Recommended for 18+ Erotic Shapeshifter Romance. This full-length novel can be read as a stand-alone.
The Whitfield Rancher
- Adam (Coming Soon)
- Adrian (Coming Soon)
- Blake (Coming Soon)
Josh had taken a month off from his Realtor job to get the construction finished on his house, but he was leaning toward it being a permanent vacation. He still liked selling houses, but something was missing. It didn’t excite him anymore and he was tired of the rat race.
All Carter wanted was to get a job and start her life over again. She had just spent the last ten years in prison for a crime she didn’t commit, and that made finding a job difficult, if not down right impossible. She didn’t want to go back to the halfway house, but things weren’t looking good.
Ollie Whitfield took an instant liking to the young woman and her sister, Rachel. He’d make sure his grandson gave her a job in the new greenhouse he was opening up. There was no since in her beating the pavement for a dead-end job when he had one for her. He just had to convince her of that. She had some dad-blamed notion in her head that she’d bring danger to the family.
Josh’s grandda had already told him of the scary things the woman could do, and he was worried that Carter and her sister might be taking advantage of an old man. But when Josh walked behind her at the dinner table and caught her scent, he was floored. He had found his mate and neither of them were prepared for it.
Carter knew he was a shifter, but the things she could do would get them all killed, and she wouldn’t allow that. She would somehow convince him that this mate thing was a bad idea.
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Dylan Hutchinson lived and breathed Army, and she’d been under cover so long she’d forgot what it felt like to be a civilian. But the last mission took a turn for the worse and not only was she hurt, but she’s been informed that she could no longer do her job. It’s either a desk job as a recruiter, or she’s out.
Evan Whitfield didn’t have to work, but he loved his job as a surgeon. And when as his tiger he found an old man wandering in the woods with Alzheimer’s and confused, he wanted to help the family. The family had a daughter in the hospital too, and they were struggling. Evan thought the daughter might be not as sick or hurt as she claimed to be, so he took it upon himself to check her out. Evan was surprised to find that she was not only hurt worse than they claimed, she was also his mate.
For a doctor, Dylan thought Evan was dense. What part of go away didn’t he understand? She wasn’t the mate or marrying kind. Her life was over, not beginning. He needed to just go away….
Sunny, or Sunshine Davis, is a well-known investigative reporter. After her recent article shuts down a drug lab, she just disappears. People everywhere are looking for her. Truth is she’s been shot and left for dead. Tanner, a vampire, has other plans for the feisty reporter. He needs her help, so he saves her. His old friend, Ollie Whitfield, owes him a favor, so he sends her there to lay low for a while.
David Whitfield is on a deadline with his publisher. When he’s writing, he’s in a world of his own. When his grandda, Ollie, asks him to hide out a friend, he’s all for it. He’d do anything for his grandda. What David doesn’t expect is for the woman he’s supposed to be hiding out to be his mate. A very hurt mate that has his tiger in a possessive uproar.
Because Sunny technically died before Tanner could revive her, she has a little difficulty remembering the events just prior to her death, but when she does the revelation rocks her to her core. And her baggage can put all the Whitfields in danger.
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Carter didn’t move as she sat in front of the desk. Today was her fourth day out trying to find a job, and the second time that she’d been asked to wait while they checked on something. While she knew what they were checking on, calling the police to find out if her story matched what they were told, they had no intention of hiring her. “Miss Compton, I have a buddy that will hire you.” She looked at the secretary, who came in when the boss left her. “He’s a good guy. He and his brother are opening a greenhouse and they’re hiring a lot of people.” “I have to find me a job or go back to the halfway house.” The woman nodded and smiled as she handed her a piece of paper with a name and address on it. When their fingers touched, Carter looked at the woman. “Don’t go home at lunch. He’ll kill you if you do.” Startled, the woman just stared at her. “He’s having an affair.” Carter nodded. “I thought so. So, if I don’t go home for lunch, what happens to me and my children? We have to have someplace to live now that he’s out fucking his secretary.” “If you trust me enough not to go home at lunch, it’ll all be cleared up and you’ll be safe.” The woman stared at her for several seconds, and only stood when her boss returned. Carter nodded when she did. The boss, however, wasn’t pleased. “You should know that we are a nice reputable company, and don’t condone having convicts working here.” She didn’t even bother telling her that she had been exonerated of all charges. Standing, the boss did as well. “You should have known not to come in here looking for a handout either. We don’t do that. Now, I’d like for you to leave.” Carter could have told the secretary that her husband was also having an affair with the man that did their books for them. She could have told her that her nice company that didn’t deal with convicts was making meth for the local drug lord down the block, but didn’t do that either. Instead, she left there without saying a word. If the woman didn’t go home for lunch, which she didn’t think that she would now, the two people in the bed would be killed by the man who cooked the books for her husband and was his part time lover. Not only that, he’d kill himself too while he was there. It would be a mess, but the woman would be able to get her insurance on her husband and a very nice settlement from the man’s insurance. She would be safe with her children from now on. Walking in the bright sunshine, she made her way back to the apartment her sister had set up for her. Her friend was there, Dylan Whitfield, and Dylan’s sister-in-law Sunny. They had been here for two days with an elderly man, and didn’t seem inclined to go home without her and Rachel. Carter looked at the same elderly man as he came toward her on the sidewalk.
“You get the job?” She told him that she’d not. “Didn’t think you did. Some people aren’t as forward thinking as I am. I’ve come to take you to lunch. And then you and me, we’ll have us a nice conversation.” “Mr. Whitfield, you guys would be much safer if you just left me here. I know what I’m doing.” He said he knew that too. She was smart, he told her. “It’s not that. You don’t know what I’m capable of.” “Is that why you won’t let me touch you? Or anybody for that matter?” The man really was smart, but she had been at this a lot longer than he had been guessing. “I noticed that right away. When someone gets too close to you, you back up fast and far. Leaving your hands in your pockets all the time too, that’s so nobody will try and shake your hand. What can you do? Read minds and the such?” “Yes, and the such is much worse.” He nodded and opened the door to the little deli that he’d led her to. When they were seated, she looked at him. “I’m able to do things that you’ve never thought of. I see things that people don’t need to know. I could kill a person halfway around the world and never touch them. I won’t if I don’t have to, but if it came to protecting my sister and myself, I would in a heartbeat.” The waitress took their order, Ollie ordering for her when she wouldn’t. Then when the waitress was gone, returning once with their drinks, he stared at Carter but didn’t say anything for long moments. She didn’t squirm or get nervous. This was a good man, and she had no reason to fear anything about him. “Rachel said she won’t go without you. Can you make her go?” She said that she could but would rather not. “You lift things up too, don’t you? Not just little, but big stuff too.” “Yes.” Her answer was short, but that seemed to be all he required for now. Their salads were set in front of them when he looked around the restaurant. Then when he looked at her, she could see determination in his eyes. “Who’s coming for the two of you? Can you tell me that?” She told him who was coming and why. “Your parents, they want you for bigger things. I’m guessing for some of them abilities that you’re not talking about.” Again, she gave him the short answer and he nodded. Eating the salad, she thought about what this man knew that she’d not even shared with her sister. And there was plenty more that he didn’t know. Or, and this was likely most of it, he was afraid of asking her. “I want you to come back home with me. Now hear me out before you tell me no. Your sister, she ain’t going if you don’t, and even though you can make her, I got it in my heart that it won’t do you no good to send her to my place, because your parents will take you and that’ll bring her back here.” Carter asked him if he’d stop Rachel. “No. I know about family and the ties that bind. She ain’t gonna stop trying until she wears me plum out. Then she’ll be hurt anyway, or killed. When they coming, these socalled parents of yours?” “You believe me.” He said that he had no reason to think that she’d lie to him. “Mr. Whitfield, I’ve been in prison for the last ten years. I’m sure that you know convicts better than that.”
“I’m gonna tell you again to stop calling yourself that. You got out because they just figured out that you didn’t do those things they said about you. That don’t make you a convict, that makes you a victim. And while I know you can take care of yourself—I don’t doubt that one bit—that sister of yours, she’s not going to be so easy to protect with knowing you’re out here all by your lonesome.” She looked around the restaurant, then back at him. “The man over there with the woman in green—he’s having an affair with her. Not because he wants to, but she’s his boss and she’s making him. His wife knows now, he confessed it all to her, and she’s going to try and kill her. But she accidently kills her husband instead, and three lives are ruined.” He asked her if she could stop that from happening. “Yes, I could, but there are repercussions to doing that. If he is set to die, then something else will happen that will kill him. Maybe not today, but soon after. His wife isn’t a good person either, but she loves her husband and the money that he makes. So instead of just talking, as they should, she’ll take matters into her own hands.” “There are other stories you could tell me about the people here. I’m sure that you could tell me about myself too. I don’t want to know nothing, by the way. But I do know that if you don’t come along with your sister, she will be killed, and you’ll end up killing your parents. Is that something that you could live with?” No, she told him, Rachel had been good to her. “But your parents you don’t care about.” “No, not at all.” He nodded, and when her burger with fries was set in front of her, she looked at the man who in the last few days had been kinder to her than anyone, except for her sister Rachel, had been in a decade. “I’m not a person that people like. I’m very prone to being nasty, and sarcastic too.” “I like you. Very much. You’re a good deal smarter than you let people know about. You have a sense of goodness about you that no one sees. You’re witty and funny. I get peeks of it occasionally, that humor that you hide, but you got one.” Carter just smiled at him. “There it is, that pretty smile you got. What do you think of my deal?” “All you said was to come home with you to make sure that Rachel was safe. While I don’t have restrictions on where I can go and work, I do need a job so that I can stop sponging off my sister. She sold everything so that she could try and take me to Dylan and your family, and I don’t want her hurting for that.” Ollie told her that he’d give her a job. “I’m not a puppy that needs for you to take care of me.” “Don’t care all that much for dogs, me being a cat and all, but I like the wolves on my property and that of my grandsons. The wolves, they’re out to protect us when they can. We do the same for them.” She took a bite of her burger and moaned at it. It was the first one that she’d had in ten years, and it tasted so good. “You come on home with me and I’ll make sure you get fattened up with food like that all the time. My daughterin-law, Eve, she can make a pie that’ll make you sing her praises to the heavens.” “Ollie, I’m trying very hard to save you and your family from all this. You’re making it very difficult to say no to you, and you have to know that I have to stay here.” He said he understood that, but she could use a backup, everyone needed that. “You do understand that I’m a good deal stronger than the wolves and your family as tigers, don’t you?”
“You might be able to lift up a car and make it twirl in the sky, but you ain’t that strong when it comes to somebody loving you.” Carter looked away, unable to say anything around the lump in her throat. “You come home with me, darlin’ and I’ll show you a whole passel of people that will love you like you deserve. And I’m thinking of all the people that I know, you need to be loved more than most.” “You could be hurt. Perhaps even killed by this.” He said that he’d been hurt before. “But they’re coming, Ollie, and they mean to get what they want at all costs.” “So do I. I mean to save you the same way, if you’ll let me.” Walking out of the little restaurant, she didn’t tell him yes or no. But she did pause at the table to look at the man there. Putting the suggestion into his head that he needed to find another way of making a living now, she touched her finger to his forehead and let him see what was coming. It was up to him whether he did something about it or not. She heard the woman screaming at him when he got up and left. “You did save his life, didn’t you?” She told him all she’d done was give him information that he could use or not. “And that’s all it takes? For you to help someone that needs it. give them something they can do or not?” “Sometimes it’s not so easy as that, but yes, occasionally it does work. If he had stayed, then it would have been his own fault what the outcome would have been.” When they were outside of the place she’d been staying, she stood and looked at the nice man. “If I go, you’ll heed what I tell you? Everything I say, and so will your family?” “They’ll listen to you. Dylan, she’s a bit on the rough side, but she’s not afraid of someone having more information than she does and using it.” She nodded and looked up and down the street, then back at him. “You gonna tell me what’s going on that has you looking over your shoulder so much?” “They’re within ten miles of here. Not my parents, but someone is out there looking for me. I think perhaps it’s someone that they contacted.” He nodded and told her that they had to get going. “It’s not going to do much good—you know that, don’t you? They’re determined, and they have people that want to explore me. Cut me up and use me in ways that hundreds will die from.” “Together, we can do something that’ll keep them away. We, you and I, we’re good together, see if we ain’t.” He laughed then. “Come on then. I noticed that you don’t have much to pack up, but we’ll get it gathered. I’m telling Dylan and Sunny that we’re leaving. You can ride with me in the back. It’ll be fun.” She knew that this was a mistake. And though she couldn’t see her own future, she knew that they were going to regret her coming back with them. She only hoped that they could forgive her when the time came. Carter knew that they’d be afraid of her too. ~~~ Josh was showing a house when he heard from his grandda that they were coming home. He was glad to hear that, but wasn’t able to talk to him right now. The rest of them had plenty to say and to ask, but Grandda just said that he was coming home with
two beauties. Only Grandda would think that a woman was a beauty and get away with calling her that to her face. “Why is it you keep showing us houses that are too small?” He looked at Mr. Riddling and asked him what he meant. “My wife and I want a big house. One we can show off to our families that we got money.” “When you filled out the card, you said that you were downsizing and that you were only looking for a two-bedroom house, with not much in the way of a yard.” He handed the man the copy of the search he’d been given. “If you’ve changed your mind about that, then I’ll take care of that right away.” “We only want to live in it for about a month.” Josh was confused. “We want them to think that we own it, but we don’t want that big. Just for the holidays. And if you could make sure that it has nice furniture in it, that would be great too. We don’t have anything that’ll fit in a house as big as we want. We want to lord over our parents that we’ve done so well that they’ll be jealous.” “You mean to rent a house that’s large? That’s furnished as well? I don’t think that’s going to work. Not to mention, it would be expensive, even if I could find something.” Mr. Riddling said if they weren’t buying it, they shouldn’t have to pay anything for it. “You just want to stay in a lovely home that’s completely furnished for a month, as well, as I would assume, the lawns to be completely done. Did you want it decorated too?” “Yes, that would be really nice. Nothing too elaborate though. We don’t do that normally. But it should be ready for us to live in. Food we can bring in for ourselves, I guess.” Josh just shook his head at Mrs. Riddling when she spoke. “Also, if you could make sure that there is at least one car, and a limo that we can use while they’re here, that would be fantastic as well. Oh yes, and a staff that will do all the cooking and cleaning for us. Just for the month.” “All for you to use for free.” Now they looked confused as they assured him that was just what they wanted. “I don’t have any kind of service for that. I doubt very much anyone in this line of business does. We’re not into renting so much as we’re into selling. And as a whole, I don’t think anyone in this industry would do the things for you that you’ve asked me for. If there is nothing else I can help you with, then I’d like to get back to my office.” “Why are you so snippy all of a sudden?” Josh didn’t even bother saying anything. “All we wanted to do was to have a little fun in pissing our families off. I don’t see why that should make you angry. It’s not like you’re going to be able to tell them we didn’t really buy it. And perhaps we might even throw a little cash your way. You know, like ten or fifteen dollars for helping us out. And your boss told you to make us happy.” “I’m sure she had no idea what you were really wanting, or she wouldn’t have set this up for me.” Mr. Riddling actually got huffy with him. “If there is nothing else, then I’d really like to go. You’ve wasted enough of my time.” Josh called his boss as soon as he got them out of the house, which wasn’t easy, as they were still trying to convince him that there shouldn’t be a problem with this. When he was put on hold, he was sure that the Riddlings had beaten him to it. Not that it
mattered to him. He didn’t think he’d get fired over this, but if he did, then so be it. Josh was getting sick of people like these. Carol was laughing when she came back on the line. “As you might have guessed, I just got a call from Peter and June Riddling. They had quite a story to tell me about you. And I swear to you, Josh, had I known what they were about, I never would have assigned my best agent to them.” He said that he knew that. “The nerve of some people. He said you got nasty with him when he mentioned that he didn’t think he should have to pay for a house that he was only going to use for a little while. He also said that you promised him a staff, as well as having it furnished. Then you backed out for some reason.” “They had it in their head that I’d not only provide them with this grand house, but have it decorated for the holidays, as well as a limo that they could use. For free, I might add.” She said she was sorry. “So am I. Carol, I need to take some time off.” “Whatever you need, Josh, you know that.” He did and told her that. “I think you should be thinking about taking over this firm like I spoke to you about a few months ago. I’m too old for this shit too.” “I love working for you. I don’t know how I’d be as a boss.” She told him he’d be as good at that as he was at whatever he set his mind to. “Maybe, but I need some time to get my head together. And Adam and I are opening this greenhouse, and I’d like to get a good start on that as well.” “But you will come back to me, right?” He said that was his plan, but the more he thought about it, the more he was thinking he’d not go back at all. “Tell me how long you’ll need, and I’ll put you in for your vacation and such. I think you must have amassed about a month.” “Two, I think. And you don’t have to pay me for all of that. Just about a month of it for now. I don’t want to hurt you while I’m trying to figure out my life.” He saw his grandda coming toward him in the old truck. “Thanks, Carol. If you need me, just call. And if I can help you out I will, but I’m seriously in need of some me time.” When they were together, they hugged as they usually did. He’d been gone longer than he’d thought he would be, and was glad to see him. After telling him about his last client, they both had a good laugh about it. Then Grandda turned serious. “I brought home these two women with us.” He asked if Grandma knew. “It ain’t like that, you turd head. They’re in trouble, and there might be a bit more to it than just saving them. One of them is purely scary in what she can do. Not that she’d hurt me or any of you, but they want her.” “Who does? And you know that we’ll help them in any way that we can. But what do you mean, scary with what she can do? You mean kick ass, like Dylan and Sunny?” He said it was magical. “I understand that, Grandda, but that doesn’t tell me very much.” “She said that she can kill someone halfway around the world and not leave her chair. That she can lift up cars and throw them should she need to.” Josh didn’t say anything. He wasn’t sure that he believed his grandda; not that he’d lie to him, but the girl might have to him. He asked him if he’d seen her do it. “No. You can’t just kill
someone like that for a demonstration, now can you? And what do you think would happen if she was to toss a car around like it was nothing but one of them toys that them boys of Evans plays with?” “Okay, you have a point. But she might be telling you a tale.” Grandda just glared at him. “I don’t know why you’re upset with me—if you believe in her, that’s great. But I’ll hold out for proof.” “Her momma and daddy are coming to get them. They’ll use Rachel to get to Carter. That’s their names, Carter and Rachel Compton. Carter is the one that is all powerful. Rachel is a human. She knows a little of what her sister can do, and her parents know some too, but not all, I’m betting.” He asked him why they needed them if she had all this power. “Joshua, you’re getting on my last bit of nerves. I’m a knight to them, and I want you to help me by being my steed.” “Oh, so I’m to be the horse in all this.” Grandda laughed when he did. “Really, what she told you could be a fabrication of a sick mind. Is this the family that Dylan went out there to get? Does she know what’s happening with this girl?” Josh had it in his head that she was just that, a little girl. The other sister was someone that went to school with Dylan, so he knew that she couldn’t be very old. And if she was telling his grandda big tales, someone needed to talk to her. He looked at his schedule on his phone and asked him if he could meet this paragon of magic. “Not if you’re going to be nasty about it. She don’t need that any more than I do. She’s been hurt, Josh. Been in prison for ten whole years for nothing. They let her go because they figured out finally that they had the wrong person. It was the parents all along.” He nodded, and then realized that she wasn’t a child at all. He asked his grandda how old this girl was. “I think she’s about your age. Might be a little younger by a couple of months or so. She was seventeen when they tried her as an adult, due to a cop being killed.” Josh had heard some of this, but he’d been in the middle of shit here and hadn’t paid attention. Well, they had his attention now. He talked to Grandda a bit more as they walked to his car. By the time he’d left to go and see about dinner plans with the entire family, Josh had a name and something to go on. No one was going to come here and take advantage of his family. And especially not his grandda. As soon as he was back to the trailer he was living in until his house was just a little more livable, he pulled out his old computer. Putting in the name Carter Compton, he got a hit right away. He changed while thinking of the news he’d gotten today before sitting down to read about this woman. In a week, less he was told, he’d be moving into the bedroom, and the kitchen would also be done. The rest, he’d been told, they could work on around him. He was going to take this month off and help his brother in their new partnership, and get his house furnished. He could not wait.
Giyanna had fled to Ireland when she was seventeen to get away from her abusive brother, Rogan, leaving her twin, Tyrrell, behind to make his own way in the States. Even though she missed Tyrrell fiercely, she vowed to never return. But with Rogan now in jail and facing serious time, she’s back to defend the man she hates most. Giyanna and Tyrrell are both good attorneys, but her goal was to make sure Rogan never gets out.
From the moment Chris Bentley called Tanner for a favor, he suspected it was a ploy for him to meet his other half. His brothers were all married now, but he wasn’t in any hurry to follow in their footsteps. He liked his life the way it was—uncomplicated.
She and Tyrrell were invited to the Calhoun home for dinner, they even sent a limo to pick them up. Giyanna wasn’t good with people, especially big men, and when they arrived, the door was opened, and she was staring into the eyes of the most incredible looking man she’d ever seen. But when the entire family rushed to welcome her into the family, Giyanna was not only confused, she was petrified.
Trust didn’t come easy for Giyanna, so Tanner had a long way to go to earn her heart. But when bodies started coming out of the woodwork, Giyanna was riddled with guilt for not acting on her instincts years ago. Now it’s up to Tanner to see her through it.
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Johanna, better known as Joe, had been a day walker for her only friend, Noah, for centuries. An immortal with eight hundred years under her belt, she had become proficient in several languages and occupations. When her friend Noah talked about meeting the sun, she had every intention of following in his path.
Joe had only gone to the Calhoun’s office to catch a ride to the estate. When she entered, it took her breath away to see the younger man on the floor and no one doing a damn thing to help him.
Trent Calhoun had forgotten how to have fun. Diving into his work was what kept him happy. At 33 he had no life, so when he had a heart attack, his doctor said to change his ways or else.
When the gorgeous woman stumbled into his hospital room, Trent thought his dad was up to his old tricks again―that was until he caught her scent…. Now, because of his wolf, he’s face to face with an angry vampire….
Noelle was in somewhat of a pickle. She had researched the Calhoun firm―Elijah Calhoun in particular―before she made the appointment, but she was having second and third thoughts about hiring the firm after she got there. All her research indicated she could trust them, but big men scared the hell out of her, and the place was full of them.
Elijah had been running a tad late for work, so his brother Trent took his first appointment. Elijah never dreamed that the woman he had an appointment with was his future mate…and she needed his protection.
Noelle’s stepfather wasn’t their only problem. Elijah’s brother Sterling’s nightmares had gotten worse and somehow the creature that had marked him was controlling his actions as well…no one was safe….
Chloe Davis was giving up. She thought for sure the owners of the computer shop she worked for were responsible for her father’s death, but in all the time she’d worked there she’d not been able to find enough evidence to prove it, so as far as she was concerned she was out of there. Her boss, George, on the other hand had other ideas. As far as he was concerned she wasn’t going anywhere…by force if necessary.
Scott Calhoun was just trying to help his grandfather get the young woman to safety, the last thing he expected was for her to be his mate. And he wasn’t happy about it either. Scott was a Dom, and he liked his sex hard and rough and his women submissive…this woman was a spitfire, and he was pretty sure he’d scare her off with his demands…. As far as he was concerned he was a deviant, not mate material.
But when Chloe and Scott come together, they both find more than they expected…Scott has finally met his match. Now, if everyone would stop trying to kill them, they might live long enough to enjoy each other.
Marty liked her life just fine. She was alone in the world, and waiting on tables would get her by until she finished college, but the girl she was training wasn’t working out. And the girl got her fired—now what was she supposed to do? She needed that job to survive.
Sterling Calhoun’s encounter with the she-devil was over, but the nightmares still lingered. The only thing that helped him deal with the nightmarish pain were his paintings. And through is Grandda he met Marty, his mate, but Sterling hadn’t been himself for a very long time….
Marty knew a few shifters, so she knew what it meant when Sterling told her she was his mate. Oh, hell no, this guy had to be nuts, the “mates” she knew were a strange lot, and she didn’t want any part of it….
Randal loved teaching at the elementary school, but there were a lot of underprivileged children attending and it tore at his heart for them to do without, especially at Christmas. Donating food to all the families was his way of helping make their Christmas brighter.
Randal hadn’t expected a parent to take exception to his Christmas present and wield a gun in his direction much less use it. What was this world coming to?
Laney Price had only planned to pick up her sister, Heather, from the Calhoun’s care and head back to Las Vegas. Everything was so messed up and nothing was going as planned. Her stepmother and her father were coming to take the child and there wasn’t much she could do about it. No child deserved to be put into their care.
Randal knew Laney was his mate, and he couldn’t stop her from leaving, but he was going with her if she left. He wouldn’t force her to claim him, but he had a solution to her problem if she’d agree to it.
CALHOUN MEN SERIES –
1. Trent – http://smarturl.it/trentCalhounMen
2. Elijah – http://smarturl.it/elijahCalhounMen
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Tyrrell watched the little plane land. He’d been in Ohio for a whole day now, and he’d decided that it was a cute place. The town that he was staying in, a quaint little burg, had all the amenities that one might need—a grocery store, library, schools, as well as a doctor or two. The only thing that he could find fault with, and that wasn’t such a big deal, was that it lacked places to eat. Not that the few that were there didn’t cater to your every whim, but all he could get delivered to him was subs and pizza. Laughing, he wondered what his sister would think after living in a part of Ireland that was mostly farmland and sheep. She’d think she was living in a metropolitan area around here. He was at the end of the gate when she came into the building. Tyrrell felt his eyes fill with tears at the sight of her. She’d changed so much that he was surprised. It had been just over ten years since he’d laid eyes on her, but he had talked to her often. Giynna had her red hair pulled back in a long braid that had pulled loose in several places, but she had the face of a porcelain goddess, freckles and all. He had missed her so much, and it occurred to him then that it had been far too long since they’d even spoken. They hugged for a full five minutes, both saying how much they’d missed each other, their words tumbling over one another like they used to as children. He had missed her so very much. And she him, she told him. “The flight was long. And I’m exhausted. Hungry too. The food on the plane was good, but far too little to sustain someone for hours, I think.” He helped her with her luggage, just one bag and a carry on. “I didn’t know how long I’d be here, so I took two months off. It was difficult to find someone to watch my house, so you owe me half of that as well, Tyrrell.” She told him that she was joking, that she had it covered. “No, no, I told you that I’d go half. Just tell me what you want. Anything you need, I’ll do it. I’m just so very glad to see you. But two months and you have one bag? Are you planning to spend some time while here to shop?” She glared at him. “Ah, so you’re a better packer than I. I don’t doubt that either. I just haphazardly throw things toward the suitcase, and if it lands in it, it goes with me. God, it’s so good to see you after all this time. We should have done this years ago, Giynna.” “Yes, we should have, but I’m telling you right now, I won’t be drawn into Rogan’s mess other than to try and get him a reduced sentence. What is it he’s been taken in for?” Tyrrell handed her a thick file as he carried her bag out to the car. “Restraining order violation? That’s it? Damn it. I thought for sure I could just let him float his arse to prison. How is Bridgett? Have you spoken to her yet?” “No, I’ve not, and your Irish is showing. But yes, there is more. Breaking and entering. Parole violation. Also, he has a list of other charges about a mile long that he’s been avoiding. And by avoiding, I mean that he’s been not seeing his parole officer when he was supposed to. Intoxication. Robbery. Selling stolen goods. They decided that since they know where he is right now they’ll hit him up for them all at once. So
you might get your wish after all with him. But he’s been beating Bridget, and that has gotten him into the worst of it.” She was still reading over the file when she asked him where he was now. “Jail. Apparently, he was asked to leave the house that Bridgett was living in with him and he didn’t cooperate. He beat one of the men nearly to death, and the other man has a broken arm. They’re also charging him with the destruction of a government building. He tore up the house pretty good. His defense on that was that when Bridgett returned, she’d fix it up. And she is going to return, he’s told everyone that will listen.” “He’s a moron and a bully. It saddens me on so many levels that she had to do this. Running away is seldom the answer, but in her case and ours it was the only way to survive him. And she had to take his children so far away to hide from him.” Tyrrell told her that he’d sent her some money. “I did as well. At least she’ll be able to feed them until she can get a job. I’m to understand that her brother is there with her, and he’s already lined up a job for himself. These people that are helping her…do you know anything about them?” “I’ve been doing some research, and they’re about the best thing this town has ever seen. They’re wolves that are wealthy beyond anything I’ve ever heard of.” She nodded as they drove to the local bed and breakfast. “One of them is an attorney that has been asked to take on the case, but he declined. Something to so with him being in private practice. I don’t know. But it’s probably just as well. He’s really the best they have around here. And as much as I’d hate to say it, I do not want Rogan free to run around any more than Bridgett does.” “I’m better as an attorney, I bet.” She laughed with him. “But I have to tell you, Tyrrell, I don’t want to do this. You have to know that.” He said that he’d do it if she would second chair with him. “I don’t even want to do that. I really dislike him. Rogan has been nothing but a bully since we were children. I’d just as soon he went to prison and never got out.” “When he called me, all I could think about was finding the state’s prosecutor, whoever that might be, and giving him even more shit to pile onto whatever they have on him. And as you can tell, there is a great deal of it.” She closed the file and leaned back. “Honey, you’re tired. Why don’t we hit the place we’re staying, and you take a long nap? That way when you wake, you’ll be fresh enough to go see him with me.” “I think I’ll sleep for a week.” He just grinned at her when she looked at him. “I want to spend time with you, and before I have to go back, I want us to go out and see the kids. Hopefully they’ll be all right out there. I have to admit, though, I’m so glad that she was able to do this. Even if she had to take them all the way across the States to do so.” “Bridgett is terrified that she’ll lose the kids if he’s able to get out. I don’t foresee him getting even visitation rights, but I don’t practice in this state, so things could be different. With him having a criminal record it might go in her favor. But they’re not hers, remember.” She said that she did. “The fact that they’re his might not go so well for her since she’s unemployed and took them out of state. However, she has called the
police on him several times, and I’m to understand there is a restraining order that he broke too. I’m thinking she’ll be all right, but I don’t want to promise her anything.” “She took them for safety reasons, and that alone will keep her from getting into trouble. That’s what I would do if I were on her side. Where, I might add, I wish I was.” He said that he did as well. “Oh well, so we’re here. When do we go and see the dumbass?” “When you’re rested. I think right now you’re not in the mood to talk to him, am I right?” Giynna yawned and nodded. “You get some rest. I’ll go tell Rogan that we’re both here and see what he has to say for himself. I’ve been sort of avoiding him since I got here. For good reason, I think, but I still have no desire to even be in the same room with him.” Their brother had been cruel to them when they were children. It was the reason that they’d left home so young and never returned. Not even to talk to their parents, who Tyrrell had lost contact with years ago. He wondered if Giynna had spoken to them, but she was exhausted, and he didn’t want her more upset. “All right then, seeing him has to come first, I guess. But wait for me. I’ll go with you, and that way we can try and hold onto our tempers as a tag team.” She was nearly asleep when he laughed. “I’m really exhausted. I would have slept on the plane, but there was this kid behind me that I swear to you had daggers at the end of his shoes, and he was using them to hit me in the back. The entire trip.” Tyrrell glanced at her every so often to see that she was sleeping again. He didn’t envy her the trip back, nor seeing Rogan. As he’d said, he had no desire to see him either. And when he thought of that, it sometimes hurt his heart. They had never been close as a family, except for Giynna and himself. But they were twins, so that helped a little, he supposed. She woke once the car stopped. He helped her into her room and then went back for her luggage. Giynna was asleep on the bed when he got back. Taking off her shoes, he covered her up with the blanket at the end of the bed and left her. He’d talk to her when she was up and around. To deal with their brother, they’d need all the strength they could get. He decided to go and see his brother, just to test the waters. The jail where Rogan was being held was a nice one. It sort of reminded him of the jail on a black and white show that he’d watched in reruns as a kid. There was even a rocking chair down the long hall where the cells were. Rogan was in the last cell. It looked like he’d never broken his habit of being a slob since they’d left home. “Hello, Rogan. I’ve come to help you out as you asked.” Rogan just glared at him. “I could just go back home and tell Giynna that you don’t need either of us.” “She came? Well la-de-da. The bitch wouldn’t even take my calls when I tried to call her and ask her to come here. She still a bitch like she always was?” Tyrrell told him she was never a bitch to him. “Yeah, because she has you all pussy whipped. Either of you bring me any money? I want you to bail me out. That’s the least you can do for making me sit around here and wait on one of you to come around.” “There is no bailing you out of this, Rogan. I’m sure you were told that. The judge didn’t set you one because he thought you’d be a flight risk. Not to mention there are
too many things in your jacket for them to think that you’d not just hide out until they forgot about you.” He said that they’ve told him a lot of shit. “Perhaps it would do you better to listen next time. Giynna and I are going to try to get you a reduced sentence, and after that—” “Reduced? That’s bullshit. I want out of here for good. I don’t belong in here anyway. You tell her to get me out of here, and all them charges they’re supposed to have on me dropped. Some of that shit is really old, and there should be some kind of expiration date on them. Hell, even my milk has one of those.” Tyrrell just stood there. “Did you hear me, moron? I said for you to get me out of here. Right now.” When his brother stood up, Tyrrell backed from the cell. It was then that he realized that his brother was a mess worse than his cell was. And not just because he was in jail, but about three hundred fifty to four hundred pounds of fat was hanging out of his too small jumpsuit they’d given him, and his chins were touching his chest. His dirty hair, usually pulled back in a ponytail when he was younger, now hung down his back in a stringy mess, and he was bald on top. “When was the last time you had a bath?” Rogan just grunted at him. “You’ll need to clean up before we take you to court. And I’m warning you right now, Rogan, you piss either of us off too much and we’ll go back home. You’re not going to fuck this up by being yourself. You asked for us, and we dropped everything to come here and help you out. The very least you can do is behave.” “Don’t be a shit, Ty. It’s your big brother you’re talking to. Bridgett has to pay, and pay big. She took my damned kids.” Tyrrell told him they were better off without him. “What a thing to say to me. They’re my damned kids, and she had no right to do that to me. And I’m betting she took that fucking card with her too.” “Really? Tell me, Rogan, how old are they? Just one of them. Tell me how old the oldest is.” Rogan stared at him with that blank stare he always had when he didn’t want to answer. “You don’t know, do you? Then tell me. What are their names? I’m betting that you don’t even know that, do you? You’re a terrible person, and a worse father. And as far as I can see, nothing about you has changed in ten years. Your kids and Bridgett are better off where they are. They deserve more than they ever had in you. Instead of beating her to shit every time you could, you should have been telling her thank you daily for raising your children to be better people than you are or ever will be.” “I’m a good person. She asks me for it when I have to knock her around.” Tyrrell asked him how she ever did that. “By not doing what I told her to do. All I wanted was peace and quiet when I came home, and she couldn’t even do that. Always harping on this or that. Making me get out and find a job. What do I need a job for? The government, they take from you if you work, and that ain’t right. Also, when I have a job, I can’t go hang out with my buds. You know how much I like doing that—don’t you remember, Tyrrell? We have shit to do, my friends and me. And that brings me to her card again. She spends it on shit that I don’t want her to. Going to the grocery and spending almost every dime of it so I can’t go and trade it off for other shit. Shit that I want.”
“Yes, I’m sure that you having your shit is much more important than your children you want back having food in their bellies when they need it. What must she have been thinking, to take the card and use it for what it was intended for.” Tyrrell just looked around his cell and shook his head. “Is this the kind of mess you left her when you got into her house? If so, it’s small wonder that she didn’t leave you long before this.” “Not for lack of trying, I’ll tell you. Once a week she’d leave and take the kids. I’d have to beat her hard after that. And one of the kids. That’d be all it took to bring her in line. Of course, all they did was whine when I hit them, but that’s what she needed— and it’s always her fault too.” He laughed like it was a huge joke to hurt one of his own children. “And she was starting to hide the card on me. Or spending it all before I could get me a handle on it. I think she has another mail box or something. But I’ll find it. And that card, it should be mine. I’m the reason that she gets it anyway. That card was as high as it was because of my kids. Damn it, I should have had it when I wanted it.” “You don’t want her to spend it on food for the children?” Rogan told him how they got government handouts all the time. “I see. And how much of that do you eat? Of this government food? You look like you eat more than your fair share of it.” “I think you’re not being nice to me, Tyrrell. You know I don’t like that. Come over here and let me plunk you like I used to do when you was a kid.” Rogan laughed at him when he took another step back. “You’re a pussy. It’s a wonder that you ever made it alive out on the streets when you left me. And don’t think I’m not mad about that either. The two of you left me without any kind of help around the house. You should see that place now. It’s going to shit. I go there sometimes when I need some breathing room. It’s mine, you know.” Tyrrell knew just who owned the house and why. He hated it, but when the bank had called him and not Rogan, he did the only thing he could think of and paid the back taxes. And in return, he was given the deed to the house so long as he kept up on the taxes. “Whatever. You clean up and Giynna and I will be back tomorrow. And you’d better be nice to her, Rogan. If she leaves, then I do as well.” Rogan told him they’d better do right by him or when he was out, he’d take care of them too. “It’s tempting to not do right by you. As far as I’m concerned, everyone is better off with you right where you are.” “That ain’t right, Tyrrell. We used to have fun as kids.” Tyrrell asked him when that was, and Rogan looked like he was thinking about it. “All right. I used to have fun. But you and Giynna, you begged me to hurt you. Just like Bridgett did all them times. Then she goes to the police, so they’d tell me to stop. Not going to happen, I told her. She belongs to me. And both of you always stashing away cash and not letting me have it. That ain’t the least bit fair. I’m the oldest, and you should be proud to have me as your brother. And giving me all that you had, that’s only fitting because you should want me to have it.” “By letting you have all we had? You think that’s the way it should be?” Rogan said that was right. “No, it’s not right. Giynna had to go to another country to get away from
you. And I had to change my number over and over to get away from you too. You’re not a nice person, and I don’t care that you are my brother, I don’t like you at all. And it’s doubtful that you care, but you should know that as soon as this trial is over, I’m going to wash my hands of you completely, Rogan. I’m no longer going to answer the phone when you call.” Tyrrell left him after that. All Rogan could focus on was how much he’d been wronged. It had been that way their entire lives. He wanted, he took. When he was hurt, everyone was hurt. And he had been a bully, a bastard all his life. Tyrrell went back to the bed and breakfast thinking that it was a mistake to have come to this town for him. He just hoped that they lived, first of all, and didn’t live to regret this. Rogan was going to cause them trouble, even from behind bars. ~~~ Tanner looked over the calendar to figure out what was going to happen today. Mostly it was just over the phone meetings that he had to take care of for Noah. Then he had a luncheon with his mother on her projects. Life wasn’t as boring as he’d thought it would be taking on a single client. “You have a call on line one. Its Chris Bentley.” Excited to have his day interrupted by the witch, he took the call. He’d drop everything just to talk to the wonderful woman. “Hello, and how the heck are you? You should see my house. Myra did a fantastic job of it.” She laughed with him. “I’m sure that she told you. But anyway, what can I do for you today, my dear?” “I have a favor to ask of you. There is this fellow that you’ve been dealing with. Rogan McGowan. I’m to understand that you and your family have taken his wife and children under your wing, so to speak. You’ve sent them away to keep them safe, right?” He told her what they’d done. “Sending her away is the best thing for her, I think. She’ll be safe, and the children will as well. But it’s her that this is about. She needs to never return. No matter what happens, do not let them make her return. She’s safe, and that’s what she needs to be from now on.” “I think that you’re right. Being here, that’s not terribly safe for anyone, but especially her and those children. I mean, you just said how she’s going to be fine out there.” Chris said that Bridgett needed closure on this, but she could get that from a distance. “I’m afraid that she has to deal with her husband at some point. But I will try my best to make them see the big picture when it comes to her returning.” “Yes. Otherwise, those poor children will become a ward of the state and never have anyone to love them as she does. She’s terrified of men, and with good reason, I think.” He could understand that and told her so. “Also, I know that you can’t help with the attorneys representing Rogan. But they’re in town, and not from around there. They’ll need someone to show them around. I was wondering if you could get one of your brothers to help them out.” “Is this a ploy for me to meet my other half?” She asked why he’d think that. “I don’t know. I’m the last of the Calhoun men that is unattached. I have my house in order. I’ve a good job, money in the bank. I’m surprised every time I see someone new in town that she’s not falling all over me saying that she’s the one.”
They both laughed, and he was embarrassed that he’d voiced that out loud. He really had been worried about that. Not worried, but concerned enough to start avoiding the grocery store, as well as any place that had a crowd of people. “Yes, you are, but I’m reasonably sure that you can find yourself a mate all on your own. Besides, they’re sister and brother to Rogan.” He wondered if they were like him, but said nothing. “The woman, I think her name is Giynna, is from Ireland. Been living there since she was about seventeen. The brother, Tyrrell, he’s been living in Texas for the most part, moving around where the job he has takes him. They’re both single—yes, I’m aware of that—but I don’t think that she’d be suited to you. Not with you being so close to your family.” “Which, I’m saying this because you’ve always been there for us, she’s going to take me back with her because of her being my mate. And I’ll be singing ‘Wild Irish Rose’ and eating haggis with every meal.” They both laughed. “Is she? My mate? I’ve never come right out and asked you before, and you did promise me that you’d never lie to me.” There was a pause there, and he was sure that he had his answer. So, when she finally did speak, he wasn’t the least bit surprised when she told him she was. “I wanted it to be something that you took care of. I did.” He said that he understood. “I don’t think you do. But that’s all right as well. She’s been hurt, and badly so, by her brother, Rogan, and hasn’t had a moment’s peace since leaving home. Giynna lived with an elderly aunt until she passed away, and in all that time, she never dated. Not once since she moved there, and that’s just sad. She’s a wonderful woman, and you couldn’t do better than if I had picked her for you myself.” “Is she afraid of men as well? I mean, is she going to hurt me if I touch her in the wrong way? I don’t want to make her upset with me right away. I’ll save her being pissed off at me till when we’re together for a little while.” Chris said that she was more than afraid of them. “Because of Rogan. And this guy, they’re here to get him off? To let him out with people that he can and will harm? Or are they only going through the motions with him?” “It’s not like that, and it is. Her and her brother are here to make sure that he gets a fair trial, but they’d just as soon he ended up in jail for the rest of his life too.” He asked why they were helping him then. “Family, I think. And maybe a little bit of closure. You know more than most what you’d do for your family. And I think that the only reason that they agreed was so that they could have time to see each other. Tyrrell and Giynna are twins, and used to be very close.” “I understand that. I don’t like it, but I understand. And since she’s going to be my mate, no matter how much I’m not ready for her, I can’t take the case against him. Not now.” Chris thanked him. “Don’t thank me yet. I still must convince her that I’m her mate. And knowing how well that went over for my brothers, she’s not going to go easy on me.” “No, she won’t.” He wondered what she’d say to him if he decided to leave town and not return until Giynna was gone. “It wouldn’t work, and you know that. When the
fates have your life planned out, it matters little when you get together, but you know that you will.” He did, but said nothing else. His mind was going over the things that he still had to finish up. Not just his home, but there were a few things that he wanted to take care of here as well. Tanner had his life planned out too, right down to what he was going to have for dinner tonight and tomorrow. But this, having a mate, he knew as well as Chris did that it would consume him when they came together. “You have such a shitty outlook in all this. Why is that?” He told her that he didn’t know, but he wasn’t keen on having a mate. And asked her to stop reading his mind. “I don’t have to tell you what she’ll bring to you. Or how you’re going to feel when she comes into your life, do I?” “You know me and what I’ve had going on since I was a kid, so you know what sort of things I’m dealing with.” She said that she didn’t. “Chris, I might be the youngest, but I think that I’m more set in my ways than even Joe is. I don’t care for change. It was the most difficult thing I’ve ever done, quitting my job and working for Noah. I can’t give a woman, any woman, what she will want. I’m not built like that.” “And what is it, Tanner, that you think a woman might want from you other than your undying love?” When he didn’t have an answer for her, she didn’t continue her train of thought. “If you could please tell Bridgett not to come home. No matter if she wants to face her demons or not, that would be disastrous.” “Are you mad at me?” She said that she wasn’t. Disappointed, but not mad. “I don’t want you disappointed either. But I know what I am.” “Yes, and so do I. All right then. We’re planning a large picnic for the summer. You all will be invited as well. And we hope to be notified when Noelle has her babies. It’s soon, correct?” He told her in two weeks. “Good. Let me know, and I’ll come out to see her. Thanks again, Tanner.” Then she hung up. He felt all twisted up inside when he couldn’t give her what she wanted. A mate would want children, and he just couldn’t give that to her. Not like the others could. As he worked through the rest of the morning, he tried hard not to think about what was going on. His mate was here. And she was an attorney. He decided to do a little digging on his own about Rogan McGowan, and see what he could find out to either hurt or help their case. It was funny really—he’d never thought of himself as not being able to take a side on something like this. He knew just what he wanted as soon as he’d been approached with a case. But this one, he knew that it was going to change a lot of lives, his included. “Sir, there is a Mr. McGowan to see you.” He looked at his cook and friend, Mabel, his heart doing a little jump. He asked her where her husband was. “He’s gone to the market, and the young man said to tell you that he’s Tyrrell, not Rogan.” “Send him in, please.” She said that she would, and would bring refreshments as well since he’d worked through lunch again. “I’m sorry. Did you go have some?” “I did. And I’ve made you a bowl of soup. Beef and vegetable. You can have it later. If you don’t piss this young man off. He looks like he’s had a rough time of it. I’m sure he has too.” Tanner asked her why she’d think that. “He’s related to that dreadful man,
isn’t he? Poor man. I’d hate to have him on my coattails. You need to know something about him, just gossip mind, but I can tell you.” Tanner thanked her and shut off the monitor on his computer when she went to get Tyrrell. Tyrrell looked just like he thought he would except for the hair. While Rogan’s was silvery white as the clouds and nasty stringy, Tyrrell’s was as red as the roses that were blooming in his mother’s garden. He had a moment to wonder what his own mate’s would look like, and squashed that thought down. Not now, he told himself. “Hello, Mr. Calhoun. My name, as you know, is Tyrrell—Rogan McGowan is my brother. And I assure you, we’re nothing alike.” They both laughed as they shook hands. “I’m new to this area and state, but I do have a federal license that takes me pretty much where I need to go. I work for the government. Mostly to do with paperwork, but I wanted to let you know that I won’t be representing him without a license.” “He’s got a lot on his plate right now. And, I would imagine, you as well if you’re taking this on.” He said that he knew that. “I’m not going to be involved in this. First, he had an issue with a public defender—I think you know who that is.” He said that it was his sort of brother-in-law. “Yes, that’s him. Phillip Chester is now safe, as is Bridgett. The second thing, along with a list of other items that they’ve put on his docket, is that he destroyed a public housing home and made a public nuisance of himself.” “Yes, I called and got Bridgett’s address from your sister-in-law before coming here. My sister, Giynna, came to the States to second chair with me. I’m going to be honest with you, sir, I have no desire to be here any more than Bridgett did.” He asked why then he was here. “My sister and I haven’t seen each other for a very long time. Just once since we turned seventeen. She went off to Ireland to be with a relative, and I stuck around to get my law degree here. This is a way for us to—sort of, I guess—write off a way to see each other and have a little time together. We don’t want him out of jail any more than anyone else might. Rogan is and always will be a bully.” “I’ve been reading up on him. He’s a bit more than that, I’d say. But as for you and your your sister, that’s a very long time to not see someone you’re related to, I think. My entire family lives near here. It can be both a blessing and a pain in the butt most of the time. But I do love them.” He said he knew about pains in the butt. “What can I do for you?” “I was hoping that you could help Giynna and I out with the judges. As I have said, neither of us wants to help Rogan out, but we’re stuck with him as a brother. But I do have to go through the motions so that he can’t say he didn’t get a fair trial. That would just piss him off, and he’d take it out on a lot of people.” He said he understood. “Also, we don’t know the area, and we were kind of hoping you could steer us in the right directions of a nice place to have a meal. It doesn’t have to be fancy, but Giynna will want cloth napkins. It’s been a sort of requirement of hers since we were kids when nice dinner was suggested.” “She sounds like a stickler.” He said that she was usually laid back. But he’d not seen her in ages. “I take it she’s here?”
“Yes, today as a matter of fact. She’s resting now at the local B&B. It was a long flight.” Tanner told him that was good that they were staying so close. “Why don’t you come to the house tonight? The two of you can meet my family—they’re a little on the large size—and then we can figure out a plan for the two of you to find a nice place. There are several in Columbus, but around here, about all we have is burgers and pizza. The one restaurant that we do have, they’re not open on Mondays. But the food is good and filling.” “We don’t want to impose. We can just have dinner at the pizza place.” Tanner told him he insisted. “Well, if you’re sure no one will mind, then yes, we’d love to have dinner with you. Is there anything I can bring? I don’t know what it would be, but I’m sure I can bring something.” “No, that’s all right. Just come casual. We are a big family, as I said, and they’re very casual about things. My sister-in-law is due in two weeks, so we’re sort of on pins and needles too.” He nodded. “I’ll send a car for you, and that way you won’t get lost. It’ll be at my parents’ house. They’ll be happy to see you.” After he left, Tanner wondered what the hell was wrong with him. He’d just invited his mate to meet his family. A mate that he’d not met yet. Laying his head on the desk, he was still there when his cook cleared her throat. He took the soup and thanked her. He was so fucked right now. Tanner had no idea where to begin. But changing his attitude might be a good place to start, he thought as he ate his soup.
Lincoln figured the new artist in town would be one of their mates. He’d heard she was a real ball buster and thought that maybe she would be Tristan’s mate because Tristan said he couldn’t handle that. But when Ginger introduced him to her sister, Grace, he knew from the moment he touched her she was meant for him.
Grace was in shock. Garrett had taken her into his office when the show was still going on and told her that she had all but one of her paintings sold, including the twelve that she’d given him permission to sell. Twice now she’d had to put her head between her knees, which wasn’t easy with the dress she had on, in order to not pass out. Sold all but one? How was that even possible?
Lincoln sat at her feet on the hem of her dress. His attempt to to calm her shaky nerves had her about addled, and when Grace suddenly stood, the dress ripped from shoulder to hip. Standing there trying to get herself covered, she felt her temper snap. Now what was she supposed to do? Grace didn’t know whether to kick him or beg him to help her.
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Cooper Manning and his five brothers were true dragons. Centuries ago, when the humans had turned on their kind, their father sacrificed himself to save his sons by casting a powerful spell which allowed them to walk among the humans. Even centuries later, Cooper couldn’t seem to let go of the past and despised most humans.
Carson Langley was exhausted. After being forced to work thirty-six hours straight, she unwittingly complained to the new plant owner, now she knew she was fired. There was nothing left to do but go home and cry about it later.
Cooper was sent by his brother to retrieve the helpful woman and bring her back to the plant, and he wasn’t happy about it either. It didn’t help that when she answered the door she shared his sour mood, and when he touched her hand, the magic that surged between them meant only one thing—she was his other half, and she was human…. Cooper was seeing red.
Winnie wasn’t happy with Cooper at all. She had only done as ordered and had spent five years in prison because of it. Cooper was supposed to protect her, but he didn’t. Now the dragon king wanted her to protect them all from the new slayers in town? How was that fair? The sooner she completed her mission, the sooner she could move on and leave it all behind her.
Hudson had been told that Cooper had hired a man by the name of Wendall. He just wanted to meet him so he could measure his worth, but when the door opened, the woman behind it was writhing in pain. He only meant to help her, but the moment he touched her, her pain became his as well.
Winnie had been appointed by the Dragon Board to be their protector long before last names were given. She had hunted her first, expecting to be paid by coin, but was rewarded instead with magic and a title. She didn’t have time to take a mate, much less a Manning. She had too much work to do.
The word “no” wasn’t in Hudson’s vocabulary. Winnie was his mate and he’d do whatever he had to claim her.
With slayers lurking in the shadows, Winnie has her hands full, and can’t let a new mate distract her. She had to remain on her toes or all would be lost….
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Lincoln looked at the bins being filled with food and the ice going into the meat display. It was finally here. The grand opening of the Greenhouse and Market Place, or GhMP for short. He loved it. “Hey, Lincoln? You have a minute?” He said that he did for him. Ben was a good kid and had been there from the first. “Sure, you do. I think you’ve found out I’m the biggest pain in the ass here. But there are some veggies I wanted to ask you about. You said this stuff was from the warehouse? Well, I think they sent us the wrong stuff.” Looking it over, he wondered why he thought that until he saw the invoice on the top. This was for a store in Birmingham. Pulling out his cell phone, he called his buddy, Alex, to ask him about it. Alex Porter shipped fruits and vegetables all over the state of Ohio, and sometimes to others. And he was going to sell off his extra, sometimes damaged, things here in the marketplace. When the phone was answered, he asked to speak to Alex. When he came on the line, he explained what was going on. “It’s yours. The people declined their order for yesterday, and if you can take it off my hands, I’ll give you half. There’s an invoice that should be with it.” He told Alex that there was. “Good. She’s going to get charged for the entire invoice, so you can get what you can out of it. Her contract said that she got one chance at this and that’s all. I don’t want to have ripe fruits in my warehouse all week that’ll be rotten before the end of today. I don’t work that way. If you can sell it, I won’t have wasted my money on bringing it back to the warehouse.” “I wouldn’t even know how to price this, Alex. I know very little about fruit. And you know me, I don’t bother with the stuff unless it’s under threat of death. And don’t get me started on vegetables.” Alex asked if Ben was there. Handing him the phone so they could work this out, he walked down the rest of the causeway to make sure all the booths were filled. Lincoln could have occupied them several times over if need be. There was a waiting list about a mile long with names and products. When he saw his buddy from up north, the two of them embraced. “I’m nervous.” Peter told him he’d be too if this was his first day. “We went for a Monday morning on purpose. Sort of a soft opening. That way we can work out the kinks before the…. What are you laughing about?” “Your soft opening is for shit, you know that, don’t you?” He said that they weren’t expecting a huge crowd. “Linc, when I drove up here, I had to wait in line twenty minutes to get into the parking lot. And that’s not counting the line out front, just waiting for the doors to open. You’re going to have a very busy soft opening.” “There’s a lot of people?” He asked if he’d gotten banks for people in the event they needed cash. “Yes, just as you told— There really are that many here? We didn’t even advertise so it would be a slow day. Which it won’t be, will it? How many are out there, you think?”
“I’d say a few thousand.” Lincoln nearly fell over. And might have but for Peter grabbing him. “Just stay focused and you’ll be fine. Go tell your people to gear up, they’re coming to see them in about four minutes.” Lincoln sprinted down the lines, and into the building, to tell them. Word had traveled fast. By the time he got to the last line of the six rows of vendors, they were already putting out more of their product. He was glad now that someone had suggested he call in some off-duty cops to help with the crowd. And banks for extra cash just in case. He’d have to tell Peter thanks. “Have you seen the crowd out there?” He told Cooper not now. “I know, but you said that this was going to be a trial run, not all of the state—” “Cooper, I don’t think you’re helping.” Lincoln felt green when Carson asked if he needed anything. Then the sting to his cheek made him rub it while looking at her. “You’re just lucky I hit you and not Winnie. Now, what do you need us to do? We’re here for you.” “Take a row and see if they need anything after the first half hour. I have extra cash should they need it. I’ll give you one to sell to each vendor. There is a thousand in each, all ones and fives.” Cooper took his bag and the apron that said Marketplace on it. By the time the gates were opened, the rest of his family had shown up. He gave them each an apron and a bag of cash. Before nine-thirty, half an hour after the gates opened, he was making another run to the bank. Thank goodness it was a weekday. After about eleven, things started to slow down. Everyone he talked to while helping with the overload of customers was happy. Some said that they were never leaving. He was glad for that. And that he had taken the time to listen to everyone’s advice. It would have been a disaster if he hadn’t. He’d been about to take out an ad in the local paper. Lincoln wanted things to go well for the vendors. But he’d been told if they were overwhelmed the first day, they might not come back. Most had never done anything like this before. At noon, they got another wave of people. Businesswomen and men coming to check them out and grab some lunch. A lot of the restaurants were busy, and were also selling quite a few drinks. If this was what he could expect in May, he wondered what it could be like when the weather was hot. He’d cross that bridge when he came to it. Ben joined him. “What do you want me to do?” He asked if he had a replacement at the fruit stand. “Nah, it’s all gone. We even sold the boxes, believe it or not.” “What do you mean, it’s all gone? There was a truckload, and I do mean that literally, of things there. Did you sell that too?” “Yeah, your nephews came to help, Simon the most. We bagged and unloaded while the little one, John, pitched for me. You know, five oranges for five bucks kinda thing. You have yourself a nice barker there if you need him.” He didn’t think the kid would lie to him, but he went to check, just to assure himself. “I called Peter, and he said congrats. Also, that now he’ll know to double up this weekend. And he made a hefty profit too. He’s thrilled.”
“Are you coming back?” He asked if Simon and John were going to help. “I can ask their parents, but I think they’re here already. How long did they work? I’ll need to make sure they’re paid.” “Peter said he’d take care of them. I turned their hours in with mine. I was told to do it that way, Mr. Manning.” He wasn’t sure that he was going to agree to that but said nothing to the young man. “Also, Mr. Pack, the meat guy, fed us with his employees. Said he was having such a great day that he didn’t mind whatsoever.” Lincoln went to find Cooper and Carson to tell them the kids had done a good job. They were at the meat counter themselves, and Mr. Pack was telling him what a great day he’d had. He wanted to know if there was going to be a permanent place for him. Lincoln told him that all the inside vendors were welcome to sign a lease for their space after next week. Lincoln didn’t want anyone to feel like they’d made a mistake. “I didn’t by coming here. No siree, I’m telling you, son, I did more business today than in a month at my location. The parking is better, and people feel safer here because you have it all lit up. You did good, Lincoln. I’ll be here for as long as you’ll let me.” The man selling cookies looked as if he’d closed early, but in actuality had sold nearly every cookie and cupcake he’d brought. So, he was talking to the customers walking around and telling them he’d have more when he opened Wednesday. Everyone that he and Cooper had spoken to as they went around collecting their views on how it went today didn’t have one thing bad to say. Most had sold out before lunch, and the rest had been close to that. Even the spice guy said he’d had one of the best days ever. Cooper said that he’d bought a few things as well. “It was fun because of all the people here. Most of them were in such high spirits that it was difficult to be upset about a few extra minutes in a line.” He laughed. “You’ll need to have the port-a-john people come out more often if this is the trend here.” At midnight he was still in his office. Today’s sales were through the roof if the totals were correct. Everyone had given him their daily total so that he could go to the bank when the month was out and apply for an expansion on the land he’d already had. There were another fifteen acres where he was going to add some outdoor activities for the kids, as well as weekend vendors that sold their own art. He was just putting things away for the night when Ginger Rice came to see him. “I heard you had a good day.” He smiled and told her he’d had a fantastic one. “Good. Can you use some help with the bookkeeping? I have Cooper all settled in, and since I can do it daily now instead of catching him up, I have some spare time on my hands.” “Your sister comes tomorrow, doesn’t she? I heard she’s met Garrett and he sort of overwhelmed her a little.” She smiled and said that she was cursing like a sailor. “I’m really glad that he could help her. And yes, if you have time, I’d love for you to handle that. I have an idea what to do, but I’d be slow in learning it.” “Grace will take up some of my time, but she wants to make sure Walton isn’t going to bother us anymore. She’s hated him from the very beginning. And I’m to understand that the other day he found out I had a son, not a daughter.” He asked how that went over when she stood. “I wish he’d not found out until after the trial, but I
really don’t care. He tried to have me, and my children, killed, and he isn’t getting me back for any amount of money or begging. I’m done with his ass.” “Your happy with your house and children being around? I mean, I know it’s sort of big, but as a rental, it’s all right. Cooper has owned it for some time, I’m to understand.” She said that she was very happy with her living arrangements. “Good. Family is both good and bad at times. I’m so thankful you are the former.” “Are you saying you don’t care for yours?” He laughed and said that he loved them very much. “Then I don’t understand. I thought you guys were all very close.” “Oh, we are. Very much so. And that is the problem.” She said that she understood now. When her faerie joined them in the room, Lincoln could see that she was happy with her too. Lincoln had his own, Drizzle, and he found the little man to be quite useful. “I’ll take off now and come by sometime tomorrow. I’m to understand that after today, you won’t be open on Mondays, correct?” “You are. We took a vote, the tenants and I, and we all decided that Monday, after a long weekend, will be just be the perfect day to rest and stock up. I’m not sure what we’re doing for the Fourth just yet, but we’ll get to that soon.” She said that it was only six weeks away. “I know. Spring has just flown by, don’t you think?” “It has.” She looked around the office. “You’re going to need some supplies in here for me to work. I’ll need only a few things that I can bring from my office.” “Order what you need, and I’ll pick it up at the stationary store for you. I’ll also set up an account like my brother has. Cooper said that he’s never had it so easy before.” She told him they were making her life better. “All the same, you’re a welcome treat to have around. Even if you weren’t a wizard at bookkeeping.” After making her list, she talked to him while he finished what he had to do. She said she’d come in Monday when it would be quiet in the office. He told her that a lot of people were going to come in and do restocking, so she might want to barricade herself in the office. She laughed at that. “I’ll let them in if you make it so I know them. I don’t want to let in shoppers or some robber while I’m here.” He told her that he’d put a lock on the doors that they had to have a badge to get in with. “That’s very clever. My goodness, you Mannings sure do have a lot of experience in this, I guess.” “We’ve been around for a long time.” Ginger left after they talked for a bit. He could tell that she was excited about her sister coming while also dreading it. She sounded a little on the caustic side, and he had a feeling she was going to be his mate. Lincoln didn’t know why though. Probably because he was too busy to woo a woman, and Grace sounded like she was so far opposite of him that it sometimes made him want to crawl into a deep cave and make himself a hermit when he thought about her. But he liked people too much to do that. At one o’clock he left his office at the greenhouse. Tomorrow they were going to be open, but he both hoped and didn’t that they had another like today. The greenhouse had had a good day too, selling all the planters as well as taking orders for more. He
had a feeling that the weekend before the Fourth they were going to be really busy, due to people getting their houses ready for the big day. His house was beginning to fill out. Having the funds to have all the renovations done the way he wanted them was nice. But he was sick of having workers around all the time. Davie, the contractor, said they’d be done this coming week, and he was looking forward to it. The only rooms complete were his bedroom and the kitchen. Tomorrow was a big day and he was going to enjoy it. There were too many things going on in his head for him to sleep, so he went for a walk. The moon was just bright enough to light his way. Lincoln loved the solitude of the woods and the bewitching hour. He also knew that he’d sleep better after a good stretch. ~~~ Grace wasn’t happy. Firstly, she felt like she was being ambushed. Secondly…well, she was pissed off. She wasn’t even sure at what just yet, but she was all the same. When the man in charge of her feeling this way came toward her, she put up her hand. “You know that you can’t keep me away. I just came to tell you that you’ve sold another painting.” She looked at him with a stern eye. “You can glare all you want, but I did tell you that you’d have a good showing.” “It’s not even until tonight. How are these people—? You’re letting some come in now?” He said that they were his patrons. “I don’t care if they’re your brothers, you said that I’d have a good show tonight. I’m not prepared for this.” “That’s why you have me.” She could honestly say that she could gladly kill Garrett Massey and whoever had told him about her. If it was Ginger, she was going to murder her too. “There are things going on in your head that are very frightening, aren’t they?” “I’m planning your demise.” He laughed. The man was forever doing that. “What do I do if there isn’t anything left to sell? Not that I think that’s going to happen. But do you have a backup plan if it does?” “Yes, talk you into the other twelve paintings that you have stashed in my office. You let me put them out and we’ll have an even better showing.” She said that she didn’t care anymore. “Seriously? Great. I have just enough time to display them. And since you don’t want to know what I’m selling them for, you’re going to be pleasantly surprised, I think.” “I don’t know how you sold the first one, much less two. Those prices are well above what I would have sold them for, aren’t they?” He said again that was why she had him. “I don’t know what’s going on. What if these people get home and say they don’t like them? Are you going to make me give you the money back?” “I don’t think anyone is going to do that. And they sign a contract when they buy a piece of work from here; it’s theirs. You worry too much, sweetie.” He laughed again, and she wanted to punch him. Twice. “Besides, I doubt very much that once your name gets out there, anyone will want to return them. You’ll be a hit, and those first pieces will be worth a great deal more than they are right now.” “They’re not worth the price you’re putting on them. I don’t know how much, but I know it’s more than I would have charged. Also, I can’t believe people are going to pay
you whatever you want for my work. It’s insane.” He kissed her on the forehead and she stood there when he walked away. She wanted her sister. Grace wasn’t one to whine and complain. She was more the type of person that took care of things when they came up, and usually with flare. At least that’s what she called it. Her flare was to ignore the person causing her issues. Or—and it amazed her how many times this plan came up—she kicked the shit out of them. Pulling out her cell, she called her sister. “I was wondering if you’d call.” Grace felt better just hearing her voice. “I just laid Mattie down for a nap and I’m feeding Wendall, so you can talk to me all you want.” “You’re so domestic. I miss that about you.” Her sister laughed and told her she could be too. “No way. I don’t like people. I called to see if you’re still going to make it tonight. You’re my rock.” “I am. I have the best sitter ever keeping an eye on the children, and I have this dress that is going to make you jealous.” She hadn’t told her sister that she’d had a makeover and felt foolish in her own. “All of the Mannings are coming too. You’re going to be overwhelmed, all right. Just don’t hit any of them.” “I don’t hit people right off the bat.” She laughed with Ginger. “I’ve warned Garrett we’re twins and it’s difficult to tell us apart. Hopefully everyone will think you’re the artist and leave me alone.” “And what would I say if they were to ask about a piece? Nothing. I wouldn’t even know what to tell them about the kind of paint you use. Besides, you’ll be just fine.” Ginger told her to hang on. “I had to switch boobs.” “You don’t need to tell me that.” She did though, and it was great that her sister was so happy. “I’ve hired this guy to take care of my work. Though I don’t think there was ever a doubt to him that he was. He seems to think that I’m the best thing since sliced bread. And that’s what he said to me. And he’s a tiger.” “Yes, I know that. The men here, they have all kinds of paranormals coming in and out all the time. I’m getting good at telling the difference. Oh, and I took on another client. I’ll be doing Lincoln’s books now too. I’m having so much fun.” She told her only she would have fun with numbers. “They sing their song to me. And you should know how that is. You tell me all the time how your muse seems to call to you. Does he still zone you out when you paint, like he did all the time?” “Yeah, I’m weird like that.” She saw Garrett pulling her paintings out to the floor. “I have to go and see what he’s about. I gave him the last of twelve to put out for tonight. I think I’ll be bringing them when I come see you.” She wanted to bring her sister home with her, to her house, but she didn’t have that anymore. As soon as she told her landlord she was going away for an extended period, he told her that he was selling the house and she might as well move out. It was very abrupt, but she knew it was coming. He was ninety-two and had no one to help him with rentals anymore. “I had to sell, honey. I loved you being here all the time, but I’m falling more and more, and I can’t be doing that and living by myself. I got into one of the assisted living places. They’ll even do my clothes for me. Imagine that, why don’t you, somebody to
wash my undies.” They laughed. “I’ll give you back your deposit, and you can take your time moving out. I’m sorry.” She and Ginger talked about this and that when they were on the phone nowadays. It was comforting because Ginger was so calm. They talked mostly about the children, who Grace was excited to see. Mattie had been just a wee thing the last time she’d seen her, and now there was a little boy. Ginger deserved so much better than the ass that had taken her. “I have to go, sweetie. We need to get dressed up, and I should do that now while Wendall and Mattie are asleep. I’ll see you tonight and you’ll be coming with us.” She said that she hoped she could find a place to live. “You will. You can live with us. We’ll have good times again.” After hanging up, she went to the office to see what was left. Really, it was to hide out. She really wasn’t very good with people. They made her freeze up. She thought that was why she painted, just to escape the world. Last night, it had taken her an hour tossing and turning to realize she wasn’t going to sleep. So instead of continuing down that futile path, she got up and pulled out her things. The hotel she was staying at, thanks to Garrett, said she could paint in her room but would be responsible for any damage done to it. Garrett had put down a large deposit and told her that he’d pay for any damages. To paint when the mood struck her was something she couldn’t do without. It, like her sister and her children, calmed her in ways she couldn’t explain. Last night’s painting had been the best she thought she’d ever done. For some reason the idea of a large castle had come to her. Not the pretty kind with turrets with flags and flowers at the front. This one was dark and full of secrets that only the ghosts that lived there were aware of. And they were going to keep out everyone that tried to come to the big stack of stone. As she painted, seeing it in her mind’s eye, she got more information on the inhabitants there, and was glad for the lights when the darkness of the place started to make itself known to her. Death was all over it. It had been in a siege and many lives were lost. The king had killed his wife, to save her from certain death that would not be easy on the delicate lady. Then he’d thrown himself out the window, sure that it would be preferable than the one the new king would have for him. There were other stories like that one, but she loved rather than hated them. Part of the castle wasn’t coming to her, but she was all right with that. Instead of trying to make it, she just painted something else on it. The broken gates, the large stones at intervals around the place. There were other things that had fallen into disrepair, but she had a feeling the castle and its surroundings were going to be something that would haunt her forever. Like the unfinished part of the castle, something was blocking her from seeing it all. When she stepped back from it when her alarm went off to get up, she was amazed at the detail. But then she was like that with each of her paintings. But in this one, this was calling to her in a different way. Like she had the unfinished business, not the castle. Cleaning up, she noticed something that she hadn’t before. The makings of a
dragon that seemed to be flying over the castle, the part that she’d not finished. Seemingly protecting it from whatever was coming for it. Or her. “What is wrong with you?” she had asked herself. “It’s a painting, not a fortune teller. Get a grip, dumbass.” And now here she sat, wanting to work on it, but knowing that for now it was as finished as she could make it. Until…whatever was needed for her to do was ready. Laughing to herself, she decided to return to the hotel anyway and get dressed. Tonight was going to be huge for her, and she’d get to see her sister. Taking a second shower, Grace pulled her hair into a ponytail and then braided it. After wrapping it with a rubber band, she coiled it around her head, mostly to keep it out of her face. Then she pulled her dress on. Black, Garrett had told her— to show how important she was. Instead she felt foolish. She never wore dresses at all, and this was strange. It was more of a sheath, she supposed. There wasn’t any kind of nipping at the waist. The only part that was tight was around her breasts. And there was a slit up the side that showed off her entire leg and most of her thigh. She wasn’t thrilled about that, but it was the only dress they had in her size that was black. She was going to have to do some serious shopping if she had to do this very often. Grace did not like showing off more than she saw in her mirror every day.
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Recommended for 18+ Check out the first books in 6 separate series by Kathi S. Barton. Each of these full-length novels can stand alone.
Rembrandt – Blood Brotherhood Series
Sapphire – Rare Gems Series
Force of Nature – Force of Nature Series
Nickolas – The Grant Brothers Series
Cain – The Waite Family Series
Royce – The Hunter Series
Skylar Manning was just trying to be nice. The mysterious man dressed in black was hanging around after closing…again. It was the third time this week. Only this time he grabbed her arm. Her world changed forever.
Suddenly she found herself hunted by shadowy figures with razor sharp teeth, and into the arms of a warrior who craved her as much as she did him…
Blair tries to convince himself that he’s chasing after Sapphire because he feels an overwhelming need to protect her and she just won’t follow orders. When he comes across as a complete jerk, Sapphire really wants no part of him. Of course, leaving him isn’t going to work…she’s his mate. Now, if only he can get his head out of his ass, learn to treat Sapphire the way she should be treated, maybe, just maybe, there is a chance for them…that is unless Jeffery Benetton finds her first…
Force of Nature
Austin didn’t want to be impressed by her. He didn’t want to like her. He wanted her to obey him, whelp a few pups so she wouldn’t be bored and run his house for him. CJ wanted to do as she please which included maybe murdering the Alpha in his sleep. The two of them coming together is wonderfully steamy and sarcastic wit. Austin and CJ will make great alpha’s…or will they?
Nickolas Grant doesn’t know what to do when he finally realizes that he needs Morgan Becky for more than just his secretary. He doesn’t trust her… not with his love not even his friendship.
Morgan has not had an easy life and finds it difficult to trust others. She needs to get her life in order, not fall for her handsome boss with a stiff spine and foul temper.
When they come together in fiery passion and biting words, no one is safe, not even them.
The girl went by many names. Julie was the one the nurse called her, Shade and also Miss Rocky was just a few more. But it was her real name that she held to her. No one must know who she was or they’d try and kill her. And the good doctor was someone she decided that
Royce and Kasey have a love that extends over time and could make them very happy…if they don’t kill each other first.
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The injured women in the bed, Emerald, had been poisoned with lead. Dana could smell it on her and he wondered why Danburn hadn’t. With Danburn being the king of the dragons he should have been able to smell it right off, or at least Dana thought so anyway. With the woman’s surly temper Dana should have left her there to suffer alone, but he could smell his mate on her. Since Em was an emerald dragon he deduced that his mate must be another gem to compliment his diamond.
Sapphire had been summoned with the rest of her sisters, Ruby and Opal, to Em’s side. The young girl, Carmine had powerful magic that could extract the lead from Em, but she wasn’t strong enough to get it all out on her own. The sisters would have to combine their magic with Carmine’s or Em wouldn’t survive.
Sapphire knew instantly that Dana was her mate and she wasn’t thrilled about it either. She and her sisters had been around for thousands of years, why did a mate have to muddy the waters now?
Dana wanted to take it slow. They had the rest of their lives to get to know each other. He wanted to court her and ease into the relationship. They were both immortal, so time was on their side, right? Melville James had other ideas. If he couldn’t have the emerald dragon he’d just take the sapphire. After all, her mate hadn’t claimed her yet, and by dragon law that made her easy pickings.
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Danburn English is the ninth earl of the English castle. He and his dragon alter ego have been on this earth for a very long time. Danburn is accustom to his orders being followed to the letter, no questions asked, so when this feisty young woman bucks his authority he is beyond angry.
Kendrick Barrera can’t seem to get caught up. Every time she turns around, her sister is in trouble again. Now, because of her sister’s new mess, she’s being evicted and has nowhere to go.
Danburn’s intentions were to defend her honor, but when Kendrick intervenes, she steps in front of a punch intended for her mouthy landlord. Now Danburn has to step back and take a good long look at himself, and he doesn’t much like what he sees.
Kendrick doesn’t care for the overbearing lord of the manor and makes no bones about telling him so either. No one, especially him, is going to tell her what to do or how to act or dress.
There is something about the feisty woman that has touched Danburn’s heart. She has a rare honesty and bravery that has him take notice. A woman like that is hard to find and should be protected and cherished. The chemistry is there, they’ve both felt it, but controlling his mouth just might get in the way of winning Kendrick’s heart….
Cassie had just arrived in Danburn’s territory and she knew as a dragon she had to report to him. Whether she liked it or not, she’d gone from one ruling male, her father, to another. Being a female dragon, and unmated, she felt cursed for her lot.
Everette Welsh, Rett to his friends, was having a hard time making ends meet. He was a good attorney, but it seemed to do him little good. His good friend, Danburn, insisted he quit his job and come work for him. Rett had no intentions of taking Danburn up on his offer, but when his boss called him into his office and was demanding that he apologize for threatening a man who blackmailing him, the words “I quit” spilled from his mouth without thinking. However, once said, he felt better for it.
Rett found himself on the wrong end of a shotgun blast, and Cassie gave a bit of herself to save him. There were only three conditions of taking dragon’s blood that a human would survive, and the other two didn’t apply to him. Rett and Cassie were mates.
Only two things stood in their way: Rett’s obnoxious mother, and Cassie’s father, a lethal combination…
Quinn Langley knew her mother didn’t have long to live. Soon it would just be her and her little sister, Carmine. Nearly recuperated from her own injuries, Quinn knew the first order of business would be to find a job and get out of Danburn and Kendrick’s hair.
Danburn had invited his friends to his home to spend the holidays, and that included his good friend, Hanson McClain. Hanson’s parents had run off and left the estate in a shamble and near financial ruin. It had taken Hanson months to repair the damage, and he was ready for a break.
Quinn had no idea that her cousin, Kendrick, was mated to a dragon, and that she and her sister were the only humans in the house. And now, the handsome stranger, Hanson, also a dragon, had claimed that she was his mate. It was time to leave. The ever practical, Quinn didn’t want solutions just handed to her on a silver platter. She’d make it on her own. But in life things don’t always go as planned. Like it or not, Hanson’s parents were a problem she’d be forced to deal with, and she discovered her sister, Carmine, had abilities Quinn didn’t quite understand.
Thrust head first into a world of immortals, Quinn found she had a whole new set of problems. Now, the first order of business would be to protect her little sister and hopefully not die in the process.
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Em was exhausted, but more than that, she was terrified as well. To be in the house of the king was unnerving, but the way that everyone kept coming in to check on her was also making her afraid. Like instead of checking on her, they were making sure that she wasn’t harming the household and the people there. She looked at Sebastian when he growled low. “What is it?” Someone comes, he told her. “Well, that’s not at all helpful. People have been coming in and out all day long. It would be easier for you to say that no one is out there.” The door opened and a man she’d not met before stood there. He didn’t enter the room, but he did watch her. Asking him what his deal was, he told her nothing but continued to wait. Sitting up in the bed cost her, but she thought it was worth it to have him go away. Which he did not. “My name is Dana Blankenship. You are an emerald dragon, fittingly called Emerald.” She nodded. “Your gryphon is called Sebastian and he is not one to mess with. He’s been caring for you for many decades. You ask yourself why I know this. Well, the household has spoken of nothing else but the beautiful woman who is an emerald dragon. Oh, and her sidekick, Sebastian.” He was very handsome. His face was hard, but she knew that when he smiled, like he was right now, he could not just open doors, but women would swoon and men would be jealous. He was a man that people paid attention to. She was not going to be charmed by him though. “Yes, so what? You know what everyone in the house does, big deal.” He nodded, then shook his head. “You’re getting on my last nerve, and if you knew anything about me, you’d know that I don’t care for that.” “You’re the queen of the emeralds. That part I figured out all on my own.” Her heart began pounding in her chest and she thought about what she needed to do now. “You make all the emeralds in the world. Meaning that all you can make, cry, is the same gem. Your job is to make sure that there are just enough and not too many in one place. Correct?” Terror made her snappish. Well, more snappish than she normally would be. And while she rarely held back when she was mad, this time it got away from her even before she opened her mouth. “What the fuck are you doing? Reciting my entire life’s history? What are you doing here anyway?” He asked if he could come into her room. “Not yet. I think I like you better right where you are. And I want to know, what it is you think you know that I don’t?” “I’m sure that I know a great deal, but not necessarily more than you. You’re the sister of the opal, ruby, and sapphire. I’m assuming that since you’re Emerald, their names are accordingly.” She told him that was right. “Are the others safe?”
“Why would you even care? I don’t know you from anyone.” He just nodded and leaned against the door jamb like he had not a care in the world. “What are you? Other than a dragon. You must have some kind of special powers. Otherwise you wouldn’t have been able to figure this all out.” “What I have is a tenacious sister-in-law that has read over the rules and regulations of our kind. Which would include you and your family. Quinn is the one to see if you have any questions about any kind of dragon. And she’s reading the books that are a part of the council as well. Smart girl, that Quinn. And she has an equally smart sister. Her name is Carmine if you ever get the chance to meet her.” She nodded, thinking that this could be really bad for the rest of them. She was in the house of someone that could hurt her worse than she was already. “I don’t know what’s going on in your head right now, but I’m not going to hurt you. None of you.” “And you think that I should just believe you? Not likely. I’ve been around longer than you have.” He said that she hadn’t, actually. “That’s…I can’t smell you.” “No, you cannot. Where are the others, Em? Are they safe? I know that you travel together, wherever you go. Are they safe?” She didn’t want to answer him, but the truth was, she didn’t know if they were or not and told him that. “If you’d like, we can go and bring them here. This is a safe haven for dragons.” “You tell me why I can’t smell you, then perhaps I’ll trust you.” He asked again if he could come into the room. “Why do you need my permission?” “For the simple reason that you won’t give it.” As she was growling low at him, he turned to his right and smiled. It was a smile that made her heart flutter and her body warm. When he took a tray from the woman that had been in here earlier, she sat up higher in the bed when he brought the tray to her. His whispered breath touched her cheek. “I’m a diamond dragon. You’re not my mate as I had assumed. But one of your sisters, perhaps? The smell on you, it gives me only a hint of her, one of the other three. Which is it, I wonder? And what would a diamond dragon have with a gem one should they have children? All things that I plan to figure out. With or without your help.” She shook her head, telling him in the same low voice that she wasn’t going to help him. “All right then, Em. I’ll see you later. And if you change your mind, let me know.” Change her mind about what? Then she remembered that he wanted to keep the others safe. In all this time she’d not reached out to her sisters, and looked at Sabastian to send him on his way to find them. “Bring them back if you do find that they need me.” He said that he could do that. “Sebastian, while you’re with them, warn them where I am. The diamond dragon is tricky.” “My lady, if you don’t mind my saying, I think you’re tricky as well. But he knows a great deal. It might not harm you to be a little nicer to him.” Em pointed out that he wasn’t terribly nice to her. “Yes, but you put up your shield well before you knew what he was to one of your sisters.” After they left, both Sebastian and the dragon, Em thought about what had happened. The dragon had warmed her body. Not in a sexual way, but more like one
would a relative, a brother so to speak. He had given her a hint of what he was. Yes, he’d told her he was a diamond dragon, but that could have been nothing more than wishful thinking on his part. He had even told her his name, knew hers as well. But the thing was, he could have been lying. I don’t lie. His voice echoed through her mind like he was standing in the room with her. You and I, we’ll have to learn to trust each other. Because we both know that I’m going to be mated to one of your sisters. Which one, I haven’t any idea, but we’ll be related. How do you know that? He laughed, and it warmed her more than the small breath had. I don’t think I’d like to be related to you. You’re not a nice person. Then we should get along splendidly. His laughter made her think that he’d just insulted her. And Em didn’t like it any more than she did the man. As the day wore on and she was feeling better with all the fresh meat and vegetables, Em was even happy that someone had taken the time to know what she needed to eat. However, it was her leg that scared her the most. The man who had hit her with the iron, he had known what he was about. She wasn’t cut badly, but until all the iron was out, and there would be a great deal of it, she would get weaker until she was no more. Not die—she was too strong for that—but she’d not be able to produce tears, nor would she be able to help her sisters when necessary. Weakness was not an option when you were a gem dragon. Your sisters are coming to you. They are terrified, if you wish the truth of it. I have told them of the man. They are both excited and afraid that he will not suit them. Em pointed out that they could hide out in the woods and meet him one at a time. After a brief pause, he told them that was what they were going to do. They wish to know how you are faring today. I told them that you were getting stronger, but that someone will need to take the iron from your body. And that you’re being most stubborn about it. I’m not being stubborn, I’m being practical. And that is not going to get us all killed. She laid back on the bed and thought about what it would take for her to be healed completely. I will need a great dragon to help me. And the king will not bother himself with a lesser dragon such as myself. And what, pray, do you think the world would do without your beautiful gems? She smiled at the tone of her sister, Sapphire, and had to laugh when she told her not to be a dimwit. They were forever picking up words to insult each other with. Ask for help or you’ll be gone. Em had met the king. But because of what she was, he’d not known about the iron. Now that she had time to think about it, she knew that then would have been the perfect time to ask for the help. But she’d been as stubborn as her sister had accused her of being. Things were not going well for her at the moment. “Hello.” She looked at the little girl standing at the foot of the bed, startled by her appearance. “I’m Carmine. My sister said that I could come and see you. But I’m not to bother you if you don’t want me to.” “It’s all right. I was just thinking. Do you live here?” She nodded. “I’m sure you can visit me any time you wish. My name is Em. I’m a dragon too.”
“An emerald dragon. Uncle Dana told me that you’re very special, and that we needed to never ever tell anyone that you’re here. Otherwise they’ll come for you, like they do me.” That scared her too. Was there nothing normal about this family? “I can help you.” “Help me what?” Instead of answering, Carmine moved to the side of the bed and pulled the blanket away, unwrapping the leaves that Em had wrapped around the wound. Em hissed when they stuck to the wound. “It’s not that bad.” “It’s terrible. The man who did this to you, he’s on his way. He doesn’t know where you are, but he does know that you’re close to him. The wound there, it’s going to keep festering until you’re dead. Iron wouldn’t normally kill you, but you’re much too weak now. I would say if its not removed very soon, it’ll hit your brain and kill you. As simple as that.” She didn’t want to believe her, but she knew that her words were true. “I really can help you. But you have to let me. Quinn said that its rude to assume that I’m smarter than everyone in the world.” “Are you?” The little girl seemed to think of her question when it had only been a joke. “Your name is Carmine, you said. Why are you so smart?” “I have this brain thingy. My sister said that it’s because my brain is so big. But the doctor, a vampire, he told me that I have a nudge in my brain. It makes me use most of my brain, a lot that most people don’t. I use ninety-four percent while the average person uses ten percent. Some even less.” She asked if the less were the handicapped. “No. Some of them use a great deal of their brain, more than a lot of smart people. But they have trouble with it because they don’t know how to process it. They know what to do and how to do it, it’s just harder for them because they don’t know the names of things, such as a hammer. They might know pounding thing, but that’s what gets them labeled as a handicapped person to begin with. Their lack of ability of what to call them.” “I see.” She did too. “How are you able to fix my leg? And you’re right, it is badly infected. I’m afraid of having to cut my leg off.” “It’s well past being in only your leg. It is racing over your body as we talk. But Dana is going to help me.” She started to tell her that she didn’t like the other man, but he was in the room before she could. “He’s very strong and he can hold you down. I’m really sorry, but you’re going to hurt like the dickens.” “Why would he need to hold me down? Isn’t there anyone else? I mean, he must have things to do.” But he got onto the bed with her and behind her. When she was wrapped in his arms, he handed her a small stone, a dark emerald. “I can crush this and eat it? How did you know…the sister-in-law?” “Yes, but not until she’s done, please?” She said that she’d wait. Afraid of what was going to happen, she held onto him while he wrapped her into his arms. This was going to be painful, she knew that. The room filled with light and all her sisters were there. ~~~ Dana was careful not to breath too deeply. One of them, the Sisters of Four, was his mate. But now was not the time to try and figure that out. Emerald needed him. She
was strong, and could hurt Carmine while she was in pain. And he knew that she was going to be in a great deal of it before this ended. Each of the women surrounded the bed, lending, he had no doubt, their magic to Carmine. “I’m going to pull it free of you, but you’re going to be really hurt. Like I said, it’s all over you now.” Em nodded in his arms. “It’s all through your blood, and that’s going to have to be collected too. Enough so that I can make the shard it came from. You understand me?” “Yes. All right. But where is the king? He must be here in the event I don’t make it.” Carmine told them all that he was coming. Ruby, dressed all in her color from head to toe, smiled as she continued. “He’ll not be happy about this, I think.” “He’ll be fine.” Dana had already let him know what was going on. And that they were going to take out the iron. He’d been surprised to know that; he’d not smelled it on her at all. “I mean, don’t you think, being the dragon all mighty, that I should have smelled something?” His mom hit him on the head. “I was just joking, Mother. Honestly, how did we all miss that?” “More than likely because she didn’t want you to know.” Danburn asked why she’d do that. “You’re the king. She’s a dragon. You add it up.” “She’s afraid of me? Why? I’m a puppy.” Kendrick snorted. “I am. I’m very nice, all the time. I mean, I have my moments, but everyone does.” “But not everyone rules, nor are they big enough to stomp on a house and kill everyone in it. Blend into the trees and woods surrounding him so that no one sees him. Oh, and let’s not forget that you have teeth that are longer than most grown men, and they’re as sharp as razors.” “Minor things when someone is seeking help.” She snorted at him again and Dana had to laugh. “Darling, you should get that looked into. You seem to have a slight cold.” And now Danburn was there with them, lending whatever help was needed. Dana wondered in that moment why he’d taken so long to come and visit his friend. He was a great one too. The men here, probably the only true ones that he had. “You have to help me a little at a time, please. Like one of you touch me when we go searching, and then when they’re tired, the next one.” She grinned at them all and Dana laughed. This child was so young, yet had the soul of a very old person. “Okay, let’s do this.” The first bit of iron came from the wound, and when it hovered just above Em’s leg, Dana had no idea what was going on. He thought, wrongly so, that he was to reach for it. But when the second, then a third piece came from Em’s flesh, he knew that Carmine was forming the shard to make sure that it was all there. It took a lot longer than he thought it should have. Em had passed out from the pain. He’d never thought of how it would be removed from her body, but the fact that wherever it was it just came out of her skin startled him. There were bleeding marks all over her body that made him slightly ill. To him it looked like they had it all, but Carmine, who was covered in sweat, said there was one more.
Danburn had long since fallen to the side, as well as most of her sisters. Sapphire was still standing, lending her magic, as was Danielle, their vampire friend. Dana had started to move, since he was doing nothing more than sitting on the bed, when Sapphire told him to sit still. Don’t move. You’re keeping her strength up. She might be passed out from the pain, but you’re keeping her alive. He looked down at the bloodied woman. She’s going to need something fresh, with a great deal of red meat. I’ll arrange that now. Sapphire nodded, but said nothing more while he asked Kendrick for help with it. She’ll make it. You know that, don’t you? I know no such thing. Had I known she’d been hurt, we’d have taken care of it days ago. Not waiting until it was nearly too late. Her tone was nasty, much like Ruby’s was. Opal was gentler than the other two. She wasn’t without a temper, but she had a nicer way of getting her point across. Just pay attention to what you’re doing, and perhaps we can all be hopeful. He didn’t have a clue what he was supposed to be doing that needed his undivided attention. The patient was out cold, and he was not supposed to move. Whatever, he thought. If Sapphire was his mate, someone was going to be in for a rude awakening. And he had a feeling that it was going to be him, he thought with a smile. When the tiny piece was added to the shard, Carmine passed out too, just tumbling to the floor like a rag doll. Quinn came in to get her then, afraid to be in the room for too long while they were working for fear of her child. That was why Kendrick wasn’t allowed to join in the help. The babes needed their mothers to be very strong. Dana loved this family, and figured that when Hanson had found his mate, it was only a matter of time before him and the other two got theirs. Kip was biting at the bit for his mate, while Griffith was more sedate about it. He couldn’t care less either way. Dana thought that it wasn’t a front either—Griffith was really that laid back of a man and dragon. But he had a temper. Like the rest of them, their dragons would take them in no time if there was a problem. But he did notice that the men with mates, their dragons were different, treading lightly, literally, when the women were about. He’d laughed his ass off the other night when all of them had ganged up on Griffith. He’d apparently trampled the flowers that were newly planted and had killed a prize rose bush. In less time than he thought it possible, not only was Griffith out there replanting the flowers, but he’d brought one of the roses from around his own castle, a very rare and old breed, to replace the one that he’d killed. Everyone was happy after that, and Griffith and the rest of them had found a new respect for the ladies of the household. He certainly had. Picking up the young woman, he held her while the staff cleaned the bed and then turned on the bath. He hadn’t planned on joining her in the bath—she wasn’t his mate, but she was beautiful. His plan was to put her in the tub, clothing and all, and then let someone else take over. But Opal saw him headed that way and nearly took his head off with her sword. “What the fuck is wrong with you?” He let a little of his own beast take him while he yelled at the woman. “You could have hurt me badly, you moron.”
“You are not taking my sister.” All kinds of things ran through his mind, none of them very nice. But he wasn’t feeling it right now and slashed out with her with his dragon’s magic. He knew that she’d not die, but he did encase her in diamonds anyway. It was all he could do not to slam his tail against her and break her to pieces. Instead he entered the bathroom, put the woman in the tub, just as he’d planned, and left the room. Then he left the house. There wasn’t anything he wanted to do more than to fly. But he’d been warned that there might be poachers around, so he only took off running for the woods. Dana had been running for pleasure—in meets, yes, not just for fun—for a long time. And he found that while not as relaxing as sailing through the skies, he did love the feeling of getting his heart pounding. You all right? He told Hanson that he was. They’re a little protective, don’t you think? I mean, that Opal, she could beat a bear with a switch, I think, and come out on top. I think you might be right on that. They both laughed, and Dana slowed his steps. I wonder which one is my mate. I know that one of them is. I just don’t know if I want any of them, to be honest. I heard you telling Kip that one of them was. Speaking of which, he’s as odd as ever, isn’t he? Dana laughed and stopped by a felled tree. Sitting on it, he looked around for inspiration. Are you still dabbling in stones? You know, making things from granite? I’m in need of a slab of it for the kitchen. Quinn wants to make candy, and I guess that is the best material that you can get. I have some at the house that are being brought here. Do you care what color? I have a pink one and one that has about ten different shades of gray it in. And no white at all. Very rare. Tell her for a box of candy, I’ll give it to her. Hanson laughed. You should know that she’s going to open herself a nice restaurant soon. Not just with candy, though all of it is really good, but also sandwiches and fruits. I think it’ll be a nice addition. Her sister is going to help her with it too. I’ll be her first customer. I’ve never had chicken fried steak before, but I think there wasn’t any better than hers. As for the slab, as soon as it arrives, I’ll make arrangements to have her come see it. But for now, I’m working in jewelry again. I missed it. He pulled out his phone and took some pictures of some of the things in the woods. You know, I have an idea that I’d like to open a branch here. You think there is any kind of need for a very expensive jewelry shop? He didn’t have any need for money. With as old as he was, and the fact that he could have diamonds any time he needed them, he was very wealthy. Not as rich as Danburn or Hanson, but he’d never have to work again if he didn’t want to. I think you should do it. Setting down roots here. Also, you have to look at this house that is perfect for you. It’s a Tudor. And the back end of it has been added onto a few times, so it’s massive. Also, and you’re going to love this, it has a couple of turrets. Not just a little one either, but worked into the design, and the bottom part of it looks like it could be the dining room area. Hanson laughed as he continued describing the house. I think the sucker has like nine
bedrooms or more, plus this dining room that will open up to hold about two hundred mingling guests. Like I said, it’s big. When can you get me in to see it? They were still laughing when he said that he’d take him today. All right. Also, the stuff I have in storage—I don’t suppose there is a place I can have it stored here until I can purchase said home, is there? It’s not going to be any trouble storing it. It’s just that my lease is about up at this place, and I didn’t want to have to pay a full year for something I don’t need. He did have money, but he was also smart about what he had, never overspending on things he didn’t need. When he could, he’d fly for himself rather than to take a plane. He also bought pieces that he wanted on sale, at tag sales and auctions. Dana was very frugal. Not cheap, but prudent. The house is empty and has been for about a year, I was told. The brick is brown, the roof of it is all slate, which is a big seller for me. And plenty of wooded grounds. There is also a stable with several paddocks and a big barn. He asked Hanson why he didn’t buy it. I don’t need it, my dear fellow. I have a wife and a home that I love dearly. Mostly the wife. And a child on the way. I did think about buying it, but I didn’t want to spend the money on it. I’m like that, you know. You are not going to tell me that you’re broke. He said that he wasn’t, but he loved that his wife was making them more money. Jackass. All right. I’ll meet you back at your house in about an hour. I want to check on Em, and then I need to get a shower. I needed some time out in the fresh air. I wish we could be more secure around here about the dragons. It would be nice to just go fly instead of waiting on the weather. He agreed with him. All right, one hour at my house. See you soon. Instead of going in the house, he made his way to the car. If there was a problem, someone would call to him. Right now, even the thought of meeting his mate was too much for him. So instead of telling anyone where he was headed, he made his way to Danburn’s house to get cleaned up. He wanted a place of his own, and the sooner the better. Not that Danburn and his lovely wife weren’t the best sort of hosts and such, but he wanted his own things around him. It was time, he thought, that he really did settle down. Make roots, as Hanson had said to him.
Julian Stanton was eating breakfast and rethinking his life as a PI when a stranger walked into the diner looking for Tess O’Rourke. Julian felt the hackles rise on his neck. He wanted to take his gun out and blow this guy’s head off for no apparent reason other than he didn’t like him. He’d never had an instant dislike for a person before. He didn’t know who Tess was, but he was going to make sure this stranger didn’t find her.
Tess was at her wit’s end. Dexter had once been her best friend, now she couldn’t get far enough away from him. He was everywhere, attacking her at every corner, emptying her bank account, and now he was after her baby daughter, Ruby. Only the Lord knew what he’d do to the baby if he got his hands on her.
Sent by his parents to help, Julian was to be Tess’s escort to the family home for dinner. The hotel was no longer safe since Dexter had found her there too. When she opened the door, she shoved the most precious squalling baby girl into his arms that Julian had ever seen. And when the woman walked by him, her scent hit him like a brick.
The job went from a favor to personal in the blink of an eye, and Julian would protect the girls in his life with his own if necessary.
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Dane had no idea who she was. She’d been shot and couldn’t even remember who she was hiding from. All she did know was she needed help, and when Julian Stanton found her, he took her to his family.
Brayden Stanton was just tired of everything. It was time to leave Africa and go home to family. He called his dad to tell him that he was fed up with the job and he was on his way home, and he was bringing a fiancée with him. She wasn’t his mate, but he was going to make it work. He realized his mistake the moment he proposed.
Danger comes at every turn. The women in Brayden’s life are surrounded with it. Both are lethal, but one has Braden’s heart from the beginning. The question is, can the family survive it?
Being a country lawyer was something Christian Stanton had always wanted to do. Taking a client he really didn’t want to represent was not what he had in mind.
Allie had been hired to teach the Stanton men hand to hand self-defense. She loved her job and was quite good at it. She knew about shifters, but had never really worked with them before. And when the big cat shifted into a very naked man proclaiming to be her mate, Allie wanted nothing to do with him.
When it came to Allie, Christian was in big trouble. She was no pushover and the sooner he figured that out the better off he’d be….
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Julian was enjoying his breakfast at the little diner when the man walked in. There was something about him that made Julian want to pull out his gun and blow his head off. No reason that he could see right now for such a violent reaction, but he hated the man on sight. Taking his handgun out of his pocket, he laid it on the seat next to him. There wasn’t a safety, but had there been one, he would have taken it off as well. Something—something very bad was surrounding this man. “I’m looking for a friend of my son’s. Tess. Tess O’Rourke. She’s some kind of doctor.” Sally told him she didn’t know her but did know Ericson O’Rourke. The man’s voice was off too. Like he was trying his best to project a woman’s voice. Odd, even to him. “Yeah, that’s her granddad. Where is he?” “I’m sorry, but I don’t know you from Adam, and I’m not going to tell you that.” She went by him with a pot of coffee in her hand. When he was close enough to touch her, Sally, a wolf shifter, stepped back when he grabbed her. “You touch me without my permission and they’ll be picking up pieces of you out of this place for the next fifty years.” She poured the coffee for the table next to Julian’s, then came to him. He could tell that she was upset, but all he did was lay his gun on the table. For that reason alone, he was sure, she looked relieved. Saying nothing and going back to the counter, she asked the man if he wanted anything to eat. “I already told you want I wanted. Now, either call him up or send some kid to find him, but you’re to do as you’re told.” Sally cocked her brow at him. “You heard me. I’m not in the habit of repeating myself to people. Get him or face me.” Finished with his meal now that this ass had interrupted it, Julian wiped his mouth with his napkin, picked up his gun, and put it to the back of the man’s head when he stood up. Julian winked at Sally before speaking. “Sally, honey, if you’d be so kind as to call the police, I’d surely appreciate it. If I have to kill this man for simply being a rude fucktard, then I want them here to make sure that I did it by the law.” The man started to lunge, to where he had no idea, but Julian popped him hard in the back of the head and the man fell like he’d had strings cut that were holding him up. “Now look what you made me do. Sally, tell them we’re going to need the wagon too. I hurt him.” When the police arrived, not really in any kind of hurry since Sally had told them it was Julian, they took one look at the man on the floor and laughed. Apparently, he’d been all over town ordering people to do his bidding. “Mr. Merkel, he’s none too happy with him either. I guess when he was busy with another customer, this guy here swiped his hand over the counter, breaking his wife’s best glass of tea. The glass, not the tea.” Julian laughed with them. “Have you ever had her tea? Good God oh mighty, don’t, if you haven’t. It’s sweet enough that I’m betting she uses five pounds of sugar in it to make it that sweet.”
The medics brought the man around, and after a few minutes he finally stood. But when he looked around, trying, no doubt, to figure out who had hit him, his gaze settled on the man at the table, one of the nicest men in town. He was also Julian’s father. “You touch him, and it will be over before you can get all your fingers wrapped around him.” The man looked at Julian, then at his dad. “He didn’t hit you. Not that he might not have, but I did it. For being an ass. In this town, we don’t order people around, nor do we suggest they fetch and do as told for an asshole.” “Julian, behave.” He told his mom he was sorry, but he didn’t take his eyes off the man. “Come sit with us and let the police handle this one. Perry is doing a very good job as our new sheriff. That man there is unbalanced.” “Listen here, bitch—” He got no further because Julian’s sweet little mother got up and punched the stranger in the face. Then she sat down and picked up her menu. “I think I’m going to have the eggs and bacon today, Denny. Julian, I said come away from there before you have to hurt that man again.” She laid her menu down and smiled at him. “I do not usually resort to violence, but he drove me to it. Now, what are you having, Denny?” Julian might not have ever believed it if he’d not seen it for himself. His mom was taking some self-defense training from Allie, and it seemed to be paying off. Julian had thought his mom was scary before; now she was simply terrifying. He sat back down as the man, still the only thing he knew him by, was taken out. “We can’t arrest him for being a dick—pardon, Mrs. Stanton—being a bad-mouthed man, but we’ve told him to move on. I don’t think he will.” Julian told Perry, his brother-in-law, that he didn’t believe he would either. “We’ll just keep an eye out for him. You’ll help us out, won’t you, Jules?” Lately, just in the last couple of weeks, he’d been having his name shortened. He didn’t hate it as much as Brayden did; he actually thought it was nice. Friendly. As he drank a nice cup of tea with his parents, who had entered the diner when the man was out, he asked them if there was a Tess around. “Oh yes. I think that’s her name. She’s the granddaughter to my buddy, Ericson O’Rourke. He’s going to be working on that vet that came in with the bullet in his head. Why no one tried to remove it when he was hurt is beyond me, but he’ll be operated on in the morning, I guess.” Julian nodded and sipped his tea while his mom took up where Dad had left off. “The young woman, Kendal Wayne’s wife Sandra, she’s been helping out at the veteran’s office. I’ve never seen anyone so organized before. When the donations started coming in, she had them all in the proper order in no time. So, we put her in charge of procurement. I thought it was a nice title. And she’s being paid.” Julian said that was good. “But this man, what does he have to do with Tess?” “Don’t know. I guess, according to Perry, that he’s been all over town asking for her—well, you heard him—demanding her to come to him. I don’t know what his deal
was.” Mom told him that she wasn’t married. “Don’t set me up. I have enough going on right now without trying to untangle myself from a woman that you think is pretty.” “I’ve never met her yet, as a matter of fact. But I was saying she wasn’t married because whoever this man is, he’s not her husband.” He told her he was sorry. “But would it hurt you to go to see her to see if she is your mate? I heard that she’s as sweet as pie, too.” “Mom.” Mom laughed when Dad did. “I sign on my house in the morning. Also, since you did ask me, the furniture comes with it. I don’t know what I’m going to do with all of it, but for the most part, I’m going to keep it. Sort of swap it out for something that I find while keeping the house looked lived in.” Julian had an apartment too, one that he’d never released when he’d been working. For some reason, he didn’t want to let it go. There might be a good reason for him keeping it someday. “Mom, do you think that Dane or Allie would want the baby stuff that was left behind? There is a lot of it. Girl stuff.” “I don’t know, you’d have to ask them. But I think that Allie and her parents are having a good time getting the nursery ready for the baby. And Dane will more than likely hurt you if you suggest that she needs pink in her baby’s room.” He laughed with his dad, saying that camo would be better for any child born to Dane and Brayden. “Oh good heavens, you don’t really think that’s what she’s doing, do you? Camo? Oh my.” “I’ll just leave it then. It’s not like it’s bothering me.” But it was. He had no idea why, but he had the most incredible urge to not just fill the nursery, but the house too. Telling his mom and dad he had to go, he left them there. The streets were cleaned of the early morning snow now, but he didn’t care. There was a feeling of hope in the air too. The new year was here, the stores were getting ready for spring, and he had an interview with a police force in the next town over. It would be a good drive, about forty minutes, but he thought it was better than just sitting around the house and being bored. His cell phone was ringing when he got into his truck. Julian was startled to hear screams first, then shots fired. Perry asked him to meet him at the local hotel, and he was to come hot and ready. “Fucking hurry.” He did, and when he pulled up in front of the place, he saw three people that he didn’t know, as well as child services. Not having any idea what he was walking in on, he decided that safe was better than sorry. Taking his gun out, he approached the man from the diner. “What the fuck are you doing now? I thought we had this conversation not ten minutes ago.” The man turned and swung, and Julian dodged it. The man went down, and Julian put his boot on his back, glad to see that he’d landed in some mud. “Now, this is what you’re going to do. Tell me what the fuck is wrong with you?” “She’s not supposed to have that kid. No kids, no kids, no kids. I told her she didn’t need them.” Not sure who he was talking about, he looked at Betty Cobb, the town social worker. The man continued speaking. “Tess is a terrible mom; she’s a whore that
doesn’t need to have children. I’ve seen her beating that baby and leaving it out in the cold. Just let me have it and I’ll make sure that it’s taken care of.” Whatever the man meant by his statement, it made Julian feel sick to his stomach. A combination of the woman-like voice and the way he said “Take care of it” made his skin crawl too. Julian would rather die than to give that kid over to this person. He looked at Betty. “The baby is fine. But we’ve taken her to the hospital with her mom.” He asked if she was all right. “Yes, but the baby is a little upset, if you can imagine. No indication of any marks on her, and she’s a chubby little thing too. Cute as a button.” “He do anything to hurt them?” Betty told him that Ruby, the baby’s name, had a cold, but that they were checking her out because of what he’d said. “And what is he doing here? Father? Brother?” “Nuisance.” Julian looked at the older gentleman when the idiot under his foot struggled to get away. Julian just pressed him harder into the mud until he was gasping. “He’s not any relation to us, but he has it in his head that he needs to have the baby for some reason. I know this man; this isn’t like him at all. Usually he’s so quiet and timid. And he doesn’t want my Tess, just her baby. Like I said, I don’t know what’s come over him. This isn’t him. Oh, by the way, my name is Ericson O’Rourke. You have to be related to Denny.” “His son. Julian Stanton, third son to them. And you’re the doctor that came here to operate on Kendal.” He said that he was. “Kendal is a good man, doesn’t deserve this. I surely hope you can do some good for him.” “I will give it my best, but before you drown Dexter, let him up.” Jules grinned at Perry when he finally showed up. “I had to escort Ms. O’Rourke. She’s pretty upset too.” After Dexter Jorden was taken in, Julian asked Perry if he needed him for anything else. Perry said the same thing he always did, to come and work for him. He told him again that it wasn’t in the cards. Just as he was leaving his parents showed up, and he hung with them to figure out what the guy’s deal was that was after this Tess person. ~~~ Tess watched her little girl as the nurse examined her. Ruby had a bruise on her right shoulder, but otherwise was all right. Dexter was off the deep end, and she didn’t have any idea what to do about him. When the doctor asked her to come into his office, she asked if she could pick up Ruby and was told she could. Holding her little girl tightly, she handed her the binky that she had and watched her little eyes drift closed. It really had been a long day, and it wasn’t even ten in the morning yet. “She’s had a rough day, I think.” She told Doctor Colton that she had. “I’m sorry. I’m Doc Stanton. My first name is Colton. You’re Tess O’Rourke, the surgeon we’ve heard so much about lately.” “I am. My granddad is the one that was called in, but word travels fast. I guess that happens in a small town. You’re related to the man that called my granddad, then.” He said that he was his son. “I see. Is my little girl going to be all right? I mean, he grabbed her pretty hard when he tried to take her from me.”
“Yes, she’s just fine. And so you’re aware, I’m only here helping out—I’m actually a retiring psychologist. I work here when they’re short of staff or need a break.” She thanked him for coming in. “My pleasure. I had no idea that Ericson had a great granddaughter, much less a granddaughter.” “I’m his only relative, and since I’m not working at the moment, I decided to come along with him. Ruby likes to travel too. See things like snow. I had no idea there would be nothing left of it already.” He told her it was Ohio—tomorrow it might be in the seventies or the teens. “I’ve heard that before, I think. Sally at the diner told us.” “Yes, she’s good on sayings. And talking.” They both laughed. “You can take Ruby home with you if you’d like. On one condition.” Her body stiffened. “I might have a child, Dr. Stanton, but I’m not easy.” He laughed, and she felt her temper flare up hotter. “You would be well enough to just leave me alone.” “Feel better?” She wasn’t sure what he meant and asked him. “I’m not that other man. I was just asking you if you’d like to have dinner with me. At my parents’ house, with them there. I have my own home, but I know that your granddad is going to be there, and I didn’t hear that you would.” “I wasn’t invited.” Her temper now was turned onto herself. “I’m sorry. I’ve had a rough few months too. No, Ruby and I are trying to lay low with Dexter around here now. I don’t know what’s come over him lately. He used to be such a loving, kind man. But if he keeps this up, we might have to take off again. I don’t want to, but I don’t want my daughter hurt by him. He’s not usually so violent.” “Yes, he is. How many ribs do you have broken right now.” She didn’t say anything. “You have two, I would say, on your left, more on the right. You’re breathing hard and shallow. And you carry the baby on the less pained side. Also, there is a ligature mark on your neck. Most might not see it, but I’m paid to. Where are the rest of them? When he hits you, he’s usually so careful, isn’t he? This man Dexter or your husband do that?” “I don’t have a husband, as you well know. But yes, it’s Dexter. He is still mourning the death of his mom. I don’t know why he’d be like this—they weren’t close. Actually, I never liked her at all, even when we were children. But I think it’s affected him somehow and he’s acting out.” He asked her how long it had been. “Let me see. Ruby is six months old, and it was about eight months before that, so I’d say a year and a half. No more than that.” She watched as he looked at her daughter. “She’s not his.” The tears started to flow and before she knew it, not only was she sitting down, but in a very nice office too. Ruby was gone from her arms, and she had a box of tissues as she told him everything. “Dexter told me that he didn’t want me to have a baby that day. I was just a little over nine weeks pregnant. Kenneth and I, we weren’t in love, but he was security for me at work. So men would stop hitting on me. And I was security for his place of work as well. Kenneth had a lover and we were all going to live together. But they wanted a child, so they helped me with my student loans and I helped by being their surrogate. Then one day after I’d heard that his mom was dead, Dexter came at me, screaming at
me to get rid of it. He kept saying no kids, over and over. He must have hit me.” Colton asked her if she’d been hurt by it. “No. Just a nasty bump to the head, and it knocked me out. But they told me when I woke that Kenneth was gone. We’d not gotten married yet, and now I have Ruby, which I wouldn’t change for all the money in the world. But I do miss him and Daniel.” “There’s more too, isn’t there? Tell me, Tess, so that I can help you.” She didn’t want his help, but after today, knew that she was going to need it. “What did he do recently that has you so terrified?” “I’ve lost my job because of him. A couple of weeks before I did, he would come to my office and would harass me. Once, when I was in surgery, he hurt three of the staff to get to me, then had to be arrested when he tried to enter the operating room.” Colton said nothing, but now that the dam was opened, she couldn’t stop the flow of words. “I have nothing. He’s taken all my cash somehow, and then when I go to the police, there isn’t any proof that he took it. Nothing. I’ve changed banks and cards. Nothing seems to stop him. I’ve been beaten so many times that I can’t tell where a new bruise begins and the old one ends. I’ve lost everything since he’s been like this. My car, my job, my reputation. Thankfully he never bothers Granddad or me when I’m with him. But he’s obsessed with Ruby and her going with him. And for some reason, I think he means to hurt her.” “You’re a surgeon, like your granddad.” She nodded, telling him that she’d only just gotten her license to practice here. “In this hospital? You’re going to move here?” “Granddad wants to, but now, with this, I don’t think I should. I mean, he could, and Dexter might hurt him to get to me. And I can’t have him hurt the only man that I love.” He looked at her sharply. “Yes, Kenneth and I did like each other like friends, and I liked his partner Daniel too, but…. He was…his parents were pressuring him to marry a woman. But I knew from the very beginning that we weren’t suited. Yes, I liked him, very much. We did create a child together too, by artificial insemination, but we never really loved like a man and woman do. We both knew that going in.” “All right. This helps me a great deal.” She asked him how. “Well, for starters, you’re going to have dinner at my family home tonight. Then we’re going to get you out of the hotel. There isn’t enough protection there. Not to mention, he might hurt others in trying to get to you. Which he won’t again.” “And how do you think you’re going to do that? He’s already been released. And in the event that you didn’t notice, Dexter doesn’t seem to get into trouble for shit that he does.” Ruby had just started crawling, and instead of going to her, she crawled to Colton. “That’s a first.” “Do you believe in shifters?” Yes, she told him, he was a cougar, all his family was. “Okay, yes, your granddad would have told you. I’m sorry. But that makes it easier for me to tell you that so long as you’re around here, you’ll be safe. We protect family, and since you’re a friend of my dad’s, then you’re family.” “I don’t think it works that way.” He, much to the delight of her daughter, bounced Ruby on his knee. When she laid her head on his shoulder again to take a longer nap,
she assumed, he laid her back in the crook of his arms and held her. “You’re very good with babies.” “My sisters-in-law are both breeding, so I’ve been practicing. I can even change a poopie diaper, fill a bottle with one hand, and feed a rambunctious two-year-old.” He kissed Ruby on the forehead before rocking her back and forth. “I’ll have one of my brothers come by later and get you packed with the rest of your things, if that’s all right. I’ve spoken to my parents, and since your granddad is helping out, then they’d love for the three of you to stay with them. Mom needs practice too, she said. She’s not held a little girl for years.” As he was ready to go when she was, he gave her a lift to the hotel. The snow had begun to fall again, and she was afraid for Ruby. The little girl’s car seat was at the hotel, so she held her tightly as they took the slickest roads she’d ever been on. At least since living in Florida most of her life. Colton drove slowly but she was still afraid. Even as they made it there in one piece, she didn’t want to leave again. But Colton insisted that they come to his parents’ for dinner, and she couldn’t turn him down again. He’d been a nice man to her—the first nice man in a long time, it seemed. Gathering what she would need to perhaps stay all night at a strange home, she was taking the car seat to him when his phone rang. While he was putting the cheap car seat into his truck, the back split open and it simply fell apart. She looked at him as he threw it in the back of his truck and smiled at her. It was too much. Dropping to sit in the snow, she started crying again. “Come on now, get up before you get a cold where you can’t take medication. I have no idea what that means, but my grandma used to say that to me all the time. Asses can’t get colds, and cougars don’t catch them anyway.” He helped her inside and handed her a box of tissues. “My mom is coming with my brother. And they’re picking up a car seat for Ruby. And if you tell me no, I’m going to make you deal with my mom. She’s not one to mess with.” “Everything I have is cheap, or second hand and cheap.” She stopped crying enough to check on Ruby. “This child can sleep through anything. I swear, I wish I could have one nap as good as she does.” “You’re not very good at changing the subject. Which is all right. But I have to go to the hospital for a psych evaluation. That’s why my mom is coming.” Again she tried to tell him she’d just stay there. “No, you won’t. If you don’t agree, now that my mom is coming, she’s going to bully you into coming anyway. And Julian, my brother, he’s not having such a good day either, and a hug from Ruby will be just the thing for him. He’s the one that had Dexter arrested today.” “Then he’s great in my book. Probably could be king for the day too.” They were laughing when he went to the door with her. She smiled when he told her to lock up. “Yes, Daddy, and I won’t answer the phone until it rings once, then you call back.” Laughing, he thanked her. As he moved out the door, Colton turned back to look at her once again. There was a strange look on his face and she nearly asked him what was
wrong. But he was gone before she could. Strange, but nice man. Going inside, she locked the door and went to check again on Ruby. She, of course, was sound asleep.
Vance had always felt like an outsider to the family, disconnected, a part of them, but not. He had been content to see his brothers mated and happy but knew in his heart that happiness wasn’t meant for him. He was cut out to be a soldier and made the Army his life. He was good at it, a little too good. Until recently the government had been good to him, now the powers that be were targeting him.
Micky, a fae warrior, was a secret weapon of sorts for the government, that was until recently. Now, those in the White House were corrupt and wanted to see her dead.
They found each other out of necessity, but together Vance and Micky were a force to be reckoned with—unstoppable and lethal.
Now that Vance had found his mate and the final piece of jewelry was in place, the prophecy and the final battle with Butler was at hand. When Vance placed the final piece of jewelry, the necklace, around Micky’s neck as a wedding gift, the entire family felt the magic, but Vance’s dragon was nowhere to be found. For the first time in his life, Vance was worried that he wouldn’t be good enough to defeat his opponent. Were they all domed to die and start the McCade life cycle over again? Find out in the final installment of The McCade Dragon—Vance
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Emma Gentry felt like she was losing her mind. From the time she had picked up the pretty ring to examine it, she’d been hearing a voice in her head. When she ran from the demolished building, she’d slipped the ring on her finger so that she wouldn’t drop it, now she couldn’t get it off. She was in dire need of medical attention, but the voice wouldn’t let her stop to get help. There were others looking for the ring and would kill her for it. Emma was on the run.
Kenton McCade was the doctor in the family. When found Emma in his office treating a badly infected wound on her leg, he had to help her. The infection had spread and she was near death.
Kenton and his brothers were dragon shifters born without the ability to shift into their other half. The magic, it seemed, lay dormant in a sleeping dragon that was tied to six pieces of jewelry. When the ring found its way to Emma, her touch had woken the sleeping beast. When Emma touched Kenton’s sigil on his chest, he shifted to his beast for the first time. But the beast from the ring would not be complete until all the jewelry found its way to their rightful dragons….
Emma was still on the run…they need her to survive…but Emma trusted no one…
Jasmine Tyler was wishing she had never found those earrings in that box of junk she bought at auction. They were so pretty, and the dragons had so much detail, that she simply had to try them on. That was the biggest mistake she’d ever made. Once they were on they weren’t coming off. And those men in the black SUVs meant business. She’d hand the earrings over or they’d kill her. They’d more than likely kill her anyway even if she could get the damn things off. Now she was on the run with her young son, Gavin, and her ailing granny. A voice in her head that started when she put the earrings on was directing her to find the McCades.
The dragon had told Kenton and Jorden McCade that another piece of jewelry had been activated, and the boy that had just come into Jorden’s studio was her son. The dragon didn’t know which brother she was mated to, but she had sent the boy and her granny ahead to keep them safe. Now, another attempt had been made on her life and she was in a hospital an hour away.
The cop at the scene had been in on it, and Jasmine found herself in a pickle. She’d been drugged and there wasn’t a thing she could do about it. Her body hit the floor by her hospital bed and she was looking into the lifeless eyes of her nurse.
As soon as Jorden scooped Jasmine up off the floor and her earring touched his skin, he knew that this woman was his. The earring left a brand, marking them both. He couldn’t be happier about finding her, now to convince her to stay was going to be the problem….
Harper Bailey was in way over her head, and the trouble just seemed to keep coming. Her brother-in-law had frozen her personal accounts, and now she was on the run because she wouldn’t do as she was “told.” She had been told to abort the baby. Harper hadn’t wanted the baby she had been forced to carry in the first place, but now that she’d felt life, she would protect the child with hers.
Grady McCade knew that his mate had been found when she touched the piece of jewelry. The dragon had told him that if he didn’t hurry to her side, she would be found by the dragon slayers and her life could be ended as well as the life of the babe that she carried.
With Grady and Harper together, the dragon grows stronger, and the slayers pick up the pace in their quest for all the pieces of jewelry. Can the McCades stop them before they strike again? Are any of them safe? Find out in The McCade Dragon—Grady
Dr. Gabriela Nola, Gabe to everyone, hadn’t been in town long. Kenton McCade was looking for a partner in his practice, and she was hoping to fill the spot. A nice small town beat the last hospital job she’d just recently quit—90 hours a week with a shorthanded staff. She just wanted normal, and the voice in her head to stop already about opening the box and wearing the item inside.
Dalton McCade knew when he heard the dragon’s voice that he was next on the list, and ready or not his mate was coming. According to the dragon, she was already here and had refused to put the combs in her hair.
But as always, danger followed the jewelry, and Gabe was no exception. The mysterious stranger would have all the pieces for his own collection, and didn’t care who he had to kill to get them….
Raven Wood, an ancient and powerful witch, had been forced to help King Butler gain immortality. Butler had killed Raven’s mother anyway and for her part, even though it was unwilling, she paid the price for the deed with her sight. For centuries she has lived in darkness with only the earth and her pet raven to help guide her way.
Lewis McCade would be opening his restaurant, The Dragon’s Lair, soon. Between the pressure of the opening and a wedding he was catering for his brother, his nerves are shot. And the news that his new mate is probably nearby and blind to boot couldn’t come at a worse time.
Butler may have forced Raven to extend his life, but she cheated him and put a time limit on his magic and immortality. Now his time and magic are running out. He has to bring all the pieces of jewelry together and call forth the dragon before it’s too late. He will do whatever is necessary to see all the McCades dead….
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“Where is he?” Morton Elliot, his vice president and right-hand man, said he didn’t know, but he’d been at home until an hour ago. “And you saw him? I mean, this isn’t a case of him just getting the things out of his body, is it?” “No. I don’t even think he’s aware of them, to be honest with you. Yeah, we saw him. I have pictures of him with his brothers. And the markers that are on him were with him every step of the way. I made sure of that myself.” Abe was handed a sheet of paper that meant as much to him as anything else that was scattered on his desk. It was window dressing. Every note, every file, even the fucking pens that had his name on them, were things that people expected him to have on this desk. But it was the desk that he had in his upstairs office, the one that he had the only key to, that was his alone. The desk that had all his businesses, information on them, as well as everything in the world that he owned and that people owed him. The room that no one, not even his wife, could enter. There were files and charts in there that would get him put before a firing squad. Things that no president, not even a citizen, should be going over. The country was going to be in for a huge surprise, and he could not wait until they figured it out. President Abe Melton, “Honest Abe,” was anything but honest or working to help them. When Morton’s watch made a noise, Abe waited for the news. He knew that sound as well as he did the ring tones on his own phone. It was indicating that there was movement. And when Morton sat down hard in the chair, Abe stood up. “What is it? He showed up, right? Where is he, Morton?” Morton said something, but he didn’t understand him. It wasn’t mumbled, as it usually was, but a whisper. “What are you saying, you moron? Tell me.” “I said that he’s here. In the building.” Abe sat down and stared at the door in front of him, expecting it to be slammed back. Him being shot was all he could think about. “I’m going down to check on it. You stay put.” “Fuck that shit. I’m going with you.” They made their way to the lowest levels in the White House. Few knew about this area, and those that did had more than likely forgotten about it. “When we get there, I want you to show me how to use that machine. I’m sick of not having any idea where he is when I want to.” “Sure, sure. But if he is indeed in the building, then it’ll matter little. We’re both dead if we can’t get to him first.” There was that. “Christ, of all people to be still hanging around.” That was true. Vance McCade had been a pain in their asses since Abe had taken office. Before that, really. He was good, too damned good at his job, and it had cost them a lot of sleepless nights as well as a great deal of money. He was just danger. And he was a killer. The idea to track him with small devices had been Morton’s. But he had suggested that they put them on him in all kinds of places. In the event that he lost a leg or an arm,
they still wanted to know where he was. Abe didn’t think that the loss of a limb would slow him down, so he didn’t want to take any chances. There were only two men that worked this computer. They each worked a fourhour shift, never left the area, and were pretty much chained to the desk at all times. Food was brought to them. Their laundry was cleaned. And twice a week, someone would take away anything that was considered trash. Even that was gone over so they’d not be sending out any messages. Three times since he’d been in office they’d had to deal with one or both the men that had worked in there. Abe thought that with the example they’d made of the previous ones, these would work out the best. At least for their sake, he hoped that they did. “He’s all over the fucking place.” The blinking lights did seem to be all over the map—in the building they were in, outside the grounds, as well as back in his home state of Ohio. Fucking asshole knew. “McCade is aware of us.” Morton said no shit. “Well, Mr. Know-It-All, what the fuck are we going to do about it? It’s not like any of your ideas to kill him have worked. He’s like a fucking ghost.” “I still have people out looking for that woman. The one that was working for us a long time ago. Seems she’s made herself known again.” He asked him how. “She killed four of our men in a restaurant a couple of days ago. Actually, two different restaurants. She’s as bad as he is when it comes to getting information that we have out there.” “We have to get rid of him. Now.” Morton said he was working on it. “Well, work harder. Have you any idea what it’s costing us to have him out there?” They left the little room and made their way up to his offices. Morton was still talking about how they were going to get this woman, but Abe didn’t see that working. If she was as good as McCade, then there wasn’t going to be any getting her to do anything. She’d more than likely turn against them too. “What makes her so special?” Wording, he knew, had to be worked around. While he knew there were recording devices everywhere, there wasn’t any kind of audio in this room. But that didn’t mean that they didn’t have them on themselves. “I mean, is she all that special that you want to bring her onboard to work for us?” “She’s said to have a bit of a magical touch that we like to use.” So, she was magical, so what? So were most of the men who protected him. “And she has no qualms about using her magic however she sees fit. As I said, she took out four of our men in seconds.” Morton got up and handed him a thumb drive. Putting it in his personal laptop, Abe watched a video of an old woman having a meal. When she stood up two of his men were down, then she and one of them disappeared. He asked where they’d been found, and he got his answer when there were pictures of his man dead. “Christ. How long was this? I mean, between point A and point B?” Morton told him a matter of less than an hour. “He was tracked too?” “Yes. And she took out another one in a restaurant about six hours before. A nice little place that served sandwiches and had free wi-fi. We think that’s why he approached her, the idiot. To tell her he knew what she was about. She shot him three
times in the gut and just walked out. It’s a fucking mess there we had to work hard to contain.” Every day something else was put in his way. All he wanted to do was make a shit load of money, keep his head on his shoulders, and not end up in prison. Abe didn’t think that was a lot to ask for. He was president of the free world. Yet every time he turned around, someone was trying their best to take his freedom away from him. Well, it was time for that shit to end. And it was going to start by ending that fucking McCade once and for all. “I want you to find me someone that can bring him to heel. I don’t care if you have to go to his mother’s house and hog tie her to make him see reason. Also, see if you can get anything on that family. There has to be something somewhere that will make them see reason. Mother fuck, this is the dumbest damned thing that I’ve run across.” Morton reminded him of the cameras in here. “I’d not have to worry about them had you done your job at the house that day. Did we ever figure out what happened to that video? Or even if the pictures we got from them can be cleaned up at all?” “No. All we know for sure is that one of the women took the drive from our man, but she handed it right back to him. There wouldn’t have been any time for her to make any kind of adjustments on it. But all it has on it is fuzz, as well as some audio. Nothing that we can use.” Of course not. Why should that be anything different? “Also, the pictures. We did manage to figure out some of that. The camera that was being used by the department there, it was just some old camera. But ours, as you know, are all messed up as well. It’s like they— Mother fuck, Abe. Do you think she is magical too?” “You think?” Christ, he was beginning to hate the world today. “Get her here. I want to talk to the bitch that had a hand in this. In fact, invite the entire clan here. We’ll have a nice little get together, and I’ll see what I can find out from them. And if I can’t find out what I want to know, then we’ll have a case of food poisoning that will kill them off and make me deathly ill. Perhaps we can say they brought it, and place the blame squarely in the McCade’s laps.” When Morton left him, Abe sat at his desk and thought about all the plans he’d had and how many of them were now shit because of one man. McCade. The things that he’d done and people he’d killed should have had him in jail, but they’d all be counted as justified, and he’d saved the American people with each one. There just wasn’t any stopping the guy. Not legally, anyway. Twice he’d had him in his sights. Well, not his own personal sights, but close enough. And both times he’d gotten away without a scratch. Abe had been told numerous times that McCade had been shot or killed, and come to find out, the fucker was going home and being repaired there. Repaired was a strange word, he knew, but they should have been making funeral arrangements instead of patching him up. Abe couldn’t even get him for being AWOL, absent without leave. Because every time he brought it up to someone, they told him that he was an American treasure and that for as much time as he spent working for the government, a little R&R, rest and relaxation, would go a long way in making him a better man.
“Better man, my ass. He’s more of a pain in the ass then even my own kids are most of the time.” Abe looked at the picture on his desk, the one of his family taken out in front of this very building. There wasn’t any denying that they were a good looking bunch, but Abe hated every single one of them. Working on his game of solitaire, he thought of all the things he had on his plate at the moment. There was an arms deal that was just a few days away that would net him and Morton about ten million apiece. He had a shipment of drugs coming into the country next week that would get them even more cash. Money that he had planned to retire on. As it stood right now, he’d be lucky if he’d be able to run with it. He and Morton both stood to lose a lot if they couldn’t get this one man to die. When his day started, his secretary getting him going to some meetings and shit, he closed up his computer and made sure that the password was in place. There were few that came in here when he was out, but he didn’t want anyone to see the shit that he had on it. He’d never make it to the upstairs if they did that. Laughing, Abe went about his morning, but never lost sight of what was really bothering him. ~~~ Vance watched Micky as she worked through the computer. He didn’t speak much, but then she didn’t either. Just watching her work was a pleasure that he thought he’d not enjoy. Nor had he ever dreamed that they’d be in a house within walking distance of the beach. Looking at the view again, he thought that he could get used to this. “They’re sending out two men to your family home. Your mom’s in particular.” He asked her why they were doing that. “I’d guess to take them as hostage or some shit. But they’re supposedly there to escort them to the White House for a dinner. I’ve already contacted your brother, Kenton, and he said thanks. He thinks you’re the one that warned him, just a heads up.” That was another thing that she did that made him like being around her. She didn’t ask him for permission when she did things, not that he thought she would. But she got the job done and did it as well as—a couple of times better than—he might have. Like today. They’d split up with the trackers. She was much better at getting places quickly. So, while she was flittering around the country with hers, he was moving around the grounds of the White House. They really needed better security there, he thought with a laugh. But he did feel better now that Raven had destroyed the trackers that she’d had. They had shown up on the computer too, the ones that he’d only just found out about. But Micky not only found it, but had hacked into the system, and now they knew as much as the men there did. “Hey, I was wondering if you had figured it out yet.” Vance leaned back on the couch again and asked her what. “That we’re mates, or whatever you guys call them. I was a little slow about it, to be honest. It never occurred to me until I was in the shower this morning. When did you figure it out?” “When I saw you the first time.” She nodded as if she’d figured he had. “Do you have a problem with it?”
“No. I mean, you bathe regularly. You don’t seem to have any kind of nasty habits that would infuriate me enough to have to kill you, and you’re semi smart.” He laughed; he’d been doing that a lot since she’d come around. “You don’t do that much, do you? Have a good time, I mean?” “Are you making an offer?” Her face turned red and he laughed again. “No, I don’t usually have any fun. I’m not a fun-loving sort of person.” She nodded. “I didn’t think so. And so you know, when you changed your shirt yesterday after coming in from the ocean, I saw the scars. You’ve had a rough life for someone that is as young as you are.” He nodded. Vance had had some close calls since he’d been in the service. “You also have the sword of Caelin. It’s meant, I think, to kill his father. You’ve been chosen to do that. But with all of this, I was wondering what we do now. I mean, a lot is hinging on us being at your family home, isn’t it?” “I don’t know how any of this works, to be honest with you. But until this other shit is taken care of, I’d rather not bring it down on them. They—the men that I’m after, with your help—are getting desperate, I think.” She said that they were. “I would like to see this through. Not just the thing with Melton, but all his crew too. Then bringing forth the dragon will be a piece of cake, I think.” “Nothing is ever a piece of cake.” He just smiled at her. “You want to have sex? I mean, sometime?” “Yes. All the time.” She nodded and leaned back in her own chair. “I’m not forcing you into anything. You want to have sex with me, then I’d suggest you let me know. But I’ve wanted you since I first saw you, more so when I realized what you are to me. And me to you.” “I’m not sure what I want to do right now. You’re kind of scary, aren’t you?” He told her that he’d never hurt her. “No, because if you ever tried, you’d be in a world of hurt. Not that I could kill you, but you’d surely wish it.” “I don’t want to hurt or kill you. You’re kind of scary too.” When she grinned at him, Vance felt years of his bad feelings about life in general roll off his shoulders. “I’ve not told my family that you’re here or that you’re my mate. I’m worried that if I did they’d want to come here and meet you. Then they’d be in the line of fire too. But soon, we’ll have to make an appearance before them. And I want you to know, you think I’m scary? Wait until you meet my sisters-in-law.” “I know Raven. Well, I know of her. I’ve talked to her before, on a couple of things that I had going on, but nothing face to face. And through working with Jeff, I heard about Emma. She’s had it rough too. I knew her brother, Bart. There was a monster if there ever was one.” Vance agreed with her. “The others I don’t know but have heard about. Your mom, she’s a nice person, from the things you’ve told me about her. Nice, but stern.” “My mom raised us when our dad wasn’t around. Pretty much all the time. Then once, when he was pissed off at my mom, he held Lewis down with his boot to his neck and was going to cut his head off. Dad was pissed off because when he’d shown up, again unannounced, there wasn’t enough food for him to have a steak. I’d never even had a steak, and he wanted one.” Vance thought of that day. “Mom pulled a gun out of
her pocket and shot him right between the eyes, like she’d been practicing every day. For all we knew, she might have been. But he was dead, and she had enough proof in the form of hospital visits, as well as police calls, that she got off. I don’t think I’ve ever respected anyone as much as I do my mom because of that.” “I would imagine that she was terrified out of her mind. I mean, killing him, even to save Lewis, she had to wonder what would happen to her sons had she died or ended up in prison for it.” Vance told her that she called them her boys. “Boys? I wonder if your mom has had a look at you guys lately. None of you are just boys.” “No. And I’m the only one not married, at least not yet.” She didn’t say anything, but he felt like he needed to explain. “I’m not trying to make you feel bad. We’ll come together, or we won’t. But right now we’re working together, getting comfortable with each other, and I think that’s as good a start as any. Don’t you?” “Yes. But I’m not a pushover. Nor do I want to wait on the man of the house. I don’t cook unless I want to. I don’t do windows, not even on threat of death, and there isn’t any way that I’m going to be the cute little housewife that waits for you with your slippers every night when you come home.” He laughed. “I’m not trying to be funny.” “Oh, I know that. I was just trying to picture you with a little white apron on, standing there with my slippers—which I don’t own, by the way—waiting for me to tell you to get me a beer. Which I don’t drink.” He stood up and stretched, and she did as well. “What I would like to see you doing, and this might just be me, I’d love to see you standing in the hallway of our home, naked and ready for me. Where I would take you against the wall, hard and fast, and have you keeping up with me. That’s the way I picture you. But for now, I’m going to go take a swim. If you’d like to join me, I’m going to be naked. I don’t have a swimsuit either.” He moved out the open doors to the sandy beach beyond. Vance knew that she wouldn’t join him. The few times that he’d been in the water since they’d gotten here, she’d stayed on the deck. And when she was in the water, if he joined her, she’d leave the water. Vance wasn’t sure why, but he thought perhaps she was as shy about her body as he was his. The water was warm and calm today. Swimming out as far as he could and still see the house, he decided to float around for a little while, just to try and not think of the woman in the house. She was a conundrum. Beautiful and deadly didn’t bother him. It was her shyness that he was puzzled about. Also, she seemed to have other things about her, magical things, like the porcupine move that he’d not seen as yet. Vance wanted to find out all he could about her, but little of it had to do with her magic, and more to do with the woman beneath it all. When something touched his skin he thought it was a fish, but turning toward it, he nearly fell back on his ass when Micky was standing not a foot from him, with her breasts bared for him. “I have a lot of scars. A lot of them are old, but they still are there.” He nodded, trying his best to look at her face and not her nakedness. “When I was in the war between the trolls and faeries, I was nearly cut in half. You can still see that scar where I
was put back together badly. The magic that was to be mine for helping never came. Not because we lost—we won—but because the troll decided not to share it.” “I’ve never seen a troll.” She nodded. “Are you telling me this because you think I’ll think less of you because of them? Or do you want me to know so I can believe how bad assed you are?” “Both. Neither. I want you to know that I don’t show people, men mostly, my body, because I’m not pretty and smooth like most they’d know.” He looked at her then, what he could see of her above the water. “Some of the wounds on my body are like yours. Knife wounds. Bullet holes. I have a few that are also from chains around me. Iron has been wrapped around my legs, too, to keep me from being able to run.” “This person who trapped you like that, is he dead?” She said not yet, but she hoped that he’d help her take care of him. “Butler.” “Yes. Because of what I am, what I can do, he thought I was a witch. A person who could help him with his magic. That’s one of the reasons that I’ve been shunned by my kind. My parents, he told them that I did help him and that I had his child. A boy child.” Vance told her that Butler could have no male children. “Yes, I found that out as well. But the damage had been done. I had no child by him. Nor did he have sex with me to even create one. Once I was freed of him, I was…. It took me a great many years to train myself so that no man would ever touch me again. Not unless I allowed it.” “Are you now? Allowing me to touch you?” Micky didn’t so much as blink at him. “I’d never hurt you. Not even it we weren’t mates, I’m not a man who harms someone that is smaller or weaker than me unless it’s necessary for what I do. You’re not either of those, but I have just as much respect for you as a woman as I do my own family.” “I want you, Vance. I do. But don’t you feel that we’ve been manipulated into this?” He started to tell her that he was all right with that when she spoke first. “I like you. I enjoy your company, and you’re smart and good to work with. I guess relationships are based on a lot less. So, in answer to your question, yes, I want you to touch me. Make love to me.”
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.
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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.
18+ Erotic Shapeshifter Romance, fantasy romance, paranormal fantasy
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Henry Myers never kept his gender preferences a secret. His mother supported his choices and stood by his side even when his acting career tanked because of it. Now she was gone, and so was his career. Henry was at a loss.
Patrick Garrett, Paddy, was now in a bad place. He had worked at the precinct since he was in his early twenties, and now he could trust no one. Not his captain nor his partner it seemed. He was shot and bleeding, and it seemed the whole precinct was on the take.
Henry had been able to talk to ghosts since a near death experience he had as a child. They had been following him around ever since. Now it seemed Paddy could see them as well. But when Wally, Henry’s ghostly companion referred to Paddy as Henry’s mate. Neither man was sure how to take that news.
Henry couldn’t deny the attraction to the rugged cop, and if the man didn’t put back on his shirt, he wasn’t so sure he’d be able to control himself.
M/M LBGT Erotica Paranormal Romance
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Jake Winslow’s marriage to the money grubbing shrew is over. Cutting off her funds, and the simple use of the word “no” sends her packing. When he comes home from work and finds his house empty of everything, including food, he feels—liberated.
Jake’s grandmother, Jenna, calls her friend and attorney, Forrest Stout, to handle Jake’s messy divorce. She can’t stand Jake’s soon-to-be ex-wife and is leaving nothing to chance. Only the best for her grandson, and the best is Forrest.
Forrest is a Were Tiger, and he knows “who” he is. He is an oddity in his paranormal world because he is gay. His kind mate for life, and after a recent disastrous attempt to find companionship, he has given up hope of ever finding his life mate.
From the moment Forrest meets Jake for the first time, he knows that Jake is his life mate, and he wants to run in the opposite direction because Jake isn’t gay. To claim and lose a mate would spell disaster for him. How can he ask a straight man—that he wants with every fiber of his being—to conform to his way of life? He can’t….
Ex-lovers, and ex-wives can be a dangerous combination. Especially when neither are right in the head….
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Scott sat at the bar and watched the other men and women. He didn’t care for beer, not the kind that was served here, but he ordered it so that they’d not run him off. Not that they could, for the most part, but people—humans—had a way of making life difficult when they wanted. It mattered little to them who or what they were up against. Waiting for the man to come in that was to meet him here, Fred, Scott thought of his life so far. He had not a pot to piss in; not even a pot of any kind, really. And that was the way he liked it. He had money, a great deal of it, but no house, no car, not even a real paying job. He liked his life like it was, without attachments or any kind of strings. It was why he moved from one place to the other without having any roots. The door opened behind him and he knew that it was Fred. He had an odor about him that even humans could smell. Scott thought him positively repugnant…not just his smell, but everything about him. Even his teeth were a shade of green that made him want to ask if he’d been eating a field. “I have a handle on her.” Scott asked him what sort of handle he had. “The mother is in the hospital now. And when she has the brat, the nurse is going to call me and let me come in. Things are working out much better than you thought they would.” “Doubtful. It’s been my experience, and I have a great deal more than you ever will, that once things start to look good, you should look over your shoulder for the next bad vibe. What hospital is she in?” “Mercy. She’s been brought in to be induced, or some shit like that. Something about the kid being a little larger than they thought for her size. That made no sense to me whatsoever. Women get fat when they’re having a kid. Even I know that.” Scott told Fred what they meant. “Oh. Well, why don’t they just say she’s having a fat kid and that she’s too little to do it on her own? You know what that means, don’t you? The dick that planted him there was a little one.” And again, Fred’s logic wasn’t anything that he understood. The man was a wonder, saying things that were so off the wall that Scott wondered if he even knew what they meant. But Scott started thinking about the hospital. “Mercy Hospital is the one that takes in degenerates, correct? I know that place. At one time, the land that it sits on was farmland that belonged to a man who raised cows.” “There ain’t no cows there now.” Scott said nothing as he took a sip of his now warm beer. “There are a lot of cops hanging around though. I didn’t think about all the crime in that place when I was there. Sure can get a man hurt looking for information.” “You’ve been paid enough.” He thought about the baby he was about to take, and what he was to do with it once he had it. Scott had no qualms at all about killing people, but a baby was something way different. He wasn’t to drink from it either. Just kill it and be done with it. “Wonder what they want this kid out of the way for. You heard anything?”
“Nope. Just snatch it and bring it to you. I’m guessing you have your orders too.” Scott nodded. “I thought so. You’ve always been close mouthed, ain’t you?” Fred Hogan was anything but close mouthed. Scott would bet money on the fact, too, that the nurse helping him take the little boy knew all about why he needed it done. And most of that would be lies. Fred knew less than he did, and Scott knew very little at all. The people that wanted the kid taken and killed had only told him that it was a half breed. Nothing more…not even a half breed of what two creatures. They wanted it killed because those kinds of creatures out there would make a bad name for them. He hadn’t any idea why that would bother anyone…he was a made vampire himself. But he’d do what he was told, when he was told, and reap the rewards that came along with it. Fred was being paid, yes, but Scott was to get him to leave town as soon as he had the child. It would keep him safe and hopefully away from Devon’s fury. “I’m gonna go out and enjoy the night. I’m thinking that when that nurse calls me, I should be close by. That way I can get it and get back to you before anyone is the wiser. Oh yeah, I forgot. Did you know that the momma isn’t taking the kid? She’s putting it up for some kind of private thing.” Scott knew that as well. That was why he’d been called in instead of just killing the mom when she was out and about. She was going to live simply because she didn’t want the kid. There were all kinds of people around her all the time now, he’d noticed. It had taken him the better part of a month to figure out where they’d taken her when she’d disappeared. One day, when he’d gone by the apartment where she was living, she was just gone. And not only that, every bit of her place had been devoid of even her scent. And that was what had Scott worried the most. Someone had a lot of pull in this thing, and he was afraid of who that might be. Scott figured that there were any number of vampires out there that would want a child. And it would matter little to them if it were something else too. Some of them were with humans that weren’t their mates, and needed to have their nests filled up. Like having a child in the house would make anyone happy. It had him at one time, but no more. Shuddering at the thought of a little kid around, he thought of the two kids he’d fathered of his own. Both long dead, but that didn’t lessen what they’d made him feel like…a man of the world. Scott had been a good man, or so he thought. He was also a husband and father that had provided well for his family. However, he didn’t find out until later that he’d been a failure at that, to his wife. So one night, in a fit of stupidity, he’d gotten himself turned around on the road and ended up at a party. A bloodletting, he’d figured out later, and he was dinner. They hadn’t killed him, mores the pity, but they had changed him into what he was today. He’d gone back to see his wife and children, spying on them all during the night. But for the most part he left them to assume, as did everyone around, that he’d fallen off a cliff and was dead. But that didn’t mean that he left them on their own.
He provided for them as best he could. Giving them what money he could steal or earn, he’d leave it on the stoop. And sometimes he’d kill a deer or some other big game and leave it as well. They were well fed, his family, and when he heard that his son was sick, he went to the window to see if he could help him. His wife, Margaret, was there waiting on him. “I knew it was you.” He stared at her from the darkness and said nothing. “You’ve been the one leaving us food and money, haven’t you? Do you have yourself a new whore, Scott? Someone to warm your bed? I hope so.” He moved out of the darkness and stood before her. “So you’re one of them? The night monsters? I should have known you’d not leave us to our own. Why didn’t you just die, Scott? You never do what I need you to do, do you? I had hoped that you’d die from their treatment of you. But I guess I can’t be that lucky, can I?” “You wanted me dead?” She told him how she’d told the vampires that they could have whatever came across them, and to not let it get to her. And that he was to be found, no matter what. “You murdered me? You set them upon me?” “I did. And I’d do it again if I could have.” He asked her why she’d do such a thing. “You think I was supposed to live like this? That I wasn’t to have two coins to rub together? To have children that I can no more stand than I could you? Nay, Scott. I don’t love you. Never did. You were just a means for me to leave my home. And once I was here, I had plans all along to kill you in your sleep.” He had staggered back then, his body just too shocked to do much more than let himself fall to the ground. “Come here no more. I will not have you around, and don’t be leaving any food either. I’ll not take it from you now that I know that it is from you.” “What of our children? You are nearly starved now.” She said that she hoped that they’d die first so that she could leave them in their beds and not return. “You cannot mean that, Margaret. They’re just children, small boys that had no part in you and me coming together.” “Had I had the coin, Scott, there would have been no children born at all.” She looked at him then, and he could see the hatred that he’d never seen before. “Now, go on your way and don’t bother us again. I had no use for you then, and not now either. Be gone.” He left her then, but kept a close eye on the house. After several days he went back to see why there was no smoke curling from the fires. No scents of meat searing in the air. But what he’d seen there had left him broken. His wife hadn’t waited for the boys to starve, she’d killed them herself. Scott had taken their small bodies to the yard that night. After wrapping them in a thick blanket that his own mother had made for them, Scott buried them deep in the ground, and even made a marker for them both. His sons were not yet seven and five, and they were dead by their own mother’s hand. It took him nearly a week to find her. He wasn’t surprised to find her in bed with another man. What had surprised him was who it was. He knew as surely as he saw them together that he was his sire. And since he already knew that Margaret had set him up to be killed by them, Scott had had no trouble at all in murdering them both.
Even the Council, newly formed back then, had justified his killing of the man who had changed him, without permission. After that, Scott had wandered around for a long time…several decades as a matter of fact. He had very little use for coin, but would hire himself out as a mercenary when he was approached. It had made him good money, enough that he could do what he wanted, and he had a hell of a reputation. Anyone and everyone that wanted something done that they were squeamish about, he was the man to call. But even that had grown to be boring. He didn’t want to join a nest—he hated people too much—and vampires for the most part were a whiney group of beings. They had to show off their abilities and dress like they had not a care in the world what people thought of them. When in reality, they were the vainest people ever made. He looked to his left when the door opened again. Quincey was the only vampire that he knew that was more well-known than him. When Quincey stared at him, looking at Scott like he knew he was up to something and what it was, Scott felt his balls tighten up and his blood run cold. “You should go home and forget this.” He said he was a man of his word. “Sure you are, Scott. But with this, you’d be better off just going back to your lair and leaving it alone.” “What business is it of yours?” Quincey said nothing, but moved down the bar. “I asked you a question—” He was at Scott’s throat before he could even finish the statement, holding him up from the floor without the use of his hands. Scott looked around. He’d get no help from any of the patrons of this place. They were not seeing what was going on. When he was set back down on his feet, Scott sat back on the bar stool and waited. “Do not presume that you might ask me questions, or that you might demand anything of me, Scott Huff. I will not just end your miserable life, but I will make you suffer in ways that even you, with all your deeds, cannot fathom.” Scott believed him. Not only that, but he knew that he’d not just make him suffer, but would do so over a long period of time. “Leave the child where it is. Nothing good will come to you should you take it.” “What makes this child so special is that I was paid a large sum of money to snatch it, then kill it?” Quincey nodded, and Scott felt the compulsion ride over his skin when asked who he worked for. “I don’t know his name or that of the firm that paid me. It’s a front.” “Good to know.” Quincey walked away again, and Scott wanted to run. Not just run but to meet the sun, he was that afraid. “Leave here. Don’t return, Scott, or so help me, it’ll be the last thing you ever do.” Scott left the bar. He didn’t know where to go, but there wasn’t any way that he could pass this up. It wasn’t just the money he was going to receive, but the man who had him doing it, he had a marker of Scott’s. That made it impossible to refuse. Several hundred years ago, Scott had thought himself so powerful that he’d given tokens to those that helped him. Coins really, that had been marked with his sword. All a person had to do to use it was to give it to him. And then, whatever he was asked to
do, he’d have no choice but to do it. The magic, the powerful magic that he’d had put on the coins, was as strong as any that he’d ever used since then, or even before. He’d been a fool to do such a thing, he knew that now. When Fred found him, just beyond the bar, he looked pale. It wasn’t until he was right atop him that Scott could smell the blood. Fred didn’t just fall, but fell on him. As soon as he saw the knife in his belly, a scalpel, Scott knew that this was much larger than he’d been told. “She’s had the brat.” He asked him where it was. “Don’t know. Two men, they come in and took it. They were ready too. Had all the stuff to take it away.” “What does that mean?” Fred coughed, and blood poured from his mouth. “Fred, who did this to you? Who killed you?” “I don’t know…a man that was sent by someone. He said to tell you his name, but I plum forgot it. You should run.” Another cough and more blood, this time thick and dark. “He said to tell you that he’s watching you. Am I really dying?” “You’re as good as dead. When did you see him? Fred, when did you see this man?” Scott wished he’d made Fred stay in the bar with him. He’d be alive had he thought of that. Fred didn’t answer him. There was nothing more he could do for the man, so he left him where he laid. Scott pulled shadows around him tightly and walked quickly to his lair. He was going to get answers, and he was going to get them fast. This shit was going to get someone killed, and he thought it might be him. ~~~ Jake sat in the back seat with the baby in the car seat while Forrest drove them home. He’d taken the back roads instead of the highway, and Jake had to laugh at the slow speed he was going. He asked him if he thought they’d get home before she was old enough to vote. “You drive then, so I can be back there with her. Christ, she’s beautiful, don’t you think?” He did, and touched his finger gently to her fine cheek. “Her mom, we’ll have to tell her about her, don’t you think? I mean, the baby’s father was your dad, so I’m not sure what you’d say about that. But we’re going to make sure that she’s well loved, right?” “Yes. I wasn’t sure what to do when they said that her mom died on the table. Do you suppose Stacy just gave up? The last time we spoke to her, she seemed really down.” Jake looked at his baby sister. “Forrest, we’ll have to keep her safe too. You heard what Quincey told us.” “Yes, I did. And even if he’d not told us about others trying to find her, we’d still care for her.” Jake nodded and looked where they were at being home. “We’re almost there. To be honest with you, Jake, I was afraid to go straight home. After that man was stabbed in the hallway right outside the delivery room, I just didn’t think the straightest route was the best.” “I agree. While I have no idea what that was about, I don’t want to take any more chances with her than you do.” He wanted to take her out of the seat and hold her in his arms. Just to be assured that she was really theirs.
They had found Stacy about three months ago. She’d been living in a shelter then, her parents having thrown her out when they found out that she was going to have a baby. The poor little thing was younger than him, and scared out of her mind that the baby’s father would come after her. It had taken them several trips to see her before she confessed who the father was, and what he’d done to her. As she sat there, sobbing out the story, Jake had held her hand and told her how sorry he was. Then he told her who he was. That nearly got him and Forrest arrested. It wasn’t until he’d had his attorney talk to her that she began to see that he was nothing like the bastard that had raped her, repeatedly, over a two-day period. They had set her up in a nice apartment, furnished with all the things that she wanted. Stacy wasn’t greedy, nor did she want much in the way of money. Just enough to keep her fed and healthy. Her plans for after the baby was born were something they could never get her to share with them. Now, Jake thought he knew why. “Do you suppose we should name her after her mom?” Forrest just looked at him in the mirror in the car. “I mean, it would be nice, don’t you think?” “I don’t know. There were people there looking for her. Calling the baby Stacy might give them a clue as to who she is.” That was very true. “I think we should name her Jenna Beck Winslow, just like we decided.” “I miss her; my grandma was the best there was. She’d be over the moon with her, don’t you think?” Forrest nodded, both of them still raw about his grandma being killed a few months ago. “My dad goes up for trial soon. You think that is what got her spooked?” “No, that’s not it. Can we talk about it when we get home? I want to tell you what I know. And to be face to face when we do it.” He asked if it was bad. “Yes, some of it. But we’ll get through it. I’ve called a couple of buddies of mine to come help us. They’re going to be here soon enough.” “I hope they know more about babies then we do. I know we took those classes, but I think this is going to be much harder than we thought.” Forrest laughed and said he knew it was going to be. “At least we have those books. Not that I think they’re much help either. But we have them.” “Mary said she’d help us too. I know she has a lot of experience with babies.” The woman had seven children, ten grandchildren, and two great grandchildren. If anyone had experience, it would be her. “And I’m really glad that you went shopping yesterday for diapers and such. We’ll be set for a while. Doubtful anyone would come snooping around thinking the two of us had a kid.” It had been in the papers that he and Forrest had opened a practice together. And in the same article, it mentioned not only that Jake’s ex-wife had been a murderer, having killed her own mother, but that he was gay. Nothing much had been said about it, and because of it, they had a lot more work than they could handle at times. The gay community was supporting them in a big way. Mary, their housekeeper, met them at the door. She was so excited for them too, and when they’d moved into his grandma’s house just after the funeral, she had asked
to come with them. The other staff, much older than he had realized, all retired except for Thomas, Grandma’s butler and good friend. After getting Jenna settled in her crib, the two of them fussed in the nursery. Jake knew what they were doing…waiting for her to wake up and need them. And they wanted to be the first to help her. But Mary came in, shooed them out, and told them to find something to do. He and Forrest went to the living room but took the monitor with them. They would not let her down. “Okay, what I know. Or heard. Quincey is keeping an eye out on things for us. And the reason might surprise you. I know it did me. You have a younger half-brother.” Jake leaned back on the couch and asked how old he was. “Just a few years younger than you. He’s been notified of your father’s arrest, and that your grandma left it all to you. He wants his share.” “And Jenna? What does she have to do with this?” He didn’t answer him when Thomas brought them in some scones and tea. Jake wasn’t ready to enjoy them just yet. When what was happening and why occurred to him, he didn’t even wait for Thomas to leave but blurted it out. “He wants her murdered, then he’ll come after me. For the money.” “Yes, that’s it.” Forrest played with his cup but didn’t drink either. “I guess your father’s name isn’t on the birth certificate. But this guy has had tests done to prove who he is to him. Your father was a real fucker, just in the event you didn’t know that. Anyway, your grandma found out about this bastard son before she was murdered. And it wasn’t until this morning that I was told about it.” Jake wasn’t sure what to say. Or even to do. Protecting his sister was going to be something that he’d devote his life to, but to have his own flesh and blood out to murder them both, her only an infant not even a day old, was almost too much. It made him think that the man was more like his father than he ever wanted to be. “Do you have anything on him? His name?” Right then, the monitor went off and they both stood up. “You go. I need to digest this information. If you bring her down, that’ll be good too. Just…I don’t know what to think at the moment.” “All right. But here is what I have on him. And it’s not pretty.” Forrest started out of the room and stopped. “We’ll be all right, Jake. I have friends coming to help us out with this mess.” Jake certainly hoped so. Right now all he could think about was how his life had been full of murderers and murderesses, and he’d been the only sane one in the bunch. Besides his grandma and Forrest, of course. “Oh, Grandma, I miss you more and more every day. What am I going to do now? What are we going to do now?”