A snowstorm on New Year’s Eve brought bear shifters Ellie and AJ together but a secret threatens to tear them apart.
She had every reason to hate him.
Aiden “AJ” Shepherd’s mistake during a Shifter Army Enforcement rescue mission cost Ellie Ortiz’s brother, Marco, his life. Ellie hates AJ with a burning passion until a chance encounter with him on New Year’s Eve reveals he’s not the cold, heartless man she once thought him to be. Her attraction to him takes her by surprise, and she vows to ignore her feelings. When a new job puts her in contact with him every day, the heat building between them threatens to flare out of control. Her resolve to keep the sweet, sexy man in the friend zone is weakening by the day.
He’s convinced she’s his mate, but a secret could ruin everything.
Whether they’re fighting off fanatics who target shifters or working together to get his shifter resort, Haven Forest, ready for the grand opening, AJ can’t get enough of Ellie. Convincing her to give him a chance, more than the one-night-of-fun idea she’s proposed, might be impossible, but he’s fallen too hard for her not to try. During a disastrous assignment with Shifters United, AJ uncovers some information that changes everything. Keeping the secret from Ellie is killing him but he might lose her forever if he tells her the truth.
When Ellie ends up at the heart of a reporter’s plot to prove the existence of shifters, she and AJ must fight their way to freedom. The survival of shifters everywhere depends on it.
AJ staggered toward Ellie, holding his side. She caught him before he fell. Blood poured down the side of his face. She pulled the hood of his coat over his head to hide the blood.
People rushed over to them, asking if he was alright.
I guess they only care how he is now that the fighting is over.
“He’s fine. Just a little bruised up.”
The wolf shifter woman cleared a path to AJ and guarded his other side. “I’ll help you get him to the woods. My friend can stall the cops and do crowd control while you guys shift out your injuries.”
“Thank you. Seriously, thank you.”
The wolf shifter nodded. “No problem. Hurry.”
Ellie grasped AJ’s face in her hands and looked him in the eye. “We just have to get to the woods. It’s not far. Stay awake and stay with me. I can’t carry you. Understand?”
“Yeah.” His voice was barely audible.
An eternity later, they found a spot amongst the pine trees and bushes with enough cover for him to shift. “Hold on. Don’t shift yet. Let me pull these chunks of metal out of your head first.”
He cursed as she pulled one particularly large, jagged chunk out of his scalp. Blood poured down his face and neck. His eyes drifted shut.
“Come on! Wake up! Shift!”
He slumped over, oblivious to her yelling. She stripped him then dug her fingers into his stab wound. He growled and shifted into bear form. A sob of relief escaped her. AJ shifted back to human form, then, a split second later, he was a giant furry brown bear again. The bear walked around for a moment, dug his claws into a tree, then pressed his nose to Ellie’s cheek, making her laugh. In the blink of an eye, he was in human form again.
“You’re alright now?” she asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine.”
“You’re sure?” She ran her fingers over the places on his head she’d seen cut and gouged. No sign of any wounds. She looked at his eyes. He focused on her properly. She breathed out a sigh of relief. “I’ve seen more than one shifter be pressed for time to heal and they weren’t healed up as well as they thought.” His injuries hadn’t been superficial. He wouldn’t have made it to their room to shift in privacy without being stopped by well-meaning regulars—shifters and psy often referred to humans with no strange, extraordinary abilities as regulars—insistent on taking him to a hospital.
People who hated shifters lurked in hospitals, watching, waiting to destroy anyone they found out of the ordinary. Today, some ignorant haters had almost killed AJ, at a damn winter festival celebration. Nowhere was truly safe. She was still freaked at how close he had been to losing consciousness and never waking up. She knew damn well he would have died if he hadn’t shifted when he did. She didn’t want his light to burn out. Didn’t want anybody’s light to dim, really, but he was… She shook her head. A good guy. That was all. She didn’t want to see a good person die too young. She wrapped her arms around herself and her eyes teared up.
“Hey,” he spoke softly, “look at me.”
She met his gaze, reluctantly.
“I’m all right,” he assured her. “The important thing is, a group of angry men didn’t get the chance to beat the living hell out of a shifter teenager.”
He gently stroked her cheek and his hand came away bloody. “Your turn to shift.” She hadn’t felt any pain in her face. Probably because several of her ribs were cracked and her stomach had a fist-sized knot in it where she’d been punched. She stepped behind a tree, undressed, and shifted. B shook out her thick black fur and walked around a few paces in the woods. After a moment, she reluctantly shifted back to human form. Ellie stopped still when she caught AJ staring at her.
“Damn, you’re beautiful.” His appreciative tone wrapped around her. She gulped and ducked behind the tree to put her clothes back on. She emerged, wrapped back up in her bloodstained winter coat and clothes. At least the blood wouldn’t show up since everything she was wearing was black.
More about the Book:
I am working on book 2 in the Haven Forest Resort series. This book will feature Rob, the leopard shifter Head of Security at the resort who had a small part in book 1. I will also be working on completing my Stranger Creatures series as well as publishing some poems in different magazines and anthologies.
Inspiration for Bear’s Dream (Haven Forest Resort book 1):
Aiden “AJ” Shepherd and his brother Greg were both a small part of Bear’s Edge (Stranger Creatures book 2) and the characters stayed on my mind. Eventually I decided that the Shepherd brothers needed their own series, so I had the brothers open up a shifter resort in the Haven Forest Resort series.
If you want to check out the Stranger Creatures book Bear’ Edge where AJ and Greg originally appear AND meet Grant and Shayla, here’s a look:
Blurb for Bear’s Edge (Stranger Creatures book 2) (Shayla and Grant’s story):
After losing his three best friends and his girlfriend in a fire, bear shifter Grant did his best to push everyone else away. He never meant to fall for his boss, Shayla.
When an obnoxious reporter and Shayla’s bitter ex team up to chase down conspiracy theories that could destroy Shayla’s business and put her life in danger, Grant must risk everything to keep the woman he loves safe.
Instead of throwing punches and morphing into a bear like he wanted to do, Grant roughly escorted Baron and her crew the hell out of Brass Cat. He warned Sue the receptionist to call the cops if any of those worthless idiots dared to show up again.
Then, he spent the walk back to Shayla’s office repeatedly counting to ten and working on his apology. He fully expected a lecture from her about how she could handle her personal life without his assistance, but he couldn’t change what he’d done. He hadn’t wanted the reporter up in her face for one more second.
Instead of the indignant lecture he probably deserved from her, Shayla laid her hand against his cheek. “You’re sweet, Grant. Thanks for getting rid of Baron and her crew.”
“You’re not mad?”
“Not at you. I was prepared to take some heat from her, but—” She sighed. “Anyway, thanks for looking out for me. Thanks for coming in so I didn’t have to take any more crap. I had kind of hit my crap-taking limit.”
He shrugged. “Anytime. I’m here if you need me. I’ve always got your back.” He gave her a shy smile.
“Same,” she told him. And her smile wasn’t the innocent kind of sweet of someone who didn’t understand what they were offering, nor was it the fake, careless kind of sweet that people used when what they really meant was “I’ll help you, but only if it’s a small task that doesn’t take up much time.”
Though she probably meant she’d have his back in a friendship kind of way, her sincerity hit him in all the places it shouldn’t. He nodded and left her office before he started composing love poems and sappy songs in his head. Romantic feelings for his boss were not what he needed in his life at the moment. Or ever.
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About the Author:
Before I had the wild idea to write a book, I worked in a few different fields. I was in sales for a while, and after I finished college, I worked as a case manager. When my children were little, I was a personal trainer and running coach. During the evenings, when I was supposed to be studying for another fitness training certification, I started writing a story. Finally, I gave in and acknowledged that writing is what I’m meant to do. I love creating imperfect but determined characters who find the courage to love and the strength to survive in a world where there are no guarantees. My stories include a fair amount of sarcasm, suspense, steam, and violence. When I’m not writing, I enjoy spending time outside and finding ways to avoid cooking. I live in beautiful Virginia with my husband, two daughters, a sweet, hairy monster of a dog, and two devious cats.
Author Social Media Links:
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Christina-Lynn-Lambert/e/B01MCYK0K7