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The Griffin's Woman

Isobel “Izzy” Ryan knew she’d regret accepting the last minute, all-expenses paid vacation offered by her best friend. A meticulous planner by nature, the word impulsive is not in her vocabulary. When a case of mistaken identity gets her kidnapped and taken to a shifter-only island called The Playground, she has no choice but to stay until the boat returns. Then she meets a sexy eagle shifter named Griffin. The attraction between them is immediate and intense. Will Izzy fight her cautious nature and indulge in a casual vacation fling? Or will she deem the risk to her heart to be too great?


Letting out another heavy sigh, Izzy glanced inside. She really didn’t want to go in. The walls were beginning to close in on her, and it was too early for bed. She turned her attention to the water. The tide should be out. She no longer heard waves crashing on the shore.

She could go for a walk along the beach. Maybe even take a swim. She was a fairly decent swimmer, though it had been awhile since she’d had the luxury. Given the number of rocks enclosing the cove, the current shouldn’t be too strong. 

Mind made up, Izzy headed inside and changed into a swimsuit. The canvas shoes she’d worn down to the beach had sand in them. This time she put on a pair of sports sandals. The soles would grip the rocks and the material would handle the salt water well. She had on the same shorts and tank top she’d put on this morning.  

Her knee was a little stiff from where she’d fallen earlier, but she’d cleaned and bandaged the wound. The salt water would do the knee good and help it to heal faster.

With a towel slung over her shoulder, Izzy opened the door and stood on the top step, staring into the trees. Past the light cast by the window and door, it was pitch black. The glow of the moon, so visible on her deck, didn’t filter through the trees. She hesitated. Maybe going out at night wasn’t such a good idea. 

In her mind, she could hear Ryan taunting her. “What’s the matter, Izzy? Scared of a little bird?”

“I ain’t scared,” she muttered, assuring herself. “Just cautious, as anyone should be.” It was a horror-movie dark out there. What she needed was a flashlight.  

Earlier, she’d found a stash of emergency supplies in the closet. She went to the closet and glanced inside. “Ah-hah,” she cried, when she located the battery-operated flashlight. It was super-sized, yellow and square with a handle. She tested the switch. It worked. 

Feeling more confident, she squared her shoulders, stepped outside and closed the door behind her. The available light immediately shrank to one lone rectangle cast by the bedroom window. Izzy turned on the flashlight and sighed in relief as its powerful beam cut through the night.

Before leaving the safety of the steps, Izzy panned the beam of light through the trees. No glowing eyes stared back at her. She walked down one step and then another. Just before her feet hit the ground, she heard a sound like the ruffling of wings. Izzy froze with one foot midair and panned the treetops with her light. 

Gold eyes with black pupils stared back at her. Izzy was so startled, she retreated as step, forgetting where she stood. She landed on her bottom but managed to keep a death grip on the flashlight.

That damned bird again. Didn’t eagles nest at night? 

“Are you stalking me?” She waved her hand. “Shoo! Go find someone else to bother.”

The bird tilted its head to the side as if it was listening. 

Izzy stood and brushed her bottom. Her suspicious gaze never once left the eagle.  “Look, I don’t mean to be offensive but the truth is, birds creep me out. I blame Alfred Hitchcock.”

The eagle made a sound Izzy perceived as being critical. 

“Have you seen the movie The Birds? No? Then don’t condemn me. I was young and impressionable when my sister made me watch it with her. It was creepy, the way Hitchcock trained those birds to attack.” She shivered in remembrance. The birds had gone for the face and eyes. “The talons on those birds aren’t nearly as large as yours.”

The eagle nodded its head and fluffed its wings as though preening.

Izzy frowned. “That wasn’t a compliment. I’d like to go down to the beach for a swim, and I don’t want you following me. So, if you don’t mind, will you take your fine feathered self somewhere else?”

They stared at each other for long minutes. Finally, Izzy sighed. If she kept playing around with the bird, the tide would come in and she wouldn’t be able to go down to the beach. “Fine. Stay there. I’ll leave.”

Izzy waited another second before moving. She lowered the beam of her flashlight to the ground and stepped off the stairs. She’d only traveled a few paces when she heard the flapping of wings. Izzy glanced over her shoulder to see something black flying at her. She dropped to the ground and covered her head with her arms. The eagle flew so close she felt the brush of air as it swooped past. 

Izzy let out a stream of curses and swore she heard the bird laugh. Once her heart rate settled, she stood and continued on her way to the beach. That she hadn’t gone back into the house was a testament to how much she didn’t want to be inside.

She cleared the trees and was bathed in the light of the full moon. No longer needing the flashlight, she turned it off to conserve the battery. Remembering her fall earlier, Izzy was extra careful walking down the stairs leading to the sand. 

The cove was just as beautiful at night as it was during the day. The moon cast a silver glow on the water and made the sand appear as crushed pearls. The rocks along the shore and in the water were clearly visible. The waves gently lapped onto the shore.

Izzy set down her towel and peeled off her shirt and shorts. Just like this afternoon, there was no one else around. She walked to the water and let the waves wash over her feet before wading deeper. The water was warm. Not as warm as bath water but definitely warmer than she was used to. 

She alternated between swimming and floating. Izzy didn’t know how long she stayed in the water before her peaceful surroundings began to feel lonely. Sighing, she stood and began making her way to shore.

A large splash behind her stopped her in her tracks. She only stood immobile a second before her fight or flight reflex kicked in. She dove forward and swam until the water became too shallow. Gasping for breath, she raced to shore, stopping at the very edge of the waterline. Then she turned and glanced behind her to see what she’d heard. 

He rose like Poseidon from the waves, minus the Trident, and was every bit as muscular as any statue she’d ever seen of the Greek god. Water streamed down his honed body, highlighting every curve and indent. There wasn’t an ounce of fat on him.

He was tall—much taller than her five-two stature—and big, so very big. He reminded her of Jason Momoa in the movie, Aquaman, but where Momoa was dark, this guy was light. His skin gave off a pearlescent glow in the moonlight, and his body appeared as hard as marble.  

Izzy slicked her dripping hair off her forehead and blinked salt water out of her eyes. He didn’t disappear. She wasn’t hallucinating. Shock held her immobile. Her toes curled into the shifting sand as though it could provide stability to her suddenly unbalanced equilibrium. 

He came closer. Each step revealed more of his body to her wide-eyed gaze. His shoulders and chest muscles were clearly defined. The light from the full moon caressed his body like a lover and for a moment, Izzy was jealous. The things she could do to and with that body.

The lustful thought jolted her enough to loosen her tongue. “Who are you? What are you?” 

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