Shifter's Lady

The Warriors of Poseidon Series by Alyssa Day

ATLANTIS RISING

High Prince Conlan's Story

ATLANTIS AWAKENING

Lord Vengeance's Story

ATLANTIS UNLEASHED

Lord Justice's Story

ATLANTIS UNMASKED

Alexios's Story

ATLANTIS REDEEMED

Brennan's Story

ATLANTIS BETRAYED

Christophe's Story

VAMPIRE IN ATLANTIS

Daniel's Story

HEART OF ATLANTIS

High Priest Alaric's Story

Specials

“Wild Hearts in Atlantis” from
WILD THING

Bastien's Story

“Shifter's Lady” from
SHIFTER

Ethan's Story

Shifter's Lady
A Warriors of Poseidon Novella
A Special from Berkley Sensation
Alyssa Day

BERKLEY SENSATION, NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA

Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.) • Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England • Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.) • Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.) • Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India • Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, Auckland 0632, New Zealand (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.) • Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196, South Africa

Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

“Shifter's Lady” previously appeared in
Shifter
, published by Berkley Sensation.

This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author's imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

SHIFTER'S LADY

A Berkley Sensation Special / published by arrangement with the author

PUBLISHING HISTORY

Berkley Sensation Special / November 2012

Copyright © 2008 by Alesia Holliday.

Excerpt from
Heart of Atlantis
by Alyssa Day copyright © 2012 by Alesia Holliday.

Cover image of Mountain Lion © Eric Isselée/Shutterstock. Cover image of Landscape © Zvonimir Atletic/Shutterstock.

All rights reserved.

No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author's rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

ISBN: 978-1-101-56509-4

BERKLEY SENSATION
®

Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

BERKLEY SENSATION
®
is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

This one is for Ann Thayer-Cohen, who gave me the title and who is an extraordinary moderator and a great friend. And, always, for Judd. And to my readers—thank you! Please visit me at www.alyssaday.com for excerpts, free downloadable screensavers, and a free short story for members only—“Atlantis: In the Beginning.”

Table of Contents

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Heart of Atlantis

About the Author

ONE

Big Cypress National Preserve

West of Miami, Florida

Midnight

Moonlight silvered down through the branches of the cypress trees, shadowing the gnarled limbs and trunks into the menacing forms of ogres from a child's nightmare. The blood tracing geometric patterns in the dirt was no specter of childish terror, but the very real damage from a vicious attack.

Swearing under his breath, Ethan circled the fallen panther—the sixth one attacked in two weeks—all the while scanning the chill winter's dark for a glimpse of the unnatural predator who'd attacked it. He'd heard the animal's screams of pain while patrolling more than a mile away and had immediately broken into a full-out run, but the attacker had disappeared into the winter night.

At least for this panther he'd been in time.
This
cat was still alive.

As the wounded panther—a good-sized male—lifted its head to snarl, Ethan drew his lips back from his teeth and preempted the cat's defiance with a warning growl of his own.

“Sorry, my friend, I know you're hurting,” he said, pitching his voice to the low rumble of an alpha male asserting its dominance over a pack member. “But if you won't let me get close enough to help you, we're going to have to go the tranq dart routine.”

Lifting his head, he scented the air again, memorizing the rank odor that had assailed his nostrils as he approached the clearing. His shape-shifter senses were preternaturally sharp, but even in his human shape, Ethan could track a scent trail. This one was distinct from any of his own pride, but it was somehow oddly familiar.

The cat on the ground snarled again, weaker this time. The
gouges clawed out of its side and belly glistened a deep crimson stained black in the moonlight.

Ethan took one last, long look around and dropped down into a crouch next to the animal. “It looks like the bastard who did this to you is gone. So let's get you to someone who can help.”

The panther bared its teeth in one final act of defiance before Ethan grasped the sides of its face in his hands and stared into its eyes. He sent a mental touch into the cat's mind, simultaneously muting the pain the animal was suffering and delivering a simple message:
Pride-brother. Alpha. Help you.

As he lifted the heavy body into his arms, careful not to jostle the cat more than necessary, he uttered a grim promise. “I'll get him for you, friend. Believe me, he'll pay.”

TWO

Atlantis

The next morning

Marie stood on the emerald-hued grass and stared, nearly transfixed, at the white marble temple inlaid with jade, sapphires, and amethyst, memorizing it anew, though she'd lived and worked within it for more than three centuries of days. She wanted to burn its image into her very being, in the event—the almost impossible event, she reminded herself—that she were never to see it again.

Her temple. Her sacred responsibility.

The one she was abandoning.

Her breath quickened, and an obstruction the size of one of her favorite sea sapphires lodged in her throat. “Erin, I—”

Beside her, Erin sighed and shook her head, her blonde curls shimmering in the magically created sunlight that replaced the rays of a sun that had never dared venture so far beneath the sea. Erin put her hands on her hips in that peculiarly human gesture that both she and Prince Conlan's beloved, Riley, favored when they were frustrated.

Humans. Marie marveled anew at the idea that she had two human friends, when no human before Riley had set foot in Atlantis for more than eleven thousand years.

“Not again, Marie,” Erin said firmly, tapping her foot in mock impatience. “We are not going over my duties in the temple one more time. As First Maiden of the Nereids for more than three hundred years, don't you think it's time you had a vacation?”

“But Lord Justice—”

Erin sobered, the playfulness fading from her face. “No one wants to find him more than Ven and I do, Marie. You know that Conlan and Ven and all the warriors have done nothing else but search for Justice since he…since he…”

Erin's voice trailed off, as she visibly fought for control. “He
sacrificed himself to that monster to protect
me.
To protect Ven and me. We will never give up.”

Marie hugged the shorter woman, offering up yet another silent prayer that Lord Justice yet lived. After admitting to the shocking truth that he was half brother to Prince Conlan and his brother, the Lord Vengeance, Lord Justice had offered himself to the vampire goddess Anubisa in exchange for his brother's life. Marie had heard the tale of it many times but still could not comprehend the courage it must have required to voluntarily submit to the goddess of all Chaos.

Especially knowing of Conlan's seven years of torture at her hands.

Erin took a deep breath and stepped away from Marie's hug. “But life goes on. It always goes on. Women still come to the temple for help with their pregnancies and childbirth, and even though I am no temple-trained midwife, the gems give me the healing power to help them.”

Marie smiled at the understatement. “You are our gem singer, Erin. You sing the healing power of the stones to our women and babies. You healed Riley and the unborn heir to the throne of Atlantis. Do not discount your Gift.”

“I don't discount it, or I never would have agreed to this. The responsibility for the unborn children of Atlantis is an enormous one, far too much for a single witch,” Erin replied. “Or at least it would be if you hadn't trained me yourself, surrounded me with your very knowledgeable temple acolytes, and watched as I used my Gift to sing healing and peace to women in labor.”

Marie's desire to visit her brother, Bastien, and meet his new love, Katherine, pulled at her, but still she was torn. “I feel as though I were abandoning my duties at a time when all Atlantis must work together.”

Erin's blue eyes softened with sympathy. “I know. But you deserve this time, Marie. And your brother and Justice were very close, weren't they?”

Marie's lips curved into a smile. “Yes, always. Thick as jellyfish, those two.”

“Thieves.”

“What?”

“We say ‘thick as thieves,'” Erin said, laughing. “Although I must admit that thick as jellyfish makes more sense.”

Marie studied the witch who had captured Lord Vengeance's heart and restored the glory of the Temple of the Nereids through her gemsong. Abruptly, she nodded. “Yes. You are correct. Bastien will be nearly insane with rage and worry for Lord Justice, and even more so from the frustration that he could not immediately join the search. I must go to him.”

Almost as if on cue, an icy wind swept between and around them and resolved itself into the shimmering form of Poseidon's high priest, Alaric. He wore his customary black clothing, and the fire in his green eyes burned starkly in his drawn face. “Are you ready for the journey, Lady Marie?” he asked, his voice raspy as if little used in recent days.

“I am,” she replied, inclining her head to the priest. He carried such a weight of bitter anguish with him, but it was not the pain of injury or illness. She sensed it was an emotional suffering but would never presume to impose upon his privacy by asking, no matter the whispers that had circulated about Alaric and Quinn, the sister of the prince's beloved.

If Alaric ever chose to share his anguish, she would listen. It was her role in life, and she had been content with it. To watch, to listen, to heal as best she could. Such a life was not without its rewards. She glanced at the temple one last time and smiled, then lifted her small travel bag from the grass at her feet and nodded again. “Please call the portal, if you would.”

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