His precious touch could prove deadly…
When Taylor Sparks moves from New York City to Big Bear Lake, California, her life is forever changed when she meets a hot guy with winter-blue eyes named Jesse. Their attraction is instant, the chemistry undeniable. But sadly, things aren't adding up. Taylor wonders what her 'crush' is hiding. When her new friend, Fred tells her his suspicions about Jesse being a paranormal creature, Taylor laughs. But when Fred turns up dead, she believes every warning he ever told her.
Taylor is shocked to learn that Big Bear Lake isn't just glittering lakes, towering pines, and breathtaking mountains...there's more...way more than meets the eye.
Will Taylor dive into a paranormal world she knows nothing about? To be with the one her heart can’t live without?
Or will her life spiral out of control when she learns her blood is needed...to lift an ancient curse from a group of supernatural beings.
Werewolves will serve as her guardians and protect her until the first full moon of the new year.
The night of her sacrifice…
Will she accept her destiny?
Or will she refuse to let evil swallow her up?
Author's Website : www.chrissypeebles.blogspot.com
Facebook Page : https://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Chrissy-Peebles/
Also by Chrissy Peebles on obooko:
Big Bear Lake, California is located in a lush green valley, surrounded by mountains and the towering pines, sparkling streams, wildlife, and hidden lakes of the San Bernardino National Forest. We’d just moved into a cute, two-story brick house along the south shore of Big Bear Lake. The beautiful and quaint little home was left to us by my grandmother, when she passed away. She’d spent her whole life in the house and had loved it. So my parents thought it would be fantastic to dump our city life, to move out to the smog-free middle of nowhere, where we could get lost in the peace and quiet tranquility. With only three roads leading in and out of the valley, it wasn’t the easiest place to get to.
My parents loved the solitude here, because they were both writers. My father wrote mystery thrillers, while Mom penned romance novels. They hated the hustle, bustle and noise of the city and were sure the peaceful wilderness would help them concentrate. “It’ll be a fresh start for all of us,” my mother assured me, following a bad breakup with my boyfriend, “a very healthy experience all around.”
I wasn’t so sure, though. I didn’t know easily I’d be able to adjust to the simple life of a small town, after living in New York City, but once we got there, I loved the place. It was a far cry from my life in the big apple, with honking geese and towering trees replacing the honking taxicabs and towering buildings, but I knew my mother was right; it would be the perfect spot to forget about my depressing love life.
I have two brothers and a sister who had already moved out of the house, so now I was virtually an only child. I am lucky to have two wonderful parents, we are a loving and close-knit family, and for that I couldn’t have been more thankful.
It was only June when we moved in, so I had almost the whole summer to get used to California and my new home before school started. I carried in the last heavy box to my cluttered room; everything was a mess. I bit my lip hard as I looked around at all the boxes and bags, knowing there was no way that I’d get everything unpacked and put in its place in one night.
“Pizza’s here,” my mother called, as she came in and pushed through the maze of boxes, toppling them everywhere.
My stomach rumbled, reminding me it was after lunch time. My German Shepard began prancing around and barked, reminding me that he needed to go out.
“Mom,” I said, “Max needs to be walked first.”
“Go ahead and take him out then, but don’t wander off too far,” she said, as she brushed her hair behind her ear and smiled.
“Of course not Mom,” I said kissing her cheek.
She looked into my face and pointed to my eyes. “What’s with the dark circles?” she asked.
“Uh…I’m sure it’s just makeup, or maybe it’s just because I’ve been getting absolutely no sleep?”
“It’s your makeup,” she said smiling. “You look like a raccoon.”
“See? I’ll fit right in with the wildlife out here.”
My mom laughed then said, “Well, maybe the raccoons can adopt you, they’re nocturnal too.”
“I just can’t sleep at night,” I answered. “I can’t help it.”
“Is this about the breakup with Sean?” she asked, wrapping her arms around me. “Honey, it’s been six months. Remember what we talked about? We’re here for a new beginning, a fresh start.”
“I know,” I said, wincing because the whole thing still hurt.
Sean had dumped me, totally out of the blue. Getting dumped sucks, no matter the reason. I had given him my heart, and he had trampled all over it. The breakup had totally blindsided me, I hadn’t seen it coming, when he called me and said, “Taylor, this just isn’t working for me anymore.”
I knew it was time for me to move on with my life, with whatever grace and dignity I could muster. We’d both made mistakes in the relationship, and neither of us were perfect by a long shot. Still, I was determined, I refused to let that relationship define who I was. Just because we didn’t work out and clearly weren’t meant for each other, that didn’t mean things wouldn’t work out with someone else in the future. My friends tried to help, setting me up on stupid dates that never worked out. I wondered if I’d ever find the “spark” again with someone else? I decided that, for the time being, I was done with guys. I was going to enjoy my fresh start and focus on my passion for painting. The yard was overrun with weeds and vegetation, but my dad had hired someone to fix it up. When he was finished, it would be the perfect place for me to pursue my art.
I quickly threw my curly black hair into a messy ponytail, and slipped my feet into my white tennis shoes. I was wearing a white t-shirt and my favorite pair of skinny jeans, which hugged my curves so tight they felt like a second skin. I’d washed them so many times that they were faded, super soft, and form-fitting in all the right places. There was a large rip in the right knee, but that only gave them originality. Silver and leather bracelets dangled from each of my wrists, and sterling rings adorned my fingers. I looked into the mirror, wiped the smeared eyeliner from beneath my brown eyes, and headed outside.
It really was a beautiful place to live. Our yard was surrounded by towering trees that stretched high into the sky. I listened to birds chirping as the sun shone on my face and a cool breeze ruffled my hair. I loved the woods that were part of my new home. Inhaling the clean air, I smiled. I’m really going to enjoy my fresh start here…and so is Max, I thought as the dog explored the back yard. He was fascinated and intrigued by all the new smells and sounds.
Suddenly, Max’s ears shot back, as if he had noticed an animal in the woods. Peering closer, I glimpsed a white-tailed deer sipping from a puddle. My heart melted as I gazed at that adorable creature nestled among the trees. It seemed totally unaware of us watching it, until a sharp bark from Max scared it almost to death and the poor animal darted off into the vegetation. He wasn’t used to all the natural wildlife, but I knew he was going to love it there as much as I was, if not more. His barks became fierce, then he suddenly bolted through the trees, deeper into the woods.
I guessed he’d decided to pursue the fleeing deer, and I decided then and there that I’d have to keep him on a leash.
“Max!” I yelled. “Come back!”
He didn’t listen.
I glanced back at the house, wondering if I should get my parents for help? The woods and its inhabitants scared me a little. I stood there a while, debating my next move. Finally, I decided to just go a little ways into the woods, but I did—if only for a brief second—wonder about the odds of running into a bear.
I stepped through the vegetation at the edge of the lawn, and took a tentative step, into the woods beyond. I glanced around looking for any sign of Max, but he was nowhere in sight, I called for him a few times, only to get no response. I was beginning to worry, when I heard a bark in the distance. Without a second thought, I took off, sprinting deeper into the forest surrounding our property. Finally, I pushed aside some green vegetation and scanning ahead I could finally see my beloved and ornery pet.
“Max!” I shouted. “Come back!”
He gave me the doggie version of the I-see-you-but-I-don’t-care look, then started sniffing the ground. As I made my way toward him, I was seriously considering obedience classes. My thoughts were interrupted when a thorn grazed my skin. Biting my lip to stave off the pain, I swore I’d never let that cantankerous canine off his leash again.
I stumbled a bit to the left, tripping over a pile of termite-ridden, moss-covered, rotting logs. Stumbling on I broke through more towering ferns, but Max had once again disappeared into the thick vegetation. I couldn’t see him anywhere, but could still hear him barking. Panting, I spun in a slow circle trying to decide what to do. I was afraid I might get lost if I went in any deeper, but I couldn’t just desert my best friend.
The snap of a twig behind me, followed by the unmistakable crunch of dried leaves, halted me mid step. I strained to listen. Was that...Max?
Snap, the sound of another branch breaking echoed through the quiet forest.
“Max?” I yelled, scanning through the trees and high grass ahead, “C’mere, boy.”
With my senses now on full alert, I swept an uneasy gaze through the surrounding trees. I whistled for Max calling out, “Here, Max! C’mon, boy. Let’s go home.”
The sounds of the crickets and chirping birds was my only reply.
I jumped, startled, as a sudden flash of tan glinted to my left. I flinched. For a split second, I saw amber-colored eyes in the foliage. Panic stuck. I was sure it was some kind of wild animal. I worried that Max might have been attacked, knowing that one bite to the throat might prove fatal. Fear began to take hold and I grabbed a long, sturdy stick. It wasn’t much of a weapon, but I’d be able to poke those yellow eyes out if their owner came after me.
A menacing growl broke the silence. My heart thudded against my ribcage, and a shiver swept over my skin. What was I thinking? Running after Max had been a dumb idea. My dad had warned me about black bears, coyotes, mountain lions, and bobcats. He hadn’t said anything about tigers, but it was still quite the oh-my situation.
I knew that the creature, whatever it was, had also seen me. There was no point in trying to hide. I had to call for Max again, I couldn’t possibly leave until I knew he was okay. “Max!” I yelled, pointing the stick at the eyes peering out from the vegetation, ready to fight with every ounce of strength I had.
Finally, Max burst through the thick plants, bounding toward me. I clutched my heart and let out a sigh of relief when I saw that he was unharmed. He immediately took a protective stance in front of me and started growling, snarling and barking at whatever was in those ferns. Given the fight-or-flight choice, I was sure the best course of action was to slowly sneak backward and get the heck outta there.
The ferns parted and I gasped. I was suddenly face to face with a mountain lion. It raised its head, unleashing its bloodcurdling signature roar. My heart began to pound in my chest like a high school marching band.
What I encountered next was nearly as shocking as the mountain lion. I turned around quickly, only to bump into a guy who looked to be about my age. He wasn’t just any guy though, he was so scorching hot that if I had wet my finger with my tongue and touched him, his chest would have steamed and sizzled. He instinctively pushed me behind him as if to protect me, then started shouting and throwing sticks at the big cat. I joined in with some noise of my own, and in an instant, the mountain lion fled into the grass.
The beautiful stranger eyed me up and down, warmth and empathy radiating from the depths of his gaze. “Are you okay?”
His gorgeous, winter-blue eyes hypnotized me, and I was pulled into his hold with one look. My breath had never literally been taken away before, but I was absolutely suffocating under the power of his stare, and my knees began to shake. “I-I…” The butterflies that had landed in my stomach, in fear of the cat, were now turning flirty somersaults. My eyes slid up his towering body, gliding over his features drinking in every detail, from his high cheekbones to the dark stubble shading his sharp jaw. He was definitely tall, dark and handsome. Even if it was quite cliché of me to be so taken by him, I felt like I’d been struck by lightning. I’d never been face to face with somebody so beautiful and angelic. He was the kind of guy who I thought only existed in movies, as if a Calvin Klein model had stepped down off of one of those big, delicious billboards for a hike through the woods.
“Are you sure you’re all right?” he asked, after my stutter never turned into a complete answer. He didn’t fidget or stumble for words like I did, whenever I was standing in front of a gorgeous stranger. Rather, his cool confidence spoke volumes to me, as if he was used to girls throwing themselves at him, which I was just about to do.
My breath froze in my throat, and my stomach clenched. I’d never been so drawn to anyone before, never so instantly, so madly attracted. I couldn’t stop staring at his messy tangle of dark hair, it had that tousled, just-out-of-bed look, which I loved and found so sexy. From his piercing blue eyes, to his strong chiseled jaw, to his handsome face, he was absolutely godlike. Even dressed in a plain black t-shirt and jeans. I took a deep breath to try to calm down, but it felt as if time had stopped.
When our eyes locked, we both seemed to get lost in each other’s gaze, oblivious to anything else. I was fixated by his piercing stare. There was an explosive chemistry between us which was absolutely undeniable.
My ex had told me that sexual attraction and chemistry couldn’t possibly be planned, it was something that would just happen naturally. I knew, standing there looking at this new guy, that he wasn’t lying. I had never felt like that with my old boyfriend. I couldn’t even explain the uncontrollable force that was drawing me to him like a moth to flame. When he looked at me with that sexy smile on his face, I’d never felt so desirable, so wanted. I had a strong urge to jump into his strong embrace. He was a smoldering hot hunk, and I couldn’t believe I had his attention.
“Is everything okay?” he asked a third time, snapping me back into reality.
My mouth dropped, and it took a minute for my brain to function. “Uh, huh? Oh yeah. I’m, um…I’m fine,” I babbled, as if that big cat had my tongue.
He stepped forward and looked off into the vegetation. “It’s gone for now, but you must be careful of predators out here.” He warned, meeting my gaze straight on. “Predators are always on the prowl. They’ll stalk their prey until an opportunity arrives to pounce and go for the neck with a fatal bite.”
“I know,” I said. “The thought of anything biting me anywhere kind of freaks me out.”
“If you are not all right with fangs piercing your skin, you definitely shouldn’t be out here.”
“You’re right. Let’s get outta here before the big kitty comes back.”
Staring deep into my eyes he said, “It won’t.”
Max growled at the handsome stranger and began to bark.
I was a bit embarrassed that I didn’t have my dog under better control. “Don’t worry,” I told him, patting the furry beast’s head. “Max doesn’t bite.”
“Well,” he said with a grin. “Tell him that I do.”
We both burst-out laughing, his ice-breaker had worked.
Nevertheless, even with my soothing tone and gentle touch, Max continued to growl and pace in front of me.
“Max!” I scolded. “Knock it off, boy.”
“Don’t blame Max. It’s not his fault,” he said. “All dogs hate me, it’s their natural instinct.”
“Nah, he’s just protective and loyal, that’s all,” I said, trying to explain. “You’re still a stranger to him, and he is trying to look after me.” I was still a little rattled by the mountain lion. That must be why Max is acting this way, I thought. “We’d better go, just in case that snarling menace comes back looking for dessert.”
“Like I told you, it’s not coming back,” he said sternly, shifting his powerful stance. “It caught a whiff of my scent. It fears me, just like your dog does.”
“You mean it’s afraid of shouting humans?”
“The shouting, yes.”
I laughed. “So you’re telling me that big lion is scared of our little voices?”
He just stared at me with those dazzling blue eyes for a moment, then totally changing the subject he asked, “Do you always hike unprepared?”
“No. It was an unintended hike,” I answered. “My dog took off and I had to find him.”
“At the very least, you should carry pepper spray to ward off bears.”
“I don’t see you sporting a can,” I said with a chuckle.
“I don’t need it,” he replied with a smirk. “I can fight off a black bear with my bare hands.”
Smiling I said, “All right, Davy Crockett.”
He grinned right back at me, nearly melting me where I stood. “But all joking aside, you shouldn’t be out here. As I said, these woods are full of hungry predators,” he warned again.
Shooting him a flirty look I said, “Well, then it’s a good thing I’m safe here with you.”
I didn’t know what had come over me, but something had. Where are these wild emotions even coming from? I’d never been so bold and daring. It wasn’t like me at all, but I couldn’t seem to keep the words or the girly giggles from coming out of my mouth. I couldn’t explain it, but there was some hot, intense, intoxicating connection between us. The attraction was sizzling, but I didn’t have the guts to ask him out, or even for his phone number. I didn’t even know if I was his type or not, if he even liked brunettes with frizzy, curly hair and chocolate-brown eyes. For all I knew, he was only into that boob-job and bleached blonde type, and that most definitely wasn’t me.
“You don’t know a thing about me,” he said. “What makes you think you’re safe in my hands?”
“Are you saying I should fear you more than that mountain lion?” I asked. “Maybe I should be carrying more than pepper spray, if that’s the case.”
“What I’m saying is that you need to be careful. Seemingly nice guys cannot always be trusted,” he answered, glancing down at a still growling Max.
I just smiled and asked, “Are you a nice guy?”
His face lit up, and he grinned again. “I suppose there’s only one way to find out.”
I took the bait and engaged him with, “And, pray tell, how’s that?”
Suddenly, his gorgeous grin faded, worry flashing across his features. He began to dart his eyes around from tree to tree, shrub to shrub, and appeared to be listening so intently that I could have sworn his ears perked up like a dog’s.
Max started to bark and snap at the air. I peered into the foliage and thick brush, but I couldn’t see anything to be afraid of.
“They’re back,” he whispered, then pointing to Max he added, “Please keep him quiet.”
They? I thought, worried that he was talking about more than one mountain lion. As he suggested, I patted Max’s head and tried my best to calm him, but it didn’t help.
Finally, Mr. Mysterious knelt down and petted Max. “Shh, boy.”
Much to my surprise, Max immediately quit barking.
The handsome stranger then placed his hand on my lower back and briskly led me in the direction of our house. He gently tapped Max’s head and said, “Go home.”
Obediently, Max bolted off.