Archive for the ‘Shifter’ Category
Eostre’s Baskets: Stacking the Deck
Bounty hunter and dragon shifter Dean returns home hoping to spend some time with his office manager and new mate Carrie. What he gets is confusion. Hes confronted with communication and connection issues. He feels attacked and backed into a corner with no direction to go in. To find a place to start he turns to Sundaes Adult Easter Baskets hoping that this will give him a handhold to grip as he tries to break through the walls both of them have erected due to their pasts.
Carrie has missed her mate but cant take the lack of communication she feels when hes on the job. For the longest time shes been alone. Now that she has a mate she wants to feel that connection to another person. She doesnt know why Dean holds himself back from her, both on the road and while at home. She needs him to be present and here, to open up to her. But if she pushes too hard she could lose him forever. Can Sundae’s keep it’s sexily ever after guarantee?
“I’ve missed you, minx,” he murmured against her neck.
She shivered under him. He ran his hands up and down her back, absorbing the feel of her damp, silken skin. It felt like forever since he’d touched her, kissed her. She took his lips in a slow, hungry kiss that blew his mind. His thoughts scattered as she sucked on his tongue once more with shallow pulls before taking it farther into her mouth. His dick jerked as more droplets of precum slipped over the cap and down the side. She reached between them and took hold of his cock. He moaned and thrust his hips upward. Electric sparks burst in his blood as the fire swirled within, hotter, molten.
He pulled his head away with moan. “Amore, please.”
You Gotta Read This:
“Dean and Carrie make a great couple. The love that they share is evident in all that they do. It was nice to watch the two try to find a way to connect with each other. Both have gone through so much in their lives. Watching them fight for their happy ever after makes for a great read. As hot as this story is it also gives readers a beautiful love story. We get to see two wonderful characters look and fight for a love that only comes once in a lifetime. This fast paced story grabbed my attention right from the start and did not let go until the very end.”- Gabrielle
Rating: You Need to Read This
New Review: Stacking the Deck
He drew in a deep breath and blew it out. I’ll make that hurt go away. Just have to get you calm first. He knew the perfect way to distract her from her personal discomfort. They needed to reconnect on more than just a physical level before dealing with the emotional quagmire that seemed to be brewing within her.
He opened up his e-mail and began to click through, clearing spam before he clicked on his inbox. He glanced over job offers and new hunting tips from friends. He clicked on a subject line from his friend and fellow bounty hunter, Jesse, whom he’d seen on his hunt for the rogue werewolf.
“I remember you saying you wanted something special for Carrie for Easter. Got this site from a friend of a friend who used it. Highly recommended. Sundae’s Adult Easter Baskets. Have fun if you know what I mean. Lucky bastard.
Look me up the next time you’re in Detroit. Will hook you up with some new flamethrowers that I’m working on.”
The link was embedded in the name of the business. He clicked on it and was brought to a simple site with a few questions. He took each one into account and answered to the best of his knowledge. He only hoped that whatever they got would help them. This was a start. Dean wanted to show Carrie in some way he was on her side. He might not be able to go into all the shit that he kept inside, but pleasing her in bed…that he understood and knew.
Review: “Short, direct, jumps right into the story. This is all about Dean and Carrie and their fairly new relationship. The author made you feel for them and the emotional issues they were going through.”- Missy B
Review Link: http://heartsonfirereviews.com/?p=27643
Allie Jenson has drifted from one pack to another, ever since her family died. She thinks she might have finally found a home with the Ashton Grove pack, but her life is not easy. She has a job she hates, and none of the males want her for more than sex – not that she’s giving it up. When were-tiger Cain Boudreaux takes it upon himself to “save” her from a handsy customer, by claiming her in front of their packmates no less, things get a little out of hand. He’s rude, chauvinistic, and totally not her type. Well, maybe he’s not completely not her type. He does have that tall, dark, and sexy thing going on. And that Cajun accent slides across her skin like warm silk. But what in the heck is she going to do with a man who thinks her place is barefoot and in the kitchen?
Thank you for stopping by, Cain. Would you take a moment to tell us a little about yourself?
I’m from the great state of Louisiana – gator country. Must say, there’s nothing tastier than a gator-kabob. Just thinking about it makes me miss Momma’s cooking. I have one sister, who is mated with cubs. Both of my parents are still living in the same house where I grew up. When I heard the call for assistance in Ashton Grove, I was all too happy to help. It was time for me to move on and try to find my mate.
Can you tell us about your friends or love interests within the pack?
I’ve dated a little bit, but nothing serious. Tiger’s a little different from wolves. There’s an instant connection between us and our mates, as if we’re struck my lightning when we see them the first time. I’ve got my eye on an obstinate woman who loves to argue with me.
My newest friend in the pack is the angel Adriel. Of course, he’s not an angel now. Just plain ol’ human. Doesn’t seem to bother his mate Kinley though. Those two are so crazy about each other you seldom see one without the other.
Interesting. Can you tell us a little about this woman?
Allie is…different. She’s sassy and has the smartest mouth I’ve ever heard. She’s sarcastic and isn’t afraid to stand up to anyone. As much as her sassiness drives me nuts, it’s also kinda cute. One thing’s for sure, I’ve never met a more independent woman.
Sounds like she’d be quite a handful. Well, I hope things work out for you, Cain. Thank you for stopping by and chatting with me!
“You just claimed me in front of the pack, asshole.”
He glanced around and shrugged. “We’ll get it cleared up at the next pack meeting. I wasn’t going to stand back and watch that ass hat harass you. You’re welcome, by the way.”
“Ohhh,” she growled, stomping her foot. “You think you can just clear it up at the next get together? What about until then? You just declared me off limits to every guy I know.”
“You mean there were some you hadn’t dated yet?”
“I’ve gone out with exactly three wolves,” she said through gritted teeth. “That’s hardly the whole pack. Can you say the same? Weren’t you out with Jenny just the other day?”
“It wasn’t a date,” he said, taking a sip of his beer. “We were just hanging out – as friends.”
“Whatever. If I’ve lost my tip because of you, I’m charging you double for your beer.”
About the Author
Jessica lives in a world where warlocks, shapeshifters and fairies exist, and everyone deserves a happy ending — from tragic vampires finally finding love after centuries of being alone, to super hunky womanizing werewolves finding their destined mate –- it’s all in a day’s work.
Unable to find a werewolf of her very own, she decided to marry someone who thinks he’s one -– minus howling at the full moon, fleas, and a rousing game of chase-the-mailman. Okay, so he sometimes howls at the full moon.
When she isn’t writing, Jessica enjoys spending time with her family, reading (mostly romance), or going to the beach. She’s especially fond of bookstores and Starbucks!
You can find Jessica at these places:
Website – www.jessicacoultersmith.com
Blog – http://jessicacoultersmith.wordpress.com
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Jessica-Coulter-Smith/106513059928
Twitter – @kitcatjms
Bane of Her Desire by Kira Shayde
erotic romance, paranormal (shapeshifters), suspense
Passion and danger on the Serengeti.
When Holly Ainran’s brother goes AWOL from an elite military force in New Tanzania, she confronts Commander Bane Ojore, a rare gray lion shifter. Sparks ignite, but Holly finds a challenge in taming this brooding, hostile beast.
Bane does not expect the daughter of a high-ranking Parliamentary executive to be a smart, code-breaking expert, adamant about abolishing the lion caste hierarchy and ending the lion-hyena conflict. Nor would he expect such a stunning lioness to fall for him.
But Bane’s job is to find the traitors supplying weapons to the hyenas and all signs point to Holly’s brother. Holly won’t give up on her brother though…or Bane. As their passion escalates, so do the risks, the danger, and ultimately, their love.
It was a four-hour drive north to the Alpha Elite military base where the woodlands gave way to a mix of savanna and semiarid bush, and the city morphed into sparse villages. Holly parked her car outside the compound and walked through the open gate, surprised no one stopped her. Then again, the Alpha Elites weren’t a typical military operation.
She spied Commander Bane Ojore and could not stop staring. His tight white T-shirt highlighted his dark tan and provided a tantalizing showcase for his impressive biceps and chest. His fatigues did nothing to hide his heavily muscled thighs and rear, and when he raised his arms overhead to grab a pulley rope and ease a huge canister to the ground, his rippling back muscles made her mouth water.
She wiped the sweat trickling down the back of her neck, finding it difficult to catch her breath, the air stifling and dry. Yet perhaps it wasn’t the climate. She waited for Ojore to finish his job. When he did, he strode past her, ignoring her completely.
“Excuse me,” she called out, but if he heard her, he made no outward sign.
Holly exhaled in frustration and followed him to the command post building. She trudged across the uneven ground, slowing down when she tripped on an protruding tree root. At least she’d been smart enough to wear sneakers. She entered the building and was immediately assailed by the odor of sweat, leather, and gasoline. Nose wrinkling, she breathed through her mouth and followed the signs on the walls to the main office. The door was ajar, but she knocked to announce her presence. No response. She knocked again.
“Excuse me? Mr. Ojore?” She peered around the doorway.
He didn’t bother looking up at her. “What do you want, Miss Ainran?” he asked curtly.
She rocked on her feet, taken aback by both his demeanor and his question. “How do you know my name?”
“It’s my business to know everything that goes on here.”
“Yes, of course,” she replied. Perhaps he recognized her resemblance to her brother. She entered his office uninvited and took a seat. “That’s why I have come to you. I want to know what happened to my brother, Fix Ainran.”
Her composure faltered, and she shook her head to chase away the fears in her mind. “I want to know if you have any information about where he is.”
The Alpha Elite commander looked up and studied her. He was in full human form, his black, wavy hair longer than she would’ve expected for a military officer, much less a commander. There was an ethnic flavor to his dark, brooding features, although Holly couldn’t identify his mixed ancestry.
For a moment the expression on his face softened. Then he clasped his hands together, all business. “Unfortunately, Miss Ainran, I have nothing to tell you.”
Holly sucked in her cheeks. “I did not drive all this way to be told nothing.”
Bane Ojore’s dark eyes narrowed slightly. “I made it clear to your father on the phone that I had no further information about your brother’s whereabouts.” The man paused and glanced out the tiny window in his office. “Miss Ainran, we may never know what inner demons possess even those who are closest to us. Our work here in the colonies is extremely stressful and physically demanding. Some leave injured; some are evicted. Sadly, some are killed in action. And some believe the decision to leave should be on their own terms.”
“Something must have happened to my brother before he left, Mr. Ojore.”
“Yes, Commander. You must have some idea why Fix did not return.”
He refocused his gaze on her. “Is that important?”
“It is to me.”
“The week before your brother failed to report back,” Ojore began in a clipped tone, “we lost an entire squad during a hyena attack. Twelve men were killed or severely injured.”
She couldn’t begin to imagine how traumatizing such an ordeal would be for a soldier to witness. She wiped her brow, feeling the confines of the small office. “I’m deeply sorry, Commander, about the loss of your men. But are you implying my brother abandoned his obligation to the Alpha Elites and his family because he feared for his life?”
She squared her jaw, resolve strengthening her. “I know my brother. He’s seen death before. He’s faced death before. There has to be another reason Fix would have failed to report to you and has not reached out to his family or friends. You may have been able to sidestep this matter with my father, but you will not keep the truth from me.”
The commander leaned back in his chair, saying nothing, his piercing gaze intimidating, bordering on hostile. Growing uncomfortable with his attempt to unnerve her, Holly returned his stare defiantly to prove she was no pushover.
“I will look into the matter,” he said finally and rose to his feet. He peered down at her, his mouth compressed. “This is a treacherous area, Miss Ainran. You should not have come here alone. You are unmated.”
It wasn’t a question or worse, an accusation, but she sighed. She wasn’t ashamed of her unmated status, yet she knew most males found it odd due to her high caste.
“Yes,” she replied. Her lips nearly twisted into a sneer before she caught herself. As the daughter of a member of Parliament, she was schooled in proper decorum, even in situations where it was clearly not reciprocated. She laid her hands primly in her lap, taking a deep breath. “I am determined to choose my own mate rather than share an alpha male in a pride.”
He raised an eyebrow. “I did not require nor request an explanation.”
Well, isn’t he just full of himself? She pretended to brush a spot from her pants.
“An unmated female is a distraction to the young male lions here,” the commander continued, clasping his hands behind his back, “preventing them from doing their jobs.”
Obviously she should have thought of this before she visited the Alpha Elite compound. Again, she tempered her reaction.
Ojore rounded his desk, and Holly stole a sideways glance. Yowza. Granted, she hadn’t intended to check out the contours of his package. It certainly wasn’t appropriate, particularly considering the purpose of her visit, but his hips were directly at her eye level, and his fatigues were quite fitted. A brief image flashed in her mind of how that impressive girth would feel inside her, and her thighs pressed together involuntarily.
Heart pounding, Holly averted her eyes. Had she been staring outright? She peered up and found him regarding her, his lips curved in a bemused smile. So much for him not noticing.
Her first instinct was to bolt upright and make a hasty exit, but he blocked the path to the door. He stepped closer, fists on hips, which had the effect of tilting his pelvis forward, almost as if offering himself to her. Holly gripped the arms of her chair, her lion senses detecting his primal male scent. She had to fight the urge to rip off his pants and devour his cock whole.
Damn, she needed a boyfriend.
Loose Id http://www.loose-id.com/bane-of-her-desire.html (on sale now!)
AllRomance Ebooks https://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-baneofherdesire-1553429-340.html (a staff pick!)
About the Author
Kira enjoys studying love, sex, and relationships, and has a thing for Shifters (and devil’s food cake). As a romance writer, Kira explores somewhat atypical pairings and settings, and can’t help adding a twinge of societal awareness to her works. But the focus is always on the developing romance, hot sex, and happy endings. You won’t find any hard-core BDSM in Kira’s stories. She prefers her hero and heroine to share the power and share the love.
New reviews for Stacking the Deck OUT NOW from Loose Id
“The hesitancy in her voice pulled at his heartstrings. “I pick the place, some little bistro you’ve never been at, and we eat, and you give me a chance.” He prayed that she’d bite.
She fell silent. Time stopped as he waited for her to say something.
“I’ll think about it. Are you on your way home?” A wariness remained in her tone, but there was a bit of hope in there too.
“Yep. Just crossing the street to see what the other side has to offer, and I will head back. I’ll see you soon. Love you, minx.”
“Okay.” She hung up without saying good-bye.
Fuck, I’m screwed if she can’t even say she loves me.
He dashed across the street while there was a break in traffic. The sun was shining high in the sky, and fluffy blue clouds meandered on by. A perfect day to have a picnic even if there was a chill in the air. Maybe later on in the week, after we’ve talked it out, he thought. What he would say, he didn’t know. The distance between them was growing too fast for him to catch up, and he didn’t know how to get her to hear him and his words. He did love her; he just didn’t know how to let her in.
Frustration rose again. His dragon roared. He didn’t want to cut himself up just to make her happy. That wasn’t who he was. It wasn’t what hunters were capable of. Hunters couldn’t kill what they cared about, what they thought of as human or having a soul. Emotions had consequences; they could get you killed. Only being a stone-cold bastard could allow you to live. How could he love her so much and yet keep her out of his problems, his issues, his hunter life? He didn’t want to lose her. Fire swirled around his body in cutting ribbons that seared him to the bone. He wanted to punch something, kick the shit out of this problem, and beat it until it submitted to him, but he couldn’t. There was no one to hurt.”
Review from You Gotta Read This:
“ I enjoyed this story of reconnection. No matter how attracted Carrie is to Dean, she still longs for a stronger and more intimate connection. Yet it seems the more she pushed the farther apart the two become. As the two drift farther apart Dean searches for a way to find his connection to his mate again, of all people he cannot lose her. When a basket full of toys arrives Dean is ready to try anything including playing a special kind of game. One that will hopefully bring the two back together and find that connection that they are losing.”- Gabrielle
Rating: You Need Read This
Want to read the Entire Eostre’s Baskets Series? Click Here to check out it out.
Coming Jan. 15th!
It’s time for the Werewolf Summit and this year it’s taking place in Draven’s Crossing. It’s a huge headache for Vampire Mayor Draven, and Chief of Police Torger. With the issues they’re having with the Council and the fallout of the serial killings both men want things to go smoothly so Torger asks his brother, Urban, to make sure the meetings go well. But this is Draven’s Crossing; what can go wrong will. Bodies start to show up and a drug epidemic hits in the feline shifter community. Two things Urban doesn’t need. When his sometimes lover Nadia is thrown into the mix, things go from bad to worse. Not only is he trying to hide his feelings for the fickle feline shifter but she’s also trying to put some distance between them, and she’s keeping something from him. How can he concentrate on his job when things are getting too personal and Torger is breathing down his neck?
Nadia has finally shown up in Draven’s Crossing after being held for a “talk” with the head of the Feline Shifter Quorum, Zerik. Zerik wants her to go to Draven’s Crossing and figure out who’s making and distributing an addictive drug killing feline shifters and breaking up families. She thought she could get into town, find the culprits and blow out with no problem. Now she’s assigned to help her lover, Urban, with his werewolf problems. Her emotions for him are growing and for a woman who’s tried so hard not to form attachments, she fears her independent ways may have met their match. How can she keep her distance from the one man who could tear down her walls and stomp on her resistance?
Together they must stop the deaths, keep peace in the werewolf community and figure out where their relationship stands before everything is blown apart. Piece of cake, right? Not in Draven’s Crossing.
Urban stared at Nadia. Shock reverberated through his body as blood pooled in his groin and filled his cock whether he wanted it to or not. He studied his woman. There were dark smudges under her eyes; she looked wired with energy and yet ready to crash. With her head bowed, he felt as if he’d walked into one of the many private rooms that they’d used to act out scenes and fulfill their deepest fantasies. His traitorous dick jerked in response while his jeans became far too tight for comfort. He growled, turned on his heel, and strode out of the café before he could do something he’d regret, like taking her in his arms and kissing the life out of her or yanking down her jeans and spanking her in punishment for not telling him she was in town. He ignored the twinge in his heart at seeing her and fullness of emotion that weighed on his chest at the very knowledge that she was so close to him and yet still so distant.
He struggled to breathe past the lump in his throat as he took in the dark bags under her eyes and her usually glowing skin that had lost that healthy halo. She tucked a few strands of dark brown hair behind her ear. It was shorter than the last time he’d seen her but still fell to her shoulders in a thick curtain. She wore a tight T-shirt that stretched across her full chest and showed off her trim waist. The jeans she wore sat low and hugged her hips. She wore simple black boots that peeked out from under the flared hems. She wore no jewelry; her makeup was simple gloss, and there was nothing else to detract from her natural beauty. Ever since he’d told her she was perfect without all the artifice she’d stopped being heavy-handed with her mascara and blush, and her lips had gone from thickly put on to a light swipe of lip gloss. His fingers and palms tingled to touch her face, cup her cheek, and thread his fingers through her hair. His lips ached to feel the press of her mouth on his. The urge to press himself against her body and feel the softness of her curves melt into him tugged at his gut.
To distract himself from giving in to that urge, he threw a glance over at the table she’d left. Urban recognized a werewolf from Torger’s department; what he did and why she was meeting with him was not his concern, for now. He knew some ways to make her tell him why she was here and why she was having breakfast with that guy rather than fucking him senseless in his bed for the rest of the morning. Breakfast forgotten and his appetite gone, he walked as far from the café and parking lot as he could get and waited for her to follow him. He didn’t doubt she’d come after him, not in fear or worry but because, like him, she couldn’t not be near him. They were like magnets: they’d meet, connect, and then repel each other. He had to be patient.
It didn’t take her long to catch up to him, walking, not running at a quick clip.
“Urban,” she murmured in her contralto smoky voice that sent rivulets of desire pouring through him. Again his heart twinged, the rhythm speeding up as he absorbed her presence and allowed himself to savor the warmth of her nearness. Up close, she looked wearier than what he’d seen at a distance. His heart ached for her. He wanted to take her back to Torger’s cabin, curl up around her, and order her to sleep. Once she was rested, then he’d make love to her and punish her for not telling him she was in town. If she hadn’t known that he was in Draven’s Crossing that was one thing, but still, none of this discomfort or annoyance would be taking place if they’d communicated. He pushed back on that thought and knew that he wasn’t exactly as forthcoming about where he would be from day to day either. God, we’re so fucked up, he thought.
“Nadia,” he replied. His fingers itched to trace the curve of her cheek, feel the silkiness of her skin, and his body demanded that he connect the loop of electricity that sparked off her and press himself against her. His cock gave another jerk. He reached down and ground the heel of his palm into his erection to stop the sensations flitting along the stalk before he did something stupid and stripped her out of her clothes to slide into her silken heat. He gritted his teeth as the pain burst in his groin, only to fade and turn to a dull throb. She watched his movement without saying a word. Nadia shifted from one foot to the other but didn’t move away. Her tongue darted out to slicken her lips, bringing attention to her plump lower lip. With a groan, he shook his head and tried to refocus on the issue at hand: them being in the same city at the same time without calling each other. At least, that was his concern. There was a bigger issue at hand.
OUT NOW! Bachelor Auction: Mate Not Wanted
Letting Madison go unmated? Pierce won’t stand for it…
Lioness shifter Madison doesn’t want to be mated. So when her friends bid and win tiger shifter Pierce McKinney at the Bachelor Auction, she knows she’s screwed. Pierce is the one man who can get under her skin. Especially when she knows that sex with Pierce will burn hotter than the sun…
Pierce McKinney has been trying without luck to wear Madison down. So when her friends win him at a charity auction, he’s determined to win her for his own. He’ll give her what she needs and desires, and he’ll even bring in a friend to play to her fantasies. But Madison belongs to him, and only him. And he intends to show her that he plays for keeps. Even if she’s too stubborn to admit it. Because Pierce is too stubborn to let her walk away…
“No need to feel shy, love. Come on in. You look gorgeous, as usual.”
He reached down, grabbed her hand, and pulled her forward until she stopped just millimeters away from his body. Pierce bent down and brushed his lips against her cheek, sending a lick of fire down her spine. He moved his mouth over hers, which only ignited the flame in her body.
With a whimper, she pressed herself against him and rose on tiptoe to kiss him more fully. She sighed and opened her mouth, slipped her tongue out, and tracing a line along the seam between his lips. They parted to allow her tongue in for a deeper taste. A muffled groan was her reward. She felt his canines thicken and sharpen until they nearly drew blood when the brushed against her lips.
Madison wrapped her arms around Pierce’s neck and slipped a hand over his head, feeling the smoothness and heat of his skin against her palm. She could feel the hard planes of his body, even with the barrier of the silk shirt and wool pants he wore. She wanted to feel all that muscle and sinew against her body.
Her shoulder bite throbbed, and an insistent heat grew in the pit of her stomach. Her clit pulsed in time with her heartbeat, demanding attention. Her breasts ached for his touch. She groaned and lifted her leg to twine it around his. The pencil skirt she wore was too tight. She hated that she’d chosen to wear a waist cincher. It felt as if it weren’t allowing her take in enough air. Her blouse felt itchy and abraded her skin.
“Dinner is served.” Jessica brushed past the two of them. “Or are you two gonna keep letting in the flies and night air? I’m off to the movies. Enjoy!”
Rather than embarrassment, Madison felt amused. She gave Pierce another kiss and stepped back. Her stomach gave a growl and she gazed up at him.
“Time to eat.” She took his hand and led him into the house. “And then dessert.”
The Ultimate Shifter Challenge has started. Check out the contest and Vote and Check Out some Awesome Authors:
Holy Crackers, readers (and yes I said Holy Crackers), you’ve made Dragon Ugly a Bestseller on All Romance eBooks. It stared off at 44 and has climbed to 33! Thank You so much! I’m overwhelmed with emotion. I can only say Thank You. You all are awesome and you’re making my Birthday Month even better than I could’ve imagined. So here’s a peek at what you’ve been supporting and if you haven’t picked up the book yet, here’s a sneaky peek:
Series: Dragon New Year, Book 2
Title: Dragon Ugly
Excerpt Title: Brent wants a Mate
ISBN #: 9781939194473
Can a dragon shifter give more than just hot sex?
After Brent’s New Year’s fling with his friends Fletcher and Tor—and Tor’s mate Louisa—Brent is determined to find his own mate. His dragon wants him to find their mate, too, and if Brent doesn’t find a way to locate her soon, his dragon will take matters into his own talons. And that could spell trouble.
Wolf shifter Carissa has no desire to live up to her wild musician mother and artistic father’s vision of free love and sex parties. She’s buried her sexual desires and focused on building up her aromatherapy store, Scentify, no distractions allowed. Until she meets Brent. The sexy dragon shifter makes her burn with suppressed need. The only problem? His dragon wants Carissa, too. And pursuing the dominant dragon would be playing with fire.
Giving in to his dragon saps Brent of his focus and energy. Things are turning ugly—dragon ugly. How can he bond with his mate when his dragon only wants sex?
With a grin, he dove into the ice-cold water and felt the pleasant shock reverberate through his body. After a length underneath, his lungs began to burn from a need for oxygen. He swam up to the surface, taking in a lungful of sweet air. The dragon exhaled a cold breath, chilling his body further as the beast settled into its element.
The sun wasn’t high in the sky yet and there was no movement on the streets. The tourists had been living it up ever since they had arrived. Brent couldn’t keep up with all the events that were planned around town, and he didn’t even want to. There were beautiful women everywhere he looked, as if it were ladies night all the time. It was enough to put a smile on the lips of any man. But it just made Brent feel tired.
Now that he had adjusted to the water temperature, heat surged through Brent’s body, and he felt the dragon pushing him to shift. He dove under the surface again, as gills split along his neck in searing stripes of pain. Webs glued his fingers and toes together by thin membranes. He opened his eyes and took in the dark blue tiles and the bright white flooring of the pool. Oxygen flooded his lungs. He breathed in the chilly water and blew out bubbles. Flipping onto his back he gazed up at the shifting surface of the water. Beyond, the world moved in and out of focus. He saw a flock of birds fly overhead and the plants waving to and fro around the pool. Sounds were dampened under the water. It was peaceful.
He tried to let go of the tension and the stress that had been filling him lately, but it seemed that his dragon had something on its mind.
“When will we find our mate?” The dragon’s question surprised him. It whispered through his mind like scales brushing against the inside of his skull. He hadn’t even realized that his dragon had been looking for a mate.
“Are you looking for someone for now or forever?” he asked. The answer was important. He had to be sure this was what the dragon really wanted.
“Not temporary,” it whispered. “Always.”
Brent felt relief sweep through him. So that was it! But the relief was quickly followed by worry. They were still young in human years, not even twenty-five yet. He had a job, but he wasn’t even sure if he wanted to continue working at the Dragon’s Lair. His future seemed up in the air.
He tried to push away these thoughts and focus on what the dragon wanted: a mate. He thought of Tor and Louisa. Once they’d been mated at New Year, they had seemed to exist in their own little world, so cozy and close. Tor stayed over at her place practically every night unless she needed some alone time. A pang of envy burst in Brent’s stomach.
The more he thought about the idea of a mate, the more it appealed to him. Part of him wanted someone for himself. He wouldn’t be opposed to sharing with his friends from time-to-time, but when all was said and done, she would be all his. But another part of him was scared. What if there wasn’t anyone for them? What if she wasn’t out there? What would he do then? How would his dragon react to that? It had happened before—dragons searching the world over and not finding anyone. It was a sad and pitiful existence. Some thought it was punishment for past deeds, but Brent didn’t like to think that. Not even the coldest bastard deserved to be alone. Brent suddenly yearned to experience that first blush of love and contentment, to feel what it would be like to love and have that love returned.
“When?” The dragon pressed.
“I don’t know,” he told it. How should he go about finding her? A dragon matchmaker? A witch? Or should he rely on pure luck and fate?
“She’s here, in town,” the dragon pressed. “I can feel her.”
Brent almost changed back to his human form from shock. He hadn’t felt anything unusual, but then again his senses had been bombarded by so many things as of late. The fact that the dragon had been keeping this from him sent a wave of scalding heat through his body. The dragon had watched him fumble through one encounter after another, each less satisfying than the last. Why hadn’t it just told him it wanted a mate? “What do you mean?”
The dragon hissed out a cool stream of mist, interrupting his thoughts and pulling his focus back to the beast. “You must clear your senses. Use mine.”
Brent didn’t know how to open himself up to the dragon without undergoing a full shift. He felt his frustration mounting. The ability to share senses was supposed to be fluid and effortless, and yet it seemed to be all or nothing with his dragon.
“Stop. Let it go and relax. Think about our mate,” the dragon urged.
“Easy for you to say,” Brent muttered. How was he supposed to do that if he didn’t know anything about his mate?
He floated up to the surface and closed his eyes, letting the gentle lapping of the water center him. His limbs went limp and he sank down again, letting the soothing waters envelop him. Brent tried to picture his ideal woman, or at least an outline of her. A woman with curves, and a healthy appetite. A woman who was intelligent, strong, capable, independent, and full of respect for herself. Just thinking on those qualities made Brent’s heart ache. His frustration with his life grew as he thought of all that he yearned for. He missed having someone to spend time with, to cuddle with. He missed the basic human contact and comfort that he could find in a relationship. He wanted to be able to wake up with someone, make them breakfast, go out on dates, and spend the evenings talking about their days.
“Yes,” the dragon hissed. “Think on that.”
Brent’s body became buoyant, and once again he floated with ease.
Now he tells me, Brent thought. In his mind’s eye he could see the faint hint of clear, chocolate-brown skin, and light brown eyes. A cool breeze drifted over him, raising goose bumps. He inhaled deeply. The scent of the forest wafted past his nose. They were nowhere near the woods. With another pull of air, he got the scent of a million different perfumes, some herbal, some floral, and some spicy. Heat churned in his gut as his balls hardened. Arousal traced a fiery path along his spine. Shock reverberated through his system at the sudden onslaught of pure, unadulterated need. It had been a long time since he’d had a taste of real, honest-to-gods desire, and he didn’t even know who it was that his body wanted.
He tried to sense something of her personality beyond her multitude of scents. The imaginary woman imbued him with warmth and comfort, a coziness with the spice of sexual excitement that only increased his need for her. He felt his cock thicken, filling with blood as his body temperature spiked. Brent tried to push past the feeling and concentrate on locating the woman. It was one thing for the sexual chemistry to be there, but to be able to stay with someone, he would need to forge a real connection to her. With a mental shove, he tried to open himself up to her more, get more of a feel for who she was.
He hit a wall, hard, and bounced back. All sense of her vanished and the outline of her image wavered, then disappeared. He pushed again, trying to seek out that thread that connected them. He gritted his teeth as he tried to force himself past the wall. Brent pictured his energy like a large wave of water as it crashed against the solidity of her barriers again and again. He tried to reform the water’s shape to something sharper, like a sword or icicle, but again he was blocked.
Confusion turned to anger and determination. I’m going to get to you, he thought. You will be mine.