Authors: Gale Stanley
Southwest Shifters 1
After her pack is killed, Kate hides her inner wolf and goes on the run. She moves in with a rising rodeo star and tries to blend in with the humans.
Gage and his lover, Tanner, are at the rodeo for one reason – to see Shiloh Ford, champion bronc rider, in person. The two Lycans are shocked to discover the human cowboy has a fiancés, and she's a wolf. Desperate to bring the she-wolf into their pack, Gage and Tanner befriend Shiloh, but the wolf-shifters find they're just as attracted to the cowboy as they are to Kate.
Despite the electrifying bond between Kate and the two Lycans, she refuses to turn her back on the life she's built with Shiloh, but when fire forces her out of their home, Kate has to make a decision. Will she continue to reject her true nature or accept her place in the wolf pack?
Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Paranormal, Vampires/Werewolves
Southwest Shifters 1
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Ménage Amour
Copyright © 2011 by Gale Stanley
E-book ISBN: 1-61034-914-8
First E-book Publication: October 2011
Cover design by Jinger Heaston
All cover art and logo copyright © 2011 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
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For Uncle Joe, who gave me a copy of
Omnibus of Science Fiction
a long, long time ago and inspired my love of all things fantastical.
Southwest Shifters 1
Copyright © 2011
“Yeehaw!” Flush with excitement, Tanner waved his brand-new cowboy hat in the air. Gage elbowed him in the gut a couple of times until he got the hint. The straw Stetson went back on his head, and Tanner tried to look contrite but couldn’t quite pull it off.
Frowning, Gage took off his own hat and wiped the sweat from his brow with a sleeve. The hat had been a gift from his lover, and although he’d made a big stink about wearing it, he had to admit it was good for something. The wide brim had kept the sun off his head. As the big orange ball disappeared over the horizon, the cavernous, dirt-filled arena felt as foreign to Gage as a lunar landscape. It wasn’t that he hated the rodeo—in fact, he’d never been to one before—but he felt totally out of his element. “What the fuck am I doing here?”
“Helping me satisfy my cowboy fetish.” Tanner tipped his Stetson and gave his boyfriend a wicked grin.
“You know I’m a fan of men in tight chaps.”
“What am I, chopped liver?”
Tanner cracked up. “I hate liver. You’re filet mignon all the way, baby.”
“Then show a little appreciation.” He would do anything for Tanner, and had, many times over, but this was above and beyond. Crowded by a bunch of hot, sweaty bodies, and hot as a habanero, he felt like an ass decked out in full Western regalia, plaid button-down shirt, jeans, and high-heeled cowboy boots. It was tantamount to torture.
Tanner winked at him. “I’d love to, baby, but we’re a little too public.”
“You’re right about that.” The arena was packed. There wasn’t an empty seat in the rickety old wooden stands. Spectators must have come from all directions to see the riders and ropers. “So how about toning it down a little?” Sometimes he wished he had his partner’s exuberance and love for life, but one of them had to remember the rules—do not attract attention.
“Sorry, baby.” Tanner’s chin dipped to his chest. “Can’t help it. Guys in cowboy hats and tight jeans are hot.” He leered at Gage.
Gage hid his amusement. “Yeah? Well so far I haven’t seen anything worth writing home about.”
Tanner leaned in and spoke in an aside. “That’s because you already have me in your bed every night. You’re spoiled by my nine-inch dick.”
“Yeah, you’re bigheaded in every way.”
“And you love it.” Tanner chuckled and reached behind Gage’s back to tug on his long hair, held back by a piece of rawhide. “You know you’re number one on my fuck-it list. Just humor me this once, and let me drool over a real, honest-to-God cowboy for a couple of hours. Believe me, you’ll reap the rewards tonight.”
“Since when do you need inspiration to play cowboys and Indians?”
“Since never, you know you’re my man. But I’ve been following this guy on the Internet. I’m not kidding, Gage. Wait until you see him. He’s the hottest thing on the rodeo circuit.”
Suddenly the announcer’s voice crackled over the loudspeaker. “
And now we’ve got
Ford, a champion bareback rider. Originally from
, Shi now calls this great state of
The second that bucking chute was slung open, Tanner’s face lit up like a kid on Christmas morning. Gage had to admit he liked that look on his lover’s face, no matter how it got there. He would grin and bear it, even if
meant baking like an overdone potato. An oppressive mix of sizzling temperatures and high humidity had hit the Southwest with a vengeance, and with no relief in sight, it could be potentially dangerous. As far as Gage was concerned, the best place for a wolf was home with the air-conditioning turned way up.
Tanner elbowed Gage and brought him back to Earth. “Watch this.”
Gage glanced around him. All eyes were glued to the dirt-filled arena, and he focused on the bronc rider, too.
Tanner started counting under his breath. “One.”
Gage whistled. Bareback bronc riding had to be the most physically demanding rodeo event.
Shiloh Ford might as well have been riding a jackhammer with one hand.
“Are you watching?” Tanner hissed, and Gage gave him a dirty look, which he didn’t even notice. “He’s gotta stay on that horse for eight seconds. Two.”
Gage shook his head, expecting the cowboy to go flying any second, but he hung on.
Ford must have some motherfucking balance to survive those swerves and spins.
Gage decided he liked the way the cowboy moved, so completely sure of himself. And Tanner wasn’t kidding. Shiloh Ford looked damn good out there. From what he could see, the cowboy had a nice body and a sweet baby face. The last of the sun’s rays made the man’s hair look like burnished gold. Suddenly Gage really didn’t care how long
stayed on the bronc. He was just enjoying the show.
Man versus animal at his most basic, just horse and rider. But I’m seeing wolf and rider.
Ford can ride me to—
Flush with adrenaline, Gage suddenly got caught up in the moment and started counting with Tanner. “Six.”
Gage held his breath. “Seven.” Shit, in the scheme of life, eight seconds is a miniscule part of a day, but right now it seemed like a lifetime.
“Eight!” Tanner threw his hat up in the air.
Gage caught it, filled with excitement for the spectacle in the arena. He and Tanner watched, rapt. Damn if Shiloh Ford didn’t ride that monster out until he stopped bucking.
Tanner shook his head, voice full of admiration. “Few cowboys can ride that mother to a standstill. Shiloh Ford can ride a bronc like nobody’s business.”
Gage handed Tanner back his hat, already thinking about leaving. As far as he was concerned, they’d seen the best part of the show. Now that
had done his thing, Gage lost interest in the rest. “Okay, you made a believer out of me. I’m a fan.”
“Good, because you’re going to meet the man in person later.”
“What are you talking about?”
“I got us tickets to the festivities at the Silverado Saloon. Hobnobbing with the rodeo stars and all the beer you can drink.”
Fuck! Would this night never end?
“I can hardly wait.”
“Don’t be such a party pooper.”
“Spectating is one thing, but you know damn well it’s not a good idea to socialize. What if people start asking questions? Like, are you from around here? What kind of work do you do?”
“What’s the problem? Just say we’re visiting from
. It’s a big state. No one will know the difference.”
“Yeah, unless they’re visiting from
“Look, we won’t stay long. I just want an up close look. And maybe an autograph.”
“If I wasn’t so secure in my manhood, I might be a little jealous,” Gage complained.
Tanner chuckled. “You do look a little green.” His chiseled features turned serious. “All kidding aside, you are looking green around the edges. You feel okay?”
Besides being hot and annoyed, he had an uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach. Gage leaned toward Tanner and spoke in a soft voice so no one else could hear. “My wolf is giving me agita. He wants out.”
“Maybe we should go.” Tanner’s face got that disappointed, pouty look that never failed to get him what he wanted.
Gage sighed. Sometimes he felt like he was dealing with a temperamental child. “No, I don’t want to ruin your evening. You’ve been looking forward to this.” He took the hat off and combed his sweaty hair with his fingers. “A little walk might help, maybe even a run if I have to.” He narrowed his eyes at Tanner. “Don’t go running off with a cowboy while I’m gone. I’ll be back.”
* * * *
Gage stepped away from the stands and turned right. His wolf made a hard left and caught him up sharp. Those claws scrabbling in his gut were hard to ignore when his wolf set its mind on something. He decided to let the beast lead the way, and he turned left, sniffing, his nose filtering out each smell: sweat, testosterone, horse shit, wolf. Wolf? She-wolf!
Impossible. Gage suppressed a growl, stopping it midway up his chest. He followed the scent, trying to narrow down the source, and ended up on the fairgrounds. All his senses pointed to a woman talking to an old geezer. The wolf wanted to pounce, but he reined it in and hung back. The woman, a five-foot-nine beauty, wore Daisy Dukes and a white tank top tight enough to show off an impressive rack. The old guy, a carny worker, had his eyes glued to her chest, and for some reason that bothered Gage. He suppressed a growl.
The feminine, wolfish scent wafting past Gage’s nostrils drove him mad, and he sucked it up greedily, rolling it around until he could taste it on his tongue. Every hair on his body stood erect, and a surge of desire shot right to his cock, filling it so his erection stretched his jeans until they were uncomfortably tight. He couldn’t remember a time when his inner wolf had been so stirred by a woman. She was the one, all right, the one who’d called to his wolf. The woman exuded an animal magnetism, drawing his attention to her like a wolf to Red Riding Hood’s granny.
But she was nobody’s granny. Long, slim legs ending in a pair of white Adidas put explosive, lust-filled images in his head. He imagined her limbs wrapped around his hips as he fucked her.
Looking his fill, he tore his gaze from below the waist to check out her face, with its high cheekbones and full red lips. One long strand of hair had come loose from an ebony ponytail. She kept brushing it back from her eyes, wolf’s eyes, amber and slightly slanted.
She looked up, caught him staring, and froze like a deer in the headlights. Gage froze, too.
One eye-to-eye look from her sent a jolt of adrenaline straight to his heart and set it hammering against his ribs.
Overcome by an urge to grab her and run, he took a deep, calming breath. Shit, he didn’t want to scare her off. He just wanted to talk. Yeah, right. His wolf had already decided it wanted a damn sight more, but it would have to wait. There was too much at stake here to let his libido make a mess of it. A she-wolf was a rarity, and he owed it to the pack to bring her into the fold.
Besides, if he didn’t treat her right, one of these cowboys would shoot him for sure. The carny was already giving him the evil eye. Gage ignored him and started walking toward the odd couple. A crowd passed in front of him. Pissed off, he shoved his way through, but she was gone. The old guy didn’t look friendly, but Gage held out his hand anyway. The carny ignored his outstretched hand, and he dropped his arm to his side.
“My name is Gage. I wanted to talk to the lady. Guess I just missed her.”
“Humph.” The man gave him a sour look. “Guess you did.”
“Do you know which way she went?”
“You know her?”
“Then I’ll tell her you were looking for her.”
Fuck! Suspicious old coot.
“Never mind, I’ll catch her later.” He tipped his hat and turned away.
One way or another, he planned to see this woman again. Different scenarios played through his head as he climbed the stands and sat next to Tanner.
“You feeling better?”
“You still look off. Let’s go home. I got my cowboy fix.”
“Hell no. Didn’t you say something about tickets to some party?”
Tanner’s eyes went wide. “What got into you?”
“Maybe I just feel like dancing.”