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Evolution

Refuge Shifters #3: EvolutionResplendence Publishing
ISBN eBook: N/A
Genre: Paranormal, Shifters, M/M
Series: Book three in the Refuge Shifters Series.
Book Length: Novel
Release Date: November 24, 2009

Read an Excerpt | Order eBook at Resplendence Publishing

Jarek, a young cougar shifter, arrives at Refuge full of hope. He is finally in a place where he can have a lover and his first-ever home. Meeting Mica feels like icing on the cake, but his dreams are quickly shattered by a night of pain and violence at the hands of his Alpha.

Mica, a stone man, is trying to get his emotions under control. He likes Jarek, but isn’t sure what to do with the overwhelming lust he feels whenever Jarek is near. After the two of them are caught in a compromising position, Jarek goes missing, and Mica will do anything in his power to track him down.

Suni, the true-blue Alpha of the cougars, doesn’t want anything to do with the rest of his kind. He is perfectly content to live out his life in seclusion. When he stumbles across a young cougar shifter near death, he realizes he’s found his mate. When Jarek regains consciousness and tells Suni about Mica, the true Alpha is left wondering where he’ll fit in.

Three men, one who wants to feel, one who doesn’t know how to feel, and one who refuses to feel, come together on the side of a mountain. The resulting clash of personalities and sexually charged energy will change their lives forever.

Excerpt

Note for Readers: You must be over eighteen to read this excerpt.

Despite the healing burns on his back, Jarek was almost giddy. Refuge. He’d heard so much about the place, he couldn’t believe he’d actually see it with his own eyes in a matter of minutes.

“The first thing I’m going to do is shift into my cougar skin and take a run,” he informed Grant, the guard sitting next to him.

Grant glanced at Jarek before looking away again. Jarek tried not to take the brush-off personally, but it had been a long, boring trip. He wished Daniel were making the trek across country with him. After hearing from Mica that Daniel was healthy again, Jarek thought of nothing else but sitting and talking with his new friend. He couldn’t explain the bond he felt toward the small coyote shifter, but he knew it would last a lifetime.

Jarek once again adjusted himself in the seat. Although his back was healing nicely, it was still too tender to lean against the backrest. With his forearms resting on his thighs, his gaze once again wandered to Mica. The heavily muscled guard was breathtakingly beautiful, and Jarek had found himself fantasizing about him on several occasions during the trip. He’d even tried to get a seat next to the bald, ebony-skinned man, but Mica had set his weaponry down in the available seat, making it clear he’d rather be alone. In the end, Jarek had been forced to take a seat next to Mr. Sourpuss.

“So how much longer, do ya think?” he asked Grant.

Grant glanced out the side window of the mini-bus Ryker had purchased. “About fifteen minutes or so.” Grant went back to reading a magazine about guns, leaving Jarek to twiddle his thumbs once again.

He closed his eyes and tried to imagine the home that Ryker said he could have. He wanted a big front porch, maybe even wrapping around the sides. White, he decided, with dark green shutters. Jarek could picture himself sitting on the porch in the evening, watching the sunset from a swing that matched the green of the shutters. He’d have to make sure the front of his house faced west. Flowers could be planted all along the front of the house and inside the white fence he wanted to build.

Shaking his head, Jarek couldn’t help but chuckle at himself. For someone who’d never even lived in a house, he sure had specific ideas of what he wanted it to look like. He wondered if the other shifters dreamed of such things. It was a vast departure from the caves he’d called home for over a hundred years.

Grant elbowed him in the side, surprising Jarek. “We’re here,” Grant mumbled without even glancing at Jarek.

Jarek sat up straighter and peered out the window. A tall, menacing fence came into view along with what looked like some kind of guardhouse. Big men holding weapons were stationed around the perimeter of the fence. Jarek’s heart sank. He’d built Refuge up as a sort of Utopia in his mind, but it looked more like a prison.

The sting of tears assaulted him and he was forced to look away. What was supposed to be the happiest day of his long life had turned out disappointing. It was his own damn fault, and he knew it.

He felt a pair of eyes on him and quickly glanced around. Mica was standing in the aisle staring at him. Jarek looked away, ashamed the guard had seen his tears.

The bus pulled to a stop beside in front of the gate, and Mica held a large hand out. “Come with me,” he ordered Jarek.

Jarek took a deep breath and stood, ignoring Mica’s hand. In borrowed clothing, he followed Refuge’s chief of security off the mini-bus.

Mica waived to one of the guards and the security gate opened, allowing the bus to pull through. Jarek suddenly worried that his reaction had somehow ruined his chances of being invited in.

“What about me?” he asked.

“I have orders to drive you to Ryker’s house upon arrival.” Mica disappeared into the guard building and came back with a set of keys. He gestured to a small black truck with the word Security written on the side in bright yellow letters.

Jarek climbed into the vehicle and waited while Mica spoke to one of the guards. Once again, he wondered if he’d done something to upset the beautiful man. After his initial rescue, Mica had been the one to tend to Jarek’s burns. Despite being almost twice Jarek’s size, Mica’s touch was surprisingly gentle.

Although he tried to hide it from Mica, Jarek’s body reacted predictably to the man’s touch. Maybe he hadn’t hid his attraction at all and that was the reason Mica had not only pulled away, but seemed to erect a wall between them.

The driver’s door opened and Mica got behind the wheel without a word. Despite his earlier resolve to allow Mica his space, Jarek couldn’t handle the silence for another moment.

“Are you mad at me for something?”

Mica started the small truck and pulled through the open gate. “No.”

Jarek waited for more, but nothing came. The wind blowing in from the open windows had his long hair whipping across his face as the vehicle’s speed increased. Jarek gathered the long tawny strands at the nape of his neck and leaned an elbow on the passenger door. “Can I ask you something?”

“Sure.”

“If this place is supposed to be so ideal, why do they have the fences to keep us in? Will we ever be allowed to travel outside the gate?”

Mica slowed the truck and pulled to the side of the road. “The fence is there to protect you, not hold you prisoner.”

“But The Hunters are dead, so why the armed guards?”

“Because you’re special. And there are people on the outside who don’t want you to be.”

“What about you? You’re special.” God, he couldn’t believe he’d just said that.

Mica shook his head and put the truck in gear. “There’s nothing special about me.”

Jarek wanted to argue that point, but Mica’s closed expression kept him silent. Instead, he turned his attention to the view out the passenger window. Everything was so incredibly green and lush. They passed several houses under construction, and Jarek sighed.

“Do they tell you where you can build, or can you just pick out a spot of your own?”

Mica shook his head. “I don’t know. You’ll have to talk to Ryker about that.”

“He said I could have a bungalow,” Jarek informed him with a bit of pride in his voice.

Mica turned off the main road and headed up a rather steep incline. “I don’t know what that is,” the big man admitted.

The subject of houses always got Jarek excited. He reached out and laid a hand on Mica’s strong forearm. “Oh, they’re beautiful houses. Nothing fancy, or big, but they have these great front porches. I want mine to wrap around the side of the house. Do you think Ryker will have them do that?”

Mica didn’t react right away, instead he was staring at the hold Jarek still had on his arm.

Jarek dropped his hand and shrugged. “Sorry. I tend to get a little excited sometimes.”

“I noticed,” Mica chuckled.

It was the first time Jarek had heard the stoic man laugh, and the sound warmed him to the bone. He inwardly sighed. “So we’re going to see The Guardians?”

“Yes,” Mica answered and pointed toward a large house peeking through the trees.

“Damn.” Jarek had never seen such a big house. “I don’t want anything that big. I figure two bedrooms will be plenty. Hey, have you ever slept in a bed?”

“Yep.”

“What’s it like?” A brief thought of sharing a bed with Mica flitted through his mind. Yeah. He was horny, but for Jarek, that was a pretty natural state of being.

“I don’t know. It’s a bed. Softer than the ground, but it doesn’t smell as good as sleeping on a nice bed of grass in the shade.”

Jarek smiled at the image. “You like that? Sleeping outside in the shade?”

He was almost positive he witnessed a brief rosy glow under Mica’s beautiful skin tone. It made him want the chief of security even more.

“Yeah. It’s probably one of my favorite things to do when I’m not working.” Mica pulled the truck behind the other vehicles in the drive and turned off the engine.

Before the spell between them was broken, Jarek took the opportunity to lean over and plant a kiss on Mica’s cheek. “Thanks for talking to me.”

Mica looked shocked at the gesture. “You’re welcome.”

Jarek started to open his door. “Are you coming?”

Mica shook his head. “They only asked that I drive you up here, not that I come in.”

Jarek rolled his eyes. “Don’t be so literal. Come on. I’m sure they’ll want to see you.” He tugged at Mica’s arm for several moments until the big man chuckled and opened his door.

“If you get me into trouble…”

“I won’t,” Jarek said with a wink.

Before they could reach the front steps, the big double doors opened and Daniel, Ryker and Hakan stood before them.

“Jarek!” Daniel squealed and wrapped his arms around Jarek.

The contact to his back made Jarek flinch. Mica stepped forward just as Daniel pulled back.

“Shit. I’m sorry. I was so excited to see you, I forgot. How’re the burns?” Daniel asked.

“Healing,” Jarek informed his friend.

Daniel glanced over his shoulder at Ryker and Hakan. “Why don’t you keep Mica company while I take Jarek to the spring?”

Both men nodded and Daniel held out his hand. “Come on. I’ve got something special to show you.”

Jarek took Daniel’s hand and was led off the porch and down a dirt path. “I’m glad to see you’re feeling better.”

Daniel grinned. “Amazing, isn’t it?” Daniel stopped and pointed toward a pool of white water.

“Milk?” Jarek asked.

Daniel shook his head. “Healing waters.” Daniel started to disrobe before gesturing to Jarek. “Off with them. We’re taking a soak together.”

Jarek was surprised, to say the least, but he followed Daniel’s lead and soon stood before the Coyote King completely naked.

“You are a beautiful man,” Daniel commented as he stepped over the mossy rocks to lower himself into the water.

Jarek stood, completely dumbfounded by Daniel’s appraisal.

“It’s okay,” Daniel chuckled. “I may look, but I won’t touch.” He splashed his hand in the water. “In with you.”

Jarek followed the impression Daniel’s feet had made on the shore and submerged his lower half into the white liquid. Daniel walked around behind him and began dripping water over Jarek’s back. With every drop, he could actually feel the burns fading.

“So, tell me about you and Mica?” Daniel asked.

The question startled him. Was his attraction to the big man that noticeable? Damn. He’d need to be more careful. “I don’t know what you’re talking about.”

Daniel giggled and reached around Jarek to take hold of his erection. “This tells me that you do. You’ve been in a constant state of arousal since you arrived.”