The Bear by Stephanie Burke

 

After observing the mistakes made by his fellow Huntsmen, Arcas, the Bear, refuses to follow their example. He immediately claims his mate, a descendant of the cat goddess Bastet. Their pairing will be powerful and his mate is courageous, wise, and sexy as hell. Too bad they have to bring down the remnants of a murderous cult and stop a demonic disaster from being let loose on the world.

Marshal is no fool. From the moment they met, he has been drawn to the red-haired Bear. He didn’t think world ending events would ensue to make their developing relationship a bit more difficult to navigate. But now The Hunt was on the move and nothing would stop them from achieving their goals: rescue Kern’s mate and save the world.


Available Today at Changeling Press


EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Stephanie Burke

“Fuck.” Arcas paced in his room, fighting the urge to heal the many bites, bumps, and bruises he’d received as he kept trying to purge the insidious drugs from his system. That those bites and bruises had come from one he considered his sister just made him… What was he feeling? Angst? Frustration? Anger? Well, yes, there was anger. A whole lot of anger, but there were more underlying emotions that refused to process.

He was angry. That he was sure of. In fact, one could say he was way beyond incensed and approaching furious at a rapid pace and there was nothing he could do to stem the tide of righteous anger that filled him to overflowing.

He remembered each one. He remembered their faces, their nasty little comments, how they treated him as a beast, something less that human… less than the animals they had gathered for this modern-day travesty of a gladiator sport. They had treated him like he was an object. Brave in the face of the drugs they had constantly injected into his veins and blew in his face. He remembered them, each and every one of them from the time he opened his eyes in that piece of shit van after they dosed him the first time to the time when they applied electric cattle prods to his back in an effort to make him shift… because there was no way he would ever forget that no matter how hard he tried.

So now he paced as he tried to process what it felt like to be knocked completely off the food chain. They didn’t even want to steal his life energy, they just wanted him dead as if he didn’t matter, as if he didn’t live and breathe and think. They just wanted him dead, almost as an afterthought. And what was worse, they’d made him attack his sister.

He remembered her wolf form screaming at him as he lunged at her, unable to stop the cursed animal within him from acting on instinct and trying to obliterate any threat that would do him more harm. He was grateful that he was incapacitated enough not to clearly think or he surely would have done more harm to his sister than he had actually managed. He shuddered as he remembered the feel of not being in control of his own body, of being a visitor in his own mind, screaming in futility, as the world turned into madness around him.

And he remembered his taste…

It was the taste of him, of his blood that gave Arcas the final push to take control of his own body and its actions once more. By then, it had almost been too late. He had been moving in for the kill and Caille, no matter how powerful she was, would not have been able to fight off the power of a god who was still being actively worshiped every time someone looked into the night sky. He would have snuffed her back to her component parts. It would have taken her centuries to re-form and it would have all been his fault.

So, yeah, add guilt to the pile of emotions threatening to drive him insane now, thank you. Guilt for not being fast enough, for not being strong enough, for not being wise enough… just for not being enough. Because of him Kern’s mate had been taken to parts unknown because when he opened his eyes in that rocking van, Thomas hadn’t been there. He could add nothing to the hunt for Kern’s mate, but he did remember each and every face that had hovered over him, had lorded over him, that had spit in his face and applied their boots and shoes to his body. He remembered each and every one and they would pay.

And there was him… How could he ever be good enough for Marshal? He himself was weak and useless… and… and… his blood.

Gods above, Arcas had never tasted anything as sweet… Marshal tasted of sunshine, of desert sands and of lotus petals. He had tasted of his forever and that was such a travesty that it almost brought tears to Arcas’ eyes because he had almost killed the man.

Caille, a goddess in her own right, would have survived. But The Cat… he was not being worshipped, had never been worshiped because Arcas could taste that in his blood. He was immortal but not invulnerable, and if he hadn’t acted when he did, Arcas would have been responsible for the destruction of his own mate.

That was something that Arcas could not abide. So he paced in his room, withheld the healing he could have so easily done to his human form, and he did his best to stick to the story that The Raven and The Wolf, along with help from his mate, had constructed. It was laughably easy how eager the police were to accept their convoluted tale. The story had all the hallmarks of a movie of the week. There were rich assholes to blame, an insane group of homophobic cultists who had access to poor, abused animals, and there were guns and drugs, lots of drugs. Hell, in this world where people cared more about animals than their own brethren, it was so easy to play the sympathy card. To add to the human interest angle, there was an obvious blended family, a person of color, and the sexual orientation of the one still missing man that guaranteed that in the right reporter’s hands they were looking at a Pulitzer. Exotic animals were just the icing on a journalistic cake that was going to be served up on all media platforms, and with today’s sentiment about eating the rich… well, companies and stocks were going to be dropping like flies after a judicious application of bug killer.

Yet now, here he was, pacing ineffectually in his room, feeling his blood pressure rise as he sought to find some outlet for his wrath.

Yes, wrath was the perfect word for the emotions that he was now feeling. Wrath and rage were coursing through his body, heating his blood, and making him want to explode.

But it was an impotent wrath for the moment for there was no clear target to aim his ire at, no one single person to blame… but himself.

And fuck, he had never been so angry in his long, never-ending life.

A knock at the door drew him away from his mounting self-anger, and as he spun around, a snarl on his lips, ready to tell whatever well-meaning sycophant disturbing his solitude to fuck off, he froze as a familiar scent suddenly filled the room.

It was — it was The Cat… his mate… and he smelled concerned.



ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Stephanie is a USA Today Best Selling, multi published, multi award-winning author, Master Costumer, handicapped, wife and mother of two.

From sex-shifting, shape-shifting dragons to undersea worlds, sexually confused elemental Fey and homo-erotic mysteries, all the way to pastel-challenged urban sprites, Stephanie has done it all, and hopes to do more.

Stephanie is an orator on her favorite subjects of writing and world-building, a sometime teacher when you feed her enough tea and donuts, an anime nut, a costumer, and a frequent guest of various sci-fi and writing cons where she can be found leading panel discussions or researching varied legends and theories to improve her writing skills.

Stephanie is known for her love of the outrageous, strong female characters, believable worlds, male characters filled with depth, and multi-cultural stories that make the reader sit up and take notice.

Find Stephanie Online: Blog | Facebook | Twitter


COVER REVEAL! SLASH (Devil;’s Fury MC #7) #MCromance #HarleyWylde #CoverReveal

Slash (Devil’s Fury MC #7)

Written by Harley Wylde

Published by Changeling Press

Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

Wide Release: November 13, 2020

Genres/Themes: Contemporary Romance, MC Romance, Action Adventure, Age Gap, Pregnancy

Add to your Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/55584816-slash

Shella – The Devil’s Fury are the only family I’ve ever truly had. My mom was a junkie. When she died, no one wanted me. Except Grizzly. I had a home, until things went horribly wrong. I went wild, pushed too many boundaries, and overstayed my welcome. So I ran and didn’t look back. Trouble always seems to find me, so it’s no surprise I ended up pregnant, alone, and scared out of my mind. Then Slash shows up. Out of all the Devil’s Fury brothers to come for me, why did it have to be the one I’ve been crushing on since I was a teenager?

Slash – Little Shella was always a pretty girl. Spoiled. Outspoken. A complete terror. Now that she’s all grown up, she’s stunning. I needed to keep my hands to myself, and maybe I would have if she hadn’t been adamant not to disclose the name of her baby-daddy. Only way to protect her is to give her my name. Doesn’t matter I’m old enough to be her father. When I find out her secrets, and the reason she’d behaved so badly, I know I’ll do whatever it takes to make her feel safe… even if it means burying a few men. I already have blood on my hands. What’s a little more?

WARNING: Slash’s book contains graphic violence and sex, bad language, and scenes that may be difficult for some readers.

About Harley Wylde

When Harley’s writing, her motto is the hotter the better — off the charts sex, commanding men, and the women who can’t deny them. If you want men who talk dirty, are sexy as hell, and take what they want, then you’ve come to the right place. She doesn’t shy away from the dangers and nastiness in the world, bringing those realities to the pages of her books, but always gives her characters a happily-ever-after and makes sure the bad guys get what they deserve.


Visit Harley Online: Website | Facebook | Twitter 

“Her characters are phenomenal and have a lot of depth to them. She is absolutely fantastic at writing an engaging sexy story. Harley Wylde keeps the words flowing so that you have to turn the page to see what happens next.”

— All Author

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Taming Taelyn is Live! #werewolves #shifters #NorthernRockiesPack3

Taming Taelyn (Northern Rockies Pack 3)

Anne Kane

Taelyn: Abandoned by her parents and raised in the uncaring foster system, Taelyn finds out she isn’t truly human when fear triggers her first shift. She finds a temporary home with a pack of gray wolves, but she knows she isn’t truly one of them, either. When she feels the pull of the mate-bond, her world changes forever.

Dylan: Dylan is more at home in the woods than the city. Working for the Forestry Services, he sets out to catalog the endangered grizzly bear population in the Interior of British Columbia. What he didn’t expect was to find his bond-mate running wild with a pack of gray wolves.

Taming Taelyn is a challenge Dylan is determined to win.

Chapter One

Taelyn skidded to a halt, lifting her nose high in the air. A strange scent drifted on the breeze, teased her brain, calling to her in a way she’d never experienced before. Not danger. Not food. Human, but not. Something different.

Mine.

The thought lingered, strange and unfathomable. What did it mean?

The rest of the pack raced on, heading to the caribou grazing grounds in the high range.

Mine.

There it was again. An irresistible temptation.

The Alpha gave her a cursory glance as she veered off to investigate. The pack was used to her strange methods of doing things. Even the Alpha ignored her peculiar ways, letting her roam at will. As long as she didn’t endanger the pack, he was willing to indulge her for the sake of his mate who had all but adopted her.

She was a wolf, but not. The pack accepted that. They were so much more direct than humans. Their way of life was brutal but fair, and they would fight to the death to protect any one of their packmates no matter what their position was in the pack hierarchy.

Taelyn bounded through the thin undergrowth, sifted the information brought to her on the wind. It was spring and the scent of newly budding flowers and greenery floated on the breeze, nature emerging from its long sleep. But to her keen nose, there was something else as well.

Human. Intruder.

And yet she felt no sense of danger, no urge to run and hide. Every wolf in the pack knew about humans. They were destroyers of the forest, dangerous two-legged creatures who killed from afar using death sticks that spit out fire and metal. They were cruel beings who set traps to capture and torture the creatures of the woods. They were to be feared and avoided. And her childhood in the foster system had given her no reason to dispute that.

And yet the scent said mine.

She slowed her pace, approaching the origin of the scent carefully. Lifting her nose high, Taelyn searched the wind for information. Yes, it was a human. Human male. A sharp tang of metal mixed with his scent. A sure sign of danger. She should leave before he detected her.

Mine.

Dropping to her belly, she crawled closer. Thick brush at the edge of the clearing marred her view, only allowing glimpses of the human male. Big. Strong.

Something coiled deep inside her, an unsettling desire that she’d never felt before for any of the wolves who’d come sniffing around when she’d entered her first heat cycle. After that, she’d learned to avoid the pack at those times.

She crept closer, belly tight to the ground, ears swiveling in a constant search for any danger. Humans often came in packs as well, although Taelyn could detect no others in the vicinity.

The sharp tang of metal was stronger now, a foreign scent in the forest. Metal never heralded anything good for the wolves. Strong jaws that broke legs. Death sticks. Caves with no exit. Metal was a tool the humans used against the creatures of the forest.

And yet that scent was stronger now.

Mine.

She felt a slow heat ignite deep inside her, the pull of something ancient and strong.

Uncertainty flickered through Taelyn. A mating bond? Surely not. This was a human male. She was a wolf, albeit one who could become human.

She liked to think there had been a time when life in the human world had been good, when she’d had parents, a family, a home. But she wasn’t sure if it was true or just wishful thinking on her part. Now, Taelyn existed with the pack, or in the little cabin she’d restored for herself deep in the forest. She raised herbs and vegetables that she could sell at the farmer’s market in the small town closest to her home for those things she couldn’t get from nature.

She didn’t want to be human. To be human was to be heartless. To be human was to be cruel and brutal. To be human was to hurt the Mother Earth and the creatures who lived in harmony with her. To be human was to hurt those of your pack who were weaker than you.

Long ago she had lived exclusively in that world and it had not been kind to an orphaned child with no family of her own to protect her. She’d learned to fight out of necessity, and to protect herself at all costs. When she’d discovered the duality of her nature, she’d embraced it fully. Taelyn had started to sneak out at night to run with the wolves. On those nights she found liberty she’d never had, a sheer joy in living. Although she still functioned in the human world, she had the freedom of her wolf to escape to whenever things got too tough. She’d sworn then that she’d never let any human control her destiny ever again.

And yet still the man’s scent called to her.

She crouched behind the bushes, watching him as he loaded a strange-shaped bullet into his death stick.

Rifle. Gun.

Taelyn knew the names the humans used to identify the weapon, but to her wolf, it would always be a death stick.

The man propped the death stick up against a tree and proceeded to assemble a strange looking contraption, covering most of it with sticks and leaves from the ground. When he was done, she could barely discern the outline of the odd-shaped thing. It was unlike anything she’d ever laid eyes on. A trap?

Was he a hunter? Was the strange scent a deliberate attempt to draw her close so he could capture her? Why had it not attracted any of the other wolves in the pack? So many questions and yet all she could get from his scent was that strange sense of belonging, of ownership.

A faint rustling in the bushes behind the human drew her attention, and a pungent odor overlaid the one that had drawn her here.

Bear. Grizzly bear.

A moment later, the massive animal lumbered into view. Yup. That was a grizzly bear, all right. And it did not look friendly, not that grizzlies ever really looked friendly. This one looked as grumpy as a wolf with a thorn in its paw.

The human whipped his head around with a speed that startled her, his attention locked onto the bear. Interesting. Taelyn could have sworn human senses were too dull to detect even a grizzly bear at that distance. And yet, there was no doubt that he had.

The man stepped over to the death stick, his movements slow and steady. She gave him credit for that. Any sudden moves might entice the bear to attack.

Grasping the death stick with one hand, he slowly sunk to the ground, seeming to melt into the surrounding foliage. Even his scent seemed to get smaller. He remained still, his image blurring into the background.

The bear reared up on its hind legs, the big head swiveling back and forth as it searched the area. After a long, tense minute, the animal dropped back down onto all fours.

For a moment, Taelyn thought a confrontation had been avoided. Perhaps the human’s ploy had worked and the bear had not detected him or had decided he wasn’t a threat.

The bear snuffled the ground, pawing with its powerful front claws. But just as Taelyn let out a quiet sigh of relief, the huge mammal let out an angry bellow and charged straight at the human male.

The male came to his feet in a single fluid movement, lifting the death stick to his shoulder and firing. The weapon spat out one of the odd-looking bullets, which impacted the bear but did nothing to slow it down. Two more shots, and the only results were a couple of silly-looking tags hanging from the bear’s meaty hindquarters. If anything, they angered the already aggressive animal even more.

It was not her fault the human was about to die, and she had no good reason to interfere. Life in the wild was brutal, and death could be swift and violent. Kill or be killed was not just a cute saying. The human had chosen to use the death stick and it had failed to thwart the grizzly’s charge. In about five seconds, the bear would be on him and his chances of survival were less than nil.

Taelyn launched herself from the thicket, racing directly toward the bear. Some tiny part of her brain screamed “no,” but she ignored it as she snarled loudly in an effort to distract the bear from its target.

The powerful animal skidded to a halt, once again raising itself on its hind legs as it swiveled to meet the new threat.

This was not Taelyn’s first encounter with one of these majestic beasts, and she knew enough to stay out of reach of its formidable front legs. Having distracted the grizzly from its initial target, she settled in to harass it into leaving the area. She knew better than to think she could kill it. An entire pack of wolves wouldn’t stand a chance of taking down a grizzly in its prime. Her sole aim was to keep it from killing the human male and give him time to escape.

The bear let out a long-annoyed huff, looking at the wolf that had dared to interfere with its attack. Razor-sharp claws slashed through the air as the grizzly swiped at her.

Taelyn easily avoided the danger, but she had no illusions about her abilities when it came to dealing with the bear. One miscalculation, one slip on a leaf would be all it took for the bear to send her flying through the air. She needed to be careful. Incredibly careful.

Keeping a respectful distance, she darted back and forth, alternately snapping and snarling to keep the grizzly’s attention on herself. Dancing on her four paws, Taelyn darted in and out of range, anticipating each move of the powerful mammal.

In a few moments, she noticed a distinct difference in the bear’s performance. The massive animal seemed to be getting slower, its moves less coordinated. Before long, it dropped to all fours and took a few lumbering steps away from the clearing.

Taelyn stopped her attack, cocked her head to the side, not sure what to make of this new situation. Grizzlies were not known for running away but that did seem to be what this one was doing. She paced back and forth, glancing back at the human.

He seemed to be unconcerned, standing in a loose stance with the death stick in one hand. He glanced at the grizzly, then back to her. The look on his face was unreadable. Confused? Surprised? Shocked?

If she were smart, she’d turn tail and head on back to her pack. But she didn’t. She just stood there, a few yards away from the grizzly, which sank awkwardly to the ground. Its eyes closed, and within minutes it appeared to have fallen asleep. Very strange.

She looked over at the human, who hadn’t taken advantage of her distraction to run for safety. Not a very smart human. Or maybe he’d known the bear would fall asleep. He might be smarter than she’d given him credit for.

She stared at him, wondering what it was about this human male that she found so alluring. He was tall and muscular, with an unruly shock of dark hair. His eyes were an unusually dark green, and right now they seemed to see right through her. Taelyn took a step backward, feeling suddenly skittish.

The human male hunkered down on his heels to study her intently. “Hello, sweetheart. Where did you come from? There’s nothing around here for miles. You’re beautiful.” And you’re mine.

The last three words floated soundlessly into her head. Taelyn blinked. What the hell? She must have imagined them. Unless she was hallucinating, it made no sense.

“You can feel it. Our connection. I know you can.” The human held out his hand, palm up. “Shift and we can talk.”

There was a note of command in his voice that set the hairs on her back standing straight up. No one, not a human or a wolf, had the right to tell her what to do. Not now. Not ever again.

And yet, she felt an almost unbearable urge to obey, to shift to human form so she could talk to this man. That fact alone terrified her. Taelyn pivoted and started to run.

Come back.

The words echoed through her mind, lending speed to her paws as she raced back the way she came. Back to the safety of the pack.

She must have eaten something bad, to give her hallucinations like this. Wolves were not telepathic. Hell, they didn’t even speak. Not really. They communicated ideas and feelings through a series of bark, whines, and body language. The Alpha could communicate with the rest of the pack, but not in words. More like images and vague outlines.

We belong together. I will find you.

Fainter now, but still in her head. Putting on a burst of speed, she located two of her packmates, flanking a herd of caribou as the others closed in from the sides.

This was familiar. She knew her place in the hunt.

Mine…

The echo refused to leave her alone.

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