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Some men just have more to offer. Like Bo Novikov, the hard-muscled shape-shifter hero of this wildly funny, deeply sexy new novel from Shelly Laurenston—part polar bear, part lion, pure alpha…
Ten years after Blayne Thorpe first encountered Bo Novikov, she still can’t get the smooth-talking shifter out of her head. Now he’s shadowing her in New York—all seven-plus feet of him—determined to protect her from stalkers who want to use her in shifter dogfights. Even if he has to drag her off to an isolated Maine town where the only neighbors are other bears almost as crazy as he is…
Let sleeping dogs lie. Bo knows it’s good advice, but he can’t leave Blayne be. Blame it on her sweet sexiness—or his hunch that there’s more to this little wolfdog than meets the eye. Blayne has depths he hasn’t yet begun to fathom—much as he’d like to. She may insist Bo’s nothing but a pain in her delectable behind, but polar bears have patience in spades. Soon she’ll realize how good they can be together. And when she does, animal instinct tells him it’ll be worth the wait…
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Not in the mood to stand in line to use the bathroom and needing a few minutes on her own before she headed into that locker room, Blayne made her way down a few floors to one of the main training levels and the wonderful and rarely used bathroom near the locker rooms that the derby team used. Blayne was happy because the Carnivores had won against another top-tier team. They were finally hitting their stride and making their way to the playoffs for the first time in years and Blayne was ecstatic for all of the guys.
She was even ecstatic for Bo Novikov. A man who didn’t look happy at all about the win or anything else. Did he even know how to smile? Was he physically capable? He’d been the one to make the winning goal and yet he had the same expression on his face after the win as he’d had on his face when the second string Carnivore goalie let the puck get by him. And man, had she felt bad for that kid. He looked ready to pee his pants when Novikov skated up to him, glaring down at the poor jackal like he was moments from eating the kid’s face off before devouring his young.
And, as she’d heard about his on-ice attitude, Novikov had let the kid have it with a verbal assault that even Marine drill sergeants would think was harsh. No wonder every team he’s been on hates him.
She’d feel bad for Novikov if she wasn’t convinced he was a serial killer. Or, at the very least, extremely rude. Blayne hated rude. It was her one major pet peeve. Her father didn’t call her Miss Black Etiquette of the East Coast for nothing.
Washing her hands in the sink, Blayne wondered what was it about her that attracted the sociopaths. The charming, ne’er-do-wells who eventually proved they’d kill their mothers for their life insurance or their best friends if they thought it would make them laugh. It had gotten to the point where she’d stopped bringing men home for her father to meet because he’d start the conversation off with, “And what psychological problem do you have and that I’ll eventually have to kill you for?” That often led into one of their father-daughter fights, the two of them going at it until Blayne realized the guy had left, never to be heard from again.
Of course, all those guys were…what was the right word besides charming? Sweet? Loving? Yes. They were all those things. Superficially so. Once she got past that initial layer, she usually didn’t find much of anything else. Novikov, however, seemed to be nothing more than a hulking mass of murdering hybrid from the first time she’d met him. Except for that mane of his and his clear need to win at all costs, he didn’t have any of the natural male lion charm that Gwen’s brothers Mitch O’Neill Shaw and Brendon Shaw possessed. Nor did he have the sweet disposition and adorable bear geekness that Lock MacRyrie and his dad, Brody MacRyrie, had.
Like all hybrids, Novikov’s DNA had borrowed from both parents and created something entirely different.
Well, whatever. It was not her problem, nor her business. Novikov meant nothing to her and now she was going up to the team’s locker room and congratulate all her friends and ignore the glaring hybrid across the room. He’d probably have his own swarm of females anyway, so Blayne would not allow herself to feel guilty for not being nice.
She dried her hands with paper towels and headed to the door. Pulling it open, she walked out in the hallway, saw Bo Novikov and his perpetual scowl leaning against the wall across from the bathroom, turned right around and went back inside, closing and locking the door behind her.
There was a lengthy pause from the other side and then, “You have to come out of there eventually.”
Good God, he said that matter-of-factly! She could imagine him using the same inflection with, “You know I’ll have to cut out your liver eventually.”
“No I don’t,” she told him through the door. “I’ve done the research. A person could survive on just water for a good sixty days. Plus I have a toilet. In theory, I have what I need.”
Blayne gasped, cutting him off. “How do you know my name? How long have you been hunting me? Well, you can take your cellar of death where you keep all the bodies of the women you’ve slaughtered over the years and go to hell. Because this target, which you probably refer to as ‘it’ in your head to keep me as merely an object, is not going down without a fight!”
Proud of her speech, Blayne waited for Novikov to walk away. Instead she heard a brief sigh, then silence, but no footsteps. Where were the damn walking-away footsteps?
Blayne waited a bit longer and having absolutely no patience to speak of, slowly crept closer to the door. She was only a few inches away when the door was ripped off its hinges and placed aside by the brute who’d done it.
Blayne squealed and stumbled back as Novikov stepped into the bathroom. Glaring down at her, he said, “Now we can talk.”
* * * * *
She was staring at him that way again. The way she’d stared at him when he first met her and when he’d looked at her through the bloody glass. Her brown eyes wide, her mouth open a little. One good growl, and he was pretty sure she’d either make a desperate run around him or go for his jugular. Of course, if she thought he had a “cellar of death” he wasn’t really surprised by the way she stared at him.
Blayne finally did speak, though, but it wasn’t exactly what he expected to hear. “I am so not paying for that door.”
“I wasn’t planning on charging you.”
She wanted out of the bathroom. He could tell by the way her gaze kept searching for a way past him, but he made sure that he stood right in the doorway so she couldn’t get past him.
After another minute, she screamed, “You’ll never take me alive! I’ll never let you get me to a secondary location!”
Bo shrugged. “Okay.”
With a horrified gasp, she stepped back. “You’re gonna kill me here?”
Should he be entertained by this? Why was he entertained? “I actually wasn’t planning on killing you at all.”
Her eyes narrowed. “You’re not going to kill me, skin me, and wear my head as a hat?”
Yep. He was entertained. And, no. It wasn’t normal. Instead of answering her question, he asked his own. “Do you want me to?”
“Then why are you asking?”
“Because according to my father, many teachers, and quite a few anger-management counselors, I seem to lack that little internal device that stops things that are best left unsaid from being said.”
She took a step forward. “Are you or are you not a serial killer?”
“You’ve never murdered anyone?”
“On or off the ice?”