Cynful Page 1

Author: Dana Marie Bell

Series: Halle Shifters #2

Genres: Fantasy , Romance

Chapter One

His expression was priceless. She should have come up with this sooner just to see that look on his face.

One dark brow rose in disbelief. “You want to what?”

“You heard me.” Cyn shrugged. He could take it or leave it, but no way was she going to let him have a nip until he met her demands. After all, he’d shown up on her doorstep and made some demands of his own, namely that she bare her neck and accept him just because he said so. Pfft. Like that would happen. Okay, maybe if he begs really prettily. “I want to date.” She leaned against the doorjamb and grinned at him.

His jaw dropped. Julian was speechless, probably for the first time in his life.

“You have a problem with that?” Man, she was enjoying this. If she thought things were going to go the way they had for Alex and Tabby, with one date and BAM!, mates for life, he had another thing coming.

“But… Cyn, we are mates.”

“You say we’re mates. You could be a stalker who’s in serious need of a depilatory half the time.” She crossed her arms over her chest and shot him a saucy look. “You want a piece of me?”

“Dear gods, yes.” Tiny, light grey dots appeared in his otherwise dark brown eyes. A thin strip of white ran down his waist-length black hair. “More than you could possibly appreciate.”

She wasn’t surprised. She’d seen the way Tabby and Alex had instantly bonded, their inner animals forcing them to link their life forces together. The good news was Alex was everything Tabby needed, and it seemed Tabby was everything Alex wanted. Alex would keep her friend safe, give her a home and make sure she was never alone again.

What could Julian give Cyn that she didn’t already have? A bigger butt? Prematurely gray hair? “So. Dinner. Movies. The occasional box of chocolates. Jewelry, if you have good taste in it. You’re a smart guy. Figure it out.”

He sighed and rubbed his eyes. “Why are you fighting it? We can date if you like, but in the end we’re just going to wind up at the same place. You, me, a bite and a fu—”

She pressed her finger against his lips. “Do not go there.”

He kissed her fingertip but didn’t move his lips. Those gray specks in his eyes became more prominent.

“Down, boy.”

He huffed out a laugh. “That only works on dogs.” He managed to get hold of her hand. He toyed with her fingers, his gaze never leaving her face. “Date, huh?”

She nodded firmly. “And don’t think you’ll weasel your way out of it, Mr. Due Charm.” She deliberately mispronounced his last name, but from the grin on his face it didn’t bother him one bit. The ch in his last name was supposed to be pronounced sh, but on first reading it most people got it wrong. Lord knew she’d done so when she first saw his name.

Julian chuckled and brushed a kiss across her knuckles before releasing her hand. “I’ll pick you up tonight, then.” He turned, his waist length hair brushing against her. She’d always been a sucker for long hair on a guy. “Jeans are fine.”

Oh really? “What time?” Maybe she’d still be at work when he stopped by. Or already be gone. She was the boss. She was allowed to take off early once in a while.

“I’ll wait at the shop for you.” He waved and sauntered off, every inch the confident, sexy man he was. And that terrified her. She shut the door before she could stare any longer than she already had. She leaned back against it and blew out a rough breath. He was sexy and smart and funny and everything she’d ever wanted in a man.

Julian could break her without even trying.

“Huh. That was…unexpected.” Julian sat in the front seat of his car and pondered the predicament he found himself in. His mate wanted to date. Who would have thought? At least the mate dreams, while hot, weren’t driving him crazy. Yet.

His cell phone rang. He studied the caller ID and winced. Shit. Tai Boucher, the leader of the Spirit Bears, was calling him again. Ever since he’d arrived in Halle, Pennsylvania, Tai had called him every week. His boss wanted updates on the visions Julian had left his home to pursue.

He was going to be seriously ticked when he found out Julian was planning to apply for US citizenship. Julian’s mate was American; she loved Halle and had no intention of leaving. Her roots, her chosen family, all were here. Uprooting her would kill something special inside her, and he couldn’t do it. But no Spirit Bear had left British Columbia since the time of…well, never. Tai was going to shit kittens when he found out.

Julian would rather live on his own, without the support of his brothers and sisters, than take Cyn away from here. This was home, and he planned on keeping it that way.

So Julian let it go to voicemail and headed home. He had about an hour to get ready for work at Dr. Howard’s private practice. Thank God his work visa was up to date. He’d managed to get the necessary paperwork and certifications pushed through to accept the job in Dr. Howard’s office, but Jamie had said he’d take on Julian even without it. He valued the Spirit Bears and all they represented, despite the fact that the good doctor was a Puma.

Julian smiled. So far things were going well, and he had no intention of allowing little things like dates and impatient Bears ruin his good mood.

“What do you think, Doc?” Julian stared at the jagged wound Jamie had just finished stitching up. His fingers twitched. He desperately wanted to heal it, but had been ordered not to by Jamie. The power spread through him, trying to escape his control, trying to force him to do what nature had intended Spirit Bears to do—heal. He bet white had already begun to streak his hair from forcing himself to stop.

Dr. Jamie Howard finished cleaning out the wound and sighed. “He’ll need a tetanus shot.”

Julian watched as their patient, Ryan Williams, turned pale. The big Grizzly began shaking his head like a six-year-old. “No. No, no, no, no. No shots. Uh-uh. Ain’t happening.”

“You run the risk of getting infected, Ryan. We might be shifters but we’re not magically immune to disease. It isn’t like the movies where you shift and bam! Severed heads reattach, limbs re-grow and suddenly you no longer have leprosy. I swear, humans think being a shifter cures everything.” Jamie glanced over and Julian nodded. Julian could tell with barely a glance that Ryan already had the tetanus virus within him. How the Grizzly had managed to find a piece of rusty barbed wire in downtown Halle was unbelievable, but Ryan seemed to have a knack for getting himself into interesting situations. All Julian had to do was visit Living Art Tattoos to see proof of that. The pixyish Glory had the poor Bear tied up in knots.