Master’s Blood

The Shifter Chronicles 6

by M.D. Grimm

(Beginnings Book Six)

Just days after the Agency raided the headquarters of the Knights, an organization that killed, tortured, and experimented on shifters, Chief Anu sends Agent Poe on assignment: find Nordik, the powerful master bear shifter who guards Sanctuary, and offer alliance. Agent Poe already has his hands full with shifters who need help and a kidnapped agent who needs rescue. Poe has never failed a mission, but he finds members of the Knights inside Sanctuary, raising suspicions about Chief Anu.

If that wasn’t enough, Poe’s goals change again when he discovers his attraction to Nordik is one he might not be able to resist. He becomes torn between his duty to the Agency and his need for Nordik as a mate. For his part, Nordik has no intention of letting Poe slip through his fingers.

As Nordik and Poe battle wills, a new dawn is on the horizon, not only for them but for shifters, the Agency, and the world itself.

Second Edition with updated and revised text.

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Excerpt:

Was he being followed? Poe suspected he was. He didn’t think it was the knights. He would sense their presence. Every time he looked around, he couldn’t see anything that would indicate that he was being stalked. It was unnerving.

Maybe it was Nordik. Huh. That would be interesting. The master shifter could be following him, determining if he was the enemy. Poe was certain he’d proven he was a friend. He’d used a piece of rope to tie the bear trap closed before burying it deep into the earth. They were repulsive things, and he hoped that little fox didn’t try to gnaw at the bandage and end up bleeding to death.

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He started a fire and pulled out his sleeping bag. The sun was setting, and the wind blew gently, causing Poe to shiver. The scent of sunset was on the air, and the silence in the forest indicated the day animals were going to sleep. But that would mean the nocturnal creatures would be awakening soon. The bugs were certainly out, and Poe made sure he had enough bug repellant on. He ate dinner, which basically consisted of beans and veggies, and wondered if he would ever see civilization again.

He was drifting off to sleep when a noise from behind startled him awake. Poe turned around and grabbed his flashlight, climbing out of his sleeping bag. He knew it wasn’t an animal. His nerves jangled and his skin crawled. He was being hunted, and Poe had a good idea who was doing it. It was a different presence than his ghost stalker from earlier. He slowly crouched for his handgun when out from behind a tree came a tall man with long tan hair, a narrow dark face, and a rangy body. He was also holding a gun―right at Poe’s face.

Poe straightened and faced the man down.

“Knight.”

“Agent,” the man said with a smirk. “Looks like Louis was right, you are stupid enough to travel alone.”

Why are there knights in Sanctuary? They contaminated the place with their filthy souls. His anger rushed into his veins, pumped in his heart, and his grip on the flashlight tightened to the point where he crushed the handle. The light flickered out as he destroyed the batteries.

Another flashlight flashed in his face as another knight stepped out from behind a tree. He squinted against the light. He must have really been sleepy if these knights managed to sneak up on him.

“I assume Louis is the man I broke,” Poe said, keeping his voice calm and low. But his stomach was churning, his muscles were clenching, and the urge to attack was rising.

“Yes, and you’ll pay for that,” said the newcomer, a woman. Poe peered closer and realized she was a tall, muscled woman with pale skin and black hair cut close to her scalp. Her eyes were fierce and rather manic. Poe raised an eyebrow.

“Will I?” he said, forcing himself to smile. “Did I break your boyfriend?”

She bared her teeth and took a step forward, and the man with the gun barked at her.

“No! Stay where you are. He’s provoking you.”

“Indeed I am,” Poe said as he focused on the gunman. “I must say that I’m curious as to why you’re here. What business do knights have in Sanctuary?”

“We don’t explain ourselves to agents,” the woman spat, saying his title with intense disgust.

“Of course not,” he said conversationally, judging the distance between his captors and planning his attack. “I was just curious. Since, last I heard, your boss was in the wind, hiding like a coward.”

“Lord Arcas is no coward!” the woman shrieked, and before her companion could stop her, she lunged for Poe and smacked his head with her flashlight. “He is a visionary! A genius!”

She continued to hit Poe with the flashlight, and he managed to cover his face with his arm. Despite the abuse and his sore head, he contemplated how to get the gun away from the man. After that, it wouldn’t be hard to take both of them down.

“Delia, stop!” The man tried to pull her off, but she was a woman possessed.

“He sent us here! We are his loyal followers! His most precious―”

But what she said next was drowned out by a roar issued from the depths of hell. The gunman grabbed Delia, and they both stumbled back. Poe rolled over at the same time a large, ferocious, white bear charged out of the darkness. His jaw dropped as the bear rose on his hind legs, showing off his impressive height. Dark eyes glinted in the light of the flashlight as the woman flashed it at the bear. The bear’s fur seemed to glow in the night, and the shagginess of the pelt only heightened the wildness of the bear’s appearance. Poe’s mind irrationally went to the tales his father had told him, the ones about demons and forest spirits.

The gunman lifted his gun and aimed it right at the bear’s chest. Poe didn’t think. He reacted. He surged to his feet and ran forward, covering the barrel with his hand at the same time the knight pulled the trigger. White hot agony flooded from Poe’s hand to his neck and shoulder, and his entire body crumbled.

He screamed and fell, but not before he managed to wrench the gun out of the knight’s hand. Through tears of screaming, gut-wrenching agony, he watched the bear charge the knights. The woman dropped the flashlight, and Poe was momentarily blinded. He could still hear, however, even with the disabling pain pulsing through him: the shrieks of the attacked, the full-bodied roars of the bear, the crunching of bone, ripping of flesh. The gurgles of the dying.

Poe curled into himself, letting go of the gun and cradling his mangled hand. He pressed his shirt against the wound, trying desperately to staunch the bleeding and to remain conscious. He suspected he knew who that bear was, but he needed confirmation. Pain made it hard to think, and Poe struggled to keep from puking. His entire body felt ill. It felt wrong. The pain wouldn’t stop, wouldn’t fade, and he shook violently.

Then heavy footsteps came toward him. He resisted cowering and opened his eyes, his vision blurry with tears, and stared at a large, white bear face.

“N-Nordik?” Poe said through gritted teeth.

The bear licked his cheek.

Poe let out a small, startled laugh. His eyes had adjusted to the dark, and he could see and smell the blood on the master shifter and vaguely wondered how long Nordik had been following him. Then his vision began to darken, and no amount of fighting would help.

“I’m gonna pass out,” he whispered. “Just―stop the―bleeding.”

Then the black pulled him under.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Christy on Rainbow Book Reviews wrote:

From the very first volume in 'The Shifter Chronicles' series, I had hoped the author would write a book about Agent Poe. He is one of the most dedicated and hardworking agents, is a Level 4 agent meaning he works alone, and basically he's a complete and total badass! His special gift is his strength. And it's packed into a five foot tall, leather wearing, Harley riding agent with serious attitude. He may come across to some people as cold, but the truth is he cares very deeply, which is why he exists on little to no sleep and works seven days a week.

Chief Anu, who Poe is convinced might be the mole in their organization leaking information to Arcas, has just sent Poe on a wild goose chase. He wants Poe to locate Nordik, a master shifter whose home lies within several national parks around Wyoming, Montana, and into Canada. Master shifters are very rare, and in fact, Nordik is the only one they even have an idea of where he might be located. Master shifters are said to be almost immortal, and have abilities no one is aware of.

Nordik is nothing like Poe expects. He is centuries old, of Native American descent, and remembers the times before the white man invaded. He's very powerful, has a strong presence, but he's not stuffy. He's charming and gentle when he wants to be, with an intriguing sense of humor. Nordik is equally interested in Poe, for he smells him as his mate, and it's been many years since his last mate died. More than that, though, Nordik recognizes Poe as his soul mate. The father of all master shifters, Merlin, told Nordik that he would find his soul mate one day, and if he lost him he would never get another chance. But Poe can't have a relationship, no matter how envious he's been about others. The Agency forbids it, and the Agency is Poe's life.

"Poe was going to protect him even if that meant Nordik would hate him. His eyes burned again, but he blinked the tears away. He couldn’t fix the problem inside the Agency if he was no longer a part of it. He couldn’t help anyone if he was isolated out here in the wild. While he could too-well imagine himself living out here with Nordik, it wasn’t practical. He had a duty.
Duty was a cold, cold bedmate."

I have a really big dilemma now. Poe and Nordik are running neck and neck as my favorites with Xavier and Josh. I loved this installment, the way the traitor in the Agency was found and taken care of, but mostly I loved seeing Poe and Nordik find each other. I'm a real sucker for a true soul mate connection, and theirs was so evident throughout the story. I'm looking forward to more excitement.


For more books in this series, please check out my website at www.mdgrimmwrites.com.

7) Hunted Guardian

8) The Serpent and the Angel

9) Predator and Prey

10) Shifting Moon

11) Feather and Scroll

12) Kindred Truths

13) Wisdom's Allegiance

14) Red Sun (available January 2022)

About the Author

M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!). After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English, (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?) she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier. Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain, (or else what’s the point?) finding their soul mate in the process.


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