Authors: MJ Compton
Table of Contents
OMEGA MOON RISING
Toke Lobo & The Pack
SOUL MATE PUBLISHING
OMEGA MOON RISING
Cover Design by Rae Monet, Inc.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are the products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, business establishments, locales, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
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Published in the United States of America by
Soul Mate Publishing
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Macedon, New York, 14502
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Edward “Easy” Ryder
Arlene Compton Golden
Betty Goodrich Thomas
May their memories be a blessing.
James Callen, Jr.-for patiently answering questions about Colorado;
Jenn Talty-for opening her lakeside cottage for long writing weekends;
ALee Drake-for opening her lovely historic home for long writing weekends;
Renee Kloecker-for opening her “country house” for writing retreats;
Mark Kloecker-for answering questions about the funeral business.
Lawrence Brown-for answering questions about family law.
The Purples: Gayle Callen, Kris Fletcher, Carol Lombardo, Christine Wenger-for being the best pals/critique partners an author could ask for.
And my husband Steve, who brings home the pizza/Chinese when I’m on deadline (and other times, too!)
Luke Omega liked human females, more so than the average werewolf. His friends and family attributed his fascination to his human blood—one quarter German, to be exact.
The girl carrying the guitar was as pretty as a valentine in her ruffled pink and lace dress. The July sun was shining, but it wasn’t too warm, and he didn’t have anywhere to be until it was time for Toke Lobo and the Pack’s sound check. Even though his drums didn’t need checking, he was expected to be there with the rest of the band. Until then, he was free to enjoy the annual Moonsinger Brewery family picnic.
He decided to follow the girl. Given the guitar, he guessed she was headed for the stage, where a talent show was scheduled. Maybe being part of the Pack would help him get to know her better. The ploy worked for him in bars.
The sounds and smells of the event bombarded his keen nose and ears. Someone was overcooking the usual array of picnic meats. Children shrieked from the vividly colored bouncy houses. A generator roared and belched diesel fumes as it powered several small carnival rides.
The brewery did well by its employees.
As a member of the Loup Garou pack, Luke was one of the owners of the brewery. Yeah, the picnic cost a lot of money, but the workers deserved something nice. Moonsinger was catching on around the country, thanks to the Internet. Luke had convinced the pack leaders the World Wide Web was the place to be if they wanted to expand their market.
He liked the Internet as much as he liked playing drums and being with females.
The valentine girl looked vaguely familiar. Luke didn’t spend a lot of time in Oak Moon, the town where most of the brewery workers lived, so the recognition puzzled him.
Sure enough, the girl in the pink dress marched up to the talent show registration table to sign in. His super-sensitive werewolf hearing confirmed she’d be on after two more acts. Luke found an open seat off to one side. Her musical talent didn’t interest him in any way other than being the key to getting to know her. With luck, getting to know her real well.
Knowing there was a little blue pill in his pocket heated the contents of his boxers, as if taunting his usually inert organ with possibilities. He hated relying on meds when his human DNA should have overridden the stupid werewolf problem of no erections except with one’s lifemate. Luke was done waiting.
The Internet with its black market commercial websites was a wonderful place. There was no reason he shouldn’t take advantage. His order had arrived that morning, just in time for mingling with humans at the Moonsinger picnic. Seeing the pretty girl in the pink dress was a sign. Anticipation was making him antsy.
Not many people sat in the folding chairs in front of the platform. Nor were there as many blankets strewn around on the grass as there would be when Toke Lobo and the Pack took the stage. Luke felt bad for the performers. He sat through a magic act in which he saw every alleged sleight of hand. The garage band that followed should have stayed parked.
Then the valentine girl came out.
Her eyes were so pure a shade of blue he didn’t think they were real. She must have stolen the color from one of the mountain lakes high above Loup Garou. And her mouth.
her lips were pink and shiny and full, as if she’d spent the past half hour kissing someone. A slight gap in her top front teeth personalized her smile. Her golden hair snagged the sun, then released beams in prisms of colors wealthy enough to tempt any leprechaun.
“Abigail Grant from Oak Moon,” the emcee announced. A girl in the front row whooped and hollered. Abigail’s fan club.
Luke leaned back in his chair. Abigail’s set wasn’t long—three numbers. The first was a cover of Adele or Christina Perri or something familiar sounding from the radio. The second song was . . . okay. The chord changes were simple and the lyrics adequate, but nothing to impress anyone. And Abigail’s voice was too smooth. Homogenized. There were no rough edges for the notes to cling to. As a performer, she was bland.
But those lips formed a perfect frame for naughty.
Oh, he was going to enjoy exploring those lips and having them explore him.
Her third and final number had him rethinking her talent—or lack thereof. Not that he was any kind of expert, but her voice wasn’t . . . big enough to do the lyrics justice. She sounded like cotton candy—pastel and sweet, but without substance. But the words, listening past the shell of her voice—there was power in lyrics, strength she undermined by singing. She infused the song with sorrow when the meaning required rage.
The smattering of applause as she concluded was embarrassing. She must have realized it, because her cheeks darkened, as if she was blushing.
Luke clapped. He knew how awful being in front of an unappreciative audience could be. He made his way to the edge of the stage, where portable stairs aided the performers getting off and on the platform.
“Hey,” he said, lifting his hand to help her descend.
She hesitated, then her too-blue eyes widened.
Luke thought he might drown.
“You’re the drummer for Toke Lobo,” she said. Her speaking voice was as smooth as her singing voice. She took his hand.
“Luke. Nice to meet you.” He grinned. Women loved his grin. At least, that’s what they told him. “You must be thirsty after all that singing. Can I buy you a cup of lemonade?”
Werewolves didn’t drink their own product and this girl looked too young to be of legal drinking age. He sure hoped she was of legal-to-have-sex age. Because he definitely wanted to have sex with her. The little blue pill in his pocket was making all sorts of promises he intended it to keep.
She smiled, pretty as—well, Luke had nothing to compare her to. Her hand felt good in his as he helped her off the stage. “I’d love a cup of lemonade. Thanks.”
She glanced over her shoulder at her fan club. Luke did the same. The girl in the front row was ignoring the act currently on stage and watching Abigail with an unusual expression.
“Friend of yours?” Luke asked.
“My younger sister.”
Luke was torn. He wanted to be a nice guy, but seduction didn’t work real well with kid sisters hanging around. On the other hand, if he waited until after his own performance, and he was nice to the sister now, he might score extra points. “Would she like some lemonade?”
Her hand relaxed in his before she withdrew it. “That’s sweet of you.” She gestured for the girl to join them.
The girl was a younger, unfinished version of Abigail. Rainbows didn’t nest in her hair, and her eyes hadn’t yet been to the mountain to steal color from a lake. And she was a child.
“Libby, this is Luke. He’s Toke Lobo’s drummer. Luke wants to buy us some lemonade.”
Libby smiled at Luke, but he had the feeling there wasn’t much happiness prompting the expression. Color wasn’t the only thing missing from her eyes.
“Thank you,” Libby said.
“Let’s stow Abigail’s guitar before we head to the lemonade stand,” Luke suggested. He led the way toward the bus hauling Toke Lobo’s gear. He summoned one of the roadies and asked him to look after the guitar. Even the roadies had higher rank in the pack than Luke, lowest of the low, Omega did—despite actually being in the band—but other than a dirty look, the roadie did as requested.
“Is Toke Lobo around?” Abigail craned her neck, taking in the behind-the-scene sights.
“He’ll be down from Loup Garou later.”
Tokarz was mated now, had a son now, but the honky-tonk angels sought him. Luke had hoped Abigail was different.
Someday, he was going to be more than an adjunct to Tokarz de Lobo Garnier. Someday, Luke was going to be respected, not ridiculed for his human blood and his computer expertise. Someday. But not today.
Today, finally, he was going to get laid.
Abby tamped down her nervousness. Or maybe it was excitement. Maybe her far-fetched plan could really happen. Maybe things were about to change for the Grant sisters.
Unfortunately, the lemonade tent was beyond the beer tent, the only place at the entire picnic Abby hoped to avoid. As the trio passed the dirty white canvas structure, a thin, nondescript man called out to the girls. Abby would have kept going, but Libby stopped. Fidgeted. Their stepfather had that effect on them.
“Where are you girls off to?” Gary asked as he stood in the opening of the tent. He glared at Luke Omega.
Several of Gary’s poker cronies surrounded him. Abby recognized Pete MacDougal and Jesse Stetson. Each man held a red plastic cup, which likely contained Moonsinger.
She forced a smile. “The lemonade stand.”
“Who’s this?” Gary jerked his head in Luke’s direction.
“Toke Lobo’s drummer,” Libby said. “He was at the talent show. He’s famous.”
Gary’s eyes narrowed. His nostrils flared as if he smelled something foul. “You girls have enough drink tickets left for lemonade?”
Abby’s cheeks started to burn.
“It’s my treat.” Luke grinned. “I invited them. Performing is hard work.”
Gary snorted. “Don’t be putting foolish notions in Abigail’s head. She already has a hard time concentrating on what she’s supposed to be doing.”
Luke’s smile faded.
“I’m the closest thing these girls have to a parent,” Gary snarled. Like a feral dog. He even had yellow fangs. “You can understand why I keep an eye on them.”
“You’re our stepfather,” Abby said in a low voice. “I’m twenty-one, Gary. And our mother’s not dead. We don’t need your protection.”
“While you’re living under my roof, you’ll abide by my rules. Both of you. Make sure you get home before dark. You know how your mama frets.”
Except it wasn’t Gary’s house. Abby’s father had bought the place as a home for his family. Mama had inherited it after he’d died. But Abby didn’t want to get into that. She was at the picnic with a plan, and so far, it was working.
“I’ll make sure they both get home well before dark,” Luke said. “It’s only lemonade.”
“See that you do. And that it is only lemonade.” Gary glared a moment before Jesse and Pete grabbed his arms and hauled him inside the beer tent.
“Charming man, your stepfather,” Luke told Abby as they resumed their stroll toward the lemonade stand. “What does he do at the brewery?”
“He’s in IT,” Libby said. “He works the night shift.”
“Sorry about that,” Abby muttered. She cast around for a change of subject, and then said the first thing that popped into her head. Her own agenda. “So. Does Toke Lobo ever come to the picnic? I mean, before the show.”
“Not this year.” Luke sounded a little funny. No doubt trying to find a way to ditch her after that horrible scene with Gary. “His wife had a baby a couple of months ago, you know.”
Everybody knew that. “I heard.”
They finally reached the beverage stand.
“That strawberry lemonade is the same pretty color as your dress,” Luke said. “How about that?”
“That would be nice,” Abby said.
Luke ordered three large strawberry lemonades. A few minutes later the trio strolled toward a grouping of picnic tables as far from the beer tent as possible.
“What did you think of Abby’s songs?” Libby asked. She walked in circles around the splintery gray picnic table.
“Libby.” Warmth filled Abby’s cheeks. Leave it to her sister to jump to exactly what she wanted. No finesse. No filters. No stopping to think about what other people might feel.
Luke blinked, and then grinned. “I recognized the first one, but wasn’t familiar with the other two.”
“That’s because Abby wrote them.”
Abby’s face burned, but in a weird way, she was grateful to Libby for taking the initiative. She never would have figured out how to start this conversation on her own.
“She’s really good,” Libby continued. “Maybe Toke Lobo would want to, I don’t know, hear one? Maybe buy one?”
Luke’s crystal blue eyes widened. Maybe he thought he was being used. Well, he was, in a way. But he was cute. Abby hadn’t had much of a chance to be with many young men because of Gary. Luke’s initial interest flattered her. Not only was he hot, he was nearly famous. Besides, he’d approached her, not the other way around.
“That’s an idea. I could ask him if he’d like to hear that last one.”
Abby’s breath hitched. Maybe this was going to work out.
“But not until after the show. Toke is totally focused on performing right before he takes the stage. But after the show? He’s loose. Sure, I could ask him.”
“Really? I don’t want to impose.”
Oh, yes she did.
Getting her lyrics in front of Toke Lobo was her reason for performing in the talent show.
“Not a problem. Can you stick around until after the concert? I mean, without getting into trouble?”
Abby chewed on her lower lip. Her brain raced. This could be tricky. “What time does the show end?”
“Eleven or thereabouts.”
Gary would be at work. Libby would be in bed. Mama should be sleeping. “So eleven thirty? Where shall I meet you?”
“Security is tight before, during, and after a performance, but you’re going to need your guitar back. Why don’t I meet you here, then escort you to pick up your guitar, and we can accidentally on purpose run into Toke.”
“Thank you,” she said, nearly choking on the mix of relief and anticipation clogging her throat. “You have no idea how much your help means to me.”
Luke flashed that gorgeous grin of his again. Deep dimples drilled his cheeks. “Wait and thank me after Toke hears your songs. Are you sure you’ll be able to get here? Your stepfather seems like he’s the kind of guy who isn’t very understanding.”
Abby tilted her chin. “I turned twenty-one yesterday. Besides, what he doesn’t know won’t hurt him.”