Illiana and Belik set out on a journey to discover more about her ability that she gets from her father to shift into two different animals.

Ohanzee’s an outcast among his people because he can only shift into one animal instead of two. When he meets Illiana, he knows she’s the woman from his dreams and must have her.

Belik will do anything to make Illiana happy, but he’s worried what impact Ohanzee will have on her. Can she withstand another heartbreak? When crisis strikes Ohanzee, Illiana risks everything to save him. This calamity will either bring them together or break them apart for all time.

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Excerpt from "Awakening the Lion"

“I hope I’m not interrupting you.”

He glanced and held in a sigh of frustration from having his concentration scattered. “No, you’re not interrupting me. Sit, please.” He tried to move so she would have more room to sit on the rock he sat on. It had been warmed by the sun and sheltered from the wind. It was an ideal spot where no one would interrupt him. Here he found some peace and did not have to worry about the noise. All the people disrupted his concentration and made it challenging for him to connect with the earth element. Being solitary, which was what he was used to anyway, made it better for him.

Illiana gathered her skirt and knelt down next to him. A rich pine fragrance, along with the sharp animal musk that had to come from her wolf side, saturated the air. The scent made him hard thinking about her and how she had appeared the other night without clothing under the moonlight. The air moved around him. It stirred her locks, and he found himself staring at her copper skin. How had such a beautiful creature come to their village? Something had led her to him and their village. It was more than the little girl and the map she had been following. What was the true reason for such a journey?

“What is that carving of?”

The piece was certainly meant for her. He knew it down to the fibers of his soul. “Give me your hand.”

She hesitated for a moment, but gave him her hand. Ohanzee placed the carving into her palm, and a zap ran up his arm when he touched her flesh. Illiana’s eyes widened as though she had felt it as well. Her fingers brushed along his, and it took her a moment before she pulled her hand away. There has to be something between us. Maybe I’m just reading into this. She examined the figure, turning it this way and that before answering.

“If I hold it one way, it’s a raven. If I hold it another way, it’s a wolf. This is quite remarkable. How did you do it?”

He shrugged. “The stone tells me how it wants to be carved. The earth leads me to the stone, and the vision of what kind of shape it wants to be turned into flows into my mind.”

“Wow. It’s a great affinity with earth that you have.”

“Do you feel anything while you’re holding it?” Ohanzee asked.

“The stone seems warm, but nothing else. I don’t have a kinship with earth.”

“Maybe you do and you don’t realize it. Mine started first with feeling the energy of rocks and plants. The energy moves through the roots and into the trees. The bigger the plant, the better you can feel it.”

Illiana’s eyes widened as though he had said something she recognized. “Back home, we have this tree, we call it the Mother Tree, because all of the forest had been birthed from this tree. No one knows how big around it is. Whenever I touch it, I can feel the life of the tree going through me. But I assumed it was part of the air. I never really figured it out.”

“Give me your hand.” She set the carving down on the mat and gave him her hand. He tried to dismiss how smooth her skin was and how much he wanted to explore the rest of her curves. Ohanzee placed her hand flat on the rock and covered her hand with his. An instant jolt of the earth’s energy ran through him. It was so intense it was a hum that rattled his bones. Normally he ignored the vibration, but today he focused on it and wondered if she could hear or feel it.

“I don’t feel anything,” she responded.

“Close your eyes and reach out with your mind the same way you do with the fire or with the air. You should sense a tingling sensation in your palm.”

Illiana finally closed her eyes. It seemed she might have distrusted him or waited to see if he would do something to her. Unlike last time, he was not going to make the mistake of trying to kiss her. Even though the warmth of her flesh enticed him and the scent of her skin and everything about her stirred his passions, he would not drive her away.

The buzz of the earth vibrated louder the more it appeared Illiana concentrated. Ohanzee placed his other hand on the stone they sat upon. The tremor shook his teeth. Somehow holding Illiana’s hand in his amplified his ability. It had never happened to him before. He closed his eyes and focused on the strength pouring into him. Something else stirred within his mind. At first it felt like the flutter of hawk wings across his thoughts, but it intensified and became more primal. He followed it deeper into his thoughts and came to the dark void he always had within his mind. The block was more pliable, and he saw something within the shadows. The realization that something else was there shocked him. A gasp left his lips, and he opened his eyes.

“What are you?” he asked her, bewildered.

“I’m not sure what you mean. I’m two-natured.”

He shook his head. “No. It’s more than that. You’re something else. I need to know what you are.” Before he could stop himself, he cupped her cheek. Her skin was so soft.

Illiana shivered underneath his touch. “You have mistaken . . . ”

“No. You felt something stir within the earth, didn’t you?”

“Maybe. I don’t know.” She did not pull away from him.

“I don’t know what you are to me or why I’ve been dreaming about you, but I know you’re meant to be in my life. I can’t stop thinking about you, Illiana. I can’t . . . ” Ohanzee could not help it any longer and drew her to his lips. She resisted at first, but then she seemed to be caught under the spell that held them together. Once she began to return his kiss, Illiana placed a hand on his chest. He was not sure if it was to push him away or pull him closer, but immediately the warmth flashed through him so hot it seemed he was before a fire. He closed his eyes and lost himself to the softness of her lips.


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