Addie’s mission had been sabotaged and she’d been shot multiple times. She wouldn’t die from her wounds because she was an immortal, but she did hurt, and she needed time to heal. The Winchesters had taken her into their home while she was passed out from her injuries. Now that she was awake, she needed to leave. She was being hunted and they would all be in danger if she stayed. Xander Winchester had just received the best news. The publisher loved his book so much that they were not only publishing his book, they were offering a movie deal to boot. He couldn’t wait to tell his family at dinner tonight. The scent from the woman hit Xander hard. Her beauty was something that he’d never seen before. Even as he took a step toward her, his mind was telling him to tread carefully, while his body and wolf were telling him to go forth and conquer. He had a feeling that listening to that part of him would get him killed quicker than stepping in front of a bus. Or an entire line of them. Xander should have known better. Should have taken to heart what his mind was telling him….
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Caleb Winchester didn’t care for his boss, in fact he despised him. He hadn’t meant to quit that day—the words ‘I quit’ spilled from his mouth without thinking—but once said he had no regrets. He was a good ad executive, he could find another job.
Quinn Dorsey and her father, Alexander, had seen Caleb’s work and that was the artist they needed for their dog food labels. When the agency couldn’t deliver the ad campaign they ordered, and then lied about Caleb working on the project, they went looking for the man himself.
Caleb hadn’t expected his customers to seek him out, but when Alexander shows up at Caleb’s house with his daughter, Quinn, Caleb is floored—she’s his mate and she’s been marked by another alpha.
Caleb’s not going to let an alpha beat him out of his mate. This lunatic has been marking females left and right, but if Caleb claims her, he risks not only his life, but the life of his mate and family as well….
Gabriel Winchester was finally opening his own practice. After finishing the final details, and meeting his first patient, he sat back in his unfinished office and closed his eyes, just to rest them, he told himself. When he opened them, a burly stranger was there, and he wasn’t that friendly. The man was looking for a Rayne McFarland and “I don’t know who she is” wasn’t an acceptable answer, so Gabriel called his brothers through their link for help.
Rayne was on the run from her father, and knew when he caught up with her she’d be dead. Rayne could speak to the deceased and they warned her every time her father’s henchmen were near. What she didn’t count on was falling in the woods and injuring herself.
When his brother, Owen, brought the unconscious woman into his office, Gabriel’s wolf knew immediately who she was to them. Ready or not, Gabriel had a mate, and while he knew he could handle the threat to her, he wasn’t sure he could live with her ability to talk to the dead.
Clare Macintosh didn’t know what was going on. Her brother, Conrad, had been called in for a meeting and they’d already been waiting over an hour. They were leaving, they had waited long enough.
Owen Winchester had called for the meeting with Conrad. He had no idea the young man was handicapped, but what he had to show him would make his life easier, or at least he hoped so. The trunks Owen had found in the barn of his new home belonged to him. Conrad was the only living relative he could find of the previous owner. Owen was a bit surprised to find Conrad had a sister and she was his mate to boot.
All Clare wanted to do was take her brother and hide. Her parents, Con and Ava Macintosh, weren’t nice people, and neither were the people they stole from. Even though Clare had distanced herself from them, it wouldn’t stop their associates from seeking revenge. She didn’t need the handsome stranger pushing his way into her life.
Tyler saw his big brother coming toward him. Xander hadn’t seen him yet, which was okay with him. Xander would probably just walk away and go someplace else where Tyler wasn’t. Not just with Tyler, but everybody. He’d been like that since Wendy had died. She’d been his mate. “You gonna talk to me?” Xander stopped and said that he didn’t want to talk to anyone. “No, I guess you made that kind of clear. I’m worried about you. Everybody is.” “I’m all right. It’s a big blow to my heart, even though I didn’t know her at all.” She’d been killed when someone raided the store she’d been in with her momma, killing them both as well as several other people there. “When we were at the funeral, Dad had to help me away, do you remember that? I sort of feel like that all the time now. Broken.” “Yes, we all do.
Dad said that she didn’t suffer any. I don’t understand people, Xander. To kill anyone, that’s so sad, but to do it for nothing more than because they didn’t have the right kind of honey for his cereal is just plain stupid.” Xander sat down next to him. “I could smell her, even with all those chemicals. But I knew right then what she was to me.” “I don’t know what I’d do if that happened to me. Dad said you wasn’t taking it hard then, but you seem to be now.” Xander nodded. “I guess you had time to think on it, huh?” “Yeah. Mom and Dad, they got it right, you know that? They tell each other all the time that they love each other. I was gonna do that too.” Tyler didn’t know why people would even like a girl, much less love one, but he did agree that his parents were mushy like that. “I’ll never get to have a kid of my own either. Not that I want one right now, but I thought that someday I’d want one. A whole bunch of them that I could play with, like Dad did us.” “I don’t ever want to have any sons, Xander. Boys are all I have right now in brothers.
” Xander ruffled up his hair, like he always did. “Someday I guess I might want sons, but you guys are always being bossy and stuff. I hate that.” “We’re just trying to make sure that you do things right, little brother.” Tyler nodded and thought of all the things that had been going on of late. “You know, Mr. Cartwright, he told me that someday, I was going to think back on him and wonder why he’d been wanting to be a part of our family. I told him that I knew why. My momma baked the best pies in the world.” “She does at that. But I don’t think he does it for that reason. He’s lonely and sad sometimes, have you noticed that? Anyway, I think that he comes over not for the food, but because we’re nice to him. And he’s nice to us.” Xander laid back on the ground. “I’m about done being mopey, as Mom called me. I just had it hit me what all I was going to miss. But, I guess that’s the way the fates wanted it. Come on, let’s go and get
us some dinner. Mom said we’re having the catfish that you and Mr. Cartwright caught yesterday.” Tyler didn’t care all that much for catfish, but he knew better than to turn down meat.
They didn’t have it often—sometimes they’d go a whole week without any. But when they did have it, they ate it like it was gold filled. Being wolves, they needed it. But there was usually plenty of other stuff to go with it, and Mom always had some hot bread to fill up the voids when there were any. There might not be tonight. He’d caught ten catfish yesterday and Mr. Cartwright had caught himself a dozen, then handed them over to Tyler to give to his momma to cook up. Xander walked alongside of him, shortening his steps so that he could keep up. Tyler had all these dreams of somedays. That’s what he called his list, Somedays. Someday he was going to have it all too. Someday he was going to have a nice car. Not new—they weren’t worth the payments, Dad said. Someday he was going to own him a house. Really close to his parents, he decided just then. Someday he was going to be rich too.
Just so he could make it easier on his mom and dad. Someday, he thought lastly, he was going to meet him a nice girl, even though he didn’t like them, and have him a bunch of kids. Someday. Not now, but someday. “Do you suppose that the fates—or whatever it is that sets us up like this—you suppose that they take in account that your mate might have something happen to him or her?” There were times, like at this moment, that Tyler thought his older brother was too young for his brain. “You know what I mean, don’t you?” “Yes, I understand you. But I honestly don’t know, Xander. I mean, they know everybody’s fate. You know, that’s their name, right? I would think that they’d know that from the minute they set you up.” He didn’t think that was nice, so Tyler tried to fix it. “But I’m only a kid and you’re almost a big adult. Well, you are big. Like bigheaded. Big footed. What sized shoe do you wear now?
Or do you just go on out to the field and kick two cows in the bottom and wear them?” Tyler wasn’t stupid nor was he very fast, but they took off running as soon as his brother growled. Laughing too hard to go far, he felt his brother’s big wolf take him down and lick him all over his face. They were having so much fun, he’d forgotten why Xander had come to find him in the first place. It was dinner time. It was always nice having Mr. Cartwright over. He always brought a treat, as he called it. Sometimes it was the stuff to make ice cream. Other times it was just a big cake that had been on sale or something. Tyler thought the man was just being nice. He’d been in the store a lot with his momma and hadn’t ever seen a sale on those sized cakes. But he ate whatever it was because it was always good. “Mr. Cartwright won’t be joining us tonight, sons.” He asked his dad why not. “Well, today was the date that his wife passed on, and he goes and sits with her for a spell.” Tyler glanced at Xander but said nothing. “Why don’t we gather up some of those flowers that are gonna die anyway and take them over to her grave for him?” Caleb always had the best ideas. Tyler wished he
had one or two like he did.
“We don’t have to stay, just show him that we care that he’s hurting.” “Wonderful idea, Caleb.” Tyler wanted to kick his brother under the table, but he’d not do that again. He would make him pay later. Almost as if he knew what he was thinking, Caleb stabbed him with his eyes. Caleb was the oldest, and sometimes when he was being big brother, he’d just beat him to a pulp for the fun of it. Not really. Tyler would sort of make him mad, just to see him running after him. Caleb was the best big brother there was. They took the flowers to Mrs. Cartwright’s grave and were invited to stay by Mr. Cartwright. But Mom said they had supper on and wouldn’t be bothering him. Mr. Cartwright kissed his fingers and laid them on top of the pretty headstone that Dad had helped carve, and said he’d join them. “The time for mourning is done. I have to…. It’ll be easier with you guys around, but I have to stop acting like I’m gonna come out here and she’s going to be waiting on me.” Dad told him that they’d be powerful sorry if he went with her. Tyler had no idea what that meant, but he wisely kept his mouth shut. Grownups were touchy about death, love, and such. That night when he and Dominic were in their room, he asked him what he thought about what Xander had said—about there being someone else out there for him. Then he told him what he’d told his brother. “I think that’s what Mom would call you being insensitive, moron.
” He asked him how. “Because that was the time when a little fib would have made him feel better. You know, like when Mom asks us if she looks tired and she does, but we all tell her that she’s right pretty.” “But that’s not the kind of question that Xander asked me. He wanted to know the truth.” Or he had thought he did. “I did try and tell him that I was only just a kid. And him being an almost adult.” “There. See? You did it twice. You called him almost an adult. He’s not an adult and saying almost only makes it sound like you don’t think he’s going to ever be. I swear, there are some times, Tyler, that I think you were born under a rock or something.” He pointed out to his brother he was being insensitive too. “Yeah? Well, think how that made you feel.” For the rest of the night he did think about how it made him feel. Nothing. They were always calling him a moron, or something like that. Instead of thinking of it as a bad thing, Tyler thought of it as a learning curve. Yeah, he did learn that he was a might on the insensitive side. But his brothers were older than him, except Dominic, and the two of them needed to grow some. Not that he was sure what they were supposed to grow, but he’d heard that at the high school a few weeks back and was glad now that he’d found a way to use it. But, like the rest of them, he’d never say something like that, or curse in front of their mom. She was scary when she was upset about something.