Dominic Winchester had been surprised when his Uncle O’Reilly had appeared before him with a proposition. O’Reilly would supply Dominic with a pot of gold if he repaired the children’s home so the leprechauns could thrive once again. O’Reilly was the king of the leprechauns, and Dominic’s aunt had become queen when she married him.
Dominic was thankful for the help. The camps he had been putting together for disabled children and adults had about come to a standstill because he had run out of money. The gold would go a long way into seeing his dream happen.
Charlie, a leprechaun herself, didn’t much care for people in general, most of the leprechauns feared her temper. When she was a babe, a witch had saved her from certain death, but in the process, the witch had lost her own life. Before dying, the witch gifted Charlie with her powers. Charlie was to receive them in increments when she was old enough to handle them.
When Dominic was pulled into the leprechaun realm, he was ecstatic to discover that this beautiful creature was his mate. He found her hot temper amusing and just what his wolf needed. Charlie thought the man was daft, but he was growing on her.
Now, there was a plot to overthrow O’Reilly. If that happened, the realm of the leprechaun would fall apart. Would the Winchesters be able to stop the threat and save the realm?
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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.
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….
Jazzie Scott had been having a bad run on her luck ever since she had gotten mixed up with Ryan Scott. The only thing good to come out of that short marriage was her son Joey. Ryan died right after Joey was born which left her nearly broke and working a thankless job just to survive. Now someone was out to get her. They blew up her house and sent another bomb to the school where she worked. The police were now trying to pin the bombings on her, and she had had about all she could stand when her Uncle Lloyd stepped in to help.
Tyler Winchester had properties all over the world and had recently hired a staff of people to handle them for him. He had to fly to France to take care of a problem when he received a call from one of his employees, Lloyd, that Lloyd’s niece was in trouble. Lloyd was a good worker and Tyler offered to help.
Tyler arrived home, in the wee hours of the morning. He had a bad case of jetlag and all he wanted to do was sleep. When he entered his bedroom, the sounds of a baby fussing immediately drew his attention, and when he picked the little guy up, he knew immediately that the babe’s mom was his mate. Her scent had his head spinning.
Jazzie wasn’t too keen on having another man in her life. The last one was enough to make her swear off men for the rest of her life.
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Dominic wasn’t sure how he’d gotten here, nor, for that matter, where here was. All he’d been doing was looking into his refrigerator, and was pulled into this realm by who he supposed might be called by the most beautiful, hard-assed woman he’d ever met. What he did know, and was completely happy about, was that the beauty here with him was his mate. But then she didn’t seem to be happy about it. Actually, she didn’t seem to be thrilled about a great many things. Especially when it came to him. “What is it you be doing now?” Dominic grinned at her just to get her steamed up again. He loved the way she got all pissy and her accent would bloom. “You’re daft. You be as daft a man as I’ve ever known. Are you gonna chop up that wood, or do you expect me to be doing it? I can and will, but I’ll hurt you over it.” “No. I have it. But you can’t blame a man for wanting to stare at such a lovely creature as yourself, can you?”
She growled at him and Dominic laughed. “I’m not sure if you’re aware of this or not, but that only makes you more lovely to me. Right now I’m having a hard time not thinking of what you might be wearing under that men’s clothing you have on.” “‘Tis no concern of yours, Dominic Winchester. You behave yourself, or I’ll be sending you back where I found you. What do you think will come of ye then, should you have to go back to the biggers’ world? You canna even chop a fine cord of wood without resting a bit. Sham Burt, he’s near about ten times your age, and he doesn’t need to rest about as much as you do. If’n you wish to eat tonight, you’ll be getting yourself busy.” When she turned her back to him Dominic couldn’t help but admire the view. When she turned and looked at him, he didn’t even pretend to be doing anything else but looking at her. “What is it you’re doing?” “Wondering.” She asked him what he was wondering about. “If your lovely bottom is as firm as it looks. Whether, if I were to snake my hands down your jeans, I would find you pantyless or wearing something sexy and silky.
Do you wear panties, Charlie? I know that you’re not wearing a bra. I can see that your nipples are as hard as I am.” “You canna be saying those things to me.” He asked her why not. “Because you’re not going to be taking me. No matter how much you try and butter me up.” When she stormed away, he barely caught himself to keep from laughing. That would rile her up in ways that that would make her leave him again. Once was enough, to find himself all alone in the great forest that they were in after dark. Smiling, he took his shirt off in favor of the heat. He was actually enjoying the physical labor of being here. It had been too long since he’d been able to just do something because he wanted to. Dominic and Charlie had been together for four days now. Twice she’d threatened to send him back, and twice more she’d stomped away from him, only to return an hour or so later to threaten him about something she thought he should be doing. He’d never had so much fun baiting and flirting with a woman before.
He didn’t even mind that he hadn’t been able to touch her in all this time. Charlie was his, and he thought that this courtship, or whatever it was, could last a bit longer for all he cared. Getting to know her was certainly more fun than reading contracts and hanging on the phone with people that he had to deal with. Dominic was appreciating the sound of the ax hitting the wood. There were other sounds that he liked as well, quiet things. Like the sound of the night, the snap of their fire, and the birds speaking to each other. Things that were the same on the other side of wherever he was, but things that he’d missed when he’d been living his life. A life that, he’d come to realize, was as boring as he’d been. He heard Bear before he saw him, a monstrous great being that was as childlike as the kids that came to his camp. He and Charlie would chase each other through the trees, then play in the fast-moving stream like a playful teddy. But Bear was more deadly than him when he was protecting the two of them. Especially Charlie. Once, when a sound had come from upstream when he was bathing some of the sweat off him, Dominic had been startled. Not only had Bear come out of nowhere, but he had also stood up on his hind legs and growled with the ferocity of a mad monster.
It wasn’t until a group of unicorns came tumbling out of the mountains’ opening that he seemed to relax. He hung out with him until Dominic was finished with his bath. Bear growled with his mouth wide open this time. Not sure what was wrong, Dominic made his way to the bear to see if he’d been hurt. Finding him to be all right, he asked him where his mistress was. Bear laid down and rested his head on his paws. “She sent me to find out if you were all right.” Dominic fell back on his ass and tried to get his head on straight after Bear spoke to him. Not only did he speak, but Dominic was able to understand him as well. “I could have sooner, but my mistress wanted you to get used to being here. I thought that the next time you asked me something, I’d answer you.” “I can understand you.” Bear said that he could any animal, and that of other creatures of the earth too. “What other creatures? And why can I understand you?” “Charlie. You being mates is the real reason. Also the fact that you’re going to be helping us. Did you know that you were chosen to be my mistress’s mate long before you were born?” Dominic could only shake his head at this point. “Charlie is over yonder, taking a bath. If’n you were to hurry, you could mayhap join her. You don’t smell all that good either.” Dominic was nearly to the top of the mountain when he realized that he’d been spoken to by a bear again Looking down the mountain’s other side, he wasn’t at all surprised to find a waterfall tumbling over the mountain he was on, nor that it had a breathtaking view from where he was. Getting as close as he could to the place where Charlie was indeed taking a bath, Dominic sat down to watch her. There were glimpses of her breasts now and then.
Her hair being wet showed him that it was more than simply red. It was like a setting sun in the summer, the colors so vivid that he was sure he’d never be able to see them all. But it was the paleness of her skin that stood out to him, the way it seemed much softer in the blue of the water.
When she saw him, he did laugh when she dunked herself under the water to hide from him. “What do ye think you’re about? Go away. I’ve no use for you.” That hurt, but only a little. Dominic decided that he’d do as bear suggested and join her. Taking off his boots, he didn’t say a word. “Did ye hear me? I don’t want you here whilst I’m trying to bathe myself.” “When were you going to tell me that I could speak to animals? By the way, Bear said that I smell bad and should join you.” Taking off his other boot, he put it by the first one. “I think there is a great deal that you’re not telling me. Isn’t there?” “Aye, there is. But I canna speak to you like this. Get yourself back to the camp— What do you think you’re about now? Put your britches back on.” When she turned her back to him, Dominic laughed. She was wonderfully pig-headed and willful, but as shy as a little girl on her first outing. “I’ll not have you be treating me thusly, Dominic Winchester. You had better be dressed when I turn around, or so help me, I’ll hurt you.” “Do you have any soap left? I noticed that you make yours from things of the earth. And since I have none of my own, I would love to use yours.” She handed it over her shoulder to him. “Thanks, love. About what I can do. Why is that? We’ve not mated— not yet, anyway.” “Aye. We’ve not, and if’n I have any say in it, that won’t be happening either.” Dominic laughed. “You’ll not be thinking this is so funny when I hurt you. I don’t want a mate.” “I didn’t think that I did either, to be honest with you. I didn’t think that I’d have time for one. I wanted one, don’t get me wrong.
But with all the extra work that’s been put on me with the king, I didn’t think I’d have any time to get to know one before I was too busy with summer.” Charlie asked him what had changed his mind. “You. Not just you, though that’s a large part of it. But just being able to be a part of the earth, like I think we were meant to be, has been wonderful. Sleeping under the stars too. Did you know that you snore?” When she turned, he had to brace himself and her before they both fell in the fast moving water. Holding her like he was, her body nearly touching his, he could see that he’d been wrong about her skin. She wasn’t just soft like he’d thought, but as soft as a summer breeze. Much softer than a rose petal that had only just opened to the sun. Charlie was warm too. Pulling her closer, he held her tightly until she looked up at him. “I dinna snore.” Her voice was soft, sexy sounding. Not wanting to break the almost perfect way he was holding her, he only moved the hair that was on her cheek. “I’m cursed, did they tell you that?” “No. They told me that you could curse, but nothing about you being cursed. Why would you think such a thing?” She started to pull away when he heard the birds being startled from their perch. “I think someone is coming here. Would you know who?” “Aye. It’ll be my family. The ones that took me in when my parents meant to murder me. Sham and his lady wife Hannah. They’ll be happy to find us as such, I think. Trickery is what they thought of when they wished me mated to you.” When she
started to pull away, Dominic pulled her back. “Did ye know about this? That they wished us to be as one?” “Some. I would guess as much as you did since you took off to this realm. But Charlie, I’ll never take from you what isn’t freely given. Never.” She stared at him for several seconds and Dominic let her. When she nodded then kissed him quickly on the mouth, he let her go-to dress. She swam upstream, against the hard current. He needed to find out what was going on, and why she had no trust of him. If there really was trickery, then he could understand the lack of trust. But he’d never harm her. Not so long as there was breath in his body. ~*~ Sham thought of the conversation that he and Hannah had with the Winchesters. They’d been mighty mad at him about Dominic, about him knowing where he be, and that he’d been working. He’d not told them the whole story yet, so he was thinking that as mad at him as they’d been, it was nothing compared to what Charlie or her mate would do to him. He’d been keeping this secret for much too long now. He watched the big man come out of the water. Sham felt his chest swell in an effort to match Dominic’s physic but knew deep inside that he’d never compare to such a creature. It was as if he’d been carved from the stone of yonder mountain. “Sham. Hannah. What do we owe this honor to? I mean, I thought for sure you’d be plotting and planning more trouble.” Sham felt his face warm up when Dominic hit the nose right on the nail. “It’s nail on the nose. Don’t think things that you don’t want me to know, Sham.
Even without being able to read your mind, I can see it on your face that I’m right. What do you want?” “I’ve come to talk to ye both. Where is Charlie? I don’t suppose she’s gone hunting or something that will keep her away, has she?” Sham saw her then. Charlie didn’t look like she was in any better of a mood than Dominic. “I’ve something to confess.” “What? That my mother and father are living in the biggers’ world?” Sham was so shocked that he nodded before he could think how close she was to him. The smack to his head knocked him to the ground. “Or are you here to tell me how I was only an offering to the demons that they worshiped? That I had myself sisters that died the way that I was supposed to? Is that it, you culus? I should slay you where you stand.” If Dominic hadn’t held Charlie back, Sham was sure that she’d have done just what she’d told him. Charlie was scary when she lashed out at a person. But she looked to mean business today. And what the heck fire was a culus? “It’s Latin for asshole. I think perhaps you have a great deal to explain. Since you’ve interrupted us, I think you’ll help me gather food for lunch, and then tell us why you’ve traveled all this way to tell her something that she seems to know already.” Nodding, not sure that he’d been asked to do this or ordered to, he turned to ask Dominic if he remembered that he was the messenger of the king. “Don’t. Just…don’t out that you’re the messenger of anyone right now, when we both know that she’ll gladly murder you right now. As pissed off as I am too, I’d gladly bury you or leave you lay where you die, without a single thought to where I leave your carcass to let the animals tear into.”
Sham believed him, more so than he did any threat that had been said to him in all his life—the calmness of his voice, the way he said each word as if he were telling him the weather. Dominic had so sword or knife, but the words had cut Sham just as deeply. Nary a word passed between them for the rest of the time together. They gathered food from the bushes and plants. Dominic even managed to get a dozen fresh fish from the water. Oh, to have such talents, Sham thought. The man was going to make a great leader someday soon. The fire was hot and low when they got back to the encampment. Hannah had been crying but shook her head at him when he looked at her. Whatever had happened, he would surely find out about it later. After eating a most splendid meal of trout and greens, he tossed his leaf into the flames as his way of cleaning up their dish. He did have a few berries as well as some wine, but all in all, he was stuffed. Leaning back, thinking that a nice nap wouldn’t be out of the question, he was kicked in his feet. Charlie just glared at him, and that was when he remembered why he’d made this trip in the first place. “When do they arrive?” He looked at Dominic, thankful that he was a man that didn’t run around the bush when he was in need of something. “You know, don’t you? I’m sure that you didn’t make this trip for your health. Though, if you ask me, you could use it.” “What a way to speak to your friend. Not to mention, I’m your uncle’s best friend. Well, most of the time. Unless he’s having me do his dirty work. And let me tell you, it’s not digging in the good earth. No sir. Dominic, I’m sorely disappointed in you. I thought you a kind and generous man. Why it’s why I picked you over all the others in the—” Hannah cleared her throat, and nodded at Charlie. She was holding a knife in her hand that was as big as his head. “They should be here in a day or two. Not here, but in this realm.
The realm of the littles.” “Why?” That was a good question. One that he’d been thinking on since the day that they’d found out that Will and Dorcus were coming back. Charlie didn’t like, he supposed, that he took too long to answer her, and kicked his foot again. “They’re here to kill me. Aren’t they?” “Aye. That’s about it. We don’t know a lot about their needs. Will, he was an odd man when he was here before you were birthed. Then when Dorcus, the oddest duck in the bunch, came along, she seemed to be able to bring him right out of his shell. Not a good one either. They both had them a few too many cracks in their noddle to suit any of us. To be honest with you, we was thrilled when they left.” “Was this before or after they tried to kill Charlie?” Sham said that was the very night. “Perhaps you should start at the beginning. I think there is more to this tale than just a couple of nutballs trying to murder their only child.” “But she’s not—I mean, not their only child. Just the only living one, as Charlie said.” He glared at his wife, then smiled at her. She had that look on her face that told him that he was in for a good popping to the back of his head, sure enough. “There were other children. All girls, as best we can reckon. Let me count for a moment. Earth,
wind, fire, and I do believe, on account ‘a where we found her, Charlie was to be given to the demon of water.” This wasn’t helping. Sham could tell by the look on their faces that they were ready to pounce on him and his lady wife. Who would have ever thought that his mild-mannered Dominic would turn into such a person? Why Sham thought he was just like Charlie. That just wasn’t going to do. The two of them would be fighting all the time instead of running his home. “What do you mean?” He looked at Dominic and he felt his bright red whiskers—a leprechaun’s best feature, he was told—shrivel right up. “Is this why you came to me? You think that I’m going to run this realm? You said that it was for the littles. The children would see you and believe in you again. This entire thing has been a fucking lie?” “I’d never lie to you about the children.” When Dominic stood, so did he and Charlie. But Sham was too hurt to let her be bothering him at this moment. “We need the children. They need us. Why, I can’t believe that ye’d think me a fibber, after all, we’ve done for each other. You have to save us, Dominic. And you and Charlie, that may well have been too much, but I can fix that for ye. Don’t you worry that noddle about—” “Touch her and you will die.” He looked at Charlie when she drew her sword from the air and said the same about Dominic. Then Dominic did the strangest thing he’d ever seen anyone do, at least involving Charlie. Dominic pulled her into his arms and laid a big kiss on her mouth. The strangest thing was that Charlie didn’t seem to mind all that much. There’d be nobody that would have believed it either. These two were all ready to lay claim on the other. Who would have figured that it would have taken a bigger to claim the heart of Charlie O’Farrell, the meanest woman to have ever been born? Also the strongest and prettiest. Not counting his own lady wife, he realized he should be thinking.
Looking over at her, she didn’t look none too pleased with him again. Dominic ran them off. He told them that should they need anything from them they’d come calling. He was sort of pleased with that notion. To have a bigger, especially Dominic, in his house would be a great thing for him. It wasn’t until they were near home that something occurred to him. “The king, O’Reilly, he’ll be so pleased with what we’ve done that he’ll have us over for dinner. The expense of it all will be on his head.” Hannah asked him what he was going on about. “Did you see what he ate today? Aye, you did. You was sitting right there with them. He eats a great deal. Even for a wolf, I think. He’ll be hungry too.” “You mean like you are all the time? Sham, I haven’t a clue what it is you’re speaking about.” Hannah went into their home. She’d be cross with him for a bit and a minute, so he decided to head over to see the king, to tell him of all that he’d been able to do today. He’d be so pleased.
Sham had it all worked out in his head by the time he was shown to the biggest room in the castle. At least he’d been told it was. Since no one would allow him any deeper into the place, he hadn’t a clue what the rest of the place looked like. Perhaps, and he’d always thought this, he was in the smallest room in the palace. There were bathrooms, of course, he realized. Small little rooms with only a place to relieve himself and to wash up. That room was even bigger than his bedroom at his home. The more he thought about it, the more he wanted to have a walk around the place. “Sham? Did you hear a word that I said to you?” He asked O’Reilly when he’d spoken. “Just this minute. Did you hear me?” “I heard you. I don’t know why you think I’m not paying you any mind. I do, so’s you know. I’m very up on everything you say to me.” O’Reilly nodded. “What is it you wanted to talk to me about?” “I didn’t want to speak to you. I was told you were here and wanted to speak to me.” Sham said that he must have summoned him. “I did no such thing. You’re addled, I tell you. They told me that you wished to speak to me.” “I think you’ve been mistold on that. I was just telling Hannah that you will want to have a dinner in my honor because you— Holy jingle bells, they’re mated.” O’Reilly told him that of course he and Hannah were mated. He’d married them. “And a lovely service it was too.
Did I tell you that Hannah loved all the flowers? That was right nice of you do have them all bunched up for us. Even though we’ve been married for right near a hundred years now, I can still smell them blossoms. I surely can.” “I’m so glad that you told me that.” Sham told him it was that nice. “Thank you. Now, if you’ve nothing else to tell me, then you should be going. I was about ready to take a little snooze. You should too, Sham. Nothing better than a nice nap.” Sham was near about home when he realized that he’d forgotten something. It’d been important too. At least he thought it had been. He picked up some pretty flowers for Hannah, thinking that if he had forgotten something to do, then she’d be so overwhelmed by the pretties that he’d brung her that she’d not give a tinker’s whistle about it. She was a good woman, his Hannah. He’d not take a golden coin for her. No sir. She was his forever. “Well? Did you tell him?” He said that they’d had a nice talking to. “That is no more an answer than you thinking that pretty flowers would soften my boinking you on the head. Did you tell the king that Charlie and Dominic are together or not?” He didn’t have a good answer—not even a bad one. Instead of answering her at all, he shoved the pretties in her hands. Sham never saw the spoon move—never saw Hannah move. He just found himself on the floor with a hurting head and flowers all over his body. Then a bee went and stung him on his nose. “Durn woman.” Sham looked around to make sure he was alone. He didn’t think his poor head could take another hit to it today.