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Tempted by the - Lion?: Riverford Shifters, #5

Tempted by the - Lion?: Riverford Shifters, #5

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Tempted by the - Lion?: Riverford Shifters, #5

ratings:
4/5 (2 ratings)
Length:
228 pages
3 hours
Released:
Apr 5, 2017
ISBN:
9781386609001
Format:
Book

Description

After a harrowing adventure in London, Kylie and family are finally able to meet up with the Alpha of her mother's shifter clan. However, not only does the meeting have an outcome none of them expect, but promising news from Riverford about the potential whereabouts of Kylie's mother has everyone rushing back stateside. Hunter's brother, Ryder, along with several old and new allies are soon dispatched to investigate a genetics research company in Los Angeles where he meets Charlotte, a human geneticist from the LA lion clan that could very well be the key to not only learning the fate of Kylie's parents but also learning the purpose of the lion clan's secret Amarillo compound.

 

Ryder just needs to sneak a woman he's not sure they can trust out of the city with the whole LA lion clan snapping at their heels, all while his jaguar soul is far too interested in mating her. Easy, right?

 

Contains mature content and language.

Released:
Apr 5, 2017
ISBN:
9781386609001
Format:
Book

About the author

Cristina Rayne is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in West Texas with her crazy cat and about a dozen bookcases full of fantasy worlds and steamy romances. She has a degree in Computer Science which totally qualifies her to write romances. As Fantasy is her first love, she feels if she can inject a little love into the fantastical, along with a few steamy scenes, then all the better. She is also the author of the Claimed by the Elven King, Claimed by the Elven Brothers, Incarnations of Myth, and The Vampire Underground series.


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Book Preview

Tempted by the - Lion? - Cristina Rayne

Chapter 1

A re you sure you want to come with us, Thea? Kylie Moore asked for the umpteenth time as the two Polyshifters headed out the front door of Thomas Clarke’s London home.

Thea linked arms with her newly-found cousin and grinned wickedly. Oh, definitely. I want to see the look on the old bastard’s face when he realizes that you have no plans whatsoever to live within the village.

Both Ryder and Hunter let out identical snorts of amusement as they, Maxim, and Paul followed the two young women outside.

Kylie frowned. But our grandfather might—

Don’t worry. I’ve always been quite insolent with him, so even if I laugh in his face about it, he’ll think I’m just taking the piss.

"A history of cheekiness or not, just promise me you’ll stay out of it if it does come to that kind of confrontation, Maxim said sharply. You don’t want your grandfather to become even mildly suspicious of your intentions if you try to argue on behalf of Kylie’s choice of continuing to live in Riverford."

I don’t have to, Thea assured him. After Kylie tells him what became of Grace after she ran away and the reason you don’t know her current whereabouts, then he wouldn’t dare say anything to piss her off. As I told you before, he really has been searching for her desperately.

Desperate or not, the fact that we’re meeting him at a very public, Welsh tourist site and not at your village means he still has a few hands to play, Maxim said pointedly. That’s what worries me.

Thea’s expression instantly became more serious. And it should. That’s why I wanted to leave Henry out of this first meeting altogether. He may be my grandfather, but he’s first and foremost my Supreme Alpha. He’s a real hardass on a lot of things. There are certain, personal things I can push back with him, but this business with Kylie and Grace affects more than just our family. The security of the whole clan is at stake, and in those kinds of matters, he will deal with me as harshly and equally as he would any of my clansmen and clanswomen. There’s a high possibility that this meeting could turn ugly, and I’d rather Henry not get caught in the crossfire. Avoiding the exhaustion of clan politics was the main reason Henry decided to live outside our village, after all.

He did finally cave and allow Paul to come along with us, Kylie said as she climbed into the third-row backseat of the black, SsangYong Turismo they were able to borrow for the long drive to Wales from one of Thomas’s friends.

Ryder looked on in a bit of relief as he watched his brother follow his soon-to-be mate into the back of the seven-seater. He had been dreading the hours-long drive to Wales, thinking that they were going to somehow squeeze six people into one of Maxim’s relatives’ cars. He had never heard of the make or model, so being told this morning that they were borrowing the vehicle hadn’t lessened his dread any.

With Maxim driving, Ryder waved Paul into the front, passenger seat while he slipped into one of the two bucket seats in the center row. After giving Maxim a quick, though enthusiastic kiss, Thea climbed in to claim the other bucket seat.

Seeing Maxim with the fiery redhead still gave him a jolt. Just a few weeks ago, he had honestly thought that Maxim would remain mate-less for the rest of his life. To see his once-broken friend so happy now gave Ryder hope that one day he would get over his own trauma enough to consider finding a mate.

Thea twisted her body to look back at Kylie and Hunter. Don’t be fooled, she warned, picking up the thread of their earlier conversation. Allowing Paul to accompany you wasn’t his version of an olive branch. He’s just trying to butter you up, Kylie.

For…?

I almost wish we weren’t meeting him so close to Pobl-y-goedwig.

Ryder looked at Thea sharply. That foreign phrase was the name of Thea’s village. Was she implying…

Do you really think that’s your grandfather’s game? Hunter asked before Ryder could open his mouth.

Thea scowled. "It’s probably the old bastard’s first priority. He worries a lot about the location of our village being revealed to the lions. If he didn’t see the value and necessity of modernizing and keeping some kind of connection to the outside world, then he never would have allowed any of us to attend university or clansmen like Henry to live outside the village. Kylie, on the other hand, is an entirely unexpected loose end. While I don’t think he will try to drag you to the village by force, I can’t, in all honesty, tell you that he won’t. Grandfather isn’t one to take the more diplomatic solution when it comes to the clan’s safety."

Fear does make us all do crazy things, Kylie said quietly, especially if it’s fear for the safety of family. Even so, I want to meet him at least once. I want to tell him how happy my mother was with my dad before they disappeared—how happy we all were. Maybe then, it’ll take some of his bitterness away, enough to focus his energy on helping us find, at the very least, my mom instead of trying to force me to live with the clan.

Your grandfather did say that he, alone, was meeting us, Paul interjected over his shoulder. "I must admit that I find that declaration more than a little suspicious coming from the head of such a secretive community. He doesn’t know any of us. Even Thea has no idea what he really thinks of the various outside clans. To him, we may all be the enemy, not just the lion clans."

That I don’t know his thoughts regarding any other shifter clan isn’t really saying much, Thea replied wryly. "In his eyes, I’m still just a naïve little girl in need of a stern hand and a lesson in responsibility, but you’re not wrong to be suspicious of his very probable misgivings. He may be the only one waiting to fall into step with us along that biking trail as planned, but I would bet my life that at least a couple dozen of my clansmen will be watching just out of sight. For his protection or to spring a trap in order to collect Kylie, well…"

I really don’t think your Alpha will try something so dramatic, Maxim said.

Ryder turned to look at his blond friend in surprise. You think so? Even though we’ll be completely in his territory?

Without taking his eyes off the road, Maxim replied, "I think the last thing he would want is to bring down the wrath of either the London clans or Riverford clans by doing something as reckless as abducting Kylie right in front of our noses. Not to mention that we have him at a huge disadvantage given that we have information he desperately wants about Grace as well as important information about recent lion clan activities in this neck of the woods. Kylie, on the other hand, doesn’t really need to meet with him."

True, Kylie said thoughtfully. "While I really would like to someday meet my grandmother and other relatives, my grandfather has no idea why I agreed to see him beyond an exchange of information. He may be less than forthcoming with any questions I may ask. That may be the trump card he plans on playing for this first meeting. After all the brouhaha The Chase caused in London, he could very well be thinking that I’ve come seeking sanctuary among my mother’s clan—maybe even for all of us. She turned a sheepish gaze to Hunter and squeezed his hand. It wasn’t so long ago that I thought I would have to do just that."

"And it never will come to that if I have any say about it," Hunter growled, his expression visibly agitated.

Good, then that means you two won’t ever try to run off to investigate things alone again, Ryder chided them for what was probably the hundredth time.

He was still ticked off about being left behind in Riverford not once, but twice. That would be the last time he would ever allow them to treat him with kid gloves no matter how logical their argument. If he had accompanied them, then maybe neither Kylie nor Hunter would have gotten so grievously hurt.

Although he was putting up a strong front, the bullet wound Hunter had received from the lions’ human lackeys was nowhere near healed enough for his little brother to be going into a situation where they may have to fight their way free, never mind his still-healing ribs. Kylie, too, would not be bringing her A-game to this meeting. However, even a worrywart like him agreed that they simply didn’t have the luxury of taking any more time to heal.

Not if they didn’t want the promising information they had received yesterday from Nolan and Tori to go to waste.

Instead of looking irritated as Ryder had expected, Hunter gave him a curt nod. Not for the first time since they had rescued Hunter, he wondered if his brother had really told them everything that had happened to him while a prisoner of the lion clans. After all, there were a few things that he, himself, had suffered down in the lions’ Amarillo compound that were so demeaning and terrible that he vowed to never tell his family. He didn’t want to live the rest of his life seeing the horror of the knowledge of what those sadistic bastards did to him reflected in their eyes every time they looked at him.

Hunter carefully leaned forward. And on that cheerful note—Thea, can you pull out your tablet? I want to get another look at the terrain as well as the trails around the reservoir and your village.

Ryder shook his head. I still can’t believe that your village actually appears on a map.

Thea grinned. "Hiding in plain sight is the way of the Polyshifter. Pobl-y-goedwig was ancient even before the Towy River was dammed in the early seventies to create the Llyn Brianne Reservoir in what my grandmother says was once a beautiful gorge. The fact that the village is so far out of the way, even from Llandovery or Llanwrtyd Wells, and can only be reached by biking and hiking trails keeps most of the reservoir tourists and birdwatchers away. To the outside world, we’re just a boring sheep farming village with no inns or recreational activities for tourists, so it’s rare to get visitors from even our neighboring communities. We’ve never, and I do mean never, have had a shifter not of our clan visit that was not invited first."

In plain sight or not, the fact that your village lies within a hilly terrain right smack in the middle of a good-sized patch of deciduous forest is a good strategy, Hunter remarked. You could hide a whole army in there.

That’s not making me feel better about our meeting place, Kylie said dryly.

Though pretty accurate, I’m afraid, Thea replied with a frown. Golden Eagle sightings are rare in Wales, so, unfortunately, I can’t scout ahead in that form to determine their positions without them knowing it’s a shifter. Her expression turned hopeful as she looked at Kylie. Red kites are pretty plentiful, however, and we do have some in our family that have that soul…

Kylie shook her head. My mother never mentioned being able to shift into a red kite, so unless you have a charm on your bracelet with the blood of a red kite, I have no way of finding out if I can shift into one right now.

Pity.

How many are usually out there patrolling? Ryder asked.

On a typical day, about four dozen or so, but the old, paranoid bastard may have all hundred plus watching us today.

Kylie sighed. I’m starting to think me wanting to meet this side of my family isn’t a good enough reason to put all of us in danger, especially when the chances of convincing my grandfather to work together to find my mom is practically nil.

We can still turn around, sweetie, if that’s what you really want, Paul said firmly, but don’t back out of this meeting on our account. We’re all here for you. I don’t want you to leave back to Riverford with any regrets.

Kylie’s grip on Hunter’s hand tightened until her knuckles turned white. Regret is the last thing I’m worried about, she replied grimly.

Chapter 2

They had only arrived at the Llyn Brianne reservoir ten minutes earlier, but to Ryder, it already felt they had been waiting for Kylie’s grandfather to arrive longer than an hour as he surreptitiously observed both his family’s body language and the surrounding terrain for potential ambushes. They were currently standing halfway across the paved walkway over the dam in front of the large, gray rocks that lined both sides of the path.

Without conferring beforehand, everyone had just naturally encircled Kylie as though they were her entourage of bodyguards. The illusion was only broken by the fact that she and Hunter, as well as Maxim and Thea, were holding hands while Paul made a big show of taking pictures of both the landscape and their group.

Everyone was so on edge, even Paul, that Ryder had to forcibly stop himself from falling into a defensive stance, especially when a young couple walking their dogs had passed them. The last thing this already tedious meeting needed was an air of initial hostility from their end. Damned if he would be the one to screw it up.

I don’t believe it, Thea abruptly exclaimed, drawing his attention from the rolling, tree-covered landscape across the lake he had been scrutinizing in vain for hidden Polyshifters to the direction the redhead was staring, her expression perplexed.

What? Kylie demanded, but the moment Ryder’s eyes fell on the older couple walking towards them from the mouth of the dam’s walkway, he knew.

Your grandparents? Ryder ventured before Thea could answer Kylie, narrowing his eyes as he scrutinized the redheaded man and scented the air.

He had only smelled Kylie once a few months back while her golden eagle soul had been dominate, but he was pretty sure he remembered that scent that reminded him of a sunny day under a blue sky. The scent of humans was, of course, strong here, but he couldn’t detect even a whiff of a golden eagle along the breeze blowing against his face. Had the Alpha of the Great Britain Polyshifter clan come to greet his newly found granddaughter as a human?

Yeah, Thea replied with a frown, but I never in a million years thought he would bring Nain. I can count on one hand the number of times she’s left our village.

‘Nain’? Maxim cut in. I could’ve sworn you said her name was Rowena—

Huh? Oh, it is. ‘Nain’ is just what we call our grandmothers here in Wales.

Kylie was staring hard at the approaching couple. I was really hoping to meet her, but not like this. Not as a means to butter me up for whatever agenda our grandfather has because that’s all I can see her presence here as.

I’m not sure what this means, to be honest, Thea said. Nain is a strong, no-nonsense woman—one of the few that can stand up to my grandfather when he’s in one of his super Alpha modes and win an argument. I can’t imagine she would allow herself to be used as an incentive if the old bastard’s primary goal for this meeting is to get you to join the clan.

Which could mean she and her mate are in complete agreement about what they wish to accomplish here today, Hunter said pointedly.

Thea’s frown deepened. Quite.

I find it very interesting that I don’t smell anything but human coming from their direction, Kylie added. Anyone else picking up a different scent?

Murmured no’s all around.

I always wondered what soul he used as his dominant whenever he went outside the village, Thea said. "He never made the switch until after he was beyond the perimeter wall. The old bastard always gives me loads

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