Wednesday (Bonding with Graven)

A million years ago I wrote a short story titled Bonding with Graven. For the next few weeks I’m going to be posting it here to give you something to read while I work on other things🙂

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Steerl didn’t know what he expected to see at the castle of a vampire prince, but this wasn’t it. Where were the blood-soaked walls and drained bodies lining the walkway? It was anti-climatic to see caramel veined white marble covering the floor and strong, healthy men standing as guards. He’d half expected pale, drained bodies stacked from floor to ceiling. He pushed back the twinge of disappointment. His dreams of using the king’s unsuitability against him slipped through Steerl’s fingers like fine sand. His sister deserved a real marriage not the figurehead position they had mapped out for her.

He’d been against dragging Delilah to the vampire castle but their father had been adamant. She’d missed the last few years because of family drama. Delilah had caught a cold right before the last call and had escaped having to present herself. Even an immortal didn’t wish to be sneezed on.

Forced by his father to accompany his sister, Delilah, walked through airy hallways glancing with surprise at the numerous priceless objects scattered about with artful precision. Not the cold cave-like walls he had imagined in his dreams. Maybe Delilah’s future wouldn’t be as dark as he’d imagined.

A bit of tension toppled away, like heavy snow sliding off a boulder. So far it was an easy, if unsettling, assignment. It was difficult to protect his sister from unwanted attention while wearing a veil covering his face. Attention she was unlikely to get in the middle of the vampire prince’s palace, but it was the job assigned to him and he took his responsibilities and his sister’s safety seriously even if he didn’t agree with the final goal. Maybe their seeker had been wrong and she wasn’t fated to be a vampire king’s mate.

He glanced over at Delilah in her black captia garb and felt her knowing gaze watching him from beneath her veil. She knew how much he hated this. The captia, a traditional full body scarf worn by marriage petitioners, swathed her head to toe in black silk lace. Although the fabric was transparent enough to see to walk, it didn’t allow a great deal of motion. Steerl’s outfit was almost the same except his scarf ended at his shoulders and he wore a pair of black flowing pants made out of some silky material he didn’t recognize and a fitted black shirt.

Steerl’s father had presented him the outfit that morning and insisted he wear it out of respect to the royal family’s traditions. All the escorts he saw in the crowds around them wore the same garb so he suspected his politically savvy father knew what he was talking about. Good thing he hadn’t rebelled and wore his comfy jeans. It wasn’t like anyone would be looking at him anyway. All eyes would be on the female candidates. Rumours whipped around the castle that maybe the king was too picky and had turned down the only eligible mates and hoped to find someone different. What he was seeking no one knew.

As Steerl understood it the clothes he wore were to prevent distracting the prince from the prospective brides. Bare flesh was enticing to the vampires and they didn’t want anything distracting the senses from finding the proper mate. If the king did anything to hurt his sister, king or no king Steerl would knife the fucker. He might not be a big, bad vampire but he knew enough to stab a man in the most vulnerable locations.

Steerl loved few people. His bond with his sister surpassed his love for anyone else. He didn’t need his father to tell him he affection like his beloved sibling. With her blue-black hair and tall form Delilah favored their father, while Steerl took after his petite golden mother. There was only a hair’s length difference in their heights, which made it easy for him to match his stride to Delilah’s as he escorted her in slow smooth steps ready to catch her if she stumbled in her heels. As well as he could, through the black veil, Steerl scanned the people on either side of the walkway. His gaze swept back and forth, ready to step forward if his sister needed protection.

“Relax baby bro, no one is going to jump me.” Amusement slid through her tone.

“Damn right they aren’t going to jump you.” Rage, barely checked, vibrated his normally smooth voice to just above a growl. “I may not be much of a guard but I’m not going to let anything stop you from meeting the prince. Larel has never been wrong and if something prevents this marriage father will blame me. He still hasn’t forgiven me for not marrying the baron’s daughter.”

Last week Larel, the family seer, pronounced that the last Raisel of this generation would bond with the vampire prince. The thought of his sister so well set up still sent tremors of joy down Steerl’s spine. Money wasn’t a concern with their family, but he always worried about his gentle older sister. Not a great thinker, Delilah was the last to get a joke but the first to rush to a friend’s side. He could tell from the gleam in his father’s eyes that Delilah was his next matchmaking victim. If this didn’t work Steerl might send her to a Northern galactic nunnery.

Anything was better than his father’s plans. Their father arranged matches for his first three children and as far as Steerl could tell each of them was more miserable than the last.

After seeing the unhappy unions of his other two sisters and only brother, Steerl was determined not to let the same thing happen to the only one of his siblings he actually liked. Even his preference for men didn’t stop his father from trying to arrange a match for him every few months. Matches he refused to honor but annoying all the same. After all according to his father his love of men was just a phase he would grow out of as soon as he met the proper woman.

“What if he doesn’t like me?” Delilah’s voice trembled with nerves. Steerl shook free of his musings and focused on his nervous sibling.

“How can he not like you?” Steerl asked giving the question the brief attention it deserved. His sister was pretty, even tempered and open hearted. “Any man would be lucky to get you.”

Delilah continued, talking over her brother, her voice getting more and more distraught. “I’m not beautiful like you Steerl, the prince might not find me attractive.”

“Nonsense.” He stopped her in the middle of the procession and walked her up to the first knight who didn’t give her an inappropriate leer. “Excuse me sir.”

The knight went to attention, his back going so straight Steerl was certain a ruler would align with it perfectly. “What can I do for you, mateseeker?”

Mateseeker?

“Oh no. I’m just here for support. My sister is here for the mating.” Curious he couldn’t stop himself from asking. “I didn’t know they allowed male seekers?”

The guard shrugged. “Male, female it doesn’t matter we go by soul bonding not sex or appearance.”

Tuesday’s Tortuous Teasers

As you know I like to post blurbs of things that will one day be a reality. *snicker* However I am sharing today the beginning of my short story Protecting His Soul. I will be republishing this book in a few months after some revision. I haven’t determined yet how much.

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I thought I saw him yesterday, Cullen, my Irish lover with his big hands and wide muscular chest. Construction work kept his body hard but his eyes were the kindest I’d ever seen. After going through a lot of men I’ve seen more than my share of eyes, and other things.

To say I knew my way around a man’s body was like saying Picasso dabbled in paints. I adore men. I love their smell, their strength, and their hard grip on my hips when they fuck me against the wall.

Before Cullen, I flitted from man to man like a butterfly on meth, unable to settle, but hopelessly addicted to collecting as many experiences as possible.

After Cullen, I craved only one man.

He changed everything. Endlessly patient, he put up with my chatter, my fidgety ways, and my complete inability to be on time for anything, with a sweet smile and a smoldering kiss. No one could get me from cold to burning hot faster than my Cullen, but it was his gentleness that pulled me back and always prevented me from leaving his bed for another’s. I couldn’t do that to him. I couldn’t bear the thought of disappointment or betrayal crossing his face when he looked at me.

Three blissful years we lived together, the happiest I’ve ever been. Deep down I knew I couldn’t have seen Cullen walking around yesterday, or any other day for that matter. As much as I longed for his touch, his smile, and his body it couldn’t be him. They buried my beloved Cullen in a grave right outside the city a year ago. An accident at a construction site sent him tumbling to his death. Internal bleeding killed him according to the red-eyed doctor who delivered me the news.

One slip and my world had ended.

Completely certain I’d imagined the entire thing I pushed the incident out of my mind, until two days later I saw him again. In a crowded restaurant, while having lunch with a friend I looked up and caught the gaze of a man who looked so much like Cullen that my heart clenched with pain. As I sat there gasping for breath, the man turned and walked away, quickly swallowed by the crowd of people filling the sidewalks.

Oh Hell no.

There was no way I would let him get away this time.

I tossed money on the table not caring where it landed, or that I’d over tipped. Rushing out the door I abandoned my luncheon companion without another thought. Jim might be a good friend, but Cullen held my heart.

I followed my dead lover’s doppelganger, pushing recklessly through the crowds and nimbly dodging all obstacles in my path. It took my best efforts to keep him within my sights. The busy street challenged my amateurish tracking skills, but I still kept him in view until he walked into an affluent neighborhood and disappeared into an enormous white mansion. Since when did my working class man live in a ritzy neighborhood?

After a quick glance up and down the sidewalk I saw no one else around. Even the streets were suddenly eerily empty compared to the crowded sidewalks of before. With another quick look around, I tentatively pushed on the intricately detailed iron gate. I half expected the hinges to screech as if I were the “to dumb to live heroine” in a horror flick, but whoever designed the ironwork must not have seen the same films as I had because it swung open without a sound.

My nerves jittered, causing my hands to shake. I hoped whoever lived here would take pity on me and not call the police before I made it to the front door. No one peeked out at me from behind the white lace curtains covering the window as I approached, at least that I saw.

I don’t know what I expected. It wasn’t as if zombies were going to jump out from the perfectly trimmed hedges or ghouls pop up like springs between the daffodils, but my spine had a shivery chill running up and down it. A sensation I knew from experience didn’t bode well.

Reaching the entrance I stopped in surprise. The man I followed hadn’t completely closed the door, a gap showed and although I knew I shouldn’t, I did it anyway. With a gentle press of my fingers I pushed open the front door.

Voices reached me. I should’ve backed out and went on my way. Really, what business did I have walking into a stranger’s house? Unfortunately, curiosity is the one sin the nuns were never able to beat out of me in Catholic school, and I hadn’t improved over time.

“You were supposed to keep an eye on him!” a female voice screeched.

I was glad I hadn’t fully entered the room. The woman might have endangered my eardrums.

A calm male voice answered the accusation as if her harping hadn’t threatened to make him deaf. “You know he finds a way to get free. He can’t stand the separation.”

“He shouldn’t feel any separation!” the loud woman snapped.

I felt sympathy towards the hapless, unseen man, but I still needed to know what the hell was going on. Why did this man look so much like my dead lover? Who was he?

“But he does. That’s my point. When father grabbed him he didn’t take into account Cullen’s Soul Keeper.”

Cullen.

Surely I’d heard wrong. They couldn’t be talking about my Cullen. I had almost convinced myself that I had mistakenly come here by following a daydream, or maybe a wistful shadow, but that wasn’t true if they were using his name. There couldn’t be that many Cullens out there who looked exactly like my dead lover.

“He can’t have given his soul to a human!” The harsh woman proclaimed.

Human?

If you weren’t a human, what were you?

 

 

Moon Pack Monday!

Sorry I’ve had such a long hiatus. I can’t promise every Monday but I will try to post more regularly.
*****

Jager sometimes wonders what his life would have been like if he had mated with one of the wolves instead of his big, arrogant tiger shifter. If Dare had been the only tiger shifter he met he would have sworn they were a laid back friendly group. His mate, Ryder, was a different kind of cat. Big, aloof and prouder than the fae king Jager knew, he still wouldn’t trade his mate for anyone.

The front door slammed breaking into Jager’s thoughts

“Hey babe,” Ryder leaned over the back of the couch and kissed Jager until every thought vanished from his head.

“Hi!” Jager replied, smiling. He couldn’t stop his instinctive joy at seeing his mate even if he wanted to.

“What are you up to?” Ryder leaped over the furniture, landing on the cushion beside him.

Jager lifted a photo. “I was reviewing my portfolio.”

“Why?” Ryder tilted his head like one of the wolf pack not that those words would ever cross Jager’s lips.

“I got a call for a cologne ad. The money is really good.” Jager might have almost given up on modeling didn’t mean he wouldn’t snatch a fantastic opportunity if it presented itself.

“If you need money, I’ve got some.” Ryder frowned. “Just because I’m not a fancy model doesn’t mean I’m poor.”

Jager sighed. “I’m not saying you are. I just like to make my own way.”

Life had taught him caution and to have backups for his backups. If something happened to him he wanted both his sister and his mate to be taken care of.

“Then why do you want the money?” Ryder persisted.

Jager closed his eyes then took a deep breath before opening them again. “Modeling isn’t a long term career. I don’t know what I want to do next and I’d rather have a good nest egg if I have to live on it for the rest of my life.”

“Or you could live off of me,” Ryder said.

Jager tried to collect his thoughts. How could he say this without upsetting his mate? “It’s not that I don’t trust you, but I’ve had a lot of bad luck with people I’m supposed to depend on. I’d feel more equal in our relationship if I could bring something to it.”

Ryder cupped Jager’s face between his hands. “You bring the best thing possible, my beautiful mate. You bring yourself. No money, or gold, or big mansion could be better than your smile welcoming me home.”

Jager didn’t speak for a few minutes he didn’t know what to say. Ryder wasn’t usually the romantic type. “Thank you.” He shoved his pictures mindlessly back into their transparent jackets.

Ryder rubbed Jager’s back in slow soothing circles. “What would you be wearing for this job you were looking at?”

“Hmm?” Jager looked up from his task to find Ryder’s staring at his photos. “Oh, it’s for a cologne ad. I’d be wearing a tux.”

Ryder cleared his throat. “I suppose if you really wanted to do it there’s no harm in one more shoot. I don’t want you to have self-esteem issues or anything.”

“You just want to see me in a tux don’t you?” Jager asked not bothering to hide his amusement.

“Fuck yeah,” Ryder wrapped an arm around Jager, pulling him close. “You look amazing in jeans and a T-shirt I might shoot my load if I see you all dressed up.”

He couldn’t stop the laughter from bursting out. “You are such a romantic.”

“Damn straight.” Ryder’s self-satisfied grin almost set Jager laughing again but a kiss cut off his snickers.

Jager melted into his mate’s embrace. If given the chance to pick anyone else in the world he’d pick his prickly tiger all over again.

 

 

 

Throwback Thursday!

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Phoenix Moorhaven liked things just so. He likes his house running in perfect order, his coffee with a bit of blood and his manservant untouched by anyone—ever. When Declan decides to start dating Moor scrambles to intercede. After all messing with Declan could upset the pristine organization of his household.

Declan has pined for Moor long enough. Determined to have a life of his own Declan accepts a meeting with a blind date. However vampire masters and dating don’t mix and at the end of the night he’ll see a side of Moorhaven he never expected.

Excerpt:

Declan West tidied the den, plumping pillows and verifying not a speck of dust graced any surface. After the third run-through to check that everything sat in its proper place, he gave the room a pleased nod. With his obsessive-compulsive tendencies temporarily sated, Declan left his master’s office and headed for the front door.

The clock struck midnight as he reached the wooden double doors. Without checking the peephole or peering through the front windows, he pulled the doors open just as his master, Phoenix Moorhaven, walked up the steps.

“Good evening, Declan,” Master Phoenix said in his rich, mellow voice.

“It is technically morning, sir,” Declan corrected him automatically as he did every day at this time. Being exact was a science the vampire didn’t subscribe to.

“So it is,” Master Phoenix agreed, his gold eyes shining with amusement.

“You let your servant talk back to you like that!” The blonde lady on Master Phoenix’s arm sneered at Declan.

“Mind your manners, dear. I might be the leader of the vampires, but Declan is the master of my house,” Master Phoenix scolded. His tone might have been mild, but his expression went colder than the Arctic Circle.

Declan took his master’s coat without comment. The opinion of one blonde tramp meant nothing to him. Master Phoenix would fuck her, suck her, and toss her out at sunrise. He never kept his food around for long. As far as Declan could tell, his master had no interest in any human, male or female, beyond sustenance. Too bad, since Declan wouldn’t mind being on the menu.

“The den is prepared for you, sir,” Declan prodded, eager to have the vampires out of the way so he could finish his morning rituals.

Master Phoenix’s warm smile, the one he saved only for Declan, eased his irritation. He might merely be a servant, but Declan knew how much the vampire appreciated the smooth running of his household. Master Phoenix’s pleasure in Declan’s work was shown in the many bonuses Declan found in his paycheck.

“Good morning, Master Lorrie. I didn’t see you at first, please accept my apologies.” Declan greeted his master’s vampire companion.

Lorrie Bellows, the second-in-command of the vampire coven, gave Declan a friendly nod. “That’s all right. I know I don’t exist until you have Moor settled.”

Declan granted Lorrie one of his rare smiles. Lorrie had a winning way without using over-the-top flattery. There were always a few who tried to get to Master Phoenix through his prized servant, forcing Declan to waste his precious time returning their presents and bribes.

Declan’s integrity wasn’t for sale.

“May I take your coat, sir, and that of your companion?”

They both handed over their expensive outerwear. Master Phoenix’s bite for the evening hadn’t bothered wearing a jacket, probably worried about hiding her cleavage. Declan could’ve told her the vampire cared more about her blood than her breasts; however, he stayed silent. He never interfered with donors as long as they didn’t mess up the house.

Declan hung up their jackets with meticulous care, then closed the door, only to turn and find the entire party staring at him.

“There are drinks and snacks in the west parlor,” he prompted. He always put out food and juice for the guests. They tended to be hungry after the vampires fed.

No one moved. Really, why were they still watching him?

He raised an eyebrow at his boss. Master Phoenix smirked, then wrapped an arm around his food for the evening and turned to lead the girl away.

“So when are you going to leave Moor and come work for me?” Lorrie teased as he walked past.

Master Phoenix spun around, abandoning his date. “What?”

Declan didn’t roll his eyes, but only because it would take away from his dignity. “Master Lorrie appears to think I’m underpaid and overworked,” he explained. Lorrie lived to poke at the vampire leader, and Declan refused to fuel that fire.

Declan’s gaze zeroed in on a piece of lint sticking to Master Phoenix’s suit. Annoyed that it had passed his previous inspection, he walked over and plucked it from the vampire’s jacket. He carefully brushed down the fabric to smooth over the slight mark he’d made with his nails while trying to ignore how good Master Phoenix smelled. The vampire always wore an alluring scent Declan had never been able to identify, sort of a combination of cloves and honey. Why a vampire smelled sweet, Declan didn’t know, but he tried to keep his sniffing to a minimum.

Declan almost jumped when a large hand tilted his chin up until he met his boss’ eyes. “Were you considering leaving me?”

For a moment he thought he saw a flash of hurt in Master Phoenix s eyes, but abandoned the idea as foolish. The vampire never took particular notice of Declan unless something went wrong. “Don’t be ridiculous, sir. Why would I leave here? You’re an excellent employer.”

It would be difficult to find another boss who allowed Declan to arrange everything to his own liking and schedule.

“Good.” Master Phoenix stroked Declan’s head like a favored pet. “I’d be at loose ends without you.” He pointed a finger at Lorrie. “I forbid you to steal my butler. The entire coven would be in disarray if Declan weren’t here to keep me in line.”

Lorrie laughed. “Surely, you exaggerate.”

Master Phoenix shook his head. “Declan organizes my life to perfection, so don’t go messing with it.”

Declan’s head got another stroke. “Take the rest of the evening off, Declan, and don’t go wandering in the woods. You nearly gave me a heart attack last time.”

He didn’t bother to acknowledge Master Phoenix’s grumbled order. “I’ll see you later, sir.” He gave Lorrie a reproachful look that was met by a playful wiggle of his eyebrows.

Declan had only wandered close to the woods once, and the strong protection spells had kept him back. Asking around didn’t lead to any clues about what might be out there, so Declan let the subject drop. Master Phoenix’s reaction to an innocent walk was way overboard. Overprotective vampire.

Shaking his head, Declan headed for his room. He didn’t want to be around while the vampires fed. Sometimes their partners moaned really loud. It only underscored to Declan that he needed to find a lover, but who was going to get together with a slightly neurotic butler who had to be on twenty-four-hour call for his boss. Few men would put up with being second place to any job, much less one involving vampires.

Back in his room, Declan pulled up his profile on the online dating site he’d recently joined. He spent the next few hours going through the improbable bios and dirty emails he’d received while he had been working. A few he put in his saved folder to look at in more detail later. Maybe one of them would pan out. He didn’t need a full-time lover. Hell, at this point, he’d take a part-time fuck buddy. Anything would be better than spending every night dreaming about his boss.

* * * *

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday!”

Throwback Thursday!

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Sometimes you need a grand gesture to prove your love, and sometimes a bear hug will do.

Harris Bender had a crush on vampire leader Rohan, so when the alpha male requests him to paint a mural, he can only say yes. However, after a passionate encounter, Harris discovered Rohan is his mate.

Is the carefree artist ready to settle down with one man even if he’s extremely hot?

Rohan had been looking for his blood bonded for centuries. One taste of the bear shifter’s blood and he knows he’s found the one. However, outside forces threaten to tear the couple apart. It will take more than a flash of fang to put them in their place.

 

Excerpt:

 

Harris Bender watched as the vampire leader, Rohan, lit the caskets on fire. Vampires didn’t bury their dead, they freed their souls by burning their bodies in a tradition as old as time.

The flames cast shadows on Rohan’s face, giving his handsome face harsh angles beneath sharp cheekbones. To Harris, Rohan appeared beautiful at any angle. His fingers itched for a pencil to sketch out the scene.

The heavy weight of silence coated the proceedings as if surrounded by an invisible shield. No one fidgeted or rustled. No birds sang in the distance. Even the bugs held their chirps and buzzes until Rohan finished his eulogy for the vampires who had passed. Rohan’s sorrow pierced Harris’ heart, as if he had personally experienced their loss when, in fact, he’d barely met them.

Poisoned blood from human donors had killed three vampires, compliments of the sorcerers.

Eaton had saved the rest of them by warning the vampires of the problem but not soon enough to save this trio. Unfortunately, the sorcerers had gone underground where no one could find them, so the vampires weren’t able to retaliate.

Harris didn’t have to be there. He didn’t belong to the coven and wasn’t a vampire. However, he couldn’t let Rohan mourn alone. The few weeks he’d worked for the master vampire had forged an odd friendship between the two men. A relationship Harris planned to take to the next level soon. Rohan called Harris his beloved but hadn’t made any further moves despite the longing looks and possessive behavior. After Rohan had a chance to mourn his friends, Harris would show the vampire he didn’t have to be alone.

Rohan had come to Harris’ aid when Eaton had been kidnapped, and although Rohan didn’t end up having to do anything, having the vampire leader there had given Harris the emotional support he needed. Harris wanted to return the favor.

When the vampire turned around, he immediately searched the crowd. Harris saw the vampire relax when Rohan caught sight of him.

After whispering something to the people milling to his right, Rohan walked over to join Harris.

Without ceremony, Rohan wrapped a proprietary arm around Harris and scooted him to one side, putting Rohan’s body between Harris and the other vampires. Rohan didn’t like other people too close to Harris. For some reason, ever since Harris started working for him, Rohan had watched over him like a dog with his bone.

“You doing all right?” Harris whispered. He fought against the urge to hug Rohan closer. The vampire leader probably wouldn’t appreciate coddling in front of his people. The way they stood now, Rohan could’ve been offering support to Harris. Harris knew Rohan was absorbing some of his calm. The vampire had said before that Harris zen-like peace soothed Rohan deep inside.

Apparently, the closer the proximity, the better the calming took.

Ignoring everyone else, Harris scooted closer to offer his presence if not his clumsy words of sympathy. He’d always been more of a person of action, not verbal expression.

Rohan had taken his vampires’ deaths hard since he hadn’t been able to prevent the poisoning.

Sorcerers and vampires were mortal enemies, but from what Harris had heard, they’d been in a semi-truce for years. Until sorcerers had poisoned the humans the vampires used for food, they had no idea the sorcerers were going to attack.

Rohan didn’t speak, but he slid a hand down from Harris’ shoulder as he stepped away and tangled their fingers together instead. “Thanks for being here,” he murmured in Harris’ ear, a soft, intimate sound. His breath brushed across the soft hairs of Harris’ ear lobe. Harris fought back both a shiver and the urge to turn his head for a kiss.

Before Harris could give in to any of his urges and after a quick squeeze of Harris’ fingers, Rohan released him and stepped away. Harris immediately missed the vampire’s presence. His inner animal yearned for contact with Rohan as if Harris couldn’t be complete without being close.

“You’re welcome. I’d do a lot more for you…” Harris confessed. He turned bright red. When would he learn not to say everything in his head?

With his friends, his tendency to blurt things out was mildly embarrassing. With Rohan, it reached a more humiliating level. He might as well strip naked and throw himself at Rohan’s feet.

Rohan turned to give Harris his full attention.

He cupped Harris’ cheek with one elegant hand.

“I’d love to hear about what you might be willing to do. Later,” Rohan said.

Rubbing his cheek against the vampire leader’s palm, Harris lost track of his thoughts. There was

little he wasn’t willing to do to have Rohan touch Harris as if he cared. His inner beast fought to come out and play.

“Easy, beloved,” Rohan said. “Keep the calm I love so much.”

Love?

Harris wondered how Rohan could toss such words around. Beloved. Love. Did the vampire not understand the power of words? That a foolish bear’s heart might patter a bit faster when presented with even casually tossed affection.

Harris took long, slow breaths to pull his bear back under his control. Years of meditation had kept Harris mellow in the face of true emergencies. Aden had sent him to a monk years before to gain the skills needed to find his inner calm and keep his bear subdued unless needed.

Unfortunately, whenever Rohan touched someone else, Harris had to wrestle back his inner beast. No

one should touch Rohan or speak to him unnecessarily or look in his direction. Yeah, maybe I do have a bit of an obsession going.

He worried over his reaction to Rohan. When shifters became possessive, it usually meant they’d found their mate. Harris didn’t know if he was ready for that level of commitment. He liked Rohan, but vampires were different than shifters.

Really different.

“Come on, let’s get you to bed. You’ve had a long day. This is the part of the ceremony where people go to mourn alone,” Rohan said. He took Harris’ arm and led him back into the house, then up the stairs.

Harris dug in his heels at the top. What is going on?

“Did I move in here?” Harris asked, confused.

He’d come to support Rohan during the funeral, but he’d had every intention of returning home afterward. He had already spent his day sketching out his concept on the wall by the foyer. Harris didn’t need to live there.

“I like you close by,” Rohan said, his words final, as if he’d closed the subject. Nothing showed on the vampire’s face. No teasing smile. No forbidding scowl. He acted as if Harris was the one acting strange.

Harris tried to object. He opened his mouth to complain, to voice a negative response. He couldn’t. Every atom in his body responded to Rohan. Harris tamely let the vampire lead him down the hall to an empty bedroom. A large bed filled most of the space along with a wardrobe, a side table and little else. Harris spotted two more doors in the room. “Where do those go?”

Rohan pointed to the left. “Bathroom.” He pointed to the right. “My room.”

“Your room?” Harris tried to hide his surprise.

He’d initially hoped Rohan might be taking him to the vampire’s bedroom. The fact Rohan gave him a choice raised his estimation in Harris’ eyes no matter how stupid his supposition.

“Something wrong?” Rohan asked.

“Um, no. Nothing wrong.” Harris tried to shove his desires to the darkest corner of his mind.

Rohan didn’t need him drooling over him while he was still wrapped in sorrow over the death of his coven mates.

Rohan cupped Harris’ face between his palms.

“You would tell me if you had a problem, right?

The only reason I want you to stay is because it’s late and you’re tired. If you want to sleep in your own bed tomorrow, you can.”

“What if I want to stay in your bed?” Damn, his runaway mouth had taken over again. Of course, there were always the benefits of healing sex.

Rohan frowned. “I don’t think you’re ready to be in my bed, Harris. As much as I’d like you there, I don’t want you to feel pressured.”

A tingle of yearning sizzled between them.

Need pulled at Harris like a physical force. “You want me. I know you do.”

Rohan dipped his head, placing his lips next to Harris’ ear. He spoke in his whiskey-smooth voice, “I want you so much, I would give up blood to have you.”

Harris jerked back. “I thought you couldn’t have sex without biting.”

“For you, I would.” Rohan’s sincerity couldn’t be faked.

Harris licked his lips. “Kiss me.” If nothing else, he’d get at least one kiss before being sent to bed like a child.

Rohan didn’t bother to ask Harris if he was certain before he wrapped his fingers around Harris’ head and held him still. Pressing his lips against Harris’ mouth, he sucked and licked until he gained entrance.

 

Throwback Thursday!

gamma

Amazon | B&N | ARe | Totally Bound

Sometimes werewolves are the good guys.

Kaden has always dreamt of cooking. His family scoffs at his wish to help out the war effort and think he’s wasting himself by joining a pack.

Gage is the Alpha of his pack and loves his mate Russ with everything he has. But, although the beta wolf loves him back, Gage isn’t Russ’ mate. In a quirk of nature, their bond is one-sided, and while Gage holds as tightly as he can, he can feel his lover slipping away.

Russ loves his Alpha, but a piece of him always longs for what could be. He doesn’t want to hurt his lover—but how much better would life be if he could have a mate of his own?

Three men with different goals discover the difference between love and mating, and how sometimes, what you want may not necessarily be what you need.

 

Excerpt:

 

Kaden arrived at the pack kitchen first thing in the morning, eager to start his day. If images of the alpha had followed him into his dreams, he wasn’t going to let his mind relive those encounters. He didn’t want others to smell the scent of lust pouring from him while he scrubbed the dishes—they might get the impression he got an odd thrill over dish soap.

Not given to self-deception, Kaden had to acknowledge the alpha’s appeal. And if Russ tried to hit on Kaden again, he was going to punch the guy in the nose. How dare he try to cheat on the gorgeous alpha? Anyone with eyes could see that Gage adored the creep.

Although… When he remembered Russ licking clean his wound, Kaden could allow that maybe he wasn’t too bad. At any rate, Kaden vowed to make the alpha the best breakfast ever if Denel would allow him to.

He set to work making the muffins that his grandmother had sworn contained little bits of heaven in each bite. Kaden suspected it was really the sugar-coated blueberries that added that extra bit of flavour, but he never argued with Nana.

In the end, it turned out Denel had fallen behind schedule, so he gave Kaden the task of taking breakfast to the alpha’s meeting. Kaden smiled when Denel let him include his muffins on the cart.

“It never hurts to give them more than they can eat,” Denel said. Kaden recognised the voice of experience when he heard it and quickly nodded his agreement with the manager.

Using equal parts of patience and muscle, Kaden manhandled the food cart over a treacherous path filled with rocks, puddles and mud. A few times he worried that the entire thing would topple over, but eventually he made it. Smiling, he stopped at the entrance to the alpha’s tent and nodded to the guards.

“I have food for the meeting,” Kaden said with a tentative smile.

The guard on the right leered at him. “Aren’t you too pretty to be serving food, or is there something else you’re offering on the side?”

Kaden scowled at him. “I’m only serving breakfast.” As a gamma he should’ve bowed and offered himself to the other man. Most gammas were addicted to pleasing others. Unfortunately for the guard, Kaden didn’t fall into the category of the usual gamma. If the man had taken one more step forward Kaden he’d have shown him the results of the self-defence lessons his father had forced him to take.

The wolf licked his lips. “That’s a shame. You be sure to let me know if you change your mind.”

“I’ll be sure to put my foot up your ass if you ever touch him,” Russ growled as he appeared in the tent’s opening. Kaden watched in shock as the prime beta grabbed the flirting wolf and all but threw him across the yard. As the soldier hit the hard earth with a disturbing cracking noise, the beta wolf gave Kaden a dazzling smile. “Come on in. That smells wonderful.”

Russ held the tent flap open for Kaden, who swore he heard the other man sniff him as he entered. Surely he’d imagined it. Maybe Russ hadn’t eaten earlier and liked the smell of the food? After a quick glance around, Kaden’s gaze settled on the alpha. Gage sat at a table with four other men—their assembled guards standing in a semi-circle behind them. Kaden knew the guards would grab something to eat when they were off duty, but he still had a twinge of guilt for feeding only half of the hungry men in the tent.

Oddly enough, seeing Alpha Gage settled his nerves. Despite his dreams of the night before, there was something soothing about the man. Kaden had to fight the urge to slide down to the floor and sit at his feet. To keep his mind off that tempting image, he pulled out trays of eggs and slabs of ham and the large carafe of coffee to be arranged buffet-style then placed a basket of his muffins in the middle of the table with butter and jam.

“Did you make these, young Kaden?” Alpha Gage asked.

“Yes, sir.” Kaden swallowed trying to get moisture in his dry throat. When the alpha smiled at him, prickles of need spiked up his spine and he had to think unsexy thoughts to keep his cock in control.

“They’re very good,” Russ broke into Kaden’s thoughts with the comment. Apparently, while he’d been staring moon-eyed at Alpha Gage, everyone else had tasted his muffins. For a minute he contemplated kissing the man his thanks, but he realised in time that the alpha probably wouldn’t appreciate his behaviour.

“Thank you.” He quickly retrieved more plates for the group. Denel had told him how many to expect. However, when one of the soldiers pinched his ass and made him drop a fork, the offender was quickly pinned to the support post by Russ wrapping a hand around his throat.

“Did you see his arm band?” Russ asked in a deceptively gentle voice.

The soldier couldn’t speak or even move his head to agree or disagree. That didn’t matter as the beta answered the question for him. “It is green, which means he’s kitchen staff. He’s not your personal sex toy or plaything. He’s to be respected for doing his job. Do you understand?” Russ snarled and banged the man’s head against the wooden post with each word. Kaden looked nervously at the tent walls, hoping they wouldn’t collapse on them.

“I don’t think he’s going to understand if you bash his head in,” Kaden said dryly. He cast an imploring look at Gage, who merely raised an amused eyebrow at him.

Kaden dared to give him a scowl before grabbing Russ’ arm. “Let him go, please.”

Russ dropped the man like a sack of potatoes. “Apologise,” he snarled.

“I’m sorry, Prime Beta.” The offender shook beneath Russ’ scowl.

“Not to me, you idiot—to him,” Russ growled, pointing to Kaden.

The soldier took a deep breath. “I’m sorry, gamma, for assaulting you.”

Kaden looked at Russ to see him watching him closely. “Um. Okay.”

He heard Gage laugh and Kaden glared again at the alpha, who only looked back in amusement. Shaking his head at the pair, Kaden laid out the rest of the meal and quickly beat his retreat.

“I expect you to come and pick up the trays in one hour,” Gage demanded before he left.

“Yes, sir,” Kaden said. His traitorous mind pondered all the things he would like to be doing with the sexy alpha an hour from then.

Gage watched as the little gamma pushed out his cart before Gage helped himself to the meal he’d prepared. He’d also been ready to beat the crap out of Matt for touching the kitchen boy. No one should have to put up with being mauled while trying to do their job.

It was a struggle for Gage to cast the sweet man in the role of seducer when he practically ran for the hills when Russ got too close. In fact, the only time Kaden appeared calm was when he looked at Gage. He had to admit he was surprised that Kaden could meet his eyes when most betas couldn’t even glance at his face…much less the gammas.

Russ still let out the occasional growl when Matt wandered too close.

“Shit! I said I was sorry, Russ. You don’t have to keep beating me up over it. I won’t touch the kitchen staff again…although I don’t know why. That man is fine.”

Gage shook his head as Russ grabbed Matt by his neck and slammed his head into the tent pole again before tossing the unconscious beta to the floor.

“Subtle!” Gage said.

“He doesn’t understand subtle,” Russ growled.

They finished the meeting while polishing off the delicious food. Gage really enjoyed the gamma’s muffins. He knew the others lingered just to have another bite or two from the breadbasket.

“I like that new boy. He makes great food. I heard he made that soup last night,” Carlos, one of the pack betas, declared as he breathed in the aroma of the warm muffin.

Russ nodded like a proud poppa. “He did. He’s really talented.”

Gage felt a corresponding level of pride. What was wrong with him? How come he didn’t want to rip out the gamma’s throat? Instead, he wanted to let the young wolf curl up by his feet. One of his biggest fears abated somewhat. At least if he had to share Russ, he could tolerate their third. The young gamma would never try to battle either man for dominance. Kaden was the type to know his place and be content in it…

An explosion rocked the camp.

They raced outside. Gage’s heart slammed against his chest when he saw the kitchen building on fire. Enormous flames shot from the roof. Gage would bet money the kitchen stove’s gas tank had exploded.

“No!” Russ screamed. Shifting into his wolf form, he raced towards the blazing building.