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Authors: Zenina Masters

Tags: #Adult, #erotic Romance, #Paranormal, #Shapeshifter

Snake Charmer

BOOK: Snake Charmer
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Yvena needs to start over and leaving for the Crossroads is what she has planned. Being followed by the mongoose of her dreams is a shock.

 

 

Yvena was one of the stolen shifters, and her recovery has not been easy. Six months of healing after two months of torture is not enough to make her whole, but she knows that not everyone is out to get her.

She is released from the recovery centre and sets out to the Crossroads. After one day there, she knows that she is trying to hide and rushing toward a mate was a mistake. She asks to leave and it is agreed that she can go home the next day, but that night everything changes.

Liander is a mongoose with his eyes on the king cobra who stole his heart. As her caregiver, he couldn’t pursue a relationship, but now she was out, he had quit and there was nothing between them but mutual attraction and being natural enemies. How hard could a relationship be?

 

The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. Criminal copyright infringement, including infringement without monetary gain, is investigated by the FBI and is punishable by up to 5 years in federal prison and a fine of $250,000.

 

Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage the electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

 

This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

 

Snake Charmer

Copyright © 2014 Zenina Masters

ISBN: 978-1-77111-886-6

Cover art by Carmen Waters

 

All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.

 

Published by eXtasy Books

Look for us online at:

www.eXtasybooks.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Snake Charmer

Shifting Crossroads book 14

 

 

By

 

 

Zenina Masters

 

Chapter One

 

 

Yvena woke up with a jerk; sweat covered her body. She looked around, and the small room was the same as it had been when she went to sleep.

She got up, slipped a robe over her pyjamas and went for a walk.

The recovery facility was in a cold part of the country. Snow was two feet thick outside the windows of the common room. She sat in one of the huge plush chairs and curled up, staring at the moon.

Six months of recovery and she still wasn’t quite right. Yvena still had nightmares, and she hadn’t had a full night’s sleep since the lions had grabbed her with her hood pierced, unable to shift from snake back to human.

King cobra venom was good for vengeance spells, or so they had told her when they milked her teeth, leaving them trashed, her mouth savaged and her psyche battered.

“Can’t sleep again?”

Her one friend in the facility appeared at her side with a glass of warm milk.

Yvena took the milk and smiled when she tasted the honey in it. “Thank you, Liander.”

He sat next to her in one of the huge chairs. He had been more than a friend when she had first arrived; he had been her restraint system. She had never dealt directly with a mongoose until he had pinned her down without fear of her venom. He had picked her up carefully and delivered her to the healers. The healing had been its own kind of agony, and he had been there with her the entire time.

The first shift to human had been torture, but he had been with her all the way, holding her as she shifted from scale to skin for the first time in two months.

“I have some news, Yvena. You are going to be released this week. We can’t do anything for you that you can’t do yourself. Even your PTSD can be handled outside this facility.” Liander’s features were stuck in professional encouragement.

“Fine. I am going to need contact with a transporter.” She was grim. Her life had been shattered and she wanted a new start.

“Why?” He seemed surprised and that was an expression she had never seen on his face before.

“I am going to the Crossroads. If I have to start over, I don’t have to do it alone. Time to start a new life and look to the future.”

Shock replaced Liander’s expression. “Are you sure?”

“Positive. Old life is broken and dead. New life looms ahead. I am choosing life and possibly love.”

He nodded and straightened in the chair. “Right. A transporter. I will have the administrator arrange it in the morning.”

Yvena reached over and put her hand on his arm. “Thank you. You cannot know how much your help has meant to me over these last few months. Seriously. Thank you.”

His dark grey eyes were calm under the swath of dark brown hair that always slipped out of his control. It was the only part of him that was ever out of control.

He put his hand over hers, and she felt the warmth that always sparked between them. If he hadn’t been bound by his position as a caregiver, she would have pursued something with him; however, every overture she had ever engaged in had run into the solid wall of professionalism.

With no hope with the man she wanted, it was time to look elsewhere for the one who might just be good enough.

After two months thinking that she was going to die every day, she now had a fixation on the future. Today might be emotionally uncomfortable but tomorrow was the chance for something new, something better with someone else.

Liander nodded and got to his feet. “Good night. Get some rest, Yvena.”

She lifted her cup of hot milk. “Thank you, Liander. Good night.”

He left her alone, and she stared out the window at the snow and moon. It was so different from her home that it was almost like being on holiday. Almost.

The shifter recovery home that she was in had a room for her species with a hot rock and bright light. She hadn’t bothered with it until her therapists had forced her to shift to check her healing. She had been sealed in the room for four hours, and when she emerged, she could not get into her human form fast enough.

Her snake form was no longer the joy or safe haven it had once been. She was officially the most timid cobra that had ever slithered through her family tree. Yvena wanted something more, but even after months of therapy, she wasn’t sure that she would be able to manage it. Throwing herself into the Crossroads would cause her to react. When she was in doubt, she could always react. It was the snake in her. Life was something that had passed her by until she was captured; now, she was fixated on participating in whatever socially uncomfortable manner she could.

Going to the Crossroads was right up that alley. She would learn how to speak to people, to make friends out of strangers, and if she were lucky, she would find someone willing to look past her wall of crazy.

She didn’t hold out much hope, but she had to try. Her life at the recovery centre was over; time for the next step.

 

The transporter smiled and checked the map. “You live here?”

Yvena Kastric nodded. “That is my home.”

The transporter made notes. “I can take you home today, and you will be in a transport position in four days. I can send you to the Crossroads then if you like.”

Yvena nodded. “Yes, please. I have the donations from my family ready.”

Transporter Wekkian smiled, “You don’t need it. You were offered free passage as part of the rescue and rehabilitation effort.”

Yvena rubbed the back of her neck. “Can I book it? I really don’t want to give myself time to change my mind.”

“Of course. Transporter Igorson handles that area, but I can make sure that he puts you on his schedule.”

Yvena frowned and quickly wrote out her email address. “Send a picture of him here. I am not in the mood to trust strangers.”

The transporter blinked and then nodded. “Of course. You have been through a trial.”

“If it was a trial, I was convicted without testimony.”

He looked at her and was a little upset by her wry manner. She mentally sniggered as he resumed giving her an appointment card and asking her to get to her feet.

“You will receive a call before the transporter arrives.”

“It is a good thing that my family paid the phone bill while I was out here.” She sighed and scribbled the number on the page attached to his clipboard.

He looked at a loss for what to say next.

She waved to the staff at the recovery centre and noted that Liander was missing. She sighed. “Transporter Wekkian, please, send me home.”

Light flared, and she was wrapped in warmth. A moment later and she was on the road, five minutes from her house.

The warmth of the air caused her to shiver. She slung her pack over her shoulder and carried the clothing that had been donated to her down the road to her house.

Eight months. It had been eight months since she had seen her home. She turned down her drive, and tears came to her eyes. Her family had kept up the maintenance on her home.

Despite the distance between them, they had cared enough to help her when she could not help herself. For the first time since she had been taken, she left herself cry.

 

Chapter Two

 

 

Her studio showed signs that someone had tried to tidy it. The cards and machines were all in the wrong places.

She groaned as she took an inventory. She would have to try to contact her old clients and see if they were interested or she could change her company name and start over.

Starting over seemed like the best option. Explaining how she had been kidnapped and returned after therapy was not something she was interested in doing.

When she entered her kitchen, the only thing that was available was a bag of chips. She grabbed her purse, checked that she had cash and went to do a few days’ worth of shopping.

This time, she would leave her house with the intention of making it dormant for a few days or weeks. She would be in control of her departure.

She had four days to prepare, and she was going to spend every minute taking control of her environment.

 

Her car had grudgingly started and her trip to the grocery store had been quick. When Yvena got out of the car, she was no longer alone.

Her mother silently approached and took the bag from her. “Good afternoon, daughter.”

“Mother. Thank you for caring for my home while I was gone.”

Yvetta Kastric inclined her head. “Your sister helped.”

“How is Yvonne?”

“She is well. I am assuming that you picked up some wine; shall we go inside?”

The offer to behave normally was just what she needed.

“Please.”

Once inside, Yvena assembled a cheese and fruit tray while she let the pinot noir breathe.

She carried it into her living room where her mother was perched on the edge of the sofa.

“You look well, considering your travails.”

“Thank you. You seem to be keeping well. New man in your life? You have that certain glow.” She returned and got two glasses and the bottle.

“I am carrying again. This time it is a boy.”

Yvena smiled, “Congratulations. At long last you will have the son to carry on the family name.”

“I never wanted that, Yvena. You know that I treasure you and your sister.”

“I know. Thank you again for taking care of my home.”

“You are welcome. I only wish that your disappearance had been noticed sooner. I will not let that much time pass between us again.”

Yvena reached out and touched her mother’s hand. “I would like that.”

Yvetta scaled her hand over and wove her fingers against her daughter’s. Yvena did the same to her own hand and emerald green met with emerald green in a measure of trust.

Yvena felt her fangs unfolding and her vision shifted. A mother could call the snake out of a child and her mother was doing just that.

Yvena jerked her hand back, “Stop.”

Yvetta looked hurt. “You used to love twisting together in a knot.”

She rubbed her neck and winced, “That was before I was pinned to a board by my hood and had my venom milked every three days. It took weeks with healers to get my teeth back.”

Yvetta paled. “They just said you had been captured, they didn’t tell me…oh scales.”

“It’s…well, I can’t say its fine, but it is over. I was one of dozens. They were harvesting other shifters for use in spells.”

Her mother nodded, “Revenge spells. Of course. I had heard about the shifters that were found, but I hadn’t realised how long you had been there. We had to guess at when you had disappeared by what was in your fridge and the state of the fruit on the counter.”

“Two months of imprisonment. In the span of a life, it doesn’t seem like much, but it was an eternity that effectively tainted my love for my other shape. I am dealing with that, as I am dealing with the aftereffects of seeing others tortured the same way I was. It is a process that I have to go through.”

BOOK: Snake Charmer
4.57Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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