Authors: Moira Rogers
Table of Contents
Originally published by
This is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the
products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious
manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual
events is purely coincidental.
Copyright © 2008
All rights reserved. This book or
any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner
whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Claire knew she stuck
out like a sore thumb from the moment she walked into the bar, and it
had nothing to do with the fact that she looked like shit. Dos
Culebras was not a bar women usually entered alone unless they were
professionals. The few non-hookers in residence belonged to men
frightening enough to convince the rest of the clients to leave them
She was not a
professional. Worse than that, she was a shapeshifter who challenged
every man in the bar just by walking into it. Hell, she wanted to be
a challenge. She needed to meet another shapeshifter tonight. Someone
like her, who understood her strength. Who could
her strength. Someone who wouldn't be afraid.
She heard her
ex-boyfriend's voice as she took her beer to a small table in the
not you, Claire. You need someone...like you.
Oh, he'd been full of false sympathy when he'd broken up with her.
He'd pretended it wasn't because she'd proven herself to be stronger
than he was—yet again.
Humans are fragile.
A morbid thought, but so true. Humans
fragile, and she had to stop wanting to be with one. Over twenty
years had passed since magic had first crashed into science and bled
into everyday life. The terror had finally subsided, and lots of men
now found it hip to have a supernatural girlfriend.
least until she embarrasses them in front of the boys by being
stronger than they are.
Human men. Their egos
were as fragile as their bodies.
She was halfway through
her beer before she realized she had attracted a stranger’s
attention. He sat across the bar from her, in a corner booth, with
his back against the wall and one booted foot propped on the cracked
vinyl in front of him. A cigarette dangled from his mouth, and a
long-neck hung loosely from his fingers. Tattoos encircled his arms,
tribal designs that stood out against his skin and disappeared
beneath the sleeves of his T-shirt. He looked dangerous.
Even at that distance,
his eyes bored into hers. The intensity of his unwavering gaze made
her uncomfortable. She had no problem recognizing another
shapeshifter. Not a wolf, which she might have expected, but a
She met his gaze
unflinchingly, knowing he wouldn't be able to resist the challenge of
You'll do, whoever
After a moment he rose,
one fluid motion bringing him out of the booth. He stalked towards
her, his movements at once graceful and dangerous, and she couldn't
take her eyes away from him. He stopped at the corner of the bar and
slid onto a seat. For a minute, Claire thought he wouldn't speak.
Then his icy blue eyes softened, and he said in a low voice, "You
look like shit."
"Thank you. I feel
like shit," she replied quietly. "That's why I have a
He paused for a moment,
then set down his bottle. "I know who you are, you know."
It figured. Coyotes
weren't rare, but there were only ten female coyotes in town compared
to the fifty or so males. She turned her eyes back to the man and ran
them over him in an assessing manner that bordered on insulting.
"Really? Haven't seen you in any of my classes. You don't look
like the college type."
He just grinned, and
the simple action transformed his face from broodingly dangerous to
dangerously handsome. "Touchy bitch."
She finished the rest of her bottle and set it on the table. "My
boyfriend just dumped my ass because I'm tougher than he is. I'm
feeling a little touchy."
He stared at her for a
second. "Beer ain't taking the edge off of that, doll. You do
She slanted him a look,
wondering if he was the type of man who could find her something
better than alcohol. Maybe the tricky little magical drug making the
rounds now. Custom designed for shapeshifters, it provided the
adrenaline rush of a shift, along with a healthy dose of desire.
Right now, she wanted something to remind herself just how far she
was from actually being human.
Of course, she wasn't
exactly sure how to
him if he happened to have a bottle of moonshine in his pocket. So
instead, she settled for a vague reply. "If I wanted to do the
stuff I usually do, I wouldn't be here."
He nodded. "Hey,
Wanda. Give us a couple of shots of Johnnie Walker, yeah?"
Claire waited until the
woman set a shot glass in front of her. Then she picked it up and
tossed it back, coughing a little as the liquid burned its way down
When she managed to
blink away the reflexive tears that sprang to her eyes, she found him
watching her. "It's a long way from milk and cookies."
threw back his own shot without blinking. "I'm Lars."
Claire dropped the shot glass back on to the bar. "Hi. I'm
Lars nodded to Wanda,
and she brought over two more shots. He let his eyes roam over Claire
again. Her baggy T-shirt and loose jeans hid her body, but he'd seen
her before. Her innocent blue eyes and sweet, freckled face were
completely at odds with her lush, voluptuous body. She was like a
naughty librarian fantasy come to life, even dressed down with her
auburn hair in a sloppy ponytail.