Flash Fic Friday, Serial

Flash Fic Friday

**Saturday Edition! I had an all day thing yesterday and it was boring and I would have rather spent some time on this, but alas, that was not to be. Instead, you get a Saturday version. We’re closing in on the end. I think there’s only 3 or 4 episodes left. (But don’t hold me to it). Also, be sure to check out the poll at the end of the post! In the mean time, here’s episode 15. Enjoy!!**

Walker was caught up at work, and since my schedule was a lot more flexible these days, he’d asked if I’d be willing to take Archer to his therapy appointment. I didn’t have a problem with it, so we ran it by Archer. For a long moment, the kid didn’t say anything, then he just turned and walked away. I was still shellshocked and feeling bad when Archer stuck his head back in the room.

“I gotta think about it.” Then he was gone again.

I appreciated the open communication, and also the fact that he was giving it serious thought instead of dismissing it immediately, or saying yes when he was actually uncomfortable with it. I was also glad he didn’t try to skip the appointment or insist on going by himself. He knew he needed to go if he was going to work through his trauma. And no one was comfortable with Archer venturing out on his own right now, even though it had been a couple of weeks since the abduction. Not even Archer.

We were all working on it.

Eventually, Archer came back and said he was okay with me taking him. He still wasn’t completely onboard with me dating his father, but he was getting better about that. Logically, he knew Walker and I were mates, and that was a good thing. But he’d had his father to himself for a long time, and it was understandable that it would take time for Archer to be okay with the change.

So I dropped Archer off with Anna, and then sat in the car waiting for him to be done. When he emerged a little over an hour later, his eyes were red-rimmed, but his shoulders weren’t as hunched. I didn’t push or pry. If and when Archer wanted to share or talk, I would absolutely listen. I’d made that clear. But just because Archer was a teenager didn’t give me the right to insist he share with me. He was his own person and entitled to work through things in his own way.

Oscar didn’t have any such boundaries, and he curled up in Archer’s lap immediately, purring loudly. It got a half-smile out of Archer.

“I think Oscar likes you more than he likes me,” I said, feigning the grumpiness. Oscar and I were bonded heart and soul, and nothing could replace that. I was glad he’d taken such a liking to Archer and Walker.

“Can we get ice cream before we go home?”

For all that Archer was fifteen, he was still a kid. And sometimes kids needed comfort foods to feel better. Hell, sometimes adults did too. I smiled, though I kept my eyes on the road. “Sure.”

After ice cream—where I had to admonish Archer to not share his cone with Oscar, unless the kid wanted to be the one to clean the litter box—we headed back home. Even thinking the word brought me up short. When had I started thinking of Walker’s little house as home? We’d only been together few a few weeks, and I definitely spent more time there than at my condo. Some of my things, and a whole bunch of Oscar’s, had migrated over there. Walker had even built Oscar a window shelf in the living room, where the sun came through the big picture window for a good portion of the day. It was cozy and comfortable. More than that, it was where Walker was, and that was where I wanted to be.

I filed that thought away, but not too far. I’d bring it up with Walker later, when the timing felt right. I didn’t just want to invite myself to move in, but I hated being away from him. And Archer too, for that matter. I was pretty sure Walker wouldn’t have a problem with it. He’d crawl inside me if he could. Simply because of his nature, the bond was stronger on his side. I still had human hang-ups I was trying to reconcile.

It certainly seemed as though I was making progress in that area if I was ready to uproot my life for him. For them.

“You’re being weird,” Archer said as I shut off the engine. He gathered up Oscar, clearly not ready to let the cat go, and pushed open his door.


“You got all quiet and, um, what’s the word. Introspective? Am I using that right?” Archer cocked his head, reminding me much more of his wolf side than his human one.

I cleared my throat. “Yeah. Uh, yeah, you’re using it right. But how is that weird? And how did you know?”

He tapped his nose, giving me a smirk. But then it fell away and he shrugged. “I dunno. You’re just—” He snapped his head up, going on instant alert. With speed I didn’t know he possessed, he was around the car and pushing me up against it, keeping his body between me and the world. If he’d been in wolf shape, I was sure his hackles would have been up. He hissed, “Someone’s here. Shifter.”

I lightly touched his back, letting him know I was right there. Oscar scrambled over Archer’s shoulder and leapt onto mine. I called magic to my fingertips, an undefined spell just keep it at the ready. I was prepared to surround us in a shield charm at the very least and use deadly force if I must.

Nothing was getting through me to Archer again.

Then a tall figure ambled around the side of the house, and though I didn’t release my magic, I did breathe more easily. Not that I was glad to see Fiona, but at least I knew my former partner was trustworthy. Why she was here, though, was another matter entirely. She appeared to be by herself, and a quick seeking spell didn’t turn up anyone else in the vicinity. But I couldn’t fathom why she was here.

But I had a scared and traumatized teenager to look out for, so I made my voice easy and light, even as my body thrummed with tension. “Archer, meet Agent Fiona Mathers. Fiona, this is Arch.” I purposefully used the nickname Walker sometimes used, wanting to convey more familiarity. I wanted her to know he was important to me.

Archer, though he tensed a little, leaned back into me. He was practically crushing me against the car—for all that he was a lot smaller, he was a shifter and had more strength then his frame belied—but I didn’t protest. He needed me, I was there.

“Nice to meet you,” Fiona said, not sounding like she meant it. Her gaze was fixed on me. “Stand down, Delaney.”

On the rare occasions Fiona used my first name, it was always the full version and never the shortened on my friends used. It spoke volumes about our relationship.

I let the magic go, but not far. It was no longer actively sparking at my fingertips, but it was just under the surface. Oscar didn’t relax either. He’d never liked Fiona all that much. Come to that, neither had I. She was an outstanding agent and we’d always worked well together, but personality-wise, we’d never meshed.

“Why don’t you tell me why you’re here,” I said, working to keep my tone conversational.

Fiona squinted. “Can we go inside instead of having the conversation out in the open?”

Archer went rigid, pushing against me even more. I suddenly found it hard to breathe, so I put my hand on his shoulder. But that made it very clear he did not want Fiona in the house, and of course I would abide that.

“No. Tell me what’s going on.”

She sighed like I was the most exasperating thing she’d ever dealt with. Maybe I was. I found I didn’t care. She could deal with this right here or another time and place. Or not at all. It didn’t matter that much to me. Archer was my top priority right now.

“Willis, I really think…” Another sigh and then she shook her head. “Fine. Whatever. I need your help.”

I blinked. Then blinked again. That was surprising. I took a breath, and then another, before I finally spoke. “With?”

Her scowl was epic. “A case. It’s stumped us all, we’re out of leads, and you’re the only one I can think of who can tackle this from another angle.”

For just a second, I was ready to leap in. If I was needed, then of course I’d help. But before the words made it out of my mouth, I paused.

“I’m not an investigative agent anymore.” If there was bitterness in my tone, it couldn’t be helped. “I work in archives now, remember?”

The snort Fiona let out was inelegant at best. “Bullshit. You’re one of the best we’ve got, and that doesn’t change just because you were shuffled down.” She took a few steps closer, and Archer gripped my pants leg. I moved my hand from his shoulder to his neck in an effort to soothe him.

“While I appreciate the compliment, it doesn’t change the fact that I’m not longer an investigator.”

Fiona’s voice was low when she responded. “But that can change if you help on this case. Do you want your old job back?”


New Release!

Crystal Clear is out in the world!

With everything going on, I missed actual release day. *hangs head in shame* But the sequel to The 12th Witch is out now. You can get it here from the publisher (with a discount!) or click here if another platform is your preferred method.

You definitely need to read The 12th Witch first, so if you haven’t gotten it yet, then I suggest you start there. But if you’re looking for continuing love, Samhain, and just a bit of drama, make sure you check this out!

Sequel to The 12th Witch

Justin Trews lucked out when he found Cole Demauro and the coven he’s joined. He’s still working through his trauma, but he now knows what it’s like to be supported and cared for. His magic is thriving, and so is he. And of course, dating Cole has proven to be the best part. The past three months have been the happiest of his life.

When the veil is the thinnest, Justin experiences Samhain as it is meant to be. It’s a far cry from how he celebrated in the past. With the coven gathered, he participates in the ritual to honor the dead and the end of the harvest season. His magic is full and so is his heart.

But when Justin’s past rears it’s ugly head, he’s faced with dealing with his family. Old hurts run deep and insecurities resurface. Its hard not to feel like a burden and an imposition. With his coven behind him, and Cole’s love buoying him up, Justin finds the strength not only to confront his family but to rely on his coven for help. And when the dust settles, Justin has taken great strides toward healing. Now Justin needs to show Cole just how much he loves him.

Flash Fic Friday, Serial

Flash Fic Friday

**Tomorrow, Crystal Clear releases. And if you read the post earlier in the week, you know there’s an Easter egg for serial readers. I thought I would do the reverse here. So catch up with Lane and Walker today, and Justin and Cole tomorrow. But for now, episode 14! Enjoy!**

I stared at my phone until the screen went dark, then woke it up again. The message hadn’t changed. And really, my coworker was taking a chance on sending it to me in the first place. Technically, the case wasn’t mine anymore and technically, I wasn’t privy to information in regards to it. She’d used code words to keep it sounding innocent, but it was clear what she meant. And though I kept my face neutral from long practice, I couldn’t help the emotions that roiled through me.

“What’s wrong?” Walker sat up. He’d been leaning against me, snuggled into my side, which had become his preferred position over the past week. I didn’t mind. At all. I loved having him there, warm and pliant against me.

“What?” I offered him a smile. “Nothing. Why?”

The face he made coaxed a chuckle out of me and went I reached for him, he came willingly. But he didn’t resume his previous snuggle position, though he did push in close.

“I smelled it. The…upset? Yeah, you smell upset. And your leg went tense. What’s wrong?” Walker’s eyes went wide. “I mean, if you want to tell me. I’m being nosy.”

This time, my smile was a lot more genuine. I cupped his cheek. “You aren’t being nosy. And I love that you care enough to ask, and that you can tell. I’m far too used to keeping emotions under wraps and keeping a professional demeanor at all times.”

Walker took that all in, his mind working. I could practically see the gears turning. After a long moment, he nodded. “So will you tell me?”

I let out a sigh. “I can’t give you all the details. But…” I took a moment to get my thoughts in order, figuring out exactly what I could say. “Part of my job is investigating complaints of misconduct. Was, I mean. It was my job. Before I was moved.”

Walker pushed into my arms, holding me tightly. For a split second, I thought about pulling away and insisting I was fine and that it was no big deal. But that was a lie. I wasn’t okay. I was still pissed about the way things had been handled. Angry that I’d been demoted. Sad that I couldn’t do the work I loved. So I just let Walker hold me and took comfort in the touch, the physical support he was giving me.

After a few minutes, I took a breath and pulled away. Not far, but just enough so that I could see his face. It was such a good face. Strong and angular, with the softest, most beautiful dark eyes I’d ever seen. It took me another minute to get my brain back on track. I could seriously get lost just staring at him.

“Anyway, one of the cases I was involved in that got reassigned…” I had to take another breath, so the bitterness didn’t come out in my voice. “The case came to ahead and has resolved. Fortunately, it was as satisfactory as can be. But the fact that I didn’t get to see it through…it rankles.”

Walker stroked my hair, and it took me a minute to realize he was petting me. I wasn’t complaining. It felt really nice.

“You don’t seem happy with your job. And maybe it’s not my place to say it yet. We’re barely us.” Walker pressed his forehead against my temple. “But I don’t like seeing you unhappy.”

Everything moved faster with Walker. It had from the moment I laid eyes on him. Even though I was still figuring out how to navigate my own feelings, I felt the sincerity pouring off him. And I was solid in the knowledge that for Walker, as a shifter, this level of attachment this quickly was absolutely normal. I knew I could trust that completely.

“I was happy.” My voice was soft and I closed my eyes. “I really liked my job and I was good at it. And maybe I bent the rules sometimes. But I did what was right and moral and—.”

Walker climbed into my lap, and he didn’t exactly fit, but neither of us cared. It was so good to just hold him. So that’s what I did. Let the emotions wash through me, the disappointment about my work situation, and took strength from his presence.

“Lane? Uh, are you okay?” Archer’s tentative voice came from out of nowhere. I turned in the direction to see him hovering in the hallway. I loosened my hold on Walker in case he wanted to pull away, but he didn’t move.

“Yeah. I’m okay. Thanks for checking.” I gave the teen a smile. And then, because Archer knew a little about how things had gone down for me with the MBI, I added. “I’m just going through some stuff in regards to my job. And how I’m not happy with things as they are.”

Archer chewed his lip as he nodded. After a few seconds, he asked, “What are you going to do about it?”

And that, right there, was a very good question.



As a reader, I love connected books. I’m talking beyond just series, though I am an absolute fanatic for series. But what I mean here is for multiple books from the same author that has a character or a thing pop up in books that aren’t necessarily connected in any other way.

There you are, reading along, and the MC in the book has an interaction with someone else. And because you’ve read other books by that author, you recognize that person for who they actually are. Or the MC goes to a place that’s shown up before somewhere else. It always gives me a little thrill, like I’m in on an inside secret, and I think “Ha! I know that!” I particularly love it when it happens in a way that doesn’t necessarily impact the story. The MC could have had that conversation withany person or gone to any café/restaurant. 

When I write these kinds of things (and tbh, I haven’t done it as much as I’ve wanted to) I always have a little giggle about it. Jason didn’t have to send Cody gingerbread goodies from Pounds and Grounds, but it was fun for me to include it. Those two books don’t actually have anything to do with one another, but it was just an extra tidbit. Readers don’t lose anything if they haven’t read one or the other, but if you have readPumpkin Rolls & Porn Sounds then you get that “Ha!” moment when you read Gingerbread & Good Tidings. It was something that came to me in the moment, when I was writing that Christmas story, that I could include Pounds and Grounds

But one place I did it deliberately is with The 12th Witchand the very soon to be released Crystal Clear

For some explanation, I created the Magical Bureau of Investigations (though I know I’m not the only one). The MBI was invented for my worlds in which the human world knows about the paranormal one. And I had plans for it that never saw the light of day. 

But when I began writing Gareth and Owen’s serial story here on the blog, I knew it was time to make the MBI resurface. And, as you know, that led to a sequel for Agent Delaney Willis with his shifter mate Walker (and side note: don’t worry, you’ll see them again soon). When I was writing The 12th Witch, it only seemed natural for the MBI to be the Federal arm of law enforcement for that book as well. I realized pretty quickly that Justin and Cole would also get a sequel, as their story wasn’t done yet. 

And that’s when I decided, the moment I started writing Crystal Clear, that I would include an Easter egg. One that doesn’t impact the story in any appreciable way. But that readers of the blog serial will definitely spot. And hopefully have that “Ha!” moment. 

Crystal Clear will be out October 8th. You can preorder it here.


Coming Soon!

On Saturday in fact. It can be in your hot little hands on October 8. You can pre-order it now, and it’ll be delivered right to your device if you so wish. Check it out at JMS or Amazon

Sequel to The 12th Witch

Justin Trews lucked out when he found Cole Demauro and the coven he’s joined. He’s still working through his trauma, but he now knows what it’s like to be supported and cared for. His magic is thriving, and so is he. And of course, dating Cole has proven to be the best part. The past three months have been the happiest of his life.

When the veil is the thinnest, Justin experiences Samhain as it is meant to be. It’s a far cry from how he celebrated in the past. With the coven gathered, he participates in the ritual to honor the dead and the end of the harvest season. His magic is full and so is his heart.

But when Justin’s past rears it’s ugly head, he’s faced with dealing with his family. Old hurts run deep and insecurities resurface. Its hard not to feel like a burden and an imposition. With his coven behind him, and Cole’s love buoying him up, Justin finds the strength not only to confront his family but to rely on his coven for help. And when the dust settles, Justin has taken great strides toward healing. Now Justin needs to show Cole just how much he loves him.

For the greatest enjoyment, you really need to read The 12th Witch first as it is the beginning of Justin and Cole’s story. Click here and scroll down to find buy links if you haven’t had a chance to check it out yet.

I love these guys, and I loved writing them again. This time, the story is from Justin’s POV, so we get a different perspective on the next stage of their relationship and the things going on in their life.


So That Happened

You may have noticed that there was no Flash Fic Friday these past two weeks. There’s a valid reason for that.

Most of the time, I don’t write it until Friday morning. It’s how my schedule works out and it puts less pressure on me. Since the serials here on the blog are for my fun and enjoyment as much as yours, I strive to make it the most stress free I can.

Let me preface this story by saying I’m fine. Totally fine, other than some bumps and bruises.

But Friday 23 Sep, as I was driving to work, I was suddenly going off the road and crashed into a tree. A small tree, but still. Tree. It turns out someone was backing into the street, hit my car, and sent me off the road. Now, there’s a whole story about how she tried to blame me but it’s not worth it to rehash it here.

Needless to say, my plans got very derailed that day, because I went home and there was no way I was going to work. And it took me hours to fully stop shaking from the adrenaline rush. So I just made a mental note I would write one for yesterday and tell y’all why and move on.

Except yesterday ended up being another day where stuff happened. I was told that my car was deemed a total loss, so I had to go to the towing place to get the last of my things out of the car (because I didn’t completely clear it out on the day). I also ended up speaking with the loss team from my insurance and find out just how much I would be getting for the car. So I had to deal all of that as well.

All that is to say that I didn’t get anything written again. And while I debated writing something for today, and just posting a Saturday edition, but in the end I just had to chalk it up to stress and nonsense and postpone Lane and Walker for another week.

I have a book release next week, October 8th, so I’ll post info about that this week. Crystal Clear is the sequel to The 12th Witch and features Justin and Cole again. They do need to be read in order though! So make sure you pick up The 12th Witch if you haven’t already. As I said, more info soon on that.

Anyway! Take care of yourselves out there. I’ll have more good stuff coming your way soon.


The Thing About Wolves

You may have noticed I’m a fan of shifters. Always have been. And don’t get me wrong, I do like me a non-traditional shifter. Show me your elephants or Guinea pigs or dogs or, I dunno, fish. I always find it interesting how these shifter balance their animal selves with the human.

But I will always, first and foremost, be in love with wolves.

Werewolves were always my favorite monster. The thing I should have been afraid of but never was. And as I grew up and the more I learned about the different myths and legends, werewolves cemented themselves in my heart and soul.

Besides there’s no denying that wolves are one of the most majestic and beautiful animals out there.

As I delved into writing PNR, and created my own lore, wolf shifters were what I naturally gravitated toward. And they continue to be where my heart lies.

So you may see other kinds of shifters show up in my books. But it’s mostly gonna be wolves. And I’m perfectly okay with that.

Flash Fic Friday, Serial

Flash Fic Friday

**I’m calling this episode 13, because last one was 12, but I think at some point I messed up the numbering. It’s not that important, I don’t think. But at some point I’ll probably go back and fix things. 😊. At any rate, here’s the next episode of Lane and Walker! At little break from most of the drama, though the drama isn’t done yet. We are creeping up on the end, only a few more episodes left. But for now, enjoy!**

I was standing at the stove, frying ham, sausage, bacon, and eggs, when the barest hint of sound behind me had me turning. Archer slunk into the kitchen, his hair in disarray, looking better than he had yesterday. I was glad to see it.

I offered him a smile. “Hey, morning. How are you feeling?’

“Okay,” he muttered, and then inhaled deeply. I hid my face as my smile turned to a smirk, turning my attention back to the cooktop.

“You scenting me or the breakfast?”

I didn’t miss his snort, though I didn’t know him well enough yet to interpret it. “Both.”

“Fair.” I watched out of the corner of my eye as he shuffled to the fridge and pulled out the orange juice. He twisted off the top and drank straight from the bottle. When I quirked a brow and gave him full attention, he held my gaze, defiance in his eyes.

Archer swallowed loudly, then make a satisfied “ah” sound when he was done. “This one’s mine. Dad doesn’t drink it.”

“Okay.” I flipped the bacon, then stirred the scrambled eggs before shutting off the heat underneath them and pulling them off the stove. I’d already looked through the cupboards, pulling out plates and flatware, and I had serving dishes sitting ready on the counter.

“Did you sleep with my dad last night?”

It was a good thing I was used to schooling my expressions and reactions from years of needing to show witnesses and suspects alike a neutral façade. But internally, my stomach dropped. I finished spooning the eggs into the bowl before I set the pan in the sink, needing to take those few seconds to get my thoughts in order.

Archer’s question hadn’t been filled with judgement or disgust. More curiosity than anything else. He was fifteen after all, and I understood a little bit where he was coming from. All he had was his dad. The pack too, of course, but his mother had left when he was barely a toddler—Walker and I’d had that conversation last night, how she had left to pursue her dreams—and Walker had been the only constant in his life. He was also old enough to understand the dynamics of relationships. So I had to think how to answer.

I turned and the leaned my hip against the edge of the counter and decided he should have the truth. “I slept on the couch last night. But that’s for now. Your dad and I are figuring things out.”

Oscar chose that moment to wander into the kitchen. The last I’d seen him, he’d been napping in a sunbeam on the windowsill in the living room. He caught both my and Archer’s attention as he sauntered over, stood on his hind legs to sink his claws into my knee, and stretch. He yowled.

“Yes, I’ll get your breakfast in a minute. Have some patience.”

Oscar sneezed, turned his back on me, and wound his way through Archer’s ankles, rubbing his cheeks against Archer’s skin. Archer stared at him for a moment, then set the OJ on the counter.

“Can I pick him up?”

“It’s up to him, but I’m thinking yes.”

Archer bent and Oscar started purring the moment the kid had his hands on him. He snuggled right in against Archer’s chest, and didn’t hesitate to give me the squinty eye. I scoffed and turned back to the stove so the various meats didn’t burn. I flipped the ones that needed it, and pulled the sausage off as it was done.

“Are you mates?” Archer took a quick breath. “Because my dad is equal opportunity, and he’s dated, but I’ve never seen him act like he does with you.”

Way to cut to the chase, kid.

I was saved from answering when Walker strode into the kitchen, freshly showered and looking like a snack. I hummed appreciatively as he beelined right for me. He didn’t hesitate to snuggle against my side, and when I tilted my head to give him a smile, he pushed up on his toes and kissed my cheek. 

Having greeted me, Walker turned to his son. “Yeah, Arch. Lane is my mate. I’m his. We’re figuring things out.”

Archer stared at his dad for a long moment before he nodded just once. “Lane said. I…I don’t know how I feel about that, Dad.”

Walker stepped back as I turned off burners, but not before he swiped his wrist against my neck. I shot him a wink and put the meat on a platter as Walker moved toward his son. He placed a hand on Archer’s shoulder.

“I love you, Archer,” Walker said, his voice even. “And I want you to be good with this. But I understand if it’s going to take time. Me casually dating is different than me building a life with someone. We’ll work through it. And if you need to talk about it with Anna along with everything else, I’m sure she’ll be happy to help.”

Archer let out a little whine that had Walker chuckling. “Dad, I maybe don’t—”

“No, kiddo. You’re talking to the counselor for however long she thinks is necessary. I know shifting helped. A lot. But trauma—”

It was Archer’s turn to interrupt his father. “Yeah, I know. Fine.” He sighed. “It’s not…I mean, I know Lane is a good guy. Lane, I know you’re a good guy, it’s not that.”

“I know.” I smiled, letting him know I understood where he was coming from. “Take your juice to the table, all right? Breakfast is served.”

“Thanks for cooking, Lane.” Walker nudged his son toward the table, and then gave me another kiss to the cheek before he took the platter out of my hands and followed Archer. I grabbed the eggs and sent them down, then laid a hand on the back of Walker’s neck. “I need to run out to the car and get Oscar’s emergency food. I’ll be right back, okay?”

Walker didn’t answer with words, just a nod, and Oscar let out a loud yowl that I took to mean “hurry up.” He’d settled on Archer’s lap when the teen sat down, and I laughed as I headed outside.

I always kept food and disposable litter trays in the trunk because we never knew when we might be stuck somewhere. I’d been ecstatic when I found boxes that contained litter and folded out to be its own tray. The convenience of it had made our lives easier. 

I took a few seconds to steady myself. This was going to be a big adjustment and would take a lot of communication and understanding on all our parts. And I had to remember that it wasn’t just me and Walker involved in this. Archer was too, though to a different degree. And his opinion wouldn’t stop us, but we needed to take his thoughts and feelings into consideration.

I braced my hands on the trunk and just breathed. I’d never dated a man with a child before, so that was a new experience for me. But Archer, fortunately, was old enough to at least try and explain his thoughts. That wouldn’t necessarily make it easier, but at least it would help us all through the process.

It hit me like a punch to the chest. I was all in. I’d been committed already, since Walker confessed we were mates. But feeling it down to my very soul? That was the surprise. I took a breath, steadied myself, grabbed Oscar’s things, and headed back into the house with a newfound purpose.

Flash Fic Friday, Serial

Flash Fic Friday

**Episode 12 for Lane and Walker is here! Our poor confused Lane has some catching up to do in his brain. But as I promised Alex, he won’t hurt Walker. Enjoy!!**

My brain stuttered to a halt and then promptly blanked out. I’d heard what Walker said but it did not compute. Aeron had even mentioned it earlier, but I’d dismissed it. Now, having that confirmation, when I tried to think about it, it was as though my mind skittered away from the idea. I stared at Walker, blinking, unable to speak. Move.Think.

But then he made that hurt sound again, very much like an animal in pain, and it spurred me into action. I reached for him, pulled him to me, and tucked him under my chin. He didn’t exactly melt into me, but he didn’t pull away either.

“I need a second to process this,” I said quietly, going for soothing. When I rubbed Walker’s back, he settled a little more against me. But he didn’t yield completely. “I’m a mage, not a shifter. This is news to me. So I just need to wrap my brain around it. Just give me a moment, okay?”

Walker let out a breath that sounded more like a sigh. He didn’t acknowledge me with words, but he gave a very tiny head nod that bumped against my neck. After a minute or two, he wrapped his arms around my waist and hugged me back.

I tried to sort it out in my head. Tried to make it make sense. But it wasn’t working. I just didn’t have the same context he did. My instincts weren’t as strong, as visceral, as his were. We’d only met that morning. Or really, yesterday morning as it was now after midnight. And the late hour combined with the roller coaster of a day was, perhaps, impairing my processing power.

“So.” I cleared my throat. “Mates?”

Walker pushed his face against the skin of my throat. His voice was muffled. “Yes.”

“How do you know?” I squeezed him tighter to make it clear I wasn’t dismissing him and I didn’t want him to pull away. “I mean, how do you experience that?”

Walker inhaled deeply, as though he was filling his lungs with my scent, and then let out his breath very slowly. He rubbed his cheek along the side of my throat and shoulder. “You smell like mine.”

I opened my mouth to ask what that meant, but then realized he probably couldn’t explain it any better than that. He’d always been a wolf, and scent was a huge part of his make-up. He didn’t have a human frame of reference, just as I didn’t have a wolf’s. To him, that made complete sense. And though I didn’t use my senses the same way he did, in theory, I understood where he was coming from. In the same way, he couldn’t understand why I didn’t have the same reaction as he did. Intellectually, we both understood we were different. But it was harder to conceptualize. 

Walker shifted against me, and I realized my silence was agitating him. That wasn’t my intent at all. I slid my hand up his back and into his hair, rubbing at his scalp. It soothed him enough that his muscles loosened. I used my hold to tip his head back so I could look into his rich brown eyes. Damn, he was pretty.

I offered a small smile. “When I first saw you, I wanted to be close to you. I wanted to help you, of course. And I chalked it up to my drive as an MBI agent, my need to see justice done. But it was more than that, even if I wouldn’t let myself entertain that thought.”

Walker’s gaze bounced back and forth as he tried to look into both my eyes at the same time. I could practically see the gears turning in his mind as he sorted that out. Trying to process my words and align it with what he experienced.

“You said…in the car, you said you were drawn to me.”

“I did. I am.” I cupped his cheek, unable to stop myself. Really, I didn’t even try. My thumb had a mind of its own, rubbing against his slight stubble. The way Walker’s eyes fluttered at the touch heated my blood. “But my logical, human brain tried to explain it away as just the need to help you. Because I would want to help anyone who was in your situation.”

Walker took a breath. “Do you still think that?”

I didn’t even hesitate. “No.”

“No?” Walker’s gaze bored into my, and I didn’t look away either. The hope there was plain as day.

“No. It doesn’t explain my need to comfort and soothe and support you. To want to be close to you.” I smiled but took a second to get my thoughts in order. The last thing I wanted to do was hurt him in any way, but I also had to be honest. “But the truth is, I don’t know how to deal with all of this. I want you, don’t doubt that. But this is all confusing for me, and I really think we need to take things slowly and talk it out.”

To my relief, Walker nodded. “That makes sense. Do you want to know what I think?”

“I really do.”

“I think Fate put you in m path today, when I needed you most.” He spoke quietly, but with the kind of conviction that rang with complete sincerity. “You were always meant to be mine. We were always meant to be together. And when Archer was taken, Fate stepped in and brought us together.”

I didn’t believe in Fate the same way he did. I knew she had a hand in the universe, but it had never touched my life quite this way. The wolves, though, had a much stronger perception of Fate. That much I knew.

“I like that thought.” I hugged him too me again, and the breath he let out as he sagged against me, knowing I would hold him up, warmed my insides. I was about to elaborate, when I felt Oscar’s call. I’d left him sleeping in the car, but now he was awake and looking for me. 

I gently extricated myself from his arms but didn’t step away. His brow furrowed, and I had the urge to kiss his confusion away. We weren’t there yet. Though I knew that time wasn’t far off.

“Oscar is awake. Is it okay if I bring him in?”

Walker’s expression cleared in an instant. “Of course. He’s your familiar. He’s welcome here.”

“Thank you.” I gave into impulse and kissed his cheek, loving the smile that bloomed across his lips. “Be right back.”

I jogged to the door, then outside and to the car. Oscar was standing on the driver’s seat, and when I opened the car door, he immediately gave me an earful at having been left. He was right, of course. I should have scooped him up and brought him inside despite his slumber. But I’d been too focused on making sure Walker was all right.

I picked up the cat, and he batted at my nose in reprimand. I laughed, and gave his butt a nudge so he’d climb up onto my shoulders where he was used to perching. Once he was settled, I strode back to the house.

“You’re never going to believe the twist Fate has dealt us now, Oscar.”


Quick Updates

Hey all!

Firstly, the day job is still kicking my butt. Mostly in stress and there’s no need to rehash it all here. But is is taking up a great deal of my mental capacity, and when I get home all I wanna do is play animal crossing and decorate my island and not worry about anything. But despite that…

I finished the sequel to The 12th Witch! It’s been submitted and contract signed. So look for that in October. It’s the story of Justin’s continuing journey of healing. With Cole, and his love, right at his side. I had a heck of a time writing it as for a while I was having trouble getting going. I must have restarted like 4 times. Because every iteration was just very not right. Until it was. I’ll have more details when release gets a little closer.

And that’s not the only thing that will be coming from me. Soft Dom is Coming to Town will be out in December. It’s set in my fictional Landry’s Fall and features friends to lovers with a healthy dose of kink thrown in (if you couldn’t tell from the title.). I adore Garrett and Mason, and I hope you will too.

I haven’t yet cracked into a new story and I’m taking a little break. Hopefully not too long of one. I’m tossing around a few ideas and characters. I have a million plot bunnies to be sure. So we’ll see where that goes. As soon as I can get my writing brain back online.

Everyone be well and take care of yourselves!