Authors: Cyndi Friberg
Therian Heat, Book Two
Kyle is the youngest feline-shifter
ever to sit on the Prime council and he’s determined to prove himself worthy of
the honor. A latent female with unbelievable potential has been identified by
the wolves, so Kyle sets out to find her before his enemies make her one of
Terrified and alone, Ava manages to
stay one step ahead of her pursuers until a disturbing vision leaves her weak
and confused. She steps out into the cool mountain morning and a gorgeous
stranger pulls her into his arms.
From the moment they first touch,
passion erupts between the unsuspecting couple. Kyle is attracted to Ava’s
quick wit and feisty spirit while his cat wants to touch her, taste her and
make her scream with pleasure. Trust doesn’t come easy for Ava. Her past has
taught her to be wary, but she senses a soul-deep connection with Kyle. Each
secret they unearth reveals a more challenging conflict, yet together they can
face any enemy.
Ellora’s Cave Publishing
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
Therian Promise Copyright © 2012 Cyndi Friberg
Edited by Mary Moran
Cover design by Syneca
Photography: Syneca; Elwynn, Bill Perry &
Models: Georgio & Shannon
Electronic book publication January 2012
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Ava Seymour sprang up in bed,
heart slamming against her ribs as anxiety jolted her awake. She carefully
scanned each corner of the shadowy bedroom, visually searching the dimness, and
listening for sounds that didn’t belong. A branch scraped against a window and
the furnace cycled on, but nothing was out of place in the calm spring night.
So why was she shaking?
. Ava sensed her
sister’s presence as if Carissa had just walked into the room. Closing her
eyes, Ava allowed the vision to unfold within her mind. When visions first
assailed her months before, she’d been frightened by the disorienting pull. But
her efforts to resist the spinning only intensified the vertigo, so she no
longer fought their power or doubted their accuracy.
A cheerfully decorated room came
into view, like a classroom meant for children. Carissa sat on the edge of a
large table, legs enveloped by the full skirt of her dress. A dark-haired man
knelt in front of her, more or less between her legs. He spoke in a deep,
calming tone, but Ava couldn’t make out his words. Despite the intimate
position, they were both fully dressed.
Ava could sense the trust and
affection flowing between Carissa and the dark-haired man. This was Carissa’s
lover, which made no sense. Her sister didn’t have a lover or she hadn’t six
days ago, which was the last time Ava had seen her.
In the distance, a lion’s roar
was echoed by other feline growls. Carissa raised her head and smiled,
obviously reacting to the unusual sounds. Where the hell was she? There were no
lions in Colorado! Unless she was at a zoo or some sort of exhibition hall. The
vision offered no other clues to Carissa’s location, so Ava refocused on the
images available to her.
This wasn’t the first time Ava
had inadvertently spied on her sister’s life, but this vision felt different.
The immediacy she’d experienced in other episodes was lacking now. This was an
echo, a memory. Had Carissa been with this man the entire time Ava had been
running for her life? She ignored the pang of annoyance and concentrated on the
image. Who was the man and how had he come in contact with Carissa?
“She’s ready, boys,” a female announced from somewhere
beyond the vision’s perspective.
Ready for what? And “boys” indicated more than one male was
about to participate in whatever this was. Then Ava felt them, sensed other
powerful beings standing slightly back, waiting, ready for their turn…at
Carissa? Why wasn’t Carissa frightened? She just sat there, staring at the
dark-haired man as if she wanted to devour him.
“Get moving,” the unseen woman advised. “She won’t be
manageable for long.”
Manageable? What an odd description. Carissa could be
spirited and stubborn. Ava always paused to consider ramifications and judge
risk factors while Carissa dove headlong into any adventure. Even so, neither
of them were ever unmanageable.
A tall blond man approached, his angular features intense
and serious. Bending to one knee beside Carissa, he said, “I willingly offer my
life. We have waited so long for your return. I am honored to be part of your
Definition? What the hell did that mean?
He pushed to his feet and offered Carissa his wrist.
Anxiety twisted through Ava, but she was lost in the
vision’s hold, unable to change the events unfolding before her. What was he
doing? He sounded so serious, so…
Carissa grabbed his arm with both hands and lowered her
mouth toward his wrist. No freaking way! She wasn’t going to… Carissa bit down
hard, blood streaming out from under her lips. Hunger, savage and demanding,
burned through Ava. Carissa wanted this, needed it with an elemental longing
that transcended rational thought or quantification. Ava felt herself being
drawn deeper into the vision as desire spread through her soul. She was meant
were born for this. How had they lived without it for so
No. This was a vision, which meant the images had been sent
for a reason. Shuddering, Ava struggled to distance herself from the images and
ignore the lingering ache. Were they vampires? Had Carissa fallen in with a
Ava shook away the fanciful thought. Vampires didn’t exist,
but witches did! Was this some sort of blood magic or… She couldn’t even finish
the thought, had no idea what they were doing. Carissa appeared to be
participating willingly, but
would she do something so disgusting?
Before Ava could unravel fact from impression, the scene
faded, releasing her from its thrall. She felt queasy and shaken, but worse was
the realization that what she’d just seen had actually happened. Sometime in
the past six days her sister had bit into a man’s arm and drank his blood.
Ava didn’t understand the ritual’s purpose, but it didn’t
matter anyway. Trepidation urged her onward and she intended to obey. She
tossed back the covers and swung her legs over the side of the bed. The last
time she’d shrugged off one of these feelings two of her father’s thugs had
abducted her right out of the safety of her own house. She’d managed to escape
them by playing the terrified victim, but now they knew she wasn’t helpless. So
they’d be even harder to elude.
Crossing the bedroom in
darkness, she rushed across the cool wood floor. The rental cabin was small and
rustic, but she’d thought the secluded mountain setting would offer her a
reprieve from the people pursuing her. She hurried into the tiny bathroom and
closed the door. There were no windows in the room, so she turned on the
lights, relatively sure it wouldn’t alert anyone to her location.
Ava’s childhood had been filled
with stories of Osric, her abusive father. Her mother, Willona, had been
convinced the only way to protect her daughters from Osric’s obsessive violence
was to stage their deaths and leave everything and everyone they’d ever known
Willona had died believing she’d
escaped her past and built a new life for her girls. But six days ago Osric
resurfaced, yet he hadn’t even cared enough to come himself. Like some arrogant
dictator, he’d sent teams of “his men” to collect Ava and Carissa.
Ava wasn’t sure what Osric
wanted or why he’d waited so long to reenter their lives. All she knew was
Willona’s fears had been justified and her desperate actions no longer seemed
For the first few days Ava had
been completely focused on evading her pursuers. She had a general feeling that
Carissa was safe, but she hadn’t understood her certainty. Two nights ago,
she’d briefly touched her sister’s mind and was again reassured by her
composure. The most recent dream was disconcerting, but even during the bizarre
ritual, Carissa had seemed unharmed. At least physically.
With a heavy sigh, Ava pushed
away the past and focused on the situation at hand. If her father’s men had
found her again, there wasn’t much she could do about it. Hopefully, her
intuition had given her enough warning that she could make a clean getaway.
She took a deep breath to
reinforce her resolve then gathered her toiletries and splashed water on her
face. After hastily binding her hair at the nape of her neck, she rushed back
into the bedroom.
Each night before she went to
sleep, she laid out clean clothes and packed her belongings, so she could be
ready to leave in under a minute. The vision had slowed her down, but not for
long. She had to put some distance between herself and this madness. She
couldn’t help Carissa if she became the next victim.
Focusing on the conclusion, she unlocked the side door in
the bedroom and stepped out onto the wraparound porch. Dawn had just arrived,
making the treetops glow and casting a crimson haze across the horizon. She
acknowledged the beauty without becoming lost in its majesty.
She’d stashed a motorcycle in back of the cabin. The enduro
was powerful enough to tackle most mountain trails while not drawing attention
to her on legal roadways. There wasn’t a door leading where she wanted to go
and the stone path that wound around the other side of the cabin was too
visible. She climbed over the porch rail and dropped to the ground a few feet
Settling her backpack over her shoulder like an oversized
purse, she headed for the motorcycle. She’d avoided the house she shared with
Carissa, as well as their sporting goods store in the heart of Breckenridge,
suspecting they were being watched. But circumstances left her no choice now.
She needed her car and she needed more clothes if she was going to disappear
She ducked around the corner and a large hand covered her
mouth. A long, muscular arm wrapped around her waist, pinning her arms to her
sides and plastering her back against a tall, hard body. Terror blazed through
her mind and she screamed, twisting desperately against the man’s grasp. The
backpack slid to her elbow before his forearm stopped its descent.
“I won’t hurt you, Ava.” His voice was deep and insistent.
one of your father’s men.”
The words should have soothed her, but panic blasted through
her mind. She was breathing too fast and her skin prickled. Then pressure built
deep inside her, rushing up through her torso like a geyser. Pain pushed
against the backs of her eyes, blinding her as it set the world in motion. She
screamed again, the sound so raw his hand barely muffled the cry.
Heat pulsed through her head and sound roared in her ears.
His arms tightened as her legs collapsed, leaving her limp within his embrace.
She heard his voice near her ear, but his words were lost in the building
cacophony. Clutching his forearms with both hands, she clung to the only solid
object in her heaving world.
Then reality shattered and light blasted out of her,
propelling her beyond the mountain scene. She screamed and screamed, but the
sound only existed in her mind. Both his arms banded her now, holding her
snugly against his chest. Why was he still here? Wasn’t death a journey meant
to be taken alone?
The earth rushed up to meet them. He twisted violently as if
to take the brunt of the collision, but her shoulder slammed into the ground
and something even harder punched into her side. Pain exploded through her,
driving the breath from her lungs then slicing down her arm.
Scrambling to his knees, he took his weight off her as she
instinctively rolled to her back. The simple movement sent a fresh wave of
agony washing over her. She gasped and lights flashed before her eyes. She
could barely think past the roaring in her ears.
He arched over her, hands on the ground beside her shoulder.
“Don’t try to move,” he directed. “We landed really hard. Catch your breath and
make sure you’re not hurt badly.” He wasn’t touching her now, but the position
still felt menacing.
“Can’t. Breathe.” He reached for her and she shoved his hand
away. The small rebellion sent pain ricocheting through her torso, but she
couldn’t make a sound.
“I’m going to touch your side. Only your side. You might
have punctured a lung or worse.” His voice was calm and firm, leaving her no
room for negotiation.
Carefully keeping her arm angled over her breasts, she
watched him through a haze of pain. He had the most unusual eyes, rich forest
green with distinct flecks of gold. He lifted the hem of her t-shirt and
slipped his hand beneath. His warm fingers touched her skin and she shivered.
“Try to hold still. I’m not going to hurt you.”
His warm fingers pushed up along her side until they rested
against the bruise. He shifted position several times and gradually increased
the pressure. Heat sank into her flesh, tingling then burning. The pressure
suddenly released, as if he’d slit the laces of an antique corset, then she drew
a cautious breath. Though a faint ache remained, she could breathe again.
“What did you do?” She took a deeper breath, amazed by the
“Feel better?” He smiled, drawing her attention back to his
handsome face. His nose was straight, if a bit narrow. His cheekbones were high
without being hollow and distinct brackets framed his mouth. He shifted
position and his leather jacket creaked, the early morning breeze playing
through his dark blond hair.
“I thought I’d snapped half my rib cage. I literally could
not breathe.” Keeping her arm pressed against her chest, she managed to sit
without moving her injured shoulder, and scooted backward until she rested
against the trunk of a nearby tree.
“How bad is your arm?” A hint of challenge threaded through
his even tone. “Or did you hurt your shoulder?”
“It can wait.” She glanced around. There was no obvious path
through the trees, no indication of where they were or how they’d arrived.
“What the hell just happened? Where are we?”
“I’m pretty sure we teleported and I have no idea where we
are.” He rocked back onto his heels then stood, watching her intently. Sunlight
filtered through the trees, revealing golden strands in his dark blond hair.
She stared up at him, her shoulder throbbing unmercifully.
Teleportation only existed in the movies. Yeah, so did psychic healers… Her
mind refused to accept his conclusion, so she returned to the basics. “Who are
“Kyle Lashton. Our mothers were best friends back before you
were born. We heard what Osric was planning and couldn’t allow it. I’ve come to
take you home.” The emphasis he put on the word “home” assured her he hadn’t
meant her house in Breckenridge.
He pulled a cell phone out of his jacket and turned in a
slow circle. Apparently, he couldn’t find a signal because he slipped it back
into his pocket and looked at her. “You’re obviously still in pain.” He knelt
beside her again, resting his hands on his thighs. “Is it your shoulder or your
“Explain what you did to my side first.” She wasn’t sure why
she didn’t want him to touch her, but he definitely made her feel…not
threatened or afraid, just hyperaware. His eyes were too green and his features
too appealing. And she wasn’t even going to consider how hard and strong he’d
felt wrapped around her.