This week’s theme is cold places and it just so happens I had a new release yesterday that takes place in the midst of a winter storm in the mountains of North Carolina.
Frost Bitten is my latest shapeshifter book and features two hot cougar shifter heroes and one spunky jaguar shifter heroine. Here’s a taste:
Daisy shuddered in front of the roaring fire with her hands held in front of her, desperately trying to get warm. Her idea to escape to the mountains for a little peace and quiet had turned into a case of insanity in the making. Never in her life had she seen this much snow and the radio forecasted for another heavy snowfall overnight thanks to the front moving right over this mountain.
Not that a little cold weather would necessarily kill her but it made her teeth chatter and did nothing to assuage the agony of her sexual cycle. She pressed a hand to her abdomen and willed the cramping to go away.
Why had no one warned her how bad this would get if she refused help? Because you live and work with men, stupid.
There was that. A poacher in the midst of the Everglades had killed her mother when Daisy was still a cub. Fortunately the game warden had discovered her after only a few days and he’d scooped her out of the water and brought her to a new family. People like her. They’d taught her how to live as a shifter and loved her like their own.
The next twenty years had gone by in a blur and she’d taken over a different game warden position about five years ago. Not that it had been an easy transition. She’d literally fought for it—tooth and claw. She loved her brothers, but their ideas about her future were antiquated beyond belief. Overcoming their objections had not been easy. Fortunately, for her, the men of her kind always underestimated her because she was so small. Daisy smiled. They never saw the ambush coming—ever.
Another chill swept over her. She rubbed her hands together frantically to generate friction. No, she was not used to this kind of bone deep cold. The backwoods of coastal South Carolina, where she now resided, were nothing like this.
After several minutes of trying everything save for dousing her head in the flames, her head popped up and her nose flared. The scent outside changed.
She dropped the blanket and ran for her gear. She could certainly smell them now. Whoever they were they were not trying to hide. She shoved her feet in her boots and donned the rest of her newly purchased winter wear. She wasn’t about to sit here and wait to be hunted. She was jaguar for Christ’s sake. If anyone would be hunting around here it would be her.
Fortunately, she’d already scoped out the entire property around the small cabin. She’d been assured by the rental agency that she would be completely isolated with many miles between her and the nearest humans. Exactly how she wanted it.
Daisy’s gaze swept around the room one last time, accounting for any potential outcome. While it had gone dark outside she’d not needed to bother with the lights. The glow from the fireplace provided more than enough illumination for her exceptional eyesight.
Daisy eased the back door open and slipped outside and into the cover of the brush surrounding the back deck and far edge of the property. Now the scents of the intruders hit her full on. Male both of them and if she had her scent right, and she usually did, they were cougar shifters.
She’d been informed of the territorial nature of the shifter clans in the area so she’d made sure to steer clear of what could be considered their land. Now they were at her back door and certain to have scented her by now as well.
Shit. Fuck. Damn.
This was about to get complicated. For a few seconds she considered shifting and going on the attack. They outnumbered her but she had confidence that in a fair fight she could likely take them both. Except…
She pressed her hand to her stomach and prayed for some divine intervention. The minute they scented her heat the frenzy would begin. She hung her head and dug deep for a shred of control. She wasn’t the animal, she could control this. She repeated it over and over. Willing it to be true.
A gust of wind blew snow in her face, freezing on impact with her skin.
Yeah this cold weather snow crap can bite me.
The two men grew close enough for her to hear voices but not yet make out the words. Whatever their plans, they obviously were not trying to sneak up on her. Idiots. If she were the stalker and they the prey, they’d practically rolled out the welcome mat. Their skulls would be crushed in minutes.
She crouched low and leaned against a tree. The sturdy trunk would give her the leverage to jump when and if she needed to. An owl hooted in the distance. She had no idea what time it was, considering the position of the moon was shrouded by the storm. Any minute now, the cougars would emerge from the tree line and she’d have to do something drastic to stop them from getting too close.
Daisy inhaled deeply and counted to five before she slowly exhaled. Being in heat heightened her senses and emotions, especially fear. The last thing she needed to do was overact and land herself in hot water with the locals.
“You coming Seth?”
The deep voice of the first to step into the clearing carried easily to her ears. She tensed, waiting for him to hit her line of sight.
“Don’t be an ass, Trent. I had to stop and examine those claw marks. Did you notice the perimeter is freshly marked?”
Yeah they knew what they were walking into. Who would blame her for protecting herself?
When she spotted the first one her breath caught in her throat. Damn, he’s big…
Easily over six feet, his shoulders reminded her of a linebacker they were so wide. Like her he was covered head to toe in winter gear.
“We were right about the smoke. Plenty of smoke coming out of that chimney.”
The rumble of his voice slid over her like butter on a warm pancake. Mmm. She really loved pancakes. Her stomach rumbled at the thought. She hadn’t eaten much on the trip and since she’d hit the mountain she’d been obsessed with the cold that wouldn’t ease up.
The second man emerged from the trees carrying just as much gear. He matched the first in height although his shoulders were a fraction leaner. She swallowed thickly. Taking them both down would be a hell of a challenge. For a brief second she considered other options but she wasn’t much of a sweet talker and running wasn’t going to happen.
One hundred yards and they’d be on top of where she hid in the brush. Just a few more seconds.
The first man halted and sniffed the air. “Is that what I think it is?”
The second man stopped next to the other and they both sniffed at the air like a couple of fucking bloodhounds.
End of Excerpt
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