Authors: J. L. Langley
As heir to an old and proud heritage, Aubrey Reynolds works and lives for his family, his employees and his pack. Agreeing to watch after a visiting werewolf is no big deal—until he discovers the newcomer is his mate. His very
mate…which is a very big deal, indeed. Revealing his sexuality was never part of Aubrey’s well-ordered life plan.
Much as he loved caring for his eight younger brothers, Matt Mahihkan knows it’s time to grab the opportunity to attend college in Atlanta. Realizing Aubrey is his mate should have been a delightful experience…except Aubrey treats him more like a dirty little secret than a lover. Yet Matt is a patient man. Aubrey can’t stay in the closet forever. Can he?
In time, they settle into a comfortable, if complicated, routine. Until a rogue werewolf with an axe to grind forces Aubrey to add to the wedge of secrets driving him and Matt apart, leaving Matt exposed to danger…and Aubrey forced to choose between love and duty.
Warning: Contains color abuse with a really bad sense of fashion, a southern accent from hell, sex on antique furniture, a pouncing playful werewolf, obnoxious siblings, liberal use of a color identifier and impatient sex. No lightning bugs were harmed in the making of this book.
They cannot be sold, shared or given away as it is an infringement on the copyright of this work.
This book is a work of fiction. The names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the writer’s imagination or have been used fictitiously and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, actual events, locale or organizations is entirely coincidental.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
577 Mulberry Street, Suite 1520
Macon GA 31201
Copyright © 2011 by J.L. Langley
Edited by Sasha Knight
Cover by Angela Waters
All Rights Are Reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.
electronic publication: March 2011
Dedicated to Kris Jacen and Kimberly Gardner. Thank you both for all your help and support, not just through this story, but well…everything. You have become two of my dearest friends. The two of you always make the time to read and give me an opinion. I know you both are probably sick to death of this story, having seen it in so many stages of completion, but y’all always made time.
As always, thank you to Andre for everything. You’re my rock. I love you. And to my wonderful critique partners for all their emotional support.
Kill me now!
Matt laughed at the text message, startling a few of his fellow passengers exiting the plane in front of him. He enjoyed Aubrey’s texts.
After stepping to the side of the jet bridge, allowing other passengers to pass, Matt stood his suitcase up and typed back.
He hit send and got moving again. His excitement grew with each step. Not only was he about to start college, he was finally going to meet his new friend in person.
When he’d enrolled in Georgia State, his friend Keaton arranged with his family for Matt to spend full moons with them. On a whim, Matt had texted Keaton’s older brother, Aubrey, to introduce himself and ask about the weather in Georgia. They’d hit it off and communicated by text ever since. Aubrey had even volunteered his spare room to keep Matt from paying for an apartment on campus.
As Matt stepped into the terminal, tugging his suitcase behind him, his phone chimed again.
Regardless of what Keaton said, Aubrey’s sense of humor was great. Uh-oh. The grin slipped off Matt’s face. If Aubrey was still in his board meeting, he wasn’t greeting Matt at the airport. Darn it.
As if Aubrey had read his mind, the phone alerted Matt to another message.
is meeting u @ the a/p. silver cadillac xlr-v. parking garage across from south terminal. gate s5. tall, drop-dead gorgeous brunette.
Tara was, according to Keaton, Aubrey’s fiancée and a former Miss Georgia. Hefting the bag farther up on his shoulder and dragging his suitcase, Matt searched for an exit. The place was busy and appeared to have nothing but gates to the planes. The only outside he saw led to the runways. Weird. Or perhaps it wasn’t. He’d never been out of New Mexico. Maybe all airports were like this.
Matt strolled up to the counter of a gift shop and waited for one of the two ladies working there to look his way. “Excuse me.”
A pretty black girl about Matt’s age smiled at him. “What can I do for you, sugar?”
“This is going to sound like a really silly question, but how in the world do I get out of here?”
She shook her head. “Not silly at all. I assume you mean how do you get to your ride?” Noting Matt’s nod, she pointed toward the left. “Head all the way to the end and take either a right or a left.”
“Thank you.” As he walked off toward his destination, his phone alerted him to a new text message. Matt didn’t recognize the number.
What r u wearing?
Huh? Matt blinked at the phone, sure he’d read it wrong. Wasn’t that how phone sex started? He wasn’t dating anyone.
This is Tara. I had 2 park far so I came in.
“Oh.” Matt responded,
white polo, blue jeans, black sneakers.
She answered back with,
Hmm, not real helpful. Other stats? I’m in a red Falcons ball cap, black tank & denim shorts. Black hair in a ponytail.
short black hair, 5’9”. Black duffle and black rolling suitcase.
Awesome. I’m just getting 2 baggage claim area. C u in a few. Look 4 me.
A little farther down the concourse, he spotted moving sidewalks and jogged toward them. “Cool.” People walked instead of waiting for the conveyor belt to move them forward, so Matt took a few steps. It was like traveling at supersonic speed, like he was Flash or someone. “Awesome.” Chuckling, he picked up his pace and took a couple of pics of the sidewalk with his phone. He got some video too. The end of the sidewalks came way too soon. Matt put his phone away and continued to make his way to the end of the terminal.
Up ahead, escalators led to the baggage claim. Matt stepped onto the escalator and checked his voice mail. There were no new messages. Since he had the phone out, he looked to see if his movie of the moving sidewalk recorded.
The rubber soles of his shoes squeaked to a halt on the metal grid at the end of the escalator and Matt tumbled forward. He flailed for several seconds and belly-flopped on the ground. He whacked his chin on the floor and his phone flew from his grasp.
His luggage fell next to him, and the bag over his shoulder splatted on his back.
Before he could pick his idiot self up off the floor, the most wonderful scent in the entire universe tickled his nose. The woodsy aroma held a hint of spice and vanilla.
“Oh my God! Are you okay?” a husky female voice asked.
Matt’s cock began to harden. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeper. A soft flowery smell drifted by as well.
When he opened his eyes, a pair of feet in black flip-flops with little skulls and crossbones on them filled his line of vision.
He sniffed again. The arousing scent grew stronger. His prick hardened into a full-blown erection, and that was saying something, as bad as his chin and his pride hurt.
Oh crap, oh crap, oh crap.
He wanted to roll himself in that heavenly aroma.
, his mind whispered.
Matt’s conscience shouted.
His stomach clenched painfully, and he became lightheaded. “This can’t be happening, this can’t be happening, this can’t be—” Matt glanced up and up and up long tanned legs to a pair of ragged, blue-jean cutoffs covering curvy hips and hanging just below a tiny waist. Farther up a black tank top concealed generous breasts. Her hair was black and pulled into a ponytail beneath an Atlanta Falcons ball cap. “Tara?”
“Matt? Is that you?” She squatted, offering him a delicate hand. “Are you okay?”
“Feeling rather stupid at the moment but okay. Thanks.” Matt jumped to his feet, a little dazed, a little sore, a lot embarrassed and confused.
Tara retrieved his phone while he got his luggage and readjusted the duffle on his shoulder. That’s when he got his first look at her face. Aubrey was right, she
drop-dead gorgeous. Her features were as refined as the rest of her, and she wasn’t wearing even a hint of makeup. She wasn’t at all what he’d expected.
A sunny smile lit her face, making her even more beautiful. She epitomized femininity, even if she was every bit as tall as Matt. Up close, there was no doubt the spicy scent belonged to her. Heat suffused his neck and face.
“Out of the way, moron!”
Jolted out of his initial shock by a man barreling past, Matt glanced around and realized he’d stopped right in the middle of the walkway.
“Fuck you, asshole,” Tara called after the man with a Southern accent so charming Matt almost missed the fact that she’d cussed at the guy. Tara sighed. “People are rude. Are you okay, Matt?” She motioned for him to start walking and handed his phone over.
Come on, Matthew, pull it together.
Placing one foot in front of the other, concentrating on not freaking out, Matt made his way to the baggage carousel. Swallowing down the lump in his throat, he smiled at her—he couldn’t not because she smiled at him—but over and over he kept thinking
this can’t be happening
. Yet it was. His eyes didn’t always see the way they should, but his nose worked just fine.
“Matt?” She studied him as the buzzer sounded and the carousel started moving.
“Sorry. I’m kinda dazed. I feel like a complete idiot. I was checking to make sure my phone recorded the moving sidewalk. I wanted to show it to my little brothers. I have eight brothers, and my younger brothers would think that was really cool and—oh my God, I’m babbling.”
She giggled and wrapped her hand around his forearm. “Don’t worry about it. If you’re sure you’re okay, we can forget about the whole thing.” She quieted for a few seconds and let out a low whistle. “I’m gonna smack Keaton right upside the head when I see him though. He didn’t tell me you were so adorable.”
Matt’s cheeks heated more as he watched a few bags move past. “Thank you.” She thought he was adorable?
“Nine boys, huh?”
“Yeah. I’m the oldest.” Matt’s bag appeared out of the opening, and he prepared to grab it as it came by.
She reached for the bag on his shoulder. “Let me help you carry some of this stuff. You look a little shell-shocked.” She dipped under the weight of the bag, and her eyes widened. But she straightened, determined to take it.
“It’s kinda heavy. I can get—”
Arching a brow, she took the rolling case from Matt. “Not a chance, gorgeous. You’re a guest. I’m getting these bags. You get the other.”
Matt retrieved the larger suitcase off the carousel and motioned for Tara to lead the way. It was silly letting her haul two bags when he only carried the one, but she wasn’t the typical delicate flower. He got the impression if he argued, she’d argue back. This woman had been Miss Georgia? “Um, thanks.”
“You’re welcome. How was your flight?”
“It wasn’t bad. I couldn’t figure out how to get out of the darned airport though.”
“Yeah, it’s a little strange. You have to go all the way to the end of the concourse to get to the terminal.” They headed out into the warm Georgia sunshine, and she pushed her ball cap lower over her eyes to block the sun. “Listen, it looks like Bree’s stuck in Macon. How do you feel about going to lunch with me before I take you to get settled into your new place?”
“Bree?” Blinking at the brightness, he tried to still the rapid pounding of his pulse. He wished his stupid boner would go away.
“Yeah, that’s what I call Aubrey.”
His wish came true. At the reminder of Aubrey, Matt’s erection dwindled like he’d jumped into a vat of ice water. It was bad enough that he didn’t know what to do about Tara, but how would Aubrey take the news that his fiancée was Matt’s mate?