Sunshine Campbell became a Crypto zoologist to prove to the world that her grandfather, Angus Campbell, wasn’t crazy. His stories about legendary shape shifting animals were more than legends. He told her what he was and she believed him. She must prove they exist, even if it’s only to prove that the man who raised her wasn’t as crazy as everyone thought.
Sunshine knows what she will do when she finds the proof that more than one bear existed in the area. What will she do when she and her best friend find not only one or two dead specimens, but an entire clan alive and well?
It was a damned good thing they had decided to pay a couple of the human locals to keep a lookout for anyone trespassing on their property. Ever since scientists found the skeleton of one of their kind in a cave in the area, there had been hundreds of eager scientists looking for more.
They had been lucky with the first one. The bones had been so old, there hadn't been even the tiniest amount of viable DNA left in it. He glanced at Gavin who moved up next to him. "How do ye suppose they knew about the cave?”
"I dinnae know," Gavin said with a grunt as he pulled himself up another arm's length with little more than the tips of his fingers.
The cavern was once a sacred place for his people. They lived inside, using the fresh water that ran down the walls to drink and the small, underground lake for bathing. Now, they merely wished to keep it hidden to stop others from finding the pictographs inside.
It was never easy to explain why the hunters on the wall appeared to turn into animals before becoming men once again. They would have destroyed the cave and its evidence of the existence of shape shifters long ago, if it weren’t for the historical significance it held for their kind.
Fifteen minutes later, Malcolm climbed over the edge, stood up and heaved a sigh as be bent to brush the dirt from his jeans. “That was a bit of a challenge.”
“I’ll bet it was, if you climbed up here from the bottom. That looks like a two-hundred foot drop.”
Looking up, Malcolm met the gaze of the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. Long red hair framed her heart-shaped face as she stared up at him with her gorgeous green eyes. Her thick jacket hung open over a sweater and blouse. She wore the legs of her loose fitting denims tucked inside thick, woolen socks. He cast a glance to her companion to note they dressed in a similar fashion. They were of a similar size, except the redhead was about two inches taller. He would have had a difficult time telling them apart at a distance had it not been for the long, fiery hair the one possessed.
“Aye, it is.” He smiled. “More like two-hundred and thirty.”
“You could have fallen!” The redhead looked genuinely worried for his wellbeing. It made his smile grow larger. Why, he had no idea.
“Aye.” He nodded. “Ye could have fallen, as well. The narrow path tae the cave isn’t much safer.” Malcolm didn’t mention that he would heal much faster from greater wounds than either of the women could. They were human. He and Gavin were not.
“Did ye have a guide, a local tae show ye around?” Gavin asked as he moved forward and offered his hand to the lass with the short-cropped dark hair. “Because if ye did, I’d like tae know who would bring two such bonnie lasses up here and leave them tae themselves.”
“No,” the two women said at the same time.
The gorgeous redhead shook her head, blushing prettily. “We couldn’t find anyone to lead us here.” She reached into her back pocket and pulled out a piece of paper. “I had this map my grandfather drew for me.”
Malcolm glanced at the paper, his temper flaring. “Did ye tell the locals what ye were about?"
"Of course we did!" She bristled. The action only made her more attractive. However, Malcolm doubted she would appreciate his saying so. "Do you think we have a death wish? We wanted help. We even asked for help. All we got were chuckles and innuendo.”
“Damn those hu—“
“Huge pains in the arses at the pub,” Malcolm finished for Gavin when the other man would have said humans.
“Aye. They are that,” Gavin agreed, shoving his hands in his pockets, his gaze shifting to his feet.
Do ye scent something different about the bonnie redheaded lass, Gavin? Malcolm asked as she moved toward the path down the cliff.
Aye, old friend. She smells sweet, like candy.
Malcolm’s skin prickled as he looked at the woman and took another deep breath. I think she’s my mate. He looked to his friend. Tell me ye scent it, as well. I dinnae think I could bear tae share her with a man I dinnae know.
Aye. I scent it too. Best we get them out of the cold and into the castle afore they slip away without a trace. We dinnae have an idea where tae find her should she disappear. I dinnae know about ye, but I want tae know where tae find her should she decide tae go home.
Malcolm wanted that as well. They had lived alone too long to lose her now. Let’s get them home and see if we can convince them tae stay awhile. Maybe her friend is someone’s mate, too.¬ He wasn’t sure the men of their clan could get that lucky. However, he knew Gavin was correct. They needed to get the two females to go with them so they could learn more about the woman who just might be their mate.