Read Andromeda's Fall (Shadowcat Nation) Online
Authors: Abigail Owen
Shadowcat Nation Book # 1
© 2014 by Abigail Owen
All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or
used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher
except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.
Mia, Diantha, B.R. Jessica, and Dariel… I loved working with you all on the
Here, Kitty Kitty anthology. That project spurred this entire series. Here’s to
more awesome collaborations in the future. Thank you for being so fun and
years ago the population of mountain lion shifters was on the brink of
extinction. Today, much like their wild counterparts, shifters are running out
of land and resources. The encroachment of man has resulted in the loss and
destruction of shifters’ natural habitats world-wide. This external threat has
led to a new reality where only the strongest survive. Pack shifters, such as
wolves, coyotes, and African lions, use their coordinated family groups to pick
off the loners, like cougars, in order to obtain their territory.
against their mysterious and cagy natures, mountain lion shifters banded
together to form the Shadowcat Nation in order to pool their resources and
protect themselves from the packs. Reaching from Northern Canada, across the
United States, all the way down to the southern tip of South America, the
Nation is divided into ten dares, each led by an Alpha who has clawed his way
to the top. However, cougars don’t naturally work or live well in group
societies, and the shifters are constantly battling their innate desire for
domination and sole control, their animalistic instincts often triggering
infighting and inter-dare rivalries.
success of the Shadowcat Nation, though critical to the survival of all cougar
shifters, still hangs in a delicate balance.
crouched low in the underbrush, obscured from view, and watched the compound
with a quiet patience born of experience. If her calculations were correct, the
next patrol of guards would pass by within the minute. Her posture and
expression didn’t shift an inch when, seconds later, she was proven correct.
soon as the sentry passed from sight, Andie moved like a shadow through the
stillness of the night. Ignoring the pain in her body, she sprinted across the
lawn and was up and over the wall. She dropped to the ground on the other side
with a barely audible thud.
found herself on the backside of a manicured garden. She stayed completely
still, hunkered down, and took her time observing her location. About a hundred
yards ahead, she saw light from the main building in the complex. The glow
spilled out from a pair of glass doors and across the trees and plants,
creating patches of darkness and light.
moved again, using the pools of shadow and groupings of plants for cover. She
didn’t go for the doors. They were too obvious. Besides, they were likely wired
to the alarm system and required some kind of code to get through. But on the
second floor, one of the windows was wide open, allowing in the cool night
breeze. With agile grace, Andie swung herself up into the branches of a large
tree just outside that window.
took care to use only her right arm, which slowed her down a bit. But the
injuries she’d sustained a few days earlier made her left arm almost unusable. As
quickly and as soundlessly as she could, she made her way up to the branch
closest to her chosen point of access. She stopped again and observed.
didn’t move for close to thirty minutes. She just watched. When she was
satisfied, she leapt with all the power of her feline form. She didn’t shift
exactly - she was trying to avoid that right now since it would be seen as a
direct threat if anyone caught her - but she used the might of the beast inside
her to clear the distance to the window. She sailed through the opening and
immediately tucked and rolled as she hit the ground.
found her feet and returned to her crouch. Using her cat’s hearing, she waited
yet again. Someone might’ve heard the sound of her landing. Her injured left
arm was detracting from her usual finesse. As she listened, she turned in a
slow circle, making sure the room, which appeared to be a hotel-like bedroom, was
as empty as she’d expected it to be. Many minutes later, satisfied that she was
alone and that no one was coming for her…
… Andie moved towards the
it open a hair, she looked down and saw a long stretch of closed doorways in
both directions. Based on the layout of the building and the location of the
window, she determined she needed to go to her right.
tensed to open the door all the way and then froze in place when a deep male
voice sounded from directly behind her. “Stop where you are.”
tensed, adrenalin pumping through her body as swear words went off like
fireworks inside her head. Only her years of training kept her from panicking
outright. She didn’t move by so much as a twitch as she waited to see if he
would attack or talk it out.
the door,” the deep voice continued. “And then turn slowly and face me.”
rose, taking care to keep her wounded arm from view. If she could keep the
evidence of her fall from grace hidden, she’d have a better shot at surviving
the encounter and making it to the Alpha. If she could get to him and explain,
then maybe she had a chance.
she was facing her new opponent, she tried to take measure of him. The room was
dim, and she dared not shift, not even just her eyes, in case he took it the
wrong way and attacked. She couldn’t tell much about him other than that he was
very tall. At five-foot-nothing she always had to look up, but with this guy
she had to look way,
up to try to see his face. He would be a big
mountain lion in his cat form, even for a male.
stranger said nothing for several long moments, holding eerily still, his eyes
taking in every detail. Andie didn’t move or speak. She knew he was sizing her
up just as she was assessing him. She also knew what he’d see— a slip of a girl
who’d inherited her mother’s bronzed Brazilian beauty. Male cougar shifters
rarely saw what she really was and frequently underestimated her.
not going to ask how you got in here. Clearly, our security needs reviewing.”
didn’t betray her satisfaction at his comment. “I’m sure it’s fine. Very few
measures would work to keep me out. Or in.”
merely shrugged. “Off night.”
In more ways than one.
do you want here?” he asked.
want to speak with Jaxon Keller.”
eyebrows shot up, and he crossed his arms over an impressive chest. “About
of your damn business.” Andie’s chin tipped up slightly in defiance, but inwardly
Stop talking, dummy.
warning growl rose in his throat, and Andie cringed. Getting on the wrong side
of this guy was a bad idea given that he stood between her and possible protection.
She was taking a huge risk just being here. And after her last few horrific days,
to be stopped at the last minute by some overzealous guard made her want to
really don’t want to rile me,” he said, mirroring her thoughts.
paused. Should she tell him? She took in his solid form. She’d never outrun him,
not on his home turf, and she couldn’t fight him. Not in her condition.
here to ask your Alpha for asylum,” she said.
bore his narrow-eyed scrutiny calmly.
want Jaxon Keller to give you asylum?”
lips thinned in annoyance. Hadn’t she just said that? There was only one Alpha
of the Keller Dare, and his name was Jaxon Keller.
Unless you have a new Alpha that I don’t know about,” she said sarcastically.
didn’t move as he took in her request. But even in the low light, she could see
the air of command in his stance, as well as just how well-muscled his torso
was leading down to lean hips. His face was in shadow, but she could see he had
a strong jaw and short, dark hair.
the time to notice his physique, Andie,
she silently berated herself. She added
a mental head smack for good measure. She was around strong, muscled, hot men
all the time. Why the hell should she notice this one?
why would we consider giving asylum to a little nobody like you?” he asked. “One
who – judging by those cuts, bruises, and I suspect a broken left arm - has
been shunned by her own dare?”
growled her own warning, just barely holding back the cougar clawing inside
her. “I hear he takes in strays,” she sneered.
warily watched for a reaction. Her tongue had a habit of getting her in trouble.
But he didn’t react.
sighed when he remained silent. “I got past your defenses without any trouble.”
now,” he reminded her.
I know everything about the offensive and defensive systems and strategies for
the Carstairs Dare.”
man looked down and pursed his lips. “You one of Walter Carstairs’s
you get here? I assume you came from the Carstairs compound up in Canada?”
nodded. “Mostly by foot. I was able to thumb a lift a little. But I couldn’t
risk taking one of the compound cars, and I don’t have my own.”
you’re telling me that you made it through wolf-shifter infested areas alone as
you traveled on foot from Canada to Idaho?” He looked out the window she’d just
come through, his eyes scanning the area. After a long moment, he turned back
to her with a doubtful expression.
gave a mental eye-roll.
“May I see Keller?”
man snorted. “I’m surprised you know a polite word like ‘may’, little girl.”
kept her poker face in place, not giving him the satisfaction of showing her
irritation. “Yes or no would suffice, big boy.”
said nothing for a moment and rubbed his jaw.
see how you fare with the tests and with other members of the dare first before
we put you in front of the Alpha.”
clenched her teeth but nodded.
Like it or not, this was a male-dominated society
and one not inclined to trust any new cats. Trial by dare members first would
be harder than just speaking directly with Keller – especially given her penchant
right,” she said.
The man nodded and moved toward her. “Follow me.”