Shifter Mountain: A BBW Paranormal Romance

Shifter Mountain

By Annora Soule

Copyright 2014

WGA registration 2014

 

Cover Design by the Author

Cover Art/Stock: Ollyy and John Larson, obtained through Shutterstock and Pixoto

 

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All characters appearing in this work are fictitious. Any resemblance to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental.

 

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Synopsis

 

Curvy, young hillswoman
Kay Mandrell finally has gotten up the courage to run off her abusive, sadistic husband with a sawed-off shotgun. But her no-good man is more dangerous than most.  Her husband comes from a long line of skinwalkers who can shapeshift into any form they wish, and most humans are powerless against them.  Now Kay finds herself living in fear day by day, waiting for her husband to reappear and seek revenge. The last of her kin living on Scopes Mountain in Tennessee, she is vulnerable and alone.

 

Jordan Lawless is a Country and Western superstar recording artist whose own family hails from Scopes Mountain, but his mother took him away from there when he was just a child.  When his mother dies, Jordan records a cover of her favorite Bluegrass song
High on a Mountain
.  In honor of his mother’s memory, Jordan decides to shoot the music video on Scopes Mountain, curious about where he was born.

 

His manager and producer, however, try to discourage him from taking a film crew into this part of Appalachia.  So does his mother’s best friend, who manages the Nashville club where Jordan first got his start as a singer and musician. Scopes Mountain also is nicknamed “Shifter Mountain” because of the legends and rumors of skinwalkers inhabiting the area.  These legends have ensured that even the most adventurous hikers and campers never set foot there.

 

When Jordan tracks down the perfect setting for the music video, however, it happens to be on property that Kay Mandrell’s family has owned for generations. When Jordan and the film crew arrive on Shifter Mountain, he immediately falls in love with Kay, but he can tell he must proceed cautiously.  Kay has learned the hard way that the touch of a man usually brings pain and destruction. Then with Jordan, she learns that it is safe to experience passion with a man who adores her instead of abuses her.

 

Standing between the woman he loves and a rival evil in the form of her Ex, Jordan learns of his own family’s skinwalking legacy.  He finds himself caught between his supernatural generational past and the hard road he must go down in the future in order to win Kay’s love and trust, as well as to save both their lives.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter 1

 

 

 

Kay
’s breath caught in the back of her throat as her lungs constricted with abject fear.  For a moment she thought she might faint, but she didn’t.

A panther paced around the cabin.  With each furious glance, the animal commanded
Kay back further and further into a corner. Already the panther had clawed at her, leaving scratch marks on her thigh, ripping her cotton nightgown.  She had tripped twice, but she had managed to scramble back upright each time.

Then suddenly, he jumped on her, knocking
her down.  The animal climbed on top of her, the bulk of its weight shifting to its back paws, which pressed into Kay’s belly.  Then the panther stepped off almost immediately, circling the room.  He lept high onto a large, wooden wardrobe. 

Before
Kay could pull herself up from the floor, the panther jumped from the wardrobe, dropping with its full weight onto her abdomen.  The pain was like nothing she had felt before.  And that’s when she started to bleed.

Kay
was three months pregnant.

She could hear the panther speaking to her in her mind, in her husband’s voice. 

The panther was, in fact, her husband.

“You fat cunt,” the panther hissed.
“Maybe I had to marry you, but I don’t plan on having children with you.” 

No, no, no
she thought, agonizing to herself. 

Before he had shifted, he already had punched her twice in the stomach.

In panther form, Cephas was not necessarily any scarier than he was in human form, but he was more dangerous.  In his sleek, black form, Cephas was all muscle and raw, primal instinct.  In human form, he was just a nasty son-of-a-bitch.

Kay had been born into a skinwalking family.  He
r father and her brothers, all dead now, had been shifters. She and her mother had learned to tiptoe around them, when their moods went dark. The slightest thing could set them off, and so they learned to be passive, to never complain.  Still, her father would shift — often into a mountain lion — and take out his frustrations on her mother, pacing around their home, growling and snapping.  Unlike Cephas, however, he never actually physically attacked her mother.  He just didn't care that his rages scared both his wife and his daughter.

When she was 16, her mother and brot
hers died when their cabin burned down in the middle of the night.  Only she and her father escaped.   Three years later, her father arranged a marriage between her and the eldest son of the Mandrell family.   He had cancer and wanted to see her 'taken care' of.  When Kay protested, her father had carried on about how much he cared about her and how she needed to be married. How she had little schooling and no means of taking care of herself.

The reality was, she was forced into it when the Mandrell brothers made veiled threats to her father that either Kay would marry a Mandrell, or she would marry no one because she would disappear altogether.

Kay still could not get up off the floor.  The wind had been knocked out of her. Also, the cramping had started, so she knew it was a pretty good likelihood that she was going to lose the baby.

When
Kay had first discovered she was pregnant, she was in despair.  Having been trapped in an abusive marriage since she was 19 years old, she always had kept alive the fantasy that one day she might escape.  Having children with Cephas Mandrell, however, meant that she would be stuck here on Scopes Mountain for good.  But then, as the weeks wore on, maternal instinct took over, and she started separating the child from its father within her heart.

How much time had gone by now was unclear, but
Kay’s nightgown was slick with streaks of blood. With a lash of his tail, Cephas shifted in the dim light of the cabin and stood upright as a man.  He looked Kay over with disinterest, then turned away.  He grabbed for himself a beer from the fridge.

He set the beer on the kitchen table, then grabbed his jeans that were left slung over the back of a chair.  H
e stepped into the jeans, pulling them up and buckling his leather belt. He stretched a dirty T-shirt over his head, then shoved his arms through the sleeves of a red flannel shirt.

Cephas was tall as a man, well over six feet.  His jawline had a hard edge and he had some scars
scattered along the side of his left cheek, left over from when he had chicken pox as a kid.  His hair was thick, but greasy with sweat, and he hadn't shaved in a few days.

Kay
knew she was no match for him.  In their bloodline, only men shifted – the women could not. She was not strong, and she knew she had nowhere to run to.  But as she watched Cephas from behind, a dormant rage began to bubble up inside.

A
nd she knew that a loaded sawed-off shotgun rested near the backdoor.

After two failed attempts,
Kay finally successfully got up off the floor, limping away from the kitchen.  Cephas paid her no mind as he sat at the kitchen table, drinking his beer. 

How she managed the strength to lift the
gun, she did not know, but within moments Cephas was staring at his wife down the barrel of the gun.

At first he just laughed.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” he asked.

Kay
cocked the gun and said nothing.  Her vision shifted suddenly, almost as if she was viewing the whole room through a fisheye lens — like she was floating back, almost out of her body, and it was someone else — some other woman whom she didn't know — who was holding the shotgun and pointing it at her husband.

When he heard the
'click', suddenly it occurred to Cephas that Kay might be serious.  A bully by nature, when confronted by someone who might actually stand up to him for real — not something he had a whole lot of experience with — Cephas found himself unexpectedly nervous.  He stood up, his heavy frame looming over that of his wife, and he did something that to an objective observer would obviously be an act of sinister desperation —  truly screwing with her mind.

A shimmer briefly lit up the dark, and
Kay found her herself pointing the gun at…Herself. 

Cephas had shifted not into a panther this time – but into the
very image of his wife.

Kay's
breath went slack. The barrel of the gun lowered just a hair for a mere second, but she steadied quickly, determined and horrified at the same time.

She knew he could do it — turn into a human.  A
ll skinwalkers could shift into whatever form they wanted.  But, she had never seen him actually taken on the image of another human.

Kay now star
ed into her own sad, brown eyes, and felt crestfallen as she saw the mirror image of herself: Bedraggled, bloody, unshapely, and worn-out before her time. 

She looked like hell. 

Well, to be fair to herself,
she thought,
she had been LIVING in hell for the past few years, so of course that's what she looked like.
The sight alone made her start to tear up, but she tried to keep her aim steady. 


You're not going to shoot me," Cephas said to Kay in her own voice. 

Well, it was almost like her own voice, but it had a tin-like echo that gave away the magick of
the illusion.


Where would you go? You have no family left, you have no money, and you’re completely worthless.  Plus, do you really want to go to prison for murder?”

Kay
swallowed.   For years she had hated herself.  And, right here, right now – right in front of her – was the image of her very self, telling her exactly how pathetic she really was.

“Put the gun down,” her mirror-image told her.

Kay steadied herself and let out a brief sob. There was no point in hating herself any longer.  The only hope she had was in hating Cephas  — and only Cephas. Then she squeezed the trigger, effectively shooting the image of herself she so despised.

As soon as the blast ripped apart
Cephas’ shoulder, he couldn’t hold up the shift.  Kay’s mirror-image melted away.  In its place, the recognizable image of her husband scrambled for the front door. 

She knew t
here was no going back now.  So Kay kept her sights on him and let off another shot.  Cephas was scrambling down off the front porch, and he managed to dodge the second bullet. Several paces away from the house, he turned around, staring incredulously at his wife.  Then he headed off into the night on foot, leaving his car behind.

Kay
lost track of how long she stood her ground there on the front porch, waiting for him to come back out of the woods.  Adrenaline had kept her from collapsing.  She was still bleeding, slowly.

Cephas
never reappeared that night.  It would only be a matter of time, though, before he returned with his brothers to put her in her place.

Instead of heading back inside to the medicine cabinet in the bathroom to
try and take care of herself, she stayed outside.  If she miscarried, Kay wasn’t sure how long it would actually take, but she felt powerless to stop it. 
What will be, will be,
she thought. 

Miscarriage or not, she found she still had a clear will to live for herself, at the very least.

Kay limped toward a rocking chair on the porch, painfully settling in. She eased herself back and laid the rifle across her lap.  She vaguely was aware of the fact that a miscarriage could go very badly and that she could hemorrhage. She could actually die now.

Glancing down, she noticed a jar of moonshine within reaching distance.  She picked the jar up, unscrewed the cap, and took a long, burning sip.
  Drinking alcohol was not the smartest thing to do while bleeding out, but she was too exhausted to care. And she would rather pass out and die that way, than leave herself vulnerable if Cephas returned.  If he came back to kill her, he would probably succeed.  But at least she could refuse to go out without a fight — but she would need to be a little bit drunk to numb the fear that might stop her from keeping up the good fight.

She
kept up a night vigil until the sun came up at dawn, and miraculously she had not bled out.  The bleeding had stopped, and although she felt very weak, she also was very much still alive.

And
Cephas still had not returned.  He would, though, she knew.  And she had no idea what she would do then.

 

 

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