Authors: Mandy Rosko,Woodland Creek
Tags: #Romance, #Paranormal, #Werewolves & Shifters
By Mandy Rosko
Copyright Mandy Rosko 2015
Cover Art by Jennifer Munswami
For JM Rising Horse Creations
For More Books by Mandy Rosko Please Visit
Smashwords Edition, License Notes
Thank you for downloading this ebook. You are welcome to share it with your friends. This book may be reproduced, copied and distributed for non-commercial purposes, provided the book remains in its complete original form. If you enjoyed this book please return to Smashwords.com to discover other works by this author.
This is a work of fiction. All of the characters, organizations, and events portrayed in this story are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual events, locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Thank you for your support.
She always did have a sassy mouth...just his type...
Alice Grey thought life was easier when she was still a thief. As a flying squirrel shifter, it had always been as easy as gliding through some rich guy's open window and sailing away before the hounds could get a sniff of her. That was ten years ago, and she's still trying to escape her past, and the memories of the man who told her to run...
Alice is reformed now. She doesn't live that life anymore. She hadn't wanted it to begin with. Forced into it to pay her father's debts to some very bad people, she still can't lice peacefully because the dog shifters, on in particular, don't know when to quit. They catch up with her in Woodland Creek, hoping to clamp their teeth down on her neck and shake her until she's dead like a real squirrel.
Jake Redfield, former undercover cop, fell in love with Alice when he met her on the job. He'd been trying to bring down her bosses at the time, and for the most part, he succeeded, but one man is out of prison, and he wants revenge as much as Jake wants to see her again. Wants to touch her and kiss her. Keep her safe.
As a diamondback rattlesnake shifter, his venom can be deadly, and anyone who tries to hurt his Alice is just begging to be bitten...
Table of Contents
For more maps and information, please visit the
Woodland Creek Website
Things were so much easier back when she’d made her living being a thief. It had honestly been like living the all-American dream. Alice Grey had spent her time traveling, meeting new people, attending a couple of fancy parties, wearing nice clothes, that sort of thing. When she’d been just nineteen years old, everyone seemed to want to shower her with expensive gifts. Okay, so it was only older men who wanted to do that, but she didn’t mind. They were all good-looking in one way or another, and nice enough to her.
And, if Alice happened to think the whole being nice thing wasn’t just part of an act in order to try and get under her skirt later on, she would even reconsider pilfering some of their finer items.
The average person has no clue that shifters exist in the world, and those who do know about them are usually just as shocked to find out that a cute, adorable flying squirrel, the kind with the fuzzy white belly and big eyes that belonged on a greeting card or an Internet meme, could sneak onto someone’s well-guarded property, climb a couple of trees, and glide her way into an open window.
Too easy. It had always been too easy.
And now Alice was staring at the slightly cracked ceiling of the tiny little inn she’d come to stay in at Woodland Creek. It wasn’t a dumpy place; it was actually well kept. No dead spiders had been found in the tub, no dust on the dressers, and the TV was new enough to be a thin flat screen instead of something she might see in a
movie. But she couldn’t stop staring at the single crack in the ceiling, thinking about how the hell this had happened.
She wasn’t even supposed to be here. She’d stayed too long, and now the Rottweilers had found her.
She’d known they would. This place was a haven for shifters, after all, and as much as she was drawn here, they clearly had been, too.
Alice had thought she had some time, though. It wasn’t like she had been stealing anything for the last nine years, so there were no reports for them to look up, no cases of small rings, or coins, or stamps from collectors going missing.
She didn’t think there were any major collectors in a town like this anyway.
It wasn’t like taking any of that stuff had helped her the last time, but turning a new leaf was hard as hell. She was almost out of cash, and the only way she’d managed to stay in her room in this inn was by picking up a couple of waitressing shifts at The Pond and Duck Restaurant.
Not very fun, but the tip money meant she could buy herself some time.
Clearly, that had been a mistake, because right now, the Rotties were in the inn. She had yet to physically see them, so she didn’t know how many there were, but there had been one voice in particular that she’d recognized.
That would be Bobby’s. She hadn’t seen him since he took that snake venom to the face. She was shocked he was even alive. The light slur to his voice meant he hadn’t walked away completely unscathed, however. She wondered if his face was melted like Two-Face from her dad’s old Batman comics.
She’d been here almost three weeks. Her bags had been packed for four days. Well, her bags had always been packed, but this time everything was really put away. All her toiletries and makeup were put away instead of sitting on the counter. She just had to go downstairs and tell the lady in charge that she was going to pay up for the day and not come back. That was all.
But she couldn’t do that, because then Bobby would see her. She was still waiting for them to leave the motel, but it sounded like they were having a nice chat with the people in charge, or the other customers.
Probably showing off pictures of her.
Bobby might sound like the name of a guy who was a big doughboy pushover, but the guy downstairs was rough. She knew this because she’d seen what he’d done to some of the people who had disappointed him. He was big, and he was strong. Stupidly strong. It was no wonder a guy his size had survived the bite of a diamondback rattlesnake.
But he was supposed to be the guy in charge. He was supposed to send other people out to do his dirty work, not do it himself.
Somehow, Alice thought she might be able to handle all this a lot easier if it hadn’t been him downstairs looking for her. Had it just been another one of his goons, someone who didn’t have such an agenda for her, then it would’ve been easier to slip by and get away.
People didn’t recognize other people all the time. Pictures or not. Alice was really starting to wish she hadn’t let her blonde hair come out again. She should’ve dyed it when her roots started to show, but she hadn’t been able to help herself.
It had been so long since anything had happened that she’d gotten careless, and her vanity had taken over. She’d wanted her blonde hair back. It wasn’t as light as it used to be, but light enough that it would’ve drawn Bobby’s attention. Especially if he was hunting down the blonde who’d stolen forty thousand dollars from him.
He probably had an eagle eye to watch out for anyone with blonde hair at this point.
She was so screwed.
There was no way she was exiting this room. Her door was locked in every way she could think of locking it. The deadbolt was in place, the chain in its proper home, and she’d even pushed one of the reading chairs against the door.
She was going to have to leave behind her bag. She didn’t want to. She really didn’t want to. Everything she owned was in that bag. How was she supposed to start over with absolutely nothing?
Whenever Alice shifted, her clothes shifted with her, so that meant she could take what she was wearing with her, but virtually nothing else. The more layers she wore, the harder it was to keep her form, too, so that would be a problem.
The clothes would definitely leave behind her scent, and the only reason why Bobby probably hadn’t picked up that she was in this inn with him was probably because of the ammonia spray she carried with her.
There was no way he couldn’t smell her at least a little bit, however. He had to think that she’d been here at some point. That was probably why he wasn’t leaving.
It was also why Alice had yet to open the curtains of her window and climb out. To be honest, she was kind of terrified that someone was hanging out beneath her window, waiting for her to make that move. Every once in a while, she heard gravel crunching beneath a pair of shoes. She smelled no tobacco, though. Not someone who was having a smoke break.
It was either a coincidence, or Bobby was down there and wanted to know if there was an old couple in this room before he walked away.
She was totally trapped in this room, and the guy who wanted to kill her was just a couple of feet below her.
She could hear him. She could
“I’m looking for my niece. You happen to see this girl?”
Oh, fuck. Oh, fuck, oh, fuck.
That was what Alice loved about older pictures. The one Bobby had was probably Alice at the age of seventeen or eighteen. After his own operation got shut down and she made her daring and awesome escape, she hadn’t had a picture taken of her since. She was twenty-eight now. She knew she still looked good, but even at eighteen she could pass for sixteen, and as a twenty-eight year old, she definitely didn’t look like she was sixteen.
It would only take him a single look before he knew it was her.
How was she going to get out of here?
“Thank you for your help, miss. It’s greatly appreciated,” Bobby said, that sickeningly fake sweet voice making Alice want to puke.
The lucky part was when the girl downstairs said Alice might’ve been a guest a couple of weeks ago. Another benefit to staying in places like this was that people in service rarely recognized anyone passing through. They saw too many faces every day, even in a tiny town like this, and Alice hadn’t bothered to make friends.
That would help. Maybe Bobby would think he was too late to catch up to her. He might leave.
She paid careful attention to the sound of his footsteps downstairs.
In her human shape, she still had excellent hearing. Not as good as a Rotty, though, which was why she wasn’t willing to move a muscle. She didn’t want him to hear her up here.
He wasn’t leaving yet. She could hear his footsteps, and that same crunching noise that was coming from just below her window.
She didn’t tense up or feel her blood chill until she heard Bobby’s same steps walk right upstairs. He paused outside her room.
Alice held perfectly still. She didn’t breathe. Her eyes glanced to the side through the door, and part of her thought maybe he was trying to see inside through the peephole.
She knew he couldn’t. That was impossible, but she couldn’t stop her heart from slamming.
What if he smelled her?
It seemed to take forever. She swore it was a thousand years before he finally got moving and left, walking away from her door. The light moaning sound of the wood beneath his heavy footsteps was proof enough of that.
Alice released an enormously relieved breath and clutched at her heart. She’d just had her first mini heart attack. She was fairly sure that was what it was. Her brow was cold with sweat she hadn’t even realized was accumulating on her skin until just now.
Okay, that had been too close. If he didn’t already know for a fact that she was in this room, then at the very least, he suspected it. She hadn’t been able to completely erase her scent from the building, and it probably smelled strong enough that he knew she was either here, or was coming back.
She had to go. Anymore of this, and a cluster of ulcers was going to break out inside of her body.
Quietly and silently, Alice slipped off the bed. She focused on being weightless as her toes touched the hardwood floor.
There was only the tiniest of sounds as the wood adjusted beneath her weight.
She stood silent, held her breath for ten seconds, and then, on the balls of her feet, padded her way over to her bag.
Her heart used to race like this, back when she soared through the air, into the nearest dark void of a wide-open window, and plucked out small pieces of prized collections. She used to love that feeling.
Now, knowing what would happen if she was caught this time, she didn’t like it at all.
No handcuffs, no sweet-talking the cops who’d felt sorry for her because she’d been so young, none of that. Cement boots would be waiting for her, right before Bobby tossed her into Woodland Creek.
And that was only if she was lucky.
Even though taking too many things with her in her animal shape made it harder to keep the form, there were some things she couldn’t do without. Like a proper set of clothes, shoes, a hat to at least make an attempt at hiding her hair, and wide sunglasses.
She had two purses. One that was wider, which could hold her wallet, phone, keys, papers, a book, and extra makeup—that sort of thing—and then there was the tinier shoulder strap bag that her mother had made and beaded when Alice was still a little girl, when things had been normal in the family.
It had no pockets or spare compartments of any kind. It was basically just an oversized square pocket on a strap. It would hold her wallet, a Swiss army knife, and her phone. Her charger, too, if she didn’t mind stretching the seams.
Which she didn’t.
Her computer would have to stay behind. She saved everything to an online account anyway, but in case there was even the remote possibility of Bobby tracking her with it, she opened the lid and keyed in the shortcut that would delete all the information she’d left on it then locked the keyboard.
Fuck. She’d just bought the thing, too.
Alice kept half an ear open for any hints that Bobby would be coming back for her. She kept looking to the door, expecting it to be broken open at any minute.
She ignored her shoes and opted for flip-flops. Those should be easy to keep in her animal form. Wouldn’t help her too much if she needed to make a run for it, though.