Can two very different men find the love they need to survive?
Remi Ginn’s an easygoing werecat with a love of snarky T-shirts who would be perfectly happy with a human mate. Is that what the goddess Bast gives him? Of course not. Instead she gifts him with Marshell, a Vetala: a snakelike nonshifter who drinks blood to survive. A man who’s just as toppy as Remi—and even more powerful than the West Falls Clowder’s Alpha and heir apparent.
While Remi decides whether he can handle the fates’ choice, hunters attack Marshell. In an explosion of passion, Remi and Marshell mate and Remi declares Marshell his. Now they have to figure out how to make their relationship work as they dance around each other.
The clowder is in turmoil, and Remi’s acceptance of Marshell rocks the very foundation of the insular group. The consequences will be far-reaching. And if that isn’t problem enough, the situation with the hunters is far from resolved… as the appearance of an Alpha werewolf proves.
Ms. Church stops by today to share her bucket list. Some of the things on her list are things I’d love to be able to do too. How does your bucket list compare to hers? Read and enjoy!
- Go whale watching
- Swim with dolphins
- Visit the Empire State building
- Visit an honest-to-goodness castle
- Take an overnight train
- See my favorite football team play. Go #Steelers!
- Go to a Super Bowl
- Experience zero gravity
- See the northern lights
- Take an Alaskan cruise
Fuck my life.
I’d have to check, but I was pretty sure I had a shirt that said that somewhere in my closet. If I didn’t, it was next on the list of things to get. Because it fit—my life was fucked.
Sighing, I turned the radio up in an effort to drown out my thoughts. I rattled down the road in my old beat-up work truck—which was another thing I needed to take care of. I’d owned a sweet ’69 Ford Mustang. Had being the key word. It went up in flames not long ago… with the mate of Dolf, our heir apparent and head beta, inside.
Kirk made it out alive. My baby wasn’t so lucky, and I hadn’t replaced her yet. Yes, I was mourning a car. I loved her. Ugh. So much for drowning out my thoughts. I turned on my blinker and made the turn onto Alpha Armonty’s street for an emergency meeting he’d called.
Bad enough this was Monday, but it was what humans called Cyber Monday, goddess help us. I turned the heat up a little more. December had arrived with what the South considered abnormally cold temperatures. Frankly I liked the cold—liked the snow, as long as we weren’t buried under a mountain of the stuff.
As I pulled up in front of his house, I saw Dolf’s truck was already there. Dolf, our head beta, was the Alpha’s son and heir apparent. The other three betas—Heller, Aidric, and Brier—had arrived too. That left me. I was also a beta for the West Falls Clowder.
I parked behind Heller and sat in my truck, staring sightlessly at the house. One of the reasons we were meeting was because I met my mate, Marshell Foles, a few days ago. Good news, right? Cue the canned audience applause.
Now the bad news. My mate was possibly stronger than my Alpha and the heir apparent together. Okay, now cue the canned boos and hisses. Maybe I should’ve said life was fucked with a capital F.
I flashed back to the night I found out he was mine and the heavy petting session we had on his couch. Now my cock was hard. Wonderful. Just what I needed—an erection right before I met with my Alpha.
I pushed at the bulge, frowning. “Down, boy. I’m afraid you’re barking up the wrong tree.”
In order for a shifter to mate, we had to share come and blood during sex—which involved bottoming. For my mate I could bottom. The thing was, I didn’t see myself doing it on a regular basis. I was a top—which was not that big of a deal, except so was Marshell.
Somehow I didn’t see Marshell bottoming any more than I wanted to. The man screamed Alpha male. That was another can of worms, and not the only one by any means. And sitting here analyzing this was useless. I got out and walked toward the front door before one of them noticed me sitting out here in my truck like a dummy.
Just as I got to the door, Dolf opened it, read my shirt, and promptly burst out laughing. “You have got to tell me where you get those.”
Smirking, I shook my head. “It’s a well-guarded secret.”
Today I wore a black shirt with white writing: Be careful when you follow the masses…. Sometimes the M is silent. “Masses” was in light blue, as was the letter M, to draw attention to the play on words. I’d been known to follow an ass or two in my day. Those days were over now.
Dolf nodded at my truck. “I was wondering if I was going to have to come out there.”
“I had a feeling you’d be tapping on the driver’s window if I didn’t get out soon,” I said as Dolf moved out of the way so I could enter the Alpha’s home.
“I was counting down. Dad and the rest are already in his office.”
“That’s where the food is, right? I just got off work, so I haven’t eaten.”
Dolf clapped me on the shoulder as he shut the front door. “Of course. Come on back before they eat it all—damn bunch of vultures.”
I followed Dolf. The smells coming from Alpha Armonty’s office made my mouth water. “Something smells good.”
“Mom got hot wings. There are fries, coleslaw, and potato salad to go with it. And rolls too.”
“Your mom rocks.”
We entered the office. Everyone was still standing around helping themselves. Good. That meant there was still food, and I made a beeline for it.
“Hey! Look what the cat finally dragged in.” Aidric shoulder-bumped me.
“Oh, such sharp wit. It cuts like a dull knife.” I rolled my eyes. “And don’t think I didn’t notice you bumping me away from the table, you hog.”
“Hot wings, man.” Aidric winked at me. “Food of the gods and hungry werecat shifters.”
“You’re always hungry,” I griped, shoving Aidric out of my way. “Stop blocking the table, dude.”
“Hey, Remi,” Brier greeted me.
“Hey, how’s it going?”
“Good, good. Just got through helping my sister, Breanna, move into her new apartment here in town. I swear, how does one person accumulate that much stuff?” Brier complained.
“Oh that’s right. I forgot she was back,” I said. “Where was she living before?”
“Philadelphia. She moved up there for her job, but she couldn’t stand the cold weather and endless snow. All she did was gripe, gripe, gripe. I finally got tired of hearing it and told her if she was that unhappy, then she should move back home. I was kidding, but I don’t think she got that. Next thing I know I’m getting a phone call and a due date for her to move.” Brier scowled at a chip on his plate. “Should’ve kept my mouth shut.”
“What did you tell me she did?” I asked.
“She’s an accountant. Now that she’s settled into her new place, she’s started job hunting. She’s got some savings, but that won’t last forever.”
“Is she still unmated?” I asked.
“Yep. She had a boyfriend, but they weren’t mates. And speaking of mates, I heard you found yours. Man, sorry I couldn’t attend the dinner. Congrats.” Brier sat down at the round table we always used for meetings.
“Yeah, you should’ve seen his face.” Aidric chuckled.
“Thanks,” I said, unsure if I should say more. Did Brier know the situation? Aidric did. He was there that night.
“Welcome, Remi.” Alpha Armonty pointed at the side table where the drinks were set. “There’s several different sodas to pick from, and tea. Get yourself a plate and grab a seat.”
“Yes, Alpha.” I filled a plate and got a drink. After we were settled, Alpha Armonty cleared his throat. All talking ceased.
“We’re meeting for several reasons. First let me congratulate Remi. As I understand it, Remi met his mate during Heller’s Thanksgiving dinner, which I wish now the wife and I had attended.”
“Yeah, you never know what kind of trouble Heller’s going to stir up,” Aidric joked.
“Again, let me remind everyone Lawson’s to blame for the whole Thanksgiving deal. That’s my story, and I’m sticking with it.” Heller nodded as though that was the end of the subject.
“You chickenshit.” Aidric poked Heller in the ribs. “Look at you trying to throw it off on your mate, and the guy isn’t even here to defend himself.”
“I’ll tell him,” I volunteered, flashing Heller an evil grin. “Knowing Lawson, he’ll hide Heller’s hair-styling stuff as revenge. Hmm, I might even have to suggest that. Just in case, you know.”
“He’d need a storage unit for all of it,” Brier added and then took a drink of his soda.
“And a forklift to get it to the storage unit.” Dolf snickered, licking the sauce from the hot wings off his fingers.
“Just a damn minute here.” Heller threw his napkin at me. “How’d this discussion get off onto me anyhow? And Remi? You might want to remember Lawson’s like a brother to your mate. Maybe I’ll tell Lawson to tell Marshell how you picked on me… and I’ll have you in the doghouse, man.”
“Doghouse? Really?” Dolf hooted.
“Sounds better than cathouse.” Heller shrugged and then bit into a wing.
M.A. Church is a true Southern belle who spent many years in the elementary education sector. Now she spends her days lost in fantasy worlds, arguing with hardheaded aliens on far-off planets, herding her numerous shifters, or trying to tempt her country boys away from their fishing poles. It’s a full time job, but hey, someone’s gotta do it!
When not writing, she’s on the back porch tending to the demanding wildlife around the pond in the backyard. The ducks are very outspoken. She’s married to her high school sweetheart, and they have two grown children.
She was a finalist in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, runner up in the 2015 Rainbow Awards, and is a member of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America.
September 13: Books all things Paranormal and Romance and Assassins https://m.facebook.com/Booksallthingsparanormalandromance/, Books 2 Blog http://frombooks2blog.blogspot.com
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