Shapeshifter Camille Solomon and XCEL agent Griffin Mercer learn to trust each other as they infiltrate a shifter faction in Las Vegas-only to find that their growing passion for each other puts their hearts and their lives in danger.
“From the very first page, Barry charts a fast-paced tale that packs plenty of danger and insidious treachery. You won’t want to put this down!” -Romantic Times Magazine
Her family in danger…
Shapeshifter Camille Solomon has one motto when it comes to dealing with humans: Use, or be used. Luckily, she has the skills to use—fleecing gambling casinos. But when her father falls deathly ill, to save him she must track down her brother, and the last thing she needs is to be captured by sexy XCEL agent Griffin Mercer.
His life in ruins…
Last year, Griffin Mercer was an exceptional shapeshifter hunter, one of the few agents able to identify shifters in their human form. All that ended when his shifter partner destroyed everything he loved. He vowed to get his life back if it killed him. And after laying his hands on Camille, it just might.
A hot-blooded combination…
To find her brother, Cam agrees to help Griffin search out the shifters terrorizing New York City. While danger grows at every turn, Griffin discovers that Camille is hotter than the city nights, and Cam learns that having Griffin “handle” her is the riskiest—and most tempting—gamble she’s ever taken.
“Next time I use the valet service,” Cam muttered to herself as she dragged her suitcase to her car on the fourth level of the self parking garage. The Atlantic City morning sun gleamed across car hoods and the smooth concrete in the open garage. It was bright and quiet, and a long freakin’ way from the hotel and casino.
It was her own fault. She should have opted for valet parking, but then again, she was trying to be a normal human being. Blending in with the locals was an important part of her modus operandi. Swoop in, make tons of money off the casinos, and sneak out quietly. It’d worked for the past year, and unless proven otherwise, she was sticking with it.
She finally reached her Honda Accord and popped the trunk. As she threw her suitcase in the back, a prickle of foreboding spread across her body. In a split second, her senses heightened. Footsteps shuffled behind her. She concentrated on the movements. Men’s suit pants legs brushed together; three, maybe four of them silent and moving fast. Her nose picked up aftershave and sweat, definitely human males.
Maybe they were for her, maybe not. She wasn’t taking any chances. Slowly, she bent over her suitcase and reached inside the outer pocket for her Glock 17 9mm. It was small, but a gun was a gun in close quarters. She pretended to look for something in the trunk and tilted her head just enough to pick them up in her peripheral vision.
Three men, one in front in a gray suit, two behind in military clothes and carrying assault rifles. Yup, they were definitely here for her.
She had about one second to weigh her options—make a run for it or stand and fight. Cam smiled, she’d never been one to run. After all, there were only three of them. She’d bet on those odds any day.
She stood up slipping the Glock into the back of her jeans as she turned around to face them.
Then she tried to appear as innocent and naïve as possible, for her.
The gray suit stopped ten feet away, and she inhaled a quick breath when she met his eyes for the first time in bright daylight. Deep brown, confident and serious. Nice, aside from the predatory gleam. He appeared to be about thirty. Just from the way he moved, she could tell he could handle himself well in a fight. Military-trained, perhaps. The two other men regarded her with dutiful intensity. She could take them, but the suit was different from your run-of-the-mill human, which intrigued her. Could be an exciting day after all.
He said, “I’m special agent Griffin Mercer working for the local extraterrestrial law enforcement agency.”
Her pulse jumped. XCEL agents. Shapeshifter hunters. That explained all the guns. Exciting just jumped to dangerous.
“You’re under arrest,” he added firmly.
“I’m sorry, I think you have the wrong person,” she blurted, her eyes widening in horror. It was a damn fine acting job, if she did say so herself.
While Cam talked, she glanced around the parking garage for casino security or guests that could provide an easy diversion. She noticed the black van parked two spots down. That’s how they’d snuck up on her. Her hopes for any diversions faded. They’d planned this, and probably shut down the entire garage. Plus she was alone, and it was daylight. Daylight was a problem for a shapeshifter.
Mercer said, “Today, you’re Camille Solomon. Alien shapeshifter, 28 years old, five foot five inches tall, no permanent residence, fake identity, you make your money by cheating casinos, and there’s a gun tucked in the small of your back.” Then he smiled like the devil. “How am I doing?”
Not bad, she conceded. “I’m five-six.”
“I’ll note that in your file,” he said, and his smile vanished. “Throw the gun in the trunk please.”
Behind him, the van had pulled up and every molecule in her body aligned for battle. She could see a driver and a passenger who got out and opened the back doors. That made five. The odds were stacking against her fast.
“What am I under arrest for?” she said, dropping the innocent act. “Being different?”
A hint of irritation crossed his features, ever so slightly, but she saw it. Ugh, he was one of those XCEL agents. The ones who hated shapeshifters with a vengeance and noble intent. She hated noble intent. It was highly overrated.
He replied, “Cheating the casino. Federal offense.”
She laughed at the irony. “Right, like the casino doesn’t cheat anyone.”
“They report the odds. It’s all legal and everything,” he said. “Gun in the trunk.”
Now she was getting pissed. Damn, how had she tipped them off? She was very good at cheating. Like, the best. On the other hand, it didn’t matter how they knew, and she really needed to focus. It was time to get this show on the road. She had a dinner date with her father in SOHO tonight.
“Of course,” she said. “Anything for XCEL.”
Mercer’s eyebrows raised a fraction, but he didn’t respond to her acknowledgement of his agency. She knew all about XCEL and their weapons against Shifters—disrupters with localized paralysis effects, UVC grenades that mimicked the sun’s rays to prevent shapeshifter transformations, and tranquilizers that no one ever woke up from.
Fortunately, she didn’t see any of those weapons, just assault rifles. And that was because they thought it would be enough to capture her. A human form was a human form, and she’d suffer the same damage as any human would.
Boy, were they ever in for a surprise.
Every rifle pointed at her as she reached around and tugged the Glock out of her jeans. She held it out in front of her with two fingers on the gun butt.
“You want it,” she said to Mercer. “Come and get it.”
His eyes narrowed dangerously. “Trunk. Please.”
“Here,” she said. “Please.”
“Trunk,” he repeated, more tightly this time. “We don’t want to hurt you.”
She smiled. As if that could happen. “Have it your way.”
Cam hurled the gun against the open trunk top with all her might, which considering she was a shapeshifter, was pretty mighty. It bounced hard off the metal and fired indiscriminately.
Every man ducked, which gave her the split-second she needed to shift into Primary form. A collective gasp arose once she’d transformed.
Surprise, she thought, reveling in the look of disbelief on their faces.
And then everything moved really fast. Someone shot at her. She thinned her molecular structure, and the bullets passed through harmlessly. Her form remained vaporous but whole, prepared for anything else they might throw at her.
“Don’t shoot!” Mercer yelled. “We want her alive!”
His orders only made her more determined. She thinned her structure even more and ‘popped’ through the thick air, re-forming in front of the men with the rifles. She grabbed both their rifles and jammed the butts to their heads, knocking them out in tandem.
Someone screamed, “Get the disrupter!”
She popped to the van and wrenched an agent out of the back by his belt, tossing him across the garage concrete floor. He rolled a few times, struck a support column and didn’t move. The driver came around the corner with a disrupter, and she kicked it out of his hands. It hit the ceiling and shattered into pieces.
Then he had the nerve to get all pissy and reach into his jacket for a gun. She grabbed his forearm and broke it with a loud snap. He yelled, dropped to his knees and cradled his arm with his other arm, and she dropkicked him in the face. He flipped backwards and landed ten feet away.
Then Cam spun around to find Mercer standing behind holding the disrupter, looking stoic and dark. Everyone else was down, and she didn’t see or hear re-enforcements. Too bad for them.
“That’s quite a trick you have,” he said. “Shifting in daylight.”
She took a step toward him, wary of the disrupter. It wouldn’t slow her down for long, but it would hurt like hell. “I find it comes in handy when someone tries to kill me.”
“We just want to talk to you.”
She laughed. “Right. And the rifles and disrupter are, what, conversation pieces?”
He stared her down, which was pretty intimidating. A human would have been afraid.
He said, “I know you don’t trust us—“
“Why would I?” she snapped. “XCEL has spent the last two years hunting us, freezing us, killing us, and moving the lucky ones to prisons.”
“They aren’t prisons,” he said. “They’re safe zones.”
That did it. The disrupter would hurt for a moment, but it would totally be worth it to kick his ass. “When you lock someone up and don’t let them leave, that’s a prison. Even for humans.”
“You’re not human,” he said, challenge in his eyes.
Her temper flared. Cam popped a split-second before he dropped the rifle. When she re-formed beside him, he gripped her arm. Shocked by his speed and strength, she froze. How did he know where she was going to re-form?
She tried to strike him, but her arms wouldn’t move. In fact, nothing would move. She started at him in disbelief and panic. What was happening to her?
“I have a few tricks of my own,” he said softly.
Then he jabbed a tranquilizer dart into her arm. The tranquilizer swamped her senses, and she couldn’t do anything to fight it. Her body simply wouldn’t respond, and it occurred to her that he was the reason.
Just before she blacked out, she heard him say, “So sorry.”
4 1/2 stars from RT Magazine “Barry returns with the second book in her futuristic shapeshifter series. The hero has every reason to hate alien shifters, which places his head and his heart in serious conflict. From the very first page, Barry charts a fast-paced tale that packs plenty of danger and insidious treachery. You won’t want to put this down!”
“From the first chapter to the last, Barry has drawn a believable, interesting and thought provoking action packed ride. Her characters portray situations that are not unfamiliar to many of those faced in everyday life today. This title has action, adventure, imagination and sensuous romance.” ~Night Owl Reviews
“It was well-crafted and thoughtful writing for the sci fi genre.” ~That’s What I’m Talking About
“This was a fast paced PNR that had a strong Romantic Suspense feel to it. The characters and their development were great and I really enjoyed watching the storyline unfold. There were strong characters, great action scenes, and a wonderful love story.” ~Fiction Vixon Book Reviews
“Body Thief is unique, new take on shifters. This series has definitely earned a spot on my must-read list!” ~Two Lips Reviews