Authors: Tianna Xander
Tags: #Paranormal, #Erotic Romance, #Shapeshifter, #Ménage
Can Ronan and Noah convince Stacia that she’s their mate before the
drives them all mad?
When Stacia sets out on a camping trip with her hiking group, she thought spending two weeks with people she didn’t know or like very well would be the worst of her problems. How could she have known that two bears would charge their camp and attack her companions?
The Eostre sabbat grows near as best friends, Ronan and Noah, are spending the holiday in a line cabin on the outskirts of Paradise. Someone has to do it and everyone gets a turn to guard the gateways through the veil at one time or another. It’s a relaxing, albeit boring duty…until, desperate to blow off some steam, they shift into their jaguars and a beautiful brunette finds them playing in the river.
Is Stacia really their mate? If so, can Ronan and Noah convince her of that fact before they all go mad with the mating heat?
The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.
Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
Lost in Paradise
Copyright © 2014 Tianna Xander
Cover art by Carmen Waters
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
Published by eXtasy Books
Look for us online at:
Lost in Paradise
To everyone who didn’t want to see the end of the Paradise series. Thank you for asking for more.
Stacia followed the group through the woods. She thought that this would be fun. Instead, it had turned into one of her worst nightmares. Three of the guys had brought their inexperienced girlfriends. One had kept making passes at her and the other two guys were so full of themselves, she wouldn’t have been surprised if someone didn’t wish they’d lost them on the river three days ago.
Smoothing back her hair, Stacia sighed. She wanted nothing more than to go home, take a bath and sit down with a cup of tea and a good book.
If she’d known that this trip would be so tiring, she would never have agreed to go. She was an experienced hiker. Had she been more familiar with this area, she might have made better time without the group.
She never hiked or camped alone. Anything could happen, but if she’d have known she would be stuck with this group of inexperienced wannabes, she might have struck out on her own before subjecting herself to this.
“I’m tired, Brian,” Buffy, the blonde blue-eyed girlfriend of the tax attorney, whined. She jumped in place, throwing a little tantrum. “I wanna go home.” She grabbed Brian’s arm and held it against her overly-large breasts. “Can’t we go home?” She batted her eyes and smiled. “I’ll give you that present you like so much.” She bounced with a laugh. “And then after, we can go out to the
and have dinner. Doesn’t lobster sound divine?”
Closing her eyes, Stacia shook her head. Silence sounded divine to her.
“It’s only for three more days, baby.” Brian patted Buffy’s arm. “Be a good girl and I’ll buy you that tennis bracelet you wanted.”
Stacia rolled her eyes. She had no idea how such shallow, vapid females attracted the attention of intelligent and professional men. Scratch that. Yes, she did know. The men were thinking with the wrong head. That’s how.
She would never understand how a middle-aged man could possibly believe that the simpering young brat on his arm really loved him for himself and not the money he had in the bank. Closing her eyes, she took a deep breath. Who was she to judge? Just because she’d never lowered her standards to stay with a man for any reason but love, didn’t mean that others had to abide by her moral standards.
“Okay, everyone,” the instructor, Bob, called out. “It’s time to make camp. Pull out your gear and let’s get camp set up.”
Stacia shrugged off her pack and dropped it on the ground. Kneeling, she untied the straps that held her tiny tent to the bottom and unrolled it. Focused, she managed to ignore almost everyone until after she’d pitched her tent and placed her sleeping bag and flashlight inside.
“I’ll go gather kindling for the fire.” Stacia stood and headed north from the camp.
“Don’t go too far,” Bob called behind her. “The last thing we need is to have to search for a lost woman.”
A few of the men snorted and said something she didn’t quite catch. Stacia bit her lip, tempted to remind them that she, Bob, and the retired cop in the group were the only ones who hadn’t complained about something so far.
complained, it would have been about Buffy’s incessant whining for the last six days.
She wandered a ways from the camp, hoping to get a few minutes of peace and quiet.
The forest smelled wonderful. The scent of pine trees intermingled with the rotting vegetation, fresh air and the fresh water of the winding river.
Though she didn’t know why, Stacia had always loved the smell of the forest. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that her dad had always taken her on camping trips when she was younger. He’d liked to rough it, too. Maybe that was why Buffy’s yammering irritated her so much. No one liked to hear someone complain that the thing they loved most in the world wasn’t worth the effort.
After thirty minutes, her nerves had finally settled enough. Moving fast, she gathered an armload of kindling and headed back to camp. It was then that she heard Buffy’s terrified scream.
“She must have caught another mosquito on herself again.” She sighed and shook her head. “That woman is as irritating as she is beautiful.” As much as Stacia hated to admit it, the woman was gorgeous—on the outside, at least.
When the men started yelling, she dropped her burden and ran toward camp. The sound of low growls stopped her in her tracks. Her heart raced, her breaths growing shallow as she tasted fear in the back of her throat.
Everyone in the camp grew eerily silent as Stacia stood frozen with fear. She knew that sound. She’d heard that sound fifteen years ago when her father had died. They had been in their cabin in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula when a bear had attacked and killed her father before he could reach the safety of their sturdy cabin.
She wasn’t positive, but if she had to guess, she would say it was a grizzly. A pissed off grizzly.
Heart in her throat, Stacia stood frozen with fear. Her brain screamed
, but her legs just wouldn’t listen. When she heard the rustling of the forest in front of her, her brain finally made connection with her limbs. Spinning around, Stacia took flight, backtracking to the river. If she made it to the water, she could float downstream until she found civilization. Someone had to tell the authorities there were killer bears in these woods.
Ronan ran toward Noah, reached out with one large paw and gave Noah a swat. Noah pulled back a bit too late. The force of the playful blow knocked him onto his side.
Cold water splashed around them as they played in the river. They’d been up on the mountain for nearly a week and already they were getting cabin fever…literally.
Every sabbat the town council chose a pair or a triad to spend the holiday on the mountain in line cabins. It was their job to see that no outsiders found their way into town without the knowledge of the townsfolk.
Eostre was no normal holiday and Paradise was no normal town—not for humans, anyway.
Sabbats caused a thinning of the veil that held Paradise hidden from the rest of the world. Their job was to see that the thinning of the veil didn’t bring in those who wouldn’t understand their way of life.
Ronan laughed through their mental link as Noah jumped up, shook the water from his thick pelt and lunged with a growl. Jumping out of the way at the last minute, he not only dodged Noah’s attempted blow, but caused the other large cat to fall sideways into the water again.
Noah came up sputtering. He glared at Ronan and coughed.
I’m done. I think it’s time we both went back to the cabin. It’s okay to have fun once in a while, but we can’t afford to lose sight of the fact that we’re up here to guard the gateway.
I know that, old friend,
Ronan replied as he spun around and ran upstream toward the cabin. Looking back over his shoulder, he said,
Last one back to the cabin has to catch dinner.
He turned forward again. Stiffening, he shoved his legs out in front of him in an effort to bring himself to a halt. Water sloshed around him as he came to a stop mere inches from stepping on a woman.
On her hands and knees, she retched, coughing up what seemed like buckets of water.
Ronan backed up to give her room. He was in his animal form and nothing would convince him that the woman would appreciate the nearness of his jaguar. He was also certain that she wouldn’t appreciate the help of a naked man.
However, he knew they couldn’t leave her here. She could still collapse and drown. The last thing the town needed was an investigation into why a lone woman died on their mountain.
That’s it. Take advantage of the fact that I stopped to assess the needs of a nearly drowned woman. All bets are off, you ass.
He growled at Noah, who kept running.
Yeah, right. You’re just making an excuse as to why I’m winning this time. You get to go fishing today. I’m always the one stuck with catching dinner.
The woman picked that moment to open her eyes and look at Ronan, her mouth opening and closing in rapid succession before she finally let out a bellow that could have awakened the dead in the oldest cemetery in Mason, the town fifty miles north of Paradise.
Whoa! That was some scream,
Noah said through their link.
When did you start screaming like a girl?
Fuck you, asshole.
Wait there with her. It’ll take me a minute to get some clothes on.
Just pull on a pair of jeans and get the hell back here. She could pierce my eardrums with her screaming. Not to mention the fact that she’s just managed to get the water out of those lungs that she’s using so vigorously.
Mason stepped back with the hope that putting distance between them would calm her down.
It didn’t, though, it
It was as though she’d convinced herself he wasn’t real. Then he moved and that reminded her that he was.
She screamed until she ran out of breath, at which time her eyes rolled back in her head and she fell face first into the water.
Ronan changed back into his human form as quickly as he could and pulled the woman from the river. Naked or not, he had to get her away from the water before she drowned herself.
He walked up the riverbank and set her down on a patch of grass in the sunlight. She was cold, but she wasn’t shivering. He wouldn’t be surprised to find that hypothermia had set in.
Reaching down, he lifted her up and held her close to warm her torso before her extremities.
He reached out through their mind link.
Bring me a pair of jeans, too, if you haven’t already left the cabin.
I’ve already left, but I thought to grab a pair for you. I’m almost there.
Ronan got the sense that Noah had put on the speed when he realized that the situation had changed and Ronan could no longer stay in his animal form.
“Here,” Noah said as a pair of blue jeans smacked Ronan on the side of the head. “Put these on. I’ll take her. She’ll most likely go into hysterics if she wakes up and finds you wrapped around her like a blanket with your junk rubbing all over her.”
“She’s unconscious and freezing. What the hell was I supposed to do, let her freeze to death while we waited for your slow ass to come back?”
Ronan stood, yanked the pants on and buttoned the fly. “Tell me you brought a thermal blanket.”
“I brought a thermal blanket.” Noah bared his teeth.
“That had better be a smile. If I even think you’re being a smart ass, I’m going to beat the shit out of you, just for shits and giggles.”
“You know I’m just fuckin’ with ya. Chill out, for crissakes.” Shaking his head, Noah pulled a thermal blanket from his pocket, tore open the plastic package and wrapped it around the girl.