First Chapter of The Flight!

Want to know what you’re getting before you buy it? Now’s your chance! Scroll down to read the first chapter of The Flight!

Gay Romance, Erotic Romance, May/Dec, Contemporary
Word Count: 17,825
Heat Level: 3

Buy Links: EvernightAmazonBookStrandSmashwordsKoboBarnes & NobleiBookstore

Flirting at thirty thousand feet with a charming rock star is a terrible idea, especially since Sebastian can’t afford to lose his job as a flight attendant. Ethan Clementine may be hot and oh-so-talented, but Sebastian has no desire to join the mile high club, or so he tells himself. The truth is that he misses playing music, and he would love to fall in love with the right guy, but everyone knows Ethan is into women.

Ethan is tired of traveling, tired of fame, and he’s especially tired of pretending he’s straight. He’s been in the closet for so long, it seems pointless to come out as bi, especially with his career in the balance. So what does he do when he meets sexy flight attendant Sebastian? He sings the man into the sack, because one hookup doesn’t mean he’s going to fall in love, right?

Chapter One Excerpt:

 

Sebastian stared down the length of the swanky private plane, nervous as hell and unable to do a damn thing about it. Plush seats and a polished wooden coffee table stared back mockingly, and he sighed. There was nothing to straighten up or wipe or prep. He’d just have to suck it up and pretend he knew what he was doing. He straightened the cuffs of his shirt for the umpteenth time, wishing he didn’t have to wear the dorky sweater on top. It was one of the uglier uniforms he’d had to wear over the years.

“Hey, you okay?” Darlene asked him as she double checked the doors to the galley cabinets. Everything was fastened securely, but Sebastian’s friend had always been a bit obsessive-compulsive. He watched her fiddle with the coffeepot before strapping it down.

He nodded and attempted a smile. “I’m fine. Just a little nervous.”

“You’re going to be fine,” Darlene said. “You’re a natural with people.”

Sebastian’s smile turned stiff. “Probably because of all the work I did with my mother.”

“Oh, hey.” Darlene put a hand on his arm. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to remind you.”

He shook his head. “No, it’s fine. It’s been over two years since she died. I still miss her, but I don’t want to nottalk about her. I want to remember her, you know?”

Darlene pulled him into a quick hug. “I know. I just didn’t mean to remind you.” She leaned back and smiled impishly. “Maybe you need to start dating. Maybe this client will be some hot guy and you can practice flirting with him.”

“Darlene! You know that’s against the rules,” Sebastian said, faking shock. He splayed a hand on his chest. “We’re not supposed to touch the clients.” He huffed. “Besides, I’m not looking for a boyfriend right now. I want to use my free time to focus on my music.”

“You’re not getting any younger, dude.” Darlene laughed. “And rules are meant to be broken.”

“I’m only twenty-three,” Sebastian said, rolling his eyes. “Give me a break, Darlene.”

She smirked at him, and he decided that since he was never going to win an argument with her, he might as well shut up now.

“Heads up,” Rob the pilot said, stepping out of the cockpit. “Our passenger is on his way.”

Darlene immediately stopped fussing and stood at relaxed attention. After a double-take of his usually relaxed friend, Sebastian did the same as the nerves he’d manage to suppress zipped back up to the surface. He inhaled deeply, and then exhaled, counting to ten. He’d gone through the training, and he knew how to do everything that was expected of him. However, he still wasn’t entirely certain what it would be like working for a private charter airline that had wealthy clients. He was used to working on commercial flights filled with beleaguered masses of exhausted travelers.

Can’t be worse than cleaning up baby barf and refereeing angry strangers, intent on killing each other,he reminded himself, wishing he was at home working out the kinks in his latest song instead of working. Gotta pay the rent, though, and music doesn’t do that. Yet.

“There’s his car,” Darlene said, pointing to a brilliant red Ferrari driving on the tarmac. “It’s weird that we don’t have a name for the guy, but whatever.” She shrugged. “Whatever the client wants, the client gets.”

Sebastian shook his head. He couldn’t imagine being so rich that you could drive your sports car right up onto the airport and park it next to the plane. A sudden beeping had him turning to the cockpit. The copilot, Phil, pointed to his ear. The pilot frowned, then leaned over and grabbed his headset. He tapped a button and listened for a moment, then murmured a soft “Roger that.”

“What is it, Rob?” Darlene asked as he returned.

The pilot sighed. “Your sister is in the hospital, Darlene.”

“What?” Darlene’s face paled. “Is she all right? What happened?” She scrabbled for her purse in one of the cabinets, and then pulled out her phone. “Come on, come on,” she muttered as she waited for it to power up.

Sebastian’s heart banged against his ribs. Darlene’s younger sister was eighteen, and suffered from seizures.

“They think she’s going to be fine, but your mother needs you at the hospital,” Rob said, looking grim. “Your sister needs further tests.”

“Shit. She’s probably going to have to stay overnight, and Mom can’t stay with her,” Darlene said, already going for her jacket and bag. She glanced at Sebastian. “This is exactly why I pushed you to apply for this job. I need a partner on these transatlantic flights.”

Sebastian knew all about Darlene’s home life. Her younger sister, Katy, had suffered from epilepsy her entire life, and while it was mostly managed by medication, she couldn’t drive and sometimes had difficult episodes. Normally, that wasn’t an issue, but Darlene’s dad had recently had a stroke, and her mother couldn’t take care of both her husband and her daughter by herself.

“Go on. I’ll be fine,” Sebastian said, projecting a confidence he didn’t at all feel.

“You know everyone will understand,” Rob said to her.

Darlene sighed as she shoved her arms into her jacket. “I need this job, Rob.”

“And you’ll keep it.” The pilot glanced out of the open hatch. “Go. I’ll explain to the client what happened. And then I’ll explain it to our boss. Vinair is a good company. They’ll be okay with it.”

Darlene nodded, then gave Sebastian a quick hug. “Good luck.”

“I’ll be fine. Give Katy a hug for me.” Sebastian returned her hug. “Go on.”

She smiled briefly and then ran down the steps. She headed into the terminal just as the doors of the Ferrari opened. Sebastian watched a tall, dark-haired man with large sunglasses get out of the driver’s side, while another man exited the passenger’s side.

He looks familiar,Sebastian thought, gaze going back to the first man.

“Good. He’s on time,” Rob murmured from just behind Sebastian.

Sebastian turned to look at the pilot. “Are clients often late?”

The pilot snorted. “You could say that. Rich people aren’t like us.”

Sebastian grimaced as he watched the two men extract their luggage and head for the plane. “Maybe this guy will be different.”

Rob shrugged. “Doesn’t matter if he is or isn’t.”

Yeah, not for you. You’re the pilot, and you won’t have to interact with him. I will.“I thought there was only one passenger for this flight?” Sebastian asked watching the two men.

“There is. The other guy is his bodyguard,” Rob said, as if it were normal for people to have security trailing them around.

And maybe it is, for people like this,Sebastian thought, trying to mentally adjust his thinking. He started down the stairs to help with the luggage. The moment his feet hit the tarmac, he smiled at the two men. “Welcome to Vinair. Let me get your luggage for you, sir.” He stared as they walked closer, feeling inexplicably drawn to the man who’d exited the driver’s side. The guy wore a blue short-sleeved button-down shirt, thin leather bracelets, and a beautiful silver necklace with a bird charm that nestled in the hollow of his throat. His black jeans were tight, and perfectly paired with a worn pair of shit-kicker boots. He obviously worked out, but he wasn’t an over-muscled gym rat. He looks like an artist,Sebastian thought, itching to find out if the man’s blue shirt felt as soft as it looked. He forced his gaze back up to the man’s face. He wore his hair relatively short, and had a bit of stubble going on along his jawline. The large mirrored sunglasses hiding his eyes reflected Sebastian’s own face back at him with his professional smile firmly pasted on. Sebastian suppressed a grimace. He hated the way the required uniform made him look: conservative and boring. He couldn’t even grow his hair out, and usually just opted for a very short cut.

The man smiled. “Thanks,” he said, handing his bag to Sebastian.

Huh. He sounds familiar,Sebastian thought as the client turned to the other guy and took the suitcase from him.

“Would you grab my guitar for me, Jack?” The client glanced around. “I don’t think anyone is going to jump me right next to the plane, especially after what we had to go through to get the car in here.”

The other guy nodded. “No problem, boss.” He headed back to the car.

“And stop calling me ‘boss’!” sunglasses guy yelled. He grinned when the other man gave him the finger.

Well. He seems nice enough,Sebastian thought, a little less nervous. A guy who would joke like that with his bodyguard couldn’t be that much of a dick, no matter how rich he was, right? Still, something about him nagged at Sebastian. The man looked and sounded so damned familiar, but he couldn’t put his finger on what it was that twigged his memory.

“Lead the way,” sunglasses guy said to Sebastian, jolting him out of his reverie.

Sebastian smiled again, and offered his hand for the other bag. “I can take that for you, sir.”

“I’ve got it.” The man lifted the bag with no problem, then stood waiting.

Tearing his gaze away from the man’s rock-steady biceps, Sebastian nodded, and then gestured to the stairs. Rob waited at the top for them. “After you, sir,” Sebastian said politely. Best get my mind on my job and not on the client.

Sunglasses guy lifted an eyebrow. “Are you going to keep calling me ‘sir’ all the way to Mumbai?” He grinned. “It’s a fifteen-hour flight. That’s a lot of sirring.”

Sebastian swallowed a laugh. “It’s my job to sir at you.” He waited a beat. “Sir.”

The man laughed out loud. “Dear God, no. Please. Just call me Ethan.” He turned and headed up the stairs, stepping so lightly his thick boots made no sound.

Wait, what? Ethan? Could it be—Sebastian stared, and then mentally kicked himself into motion. He followed the man up the stairs. There was no way this guy was Ethan Duke Clementine, rock star musician. No. Way. I’m making wishes out of nothing.Besides, this guy didn’t have long hair. Duke Clementine was known for his long hair and his electric blue eyes.

“He must like you. He’s rarely that friendly so fast,” a voice said from just behind him.

Sebastian nearly tripped over his own feet. The bodyguard had snuck up on him, carrying a battered guitar case. Plastered across one half were a plethora of stickers from around the world: Milan, New York, Hong Kong, and more. Sebastian blinked. That guitar case had seen a lot of the world. He had a case plastered with stickers just like it at home. “What?”

“Ethan doesn’t usually warm up to people that fast,” the bodyguard said, following him up the stairs.

We’ve literally just met. He doesn’t know me well enough to like me.Sebastian paused at the entrance to the plane, speculating. Could he be gay?He wasn’t sure how he felt about flirting with a client, no matter what Darlene said. The pilot had already ducked back into the cockpit, and Ethan was strolling down the length of the plane, bag in hand. “Ethan,” he murmured, still trying to figure out where he’d heard that name.

“Yeah. Ethan Clementine,” the bodyguard said, propping the guitar against the nearest seat. “Good singer. Nice guy.” He clapped a hand against Sebastian’s shoulder. “Good luck with him.” With that, he turned and exited the plane, making quick work of the stairs and heading for the car, whistling as he walked.

Ethan Clementine. Holy moly,Sebastian thought, shocked into stillness. I must be dreaming, right?His thoughts scattered as he stepped back into the plane. There was no way this guy was the same singer whose music he’d been listening to for ten years. Ethan Duke Clementine had burst onto the music scene when Sebastian was thirteen, and he’d been rolling out the hits ever since. He couldn’t imagine why the guy would be here, on this particular plane, on this particular day.

Even if it is him, he’s at least ten years old than you, and he’s straight, so get a grip, Sebastian told himself as he watched Ethan shove his bag into one of the compartments tucked under a side table. If Ethan really wasDuke Clementine, the musician had cut his hair, and it had rendered him completely unrecognizable. And he was shorter than he looked in interviews, and a hell of a lot thinner. For as long as Sebastian had been aware of Duke as an artist, the man had sported shoulder-length locks. And eyeliner. You don’t know if he’s wearing eyeliner or not,Sebastian mused, still staring. The man had yet to take off his sunglasses.

“You’re staring at me,” Ethan said, half smiling.

Jesus. That voice…Sebastian flushed. “I’m sorry. Let me get your bag, sir.” He forced himself to walk forward. Ethan held out the bag, and Sebastian stowed it in the cabinet near the galley. “You can access it at any time once we’re in the air.” He turned and grabbed the guitar case. “Did you want to hold onto this? Or I can put it in the closet.” He gestured to the rear of the airplane as he stuffed all knowledge of Ethan’s probable true identity into a box deep inside his mind. If he didn’t, he’d probably start freaking out all over the man, and that would be about as unprofessional as he could get.

Even so, his hands trembled slightly, knowing that he might be holding onto the guitar that had been responsible for the vast majority of his favorite songs. Maybe it’s not really him, and the bodyguard is just playing a joke on me,he mused, still not letting himself believe Ethan was Duke Clementine, Grammy-winning and bestselling recording artist. Even my mother liked him, and she wasn’t easy to please. The pang of grief he felt over her death still hurt even though it had been a couple years since she’d passed away. Even if it is Duke Clementine, keep it together. You’ve met a ton of musicians over the years, and now is not the time to turn into a fool, he told himself nervously.

“I’ve got it. Thanks,” Ethan said, smiling again as he strode forward and took the guitar case from Sebastian.

Sebastian nodded and let go, and then turned to take care of the door. The airport ground crew had already started to move the stairs away, and it was a safety violation to keep the door open. When he’d finished sealing it up, he turned to find Ethan looking at him, head tilted.

“Is there something I can help you with?” he asked, pleased that his voice didn’t tremble. “Would you like a drink?” He half turned to the galley. “Or I could give you the tour before we take off.”

Ethan slowly reached up and removed his sunglasses.

Sebastian froze. The brilliant blue eyes he’d had been half-afraid to see twinkled at him warmly with no sign of any eyeliner anywhere. The thing was, those eyes didn’t needeyeliner. They were utterly recognizable with or without enhancement, known far and wide all across the world. “No, I’m good,” Ethan said, as if from a distance. Sebastian could barely hear the man. He was too busy screaming inside his head. Meanwhile, Ethan’s gaze flicked down to Sebastian’s nametag. “Sebastian.”

Sebastian couldn’t move. He couldn’t speak. He’d never thought of himself as being particularly shy, but right now, right here, he found himself completely incapable of any response. Ethan, aka Duke Clementine, was standing here, right the hell in front of him, and the man had said his name.

Her Dangerous Mistake #FirstChapter PEEK!

buy links: Evernight — Amazon — BookStrand — Smashwords — Barnes & NobleiBooks

   

Erotic Romance, Paranormal, Shifters, May-Dec, Rubenesque, Suspense
Word Count: 52,000

Moira is on the run—her apartment has been trashed, her bank account hacked, and someone is stalking her. Only one man is dangerous enough to keep her safe … that is, if she can convince him to help her. Neil Deven used to be her father’s best friend until betrayal turned him violent. Neil disappeared, and finding him might be the biggest mistake of her life, but Moira won’t survive alone.

Neil remembers Moira as a sweet little girl caught in the middle of her father’s criminal life. The gorgeous woman who shows up at his door is anything but a child, but he’s already got problems. Dragon shifters are a dying race with no way to change form, yet Neil’s powers keep growing. And Moira stirs long lost instincts—he can’t deny her need. He must protect the woman who will be his mate, or die trying.

What are people saying about Her Dangerous Mistake?

Reader review from Facebook:

“I like your use of Prohibition Era passages. And that teleportation thing? Unexpected, but even more so was your description of how she felt afterwards. Your attention to detail in that moment was amazing. … how did you convey her transformation and her emotions so beautifully??? OMG, it was like I was in her head, her heart.”
Chapter One Excerpt:

This is a mistake. Moira pressed a fist to her chest, but it didn’t help at all. Her heart still hammered against her ribs. She took a slow, deep breath, knowing that she couldn’t stay on this street for long, but she needed to calm down in order to figure out what to do next. And I haven’t been calm since last Tuesday. God. I need help. She stared forward, not really focusing on anything. Just beyond the bus shelter sat a long stretch of busy road. Cars zoomed by, indifferent to the poor suckers waiting to catch their daily ride to work. The rain drained the life out of everything, turning the world gray and damp.

“Miss? You dropped this.” A woman nudged Moira’s arm.

Moira startled, then turned. An older lady held out a frayed scrap of paper, folded into a small square.

Oh God, if I’d lost that… Her thoughts trailed off as she took the paper, pressing the corners into her palm until it hurt. “Thanks,” she murmured, shoving it into her jeans pocket. The edges were wet, and she hoped the water hadn’t smudged the ink.

The woman shrugged, shifting her bulging bag. She readjusted the strap automatically, not seeming to notice the weight. “No problem.” She shuffled past, then eased her overweight body onto the shelter bench and heaved out a sigh, effectively ignoring Moira.

Sensing the old woman’s exhaustion, Moira looked away. Everyone has problems. No one cares about you and your stupid life. She took another deep breath, and then made the decision she’d been putting off for the last three days. She really didn’t have any other choice. They’d trashed her apartment. Hacked into her bank account and shut off access. She didn’t own a car. Her phone had turned into a brick yesterday. She had a hundred bucks in cash, and a small backpack with a single change of clothes. You’re going to die if you don’t do this. They’ll catch you and kill you, whoever they are.

She chewed the inside of her cheek. She hadn’t set eyes on Neil Deven in fifteen years. She could hardly remember his face, and he was certain to look completely different now, anyway. She’d been only six, after all, when her father had fucked up his last good friendship with his drinking and violent rages and idiocy. Neil had been her dad’s best friend, though he had clearly been an ominous influence. What kind of man was Neil now? She had no idea, except she knew he wasn’t a safe option. Even as a girl, she’d felt something … odd about him. Something dark. Something dangerous. But isn’t that what I need? Someone who knows how to survive? Someone scary?

Shuddering, Moira shoved a hand into her pocket, fingering the edges of the paper. She’d found the address of the bar Neil owned using a computer at the library. The next thing to do was get on the bus and hope like hell he remembered the kid he used to bounce on his knee. She remembered him laughing a lot, but she also remembered him beating her dad unconscious. This is the last idea I’ve got, she reminded herself when the bus pulled up.

As she got on, the rain washed away the tears she couldn’t seem to control.

****

Neil stared at the spreadsheet, frowning. Something wasn’t adding up, but he didn’t have the time or the patience to track it down this morning. He closed the document and clicked his laptop into lockdown. Maybe he’d go over it again it later. Maybe not. He fucking hated doing the books, though he was always careful to keep a close eye on things.

“Boss, someone at the front is asking for you.”

Neil looked up. His bartender, Andy, stood in the doorway, hands full of a stack of clean bar towels.

“Who is it?” Neil leaned back in his chair and massaged the kinks out of his neck. Staring at a computer screen always gave him a headache.

“Didn’t say. It’s an older man. Distinguished looking.” Andy shrugged. “He’s wearing a pricy Italian suit.”

A hot flare of anger rippled through Neil. There was only one person he knew who wore clothes like that and would dare to come knocking on his door in the middle of the morning, when Dracona was closed. He took a deep breath, controlling his rage. Weird things had started happening around him lately when he let his self-control slip. “Thanks. Please let him know I’ll be out in a minute.”

Andy gave him a look that told Neil he knew something was up. Neil wasn’t about to enlighten his friend. He didn’t want Andy mixed up in this, whatever this turned out to be. His father wouldn’t show up unannounced on a whim. Neil sighed, rubbing his temples. His headache had increased about a thousand percent since his bartender had knocked on his door. “I’m fine, Andy. Just let him know.”

Andy grimaced, but he backed out of the office. “Sure thing, Boss.” He headed into the club’s open area, ostensibly to put away the towels and let the man know Neil was coming.

Neil stood up and walked to the front of his desk, then closed his eyes and centered himself. The last thing he needed to do was lose his temper, especially if it was his father out there. He took three deep breaths, and then he took three more. He calmed his mind. When he opened his eyes, his father was standing in the door of his office, face twisted into a mask of disapproval. He wore a grey suit, impeccably tailored, like everything else about him. The color clashed with his dark eyes, but no one would dare mention it. Neil far preferred his own battered jeans and comfortable sweater to his father’s more cosmopolitan style. Arrogance never goes out of style, he reminded himself. And dear old Dad’s got it in spades.

“Your lackey told me you would be right out, and I assumed you were busy, but here you are, doing absolutely nothing. Your lack of respect never falters, does it?” The older man stepped into the room and shut the door behind him as if he owned the place.

Neil gritted his teeth. All the work he’d done to calm himself disappeared in an instant. “Hello to you, too, Dad.” He narrowed his eyes. “Show yourself in, why don’t you? Have a seat.” His father had already lowered himself into Neil’s desk chair.

“This … establishment is beneath you,” his father replied, sweeping an arm out contemptuously. He made sure to pause on the word establishment, as if Neil gave a shit what his father thought, though the note of derision in his voice did grate on his nerves. “It is beneath the Deven legacy,” his father added.

“Dracona is a very successful business.” Neil leaned against his desk. He’d be damned if he’d sit in the frigging visitor’s chair in his own office.

“You mock your heritage,” his father growled, eyes flinty. “You named a filthy bar after our people.”

Neil sighed. His father’s opinion never changed. “Why are you here? Because if it’s to berate me about actually earning an income instead of living off some random trust fund…” he trailed off sarcastically. “Oh, yeah, that’s right. I don’t have a trust fund, do I? Because you already spent all the money my grandfather left to me. How could I have forgotten about that?” Neil raised an eyebrow, positive it would drive his father wild. Even if he never shows it. Neil smiled internally as he saw anger flash in his father’s eyes. I love pissing the old bastard off.

His father straightened his tie fastidiously, fingers a bit stiffer than they should be.

Ha. Got under your skin, didn’t I? Neil thought, pleased.

“Your mother and I have decided that it’s time for you to take your place as a Council guard,” his father said, putting his hands flat on Neil’s desk. “It’s time to stop this foolishness.”

Neil laughed derisively. Never. Not in a million years will I play servant boy to a long-dead race of arrogant has-beens. He took a careful breath, making sure that his control never wavered. “No.”

His father glared at him. “This demeaning insistence on playing human—”

“We are human. None of us have any power anymore, and you know it.” Neil stood up straight, unable to keep his pose of relaxed indifference. “None of us has shifted to dragon form in a hundred years. You and the rest of the Council are delusional.”

His father stood, eyes flashing gold. Neil snorted, unimpressed. His father had one trick: the ability to manipulate others with his mind. But not my mind. You’ve never been able to force me to obey you, and you never will, you perverse fuck. Neil glared right back at him.

“You will come home and take your place, and then we will see about a mate for you. You will continue the Deven line.” His father folded his arms across his chest as his eyes glowed brighter.

Neil stared at his father, and then laughed again, genuinely amused. “Your parlor tricks don’t work on me, remember?” He knew that if he looked in a mirror, his dark eyes would be as golden as his father’s right now. Ignoring his father’s persuasion took little effort, but it still tended to trigger the last, surviving vestige of his heritage. Or almost the last… He banished the thought to the back of his mind. Focus. “I’m immune to your voice and your eyes, as you well know.” He glanced at the clock on the wall. “Go home, Dad. I have a lot to do before the dinner rush.” He stepped back and opened the door, holding out his free arm to indicate the meeting was over. “Tell Mother I said hi.” He paused, smirking. “Oh, wait, you can’t, because you don’t even live in the same house anymore, do you? You probably had to set up a meeting with her to discuss me.”

His father growled. “You have a responsibility to your race.” He walked over to Neil, doing his best to loom over him. It didn’t work. Neil stood several inches taller than his old man. “If you continue to follow this path, you will be cast out.”

What a hardship. Not. Neil snorted. “Uh-huh. As if that means a damn thing to me.” He deliberately rolled his eyes, just to provoke his father further. “Or to anyone, for that matter. Our people are a dead species. None of us can shift, like the dragons of old. All you can do is force a bunch of poor humans and some of your own people into obeying you. No thank you. That’s not my idea of a fun time.” He jerked his head at the exit. “Goodbye. Don’t let the door hit you on the way out.”

“You will regret this.” His father strode through the door with his arrogance wrapped around him like a suit of armor.

“Unlikely,” Neil muttered to himself as he watched his father weave through the dark wood tables. When he finally stepped out of the bar, Neil slumped against the frame of his office door. Dealing with his father both exhausted and annoyed him. And no way am I going to let myself get roped into a loveless marriage like my parents. I’d rather be single until my death, even if it means being alone for a thousand years.

“Who was that?” Andy asked, edging closer. The towels he’d been holding were gone, but he had three bottles of merlot stacked along his right arm. “He looked like a mobster.” Andy made a face. “A creepy mobster, with a sort of plantation owner vibe going on. All smug and shit. Not cool.”

“Not cool” is the understatement of the year. Neil grinned, his mood lightening. He had better friends than he deserved. “That was my father, though ‘mobster’ isn’t a bad description for him.”

Andy stared at him. “You have a father? I thought you’d sprung full grown from an egg or something. Like one of those raptors from Jurassic Park. You’re always so calm and interested looking, right up until you strike.” The twinkle in his eyes told Neil he was teasing. He certainly didn’t know about Neil’s dragon blood. No one knew of Neil’s true heritage, because it meant nothing. For all intents and purposes, he was human.

Neil laughed, letting the tension from his father’s visit slide out of him. “Sorry to disappoint you. My arrival here on Earth was much more mundane than cracking open a human-baby-sized egg, though I’m sure my mother would argue otherwise.”

Andy smiled. “Now I’m trying to imagine you breaking out of an egg. Yuck.” He pretended to gag. “That’s not a pretty image. Gunk everywhere.” He waved his free arm.

“Like from a horror movie, right?” Neil egged him on. “All claws and teeth.”

“Exactly,” Andy said, grinning. “Screaming humans, alien invasion, yeah… Gross.”

Neil laughed. “Sadly, my birth was entirely normal, except for the part where my mother handed me off to a nanny as soon as I popped out.” Neil tried not to let his bitterness seep into his voice, but from the look on Andy’s face, he doubted he’d succeeded.

“I had no idea your parents were even alive. You never mention them,” Andy said, his smile slipping away. He unloaded the wine bottles onto a nearby table.

“That’s because there’s nothing to say about them.” Neil lifted a shoulder as he wrestled his emotions back under control. The last thing he needed was for his power to manifest and freak his friend out. “My parents are assholes. I try to never speak to them if I can help it. I don’t go home. I don’t invite them here. We’re all better off that way.”

Andy lifted an eyebrow. “So, what was your father doing here? He didn’t look happy about it.”

“He wants me to come back home and marry someone suitable.” Neil shook his head. “No, thank you.”

“Wait, an arranged marriage? I thought that shit went out of style, oh, a couple hundred years ago.” Andy lined up a series of wine glasses on his arm. “That’s totally medieval, man.”

“Yeah, well, my family is weird.” Neil didn’t bother to explain any further. “So, you got the last of the bar stocked and ready?”

“Yup. Just gotta put these away.” Andy grabbed the three bottles of wine with his free hand and headed to the bar, carefully balancing a truly ridiculous amount of glass on his arms.

With something close to amazement, Neil watched him successfully navigate the tables and offload the glasses. If he tried that, he’d probably drop everything in under thirty seconds. “Excellent. You’re a good bartender, Andy, and a better friend.”

Andy tossed him a grin and a salute.

Neil smiled, then glanced around Dracona. The dark wood tables gleamed with polish, the elaborate iron chandeliers were lit and sparkling dimly, and judging from the delicious scents wafting from the kitchen, Chef Joreen had everything under control in the food department.

“Maybe you should take today off,” Andy said unexpectedly, wiping at a nonexistent stain on the bar. “You never give yourself a break. Joreen and I can handle things for one night.”

“I don’t need a break.” I need my parents and the rest of the Council to leave me the hell alone.

Andy snorted. “Yes, you do.” He hung up the damp towel and lined cut fruit up at the end of the polished wood bar. The automatic lights clicked on, reflecting muted blues and yellows on Andy’s bald skull.

Neil grimaced. “Enough with the armchair therapy, Andy. I’m fine.” Ignoring his bartender’s eye roll, Neil headed down the hall behind his office toward the rear back door just beyond the restrooms. He hoped some fresh air would clear his mind. He ignored the emergency exit sign and pushed the heavy metal door open. A cool breeze wafted past his face as he looked out over the gravel parking lot that terraced around the building. A small stream lay at the bottom of his property, and he could just make out the sound of the water bubbling over rocks. He half-smiled as he leaned on the door.

Okay, yeah. This works. He breathed deeply, letting the sounds of nature settle his nerves. When shots echoed through the natural gully, instead of flinching, his first reaction was to punch something. He never got a fucking break. He curled his fingers into fists as his instincts shifted into high alert.

Hunters? Here? It wasn’t uncommon to hear shots in this part of Pennsylvania, but it was early October, and his bar wasn’t that far from Main Street. It’s too early for deer. And those shots are too close to be hunters. The closest shooting range lay five miles south of Dracona. State game lands lay fifteen miles north. Those shots didn’t belong here, not now. Not ever. His dragon, already stirring from his father’s unwelcome visit, woke up in the back of his mind, dark and dangerous and pissed off about the threat to his territory. Neil gripped the edge of the door, taking deep breaths. Now was not a good time for his shifter blood to wake up. Things tended to catch fire around him when that happened.

“Hey, boss, you okay?” Andy asked, putting a hand on Neil’s arm.

Neil turned on him, teeth bared. “Close the door and lock it behind me.”

Andy frowned. “Neil, your eyes…” He trailed off, taking a step back.

Fuck. So much for not burdening Andy with my shit. Neil had a feeling he’d be busy later tonight trying to explain away the glow in his gaze. Right now though, he couldn’t care less. He turned back toward the woods. “I heard shots. It’s not safe out here.”

“Doesn’t that mean you should come inside?” Andy asked carefully.

Persistent guy. Probably why we’re friends, though now isn’t the time to be stubborn. Neil let go of the doorframe and let his gaze roam the lot. Someone was out there. Someone who didn’t belong. “Go inside, Andy,” he said again, more harshly this time. A long moment later, the door clicked shut behind him. He exhaled, concentrating on keeping the energy that curled at the base of his spine under control. When he didn’t keep his focus, the energy spiraled out, searching for something to burn, and the most flammable thing around was Dracona. He didn’t need his bar going up in flames over a few stray shots that might not mean anything.

Branches snapped. Neil walked down to the second terrace lot, ignoring the gravel crunching underfoot as he searched the tree line. His dragon rumbled in the back of his head, huge and impossible. Neil gritted his teeth. He had to keep his cool. He didn’t want to set fire to the cars that were parked at the edge of the lot any more than he wanted to burn down his building. Or the trees. Or the birds… His thoughts trailed off when he caught sight of a woman crouched near the big oak at the north end of his property. Her head was turned away, so he couldn’t see her expression, but her body told him that she was running from something. Her silhouette spoke of both coiled energy and skittishness.

Someone’s after her. Neil took another step forward, not trying to be quiet. He wanted her to hear him coming.

The woman whipped her head around. Fear chased over her face, and then her brilliant blue eyes met his and Neil lost control of everything. His dragon roared silently. Blue flames licked along the gravel, almost invisible.

The woman didn’t notice. She stared at him as if he were her worst nightmare, or possibly her wildest dream—he couldn’t tell which. Neil couldn’t look away either, because he knew her. He never forgot a face, and this one in particular had haunted him for over a decade. He took a deep breath, and then let it out as he called the flames back to himself.

“Moira.”

Alpha Shaman Chapter One #excerpt!

Do you like shifters? Rock stars? Not sure? Here’s your chance to decide if you want to go on a journey with the Bad Oak Boys….

…scroll down for chapter one of ALPHA SHAMAN!

buy links: Evernight – Amazon – ARe – BookStrand – iBooks – Barnes & Noble

  amazon-bestseller-icon  ARebestseller

Gay Romance, Shifters, Paranormal, Erotic Romance
Word Count: 56,260
Heat Level: 4
Published By: Evernight Publishing

The world isn’t ready for a rock star werewolf, but Josh Oakley can’t stop biology. When his brother sends sexy wolf shaman Gerwulf to help him, instinct is too mild a word for how he feels. Gerwulf calls to his animal in a way that defies logic.

Gerwulf knows Josh is his mate the moment they meet, but he doesn’t like guys and he doesn’t intend to bond with anyone. He’ll help the musician control his wolf, but getting too close isn’t his intention. Besides, he wouldn’t know what to do with a man in his bed.

Of course, shifters can’t dodge fate—a crisis forces Josh and Gerwulf to accept their connection just in time to save Forst Pack from an old enemy. When biology ties them together beyond even a mating bond, will they be able to move past their fear and into a future that holds more than they ever expected?

***MPREG***

Chapter One Excerpt:

Only half awake and still shaking from the nightmare, Josh Oakley stared at the lit display of his cell phone. The time told him that he hadn’t been asleep long. He considered heading to the hotel bar in search of liquid consolation, but quickly dismissed the thought. He didn’t like the way booze made him feel, and the band didn’t need him going off the rails in public. Not that I ever drank much. His heart pushed against his ribs too hard and fast for a man having only just gone to sleep an hour ago. He frowned, willing his brain to stop running in circles. A long, dark, coarse hair had wormed its way between the side of his phone and its black case, pricking his thumb. He plucked it out and tried to calm down, but his thoughts wouldn’t settle.

It’s just a dream, Josh. It’s not real. Just like aliens aren’t real and neither are zombies. He crushed the hair between his fingers. It crinkled, then bounced back onto the phone’s display. He brushed it to the floor, pretending he hadn’t seen it. Pretending he wasn’t feeling what he was feeling. That he wasn’t sensing something wild and wolfish in the deepest part of his psyche. Fuck. His heart stuttered again.

“Call him, you idiot,” he muttered, sliding a finger down the screen until his contacts list popped up and glared at him accusingly. “He’s your brother. He won’t mind even if it’s the middle of the night.” His thumb stabbed Ryan’s name before he could chicken out again. I hope to God he can help me. Josh took a deep breath and put the phone to his ear. It rang once, twice, and then he winced as Ryan’s groan reverberated through his skull.

“Jesus, Josh. Do you know what time it is?” His older brother’s voice sounded rough. Tired.

“I’m sorry, but it’s happening again, Ryan,” Josh said, biting the words out one at a time so he wouldn’t start yelling. He ignored the stab of guilt he felt for bothering his brother so late. Ryan would have to deal, and he’d make it up to him. “I’m not imagining it. I swear I’m not making this up.” He stared at the blurry outline of the hair he’d swatted to the floor. From his vantage point on the bed, it sort of blended into the hotel’s carpet, but he knew it was there. He didn’t have to see it to remember how it felt against his finger.

Silence, and then a long sigh told him his brother understood. Finally. “Okay, I’ll send someone to help you. Just hang in there, Josh.”

Josh swallowed, hard. “Can’t you just come yourself? I wouldn’t mind seeing Fenris, too. I miss you guys. It’s weird touring on my own. And I’m sure the audience is sick of my lame-ass voice trying to do lead vocals. Bad Oak isn’t the same without you, and everyone knows it.”

“Fenris is sick, and Bardulf is off mediating a disagreement between two packs. Something about a territory dispute. Damned idiots, fighting over a few acres.” Ryan let out a frustrated growl. “You’d think grown men would know better. Last I heard, they were flinging accusations of witchcraft back and forth. It’s ridiculous.”

“Oh.” Josh rubbed his face, disappointed. “Is Fenris okay?” He hated the thought of his two year old nephew being ill. He loved the little pup more than he ever thought he would. “I can deal with my shit. I’m not dying or anything.” His guilt increased. He didn’t like feeling so weak. So frightened. He was twenty-five years old. He should be able to handle a few bad dreams without calling his big brother for help. And his big brother had a lot more on his plate than dealing with his sibling’s nighttime anxiety attacks.

“It’s just the flu, but he’s still got a fever. The barfing finally stopped yesterday, thank God. He can’t seem to aim for the bucket, and I’m getting tired of cleaning vomit off of my feet.” Ryan yawned into the phone. “So tell me, what exactly is going on with you?”

Josh stared across the hotel room. As a founding member of Bad Oak, platinum selling rock band extraordinaire, he no longer had to stay in crappy motels, but sometimes the swanky resorts had the weirdest wallpaper. Old tea roses sprawled along the walls of this particular room like drunken spiders. He shuddered. “Bad dreams,” he finally said. “More hair in my bed.”

His brother took a deep breath. “Shit.”

Josh had hoped he was overreacting, but his brother’s flat response blew that wish out of the water. “I’m fine. It’s nothing.” He regretted calling. Now that he was on the phone with his brother, he felt like an idiot, especially compared to what Ryan was dealing with. A sick kid, a spouse who was off trying to solve the impossible… “I’m sorry I called. I didn’t realize Fen had the flu.” He rubbed his face tiredly.

“You’re probably trying to shift in your sleep. That’s not fine. That’s fucking dangerous. And it’s not just bad dreams. We don’t have dreams like that without it meaning something, Josh.” Ryan sounded more awake now. “When the wolf wants out, he’ll come out, and there’s nothing you can do about it. If someone isn’t there to help you—”

“I’m not a wolf, Ryan,” Josh cut him off. He knew his protest was feeble. He and his brother shared DNA. He had the same dormant capacity to shift as Ryan. But I don’t have a mate to push my genes over the edge, so this shouldn’t be happening. Ryan is mated to Bardulf. I’m alone. I don’t have a mate. I don’t even have a fuck buddy, for Christ’s sake.

“You’re my sibling. Anything is possible.”

Josh’s anger rose to the surface. “I called you for help, not to listen to you state the fucking obvious, brother.

“Shit, Josh,” Ryan said. Then he took another deep breath and blew it out. “I didn’t mean it like that, and you know it.” He sounded even more tired than he had just a minute ago.

Something feral inside Josh pushed at his skin. He ignored it. He was getting really damned good at ignoring that part of his mental landscape. “I want to cancel the rest of the tour.”

“What? Are you serious?” Ryan sounded shocked. “No, don’t do that. Look, you only have another month to go, right?”

“You know the schedule as well as I do.” Josh gritted his teeth. “I’m tired, Ryan.” He rubbed his free hand over his arm. His skin prickled. It had been doing that more and more lately. “I just need more rest. I don’t need a babysitter. As soon as the tour is over, I’m going to sleep for a week, okay? You don’t have to worry about me. Forget I called. I can manage.”

“I’m going to send someone to help you. Just hang in there until he gets to you, okay?”

Josh swallowed his frustration. His brother was trying to help the only way he could. Ryan had responsibilities. They all did. “Fine. Whoever you send better get here quick. I don’t know how much longer I can keep singing and not sleeping.” He kicked at the covers angrily, watching in satisfaction as they slid to the floor. He wished he could smash some windows and mirrors, but Bad Oak didn’t do the kind of destructive shit other rock bands loved to indulge in. “I’m not sure splitting the band up for this gig was a good idea.”

“The fans love you, Josh. The reviews of your acoustic stuff are fantastic. Bad Oak will tour again as a band, but right now it’s your time to shine as a solo artist,” Ryan said.

Josh made a face. “You seem really sure about that.”

“I am sure. It was the right thing to do, especially with Fen so little, still.”

Josh sighed. “Okay, whatever. Send your guy. He better not be a dick.”

Ryan laughed. “He used to have a bit of an attitude, but I think our Shaman has scraped off all the sharp edges.”

“Oh no. Please don’t tell me you’re sending—” The sudden deadness of the line was all Josh needed to know. “Fuck!” He tossed the phone down onto the nightstand and tried to ignore the sudden fizz of energy that shot through his body. Outside the room, the city lights twinkled at him indifferently. Inside his head, his animal side suddenly coalesced into something wild. Something desperate. He clenched his fists and willed his body to relax, shoving the wolf he knew lurked in the deepest part of his soul down deeper. He was going to deal with this shifting shit on his own terms even if it killed him.

Which it very well might.

**

“Alpha Ryan, you sent for me?” Gerwulf asked, trying to stifle his yawn. He was only half successful. His mentor, Shaman Ralf, had prodded him awake ten minutes ago and told him to report to the Alpha, never mind that it was the middle of the night. God knows what he thinks I did now. I’d hoped that the past two years with Ralf would’ve shown everyone that I’m not the fuck-up I used to be. Of course, changing people’s opinions was harder than it looked, especially since he’d been an idiot when he was younger. He’d managed to offend most of the pack with his stupid ideas and snotty attitude. Not for the first time, he fought down the shame that rose anytime he thought about what he’d been like. He had no idea why the Forst Alphas had seen fit to give him a second chance, but he wasn’t going to waste it by mouthing off over something as minor as being woken up unexpectedly.

Forst Pack’s co-leader stared at him, half-frowning. Gerwulf fought the urge to smooth down his hair under that steady perusal. He was a grown man. And he was the Shaman-Heir apparent, even if it wasn’t official yet. He wouldn’t disgrace his mentor by acting like the spoiled teenager he’d been two years ago.

“I did. I need you to help a new wolf deal with shifting unexpectedly,” Ryan said. “Ralf told me you would be more than able to handle the situation.”

Gerwulf’s eyebrows rose. He didn’t know of any teens on the verge of shifting in Forst Pack. Or at least, not any that didn’t have their parents on hand to help them out. “Did we take on new members? I know I sometimes focus on my studies too much and maybe I missed the welcome announcement.” Shit. He hoped he hadn’t missed something important. It was going to be his job to keep track of the pack’s emotional and spiritual needs and he didn’t want to give the impression he was a flake.

Ryan shook his head. “No, no you didn’t miss anything.”

“I don’t understand.” Gerwulf glanced around, but the Alpha’s office was neat and no one else was awake in the pack mansion. Miles of gleaming wood didn’t do much to answer his confusion.

“This is a delicate situation, so I’ll need you to keep this quiet.”

This didn’t sound good. Gerwulf frowned. “Shamans aren’t usually sent to help with shifting, except in extreme circumstances. The change works better if the wolf’s family is the one helping. There’s an emotional connection that eases the way.” He watched Ryan’s face twist slightly. Worry slid down his spine. Something weird was going on here. “Of course you probably already know that.”

“I do know that, Gerwulf, and believe me, I would go if I could. But Bardulf is off dealing with that dispute, and I’m needed here because Fen is sick. You’re the next best thing.” Ryan sighed and rubbed his face. “This is important. I’m trusting you with this.”

Gerwulf’s wolf whined very quietly in the back of his mind. “Who is it?” he asked, knowing that the answer would probably not make him happy. He could think of only one person in particular who was related to Ryan and who also easily made him feel like the selfish brat he’d been a couple years ago with just a brief look. Gerwulf had been young and incredibly self-centered, protesting when Bardulf had become Alpha of Forst Pack. No one in the pack had approved of his behavior, especially not Ryan’s brother. “You know that my relationship with some members of the pack is still tenuous,” he said. His mind turned over possibilities of who Ryan could want him to help and kept circling back to one person in particular. But that would be impossible. He’s a human. And off on tour, being famous and perfect and completely not someone I can hang out with.

“You’re very perceptive, but then, Ralf assured me you’d come a long way since you began studying with him,” Ryan said, his expression easing a bit. “The wolf who needs your help is Josh, my brother.”

****

“Okay, so this is crazy,” Gerwulf told Ralf as he shoved clothes into a duffel. He didn’t feel up to this task, at all. The fire at the far end of the cave flickered against the stone walls, mirroring the turmoil he felt inside. He was supposed to help Josh. Bad Oak’s lead guitar player and sexy rock star. The guy who made him feel like an loser just by existing. Josh had always been incredibly polite, even when Gerwulf was a sixteen-year-old asshole. Josh was a nice person despite his fame and boatloads of money. And yet, Ryan wants me to help him? Everyone knows I’m not that cool. And, too, he didn’t want to go off to live on some cramped tour bus filled with guys who’d known him before he’d managed to reform himself into a decent person. Unfortunately, that’s what his Alpha was asking him to do, so he would do it. But I don’t have to like it.

“This is what you’ve been training for,” Ralf said mildly, not seeming to notice Gerwulf’s agitation. He sat in his creaky wooden chair with the faded and worn cushions half fraying into dust. The old man loved that chair. Someday it was going to disintegrate right out from under him, but Ralf didn’t care. His mate, Kenyon, had crafted it as a mating gift. Their joining had been the stuff of legends: two males, one a Shaman and the other a lone wolf, choosing to be together when same-sex pairings hadn’t just been illegal, they’d been downright life-threatening. “You are exactly the right person to help Josh learn how to accept his wolf into his life. And you’re not the kind of man to let a pretty face turn your head,” Ralf said, smiling slyly.

Gerwulf shot the Shaman a disgruntled look. “Are you joking with me?” Josh? Pretty? Sure, the guitarist was handsome, in a rugged kind of way. Gerwulf could picture Josh’s piercing gray eyes with almost no effort. But pretty? He shook his head as he grabbed another pair of socks and stuffed them into the outside pocket of the bag. Truth was, he was already done packing and just looking for an excuse to linger. The cave where he’d studied with Ralf had become home to him, and Ralf the grandfather he’d never had. This place is more of a home than any my deadbeat parents ever gave me. “I thought I was training to be a spiritual healer. A shama, not a babysitter.” His lips curled. “And certainly not a Bad Oak fanboy.”

Ralf laughed. “Well, maybe I was teasing a little.” He sobered. “Truthfully, you are ready to go back out into the pack. Isolation is important for a Shaman at first, but a true healer and wolf spirit must be integrated into the whole. It’s time for you to become part of Forst Pack. This task is simply the first part of your larger duty.”

Ah. The truth comes out. It’s just like Ralf to spring my next lesson on me in the middle of a crisis. Gerwulf zipped his duffel and leaned back against the now empty shelves that had held his clothes. “I’ve been part of Forst Pack my whole life.” He ran a hand through his hair. “I want to matter. I don’t want to live on the fringes, but I also don’t feel ready to do this. How can I help Josh when I know he’s going to look at me and remember the jerk who challenged his brother and Bardulf?” He sighed. “No one in the pack has fully accepted me, especially not after the way I acted when I was younger.” Tension rippled down his shoulders. “I know I didn’t make it easy for people to like me, and I’m sorry about that. More than anyone realizes.”

Ralf’s face lost his smile. “Your parents were adopted into the pack, but they never truly bonded with us. And the old Alpha’s mental issues made it difficult to repair that problem. I take responsibility for your unhappy youth, Gerwulf.” The old Shaman shifted in his chair. “You were a child. A pup. You needed care and attention, not ostracism. I’m sorry I didn’t see that sooner.”

Gewulf bit back a growl. His behavior was not his mentor’s fault. “What? No.” He took a deep breath, controlling his emotions before his wolf took over. He’d learned that much, at least, in the past two years. “No, Shaman,” he said more softly, frustrated that his mentor had misunderstood his meaning. “You’ve been nothing but helpful to me, and I appreciate that. You have nothing to do with my parents and their problems.” Gerwulf shoved the old bitterness down. He was grown, and his parents were part of his past, not his present or his future. “You couldn’t have saved them from themselves. Trust me on that. They’re barely part of the pack anymore, and it’s probably a good thing. I wouldn’t be surprised if they just ran off someday.” He thought about what it had been like growing up with them and grimaced. He remembered his father’s inability to control his wolf very acutely. He remembered his mother’s weakness and inability to stand up to his father. No. Their terrible choices are not Ralf’s fault. They’ve never been Ralf’s fault.

Ralf sighed. “We’ll have to agree to disagree on that.” He slowly stood up from his chair and walked over to Gerwulf. “I’m proud of all you’ve accomplished these past few years.” He put a knobby hand on Gerwulf’s shoulder.

Gerwulf nearly stepped back in surprise. His mentor’s expression was deadly serious, and almost stern. “I’m grateful that you took me in and taught me, Shaman,” he said formally, bowing his head in respect.

Ralf’s hand tightened. “Your studies have been exemplary. I petitioned Alpha Bardulf and Alpha Ryan for permission to officially appoint you as my successor, Shaman-Heir Gerwulf.”

Gerwulf’s froze, shocked. “Are you serious?”

Ralf smiled, blue eyes suddenly twinkling. “Yes. And my petition was accepted. Henceforth, you shall be known as Shaman-Heir Gerwulf, with all the status, rights, and responsibilities of the position. Where you go, it will be as if I am speaking. You are truly part of the pack, grandson of my heart.”

Gerwulf stared at him, unable to process the news. “What—” He broke off and cleared his throat as emotion clogged his voice. “How?” He shook his head, then reached up to clasp Ralf’s arm. “Why?”

Ralf nodded. “You have done well.” His face softened into a bittersweet smile. “And you are an Alpha, so it is your destiny.”

“An Alpha?” Gerwulf blinked. “No. That’s impossible.”

Ralf laughed and stepped back. “Why do you think you chafed so much at Bardulf’s authority, pup?”

Gerwulf couldn’t respond. None of this made sense. “I’m too young to be appointed your heir. You’re going to live for a long, long time.” He stumbled back to his bed and sat down. “And I can’t be an Alpha. We already have two of them in Forst Pack. That’s already one too many for traditional purposes.” He ignored the wolf inside of him who insisted that Ralf was correct. He’d known he was somehow more, for a long time, but since it didn’t make sense, he’d denied it. Maybe that’s why I was such an arrogant jackass when I was a teen. He flexed his fingers, hoping the motion would distract his wolf. The last thing he needed was to start whining like an untrained pup. “I don’t understand.”

Ralf sat back down in his chair and brushed his silver hair away from his face. “After the last two years of leadership and growth, Forst Pack is the largest North American werewolf group on the continent. Additionally, Alpha Bardulf is the leader of the North American Council. Did you never stop to think that perhaps we needed an Alpha-Shaman as well?”

Gerwulf took a deep breath. “You’re the Alpha-Shaman. The only Alpha-Shaman that has ever been.” His wolf howled in his head, denying the statement.

Ralf smiled. “Don’t get so hung up on tradition, young man. To be a wolf is to be wild and free. We are pack, but we are also human. We are a complicated species.” He nodded emphatically. “You are Alpha. You are a Shaman. It is done. The news has already been given to the other packs and the Council. After me, you are the premier Shaman of the North American werewolves. You outrank even Ylva Roul.” He smiled faintly. “Your wolf knows this already.”

Gerwulf’s hands shook as he smoothed them down his thighs. “What if I’m not ready for this?”

“Your wolf is ready. Trust in that. If I had done so when I was younger, my life would not have been nearly so difficult.”

Gerwulf couldn’t argue with his mentor. Even now, his wild better half growled agreement. “I don’t know what to say. This isn’t what I studied for. I just wanted to help people and erase what my parents did.”

“There is nothing for you to say and no blame you need to expunge. Only one thing is certain in life: werewolves cannot deny their nature, my grandson.” Ralf gripped the arms of his chair, blue eyes simultaneously sad and sure. His gaze pinned Gerwulf to the bed. “When we try to ignore instinct, disaster follows.”

 

Beloved (Blue’s Boys 3) #ChapterOne #Excerpt!

BELOVED is still 25% off at Evernight!

Want to read the beginning of the story? Scroll down for Chapter One.

buy links – Evernight – Amazon – BookStrandARe

beloved1l   epeditorsesal1s

Erotic Romance, Menage (MMF), Romance on the Go, Romantic Suspense

Word Count: 13,600
Heat Level: 3
Published By: Evernight Publishing

 

Blue thinks her life is pretty awesome—after all, she has two sexy boyfriends and an exciting career scaling walls and breaking open safes. What more could a woman ask for? So what if her boys are cops and she’s a thief? They haven’t arrested her yet, right?

Matt and Liam love Blue to distraction, but when one of her throwing blades turns up sticking out of a dead thug’s body, their acceptance of her lifestyle faces its biggest threat. They think she’s been framed, and saving her life is more important than arresting her for murder, but old habits die hard. And unfortunately, Blue isn’t the kind of girl to let someone else take the heat for her problems.

Can their love survive murder, an unexpected surprise, and a dirty cop bent on silencing the thief who can expose all of his despicable plans?

belovedbanner

 BELOVED Chapter One

Blue stared down at the plastic stick in her hands. Two little lines proclaimed that her life was about to change. A lot. Anxiety slid icy fingers around her spine.

“Pregnant,” she whispered, swallowing hard. She didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. She’d always wanted to have children, but she’d long since given up on it ever becoming a reality. She was a thief—not exactly the most stable profession in the world. What kind of mom cracked safes for a living? She could just imagine the excuses she’d have to come up with: Oh, hey, sorry about missing your recital, honey. I had to break into an office building to steal a necklace. Here, have a tiara. Blue snorted and glanced into the mirror above the sink. Scared green eyes stared back at her.

“Crap.” She turned around. Watching herself freak out wasn’t going to do a damn bit of good. She took a deep breath, fighting back tears. She had no idea how Matt and Liam were going to take this news. She didn’t even know which one of them was the father! She set the stick down on the counter and ran water to wash her hands, avoiding her reflection. When she finished, she took another deep breath and grabbed the pregnancy test as she headed for her bedroom. She’d put it in her emergency bag.

Because getting pregnant is definitely an emergency, she decided, shoving it into the front pocket of the duffel she kept in her closet. As a thief, she always knew there was a slim chance she’d have to leave in a hurry someday, so she was always prepared. She kept a change of clothes, a wig, a wad of cash, and some false documentation in the canvas tote. She even charged her laptop in the bag. That way, all she had to do was grab it and run. She’d just finished zipping up the pocket when her front door slammed open.

“Blue!” Matt yelled. “Are you home?”

She froze. “Matt?” What was he doing here in the middle of the day? They weren’t supposed to meet for dinner until after seven. She stood up and kicked her closet door shut with her foot just as he rushed in with Liam on his heels.

“Oh, thank God. We’ve got to get you out of here,” Liam said, hurrying to the window and pulling down the blinds.

“Liam? What the hell are you doing?” Blue frowned at him. He looked stressed. The crows’ feet around his hazel eyes seemed somehow more prominent. “What’s going on?”

“Here,” Matt said, shoving clothes into her arms. “Put these in a bag.” He had her top dresser drawer open.

Blue dropped the shirts on her bed. Matt and Liam were acting crazy. They’d only been dating a few months, but she’d never seen them so worked up before, not even in the middle of a gunfight. “I didn’t give you the key to my place so you could barge in here and start throwing my stuff around,” she told them, crossing her arms. To her disgust, even their bizarre behavior couldn’t detract from their sexiness. She tried her best not to ogle them, but as usual, she failed. They could start singing show tunes at the top of the Empire State Building and they’d still look hot, she thought, distracted by Liam’s perfectly shaped ass.

Matt ran his hands through his hair. “Blue, please. You’ve got to listen to us.”

“I would, if you were actually saying something useful. You’re not making any sense, Matt,” she said, glancing from him to Liam and back again.

Liam was still at the window, peeking out through the slats of her blind. “We just got word at the precinct,” he said, turning away from her non-existent view of the brick building next door. “You’ve been accused of murder.”

“What?” Blue heart gave a hard thump. “That’s nuts.”

Matt grimaced. “Yeah, well, Detective Oscar I’m-Hotshit Galanis was throwing your name around like a ping-pong ball half an hour ago. His partner, Bill, was off getting a warrant for your arrest. We didn’t stick around to find out the details.”

Blue rubbed her eyes. “Well, shit. That’s not good,” she said, massively understating the situation. Worst. Day. Ever, she thought, more confused than worried. First, she’d nearly broken her ankle coming home from a job early this morning when her high heel had suddenly snapped off. Then, she’d discovered that the throwing knife she’d dropped off for repair was missing. She’d thought the pregnancy test coming up positive had been the worst of it, but now this? “I don’t kill people. This doesn’t make any sense.”

“Doesn’t matter. We’ve got to get you somewhere safe.” Liam strode over and tugged on her arm. “We don’t have time to argue about this.”

She pulled away, chewing on the inside of her cheek. “All right. Don’t get your panties in a twist,” she said, flashing him a tense smile. Better to bail now and figure out what the hell is going on later. She headed to her closet to get her bag. When she slung it over her shoulder, the hard plastic test stick jabbed out of the fabric like a bony finger, poking her in the hip. She adjusted the duffel so that the pocket was hidden against her body. She couldn’t deal with the pregnancy test now. She wasn’t sure if she’d ever be ready to deal with it. “Okay, let’s go.” She walked out of her bedroom and across her living room. “I hope you guys have a plan,” she told them, looking back at them standing in her tiny apartment.

Matt and Liam exchanged looks, then followed her to her the front door without another word.

Thirty minutes later, Blue sat in their car with her emergency duffel clutched to her chest while Matt drove through the city streets like a madman. “A police safe house? Are you crazy?” She asked him after he finally explained where they were going.

“It’s what we’ve got on short notice,” Matt replied, taking a left on the next street.

Blue glared at the back of his head. “It’s a dumb idea.” His shoulders tensed up beneath his leather jacket. She hated to argue, but this was her life they were talking about. She’d much rather be running her fingers over the soft leather clothing his torso, but this was no ordinary day.

“We’ll figure out what to do after we get more intel,” Liam told her, turning around to look at her. His motion twisted his dark green sweater under the seatbelt, stretching it across his muscles.

Blue pressed her lips against another angry retort. Flying off the handle wouldn’t help. Her boys were obviously doing the best they could. Except they’re cops, and their ‘best’ doesn’t take into account my professional experience.

“Where are you going to get more information?” she asked as Matt pulled up in front of a small house in Queens. It looked like all the other houses on the block. If she didn’t know better, she’d never peg it for a cop house.

“We’ll leave you here and go back to the precinct.” Liam got out of the car and opened her door. “Come on. It’ll be okay.”

Blue reluctantly got out of the car and slung her duffel over her head so that the heavy bag rested on her butt. “This is not the best plan.”

Matt slid an arm around her waist. “It’s what we’ve got for now.”

She sighed and let him tow her up the sidewalk. The grass on either side of the worn cement needed mowing and leaves from the maple in the front yard had begun falling. Summer was definitely over. She watched Liam fumble with the keys to the front door. His sweater hugged his chest and arms. He wore his gun in a concealed waist holster today. She could just make out the leather of the belt at the top of his black cargo pants. She remembered running her hands over his amazing ass. She remembered laughing in bed with them both, just yesterday. When had everything gone to such shit?

Finally, he got the door open and Matt pulled her inside. As soon at the door shut behind them, she turned in his arms and tucked her face in his neck. Matt smelled like home. She shuddered, hanging onto him tightly.

“Hey. It’s going to be okay,” he said, hugging her. “I promise.”

She swallowed against the lump in her throat and pulled away, trying to fix the sight of him in her memory. His jacket was open, showing her his shoulder holster and weapon. He wore a black t-shirt and tight blue jeans. With his leather jacket and boots, he looked more like a biker than a cop. His blue eyes were worried.

Blue shook her head and went to Liam, pulling him into a hug, too. She squeezed him hard, then let go. Her duffel banged against her hip. “Okay, I’m good.” She glanced around. The front door opened directly into a living room. A worn-out sofa slumped against the far wall. Two battered chairs were arranged near it, in front of a rickety coffee table. “What a palace.”

Liam made a face. “There should be some canned soup or something in the kitchen.” He strode over to the windows and pulled the drapes shut. “Sit tight. We’ll call you.”

She nodded, biting the inside of her cheek again. At this rate, she’d chew through her face in no time. “Okay, fine.”

“We’ll be back as soon as we can,” Matt said, kissing her quickly.

Liam cupped her cheek and kissed her a little more slowly. It nearly broke her heart.

“See you soon,” he said, stepping back.

She nodded, not trusting herself to speak. When they’d gone, she sighed and dug out her cell phone. She popped out her SIM card and tucked it in her pocket. Next, she dug out the brand new burner phone she kept in her duffel, turned it on, and called for a taxi. Liam and Matt meant well, but they were cops. She was a thief. She knew how to disappear more completely than they could imagine.