Lion’s Lair, Wylde Magick Book 2 by Ann Gimpel
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Lion’s Lair, Wylde Magick Book 2
Release date: August 14, 2018
A newly-minted cave lion shifter + an eagle shifter who’s lived long enough to know better = irresistible allure
Strong and self-assured, Jeremiah is the closest thing his mage kinfolk have to an alpha. He takes his responsibilities seriously, which hasn’t left time for much of anything, and it’s about to get worse. Mages are in trouble. A few signed on with vampires, causing human deaths. Because of them, all mages are being smeared with the traitor brush.
Renee’s eagle bondmate jerks her awake one night with the terse message a cave lion, one of the most ancient of the animals, has bonded. According to the bird, they have to drop everything and go to Colorado. Reluctant to weave the fabric of lies she’ll need to cover her absence, she finally gives in.
She’s horrified to discover the lion bonded with a man who used to be a mage. A mage. The rogues who joined up with vampires. She wants to hate Jeremiah, but it’s a tough sell. Not only is he gorgeous, he’s smart and kind and funny. None of it matters, though, because he doesn’t like her, either.
Are the hurdles too high? Or is a shifter’s mate truly in the stars?
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…Jeremiah stood tall, squaring his shoulders. “Who are you?” he demanded, proud his voice didn’t tremble. “Tell me what you want.”
For long moments, nothing happened. The odd pressure in his chest and lungs loosened. He was close to deciding the whole thing was exactly what he’d suspected, a nexus where shifter magic was doing battle with his brand of power, when searing heat started in the soles of his feet, moving upward in an inexorable tide of pain. Pins and needles ceded to knives. The wounds the eagle shifter had carved reopened, wetting his sides with bloody fluid.
He threw wards around himself, but the pain increased by a factor of a hundred until he felt like the skin was being flayed from his bones.
“Do not fight me!” blasted through his mind.
“Who are you?” Jeremiah shouted, but his mouth didn’t work right, and the words came out garbled. He dropped his warding because he hurt so much he couldn’t hang onto the magic.
An anguished screech shot from his mouth, followed by two more. He wasn’t a coward but traveling through the nine circles of Hell couldn’t hurt this much. White-hot blasts seared him from all sides.
Panting, gasping, he took a breath into lungs that had forgotten how to cooperate. The world smelled different, each scent individual and intense. It was as if he’d never smelled anything before, and he sucked air hungrily, sampling the rich variety. Who would have guessed rocks had a smell? Or that different types of bird shit each had their own tang?
The pain receded. At first, he thought it was because he had something else to focus on, but it really was lessening.
A strident rip from his jacket, and then another from his shirt, forced reluctant understanding. A glance downward solidified his knowledge. He was shifting—into the lion. Never mind it was impossible. It was happening anyway. Exultation did battle with fear.
“Wait.” He switched to telepathy and fought with limbs that were half human, half feline to divest himself of what was left of his clothes.
He saved his trousers but did a less effective job with his shirt. His jacket had already split down the back. All through his struggles, the realization he wasn’t human any longer rocketed through him, heady as a rare vintage wine.
I’m shifting. I’m shifting. I’m shifting.
The words repeated like a tape loop obliterating everything else.
“So you want to be a bird, do you?” The lion’s words were lined with derision. “I was going to give you more time, but your bird fixation was so egregious I couldn’t let it slide.”
Jeremiah was too overcome to craft an answer. The cavalcade of smells intensified. His vision changed, the visual field wider and deeper, but with less fine detail. Bones stretched and reformed. Fur sprouted, covering bare skin.
He’d frozen in place once his battles with his clothing ended. What was left of the pain ceased abruptly, and he forced one paw forward, followed by another. He swished his tail, liked how it felt, and did it again. Before he knew it, he’d bounded to the end of the main cavern and back again, the movement easy, effortless.
He sat back on his haunches and launched himself upward in an experimental leap that carried him fifteen feet into the air. This time the roar that shook the old mineshaft was all him. A low, rumbling purr followed…
She leaned closer, near enough their bodies were almost touching. Heat from him eddied between them, and his scent—the one that had snared her earlier—returned with full force. Vanilla, rosemary, and freshly wet forest surrounded her, thick enough to eat.
“Maybe we don’t need words,” she murmured, suddenly shy but unable to look away from his amazing eyes. Up close like this, silvery flecks floated around the irises, making them shine.
“Perhaps not, but if you don’t leave, I’m going to kiss you. I didn’t come in here for food or drink. I came here for you.”
Excitement shot from the soles of her feet up over the top of her head. He wanted her. Nothing shy of a tsunami could have dragged her from the kitchen, and maybe not even that. She turned her mouth upward, and he covered it with his. His chiseled lips felt just as enticing as she’d imagined they would. The first kiss was gentle. Too gentle.
She wrapped her arms around him and pressed her body the full length of his. He’d feel her pebbled nipples, but the time to be ashamed of her arousal was past. The length of him, hard, hot, and thick, pressed into her belly, and the evidence of his hunger thrilled her. She wanted to reach between them, wrap her hands around his cock, followed by her mouth. Imagining how his girth would stretch her fed her excitement, not that it needed encouragement.
He upped the ante on their kiss, which had turned more urgent and demanding. She opened her mouth to his questing tongue and sparred with it. He tasted sweet and hot, and she couldn’t get enough of his mouth. They traded bites, kisses, and suckles. She bit and sealed each spot with kisses before biting again. He teased her mouth with his tongue, driving it inside and then withdrawing in a simulation of sex that stoked her lust.
He made a decidedly male sound and thrust his erection into her belly. Heat and need roared through her, and she straddled one of his legs, pressing her engorged nub against the firm muscles of his thigh. He grasped her ass and jammed his leg firmly between hers.
She writhed against him, desperate for contact, for release. If his mouth hadn’t been glued against hers, she would have screamed as a climax shot through her, spun her around, and spat her out.
He ripped his mouth from hers, scooped an arm beneath her knees, and carried her out of the kitchen and down the darkened hallway to a staircase she wasn’t familiar with. Narrow and winding, it led upward. She twined her arms around his neck, hanging on.
“I can walk,” she managed, her breathing still running triple time.
“Not a chance. I’m not letting you get away.”
About the Author
Ann Gimpel is a USA Today bestselling author. A lifelong aficionado of the unusual, she began writing speculative fiction a few years ago. Since then her short fiction has appeared in several webzines and anthologies. Her longer books run the gamut from urban fantasy to paranormal romance. Once upon a time, she nurtured clients. Now she nurtures dark, gritty fantasy stories that push hard against reality. When she’s not writing, she’s in the backcountry getting down and dirty with her camera. She’s published over fifty books to date, with several more planned for 2018 and beyond. A husband, grown children, grandchildren, and wolf hybrids round out her family.
Keep up with her at www.anngimpel.com or http://anngimpel.blogspot.com
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