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All’s Fair In Lion And War

He’d already had his great love and lost it. So when a twist of fate throws him into a situation with a women who is glowing with the soul call, Saul doesn’t know what to believe. Especially when said woman is being held captive by the very same tribe that murdered his first mate—the Ka’lagh. 

All bets are off and all Saul’s claws come out.

The tribe is under attack. Their secrets. Their lives.

Not only do they have to deal with a cruel tyrant leading a band of marauding lions across Denali, they have an entire clan of dragons following behind the lions, threatening chaos and destruction in their wake. 

The Ka’lagh are stealing females. 

But the only female Saul is interested in is already mated. And she’s a queen and would never have anything to do with him. 

Then there’s the problem of her damaged memory and the fact that she can’t remember the last three hundred and sixty-five days of her life on earth. She thinks she’s still on Reylea. Still the queen of La’Tar.

All’s Fair In Lion and War is the seventh book in the Soulmate Shifters in Mystery, Alaska series. It’s a full-length, action-packed standalone fantasy paranormal lion-shifter romance story featuring a queen who never gives up and a slightly gruff and stoic alpha male lion from another world with a compulsion to protect and pleasure his second chance at happiness. Happily-ever-after and more guaranteed!

Chapter 1

Saul

It’d been a year since Saul had found himself in this new world of snow and ice and frozen beauty. It wasn’t that he liked it so much more than Reylea, it was that all his memories of earth were new.

It was nice to have something else to focus on instead of everywhere he looked being a constant reminder of the life he’d lost.

The family he’d lost.

He watched reindeer ahead of him from his hidden place inside a thick bluff of trees and scrub. He was crouched in the snow, belly almost touching. There were five deer and they ambled along as if they didn’t have a care in the world. Didn’t know a Reylean lion was waiting for them at the bottom of the hill.

They moved a little closer.

A little more out into the open clearing lit only by moonlight and the colors of the northern lights swirling like neon finger paint in the sky.

They were headed toward his clump of camouflage.

Kann wasn’t with him this evening. The other lion had opted to hunt alone tonight. Penny had delivered her four young back in October and hunting was the only break the young father got. The peace and quiet was good for him.

A tree branch snapped, drawing his attention from his roaming thoughts.

His lion licked its chops and faithfully watched the reindeer walk closer. They were almost within the range he could sprint, but not quite. He needed to grab at least two deer tonight. One for his belly and one to butcher for the tribe to split. It would be a long night at this rate, but he’d sleep most of the day. Maintenance was caught up on most of the cabins and it was the middle of winter. There wasn’t much to do right now other than hunt and chop firewood.

Pregnant women had required a lot of food, but nursing women with babies were a whole new level of hunger.

Naomi had her three little ones back at the end of last summer. Now Penny and Kann had a cabin full of three-month old babies.

The tribe had been blessed with seven children so far. And everyone took their turn rotating through for rocking and watching and holding them, himself included. He loved his evenings as a babysitter.

He’d spent his night last night rocking and singing the songs his mother had taught him so many years ago to Penny’s young. His rotation in Naomi’s house was tomorrow night. Then he’d have a few days off before he was on duty again. It helped so that everyone got mostly good nights of sleep, including the mothers.

A shot rang out through the night, out of place, and ruining Saul’s peaceful night.

Saul twitched, but didn’t move a muscle even though his heart thundered wildly in his chest. Hunters were never on the mountain at night. And never on their private land.

The Tribe had purchased a huge tract from Douglas Curtis, the man in town with a multitude of rental cabins. In exchange they  worked and cared for his business and were now building their own homes at the base of Denali near the river.

He shifted immediately from his animal form to his human one and waited, still completely hidden in his bluff of trees. Whoever dared to hunt on their land would pay dearly. Col, the Tribe’s vraka and resident dragon shifter would lose his mind.

Saul was anything but impatient though. He was the oldest male in the Tribe here, nearing his fortieth birthday. It wasn’t a big deal for his kind. Most Reyleans lived well past one hundred, unlike humans. Still, he was teased about being the old man.

He was older. He had experienced more. He had lost more.

Kann was the only one that knew. And he was grateful the young cub had kept his mouth shut. Everyone expected Saul to find his mate too, but he didn’t.

Fate had already blessed him. And Fate had already taken away that blessing. He and several others from his tribe had all lost their families in the same raid many years ago.

Snow crunched not far from his position.

Saul’s attention was drawn to a small group of people wrapped in heavy winter coats. Four were carrying rifles and one was being dragged along against their will. He couldn’t see any of their faces, but the one being half-dragged was much smaller than the four armed men.

Female.

He watched as they collected the reindeer and continued on their way across the mountain. The wind carried the scent of lion to him and his eyebrows raised in surprise. There were no others from Saul’s tribe, besides Kann, that’d made it through the portal from the N’ra Lowlands.

These lions had to have come through a different portal. From a different valley on Reylea.

And they traveled all the way to Mystery?

What were they doing here?

Did they know Col was here?

Naomi had informed the tribe that the closest sighting of another portal last year was hundreds of miles away from Alaska.

A trickle of unease ran up and down his spine. They were all wearing big puffy winter coats, except the smaller one in the middle. She was barely dressed to be out in this weather.

He couldn’t see any of the male’s tribal tattoos, but his gut twisted and churned and screamed that he knew exactly who they were.

Saul had to get back and warn the others. He needed to tell Vraka another tribe was on their land. Too close to their home for comfort. But something deep inside him wouldn’t let him stop following the uninvited group.

He turned to leave. Couldn’t. Followed them a dozen more yards. Then tried to leave again. He had to warn the others.

Saul made it three steps before the tugging inside of him became overwhelming and he turned around again.

He couldn’t leave the woman.

It wasn’t an option.

They were half-dragging her through the snow. Every few yards she would struggle and kick at one of them and he’d hear the faint rumble of male laughter.

They kept towing her along.

He waded through the snow, being careful to stay in the shadows. Never out in the open where the moonlight would give him away. Not like them, the way they trudged along beneath the lights in the midnight sky.

Aurora Borealis was bright tonight. Moving across the pristine white unbroken snow was foolish for predator and prey alike.

The predator in Saul was focused and ready. His lion wanted control again, but he had no intention of hunting in beast form. If he was grabbing the female, he needed to look less formidable to her. His lion was huge, bigger than Kann’s by several feet and a couple hundred pounds.

He couldn’t smell a human, but that didn’t mean she wasn’t. If they had touched her or abused her…a growl rumbled in his chest. He took a deep breath and shut it down. Thinking like that was a waste of emotion and energy.

One against four with rifles. He’d need every ounce of surprise he could get.

A half hour later they finally stopped moving, having found a hollow in a small group of trees. They were setting up camp. Lighting a fire. Then he watched them tie the female’s feet and arms and bind them together behind her back so that she couldn’t move at all.

She lay helpless, her face against the cold snow.

He still couldn’t see her. The oversized hood of her coat blocked out everything, but he’d heard her whimper of pain. He could smell her fear and his rage grew into a fire that wouldn’t be quenched.

How dare they treat a woman this way?

No self-respecting tribe would act this way. Women were treasured. Protected.

His gut churned again, bile rising in his throat.

There was only one tribe of lions that didn’t respect women or men or life itself.

If these men were from that tribe…they deserved what was coming to them. In fact, Saul would enjoy doling out punishment in the form of death for their disgraceful behavior.

They weren’t stupid though.

Their fire was built and roaring quickly. The reindeer was stretched on a spit in a matter of minutes and they had posted two males as lookouts.

Damn the bastards for being organized.

Saul circled to the left, making sure to stay downwind of the group. He crept a little closer to the furthest sentry. Pulled a knife from his belt and leapt, taking down the man in a matter of seconds and without a single sound.

He pulled off the coat the male had on and yanked the neck of the shirt down so he could see the tattoos on his shoulder. The ink that stared back up at him in the moonlight burned like fire down to his soul.

He’d been correct.

This man was from the same tribe that had taken and murdered his wife and unborn child over eight years ago—the Ka’lagh. He’d never forget those markings. He’d killed so many, but nothing would ever bring them back.

Now they were here. On earth. And they’d taken another woman against her will.

Now they weren’t just trespassers.

Now it was personal.

Now he would kill them. All of them.

He slipped his knife back into his belt and returned to his beast form.

His cat was silent with paws so large he could walk on top of the packed powder. He continued to circle the camp, getting closer and closer to the second sentry. One leap. One slice of his claws across the man’s throat and he would never be able to touch or hurt another woman ever again.

It was the least he could do.

Saul’s tribe stopped hunting the Ka’lagh after several months, but Saul had never stopped looking for the men who held his mate down, violated her, then cut her throat.

She had been carrying their first child. He’d lost everything that night. And he’d hunted those particular men for years before he’d finally found them and avenged their deaths.

Saul leapt again, this time into the center of the camp and onto one of the men sitting next to the fire tending to the spit. A shout escaped and then chaos erupted.

Snarls and growls.

Shots were fired.

Nothing hit him. At least not yet.

He used his massive back paws to shovel snow onto their fire, bringing darkness to their camp like a shroud of death. That’s what he would be for them.

Death.

He ripped the throat from the Reylean sentry, killing him before he had a chance to shift and really put up a fight.

A shot bounced off a tree near Saul’s head and too close to  the body of the bound woman on the snow.

He ran to her side and used his claws to cut her ropes.

She groaned, but didn’t move right away.

He used a paw to roll her toward him, helping to bring blood flow back to her newly freed limbs.

She pushed her flimsy hood up from her face.

Her pale skin glowed in the darkness, ethereal and beautiful and…it had to be an illusion. Fate wouldn’t be so cruel. He’d known his fated match. He’d mated her. Loved her. She’d died. He’d lost his chance for his soul to ever be whole again.

And now…

Now Fate was taunting him.

His lion chuffed baring fangs and roared.

She screamed. The sound lodged in Saul’s heart like a perfectly fired arrow.

It wasn’t real. He was imagining the soul call glow. It was a trick of the moonlight. The northern lights. Anything.

The woman stood from the ground, backed away a few steps and then turned and ran into the night.

Another lion roared on his right. Then another.

Dalmeck.

He turned fast enough to get a solid swipe at the attacking lion’s stomach. And knocked him onto the ground with a satisfactory thud.

Teeth and fangs and fur went in every direction. Pain sliced through his flank, but he returned the favor, tearing a chunk out of his opponent’s shoulder. They rolled in the snow, staining it dark with their blood.

Mate. Soul call. Follow her. His lion clamored in his head. Her scent was burned into his brain now. She was a lion, too!

The opposing male slammed into him again, knocking him from his thoughts.

Kill.

Oh, that was exactly what he intended.

His jaws opened and snapped and opened and snapped again, the second time finding the other male’s neck. He ripped out tuffs of mane and then bit again. And again.

Finally, he found a true grip and tore using the added adrenaline from every emotion he carried deep inside him. Every memory of what the Ka’lagh had done. Every scream he’d heard when they’d attacked his home. Every moment of pain. He allowed it all to fuel his rage. Fuel his ability to continue to fight even past exhaustion.

A shot whizzed past his head and Saul leapt into the shadows between the trees in the direction the woman had run.

Dalmeck.

He clung to the shadows and trees, moving quietly. This was his home and he knew this mountainside better than them.

But he still needed to put as much distance as possible between them and himself and he needed to get the woman to safety too. But she was running erratically.

In the dark. In a black coat with a hood.

The wind was starting to pick up.

He could smell the storm coming. He breathed in, looking for her scent, then leapt forward into a ground eating run. He needed to hurry.

A few moments later he could hear her struggling through the snow. She was limping. Every step looked like agony and yet she kept moving.

Brave little thing.

He looked ahead through the trees, looking for markers.

A knotted tree with low-hanging branches stood out in the moonlight. One of Douglas’ most remote cabins wasn’t far. If he could get her there without being seen. They would be safe for a while. And there would be some supplies and first aid there.

She could use the rest and needed to get out of the weather. He needed somewhere to hide her for the rest of the night. And a little time to figure out why Fate would dare tease him with the prospect of another mate.

There was an exclamation of distress and she fell. One moment she was there. The next she disappeared over the crest of a hill.

Dalmeck.

Saul’s heart choked and sputtered like a snow machine that wouldn’t turn over. For a moment, nothing moved forward. Not time. Not his breath. His heart refused to beat.

Then everything snapped into motion faster than before. His heart. His lungs. His fear made his paws churn the snow.

He had to get to her.

Books in This Series

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