Every lie causes him physical pain.
But if she tells the truth,
she’ll lose everything.
Griffin shifter Hardwick Jameson has the perfect Christmas plan: he’s holing up for the holidays in a remote mountain cabin, with no one else for miles around. His shifter powers give him the power to sense lies-and every lie hurts. At Christmas? The festive atmosphere and everyone playing happy families is a recipe for a holly jolly migraine.
Delphine Belgrave’s whole family, going back generations, are winged lion shifters. And none of them know she isn’t one.
Delphine’s non-shifter nature is a secret that would tear her family apart. When her whole extended family surprises her with a Christmas reunion in the snowy mountain town of Pine Valley, all she wants is for the holiday to be over without her secret being exposed.
Until she meets Hardwick.
Forced together by a car crash and trapped by a blizzard, Hardwick and Delphine know at once that they’re fated to be together. But it will take more than destiny to keep them from breaking apart-especially once the truth comes out.
Hardwick Jameson can sense lies, it’s his Griffin nature. They’re also very painful. As a detective this power is very useful, but he needs to recharge. Christmas is the best time to get away since so many people are just pretending to be happy. He’s rented an out of the way cabin near Pine Valley that’s quiet and perfect.
Delphine Belgrave’s family has descended on Pine Valley to be with her at Christmas. Last year was fine with just her mother and brothers, but the whole family is a lot for her to deal with. This is especially true since she has a huge secret she’s been keeping forever, she can’t shift. Her entire life has been built on lies to keep her family from knowing the truth.
When the opportunity arises for her to get away from her family for a while she jumps at the chance. Unfortunately, on her way back she not only gets lost, but it starts snowing. She needs to turn around and finds what she thinks is a spot wide enough to accomplish that. Unfortunately for her it’s a ditch her car is now totally stuck in. Attempting to get back in the car after investigating her situation she falls and hits her head.
Hardwick had just started to relax when the pain of lies hit him. He doesn’t see anyone but this far away from town, there isn’t much other than trees and a barely there drive. In spite of the severe weather, he shifts to his griffin and looks for the source of the disturbance. He finds Delphine unconscious and flies her back to the cabin.
When she regains consciousness and sees his eyes, she knows the truth, they are mates. While Hardwick knows this already, he can’t get past the fact almost every word out of her mouth is a lie and extremely painful.
This is a favorite scene.
His griffin screeched unhappiness. He schooled his face to careful neutrality, turning his flinch into a natural pulling-away.
“That so?” he asked, mildly. He was asking for it, he knew, but—
“Yes,” Delphine said, her English accent not giving anything away. “We’re all winged lion shifters.”
She licked her lips—a sudden betrayal of nervousness, or another calculated move? Hardwick felt himself slipping into work mode. This woman, his mate, was lying to him. Why? What was she hiding?
His griffin hitched its wings, a small, anxious movement that gave away more than Hardwick wanted to admit to himself.
He answered its silent question.
I know she’s meant to be mine. But I can’t—don’t you feel that? It’s like she’s wrapped so many lies around herself that it hurts even when she’s not talking.
It clacked its beak softly.
Of course I want to help her—just let me figure this out. I have to think—damn it!
He stood up. Delphine’s eyes stayed glued to his, and he turned away, unreasonably unsettled. “I’ll get that ice,” he muttered, and stalked away.
Icy wind tugged at his hair as he grabbed a tea towel and the pick from beside the front door and headed out to the out-building he was using as an extra freezer.
Whoever had last rented the place had the same idea; the block of ice he hacked chunks off looked like something out of Little House on the Prairie. Simpler than an ice machine, though.
He wrapped a few shards of ice in the towel and paused, staring back at the cabin.
He’d felt the moment his griffin recognized the woman as his mate. He’d felt it when he first saw her, face-down and unconscious in the snow. A cold hand had gripped his heart and not let go. Not when he raced to her side and found the pulse in her neck. Not when she’d murmured half-formed words as he lifted her from the snow. Not when he’d brought her back up to the cabin and wrapped her in blankets, warm beside the fire, and found the lump on the back of her head.
Not even when she woke up.
He could see it now. Even with his eyes open, staring at the cabin, he could see the moment she’d woken up fully from the restless half-consciousness he’d found her in.
It was as though the sun had come down to Earth for a vacation. Her hair was honey-bright, her skin glowing with golden health as she lost the last of the snow’s chill. Beneath expressive half-moon eyebrows a few shades darker than her hair, her eyes were a compelling mix of brown and sparkling citrine. And when she’d looked at him—
She was older than he’d initially guessed, he thought now. She’d looked younger when she was sleeping, and still for a moment after she woke up. Then something else had settled over her features. A sharpness that added age and exhaustion to her in a way that made his heart clench further under its icy coating.
He knew that look. He’d seen it enough times, on the other side of an interview room. It was the look of someone trying to twist a situation to their own benefit.
So, it didn’t matter what he’d felt, when he was saving her life, or afterwards. It didn’t matter that the icy fist around his heart had melted the moment her golden eyes met his. That his heart had reached out for her. Or that his griffin had unfurled its wings and raised its head, gazing at her without the same painful suspicion that he greeted all strangers with.
He ran through her lies in his head.
All of us Belgraves are shifters, too.
We’re all winged lion shifters.
She was a Belgrave. No lie there. Which meant either Belgraves were some other sort of shifter than winged lions… or not all of them were.
She hadn’t responded when he tried to communicate with her telepathically.
All this suggested that she was a non-shifter from a shifter family—but why lie about something like that? It happened. Sometimes shifters were born from non-shifter families, and sometimes non-shifters were born from shifter families. It might have something to do with genetics. He didn’t know that anyone had done research into it. It was just one of those things that all shifters knew.
So why lie?
There had to be something more to it. And much as he wanted to find out why this woman wrapped herself in lies, much as he wanted to help her the way he dedicated his life to helping others, he didn’t have time for something more right now. He needed rest. A total retreat.
He needed for his goddamned head not to hurt every time he looked into those golden, lying eyes.
Chant, Zoe. Christmas Griffin (A Mate for Christmas Book 5) Kindle Locations (355-389). Kindle Edition.
In a twist of fate, the weather had deteriorated into a blizzard. Now they are trapped together to face the fact they are mates.
I love this book. Delphine has many difficult decisions to make with regard to her family. However, her immediate family has a surprise or two for her as well. Her relationship with Hardwick is not a difficult but it is one that has her thinking less lies and more truths.
While this is the last book in the series, I do hope we see more of these characters.
5 Contented Purrs for Zoe!
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Zoe Chant loves writing paranormal romance. Over a cup of tea (or something stronger) she whips up sexy tales of hunky heroes and adventurous heroines to tantalize and satisfy her readers. Sizzling hot romance, no cliffhangers!