Divided Loyalties, Ashwood Falls, #4
By Lia Davis
Trained to hunt rogues and protect the human race from the threat of shifters, Christa Baker is beginning to rethink her career choice. Especially when her niece and nephew—who she’s raised on her own—end up in the crossfire. Now she’s looking for a way out and disappear off Shield’s radar for good. She never thought her out would be a gorgeous wolf who kidnaps her after raiding Shield HQ.
Hayden Raines has always followed the rules. As the Ashwood Fall wolf Marshal, he has to set the example for those working under him. When he sets his sights on the beautiful human hunter things go downhill, fast. Fate has a funny way of turning things inside out—because the woman he kidnaps, the enemy he might need to protect his family from, just happens to be his mate.
Warning: Contains one woman on a path she’s not ready for, a man who thought things would be different, and a heated exchange that turns out to be the best thing ever.
Excerpt: Something didn’t ring right with Christa Baker as she sat in the conference room listening to the new leader of Shield rattling on about rogue shifters. He said they were growing in numbers, yet he hadn’t provided any physical proof. Sure a few humans had gone missing, most of whom were homeless, and according the police, their disappearances weren’t that unusual.
She failed to see his point because shifters were born, not created. So why would they need to kidnap humans?
Her new boss had gone on and on for the last several weeks about an increase in shifter sightings. Again, no proof. Christa had checked.
She could pull up anything from the Internet. Social networks like Facebook and YouTube were the best places to look for the weird and unusual.
There hadn’t been a human attack by a shifter since she’d killed the beast in her home eight years ago. It had been her first encounter with what she now knew was called a mutant, a half-animal, half-human creature with no regard for life—its own or others’.
However, Vance Miller believed a civil war was raging among the breeds that had spilled over into the human world. There was something he’d left out, something bigger than he wanted her and the others in Shield to believe. So what if the shifters were at war with one another and killing themselves? Was it the mutants? If so, then they deserved what they got. They’d created the damned creatures; they could all go to hell as far as she cared.
It wasn’t Shield’s place to get involved in the shifters’ civil war. Shield was a human-run group of rebels that went above the law to protect mankind from the were-kind or shifters, as they liked to be called. She didn’t care what they called themselves as long as they left the humans alone. So far, in the eight years she’d been with Shield, the shifters had. However, there was the occasional mishap—like the mating-gone-wrong situation her sister had suffered.
Mary didn’t have the chance to run when her mate turned on her in a fit of jealous rage. Or at least that’s what Christa believed happened. Her niece and nephew, fraternal twins Brenna and Bryce, had been only eight at the time and thankfully not at home to witness how their mother died.
However, Christa had been the one to ID the body.
From that day forward, Christa had fought for Shield to protect humans from the shifter races.
Up until a few months ago, Shield hadn’t attacked innocents or started wars between the shifters, but then Vance had stepped in as the new leader of Shield. He’d changed the way the others thought, more like manipulated them into believing his load of bullshit. She wasn’t sure how he’d done it, but the others just bowed down to him and believed every lie out of his mouth.
How could they be so blind to his cause?
Then again, the other soldiers couldn’t detect a shifter like she could. Sure, they all had training to know what to look for. Eye color was the biggie. Most shifters had an unusual coloring, and when they were challenged or provoked, their eyes seemed to glow. Plus the pupils were reflective like the animal that lived within.
Christa had lived with two shifters for the last seven years. She’d been there when Brenna and Bryce shifted for the first time. She’d also helped them control their wolves, thanks to the information her sister had shared with her when she was alive.
“My sources tell me that the rise in shifter attacks points to a hybrid Pack of wolves and leopards called Ashwood Falls,” Vance said then tapped on the table to get her attention.
She met his gaze and held it until he looked away, but not before she caught the flashing shift of color in his irises. Satisfied she wasn’t being paranoid about what he was, she asked, “How trustworthy is this source? Why haven’t we heard about attacks from our police contacts? It should be all over the Internet.”
Vance set his jaw and turned away from them to study the map on the wall. “The shifters are very good at hiding these things from humans. You, of all people, should know that, Christa.”
What she really wanted to say was, “Like you, asshole,” but she refrained and squashed her temper down before it got her in trouble. Again. “How sure are you?” she asked in a slightly softer tone.
See? She could be calm and cool.
He peered at her over his shoulder and smiled one of those smiles that held no humor or amusement. “If I didn’t know better, I’d say you were protecting the shifters.”
She narrowed her eyes and wished she had the gift of pyrokinesis so she could light his ass on fire. Okay so maybe that was a little extreme, but she didn’t trust or like him. The darkness he held around him put her on edge every time he was near. “I wouldn’t want to go in and destroy the wrong den when there could be a bigger threat out there. I just like to be sure.”
The truth was Vance had taken all the control of research and strategy from her when he took over the unit. That annoyed the hell out of her, and it also left her feeling as though she was going into an OP blind.
She swore he let out a low growl before he called the meeting to an end. Gathering her notebook and pen, she moved toward the door, only to stop when Vance stepped in her path. She fisted her free hand by her side and silently counted backward from ten. One corner of Vance’s lips lifted. She wanted so badly to punch that smirk right off his face.
Or just shoot him.
If there was a rogue, it was him for sure.
“What’s the rush?”
She stared into his dark brown eyes and squared her shoulders. “I skipped lunch.”
He moved to the side, and she stepped forward. He gripped her biceps and leaned in to whisper in her ear, “Tell the brats to stay safe.”
She jerked out of his grip and stormed down the hall to the lobby of Shield HQ, away from the bastard shifter-acting-human. Only then did she allow her heart to pound uncontrollably and let fear consume her.
Pulling out her phone, she sent a one-word text to an untraceable cell.
A few seconds later she got a reply.
Relief flooded her system and threatened to make her knees give out. She had to get a grip. The twins were safe and very smart. But still she insisted on the text codes for her own piece of mind.
Although Vance had just threatened her niece and nephew. At least that was what she took it for, a threat. Maybe he knew they were wolves. No. He’d never met—or even seen them.
She had to get out of Shield and disappear. Fall off the radar for good.
When she reached the lobby door, she jerked back as it flew open to reveal a large man with black hair and bright green eyes that bored into her as he moved forward. She sidestepped him, but he was too quick. He snaked one arm around her waist, drew her into the hard length of his side, while he held a gun straight out, and fired at everyone around them.
She screamed, but no one heard her over the gunfire. Shield soldiers came from the back offices, weapons drawn. Two more men stepped up beside her and her captor then rushed the wall of Shield soldiers, killing them with ease like trained assassins.
Christa twisted and kicked with no results. The man had a death grip around her waist. “Let me go. We don’t have money in here.”
He didn’t reply, which was no surprise to her. She didn’t expect him to. Think, Christa. She scanned the large lobby, and her heart ached for the men and women she’d worked with for the last eight years. They were giving it their all, but it wasn’t good enough. One by one, they fell.
And she was helpless, trapped in the arms of the murderer.
One of her captor’s allies, an auburn-haired man, advanced down the hall. He came back a few minutes later and said, “He’s not here.”
The man holding her firmly to his body growled. “Let’s go.” He shot the last soldier before turning her around to face him.
She gasped. No fucking way. He was a shifter.
The way his eyes reflected off the light told her that. Frantic, she shoved against his chest. He wouldn’t budge. “Let me go!”
He lifted a brow and studied her for a moment or two as though he was trying to read her mind or something. Oh, no he wouldn’t. She yanked her knee up and connected with his balls, hard. He cursed and let go of her as he doubled over.
She didn’t waste time. She ran for the door, only to skid to a halt as the auburn-haired man appeared in front of her. What the fuck? A teleporter? No, he hadn’t materialized in front of her. She’d seen it done before. Fucking shifter speed was what he’d used to reach her so fast.
Christa patted her hip. Damn. She’d left her gun in her car because it was always too tempting to shoot Vance if she took it into the meeting.
She tried to fake a left and then moved right to move around him when the other man gripped her by the arm. A sharp stick in the arm made her jerk. She peered at the man as he pulled a needle out of her arm.
Son of a bitch.
Her vision blurred, and her legs wobbled, no longer able to hold her up.
“Bastards,” she managed to say before everything went black.
About the Author:
Lia Davis is a mother to two young adults and two very special kitties, a wife to her soul mate, a paranormal romance author, and co-owner to Fated Desires Publishing, LLC. She and her family live in Northeast Florida battling hurricanes and very humid summers. But it’s her home and she loves it!
An accounting major, Lia has always been a dreamer with a very activity imagination. The wheels in her head never stop. She ventured into the world of writing and publishing in 2008 and loves it more than she imagined. Writing is stress reliever that allows her to go off in her corner of the house and enter into another world that she created, leaving real life where it belongs.
Her favorite things are spending time with family, traveling, reading, writing, chocolate, coffee, nature and hanging out with her kitties.