To be released July 14 through Liquid Silver Books – Liquid Silver Books
They were supposed to be enemies, not lovers.
Tanner Lyons is a shifter without a pack, which is just the way he likes it—until he rescues Olivia Bennett, princess of the lightbearers. Suddenly, he finds himself fighting an attraction that makes no sense, because lightbearers and shifters have been mortal enemies since the beginning of time.
They found him in a no-name bar in a no-name town, playing pool and getting hustled by a human. Tanner spared a moment to determine he would rather continue to be hustled out of his hard earned cash than to talk with the two shifters who stood at the other end of the pool table.
He bent at the waist to take his shot, brushing an errant lock of hair out of his face as he did so. The redheaded woman in the pink shirt and blue jean mini that barely covered her ass noticed the gesture. He wondered how fast he could get rid of the two reminders of a life he’d left behind ten years ago, so he could make a move on the human.
Tanner took his time taking his shot, partially as an excuse to size up the intruders on his shifter-less life. Finnegan Hennigan, coppery hair, pale blue eyes, same age as Tanner, arguably the best tracker in Tanner’s former pack—if not the country. Not surprising they’d found him, with Finn assigned to the task.
The other one was Mickey Rollins, dark hair, dark eyes, a young punk who couldn’t be more than twenty, was probably more like seventeen or eighteen. Tanner remembered him as one of the many in the pack who idolized the pack leader and everything he stood for.
“Your father sent us,” Mickey said when Tanner made no move to acknowledge their presence.
Tanner did not take his eyes off the pool table. “There’s a shadow on the table,” he commented in a gravelly voice that was rough as sandpaper from lack of use. Tanner didn’t talk much. He didn’t have anyone in his life worth talking to.
Mickey scowled, but obligingly shuffled to the side. Finn smirked. Tanner took his shot, a sloppy one that nonetheless landed in the corner pocket. His human opponent nodded his approval and offered a word of advice for the next time he had the same opportunity. Mickey looked enraged that the human was even speaking to Tanner, let alone offering him advice on playing pool.
“He wants to see you, Tanner.” Mickey tried again to pull Tanner’s attention.
“I don’t give a fuck what that bastard wants.” He took another shot and succeeded in pocketing the cue ball.
“He captured a lightbearer.”
Tanner didn’t even lift an eyebrow. “Again? You know, Wyoming doesn’t have a very large human population to begin with. At the rate my father is going, he’s going to wipe them out.”
“It’s for real this time,” Mickey assured him. He glanced at the human pool player, who appeared oblivious to their conversation as he proceeded to run the table.
It’s always “for real this time.”
“Quentin Lyons rules the most powerful shifter pack in the country. He has everything a shifter would want. Why the fuck does he keep wasting his time chasing myths?”
He even had women, any and all the women he could possibly want, Tanner thought ruefully as he eyed the redhead again. Unlike Quentin, Tanner sometimes had to work to attract a warm, willing body into his bed. At a young age, Tanner had become aware that Quentin made a habit of sleeping around, despite having been mated to Tanner’s mother for nearly forty years. Shifters may mate for life, but in Quentin’s world, that didn’t mean they had to stay faithful for life.
Another reason to despise the man.
“It’s not a myth,” Mickey insisted. His eyes darted to Tanner’s human opponent. Discussing business associated with the magical world was strictly off-limits in front of humans, and Tanner knew it was making Mickey nervous that he didn’t seem concerned that the human had overheard any part of their conversation.
“No one can inherit magic from anyone,” Tanner replied, deliberately speaking at a normal level. The human could hear their conversation, Tanner well knew. The thing about humans, he’d learned, was that they only heard what they wanted to hear.
“Quentin says it’s true,” Mickey stubbornly pressed on.
“So that makes it true?” Tanner said with sour amusement in his voice.
“Yes.” Mickey insisted, absolutely convinced.
Finn stood with his back against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, observing the interaction but offering no opinion. Tanner wondered if he even had an opinion on the subject, or if he followed blindly like all the rest in Quentin’s pack.
“Tell him I’m not interested in his stupid obsession,” Tanner suggested without looking at the messengers. He didn’t want them to see the guilt in his eyes. All three knew that if Tanner didn’t go back to the pack with Mickey and Finn, Quentin would take out his wrath on the messengers. It had happened plenty of times over the course of the last ten years. Every time they found him.
Time to move again.
Mickey shoved his hand into the front pocket of his jeans and pulled out a scrap of material. It was white with silver and gold thread woven into the material. He thrust the scrap at Tanner. “It’s true,” he insisted. “Feel this. You can still feel her magic.”
The human won the game and Tanner pulled two twenties out of his wallet. “Why don’t you go get us all a round?” he suggested. He wasn’t surprised when the human nodded his head and did Tanner’s bidding. Whether he wanted to acknowledge it or not, he was a natural born leader. Future pack master.
No. I made my choice. I chose to live by my own rules, not his.
He noticed that the redhead lost interest and moved away from the pool table, probably because none of the men in the pool area were paying her any attention. Not all my choices are my own, he thought with disappointment, as her swinging ass disappeared around the corner.
Tanner pulled his eyes away from the sight and studied the scrap of material. In truth, he could feel … something without even touching the stuff. But it had to be a trick of some sort. There were plenty of other magical beings in the universe. Not many that lived in the human world, though. Only the shifters claimed that right. Everybody else had their own worlds in which to live.
“Descendants of the fae,” Mickey said in an excited voice, reciting what they’d all learned as younglings, crouched around Quentin’s knee as he expounded about his obsession. “They moved to our world to get away from the fae, who were so obsessed with them that they wanted to enslave the entire race.”
“I sense a theme here,” Tanner drawled.
Mickey flushed and angrily pressed on. “Their magic is renewable. Everybody knows it.”
“Yeah, I get that they got their magic from the sun,” Tanner acknowledged. He eyed the scrap of material in Mickey’s hand. “But no one has seen a trace of lightbearers in over five hundred years. Somebody wiped them out. Probably our kind, trying to inherit their magic.”
“Probably our kind eating them for dinner,” Finn contributed to the conversation for the first time. “Back then we were slightly more primal.”
“Slightly,” Tanner remarked tongue-in-cheek. Finn smirked. Tanner recalled how they used to hang out together as kids. They’d shifted for the first time together. Now, Finn was Quentin’s best tracker and Tanner was doing his best to avoid getting sucked back into the pack. Time and change and all that.
“If a shifter kills a lightbearer, he’ll inherit its magic.” Mickey refused to give up on Quentin’s obsession.
Considering the only magic a shifter possessed was the ability to change forms at will, it was a heady idea to be able to steal another creature’s magic. Especially for one who considered himself to be the top of the food chain, even without much magic.
“Touch it,” Mickey demanded as he waved the bit of material in Tanner’s face.
Tanner batted at the material, if only to push it away. His fingers skimmed the surface. A jolt shot through his system, so raw and potent that his entire body reacted as if he’d been electrocuted.
“Told ya,” Mickey said triumphantly.
“Give me that,” Tanner said as he snatched the torn bit of material out of Mickey’s hand. He held it, reveling in the feel of magic there. It felt … intoxicating. “Where did you get this?” he breathed as he stared at the gold and silver thread that wove a pattern through the white material.
“The lightbearer. Your father figured you wouldn’t come, unless you had proof.”
Tanner continued to stare at the material. It wasn’t true—was it? Tanner—and a great many other shifters—believed they didn’t really exist. His father had never let go of the belief that they were simply hiding, and all he had to do was find one of them. Just one.
Was his father right all along?
Fates be damned, but Tanner certainly hoped not. He’d spent the better part of his life desperately hating the man for what he represented, for how he ruled his pack, for the way he treated Tanner’s mother and every other woman in his pack. Most of all, he’d hated the man for his obsession over a race of magical creatures that Tanner had been certain no longer existed.
Tanner didn’t understand his father’s obsession. The man was already pack master over one of the largest and most respected—or at least feared—packs in the country. He didn’t need magic to gain prestige and power. He already had it all.
“Come on, Tanner,” Mickey begged. “He won’t let none of us see her until you come back to the pack. He says you get the first honor. Come on.”
Tanner continued to stare at the scrap of material for a few more moments, pondering his decision. Finally, he tossed the pool stick onto the table. “Damn it to hell,” he muttered as he turned and strode from the pool area, out of the bar and into the cool summer evening air.
Damn the man for luring him back like this.
* * * *
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