Shadow’s Moon By Jami Gray
Posted by brriske
Title: Shadow’s Moon
Author: Jami Gray
Genre: Paranormal Romance / Urban Fantasy
Even a wild heart can be broken…
A blonde, a brunette and a monster walk into a bar and all hell breaks loose.
It should have been the start of a bad joke, but days from a full moon Xander Cade, Tracker for the Northwest Motoki Pack, finds nothing funny about confronting an enraged Shifter in a crowded Portland nightclub filled with unsuspecting humans. The resulting carnage frays an already thin veil of secrecy shielding the supernatural Kyn community from public scrutiny, and ensures she can’t escape the one man she’s been determined to avoid, her Alpha and mate, Warrick Vidis. Dominating, protective and compelling, Warrick threatens her individuality like no other.
As the Northwest Alpha wolf, compromise isn’t in Warrick Vidis’s vocabulary, but when his reluctant mate, Xander Cade, refuses to leave off the hunt for a killer, he has no qualms using whoever or whatever necessary to protect her or his pack. A series of unusual deaths involving lone wolves, along with anonymous threats against him and his Pack, begin to jeopardize his normal steely control. Add in Xander’s continual reluctance to fully accept their Soul bond, and the line between intellect and instinct begins to blur, leaving him wondering if one woman’s love and acceptance will be enough to save both man and wolf.
As the danger escalates, threatening not just their Pack but those closest to them, Warrick and Xander must find a way to trust each other and accept their rare bond or risk losing everything-their pack, their friends and each other.
Jami Gray grew up on the Arizona-Mexico border, and was adopted at the age of 14 to suddenly become the fifth eldest of 37 children. She graduated from Arizona State University with a Bachelor’s in Journalism and three minors-History, English, and Theater. (Decision-making was not her forte at the time.) Shortly after marrying her techie-geek hubby (who moonlighted as her best friend in high school) she completed a Masters in Organizational Management from University of Phoenix Oregon.
Now, years later, she’s back in the Southwest where she’s outnumbered in her own home by two Star Wars obsessed boys, one Star Wars obsessed husband, and an overly-friendly, 105-pound male lab. Delving into the wild paranormal worlds where romance collides with suspense and Urban Fantasy is queen, manages to salvage her sanity. Or so we let her believe...
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/JamiGrayUFWriter
Amazon Author Page: http://amzn.com/e/B006HU3HJI
Black Opal Books: www.BlackOpalBooks.com
Muse It Up Publishing: http://museituppublishing.com
Excerpt 1 (376)
The club’s lighting leaned heavily on a strobe effect, which guaranteed a rousing headache by the time the night was over. The snaps of brightness stung Xander’s eyes but she did her best to ignore it, trying to make out individual faces in the heavy crowd.
Needing to get an aerial view of the packed room, she found a lone empty chair sitting against the wall. Climbing up, she stood on tiptoe, stretching to see over the sea of bobbing heads. Between bursts of light, a disturbance in the rhythmic mass caught her attention. Two burly bouncers were making their way from the bar to the back of the club. Patrons stumbled out of their way, leaving a visible path. The bouncers pushed through with identical grim expressions. The strobe lights flashed off the taller one’s bald head, while his buzz-cut partner pointed toward something ahead of them. Following the gesture, Xander found Neil arguing with a pretty, honey-brown-haired young woman.
Xander tapped her earpiece. “Ryuu?”
“How long before you get here?”
“I’m almost there.” There was a pause. “You found him.”
“Oh, yeah. And it’s going to get ugly. Quick.” She watched the woman jerk away from the tall, lanky, dishwater blond, shaking her head. “I think I’ve found Sara, too.”
Xander jumped off her chair just as Neil reached out to snag the girl, fury evident in his bared teeth and curled hands.
“We’re out of time,” she told Ryuu, pushing her way through the dense crowd.
“Be careful.” Ryuu’s warning was lost as she hit a broad shouldered form in front of her. The answering bump knocked her hard enough she lost her earpiece. Screw it. Done being polite, she gave him a shove, sending him into the arms of his buddy as she continued toward the impending showdown at the back of the club.
Through the sea of gyrating bodies, she caught glimpses of the confrontation playing out. Sara was verbally ripping Neil a new one, while the club’s security duo drew closer to the arguing couple. Sara’s tirade wasn’t the reaction Neil had expected. Under the strobe lights, his face contorted into something not altogether human.
So much for keeping the existence of monsters on the down low from humans.
Excerpt 2 (524)
“Why are you running scared?” Warrick’s question was stiff.
“Let me ask you something,” Xander said. When he gave a short nod, she continued. “Why did you bond us?”
“You were dying.” His voice was gruff, almost angry. “I—we need you.”
Need, not love. His choice of words scraped over her heart. “Need?” she asked around the tightness of her chest.
“If we lost you, the pack would be devastated.” “What about you, Warrick?” she whispered.
“An alpha can’t have a weakness, Xander,” he said, searing her with the brutal truth.
“So you consider a mate a weakness?” Oh, this was just getting better and better. Why had she thought she could make this relation- ship work?
“Did you forget what happened with Chavez?” he gritted out, rubbing the heel of his hand over his chest.
His movement had her realizing she was projecting her pain through their bond. Furious with herself, and with him, she reeled in her emotions. “Chavez’s mate was crazy.”
“He covered for her because he loved her, and now his pack is in upheaval.”
She wanted to punch him. “So it’s not a mate that you consider a weakness, but the emotion behind it?” she pushed.
“No,” he growled. “You should never give an alpha wolf someone of his own.”
Confusion momentarily overrode her anger. “Why?”
His lips thinned and his jaw tightened. “An alpha is the ultimate protector. Protection of our packs is a natural directive. We will do whatever is needed to protect what is ours. Even if they don’t want to be protected.”
“Even a mate?” She kept her tone careful as she began to get an inkling as to why he was so damned determined to keep his heart out of her reach.
“To protect a mate some would burn the world,” Warrick answered. “Even at the expense of our pack. Chavez is proof of that.”
“Warrick—” she started.
He snarled and ran a hand through his hair in obvious frustration. “My wolf recognizes you as our mate.” Possessiveness stormed down their bond confirming his words.
Mate. A deep thrill hummed through her at his claim, but her heart ached because there was more to it. Dreading his answer, she asked, “And the man?”
“Is torn.” His face was grim. “Claiming you protects and strengthens the pack, but increases the danger to you.” His and me was left unsaid.
“You think you can claim me, but keep me at arm’s length? As if that will somehow keep me safe?”
He didn’t answer, but she could feel the belief in his screwed up logic. She and her wolf took exception to his assumption, and there was no stifling her growl. “I don’t need you to keep me safe, Warrick. I need you to accept me for who I am.”
Feminine fury rose and burned against his male arrogance. Her challenge was the last straw. She practically heard his control break. With a snarl, he captured her hands in his, only then taking her lips with savage intensity. Ravaging her mouth, he took sharp bites of her lower lip before laving the stings with his tongue.
Excerpt 3 (524)
Warrick’s need to protect Xander was going to tear him apart.
She wanted a partner, not a protector. He was bonded to a warrior and not just any warrior, but one of the most lethal fighters in the Kyn community. She was a damn Wraith, a premier hunter of monsters. Dammit, he knew she could handle herself, but the animal prowling under his skin wasn’t easily calmed.
He reined his emotions in, locking them away from the connection he shared with Xander. He didn’t want her to see just how close he was to losing it. He forced his fingers to uncurl from the bedpost. Teasing her about the damn bet had given him a touchstone to keep the man in the driver’s seat, while covering his wolf’s desperate need for the reassurance of her touch.
He grabbed a pair of sweats from his dresser before stepping over the mangled nude body lying on the floor amongst shards of glass from the shattered window. He pulled the sweats on then picked up his cell phone from the nightstand and flicked on the lamp. The warm light pushed back the room’s shadows as he tucked his cell between his shoulder and ear then crouched next to the body.
On the fourth ring, Ryuu answered. “Yeah?”
“How soon can you make it to my house?” Warrick demanded.
There was a pause. “Fifteen minutes.”
“Good. I had some unexpected visitors tonight.” He turned the body over, inspecting it.
Ryuu snarled softly. “How many?”
“Three. Two wolves, one wizard.” Warrick studied the slack face, ignoring the gaping hole where a jugular once resided. Under the gore, the body bore numerous scars. Amidst the ragged claw marks were the tell-a-tale puckers of several bullet wounds.
“A wizard? Do you need me to arrange a meeting with Cheveyo?” Ryuu asked.
“No,” Warrick ground out.
The name of the most powerful witch in the Northwest had Warrick’s wolf surging against the man’s restraints. He picked his way through the miasma of emotion roiling under his skin. Was Cheveyo a threat? A soft growl vibrated across his spirit. A flash of Xander standing between a shadowy evil and Cheveyo seared his mind.
He pinched the bridge of his nose. This damn bond was driving him and his wolf crazy. “No,” he repeated. “Not just yet.”
Maybe there was something more going on than what he could see right now. Xander was safe downstairs with the dead wizard. Cheveyo was the logical choice to go to for information, but unease whispered through him.
“Warrick, whoever it was sent three against one,” Ryuu said. “They weren’t playing around.”
“Three against two,” he corrected.
There was a pause then, “Damn it, Vidis! Your woman’s gonna wipe out my bank account. She just couldn’t wait until the next full moon?”
Lifting his head, Warrick adjusted the cell. “You were betting on when we’d have sex?”
Ryuu chuckled softly. “Actually the whole pack has a pool going.”
Warrick shook his head, fighting the small grin tugging at his lips. “Get over here, Ryuu, and bring a couple of helping hands. Oh, and be prepared to pay up.”
Excerpt 4 (412)
Choosing between her need to protect the man she loved and her desire to honor his trust was going to tear her apart. Either she followed every lead to protect her pack and alpha, or she bowed to her mate’s demands. Rubbing her fist against the dull ache in her chest, she admitted she was screwed either way.
The last time she put her emotions before duty the end results had cost the life of her best friend and her unborn cub. Memories pressed close—her friend’s tear-stained face as she cradled her stomach in a futile attempt to protect her unborn child from her mate, who’s sanity was lost to the feral nature of his wolf, and Xander, hesitating to do what needed to be done.
She brushed her fingers over the scars hidden under the ink on her face. Her wolf rose, offering what comfort she could, crowding the painful memories back so Xander could think. As Tracker, she knew what her decision had to be, but it left that hidden part of her raw and torn.
Gently, she closed the door on those softer emotions and took a deep breath. She was done letting her pack and her mate pay for her inability to make decisions. There was really no way to prepare for the fallout when Warrick found out. When he did, because there was no doubt he would find out, he would be furious. That she could handle. It was the other reactions he may not admit to that worried her. After demanding he be honest with her, did she have the right to ignore his concerns? Even if she was convinced it would keep him safe? Keep their pack safe? She reached out to her wolf, needing comfort and strength as she considered her options. Protection of their mate was paramount.
And if we lose him? She buried her face in the familiar fur of her wolf as she whispered the heart-rending question.
Her wolf’s answer was clear. Protect our mate.
Tears burned and her shoulders hunched as the dread in her stomach had bile rising. She was going to risk it all because the thought of harm coming to Warrick was more devastating than watching him walk out of her life.
Sucking in a breath, she shoved her emotions back, straightened her spine, then turned around. Hollow pride rose when her voice didn’t shake as she told Raine, “Fine. Let’s get this done.”
Excerpt 5 (385)
You’re just down right evil, Mom,” Xander muttered.
Talon’s soft chuckle reminded Xander of all those times she and Ethan had thought themselves so smart, only to find out their mom was still a step ahead. “I may not have your dad’s sensitivity to scents, but it was a little hard to miss who you’ve been spending time with, dear.”
There was no fighting the blush that bloomed in her cheeks. “He’s fine,” she mumbled.
“Yes, he is,” her mom answered with a hum.
Horrified, she stared at her mother. “Oh gods, Mom! You’re mated!”
“Mated, not dead.” She took a sip of her coffee, her teasing grin fading as she set her cup on the table. “But you, sweetheart, are bonded to the most powerful male in the Northwest. I’m worried.”
Xander dropped her gaze to her cup, turning it in place on the table. Here, in the home she grew up in, safe with the mother who stood beside her through so much, she admitted, “So am I.”
“I’d be more concerned if you weren’t, baby,” her mother chided. “There’s a part of me that wishes you had chosen someone less…”
“Complicated?” Xander stopped her restless movement to look at her mom.
Talon shook her head. “No, I think dominant is the word I’m looking for.”
Xander didn’t bother to stop the small smile that broke through at her mother’s choice of word. “He’s an alpha, Mom. Dominant is one of the requirements for the job.”
“Yes, it is,” Talon answered. “But you put two strong-minded wolves together and no matter how much they love each other, some- one has to bend or they both break. I just don’t want to watch you break.”
A mix of resentment and love rose, leaving Xander floundering. She dropped her hands to her lap to hide her clenching fists. “I don’t break,” she said, pushing the words past her tight chest.
Something close to sympathy flashed over her mother’s face. “That wasn’t what I meant.”
“Then what did you mean?” Talon sighed. “Do you love Warrick?” Frowning, Xander sat back in her chair, crossing her arms across her chest. “That’s a stupid question, Mom. Of course, I do.”
“Do you love him enough to be the person he needs you to be?”
Confused, Xander blinked at her mom.