Southern Shifters - Press Paws (Buchanan Clan #2)

BOOK: Southern Shifters - Press Paws (Buchanan Clan #2)
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Text copyright ©2016 by the Author.

This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by Eliza Gayle. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original Southern Shifters remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of Eliza Gayle, or their affiliates or licensors.

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The Buchanan Clan #2-Press Paws
Celia Kyle
The Buchanan Clan #2: Press Paws

T
here’s
no pause button in life? Ha! She’s just the fabulously fluffy werefeline to create one.

Hannah Buchanan is the oldest daughter to the Buchanan werelion clan leader, twin to Katie Buchanan, and… and blah, blah, blah. Hannah is a lot of things, but she refuses to be defined by her family and their connections. She’s more than an honorable, fertile womb destined for a political mating.

So she’s pressing the paws—er,
pause
—button and retreating to Deals Gap, North Carolina. Her adopted werebunny sister calls the small town home and it’s the perfect place for Hannah to hide. Then she meets the gaze of one green-eyed, black-haired, sexy as all get out werelion-wolf hybrid. He calls to her lioness like no one before. And, well, he should since… he’s her true mate!

Too bad for Hannah, her contracted mate followed her to Deals Gap and is determined to have her—even if it means murdering her true mate first. Will her mixed-breed mate be able to take down a pureblood werelion? Or will Hannah end up in a political mating after all?

1

T
he thing
about small towns is that a person can’t always find a fabu place to get a mani/pedi. Which… sucks. Don’t get Hannah wrong, Deals Gap, North Carolina was a great place to lay low, but it’d be
perfect
if they had a rockin’ nail salon. Oooh, maybe a spa that could handle fingers and toes
and
give her a facial. Her skin was getting all kinds of
ick
with the summer humidity. She needed her pores cleansed and skin buffed and—

A bee buzzed past her nose and she jerked back, waving her hand to brush the bug aside. That movement managed to do two things—get the thing away from her face and fling droplets of the best nail color known to man (
PIO’s I’m Not Really a Streetwalker
) across the porch. Those little bits of liquid gloriousness flew through the air, metallic sparkles glinting when struck by the sun’s bright rays, and finally splatted on the newly refinished wood. There it sat, bright red against the sanded and sealed natural beige.

Her sister was gonna kill her. Hell, her sister’s
mate
was gonna kill her. Deader than dead. Especially since Carter had spent four Saturdays grumbling and growling while he worked. But it’d made Bethany happy so he’d done the work. Random drops of
I’m Not Really a Streetwalker
all over the ground would
not
make Bethany happy.

Now Hannah had circled back to the deader than dead aspect of her day.

“Shit. Fuck. Damn,” she mumbled and then winced when her lioness snarled and clawed at her mind. The feline hated Hannah’s cursing habit and let her know. Often. More so now that Bethany had a Technicolor baby—who knew if it’d shift into a bunny, a tiger, or a wolf—in the oven. The lioness assured her she had to set a good example. Especially if she was going to be the alpha bitch of—

Hannah stomped on that thought. Stomped and pounded and pushed until it was out of her mind. Traveling to Bethany’s cabin—housesitting while her sister and Carter were on their honeymoon—was supposed to be an escape from responsibility. She could think about becoming the alpha bitch of Jeremy Lachlan’s pride later. Like, when they were at the mating gathering and about to say their vows.

The cat reminded her it was an honor to mate the alpha-to-be of the Lachlan pride. Right. Tell that to her human mind.

Of course, as she mentally whined about her impending mating, the red polish dried in little mounds on her sister’s beloved porch. “Misty Fuzzer.”

There, that had to make the lioness happy. She’d managed to suppress the urge to shout
mother
fucker
. The cat roared and she winced. Sometimes she hated the cat.

Hannah reached for the open bottle of polish and shoved the brush into the container, twisting the top until it was sealed tight. She leaned back and lowered her legs, pulling her feet off the railing to rest them on the floor before rising to her feet. Well, feet-ish. She was a pro at walking on her heels, toes off the ground, upper body leaning forward while her ass stuck out. She may have ruined the porch, but she
was not
ruining her at-home pedicure.

The morning sun blinded her, and she closed one eye, shielding it from the bright light. Which meant her depth perception was more than a tad off, so when she stumbled toward the back door she kinda—totally—fell into it, then lost her balance and fell
away
from it, and
then
took a quick tumbling trip down the porch stairs.

She grunted with each thump of her body against the edge of each step, legs stretched out and hands flailing while she attempted to stop herself in any way possible.

What did all that accomplish? Nothing. She still rolled down the stairs like a bruised blueberry, not stopping until she landed on her back in the grass. She lay there for a moment, breathing deeply and working through the pain while she hid from what she knew she’d find when she opened her eyes. With a bracing breath, she slowly turned her head, finally opening one eye and then the other. Yup, it was just as she’d feared. Red not only stained the porch itself, but now the railing and each of the stairs. Oh, she’d closed the bottle all right, but her wet toes were a danger to the world around her.

Red. Red. And more red.

Which meant she was deader than dead and totally dead.

At least then she wouldn’t have to mate Jeremy Lachlan.

The cat snarled again and Hannah ignored the bitch. The cat wasn’t the one who had to make cubs with the near stranger. Lions might get jiggy with it in the wild, but shifter babies were made by a couple when in human form. Sure, Jeremy was smoking hot and muscular as all get out (like every other shifter male) but he…

He wasn’t her true mate.

Hannah sighed and pushed the mental whining away
again
before carefully climbing to her feet. Dirt caked her soles, scratches and scrapes decorated her legs, and a nice bruise slowly grew on her outer thigh. Nice. With a shake of her head, she retraced her fall, climbing the stairs and carefully making her way to the back door. She paused just outside the small home and glanced back at her handiwork. She could have possibly hidden the initial few droplets with strategically placed potted plants, but the streaks of red on the steps? Yeah, she had to do something more drastic. Like… actually work… and get sweaty… and
smell
and…

She wondered if there was a discreet handyman in Deals Gap. The right amount of money in the right palms and maybe Bethany and Carter would be none the wiser.

2

H
annah was
ninety-nine percent sure she’d killed her ecogenius car. Which kinda sucked since her sister’s mate was the only mechanic in town and he was sorta
on vacation with her sister
.

“Daddy’s gonna kill me,” she mumbled, and her inner cat agreed. Her father was already pissed she’d run off to Deals Gap and shoved Bethany and Carter out the door so she could— Oh. Wait. That wasn’t right. She’d
agreed
to housesit while Bethany and Carter took their honeymoon trip. She definitely hadn’t shoved them out the door. Nope, that so didn’t happen.

The engine sent another billowing cloud of smoke her way, blinding her to the street, and she stomped on the brake. No way was she gonna risk hitting someone. Maybe parking—she peered around and squinted in an effort to see past the smoke—in the middle of Main Street was a good idea. After all, her smart car was tiny. The big honking trucks that everyone drove could easily get past her. That seemed like a great idea. Maybe the handyman could look at her car, too. How hard could fixing a car engine be? He fixed other thingies that had motors, right? An engine was an engine was an—

Her
engine squealed, thunked, and wheezed. That didn’t seem good. Also, that was an awful lot of smoke for a car that was supposed to be good for the environment. She would totally write a letter to the manufacturer.

Hannah grabbed her purse and glanced in her side mirror to ensure no one was barreling toward her. Coast clear. She quickly exited and strode to the safety of the sidewalk. She also ignored the stares and muffled conversations that followed her.

Nothing to see here, move along. Scurry, scurry.
She wondered if busting out her fangs would get everyone looking elsewhere. The cat snarled, assuring her it would. The beast might be conservative when it came to language, but she was still a lioness. Fierce, protective and downright bitchy more often than not.

Ignoring everyone, Hannah strode toward the hardware store situated a good hundred feet ahead. Her shoes clicked and clacked on the concrete, the fabu heels announcing her presence. They’d been a gift—to herself, from herself—when she’d agreed to mate Jeremy. A girl had to console herself somehow, right?

It took her no time to reach the store, it’s windows filled with all types of… hardware-y store things. She didn’t know and didn’t care as long as the guy she hired knew what he was doing.

She took a deep breath and prepared herself for what was to come. Releasing the air slowly, she allowed it to blanket her in a faux calm. One hand on the door handle, she tugged and pasted a wide smile on her face, feigning a happiness she didn’t feel. It was her game face; the expression she wore when she didn’t want anyone to realize she was crying—or raging—on the inside. At the moment, it was a mix of the two. Crying because she’d screwed up and raging because she’d screwed up.

Maybe if she told Jeremy she was a little bit crazy he’d break the engagement off…

No. He won’t let me go. Not when it brings our families together and gives him more power in the northeast.

Right. Power. She forgot about that.

The sound of her heels on sealed concrete echoed through the hardware store and she soon had the attention of the old man slouched behind the counter. He looked to be at least a hundred, maybe two hundred if that was even possible. Okay, it wasn’t, but damn—the cat snarled—
darn
he looked old. He slowly turned his heavily wrinkled, bald head toward her and squinted his eyes.

“’Elp you?” His voice was deep, a growl that seemed to come from his toes and travel through him until it vibrated the air.

Hannah took an unobtrusive sniff, trying to identify the man before her. Huh. Turtle. Another delicate sniff. No, tortoise. Okay, maybe he was two hundred. She’d read that Galapagos tortoises could live, for like, ever. “Hi, I’m Hannah—”

“You’re one of them Buchanan gals. What d’ya want?”

She smiled widely and swallowed her words. Old people got to be persnickety. It was the benefit of being old. “I was hoping you could tell me where I can find a handyman in Deals Gap. You see, I spilled nail polish—”

“Eh? Can’t hear ya. Ears ain’t what they used to be.”

Which is why people came up with hearing aids.

Another calming breath and she stepped closer to the counter. Widening her smile, she raised her voice. “I need a handyman,” she nearly shouted. “I spilled nail polish on the porch!”

The old man eased back and narrowed his eyes. Well, at least she thought he did. They already looked half closed because of all his wrinkles, but now she couldn’t see them at all. “You one of them harlots then? One of them girls that like to put on the face paints and lure men into sinning? I don’t want—”

“Eldon Oliver!” A woman’s voice sliced through the air and the old man snapped his mouth shut with a wince and a good dose of fear.

Stomps announced the speaker’s approach, and based on the voice, Hannah expected to see an Amazon or a woman with more muscles than she knew what to do with. Instead, she spied a female—Hannah sniffed again—tortoise who hardly topped five feet. She was a small thing, all lithe lines—including a lot of wrinkled ones—and a tiny waist. She didn’t quit stomping until she got to Eldon’s side, and then one of those old hands whacked the man in the back of the head.

Hannah was surprised she didn’t knock it clear off his shoulders. “I cannot
believe
you would talk to a customer like that. I mean, really, Eldon? A harlot? We are in the year two thousand and—”

Eldon grunted and shot the woman a look. It wavered between annoyance and chagrin. Something told her he was sad for being caught, but not about what he’d said. “’M sorry.”

Hannah didn’t believe it for a second. Neither did the woman. “Nice try.”

“Aw, Zelda,” he drawled and turned pleading eyes on the woman. “Don’t fuss. I’m just…”

“Being rude to customers,” Zelda snapped and then turned a bright smile to Hannah. “Don’t mind him, dear. He hasn’t had his nap today.”

“Men don’t nap,” Eldon cut in, but Zelda didn’t stop.

“Now what can I do for you?”

Her gaze bounced between the older man and woman, trying to decide if she should brazen it out or just go somewhere else. Then again, where would she go? It wasn’t like there was more than one hardware store in Deals Gap. With a sigh, she explained the situation to Zelda. All about the nail polish and the falling and then there was her car and it all just sorta… spewed. Everywhere. Word vomit covered the entire area and when she was done, she pressed her lips together to swallow whatever else might spill from her.

“Oh. My.” Zelda pressed a hand to her chest.

Eldon grunted. “Harlot.”

That started the argument all over again.

Hannah was never gonna get the porch fixed.

BOOK: Southern Shifters - Press Paws (Buchanan Clan #2)
9.46Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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