Read Shifted Online

Authors: Lily Cahill

Tags: #Romance, #New Adult & College, #Paranormal, #Science Fiction, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Superheroes, #Werewolves & Shifters

Shifted (36 page)

They found Officer Harris with a pencil in one hand and his head in the other, snoozing. When Charlie’s cane thumped against the wooden floor of the station, Matt jerked awake and guiltily began scribbling away on the paper in front of him. 

“Long night,” Charlie said. 

“Yeah,” Matt replied. “Did you get any rest?”

“Some,” Charlie replied, squeezing Briar’s hand. It had only been a few hours sleep, but at least they had shared it. “So what do we know?”

“It’s early to say, Charlie. The military is running all kinds of tests. Preliminary conclusion is rattlesnakes.”

“Rattlesnakes? In that part of the gulch?” Charlie scoffed. “No way.”

Matt shrugged. “Tall grasses, downed trees. Plenty of places to hide. They’re thinking one of the horses must have stepped into a nest, and Rick came back to help only to get bit himself.”

“He always carried anti-venom,” Charlie argued. “Rick never would have let that happen, he was too smart. Heck, he rescued me from a snake when I was a boy.”

Matt’s blue eyes were sympathetic as he shook his head. “Fact is, we’ll probably never know exactly what happened. I’m sorry, Charlie.” 

Charlie’s scowl was fierce, but Briar could see that he was more upset than angry. “Do you know where they took his body?” 

“I think the military still has him. But I know your parents are already talking to the minister about setting up a service.”

Charlie didn’t seem able to form words. “Thanks, Matt,” Briar said for him. She slid a supportive arm around Charlie’s waist.

“Anything I can do to help, just let me know.” 

They went straight from the police station to see Lt. Cavanaugh. 

“There’s no way Rick was killed by snakes,” Charlie said. He was a little winded from the brisk walk across the square and up the stairs to Cavanaugh’s office. “It had to have been the Soviets.”

“Let’s not jump to conclusions,” Cavanaugh said, but he looked worried. 

Charlie shook his head. “It has to be. And it wasn’t some other sort of animal. Wolves or bears might have gotten one of the horses, but not both of them and Rick besides. No. Rick knew this country, knew how to take care of himself. This was an ambush.”

“Look, I’ll speak to the soldiers who retrieved the bodies. Maybe they have more information.”

“What else do you need?” Charlie said, his voice rising. 

Yesterday, when they had sat in this same office, Briar had been the one panicking. She tried to soothe Charlie, as he had done for her. “He can’t confirm it for you,” she said, glancing at Cavanaugh’s sad eyes. “It’s classified.”

Charlie exhaled heavily. “I’m getting sick of hearing that.”

Briar took a deep breath. “Maybe they’ll be able to tell us more,” she said, “once we join the army.”

Charlie’s head whipped up. “Wait. I thought you didn’t want to join.”

“I didn’t,” she said, biting her lip. “Lieutenant, do you mind giving us a moment?”

Lt. Cavanaugh rose. “I’ll be downstairs whenever you’re ready.”

Charlie turned to Briar as soon as the lieutenant closed the door behind him. “Yesterday, you were dead set against joining up.”

“I know,” she said. 

“You don’t have to do this. Not for me.”

“I’m not doing it for you. This is for me. Or, more accurately, for my family.”

He cocked his head. “Why?”

It was difficult to put into words. “My father gave his life for our country, almost as if he had died in the war. He was so proud when he joined up. I’m remembering more from the time before he left, and I have a memory of him wearing a crisp brown uniform while he kissed my mother good-bye. That’s a sweet thing to hold on to.”

His brow furrowed. “I don’t understand.”

“I can’t forgive the man my father became. The man who hit me, hit Arthur and my mother. But I can still love the man he was before the war, who loved his family.”

He wiped a tear from her cheek. “I’m glad you are finding some peace with your father. But that doesn’t mean you have to follow in his footsteps. I can start taking on more hours in the library, and you can make some money with your knitting. We can walk away right now and have a good life together without ever joining the army.”

She shook her head. “This is an amazing opportunity. You can spend lots of time as a mountain lion, and you won’t have to hide your powers. And you’ll be able to go to college. Not to mention the money.”

“Those are all reasons why it’s good for me. Not for you.”

“But you’re good for me,” she said, kissing him lightly. “And besides, I’m not being selfless. It’s a good opportunity for me, too. There’s the money, of course, but I might be able to help my brother. Lt. Cavanaugh is right, it would lend more weight if I was proving my abilities day after day.”

“Are you sure you want to do this?” he said, taking her hands in his and running his thumb over her new ring. “There’s no going back, once we sign those papers.”

“My entire life, I’ve let fear keep me from telling the truth. But I’m not going to let my fears rule my future. Besides, I know you want to join, and I know you would give it up for me.” Her heart felt as if it was overflowing with love for him. “That made me realize how much I was taking from you. I know you, Charlie. I see your heart. Nothing will ever change that.”

He pressed his brow against their joined hands. “We can do this.”

“Together,” she agreed.


“I’ll go get Lt. Cavanaugh,” Briar said.

“I think I’ll wait here,” Charlie said, rubbing his sore leg. “I’m still worn out from the run last night.”

She laid her hand on his shoulder. “You’ll get stronger with time. You’ll have plenty of time to practice once you’re the world’s first shape-shifting soldier.”

He grinned up at her. “Do you think you can sew me a uniform?”

She laughed, then considered. “Maybe.”

She left the room, thinking about the best fabric for transformation. She was already planning a mock-up when she heard voices drifting up the stairs. 

“—still be sticking around?” said Cavanaugh. “The Soviets did what they intended to do, why wouldn’t they try to escape?”

“Maybe they already have.” Briar heard the gravelly voice she recognized as Col. Deacon. “I doubled patrols in response to this incident, and we haven’t found hide nor hair of them.” 

“Well, we have to keep this under wraps,” said Lt. Cavanaugh. “It would cause a panic if people thought there were Soviet sympathizers in town.”

“How do you think they’d react if they knew one of their fellow citizens helped make this operation possible?” Deacon asked. 

Briar gasped, but neither man heard. 

Deacon sighed and continued. “We need to keep the citizens calm until we get all the information we need. This Dr. Porter needs to understand that.”

“Agreed, sir.”

“I have another meeting with the mayor. Make sure this stays quiet, Lieutenant,” Col. Deacon ordered.

“Yes, sir,” said Lt. Cavanaugh proudly. “Let me just wrap up with these recruits and I’ll go speak to Dr. Porter.” 

Briar heard the heavy tread of his boot on the stair and flew back to the lieutenant’s office. 

“What’s wrong?” Charlie asked, rising when he saw her dart in.

Briar pressed her back against the door. “We don’t have time to talk now. Lt. Cavanaugh is coming, and I don’t want him to know I overheard. But Charlie, it’s terrible,” she whispered, looking around fearfully. “There’s a traitor in Independence Falls.”

This book may have ended, but there is more to the series!


Book One - SPARKED

Sparked: Independence Falls Superhero Romance Book


Book Two - EXPOSED

(Hint: Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read this title for


EXPOSED: Independence Falls Superhero Romance Book #2


Book Three - IGNITED

(Hint: Kindle Unlimited subscribers can read this title for


IGNITED: Independence Falls Superhero Romance Book #3

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