Before Carissa has time to react to her sister's disappearance, she's kidnapped and taken deep into the Colorado mountains. Her kidnapper swears he's protecting her, but Carissa doesn't know what to believe. He emanates danger, strength and raw sexuality. She's drawn to him, craves his demanding kiss and the slide of his hard body against and into hers.
Quinn has always been an outsider, scorned and mistrusted by other Therian shapeshifters. Now he's in the middle of a budding civil war and he's not sure how to disentangle himself without endangering Carissa. Though her powers are latent, Carissa has the potential of becoming the most powerful Therian the world has ever seen.
It was Quinn's intention to bring Carissa to safety and simply walk away, but one taste of her sweet lips and he knows he'll never let her go. She won't be truly safe until she's selected her mate--and he intends to be the one she chooses.
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November 13, 2009
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Excerpt from Therian Prey by Cyndi Friberg
"Is it as bad as you thought?" Carissa stood in the doorway of her sister's office, waiting for Ava to look up from the computer screen.
Ava sighed and minimized the spreadsheet she'd been agonizing over all morning. "Define 'bad'. It's not as dismal as last summer, but sales are still sluggish."
"We just have to ride it out until winter. Ski season will turn things around. You'll see." Hoping to lighten her sister's mood, Carissa smiled.
The bell above the front door jingled and Carissa glanced over her shoulder. The shop was small by metropolitan standards, but space came at a premium in Breckenridge, Colorado. Ava oversaw inventory, maintenance and accounting, which left managing their employees and dealing with customers to Carissa.
"Be right back," Carissa said, but Ava had already returned to her accounting woes.
Carissa wended her way through racks of hoodies and t-shirts. A tall, dark-haired man stood near the display of marked-down snowboards. With broad shoulders, lean hips and muscular arms, his interest in vigorous activities was obvious.
"Can I help you?" Anticipation coiled around her as she waited for him to turn around. Was she really so desperate for male companionship that she was ready to hit on a potential customer? How pathetic.
He turned and smiled. Then his dark eyes narrowed and his nostrils flared. His head tilted and he leaned toward her as he inhaled slowly. Time paused, suspending them in the moment as their gazes locked.
"I was told you rent ATVs."
The simple statement snapped her back into customer service mode and she dragged her gaze away from his hypnotic stare. She had to pull herself together. He wasn't classically handsome. His nose was too bold and his cheekbones broad rather than jutting. A short beard complemented his rugged features and drew her attention to his mouth. His top lip arched gracefully while the bottom looked soft and full, perfect...for nibbling? Had that thought really crossed her mind?
She gave herself a firm mental shake. This was ridiculous. "We're partners with Pine Valley Ranch. They have three hundred acres of trails and mixed motor tracks." Needing a distraction from her disturbing customer, she walked to the wall display and grabbed a brochure. When she turned around, he stood right in front of her. His warm, woodsy scent filled her nose and she fought back the urge to wiggle. She felt restless and... She couldn't even define the sensations ricocheting through her body.
He took the brochure and glanced through the colorful pages then tucked it into the back pocket of his jeans. The motion stretched his t-shirt across his torso, outlining each ridge and curve. Holy hell, the man was cut. Her fingertips tingled, eager to explore every delectable inch.
"Can I bring my own bike, or are the trails reserved for their rentals?"
Swallowing past the sudden lump in her throat, she said, "The trails are open to the public. There are a few restrictions, but they're listed in the brochure." He stood too close. Was he doing it intentionally? She should back away or push past him. Yet she wanted to rub against him and strip off that cruel t-shirt. "Is this your first visit to Colorado?"
His lips parted, displaying even, white teeth. "Far from it. There's something about the Rockies that gets in your blood, makes you crave it."
She stared into his dark eyes and felt the strange yearning again. It was like hunger on steroids with a side-order of Spanish fly. Her mind scrambled for a polite response while her body ached for something she didn't fully understand.
"So, Carissa, would you like to grab something to eat?" The intensity in his eyes mocked his casual tone.
"How did you...know my name?" She felt muddled, almost drugged.
A slow, sexy smile parted his lips as he raised his hand. He traced the lower edge of her name tag with his fingertip and his knuckle grazed the upper swell of her breast. Heat spread through her chest and her pulse echoed in her ears. "If you want to play coy, you'd better lose this."
She slapped his hand aside. "I wasn't playing coy." Her nipples tightened, her breasts feeling heavy and sensitive. What the hell was wrong with her? He wasn't that good-looking! And she wasn't this desperate. "I can't leave the store, even if I wanted to. We're still open for several hours." She forced the excuse past her dry lips and stubbornly ignored the demands of her body.
"I can wait." He grinned.
Her mother had taught her to be cautious, to never accept anyone at face value. She needed to push him away and see if he was interested enough to try again. "Sorry. I have plans tonight."
His gaze focused on her lips as if he wanted to lick them for her. "Too bad." He hesitated a moment longer then strolled toward the door. At the last minute, he looked over his shoulder and said, "I'll see you around."
Carissa pressed her hand over her pounding heart as he strode down the sidewalk and across the street. It had been ages since anyone flirted with her. Tourists tried to pick her up from time to time, but this man hadn't seemed like a tourist. More like a trophy hunter!
That wasn't fair. He hadn't misbehaved nearly as much as her body had "mis-reacted" to his subtle signals.
"Who was that?" Ava asked from the doorway to her office.
Heat blossomed on Carissa's cheeks as his image lingered in her mind. "I have no idea, but I'd sure as hell like to find out."
"Did he buy anything?"
Carissa looked at her sister and laughed. "I'm pretty sure what he wants isn't for sale, at least not in this store."