Release Date: November 2014
Shapeshifters for Christmas
I've always been a huge fan of the paranormal. As a kid I spent lots of time reading books and watching movies about paranormal creatures. Vampires were my favorite, but I also loved werewolves. Back then most werewolves were the frightening kind, not quite as sexy as the ones in stories today. Now many other kinds of shifters are popular too, and not just around Halloween. A few years back I wrote a winter holiday story about a werewolf. This year I wanted to do a different, gentler kind of shifter for Changeling's multi-author Peppermint Twists series.
Fleet, one of the heroes of Oh My Deer, is a reindeer shifter. Though part of him is as rugged as any wild animal, he has a tender side that endears him to his lover, Jake. To create Fleet I read about caribou and used many of their characteristics combined with the old-fashioned magic of Christmas and a bit of science fiction as well. Fleet and his shapeshifting reindeer companions were a lot of fun to write about. I hope you enjoy reading his story as much as I enjoyed writing it.
When Jake rescues a wounded reindeer less than two weeks before Christmas, he doesn't realize he has found one of Santa's reindeer-shifters.
The adorable shifter is willing to show his gratitude in sexy ways Jake never expected, but once he flies away will he be gone forever, or will he return as promised on Christmas day?
Jake woke early after an uneasy sleep. He'd awakened a couple of times during the night, thinking about the caribou. Soon it would be time to get up anyway, and Jake didn't bother trying to fall back to sleep. He rose, washed and dressed. At this time of morning, he could get some great shots for his book, but after he checked on the caribou. He walked to the shed and entered carefully. Sadly, the caribou was still down. Jake had hoped the animal would be on his feet.
"Feeling any better, boy?" he said, kneeling beside his furry guest. Those calm blue eyes stared at Jake, and an indescribable pang tore through him. He caressed the caribou's muzzle. Glancing toward the bucket, he noticed some of the water was gone. "You must have gotten up to have a drink. That's a good sign. Just rest. I'll be back a little later to see how you're doing."
Jake left the shed and spent the next hour taking pictures. When he returned to check on the caribou, it still hadn't moved.
"You're a shifter all right," Jake said, disgusted at himself for even thinking such a thing. He blamed it on the mystical experience of bonding with a wild animal on a wintry Alaskan night.
Since he still had no intention of killing this creature, he had just one choice left. He walked back to his house and used his laptop to find the phone number of the nearest conservation center. He called and explained his situation. They agreed to send someone to take the caribou.
Jake's stomach rumbled. He hadn't eaten since dinner last night, and there wasn't much food around the house. A trip to the general store was in order.
A short time later, he was back in the village. When he stepped into the store, he noticed the latest copy of the local paper that covered this and several other villages.
The headline caught his eye.
Caribou Rescues Teens from Bear
His brow furrowed, Jake snatched a copy of the paper and scanned the article. A day ago, two youths had been exploring the coast when a polar bear attacked. They reported that a caribou rushed between them and the bear, sustaining injuries when it tried to ram the beast despite the fact that it had already shed its antlers.
"Hey, Jake," said the store owner, a plump older man with gray hair and a long moustache. "Do you believe that headline? Since when does a prey animal run to the predator? If you ask me, those boys were drunk or high or something."
"Maybe," Jake murmured, his gaze still fixed on the paper. A weird, tingly feeling almost overwhelmed him. He considered himself a rational guy—or at least he had until last night. The caribou in his shed had wounds consistent with a bear attack—Tina had confirmed it, even though he didn't need her to know it. But the attack happened on the coast. There was no way the caribou could travel all that distance, wounded.
Unless he was a shifter after all. The mystical powers that enabled him to change meant he probably had other supernatural powers too, such as increased speed.
What the hell was he thinking? He was a thirty year old man, not a child to believe in legends spun by his grandfather. Shoot, even Grandpa would probably call him crazy for thinking he had a shapeshifting caribou recovering in his shed.
Still, Jake tugged money out of his pocket and placed it on the counter for the newspaper. After buying some food, he hurried home. Thinking again that he was crazy, he strode into the shed, his heart pounding wildly.
He knelt in front of the caribou and held up the newspaper. "That was you, wasn't it?" he said. Even as he spoke, he felt totally embarrassed by his behavior. Clearly this was nothing more than a beast. Shifters were the stuff of legends. Maybe he had been living out here for too long by himself, with nothing but his photography. Still he went on, "If you're a shifter, give me some kind of sign so I won't think I'm crazy. I'm trying to help you."
Jake closed his eyes for a moment and laughed. "What an idiot I am. I think I have truly lost my—" He stopped speaking abruptly as he opened his eyes. His heart actually skipped a beat and his stomach lurched.
The caribou was gone. In its place lay a sinewy, long-limbed man with wild blond hair and huge, pain-filled blue eyes. His ribs, back and one muscular thigh were covered in bloodstained bandages.
The child of a painter and a psychic dreamer, Saloni Quinby feels spirituality and storytelling go hand-in-hand. She loves the scent of gardenia, the sound of wind chimes and the taste of honey. By listening to what isn't said, she creates works based on unspoken desires. Saloni prefers blurred gender lines and many varieties of romance. In a world where passion must at times be restrained, she believes erotica is a pleasure to be shared. With her stories she would like to make her fantasies yours and hopes you enjoy the ride. Saloni also writes as Kate Hill.
Find Kate/Saloni Here