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Authors: Eliza Gayle

Frost Bitten

BOOK: Frost Bitten
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are not transferable. They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it
is an infringement of the copyright of this work.


Perfect Strangers Collection

Copyright © 2012 ELIZA GAYLE

Cover art by Amanda Kelsey

Edited by Trinity Scott

ISBN: 978-1-936387-44-1

ISBN 10: 1-936387-44-1

All Romance eBooks, LLC

Palm Harbor, Florida 34684

This is a work of fiction and any
resemblance to persons, living or dead, or business establishments,
events, or locales is coincidental.

All Rights Are Reserved. No part of
this 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.

All Romance eBooks publication: February 2012


leaned over the cliff and searched to no avail for signs that someone
had slipped or fallen on the ice. The snowstorm of the season had
begun moving in before dawn and as the morning stretched into
afternoon, visibility had declined to near impossible levels. Even
his shifter senses weren’t doing much good in this shit.

anything?” his brother yelled.

shook his head. If the missing skier had come this way there’d
be no helping them now. The ground below was frozen solid and slick
thanks to the rock underneath. There’d be nowhere to gain
traction to stop a free fall except at the bottom of the ravine.
Hopefully they were on the wrong track.

backed away slowly before turning back to his twin brother, Trent.
What he could see of him anyway. They’d both layered gear on
top of gear before they’d left their cabin this morning. Search
and Rescue frowned on their penchant for taking along as little as
possible when out searching. They could cover far more ground if they
shifted, unfortunately not everyone on the mountain today knew they
were shifters. So instead they traveled through the forest weighted
down with survival gear.

crunched under his boots as he trudged through the often knee-deep
drifts. It’d been a while since they’d seen a storm this
rough and despite all the weather warnings, the night before a group
of daredevil college kids had hit the trails under the cover of
darkness after the access roads had been shut down.

one of them had failed to return after six hours, they’d come
forward and reported him to the park service as lost on the mountain
and Seth and his team had been dispatched. He lifted his wrist and
examined his watch. That had been nearly seven long hours ago and no
one had seen more than a few faint tracks in the snow. He worried in
this weather their time was running out.

or whatever it is can’t be far. The scent is stronger here.”

nodded. “Can’t be sure it’s the kid were looking
for though. It seems unlikely that a shifter would get lost out here
that quick.”

he’s hurt. The damn storm moving in is messing with the trail.
Hard to be sure about anything.”

both studied the sky. Trent was right. Much longer and the search
would have to be halted for safety reasons. He had to allow enough
time for his team to make it off the mountain and into shelter before
things got ugly. He sniffed the air. And they were about to get
damned ugly.

about forty minutes past regulation,” Trent warned.

I know. Dammit. If it was just you and I we could keep going. This
secrecy bullshit is for the birds.”

to Seth. Hey, Boss, can you hear me?” The squawk and the
warbled static of the hand held radio on his hip interrupted their

grabbed the radio and depressed the button. “Yeah. You’re
breaking up but I copy.”


choked back the annoyance with the new intern manning the radio this
afternoon. His enthusiasm wasn’t a bad thing.

got—” The rest of his sentence gave way to pops and
hisses that made Seth wince.

that again. I didn’t copy.”

missing college kid has been found. He was lost over on the North
Ridge. The other half of your team is on their way back in.”

that,” Seth answered.

whooped. “Hot damn. Now we can go the hell home.”

Ridge? That was more than five miles from where they were located.
That didn’t explain the strange scent they’d picked up
the minute they’d hit the Shining Rock area. There was someone
else out here that didn’t belong.


turned to look at his brother.

lifted one brow. “Don’t look at me like that. I know how
your brain works. We aren’t going home yet are we?”

shook his head. “How can we? The team may have found the
missing kid but we haven’t found what we’ve been tracking
most of the day.” The beast inside him snarled. “I for
one won’t be able to rest until I know what’s going on,
on our own damned mountain.”

shoulders slumped. “You better radio it in so they don’t
end up wasting their time and send a team out for us when we don’t
make it home tonight.”

you never know. Maybe we’re both wrong and there really isn’t
anything out here.” Of course he didn’t believe that for
a second. The cougar had been restless all day. Far more than usual.
Figuring the mystery out was just a process of elimination at this
point. The scent smelled feline but not like any cougar he’d
ever encountered.

sure as hell isn’t a bobcat,” Trent argued, nearly
reading his thoughts as usual.

let him think that out as he let base know they likely wouldn’t
be back until morning and yes, they were close to the old Willingham
cabin so they’d have no problem finding shelter for the night.

with communications for the day, Seth packed the radio into his gear.
From the corner of his eye he saw Trent’s gaze swing sharply to
the left.

is it?”

smell smoke. Right over there.”

followed the direction his brother pointed in, and sure enough,
several miles out, there was a faint trace of smoke on the horizon.
If not for the setting sun’s reflection, they’d likely
not have spotted it.

looks suspiciously like the area around the cabin.”

think we’ve got a squatter?”

like. We might as well head that way. Even with all this unnecessary
crap we should get there before nightfall.”


resettled his gear across his back and began the long trek in his
brother’s footsteps.


shuddered in front of the roaring fire with her hands held in front
of her, desperately trying to get warm. Her idea to escape to the
mountains for a little peace and quiet had turned into a case of
insanity in the making. Never in her life had she seen this much snow
and the radio forecasted for another heavy snowfall overnight thanks
to the front moving right over this mountain.

that a little cold weather would necessarily kill her but it made her
teeth chatter and did nothing to assuage the agony of her sexual
cycle. She pressed a hand to her abdomen and willed the cramping to
go away.

had no one warned her how bad this would get if she refused help?
Because you live and work with men, stupid.

was that. A poacher in the midst of the Everglades had killed her
mother when Daisy was still a cub. Fortunately the game warden had
discovered her after only a few days and he’d scooped her out
of the water and brought her to a new family. People like her. They’d
taught her how to live as a shifter and loved her like their own.

next twenty years had gone by in a blur and she’d taken over a
different game warden position about five years ago. Not that it had
been an easy transition. She’d literally fought for it—tooth
and claw. She loved her brothers, but their ideas about her future
were antiquated beyond belief. Overcoming their objections had not
been easy. Fortunately, for her, the men of her kind always
underestimated her because she was so small. Daisy smiled. They never
saw the ambush coming—ever.

chill swept over her. She rubbed her hands together frantically to
generate friction. No, she was not used to this kind of bone deep
cold. The backwoods of coastal South Carolina, where she now resided,
were nothing like this.

several minutes of trying everything save for dousing her head in the
flames, her head popped up and her nose flared. The scent outside


dropped the blanket and ran for her gear. She could certainly smell
them now. Whoever they were they were not trying to hide. She shoved
her feet in her boots and donned the rest of her newly purchased
winter wear. She wasn’t about to sit here and wait to be
hunted. She was jaguar for Christ’s sake. If anyone would be
hunting around here it would be her.

she’d already scoped out the entire property around the small
cabin. She’d been assured by the rental agency that she would
be completely isolated with many miles between her and the nearest
humans. Exactly how she wanted it.

gaze swept around the room one last time, accounting for any
potential outcome. While it had gone dark outside she’d not
needed to bother with the lights. The glow from the fireplace
provided more than enough illumination for her exceptional eyesight.

eased the back door open and slipped outside and into the cover of
the brush surrounding the back deck and far edge of the property. Now
the scents of the intruders hit her full on. Male both of them and if
she had her scent right, and she usually did, they were cougar

been informed of the territorial nature of the shifter clans in the
area so she’d made sure to steer clear of what could be
considered their land. Now they were at her back door and certain to
have scented her by now as well.

Fuck. Damn

was about to get complicated. For a few seconds she considered
shifting and going on the attack. They outnumbered her but she had
confidence that in a fair fight she could likely take them both.

pressed her hand to her stomach and prayed for some divine
intervention. The minute they scented her heat the frenzy would
begin. She hung her head and dug deep for a shred of control. She
wasn’t the animal, she could control this. She repeated it over
and over. Willing it to be true.

gust of wind blew snow in her face, freezing on impact with her skin.

this cold weather snow crap can bite me

two men grew close enough for her to hear voices but not yet make out
the words. Whatever their plans, they obviously were not trying to
sneak up on her. Idiots. If she were the stalker and they the prey,
they’d practically rolled out the welcome mat. Their skulls
would be crushed in minutes.

BOOK: Frost Bitten
8.35Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub

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