Throwback Thursday!

So sorry this is a bit late. To make it up to you, I’m going to give one lucky commenter an ebook copy of To Bite a Bear or the first in the series. (Plus we haven’t given anything away lately!) – Sheri

So, if you could have a shifter mate, what animal would they be?

biteabear

Amazon | Extasy | B&N | ARe

 

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.

 

Blog Story Post #15

Sorry I didn’t get this to you last week. I had to review the story since it had been so long since I’d written it. I’m still not sure where I’m going with this. Feel free to offer suggestions. LOL!!

Vin rubbed his eyes relishing the burn. If his eyes still hurt at least he knew he was awake. Teleporting every night to see his mate took more out of him than he thought it would. He still had a few years left at college he didn’t know if he could keep it up at this pace. His classes this term had become harder as the year progressed and once he went to see Loren, the vampire didn’t want him to study. It hadn’t take more than a few visits for Vin to realize Loren didn’t care if Vin did well in school or not. As far as Loren was concerned Vin’s job was to be Loren’s mate and anything else he wished to do was secondary. If he never finished school Loren would be fine with that.

He teleported from his dorm room into Loren’s bedroom. A soft pop followed his leaving.

“Evening my mate,” Loren said.

“Good evening.” Vin wrapped his arms around Loren and rested his head on Loren’s shoulder.

“Tired?”

“Yes.”

Loren rubbed Vin’s back. A long sighed slid out of him as tension fell away beneath his mate’s touch. As much as Loren was a difficult vampire with old-fashioned ideals Vin couldn’t say Loren didn’t try to show he cared. As the vampire leader Loren didn’t show much emotion outside their bedroom but he never held back a smile or the soft squeeze of his hand if he thought Vin needed a bit of affection.

“Maybe you should cut back on some of your classes. Your schedule appears to be wearing you down.”

Vin laughed as he stepped out of the shelter of Loren’s arms. “I don’t think it’s the schedule. If I got some sleep I’d be doing fine. Between my early morning classes and late nights with you I’m running on fumes.”

He ignored the fact he was taking a heavy load. If he took both non-magical and magical classes he would learn more. Only studying one half of the world’s population didn’t help anyone. If he was truly going to be a cop he needed to understand all people not just the ones he knew best. Paranormals were easier to understand than humans. Humans made no sense.

“Come. Let’s get you some food. We’ll have to readjust your schedule next semester so you have later classes.”

Vin dumped his backpack on the bed ignoring Loren’s wince. He followed Loren out of the room as he tried to explain how that wouldn’t work. “A lot of the classes I can get into only have morning options. Afternoon and evening classes are harder to get since a lot of working professionals snatch those up first.”

Loren rubbed Vin’s shoulder. “We’ll work it out. I know some people on the school board. If I have to I’ll have them override your class schedule.”

Vin opened his mouth to object then closed it. It was an ethically questionable way to get his schedule and he didn’t want special treatment. But then he had to consider how many more of his classmates had to deal with late nights with their vampire mate while taking twenty credits. “Fair enough.”

He tried not to resent how much Loren’s wide smile made him warm inside. It was almost disgusting how easily Loren manipulated him.

 

Throwback Thursday!

Dragon men_280-700x700

Amazon | Amber Kell Books | ARe | B&N 

 

Re-release of the same title, if you have the previous version please keep your money.

Joriah Eprion didn’t know what sort of trouble he could get into when his father sends him to another planet to find a mate. Barely making it into the spaceport he tumbles into a sizzling attraction to a man sitting at the spaceport then falls equally for another man at a bar. Unable to resist either man he sets up a confrontation between two of the most powerful men in the kingdom both who are vying for his hand. Will Jory survive their courtship or will he become a pawn between two men used to getting their own way.

Some m/m/m scenes.

Continue reading “Throwback Thursday!”

Moon Pack Monday – Anthony

wolf

*waves* I got it done on Monday. Well it is in my time zone so it counts. :p

****

People always assumed it was the wolf or vampire or fae partner in a relationship that had all the possessive urges. Anthony swirled his cognac a few more times as he watched another shifter sidle up to Silver with flirty eyes and a beguiling smile. He’d lost count of them since they’d walked into the statewide wolf shifter meeting. He resisted the urge to start a lightning storm in the middle of the ballroom…barely.

“Are you going to do anything about that?” Ben scooted closer to Anthony and nodded toward the group around Silver.

Anthony flashed a man sniffing too close to Ben a murderous look. The shifter must’ve sensed Anthony’s power, he spun around and rushed in the opposite direction. “Like what? If I challenged them I would look insecure. It’s not like Silver is suddenly going to decide he’d prefer a wolf mate.”

If he told himself that enough times he might even start to believe it. There were many shifters at the meeting who would give up a wolf paw if it meant a spot in Silver’s bed.

Ben laughed and almost spilled his beer. “I don’t know which would be more dangerous. Silver’s reaction to someone trying to take your spot by his side or your reaction. Just remember incinerating people doesn’t build positive connections with the other packs.”

“That’s why I’m over here,” Anthony said wryly. He couldn’t chance punching anyone who crowded him while trying to get closer to his mate. “I’m practicing my control.”

Ben eyed the tight grip Anthony had on his glass. “So far so good.”

“It’s only for another hour.” Anthony cast a longing glance toward the big clock on the wall. He could hold out.

“That woman is touching Silver’s chest. I might not be the most dominate wolf but I’d rip out the throat of anyone doing that to one of my mates.” Ben’s calm, casual tone held the low growl of his inner wolf.

Anthony smiled at Ben. Everyone underestimated the shy accountant. Ben might not be as big and bulky as an alpha or beta shifter but he had reserves of strength and he would protect his own.

“I promised myself I wouldn’t interfere with Silver talking to other wolves. It’s one of those things. You wolves are touchy feely. If she kisses him I’ll fry her where she stands.”

The brush of someone to his left had Anthony turning to face a handsome wolf shifter with striking blue eyes and an Alpha aura. “Excuse me beautiful but I hate to see a gorgeous man standing alone.”

Anthony raised an eyebrow before turning to Ben. “I had no idea you could turn invisible.”

Ben choked on his beer.

“I meant without a mate. You are obviously only friends,” the Alpha persisted.

Since Anthony didn’t recognize the wolf beside him he didn’t take offense at the stranger’s lack of knowledge. Most everyone knew Anthony and Silver were mates but if he were new to the territory this Alpha might be unaware. He decided to give the Alpha the benefit of the doubt. “My mate is over there.” Anthony pointed only to find Silver missing from where he stood before. “Well he was there.”

“Is there a problem, Mate?” Silver’s deep voice thrummed through Anthony, a familiar and welcome vibration.

“I was just telling this gentleman asking about my mate that you were over there,” Anthony said.

Silver smiled, his teeth gleaming white and sharp. “Don’t ever think because I’m not beside him that my mate is available for anything.”

The stranger’s face became three shades paler. “I meant no offense.”

“Good.” Silver stared at the newcomer until the blue-eyed man turned away then scurried off into the crowd.

“Huh, I didn’t even get a name,” Anthony said watching the strange Alpha disappear.

“You don’t need one,” Silver growled.

Ben’s sharp laughter drew Anthony’s gaze from the crowd. “What’s so funny?”

“You two. You honestly thought Silver wasn’t watching your every breath. As soon as you turned your attention away from him he ditched his fans and rushed over here.” Ben shook his head. “I’m going to go find my mates, you two are too funny.”

“I’m glad we can amuse him.” Anthony watched his friend walk away.

Silver gave him a sideways hug. “Never doubt my attention is always on you. If you aren’t in my sight, I focus on our link until I know you are fine. You are my entire world, sweet Anthony and no one and nothing is more important.”

Anthony tilted his head and grinned at his mate. “I know, that’s why I reserved the romantic getaway package at this hotel. Why don’t I remind you why you picked me as your mate.”

Silver’s low growl shivered across Anthony’s skin. “I don’t need a reminder but I never turn down time with you.”

“Call it what you want but there will be strawberries, chocolate and a lot of nakedness before the night is through. Go say goodbye to everyone and I’ll wait for you in the lobby,” Anthony said.

Silver turned toward the crowd. “Goodnight everyone, I’m going off to ravish my mate. I might be down for breakfast.”

Before Anthony could say anything else, Silver picked him up and tossed Anthony over his shoulder.

“Silver!”

Silver smacked Anthony on his ass. “I should punish you for thinking I could ever consider anyone else for my mate. I see I have to reassure you of your place in my life.”

Anthony didn’t speak again until they made it to their room and even then he only communicated in whimpers and grunts. Sometimes even the closest mates needed a little time away.

 

 

 

 

Feral Friday

Okay it was supposed to be Moon Pack Monday but I’ve had a rough week. LOL

***

Elliott scowled at the spreadsheet mocking him on the computer screen before him. No matter how many times he ran the numbers they didn’t quite match his estimated amount. He had to be missing a receipt or two.

The door to his office swung open but he didn’t look away from his computer until his chair was spun around and he found himself staring into the flashing eyes of his mate.

“What’s wrong?” Every instinct had him freezing in place. He’d never seen Parker look that enraged.

A low growl poured from Parker sending all of the hairs on Elliott’s arms on edge. When Parker finally spoke his words had a hard edge. “What’s wrong? You’ve worked late every day this month. I’ve hardly seen you and when I do you’re so exhausted you can barely hold a conversation before you fall asleep.”

Elliott sighed. “I know. I’m sorry. Once I get this all straightened out I’ll have more time. I probably have a couple more hours here then I’ll be home.” He tried to keep the exhaustion out of his voice. If Parker knew how tired he truly was his mate would drag him from the office. Frankly he couldn’t remember the last time he slept a full eight hours before getting back up and coming into work.

“No. You’re done now. We’re going to change your schedule to part time. I won’t have you wearing yourself down to nothing.” Parker’s tone didn’t leave room for argument.

Elliott opened his mouth to object but then shut it again. Why would he argue with Parker? It wouldn’t do any good. His dominant had been lecturing Elliott for weeks about his overworking and he’d obviously reached a breaking point. Nothing Elliott said would change Parker’s mind.

Secondly, it wasn’t as if Elliott was having such a great time. Along with the lack of sleep he’d been skipping meals to get more things done. “What about Anthony?” A spear of pain went through him over the thought of disappointing the pack’s alpha mate.

“He’s the one who contacted me.” Parker pressed a soft kiss to Elliott’s forehead. “We’re both worried about you. Anthony has said he’s offered you help before but you always turn him down. I told him to go ahead and hire you an assistant so we can cut your hours.”

Elliott nodded. “I didn’t want him to think I’m incapable of doing my job. He did me a big favor when he hired me.”

“A favor you’ve more than repaid over the last few years.” Parker squeezed Elliott’s shoulder. “And I’m sure Anthony isn’t sitting around counting what you owe him. He wants all the members of his pack to be happy.”

“True.” The two alpha mates were very protective of the health and welfare of their pack. If Anthony knew how many hours Elliott put in Anthony would be extremely unhappy with him. Elliott raked his fingers through his hair, tugging at the thick strands.

“Stop that.” Parker grabbed Elliott’s wrist in a gentle grip and pulled his fingers from his hair.

Elliot smiled. Even the least bit of self-harm wasn’t allowed. “I wasn’t going to yank any out.”

Parker slid his hand across Elliott’s hair as if trying to apologize to his scalp for Elliott’s actions. “Let’s go home and I’ll help you deal with your stress. I have new cuffs and some lemongrass massage oil I want to try out.”

Elliott stood up so fast Parker had to step back to avoid collision. “Why didn’t you say that before?” The thought of Parker’s strong hands kneading his body had Elliott more than eager to abandon everything and focus on his mate.

“I was hoping to rely on your common sense. I see I’ve taken the wrong approach.” Parker cupped the back of Elliott’s head and pulled him close for a kiss, melting any remaining arguments Elliott might have.

“You have a convincing argument.” Elliott said once Parker released him. He couldn’t stop the smile from spreading across his lips.

“I also have food and wine. How about a nice rare steak before your massage.”

Elliott sighed. “If I didn’t already love you I would fall all over again.”

Parker pulled him into his arms encasing Elliott in his warmth. His mate’s scent surrounded him and he let out a sigh.

Perfection.

Throwback Thursday!

wandmaker

AmazonAmber Kell Books | ARe | B&N

Cebrus had thought his quest would take him to new parts of the land. He didn’t know it would lead him to the prince of his dreams. When Prince Silvan catches sight of the sexy wandmaker it’s love at first glance. However, it takes a battle, a journey and an encounter with a fantastical beast before the two lovers can find their middle ground.

Silvan is determined to do anything to marry his mate even if he has to go against a king and give up everything to keep the man he has claimed for his own.

Excerpt:

Cebrus Starn strolled down the road with a small pack strapped to his back, a stick of wood in one hand, and a knife in the other. He whittled as he walked, flicking bits of wood behind him like a trail of breadcrumbs. The soft wood began to take shape beneath his nimble fingers as he continued to chip away at the outer bark to reveal the brighter wood hidden beneath. Several minutes later, he stopped by the side of the road to examine his work.

“Perfect.”

The rough column now fit the needed size and shape for a good-sized wand. He slipped his bag off his shoulders and set it on the ground. Crouching down, he opened his pack, pulled out a leather sheath, and slid his knife inside. He’d been taught young the value of keeping tools in their proper place and the harsh penalty for losing one. Small scars decorated his fingers, tiny reminders of his painful learning curve.

Clutching the stick in one hand, he used the other to search the bag’s inner pockets. After a few minutes of feeling through the contents, he wrapped his fingers around a shaping stone. A fond smile curled his lips as he pulled it out. One of a set of three given to him by his father, each piece helped smooth and conform the wood to create a plain, blank wand ready to be bonded to its new owner. It always served him well to have a good variety of wands prepared when he entered a new town.

Pleased he had found the right stone on his first try, Cebrus straightened, refastened his pack, then returned it to his shoulders, the soft sound of wood clattering together followed his movements.

As a wandmaker, Cebrus traveled from town to town trading his skills for food and shelter. Most wandmakers stayed in one place, plying their trade to the locals and merchants who traveled into town for their services. Cebrus’s itchy feet didn’t allow him to settle down in one location, despite his family’s disapproval of his nomadic ways. He tried to make sure he visited them once a year during festival season to help out with the influx of additional customers, but this year he’d miss it. His quest didn’t allow for backtracking or returning home halfway through his travels. If he’d even gone halfway.

He’d never met another traveling wandmaker. A shame since their specialized abilities were needed in every town and there were too few wandmakers to serve everyone. Most places had to use standard wands mass-produced by apprentice wizards and not properly matched with their new owners. Shabby bits of wood that most people didn’t realize were a step below their potential. Only high-level wizards bothered to have their wands correctly bonded because of the time and expense involved in traveling to a wandmaker.

Cebrus had no idea how close the next town might be, but the beautiful weather didn’t prod him to be too concerned about distance. There was no need to hurry, and he enjoyed the journey as much as his possible destination.

The sound of hooves had him looking up from his task to discover a team of five soldiers in full uniform riding toward him. Their large, powerful horses stirred up dust and thundered like an oncoming storm against the dry ground. He didn’t bother to hide his surprise when the men pulled to a stop before him. What could they possibly want? He didn’t have the wealthy appearance of a successful merchant or any discernible luxury about him. Stories of soldiers preying on unwary travelers drifted through Cebrus’s mind. He braced himself for possible confrontation.

“Halt, stranger.” The leader of the group blocked Cebrus’s path with his horse, his face stern and commanding.

“Is there a problem?” Cebrus examined the soldier with great interest. He’d never been stopped before. In general, people left wandmakers alone. Their special jurisdiction allowed them to travel wherever they chose.

“We’ve heard rumors a wandmaker is traveling this road. Are you that man?”

Cebrus looked at the wand in his hand, then back at the soldier and raised an eyebrow.

The soldier blushed, but quickly rallied. “Under the command of the king, I order you to accompany us to the royal palace.”

Cebrus sighed, then shook his head at the soldier. “I’m on a quest. I don’t have time for spoiled royals.”

Stepping to one side, Cebrus moved to go around the soldier’s horse. He grinned when the officious guard pointed his wand at Cebrus and muttered some garbled words Cebrus assumed created a spell.

Of course, nothing happened.

The soldier paled.

Why was it that people were never aware of the primary skill of a wandmaker? Taking pity on the confused man, Cebrus paused to explain. Maybe the soldier could pass on his knowledge to others. People were woefully uneducated these days.

“Magic doesn’t affect wandmakers. You can wave that thing all day, and it won’t do anything to me. Besides your wand doesn’t suit you. Whoever you got it from was an idiot.”

Nothing irritated Cebrus more than people who bought whatever stick someone offered to sell them under the assumption one wand was as good as another. Only a properly trained wandmaker could correctly calibrate a wand. He didn’t blame the soldier for his inferior tool. He likely had nothing else to choose from.

To Cebrus’s surprise, the soldier got off his horse to approach him.

“I’m Trelfan Fairwen, King Minr’s captain of the guard,” the soldier introduced himself.

Cebrus bowed at the introduction. “Cebrus Starn, wandmaker.”

“How can you tell my wand doesn’t suit me?” Trelfan asked.

Cebrus never knew how to explain to someone when they had a bad wand, but he gave it his best try. “Part of my ability is I can see the magical connection between wand and user. It’s a talent of mine.” Most wandmakers shared that skill, but not all. Cebrus didn’t like to brag, but his family considered him the strongest wandmaker ever born into their clan.

“What kind of wand would suit me?” The soldier obviously wasn’t going to let the subject or Cebrus go without a more thorough explanation.

Tilting his head, Cebrus focused entirely on the soldier, he let his power pour over Trelfan and waited for his magic to give a proper answer. Pulling his pack off his shoulder, he opened it again. He tucked his current blank in with the others as he searched around until he found the wand he sought. It was long, heavy, and made out of a grainy hard wood he’d come across during his travels. Perfect.

“This one.”

The soldier gave Cebrus a cynical look. “And what will it cost me to get a wand like that?”

“Your old wand. I would like to give it a home with someone who can use it. I will siphon the absorbed magic from your old wand into your new one and take the empty one with me.” Cebrus hated to waste a wand, and even though the poor quality of Trelfan’s wand offended him, Cebrus could salvage the piece.

Interest sparked in Trelfan’s eyes. “Really? That’s all you’d ask for?”

Cebrus never understood why his fee always surprised people. “My father gave me a bit of advice before I started out on my own. He told me, ‘A man who only asks for what he needs will always be wealthy.’ I don’t need much besides food, the occasional roof over my head, and a bit of coin to replace my clothes when they wear out. I’m a man of simple needs. Now would you like the wand or not? I have a bit more land to travel before I reach my stop for the evening.”

Trelfan’s face took on an even more serious mien. “Yes, thank you. Will the transfer hurt?”

“Why would it hurt?” Where did people get their foolish ideas? Preposterous.

“Because it hurt the first time.” The shadow in the soldier’s face told Cebrus all he needed to know about the other supposed wandmaker’s skill.

“Magic transfer shouldn’t be painful. It is your magic going where it belongs. I’m sorry you had someone incompetent last time.”

“Then I want to do it.” Trelfan straightened his shoulders as if he were still expecting pain despite Cebrus’s reassurance.

“Captain.” One of the other soldiers sounded like he was going to protest, but Trelfan glared over his shoulder and nothing more was said.

“Give me your old wand.” Cebrus held out his hand.

Trelfan handed it over.

“Take your new wand in your right hand and put your left on top of mine.” Cebrus held out his right hand flat while clutching the soldier’s wand in his left.

Trelfan audibly swallowed before taking a deep breath and obeying Cebrus’s command.

“Relax. This won’t hurt, I swear.” Cebrus felt a pang of sympathy for Trelfan. No one should be afraid of their own magic.

Closing his eyes, Cebrus focused on the transfer of power from wand to wand until he felt the connection click in his mind. “Transfer,” he whispered. He opened his eyes and watched the wand in his hand dim and the wand in Trelfan’s hand glow a bright white before turning back to its natural brown color.

“Wow.” Trelfan’s eyes widened.

“We’re not done yet,” Cebrus warned.

He tucked Trelfan’s old wand into his pack before turning back to the soldier. “Put your hands together with the wand in the middle. We need to connect you to your new wand and rebind it with your magic.”

Cebrus placed his hands on the outside of the soldier’s fingers. “Bond.”

The air crackled with electricity, and an intricate tree design worked its way around the wand until the carving covered the entire surface.

A soft chime sounded, and Cebrus released Trelfan’s grip. “There, all done.”

He looked at his work with the satisfaction of a job well done. The wand’s energy now aligned in perfect rhythm with the Trelfan’s magic.

Trelfan turned the wand over and over in his hand. “This…this is my family crest. How did you do that?”

Cebrus frowned. “I didn’t do it. You did. That’s what happens when a wand is matched properly.”

Personal symbols helped magic users identify their stick. How did he not know this? Cebrus couldn’t remember what Trelfan’s wand had looked like before. He just remembered it hadn’t fit the soldier.

The captain shook his head. “No one in the kingdom has any carving on their wands. I’ve never heard of this. Will the magic wear away the engraving?”

“A bit. Yours will last until you either die or you change wands again.”

Trelfan’s forehead creased, and his bushy eyebrows almost met in the middle. “Why would I change wands?”

Cebrus stared at the soldier. “Do you people know nothing about wands? You need to change your wands as you age and fine-tune them as your magic changes. If you don’t re-bond your wand every ten years, your magic will stagnate at that level.” The idea that no one in this kingdom had such essential information changed Cebrus’s mind. He couldn’t let them remain uninformed. It was almost criminal. “I will come with you after all. It’s obvious you people need some instruction.”

He’d have to put off his quest for a bit, but he’d already done it for three years, a little more time wouldn’t make much difference. Besides, the more kingdoms he could enlighten about the importance of a proper wand, the better off they would be. Although his family might not thank him for the additional work bound to come out from Cebrus’s educational tour.

Cebrus rode behind Trelfan on the soldier’s horse. He tried to concentrate on not falling off. He didn’t enjoy horse riding, mostly because horses were evil. They enjoyed tossing off their riders and stomping on them afterwards. He had a scar on his left shoulder from one such occurrence.

Trelfan spent the time enthusing over his new wand. A few of the other soldiers cast Trelfan envious looks, but maybe they figured the captain should receive special services. Cebrus silently vowed to help them later. Everyone deserved a proper wand.

Even on the back of the devil spawn, it still took almost two hours to reach the castle. Cebrus hadn’t realized he’d wandered so close to a kingdom. Generally, he avoided the royals and went directly to the townspeople. Even with protection laws in place, royals always thought they could order wandmakers around. Explaining they were mistaken never went over well. One of these days, he’d end up in a royal’s prison, but hopefully not today.

The soldiers were saluted at the gate and allowed in with only a few curious glances toward Cebrus. Maybe the soldiers brought strangers in often.

After dropping their steeds off at the stables, Cebrus was escorted to the throne room.

“He might be a bit bossy, but he’s a good king,” Trelfan swore.

The first thing that caught Cebrus’s attention was the size of the throne room. He could easily fit his entire village inside the audience chamber. The second thing he noticed was the man sitting beside the king. Tall with pitch-black hair and brilliant blue eyes, he had the build of a soldier and the sex appeal of a man Cebrus wouldn’t mind finding in his bed.

“Your majesty,” Trelfan bowed to the monarch. “I present to you Cebrus the wandmaker.”

“You’re a wandmaker?” King Minr was a big, muscular man who looked as if he could wield an axe with one hand and a sword with the other. His cool gray eyes examined Cebrus like he was an interesting bug who had mistakenly wandered into his court and might need to be smashed at any moment.

“Yes, Your Majesty.” Cebrus didn’t bow. The man wasn’t his king, after all.

King Minr frowned. “I expected you to come to me sooner, but never mind, you can still be of some use. I want you to make me a wand out of heartwood. I expect it ready in two days.” He waved his hand as if dismissing Cebrus to go carry out his request.

“Sorry but no, Your Majesty.” Cebrus gave a respectful nod, hoping to take a little sting out of his rejection. Royals never appreciated hearing no. It never failed to get Cebrus threatened with prison time. Monarchs were a pretty predictable lot overall.

“What?” The king’s shout echoed through the chamber.

Cebrus sighed. “You aren’t suited to heartwood. You would do better with iron wood.”

“I want heartwood,” King Minr insisted.

Damn, royals were stubborn.

“I won’t make an inferior wand. If you want heartwood, find another wandmaker.” It didn’t matter to him what the king demanded. He refused to make something unsuitable.

The king jumped to his feet. “I could have you killed.”

Cebrus pulled out the pendant he had hidden beneath his shirt. He hated confrontation, but that didn’t mean he’d back down. “If you don’t mind losing your kingdom and your life, go ahead.”

He hated bullies.

The king stomped over to look at Cebrus’s pendant. “Well crap, you’re a heritage wandmaker.” He paused for a moment. “So, iron wood, huh?”

Cebrus bit his lip to hold back his smile at the king’s new respectful tone. Curiosity compelled him to ask, “What kind of wand do you have now?”

“I don’t. I lost it while hunting.” The king returned to his throne.

Cebrus gaped. “You lost your wand?”

How was it even possible for someone to lose their wand?

The king blushed.

“Was your old wand heartwood?”

“Yes, and it suited me just fine,” King Minr insisted. If he weren’t a king, Cebrus would accuse him of pouting.

“Uh-huh.” Cebrus didn’t even try to hide his disdain over the king’s previous wand. He probably got it from some charlatan. Opening his sack, he pulled out the iron wood blanks he’d stuffed inside. After some contemplation of their differences, he pulled out the thickest. The king had big hands. He’d need something solid to hold.

“Put both of your hands on your wand.” He pointed where he wanted King Minr to place his grip. A few minutes later, Cebrus had the king bonded to his new wand. He also now knew the king didn’t have much magic since the transfer process took hardly any time at all.

The king stared at the piece of ironwood in shock. “It has my family crest.”

Cebrus rolled his eyes, but refrained from mentioning the king must’ve used a second rate wandmaker for his last wand. He might not like royalty, but he didn’t want to get a reputation for being too rude.

A yawn had him covering his mouth.

“Sorry, it’s been a long day.” And the king was boring, but he kept that part to himself.

The king nodded to the sexy man Cebrus had been eyeing during their entire encounter. “Silvan, escort our wandmaker to the blue room.”

Silvan raised an eyebrow at the command, but didn’t argue. Instead he walked over to Cebrus and offered his arm. Surprised by the old-fashioned show of manners, Cebrus tucked his hand in the crook of Silvan’s elbow. At the contact, a crackle of electricity went through him, and he gasped to catch his breath.

“Mmm, don’t worry, little wandmaker. I’ll take good care of you,” Silvan’s voice, filled with dark promises, sent shivers of need down Cebrus’s spine.

He cleared his throat. “Who are you exactly?” he asked as Silvan led him down the hall. He had no objection to the handsome stranger gracing his bed, and being taken care of sounded like just the thing to make this entire side trip worthwhile. However, he liked to know a bit about his bed partners in case they turned out to be psychotic killers.

“You don’t know who I am?” Silvan stopped in the middle of the walkway and turned Cebrus to face him. As he searched Cebrus’s expression, a look of wonder filled his eyes. “You really don’t know me.”

“Should I?” Maybe Cebrus should’ve known one of the king’s companions was half a load short of a cartful, but he didn’t exactly follow castle gossip in any kingdom. He didn’t like it when people talked about him. Why would he encourage that sort of rumormongering from others? He didn’t really care who Silvan was, as long as he knew what to do in bed.

A wide smile brightened Silvan’s dark features. “I don’t believe it. The fortuneteller didn’t lie. I did meet the one man who didn’t know me.”

Fortuneteller?

“Don’t think so much of yourself. I’m sure there are others who haven’t seen your face before. No one is that famous.” Cebrus frowned at the impudent man even as a dawning suspicion grew. But surely the king would’ve mentioned…

“Ah, you finally figured it out,” Silvan said, a smile spreading across his face.

“You’re the crown prince.” Cebrus was ready to accept his award for dumbest man in the kingdom. Only someone royal would share the throne dais with the king. He blamed the long day of travel for his idiocy. He searched his mind for details about this particular kingdom and drudged up a few facts from his memory.

The prince was known for leading a successful battle against the troll rebellion, for single-handedly negotiating a treaty with the giants, and for being the best strategist in any kingdom. He thought he’d heard a story about Silvan enjoying both men and women, but gossips rarely got those sorts of details right.

“I see you figured it out. I knew you were a bright lad,” Silvan teased. His brilliant eyes glowed with approval.

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.