USA Today Bestselling Author
Wolf shifter, Alex McCann, and mountain lion shifter, Teodora “Ted” Vasquez, came from rival clans. They left Cambio Springs together. Ted came back; Alex didn’t.
Now years later, the future alpha of the McCann wolves has returned with plans to bring new life to the dying desert community–plans that could change everything for the isolated enclave of shapeshifters in the California desert.
As the town’s doctor, Ted has concerns about exposing her community to outsiders. The two former lovers are at each other’s throats. And everyone is watching to see what happens.
But when murder once again strikes Cambio Springs, can they overcome their past to help the community they both call home? And can the love they once shared burn again when so many stand against it?
Teodora “Ted” Vasquez is helping Ollie out at the Cave when Alex McCann shows up. It seems he is also going to help Ollie when Jena had to leave suddenly. It doesn’t take much for him to annoy Ted, he can’t just waltz back into her life and expect everything to be the same again. She still feels the hurt and betrayal over his leaving her, it is palpable when he’s around.
Alex isn’t going anywhere. He’s going to bring Cambrio Springs into the present and work towards the future. The exclusive hotel and spa he’s building has brought many back to town.
One of whom is Marcus, a snake shifter, he’s the foreman on the project and everyone loves and respects him. His family is moving here as well so his children can be surrounded by others like them when they shift. His daughter is getting close to that age.
Now many things happen in this one, first Joe Smith, aka Russell, leaves Allie saying he doesn’t want to be married anymore. Allie is upset although everyone glad he’s gone. He’s been mentally abusive to Allie for quite a while now. She’s better off but the kids loved him, he was a good father to them.
Alex rents one of the trailers on Jena’s property to get away from his Alpha father. Robert doesn’t approve of Alex’s relationship with Ted believing the Wolves and Cats shouldn’t mix.
Things start to get crazier when Marcus’ body is found at the job site. Alex gets the call from Caleb Gilbert the town’s sheriff. Ted is the on-call coroner and declares that the death isn’t shifter related although it seems the coyotes have gotten to the body. Unfortunately, word has already gotten out and the snake clan is already out for blood.
Alex needs to be involved in the investigation, but Caleb needs him to stay out of it. There are shifters involved and their laws are different for a reason. Now Ted is caught in the middle.
This is a favorite scene.
Alex was sleeping, but he heard it. Soft padding feet creeping through his trailer.
Big padding feet.
He woke when the bed creaked to find a hundred-pound mountain lion lying half across his legs, staring at him with lazy golden eyes. He shifted to his back and scooted up a little, rubbing the sleep from his eyes.
The lion was silent, but her lip curled up. Alex smiled and reached out, running a finger through the soft hair behind her left ear. The instinctive purr made him smile, but the smile was wiped away when she got up on all fours, leaned down, and hissed in his face, baring vicious two-inch fangs.
A full-grown cougar was a terrifying sight, but it was the silence that had always freaked out Alex more than anything. When wolves hunted, there was panting and crackling as they ran through brush. Little yips and barks to let each other know the movements of the pack. But cats were silent hunters; they could creep up rocks and through brush with little trace, their silence broken only by the occasional blood-curdling scream.
So it was probably stupid that the only thing Alex could think of was getting Ted to shift back to human form just so he could see her naked.
He reached over and grabbed the small bag he had kept in his bedside drawer ever since he moved back to the Springs. The cat lurched back as he opened the bag.
“Oh yeah. You know what this is.”
Her eyes glazed over a second before her head dipped down to nuzzle the blanket. Then she shook her head and immediately shifted back to her human form.
Alex grinned. “Still like the catnip, huh?”
“That is so wrong, Alex.”
He laughed wickedly, even as Ted grabbed a corner of the sheet to wrap herself in.
“But it’s so cute.”
“I hate it when you do that!”
“Big scary cougar acting like a kitty cat? How can I resist?”
“That stuff should be regulated.” She scrunched up her nose and shook her head, as if still trying to rid her senses of the smell.
Seeing the advantage in her distraction, Alex grabbed Ted and rolled her under him, trapping her hips with his legs. He always slept naked, and it wasn’t lost on him that the only thing separating their bodies was a thin cotton sheet.
“My turn to pounce.”
“That’s not why I came over.” She was trying to brush him off, but he could scent her arousal and feel her pulse picking up.
“You’re the one who snuck into my trailer naked.”
“I wasn’t naked. I was wearing fur.”
“You’re not now.”
She shrugged. “I felt like having a run, and I wanted to talk to you. It’s quicker this way.”
“Definitely quicker.” He leaned down to her neck, taking in her scent. “We’re both naked. Saves time.”
She could shove him off if she wanted to. She was more than strong enough. But she just lay there, staring at him with an inscrutable expression, as if they were in business negotiations, not naked in bed. She had to feel how aroused he was; it wasn’t something she could miss with his legs caging her in, but she did nothing. Said nothing.
He let his mouth whisper across her neck, felt her pulse spike. Then he pulled away. “What did you want to talk about, Téa?”
“Why do you keep antagonizing Caleb?”
He lifted an eyebrow. “You want to talk about Caleb Gilbert while you’re in bed with me?”
She huffed out a breath. “I’m going to keep you in the loop on this, but it makes it more difficult when you’re pissing him off. I do have to work with the guy. And he’s married to one of your best friends.”
“I wasn’t consulted on that.” He braced his elbows beside her shoulders and played with a curl of her hair. “I like it when you don’t straighten it.”
“It’s a pain in the ass.”
“You didn’t straighten it in college.”
“I didn’t have time in college.”
“Hmm.” He didn’t say anything more. Didn’t push things, even though his body wanted him to. It was this he’d missed, as much as anything. Whispering with her in bed. Arguing about things, then kissing the frown from her mouth. He pulled a thick curl from behind her ear and pulled it out to its full length, laying it across her face so the soft strands touched her lips. Then Alex bent down and slowly took the curl between his teeth, letting his lips brush hers as he pulled it away.
Ted let out a soft breath, and her scent bloomed around him. He buried his face in her neck as her hands came to rest at his waist.
His lips trailed up to her ear.
“Kiss me, Téa.”
“Alex, we shouldn’t—”
“A kiss.” He spoke against her lips. “Just… a kiss.”
She drew in a breath, and he felt her body relax. Her hips sank into the bed, and her hands spread across the small of his back. His lips rested against hers. Not moving until she opened her mouth and let him in.
A ferocious need tore through him, but he clamped it down and sank into what she offered. Just that. Soft lips pressing and moving against his, then her mouth opened and he tasted her again. Slick tongue licking the inside of his mouth, lapping at him like the cat she was.
His Téa could do amazing things with her tongue.
He smiled as he kissed her, enjoying the familiar rhythm that took over their bodies. They rocked together, hands grasping harder, the friction of the sheets maddening against his skin. Their lips never parted. His hands sank into her hair, tugging her mouth back to his when she pulled away to gasp his name.
“Shh,” he murmured, taking deep breaths, forcing his body away from her and closing his eyes as he rested his cheek against hers. They were flush with desire. She was hot and wet. He could smell it around her. Alex ached to take her like that. Sink into her and sate the need that clawed them both, but he pulled back.
Too much too fast would only come back to bite him. And not in a good way.
“Thank you,” he whispered.
I miss you so much.
His wolf growled at him to claim her.
She said nothing, and his heart hurt a little.
Ted didn’t need him. Not like he needed her. Her life was full. Work she loved. Family. Friends. But cracks had appeared in her walls with the shock of Marcus’s death, and he was trying to ease closer without her shutting down. She hadn’t clawed at him when he and Caleb almost came to blows. She’d comforted him. Soothed both the man and the wolf with her touch. And so far, she hadn’t raised her guard again. It was an advantage he didn’t plan to waste, and he didn’t think his old friend would mind.
“You know… I’m sorry,” he said, still pressing his cheek to hers. His thumb stroked the side of her neck. “For hurting you. Sorry that you didn’t know how much it hurt me to lose you. Even if it had to happen, you should have known—”
“I should go.”
He closed his eyes. Too much. Slowly, he nodded and rolled to the side, but she didn’t get up right away. Just stared at the ceiling while he watched her in profile.
“This place is tiny,” she said.
“It’s decent for a trailer.”
She’d pulled the sheet up to her neck.
“If you’re really staying, why didn’t you just get a house? There’s a few in town that are nice. And you could always fix one up.”
Dammit, his sister had been right.
“I like the old places like yours,” he said. “There’s none of those right now. I can wait.”
“For what? Why not just build a new one in the old style?”
“You really want to know?”
She said nothing, but he could feel her tense.
“I didn’t want to buy one by myself, Téa. Or build one. Not alone. I always wanted—”
He broke off when he felt her shift. Seconds later, the mountain lion was out the door. He could hear the wind whipping through the trees that shaded the trailer. He listened for a few moments, then stood and walked to the door, looking out into the black night. He didn’t see her, of course. He didn’t expect to.
Alex sighed. “I wanted our house, not mine.”
Hunter, Elizabeth. Desert Bound: A Small Town Shifter Romance (Cambio Springs Book 2). Kindle Locations (1056-1123). Recurve Press, LLC. Kindle Edition.
With the two investigations going on they of course are stepping on toes. On top of that Marcus’ wife Josie had come to town with her children and plans to stay. Just not with the Quinn family. They’re really too much.
Josie’s brother, Chris Avery, comes to replace Marcus at the job site since they were partners, he’s quite opinionated and rude but seems to be getting the work done.
Other problems in the Quinn family lead to an interesting consequence for Alex and Ted and another shifter, Sean Quinn, returns to the fold to help control the unruly snakes.
There are so many twist and turns in this one, with laughter, tears, action, romance and sizzle as each problem works to resolution.
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.