Authors: Krystal Shannan
Tags: #paranormal shapeshifter romance
“My ears are burning, Margaret. What am I doing?” Sarah piped up.
“You’re in charge of the food.”
“Oh, right. Yep.” Sarah gave two thumbs up and then went back to her conversation with Nicole and Aaron.
Margaret shook her head and turned back to Tess. “We will need two trees, one for the main living area and one for the dining hall. Patrick and Scott can cut those fresh outside and then go get them all the boxes of decorations from the third floor loft. Oh, and be sure to cut some extra boughs for the staircase and the mantle above the fireplace.”
“Of course, love,” Scott answered.
“How much stuff do you have, Margaret?” Tess asked. “You’ve only been here a couple of years.
“Margaret loves the holidays. There’s a lot.” Scott grinned at his brother. “At least I don’t have to do it all myself this year. Somehow Chris escaped helping me last year. Not sure how the sly wolf pulled that one off.”
“I wasn’t in town,” Chris hollered from the middle of the long dining table.
Several young women wearing aprons came from the kitchen and began clearing the table. A couple of them seemed familiar, but she couldn’t place where she’d seen them before.
Margaret must’ve seen her eyeing them, because after they disappeared back into the kitchen, she spoke. “They are cousins from Vegas. Their parents wanted to go on a second honeymoon over the holidays, so we told them if the kids wouldn’t mind helping out, they could come stay with us.”
“I knew they looked familiar.”
“A couple of them belong to Breena and then several of Siobhan’s kids are here, too,” said Margaret, getting up from her seat. Her round belly looked like she’d stuffed a basketball under her shirt. Scott stood next to her and took her hand as she navigated away from the table.
Tess got up next, waved to the family members still chatting at the table, and followed the waddling pregnant woman out of the dining room. Scott and Patrick trailed closely behind them.
They walked all the way to the great room in the center of the inn and Margaret plopped down on one of the big, leather couches.
“Tess and I will wait here while you two guys go get the trees and decorations.”
The brothers laughed and quickly disappeared down the main hallway. The side door opened and closed.
Tess sank to the cushion next to Margaret and sighed. “You like living here, right? And things with Scott are good?”
“Oh, sweetie! Things with Scott couldn’t be better. And yes, I thought I would be lonely up on this mountain all by myself, but I find that I’m rarely alone and I love the peace and quiet so much more than I ever liked the noise and smell of Vegas.” Margaret placed her hand on Tess’s leg and gave it a pat. “He’s your perfect match. I know the bear thing can be daunting, but they are just big softies.”
Tess smiled. “I know. It’s just so much. So fast. I just met him yesterday and you guys are already picking out houses and talking about where our children will play together. I feel like I’m gasping for air while the world rushes past.”
“The beginning of these matches is always a whirlwind. The magick jet-propels us. Our emotions are high. Everything is heightened. But it’s okay. And I promise it does slow down. Especially out here on the mountain.”
About twenty minutes later heavy footsteps on the side porch signaled the return of their mates and both women looked up at the same time. Scott and Patrick each had a tree over their shoulder and were dropping clumps of snow with every step. Scott waved to Margaret and headed down the hall toward the dining room. Patrick brought his tree over and laid it on the floor.
“Be right back.” He smiled and hurried back up the stairs as Scott came back down the hall from the dining room. Scott sprinted to catch up with his brother and they both half ran up the stairs. Their laughter warmed Tess’s heart.
The rest of the day passed quickly. Scott and Patrick helped her and Margaret decorate both trees—one in the great room and one in the dining room. They hung fresh garland along the great fireplace and up the railing of the main staircase. Reindeer, Santas, and elves populated the entryway tables, living room tables, and even spaces outside on the back porch. White lights were wrapped around the columns on the front and the back of the inn, and extra lights were wrapped around the bannister of the main staircase.
When the last of the decorations were hung and the guys had carried the empty boxes back to the third floor loft, Tess looked around at the festive decor and smiled. Her parents had never really been big on decorations. Neither was her aunt. But as a kid, she’d always loved the story of Santa and his reindeer. The idea that elves made toys for children in a factory at the North Pole was fun. She wanted that for her kids. And now it was staring her in the face.
“It’s nice, isn’t it?” Margaret asked, clasping her hands together.
She’d been looking for home and finally, she’d found the perfect place and the perfect mate.
Tess fell into bed after grabbing a quick sandwich in the kitchen followed by a shower in Patrick’s room. She’d told Hallie to enjoy the extra space and had moved all her stuff down the hall.
Tomorrow was Christmas Eve. She’d worked hard all day for Margaret to make sure the inn sparkled with Christmas from floor-to-ceiling. Tomorrow was the big Christmas Eve feast. More of Margaret’s family were coming in from Vegas, too.
Nicole, Hallie, Sam, and Sarah had been hard at work getting everything ready for the meal and the inn smelled positively divine. The scent of pumpkin, cinnamon, roasted chicken, sugar cookies, and apple pie clung to every surface of the building and every glitter-covered fiber of her clothes.
The water shut off in the bathroom and Patrick stalked toward her with a look of determination. She’d made him wait his turn for the shower and he’d not been pleased. His cock jutted straight out from his wet body, a nest of dark curls encircled the base and the tip glistened, beckoning her.
She licked her lips and scooted to the edge of the bed. Grabbing a pillow she tossed it the floor and knelt on it. He’d be pleased now, though.
Patrick slowed and his gaze darkened. She could feel his surprise and excitement as it flowed through their bond. He walked up and stroked her damp blonde hair.
She took hold of his cock and squeezed the base, eliciting a guttural growl from him. The sound made her even more aroused. She wanted to taste him.
He wrapped his fingers into her loose hair and guided her lips to his waiting shaft. She licked around the head and then took as much as she could into her mouth. His cock twitched inside her mouth and she swept her tongue around the vein running the length of the bottom, pulling the head into her throat. She worked until she found rhythm of sucking and pulling that seemed to drive him crazy.
His salty musk filled her mouth and she couldn’t wait to have him inside her, pounding until she screamed his name.
She looked up and caught his gaze. Hunger. Need. Love. They were all wrapped up in that one look. Her body hummed with the same need. The same desire she felt coming from him.
His hand in her hair pushed her further down his cock. In and out. Again and again. He groaned again and she felt him get even harder, if that was even possible.
Her name on his lips fed her arousal. Liquid ran down the insides of her thighs and she hummed against his cock, knowing the vibrations gave him pleasure. She enjoyed the control, suckling and licking until he shook.
He pulled away suddenly, then lifted her from the floor and turned her away from him, bending her over the side of the bed. With his hands on her hips, he positioned her, then shoved inside with one thrust.
He climbed onto the bed behind her, and she crawled forward with him until they were in the center of the bed. Her breath came out in pants as he pulled and pushed. Starting slow and building up speed. His length and girth filled her so perfectly.
He leaned forward and the heat from his chest warmed her back. He feathered kisses along her back, getting closer and closer to that soft spot where her neck met her shoulder. He moved one hand from her hip and slid it around to flick her clit.
Gods have mercy!
Her body exploded around his cock and everything around her turned to stars. His fingers were relentless and wave after wave rushed through her body until the only thing holding her from sinking into the bed were Patrick’s hands and his hard cock.
He was showing a dominant side to her now. Asking for everything she could give and she did. Her body was his to move. His to command. She gasped for air as magick rippled between them. Her orgasm carried her to the heavens above and back. Just as she started to recover, pain coursed through her shoulder and she climaxed again. Forgetting the pain of his bite and soaring high into the clouds of ecstasy. He played her body expertly, pinching her clit and then a nipple. Then going back again. He pushed and pushed.
Then jerked against her, coming hard, filling her and roaring her name. He shuddered and then released her shoulder, licking the wound until the magick sealed and closed it. Then he slowly pulled out and gently guided her body to the mattress.
Her wolf growled and she twisted to land on her back instead. She reached for him and pulled him down on top of her.
He braced himself on his elbows to keep from crushing her under his weight.
She wrapped her legs around his waist and her arms around his neck and shoulder, pulling herself off the bed and closer to him. Her fangs lengthened and she bit into his shoulder, marking him as her mate. He nuzzled the opposite side of her neck and bit again. She moaned against his skin and breathed through the pain as the magick evened it out.
The bond between them roared to life, even more than it already was. It was like a floodgate had opened and a stream turned into a rushing river. She could feel his love. His devotion to her. His bear’s feelings were the same and just as strong. It was amazing.
“You are our mate,”
an unfamiliar deep voice spoke in her mind.
“And you are ours,”
her wolf’s voice returned.
She breathed deeply and but couldn’t stop the trembling in her body. Her fatigued muscles gave out and she retracted her fangs, releasing his shoulder from her mouth. He did the same and rolled with her to his side, cuddling her tightly to his chest and whispering in her ear how much he loved her and promised to treasure her forever.
The feelings were mutual and hers flowed in waves through their bond to him. She’d never expected to find her mate in Woodhaven, but she couldn’t be happier that she had.
Fate had known what she needed and found a way to make her the happiest woman on the planet.
“Merry Christmas!” The chorus went up around the great room. Glasses of champagne and apple cider clinked together, followed by cheers and laughter.
So many of the pack had come. The inn was filled to capacity and some of the kids were even sleeping on the floor in the living areas. Their sleeping bags were rolled up right now and stacked against one of the walls.
“To the future of the pack and babies on the way,” Siobhan called out and another round of clinking quickly followed.
“To my brother and his future bride,” Scott’s voice bellowed over the crowd. “We are so happy to have him home and I couldn’t be happier that he found his mate among your pack. You have all become like family to me.”
Cheers went up again. Tess leaned her head against Patrick’s shoulder. It had been the best holiday she could remember in years. The family was together. Pack members from both Vegas and New York had made the trip to Woodhaven. For the past two days they’d eaten and visited and told stories.
Somehow in the midst of Christmas chaos, the women had found a way into Logan and done some very last-minute shopping so there would be presents under the tree for everyone.
Margaret’s younger cousins were doing their due diligence as self-appointed elves to pass out the gifts. Brightly wrapped boxes of all sizes were being passed to each person in the room.
Patrick’s parents had even come over for breakfast and congratulated their son on finding his fated match. They’d made her feel so welcome. So loved. Like she was instantly part of their family. It’d brought tears to her eyes and she’d hated that they had to leave so soon, but they had other family expecting them for the holidays, too.
“I have something for you.” Patrick’s voice was low and carried a little bit of a hitch. Emotion poured through their bond. Anxiety. Nervousness.
She turned to him and brushed her fingertips along his cheek. “Whatever it is, you shouldn’t be worried. I know I will love it.”
He pulled a small, green velvet box from his pocket.
Her heart did a flip-flop and she sucked in a quick gasp for air. How had he gotten a ring? It had to be a ring.
“You could just wait and see,”
her wolf chuckled.
Patrick sank to one knee and the entire room fell silent. “Tess Demakis, will you marry me and make me the happiest man on earth?” He opened the box and a beautiful gold ring sat between two small white pillows. There were inscriptions carved into the band and a solitaire diamond at the center. It was simple, but so beautiful.
“How? When did you?”
Patrick’s face split into a grin. “That’s not quite the answer I was looking for, love.”
“Oh!” Heat raced up her neck and spread across her face. “Yes! I mean yes, I will marry you!”
He pulled the ring from the box and slid it onto her finger, before pulling her into a tight embrace and capturing her mouth with his.
She threw her arms around his neck and pulled his head closer, plunging her tongue into his mouth and smiling as his tangled with hers. He stood straight, lifting her from the floor as he did.