Halle Shifters Book 5
Genre: Paranormal Romance
eBook ISBN: 978-1-61923-364-5
Release Date: December 1, 2015
There’s only one way to win this game: break the rules.
James “Barney” Barnwell is losing his ever-loving mind. Between the threat to the white shifters and a riddle he’s been ordered to solve, he can actually go for ten whole minutes without thinking about Heather, the woman destined to be his mate.
As much as he burns to get the redhead under him, the safest place for her is far away from him. If the bad guys catch the barest hint of her scent on his skin, she’ll become a target.
The way Heather sees it, the quicker she helps the stubborn Bear solve the riddle, the quicker he’ll bite her—literally. But when she’s hurt while protecting her cousin from an attack, she finds herself right where Barney never wanted her: smack dab in the middle of the investigation.
Like it or not, Barney is forced to bring her fully into his crazy world. With his mate’s life in his hands, he’s in a race against time to solve this maddening riddle before the enemy discovers that the Hunter has finally been caught by love.
Warning: This book contains explicit sex, graphic language, lots of questions and maybe even some answers. Remember: Fox holds the key.
She was so busy thinking she missed the curb. Down she went, scraping her knee and her hand. The box of needles rolled to the middle of the street and almost got run over.
Heather pulled herself to her feet, limping after the box. She hissed as she picked it up. Geez. She was going to get one hell of a ribbing when she got back and told them she’d tripped on air.
As she passed one of the stores she stopped to stare at her reflection in the window. Tilting her head at the image she made, she grimaced. Long red hair, messy from the summer breeze, blew past her pale face. Nondescript green eyes stared back. Her skin was so white it practically glowed, showing off her freckles. Her cut-off jean shorts and white tank top were nothing special, the Doc Martens on her feet worn and comfortable. Thanks to her tumble, she now had brand-new scuff marks on the toes.
No wonder Barney doesn’t want me. I look like any other campus kid running around Halle. I’m a complete mess. All I need is a backpack and the look would be perfect.
Halle was a college town, but it was also home to the Halle Puma Pride, led by the Cannons, Max and Emma. Because of that, the college was deemed a safe place to send shifter children for further education. It allowed shifters to leave their home territories and enter colleges that not only had the major they wanted to study but where their parents knew they’d be safe.
It hadn’t been so safe for her cousin Chloe, but Heather tried not to look back on the time Chloe was in the hospital, fighting for her life. She tried to focus on the fact that her cousin was alive and well, and back in school. Even better, Chloe had her mate, Jim Woods, cheering her all the way.
I wonder if Barney would cheer for me.
She squared her shoulders and glared at her reflection. Grunting in disgust, she moved on. She wasn’t going to change, not for her parents, and not for Barney. Nope. If anything about her changed it would be because she wanted it to.
Of course, there were a few things she’d like to change. Like her mated status. Watching her cousins getting all cozy with Glory and Tabby was driving her crazy. Meanwhile her mate kept her at a distance, refusing to acknowledge the pull at all unless it suited him. Hell, he’d ordered her to have nothing to do with some weird chick and her brother who were currently guarding Chloe and Jim. Why, she had no idea, but the fact that Barney had done so gave her hope. It was slim, barely breathing and crawling on all fours, but it was there.
She froze as a deep baritone washed over her, making her shudder in want. “Barney.” She turned to find him just behind her, his image towering over hers in the plate glass window.
He was the epitome of everything she’d been terrified of before she’d met him. Tall, blond, with shoulders as wide as a Mack truck, she should have been running for her life.
Instead, she wanted to climb him like a tree and plant a damn flag on his head that declared him hers.
“What are you doing?” He studied her with an amused smile. He always looked at her like she was something amusing. She had yet to see him looking at her with desire.
“Getting something for Cyn. You?”
His brows rose. “Nothing. Just out for a stroll.” He gestured toward the box. “Want me to carry that for you?”
“Pfft. It weighs maybe two pounds. I think I got it, Barney.”
He patted her on the head. “Of course you do. Hobbits are stronger than they seem.” He bowed and waved, his T-shirt stretching over his shoulders. “After you.”
“Oh no,” she replied. “Age before beauty.”
His brows rose, but he took the lead with a small laugh. “Do I need to tuck you under my arm?”
“Only if you want your ass bit,” she muttered, falling into place beside him with a wince. Damn, her knee hurt.
“Not in this lifetime.” He took a few larger steps, effectively putting her behind him. “Keep up, shorty. I’m on a timer here.”
“Really? I thought you were just out for a stroll.” She quickened her pace, taking two steps to his one to remain at his side. She clenched her hand, hissing when pain shot up her arm.
“You’re hurt.” Barney stopped and pulled her under the awning of one of the local businesses. He tugged her fingers open and glared at the bleeding scrape on her palm.
“I tripped crossing the street.” She showed him her scraped knee as the pain in her palm eased.
He hissed in sympathy. “That looks nasty.” He knelt in front of her, brushing his hand gently over her knee. To anyone else, it would look like he was brushing something off, but for her the soothing heat of his power washed over her, taking the pain away.
He’d healed her, using his Bear’s power to do so. As far as she knew, Barney never healed anyone. As he stood, he took her hand again, checking her palm once more.
She smiled at him, needing him to know that it meant something that he’d done for her what he’d done for no one else. “Thank you.”
Their gazes locked together, her hand still in his. The world around them went silent and still. His thumb caressed the skin of her palm, making her shiver with a desire so sudden she almost dropped to her knees. Only his hold on her kept her on her feet.
Barney slowly let go of her hand, bringing the world crashing down around her senses once more. “You’re welcome.”
Without another word he took the box and carried it to the front door of Cynful. He handed it over, nodded once, and was off to whatever it was Hunters did when they weren’t in their home territories.
Heather shook her head and carried the box into the shop. “I’m back…”