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Mark of the Bear
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Mark of the Bear
By: N. J. Walters
Type: eBook
Genre: Paranormal, Shape-shifters, Angels & Demons
Artist: Kanaxa
Publisher: Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
Publication Date: 04-16-2013
Length: Novel
ISBN: 978-1-61921-435-4
Series: Hades' Carnival

When the devil wants a deal, there’s no bowing out gracefully.

Hades’ Carnival, Book 2

At twenty-nine, Hollywood scream queen Kellsie Morris is acutely aware the clock is ticking on her career. Luckily, the one big role she needs to pad her retirement fund has just come through—the story of an immortal, shape-shifting warrior trapped in a carnival run by the Devil’s minions.

When Kellsie arrives on set, she can’t resist climbing aboard an amazingly realistic carousel bear—and finds herself flung into a world where the horror is real. As real as the heat radiating off the half-naked hunk in her arms.

Marko has waited an eternity for the chance to free his goddess, the Lady of the Beasts, and his fellow warriors from an ancient curse. But once he lays eyes on Kellsie, he knows to the bottom of his soul that his purpose is to protect her life.

But in this hellish game, it’s the Devil’s move. And there’s no predicting when and where the final, brutal stroke will fall—and which lover will pay the ultimate price. 
Product Warnings
This book contains a heroine who’s a screamer—in and out of bed—and a warrior who gives a whole new meaning to “method”. After reading, please use caution when standing up. Your knees may be weak. 

Copyright © 2012 N.J. Walters
All rights reserved — a Samhain Publishing, Ltd. publication

She grabbed the flap and, at the last second, kept herself from flinging it back. There could be someone in there and she probably shouldn’t be wandering around here at night. Not that she’d get in trouble or anything, but she didn’t want to piss off the set designer.

Easing the flap aside, Kellsie peered inside. A bright spotlight shone on the center of the room. She stepped inside, no longer caring if there was someone already in there. The carousel stood in solitary splendor. It had to be a replica of an antique because it was like something from a bygone era. The base and the top were heavily carved with curlicues and spirals. It was fanciful and beautiful, exactly what a carousel should be.

She knew there would be space for seven animals on the ride, but four were missing, leaving gaps of several feet and the metal bolts that had once anchored them to the base. Only three animals remained.

Kellsie moved closer, studying the chipped white and red paint and gold gilding that was fading at the top and base. The animals themselves were in perfect condition and even more beautiful than she’d expected.

Whoever had carved the wolf had caught him in mid-stride. His muscles rippled beneath his fur, his jaws open on a snarl, revealing his sharp white teeth. He looked fierce and gorgeous.

She reached out her hand and ran it over his flanks. If she closed her eyes, she could easily imagine she was touching fur. “Wow. This is spectacular,” she breathed. “You’re one tough creature.” It was all too easy to picture the wolf racing through the woods in search of prey.

There was an empty space beside the wolf. A small metal label was bolted next to it and it read Serpent. Next to that was another space with a label that read Jaguar. Too bad the script called for them to be missing. She would have loved to have seen the artist’s rendition of both. She imagined the jaguar would be sleek and deadly with sharp teeth and a powerful jaw. The serpent, she wasn’t so certain about. Would it be snake-like or more of a dragon?

Her breath caught in her throat as she studied the next animal. A huge brown bear stared back at her through dark, expressive eyes. The effect was so real, Kellsie would almost swear the creature was actually alive and watching her.

“Amazing.” She stroked the fur covering his massive body, which had been painted a combination of varying shades of brown with a hint of black. Powerful and commanding, this was the king of the forest. The claw on her necklace seemed to pulse against her skin. She reached over her shoulder and absently rubbed her tattoo. There was no mistaking the sheer brute strength of this animal.

She tore herself away from the bear and forced herself to examine the rest of the carousel. There was another empty space. The label on this one seemed slightly scorched, which was a brilliant touch considering it was supposed to have housed a phoenix. She could picture a great beast painted in shades of red and gold, like fire.

Next came the lion. He was a formidable beast with a huge mane. Muscles rippled beneath his tawny skin and his jaws were open on a silent roar.

Beside him was another empty space. The plaque on this one read White Tiger. She didn’t think he’d have been totally white, but would have had dark stripes down his body.

She wished they were all here for her to see, but the movie was on a budget and the other animals weren’t necessary. They’d obviously hired a skilled craftsman to create the animals that were here. There was no way they were antique. They’d have cost a fortune. She also couldn’t imagine anyone owning one of these carousel animals and parting with them.

She rounded the carousel again and the bear drew her to him. He really was quite an incredible thing to look at. Massive. That was the best way to describe him. Even standing on all fours, he was almost as tall as she was. Thick muscles were covered with a heavy coat of fur. Long, lethal claws tipped his paws. His jaw was wide, his nose a velvety black.

Reaching out, Kellsie stroked his nose. She jerked her hand back and cradled it against her chest. It had felt cool and moist. Impossible. “Boy, this thing is real enough to play on the imagination.”

Chewing on her bottom lip, she studied his wide back. There were no painted-on saddles like on most carousel animals, just the creature’s broad body, which could easily hold her. Heck, her feet wouldn’t even come near the ground.

She put out her hand again and was surprised to see it was quivering. A combination of nerves and excitement, she supposed. She hoped she’d have to sit on him for the movie shoot for at least one of the scenes. The part of the script she’d read hadn’t specified which creature was supposed to come to life. Maybe she’d have to sit on all of them. Of course, there was always the off chance she wouldn’t have to actually ride any of them at all. Maybe her character released the mythical warrior in some other way.

If that was the case, she might never get another opportunity to be this close to the bear again. “You won’t hurt anything,” she promised herself. “Sitting on him won’t damage the paint job.”

Kellsie touched the bear’s flank. Damn, it really felt like fur. This was crazy. She should just go back to her trailer and get a good night’s sleep. The director would probably be back tomorrow, if he hadn’t already shown up while she was holed up in her trailer, and she’d have to get down to work.

And she really should hunt down Brittany and see about getting a complete script. There would be fourteen to eighteen-hour days of nonstop work for the next three to four weeks and she needed to be ready.

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