Many of you have heard and seen and read that Arctic Shift is my first shifter. It’s the first book in a 3 book series titled, Denali Heat. I’ve created a world of ice bear shifters that, through no real fault of their own, now carry bits and pieces of the great bear’s DNA within their own. I’ve set the shifters in this world, this real world we live in, with real people, real love, real needs like cherry Pop-Tarts and Lucky Charms cereal. They mate because they must once they’ve come in contact with some part of their mate, be it a scent, a vision, a sound… They are gentle and fiercely protective, passionate and highly sexual beings. I hope you will love them…
“Why are you smiling like that?”
“Well, you keep looking over at me and smiling like I’m going to be your dinner.”
“Maybe you are.”
“Not even funny. I can’t get that image of you as…well, that dream of you out of my mind. Don’t joke about eating me for dinner.”
He sobered at that. “How bad did that dream freak you out?”
“It’s not like we were having sex while you were a bear, just that you… I don’t know. You turned from a bear into a man, not the other way around. And then there was the sex and it was just so primal, so animalistic and possessive. I’ve never experienced anything like it.”
“It doesn’t happen like that,” he said, his voice low and barely audible to his own ears. He was going to have to tell her the truth sometime.
She turned in the seat to face him. “What did you say?”
He kept his eyes trained on the snowy path in front of him. The heavy snows hadn’t begun to fall so the drive through the woods was still possible with ease. In a few weeks though, driving the truck back and forth to the store would be impossible. “What do you think you heard?”
She scooted just a fraction of an inch closer to him. Interesting. “I thought I heard you say it doesn’t happen like that.”
“Okay.” So she had good hearing.
“Okay? Okay as in that’s what you said or okay it’s not what you said but what you did say doesn’t bear repeating?”
“You heard right.” Might as well talk about it now. She had nowhere to run, no one to run to. He kind of liked being her only option.
“I don’t understand, Carson. What do you mean it doesn’t happen like that? Will you please stop being cryptic in your answers? How would you know how it happens? Wait…” She shook her head as if to clear it. “Listen to me… I’m talking like this is something real, and it’s not, right?”
“I know exactly how it happens, and it doesn’t happen the way it did in your dream.” He reached for her, expecting her to back herself up to the door and out it if she could get her hand untangled from beneath the blanket and pop the handle. She didn’t though. She scooted another fraction of an inch closer, close enough that his fingers could grab hold of the blankets and tug her the rest of the way to his side. “You’re not running away,” he observed.
“And where would I run to out here in the middle of the forest?”
“You’re not acting all scared either.”
“I haven’t been scared of you since I woke up with you in bed with me. Why would I start now?”
“Then what are you, if not scared?”
“Curious, I guess. Confused. I don’t know what else to be. Joe said there were shifters. You look like the one I dreamed about. You just said you know how it happens. And I’m in the middle of a fairy tale world up here.” She looked around, out through the windows. “It’s more beautiful that I could have ever imagined it being. It’s so white, but there’s green too. It’s colder than hell, but around a human furnace like yourself and these yummy wool blankets… Maybe there is more than what I know or what I thought I knew. I almost wonder if maybe I’m still dreaming because the Ruby that left Chicago a couple days ago couldn’t have changed this much.”
“She could have if the Ruby in Chicago wasn’t the real Ruby that lives inside you.”
She looked as though she was thinking about what he’d just said. Her brows furrowed and were drawn down over her eyes. Her pretty lips were pursed with a little frown pulling at the corners. Her gaze skated away from him for a second, but then it was right back. “I guess.”
“You said you’re a mythologist, right? That you study myths and legends.”
“Yes. Primarily Greek and Roman mythology, but every civilization has its own. I would love to do an intense study of Native American legends.”
“Then why isn’t it possible that something like a shapeshifter exists? You can’t say for certain it does or doesn’t just because you haven’t heard of one. Couldn’t some of the gods and goddesses turn into other beings?”
“Then what are you struggling with exactly? That there may be other types of creatures or beings than you thought or is it something more? Like, that you’re attracted to one? Just because something is myth or legend, doesn’t mean there isn’t some basis in reality. It’s just a different reality than what you’re used to believing exists.”
That last bit brought an O to her heart-shaped lips but confusion and uncertainty still swirled in her eyes. He needed her to come right out and ask the question, but at the same time, he wasn’t sure what her reaction would be to the answer. “Ask it, Ruby. You know you want to.”
Silence ensued until she licked her lips and took a deep breath. “Carson, are shifters real?”
Here we go. “Yes.”
“Are you one?”
“You can’t be uncertain about wanting the answer. Do you want the truth? Once heard, you can’t unhear it, and I can’t take it back. So, be sure you’re ready for the answer to what you’re asking.”
“I know. I want the truth. All of it.”
He pulled the truck to a stop and turned to face her. “Yes.”
Immediately, her eyes changed, brightened and he could almost see her brain at work. “Yes, you are. Okay. You’re a shifter. Half man, half animal. Okay. But wait. What does that even mean? Are you a man or a bear? I mean, are you a bear masquerading as a man or vice versa? How is it even possible?”
If she had wheels in her head, they’d be spinning so fast smoke would literally come out her ears. He could almost hear gears grinding she was thinking so hard, trying to put the puzzle together in her mind before he could even answer her questions. He touched her hair, her face, thankful she didn’t pull away in horror. His little academic was so deep in her own thoughts she couldn’t even begin to think about being scared of him.
“My DNA is spliced with that of the ice bears from the Arctic.”
Carson wasn’t sure if he should laugh or not. She was so serious in her question, so earnest in the asking of why. “It was an accidental thing at first, and then it became an experimental thing until it was so interwoven into our genetics that we are what we are…man and bear.”
“Someone experimented on your family?”
“Sort of. No one is any worse off for it though. One day we may be all that’s left of the ice bears.”
“Do you actually…shift into a bear? And what is an ice bear? Is it like a polar bear, like Joe said?”
Carson did laugh then. She was throwing questions out and hadn’t even processed the first answer to the first question. She wasn’t slowing down in her curiosity, her inquisitiveness, and something about that was sexy as shit to him. “Yes, it’s a polar bear. And no, we don’t actually shift into bear form, but we do need to run, to hunt, to be in the cold. We can swim in the arctic waters, and we are very warm-natured. Our hair is like the fur of the bear, and our eyes are as theirs. We eat a diet rich in fish protein, and we go into a sort of mating heat around this time of year.” He leaned over and kissed the tip of her nose, staring into her eyes. “But unlike our ice bear kin, when we shifters mate, we mate for life.”
“Scared now, Ruby?”
“No. Should I be?”
“You didn’t believe in shifters a couple hours ago, and I’ve given you a lot to digest.”
“I’m not exactly closed-minded.”
“True. You’re like a curious kitten, but earlier you were rather a little unsettled by the notion.”
“I don’t understand it. I don’t understand how it happened that you came to be this way, to have pieces and parts of an animal’s, a bear’s DNA, but I don’t think I should be scared of you. You haven’t harmed me. You haven’t acted like you wish to hurt me.”
“What have I acted like?”
“Like you couldn’t wait to get into my pants.”
“And you’d be right.”
“I don’t understand that either. Why do you want me? You hardly know me. You just saw me, met me for the first time today, but before we left the hotel room you said I belong to you. What does that even mean?”
He had told her that. He’d also told her he knew where Melanie was, but aside from a moment of sheer joy that her sister was alive and unharmed and waiting to see her, Ruby had clung to the other statement he’d made. That she belonged to him. “More questions? Seriously?”
For a moment she looked chagrined, and he honestly didn’t have the heart to make her feel bad for asking him anything. There was more truth to tell her and for her to find out. Now wasn’t the time to admonish her for wanting some answers.
He turned back to the steering wheel and shifted the truck back into drive and started them moving again. He wanted to reach the halfway cabin before it got too late. He wanted her warmed and settled before it became too terribly cold. He also wanted her good and comfortable with him because the cabin had only one bed, and he damn sure wasn’t sleeping on the floor.
“Remember? Back in the hotel room I said I’d been dreaming about you.”
She slid the rest of the way to his side. “For how long?”
“A few weeks I guess, give or take.”
“Were they, you know, those kinds of dreams?”
He slid her a sidelong glance. “You mean the kind where you orgasm all over the place?”
“Oh most definitely.”
“And I liked it? And you liked it?”
“Loved it.” She seemed to exhale a breath he didn’t know she was holding. Could it be that Miss Ruby wanted in his pants as much as he wanted in hers?
“What about the other part of my question? You know, the part about my belonging to you?”
“Yes. You do. It’s not something I can control, Ruby. It’s not something that won’t happen either. It’s meant to be, you as mine, as my mate in this life.”
“I don’t think it works that way, Carson. Even for someone with different DNA running through his blood.”
“Believe me, in this instance, and in every instance of every member of my family, living and dead, this is how it has worked. They know it inside, way deep down. It’s not always easy. The women don’t always, well hell, the women rarely ever understand at first that this is the way it is, but over time, they come to accept it.”
“Over time? How long?”
“Guess it’s different for everyone. It takes months or even years for some. For others, it can take as little as a few days.”
“You’d wait for me for years to be okay with it?”
“If I had to. I don’t think it’ll come to that though.”
“Because you want me.” He slid an arm around her shoulders and, if he hadn’t been driving and hadn’t had a steering wheel in his lap, he’d have pulled her across his thighs and kissed every ounce of doubt from her. As it was, he could only hold her close to his side until they were safely tucked into the cabin.
“No sense in denying it or playing hard to get then, I guess.”
“Oh you can play hard to get. I’ll chase you for a while but pretty soon you’ll come to me all on your own.”
“How do you know?”
“Destiny, Ruby darlin’. Destiny.”
Yes, I know it was a rather long snippet. Longer than usual or should be. We’ll chalk it up to my being overly excited to be participating again. I hope you all enjoyed it. You can find out more information on Arctic Shift, here.
Now, don’t forget the to check out these other authors’ snippets. They are some experienced, awesome worldbuilders.
And have a great Saturday! I’m off to settle in for some football! Go ‘Noles!