Authors: Ann Gimpel
Tags: #women’s adventure fiction, #action adventure romance, #science fiction romance, #urban fantasy romance, #Mythology and Folk Tales
Alphas in the Wild
Action Adventure, Paranormal Romance Collection
~A Run for Her Money~
Dark. Delicious. Unforgettable.
The hottest alphas live—and love—in the mountains.
Tumble into second-chance love, where magics collide, mountain gods are out for blood, and aliens invade Earth.
All rights reserved.
Copyright © December 2015, Ann Gimpel
Cover Art Copyright © November 2015, Fiona Jayde
Edited by: Angela Kelly
Names, characters, and incidents depicted in this book are products of the author’s imagination, or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or people living or dead, is entirely coincidental and beyond the intent of the author.
No part of this book may be reproduced or shared by any electronic or mechanical means, including but not limited to printing, file sharing, e-mail, or web posting without written permission from the author.
This book was released as Destiny’s Shadow by Liquid Silver Books in February 2013 and by Ann Gimpel and Dream Shadow Press as Hello Darkness in December 2015. This book has been substantively rewritten from the original.
Released by Liquid Silver Books in May 2013. Re-released by Ann Gimpel and Dream Shadow Press in December 2015. This book has been substantially rewritten.
A Run For Her Money:
This book began as a short story by the same name published by Sam’s Dot Publishing in March 2012.
A Second-Chance Paranormal Romance Novella
Tumble off reality’s edge into a brutal blizzard where magics collide
Earth magics collide, forcing Moira Shaughnessy to take a chance on a man who hurt her so badly she never forgave him.
A ranger for the U.S. Park Service, Moira is in serious trouble. Fleeing from Ryan, her cheating husband, who’s a Native American shaman, she stumbles into the arms of a man she never thought she’d see again. He hurt her once by choosing his magic over her. Would she be a fool to take a chance on him now?
Tim hasn’t seen Moira in ten years. When her name shows up on his patient roster in the rural clinic where he’s a doctor, he can’t believe his luck. Deeply held secrets forced him from her side, but he’s never forgotten her. Never stopped loving her. This time, he’s determined to make different choices, even if it costs him his birthright as the next Arch Druid.
Pursuing very different motives, Tim and Ryan follow Moira deep into the backcountry, catching her in a crossfire between Celtic magic and Native American shamanism. A freak blizzard compounds her problems, taxing her survival skills to the max. Against the specter of almost-certain death, Moira has some hard choices to make.
Hello darkness my old friend. I’ve come to talk with you again.
Paul Simon, Sounds of Silence
oira Shaughnessy’s booted feet hit the ground in front of the Family Medicine Clinic. Slamming the door of the dusty white Park Service pickup, she considered ignoring her boss’s orders, peeling out of the parking lot, and heading for the Baxter Pass trailhead. She had a crew to oversee, goddammit. A work project to complete. But her boss, John, had been painstakingly clear, both yesterday at Park Headquarters in Three Rivers, and a mere ten minutes ago on the sat phone. Granted, he’d been far more pointed on the phone.
“It’s not a suggestion, Moira,” he’d growled. “This is a directive—from me. I want to hear from someone with MD after his name before I authorize you to head up that work detail. Do not set one foot on the trail before you receive my orders, e-sign them, and e-mail them back to me.”
“But that’s usually a formality—”
“Not this time. No buts. I made you an appointment at the clinic in Bishop that clears some of our crews. They’re open until six. I already lost two rangers this summer in the Pinecrest fire. That was two too many in my book, so get your butt into that clinic.”
Moira gritted her teeth. She’d thought she could avoid dealing with the whole mess by leaving the office early yesterday and taking one of the northern passes over the Sierra Nevada Mountains, but John tracked her down.
Phooey. I ran, but guess I couldn’t hide...
It was downright annoying that her boss needed a doctor to reassure him she wouldn’t collapse—or something—in the backcountry. For the briefest of moments, she felt like pounding her fist into the nearest tree, but then she pulled herself together. Nothing was wrong with her, except her slimy, cheating husband. Sure, she’d lost a few pounds since she left him, but she hadn’t been all that hungry.
Problem was, John remembered similar struggles from years ago when she first started working as a park ranger. She hadn’t eaten enough then, either, and grew far too thin. Just her luck, he’d been overseeing a backcountry work detail when she got woozy and fell off one of the mules.
Understanding surfaced; embarrassment followed. Her boss cared about her. That wasn’t a bad thing. Anger bled out of her with a whoosh.
“May as well get this over with,” she muttered.
Moira walked briskly to the clinic, pushed the door open, and headed for the counter. The antiseptic smell common to all medical offices hit her like a wall as she strode across the scrubbed linoleum floor.
“Yes?” A young woman with dyed red hair looked up from her computer screen with eyes so green she had to be wearing colored contact lenses.
“Moira Shaughnessy. I think you’re expecting me. My boss called from Kings Canyon-Sequoia Park Headquarters.”
The receptionist clicked a few keys. “Your insurance card, please.”
Moira blew out a frazzled breath and dug through her fanny pack for her wallet. Once she found it, she extracted the plasticized Blue Cross card, handing it over. “I’m really in a bit of a hurry—”
“Here’s your card back.” The clerk gestured at the nearly full waiting room. “The doctor will be with you as soon as he can. He had a full schedule before he agreed to work you in.”
“Is it okay if I go outside for a few minutes? I need to lock my truck. I, uh, didn’t think I’d be in here for very long.”
“Sure. So long as we know where to find you.” The phone trilled, and the receptionist picked it up, Moira obviously forgotten. “Family Medicine, how may I help you?”
Moira let herself back outside. Too restless to return to the overcrowded waiting room, she paced up and down the parking lot. Fall had turned the aspen trees lining Bishop’s streets to shades of red and gold that were quite striking, but all she could think about were the minutes ticking by. It was twelve miles from the trailhead to the top of the pass, and a couple more to where her trail crew was. Leaving today would be foolhardy at this point. She’d never even make the pass before night fell.
“Damn it!” She glanced at her watch. How long was this going to take anyway?
“Ms. Shaughnessy?” A man’s voice sounded from behind her.
She spun, surprised out of her funk.
And stopped dead.
Moira stared at the tall, rangy man with long, white-blond hair and ice-blue eyes. He was dressed in teal scrubs and sandals with a stethoscope draped around his neck. A broad grin split the clean planes of his face. She’d forgotten how heartbreakingly beautiful he was.
“I saw the name and hoped it was you.” He held out a hand, but she remained frozen in place. “After all, how many Moira Shaughnessys could there be?”
She stood there, flabbergasted. What were the odds? She hadn’t seen Tim O’Malley since they’d both graduated from U.C. Davis. When she realized her mouth was hanging open, she shut it with a snap.
“Is that any way to greet an old friend?” One corner of his mouth turned down in an expression she remembered all too well.
“It’s just... I mean I never expected...” She felt warmth rise from the open neck of her buff-colored uniform shirt. Heat suffused her face until she was certain every freckle was outlined in bright, living color.
. I know we didn’t split up under the best of circumstances...”
“No shit. And you can skip the
part.” A familiar anger stirred, but she batted it aside.
“Moira, I’m sorry. I was sorry then, and I still am.” He sounded so sincere, it tugged at her heartstrings. Part of her wanted to believe him, and part of her was afraid to.
“Grannie told me some of it—about the Arch Druid stuff. And you having to be celibate or something.”
He creased his brow, the smile fading. “I’m glad she did. I was sworn to silence about Druid affairs.” He cleared his throat. “In truth, I still am.”
“What she told me didn’t make it any easier. I tried to call you—a bunch of times.”
“Christ, Tim, it’s been close to ten years.”
He looked chagrined. “I suppose I know that too.”
Her heart, already damaged from her sham of a marriage, squeezed painfully in her chest. She’d loved Tim once. And thought he loved her. They’d known one another since they were children growing up in the same sprawling Irish immigrant community.
“So what happened?” She eyed him, struggling for equanimity. “It’s a long way from Druid to doctor. Or are you a nurse here?”
“Nope, I’m the doc. My training took up eight of the ten years since—”
The clinic door flew open. A harried-looking, overweight woman in white scrubs rolled her eyes. Her short brown hair stood up in spikes, and her muddy green gaze shot darts. “There you are. Dr. O’Malley, you have patients.”
He waved her to silence. “Fine, Bridgette. I’ll be in soon.”
He made shooing motions with both hands. “I said I’ll be in soon.”
Bridgette screwed her face into a disapproving frown. “Whatever,” she snapped and banged the door shut.
Tim closed the few feet between them and laid his hands on Moira’s shoulders. “Can I buy you dinner? Or maybe just a cup of coffee, if you’re still mad at me and not willing to risk an entire meal.”
“I’d like that, but I’m on my way to work. See...”
She took a big breath, and an annotated version of her story tumbled out. She mentioned her divorce and her lack of appetite, but skipped the low points about her marriage, figuring it wasn’t really any of Tim’s affair.
“Last time I wasn’t very hungry was right after you and I broke up. I’d just started working for the Park Service. Unfortunately, John—that’s my boss—has a long memory.”
Tim listened until she was done talking, and then placed his stethoscope in his ears. “Take a deep breath.” He moved the bell to several locations on her chest, and then had her turn around and positioned it on her back. “Your heart sounds healthy to me.” He gripped her wrist, taking her pulse as he ran his gaze over her body in a familiar way that tightened her throat and made her belly clench with heat.
“What do you weigh?” He eyed her again. “Maybe one thirty?”
Moira nodded. No point in lying since he could drag her inside and plunk her on a scale. “One twenty-two.”
“It could be worse. Have you had issues with anorexia since—” color blotched his cheeks “—well, since us?”
Moira shook her head. “I’ve maybe lost ten pounds this time round.” She looked away. “The problem was a whole lot worse ten years ago.”
“Moira.” His voice cracked with emotion. “I’m sorry. Scarcely a day goes by—”
“Don’t.” The word tore out of her. “Just don’t. I have to get to work. I’d never have stopped, except John insisted.”
He stepped back a pace and nodded. “You should be fine, so long as you start eating again. What is it your boss needs?”
“A phone call, I think.”
“Not a fitness for duty statement?”
She shook her head. “No. Nothing so formal.”
Not yet anyway.
“Good, because that would require a real physical and some labs. Jot his number down for me.” He pulled a small notebook out of a pocket and handed it to her, along with a pen.