Camille Solomon has always taken care of herself and her
father. As an alien shifter on Earth, she uses her skills
and special abilities to make certain they can live, and
live well, refusing to align herself with any group, no
matter how much they need her. That all changes when XCEL
captures her and her father, and holds his life hostage
unless she does everything in her power to aid those who
seek out shifter lawbreakers for retribution.
Griffin Mercer has more cause than most to hate the alien
species that has made Earth their home. A shifter he trusted
took on Griffin's face and used his identity to destroy his
life as he knew it. Now he is out of prison and working his
way back into the trust of those in power at XCEL. He only
needs to solve this one case to gain back at least a portion
of the life he lost the last time he trusted a shifter. He
will do anything to reach that goal, even partner with the
But there is a deeper game being played at XCEL, lead by a
man that is using the skills of Griffin and Camille to set
up an act of unthinkable horror unless they can find a way
to trust each other and find the truth before it is too
BODY THIEF is book two in C. J. Barry's Body Series. Just as
engrossing and intricate as the first, it helps tie off some
of the threads started in book one, Body Master.
Barry's sweeping and complex plotlines that over arc in the
series as a whole are stellar but best savored when the
reader has all the pieces in hand. That being said, it is
more than worth the investment of time and money to keep
following where Barry leads. She has a rare talent for
balancing the large and small elements of plot and
character, keeping her readers riveted.
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
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
"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
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 naďve 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
He replied, "Cheating the casino. Federal offense."
She laughed at the irony. "Right, like the casino doesn't
"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
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
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
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
"That's quite a trick you have," he said. "Shifting in
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
"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
"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."
# # #
Griffin stood on the safe side of a bulletproof,
shatterproof, Shifter-proof glass wall and watched his
captive sleep off the tranquilizer. She hadn't moved since
they dumped her on the bed in the holding cell two hours
Her Primary form was a charcoal black humanoid-like body
that was just female enough to be interesting. Her skin was
smooth and tough, like a form-fitting bodysuit. Her face
was more delicately featured than the male Shifters he'd
seen, her body leaner, and her frame tall and leggy. In
Primary form, shifters were like blank canvases. All they
needed was a little bit of DNA to replicate any human they
Any human they wanted, and they didn't care what they did
as that human. Who they hurt. Who or what they destroyed.
They were opportunists. Like vultures, only bigger.
The door behind him flung open.
"For Christ's sake, what were you thinking?" Griffin's boss
yelled, loud enough to shake the long glass. He marched
toward him. "You think that tranquilizing her is going to
help our cause? Did you not understand your orders?"
Griffin didn't look at Roger Harding. His miserable mug was
forever etched in Griffin's mind as it was. "I understood
His boss stood next to him, his cologne sucking up all the
good oxygen. He wore a black suit, as always, along with a
black tie and black shoes to go with his black personality.
"Those orders came from the President. Do you want to be
the one who tells him that our one chance of protecting
this city was blown because you couldn't apprehend a
shapeshifter without incident?"
Technically, the orders came from a Special Senate
Committee, but Harding liked to think he was bigger than
that. Griffin responded calmly, "No sir, I wouldn't."
"Then what was the problem?" Harding said, his voice
getting higher by the minute. If Griffin were at all lucky,
Harding would have a heart attack right then and there. He
waited, but it didn't happen. Maybe next time. Griffin was,
after all, a very patient man. It had been a hard lesson to
learn, but he'd learned it very well.
"We didn't have a choice. She shifted."
Harding frowned. "You were supposed to prevent that from
happening. You blew the operation—"
"She shifted in broad daylight," Griffin amended.
Then Harding put his hands on his hips. "That's crap.
Shifters can't do that."
"She can. Ask the team. I don't know how, but she converted
completely in a millisecond. All her abilities were full
strength. It didn't slow her down at all."
"Christ, what next with these damn things?" Harding said,
running his hand through his hair. He stared at her through
the glass. "Has anyone else reported that ability?"
"No," Griffin said. "Obviously, she's more special than we
originally thought. It will certainly work to our
Harding frowned deeply. "Well, that's just ducky. But we
can't force her to work with us, and this was not a good
Griffin took offence to that but didn't say so. The fact
was, the takedown had gone as well as it could have.
Everyone survived. Camille Solomon had been captured
unharmed and was recovering nicely. And no one outside of
XCEL even knew it had happened. It couldn't have gone
better. Except the part where he tranquilized her.
Harding asked, "So how do you intend to guarantee her
"We have plenty of motivation for her."
"Those motivations better be bullet-proof, Mercer," Harding
They were. Griffin hadn't spent the last two month's
tracking her for nothing. He'd memorized her file, watched
her on video, tailed her movements, and documented every
single one of her identities. He knew more about her than
she probably knew about herself.
Harding asked, "You're positive that you can handle her? If
she gets off your leash and does something stupid, it's my
head that will roll."
Griffin could always count on Harding to cover his own
ass. "I'm positive."
"What, are you going to use your Indian voodoo to track
Griffin felt the rush of anger through his bones. Harding
hated him because he was special, and he'd use any tact to
attack his self-confidence, including his half-Navajo
heritage. Tough shit for Harding. "If I have to."
For a moment, Harding just stood there staring at him, and
Griffin knew he was considering putting another agent on
this case. Someone who didn't drink too much, who followed
orders to the letter, and who would kiss his uptight ass.
Well, screw that. Griffin wasn't the perfect agent, but he
was for this case. Besides, his assignment had come from
the above Harding's big head, and that's really why Harding
"Let me know when she wakes up," Harding said as he turned
Right after I talk to her. Griffin replied, "Yes, sir."