Release date: October 6, 2014
With her penchant for premonitions, Michelle Slade has always had trouble connecting with other people, and a horrific attack five years ago only made her isolation worse. But working to help defenseless animals with her rescue organization, Cats Alive, has given her new purpose and joy in life. When several homeless cats start vanishing into thin air, she’s determined to get to the bottom of this mystery.
Casey Mitchell has always kept his private identity as a were-lynx secret. But he’s drawn to Michelle, and when he begins to help investigate the odd circumstances surrounding the cats’ disappearance, he uncovers a powerful businessman’s diabolic designs on the unassuming woman.
Now both he and Michelle are in grave danger, and their survival depends on trusting each other with secrets better left unspoken. Will these two lonely souls triumph and find true love … or lose everything?
by Lynn Crandall
Lynn Crandall lives in the Midwest and writes in the company of her two cats. She has been a reader and a writer all her life. Find Lynn Crandall at www.lynn-crandall.com, on Facebook, and on Twitter.
An excerpt from Secrets:
“Here, little kitty. I know you’re hungry. Here’s some good stuff.” Casey knelt and dropped a bit of cat food on the ground in front of him. The short-haired tabby shot him a saucer-eyed look and retreated.
“It’s okay. You can have the food. No strings attached. How about I call you Brownie? It fits.” He stood motionless, knowing the timid cat needed and wanted the food. Lucky for Brownie, he had a way with cats. Suddenly, the cat lunged and grabbed the food in her mouth, then withdrew a few feet to chomp it up. “You’ve made my day, Brownie. Thanks for being so brave.”
When he stood the cat ran out of sight. That was to be expected. A stray in the city lived a hard life. Often city strays were kicked around in their endless search for food. He didn’t blame them for being wary. It was the safe thing to do.
It was the smart thing to do. He smiled to himself, conscious of the stirring inside him of another part of him. His were-lynx self. Humans believed themselves to be the most self-aware, intelligent species on the planet, but it just wasn’t so. Animals were intuitive and resourceful. Heck, were-lynxes had successfully kept their existence secret from humans for centuries. And they peacefully coexisted in colonies among humans. His colony, of which he had recently been made leader of, consisted of seven other young lynxes. There were more colonies, but they didn’t interact. Each colony was unique and reflected the personalities and special abilities of its members.
On his way back to Carter, Inc., his best friend Jackson Carter’s investigations business, Casey let out thoughts of Michelle. If only I could have a way with her like I did with Brownie. Get her to trust me.
The way Michelle had looked up into his face with those deep sapphire-blue eyes made his gut clench. Michelle was a strong woman who went after what she wanted and tackled whatever had to be done. But her gleaming golden hair gave her an ethereal sense and there also was a delicate vulnerability to her that he respected. Her heart was tender and loving, and she was full of life. But she carried a dark fear that kept her distant.
Their friendship blossomed easily when they’d first met and he now struggled with a growing desire for closeness with her. Despite his need for privacy and to keep humans at a distance, she’d gotten to him in a way he’d really taken to. She fascinated him. And he’d begun to invite her to get closer.
Apparently keeping her distance was too important to her. Whatever drove her away, it had to be a powerful darkness, because it never left her. The days they’d spent hiking she’d let down her guard. When the darkness in her lifted the real Michelle came out—exuberant and confident. Then the shield would slip back into place.
The irony of her distance made him cringe. He had his secrets, clearly. And not just the really big one of his animal self. Like many young new lynxes, he’d used his inherent skills for his own benefits. He hadn’t cared about consequences. He’d stolen from the rich some very nice things, but he’d gotten caught. He’d done his probation and wised up. Thanks to his father’s guidance and Jackson’s friendship, his brief stint as a cat burglar was behind him, never to surface again. He’d earned his law degree and worked as a specialist in medical matters. Then Jackson had convinced him to get his investigator’s license and work for him. He worked among humans and socialized with humans and the members of his colony. And no human, not even Jackson, knew of his secret identity. Despite his respect for the need for secrecy, it was becoming more and more of a burden. As he’d watched Jackson struggle with his father’s deceit and destructive ways, Casey’s values adjusted. Needling razors cut at his life-long beliefs, demanding he make a choice. Be himself or a shadow of himself. He wanted to be himself, nothing holding back, among trustworthy humans.
With his baggage to deal with, he’d wondered at Michelle’s. The evenings they’d spent together at her apartment she’d been tense. He’d never pushed for intimacy. The memory of kissing her luscious lips sent him tripping, but they’d never gone further than that one kiss.