Authors: Susan A. Bliler
|Skin Walkers |
|Susan A. Bliler|
|Susan A. Bliler (2014)|
Susan A. Bliler
Copyright © 2013 by Susan Bliler
Cover fonts, spine, design, and back cover done by:
Image courtesy of
Editing done by:
Leiah Cooper with
So I Read This Book Today…
As always thanks to my Beta, Cindy.
I couldn’t do this without you.
Thanks for believing in me when no one else did.
A special thanks to:
Care Data Recovery
Oh how close this book came to being gone forever.
Lesson learned. Thank you for saving me!
This story is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidences are either products of the author’s imagination or used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication can be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, without permission in writing from Susan A. Bliler.
Thank you for being one of the few who actually reads my books. Thank you for always being there, and for always believing that I could conquer the world. It takes a special woman to love her husband’s children as if they were her own. What a blessing you are.
The flight to the Philippines had been miserable. York McDonnough had turned down CEO Monroe StoneCrow’s offer of a private jet and instead took a commercial flight, which he’d regretted the entire thirteen hours crammed into the too small seat on the rattling death trap they called a plane. He could have shifted and flew or swam the distance, but he wanted to be in peak condition when he arrived to find Shy Brooke’s missing sister.
. Thinking of her for the hundredth time in the past few hours only made his heart spasm painfully. He’d rescued the woman from the Megalya lab in Canada and once he’d realized her Walker didn’t want her, he’d had hopes of claiming her for himself.
He scoffed. Hell, he’d actually challenged for her. He wanted so badly what he’d witnessed between his Commander, Conn Drago and his Angel, Aries that he’d been willing to overlook the fact that he wasn’t afflicted by Shy. She wasn’t his.
Unlike the rest of his brethren Skin Walkers, he welcomed the idea of claiming his
Angel…his mate. He longed for love and happiness and--Gods willing--children one day, but as more time went by
, the less likely that his hopes would be fulfilled. It was heartbreaking because he knew he’d be an excellent mate. He was stronger than most Walkers and willing to sacrifice himself and his pride to keep his Angel happy. Most of the unmated Walkers saw claiming their Angel as a weakness, a way for a Walker to be hurt. It’s why most Walker males refused to seek out their Angel. Some even had the audacity to try to deny their mate once the affliction set in. It was infuriating and insulting, because York would give anything to find the intimacy of a relationship with his one true mate.
Sighing, York wondered for the millionth time over the span of his thirty-two years of existence if something wasn’t wrong with him. Was he even loveable? He’d had numerous
discussions with StoneCrow’s Chief of Security, King Mulholland, regarding their similar upbringing. Both were bounced from foster home to foster home. King had assured York that it didn’t make them less worthy of happy lives, but more worthy. They’d seen what it was like, ripped from their families and forced to live lives of great hardship at a young age and while enduring inexplicable, heartrending changes. York hadn’t had the heart at the time to tell King that, unlike the Chief of Security, York hadn’t been taken from his mother…she’d given him up. He held no memory of her or his father. His first memories were of parents who weren’t his own, beating him and treating him like an animal, only to feign love and affection on the rare occasions the social worker saw fit to make a home visit. It’s why he’d hoped Shy would be his. He wanted to finally experience real love.
Stop thinking about it!
He grumbled to himself as he stood and stretched his cramped legs before snagging his rucksack from the overhead compartment and shuffling with the miserable masses down the narrow aisle. He smirked to himself as most passengers cleared a path to avoid him. He didn’t blame them. He doubted the locals had ever seen anyone quite like him. Flaming red hair pulled into a tight braid hung to his waist, while sea-green eyes frowned at the displeasure of his stiff muscles. His shoulders brushed the overhead compartments on both sides of the aisle, head tucked to avoid rubbing it on the ceiling of the plane. Most passengers appeared to be of local ethnicity. The people were tiny. Even the men were slight in stature. It would have been laughable if the plane hadn’t been built to accommodate such slight humans.
Stepping off the plane, he stopped at the top of the stair landing and inhaled deeply.
He relished the scent of fresh sea air after thirteen hours in a tin can with too many sweaty bodies, one pukie baby, and one elderly woman who’d packed her own lunch, which carried a scent that reminded York of a beast he’d once found decaying in the forest. He breathed in again, stretching his tense muscles and rolling his neck from side-to-side. The familiar scent of salt water reminded him of his beloved Ireland. He hadn’t been home in over a decade and hadn’t realized how much he’d missed the sea until he’d seen it again. Hiking his rucksack over his shoulder with a sigh he tromped down the metal stairs.
Unlike in America, here people raced out to tarmac to greet their loved ones. He ignored their stares as he made his way toward the terminal.
“Red hair!” he heard one boy say excitedly in a thick accent.
York’s chest tightened. Regardless of the fact that he saw his own in the mirror daily, he would now forever associate red hair with Shy’s satiny locks. She would have been a good mate, his perfect match.
He’d been sent out with a team of Skin Walker mercenaries to retrieve an imprisoned Skin Walker, Leto Reigns, from the Megalya facility that had imprisoned Leto for experimentation. They’d discovered Shy at the facility as well and the instant York picked her up to carry her too frail form from the facility, he’d been drawn to her. She’d been terrified and clung to him. The action caused his protective instincts to rise and against his better judgment, he allowed feelings to develop when he shouldn’t have. He scented another male on her…another Walker. Leto. He knew she was claimed, yet still he’d foolishly allowed himself to hope.
Shy Brookes, who’d been an intern at the
Megalya facility, had become a captive herself after attempting to free Leto. While they held her, the Administration reported to her family that she’d been sent on special assignment to the Philippines in hopes of deflecting their inquiries. Unconvinced, Shy’s sister had traveled to the Philippines and was now missing. York had accepted the retrieval mission not only as a favor to Shy, but in hopes that distance would help him forget that she could never be his. Stalking toward the terminal, he clenched his fists at his own stupidity, but told himself it was the stifling heat and humidity assailing him in equal measure that was getting to him. He’d spent the last ten years of his life in the mountains of Montana, which meant
type of heat was too much. His hope for a temperate April in the Philippines instantly flew out the window.
Entering the terminal, there was no one to greet him. Monroe
had sent him with enough funds to spend several months on his own on the small archipelago, leaving him to fend for himself.
Exiting the terminal onto a bustling street, he eyed Quezon City and grunted. Monroe
StoneCrow, the dominant Skin Walker,
was calling the shots on this particular assignment. He had gathered Intel verifying that Shy’s sister could be found here. York eyed the city from left to right, more than a little disheartened.
It wasn’t what he’d expected. Having never been to the Philippines, his knowledge came from the little research James, his fellow Walker, had done via computer. He’d informed York that Quezon was a metropolitan area and home to the Philippines’ House of Representatives and the country’s national university. Still, York naively expected shanties and villagers riding donkeys. Instead, he was greeted by a metropolis that was one hundred times the city his Great Falls was back in Montana.
Looking up he watched sleek sky trains rocket across elevated rail systems, while beneath, seven lanes of traffic raised a ruckus that rivaled New York. Tall trees dotted the
roadway, and a chorus of loud birds chirped merrily in an attempt to contend with the sounds of the city.
Looking down, he found a thin local reaching for his rucksack. Jerking it back he growled at the young man, sending the taxi driver reeling back with his hands up, “No! I put you bag in trunk, take you to hotel.”
York’s lips thinned as he frowned at the young man but stepped toward the waiting taxi.
“Good. Good.” The man opened the back door. “You get it in. I take you.”
York crammed his too tall frame into the back seat of the taxi and wait
ed while the driver quickly rounded the car.
“I Benjie,” the driver began chatting before he’d even closed his door. “Where I take you?”
“Downtown,” York commanded, not really sure where he should start.
“I know.” Benjie prattled on, “I take you Shangri La first. You get room, check in.
. York watched the city whip by at lightning speed. As the airport fell behind, towering buildings could be seen ahead denoting a bustling metropolis. He’d never been to the Philippines before, and the view out his window wasn’t what he’d expected. He smirked at his own naiveté. He’d half expected conditions comparable to a third world county. It thrilled him to be proven wrong.
The ride was shorter than York expected—about twenty minutes—and when the taxi pulled up in front of a towering hotel, York had to crane his neck to see up the front of the building. It looked like something straight out of Vegas. At least thirty stories, the building was all windows that gleamed in the beaming sun. The landscape was dotted with dozens of what appeared to be some form of local palm
trees. A loud fountain splashed invitingly in the center of a courtyard that was circled by a driveway leading to the front of the building and rounding back out to the road.
Benjie pulled expertly to the front of the building and hurried to get York’s door.
York pulled a wad of pesos out his pocket and handed a large bill to Benjie. “Keep the change.”
Benjie smiled and nodded excitedly.
It was easy being generous when on a mission with someone else’s money. Monroe was paying for this particular mission, and York nodded in satisfaction at Benjie’s choice of digs. The lavish establishment was clearly high-end. Ignoring the looks shot his way; York hiked his rucksack up over one shoulder and headed into the hotel. He’d get situated, and then go hunting. Monroe had given him supposedly reliable Intel on where Shy’s sister might be located. Gauging from the size of the city though, York knew he had his work cut out for him.