Authors: Rosanna Leo
Gemini Island Shifters 2
Published by Liquid Silver Books, imprint of Atlantic Bridge Publishing, 10509 Sedgegrass Dr, Indianapolis, Indiana 46235. Copyright © Published 2013, Rosanna Leo. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, recording or otherwise, without the prior written permission of the author.
Manufactured in the United States of America
Liquid Silver Books
This is a work of fiction. The characters, incidents and dialogues in this book are of the author’s imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, living or dead, is completely coincidental.
There are three things that make bear shifter Soren Snow’s skin crawl: mothers, their children, and the great outdoors. Soren is a famed musician and playboy, and he would rather spend his days pressing the flesh with the women in his fan club than developing meaningful relationships. When his brother calls in a favor, forcing Soren to revisit the Ursa Fishing Lodge in Northern Ontario, he couldn’t be more displeased. However, he owes his brother big time.
Gioia Clementine would rather not meet Soren, her drummer son’s rock idol. But when tragedy strikes her home, it seems the only one the boy might respond to is Soren. Gioia begrudgingly agrees to let her son meet him, hoping the rock star won’t turn her tween into a musical misogynist.
When Gioia and Soren meet, the sexual chemistry threatens to set the Ontario woodland ablaze. Can these two opposites find a common ground? And can they manage to resolve their unwanted feelings, even when a mysterious stranger arrives at the lodge, threatening everything?
For my son Andrew, who has more creativity than I could ever hope to possess. Andrew took great pride in helping me with this book, providing me with some intriguing plot bunnies. I must give him credit for naming the character “Gunnar” and for letting me know so specifically how Gunnar should look. I know one day Andrew and I will write a book together, and if we are to use his ideas, it will probably be filled with lots of blood and gore.
I would like to thank Nita Banks and Barbara Kuhl for being such a support to me and for their tireless cheerleading. I’d also like to thank my crit partners: Daisy Banks, Sofia Grey, and Allyson Lindt. Many thanks to Victoria Miller and Debbie Gillen, my editors, for their wisdom and for making me look smarter than I am. And, as always, thanks to my readers for demanding Soren’s book. You wanted it. You got it.
“Bro, I need to get off the phone. I’m expecting an underwear model any minute now.”
As Soren Snow listened to his brother natter on about fishing lures or some such crap, he sighed and stared out the window of his New York penthouse. Another day of piss-pouring rain, which only made him want to burrow inside with a woman. Would his guest actually come? Models were usually so concerned about their looks. He wondered if Irina Ivanov would venture out to have dinner with him after all, or would she be too worried she might melt in the precipitation, wicked-witch style?
“Soren, are you listening?” Ryland muttered into the phone.
“Yeah, yeah. But did you not hear the part about me expecting Irina Ivanov? I gotta go.”
“Who’s Irina Ivanov?”
Soren stared at his cell. “Seriously? You’ve never heard of her? She’s the biggest model out there. Well, not really
. I doubt she weighs more than fifty pounds, but you know what I mean. She’s on the latest commercial for Hush underwear.”
Ryland paused. “The waif with the…lip issue?”
Soren rolled his eyes. His brother could be such a hick sometimes. Ryland needed to get away from the backwater they called home in Northern Ontario and see more of the world. Of course, since he’d found his mate Lia, he doubted Ryland was going anywhere. Those two were like rabbits rather than the bear shifters they were: always at it. And they loved their quiet home on Gemini Island where Ryland ran his fishing resort, the Ursa Lodge. Soren preferred the big city. His last visit to Gemini Island at the start of the summer had been enough down-home, gnat-infested country to keep him going for a while.
“Irina doesn’t have a lip issue,” he replied. “She just has very succulent lips.”
“Right. All natural too, I bet.”
“I live in New York, Ry. Natural isn’t a priority here.” He checked the time. “Anyway, gotta go. Give Lia a kiss for me.”
“No, wait,” Ryland said. “I have a favor to ask.”
“Dude! She’s probably in the elevator right now.”
“This won’t take long.” Ryland paused. Soren could almost hear him frowning on the other end of the line. “Look, you know I run my summer mentoring program here at the lodge.”
“Yeah. I know all about your fondness for counseling young shifters, Saint Ryland. What about it?”
Ryland huffed at the dig. “Well, I have a new arrival, a boy named Gunnar Clementine. He’s just a young kid, twelve, and he’s troubled. His mom has brought him to me as a last resort. I don’t know if I’ll be able to get through to him by the end of their stay.”
“What do you mean? All the kids in the program idolize you. You’re the king of shifters on the island. You’ve helped them all deal with the trials of being one. I’m sure this…Gunnar will respond eventually.”
Ryland sighed. “He has a lot of baggage, bro. Really bad shit. He hasn’t said one word since he got here. I don’t know how to reach him.”
Soren shrugged his shoulders. “You’re not coming to me for advice, are you? About
“You do music classes for kids sometimes.”
“That’s different. The classes are taught on Skype now. I don’t have to be in the same room as them.” He shuddered. “I hate those little things. They’re so…clingy.”
“Yeah, kids are like that, Soren. It’s a shame how much they need adults.” He swore under his breath, but Soren heard every foul, self-righteous word. “Look, I wouldn’t normally ask you to leave your den of urban sin, but I discovered Gunnar is a drummer. And guess who he idolizes?”
Soren grinned, as he did whenever he learned his music touched someone. As a professional percussionist who played with rock bands and classical ensembles alike, he was known the world over. And while music critics lauded him for his slick drumming skills, his fans were normally not of the twelve-year-old variety. The people who flocked to his concerts were usually female, distinctly adult, and always eager to meet their idol.
As it happened, Soren loved pressing the flesh with his fans too. The flesh of their lips, of their hips, of their breasts, of their…
“Soren?” Ryland said, interrupting his lust-filled thoughts. “Still with me?”
“I’d really appreciate if you’d come spend a week or two at the lodge and try to talk to this kid. He’s been through a shitload of stuff and might open up to his rock god. He’s like a little you, walking around with drumsticks in his hands all the time. And I’m sure his mom would really appreciate it.”
“I don’t know, Ry. Kids and moms…not really my favorite kind of people.” Soren preferred his women nubile and limber and didn’t tend to target females from the minivan crowd.
“Well, are you booked for concerts over the next while?”
“No, but that doesn’t mean I don’t have practicing to do. And I’m right in the middle of composing an orchestral piece for the Philharmonic. It hasn’t exactly been going well, so I need quiet time.”
“What do you mean? You compose music with your eyes closed.”
“Not this time. I just can’t seem to make the notes come.” He pinched the bridge of his nose, hoping he’d nip the stressful pressure at the back of his head. “I have to hire a Muse.”
“Bring your work and your drum kit. The kid’ll get a kick out of seeing it, and I personally guarantee you as much quiet time as you need. Come on, Soren. Be nice. Besides, you owe me after the fiasco you created last time you were here.”
“Shit, don’t remind me.” Soren couldn’t deny it. He’d caused a lot of trouble for his older brother over the years. Still, getting a kid to open up about his feelings was about the most revolting activity he could think of. He’d probably make a mess of it too. Maybe he could talk drums to the kid. It was no doubt all they had in common anyway. “Oh, okay. I’ll be on the next plane. But I’m still having dinner with Irina first.” A self-satisfied chuckle rumbled in his chest. “And then dessert.”
The noise that issued from Ryland sounded suspiciously like a choked-down disgust. “Too much information. I just had a vision of those enormous lips coming at you. I didn’t need to have that burned into my brain.” He let out a soft chortle. “Thanks Soren. I appreciate it.”
“I’ll see you soon, bro.” The doorbell rang. The underwear model had arrived.
Hopefully she wasn’t wearing any.
* * * *
Gioia Clementine chased her son Gunnar into the woods for the fourth time in the past twenty-four hours. Hot on her tail was Lia Snow, Ryland’s wife. If the situation weren’t so sad, she’d be laughing because she and Lia were not exactly the most graceful runners around. While twelve-year-old Gunnar darted between the trees with the effortless ease of youth, Gioia had to stop to catch her breath several times. She wasn’t cut out for moving her legs in such a fashion. She sat in an office eight hours a day. Her spreading ass could attest to her absences from the gym. Not that she’d ever considered purchasing a gym membership anyway. Hell, she wouldn’t even know where to find a gym.
Lia stopped next to her and put a hand on her back. She wasn’t breathing as hard as Gioia but still took a moment. “Man, I know I haven’t been a shifter for long, but I’d hoped I might have taken on some of Ryland’s finesse. I’m quicker than I used to be, but not as fast as I’d like. Too many years being a sedentary human, I guess.” She grinned at Gioia. “I’ll catch up to Gunnar for you.”
“No,” Gioia replied, panting, her hands on her knees. “Let him go. He’s sick of me anyway. He probably needs a break from his mom hounding him.” She stood up and fought the urge to cry. Steeling herself, Gioia stared into the lush forest of Gemini Island, their sanctuary for the next two weeks, trying to pick out Gunnar's skinny, retreating ass through the trees.
She’d been so hopeful when she heard of Ryland Snow’s mentoring program for young shifters. Her son, a tween bear shifter whose emotions ran rampant, avoided her as if she were a sneezing, dripping victim of the plague. He wouldn’t talk to anyone about what had happened at home. Gunnar wouldn’t even listen to their second cousin Wes, their other travel companion and a bear shifter himself. And he certainly wasn’t responding to her.
“It’s because I’m human,” she whispered to Lia. “He thinks I can’t relate to him, and clearly, I can’t.” She chewed on her thumbnail, hoping for some comfort in the little sting of pain.
Lia extricated the thumb from Gioia’s mouth and smiled. “You’re still his mom. He loves you. He’s just confused and feels guilty.”
Gioia’s eyes watered, and she didn’t stop the flow of tears this time. She removed her eyeglasses and wiped her face. “I don’t blame him for what happened. Gunnar did the right thing. He thinks I’m angry, but I’m so proud of him.”
“Have you told him?” Lia asked in a gentle tone.
“Every day. He won’t hear me. I don’t know what to do. I feel as if I’m losing my child.” She sucked in a breath to keep her shoulders from heaving, which only succeeded in making her chest heave instead.
Lia pulled her in for a hug and Gioia collapsed against the other woman, so grateful for a shoulder to cry on. The Snows had been so kind to her since she’d arrived at the resort with Gunnar. Ryland had been optimistic they would reach her son, but lately she’d seen the doubts in his eyes too. It was clear they all worried Gunnar was a lost cause. And a young bear shifter left to his own devices was a bad thing for everyone around him. She didn’t want him to become a violent, unfeeling creature. The mentoring program was her last hope.
“Shh,” Lia soothed, rubbing her back. “It’s going to be okay. Did I tell you Ryland got a hold of Soren? He should be here any time. If anyone can get through to Gunnar, it has to be him.”
Soren Snow. She doubted his abilities, this famous percussionist whose gorgeous face adorned her son’s bedroom in countless posters at home. There was no denying she often found herself staring at his expertly messy blond hair and bedroom blue eyes, but so did his legion of female fans. The man was a player, and she’d heard of his exploits, musical and sexual,
before the incident. “I still don’t know, Lia. I realize Soren is your brother-in-law, and I mean no offense. But I’m not convinced he’s the right influence for Gunnar. He’s a womanizer. He lives a life of excess. We have nothing in common with him. I don’t want him filling my son’s head with all sorts of crazy ideas, making him want things I just can’t provide.”