Authors: Bianca D'Arc
Tags: #paranormal romance
TALES OF THE WERE
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.
This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.
Copyright © 2015
Cover Art by
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.
A woman he could never forget…
Matt Redstone met Morgan Chase just once, but he’s never forgotten the lovely Florida panther shifter. He just can’t figure what it is about her that intrigues him so.
A man who frightens her, but makes her want to forget all her fears…
Morgan doesn’t want to work with Matt, but she has a job to do, and she’s nothing if not professional. A lone shifter brought up by a vampire Master, she has deliberately distanced herself from other shifters for most of her life.
A trio of criminals causing earthquakes that could trigger The Big One…
Matt and Morgan must work together through cave-ins and fireballs to stop those who would use the earth for their own evil purposes. But Matt has an uphill battle to prove to Morgan that he doesn’t want to stifle her mind, career or personality. He wants her just the way she is. The question is, can she get past the horrors of her past to embrace a possible future with a man who seems almost too good to be true?
TABLE OF CONTENTS
“This is bullshit,” Matt groused as he pushed his way out the door of the county’s land development office, already late for another important meeting.
Grif, head of the Redstone Construction empire and Matt’s eldest brother, had sent him to Northern California to straighten things out. So far, the mess only seemed to be growing. Grif was going to be pissed if Matt couldn’t get a handle on the situation soon. This deal was big and had the potential of creating goodwill between shifters and vampires that might spread to other parts of the country.
In addition to being the CEO of Redstone Construction and Matt’s brother, Grif was also Alpha of their family, and the Clan, as a whole. The Redstone Clan was one of the largest and most influential in the United States, with Redstone Construction—and every shifter who worked for them—at its heart.
The Clan had started with their extended family of cougar shifters. As the business grew, the Clan had welcomed many other shifters indigenous to the Americas, including many wolves, a few bears, raptors of all kinds, and others. There was the occasional drifter of one species or another that sought membership in the Clan, as well as work at one of the many construction projects Redstone Construction was involved in, at any given time, all over the U.S. and Canada.
Right now, the problem spot was Northern California, as it had been for some time while they tried to get this project off the ground. As youngest of the founding family and the only unmated brother of the ruling family, Matt had been sent to unravel the tangle of red tape, legal bullshit and crooked politicians. They also sent Matt because he had a few very influential friends in Northern California, including the client, Atticus Maxwell.
Atticus was a world-renowned vintner. He also happened to be a centuries-old vampire. But for all that, he wasn’t a bad guy. In fact, Matt counted him as a close friend, which was odd, considering the usual friction between vamps and
Redstone Construction had been hired to build a housing development for the Maxwell Winery’s new shifter workers. Hiring shapeshifters was something new, and from all accounts, it appeared to be working out very well for all parties.
The ancient vampire had employed humans to manage his vineyards for years—centuries, probably. This foray into hiring a few select
families was something Atticus had been working on for a while now with the help and blessing of the Master Vampire of the region, a fellow named Marc LaTour.
The idea was to increase the connections between the Brotherhood of vampires and the
community. It was an initiative the Redstones endorsed, mostly because Matt had recommended this particular nest of vampires highly…and vouched for them personally.
There were a lot of family members of those who worked for Redstone Construction and had become affiliated with the Redstone Clan that didn’t work directly in construction. Some, it turned out, were ideally suited for work at a winery. After a trial period, Maxwell had been so pleased with the results that he’d extended their contracts and hired Redstone Construction to build housing to suit the needs of the newest Maxwell Winery workers.
The land they’d chosen had an abandoned gold mine on it, which was perfect for the mostly wolf shifters who would live there. The old mine would provide a modicum of freedom and safety for the werewolves who liked the idea of raising their cubs in a place that had all the human creature comforts of a home above ground, as well as all the earthy peacefulness of an honest-to-goodness den.
But the mine that made the land so attractive in the first place was also the source of the current political trouble. Some eco fools had taken it into their heads that Redstone Construction posed some kind of danger to the environment. And, if that argument didn’t halt construction on the site, the claim that Redstone Construction was somehow going to unleash chemical hazards that were leftover from the mine’s active phase was also being bandied about.
Add to that media attention that neither the shifters nor the vamps wanted and the politicians taking fatuous stands on the manufactured
, it could quickly become a business nightmare of epic proportions.
The land use people had been throwing around legal terms that made Matt want to strangle someone. Luckily, Maxwell had promised help from someone who knew the local laws. Regardless, Matt called his brother on the way to his next meeting with Maxwell’s legal guy.
“Sorry, Grif. This is turning into a bigger tangle than we expected.” Matt talked to his eldest brother via cell phone as he maneuvered his truck down the winding road that led to the Maxwell winery.
“I’ll send Louise from Legal up to you. Maybe she can help,” Grif offered. “She can probably be there by tomorrow.”
“Atticus promised me one of his guys. I’m going to meet with him now. Atticus wants this project built as much as we do. He says this year’s vintage is going to be the best in centuries because of the delicate noses of his new werewolf employees. Apparently, they can smell exactly when the grapes are at the peak of ripeness or something.”
Grif chuckled. “Glad to hear they’re getting along.”
“Getting along? You have no idea. Atticus was practically gushing about the new vintages. The dude was in alt. He thinks they’ve got a lock on some kind of prestigious prize that pretty much guarantees he’s going to make another fortune. He’s talking about profit sharing, since he credits his new staff with the leap forward they made this year.”
“That’s really good,” Grif answered, smug pleasure in his tone. “Those wolves needed something better suited to their skills than working in a construction office. I knew Jenny and her siblings were wasted here.”
Grif was a really good Alpha. Matt knew his brother had checked on Jenny Fesan and her family many times throughout the experiment. He cared that they were not only well treated, but happy with their new jobs.
“Yeah, no doubt,” Matt answered, switching the call from the hands-free tech in his truck to the handset as he parked the vehicle outside the winery’s business office. “The land use guys gave me the runaround, but hopefully, Atticus’s lawyer can help me untangle the mess. Hold off on sending Louise until after I talk to Atticus’s guy, okay? Chances are, Atticus has got enough clout up here that their guy can get a lot further than our people would.”
“All right. I’ll alert Louise but hold off on sending her up there until I hear back from you. Call me back after you meet with the local lawyer.”
“Will do, bro. I’m heading into the meeting, right now. Call you in an hour.”
They hung up and, Matt opened the door to the business office, his eyes adjusting from the bright sunlight outside to the dim interior. Atticus wouldn’t be at the meeting, Matt knew. He was a vampire, after all. He and his mate wouldn’t rise until the sun went down, but that was okay. Atticus had left instructions for his staff, and they were used to that kind of thing.
Matt walked up to the reception desk and gave the human woman sitting behind it a broad smile. Matt liked women. Young, old, tall, short, and everything in between, it didn’t matter. If they were female—and nice—he liked them. He didn’t go in for mean girls or women with bad attitudes, but if they had a good heart and kindness in their soul, it didn’t matter what they looked like on the outside, he liked them.
The plump older lady behind the desk smiled back, responding to Matt’s greeting.
“You’re Mr. Redstone, aren’t you?” she asked. “The big boss left me a message to expect you. He set up a meeting for you with our legal counsel.” The older woman stood and bustled around the desk, inviting Matt to follow her. “Everything’s all set. I took the liberty of providing refreshments. If there’s anything you need, please just buzz me, okay? My name is Irma.”
Irma opened a door and motioned him through. He paused on his way in to take his leave of the receptionist.
“Lovely to meet you, Irma,” Matt replied, smiling back at her. She seemed to have a perpetual grin on her face.
She left, closing the door behind herself, and Matt turned to look over the big conference room. It was more of a library, actually. The far wall was lined with floor-to-ceiling bookcases that held what looked like a complete set of state law books. Oh, yeah. He was definitely in the legal department.
A movement to the right by an open window caught his attention at the exact same moment a breeze wafted the most delicious scent toward him. A scent he had caught only once before but had never quite forgotten…
“Morgan?” Matt turned to find the loveliest woman he’d ever met looking at him with a crooked smile on her face.
It had been more than a year since he’d seen her, but the encounter was still fresh in his mind. She had made an impression on him. A lasting impression.
“Good to see you again, Mr. Redstone.” Her voice was low and mysterious. Just as he remembered.
“Call me Matt,” he answered automatically, smiling at her simply because he was happy to see her again.
He’d spent more than a year thinking about her, which was odd, but not unexpected. She was, after all, the only Florida panther shifter he’d ever met. They were a related species to his own cougar, but slightly smaller and indigenous to a different part of the country.
“I suddenly remember you’re a lawyer. I thought you worked for Marc LaTour, though,” Matt said conversationally, moving toward her.
“I’ve worked for most of the Brotherhood at one time or another, actually,” she said casually, even as her spine straightened at his approach.
He made her nervous, but she was standing her ground.
Brave little kitty
. Matt’s inner cougar liked that about her.
“You look as lovely as ever, Morgan,” Matt observed, stopping just a bit in front of her. He gave her room while still allowing himself to bask in her delicious scent. His cat wanted to rub up against her and lick her skin to see if she tasted as good as she smelled.