a way to force a little exercise on herself. Now she wished she had taken her car this morning, just wanting to be home. Behind a locked and bolted door. With a chair jammed against the knob.
She was only a few hundred yards away from the Starbucks when Alexia ventured a quick look behind. Her stomach dropped when both men exited and turned in her direction.
Swallowing hard, she faced forward again, picking up her pace.
Okay, no big deal. This wasn’t some cheesy action flick. They had every right to leave the building like everyone else. Even walk in the same direction. There were several pedestrians between them in any case, so no worries.
Still, her fingers lightly felt for the cellphone in her blue scrub shirt pocket, ready to call her Uncle Paul who was still at the office. She could casually double-time it back to the Starbucks and have him pick her up…
No. No, she really didn’t want to pull him away from the mound of paperwork he was rifling through before she left.
Plus, Aunt Carla would be majorly miffed at him for coming home even later than normal if he was forced to make a pitstop by her place. Alexia knew she was already a prime source of contention in their stormy marriage—his kid brother’s flaky kid he bailed out of jail and hired a lawyer for six months ago.
Things were better now that Alexia had moved from their place into her own apartment, but not by much. So she refused to inconvenience her uncle and possibly ignite another marital battle just to soothe her ridiculous imaginings.
Poor, sweet Uncle Paul. Alexia tried convincing him that he wasn’t responsible for her after her parents’ fatal car accident two years ago, but he took up the paternal mantle anyhow. Which is why after being forced to leave the intern program because of that horrific incident at the hospital, he took her in and offered her a medical assistant position that bored her to tears. Still, she didn’t look a gift job in the paycheck.
Alexia ventured another glance back.
Drat, those men were still behind her. Not far, in fact. Fewer pedestrians between them now as well.
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