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Captured (Gem Creek Bears Book 2)

Captured (Gem Creek Bears Book 2)

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Click To Read The Synopsis

Sometimes you have to lose to win.

Tris Abbott might not have to run from her ex anymore, but that doesn’t mean she’s safe. Being the Mystic while unclaimed and unmated leaves her vulnerable. When she learns her best friend is in trouble with the same coyotes her ex ran with, she knows she can’t hop in her Jeep and head back to Opal Pine without backup and a clear plan.

Good thing she knows some bear shifters.

But when their carefully crafted plan goes sideways, Tris must decide how far she’s willing to go to save her best friend and the clan she’s come to care for.

Click To Read Chapter One

When bad things happen, we often wish that we could go back in time and fix them, to make sure whatever it is causing our pain doesn’t play out the same way that it did. We strive to veer things in a new direction—one where everything is okay and everyone is well. 

Liam’s face reflected this, and even though I wasn’t the one in danger of being pulled under by that soul-searing pain, I was still there to witness it in him and that was just as heartbreaking. 

I watched as Liam lifted Nash’s head and pulled him into his lap. His pain was my pain. While I knew what I felt wasn’t as severe as what Liam did, it was still there, rough and raw as it shredded my insides and stole my breath.

Guilt intensified it.

My mind flashed back to the loud roar I’d heard at the waterfall before Corbin reached me and Liam came to my aide. I’d known then that something awful had happened to one of the Orsin brothers, but I couldn’t have ever imagined this. 

Corbin had gone for Nash’s throat. The wound was massive, bloody, and gruesome. Nash had already lost an extreme amount of blood. While I was still new to bear shifters and their healing capabilities, I could tell this wound wouldn’t heal on its own even though it was trying.

Nash would die if I didn’t help him. 

I opened my mouth to say so, but Liam spoke before I could. 

“Tris, you can heal him.” His eyes locked on mine and in them I could see the faith he held in me, the confidence, and I wished I had a fraction of it. This was much bigger than a gash or snake bite. “I know you can,” he insisted.

My palms grew slick with sweat as I held his stare. While I wasn’t as confident as he was in my newly gained abilities as the Mystic, I knew that I at least had to try. Nash was knocking on death’s door because of me. I was the one Corbin had been tracking. He was at Gem Creek Campground because of me. Which meant that all of this was my fault.

“This isn’t happening,” Rhett muttered. He paced back-and-forth, his fingers interlocked behind his head. “It can’t be. We can’t lose him like this. We just can’t.”

“He’s still breathing,” Rafe insisted. His face was pale, and his eyes were wide with disbelief and shock. “Right, Liam? Tell me he’s still breathing.”

“Barely,” Liam said. His voice was rough and scratchy.

“His heartbeat is faint too,” a guy I’d seen around the campground said from near Liam’s front door. I didn’t know his name, but it was clear he was part of Liam’s clan—part of his family—same as Nash and the twins were. He wasn’t the only one to gather inside Liam’s cabin either. Others I recognized from around the campground had too.

They were members of Liam’s clan. I knew they were because they were too panicked and heart-stricken to be random bystanders. 

“That means he can still be saved, right?” a woman asked me. I recognized her and the guy she stood cuddled against as the couple I’d waved at by the pool what felt like forever ago. We locked eyes for a brief moment before I returned my gaze to Nash. 

Liam adjusted his hand, covering the deepest part of Nash’s wound at the base of his neck. Blood oozed between his fingers and my knees grew weak at the sight, forcing me into a crouched position beside him before I was ready. The nausea I felt back in the woods intensified and the room tilted. 

Clearly, I wasn’t handling everything as well as I thought I was.

I opened my mouth to answer the woman from the pool, but Liam spoke before I could. 

“You can do this, Tris,” Liam said.

I stared at Nash. Not at his wound, but his face. His eyes were closed, and his mouth hung slightly open. If it weren’t for all the blood, I would’ve thought he was sleeping. I exhaled a shaky breath and wrung my hands. I willed them to tingle the way they had when I healed Liam in the woods, but nothing happened.

There was no golden light. No warmth. No tingling sensation. Nothing.

Liam’s eyes bore into me along with the eyes of the others in the cabin. The air became too hot, too thick, and caused my stomach to churn. I tried to find the Mystic magic I possessed but didn’t know how. 

“Breathe,” Liam coaxed. He removed his blood-soaked hand from Nash and reached for mine. His fingers were slick against my skin as he positioned my hand over Nash’s wound. “Will your Mystic abilities to heal him.” A plea was etched into his words that nearly broke me.

I was Nash’s only hope of surviving this, and considering I didn’t know what the hell I was doing, this thought terrified me.

Warm wetness pressed against my fingertips, becoming the only thing I could focus on. I closed my eyes and attempted to slow my breathing, while willing myself to not vomit.

Get it together, Tris. His life depends on it, I scolded myself. 

My teeth sank into my bottom lip as I focused on an image of Nash’s wound stitching itself together as Liam’s had. When nothing happened, my stomach hardened, and a tightness pinched at my chest. Nash’s life was fading fast, and I was running out of time to figure out how to save him.

Come on. Come on. Come on.

I exhaled and then pushed harder to find a tendril of Mystic magic inside me. When tingling warmth built in my fingertips, my eyes snapped open. Gasps from those around me floated to my ears as I stared at the faint golden glow shimmering around the outer edges of my fingers.

It was so muted I felt that if I blinked it would disappear.

I willed it to strengthen, knowing if I planned on healing Nash the connection with it needed to be stronger. I pictured the glow becoming brighter as the skin stitched itself back together again. 

When it happened, my adrenaline spiked. 

The movement beneath my fingers startled me. I lifted my hand, so it no longer pressed against Nash’s wound, but instead hovered above it, and I watched with amazement as he healed while the intensity of the glow brightened.

“Oh, thank God,” Liam insisted. His hand moved to my shoulder and the same electrical jolt zipped through me that always seemed to when we touched. “I knew you could do it.” 

I leaned back against my heels and flashed him a wide smile as the excitement from the others burst through the cabin. 

“Thank you,” Liam said. He released my shoulder and then shifted his attention back to Nash.

Dottie stepped to where I sat. She gave my shoulder a gentle squeeze and winked. “I’ve listened to my gut instincts my whole life, but never have I been happier they were right about something than when they told me there was something special about you.” She gave my shoulder another squeeze before leaning forward and placing a kiss on the crown of my head. It was such a sweet gesture, yet it took me by surprise. “Thank you, Tris. We couldn’t have handled another death. This clan has hurt too much over the years due to the loss of loved ones.”

“I’m glad I was able to help him,” I said.

More members of Liam’s clan stepped forward to praise me. The air in the cabin suddenly became too hot and thick, causing my skin to become clammy. My heart rate sped up and I couldn’t seem to catch my breath. My head throbbed lightly with a dull pain as my stomach churned.

Something was wrong with me.

“I think I need some water.” I forced myself onto shaky legs and wove through everyone, heading toward the kitchen. My vision tunneled when I was halfway there, and I worried I was on the verge of blacking out. I gripped the kitchen counter to steady myself and pulled in a deep breath.

What was wrong with me? 

Panic slithered through my insides. I released my grip on the counter and carefully made my way to the sink. Liam was beside me before I could begin to hunt for a cup. 

“Are you okay?” he asked. Concern creased the area between his brows.

“I just need some water.” At least I hoped that was all it was. 

Liam reached into a nearby cabinet and grabbed a cup. He filled it with tap water before handing it to me. I propped myself against the kitchen counter and sipped. The water felt good against my parched throat, but it didn’t help wash away the sickness sloshing through me or dull the headache building.

“Better?” he asked.

“A little,” I lied. This was a good moment for him and his clan, and I didn’t want to ruin it. I just needed water and rest.

Liam nodded and then shifted his attention to the others. “We should begin patrols,” he insisted. “We don’t know if more from the coyote’s pack are on their way. We need to stay alert. Patrolling is the best way to do that. Someone will also need to stay with Nash. Do I have any volunteers?”

“I’ll stay with him,” Dottie insisted. It was clear she felt motherly toward each of the Orsin boys. “I’ll make sure he eats something when he wakes and also that he gets plenty of fluids.”

“Thank you.” Liam nodded to her before his gaze fell back to me. He placed a hand on my shoulder in a gesture of comfort, but the electricity that pulsed across my skin from his touch had my dizziness amping up. “You should rest. You look exhausted.”

I flashed him a smile even though I didn’t feel it. “Is that a nice way of telling me I look like crap?”

I felt like crap. Every part of me ached now, and I felt as though I was burning up with a fever.

“It is,” Liam said with a crooked grin. “You look flushed and exhausted. Let me help you up to my room. You can rest there.” He pressed the back of his hand to my forehead but immediately jerked it away as soon as he touched me. His eyes narrowed on me as worry dulled their color. “You’re burning up.”

I opened my mouth to agree with his statement, but my knees buckled and I lurched forward. Liam caught me before I fell.

“Whoa there,” he said. “I’ve got you.” He hoisted me into his arms as though I weighed nothing and carried me through the living room and up the stairs to his bedroom without another word. 

I didn’t protest. Instead, I rested my head against his shoulder and closed my eyes. 

“What’s wrong with her?” I heard someone ask as we started up the stairs.

“Part of the stories involving the Mystic most forget is that when a Mystic heals a shifter, they take on some of the pain or sickness and then burn it out of their system like a sickness of their own,” Dottie said. 

“That hardly seems fair,” I insisted and then yawned. “I should get ice cream or something equally nice instead.”

Liam chuckled. The feel of it rumbled from his chest, vibrating against my skin. I smiled at the sensation, causing my dry, chapped lips to crack. “No. It doesn’t.” He reached the top of the stairs and then made his way across the short landing to his bedroom. Once we were inside, he carefully placed me on the bed. I sank into the softness of the mattress and sighed. “Thank you for everything you’ve done. You saved my brother’s life. I owe you.”

He didn’t. He’d saved me from Corbin and being taken back to Opal Pine. In my eyes, we were even. I didn’t get to say this though because exhaustion grabbed hold of me, pulling me deep into the velvety dark waters of sleep. A thin sheet was draped over me, and then something soft, warm, and featherlight touched my forehead.

Liam’s lips.

“Get some rest,” he insisted. 

As though it were a magical command, I gave in to the pull of sleep without resistance.

Sometimes you have to lose to win.

Tris Abbott might not have to run from her ex anymore, but that doesn’t mean she’s safe. Being the Mystic while unclaimed and unmated leaves her vulnerable. When she learns her best friend is in trouble with the same coyotes her ex ran with, she knows she can’t hop in her Jeep and head back to Opal Pine without backup and a clear plan.

Good thing she knows some bear shifters.

Main Tropes

  • Small-Town
  • Bear Shifters
  • High-Stakes

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