Raine Matthews used to be quirky, fun and slightly goofy. She’s not allowed to be any of those things while she is firmly under her husband’s thumb. Her only reprieve comes from distant memories of a man she saw only once six years ago. In that instant, Raine knew there was something special about him. The memory of that twinkle in his eyes, of his careless smile, gives her a shot of hope at her darkest moments.
She knows the only way to survive is getting away from her husband, no matter what. And in the back of her mind, she can’t shake the feeling that somewhere, somehow, she’s going to see that mysterious stranger again.
Daxon Mark is the frustrated, irritated, sexy-as-hell alpha bear of the Kendal clan. Trapped between shuffling truces with other bear clans, and the meddling of an overbearing shifter council, he can’t shake the feeling that the woman he saw six years before is what he needs to stay sane. He's teetering on the edge and when a bear as big as Dax goes nuts? THAT ain’t something anybody wants.
With Raine on the lam and Dax trying to escape the confines of small town politics, the two of them finally meet again – in the most romantic of places – in the toilet line at a concert.
With a glance, he steals her heart, and with a word she sets a fire in his soul. But with trouble brewing back in Kendal Creek and Raine constantly looking over her shoulder, will these two fated mates find their peace? Or will fear, loss, and murder rip the pair apart before love is allowed to bloom?
“I’m done with this,” Daxon Mark, alpha bear of the Kendal Clan, announced as he stood from behind his desk, knocked his chair over backwards, and took a long pull on his coffee. There were a few grounds in the last swallow, but that wasn’t the bitterest thing he’d tasted that day.
“I’m out. To hell with everything.”
Fletcher White, his assistant and the sheriff’s department’s chief dispatcher, let out a long sigh. “We have to get a new sheriff, Dax,” she said. “You can’t just get pissed off every time things aren’t going your way and throw your hands in the air. Where would you go, anyway?”
He shrugged. The huge muscles on either side of his neck rose to his ears. He sighed, too. “I don’t know. There’s a big concert in Denver. Some kind of festival thing. I could go hang out and drink for three days and come back with a horrible sunburn.”
She cocked an eyebrow. “Is that, uh, really the best idea? Kendal Creek has no real law enforcement except for you beating up people when they get out of line, and Rollins as the acting sheriff. Also, don’t you remember the last time you took off? What was that, six years ago? You moped around town for three months pining for some girl you didn’t even talk to.”
“Well he can handle it. He’s been around long enough.” Dax stopped for a moment, “And I told you, that Boston trip is off-limits to make fun of. I’ll find her again. No matter what.”
“Yeah,” Fletcher said. “That’s the problem. Rollins has been eligible for retirement for about five years now. You really think he wants to be running around in the woods every time someone reports a fight or thinks they’ve spotted a poacher?” She carefully avoided any talk about the mystery woman. It was like she said though – Dax took another impromptu vacation to Boston six years before, and ended up falling in love with someone he never talked to. Bears tend to mate for life, sure, but such a fixation, Fletcher had never seen.
“And anyway, beyond that we just worked out that truce with Jack Creighton and his slightly Deliverance-like clan.”
“I know,” he said, rubbing his temples with an impatient hand. “I know all of that. I just need to get out of here for a while. I need to think.”
Fletch pulled her horn-rimmed glasses off her nose, and stuck the left tortoise-shell earpiece in her mouth. She was irritated, Dax knew the signs. “Why don’t you take breaks when things are, you know, stable?”
“What difference does it make?” he asked, sitting back down and exhaling loudly. “Where are we going to find a werebear cop? Hell, where are we even going to find more werebears who are willing to live all the way out here in the middle of nothing. The closest enclave is in Santa Fe, and I’m sure all the city slickers and weird ley-line worshipping hippies that live out there don’t want any part of a world without fast food vegan cuisine.”
And I need to find her, Dax thought. She’s the one. I know it. I know it in my damn bones. Even if I don’t know her name. For a moment, he let his thoughts drift to her careless curls, her dark green eyes and the way her right cheek dimpled when she sang Michael Bolton songs. Somehow, her voice took him to a place he couldn’t explain; a place where he was calm. And Dax wasn’t one to ever be very calm.
“Fair enough,” Fletch said. “But maybe it’s time we open up a little?”
“Oh good, this again,” he said. “You know the rules. The Council won’t have any part of it. If I bring a human – or a bunch of them – here, they’ll be all over my nuts in a half-second. You’re talking about that girl again, aren’t you?”
“Classy language. And yeah, of course I am.”
“You’re the one who scratches herself when she thinks no one is looking,” Dax said with a grin. His silvery eyes twinkled with mischief, and his irises showed just a fleck of yellow. He was feeling feral.
Fletch laughed, unashamed. “You gonna tell a bear not to scratch? Anyway, there’s more pressing things to deal with than your stress level. Go get a massage, eat a big hunk of pie down at Wilma’s, and come back refreshed. Sound good?”