Kim McDougall Author

Pick Your Monster

Shifted Dreams Series: Book 1

Who’s the real monster…

…the werewolf?

Or the man Shayna thought she loved?

Humans and werewolves live in a delicate truce.

When Chris finds rogue wolves hunting on his property, he must stop the predators at any cost before they kill someone and bring down a wrath of trigger-happy humans. 

His inner wolf cares nothing for these altruistic intentions. The wolf only wants to punish the packless scum who destroyed his family five years ago. But even the wolf stops short when they find the rogues’ beautiful prey. 

Shayna wasn’t looking for the perfect man. She was looking for a love and a family. Now she’s the focus of a murder investigation that sparks public outrage. 

And at the next full moon, she might turn into a wolf. 

Or she’ll face another kind of monster, a murderer who hides in plain sight. But will either fate let her stay at Bullrush Ranch with Chris, the enticing man who seems intent on teaching her the true meaning of passion?

Now available as an eBook and on Kindle Unlimited.

Sneak Peek:

Pick Your Monster

Chapter 1

Shayna traded her black pumps with the not-so-sensible heel for runners she kept in her trunk. Pumps would never make it on the trail through the arboretum. Her hands lingered on her stomach as she smoothed her blouse over black pants. Too early to show, but she couldn’t help the little tingle of excitement, knowing that a human being grew inside her. 

A whole human being. Inside her. 

A healthy dose of apprehension tempered her exhilaration. She’d been dat- ing Nate only a few months, not long enough to talk about family, but putting off the revelation wasn’t an option. She’d be showing soon. 

What if Nate didn’t want a baby? What if he forced her to get an abortion? She wouldn’t do it. Her mother raised her alone, and she could do the same. She would love her child enough for both parents. 

She pushed the dread aside. No time for negative thinking. Nate would be thrilled about this baby. He wasn’t one of those guys who shied away from commitment. He was the kind of guy who said “we” instead of “I.” 

“We’re going to have a fabulous summer,” he told her last week. “We can rent a beach house and escape every weekend.” Of course, every weekend was asking too much, but even a couple of days away would be heaven. As a part- ner in a growing law firm, Nate kept a busy schedule. Hers wasn’t much more flexible. Kandid Karma, her event planning business, grew more successful every year. She now employed a dozen people and spent many of her weekends overseeing parties for the Arborsville elite. 
Sometimes, when he sensed her day was stressful, Nate whisked her away for an hour of romance at a downtown hotel. Or they strolled in Center Sta- tion Park and slipped into the shadows to slake their need for each other. He often surprised her with little escapades to unusual places, the more out of the way, the better. Morris Arboretum became their favorite hideaway. Just off the turnpike, it split the distance between their homes. When they left the park, Nate turned south while Shayna turned north. She watched his tails lights, wondering if the day would come when they would go home together.

Nate’s sleek SUV crunched across the gravel, and he parked next to her. Shayna took a picnic basket from her back seat and set it on the ground. She admired his long legs as they uncurled from the driver seat. He came dressed for a run, in sweat pants and a navy blue t-shirt. A breeze tugged at his light brown hair, and the afternoon light softened his features.

A damn fine looking man.

She stopped with that opinion before her mind clarified it with the next one. His lips were a bit too thin and his running outfit showed the slight belly that his suits normally hid. Nate wasn’t perfect, but he was sweet and consider- ate. When he smiled, she felt as if the world spun only for her. 

“Hello, beautiful.” He enveloped her in his arms. Shayna sank into the embrace. 

“I thought I was going to be late,” she said. “After the day I had, it’s a mira- cle I even got out of the office.” Her day hadn’t been more hectic than normal, but her nerves—knowing today she would tell Nate about the baby—made every meeting seem endless. 

“I would have waited for you.” He stroked the hair back from her face so he could kiss the pulse at her temple. She turned toward him. Their lips met with a little zing of electricity that five months of dating hadn’t quelled. 

“Maybe we should forget the picnic and hang out in the back of my car.” He grinned. “The seats go down.” 

“Nuh-uh.” Shayna wagged her finger in front of his nose. “I slaved long and hard to find the perfect picnic for us. Okay, Donna slaved, but it’s the thought that counts.” Donna was her assistant/secretary/life-saver and the clos- est thing Shayna had to a best friend. She was dying to meet the mysterious Nate, but Shayna had been reluctant to jinx the new relationship by making it public yet. That was all about to change. 

“Besides, I have a surprise for you.” 

“I love surprises.” He nuzzled her neck, his teeth nipping the sensitive skin. “Does it have to do with lace? Black lace is best, but red is kind of hot too.” 
Shayna laughed and pushed him away. 

“You’ll have to wait.” She wondered if she could. The backseat of his car sounded better and better. Maybe her hormones were already out of whack. She wanted the man right now, right in the parking lot where anyone might drive up. 

“Here.” She thrust the picnic basket at him and grabbed a blanket from the backseat. “I’ll race you.” She waggled her eyebrows and skipped away. Nate groaned and pretended to chase her for a few steps. 

On their first visit to the arboretum, they found the perfect picnic spot at the top of Blind Man’s Bluff, a place secluded enough to avoid other hikers, especially near the end of the day. They spent the mile-long trek teasing and flirting, like walking foreplay. 

“I can’t stay long,” Nate said. “I promised my nephew I’d be at his birthday party tonight.” 

Shayna squeezed his hand. “I bet you’re a great uncle.” 

“Well, I don’t see him often, but I make up for it with extravagant pres- ents.” 

“As any good uncle should.” 

Nate would be a good father. She couldn’t imagine him holding a swad- dled infant or changing diapers, but she could see him tossing a baseball in the backyard with their son or pushing him on a swing. 

Their son. 

A stone caught her toe and she stumbled. Nate steadied her with one strong hand. 

“I’m a little clumsy today. And hungry,” she added when Nate spied her rubbing her stomach. She felt protective towards the tiny life inside her. Blind Man’s Bluff overlooked a steep fall. What if she tripped over the precipice, tak- ing the tiny flame of life with her? 

She pushed away that stupid notion and forced calmness into her expres- sion. Nate twined his arm around her waist and snuggled her against him. They walked like twins conjoined at the hip. She didn’t want to let go. 

“So how was your day?” she asked.

“Oh, you know. Same old, same old.”

“You make being a lawyer sound boring.”

“It is. I’d much rather hear about your latest party.”

Nate didn’t talk about his job. When he left the office, he liked to leave the stress behind. Shayna didn’t mind. She told him about her latest bridezilla and the hoops she jumped through to book a retired folk singer for the reception. Since she was the boss, she couldn’t complain about clients to her employees. She had to vent to someone. 

They turned off the main path. A thick layer of pine needles muffled their footsteps. The foliage thinned and light dappled through the branches. After hiking around a small hill, the trees cleared. They stood on top of Blind Man’s Bluff looking down on the splendor of Morris Valley. The fading sun lit the vista with shades from amber to amethyst. It was a breathtaking view, but Shayna had eyes only for Nate. He seemed to be in the same frame of mind. As soon as she laid the blanket, he pulled her down on top of him. She sighed happily. This was exactly what she needed—a secluded spot, good food and a loving man. 

“Wait.” She moved to get up, but he kissed her. His tongue snaked inside her lips and teased hers. “No, really. Wait.” She laughed and sat up. “Time for your surprise.” 

“Your hair is beautiful in this light. Just like fire.” His hands ran up her leg to her backside. She swatted him away. 

“You’re trying to distract me.”

“Damn right.”

She wanted to be distracted, but she’d set her mind on telling him.

It’s now or never.

She opened the picnic basket and took out plastic wrapped plates and glasses.

“A little cheese, fruit, caviar, and chocolate truffles for when you’re feeling artistic.” She winked at him. Nate had a food fetish and chocolate was his favorite sexual appetizer.

They’d ruined more than one set of sheets that way. 

“And here’s the surprise.” She willed her hands not to shake as she pulled out the bottle of non-alcoholic, sparkling wine and presented it to Nate. 

“What’s this for.” He frowned. “Read it.”

He sat up and took the bottle. “I don’t get it.” 

“It’s non-alcoholic.” Her smile wavered. “Because I’m pregnant.” 

All expression drained from Nate’s face. He jerked to his feet, clutching the bottle in a football hold. 

“Is it mine?” 

“Of course it is! How can you even ask that?” Shayna stood. Nate’s glare siphoned off her excitement. The happy sparkle in his eyes switched to a me- tallic glint. 

“How can I be sure? We’ve been careful. How do I know you haven’t been fucking around?” 

“Nate, don’ know how I feel about you...”

The punch came out of nowhere. His fist landed with a crunch on her cheek. Her head whipped back. She didn’t have time to react to the exploding pain before he struck her again in the stomach. Air whooshed from her lungs as Shayna doubled over and fell to the ground. 

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