Authors: Zenina Masters
Tags: #Adult, #Erotic Romance, #Paranormal, #shapeshifter
The wrong kind of bat in the right place at the right time; she meets a fox who sends her completely batty.
Bets has been debating making the move to the Crossroads, but the night she met a fox who was out of her league, she made up her mind. Time to stop pining and go on the hunt. Too bad the only thing she ever hunted was an apple.
Weller met the shifter the night of his brother’s wedding, but when he returned to the spot where they had met, he was told that she had proceeded to the Crossroads and he was out of luck. Moving with all speed, he got his ass to the Crossroads and hoped that the woman with the deep golden-brown eyes hadn’t found a man to sweep her off her feet. That was his job.
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Batty for You
Copyright © 2014 Zenina Masters
Cover art by Carmen Waters
All rights reserved. Except for use in any review, the reproduction or utilization of this work in whole or in part in any form by any electronic, mechanical or other means, now known or hereafter invented, is forbidden without the written permission of the publisher.
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Batty for You
Shifting Crossroads Book 20
Bethany Leyhey sat at the table in the tiny diner and prodded at her pie with a fork.
“Bad night, Bets?”
She propped her chin on her hand and glared at the ridiculously handsome elf she had known for a decade. “You could say that. It was a disastrous mixer at the cavern tonight. Everyone left with a date but me. My date disappeared halfway through the night and reappeared on the arm of a squirrel with a fluffy tail, even in human form.”
Dromer sighed. “You are best rid of him. Do you want some coffee or something stronger?”
She looked around and confirmed they were alone. “I want a mate, Dromer. I want someone to romp with and laugh with and wake up with. I want to be able to wander the house and shift at will, I want…love, I guess.”
Dromer watched her sadly for a moment. “Let me get you that coffee.”
He got to his feet and crossed the diner. She sat and poked the pie once again. The apples were fine, but they were grown on land with insufficient nutrients in the soil. Her palate was attuned to fruit no matter which form she wore. Dromer was on his way back to her with a carafe when a small pack of young male wolves came in.
Dromer tensed but he filled Bets’ coffee cup before calling out, “Can I start you off with anything?”
“How about a hand job, fairy?” One of the young males called out.
The other four young men chortled.
Bets perked up and glared at the men who had the look of first-year university buttheads.
Dromer was surprisingly calm. “You aren’t my type, junior.” He went to the counter and grabbed a handful of menus.
He leered at one of the other men, a curly-haired blonde who wouldn’t meet his gaze. “You, on the other hand, have my complete attention.”
To Bets’ shock, the men wolfed out in the middle of the public space. Sure, it was an elf-run diner in the middle of nowhere, but there was a matter of decorum at stake.
Dromer tsked. “Does your alpha know you wolf out in public?”
The five wolves circled him and Bets got to her feet. This had the look of a planned attack, even with the t-shirts and jeans stuck on the bodies.
Bets put her coffee aside and prepared herself with an internal shift. “Call out if you need help, Dromer.”
“Will do, Bets.”
He flicked his fingers at the menus, and they floated back to his hand. “If you don’t want to order, get out.”
The wolves growled, and their leader moved forward and snapped at Dromer.
The door opened and the wolf was unceremoniously levitated outside.
The others smartened up and attacked at the same time. Dromer got three of them under control, but the fourth—the cute one—bit his ankle. “Bets!”
She stood, inhaled and sent a sonic blast toward the wolves. They all yelped and cringed back. The one on Dromer’s ankle tucked his tail between his legs and backed away.
Bets continued her silent sonic attack, and she drove them back through the door, flipping the lock behind them.
She sighed and stopped the signal bequeathed to her by her grandmother and her Egyptian fruit bat ancestry. “That was a close one.”
Dromer hissed and tugged up his jeans. “How are you at first aide?”
She took a look at his wound and winced. “Pretty good. Give me a minute.”
Bets picked up a pair of jeans from the floor of the diner. “As I thought. A nice pair of jeans with a phone in them. I believe I am going to make a quick call.”
A quick thumb through the contacts and she found a home number. When someone answered and said, “Jerry?”she answered.
Bets examined her nails. “No, this isn’t Jerry. I would like the number of his alpha, please.”
There was the sound of someone running their hand over their face in exhaustion. “This is his alpha, I am also his brother. What did he do?”
“He and four friends were involved in an attack on the proprietor of the Night Star Diner. I have his pants and clothing from a few of his friends as well as their truck keys. I thought you might want to come in and collect them and their clothing.”
“Night Star on the highway?”
“That is the one.”
“And you have their clothing so they changed.” He sounded even more exhausted.
“I do and they did. If you will excuse me, the proprietor is bleeding all over the floor.” She cut the call and went to help Dromer elevate his leg so she could cleanse it.
“Are they coming?”
She chuckled and grabbed a clean towel to stop the bleeding. “Oh, yes. Those kids are going to get their butts handed to them.”
“You did a wonderful job. What did you do?”
“Just a bat thing. Keep pressure on it.” She went behind the counter and found the red kit.
Muttering to herself, she wiped him down with alcohol swabs and wrapped the gauze over the pads, taping them in place. “You have like no body hair.”
He blushed. “Thanks for noticing. We can’t all have scary eyebrows.”
“Hey, my scary eyebrows are very expressive, not those raven’s wings that you have.” She snorted.
“How is it that you and I get along so well but Ida won’t give me the time of day?”
Bets tugged down his jeans to cover the injury, but the scent of fairy blood was still in the air.
“I don’t have any interest in having sex with you. Ida is conflicted. She wants you but she wants a family, life and to grow old with her mate. You can’t offer her that. You are already over three hundred. She would age and you wouldn’t. That is a hard thing to deal with when you know you have had your one chance at true love.”
He nodded and his head bent forward in depression. “I know. I want to be with her, but if our being together hurts her, it is not worth it. We can interact with each other from a safe distance and pretend that there is nothing going on.”
Bets felt tears welling in her eyes, and she held Dromer’s hand until there was a knock on the door. The exhausted man with salt and pepper hair was in the company of a younger man with thick auburn hair that was as immaculate as his companion’s was dishevelled.
The older male came forward and inclined his head. “I am Josh Exiter. I believe that you have some things that belong to my pack.”
Bets stiffened. “I believe you have something that belongs to my friend here.”
The younger man was amused.
Josh straightened and faced Dromer. “I apologise for my pack members drawing your blood on your territory. It was unforgivable and they will not appear on your doorstep again.”
Dromer limped over and looked down at the alpha and his companion. “They are young and foolish. A five-year ward will be put in place in case they forget their manners. May I ask the name of the other who has come here to witness?”
The younger man held up his hands. “I am no witness. I am the designated driver. Josh’s sister just married my older brother and we were having a little party when Jerry took off. We had just clocked the escape when your companion called. If she gives her name, I will give mine.”
Bets blinked. “Bethany Leyhey.”
The man’s bright leaf-green eyes crinkled at the corners. “Weller Umbridge, at your service, lady.”
To her surprise, he came up to her and lifted her hand to his lips. He straightened and there was definite flirtation in his eyes. “Not an elf then?”
She blinked and backed away. “No, not an elf.”
Dromer was smiling wryly. “My friend here was just wondering about the plausibility of heading to the Crossroads to meet her match.”
Weller smiled. “That is how my brother met his match. If we can’t find a mate within our own people, we had better adjust to the idea of finding someone that suits our beasts.”
She was blushing furiously. “Right.”
Josh looked between them and chuckled as he grabbed all of the clothing on the floor. “I will be in touch to arrange further reparation. I do not take the spilling of blood lightly.”
Bets watched the two men leave the diner and saw the pale shapes of the younger males as they emerged from the woods at their alpha’s command. She exhaled and sat at one of the counter stools.
“I believe you have an admirer, Bets.” Dromer winked and wiped up his blood with a paper towel followed by a cleanser.
“I am sure he flirts with all women who stare down his new brother-in-law.” She blushed. “Why did you have to tell him about the Crossroads? Now he will think I am desperate.”
“Isn’t that why you shifters go there?”
“It is, and he knows that, but it…oh hell, I don’t know. It just seemed like he was laughing at the idea.”
“His brother met his mate the same way. Why do you think he was laughing?”
She turned and buried her head in her arms. “I don’t know. It just seems like such a huge step to find someone. I wish that love was easier.”
Dromer put the paper towels and cleanser wipes in a silver can and set it alight. Over the flickering flames, he said, “Love is never easy. If there is one thing that my centuries have told me, it is that finding true love is worth the effort. I have yet to bond to mine and it creates an ache in my soul that grows daily.”
Dromer’s plight pulled Bets back. Ida was a black swan, and she had a family tradition to uphold, but there were none of her kind in the area and she had gone to the Crossroads. After two months, she had returned home without a mate and her family had dropped the subject of the next generation. They would die out and they could not change it.
The Black Swan Dairy supplied the diner, and Dromer and Ida had sparked immediately, but he was fey and she was a shifter, and the two magics could never combine. Ida would live and die and Dromer would live on.
Bets held Dromer’s hand and he squeezed hers. “Love lives suck.”
He grinned and sighed. “Can I replace that coffee?”
“Please. More pie, too. Peach this time. I think your grocer is trying to sell you bruised fruit, again.”
“I need you here every day, Bets. No one knows fruit like you do.” He winked again and headed to the cake stand where the pie sat proudly.
She whispered into her reflection in the gleaming chrome backsplash. “Nope, no one knows fruit like I do.”
Even among bats, she was out of place. She was huge, she carried the characteristics of dozens of her ancestors and she couldn’t keep quiet when faced with authority. None of those traits were endearing in her community, where conformity was key and anything out of the norm was something to be avoided.
Dromer put the coffee and pie in front of her, and they sat in silence until dawn came over the hill and the day shift arrived. It was time to make some decisions about life and love and those decisions were best done at home.
Her family took her decision with a heavy dose of relief. Bethany mulled it over as she waited for the transport window.
Their giddy laughter and agreement to pay the price to send her to the Crossroads as quickly as possible was humiliating. She had contacted the transporter and made her first appointment with the second on the following day.