Authors: Zenina Masters
Tags: #Adult, #Erotic Romance, #Fey, #elf, #Paranormal, #Shapeshifter
She looked around and used her senses to locate the clothing she had had in her bag. “Success!”
She dug out a sports bra, t-shirt and some exercise pants. Her sneakers were nowhere to be seen. “Fine, I am going barefoot.”
Lyros had his elegant and heavily embroidered coat off, and he hung it up. “Is that a problem?”
“Nope.” She unzipped her dress, and it fell to the ground. She stepped into the leggings and pulled them over her hips before putting the bra on and yanking the t-shirt over it.
When she was done, she wandered over to the bed and hopped onto the edge, waiting.
He was wearing cycling shorts when he finally turned to see her. The snug fit was fun to look at.
“Come on. Can’t you feel him scrambling around in your head?”
“What is the camera situation like outside?”
“Nothing in the forest. There is a camera angle aimed at the back stone patio as that is where folks arrive from if they are transported. The rest of the house is warded against transport. We will be fine as long as we change in the woods.”
“Okay. I don’t want to get you in trouble.”
He grinned. “I do want to get you in trouble.”
She blinked and then caught onto the reference. “Sex will have to be engaged in for that particular event, and I am pretty sure that you are going to be too exhausted by the change to do much of anything.”
“I may surprise you.”
She grinned. “Impressive talk for a half-dressed man wearing sneakers. Are you ready?”
“Let’s go then.”
He grinned and took her hand, hauling her after him through the halls of his home and out into the enormous back yard and across the lawn to the edging of forest.
“Take me to a meadow, and we will get started. How much of this is yours?”
“I have a hundred and sixty acres. It was given to the fey in the eighteen hundreds when I took up residence.” He smiled.
She felt the bracken and twigs under her feet and shifted them into her tougher paws.
Shifting her legs caused her to cant forward a little, but she kept up with him.
The meadow that he found for them was a nice, open space that would let him get a good run. There was nothing like a run to get a new shifter in line with their body.
It took half an hour for Lyros to gain his hyena form. When he was standing next to her, she stroked his raised shoulders, and she finally shucked out of her clothing.
He seemed surprised to see her height. She was taller than he was by about four inches and thirty pounds. The nice thing about being shifters was that they didn’t have to conform to the original beasts when it came to size. It meant that in this form, she was taller and it made her laugh softly.
She nudged him with her shoulder and got him running in the strange loping run of their beasts. It evened out when they built up speed, and she ran him until he was flopped on the ground with his tongue lolling out.
She nuzzled at his jaw and then shifted back to human. “Come on, Lyros. You owe me dinner and a wedding night.”
He shifted under her until he was back to his glorious self. He gripped her hips and stroked his hand up her back. “That was amazing.”
She chuckled. “It is, and now, you won’t accidentally shift while speaking to a human. There are things we can do in the house for practice, but a run is best.”
“So, I am guessing that I have a new exercise regimen.”
Lima sighed and smiled. “Good boy. Now, let’s get dressed. I am a little peckish after that exertion.”
She stood and extended her hand to his, hauling him to his feet. She stared at his face, and to her surprise, the last traces of his injuries were gone.
“You are healed.”
He nodded. “I know. It happened during the balance ceremony.”
She grinned and headed to her clothing. “Excellent. I look forward to your returned stamina.”
He laughed, and they dressed before returning to the house.
She enjoyed the view of the stone-cladded home as they approached it. “It is a lovely house.”
“Thank you. I had it built when I first arrived. The property was a gift from the government for my service to the president.”
“I will tell you later. Now, Teck will probably have dinner ready, but if he doesn’t, what would you like to eat?”
She shrugged. “Omelette and a salad?”
“I think that is manageable. I will have to contact the king and notify him of our connection. I am not sure what he is going to say.” He made a strange gesture with a twist of his lips.
“I wasn’t precisely authorized to go in search of you. The king’s plan was to get warriors and other fey with a second shape to meet with their females if the seers could find one. I went in search of you on my own the moment that I was out of the medical facility.”
“Aw, how sweet and dangerous.” She smacked his shoulder. “You could have hurt yourself.”
“I would have been injured beyond words if you had found a shifter that you wanted to spend your life with. From the moment you came through that door, wordless and moving with confidence, I knew that the woman behind the fur was meant for me. When you tore the throat out of the guard, I knew it, but I also knew that I was going to have to work out before our first fight.”
She laughed brightly at that as they entered the house. The smell of dinner was in the air, and they went in search of its origin. The head housekeeper was working in the kitchen with easy moves.
“Lord Atherton, your meal will be ready in twenty minutes. Is your companion staying?”
“Teck, this is my mate, Lima Pellin. We will be making arrangements for a legal ceremony, but she is going to reside here from this point onward.”
“Are you sure, my lord? She looks a little skinny.”
Lima shifted her head and her right hand where she ticked her claws on the granite of the counter. She shifted back to her human face. “That is because I am waiting for dinner, Teck. I blame you.”
The housekeeper paused, blinked and laughed. “Ah. Now, it makes sense. My lord, she looks to be an excellent bitch.”
Lima held Lyros back while she laughed. “It is fine and very accurate.”
Lyros looked from her to his long-time friend, and he laughed. “Oh. Right.”
“Lord Atherton, your phone is in your office; it has been filled with messages congratulating you on your return.”
Lima blinked. “Right. Phones. I need to turn mine on and send my family a text regarding my finding of my mate. We both signed the documents before we came back, right?”
“We did. You are all nice and legally mine by the traditions of both our people.”
“Good. That could have come up to bite me in the ass. Shall we attend to a bit of paperwork before dinner?”
He nodded. “We may as well.”
Teck nodded. “I will call you when it is ready. No phones at the table.”
“Fair enough. Any other house rules I need to know?”
Teck chuckled. “I will make you a list.”
Lyros put his hand at her back and escorted her to his office. “I will have an office assigned to you, but in the meantime, you can share mine.”
“It isn’t necessary. All my communications come and go through my phone.”
She grinned and waved at him. “Go and do what you have to. I will get my phone and send that email before my mom has a chance to put her hand in.”
“Can you find the bedroom?”
She tapped her nose. “You will never miss a sock again.”
With a light heart, she went up to their bedroom and chuckled as she removed her phone from the charger where someone had plugged it in. She saw the message light flashing, but she typed in her announcement and sent it off to all of her relatives before opening any of the messages from her mother.
The venom in the letters should have melted her phone, but she ignored it and scrolled through them all, until the insanity had been unravelled. Yes, her mother had found her a mate, and he had been willing to pay an extraordinary amount. Knowing her mother, she had taken a deposit.
When Teck called, she plugged the phone in again and headed down to Lyros’s office.
She got in between him and his terminal and said, “Time for dinner.”
Since her breasts were in his face, he got to his feet, and they made it downstairs before the food got cold.
Teck looked at her. “How did you get him down here?”
“I used a distraction he couldn’t ignore.”
“I need to learn that trick.”
Lyros shuddered. “You really don’t.”
She laughed, and her hyena broke out for a moment. There were going to be moments of unrest as she settled into life with Lyros, but as long as she could blow off steam with the hunters, she would be able to manage. If not, she would have to take it out on her mate.
She hoped he was sturdier than he looked.
The reception after the small ceremony was enormous. It seemed that local businessmen and politicians took every chance they could to mix with the fey.
Lima was wearing a more culturally appropriate ivory dress for the wedding, and her mother was in the corner, scowling at everyone who came near her.
Lima ignored her mother and met and chatted with the local ladies who were interested in her sudden union with one of the more eligible bachelors in North America.
Many of the women she spoke to were under the impression that Lima was fey herself and that was what they wanted folk to think. If they didn’t know what she was, she wasn’t going to tell them.
The guests complimented her dress, the house, the arrangements for the reception, and Lima thanked them all. She had nothing to do with any of it. She had been off on a retrieval for most of the last few weeks.
Lyros was looking devastating as usual in another amazing tuxedo. If she didn’t miss her guess, he was currently speaking with the vice president.
Lima acted as hostess for another hour, and then, she excused herself to go into the portrait gallery.
The man had been watching her all day, and she was going to give him a chance to say his peace.
Lima found her favourite portrait of Lyros, with him sitting at a desk in a white laced shirt with the sleeves rolled up. His writing implement was a quill pen and an inkpot was sitting in front of him. His hair was a long braid that curved over one shoulder, and his expression was serious.
It was adorable. Whenever she saw that expression, she moved between him and his computer. He never failed to appreciate the distraction.
“You were supposed to be mine, Lima.”
She turned, and her stalker approached with a feline gait.
“I really doubt that. The seers saw me with Lyros, and here I am.”
He grabbed her arm. “I paid for you.”
Lima looked into his slightly mad gaze. “That was bad planning on your part. I would really let go if I were you.”
“If I can’t have all of you, I will at least take a taste.”
That was it. He leaned in, and she brought up her right arm with her spectral blade gleaming and ready. “Back off, jackass. If you want the money back, take it up with her, but don’t for a minute think that you ever had a claim on me.”
He saw the blade and scowled in confusion. “What is that?”
“Spectral blade. Do you want to know what it does?” She stabbed him in the chest and grunted as his hand pulled at her left arm when he fell. There would be bruises.
He was out cold, and she walked quickly to find Teck.
“There is a man who, uh, collapsed in the portrait gallery. He needs to be ejected with prejudice.”
“Yes, lady. Did he hurt you?” Teck looked angrier than she had ever seen him. He was staring at her arm. She looked and small red welts were on her skin.
“Damn. I had hoped it wouldn’t show.”
Teck leaned forward and pressed his mouth to her arm. She waited as the tingle of energy went through her.
When he raised his head, the marks were gone. He wiped his mouth. “You really don’t taste right.”
“I know. Thanks for this, Teck. Now, back to the party.” She gave him a wink and patted his cheek before turning to face her guests.
Lima made her way through the gathering and slid her arm into the curve of Lyros’s. She smiled brightly, and his nostrils flared.
“Are you enjoying your party?” The vice president smiled kindly at her.
“It is lovely. Those who have come to wish us well are so very kind.” She smiled shyly and watched the man flush and his chest puffed out a little.
Her allure as a fey was something that she had fun with, but Lyros put his hand over hers and gave it a squeeze, telling her to reel it in.
She sighed, and the music started as the sun went down. Lyros looked at her. “They are playing our song. Please, excuse us.”
He nodded to the men he had been speaking to and led her off to the dancefloor, taking her in his arms in front of those assembled.
Lima bent to catch the loop in her train and slipped it over her wrist. When he started to move, she moved with him in a slow and rocking motion.
“Why do you smell like cat and goblin?”
“The cat was the man that my mother sold me to. Apparently, he was dumb enough to pay for all of me up front. The goblin was Teck healing the claw marks on my arm. We were in a hurry.”
They moved with the music in sweeping turns as they conversed.
“Where is he now?”
She smiled slightly. “I ran him through with the spectral blade and told Teck to eject him.”
“If he comes back, I will deal with him.”
“I don’t think he will be back. He is going to try to get the money back from my mother, and that is not going to have a happy ending for him. She’ll tear his throat out.”
“Good. But know that if he comes back here, there is one less shifter in the world.” He paused. “How did he get here?”
“He was invited. His name is Mark Ingliss.”
“Damn. Yes, he was on my list.”
Lima laughed, “Well, I knew he wasn’t on mine.”
They continued to dance until he bent her back and kissed her in front of those assembled.
Lima trusted that he wouldn’t drop her and returned his kiss with enthusiasm until he stood her upright again. With a smile and a wave to those assembled, she left the dancefloor with her husband to continue the reception.