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Everything changed when Raven, a natural born conduit, accidentally walks in on a slave auction. She only wants a night out with her friends before her next case as a paranormal liaison with the police. Instead, she ends up in possession of a shifter and his guardian. When your touch can kill, living with two touchy-feely shifters is a disaster waiting to happen.
To make matters worse, a vicious killer is on the loose. As mutilated bodies turn up, she can't help fear that her new acquisitions are keeping secrets from her. The strain of keeping everyone alive, not to mention catching the killer, pushes her tenuous control of her gift and her emotions to their limits. If they hope to survive, they must work together as a pack or risk becoming hunted themselves.
“In or out?”
“Excuse me?” Raven whirled, her gaze unerringly finding those of a man...no, a wolf in human form who stood a little over six feet. He towered over her by at least half a foot, forcing her to take a step back in order to meet his gaze without cricking her neck.
Damn touchy-feely shifters. They didn’t have any boundaries or understand the concept of personal space, especially between unclaimed men and women.
Fresh air clung to him, relaxing some of her initial surprise at finding him so close. Though handsome, there was something a little too masculine about him, a little too purposeful in his actions that left her unsettled. She resisted the urge to fidget, glad she took care to make herself as forgettable as possible. Dressed in black, her distinctive, silver-tipped hair pinned back like a prim schoolmarm, she little resembled the carefree, underdressed partygoers who frequented the place.
“I said are you going in or out?” Dark brows lowered in annoyance, and those deep brown eyes shone brightly in the hallway, revealing his animal nature. Power wrapped around him, barely leashed, rubbing against her. It didn’t hurt, though it wasn’t quite pleasant either. More of a brusque probe to find out if she was a threat. The taste of his magic revealed he had no interest in her.
She stepped aside to let him pass, refusing to shrink in front of him, taking care to ensure they didn’t touch. He didn’t seem to notice, not even sparing her a glance. He just grunted, gliding by on silent feet. The noise of the club rose as he entered the room beyond.
Raven pried open her clenched fingers, finding them reluctant to obey. Though she should be pleased, his dismissive attitude annoyed her. Despite having a very small portion of the shifter genetic make-up, her mind blared a warning that all males inside would have the same reaction. Like was attracted to like, and she most definitely was not one of them. Not really, despite all the tests conducted on her as a child. Tests the labs performed to find out how much control she had over the animal counterparts locked away at her core. A core that gave a low rumble at his easy dismissal.
“Don’t mind him. He can be an ass.”
Raven jerked at the masculine voice, surprised to find herself not alone. She’d shut herself down so hard she’d inadvertently blocked some of her senses. A costly mistake. Especially since her animals liked to come out to play when she shut out the very electricity she used to keep them at bay.
“My fault.” She pushed the words past her constricted throat. From now on, she would stick to business and shove the personal nonsense the girls always spouted into the garbage where it belonged. She could deal with her gift by herself like she had all her life. Plans were in place if the worst came to pass. “I should go.”
When she went to retreat, the boy, who had to be no more than eighteen, stepped in front of the exit, barring her way. “Don’t. Please.”
The tremble in his voice drew her attention. Instincts sharpened. Then she noticed the slave collar clamped around his throat.
The delicate threads of metal, a combination of silver and gold, marked him as a slave to the shifter community. Welts beaded on his skin where the silver encircled his neck, and she couldn’t prevent her lips from curling in disgust.
She understood the aching need to belong, but she couldn’t condone the process. How could a person permit another to use them just to earn a place in the pack?
“Why do you do it?” The question slipped out without thinking of the consequences.
No retaliation came. More surprising, he didn’t appear angered at her question. Pack always held their business close to their chest. Unless you were a fur-and-claw-carrying member of the club, you didn’t need to know.
A sad look passed over the boy’s face. “The collar protects me more than if I remained rogue. Without it, I’d be bottom to everyone. If I’m accepted into a pack, they’ll protect me.”
“Unless they kill you first.” Rogues don’t last long past their prime out in the open.
The lean man who stood so proudly before her didn’t look to be the threatening monster everyone claimed about rogues, the reason for their unspoken, kill-first law for unregistered rogues.
He shrugged. “Those are the rules. Unless you’re born into the pack or challenge and kill for your place, you have to earn your spot.” An uncertain smile tipped the corner of his lips, an expression that didn’t settle easily on his face. An almost indistinguishable sheen of sweat clung to him.
The people inside were like animals in the way that if they sensed fear or weakness, they singled you out. After years of practice, she made an art out of blending into the background. The boy had no such protection.
“Maybe you’ll find me inside.” Without waiting for her response, he disappeared into the club, leaving the scent of defeat. Anxiety. And more damning, hope.
Raven debated the wisdom of leaving against all that she could gain. If the boy could face the crowd, then so could she.
Title: Electric Storm
Series: A Raven Investigations Novel
Author: Stacey Brutger
Release Date: April 8, 2012
Genre: Urban Fantasy
My next book, The Demon Within, a paranormal romance, will be coming out later this year. If you like demons and cursed angels, you won’t want to miss the first book in this series.
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