Stranded in another dimension, on a primitive version of Earth, Dr. Susan Barlow needs to find a way to survive. There’s no electricity, no cities, and to her shock, no humans. Instead, she faces a population of werewolves, vampires and incubi. The people are vicious but she must find her place among them. And live.
Annie Nicholas writes paranormal romance with a twist. She has courted vampires, hunted with shifters, and slain a dragon’s ego all with the might of her pen. Riding the wind of her imagination, she travels beyond the restraints of reality and shares them with anyone wanting to read her stories. Mother, daughter, and wife are some of the other hats she wears while hiking through the hills and dales of her adopted state of Vermont.
Before Susan could explain anything about dimensions and gateways, the door to Kele’s chamber crashed open, and Susan jumped to the balls of her feet, prepared—to what, fight? Was she nuts?
A female blocked the entrance, her muscular physique hinting at enough strength to twist Susan into a pretzel without breaking a sweat. The newcomer flung her black hair over her shoulder.
Rising with grace, Kele straightened her dress before addressing the intruder. “Mother.”
“Daughter, I heard you’ve brought home a stray along with the Apisi alpha.” The female’s stare drilled into Susan, her sneer far from welcoming.
Susan’s breath caught in her throat. Black, soulless eyes ate her gaze. Her fingers clutched the lapels of her jacket as she pulled it closed. She wiped her sweaty palms on her pants and offered her hand. “I’m Dr. Susan Barlow.”
The female shifter narrowed her eyes, nostrils flaring.
Susan withdrew her untouched hand, then hid it behind her back and glanced at Kele. Maybe she should have sniffed her mother instead? She wished someone would give her the Dummies Guide to Shifter Society and a little time to study it.
Kele’s mother crossed the room in two great strides and swung her arm.
Susan did her best impression of a statue. She didn’t budge as the impact of the slap swerved her head to the side and dragged her gaze from mother to daughter. Both of them were flushed with emotion yet at opposite poles of the color spectrum—one dark as an oncoming storm and the other pale as the moonlight.
The back of Susan’s heel caught the edge of the cushion and she landed hard on her back.
The bitter flavor of blood swept over her taste buds. “What the hell?” She rubbed her jaw and glared daggers at the crazy woman looming over her. Just as quickly, she schooled her expression to something less threatening before she insulted the bigger shifter further. With the tip of her tongue, Susan explored her mouth. She didn’t encounter any big gaps, so no lost tooth. A small blessing.
Kele’s crazy mother hovered over Susan’s face and bared her teeth. In beast form, her expression would have appeared fierce, but in human form it seemed terrifying. With an easy grace, she flipped Susan onto her stomach. A bony knee pressed between her shoulder blades, making her kiss the floor. Pain shot across Susan’s upper back and neck.
“How dare you come into my den and not submit to me.”
“She’s not a shifter!” Kele shouted. “You can’t expect her to know how to be polite.”
Something ran over Susan’s hair, and the sound of sniffing followed. She tried to take a deep breath but the weight on her back made it difficult.
The nutjob exhaled in disgust. “What is she?”
“A human.” Kele peered at Susan’s throbbing face as she stroked her hair. “Please, I wanted to teach her how to behave before meeting you and father.”
“Your father.” The bitch snorted. “It’s bad enough he’s entertaining a vampire and dealing with trespassing alphas. We don’t need any more vermin within the den.”
Susan was jerked from the ground by her hair and dragged across the floor. Pain shot into her scalp while she scrambled to support her weight with her legs.
“Let go. Let go.” The shifter world was more brutal than anything she’d ever experienced. Susan slapped at the crazy woman’s hands tangled in her hair.
“My daughter took too many liberties in offering you shelter. You’ll need to find another den to take you in.”
At a loss, Susan yanked and squirmed but only made the pain worse. Out of the corner of her eye, she saw Kele leap.
The petite blonde used her wiry strength to jump across the room and land on her mother’s back. The collision knocked them both to the ground in a knot of arms and legs.
Untangling her limbs from the struggling shifters, Susan could finally elbow the bitch in the face. The impact made a satisfying crunch. She pulled back her arm for a second shot, but Kele grabbed her and half carried, half dragged her out of the chamber.
“Hurry, we need to reach my father before she beats you into cinders.”
Not needing any further incentive, Susan ran after her new friend. “Your people are crazy.”