USA Today Bestselling Author
Fox shifter Alison Smith gave up on happy endings when her ex-husband walked out, but that didn’t mean she was allowed to give up on happy. With four growing kids, Allie is determined to look on the bright side and carry on. Luckily, Allie has the best friends a girl could ask for. Especially a certain quiet bear who’s always been her rock.
Oliver Campbell knows what it means to be patient. But twenty years of wanting one unavailable woman may have pushed him to the edge. With Allie working every night at his bar, their friendship has begun to fracture.
Then old ghosts offer one more kick to the little family that’s already down. Allie’s ex-husband may be gone, but his actions are haunting his family. With danger licking the borders of Cambio Springs, the bear and the fox will have to work together. And twenty years of unspoken passion may finally come to light.
In the last book Joe Smith aka Russell left his wife saying he didn’t want to be married anymore. No one has seen him since. Ted and Alex are married, and Alex won the dominance fight against his father and is now Alpha. Sean Quinn is back and helping Quinn.
Allie Smith filed for divorce six months ago, but nothing has happened. No one can find Joe to serve him the papers. She’s frustrated and wants to move forward but can’t without resolution.
Things are about to change, as Caleb gets a report that a rancher had found a body on his property. There was a pawn ticket in his pocket for a Bowie knife with the name Joe Russell. Now they still have to formally identify the body since it was exposed to the elements for quite a while. He has to tell Allie to get permission for the dental x-rays to be sent.
While they don’t know for sure if the body is Joe’s Allie only tells her two oldest their suspicions. Kevin is angry and Mark is thoughtful as they are told.
Ollie and the bear clan are asked by Allie to help find out if Joe was into anything that could lead back to her and the kids.
Of course, law enforcement is investigating as is Alex and the wolves. There are so many possible issues knowing Joe’s history of drinking and gambling. However, it’s the snakes that come up with the pertinent clue.
This is a favorite scene.
Sean fell silent just as Ollie turned onto the main road and headed toward Allie’s house.
Ollie asked, “Did you know? About the shit your uncle told me?”
“I knew about the poker game in Palm Springs. Maggie told me one of her brothers set it up for him, but it sounds like she’s the one who really did. I’m the one who told my uncle.”
“Why the hell would your sister vouch for a gambling addict in a high-stakes game, Sean? Why would she even—”
“Joe owed her money, okay?” Sean raked a hand through his hair. “Listen, I’m not saying I approve. I don’t. But Joe came to Maggie and asked for the introduction. The man knew his cards. She and a couple other people staked him for it and expected Joe to be able to walk away with at least enough to pay them back.”
“And then he disappeared.”
“Maggie’s a bitch, but she wouldn’t set him up if she thought it was someone violent. Joe was one of us. She wouldn’t have done it. If nothing else, the old man would have killed her.”
Ollie ground his teeth. “I’m going to talk to Alex.”
Sean winced. “Oh, you hate me. You know he’s going to blame me.”
“I have to. He’s the only one who’s ever run in that crowd. He’ll know who we can talk to. We need to find out who was at that game.”
“You think they had something to do with it?”
“According to your uncle, the game was set up for a night almost exactly ten months ago, the same age as the body. You telling me you think that’s a coincidence?”
Sean sighed. “No.”
“Yeah, I don’t either.” He turned right, toward the house, only to see Caleb’s police truck turn in behind him. “What the…?”
He cleared the line of willow trees that bordered the road to see Sean’s truck sitting in front of Allie’s house next to Ted’s Jeep.
Ted’s Jeep at Allie’s house. Caleb’s truck behind them.
“Shit,” Sean whispered.
Ollie parked and jumped out of the Bronco, running toward Allie, who had her arms wrapped around herself. Her face was leached of color.
No no no no.
Hollow eyes turned toward him, and he opened his arms, grabbing her and lifting her up as her arms went around his neck, holding so tight she threatened to choke him.
“Ted’s friend decided to work the weekend,” she whispered. “Trying to catch up. He called her…”
Ollie turned toward Ted, whose eyes were red. Alex stood with a hand at the small of her back as Caleb and Sean came walking toward them.
“It’s him,” Ted said. “Larry said the dental work was conclusive. He called as soon as he knew.”
Ollie turned his head, pressing his cheek to Allie’s temple, his hand against the back of her head, holding her to him.
“Okay.” He took a deep breath. “It’ll be okay. What do you want us to do?”
She was shaking. Ollie took her to the porch steps and sat down, holding her on his lap, her arms still around his neck.
“Allie-girl, what do you need?”
“I can’t think,” she said. “I can’t…”
“Do you want the kids here? Do you want us to take you over to Cathy and Tom’s?”
“Ollie—” His name was a choked cry when she broke.
He held her, stroking a hand over her hair, their earlier anger forgotten. He didn’t know what he whispered to her as she cried, but he felt Ted when she came to sit beside them and put her arm around Allie’s waist. He heard Alex sit beside his wife. Heard Sean pacing back and forth as Caleb murmured quietly on his phone.
The wind had picked up by the time her crying stopped. Allie lifted her head and wiped the tears from her cheeks, leaving one arm on Ollie’s shoulder as she blinked.
“Ted,” she said in a hoarse voice, “can you call Jena? Have her call my dad and get them to bring the kids home. My car is at the Crowe’s house.”
“In fact, see if Tom and Cathy can come over too.” She sniffed. “And I need you guys to stay.”
“Anything you need,” Alex said. “The kids—”
The lean man knelt next to Allie, worry creasing his tan face. “What’s up?”
“Can you bring Low and Bear too?”
Ollie frowned. “You sure you want so many people here when you tell them?”
“I need…” Her breath hitched. “I want everyone here. Everyone close. They need to know they’re not alone. I want them surrounded. Want everyone… everyone who loves them—”
“You got it.” Caleb’s eyes filled with tears. “We’ll take care of it, Allie. We’ll get everyone here.”
She nodded and Ollie drew her to his chest again, wrapping both arms tight around her. He could feel her heart racing against his chest.
“Take a breath,” he whispered.
“Ollie, my babies.”
“Take a breath, darlin’. We’ll keep things together.”
“As long as you want me to.” He hitched her tighter into his embrace, felt her hands move down and wrap around his waist. “I’ve got you, Allie. Just breathe.”
Hunter, Elizabeth. Waking Hearts: A Small Town Shifter Romance (Cambio Springs Book 3). Kindle Locations (1443-1485). Recurve Press LLC. Kindle Edition.
For Ollie this is almost as hard as it is for Allie. He’s loved her since before she and Joe got together in high school. Now that have an idea of what Joe was doing before he died, they need to move fast.
With Joe’s legal name of Smith out there, whoever killed him could come after Allie. Ollie is going to do everything he can to protect her. They really need to get past all this and finally be the couple they were meant to be.
There is a lot of suspense and intrigue in this one as the pieces slowly come together.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Elizabeth!
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ELIZABETH HUNTER is a ten time USA Today bestselling author of romance, contemporary fantasy, and paranormal mystery. Based in Central California and Addis Ababa, she travels extensively to write fantasy fiction exploring world mythologies, history, and the universal bonds of love, friendship, and family.
She has published over fifty works of fiction and sold over two million books world-wide. She is the author of the Elemental Mysteries, the Glimmer Lake series, the Irin Chronicles, and other works of fiction.