Miles Philson had his world nearly destroyed by a man who he should have been able to trust and look up to. Instead, it made him wary of forming connections of just about any kind. After joining the military, his brothers in arms helped him get past some of that, only to have that same general turn his life upside down all over again—by mutating him and his team into cheetah shifters and chemically altering their minds.
Once rescued from the general’s clutches, Miles watches the other members of his team meet and fall in love with what the shifter world calls fated mates. When he meets wolf shifter Ron Reussmin and feels the pull, he understands what it means. The new feline presence in Miles’s mind wants the boisterous, good-natured man, and Miles finally understands why his buddies didn’t resist their new partners for long.
Unfortunately, Ron is a deputy in Stone Ridge, and they’re going through some growing pains. An ex-employee is doing her best to stir up trouble. Can Miles keep his wolf shifter safe while staying off the radar of the shadow branch of the military that’s searching for him and his team?
Miles Philson stared at the small knot in the wood plank as he pounded out push-up after push-up. The colorful swirls of wood gave him a focal point, allowing him to shut down his mind and ignore the burn in his body’s muscles. He breathed steadily, counting in his head.
Once Miles reached one hundred, he flipped to his back. He tucked his moccasin-clad toes under the bottom of his bed’s footboard. Shifting down a little allowed him to bend his knees. Miles crossed his arms over his chest, found the gouges in the wood before him, and began an intense round of crunches.
Lifting and lowering, Miles ignored the rising burn in his abdominals. Instead, he wondered about the gouges. There were four of them, and they reminded him of something that could be made by claws. They were thick, like a canines.
“One-fifty,” Miles muttered under his breath before flopping back to the floor. He panted roughly as he stared at the ceiling. “Holy shit.”
Miles rubbed over his six-pack absently, trying to soothe the burning ache within his muscles. While he’d always worked hard to stay in shape while in the military, being turned into a shifter had cranked his fitness to a whole new level. His muscles recovered faster and stayed firm with less work, even though he pushed himself harder, too.
Ever since Miles was a teenager, he’d found working out to be a release. He could keep his mind focused on the activity as opposed to what was happening at home. The local gym had been his safe place. It also helped with his goals—to become stronger, to be able to defend himself, to be able to stop the beatings, to—
The grumbling of his stomach yanked Miles’s mind away from the direction his thoughts were spiraling—thank god. Along with enjoying increased physical fitness when being turned into a cheetah shifter, his appetite had increased…by a lot. When trapped by the scientists who’d created him, his free will stripped from him, he’d only been able to eat what and when he’d been ordered to. Miles has been hungry…a lot.
Now, though. I can eat what I want, when I want.
With that thought in mind, Miles rose to his feet. He grabbed his towel and his bath kit before opening his bedroom door. After a quick glance up and down the hall, finding it empty, Miles padded bare-chested to one of the two hall bathrooms.
Miles made quick work of his shower and morning routine. As much as many people exalted the wonders of coffee and how they couldn’t start their day without it, he didn’t agree. Instead, a quick workout to get his blood pumping woke Miles swifter and more fully than any cup of joe ever could. In fact, he skipped it most days, unless he was supposed to drink it to be polite.
And I normally don’t worry about being polite.
With a slight smirk curving his lips, Miles pulled on a pair of faded blue jeans and a black shirt. He returned to his room and dropped his dirty clothes into his laundry basket. After pulling on a pair of socks and his combat boots, Miles headed back into the hall.
Inhaling deeply, Miles enjoyed the fragrant aromas filling the air as he headed toward the kitchen. His stomach rumbled appreciatively as he made out the scents of bacon, sausage, eggs, potatoes, and peppers. He wondered if the peppers had been included in the eggs or the potatoes. If Lark was cooking, they would be in the diced fried potatoes. If Nereo had taken over the kitchen, he would have added the veggies to the scrambled eggs. Both options were delicious.
Miles would miss Nereo’s cooking soon. The vampire was mated with a fellow squad member—Warren. He’d originally been called in to help Miles, Warren, and the other two members of their squad—Crew and David—recover the memories that had been chemically stripped from them by the scientists who’d turned them into cheetah shifters. The vampire had immediately recognized Warren as his beloved—the vampire’s term for what shifters called a mate, or fated soul mate. Due to Warren’s desire to stay in the area with the other members of their squad, Nereo had chosen to resign his position as an enforcer to the Vampire Council, and they were in the process of house hunting. Nereo’s identity was currently being reworked, and he planned to work as a deputy in the nearby town of Stone Ridge.
As Miles started down the stairs to the first floor of the lodge owned and occupied by Declan and Lark McIntire—the alpha wolf shifter and his human doctor mate—he was surprised to see neither man banging around the kitchen. Instead, he spotted Castrose Zukan moving around the space with confidence. Miles knew the human was also a fairly new arrival who’d originally been trained as a sniper in the Swedish military.
Miles had heard the story about how Castrose retired from the Swedish military only to peddle explosive devices created by his younger brother, Clayton. One of Clayton’s devices had ended up in the hands of the human mate of the pack’s head enforcer, who happened to be an ex-assassin. With a little magickal assistance from a warlock and his biker gang shifter friends, they’d located and caught Clayton.
Castrose had followed, searching for his brother.
Both men had ended up mated—Castrose to a wolf shifter, and Clayton to Bailey Dyer. Bailey also happened to have been the commanding officer of Miles’s squad. He’d been turned into a cheetah shifter, too, but Bailey’s brother, Ronan, had secreted him away before the memory wipe had been completed. It was due to Bailey and the shifters that Miles and the rest of the team had been freed.
Thank god for that. Or the gods. Whatever you believe.