Mate for a Month:Shifters of Silver Peak

By: Georgette St. Clair
Shifters of Silver Peak

Chapter One

Monday morning

Oh no oh no oh no. Eileen Pennyroyal’s mind raced with panic as she stared at the bear that stood between her and her car. She clenched her Coach purse to her chest as if it would shield her from the giant beast, and looked around. A million thoughts were racing through her head. I just had to wear the heels. Why did I ever even come here? I should have known I’d fail. Daddy said I’d screw up, and I did.

And finally, as the bear began lumbering towards her, At least I’m wearing clean underwear. Mother would have been so proud.

If only the bear was a shifter, it would probably be lumbering towards her in greeting rather than threat…but it wasn’t. Eileen, a wolf shifter, had an excellent sense of smell. The scent that drifted into her nostrils was pure animal.

What are you supposed to do when you’re confronted with a bear? Eileen frantically searched the recesses of her memory. Damn it, how the hell should she know? She might be part wolf, but she lived on the Upper East Side. The closest she got to wildlife was feeding the pigeons in Central Park.

The bear reared up to its full height and let out a threatening growl. Panic clutched her throat, and she turned and ran. Her heel sank into the dirt on the side of the road and her ankle twisted painfully. She fell to the ground and dropped her purse, and felt her pants rip. The ground was hard and cold, rimed with frost. April in Montana. Mornings were still chilly.

Above her, she could see vultures drifting on the air currents in the bright blue sky. Turkey vultures, brown and white, with tiny bright red heads and hooked beaks. Looking for their next meal.

Oh, come on, you bastards.

Was it her imagination, or were they moving closer now?

Really? I hope you choke on my corpse.

Her purse lay next to her in the dirt, contents spilling out. She grabbed her keychain, which had pepper spray on it in case anybody tried to get fresh or mug her. Would it stop a bear? Doubtful, but Eileen Pennyroyal would go down fighting.

The bear was almost on top of her. It reared up with a terrible snarl – and then paused.

She heard angry snarling coming from her left, and twisted around to see what else was going to kill and eat her.

Standing downwind of her was an absolutely enormous gray wolf, crouched low and growling. Shifter wolf. She could tell because of the scent, and its size. All shifters were larger than their natural counterparts – that was part of the whole super-soldier experiment thing, make them big and fierce – but this one was huge even for a shifter.

The bear let out a low, threatening rumble and stood very still. Eileen sat there, clutching her pepper spray and holding her breath. She tried very hard to be invisible.

The bear was much bigger than the wolf, but all wild animals were freaked out by shifters in their animal form. Shifters smelled…wrong. Off. Unnatural.

After a long moment, the bear turned and loped off, disappearing into the treeline.

The air around the shifter seemed to shimmer as he turned human. Hair melted away, pointy ears shrank and rounded, tail vanished. Bones moved and rearranged themselves, and then he was a tall, muscular man crouching on the ground. He had dark hair buzzed close to his scalp, a strong jaw, and eyes with the whiskey-amber tint of a shifter’s. She couldn’t spot an ounce of fat on his body. There were several long scars on his torso and a few on his arms, which meant he’d been in some vicious fights with shifters. And lived to tell the tale.

He was also stark naked, of course, since he’d just shifted.

She looked away as he stood up, and a blush rose to her cheeks. He was proportional in size, all over. Huge. Good Lord.

She waited for him to walk over and hold his hand out to help her up, but apparently that wasn’t going to happen. He was probably self-conscious because he was naked, she realized.

She scrambled to her feet, still holding her pepper spray. She looked him in the eyes, concentrating very hard on not letting her gaze drift south. She had been raised better than that – more’s the pity.

“Thank you for saving my life,” she said to him. “My name is Eileen Pennyroyal.” As soon as she mentioned her last name, she regretted it. A lot of people found it intimidating or off-putting.

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