Haven Forest Resort Book 1
by Christina Lynn Lambert
Genre: Paranormal Romance
She had every reason to hate him.
“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.
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, and a sweet, hairy monster of a dog.
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