The Shifter Wars heat up when a woman investigates the mysteries surrounding a fierce breed of man and exposes more than just secrets. Read on for an excerpt from PURSUING THE BEAR by Kerry Adrienne—available now!
Bear shifters exist. Professor Bria Lane has known this since she was a child. Now she’s returned to the forests of Deep Creek to prove it to the world. She has no idea how close she is to that proof in ruggedly sexy park ranger Derek Poole. Intimately close. But uncovering Derek’s wild side comes with a shattering price.
Like a magnet meeting metal, Derek is drawn to Bria. His destiny. His mate. So beautiful and so vulnerable. So dangerous, too: an encroachment of lions, vengeful and vicious, is closing in and they’re ready for war. Now is not the time to be distracted like a lovesick cub.
If Bria reveals the truth of the Deep Creek shifters to the world, she’ll bring out the worst of both sides. But Derek can’t hide his secrets from the love of his life forever. He knows they’re playing with fire—and that when passion runs this hot, this reckless, someone’s bound to get burned.
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Realizing he’d lost himself in thought, Derek turned to Bria. “I’m glad you at least know about the dangers of wild animals. Not to get too close. Try not to provoke. That kind of thing. So many people come out here expecting these wild animals are like their pets back at home. And they don’t realize how wrong they are until it’s too late.”
“Bears rarely approach humans unless they are hungry and think they can get food.”
He licked his lips. What a meal she’d be. His mouth watered and his pulse sped at the thought. Her olive skin and deep brown eyes contrasted beautifully with the dark of her hair. She had a golden glow about her and he wasn’t sure if it came from her physical beauty or something inside.
Probably a bit of both. Whatever it was, it had enraptured him and he couldn’t tear himself away.
“True.” He wanted to start the taste test with her soft lips, red and plump even without a smear of lipstick. In fact, it didn’t look like she wore any makeup at all. She was a natural beauty. He stuck his hands in his pockets. A woman not afraid to camp in the woods alone or carry a gun for protection.
She was bold, and he liked that. And smart too. A deadly combination. Good thing his mother wasn’t here, she’d be pushing for a wedding date, even though Bria was human.
“Since you’re a ranger, maybe I should fill you in on what I’m doing out here this summer.” She pulled a light tarp from the pile of things and unfurled it on the ground. “You’ll probably see a lot of me.” She pulled a corner to straighten the blue plastic, then stopped and looked up at him, her expression teasing and her cheeks prickling with blush. “You know what I mean.”
“Yeah.” He fought the urge to wink, though his heart hammered in his throat. Overt flirting was not in his comfort zone, but the curvy Bria made him act like a school cub. He tugged at his beard, a nervous habit he hadn’t even tried to break even though it annoyed Elijah.
“Can you stay for a few minutes? To talk?” She sat on the tarp and spread out the wrinkles of plastic radiating from where she sat. “I’d like to know a little more about the area. I really don’t even know where to start looking, other than what I read on the Internet. Which wasn’t very informative, by the way. I mean, it told me about the park in general, but there’s nothing like being here to realize how darn big the place is.”
No doubt Elijah made sure that the lack of specific information was what was on the park’s web page. The bears couldn’t have researchers trolling through their territory all the time. That would be as dangerous as the lions. If the shape-shifters were ever revealed to humans, it would be the end of Deep Creek as they knew it.
Being exposed to the human world would be even more devastating than a war with the Sen Pal.
Derek scanned the woods again. It was no time to let his guard down, even though there was no sign of lions anywhere. Whatever he’d heard must be gone, though he’d bet it was a lion prowling by though he didn’t smell him. He sniffed the air.
He nodded. “I’ve got a few minutes. Besides, educating people on animals and the area is official ranger responsibility too. Even when I’m not on duty.” After grabbing a branch off the ground, he sat on the tarp facing her. He crossed his legs and tucked his hiking bootlaces back inside his muddy boots.
Anything to keep him from staring at the woman in front of him. She was definitely all woman, and his bear skipped in a circle inside him, pushing to sniff her and maybe give her a lick.
If he did that, she’d scream. Maybe shoot him. No, his bear needed to calm down.
“Great! Thanks.” She leaned back on her arms and looked up toward the sky peeking through the trees. “It’s a gorgeous day. Maybe a little too hot right now, but it’s so serene. I love the mountains.”
Hot. He snapped off the smaller side branches from the limb, then pulled out his knife and began whittling away the bark, exposing the bright flesh underneath. Beautiful. The stick was the perfect height for hiking. He needed to smooth it out and it’d be ready.
A great distraction from the woman who sat across from him. Hot and beautiful.
She radiated a power over him unlike any he’d ever felt, and it was disconcerting.
Maybe he needed to get out more. He hadn’t seen any women in Oakwood or Henredon that rivaled Bria. She seemed to be nice too, and that combination was proving too hard to resist. He peeked up at her. She acted a little clumsy around him, and her glasses were often a bit askew, like maybe she hadn’t picked out the right size.
The fact she didn’t act like she knew she was attractive made her even more delectable.
“Yes, it gets hot here in the summer.” A professor. That took a lot of school. He certainly hadn’t expected to meet her in the woods today. But she would only be around for the summer and she was way out of his league. Too bad flings weren’t his style, because she was exactly his type.
She scared him a little.
Don’t miss PURSUING THE BEAR by Kerry Adrienne,
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Copyright ©2016 by Kerry Vail