One witch, one cat shifter. Add one wolf. Blend. Safety glasses recommended.
De La Vega Cats, Book 1
Renee Parcell loves her life. Her smoothie/coffee cart business is successful, and she's deeply in love with her boyfriend, Galen. He makes her laugh, he's gainfully employed, and he satisfies her as only a sexy cat shifter can. He even puts the toilet seat down.
Yet they both sense something in the air. An anticipation that leaves them both unsettled.
Tall, blond and gorgeous Jack Meyers, Enforcer of National Pack and one of the most beautiful men Renee and Galen have ever seen, stumbles into Renee's life and the riddle of their expectation is solved--Renee is Jack's mate. What surprises them all is when the three of them touch, magick creates an unexpected triple bond of witch, cat and wolf.
Even as they learn to navigate the steamy intricacies of their bond, a threat looms over Renee. First in the form of resurrected memories, then in the shape of darker magicks someone is aiming at her. Set on stealing her inherent powers--even her life.
Renee can stand to lose almost anything, except her mates. But there seems to be no talking them out of laying everything on the line for her...
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October 19, 2009
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Excerpt from Trinity by Lauren Dane
Renee wiped the counter down, smiling as she swayed her ass to ABBA as they told the story of Fernando. The warmth pressing against the windows and outer walls of the building brought a languid fluidity to her muscles. She envied Sam, the fat feline sprawled in his high perch, furry belly flopped to the side. It would have been an excellent day to simply lie in the sun and nap the hours away.
Wisps of light from the high casement windows played through the air, swirling down over her little juice and coffee bar, catching the crystals and other such stuff her stepmother had hung up all over the place. Dust motes danced to the hum of energy in the shop. More despite Susan than because of her.
The shop was a metaphysical bookstore and magick shop. Owned by a woman who did not believe in magic. The irony of that wasn't lost on Renee, but since she did believe in magic, the shop seemed to be fine with the current state of affairs. Each day she entered the shop she felt embraced by it, which made those not so welcome feelings from her stepmother slightly easier to bear.
Renee had chosen the space in a sunny archway inside The Willow Broom when she'd signed the lease. At first she'd decided to set up shop there because it would keep her in her father's life somehow. She'd at least have a regular opportunity to see him. Their relationship hadn't been strained, but it wasn't close either and she craved that.
But from the moment she'd walked in, the space had called to her. That alcove fed her energy each day. It kept her warm in the winter and cool in the summer. The light through the stained glass created colorful dances across the walls and over the floors and shelves. The shop was located on a busy street near the T stop so there'd been a steady stream of customers all day. No one bothered her about what to serve and when. She kept her own hours, loved the space and her customers. Best of all, the bar enabled her to pay her half of the mortgage rent and it kept her in shoes so what did she have to frown over?
She didn't even need to glance toward a clock to know it was time to leave for the day. Time to head home to Galen. She smiled as she pictured him changing out of his suit and into jeans and a threadbare T-shirt. Mmmm. All that gorgeous, lean, hard muscle laying flat against his body. He moved like the predator he was, quiet and purposeful, big brown/black eyes never failing to take in everything around him. But wrapped in a most charming and stylish package. Sexy and totally focused on her. To be cherished and adored by a man like Galen was one of life's greatest gifts. She had no idea how she'd lucked out, but she planned to keep him forever.
"I'm out of here," she called out after she'd put away her cleaning supplies. The pale green scarf Galen had given Renee for her birthday was soft and cool against her neck as she wrapped it a few times before pulling her cardigan on. The air outside wasn't cold yet, but it had a bite and the sun would be going down soon.
She neared the front door and slowed, pausing to look around slowly. It wasn't time to leave yet. Just...wait. The decks of tarot cards on the nearby display beckoned and she fondled them. So pretty and colorful. The shop smelled of rosemary and sage, of amber and magic. Briefly she wished Susan could see just how special the shop was, but at that point, Renee knew it was a lost cause. Ah well, she could enjoy it just as easily.
Her phone rang and she smiled, relaxing as she picked up. "Hello there, handsome. I'm getting ready to leave now."
The sound of his voice was like caramel, thick and sweet. "Evening to you, babe. Just calling to check in. I brought some dinner home from the deli."
"Yum. I'm good, just leaving now. I'll be home in about ten minutes. I love you."
"See you in ten. I love you too."
She was still smiling as she got outside while she fumbled to tuck her phone back into her bag. She hadn't even noticed where she'd been going until she ran straight into someone a few steps up the street.
"I'm sorry." She bent to help him pick up the things he'd dropped, oranges, apples and fresh bread. "These look good. Mrs. Unger has the nicest produce." She finally looked up as they both stood and everything just sort of stopped as pale blue eyes met hers. And saw straight to her bones.
Her knees went a little weak at the energy between them. Wow. So not her usual type, it was as if a Southern California surfer boy simply appeared before her eyes. Olive-toned skin, golden-blond hair, just a tad too long, an open, assessing gaze and from what she could tell with the clothes he had on, an athlete's build too.
A breeze brought it, the scent of forest and loam. She breathed deep, turning the notes of the music the smells made over on her tongue, in her brain. Sometimes Renee experienced things differently than most people and right then, this blond man had flipped every switch in her brain and body. Just looking at him and smelling his skin threatened overload and still she could not get enough. The sharpness of it, the total unexpected edge of desire she felt in her gut alarmed her even as she tasted the rich and heady flavor and craved more.
But at the back of her mind she knew this was not okay. She pulled herself back from that edge and shook her head a bit.
He reached out and touched her arm, just quickly. And yet she felt the echo of it even after he'd moved his hand away.
"Are you all right?"
What a voice. Lazy, redolent with sex, deep.
Hopefully he didn't hear the slight breathy quality of her reply. "I'm fine. Your apples might be bruised."
A puzzled look skirted over his features briefly until he smiled. Big white teeth, pale blue eyes, that hair. Renee took a step back to try and break the connection forming between them, but he took a step forward.
"I'm Jack Meyers." He held out his hand and she took it. Instead of shaking it, he turned her wrist, bending to press a kiss just there, his lips against her pulse.
He straightened slowly and she practically yanked her hand from his grasp, even as his gaze held her still. Those golden threads of connection she'd felt just moments before were back.
"I really need to get home. I'm glad you're okay." Her smile was too bright, she knew. Too false and cheery. But he did something to her insides. Her insides belonged to someone else, thankyouverymuch.
"Wait." He took her hand again and she didn't want him to let go, which startled her into doing just that. This was not okay.
"I need to go. It was nice to meet you."
"Have dinner with me." She tugged and he let her hand go, but she saw his features, knew he didn't want to. "Candlelight, wine, and a few slow dances."
Something inside her liked that, responded to the idea and that scared her. She loved Galen. He was her man and she wasn't supposed to get all tingly and breathless about anyone else. She was being stupid and it was time to simply walk away right then. "Thanks for asking, Jack. I'm flattered, really. But I can't. I'm with someone. Really with someone. I don't have dinner with anyone but him."
That was the truth, or as simple as she could make it anyway.
She took one step, and then another, letting the threads of connection between them pull and snap, feeling her connection to Galen right where it should be. "Night." She raised a hand to wave and turned away from him, toward home where she belonged. Once she'd done that everything felt better and she relaxed.
"Hey!" he called out and she kept walking, but turned her head. "You never said what your name was."
"I guess I didn't. Night, Jack." She grinned and turned away again.
Jack stood rooted to the spot on the sidewalk as she walked away. As his mate walked away. The strain on his muscles burned as he held himself back, held his wolf from grabbing her and heading for the hills.
One moment he'd been caught by the glimmers of gold and burgundy in her short, curly hair and the next, as he kissed her wrist, he'd been breathing her in, filling himself with her scent until he nearly shook at the recognition of who she was. She was in him, rushing through his veins, becoming part of him.
Just beneath her scent, lay the scent of a cat.
A cat and sex. And as she'd been there, reacting to him, her body had warmed and the spice of her want of him had taken over everything within him. His skin tingled with awareness and need. The need to claim her and mark her as his until not even the memory of that cat remained in her mind. Tension washed away with the knowledge that he'd found her. The ever-familiar ache, wanting the one woman he couldn't ever have, he realized, was gone. He let his breath out slow.
For the first time since he'd become Grace Warden's anchor bond, she wasn't the woman dominating his thoughts.
He rolled back, balancing on the balls of his heels as he inhaled her scent on the breeze. His wolf wanted to howl with delight. Something else. More than a cat in her bed. His mate was something more than human. She smelled of magic, of amber and lavender sugar. He smiled at the memory of the sugar his foster mother made for tea in the winter. It boded well, this memory. This woman was meant to be on that sidewalk when he'd walked by.
Of course it couldn't be easy, no. He'd watched his friends find their mates and not a one of them had just bumped into another wolf at a dinner party and mated, end of story, happily ever after achieved. She'd said she was with someone and he scented a cat. From what he understood of cat shifters, they didn't idly live with others, especially in a romantic sense. They shared their space with their imprinted mates, their spouses under their law.
Still, he didn't need to jump to conclusions. If she was mated to another, she couldn't have rung his own mate bell. The mate bond wasn't so cruel to a wolf that he'd find his other half and have her totally unattainable.
This called for some thought. She needed to be courted, showered with attention. He was old enough to realize most modern, non-shifter women would not appreciate the wooing of the wolf sort straight from go. No scooping up and claiming against a wall with feverish urgency on the first date for her. He'd loved women long enough to have perfected the art of seduction and this would be the most important seduction of his life.
Smiling as he watched the last of her turn a corner a few blocks away, he turned and headed into the shop she'd just exited.
A magick shop of sorts. But her stamp wasn't the one on the place overall, not that he could tell. There was some overkill, especially toward the registers. His little witch didn't seem to be the overkill type. Still, her magic hung about, intertwined with the magic of the place. It liked her.
"Excuse me." He sent his most boyishly charming smile at a woman nearby.
She looked to him, assessing his wallet most likely. The woman had crafty eyes. He'd studied people long enough to know which people to avoid. This one was bound to come with trouble. "Can I help you?"
"I'm looking for a woman who works here. God, I...her name escapes me just now. Small, probably about five feet or so. Dark, curly hair, big eyes."
He nodded, relieved. Her name was Renee. Mentally, he rolled the sounds around, liking them immensely. What he didn't like was this woman he was speaking to. She of the shifty eyes and thin, sharp scent of lies. His mate was in contact with this woman every day? He shuddered inwardly but kept his smile in place.
"She went home for the day. She closes the coffee and juice bar down at three thirty every weekday. If you're looking for a coffee, there's a diner across the street."
"Thanks. I'll drop in to see her another time."
The woman he'd been speaking to crossed her arms over her chest. "You a friend of hers?"
"Yes. Have a nice night." He turned and waved as he headed out the door.
He had his work cut out. Of course he never doubted he'd be successful. She was his mate; their connection and attraction would be very strong. Strong enough that once she got to know him and trust him, she'd drop this cat and come to him. If she hadn't been his, he'd have felt guilty about trying to break up a relationship. But she was and he was meant to have her. He looked forward to spending every moment of the rest of his life making sure she was never sorry.
Starting the next day, he'd make himself a regular part of her life. He'd be there and get to know her, let her know him. It would be a challenge, but one he relished.
Satisfied, he headed toward his condo, opposite where she'd gone, and relished the next part of his life. The last years had been pretty quiet, peaceful, and he'd been dying inside each day as he watched Grace and Cade together, totally in love and united, their children underfoot and just as loveable as their parents.
He'd known being an anchor meant that male would feel bonded to the female much like her mate did. But no one told him what it would be like to love Grace and know he could never have her. On top of knowing how much Grace adored her husband, Cade and Jack had become close friends. They were his family and his love of them was double edged in a way Jack knew Cade understood very well until the moment he'd met Grace. Cade had loved his sister-in-law for a very long time as well.
He changed course, heading toward the building just a few doors down from his, where Cade and his family lived. He wanted to share this with them.