Claiming His Lioness (Shifter Wars)
by Kerry Adrienne, arriving Sept. 3
About the book:
Former enemies align, but is it too late to protect everyone they’ve come to love?
Lara has always relished being a thorn in Mason’s paw. When she was chosen as pride Enforcer, it was easier than ever to get under the passionate shifter’s skin. But with the scent of humans in the air comes a threat she’s powerless to battle alone.
It’s time Lara unites with the one man she needs, the one man she’s secretly drawn to…as if by fate.
If there’s one thing Mason hates more than relinquishing control to a female, it’s the attraction he feels for the fiery lioness. Joining forces with Lara against an insidious enemy only makes their primal bond hotter—and the two of them stronger.
Now it’s up to them, side by side, to bring together three warring shifter clans, win the final fight and save Deep Creek.
Mason sniffed the heated air again. The scent was unique—a pungent blend of power with a whiff of weakness and a full-bodied odor of self-righteousness. His snout twitched and he bared his teeth. No mistaking it—even though it was faint and most lions wouldn’t notice.
He’d never miss it. As leader of the pride, it was his job to keep everyone safe and he took that to heart.
He padded closer to the edge of the rough stone overlook, his paws sliding in the loose rubble. After regaining his footing, he stepped nearer to the edge and scanned the valley that spread in front of him. Mysterious forests and magical glens shuddered under the assault of a strong wind that pushed through the trees and up the slant of mountainsides.
Humans had made their way into the depths of Deep Creek. These weren’t the small bands of hikers that sometimes ventured north into the wilderness of the park. No, these humans smelled of civilization and city. Grime and industrialization. Power and money.
A low growl rumbled in his throat and he panted as he strained to see into the dark forest below. No obvious signs of encroachment other than their stink. But they’d been out there recently. Maybe they still were, camouflaged by the tree canopy.
He’d find out. He swished his tail and flattened his whiskers.
Marco, where are you? His brother should’ve been at the meeting point already. He listened for his brother’s approach but heard nothing.
He was probably spending time with his bear mate, Alicia. Talk about complicated. Bears were the sworn enemy of the lions.
Mason shook his head. No matter his own feelings, he had to trust his twin brother. Alicia had saved Marco’s life and the twins would be in her debt forever. Marco more so than Mason, but then again, she was his mate.
Mates were for life and he was thankful he didn’t have one. The weight of his father’s expectations pressed on his psyche. No time for a mate.
A light breeze lifted the valley air up to his perch. Mason breathed through his mouth, sampling the pungent odor, sorting out the mixed signals from nature and human encroachment.
He bared his teeth and his heart rate sped as he tasted them. The last thing the lions needed was human trouble. Or any trouble. Recent months had been almost peaceful in Deep Creek, even though the snows had lasted long and spring had come and gone quickly. The ranger and caretaker bears had watched over the park in the winter, between naps, and they’d said nothing about unusual human behavior. And there had been no arguing or fighting.
The winter had felt like a reprieve from a never-ending war.
Now that summer spread its warm wings across Deep Creek, trouble neared again.
Marco? I need you.
He circled his position three times, then lay on the warm rock. After tucking his tail, he scanned the forest, finding no sign of anyone or anything near. Not even a squirrel or raccoon or lone hawk.
He yawned and closed his eyes. A short nap would help rejuvenate him so he could run with Marco.
With so many lives lost in the past year, including his father’s, he was most thankful that his brother had survived. Not a day went by that he didn’t thank the gods for Marco’s health.
Marco and Alicia’s union had forged a delicate truce between the bears and lions, though Mason kept the lions at the ready in case of attack. He was sure the bears did the same, but the wolves hadn’t come to tattle on battle preparations, so maybe the bears were enjoying the truce and not preparing for another war.
He and Marco were going to need the lion army sooner than he had expected.
They would sniff out what was going on with the humans and make sure they didn’t destroy the park. Get them out of the park. Their kind didn’t belong in Deep Creek.
Where was his brother?
The vast forests and mountains were large enough to support all the shifter populations, the natural wildlife, and the small hordes of tourists that came spring through fall. Those humans stayed near the park road or in the southern area of the park near Oakwood or up around Henredon. Not this far out in the wilderness.
Humans venturing deep into this area of the woods meant trouble. With one road nearby, the area wasn’t easily accessible and then the hike in would take hours if you knew the easy path.
Getting lost was more common than an uneventful hike.
He flicked his tail to shoo away a flying insect. No matter what he tried, his mind wouldn’t shut down and relax. Marco had run across human tracks in the area and assumed it was a lost crowd of boy scouts or something, but now he knew it wasn’t an innocent incident. These humans came into the forest with intent.
Images of humans overrunning Deep Creek sent his mind spinning.
Anxiety seized him and he pushed against it.
Marco? Answer me. Mason needed him. Marco helped him take a step back and not freak out over unknown details. Figuring out what the humans wanted without engaging with them or risking blowing the shifters’ cover would be tricky.
The breeze prickled through his fur, sending the dark hairs rippling, and he blinked at the glare of sunlight off the small lake at the bottom of the valley. Shining like a silver dime, the lake lay near the highest waterfall in Deep Creek and would be a prime camping location. Rockglass Lake was a shifter hangout in the summer—mainly because they knew humans wouldn’t be poking around.
Not this season.
Mason blinked back the sunshine and stretched.
The first thing the lions needed to do was investigate where the humans had been and see if they left any clues. People were already pressed up against the boundaries of the park in some places and they’d take over more land if they were allowed. No matter that the land was federally protected.
Mason didn’t trust the human government. Max had told him stories of how the politicians could often be paid off, and whoever had the most money to bribe with won, often at the expense of everyone else.
A rustling sound in the underbrush nearby startled him and he jumped, ready to swipe at any creature who approached. His teeth bared, he knew he presented something to be afraid of.
If it was one of the humans, he’d have a difficult time letting them explain themselves.
Marco slid from the shadows as a sleek black lion, sinewy and muscled, his eyes green and piercing. Tail low, he crept closer. Mason snuffled at his brother. It was always good to see him—even when he was annoyed with him for something stupid.
Marco padded up beside Mason and scanned the valley below for a long look. He turned to Mason, his eyes widening in question and his ears pricked.
About Kerry Adrienn
TODAY bestselling author Kerry Adrienne loves history, science, music and art. She’s a mom to three daughters, many cats, and various other small animals. She loves live music and traveling most anywhere. In addition to being an author, she’s a college instructor, artist, costumer, editor and bad guitar player.
Find out more at kerryadrienne.com.