Cynful: Halle Shifters, Book 2

BOOK: Cynful: Halle Shifters, Book 2
12.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub


To Mom, who retired recently. How are you liking those Facebook games?

To Dad, who is still deciding if he wants Diablo III or not. Considering how many times my sister has managed to erase his level 60 paladin in Diablo II, I’m thinking it might be a lost cause.

To Dusty, who recently discovered the joys of the Mass Effect universe. I
you to stay loyal to Ashley with Miranda waving her bodacious butt in your face.

And to all the girl gamers out there: Let’s show the boys how it’s done.

Chapter One

His expression was priceless. She should have come up with this sooner just to see that look on his face.

One dark brow rose in disbelief. “You want to what?”

“You heard me.” Cyn shrugged. He could take it or leave it, but no way was she going to let him have a nip until he met her demands. After all, he’d shown up on her doorstep and made some demands of his own, namely that she bare her neck and accept him just because he said so. Pfft. Like
would happen.
Okay, maybe if he begs really prettily.
“I want to date.” She leaned against the doorjamb and grinned at him.

His jaw dropped. Julian was speechless, probably for the first time in his life.

“You have a problem with that?” Man, she was enjoying this. If she thought things were going to go the way they had for Alex and Tabby, with one date and BAM!, mates for life, he had another thing coming.

“But… Cyn, we are

we’re mates. You could be a stalker who’s in serious need of a depilatory half the time.” She crossed her arms over her chest and shot him a saucy look. “You want a piece of me?”

“Dear gods, yes.” Tiny, light grey dots appeared in his otherwise dark brown eyes. A thin strip of white ran down his waist-length black hair. “More than you could possibly appreciate.”

She wasn’t surprised. She’d seen the way Tabby and Alex had instantly bonded, their inner animals forcing them to link their life forces together. The good news was Alex was everything Tabby needed, and it seemed Tabby was everything Alex wanted. Alex would keep her friend safe, give her a home and make sure she was never alone again.

What could Julian give Cyn that she didn’t already have? A bigger butt? Prematurely gray hair? “So. Dinner. Movies. The occasional box of chocolates. Jewelry, if you have good taste in it. You’re a smart guy. Figure it out.”

He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Why are you fighting it? We can date if you like, but in the end we’re just going to wind up at the same place. You, me, a bite and a fu—”

She pressed her finger against his lips. “Do
go there.”

He kissed her fingertip but didn’t move his lips. Those gray specks in his eyes became more prominent.

“Down, boy.”

He huffed out a laugh. “That only works on dogs.” He managed to get hold of her hand. He toyed with her fingers, his gaze never leaving her face. “Date, huh?”

She nodded firmly. “And don’t think you’ll weasel your way out of it, Mr. Due Charm.” She deliberately mispronounced his last name, but from the grin on his face it didn’t bother him one bit. The
in his last name was supposed to be pronounced
, but on first reading it most people got it wrong. Lord knew she’d done so when she first saw his name.

Julian chuckled and brushed a kiss across her knuckles before releasing her hand. “I’ll pick you up tonight, then.” He turned, his waist length hair brushing against her. She’d always been a sucker for long hair on a guy. “Jeans are fine.”

Oh really?
“What time?” Maybe she’d still be at work when he stopped by. Or already be gone. She was the boss. She was allowed to take off early once in a while.

“I’ll wait at the shop for you.” He waved and sauntered off, every inch the confident, sexy man he was. And that terrified her. She shut the door before she could stare any longer than she already had. She leaned back against it and blew out a rough breath. He was sexy and smart and funny and everything she’d ever wanted in a man.

Julian could break her without even trying.


“Huh. That was…unexpected.” Julian sat in the front seat of his car and pondered the predicament he found himself in. His mate wanted to
. Who would have thought? At least the mate dreams, while hot, weren’t driving him crazy. Yet.

His cell phone rang. He studied the caller ID and winced. Shit. Tai Boucher, the leader of the Spirit Bears, was calling him again. Ever since he’d arrived in Halle, Pennsylvania, Tai had called him every week. His boss wanted updates on the visions Julian had left his home to pursue.

He was going to be seriously ticked when he found out Julian was planning to apply for US citizenship. Julian’s mate was American; she loved Halle and had no intention of leaving. Her roots, her chosen family, all were here. Uprooting her would kill something special inside her, and he couldn’t do it. But no Spirit Bear had left British Columbia since the time of…well,
. Tai was going to shit kittens when he found out.

Julian would rather live on his own, without the support of his brothers and sisters, than take Cyn away from here. This was home, and he planned on keeping it that way.

So Julian let it go to voicemail and headed home. He had about an hour to get ready for work at Dr. Howard’s private practice. Thank God his work visa was up to date. He’d managed to get the necessary paperwork and certifications pushed through to accept the job in Dr. Howard’s office, but Jamie had said he’d take on Julian even without it. He valued the Spirit Bears and all they represented, despite the fact that the good doctor was a Puma.

Julian smiled. So far things were going well, and he had no intention of allowing little things like dates and impatient Bears ruin his good mood.



“What do you think, Doc?” Julian stared at the jagged wound Jamie had just finished stitching up. His fingers twitched. He desperately wanted to heal it, but had been ordered not to by Jamie. The power spread through him, trying to escape his control, trying to force him to do what nature had intended Spirit Bears to do—
. He bet white had already begun to streak his hair from forcing himself to stop.

Dr. Jamie Howard finished cleaning out the wound and sighed. “He’ll need a tetanus shot.”

Julian watched as their patient, Ryan Williams, turned pale. The big Grizzly began shaking his head like a six-year-old. “No. No, no, no, no. No shots. Uh-uh. Ain’t happening.”

“You run the risk of getting infected, Ryan. We might be shifters but we’re not magically immune to disease. It isn’t like the movies where you shift and bam! Severed heads reattach, limbs re-grow and suddenly you no longer have leprosy. I swear, humans think being a shifter cures everything.” Jamie glanced over and Julian nodded. Julian could tell with barely a glance that Ryan already had the tetanus virus within him. How the Grizzly had managed to find a piece of rusty barbed wire in downtown Halle was unbelievable, but Ryan seemed to have a knack for getting himself into interesting situations. All Julian had to do was visit Living Art Tattoos to see proof of that. The pixyish Glory had the poor Bear tied up in knots.

Jamie handed Julian the orders to prepare the shot. While Julian could heal something as simple as tetanus in the early stages, Dr. Howard had convinced him to keep his powers as quiet as possible and use them only in cases where simple shots wouldn’t fix what was wrong.

Julian prepped the needle. “It’s only a pinch, you big baby.”

Ryan whimpered. “Hell no, I won’t go.”

“I’ll tell Glory what a wuss you are.” Julian held up the needle and shook it, then handed it to Jamie.

“I’ll tell Cyn how sexy you look in nurse’s tights.” Ryan growled.

“Really? You think so?” Julian held out his leg, currently encased in blue scrubs, and gave it a thoughtful glance. “I thought my calves looked a little big in white.” He batted his lashes at the Grizzly, trying to distract him. “But thanks, sweetie.”

It didn’t work. Ryan saw the needle coming and jumped off the examination table. “No.” He held up his hands and waved them like a three-year-old.

“Man up.” Jamie swabbed Ryan’s arm and did his best to hold him in place. “On three.”

Ryan eyed the needle with dread. “How about on one hundred?”

Jamie sighed. “Fine. One, two, skip a few, ninety-nine, one hundred.”

“OW! Motherfucker!” Ryan rubbed his arm where Jamie had jabbed him.

Jamie disposed of the needle, his face a mask of professionalism. “Was that so bad?”


Jamie sighed again. He reached into a cabinet and pulled something out. “You’ll need to keep the wound clean. No shifting for a day or two.” He slapped something over Ryan’s heart. “There. You’re all done.”

Julian was laughing so hard he was wheezing. God, he loved Pumas. They were fucking sadistic.

Ryan peeled the Hello Kitty sticker off his chest. “I hate you.”

“Good. Don’t get hurt again.” Jamie grinned. “I’ll bill you.” He sauntered out of the exam room, winking at Julian on the way out.

Ryan grumbled something under his breath as he hopped off the table. He dumped the crumpled sticker on Julian’s head and stomped out of the room, growling at the desk nurse who asked for his paperwork.

Julian wiped away the tears and tried to catch his breath. “I love my job.” He cleaned up the exam room and got it ready for the next patient, all the while wondering whether or not Ryan was going to go show off his boo-boo to his as yet unclaimed mate, Glory. If so, Julian could relax.

Ever since Gary had attacked the girls six weeks ago in Living Art, Julian, Alex and Ryan had made it a point to stop in at least once a day to check on them. All three had good excuses. Alex was mated to Tabitha Garwood, the apprentice tattoo artist. Ryan’s mate, Glory, was the piercing specialist, and wasn’t it fun when some poor sap came in for a Prince Albert while Ryan was there? Julian’s mate, Cynthia Reyes, owned Living Art. They were
, and had been for two weeks.

Julian grinned as he thought about what he had planned for later that night. He was going to wine her, dine her and hopefully convince her to accept a nibble or two for dessert. It was driving him insane, having her so close yet so untouchable. But she insisted that she had to fall in love with him before he bit her.

Julian didn’t need any time at all to fall for Cyn. He’d fallen for her the moment he’d seen her. Cyn was the only one he’d ever want to be with. She was his, and now that the danger was past he was all ready for his mating. If only he could convince his reluctant mate that, come hell or high water or asshole Wolves out for blood, Julian DuCharme wasn’t going anywhere.

Chapter Two

“Is it me, or have the boys been by a lot recently?” Tabby tapped her pen against the glass and wood counter, her lime green hair glistening in the bright afternoon sunlight pouring in through the plate glass window. Cyn smiled, glad she’d gone with Emma’s suggestion to get rid of the all-glass counter and do something half wood, half glass.

She’d chosen to go all out; instead of veneers she’d done solid wood, something that could be sanded out and refinished if she ever changed the look of the shop. She was pleased with the simple mission style and the dark cherry stain. She’d even gone so far as to reframe the flash, the artwork that represented some of their best tattoos, in the same cherry.

The walls were still bright aqua, displaying the flash to advantage. A huge image of tattooed yin-yang dragons, one red, one blue, hung behind the counter. That had cost a bundle to reframe, but it was worth it. The flash in the windows and on the walls was still in silver frames, making it look even more like art. Their flash books lay open on the counter, bound in brown leather and containing more tattoos.

The floor was wood, a dark ebony stain that would hide spilled ink. She was considering replacing the tan chairs by the plate glass window; with the new countertops and frames, they didn’t seem to fit anymore. There were still four curtained-off cubicles where they worked, even though there were only three of them at the moment.

Cyn was still looking to replace the girl who’d left after learning Tabby was a Wolf, but she hadn’t found someone who met her exacting standards. At the very end was a last curtained-off area marked “Employees Only”. Tacked over the curtain hung Tabby’s crooked
De Nile

BOOK: Cynful: Halle Shifters, Book 2
12.11Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

Other books

Forbidden Magic by Jennifer Lyon
The Pleasure Quartet by Vina Jackson
Birdbrain by Johanna Sinisalo
Neptune's Ring by Ali Spooner
Emma: Part Two by Lolita Lopez
Every Bitch Has A Secret by ASHLEY SHAVONNE
The 30 Day MBA by Colin Barrow