Cover & Excerpt Reveal
Underground Heat Book One
The line between hunter and hunted thins, blurs, and finally disappears.
Once respected members of society, shifters are running for their lives. In a futuristic world where resources are scarce, Kate uses her human form to work as a sex surrogate. Furious at what looks a lot like genocide for her people, she joins the shifter underground.
Devon’s been a cop for a long time. He has shifter blood, but not enough to change into anything; at least not until the police department insists on a series of infusions to make him better at tracking shifters so they can be imprisoned—or killed.
Devon’s latest assignment is Kate. From the moment he sees her, he can’t get her out of his mind. The line between hunter and hunted thins, blurs, and finally disappears. Kate and Devon defy the odds. Will their passion save them or doom them forever?
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Release Date: June 10, 2013
Publisher: Liquid Silver Books
Kate Roman sauntered down Telegraph Avenue, the sounds of the constant Berkeley traffic loud in her ears. The city had banned hovercraft when air quality got so bad people needed masks to venture outside. The air still made the back of her throat burn, but at least her eyes didn’t tear up.
She pushed her dark glasses up her nose and wrapped a colorful scarf more tightly around her hair. Someone was following her. She’d caught a whiff of something … unusual … with her feline senses half a dozen blocks back. Her perceptions weren’t as sharp in her human form, but they gave her a definite edge. Who was back there? Try as she might, she couldn’t identify its scent. She didn’t want to stop and turn around. So long as her pursuer thought himself invisible, he—or she, or it—wouldn’t do anything rash. She hoped.
Her heart beat a little faster. No cause for alarm. Not yet, anyway. She worked as a sex surrogate, and there had been hundreds of clients over the past several years. Her hair was unmistakable with its bright red tone and warm, golden streaks. Clients sometimes trailed after her. Too shy to approach directly, yet drawn to her because of the best—sometimes the only—sex they’d had in their lives, they just liked to be close. Even though they had no idea she was a shifter—that played into the equation too. Humans were attracted to her animal energy.
Shy clients were one thing. The other options were scarier. Humans had made a big push to get rid of shifters. Because killing them outright would have engendered a great hue and cry from personal rights groups, they’d been imprisoned in droves. Conditions were deplorable; many of her kin had died. Others were so ill, they might as well be dead. Apparently the personal rights groups weren’t into visiting prisons to check on things. Disgust twisted Kate’s features into an annoyed scowl.
Appalled by what was looking a lot like the beginnings of genocide, she’d joined the shifter underground, a group masterminding escapes for those like her. Of course, the escapes were only the first step. Once out, shifters almost always needed medical care. They had to be hidden until their magic was strong enough for them to shield themselves. Many opted for dramatic plastic surgery to obliterate any trace of who they’d been when captured.
Kate blew out a tense breath. She had three post-surgical shifters concealed in the basement of her home in the Berkeley Hills. A wolf, a mountain lion—like her—and a bear were sequestered behind a hidden wall panel. She hadn’t expected them to stay quite so long and her pantry was almost bare. She glanced at her wrist computer and clicked a few keys. Ration Coupons flashed on the screen, followed by the numerals one and zero. Shit. If it were only her, ten coupons wouldn’t buy much more than a day’s worth of food. She needed to put in an emergency call to the underground once she got to her office and no one could hear her. They had code words for everything, but still…
Kate tilted her head back. Her nose twitched. Whoever was behind her was closer. Not much, but a little. Should I turn around? She glanced at the cross street. Another half block and she’d be at her office. Someone jostled her shoulder. She pulled back, wary of a trap. Kate strengthened the illusion which softened her lengthened incisors and muted the sharp angle of her cheekbones and jaw.
“Sorry,” a man muttered and pushed past her.
She stared after him and reached out with a dribble of shifter magic. Whew! She exhaled sharply. Just a human. Definitely not who’d been following her. Garden-variety cops had genetically-altered enhanced abilities. They smelled different. Trackers, elite police squads targeting shifters, had their own unique scent. She pressed her tongue against her teeth, thinking. What she smelled behind her was … different. Did that mean it wasn’t a cop—or a Tracker? Not necessarily. He could be using one of their tricks to mask his spoor. Her throat tightened. She tried to swallow, but her mouth was dry.
Enough excitement for one morning. Kate lengthened her stride, loped across the street, taking advantage of an amber light, and took the steps to her office in a renovated Victorian two at a time. She ran her palm over the keypad. The electronics hummed and the door clicked open. She ducked inside, shut the door, and reset the lock.
Annoyance tinged with fear made her stomach roil. Against her better judgment, she turned and peered through a frosted glass side panel next to the thick, carved oak door. Eyes narrowed, she used her feline vision to take a good, hard look at who was walking down the sidewalk. After a couple minutes of nothing, she chided herself for being paranoid.
Kate was about to turn away and get ready for her first client when a man caught her attention. Boy, did he catch her attention. He was tall, maybe six-foot four, with broad shoulders and slender hips. He wore form-fitting jeans, a snug knitted dark blue top, and a brown leather vest. Well-muscled arms and thighs jumped out at her. Kate’s eyes went to his crotch. Wow. If he looked like that soft, he’d have a hell of an erection. Waist-length black hair swirled around him. Dark eyes, set in Native American bone structure, looked right at her building. It was as if he sensed her looking at him.
What was he? Unfortunately, she couldn’t identify much. Wood and glass absorbed most of her magic. Kate moved away from the window. Heat poured through her. Her nipples pebbled into hard points. Whoever was out there was the most sexually-charged man she’d ever come across. Was he the one who’d been following her?
She snorted. Part of her hoped he’d been tracking her—she itched to jump his bones. In spite of being turned-on, she felt edgy. He could be a member of the elite Tracker hit squads targeting shifters. Her underground organization had received intel the enemy was using more sophisticated strategies to trap them. If they start using sex, we’re done for. Her lips curled into a wry grin. Shifters loved sex. It was a weakness from their animal sides.
“No, it’s a strength,” the mountain cat which lived inside her commented snidely.
“Hold on, sweetie. You’ll get your fix soon enough.”
“I don’t want human sex,” her cat complained. “Find a shifter for us.”
Other titles by Ann Gimpel:
Be on the lookout for Ann Gimpel's next book, Alice's Alpha, coming July 2013
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