Since waking up on the floor of her apartment after an electrical shock, Tara has felt…different. Colors a little off. Shadows where they shouldn’t be. But hot guys glowing blue light and a cheetah drinking a cup of coffee? That’s not something you see every day. And why doesn’t anyone else seem to notice?
The pillar of blue light is Marshall, a Metamorph—a human who can change at will into an animal or energy form. His human form is damn fine-looking, but that doesn’t mean he isn’t crazy, with his stories about belonging to a secret government agency and rogue Metamorphs trying to kill her. Plus he wears sunglasses indoors—who still does that? But when there’s a panther scratching at her door, she has no choice but to trust Marshall, even if it means her life will never be the same.
Buy it today!
A server took her order, then Marshall leaned in close and lowered his voice.
“When I saw you yesterday, you said something about seeing some kind of light. A blue light. Is that correct?”
“I was having a problem with my eyes. Too much staring at a computer, that’s all.”
“You’re a poor liar, Tara. This is important, so please tell me the truth. You saw me change to another form last night, didn’t you?”
Tara tried to keep her face neutral, but was sure he saw her eyes widen.
“Have you ever seen anyone do that before?” he asked, studying her closely.
She shook her head and he reached over and lightly moved her bangs from her forehead. A tingle danced through her body at his touch.
“You’re hurt. Did this just happen?”
She nodded, speech eluding her.
“Maybe that’s why you could see me change,” he murmured, almost to himself. “I need to talk to you more, find out what you can and can’t see. You’ll have to come with me to a more private place.”
“I’m not going anywhere with you,” Tara said, finding her voice at last. “Whatever I saw yesterday was a hallucination, from this bump on my head.”
“You’ve been seeing other things, haven’t you?” he asked. “Colors a little off, shadows where they shouldn’t be, flashes of light?”
Tara stared at him, dumbstruck. That was exactly what she’d been experiencing since she hit her head.
“What’s going on? Do I have a serious injury?” Even as she asked the question, she knew that wasn’t the reason for the weirdness she’d witnessed. A blue light had come from this enigmatic man sitting in front of her, not from a figment of her imagination or the bump to her head.
“I can’t tell you any more here. Please, come with me. I promise you’ll be safe.”
“Take off your sunglasses,” she said. There would be no further discussion until she could see past the mirrored surface.
He pulled them off and her jaw dropped. His eyes were extraordinary, a deep emerald color, flecked and ringed with gold. Her own eyes were hazel and had been called beautiful, but were nothing like what she gazed into now.
Then he smiled and she was lost. The face that had struck her as ruggedly handsome now became so sensually appealing, her mouth curved unconsciously. He radiated confidence and warmth, and the sincerity she saw caused her defenses to crumble.
“Please, say you’ll come with me,” he pleaded.
“I…” she began, but stopped as Marshall suddenly stiffened. He swore under his breath and she followed his gaze to a man who had just walked into the shop.
“We should go. Now,” he said in a quiet voice, and put his glasses back on.
The man stepped up to the counter and spoke to the cashier, then turned to look at them. He smiled at Marshall, and as he did, his features changed swiftly. His face and form shifted until suddenly, a large cheetah was standing a few yards away, holding a paper cup.
Yet he was not just a cat. This creature was part animal, part man, and totally freaky. Tara’s blood froze. She yelped, and then jumped up from the table, spilling her coffee.
“Don’t move. Sit down,” Marshall said quietly, urgency in his voice.
She put her hand over her mouth.
A scream threatened to emerge and Tara couldn’t understand why no one else in the shop seemed concerned that there was a wild animal in their midst.
“Sit down,” Marshall said in a deep, low voice that was almost a growl.
“Th-that man,” she stuttered.
“I know. Sit down and look away before he sees you looking.”
It was too late. Cheetah Guy stared right at her. She took a step back and knocked over her chair. His eyebrows drew together initially in puzzlement, but in a moment his gold eyes flared with anger. He lifted a lip in a snarl, showing long, pointed teeth. Tara let out a shriek.
Marshall put a hand on her arm but Tara shook it off, grabbed her purse and ran to the door. To her horror, the large cat followed with Marshall right behind.
Regretting her decision not to drive, Tara pushed open the door, kicked up her heels and ran. She was halfway across the parking lot when she heard Marshall yell.
Tara whirled and saw a figure standing halfway between her and the coffee shop, pointing an object that looked like a gun directly at her. It was the man from the coffee shop, no longer in cat form. She had never seen him before in her life but she knew he intended to kill her.
All this registered in a split second. Without thinking, she dove under the nearest car, as a strange sound zinged through the air. She felt a crackle of electricity, almost like the electrical shock she’d received two days before. From beneath the vehicle she saw the man’s feet as he ran toward her. Did he just fire that odd-looking gun at her? She heard Marshall’s voice again.
“Stop! Back away.”
She slid out a tiny bit to see Marshall pointing a weapon at the man.
“You’re not going to shoot me,” he said, then pointed his odd-looking gun behind Marshall. “You do, and I’ll blow up that building and everyone in it, I swear.”
The man kept the weapon pointed at Marshall and backed away, then turned and ran.
Marshall started to run after him, but stopped and headed toward Tara instead.
“Are you all right?” he asked as she dragged herself out from under the vehicle.
“I’m fine, don’t worry about me. Go get him!”
About the author
Naomi lives in sunny Florida with the love of her life and a magical calico cat. She writes for various fiction and non-fiction markets but finds she is drawn to romance because her characters insist on canoodling and falling madly in love. So she lets them. Occasionally, however, they go to dark and strange places. She lets them do this also. Her interests include dancing, motorcycle riding, drumming, and creating healthy meals. She takes the opportunity to play and have fun whenever possible. Her motto: Never pass up the opportunity to have an adventure!
Visit her at http://www.naomibellina.com/
Also by Naomi Bellina
Naomi is the author of several romance novels, including her most recent Adventures of Star Lite series, a reviewer’s recommended read. Visit here for blurbs and excerpts: http://www.naomibellina.com/book-list-excerpts.html
Interview with Holly Hewson
HH: Naomi, thank you for talking with us at TRS. You featured book is Her Wild Protector. What can you tell us about this exciting new release?
NB: Thank you so much for having me here! Her Wild Protector is about a woman who develops the ability to see a dangerous group of shapeshifters, the Metamorphs. Two are trying to kill her, one says he can protect her. Fortunately, the one protecting her does a pretty good job AND he’s hot as all get-out too.
HH: What do you like best about Tara and why will readers identify with her?
NB: Tara is an average woman, trying to get over a crappy break-up and get ahead in life. She’s at a low spot, a place we’ve all been before, so when weird stuff starts happening, she reacts like I think a lot of us would. She doesn’t want to give control of her safety to some guy she doesn’t know. Even if he is hot.
HH: What can you tell us about Marshall and what makes him different than your other heroes?
NB: Marshall is a Metamorph, a man who can change to an energy or animal form. He’s different because of that, but also because he feels like he’s kind of a freak, who no woman can ever love. He’s actually a great guy, as Tara soon finds out.
HH; How does this release differ from your other works?
NB: Her Wild Protector is a bit shorter than some of my other work, but I wanted to have the story move fast. There’s lots of action and adventure to keep readers turning pages. A perfect read for the summer, when you have a little extra time to relax and curl up with good book.
HH: What else do you have in store for lucky readers?
NB: I’m really excited about an erotic cat anthology (you want it already, don’t you?) featuring one of my stories about a woman who is being blackmailed and this cool guy who helps her. That should be out this fall. I also just signed a contract for a contemporary New Adult story featuring a fun-loving woman who got kicked out of college and is trying to get her life back on track. She takes on a mystery shopping assignment in a spa and of course, meets the almost-perfect-but-kind-of-weird man while doing so. Too bad he has some issues. Don’t they all?
HH: For readers just discovering, what work would you recommend they read first?
NB: Oh, start with Out of the Ordinary. It’s book one in my erotic paranormal trilogy from Totally Bound. It was such fun to write and I know readers will enjoy following the characters through books two and three.
HH: What goals have you set for yourself at this point in your career?
NB: What a coincidence you should ask. I just got done writing them out for a coaching program I’m doing. Here are a few of them: For the next year I’d like to finish the novella that I’m working on and have that contracted by the end of 2014. I’d like to have a good starting finishing book two in my werewolf series. I want to start a series of one of the shorter stories I’ve written or at least have a plan mapped out. That should keep me busy, right?
HH: What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?
NB: Reading, of course. I watch a little television, not too much. I like to find new, healthy recipes and cook, have brunch with one friend and wine with another. My inner crafty child comes out to play now and then too so I make sure to have several projects around to work on. I live near the ocean and though I don’t make it there often enough, walking on the beach is high on my list of fun and energizing activities.
HH; What are you reading now?
NB: A great suspense romance, Face of Danger, by Roxanne St. Claire. It’s a page turner and I’ve stayed up wayyyy too late some nights reading.
HH: Where can readers find you online?
Readers can find me at Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, and Pinterest. The best place is my blog. I post at least once a week and always try to find interesting topics. Thank you again for letting me join you at The Romance Studio.