Hi friends! Today we have Dee Tenorio guesting with us again! She had a new book out yesterday, which is totally exciting, right? If you haven’t heard about it, she’s sharing a blurb and excerpt with us! This is her paranormal series with Carina Press, and it’s got a lot going on in it.
Some of you may not know me, but that’s okay. Lime let me slide on into a blog spot here so I could introduce myself. Or rather, my slightly unconventional shifters from “Deceiving The Protector”. I wanted to introduce Tate and Lia, who are both wary, both a touch cranky and both about to face the first challenge they can’t tackle—each other. Hope you enjoy!
The mate he never wanted may be the woman he can never have…
After a series of murders is discovered along the trail of the Shifter Underground, wolf soldier Jensen Tate is assigned to find and protect a missing stray. But Lia Crawford doesn’t seem to want his protection. When she eludes his watch and returns with mysterious injuries, Tate knows she’s hiding something. To discover her secrets, he’ll have to win her trust…and get closer to the woman he thinks may be his mate.
Lia has reasons to keep her distance. The killer is haunting her steps, determined to claim her. He will come after them both if he sees how drawn she is to Tate, though it becomes increasingly difficult to deny her attraction to him. Protecting Tate is vital – but will her deception cost her his love?
Lia awoke in a burst of awareness, every one of her senses reaching outward for any trace of threat. Sight, smell, that tingle of danger at the side of her neck that rang so hard it stung whenever Asher was near. In a split second, her body relaxed, but not because she sensed she was alone.
The complete opposite, really.
Flinty gray eyes stared at her, the gaze locked on her face so intently she knew he’d been watching her while she slept. He sat on a large rock, pooled in sunlight, one long leg sprawled out while his elbow balanced on his bent knee. Afternoon sunlight, given the lack of moisture in the air. God, how long had she slept? It didn’t matter. The peril was in waking up to this brooder on the rock.
He stared at her while his hand moved slowly over something she couldn’t see. Something else spilled down between his cupped hands, swinging slightly as it gained length. She tried to focus on it, her vision blurring at the edges. Exhausted, she closed her eyes, the lids sliding like gravel over the delicate tissue of her eyes. A scent she couldn’t place was flooding her, probably whatever it was he was peeling…
She tried to lick her lips. Too late, she realized her tongue was stuck to the roof of her mouth and her limbs felt like lead. Worse, her belly felt hollowed out, the emptiness of it sending streaks of pain to every limb. Her blood felt like sludge, barely moving through her veins, which explained why her mind felt fuzzy, her thoughts disjointed.
It hit all shifters hard, making them sleep like the dead while their bodies worked at larger wounds and bruises. The more extensive the damage, the deeper the sleep. She should have been able to heal the bruises on her throat with normal sleep, but her body was empty, had been for too many days. It had nothing left to give.
Cool moisture touched her lips, her lids flying upward in shock. Tate knelt next to her, the hard muscle of his thigh pressing against her ribs. He wasn’t watching her eyes anymore, instead staring at her mouth. Where he held a piece of naked fruit.
Rearing back into the thin cushion of her pallet, she tried to escape, but her body couldn’t follow her command. The best she could manage was to turn her head, but after a muttered curse from the man leaning over her, that failed too. His hand, warm enough to penetrate the cold in her skin, caught her chin, pulling her back into position for the waiting fruit.
“You’ve been fighting me off for hours but you’ve got nothing left, Sunshine.” The apple touched her lips again, the tart aroma of it inhaled with each breath. Hunger ate at her stomach in greedy response. Oh God, how she wanted it.
“Eat,” he coaxed, a warm whisper that curled in her ears like a lure. The melted sensation in her limbs wasn’t so bad all of a sudden. “It’ll help.”
Her brain triggered a flash of Javak, the big man leading a few others to the Underground. He hadn’t taken no for an answer either, when he’d come across her on the road. “We know where there’s some food waiting. Come on, girl, we just want to help…”
Until Asher exacted his punishment, it would help. No, not this time. She clamped her lips together, trying to twist free.
Tate’s eyes went stormy, his mouth hardening into a frown. “Eat, goddamn it.”
So much for melting… All sweet and charming until he didn’t get what he wanted. If she opened her mouth to tell him so, he’d shove that fruit in, she just knew it. He’d probably smirk while doing it.
“Eat or the next time you close those pretty eyes, you die.”
She glared at him, but there was no threat in his eyes. Just cold, distant facts. He wasn’t wrong, she could feel that in her bones. In its need to heal her, her body would keep drawing on reserves she didn’t have, shutting down parts of her body one after another until there wasn’t anything left. She wouldn’t even be able to fight it, the sleep drawing her into a coma before eating her alive.
Who will save Laurel then?
The question rebalanced the scales the way nothing else would have. Closing her eyes again, she opened her mouth. The cold fruit invaded instantly, sweet and crisp where it dragged across the edge of her teeth.
“Open your eyes, Lia. Keep them on me.”
She chewed slowly, savoring the flavor, trying not to moan in relief. The next bite was waiting for her, another after that. She lifted her lids from time to time, just to prove she wasn’t falling under, but otherwise ignored him completely. He stayed quiet, feeding her without grumble or command, until she wasn’t sure how much time had passed. The fruit kept coming, loosening the heavy tightness in her muscles until the aches faded completely.
This was a side of him she could get used to, she decided, hoping the grin in her mind wasn’t on her face. Silent and beautiful would make him just about perfect…
“What the fuck is this?”
Her hand came up to push at the fingers pulling down the edges of her scarf to expose her throat. She didn’t have much strength, but she could move well enough to lift the scarf back into place. To turn away from him.
“Who did this to you? No more games.” A firm hand pulled on her shoulder, flattening her to the pallet.
He could roll her all he liked, be as angry as he wanted, but he was alive and she had every intention of keeping him that way. If by some miracle Asher could let Tate live for touching her like this, he absolutely wouldn’t allow anyone to know about him and survive.
“Stop!” she snapped, her voice coming out a graveled mess.
Was it her imagination or did Tate pale at the sound of it? It didn’t matter, because her hands were no match for his now that he’d sniffed out an injury. Tugs at the scarf had her pushing harder at him. Angry, desperate, she felt the acid burn in her fingertips as her claws extended, dragging a shredded scream from her as she slashed at his face.
In a blur, he was gone, backed away, but the agony of the small shift had her cradling her palm to her chest, gasping for breath.
“What the hell happened to you?”
Eyes closed against the waves of pain still radiating from her hand, from the concern in his tone, she knew he meant more than the bruises on her neck. She didn’t look at him. Couldn’t. It was one thing when he looked at her as if she were insane, occasionally as if she were food. She couldn’t stand for him to look at her as if she were a freak.
Even if she was.
“Leave me alone.” The words moved like blades through her throat. All that sleep had done nothing to heal what Asher had damaged in warning. He’d crushed her throat, done it remorselessly, just to prove he could have ripped it out if he wanted to.
“I can protect you, Lia,” Tate said softly. “It’s what I’m here for. I’ll keep you safe. All you need to do is trust me.”
She squeezed her eyes tighter at the solemnity of that promise.
He couldn’t protect her. No one could. She was all that stood between him and certain death. But there was nothing she could say to make him understand that. Nothing he’d believe, anyway. He hadn’t trusted a single word she’d said since they met. To him, lies of omission were no better than lies in general. She lifted her face to stare at him, wondering if he could see how soulless she’d become to stay alive.
Or was he blinded by the shadows where his own soul was supposed to be?
She lifted her chin, holding her arm closer to her chest. “Why should I?”
His mouth hardened into a flat line, his eyes little more than glittering slits of gray. Finally, he stomped over to his bag, dragging out a shirt tied into a knot at one end, bulging with fruit in the middle. He tossed her the makeshift sack. “Eat those. I’ll be back.”
“Where are you going?” She was apprehensive to let him out of her sight but in no shape to stop him. Next, he yanked out what looked like a leather belt, the swishing whip of it sliding out of the pack loud enough to make her cringe.
“Hunting,” he growled. “I have an irresistible urge to kill something. I’d rather it not be you. I’ll be back in an hour, maybe two. If you go anywhere this time, I’ll find you—and let me tell you, Lia, it won’t be pretty when I do.”
Those last words were tossed over his shoulder as he brushed past the bushes to the trees beyond, leaving her alone in their small camp.
Lia watched the spot where he disappeared for long minutes before reaching into the sack with her good hand. The deep, sizzling tingle in her neck began to burn, providing an ironic security to her mind. Asher was here. Watching her. She ate slowly, knowing every bite was being counted. Resented. Tallied.
It didn’t matter. The need outweighed the risk.
For now, she could only restore her body and wait for Tate’s return.
Whew. So – what’d you think? Obviously Lia is troubled. And quite the handful for Tate to deal with. One lucky commenter will win a download of the first book in this series, Tempting the Enemy. If you don’t win it here, consider getting it yourself. It’s $.99 cents right now at the Carina store only, as part of a promotion, where the first book in a series is discounted.
Do you read paranormals? What do you like about them? Or dislike/avoid? I want to discuss the genre with you. 🙂