Winners!

Hi guys, I thought I had posted the winners from May but apparently my post didn’t take. I am so sorry – Sheri.

$5 Amazon gift cards

JenCW

Maria Ellner

Debra Guyette

LisaGuertin

Terri A

Felinewyvern

Winners please email me at authoraccomplice@gmail.com. I am so sorry and I will try and get the prizes out quickly. -Sheri

May Moon Pack Madness – Questioning Quain!

Amazon | B&N | Universal

In a the race to warn the snow cougars, Peter Woods and Quain Ilves use Peter’s newly renovated car to reach the mountain lions before the wizards get there first. Along the way, Quain learns all about the warmhearted man he’s been bound to and the increasing importance of pack and family.

Peter Woods, mechanic and mate to seer Quain Ilves, wouldn’t change a single hair on his beloved. However, certain situations make it perilous for Quain to keep up his visions, and Peter worries over his mate’s sanity in these tumultuous times.

The clock is ticking while they compete with the magic wielders to save as many shifters as possible. Will they succeed, or will the wizards get their hands on other shifters to experiment with?

Chapter One

A maniacal smile enhanced the eeriness of the man clutching a knife in his right hand. A blood crusted the blade. Quain’s blood. “Let’s see what it takes to make you scream.”

Quain Ilves jerked awake, a shout strangling his throat. Sweat beaded his forehead and trickled down his spine in a sticky anemic river. He rubbed his hands up and down his arms, trying to combat the unnatural chill skating across his body.

I’m not there anymore. I’m not there anymore. He chanted in his head until the words created an impenetrable ward against his terrifying dreams.

If only his nightmares weren’t regurgitated memories, they would be easier to battle. Recently, they had grown bolder, making his waking and vision worlds bleed together until he jumped at looming shadows and his lover’s touch. Without quality sleep, he had become like a narcoleptic, falling unconscious throughout the day with little warning. It didn’t help that car rides made him drowsy. For most of the road trip, this unexpected bonding time with Peter, Quain had faded in and out of consciousness.

“Are you all right?”

He jerked out of his half daze to meet Peter’s worried stare. The concern and care in Peter Woods’ blue-green eyes never failed to loosen the tight knot in Quain’s chest. Past romantic interludes had been cold, rushed one-offs with barely a name exchanged between them. This new constant attention from a dedicated lover took some getting used to. A task he embraced with both glee and puzzlement.

He adored his sweet, kind mate—who needed to look where the fuck he was driving.

“Pay attention to the road!” Quain shouted as they whipped down the highway at seventy miles per hour. While he appreciated the concern, he preferred living.

“Sorry.” Peter snapped his head back around and wrapped his long, beautiful fingers tighter around the wheel.

Quain sighed when memories of the amazing things Peter did with those fingers drifted through his semi-awake mind. He rubbed at his now burning cheeks. “No, I’m sorry. I had a bad dream. I didn’t mean to snap at you. I haven’t been sleeping well lately,” he confessed. Each time he closed his eyes, he relived his days of torture. Eventually the memories would fade, but in the short term, his hands trembled and he couldn’t manage more than a few hours of rest at a time. Although his physical wounds had healed, emotional damage thrived in his unconscious mind. His mental trauma had left dragon-claw-worthy scars across his psyche.

“Can I do anything to help?” Peter’s rich, calming voice broke through Quain’s tortured thoughts.

“No. I-I’ll be fine.” Eventually. If he didn’t go mad first. He rubbed at the uneven weave of denim covering his right knee, idly planning a shopping trip once they were done saving the mountain lions. He snatched a full water bottle from the drink holder, then chugged half as if he could drown the images in his head while soothing his burning throat. The cold liquid tugged him the rest of the way into wakefulness. Uneasy silence fell between them until Quain finally broke the quiet bubble with more than a little trepidation.

His stomach churned as he spoke the words he never thought he’d say. “I’m going to call that therapist Anthony recommended when we get back home. I thought I could handle this, but I can’t.”

It hurt to admit to his own personal failure. He spent most of his life controlling his emotions, and the jumble of pain and horror dancing around his brain while he slept was beyond his usual amazing coping abilities. Shame burned his cheeks. Even with his family’s help over the years, Quain had always considered himself a quiet island in the storm of his loud family. An island that could handle the terrors and visions smashing across its shores. Now his fragile ecosystem had been shattered, and he couldn’t find his previous emotional steadiness. Maybe this doctor could help him fix this new gaping hole in his psyche.

“Good. I’m glad you’re willing to get help, but if you just need to talk, you can always talk to me.” Peter didn’t ask any probing questions or interrogate Quain further about his problems. Instead, he kept his focus on the road and his curiosity to himself.

Quain had never loved Peter more. He wiggled around until he settled his seat belt in a more satisfactory spot before blurting out the question he feared to hear an honest answer to. “Do you think I’m weak?” He winced at the broken quiver in his voice.

“Why would I think that?” Peter’s honest confusion convinced Quain more than any sweet words Peter could’ve uttered.

Turning his attention to the empty road in front of him, he confessed his inner shame. “I can’t get over my captivity.”

Peter pulled the car to the side of the road, then engaged the parking brake.

“Why are we stopping?” Quain curled his right hand around the panic bar while his skittering gaze calculated the odds of a quick escape of both this conversation and the car. Why had he started blabbing out his weaknesses? No one wanted a damaged mate. He should have kept up the illusion that he was a strong and capable life partner. Was this where Peter finally had enough and decided to unload his useless mate?

“Because someone doesn’t like it when I take my eyes from the road and I think this is more important than driving.” Peter didn’t crack a grin, but his eyes danced with tender amusement.

Quain almost cracked a smile.

Peter unbuckled his seat belt before carefully unwrapping Quain’s clenched fingers around the panic bar. He cupped both of Quain’s hands between his larger callused ones. “Listen to me, my beautiful mate. There is nothing wrong with you. You are a wonderful, sweet man who has had some very bad things happen to you. It wasn’t your fault you were kidnapped, and if you think it would be better to turn around and go back home, say the word and I will do that. Your needs come far above some random group of shifters, and if you’d rather go back and deal with your shit, then that is what we will do.”

“What about our assignment?” The pack was everything to a wolf shifter. Would Peter really go against them to make Quain happy?

Peter’s sexy mouth curled up into a small smile. “You are my mate. Nothing is as important to me. Silver understands that, and no Alpha worth his title would countermand one of his pack dropping everything for his mate. Now should we turn around or go forward?”

A comforting glow grew in Quain’s chest. Never before had anyone put him first. Sure, his parents had in the way of adults protecting their offspring, but no one ever had in the romantic sense.

He chose his words with care before pushing them through his emotionally roughened throat. “Thank you for that. I worry you’ll leave me once you learn what a mess I am, but maybe that is more my past of bad relationships than reality.” He blinked back the tears blurring his vision.

Peter squeezed Quain’s fingers, then placed a kiss on his forehead. “Everyone processes trauma differently. From what you’ve told me, you’re used to facing visions where the focus is on someone else. This time, you can’t really distance yourself from the actions because you know they are true and did really happen. You went through a terrible ordeal. There is nothing wrong with seeking help with the memories. You’re the strongest person I know; never doubt that. Just let me be there for you. I can always provide a shoulder to cry on or a willing ear to listen. I might not know how to get over trauma like you’ve experienced, but I can offer comfort while you work things through.”

Quain threw himself into Peter’s arms, sobbing at the tight hug he received. Who knew the faint smell of grease could be as comforting as a bowl of chicken soup?

“I have the best mate,” he whispered.

A low rumble vibrated Peter’s chest in a reassuring manner. Peter’s wolf trying to send soothing vibes to his mate. “I could argue about that, but we should probably get back on the road before the cops come by to ask why I’m illegally parked.”

A gurgling laugh burst from his chest as he moved out of Peter’s comforting arms. Swiping his palms across his cheeks, he offered Peter a watery smile. “Thanks.”

“Any time, and I do mean that.”

“I know you do.” And he did. Peter’s honesty shone out of him. As much as Peter said he regretted his mutant past, he had kept the kernel of who he was throughout that horror and came out of it as the wonderful individual Quain happily called his mate.

“Now enough mush. Are we going forward or turning back?”

Quain took a deep, meditative breath before letting it out again. “Forward.”

“Are you sure?”

Quain nodded. “Positive.” He could do this. “I do appreciate your offer, though.”

Turning back now might get him to the therapist sooner, but it could negatively affect Peter’s standing in the pack. Sure Silver and Anthony would probably say all the proper things about Quain’s mental health being more important than any mission, and even mean it. That didn’t necessarily reflect the attitude of the rest of the pack. From what Peter told him about his past, Anthony had saved his life and never asked for anything except for information about the scientist who had been conducting the mutations. The Moon Pack had more than earned Peter’s loyalty and Quain didn’t want to become a liability to his mate.

Quain’s trauma needed to be buried beside the bodies of his torturers. He hadn’t bothered to ask Anthony if anyone had survived his kidnappers’ slaughter. His family wouldn’t have left loose ends or accidental evidence. He didn’t approve of murder, but he couldn’t deny the death of his captors helped his anxiety. Knowing that most of the people who kidnapped him were dead kept away a small fraction of the night terrors. It was the wizards who hadn’t been at the facility who were the problem now. Other cells were kidnapping shifters for experimentation and if they didn’t at least alert their future victims to their danger, they were no better than the wizards.

After checking for traffic, Peter pulled back onto the road. So far on this trip, they hadn’t run into any serious backups and Quain hoped it remained that way. He didn’t really enjoy car trips. Oh, he didn’t get car sick. He just found them boring. Riding with his mate had changed his view a little but didn’t completely take away the drowsiness car travel gave him. He had spent the first part of the trip drifting between sleeping and talking about their likes and dislikes. So far, he had learned Peter liked green, Quain, fast cars, Quain, and even though he disliked cats, he’d make an exception for Quain.

“If you change your mind at any time, even if it is right before we reach the mountain lions, I will turn around. I want to you to be happy.”

“I am. I just need time to heal.” Quain rubbed a hand across the seat’s shiny red leather. Peter had worked hard over the past two weeks to ready his car for their road trip. Luckily, Peter knew a guy who painted cars and could do a rush job. “I’m glad we were able to take your car.”

“Me too.” Peter gave the dashboard an affectionate pat.

Quain leaned against the headrest. The car’s vibration sent him into a half-sleep trance. In a dreamlike state, the scenery flashed by in an unending flow of scraggly brush, old houses, and dilapidated barns. How much family history had been lost in those abandoned buildings? He could proudly trace his own heritage back five hundred years and mark where each generation birthed a seer. When he didn’t suffer from his sight, he enjoyed history. Maybe because his seer abilities focused on the future, he appreciated the solidity of things that had already happened. He floated in that state with only the car radio breaking the silence.

“Doing okay?” Peter’s deep voice pulled Quain’s attention from his unfocused pondering. A glance at the dashboard revealed an hour had already passed.

“Mmhm, I was wondering about the history of those barns. Who did they belong to? Why were they allowed to fall to ruin? I mean they’re still part of a farm and I don’t see a new barn, so what’s the story? Couldn’t they be salvaged?”

Peter made a humming thoughtful noise. “I’ve never thought about it. A lot of farms go out of business. They could’ve been sold and the new owner had no use for a barn. If they’re smart, they’ll sell the wood to one of those re-use companies. They will pay good money for reclaimed lumber.”

Quain sighed. “I guess so, but it seems like such a waste of a building.”

Peter shrugged. “Some things just aren’t meant to last. Are you missing your family?”

Was he? “Not really. We’ve only been gone a few hours. I’ve certainly been separated from them for much longer.”

“Do you think they’ll get into trouble?”

“Over the massacre?” Quain shrugged. “If there was going to be repercussions, they would’ve struck right away, I think. I can’t say I’m an expert about these things? Ilves are known for assassinations, not slaughters, and I can’t remember a time when anyone has ever been caught or sent to jail.” The Ilves had a reputation for a reason, and it wasn’t because anyone had ever found evidence against them.

“You haven’t participated in the family business?” Peter probed.

Quain let laughter bubble out of him. Genuine amusement washed away some of this recent angst. “No, seers aren’t encouraged to go on assassination sprees. Having a vision in the middle of a coup rarely works out well.”

“I can imagine,” Peter replied in a dry tone that set Quain chuckling again.

“Besides, my family rarely goes on killing sprees. This was to send a message as much as it was to take revenge on those who tortured me.”

It still amazed him that his family had decimated an entire group of wizards for him. He kept an ear out for any news over the hit, but hadn’t heard anything yet. The wizards would retaliate, the only question was when.

“Are you enjoying the drive?” Peter’s new topic was a welcome change.

Quain was tired of talking about his family’s murderous tendencies. He wasn’t ashamed of them, but he didn’t want to think about it either.

“Yes. I’ve never been on a road trip before.” He didn’t like to admit he had never been anywhere. It wasn’t his family’s fault that he tended to fall into visionary fits when left alone for any length of time. Among regular humans, he always claimed epilepsy when he toppled to the floor in a public location.

“Oddly enough, neither have I,” Peter said. “Maybe next time we go on one, it can be a longer trip, just for us. I’d love to travel cross-country some time.”

“That would be nice.” Quain smiled at the idea of planning future trips with his mate. “Where are we spending the night?”

“Anthony had his assistant set us up with a hotel. I have it marked on the map on my phone.”

“Great.” He didn’t really care where they spent the night as long as they got a room. He wiggled his butt to find a better position. He could only sit on his tailbone for so long before he needed to stand up and stretch. “Do you think we can find them?”

“A group of mountain lions who can make it snow? How hard could it be?” Peter’s dry tone made Quain grin.

“I just hope the wizards don’t capture them first.” Quain bit his fingernail as he stared blindly out the window. After his experience in the wizards’ tender clutches, he wouldn’t wish that fate on anyone. Silver hadn’t been able to find a phone number for the mountain lions. Although they had the group’s location, they didn’t have contact info. Surprisingly, none of Anthony’s contacts could find out anything else. It only proved how little connection the cougars had with the outside world.

“I’m sure they’ll be fine. They are large cat shifters. They aren’t completely helpless.”

“I know.” He pressed his forehead against the cold glass of the window. No matter how much he hoped the mountain lions were safe, he had to be prepared for disappointment. They had no way of knowing if someone had leaked the information before they could reach them. “If only we knew how the wizards were organized, we might have better information. I mean, do they work together, or is each cell independent?”

“Oliver didn’t know much,” Peter said.

“Are we sure we can trust him?”

“Yes.” Peter’s conviction came through his tone.

Quain nodded, then rubbed his forehead. “Okay.”

“Are you getting a vision?” Peter reached over to lightly squeeze Quain’s knee.

“No, just a little headache. I’ll be fine.”

Peter made a noncommittal noise. “Let me know if you need anything. Do you think visions are blending with your dreams now?” Peter’s concern lifted a bit of Quain’s depression.

“I’m not sure. Lately, I’ve been having restless dreams, and I don’t usually remember them when I wake up.” He didn’t tell Peter that he remembered enough bits and pieces to give him shivers from the flashes of memories, which were more disturbing than entire dreams.

“Is that normal?”

“No. I usually recall my dreams in excruciating detail.” This new nebulous dreaming was driving him insane.

“Hmm. If it continues, you might want to tell Anthony. I don’t know if he can do anything, but it wouldn’t hurt to get a second opinion. He’s good at the supernatural stuff.”

“Yeah, maybe.” He’d almost automatically rejected the idea out of hand, but the Alpha mate had access to gods. He’d be an idiot to ignore those kinds of resources. If Anthony didn’t know anything, Quain could consult the other family seers and see if they ever experienced the same thing. For all he knew, it could just be his powers developing. Sometimes after traumatic experiences, abilities changed.

Peter checked the time on the dashboard. “We have two more hours before we reach the hotel. Do you want me to pull over at the next rest stop?”

“I wouldn’t mind stretching my legs.” After several hours in the car, his back and legs ached. His inner lynx yowled for a good run, but his animal form wasn’t exactly indigenous to the area and would attract all the wrong kind of attention.

“Are you hungry? I saw a fast food sign for the next exit.”

“Not really.” He eyed the large cooler set on the floor between them. “You stocked enough snacks for the entire pack. I can wait until we stop for the night to get a proper meal.”

An attractive pink brightened Peter’s cheeks. “I didn’t want you going hungry.”

Quain held back the cooing sound building in his throat. “I don’t think anyone has a mate as attentive as you. I’m safe from starving to death for now.” Peter’s adorable mother-henning instincts always made Quain smile even if he overdid things sometimes. He would take every bit of cosseting over being ignored.

“Good.” A wealth of satisfaction lived in those words. If he were a cat shifter, Peter would’ve purred.

“The fates must have smiled on me the day they assigned you as my mate.” If karma was real, then Quain had earned this relationship.

Peter scowled. “I would’ve liked it better if you didn’t have to be tortured before we found each other.”

“I’d suffer through a lot more torture to find you.” Quain’s voice cracked beneath the weight of his emotions. He patted Peter’s muscular forearm before retreating back to his side of the car and turning his attention to the view of endless farmland.

Peter didn’t speak for the next mile but swiped at his eyes a few times. Ten minutes later, they pulled into a rest stop with the same generic look as the others they had passed on the way.

As soon as they rolled to a stop, Quain felt his bladder twinge a complaint. After a fast unbuckle, then a kiss to Peter’s cheek, he scampered out of the car, shouting, “Be back in a bit.”

“Are you talking to me?” A dangerously thin woman in a tattered dress swayed at the edge of the cement by the parking lot. Her dirty sneakers were neatly aligned to the curb as she teetered precariously back and forth. She aimed her unfocused violet eyes to the sky as she spoke.

“No, sorry.” Quain hurried past, pushing aside his natural compassion. Leaving a puddle on the sidewalk wouldn’t give a positive impression. He still wanted to remain sexy for Peter.

After a quick visit to use the facilities, a much happier Quain headed back to the car. As he passed the vending machines, the same woman blocked his path.

“I can help you.” Her eyes roamed everywhere but on Quain.

Quain came to an awkward stop. His instincts crackled like fire and insisted he give this woman his attention. “Can you?” Too many strange things happened in his life for him to immediately dismiss her. Once gods started popping into his visions, Quain’s insistent grip on reality as he knew it began to slip. “What do you think you can help me with?”

“Life, of course. If only you’d listen.” Her airy tone held a demanding impatience, like a toddler insisting her parents decipher her brilliant gibberish.

“And what do you know about my life?” His mental warning flags flapped frantically for attention.

“I see you in my dreams.”

“You have visions?” Quain would be the last person to refute a seer’s abilities.

“Yes. You’ll need to be careful. They won’t trust your warning. Take care of the frosted lion and leave the others to their fates.”

“Why?”

“They have secrets they don’t want outsiders to know. There is only one you can save from his fate, and he is the most important of them all if you wish to survive this battle.”

Quain bit his lip as he considered his options. “Anything else you can tell me?”

She didn’t answer directly. Her eyes turned opaque before she spoke again. “Know this, Quain Ilves, you are on the precipice. Don’t fall.”

A shiver raced down his spine with the ferocity of a winter storm.

“Problem?” Peter pressed a hand to Quain’s back, grounding him and providing emotional support. A united front.

“This lady says we’ll only be able to save one of the cats.”

“What’s your name?” Peter swept a flickering glance over her unkempt appearance but didn’t question Quain’s statement.

“You can call me Cassie,” she said with a thin smile.

“Is that your name?” Quain refused to play word games when an entire group’s lives were at risk.

“It is for now. It changes.” She didn’t add anything else.

“What do you think?” Peter asked, rubbing his hand across Quain’s back.

Quain beamed. Peter always checked before making decisions affecting them both. He pressed a kiss to Peter’s cheek. “I think we should take her with us.”

“I can’t leave here,” Cassie interrupted. “I am only to warn, not to travel. I speak your fate. Listen or not.”

“Do you live here?” Quain asked. There were enough farms nearby, she could even be living in one of those shabby barns.

Cassie’s sad smile only added to her despair-inspiring appearance. “The trio will find you, but it is not them who you seek. They can lead you to the one you need. The others cannot be saved.”

“The one?” Peter asked the question burning on the tip of Quain’s tongue. “We didn’t come all this way to rescue one person.”

The more she talked, the less Quain understood.

“Give this coin to the isolated cat.” She pressed a heavy gold coin into Quain’s hand. “It will help him find his courage.”

Quain flipped the disk over to examine each side. One half had an impression of a Greek god with the word Apollo printed below and the other had a curled up cat. The features appeared to be a mountain lion, but it was too small to confirm.

When Quain lifted his head to ask her about it, she was gone. A quick spin around showed no sign of her presence. “Huh, did you see her leave?” He wished he could say that was the strangest thing that had ever happened to him.

“No, I was looking at the coin too. Do you think she’s connected to Zeus?”

“Maybe.” Quain tapped the coin to his chin. “If she’s the original Cassandra, then she’s forced to tell people prophecies that no one will listen to.”

“But we listened,” Peter objected.

“Which means either she’s not the original Cassandra, or the story might not be true. Most of those old stories are meant as warnings. My family always took it as a sign that not listening to a seer could be your downfall.” The cold metal in the coin pressed against his hand. “I wonder how this will help us.”

“Something tells me we’ll learn soon enough. Let’s get back on the road. This place gives me the creeps.” Peter shuddered.

“Don’t like disappearing people?” Quain asked, grinning.

“Not really, and as much as I appreciate your visions, I don’t like receiving them from strangers who won’t tell us their real name and then vanish. She could’ve been a ghost.”

“Maybe. Besides, we don’t know that Cassie isn’t really her name. She did give us information after all. There are probably a million girls named Cassandra that have never been prophets.”

“True, doesn’t make her less creepy, though.”

Quain sniffed the air, but he couldn’t smell anything. “Whoever she was, she left no scent behind.”

Peter grimaced. “Yeah, I can’t smell anything either. Weird.”

“Very,” Quain agreed. “But after dealing with gods who vanish whenever they want, I’m not willing to rule her out entirely.”

“True.” Peter grimaced.

Their car’s tires squealed as they rushed away from the rest stop, but Quain didn’t complain. He shared Peter’s unease over the strange lady and hoped she wasn’t a bad omen to the success of their trip.

May Moon Pack Madness – Pursuing Peter!

Amazon | B&N | Universal

Peter Woods had never expected to find a soulmate. After his time spent as a mutant, turning into a wolf had become a painful transformation.

Quain Ilves planned on spending his life alone. As a seer he had no vision of a future partner especially after wizards captured and tortured him.

Two lost souls found each other through the interfering hand of fate. Now it was up to them to grab onto their happy ending and not let wizards, parents or outside forces pull them apart.

Chapter One

Quain Ilves’s visions had always started the same way. Mist swirled across his dreamscape in silvery waves before sliding aside like curtains on a live theater stage. Years of seeing the future had stolen away the mystical joy of viewing potential events, only to leave behind hard bundles of nervous anticipation. Not all visions were of pretty rainbows and floppy puppies. The ones he had were more along the lines of horror shows with shades of tragedy.

Unfortunately, natural-born gifts weren’t returnable, and he refused to anger the fates by asking for a refund of his time or his sanity. His family had been the sentinels of the unwritten future as far back as they could trace, and the few who had spurned their talents had all come to a bad end.

Quain floated in the soothing world of in between, enjoying his brief vacation from pain. Captivity had scraped away his natural optimism, and days of torture had worn him down bit by bit until hope disappeared like a forgotten memory. The charmed bracelet stuck on his wrist blocked his animal form and added to his depression. Falling into a vision was the best thing to happen to him in days, weeks, months—he didn’t even know any more. The basement where they kept him caged inside had no windows. His discernment of time had fallen to the pattern of his irregular meals.

If he could breathe while in his seer world, he would be letting out a large sigh in sheer relief. The calm environment invigorated him and eliminated a bit of stress. Even if his anxiety returned as soon as he woke, the brief escape kept the rising panic at bay.

Broken bones and shredded skin had no place in his mental arena. Here, he remained whole and undamaged. Too bad injuries and pain awaited his return.

“Hello.” A tall man with dark hair and bright aquamarine eyes appeared before him.

Quain jerked back at the stranger’s sudden entrance. There had been no fading in. How strange. Never in a lifetime of visions had anyone ever introduced themselves or seen him back. His sight normally worked more as a movie-watching experience, never interactive, until today.

“Um, hi.” He examined the stranger, trying to remember each and every detail. The sheer anomaly of a conversation with one of his visions had thrown Quain off his game. How did he respond to someone walking around into his brain as if they were measuring the space for furniture placement?

“Who are you?” The six-foot, denim-and-leather-wrapped sex god asked. He towered easily over Quain’s more petite five-foot-seven frame.

He grinned at the gorgeous intruder. If torture had finally broken his mind, for once, he didn’t care. Insanity had never looked so good.

“I’m Quain Ilves. Who are you?” In the real world, he would’ve stumbled over his words when addressing a man this stunning. Here, there were no such limitations.

“I’m Peter . Where are we?” Peter looked around as if searching for a familiar landmark.

“In my mind,” Quain blurted out. Surprise streaked through him. Only one person should be able to unknowingly breach his mental defenses.

Mate, his inner lynx whispered. Quain smiled. Despite his current captivity, fate had decided to grant him divinity in human form. A giddy wash of joy swept through him, followed by a shadow of worry.

What if his lynx half was wrong? Being suppressed for so long could have ruined his inner animal instincts. His lynx had never claimed anyone before, but to believe his perfect match would just appear in front of him when he needed hope stretched the bounds of possibility into implausibility. None of the seers in his family had ever found their matches. What would make him special enough to be the exception? Would he be the first one to break that tradition? Did he want to be? Before he had had a chance to speak, Peter beat him to it.

“How did I get here?”

Quain shrugged. “There are only a couple of possibilities. You are either my mate, or you have magic and have figured out how to break into my mind. I honestly don’t know any other options.”

Peter offered him a crooked smile. “Hmm, I don’t have any special magical ability other than being able to turn into a wolf. I think that must make us mates.”

“Were you looking for a mate?” Quain dared to ask. A second later, he winced as pain lanced through him. Someone must be touching him in the real world enough to jar his injuries. Assholes.

“What’s wrong?”

“My captors have returned. They like to keep my wounds fresh.” He winced when fury crossed Peter’s face.

“Where are you?” Peter demanded. “Tell me, and I’ll get you out of there.”

A shiver of dread went up and down his spine. He didn’t want Peter to get hurt, or worst, captured for experimentation. He didn’t have visions to keep him from permanent harm. “I don’t know exactly. Wizards kidnapped me. I was unconscious when I arrived. They keep me in a dark basement. I could be anywhere.” He tried to keep the depression out of his tone, but he doubted he did a good job. The idea of dying in the dark basement amidst his own sweat and blood ruined his joy at finding the one person fated to be his.

“Which wizards? Do you know their name?”

“No.” Quain curled his fingers into fists as frustration filled his voice. “They never give their names or say anything personal. They are very careful.”

“Why did they capture you? Are there any others there with you? Are they creating mutants?”

“What? No! Why would you think that?” He had heard rumors about mutants but had never seen one. From Peter’s question, it seemed he had run into them before. “I’m a seer, and they want to use my abilities. I don’t know if there are other captives somewhere else here, but I’m the only person caged in this basement.” No sense in trying to hide the facts, future mate or not. Quain’s family prided themselves on being seers or relatives of seers. Not all lynx had the skill, but the Ilves had a higher percentage than most. He braced himself for rejection. Not all people accepted the possibility of psychics.

“Huh. I’ve never met a seer before.” Interest lit Peter’s eyes, instead of revulsion.

The tight knot of nerves in Quain’s chest eased. He had expected ridicule, disbelief, or maybe even disgust. Easy acceptance hadn’t been on his list of possible reactions. “Well, now you have.”

Quain gasped. Before he could warn Peter, he was jerked back into his body.

Damn, he didn’t even get to say goodbye.

Still acclimating from returning to reality, Quain took a few gulping breaths, trying to calm his body from the shock of consciousness. There was always a bit of displacement when he returned to the physical world. He screamed out all the oxygen in his lungs when his tormenter stabbed a sharp-nailed finger into one of the open wounds in his side.

“Tell me what you saw,” he demanded.

Quain blinked back tears. He refused to appear weak or let them think they had the upper hand. His heart fluttered, and shock cooled his skin. Part of him wished to remain with Peter even if only in his mind. After swallowing a few times to make sure his miniscule lunch stayed down, he focused his attention on his torturer.

“What?” He refused to be nice to people who abused him. He didn’t care if it resulted in further punishment. Eventually, they would give up and either kill him, sell him for ransom, or let him go as too much trouble. He had a morbid fascination in seeing which it would come down to.

“What was your vision? Tell me.”

“No.” Quain closed his eyes as reality reassembled itself in his temporarily fractured psyche. After all this time trapped in a cage and struggling to hold onto his sanity, he wouldn’t break during a moment of dissonance. His interrogator must have studied psychics. Only someone familiar with the process would know the fragility of a seer shifting from a vision to reality. More than one psychic had let a prophecy escape while in the state of in between. Not Quain, though. The Ilves were one of the few with more than one seer in their family tree and had strong protections in place over those with foresight. During his kidnapping, Quain had blessed every one of his ancestors for the writings they had handed down. The training he had cursed in his youth had become his main survival tool. If he got out of this, he would apologize to every mentor that had ever had to deal with his teenage angst and fractious temper. Maybe buy them houses in apology.

“You will tell me what you saw, or I will make you.” The man had moved from persuasion to pain within the first week, while still not giving Quain his name. Apparently their torture sessions didn’t make them best friends. Luckily, he hadn’t experienced many visions during his captivity and the others had learned torture didn’t make him talk. That didn’t stop the more sadistic members from doing it anyway for their own amusement. Those people didn’t return, and Quain never asked what happened to them. He didn’t care.

“There are ways to make you talk,” his interrogator drawled.

“And they will fail too. Unless you are part of my prophecy, I can’t share.” He kept his eyes closed so he didn’t see the punch. His head snapped back from the impact. The crunch of his nose breaking didn’t earn his tormentor more than a watery glare. Quain swiped at his face. His hand came away bright red.

“Keep in mind that if you don’t have any value, you will be tossed away. We have no use for a seer who won’t share his visions.”

Quain refused to cry from the pulsating pain in his face.

“I’ll be back. You should reconsider your position.”

He remained still and quiet as the wizard marched away. He wished Peter could save him. Never before had he been in the position of needing to be rescued. He tugged at the tight bracelet around his wrist. If they hadn’t placed a magical object on him, blocking his ability to shift, he would have already been out of there. Bastards. They had attached the jewelry while Quain was unconscious, and nothing he did loosened its magical hold. The one time he’d tried to transform, his bones had crackled like shattered glass. It had taken two days before he dared move again. Luckily, they had cast some sort of spell to empty his bowels if they got too full. It was one of the few courtesies they’d offered.

He hoped it would be a while before anyone returned, even if it meant he had to go without eating. He would rather starve than be beaten. Each time they hurt him, it took a little longer to heal. Soon they would learn he couldn’t tell them anything even if he had the best psychic ability in the world.

Even under torture, he couldn’t reveal his visions if they didn’t pertain to the person asking. He closed his eyes, wishing to be anywhere else. He still didn’t know what they had done to his driver, Craig, but he worried they had killed him during Quain’s capture. A tear dripped down his cheek as memories of Craig flashed through his head. The older man had been a kind soul and had taken care of Quain since his teens.

He bit back a sob, not wanting anyone to see him cry. The bastards didn’t deserve his tears. No one had remained in the room where his cage was, but cameras were trained on him from multiple points. His captives weren’t the most trusting of people. Some of the cameras, he suspected, were to spy on the other wizards, to make sure none of them killed him before they were ready. Quain had no confidence he would leave there alive.

If he somehow managed to escape, maybe Peter would give him a place to stay. He loved his family but couldn’t live with them, even temporarily. Everyone did better if they lived apart. He could handle his mother smothering him from a distance, but in some ways, she was worse than his father. Between his father’s critical analysis of his life and his mother’s fluttering, Quain had to live apart from them to have some breathing room. Granted, it resulted in him tumbling down the stairs a few times when a vision took him unexpectedly, but someone living with him would not have saved him either unless they followed him from room to room, and that would’ve been even worse than living at home.

A loud pop echoed in the cavernous room as the last light bulb went out and plunged the room into total darkness. Luckily, his cat vision kicked in, or he might have become hysterical from the lack of visual feedback. He might not be able to fully transform, but he could shift his eyes and, in one instance when a wizard became too grabby, produce a claw on the tip of his index finger. Unfortunately, he hadn’t been able to do that trick again. The torture had taken away a lot of his strength to shift and focus. He suspected that was why they did it. Nevertheless, it had yet to result in him sharing any information.

Quain rubbed his forehead to ease the tension. Visions always hurt. That much pressure on the brain did a bit of damage with each episode. One of his great aunts had hypothesized that their shifter magic prevented their brains from permanent damage. Human seers weren’t so lucky. Many of them went insane, damaging the reputation of true visionaries everywhere.

The bracelet on his wrist chafed his skin raw, causing a teeth-clenching itch. He focused his attention on the irritation rather than on his bigger issues. Apathy was his enemy. As soon as he gave up all hope, his lynx half would pull him into depression. Seeing Peter renewed his eagerness to escape.

He waited a minute, then a minute more. After no other guards appeared, he banged his bracelet against the metal headboard of his cot. Breaking the hinge or clasp was his only hope of getting free. The runes and magic on the jewelry prevented Quain from fully reaching his lynx half and possibly harming his captives. As a person, his petite stature didn’t intimidate anyone. As a lynx, his claws and teeth could do a lot of damage. A grim smile curved Quain’s lips. He would get free, and when he did, they would all pay for their actions.

He continued banging the bracelet with no success but great determination. If he got the damned thing off, he could at least shift and be warmer. He only stopped when he’d hit his arm one too many times. Bruises bloomed up and down his skin, adding to his discomfort. Eventually, despair would take over and he would be nothing but a faded shadow. Peter couldn’t save him if he didn’t at least try to save himself. He refused to be a weak damsel in need of rescue.

Memories of a warm bed and enough food to fill his belly wafted through his thoughts, like mirages in his mind to tempt him into thinking he was back home. He could almost taste the homemade waffles he had foolishly pushed aside before his capture. Damn, if he got out of there, he’d never turn down food again.

His stomach growled like the snarls of an angry beast. It had been a few days since he’d last eaten, or it could have been a few weeks. His mind had grown fuzzy. His foolish kidnappers thought he would break down if deprived of food and basic comforts. They had no idea Quain had inherited his mother’s stubbornness and his father’s temper, a bad combination under any circumstance. If he never left this cage, he would die with the happy knowledge that he’d given them nothing.

He took great delight in keeping his visions from them, refusing to give them any advantage. From what he could tell they thought he was defective and prone to fits. He had done nothing to dissuade them from that viewpoint. Although he worried they might decide to kill him, giving them his visions didn’t guarantee safety only further imprisonment.

A sudden pressure in his chest had his heart galloping out of control. Gasping for air, he tried to catch his breath. Spots sparkled before his eyes like little black bugs, chasing across his vision. What was happening? A darkness tunneled his sight, swallowing his ability to see the room around him far more effectively than any absence of external light. He barely had time to snatch another lungful of air before the cage, the cot, and everything around him vanished. This wasn’t normal. His long-held control shattered without warning.

A vision punched through Quain’s inner eye with the destruction of a burning meteor, in bright full color and without any of the usual misty preview. A handsome man crouched among the trees, watching a white mansion. It took a second to recognize him. Peter. Where was he? Had Peter found him? It should’ve taken longer unless Peter had already planned to come for another reason. How far into the future was he seeing?

If he had been able to feel his fingers, he would’ve crossed them, hoping the building Peter watched had Quain’s cage inside. Since he’d entered the place unconscious and woken up trapped, he had no idea of his true location. The mansion Peter stood outside of could be any place.

“This place feels strange,” Peter muttered. His deep voice tugged at Quain as if wrapping him in comforting warmth.

“Why?” another man’s tenor voice replied outside of Quain’s sight.

Peter frowned. “I don’t know. It’s as if something I’ve been waiting for is inside. I’m hoping my mate is there, but I can’t be sure. Anthony’s contacts said they have someone inside, but they couldn’t say who. They don’t expect us to come again, not after Oliver’s last visit. This will let them know we are watching them and their actions. Oliver said they needed a reminder since they’re trying to meddle in shifter politics.”

“I don’t know if this will help, but hopefully, they will take it as a warning not to mess with the Moon Pack. I don’t really care what they do with the other packs. They left us to deal with the mutants. They can deal with the wizards.”

Peter made a scoffing sound. “Shifters need to stick together. Just because they were too cowardly to help, doesn’t mean we should do less than our best to assist when we can.”

“Well, either way, we need to keep the wizards in check, especially if they’re kidnapping shifters. Hopefully, we can find your mate.”

I’m here! Quain wanted to shout, but this vision appeared to be like his usual ones. No interaction would be possible between him and the people he watched.

Peter nodded. “Me too. I also hope these are the right wizards.”

“Anthony said he felt the signature of a shifter inside,” the tenor voice said.

“That’s why I’m hoping he’s right. Not that I wouldn’t save other shifters, but I want my mate.” The low growl underlying Peter’s voice sent a shaft of warmth through Quain.

His mate wanted him!

Despite their meeting in the vision, Quain hadn’t had much hope Peter would do anything to find him. Not all shifters were eager to find their other half. That Peter had not only sought him out but got help to search for him told Quain that Peter really wanted him.

Silence fell between the two for several minutes before the one Quain didn’t recognize spoke again in a soft, hushed voice. “What was it like?”

“What?” Peter turned his head, and Quain saw his startling aquamarine eyes. Even in the dark, they gleamed like the Caribbean Sea. He couldn’t wait to see them every morning.

“Being a mutant.”

Quain wished this wasn’t a vision. He had never wanted to punch someone so much before. A low growl built in this throat. What kind of fucked-up question was that? How would Peter even know such a thing?

There was a long pause before Peter replied. “It was hell.” His sexy mouth hardened in a firm line, and his jaw tightened as he turned back to watch the house.

Oh! Poor Peter.

“Sorry, Peter. I shouldn’t have brought it up.” Remorse filled the man’s voice.

“Damn right,” Quain fumed.

Peter shrugged off the apology. “It doesn’t matter. Not anymore. I’m out of there, and they can’t change me again even if they tried. Anthony made it so the mutation can’t be applied twice even if there was someone to do it.”

Before Quain could hear anything more, Peter tapped his ear. For the first time, Quain noticed an earpiece tucked inside. “Understood. We’re heading out.”

Peter walked away, and Quain’s vision darkened before returning to the dim room inside which he lay. He knew deep down his fated mate would be coming for him. Instinct had shaped Quain’s life until now, and he saw no reason to doubt it at this point. Maybe he was expecting too much from a complete stranger, mate or not, but he would cling to hope with the tips of his mangled fingernails until proven otherwise.

Worry wrinkled his brow and a headache pressed against his temples. What if his mate was injured entering the mansion? The wizards had no problem using force against shifters. Quain was example enough. Assuming it was where Quain was being held, why was the group trying to infiltrate it anyway? It was clear Peter didn’t know where he was, and he doubted they were attacking random wizard homes to find him. When they met, he would make sure to add that to his questions for Peter.

He rubbed his forehead, digging his fingers into his temples to ease the sore points as his mind ached from having two visions so close together. There was little he could do now except wait and see. His sights had never been wrong before. Misinterpreted, yes, but never wrong. He had to cling to the belief that everything would work out and he would be reunited with his mate soon. If only he could communicate telepathically with Peter and share his thoughts. Weakness sank into his limbs and fine tremors shook his body. He didn’t bother trying to suppress them. Between the beatings and the visions, Quain was running on no energy. As his body tried to heal without his full shifter abilities, the magic in the bracelet fought back. The two forces were attacking each other. Much more of this and it wouldn’t matter if Quain wanted to help the wizards or not, he would be dead. Despair sank its greedy claws into his chest again.

May Moon Pack Madness – Owning Oliver!

Amazon | B&N | Universal

Tim has been left for dead, but fate sent him back. While searching for his brother he stumbles across his soul mates and discovers both love and a new place to call home. He might not choose to be a fighter but he’ll do anything to keep his mates safe.



Aslic is a daywalker. Too independent to work under Alesandro, he accepts a contract with the vampire leader to oversee vampire properties and negotiate contracts. After spotting Oliver in Anthony’s company he decides to focus on the gorgeous wizard. However, when Tim claims Oliver as his own, Aslic decides to keep them both.

Oliver is an assassin brought in to kill Anthony but refuses to when he determines Anthony isn’t a threat to wizard kind. Unfortunately his boss has a different idea and when Oliver refuses to play their games he finds himself on the wrong side of a contract.

Prelude

Ice and fire filled him, pouring into him like a strange layered cocktail in which each section created a different color and experience, none of them good. Silver Moon struggled to wade through the fog of pain, trying to remember what had dragged him under in the first place. Nothing made sense as he fought against the murkiness of his thoughts. A spike in his memory forced his awareness back.

Danger.

Mate.

Anthony.

Wait. Anthony. His mate. He had to be strong for Anthony. Memories flitted at the edge of his awareness, butterflies of cognizance he could almost see and capture. He jerked as jolts of pain zapped him with the frequency of an electric current. Images of Hera standing over him flashed into his head, as prior events played through his mind like a movie.

Since choosing Anthony as his mate, life hadn’t been boring. He could use a little more monotony. He longed for a day when the morning traffic, or ordering enough booze to stock the bar after a full moon, were his biggest problems.

When Hera told him to accept some of Anthony’s power for his mate’s sake, he had anticipated enduring a rush of energy, maybe some bits of pain. Foolish idiot. Even after dealing with Zeus, he hadn’t expected Hera’s deception. He gritted his teeth against the agony crawling through his veins, a molten lava of energy burning him from inside out. In his head he chanted Anthony’s name, trying to remember why he must endure. His mate. His purpose. His life. For Anthony he would survive. Years of struggle building his pack and then holding onto his alpha status had forged his solid will. He didn’t become the leader of a wolf pack by picking daisies and weaving flower crowns. He wouldn’t cave now no matter the cost to sanity or health. If he failed, stronger gods could kill Anthony with ease. He couldn’t allow that to happen.

He clenched his jaws against the building scream, grinding his molars. A visit to the dentist would be required if he survived. He curled his fingers, trying to prevent grabbing onto something and causing damage. Claws pushed through his human fingertips, stabbing into his palms and sending rivulets of blood trickling to the floor. Silver arched his back, releasing the scream as agony spiked down his spine, slicing into each vertebra. The urge to transform and run away snapped at him with hungry wolf teeth, but he couldn’t abandon his mate, his love, and his life. Tears filled his eyes before trickling away.

“Shh, I’ve got you,” Anthony’s soothing voice reached through the thorny ropes of magic slicing at his essence.

“A-Anthony.” He almost didn’t recognize the rough grinding sound as his own voice. He clung to a sandy rock of sanity among an ocean of pain. Silver had to grab onto thoughts of his mate if he wished to survive. He forced his eyes open to catch sight of his mate, his reason for living.

“You’ll be fine, my love. You’re doing great,” Anthony whispered in his ear. Soft lips brushed across his cheek as Anthony slid down beside him. “We’ll get through this together.”

Together. There lay their true power. With his mate at his side, they could overcome anything. Already they had survived mutants, crazy scientists, and evil fae kings. A mere godhead couldn’t destroy them.

From the stress on Anthony’s face, that bitch Hera hadn’t given Silver all of his mate’s pain. She’d only doubled the agony. How much power would this give Anthony? Would his beautiful soon-to-be-god have more magic than he could physically handle? If it were the last thing he did, Silver would make sure Hera paid for torturing them. Zeus would never hurt his favorite descendent, not like this. He might not trust the king of the gods, but he never questioned Zeus’ affection for Anthony.

To prevent Anthony from becoming a half-ass godling, Silver had to accept as much power as possible. If Silver died from magic overload, would Anthony survive? He had blocked his bond with the pack to stop them from interfering with the transformation. The pack would come running if they sensed their alpha’s pain. He had to be strong enough for all of them. That was his job as alpha.

“Open the connection!” Anthony’s voice spoke in his head.

“Why?” After spending the last few hours actively stopping his pack from any kind of discomfort, what reason would he have to release it now?

“If you spread the pain through the pack, it will hurt less. We can’t get through this alone. It will drive us insane.”

That Anthony was telepathically speaking instead of saying the words out loud told Silver his mate’s energy was waning.

Silver’s protective nature didn’t allow him to purposely hurt those weaker than him, but he didn’t know how much more of this he could handle. If only he could pass out until it was all over.

“We need them,” Anthony persisted.

No alpha should have to choose between his mate’s health and his pack. Silver hesitated. Another wave of prickly stabbing pain swept through him. Hera hadn’t said how long this would last and Silver was reaching the last of his energy reserves. His death would hurt the pack more than sharing the surges of energy among all the shifters. Would the other mates be affected?

“How much longer?” He couldn’t force more than a few words through their mental link. The effort took more focus than his scrambled senses could achieve. Tremors spread through his body, and his teeth began to chatter as shock set in.

“I don’t know.” He could almost taste the despair in Anthony’s thoughts. For once there would be no miracle rescue from their situation. They were in this alone unless Silver called on his people. Until that moment Silver had held out hope that Zeus would magically arrive in time to ease Anthony into his next level of power.

“We can make it.” He tried to infuse confidence in his buffering of Anthony’s mood, but he could barely keep their connection and willingly accept the pain. He hoped there wouldn’t be long-term ramifications. Their bond would be damaged if he began to attach negative emotions to mind-linking with his mate.

“We need help,” Anthony insisted.

Silver no longer had the energy to deny the truth, but he tried to put up some resistance. “I can’t.”

He pushed his sense of pack loyalty and protector instincts to Anthony to get him to agree. Foolishly he thought he’d succeeded until Anthony’s next words filtered into his increasingly fuzzy thoughts.

“If you don’t, we’ll die or go insane.”

Anthony’s sorrow washed through him. He couldn’t pry his eyelids open to see if his mate was crying or not. He didn’t have the energy. Anthony cared for the pack, but he loved Silver more. If there were any way to spare Silver from this ordeal, Anthony would become an ordinary human. Not a single part of Silver doubted that. However they were in a war between gods and mutants, and Silver knew better than to give up any advantage. He hadn’t been a pack leader this long without learning strategy.

“As you wish, my love,” Silver capitulated.

Careful of overwhelming his pack, he opened his link to them in slow, careful increments. “We need help. Please share your strength.”

The instant connection crackling between him and his pack sent a welcoming jolt of support that shored up Silver’s flagging strength. In his head he saw the bonds between each member as glowing white strings holding each shifter to the pack through the call of his alpha powers and his connection with Anthony. Magic whispered between them, solidifying the links and thrumming with power. Unlike the aching intensity of the godhead magic, pack bonds were of nature and solidified by the world around them. The bond shimmered and stretched but not a single connection wavered.

“Please lend us your strength,” Silver whispered into his packmates’ minds, unwilling to pressure them into unwelcome agony but desperately needing them. Every single member responded back, not a single one tried to resist his call as they pulled at the edges of the pain ratcheting through his body. As if sensing Silver’s capacity had grown, more magic poured from Anthony to Silver to the Moon Pack in an unending stream of pulsing power. The pain dissipated to a dull throbbing level as the power to form a god spread across dozens of pack members. Each shifter took on some of their alpha’s burden as part of the pack price. As they took some more energy fed into the link.

A groan escaped Silver’s lips before darkness swallowed him whole.

Chapter One

Oliver Cornwell didn’t go out drinking often. The flashing lights and brutally pounding music always reminded him why he preferred nights spent in a quiet restaurant with good company and a fine glass of wine. However after his sex life reached a Sahara-level dry spell, he decided to try a different approach.

He glanced over at the handsome man lying on the pillow next to him. Even drunk he had excellent taste. Pushing away the urge to kiss the gorgeous stranger, he climbed out of bed while rubbing his pounding temples. He snatched up the first items of clothing his unsteady hands could find, then slid them on as he stumbled out of his bedroom. Although the jeans cradled his ass like proper club clothes, the hem of the shirt he had pulled on reached his thighs. He ignored the fit, more anxious to leave the bedroom than fuss over clothes.

Damn, he should have had better sense than to bring a one-night stand home. It’s like his drunken self had gleefully painted a target on his back in neon colors before placing cartoony “he’s here” arrows around him.

Anyone would think he had just become an assassin a few days ago instead of having a ten-year career as an enforcer of the wizard council. Idiot. A faint smile crossed his lips. Damn, he loved big strong men. Memories of his sexual partner’s strength had delicious shivers scampering down his spine.

Soon enough he would be faced with the results of his previous night’s bad decisions, but right now he wallowed in the silence of being the only one awake. Resolutely he pushed away the urge to go back and re-examine all those warm, hard muscles in further detail. He had more important things to concentrate on. Coffee.

His desperate, almost mindless, need for the rich bitter brew had him stumbling toward the kitchen. More than one ex had commented on Oliver’s zombielike mind-set before his first morning cup. Only one had had the gall to switch him to decaf. He still didn’t regret sending Phil to the hospital. Fucker deserved it.

Minutes later he had his elbows propped on the kitchen counter and his blurry gaze fixed on the slow drip, drip, drip of his coffeemaker. Even with magic he couldn’t hurry the brewing process along unless he wanted a horrible aftertaste. He contemplated buying one of those machines with all the bells and whistles, but none of the new versions had a carafe as large as the one currently taking over the entire corner of his kitchen counter. He didn’t have a lot of vices, but he relished his favorites.

His pounding head had reached the level of having its own rhythm section, and the newly expired painkillers he’d discovered in the back of his kitchen junk drawer hadn’t taken the edge off yet. He chugged more water, trying to rehydrate. A slight sting beneath his shirt had him rubbing his fingers across the spot on his shoulder. Memories flooded his hazy brain. What had seemed like a brilliant idea the night before struck him as stupid in the brutal morning light.

“Oh fuck, I’ve been marked,” he whispered. Shifter. He’d been marked by a shifter, and allowed it. He distinctly remembered his lover from last night asking before biting. For the first time since he’d reached adulthood, Oliver was awake before his first morning sip of coffee.

A whisper of sound was his only warning. Warm fingers trailed across the back of his neck before sliding forward beneath his shirt to brush against the newly discovered mark. He held back a whimper with iron control, but weakly leaned into the touch. Spikes of desire pierced his body. He groaned.

“Good morning, gorgeous.” The voice, rich and sinful as his morning brew, growled into his ear. Hot breath across his lobe had Oliver relaxing against the stranger who would be with him for the rest of his life. After all he had accepted the mark and mates were forever.

“Morning,” he muttered back, not daring to turn and face his future partner. His normally soft voice had a rough tone like a nubby fabric. No amount of throat clearing seemed to help. Coffee, his miracle cure, would fix that in a minute or two. Still, he couldn’t stop his spine from melting against the strong, warm body behind him. His mind spun in a sluggish hamster wheel circle as he tried to recall all the details about shifter mates. Not one to have regrets, Oliver mentally re-ordered his life to work around this new variable.

“I’m conducting a next morning regret check. Do you remember my name?” asked the same delicious voice layered with humor.

“Hmm.” Oliver nestled the back of his head against the firm chest behind him, his new favorite spot. He closed his eyes to block out the sneaky morning light that had slipped between his blinds. Focusing his limited attention, he tried to recall his companion’s introduction. It came to him after a few minutes of struggle. “Tim.”

Tim’s last name eluded Oliver, but at least he was confident about the first part. Considering his previously inebriated condition and a night of hazy passion-filled sex, he was rather proud of remembering a first name, or anything at all.

“Mm, good, you do remember.” Tim slid his warm hands up and down Oliver’s arms in long soothing strokes. As a wizard he really shouldn’t feel the compulsion to purr like a cat shifter. “Now for the bonus question. Do you remember what I am?”

Images from last night flashed through his head, sexy glimpses of their hot encounter overloaded Oliver’s quickly short-circuiting brain. Details of stuttering conversation, of backgrounds shared between touches, returned to his aching head.

“Wolf shifter, but you’re not one of a pack. You’re a lone wolf, aren’t you?” He knew the answer before he asked, but still didn’t know the reason behind it. Conversation tended to be short between drinks and sweat-soaked bodies.

Lone wolves were usually that for a reason. They were often the dregs of shifter society who were rejected by any proper pack for their crimes. Even misbehaving wolves could usually get some pack to take them in. Knowing this, Oliver couldn’t assign those traits to his new mate.

Last night Tim’s status hadn’t seemed like an important detail, but beneath the overly bright lights of his kitchen and Tim’s close proximity, his self-preservation instincts kicked in. What did he really know about the strange wolf shifter in his apartment, other than his skills in the bedroom? Oliver poured a cup of coffee, then took a desperate sip, hoping the caffeine would jumpstart his sluggish thinking. It was too early, and he was too hungover to deal with much else today. For a fleeting moment, he wished for a shifter metabolism. He doubted Tim suffered from a hangover.

“Are you going to share some of that coffee?” Tim asked, squeezing Oliver’s shoulders in an affectionate touch.

“Maybe the next pot.” He drained his cup, then refilled, not sparing his new mate a glance.

Tim laughed. “Stingy.”

The warmth left Oliver’s back, and Tim opened a few cabinets before he pulled out a coffee cup, then set it pointedly on the counter in front of Oliver. “Consider it part of your morning-after hospitality.”

“Fine, but don’t complain if you lose some fingers in the future,” Oliver snarled before pouring coffee into Tim’s cup. “I don’t have cream. Sugar is in the cabinet above you.”

“I take it black.” He pressed a kiss on Oliver’s cheek before picking up his mug.

Oliver glared at him over his shoulder but lost some of his ire at the sight of Tim’s sparkling eyes. “I’m not a morning person,” he grumbled before taking another sip.

“Really? I couldn’t tell.” Tim hid his smile with his mug, but Oliver knew when he was being laughed at.

He tried to step away, but Tim grabbed him gently around the waist, then pulled him close until they were snuggling again.

“Don’t rush off, I like you nearby,” Tim rumbled in Oliver’s ear, sending shivers down his spine. Tim kissed Oliver’s neck before simply holding him. They let silence fall between them as they sipped their morning brew. It was almost peaceful. Oliver relaxed, something he rarely did with other people.

“Do you want some more?” Oliver asked in his politest tone after draining his cup. His uppity aunt would’ve been proud of his manners, even if she hadn’t liked him any better than his parents.

“Are you sure it’s safe? I’ve seen mothers in front of their newly born pups who’ve looked less ferocious than you with your coffeepot,” Tim teased.

Oliver sniffed. “I’m not human before my coffee.”

“What about after? I mean I know you’re an animal in bed, but the spark between us wasn’t normal. Humans don’t usually produce actual sparks.” Tim’s eyes turned amber in the middle of his sentence as if his wolf wanted to get a better look at Oliver while they talked.

Oliver remained still, not wanting to antagonize Tim’s inner beast. He might not hang around Silver, but he’d learned enough over the past few years while working among shifters, to never challenge one unless he planned to win. Oliver tried to appear both strong enough to face Tim and submissive enough to not threaten his wolf half.

“I’m a wizard.” No sense in trying to hide it. He could reveal his past later after he quit his job. He couldn’t be an assassin with a mate. Tim would be too much collateral.

Tim took a large step backward. “You’re kidding?”

“Why would I kid about that?” Wizards had a bad enough reputation in the supernatural community that Oliver couldn’t imagine joking about being one. If they weren’t mates, he wouldn’t even have brought it up.

“No wonder you reek of magic. I thought maybe you worked in a magical building.” Oliver relaxed when Tim’s expression remained more curious than upset.

“I work in an architecture firm. My boss has a lot of magic so in some ways you are right.” Comparing his magic to Anthony’s was like comparing a gnat to an elephant, but to someone without magic, they were probably similar. Tim didn’t need to know of his other activities.

“Are you an architect?” Tim asked.

Oliver shook his head. His work with Anthony had actually become more interesting than killing people. He appreciated the challenge it provided, that shooting a poisonous dart into a neck didn’t.

“I set up wards on workstations and things like that. I also put protections on any of Anthony’s new buildings when they are owned by paranormals. I might eventually start my own warding company.”

Being an assassin didn’t bother Oliver, but soon he’d have to come up with something less hazardous to do for a living. He’d abandoned his pesky morality at age fifteen when he was assigned to kill a man for raising demons, but for the past two years, killing had lost its shiny allure and his assignments had become less palatable. His latest job to watch and possibly murder Anthony had him questioning the council for the first time in his life. He didn’t believe in proactive killing. Ending the life of someone who had committed unconscionable crimes was one thing. Murdering a man mated to a powerful shifter leader smacked of political bullshit.

He enjoyed working for Anthony, who had so many strands of magic wrapped around him that Oliver could sometimes barely breathe from the crackling power in the room.

“Do you enjoy it?” Tim asked. He nudged Oliver’s arm as if sensing he’d lost his attention.

“My job?” Oliver took a moment to untangle his mind from his assassin work when he realized Tim meant his work with Anthony.

“Poor sweetie, you’re not a morning person, are you?” Tim carded his fingers through Oliver’s hair in a gentle calming gesture.

Oliver ignored Tim’s mocking tone but leaned into his touch anyway when Tim began to massage his scalp. It had been too long since he’d last had anyone touching him with something approaching affection. He hummed at the sensation. He could get used to this.

“Are you sure you aren’t part cat?” Tim asked, continuing his rubbing.

“Not that my mother ever confessed.” Considering how uptight his mother was, he doubted she’d had sex with his father more than the one time necessary to have Oliver. His father was a cold man and rarely unbent long enough to give his only child a smile, much less spare any scraps of affection for his spouse. One of the many reasons he’d run away from home.

Tim’s warm laughter made Oliver smile. A smug part of Oliver couldn’t help the burst of pride in bonding with this gorgeous shifter.

“Hmm, I bet if you did a family tree, you’d find some sort of pretty kitty among your ancestors,” Tim argued.

Oliver sniffed. “If I have cat blood, it would be something big and vicious not little and cuddly. A tiger maybe.” He ignored the fact that the one tiger shifter he knew had a snuggly personality.

“Of course, my mistake. You are quite fierce.” Tim moved to face Oliver, then kissed his forehead.

“Mmhmm I am,” Oliver agreed, stepping closer as if basking in the sun. The wolf shifter granted affection freely as if they’d been together for much longer than one evening. He spoke the words to confirm his suspicions from the night before. “We’re mates, aren’t we?”

“Yes.” Tim hugged Oliver. “Destiny matched us together, and I refuse to lose you to any human, or I guess in your case wizard, squeamishness. So if you plan to fight the bond, you should think again.”

Oliver pushed at Tim’s chest to have him step back so he could see his face better. “I’m not squeamish, just surprised. I didn’t expect to meet my mate at a club.” Or ever.

With brutal self-denial, he shoved his worries behind his mental shields, saving his breakdown for later when he was alone and could lose it without witnesses. He might have concerns, but he wouldn’t reject a gift from the fates. Bad things happened to people who tossed away such gifts.

Tim grinned. “Good. I’ve heard too many incidences where shifters were rejected by their mates. I’m glad I won’t be one of that group.”

“That’s not a problem.” Well, not after he arranged a few things. Oliver’s exposure to shifters left him with a better than average understanding of their ways. Although he didn’t hang with the pack, he’d heard enough about Anthony’s relationship to know how shifter mating worked. Oliver took another sip of coffee. “What do you do for a living?”

“Nothing much right now. I sued my pack and got a large settlement. I’ve been looking for my brother, Henry, ever since I woke up from a coma.” For the first time, a scowl crossed Tim’s cheerful face.

“A coma?” It took a lot to knock out a shifter. To put Tim into a coma, he must have come close to death. Maybe more questions would reveal who he needed to kill to keep Tim safe. He could always retire later.

“Henry and I were trapped in a pit-fighting ring. Our old alpha sold my brother and me to the owner to get us out of the pack. I think he was worried Henry would take his place as alpha. My brother is a big wolf and a good leader. The rest of the pack respected him and would have followed him.”

“Was he worried you would take over too?” Oliver asked, checking out Tim’s large size.

Tim shook his head. “No. I’ve never wanted to be alpha. I’m pretty sure he sent me along so that I didn’t make a fuss over Henry disappearing. I know our alpha thought we’d die in the ring and solve his leadership problem. I survived, which is how I got his balls in a vise and won a settlement from a sympathetic shifter judge.”

“How did you get in a coma?”

“In my last match against Henry, I was blindfolded. At some point, I was knocked out. When I woke up, a year had passed and no one knew anything about my brother, or even me. I’m not sure who put me in the hospital, but they didn’t come back.”

“A year? I’ve never heard of a shifter taking an injury that bad and surviving.” Not much could bring a shifter down for more than a few hours.

“I had a head injury that didn’t heal well. I still sometimes get headaches.” Tim’s sad expression twisted Oliver’s emotions. “Right now I’m focused on finding Henry. He wouldn’t just abandon me. I need to know what happened to him.”

Oliver pressed a soft kiss to Tim’s cheek. Sympathy spiked through him. “I’ll help you all I can. What was your old alpha’s name?” He tried to keep his expression as if it were an innocent inquiry.

Tim’s eyes narrowed as he examined Oliver’s expression. “I don’t think it would be a good idea to tell you.”

“Why not?” Oliver scowled.

“Call it instinct. Besides, in exchange for the settlement, I signed a paper stating that I wouldn’t exact retribution for the alpha’s crimes.”

“Well, you wouldn’t be doing anything. It would be all me.” Oliver didn’t tell Tim that no one would ever find the alpha’s body to lodge a complaint. That might be giving too much away.

“I appreciate the thought, but I’m happy with never seeing him again.” Tim’s quick kiss on the lips warmed Oliver’s soul.

Oliver didn’t offer any more arguments. If Tim was happy with the deal, Oliver wouldn’t do anything to ruin it, but if the alpha crossed Oliver’s path, he wouldn’t hesitate to end him. “If you’re certain?” He let the question hang in the air for a bit, hoping Tim would change his mind.

“Yeah, I’m much better now.” Tim’s smile eased Oliver’s fears. “The worst part of being out of it for a year is I lost track of Henry. I have some money to give him from the pack when I find him again.”

“The pack gave you money for your brother?” He could see why they’d pay Tim, but surely they’d keep back what they owed Henry.

“Yeah, they paid me for both of us. Since Henry wasn’t there, I was his representative and took the settlement for him. I didn’t trust them to payout if no one held them accountable. The alpha is a slime ball and greedy enough to sell his packmates for money, what’s to stop him from keeping our settlement? So yeah, I took it with me.” The sorrow in Tim’s voice had Oliver hugging him.

“Maybe Anthony can give me the name of an investigator. He’s the local alpha’s mate, and my boss. He knows a lot of people. If he doesn’t know anyone, I’m sure someone in the Moon Pack will. Is that why you’re packless now? You’re still searching for your brother?” Oliver had other contacts he could use, but he didn’t want to bring attention to those parts of his life yet. Eventually he would have to confess everything to his new mate, but it might be a while before they had that level of comfort between them. He tapped his fingers restlessly against his coffee mug, fighting the strands of guilt wrapping around his soul. Holding back the whole truth might cause problems in the long run, but he couldn’t start out with Tim knowing everything about his past, they were too new in this relationship.

Tim nodded. “I won’t join a pack until I find my brother. He’s the only family I have left. I just hope he’s still alive.”

The wistful longing in Tim’s voice tugged at Oliver’s heartstrings. Wolves were loyal; he had always known that. Oliver didn’t think he would have put his entire life on hold for any relative of his. Of course most of them were assholes.

“We’ll find him.” Oliver would use his own contacts if he needed to, even if it blew his cover. “Who paid for your hospital stay?”

“Whoever dumped me at the hospital must’ve thought I was either dead or too injured to heal. I was told I started breathing again in the morgue. The doctors were surprised I didn’t suffer brain damage. A really great nurse used some sort of special grant to pay for my hospital stay. When I got my settlement, I paid them back so the next person would be covered. I have enough money that neither of us has to ever work again. You could quit your job if you’d like,” Tim offered.

“I have enough money. I just enjoy working.” Most of the time. One day soon he would tell Tim about his hidden funds. Squirreled away in dozens of off-shore accounts were millions of dollars in Oliver’s rainy-day funds. If needed, he would spend every penny he had to help Tim find his brother. Oliver searched his mind for the source of these new feelings. The mate bond must be affecting him. He didn’t know how he felt about that.

“If you ever decide to quit, at least we’ll have enough money between us.” Tim hugged Oliver.

“I’ll keep that in mind.” He inhaled his mate’s scent. Tim smelled of a midnight forest, green things and cool mist.

Tim’s generosity melted any possible objection to their surprise mating. He might have preferred a slow courtship and getting to know his future life partner over time, but this sweet shifter with a troubled past had snuck beneath Oliver’s normally strong defenses. Finding room in his life for a warm-hearted shifter longing for a family wouldn’t be a hardship. A little life rearranging would fix a lot of things. As mates Oliver had to make sure Tim had everything he needed to be happy. Between them they had monetary strength. Now they only had to work in the emotional.

“Anthony is always going on about how he wants his people to have a good work/life balance. I can probably work part-time if I want. He can always call me in for the warding part as needed. If you want us to spend more time together, I could go freelance.” Spending his free time with Tim instead of at the office sounded like a much better use of his life.

“Good. I don’t like the idea of you slaving away under someone else’s direction. You are mine,” Tim growled. His possessive tone would’ve annoyed Oliver coming from anyone else.

“I know a few other warders I can have him contract with if he needs more help. I only do it because he has so much going on.” And Oliver had been trying to determine if Anthony needed killing. Information he didn’t plan to share with his mate. Tim had enough worries without learning of Oliver’s past. A past he was going bury so deep even the mafia wouldn’t be able to find the body.

“What will your family think about you taking up with a shifter?” Tim’s forehead creased in a worried frown.

Memories of his father beating him when Oliver picked the wrong fork at a formal dinner flashed through his head. “I don’t know. I ran away when I was in my teens.”

Tim squeezed him tight. “You poor thing. At least I had my brother.”

Oliver patted Tim’s back. “Ease up,” he gasped.

“Oh, sorry.” Tim pressed a kiss on the top of Oliver’s head before releasing him.

Oliver stepped back, avoiding Tim’s probing gaze. “It was a long time ago.” He didn’t try to explain to Tim the true evil of his family. He’d left them in his past and he had no intention of revisiting them.

“Do you miss them?”

“No.” It was difficult to explain to someone when he couldn’t understand it himself. He still didn’t know why they even bothered to have a child. Luckily he had kept tabs on them to make sure they never had another. “My parents weren’t what you would call nurturing. My mother is very self-centered and my father has always been more interested in his stock reports than his only child. I pretty much raised myself. I learned early on that drawing attention to myself wasn’t a good thing.” Oliver didn’t even try to keep the bitterness out of his voice. The scars from his childhood had never truly healed, and he still had moments of insecurity. There weren’t enough psychologists in the world to develop a positive, functioning adult from the dregs of his childhood, even though a few had tried.

“I’m sorry.”

Tim wrapped his arms around Oliver and hugged him tight. Oliver soaked up the attention. He didn’t dare call it love at this point, but it was at least affection.

He leaned his head against Tim’s strong shoulder, and barely reached Tim’s chin. “I didn’t realize shifters were so touchy-feely,” he mumbled.

“Some more than others.”

Oliver had received more affection in the past hour than he could remember receiving in all the years before. A sad commentary on his emotional well-being. “I could get used to this,” he said again, not bothering to lift his head from its comfy spot.

“Hugging?” Tim’s voice rumbled in his chest, resonating beneath Oliver’s ear.

He snuggled in closer. “Affection.” The wolf shifter was free with his emotions, putting them out there for Oliver to accept or not with a breathless lack of self-consciousness.

“My parents died when I was young, and my big brother raised me even though he was only a few years older. Henry always made sure that I knew I was loved. I made the alpha that hurt us regret every injury we got in those pits.” The feral satisfaction in Tim’s voice made Oliver smile. His mate wasn’t all kindness and sunshine. Good. Oliver didn’t know if he could handle someone completely happy all the time.

“I’m glad you had your brother. We’ll find him again.” Oliver banished the useless wish that he’d had a sibling of any kind to run away with. Someone his own age would have made the trials of his life much easier to bear.

Tim stepped away from Oliver and picked up his coffee cup. “I know we will. Until then we have each other. You’re part of my new family.”

Oliver smiled. He could honestly say he’d never had anyone who treated him like real family.

“What’s your last name again?” Tim asked.

Oliver almost told him before he caught himself and pulled away to look Tim in the eyes. “You can’t go attack my parents.” He picked up his own coffee cup and flashed Tim a mocking glare.

“You were scarier before your coffee,” Tim said, not bothering to deny Oliver’s accusation. “I was only going to maul them a little bit. Family should love you no matter what.”

“They should, but sometimes they just don’t. If you went after them and they didn’t die, they would have you thrown in jail. They’re rich and powerful and have the morals of a loan shark. They would think nothing of having you destroyed. Better to ignore them and enjoy our life together. Isn’t that what they say is the best revenge?” He refused to let his mate put himself into danger for a pointless revenge. He had long ago come to understand some people weren’t worth the trouble of a good mauling.

“Despite everything, you still turned out okay.” Tim kissed Oliver’s cheek before reaching behind him and pouring another cup of coffee. “Besides I appreciate a man who has an extra-large coffee carafe.”

Oliver laughed, defusing the tension from their conversation. “What about our living situation? Do you want to stay here, or do you have a place? His mind raced over all the things that would be changing in his life. If he thought too long about everything he needed to do, his brain would short-circuit.

“We should look for a place close to the forest. I need room to let my wolf roam.”

Oliver nodded. “We can house hunt next weekend.” This week was already filling up with unexpected tasks.

May Moon Pack Madness – Needing Noel!

Amazon | B&N | Universal

Noel Thistleborn had thought his life had ended when he lost his mate and daughter. Left with nothing but a broken heart he accepted the job as the king’s assistant to give his life new meaning. When King Kylen insisted Noel attend the dragon shifter ball he had no idea his life was about to change.

Hartmut was tired of watching his best friend cuddle with his two mates. He wasn’t greedy he’d take a single partner. In fact his greatest worry was having to deal with a fae double mating.

When the pair meets Noel doesn’t exactly greet the dragon shifter with open arms. Still traumatized by his loss, Noel is hesitant to put his heart out there again. However Hart wins him over and the pair agrees to dinner.

An old enemy comes forward and Noel will need the strength of his dragon mate to help him through.

Chapter One

“What are you wearing to the ball?”

Waylen Sorn leaned against the buffet table ignoring Noel Thistleborn’s attempts to set things to rights.

Noel flicked the corner of the tablecloth, determined to straighten out the stubborn wrinkle. He didn’t turn to face his friend when he responded. There were too many words he didn’t want to say, and Waylen knew him well enough to know when he was hiding something.

“You could help me instead of getting in the way.”

Way snorted. “I’m a guard, not a party organizer. I’d only mess things up. Besides, you hate it when anyone fusses with your plans.”

Noel wished he could argue, but his friend made a good point. Drunken bacchanals were more civilized than Way’s parties and the promised dragon-mating ball had to be perfect. Once King Kylen promised to help match the dragon shifters, he’d put his reputation at risk. After the issues with the coronation ball, Kylen had promised the dragons their own separate mating party. A poor showing would reflect badly on the king. Noel had to make sure nothing went wrong. He took his position as the king’s secretary seriously. He’d worked hard to earn the king’s trust, and he wouldn’t let Kylen down.

Way cleared his throat. “Don’t think ignoring me will make me leave. I’m more stubborn than you are. Now, what are you wearing?”

“Don’t you have guard duty right now?” Noel turned to face his friend. The offensive wouldn’t last for long. Way didn’t give up easily.

Way shook his head. “Good try, but I’ve got an hour before my shift starts. You can’t get rid of me that easily. What are you wearing? It’s not a complicated question.”

“Why, so we can wear matching outfits?” Noel raised his right eyebrow. “I’m. Not. Going.” He enunciated each word in a sharp, precise tone so there could be no mistake. For once, he wouldn’t let anyone change his mind. He didn’t need a mate. He’d already lost one; to lose a second mate would be too much. His plans included a bottle of wine and a secluded corner. If he hid well enough, the king would never know he didn’t attend.

“You have to go.” Way moved to block Noel from adjusting the already perfectly positioned silverware, putting his body between the table and the door. “Your second mate might be there. Don’t you want to find him? I’d give anything to locate even one of my mates.” Way’s wistful tone stabbed Noel with bittersweet memories.

Once, he’d been that optimistic soul, eager to find his life partners. Noel’s eyes filled with tears over that bit of innocence lost, but he refused to let them fall. He’d cried enough for sixty lifetimes.

“I just can’t go through that again, Way. I just can’t.” The pain he’d endured at the death of Paryis had almost killed him. It would have destroyed him if Way hadn’t found him before he bled out.

Despite the hardiness of the fae, slitting his wrists had almost worked. He would’ve died if Way hadn’t found him and used his minimal healing skills to close up Noel’s cuts. Some days, he still resented his friend for it. He’d really wanted to join Paryis and their daughter Sansha in the afterlife. What did he have to live for?

 “Fuck. I’m an unfeeling bastard.” Way wrapped his arms around Noel and squeezed him tight. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to bring up bad memories.”

For once, Noel let his friend soothe him. Nothing would take away the hole in his heart and even a second mate wouldn’t ease the pain. Nothing could. Some sorrows didn’t fade away with time or distance. They festered and grew like an open wound across his soul.

Noel pulled free of Way, then turned back to the linens. There were a million details to organize for the party, and he couldn’t afford any slipups. King Kylen still hadn’t quite forgiven Noel for saying Kylen could replace his wolf mate, Farro, with a pair of fae. It had been a foolish statement and one he regretted, but he couldn’t take it back. Hurtful words couldn’t be sucked back into the bottle like a genie once spoken.

“I’m not going to the party,” Noel repeated as he counted out the correct amount of linens for the buffet. Searching for a second mate didn’t appeal to him in the slightest. Maybe if he repeated it enough times he’d come to believe it as truth. Noel gave the tablecloth a vicious twitch.

“How can you not go? If nothing else, you can get laid. You don’t have to seek out a mate bond. Hot sex with a gorgeous dragon shifter can be good too. I hear shifters are amazing lovers.”

Noel blushed. He made a shooing motion at Way, hoping his friend would take the hint. “I’m fine. Go and enjoy the party. I’ll be too busy organizing it anyway.”

Noel closed his eyes and struggled to find his calm. Sex with a dragon shifter did sound good. He missed another man’s touch. But giving himself to someone other than his mate felt too much like a betrayal of his dead lover. Noel grabbed a napkin and focused his energy on the wrinkles in the fabric instead of on Way.

“I’m sorry, Noel, but you have to attend the mating ball. I gave my word to the dragons that anyone not bonded would attend,” King Kylen said.

Noel spun around. He hadn’t noticed Kylen entering during his conversation with Way. The king pinned Noel with his powerful gaze. Even though Noel had been friends with Kylen for years, he could still get Noel to spill all his secrets with one pointed look. He stepped closer to Way as if one small step could hide him from the king’s disapproval.

Damn.

He revised his evening plans. The dragons were powerful allies, and the king needed all the support he could gather, especially since he’d recruited many of the dragon shifters to be part of his new security force.

The light and dark fae hadn’t quite come together in beautiful harmony since King Kylen’s rule. Too many years of animosity lay between the two factions to make combining the two kingdoms a smooth process. Kylen needed the dragons as much as they wanted the fae.

Noel twisted the napkin, strangling it into a crease-filled knot. “I-I don’t want a mate.”

Kylen narrowed his eyes. “What do you have against mates?”

“I lost my mate many years ago. He died along with our daughter.”

“You never said anything.” The pained expression on Kylen’s face had Noel rushing to explain.

“Because when I left the light fae kingdom and came here I was trying to leave it all behind me.” Talking about his loss made it more real somehow. Even discussing their death years later stabbed tiny arrows of agony into Noel’s heart.

Kylen examined him with sad eyes. “When I left Farro, it tore me apart, and I knew he was safe and sound at home. I can’t imagine what you went through over the death of your family. However, I did promise the dragons every unmatched fae would be there. I don’t care how long you stay, but you need to show up even if it’s only to have one drink then leave.”

Noel rubbed the spot over his heart. “I don’t think I can survive that kind of loss again,” he choked out.

Way wrapped a sympathetic arm around him. Despite brushing his friend away earlier, Noel sank into Way’s embrace. There were few people he considered close enough to show his vulnerability to.

King Kylen sighed. “Did you ever consider that if you didn’t have another mate you wouldn’t have survived the death of your first one?”

Noel shivered at Kylen’s words. Why hadn’t that idea ever occurred to him? He’d always been too focused on the mate he lost instead of the mate he might meet one day. “I’ll come. I can’t promise anything, though.”

“Fair enough.” Kylen squeezed Noel’s shoulder on his way out of the room. The king had a packed schedule for the rest of the day. Noel should know, he set it. A tear dripped down Noel’s face. He wiped away the moisture with the napkin in his hand, then stuffed it into his pocket.

“We’ll get you through this and into a hot dragon shifter’s arms.” Way squeezed Noel before releasing him.

“Thanks, Way. I’ll be fine.” He’d get through this one night, then go lick his wounds.

“I’ll see you later. Send for me if you need wardrobe advice.” Way laughed on his way out the door.

Brutally shoving his memories back into the box they belonged in, Noel returned to counting silverware. He could’ve handed the job over to one of the many palace workers, but today he needed a mindless task to calm his nerves. Maybe it wouldn’t be too bad. He definitely wasn’t as flashy as some of his fellow fae. The dragons might not even notice his presence.

He could only hope.

May Moon Pack Madness – Marking Mikel

Amazon | B&N | Universal

Inno loved his vampire mate but something had been bothering Mikel lately. Something he hasn’t shared with Inno. When his sister Claudia calls him over he learns there was more to his abduction than he first thought. Unable to stand the betrayal he walks away broken-hearted.

Mikel can’t understand why Inno hasn’t claimed him. Didn’t Inno’s wolf want Mikel as his own? Unwilling to upset his mate Mikel doesn’t know how to fix the problem. Outside forces work to keep them apart but in the end it’s all about whether or not Inno is willing to mark Mikel.

Chapter One

Anthony floated through his dream, drifting from scene to scene, his feet never touching the ground. Wind whipped past him and brought with it a foul odor. Anthony gagged. What was that? What could possibly create that horrible combination of rotten eggs and raw sewage, and since when did he have the ability to smell in his dreams? He hoped this new gift was refundable.

“Do you understand now?” A deep voice boomed through the air, resonating through Anthony’s body and threatening to shake him from the sky.

“Understand what?” What could he possibly discern from stinky air? The smell didn’t bring with it any wisdom or answer any questions over the identity of his mysterious visitor. Was this the person his grandfather Zeus had warned him about?

Anthony might be strong against wolves and mutants, but he was nothing against a god. He hadn’t come into his godhead yet, and according to Zeus, he wouldn’t for many more years.

“How little control you have. I could crush you like a gnat in the palm of my hand. Puny half-fae have no resistance against the power of a god.” The disdainful tone did little to allay Anthony’s fear. Whoever had pulled Anthony into this dream didn’t like him much.

Clenching his fists, Anthony dug his fingernails into his palms and took slow breaths out of his mouth, almost choking on the taste of the polluted air now coating his tongue. Enemies could smell fear. He’d learned that from his wolf mate, Silver. Patience would serve him better than confrontation. The other being’s malice twisted through the air, heavy and foreboding, a dark cloud of hatred. Whoever was doing this—controlling Anthony’s dream—wanted him frightened and intimidated.

A stream of dark smoke circled before him in sinuous circles. Anthony tried to focus and gather his energy, but his magic didn’t respond. He scanned his surroundings, struggling to see anything through the fog. If he escaped this unharmed, he needed to be able to collect as many details as possible in order to identify this new enemy. Did the cold, smelly but essentially empty background reveal the intruder’s true nature? Was his opponent as soulless as Anthony’s environment?

“Your magic has no place here. This is my world.” The deep voice continued to taunt Anthony. “You are powerless, favored one.”

“Favored?” He suppressed a hysterical giggle at the ridiculously dramatic setting, even as the scorn in the invisible speaker’s voice when he said favored sent warning bells through him. Someone knew Zeus’s plans for Anthony, and he wasn’t happy. Unfortunately, identifying his opponent was like trying to assemble a jigsaw puzzle from a destroyed box while missing half the pieces.

“Are we related?” Anthony asked, hoping to get more of a clue. Who was this? Who hated him so much he took over Anthony’s dreams?

“Zeus has chosen poorly to grant a mere witch-fae godlike powers. What he sees in you I’ll never understand. You are not worthy.” An almost tangible malice filled the air.

Anthony relaxed a bit. This braggart appeared to want to flaunt his superiority more than harm Anthony. Not many beings were powerful enough to invade dreams, of course that also meant the guy was probably related to Anthony’s father and not his mother. Sometimes having a direct relation to Zeus didn’t turn out to be the awesome genetic funfest it should have been.

Smoke swirled in the air around him until it formed the shape of a man. Red eyes glowed at Anthony. “Do you deny our connection? Saying I don’t exist doesn’t make it so.”

Anthony examined his words before spoke them. “I don’t know who you are. I have lots of relatives I’ve never met.” Zeus wasn’t known for his faithfulness or his discernment. Anthony had no doubt hundreds, maybe thousands, of unknown relatives lived out in the world.

A low, menacing laugh filled the air. “Don’t worry, I’m working on narrowing them down. You’ll be happy to know I’m going to save you for last. I want you to anticipate your death, dear Anthony. Zeus knows I’m coming, and it will destroy him when I finally kill you.” The satisfaction oozing from the stranger’s voice told Anthony the deep hatred this being held for Zeus.

“What’s your name?” Anthony asked, hoping to identify his tormentor. He couldn’t mount a proper defense until he knew his adversary. He doubted a pack of wolves would be enough to handle this threat. He might have to call in reinforcements.

“I am the death that stalks you and your unnatural offspring. Did you think no one would care that Zeus loves you over the more deserving? For no one else did he insist on providing an heir. My own child died, and Zeus did nothing to help. You lose a mere lover and the heavens thundered from your despair.”

Anger burned through Anthony as only one phrase stuck in his head above all others. “I’m sorry for your loss, but touch my son or anyone in my family and I will destroy you.”

Anthony’s version of family encompassed his son, alpha mate, and an ever-expanding werewolf pack, each and every member he’d kill or die for.

“You can’t harm me, child.” Wide-eyed, Anthony watched as smoke turned into flesh. The man floating before him resembled Anthony’s father. His appearance close enough to send chills down Anthony’s spine.

“Why not?”

His grin jolted Anthony with a spike of fear. “Because I am your destiny.” He lifted his hands. Energy crackled from his fingertips seconds before a bolt of lightning shot through his palms and slammed into Anthony.

Screaming, Anthony jerked up in bed. His eyes blinded by the flash.

“Shh, I’ve got you.” Silver’s familiar voice eased his terror, but didn’t erase Anthony’s memory.

Silver wrapped his strong, warm arms around Anthony, holding him safe. Anthony’s heart stuttered in his chest, a panicked unfamiliar beat. He’d been afraid before, but never to this level of terror.

Only the soothing voice and touch of his mate grounded him back to this world.

“He’s coming,” Anthony whispered, the sound so soft and broken it should’ve belonged to someone else.

“Who’s coming?” Silver pressed a kiss to Anthony’s forehead. “Shh, it was just a dream. Nothing to worry about. No one is going to hurt you.”

If only that were true.

Anthony scooted closer, seeking Silver’s comforting heat and breathing in the familiar scent of home. He pressed his cheek against Silver’s naked chest, trying to ease his terror through osmosis.

“One of Zeus’s offspring is after me. I don’t know his name, but that wasn’t a regular dream.”

Anthony’s vision cleared, and the room snapped into focus. He tilted his head in time to catch the worried expression flashing across Silver’s face.

“Who?” Silver asked.

“I don’t know.” He struggled to remember any detail, but not once did the intruder mention his name. “He could be any one of hundreds of people. Grandfather gets around.”

Silver sighed. “I’m usually the last person to say this, but I think you need to call Zeus.”

Anthony shuddered. He loved Zeus, but interactions with his grandfather were never easy. The god attached strings to any request, and Anthony didn’t wish to owe him any favors.

“He threatened Trin.”

Out of everything, that one threat had been the worst in Anthony’s mind. He’d send Trin to live with the fae before he allowed this psycho to get any closer to his son.

Silver’s eyes glowed with a feral light, his inner animal surging forward, seeking to destroy any danger. The wolf would defend their young to the death.

“We will hunt him and show him the error of his ways.” Silver’s voice took on a low growl, the beast eager to snap at its enemy.

“He’s stronger than me.” Anthony bowed his head at the confession. He’d never much cared about his magic except to use it for the safety of the pack. Now he couldn’t even protect the ones he loved, a difficult truth to swallow.

“What? How is that possible? I thought your magic was growing?” Alarm colored Silver’s voice, and his beautiful eyes darkened.

Anthony sighed. “It is, but not enough. To you and the pack, I’m strong, but among gods and demi-gods I’m like a gnat they can squish between their fingers.” The man who took over his dreams made sure Anthony knew his inadequacies.

Silver grabbed Anthony’s chin between his fingers. “You are not a gnat, my sweet mate. You are my world.”

Silver’s endorsement only shoved the knife of despair that much deeper into Anthony’s heart. “As sweet as that is, I still need to figure out who is after us.”

“Whoever it is, we will face him together.” His growl added a deeper timber to Silver’s voice as if the wolf half wished to burst out and take down their enemy.

Anthony blinked back his tears. He didn’t have time to wallow in self-defeating doubt. He refused to let anything happen to his son. Resolve filled him, and with it determination.

“I’ll call Zeus.”

“No need. I am here.” The god’s deep voice boomed off the walls while lightning electrified the air and spread the scent of ozone.

Silver sneezed.

“Someone is killing your children.” Anthony didn’t try to sugarcoat the issue. His grandfather must have known something was wrong if he had appeared so fast with the mere mention of his name. “What do you know?”

The god solidified a few feet from their bed. Zeus pulled a chair from along the wall and settled it next to Anthony’s side of the bed. “I thought you’d be safe. I’ve warned your father about him, and he said he’d watch out for you.”

“I doubt Father expected me to be attacked in my dreams.” Anthony swallowed as his throat dried up at the memory. “The guy said he’d kill Trin and me. He said nothing about Dad.”

The lines deepened on Zeus’s face. “I’ve made my fondness of you too obvious. Some of the others have become jealous. I didn’t think they would come after you directly. I figured they’d bitch some, then go back to their regular lives. My warning to stay away from you should’ve been enough. Someone is challenging my rule.”

“Who?” Anthony couldn’t imagine anyone strong enough to challenge the leader of the gods, but he’d never been a power-hungry psycho either.

“I don’t know. I will figure it out, but you need to make a decision.”

Anthony froze beneath Zeus’s intense gaze.

“What kind of decision? I won’t leave my family.” His stomach churned as he worried about what his grandfather might say. He couldn’t abandon his loved ones even to keep them safe. Not again. Never again.

“I’ve always said you would eventually come into your godhead. You can choose to accept all your powers now and protect your family or…”

Zeus paused.

“Or what?” Silver prodded.

“You can prepare to die.” Zeus tossed something at Anthony.

He instinctively caught it. A silver orb the size of a baseball glowed a swirling orange in his hand.

“When you decide what you want to do, think of me and smash the ball. It will trigger your godhead. I will come and teach you how to control the magic. Make your decision and make it soon.” Zeus vanished.

“Fuck,” Anthony cursed. He almost threw the ball from his anger, but Silver grabbed his wrist in time. “Some choice.”

Anthony didn’t want to be a god. Hell, he barely had a handle on his powers now. Depressed, he lay down beside his mate and spun the ball between his fingers.

“We will figure this out,” Silver vowed. “I won’t let anyone hurt you, or our son. We’ve fought too long to let some asshole god-wannabe take anything from us.”

Anthony sighed. Exhaustion seeped into his bones. “I’m tired of fighting.”

There, he’d said it. Peace and a little boredom would be welcome companions.

Silver rubbed Anthony’s arm. “I know. I’d love it if everyone would just leave us the fuck alone.”

Anthony nodded. “That would be amazing. I wish I’d dream about that instead of psycho assholes.”

“We’ll figure this out.” Silver stroked Anthony’s head.

Become a god or die. There was little choice.