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Only a handful of people know the truth about Marie’s attempt to kill Rose, the clan’s matriarch, and Rose is one of them. But the majority of the clan scorns and despises Marie. Given her past, she believes the derision is fitting. She’s contented with her role as a warrior fighting on front line in the war against the Collector Demons – vile creatures who have broken through the veil between their world and Earth’s. When human-shifter hybrids are discovered, Marie’s new job is to seek them out and protect them. One male grizzly hybrid is giving her particular trouble: he thinks he’s her mate.

Marie knew what she was doing was wrong. She’d tried to talk herself out of it, force herself to see reason, anything to stop herself from sitting exactly where she currently was. 

No surprise when her heart rate sped up. It always happened. Her palms were sweaty, and she rubbed them on her jeans before turning the page on a book she wasn’t reading. 
Her reusable water bottle was already empty, and there were at least thirty minutes left if he stayed on the same routine. She didn’t want to risk running to fill up her bottle, not wanting to miss anything. 
Marie wasn’t the only one who came here, but she was the only one with a legitimate reason. She’d been assigned to do this, sit and watch. 
Muscles flexed and strained under the weight being lifted, but they never faltered. Beads of sweat rolled down delicious tanned skin making her almost moan at the sight. She knew from the moment she set her eyes on him that she’d be in a whole new world of trouble, and this time Rose won’t be able to save her. 
But did Marie look away? Of course not. Instead, every day from ten in the morning until noon, she sat spellbound while trying to appear unaffected while Texas State Trooper Ben Brown worked out in the large, fully equipped gym installed on the tenth level. 
Of course, they required an extensive, plus-sized gym for shifters trapped underground who were unable to go for a run outdoors to burn off any pent-up energy or aggression. They were bears. Aggression was in their DNA. 
The Trooper was a human-shifter hybrid who seemed to enjoy the benefits of a good workout. As did Marie for entirely different reasons. 
To the left, she noticed two female wolf-shifters were scanning the room. One shook her head and waved off whatever the other wolf had said before leaving the gym. The one who remained removed her T-shirt, and stood preening in her sports bra. It didn’t take a rocket scientist to figure out what she had in mind. 
Marie watched as the she-wolf stepped onto an elliptical machine directly in front of where Ben was doing leg presses. The she-wolf’s outfit didn’t cover much, and although.nudity wasn’t a big deal for shifters, Ben was mostly human, which meant the woman might as well have been wearing a sign on her barely covered ass, declaring herself available. 
Marie almost groaned out loud when the wolf’s ass cheeks bounced from under her minuscule shorts. Seriously? Such an obvious ploy to attract Ben’s attention. If that was what it took, Marie was destined to be alone because there was no way in a million years she’d wear that outfit. 
Ben didn’t appear to notice the bouncy she-wolf and moved on to the dumbbells. Marie had to give the woman credit: she wasn’t easily deterred, and moved over to the treadmill across from the mirror Ben was using to check his form, which was on point and drool worthy.
She flipped another unread page with a bit more force than necessary, ripping the page out of the book, and then looked again at her empty water bottle. It didn’t matter how thirsty she was, she wasn’t going anywhere. 
When the she-wolf lowered the zipper on the front of her sports bra, Marie was surprised the shifter’s breasts didn’t tumble out, and Marie’s bear growled and pawed at her to do something about the exhibitionist. The display reconfirmed that if this was what it took to get a male’s attention, Marie would rather be alone. 
She was a bear-shifter, which made her taller and more substantial than a lot of other female shifter species. Her arms and torso were defined, and she had long muscular legs. Her breasts weren’t voluptuous, but they had enough heft to fill out her sweaters. Her body type did not say soft and curvy, or lithe and svelte. 
Before she could get any further into unflattering body comparisons, the she-wolf drew her attention. The wolf-shifter was so busy adjusting her bra strap, she didn’t notice her bottle of water teetering on the edge of the elliptical machine’s handrail. The bottle fell onto the belt, making the shifter misstep, and she went flying off the end of the machine like a torpedo launched from a submarine. 
Marie couldn’t help but laugh until Ben went over to help the she-wolf to her feet. When he tried to pull his hand out of hers, the shifter refused to let it go as she smiled coyly and brushed her breasts up against his muscled and tattooed arm. Disgusted, Marie was about to look away when a new problem walked in. 
A male wolf growled and bunched his shoulders as he approached Ben. Marie was up and out of her chair, intending to head off the impending disaster, but by the time she made it over to Ben, an argument had already erupted, which had the she-wolf gloating from the attention she clearly wanted. 
“How dare you touch one of our women,” the male bellowed and aggressively puffed out his chest. 
“You know, women aren’t your or anyone’s property. Chill, bro. I was only helping her up after she fell,” Ben stated calmly. 
He turned back to the rack of dumbbells, and Marie knew what would happen next. As the she-wolf’s smile widened, the male wolf raised his arm to sucker punch Ben in the back of his head. Before he could get off a blow, Marie reached out, grabbed the male’s arm, and flipped him over her back and onto the floor. 
Ben turned around at the same time Marie jammed her elbow into the wolf’s jaw, ending the guy’s attempts at getting back up. There were benefits to being a bear-shifter. One was being stronger than most other shifter breeds. 
Unfortunately, there were also drawbacks, and the way Ben was looking at her in that moment was one of them. She wasn’t dainty or delicate. 
“Time to go,” Marie said to Ben, before turning to the wolves. “You two know the rules. The humans are not to be touched. Now leave, or I will be forced to report you to your alpha triad.” 
“Figures you’d protect him. Humans are bloodthirsty killers. Only a traitor would side with them over shifters.” 
Sure, the nasty comment hurt—every time she heard one it hurt—but she’d never show the effect it had on her. 
“And you’re the poster boy for Puppy Weekly. Now leave,” Marie ordered, while extending her six-inch claws for good measure, “before I change my mind and show you the door personally.” 
As the wolves began walking away, Marie glanced over at Ben to find him staring at her hands.
Her heart fell, and she retracted her claws. 
Yep, she was not soft and delicate. 
She was a bear.


Author Bio

Lilli Carlisle lives in the country near Toronto, Canada. She is the mother of two wonderful girls, wife to an amazing man, and servant to the pets in her life. Lilli writes paranormal/fantasy romance, and believes love should be celebrated and shared. After all, everybody needs a little romance, excitement, intrigue, and passion in their lives.


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One comment

  1. looks interesting