Authors: Dana Marie Bell
Halle Shifters, Book 1
Once a Bear sets his mind on a mission, it’s best to stay
out of his way. Alexander “Bunny” Bunsun is that Bear. Something’s not right
with his cousin Chloe, and he’s come to Halle, PA, to sort it out, turn his
Harley around and head home to Oregon. Until an enticing scent lures him into
the local tattoo shop.
There she is. An inked, Southern-drawled she-Wolf with
lime-green hair. His perfect mate.
Tabitha Garwood’s rotten day just got worse. Her Outcast
status makes her a target for harassment with alarming regularity. And now, in
the middle of a root touch-up, looking like a half-melted Skittle, she’s met
her destined mate. The only upside? She finally has a protector in the form of
a huge, tattooed, shaved-head Bear who vibrates with carefully restrained
When Chloe is left for dead and Tabby is threatened, only
Alex can keep his growing family safe. Giving Tabby the loving home she needs,
though, could come at a price—Alex must give up the control he’s worked a
lifetime to attain.
Which means someone could die at the hands—and claws—of his
Warning: This novel contains explicit sex, graphic language,
a hunky Bear named Bunny and… Yes. I said a Bear named Bunny. I don’t know
about you but I’m not brave enough to make fun of it.
They cannot be sold, shared or
given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places,
and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used
fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons,
living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
577 Mulberry Street, Suite 1520
Macon GA 31201
Copyright © 2010 by Dana Marie Bell
Edited by Tera Kleinfelter
Cover by Kanaxa
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used
or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in
the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
publication: July 2010
Mom, who was always there when I needed her, and sometimes when I didn’t. We
may not always agree, but it doesn’t matter. We’re family. That means you’re
stuck with me, no matter how many times you tell people you’re my much younger
Dad, who puts up with our crazy antics and sometimes eggs us on just to see the
vein in Mom’s temple throb. How many times do we have to remind you that she
knows where you sleep AND she cooks your food?
Dusty, my necessity. Despite the fact that my Alienware laptop rocks, you will
always have more geek cred than me. You’re the only man I know who’s actively
working toward surrounding himself with monitors…and succeeding. I’ll know your
master plan is complete when you finally hook up the automatic Mountain
Dew/Snickers bar dispensers to your Uber Leet Gaming Chair with Built-In
but not least, to Molli, Jambrea, Sandie and the rest of the Samhain Café who
begged me for a werebunny. This one’s for you.
it, Bunny. That was the last piece of bacon.”
was starting out to be a really great day. Alexander “Bunny” Bunsun grinned and
swallowed the crispy, greasy, salty bit of heaven. “Yes. Yes, it was.” And it
had been delicious. The extra-special flavor came from the amused frustration
in his cousin’s eyes.
sat back with a low growl. “And you ate all the cantaloupe.”
did.” He sat back and rubbed his stomach. Damn, but the food here was
He’d have to keep this place in mind the next time he traveled this way,
especially if Chloe decided to make Pennsylvania her permanent home.
snagged the last grape with a warning glare, popping it into his mouth. “At least
you left me
your bitching. You got four eggs, all the sausage, six pancakes, all of the
green melon thingies and an entire pot of coffee.”
melon thingies?” Ryan chuckled, wiping his hands on his napkin before dropping
it onto his empty plate.
rolled his eyes and signaled the waitress. He never could remember what they
were, but they were always put in salads with the cantaloupe and made it taste
hell with it. Let Ryan laugh. Bunny wanted to pay his check and get back on the
road. It wouldn’t take them more than a few more hours to get wherever the hell
they were going, and he was determined to enjoy every moment of it, despite
paid the check and headed for their Harleys. He pulled on his jacket against
the early fall weather. The cool had come early this year. It was late
September, yet it felt like November.
to hope that whatever was wrong with Ryan’s little sister could be fixed fairly
quickly. He’d had to skip his yoga for two days now, and he was feeling the
Williams had moved to get her degree in veterinary medicine from the Halle
branch of the University of Pennsylvania, and slowly but surely, the cheery
little girl who’d gone off to find a home had lost some of her sparkle. She
refused to discuss what was going on, only that she had some
that she didn’t feel comfortable talking about with her brother or
her male cousins. Bunny figured that maybe there was a problem with the sheriff
she’d been dating for a while. If that was it, he’d see to it that the man
fixed it before more than a day or two passed. Either that or he’d fix the man
who had caused her grief.
blew out a frustrated breath. A part of him hated that he’d left home. He had a
life to get back to. Hell, he wasn’t even sure why he’d come on this little
trip at all. There was this sweet little she-Bear who’d been giving him the eye
recently. He’d been tempted to have a taste, but something, some nagging sense
that something wasn’t right, had sent him on this trip with Ryan instead. It
was weird. He’d never gotten the feeling that he needed to be out and moving
quite like this before. It was almost a compulsion, and Bunny knew he’d regret
it to his dying day if he didn’t follow it.
shook his head and strapped on his helmet, shaking off the feeling that he
needed to go
. Whatever the hell was wrong with him, he had every
intention of returning home and finding himself a nice, sweet fuck. The dreams
he’d been having since they left home had him so goddamn horny, he’d considered
jacking off, despite Ryan being in the next bed over. Bears had good hearing
and Bunny didn’t feel like living with whatever humiliation Ryan would come up
with if he heard
. So he’d held off, and now he was one cranky-ass
Bear. It didn’t help that each of the dreams featured a woman who alternated
between looking like a dark-haired angel and a kick-ass heroine from one of his
manga/anime fantasies. He was the only one in the family who had an obsession
with the Japanese style of drawing and animation, but he couldn’t help himself.
He’d been in love with it since the first time he read
He had the whole
series on DVD, in the original
Japanese (with English subtitles, of course). His family just laughed and
indulged him at Christmastime, and he ate it all up like a greedy child.
no real woman could stand up to the fantasies he’d been having. He shook off
the desire to have something a little out of the ordinary. With any luck, the
she-Bear would be waiting for him, preferably naked under a trench coat and
sitting on his doorstep. Bunny gunned the motor and eased into traffic,
whatever it was that was driving him appeased now that his wheels were turning.
was starting out to be a truly shitty day.
limped out of the woods, her right rear paw dripping blood. How she’d managed
to slit her pad open she had no idea. She was usually careful not to run in
places where campers or kids tended to go, since the litter on the ground could
be dangerous to Wolves. One broken bottle could result in severe bleeding,
causing shifters serious problems if they couldn’t shift. She’d have to make
sure she had a little chat with one of the local kitties. Maybe one of them
could find out if some of the college kids had been running off into the woods
for beer and sex. If so, she might have to request permission to move to
different hunting grounds.
was grateful the Pumas had granted her the right to run in their territory.
Hell, she was grateful to the Pumas, period. If it hadn’t been for Gabe
Anderson, the Marshall’s Second and sheriff of the small town of Halle, Tabby
would have been forced to move on again. It wasn’t every Pride that would allow
a Wolf to live among them, even on the say-so of someone as high up in the
Pride hierarchy as the Second, but Halle had turned out to be a lot more open
to the idea than she’d ever thought possible. She was just grateful the rest of
them had agreed to give her leave to stay on a trial basis.
Beta, Marshall, Omega; those were the primary rulers of a Pride or Pack. The
Marshall’s Second fulfilled similar functions to the Beta did for the Alpha,
but without the broad range of powers a Beta enjoyed. He was the right hand man
of the Marshall, the one who enforced Pack or Pride law and helped see to the
physical well being of its members. The Second, in many ways, had the ear of
the Prides and Packs in ways the rest of the leaders didn’t, as he straddled
the line between ordinary member and leader. Some Prides and Packs lumped the
Second in with the rest of the leaders; such was the case in Halle, were Gabe
had as much say as the Beta, Marshall and Omega. She never wanted to leave
Halle. The town was warm and inviting in a way her old Pack had never been. The
Alpha of the Pumas, Dr. Max Cannon, was a hottie. His alpha female Emma, called
a Curana by the Pumas, was a tough cookie with a heart of gold. She’d asked
Gabe what Curana meant, and she’d been told it was an altered form of the word
the Portuguese word for cougar. The rest of the Pumas were, for the most
part, really nice people. She felt at home here, something she hadn’t felt in a
long time. She’d made friends and built a life for herself. She never wanted to
go back to the Pack that had shoved her out so long ago.
matter how nice the Pride members were, they weren’t Wolves. They weren’t Pack,
something she was reminded of every full moon since she’d been granted leave to
was still Outcast.
made it to her car and changed into the clothes she’d left on the hood. The
shift caused the cut to bleed even more freely until it closed, leaving a sore
spot on the bottom of her foot she felt after she put her sneakers on. She dug
her keys out of her pocket, eager to get back to her apartment and the caffeine
her roommates would have waiting for her.
Look who it is.”
tensed at that hated voice, the one fly in the ointment of her happiness in
Halle. He’d stayed downwind, or she would have noticed him approaching before
now and moved a hell of a lot faster. “Gary.” She turned to find her nemesis
and his two best friends standing naked behind her. They must have shifted and
run from somewhere else. There was no other car here, and none of their clothes
littered the ground.
held back her Wolf’s growl with difficulty. She was terrified. This wasn’t the
first time the other Wolves had confronted her, but this was the first time
they’d managed to catch her alone. From the gleam in Gary’s eye, if she didn’t
get away, she’d be in a world of hurt. “What do you want?”
grinned, his fangs sharp, his eyes going from hazel to light brown. He rubbed
his hand up and down his growing cock suggestively. The other two moved to
flank her and she knew she was in deep shit.
Outcast, technically Tabby was fair game for any Wolf who wanted a bit of
sport. So far, very few Wolves had made their way to Halle. Most of the
shifters who attended the college were local themselves, and therefore part of
the Halle Pride. She’d stayed out of the way of those who weren’t part of the
Pride, especially the Wolves. She’d been terrified of what would happen if she
approached them. The Alpha of the nearest Pack wouldn’t be any help. She’d seen
him once from a distance, and he was large and scary looking. Rick Lowell had
the coldest blue eyes she’d ever seen. Tabby was too afraid to approach him, to
try to become a part of his Pack. He’d take one look at her and know she wasn’t
worthy of a home.
she wished she’d been able to find the courage to ask. Maybe she might have to
earn her way into his Pack. Maybe she would be safe from the advances of Wolves
like Gary, but it would have meant leaving Halle and placing every aspect of
her existence in the hands of someone else again. And that was the last thing
Tabby wanted to do. At least here in Halle the Pumas were fairly laidback. She
didn’t bother them, they didn’t bother her. They were friendly, but distant,
and she liked it that way.
shivered. Three against one were not good odds. She had her keys in her hand,
but the car was locked. If she hit the button to unlock it, they’d be on her
before she could get the door open.
there was the other button…
was the only way she could see out of this. She knew some of the Pumas had been
out running the night before. With luck, one of them would wander by and stop
Gary before he did what he so obviously wanted to do. “Fuck off, Gary!”
glared at her shout. “You think anyone is gonna come and save you,
He sneered the nickname, his idiot Pack brothers laughing like a group of
hyenas. “You’re Outcast
Your ass is mine.” He took a step forward, his
eyes shifting to brown.
eyes. Just what she’d been waiting for.
hit the panic button on her remote. The car horn began blaring, the lights
flashing. The trio slapped their hands over their ears, their faces screwed up
in pain, their sensitive ears assaulted by something that wouldn’t bother their
advantage of their surprise, Tabby hit the button that unlocked the car door
and scrambled for the handle.
got the door open and herself inside before any of them reached her. She
slammed the door on the fingers of one of Gary’s goons, his scream almost as
loud as the alarm. He pulled his fingers free and she got the door shut,
locking it before Gary could pull the driver’s side door open.
began punching the glass. She flinched, but kept moving, sliding behind the
steering wheel. She started the car, screaming when Gary’s third punch cracked
took off, peeling out of the gravel-strewn parking lot, her tires kicking up
stones. She fishtailed before getting the car under control, heading straight
for the road back into Halle.
was shaking like a leaf. This was the closest Gary had ever come to laying
hands on her. He and his goons had been content before with taunting her or
egging the storefront where she worked. She’d been careful to never be alone.
How could she have been so thoughtless? Still, she hadn’t thought they’d resort
to… She shuddered again. She didn’t even want to think about what she’d just
needed help. She just hoped Gabe and the other Pumas would listen to her,
because if they turned her away, she had every intention of running until her
paws gave out.
Your life’s a mess, sweetheart.” Julian Ducharme popped another kernel of
popcorn into his mouth and grinned. “Good thing you have someone like me around
snorted. She wasn’t the only outsider who’d drifted into Halle recently. Julian
had come into Living Art Tattoos a month ago and managed to endear himself to
each and every one of the girls who worked there. Even tough Cyn, the owner,
had taken a liking to the friendly Bear with the heart of gold. “And how do you
think you can help me, hmm?”
the bowl down and wiped his greasy hands on a paper towel. The movie they’d
been bickering over continued in the background, neither of them paying any
attention to it. Although she did risk a peek when Aragorn was on screen. Viggo
The Two Towers.
“First, I’m going to do
something about that sore foot of yours.”