The Colony by Cami Checketts To protect her sons from the mistakes of her past, Brinlee Trapper escapes to a secluded mountain home. But there are dangers lurking in the mountains she has never encountered. The little family is saved from injury by Jed, a mysterious hunter. Brinlee is drawn to him, but she worries about his involvement with a peaceful commune hidden deep in the mountains behind her property. Lance, Brinlee’s attentive neighbor, has his own troubled history. Between his obvious attraction to Brinlee and his developing love for her children, Brinlee finds it more than difficult to guard her heart against this tender intrusion. While Jed offers a life of excitement and freedom, Lance holds the key to the family Brinlee always wanted. When it comes time to choose, she learns that both men have secrets that could shatter her fledgling trust in men and the wrong decision could leave more than her heart exposed to danger.
"Cami Checketts is a genius! She writes about topics that aren't widely discussed, in and out of books, and she does such a brilliant job of crafting these things into wonderful stories that touch your heart and remain with you for days afterwards." ~Myra, Reviewer, Pieces of Whimsy
"This was a fun, fast read with lots of action and romantic interest. The characters are well developed and the Colony was an intriguing concept. " - Charissa (Goodreads)
Brinlee jumped from the branch and aimed her heels at the monster’s head. Both of her feet connected with the snarling jaws and bloodstained chin. The mountain lion’s body flung away from the tree. Brinlee yelled, a deep primeval war cry, as she fell with the lion. Small tree branches scratched at her hands and face. She landed on top of the animal with a thud. Her leg throbbed with pain, but the adrenalin helped her ignore it.
The lion yelped. Brinlee rammed her knee into its blood-tinged teeth, scrambled off of him, and hobbled away from her children. Her heart screamed in prayer, pleading with a merciful Father in Heaven to protect them.
Trevor’s call yanked her head around. His dark eyes flooded with tears. His lip trembled. Oh, heavens. How could she leave them? A roar snapped her to attention. Her legs churned away from her boys. Leaving was the only hope she had of saving them.
The lion leapt into the air. Brinlee darted to the side. A loud boom mingled with the baby’s screams, the lion’s roar, and Brinlee’s pounding heart. She had no clue where the noise came from. The lion’s claws scratched past her head, missing her by inches. Brinlee changed directions and sped off again, but her legs weakened, especially her injured one. She risked a glance back. Blood gushing from its shoulder, the lion pivoted and jumped again.
Not watching where she was going, Brinlee slammed into a tree and fell to her knees. She couldn’t escape. She could feel, hear, and smell the animal as she ducked her head and braced for impact.
Another boom filled the air. The lion’s body knocked her flat. Pinecones, dirt, and rocks embedded themselves in her face and hands. Buried underneath mounds of fur, she waited for the lion’s teeth to sink into her neck.
Warm liquid oozed onto her back. She heard footsteps, then a grunt, and suddenly the lion’s carcass was thrown off of her. Cowering on the ground, Brinlee didn’t dare believe it was over.
Calloused fingers searched her neck until they found her carotid artery.
“I’m alive,” she muttered into the dirt.
She was rolled over onto her back and stared into a pair of concerned sapphire eyes instead of the hungry jaws of the mountain lion. It was like an ice-cold lemonade after days of thirst.
Lance stirred. Was that the alarm again? When he set up the cameras around the perimeter of Brinlee’s property, he included a sensor that beeped when someone crossed the property line. The beep was getting annoying. At first, he’d jump and run to his cameras or go check on Brinlee every time it beeped. But it was usually some small animal, or his dog, running around.
Pulling himself fully awake, he walked to the cameras in time to see a human shadow exiting through Brinlee’s garden. Lance grabbed a flashlight and loaded pistol from his laundry room cabinet before sprinting outside wearing only his silky shorts. He didn’t dare turn on the flashlight and expose himself. He followed the path he thought the man had taken until he was halfway up the hillside. His feet ached from stepping on rocks and stickers, and he wanted to go check on Brinlee rather than chase after someone he might never find.
Moments later, he set the pistol and flashlight on the porch and knocked gently on her front door, hoping she was awake. If not, he could use the code on the side door of her garage to get in. She opened the door within seconds, a cell phone to her ear, her eyes widening as she glanced up and down his body.
“I was calling you.” She set the phone on her entryway table.
“What happened?” he asked.
“Jed came by. He didn’t do anything, but it scared me and I wanted you . . .” She shyly studied him through her eyelashes. Her beautiful innocence surged protectiveness throughout him. He really hated this Jed guy.
Lance opened his arms to her. She fell against his chest, wrapping her hands around his back. Though his concern for her was his main focus, he couldn’t quite ignore the warmth from her bare skin touching his chest and the sensation of her fingers stroking down his back. “He didn’t hurt you?”
She trembled in his arms. “He just wanted to talk.”
Lance tightened his grip. What she didn’t say sent anxiety throughout his entire body. Jed could’ve taken advantage of Brinlee and Lance had been too tired to respond to the alarm. He could hardly stand to think about it.
“Brinlee,” his voice caught. “I should’ve been here.”
She leaned back and stared intently at him. “I’m okay. It just scared me. How did you know to come? It’s like you have this sensor every time I need you.”
Lance swallowed, a sensor was right. “I’m just in tune to your needs.”
“And I don’t sleep much.”
She nodded. “I’m so glad you’re close by.”
Now he’d lied to her. He wanted to tell her so badly—how Jake had hired him but he’d given the money back. He wanted to explain that he only monitored her property because of how much he cared, to protect her. But would she see it that way or think he was an overbearing, possessive jerk and tell him to get lost?
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About the author:
Author Cami Checketts Cami Checketts is married and the proud mother of four future WWF champions. Sometimes between being a human horse, cleaning up magic potions, and reading Bernstein Bears, she gets the chance to write fiction. Cami graduated from Utah State University with a degree in Exercise Science. Cami teaches strength training classes at her local rec and shares healthy living tips on her fitness blog: http://fitnessformom.blogspot.com. Cami and her family live in the beautiful Cache Valley of Northern Utah. During the two months of the year it isn’t snowing, she enjoys swimming, biking, running, and water-skiing.
Website ** Goodreads ** Facebook ** Twitter ** Fitness Blog
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