If you love the Dark Protectors, these wicked hot Realm Enforcers are for you!
As she hunts for a drug lord killing her fellow witches, all Nessa Lansa’s instincts point to the Grizzly motorcycle club. That might be because their leader, Bear, is the strong, silent shifter type: warm brown eyes and more muscle and alpha male than any woman can ignore. Which makes Nessa’s plan to seduce and betray him all the more dangerous…
Bear doesn’t trust the curvy, blue-eyed witch. But Nessa can heal the injuries that sap his strength. And since he can’t stop thinking of her lush body and teasing smile, her plan to mate him to reclaim her own power is highly tempting. Just one problem. Once a desire this wild is loose, no one will ever control it….
“Zanetti hits a home run with this one. The steam level will appeal to fans of Christine Feehan and Nalini Singh.”—Library Journal
“I think you will love this roller coaster ride with this seemingly mismatched couple, who are in truth exactly what the other needs.”—Fresh Fiction
—Kate Douglas on Fated
“Sizzling sex scenes and a memorable cast.”
—Publishers Weekly on Claimed
“A fast-paced, excitement-filled explosion of action… Zanetti keeps getting better.”
–RT Book Reviews on Marked, 4.5 Stars Top Pick
About the Author
Growing up amid the glorious backdrops and winter wonderlands of the Pacific Northwest has given Rebecca fantastic scenery and adventures to weave into her stories. She resides in the wild north with her husband, children, and extended family who inspire her every day—or at the very least give her plenty of characters to write about.
Please visit Rebecca at www.rebeccazanetti.com.
Read an Excerpt
Somebody was in his cabin. Beauregard McDunphy lumbered around the side of the modest wood structure, his fur rippling in the wind, his big paws leaving tracks in the wet dirt. At one point, not too long ago, he'd been bigger than any bear in the area — shifter or animal. Now he was merely normal size. Yet he could still take a human trespasser without much effort. He lifted his snout, and the fur rose down his broad back.
He was a loner, and he liked his privacy, so anybody who even remotely knew him understood to stay the hell out of his space. What was that smell?
Irish roses and something ... female. The scent of woman.
He growled, the sound hollow.
Who the hell was in his cabin? He stalked toward the front door, which remained open. Oh, he was going to scare this interloper. He sucked in air to snarl, rolling his neck so he could fully flash his canines.
A woman came into view, turning around, skirt rustling. "There you are."
He paused and studied her. Thick black hair piled on her head, violet-blue eyes, smooth features. Delicate. Something stirred inside him, and he shook his head, trying to focus. Why wasn't she screaming? Most people freaked out when faced with a grizzly bear. Wait a minute. He knew her. Didn't he know her?
She pressed her hands to her hips. Her green houndstooth designer suit looked like something out of the fifties. Somehow, it worked on her. "Do you mind shifting back to human form? We need ta talk."
The brogue. Irish brogue. Pretty eyes. Small stature. Sparks of power all around her.
It hit him then. A witch. There was a witch in his home. He growled again and set his bones to transforming into his human shape. The process took longer than it should have, considering he'd mainly been in bear form for nearly three months. Three useless months that hadn't changed a damn thing about his failing health.
Pain lanced down his spine and through his arms. His bones broke and reformed, hurting much more than they should. The fur receded on his arms and then the rest of his body. Agony flared through his face, reshaping it, nearly making him black out. Finally, he straightened, his body elongating. He kept his expression stoic and tried to banish the ache.
"That looked painful," she whispered, her gaze soft on his face.
"It was," he responded before he could think. Then reality crashed back. "Why is there a Coven Nine witch in my fucking cabin?" His safe cabin in the Seattle wilderness where witches and the Coven Nine couldn't get to him. What was her name? He couldn't place it. Everything was cloudy. Yet he remembered seeing her in Ireland at witch headquarters — she was a council member. When was that? Months ago.
She hummed and looked around, her gaze high and a light pink dusting her cheekbones.
He settled his stance. His human brain kicked back in. "As a member of the Coven Nine, what are you doing here?" She was on the ruling council of witches, and she should have security all around her. His back stiffened, and he turned to scan for threats.
"I'm alone," she said.
That was impossible. Yet even with his senses returning, he couldn't find any other people near, much less any witches. "Why?" he barked. His voice was rough and hoarse from disuse.
She blew out air, her pretty lips pursing. Her gaze rose nearly to the rough wooden ceiling. If she craned her neck up any more, she might fall backward.
Bear frowned. "What the hell?"
She cleared her throat. "Do you, ah, do you mind?" Her hand swept out, even the small movement graceful.
"Mind what?" he snapped, glancing over his shoulder again. Trees and silence met his gaze. Thunder ripped above, and an angry autumn rain began to slap the ground. Summer had given up the fight, and the oncoming winter scented the breeze. He stepped inside the cabin.
She backed up so quickly her butt hit the ancient stove, and she gave a startled eep. "Please, Mr. McDunphy."
What in the world was wrong with the woman? "Please, what?" Was this some kind of trap?
"Put some clothes on," she said through pearly-white teeth.
He started and looked down at his naked body. "Oh." Clothes were such a damn annoyance. "Uh, okay." A small dresser sat by the bed, on the north wall. He moved past the raggedy sofa and modest fireplace to yank out a pair of faded jeans. He struggled into them, wincing as he engaged the zipper.
Life was so much easier as a bear.
He glanced down. The jeans hung low on his hips — nearly too low. How much weight had he lost, anyway? He stretched his arm, noting the reduction in muscle mass. He'd get his ass kicked in a good fight.
The rain increased in force and blew water inside the door. He strode over and shut it. Silence descended. The smell of Irish roses filled the space, and he breathed deep before turning around to face her. He leaned back against the door and crossed his arms. With the dim light sliding in through the windows, shadows cascaded around the woman. But she was all light. What would she look like with that dark hair tumbling free around her shoulders? His groin tightened.
"Mr. McDunphy?" she asked.
"Nobody calls me that. You know my name is Bear." The Coven Nine no doubt had extensive dossiers on him. They probably knew his shoe size, favorite color, and how many freckles he had on his back. He rubbed a hand through his shaggy hair. It reached his shoulders now. While his people weren't enemies of the witch nation any longer, he still didn't like witches. At all. Except for one, and that was because she was his sister.
His memories flooded all the way back in. Ah ha — the trespasser's name. "Why are you here, Nessa?"
"You do remember my name." Her focus landed on his chest and moved to his left arm. She gave a slight shake of her head as if to concentrate. "That's, ah, a very nice tattoo."
He glanced down at the talons over his left bicep and shoulder that led to a black dragon across his back. "Thank you." He pushed himself off the door, noting her eyes instantly widening.
So she was afraid of him. At least a little bit. Good.
She cleared her throat. "A dragon. How apropos," she murmured, her focus remaining on the tat.
He lifted his head, staring at her through heavy lids. His chest heated. "Don't even think of going there, little girl. Ever."
She shivered but met his gaze directly. "That's why I'm here."
He blinked. Once. "Then it's time you left." He moved to open the door.
"I can help you," she said.
He paused, looking over his shoulder. "I don't need help."
Her snort was unladylike and somehow adorable. "Sure you don't. Look at you. You've lost substantial weight since I saw you in Ireland."
He turned quickly, gratified when she took a step back, putting her flush against the stove again. There were yards between them, but they both knew he could get there, and fast. Yet as a witch, she had powers, too. So why was she afraid? "I've been on a diet," he lied. His neck started to pound, and his bare feet swelled. His lungs hurt. Hell. Everything hurt. Yet he refused to wince.
She rolled her stunning eyes. "You screwed up, Bear."
"Did I now?" he asked softly.
She swallowed. "Aye. You know as well as I that species, immortal species, can take one form and one form only." She wiped her small hands down her slim skirt.
"Time to leave, Nessa," he said, reaching for the doorknob behind his back. Not in a million years was he going to talk about his health or his lineage with a witch. Even one as pretty and intriguing as the one staring at him ... and not moving. When he told people to move, they usually moved. "Don't make me kick your pretty ass out."
"You're dying." Her head lifted. "Period."
Yeah, he was. If three months spent mostly in bear form hadn't healed him, then it wasn't gonna happen. "Leave me to it, then." Patience had never been in his arsenal, and he was done. The door opened easily, and then he turned to head straight at her, windy rain in his wake, his bare feet slapping the cold floor.
She held up both hands, her eyes widening as she pressed back against the porcelain stove. "Wait a minute. Just wait. Let me explain."
He stopped two feet from her. What was up with the damsel-in-distress act? In his current state, she could probably take him. "Why aren't you throwing fire?" Witches could alter physics and create plasma fire out of air, and the stuff really burned.
She rolled her eyes and reached behind her to clasp the edge of the cooktop. "We're not in a fight, for goodness' sake. I just want to engage in conversation like civilized people."
He leaned toward her, scenting both fear and awareness. "I'm neither civilized nor part of people." He was a bear shifter, for Christ's sake. One who had to get his affairs in order rather quickly. While he'd like to mess around with the witch, and he'd love to get her out of her head and that dignified suit, he didn't have time. "There's nothing to talk about."
She looked up at least a foot to meet his gaze. "You tore yourself apart on a metaphysical level when you shifted into dragon form so many times three months ago."
The hair rose at the base of his neck. His temper stretched awake. "Tell me something I don't know." His father had been a dragon shifter, and his mother a bear shifter. Shifters could only have one true form, and his was as a bear. Shifting into dragon form had been suicide. "But it was worth it."
Nessa's breath panted out. "It was?"
"Yes." He took another step toward her. Shifting into dragon form had been necessary to save his half sister, and he'd known the risk. The cost. But Simone was safe now, so he didn't regret a moment. "Tell me you're not here to study me." As part dragon who'd been actually able to shift into the form, he was an anomaly.
"No," she burst out. "Not at all."
"Nessa," he warned, reaching for her shoulders. Man, he'd love to mess her up.
She was just so proper and put together. Damn witch.
She swallowed and went still beneath his touch. "I, ah —"
"Am trespassing," he finished for her. "Now you're leaving." Her bones felt fragile, but warmth came from her body. Witches were hotter than most, weren't they? A tug centered low in his belly. One he ignored. "Thanks for dropping by."
Faster than he would've expected, she slammed the toe of her shoe down on the flat of his foot.
Pain ricocheted up his shin, and he bit back a howl. "What the fuck?" He tightened his hold.
She leaned up into his face, her blue eyes glittering. "Next time, it's the heel."
Not good. That thing was at least four inches long and kind of spiky. He growled and lifted her up on her toes to prevent any further injury.
She gasped, her breath brushing his chin. "Bear."
For good measure, he lifted more, taking her completely off the ground. He didn't have the strength to hold her aloft for long, but a lesson needed to be taught. The second her temper arose, he saw it. "Kick me and you'll regret it. A lot." He leaned down into her face, his nose almost touching hers.
Thoughts crossed her expressive face so quickly he had trouble keeping up. She stared into his eyes. "This is not going as planned."
His arms protested, so he lowered her back to her feet as if he were in complete control. Yeah, right. Why hadn't she burned his hands completely off? "What plan?" he rumbled.
She drew air into her pert nose. "That's what I've been trying to explain to you. Do you know how witch powers work?"
He released her, and his palms instantly felt empty. And cold. "Something about quantum physics and altering matter," he said. Truth be told, he didn't give a shit. Witches created fire and threw it, so he got out of the way. It didn't seem to matter how they did it. "You're all firebugs."
She sighed. "We use applications of quantum physics, string theory, Brunt's theory, and —" Her gaze narrowed. "Don't look bored."
"I'm not," he said quickly. Then he frowned. "Forget that. I am bored. Get to it."
"Fine. We can alter physics. When you shifted into dragon form, you hurt yourself. I can heal you by the application of physics. I can heal you internally, on a subatomic level."
Hope burst in him, and that just pissed him off. "Bullshit." He shoved his hands in his pockets to keep from grabbing and shaking her. While he wanted her aware of his strength, he didn't want to put bruises on that delicate skin. "If a witch could heal me, my sister would've already done it. What are you playing at, lady?" Simone was half witch, and she could throw fire with the best of them.
Nessa shook her head, and a couple of dark tendrils fell down. "Simone can't heal you. I can."
He lifted his chin. "Explain."
Her mouth tightened. "The vast majority of witches can create fire out of air. A small minority, very small, canna' do that."
He frowned. "You can't create fire?" At her sad shake of the head, he added, "Why not?"
She lifted a shoulder. "It's most likely a genetic mutation, just like anything else. But those few of us who can't create fire can do something else."
"Alter physics on a subatomic level," he whispered.
She sighed. "In ancient times, we were called healers."
He'd thought healers were myths. "You can cure diseases?"
"No." She rubbed her hands together as if chilled. "We can't cure naturally occurring diseases. We can help to heal the types of injuries you created deep down by doing something in such violation of the physics of our world."
He'd violated physics by shifting into a dragon instead of a bear? The entire process had felt terrible. "So you're here to help me. My sister sent you?"
"Aye," Nessa said, looking pointedly at the talons on his bicep.
Warning ticked down his spine. "Nessa?"
"What aren't you saying?" His body went on full alert.
She didn't so much as twitch. "There's a cost."
"Money?" How disappointing.
"No," she whispered.
He reached out and lifted her chin with one knuckle. Her skin was the softest thing he'd ever felt. "All right. What are you saying?" He wasn't sure he could believe anything she said.
Her body straightened. She looked him in the eyes. "If I heal you, then I want something in return."
He dropped his hand. What would a witch leader want from a shifter who lived across the ocean from her? "You wanna make a deal?"
She nodded, her shoulders going back.
To live, he'd do almost anything. "What do you want?"
She met his gaze, her eyes deadly serious. "If I heal you, then we mate. For life."
Nessa stared up at the tall male, her voice barely shaking as she made her demand.
He didn't move.
Then he threw back his head and laughed, long and hard. His entire body, his bare chest, even the sharp dragon talons on his arm danced. His laugh was deep and somehow sexy — yet oh so very insulting.
How dare he. She lifted her foot.
He stopped abruptly, and his chin lowered. "I don't give a warning twice."
Her mouth went dry. Even ill, Bear McDunphy was all predator. He looked like a bear, and she had to wonder how humans failed to notice that he wasn't one of them. Not even close. Shaggy brown hair fell to his shoulders with a defiant curl. He stood many inches over six feet tall, and his chest was wide. A promise of danger poured from him. For the briefest of moments, right after he'd laughed, his honey-warm chocolate eyes had softened. A little.
Now they'd returned to the solid hardness of flint.
She slowly lowered her foot back to the floor. "You're correct. Violence doesn't solve anything."
"I disagree." His voice was a low rumble that somehow wound all over her sensitive skin.
She frowned. "What do you mean?"
"Violence can solve a whole lot of situations." He took a step back from her, staring down from his unfair height advantage.
"Figures," she returned, relaxing as he gave her space. "Shifters employ violence when thought and reason would do."
His eyes darkened, and he moved right back into her personal bubble. His knuckles brushed beneath her jaw and caressed down to tug her jacket away from her pounding jugular. "And you want to fuck one until his fangs connect in your flesh."
The image shot into her mind, and tension uncoiled in her abdomen. His touch was warm and oddly determined. Mating a bear shifter, a leader of his nation, would be animalistic. Probably outside the scope of her imagination, such as it was. She was way beyond her comfort zone, so she withdrew into etiquette. "There's no need for such language," she said, her voice going hoarse.
Excerpted from "Wicked Bite"
Copyright © 2017 Rebecca Zanetti.
Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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