Anna Gustafson can't remain in shifter form for more than five minutes. Although she thinks she has found an acceptable mate at the shifters' Antarctic facility, during a snow squall she becomes trapped in a storage shed with a human male, Caleb.
A very attractive human male. Anna allows herself one night of forbidden passion, but discovers that it will never be enough. Can Anna stand up to the stringent rules of her shifter clan to claim her true mate?
Caleb Barstow trudged through the wind-whipped snow. The storm had blown in quickly, like they often did in this part of the world. It reminded him how harsh the climate in Antarctica could be. He was a long way from sunny Arizona. He shivered in his arctic gear. Even though he wore several layers of clothing, a thick parka, and a fur-trimmed hood, the dry gusting winds blew straight through him.
Thank God, one of the storage sheds was up ahead.
He’d been hoping to get back to the Beta Group Research Center before the whiteout. But since he’d been at the Antarctic Research Observatory, or ARO, for three months, he’d learned the value of always having a Plan B whenever he had to make a trek outdoors. Dr. Tate would just have to wait for the additional supplies he’d requested.
As Caleb trudged to the metal door of the storage shed, he noticed it had been left open a few inches. When he pushed, however, the door refused to open completely.
His gaze lit upon the reason why—a naked and shapely hip blocked the door.
The soft rounded hip was part of the soft rounded woman lying on the floor, unconscious. Or dead? Drifts of snow blew inside the shed and skipped across her prone form. She didn’t move. His heart slowed. How long had she been lying there? In temperatures well below freezing, hypothermia took hold in minutes and death followed quickly thereafter. Worry battered his thoughts. What if he’d found her too late?
With the storm screaming at his back, he hurriedly slipped inside, shut the door, and bent down to check the stranger’s pulse. He breathed a sigh of relief when he felt a surprisingly strong thump under his fingertips.
In the dim lighting from a small, snow-encrusted window he could only see the woman’s outline. What was she doing here? And why the devil didn’t she have any clothes on?
He averted his gaze to keep his heart from pounding and his blood from boiling. He hadn’t had a good fuck since he left Tucson in October, and his damn hormones wouldn’t stop reminding him. He exorcised the inappropriate thoughts from his head. She needed his help.
He grabbed a flashlight stashed on the wall and switched it on. The harsh beam revealed a strikingly beautiful woman. Her eyelashes were like snowflakes against her pale skin. Her hair was long and almost as white as the snow gusting outside.
He unzipped his parka, and covered her with it. No jacket. No boots. What was she doing out here? He knelt down and brushed her hair off her face.
From the dust that stirred, he knew she was breathing, but her skin felt chilled to the touch. He needed to warm her up. Fast.
Leaving his flashlight on the floor, he scooped her up and tipped her back against his chest. The parka twisted around her lithe body, and his hands touched directly against soft, womanly flesh.
Gently, he set the woman on a pile of wool blankets stacked on a cot. Each shed contained the bare essentials should anyone get stuck in a squall. To get caught unawares in the changeable weather of the Antarctic wasn’t unusual.
The storage shed held mostly emergency food and supplies for the shape-shifter enclave inside the block-shaped building on stilts about a quarter-mile from the research center. He’d never been inside the shifter facility, but he’d heard tales.
He looked down at the beautiful woman. Was she one of them? Had she been part of the sex games and other wild things he’d heard about? She didn’t look like any of the black-haired shifter females he’d seen coming and going from the ARO.
Dang, it was cold in here.
He scanned the dark recesses of the eighteen-by-eighteen foot shed. A propane heater sat near a set of shelves full of unmarked cardboard boxes. Hopefully, there’d be some useful things in them. He grabbed a battery-powered lantern and switched it on. It lit up the shed with an odd white light.
A quiet groan caught his attention.
When he turned around, his mystery woman was wide awake.
The parka had sagged off one shoulder, revealing the sweep of her collarbone and the top curve of one breast.
He sucked in his breath.
“Where am I?” Her voice was like sunlight, bright and warm.
He passed a hand across his mouth. “In one of the storage sheds on the outskirts of the compound. There was a storm. I came here to wait it out and found you passed out on the floor.”
A furrow appeared between her brows. She sat up straighter, and the parka slipped lower. “A storm...” She seemed to notice her state of undress just then, pulling the parka closer around her. “You aren’t from the facility.” The warmth from her voice was gone.
“No, I’m not. I’m a researcher at the center. My name’s Caleb Barstow.” He took a step forward. “Is that where you came from, the shifter facility?”
The woman gazed at him with glass green eyes. A sprinkling of freckles dotted her cheeks and nose. “Yes, but I don’t remember how...how I got here.”