Read Merrily Mated (Ouachita Mountain Shifters 3) Online

Authors: P. Jameson

Tags: #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Alpha, #Paranormal, #Cougar, #Mates, #Romance, #Erotic, #Adult, #Family Life, #Human, #Big Cats, #Clan, #Ouachita Mountain, #Shifters, #Four Years, #Shattered Heart, #Rejected, #Changed Laws, #No Mating Law, #Confession, #New Year's Eve, #Christmas List, #Danger, #Threat, #Violence, #Battle, #Supernatural, #Protection, #Bachelor, #Single Woman, #Forever Love, #Festive Season, #Mistletoe, #Holiday, #Seasonal, #Christmas Time, #Suspense

Merrily Mated (Ouachita Mountain Shifters 3)

BOOK: Merrily Mated (Ouachita Mountain Shifters 3)
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Ryan Robertson is the only human male in the Ouachita clan of big cats, and navigating the world of shifters for four years has been tricky. Worth it though, if he can just convince the snarky cougar he’s had his eye on that he could make her happy. But the werecat of his dreams isn’t looking for a happily ever after, or even a happy for now. Not with a human anyway, and she’s made it abundantly clear. All he can do is pick up the pieces of his shattered heart and walk away with his head held high.

Layna Blackfoot has been the glue that held her clan together when the traditions of their people almost tore them apart. Now the laws have changed and she can finally tell Ryan the truth. He’s her intended mate, and if he will just fight for them, her cougar would give herself to him completely and forever. But before she can confess, he’s gone. Out the door like a true male, with only the briefest kiss beneath the mistletoe.

When a new danger threatens Layna and the clan, only Ryan can help her. But this Christmas, the human will require a little more from his kitty in return. He wants it all. Her past, her future, her everything. Layna’s the only thing on his Christmas list, and he’s been good for too long. If he’s lucky, they’ll be merrily mated by New Year’s Eve.

 

 

 

Merrily Mated

By P. Jameson

 

 

Merrily Mated

Copyright © 2015 by P. Jameson

 

First electronic publication: December 2015

United States of America

 

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, redistributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in any database, without prior written permission from the author, with the exception of brief quotations contained in critical reviews. The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this work may be scanned, uploaded, or otherwise distributed via the internet or any other means, including electronic or print without the author’s written permission.

 

The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to actual persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.

 

P. Jameson

www.pjamesonauthorbooks.blogspot.com

Other books by P. Jameson

 

Ouachita Mountain Shifters

 

A Mate’s Wish (
Holiday Prequel
)

Deliciously Mated (
Book 1
)

Ouachita Mated (
Book 2
)

Merrily Mated (Book 3)

 

 

Dirt Track Dogs

 

Racing the Alpha (
Book 1
)

Racing the Beast (
Book 2
)

Racing Home (
Book 3
)

Racing Hard (
Book 4
)

Racing Destiny (
Book 5)

 

 

Ozark Mountain Shifters

 

A Mate’s Denial (
Book 1
)

A Mate’s Sacrifice (
Book 2
)

A Mate’s Revenge (
Book 3
)

A Mate’s Submission (
Book 4
)

 

 

Sci-fi Fantasy Romance

 

Starwalker (
Amazon
)

Chapter One

 

It was the day after Thanksgiving. The biggest shopping day of the year. Black fucking Friday, and yes, the fucking was necessary. It added a little pizzazz. Made a day dedicated to shopping sound a little more badass. Kinda pumped you up for the battle you were about to wage over ten dollar toasters and TVs they’d jacked up the whole month before so they could mark them down to regular price.

Layna stood in the predawn hours outside a Best Buy that wouldn’t contain the line that wrapped around the building and doubled over on itself. She glared at Clara and her sister-in-law, Beth. This was their idea. She’d rather have just gone straight to Toys R Us and spent a bundle on Rhys. Her little nephew was the first young born of the Ouachita clan, and he was spoiled accordingly.

Her two human friends were bundled in parkas with fleece-lined hoods, scarves, and gloves, but still they shivered uncontrollably. Bethany shifted from foot to foot, breathing into her cupped hands. Clara bounced up and down, her hair springing from her hood with every move.

Layna grinned at their discomfort. She was just fine in her turtleneck sweater. Her cougar kept her adequately warm.

Thank you, kitty cat
.

Served ‘em right for dragging her all the way to Little Rock when she really wanted to hang around the lodge in case…

A smile worked its way up her face just thinking about him.

… in case he tried anything with her again. She wouldn’t stop him this time. Telling him no was among her biggest life regrets, but she’d had her reasons. Good fucking reasons.

For one, she couldn’t mate before, and what she wanted with him was a lifetime. Sure her brother, Renner, had broken the no-mating pact. And so had Eagan. But Layna couldn’t do it. Not because she was afraid of the commitment or afraid she’d get run over like other females of her kind did. It was because she knew how badly it would hurt their leader, Magic, and the others in the clan who hadn’t been ready for the laws to change.

She was there the night Magic lost his first mate to a suicide. She’d seen—no, felt—the pain he’d endured. And over the past ten years, she’d known his decline better than anyone else in the clan. They worked too closely for her to miss those fine details that implied her friend and boss was gradually falling apart.

Magic would have taken her mating as the ultimate betrayal, and she thought of him as a brother, so hurting him like that was out of the question.

Even for the chance at happiness of her own.

But all that was changed now. Josie, a human turned werecat, had shown up and flipped his brittle, bitter world on its head. He’d mated her, and mated her hard if the young growing in her belly was any indication. Magic was happy. For the first time in so damn long, he was truly happy, and it was like a prisoner seeing the sun after months of solitude.

It did something good for Layna’s soul, seeing someone she cared about finally free of their demons. And it’d been good for the clan too.

She breathed the frigid air into her lungs and then let it out on a happy sigh.

But there was another reason for the lighter step she had this morning. The no-mating pact their clan followed had been amended, and now Layna was free to fall in love. For the first time in her life.

It was utterly… liberating. The choice was all hers, and she knew exactly who she wanted.

Ryan.

A sexy-as-hell human, who’d become part of their clan after his sister mated Layna’s brother.

“How are you so cold?” Layna laughed, shaking her head at Clara. “Aren’t you used to brutal winters?”

Before she’d mated Lake Haven’s chef, Eagan, Clara had lived in the woods, a hermit, hiding from a hurtful past. She was a simple human, desiring a simple life. She was no frills, plenty of spills. So her standing outside an electronics store in search of a bargain was both ironic and poetic.

“Yeah, yeah,” she grumbled through shivering lips. “I guess I’ve grown used to being warm. I swear Eagan is like a living heater, and he lets me sleep on him—” She stopped suddenly like she’d said too much.

“Wait, you
sleep
on him?” Layna frowned. “Like, snore-snore? Like he’s your bed?”

Clara nodded, huddling farther into her hood. “I’ve had a hard time getting used to the mattress,” she murmured low.

“That’s…” Kind of sweet. Really fucking sweet. “… kind of weird.”

“I think it’s precious,” Beth said, her voice all soggy with emotion.

Layna blinked at her brother’s mate. She was expecting her second young, and she might not be showing yet, but the prego hormones were already in full effect. In fact, she’d been uncharacteristically whimper-y today.

“Okay, yeah.” Layna shrugged so they wouldn’t know Clara’s confession had taken a chip off her heart. “It’s slightly precious. Like, this much.” She held up her thumb and forefinger so they were a hair away from touching.

The line started moving and there were some random hoots of appreciation from the waiting crowd.

“So, here’s the plan,” Bethany rushed out as they moved a whopping foot forward. “I need to hit the laptops first, then the phones. I want to get Ryan a new one so he has it before he leaves for Memphis.” Her voice went thin at the end. “How about you, Clara? Didn’t you want to look at the TVs?”

“Yeah, the TVs. And, oh! Those iPad thingies you guys told me about. I want to grab one of those for sure.”

They kept talking but everything had faded to the background for Layna. She was hung up on something Bethany said.

Ryan was leaving for Memphis? Why would he go now, when there was so much work to be done around the lodge?

He and Renner’s work crew were in charge of setting up for the annual Christmas light extravaganza that Lake Haven Lodge put on for their guests and the neighboring town of Weston. It was renowned. The event had put them on the map, and drew people from states away until they were full to the brim every Christmas. This year was looking to be their biggest yet. She’d already warned the clan that they’d have to stick to their cabins this year instead of spending any nights on-site. There just wouldn’t be enough room. It was a good problem to have. And with Josie taking over the accounting part of the business, Layna could focus better on making their customers comfortable so they’d want to return next year. And the next. And many after.

But Ryan taking time off to go to Memphis would surely put the crew behind schedule, and didn’t make sense.

They shuffled forward, gradually closing the distance between them and the two guards that watched the door.

“Did you say Ryan is leaving for Memphis?” Layna asked when there was a break in the conversation.

Bethany nodded, pulling her coat tighter as the wind whipped around them. “Seems so.”

“Before Christmas?”

“He’s going tonight. He was pretty much packed when I talked to him earlier.”

Layna frowned, pulling her waist-length hair back with both hands and looping it in a knot.

A supply run maybe? But then why wouldn’t he just go to Little Rock?

Her heart sank knowing he’d be gone, but it wouldn’t be long. Couldn’t be. Not when they needed him around the lodge. And maybe when he got back, they’d talk. About their future. She’d shut him down before, but things had changed now, and surely he’d want to talk about it.

Layna tugged nervously at her earlobe with her thumb and forefinger. Her stomach twisted and turned inside, her cat trying to warn her something was off. She both hated and loved her animal’s ability to sense trouble. It was nice to have instincts, but sometimes it made her a nervous wreck with wondering. Waiting for the axe to fall was the fucking worst.

Maybe Ryan had his heart set on another now. He was human and couldn’t feel drawn to her in the same we she felt to him. There was Bailey from the kitchen, if he wanted someone in the clan, but there were a ton of human employees too.

She’d been a fool to assume he’d come chasing her tail now that the pact had changed. He was her mate, yes, she knew and felt that with everything in her. But it didn’t mean he wanted to be.

Layna took a deep steadying breath. She’d just have to convince him, that’s all. Win him over again. Make him see that she was the one for him.

Her shoulders straightened with her plan. She could do this. She was Layna Motherfucking Blackfoot, and she was nothing like her mother. She didn’t take things lying down, and she wasn’t letting her mate go without a fight.

“When will he be back?” she asked Bethany, her mind still reeling with ways to win her human.

Glancing over she noticed her friend’s eyes going moist once again, and got the sick feeling this was more than just pregnancy hormones.

“He’s…” Bethany shook her head, her eyes on the hair of the woman in front of her. “This is…”

“What?”

“Permanent. This is permanent.”

“Permanent? What does that mean?”

But she knew. She knew, her heart and mind just weren’t ready to accept it. She needed that definitive clarification that said,
hey stupid, he’s gone
.

Bethany turned to her, wiping a gloved finger under her eyelid to catch a rebellious tear.

“Ryan is leaving the lodge to move to Memphis. He’s going to work for an old construction friend. Traveling a lot. He said he’ll visit when they have jobs close by, but…” She drew in a trembling breath that reminded Layna of that last leaf hanging on to the branch at the end of fall. “His days with the clan are over.”

So many emotions crashed around inside Layna but none of them managed to make it to the surface past her shock.

“What?” Her breath stalled. Her toes went numb and it had nothing to do with the cold.

He was leaving. For good. He was quitting them. Quitting… everything he and Renner had worked to build for the past four years. He was just going to go and not look back? Now that she was free, he wasn’t even going to try? And forget their bond, it hadn’t had time to solidify yet. But what about her brother? Renner must be taking it hard. And the rest of the clan? Owyn. Mason. He and Ryan were thick as thieves.

Him leaving was going to tear a hole right through them. Just like when another of their clan, Tana, left to live with the Dirt Track Dogs. Owyn was her brother from another mother. He still hadn’t recovered from that loss, and made many a trip west to visit her.

Bethany nodded as they approached the door guards. They’d be the next group let in, but Layna just wanted to get home.

“Yeah. He wants out. I don’t know why. I’m sure he has his reasons though, and I want him happy.”

Layna understood Beth wanting the best for her brother. She felt the same about her own. A kernel of anger bloomed in the center of her chest.

“What about Renner? How’s he taking this?”

Beth tipped her head. “Disappointed for sure.”

“Disappointed.” Layna huffed out an ironic laugh. “Yeah, I guess he would be. With his partner flaking out on him and leaving him with all the work at the busiest time of the season.”

Bethany frowned. “But he still has Owyn and Clara on his crew. They can handle the extra work, right?”

Layna glanced at Clara. She was small, and Layna never understood why Magic had put her to work on Renner’s crew in the first place. Could she really be much help? Then again, she’d survived on her own in the woods for six years, so maybe this was a don’t judge a book by the cover scenario.

But it didn’t matter how much Clara could help. Whether they wanted to see it or not, Ryan was needed at the lodge. He was a vital member of their clan. There wasn’t a cat around that didn’t love him. And as the only human male, he was necessary for helping the others keep their cool in times of stress.

The clan needed Ryan. They did.

Or… maybe she just did.

Her stomach tumbled out of control until she had to grit her teeth to keep from hurling the peppermint coffee she’d had earlier.

There was no maybe about it. She needed him.

Even when they weren’t free to mate, he’d always been there, day in and day out. She was able to look at him, watch his face from afar. Join in his laughter when the clan held a gathering. They’d celebrated holidays together. There’d even been precious moments alone during the workday, where he’d look at her like her face was the moon in a midnight sky. And she’d pretend she wasn’t affected. Pretend his adoration didn’t matter, because back then, it couldn’t.

Now that it could, he was moving on. Searching for greener pastures. Giving up on her.

Just like a human.

She glanced at her friends and amended her thought.

Just like a male.
Ryan was just like a cat. So afraid of commitment, they’d rather give up than try. Whatever his reasons were, he was a quitter.

Layna deserved better than a quitter, even if her heart craved him.

She drew in a deep breath, and it fucking hurt so bad she was afraid she’d actually cry.

The knot in her throat was like a fist squeezing her windpipe.

She couldn’t cry. She wouldn’t. Not in front of her girls. They couldn’t know how this was affecting her. No one could.

BOOK: Merrily Mated (Ouachita Mountain Shifters 3)
2.09Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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