To Lie With Lions: A BBW Shifter Romance (Wolf Rock Shifters Book 4)

BOOK: To Lie With Lions: A BBW Shifter Romance (Wolf Rock Shifters Book 4)
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The
first three books in the Wolf Rock Shifters Series are available here:

Winning the Alpha

Bearing Up In Wolf Rock

The Right to a Bear's Arms

 

New Release! Carina’s
newest  New Adult novel,
Rome to You
,

is available now.

 

The Billionaires and Curves Series is available here:

Billionaires and Curves (Taken With You) Trilogy

 

Taken With You

Crazy About You

The Way to You

Table of Contents
 
One
Two
Three
Four
Five
Six
Seven
             
Eight
Nine
Ten
Eleven
Twelve
One

 

 

 

Hot snorts of bre
ath puffed in threads of dissipating vapour from the lion’s muzzle as he stood overlooking the territory below. This was his family’s land—well, his
pride’s
land—and he lived, in this moment, to protect it. Though he’d spent the better part of the last four years far away, he’d never lost his bond with the acres in the mountains that his family occupied.

This feeling of attachment to the
territory was one that had caused a sting while he’d lived away at college over the years and months; it wasn’t easy to accept the helplessness of his situation, of knowing that he was not able to survey his own land or to defend against threats. His parents were aging, and not as agile and swift as they’d once been. His job was to protect and yet he had been a prisoner in his own human life, far from them and unable to offer help.

Not that there was much
protecting to be done, truth be told. Most of the wildlife that even dared to threaten the family’s ranch was in the form of small coyotes and the occasional grizzly that would wander down from the mountains, and since Wolf Rock had become populated with a vast array of shifters, only the most foolish of animals ever came anywhere near.

This
was Darwin’s way at laughing at stupid creatures who hadn’t gotten the memo about evolution: Hey, animals. You want to die horribly? Just mess with a shifter. Go on, try. Let’s see how you like having your limbs ripped off. No, no, go ahead: push it. Oh? You’d rather run away like your ass is on fire?

 

Fair enough.

 

For the lion inside Nash, his non-human half, surveying the land and the pursuit of predators was usually more about sport than anything else. He would stand still as a statue, poised, waiting, and when he’d see a form looming in the distance he’d take off like a bolt after it, even on occasion scaring a jackrabbit shitless with his speed as he came at the terrified creature.

He wasn’t a killer; not unless he
absolutely needed to be. But he was a runner, and incredibly fast for a large lion, even when the snow was piled around him in drifts as it was on these cold January days. He seemed able to tear through it without any resistance, bounding ahead unimpeded.

While patrolling
under the stars on this particular night, he’d seen a coyote in the distance, pacing back and forth in the way that they do and sizing up the land. Only when it had begun to approach the buildings on the ranch which contained the family’s horses and cats had Nash unleashed his lion in all its furious speed. The coyote, trapped in the middle of a large field, froze for a moment when it saw the enormous cat bearing down upon it, before turning and running. But it had no chance; before a second had passed, a large paw had pinned it to the ground and an enormous, growling cat was indicating wordlessly that perhaps the best bet would be to try another ranch next time.

After watching the coyote flee,
Nash stood overlooking his territory again, satisfied at a night well spent. And then the man in him noted the time: the sun was beginning to rise over the mountains, which meant that there were chores to be completed; a decidedly human practicality. His mother would be making breakfast in a few minutes and the horses would need tending. The lion would have to go dormant for a while.

He tu
rned and headed back to the stable.

Inside the old wooden structure
, next to the tack room which housed the horses’ saddles and bridles, was a small chamber in which Nash had slept since he was a young boy. He was an only child and, being a solitary patroller, had always liked staying as close to the outdoors as possible. As a cub he’d been known to perch himself in the treetops to overlook the property, which made even his lioness mother nervous. So this almost-outdoor room with its cot and warm bedding had been the compromise. It smelled of fresh hay and had a small window which allowed the air to waft in, and let Nash lie and look at the stars as he drifted off. It was his oasis, this place away from troubles. And now, having returned from a few tumultuous years at college, it was a relief.

As th
e large lion approached the stable he shifted, seamlessly making the transition from cat to man. The horses were used to his feline scent by now but he still preferred to enter their space in human form to avoid spooking them.

He walked
quietly to his sparse little room, stark naked but not cold—the air seldom affected shifters as it did regular humans—and grabbed a pair of jeans, which he pulled on and buttoned, having forgotten to grab a pair of boxers from the house.

He sat on his bed
, which seemed tiny now that he was a muscular man of over six feet, and thought about his life. The years away at school, during which he’d earned what seemed now like a fairly useless history and psychology degree, had been difficult. Nash wasn’t easily integrated into human society, it seemed. He took after his father who, as a young man, had bought this land in the Rockies and set up a homestead for himself. He’d intelligently isolated himself and eventually his young family from others, not so much to protect them as to protect anyone who might threaten them. He was the head of the small pride, and as such the protector. Instinct taught him to be wary of everyone, but at times his base instincts were too strong, and he’d been prone to moments of excessive violence. In a lion shifter this surprised no one, but still he’d felt a need to keep society at arms’ length.

Nash ha
d learned the lesson the hard way. His college wasn’t populated with shifters, but with regular, often drunk young men and women, and so his social life had revolved around them. Throw copious amounts of beer at a shifter with a short fuse and you’ve got a great recipe for bar fights, street fights and pretty well anywhere-that’s-convenient fights, with an often bloody result. Nash had come close once or twice to being kicked out of the school; it was only the Dean’s fear of having his own face torn off in his sleep that had kept the young lion enrolled.

His return to Wolf Rock had, in the end, been an
escape back to a place where Nash felt understood and where, if his temper got the better of him, at least the other guy would have a fair chance of defending himself. But at the same time, he was learning to take responsibility for his own actions and for his moods. He was maturing into the lion he should be, who would eventually find a mate and raise cubs; human children whom he would help to train into their strange lives. He would help them to make the difficult transition into the half-animals that they would become.

And
when Nash wasn’t able to control his moods himself, breathing the fresh mountain air was the best possible therapy on all counts. Here he felt at peace and happy, and maybe he’d learn, as his father had, to remain calm in the face of difficulty.

Better still, maybe he wouldn’t run into too much damn difficulty.

At some point before too long, he’d need to leave the warm comfort of the ranch and seek a house of an apartment of his own in town. He could still work out here, help his parents run the business and tend the property, but his independence extended to a desire for a social life, which wasn’t going to exist with his parents at such close proximity.

He threw a plaid shirt on, pulled on his wool socks and boots and headed out to the house for breakfast.

“Nathaniel!” a shrill voice cried as Nash stepped onto the crisp layer of snow in the drive, inhaling the clean particles surrounding him. His mother was standing outside the house in slippers and a thick robe. She liked to call him by his formal name, which had been abandoned by everyone who knew him years before. “Nash” was a play on the gnashing of teeth that he’d frequently engaged in as a young lion, growling at foes. His was a particularly impressive set of canines and his nickname was all but a warning to anyone considering interfering with him. Nash had proven on more than one occasion that there was truth to the concept of “razor sharp” teeth, and he’d left his mark on many a foe over the years.


Coming, mom,” he yelled back, his deep, round voice cutting through the silence which had seemed to hang in the air around him. He wanted to laugh at himself. The boy in him was gone for good, and now the man was being fed what would no doubt be a delicious meal by his mother, a rosy-cheeked woman who’d once been an indomitable shifter. How times changed.

“I can’t even tell you how excite
d we are to have you back,” she was saying. “Will you stay through the season, now that you’re finished your term? Have you decided?”

“I don’t know yet,” said
Nash, throwing on the cowboy hat which had been neglected over the months spent away at college, though he knew that his mother would order him to take it off at the breakfast table. “We’ll see. But I’ll stay for a while, anyhow. I’m curious to see the place. I hear Wolf Rock’s changed. Besides, you know I like it here.”

“It’s changed, but not that much
,” said Mr. Richardson, his father, who was standing in the doorway. “Just enough for those of us who live here to notice. There’s been a lot of building in the woods, a lot of new shifters moving in, dwellings, that sort of thing. But the town looks more or less the same to an outsider.”

“Well, I want to have a
good look around and see how the place is progressing. And I’m really looking forward to going out riding. It’s been way too long since I’ve been on a horse.”

“The hors
es will love to be out in the snow, what with their winter coats,” Mrs. Richardson said as they walked towards the ranch house. “The trails can be a little treacherous is all, so you be careful.”

“I will
, mom.” Nash’s mother always behaved as though he were still nine years old, and made of fine bone china. The fact was that if a horse hurt itself while they were out, he could all but carry it home.

“Oh, that reminds me—a young woman
who’s new to town called yesterday. She wants to come have a ride this morning.” His mother looked excited to convey this news, though to Nash it seemed uninteresting at best.

“In the middle of winter?
” he asked. “You don’t usually take tourists out then, do you? Seems a bit cold for that sort of thing.”

“Well, she’s not exactly a tourist,
Nash. She’s one of us. A shifter. And her father seems to be some important, wealthy businessman who’s just moved to the area, so it was hard to imagine saying no.”

“Since when do we care about important
, wealthy businessmen?”

“Since we started paying bills, oh, a lifetime ago,” said his father.

“Well, I can take her out if you’d like,” said Nash. “May as well have some company on the ride. Though I wasn’t counting on babysitting an amateur rider.”

It had been a dog’s age since
Nash had enjoyed the presence of a young shifter, and even if this woman was a spoiled brat she’d be better than the girls he’d had to deal with in school. At least if he growled at her, she’d get the message.

“Do your best to be polite,
Nathaniel. We don’t want to make a bad impression,” his mother continued.

“What the heck
do you mean, a bad impression?” asked her husband. “Do you think she’ll be upset that he doesn’t talk about flower arranging and manicures?”

“No, dear,” said his wife. “I think she’ll be upset, though, if he rips off all his clothes and attacks a stray bear.”

“Bah, she’s a shifter. She’s probably seen it all,” Mr. Richardson replied. “We all have.”

“Well, I’d prefer that my son not go parading around in front of respectable young women naked.”

“Son,” said Nash’s father. “You heard your mother. But if you
do
go parading around naked in front of young women, there’s a shiny new nickel and a pat on the back in it for ya from me. I fully encourage that sort of behaviour.”

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