When the last Shadow Warrior falls, so will humanity.
Forever a shadow warrior, José is determined to complete his final mission before succumbing completely to his jaguar spirit. The Aztec sun god commands him to find the woman who wears the jade necklace. A lone warrior he was content with roaming the earth and destroying demons bent on annihilating humanity until he meets Talia, a woman with the power to move the earth and his heart. She is his spirit mate – a relationship neither wants– but in her presence he cannot deny the attraction or emotions he feels for the beautiful healer. Will they be able to unearth the truth of their feelings in time to prevent the god of night from wreaking his destruction or will they lose themselves in passion and be buried under by their own desires?
Read an Excerpt
Still, touching this magnificent creature gave her a thrill unlike any other, a strange surrealistic peace that she belonged here. Her fingers moved along the spine of the jaguar, and it stretched its long body, arching to meet her hands. Her body came alive, every nerve ending sparked and she could feel her heart rate increase. Energy flowed back through her fingertips and exploded behind her eyes. She could sense the animal’s thoughts, except it wasn’t that of a wild beast but that of a man’s desire.
She meant to pull her hand away but she wasn’t quick enough. The jaguar’s paw caught her and shifted before her eyes into a man’s hand. He gripped her wrist and pulled her down toward the rug, face to face. The golden eyes of the jaguar melted and transformed into a pair of glowing golden brown eyes framed with feathery dark lashes. The muzzle of the jaguar receded and was replaced by the most handsome, arrogant face of any man she’d ever confronted. Shock slammed through her system even as her brain tried to keep up with the changes. She tugged on her arm without success. Even if she could get away, there was really no place to go in the tiny cabin and outside a raging blizzard continued its assault.
Her blood pounded, rushing up to her head. Her mouth opened and closed.
There before her stretched out on the rug in front of the fireplace no longer reclined a jaguar but something ten times more beautiful and dangerous…a naked man.
His thumb rubbed against her skin, sending tingles of sensation zinging through her system. Heat flared in response, causing her cheeks to flush. She didn’t understand her reaction. She didn’t like it. She tugged on her arm again. This time he released it. Talia scrambled backwards, desperately needing to put space between them.
A jaguar turning into a man should have blown her mind, made her think the cold had sunk into her brain and frozen a few circuits, but the past two days had been a crazy rollercoaster ride of one bizarre revelation after another.
“This isn’t medically possible.” She bit her lip and reached out her hand, only to think better of the idea and pulled it back to her side. Then again, lately she’d run up against many abilities that should have been scientifically impossible. She had no explanation for the fact that she could roll the earth with a mere touch and all the women of her lineage could do so as well. And though she could say her uncle Zacarias’ eternal youth stemmed from the skilled applications of a plastic surgeon’s scalpel or his crazy attack was the mad action of a disturbed man, she knew deep down in her gut that her uncle had made a pact with the devil. All of these things that defied or challenged scientific explanation had happened to her. So a gorgeous man transforming from the hide of a beast didn’t exactly have her running for the hills, but she certainly would exercise caution.
Zacarias had taught her that lesson well.
“What? How did you…” Her eyes darted around the room and for a second landed on the shotgun in the corner then went back to the lethal looking male on her rug. She gauged the distance and knew there was little chance she would make it if she tried. He patiently waited, never taking his eyes off her.
“Why do you fear me?” He spoke with a clipped, authoritative tone that had her bristling.
“I’m not afraid. I’ve seen many naked men in my time.”
His brows lowered and his features darkened, making her wonder if she’d gone too far. She refused to let him see that he did indeed frighten her. That shotgun was looking really good right now.
“Then you must be a loose woman if you have been with many men.” He practically growled the words.
“I am a licensed doctor. I’ve seen many patients in various states of undress, and I am quite familiar with treating the human body.” What she didn’t add was that she had never dealt with such a spectacular body, which didn’t make sense at all. She had treated numerous cases as an ER physician at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center. So why did this man’s body affect her? Probably because he had shifted from a jaguar into a man.
“How did you—I mean…” She raised her hands up, palms outward. “Never mind. I don’t think I’m ready for explanations yet.” Over the past twenty-four hours she had gotten a huge chunk of revelations, all of which she found hard to swallow.
Her aunt’s words hung in the back of her mind. She still had much to learn.
Questions naturally peppered her mind, but she squelched them. Questions were what had gotten her into this crazy situation in the first place. Instead she let her eyes drift over the planes and angles of his body, cataloguing the muscles that stretched down his back and over his taut buttocks, noting the scars and nicks that indicated a hard-fought life. She guessed he wasn’t much taller than her, perhaps four or five inches more, but where he lacked height he made up for in muscle. Her hands itched to touch him and run her fingers over his hard planes. She clenched them at her side to prevent her from actually doing so.
“You did not scream,” he mused. “Have you witnessed other men shift into animal form before?” He looked up at her from his prone position his yellow gold eyes glittered.
Talia shook her head. “Never an animal.” She bit her lip. The memory of Zacarias pushed at the back of her mind, the man’s face melting away replaced by that of a hideous monster. It had been so brief that the scientist in her chalked it up to the trauma of the attack, except she knew what she had seen. She shook off the image and concentrated on the man in front of her.
Her scientific side wanted to analyze and figure out the mechanics of how a one hundred sixty pound jaguar could morph and change its skeletal structure into that of a one hundred sixty pound gorgeous hunky exotic male. Okay, she had to stop getting stuck on the guy’s physique. She’d never been so shallow before.
She put on her professional face.
The doctor in her recognized the lacerations were not too deep or serious. She could treat them herself with what little equipment she had. “Listen, your wounds need attending. Let’s save the interrogation for later.”
Back in her ER days she would have shot him up with tetanus and numbed the area with some local anesthesia before stapling him up. Here, she would have to rely on the healing salve she’d made under Ishel’s tutelage and a few stitches. More confident now that she was in familiar territory, she busied herself with readying the few items she would need. All the while, she felt his gaze upon her.
Blowing out a breath, she forced her feet to approach until she stood right in front of him. Talia knelt beside him and gently dabbed at the bloody marks left by the other cat with a clean cotton cloth and warm water. She didn’t dare look at him. This close, she inhaled his scent, a woodsy fresh smell that clung to her nasal passages and traveled down her lungs until she thought she was absorbing him into herself. Crazy.
“Why are you on this mountain?” Maybe if she talked with him, she could get her mind back on more important matters like Ishel’s disappearance.
He slowly sat up until he was shoulder to shoulder with her. She held her breath as he reached out his hand to hold the jade necklace. His fingers brushed her collarbone, sending streaks of heat along her neuro pathways. As if thinking in medical terms would transform the unwanted desire she felt into an emotion easier to diagnose. Utterly laughable. She was certain he could hear her pulse beating a rapid staccato just beneath his knuckles.
“I am looking for a woman who wears a jade necklace, one with the power to move the earth.”
Her eyes flew up to meet his. He’d succeeded in startling her further. Given that he’d transformed from jaguar to man on her living room floor that was saying a lot. “What is it you want of this woman?”
His lips curved into a smile, one with little warmth and she shivered. “As soon as I am healed, you will come with me to do Huitzilopochtli’s bidding. The Aztec sun god requires your skills to discover the resting place of the mountain goddess, Toci.”
Talia’s mind raced with the implications. Years of practice and dealing with hysterical patients and loved ones, she had learned fast to be the one who remained calm even when she felt anything but that. She kept her face neutral. Zacarias had wanted something from her too.
She tried to read the vibes of the man in front of her, get a sense of his motives. She felt nothing. He radiated no emotions. Talia found it fascinating and disconcerting at the same time.
“I wish I could help you, but I am not the one you want.”
He cocked his head at her, assessing her words. Those beautiful, hypnotic golden brown orbs followed her every move. His eyebrows drew together. “You wear the jade necklace, do you not?”
She stiffened. Zacarias had also recognized the necklace. She wondered why they found it so special. “It is a family heirloom. The necklace belonged to my mother. My aunt Ishel gave it to me.”
“Then it is your mother I seek. Where is she?”
It seemed the stranger didn’t know her mother. Talia remained quiet for a second, her stomach knotted up. If she were to believe what Zacarias had told her then her mother was no longer on this earth. “She’s dead.”
“Then it is you who must complete the mission for Huitzilopochtli.” He made to stand. She grabbed his arm and yanked him down.
“Are you not listening? I told you I am not the one.”
He looked deep in to her eyes, the yellow flecks of his irises penetrating deep into her being. For a split second, a wave of intense vibrations poured over her, a tumultuous mix of emotions that left her confused and breathless. She gasped for air and trembled at the same time.
He growled, “You are the one.”