Belong To The Nightby Cynthia Eden, Sherrill Quinn
Belong To The Night
The Wolf, The Witch, And Her Lack Of Wardrobe by Shelly Laurenston
Jamie Meacham has enough trouble controlling her supernatural abilities. There's no time for lust, or for Tully Smith, even with his smoldering amber eyes. But Tully's grappling with his own/b>
Wanna know where the real wild things are. . .and what they like to do there?
Belong To The Night
The Wolf, The Witch, And Her Lack Of Wardrobe by Shelly Laurenston
Jamie Meacham has enough trouble controlling her supernatural abilities. There's no time for lust, or for Tully Smith, even with his smoldering amber eyes. But Tully's grappling with his own animal instincts as a powerful shifter-wolf, trying to protect all his territory. . .
In The Dark by Cynthia Eden
FBI agent and leopard shifter Sadie James' undead ex, Liam, still arouses her deepest desires. By teaming up with Liam, Sadie has a better chance of tracking the brutal rogue shifter who is terrorizing Miami, but as passion consumes them, she stands to lose more than just her heart.
City Of The Dead by Sherrill Quinn
Dori Falcon is a witch with a plan: get to New Orleans, locate her missing brother, and recover a mysterious and powerful amulet. Her plan never included falling for sexy Cajun cop Jake Boudreau;but without his help, she may never find the key to her family's survival.
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Belong to the Night
By Shelly Laurenston Cynthia Eden Sherrill Quinn
BRAVA BOOKSCopyright © 2009 Kensington Publishing Corp.
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIf there was one thing Tully Smith, Alpha Male of the Smithville County Smith Pack and mayor of Smithville Township, could say about Jamie Meacham, it was that he loved the way she made an entrance.
To think he used to find these elder meetings pretty dang boring. Mostly because there was a lot of talk, a lot of complaining, and lots of less-than-subtle threatening, but there was never any action. And then, ten months ago, a new coven had taken over from the old. The Coven of the Darkest Night was what they called themselves. All of them from up north or, as his stepbrother Kyle Treharne called it, "Yankee territory."
Jamie-dressed in her well-worn jeans, ten-year-old T-shirt, and five-year-old running shoes-came into the room the same way every time, slamming the double doors for the junior high's music room open and striding in. She seemed to stride everywhere. She was tall for a full-human. About five-eleven or so. But perfectly built with a strong body, a tight and exquisitely proportioned ass, and breasts that were definitely more than a handful, even for him. Even with all that to keep him entertained, he couldn't look away from those eyes. If he didn't know for a fact she was full-human, he'd swear she was one of them. It wouldn't matter what breed either. It was her eyes. She had the eyes of a predator and, he'd bet, the soul of one, too.
"Afternoon, everyone," she said cheerily, her grin wide. "How is everyone this beautiful day?"
Tully had to duck his head, rubbing his nose to stop the laughter. He could hear his stepdaddy, Jack Treharne, growling across from him, annoyed by Jamie's obnoxiously perky cheeriness.
Behind Jamie came the rest of her coven. As a functioning unit, they weren't half bad, although there seemed to be more infighting among five full-human females than there was among the nearly fifty-five members of the local Martoni Hyena Clan. But each coven member was so different, it amazed him the women had joined forces at all.
There was sweet Emma, whom Kyle had snagged as his own before the rest of them had even gotten a good look at her. Of course, she was such a cute and sweet little thing, Tully couldn't blame his brother. He definitely would have tried if it had been anyone but Kyle who'd been sniffing around her. Then there was the "always friendly, dang-near loved everybody, couldn't get enough of people, wanted everyone to be happy and show it!" Seneca. She'd somehow found her way among the bears, which only proved she was a sweetheart down to her toes because those easily startled, oversized bastards didn't like anybody but themselves and fresh salmon. The one he had the least interest in was Kendall, also known as Kenny. She was a real Yankee. Not remotely friendly, suspicious, paranoid, and almost defiantly plain. They rarely saw her during the day, and when she did come out after the sun had gone down she would usually head over to the edge of town where some wild dogs had opened up a comic book and gaming store.
The one Tully found much more interesting was the extremely statuesque Mackenzie. Mac was about his height, a cool six-three, and a former firefighter. It had taken her time to warm up to the locals but she'd found her way merely by not being her cousin. By not being Jamie Meacham.
As head of the Coven of the Darkest Night, Jamie was nothing but gorgeous trouble rolled in brown sugar and dusted in arsenic.
Yeah. Jamie was the one he found the most entertaining. Why? Because if he didn't know better, he'd swear that woman didn't give a damn about anybody. She strutted through life tempting fates and whatever powers she or anyone else worshipped. She brought out the worst in the predators around her, insisted on calling his baby sister "Snaggle" because of the state of Katie's fangs while in shifted form, and kept a sidearm on her at all times-last he checked it was a .380 auto-but was known to travel with a rifle at night. Both of which were illegal within Smithville County lines. Remind her of that, though, and she'd only laugh.
Bear McMahon, grizzly and sheriff of Smithville, had put it best one day when he said, "It's when that woman is quiet that I get worried."
Tully watched as she strode up to the big table they used for their meetings, walked around it to the small stage behind them, turned and lifted herself onto it. Once she settled in, she crossed her long legs and studied everyone. She smiled. And everyone but him leaned back from that smile.
She glanced over at Jack who'd ordered this meeting. He was second in charge next to Bear's momma, Gwen, and Jack's own momma had once been rumored to complain, "he came out of me snarling at the doctor who'd slapped him." And it was that snarling feline that Jamie turned away from when Jack opened his mouth to speak, focused those beautiful dark eyes Tully's way, and said, smooth as silk, "Tully Smith. You called?"
Why do you insist on doing the things you do?
It was the question her mother used to ask her constantly when they still spoke. But Jamie Meacham, former Nassau County Detective and High Priestess of the Coven of the Darkest Night, never had an answer to that question. All she knew was that she never colored within the lines, she didn't like boundaries, and she hated rules and regulations except the most basic kind. Anything or anyone that purposely set out to hurt others was wrong. Rapists, murderers, thieves, she'd hunt them all down and see them convicted without a moment's worry. That's what made being a cop so easy for her.
But when it came to more metaphysical matters, when it came to power and the obtaining of it ... well, Jamie was a little more flexible on that score. And it seemed everyone in town had figured that out.
She knew she made them nervous. She knew they didn't like her. She knew that if a few of them had the chance to hunt her down and rip out her entrails, they'd do it in a heartbeat. For many people, this sort of realization of the danger they were in would worry them, but Jamie knew there were worse things in the universe than predators willing to feed on her. She'd been to hell and thrown back out again because, according to Satan himself, "You just don't know how to act, do you?" She'd faced off against some of the purest evil and once had a screaming match with Archangel Gabriel in the middle of a Billy Joel concert at Jones Beach until the winged whiny pot fled in tears.
So facing some hyenas, lions, and tigers who wanted her dead? Not a big deal to her.
Yet out of all of the residents of Smithville, all the predators, the townies, the whatevers, the one who never seemed to be bothered by her was the Mayor of Smithville, Tully Smith. When she'd first met him, she thought he was awfully young to be mayor of anything but a fraternity, especially with that stupid one gold earring he wore like he was still trapped in 1985. In fact, she'd figured the role of mayor was nothing more than a figure head for locals with ready cash. Because really, what could be involved in running some little nowhere town that most Americans didn't even know existed? It's not like the Mayor of Smithville could eventually move into higher political arenas. The last thing any of the locals wanted around here were cameras shooting hometown footage for a CNN special on a governor or senator candidate. These people took their privacy very seriously and she had no doubts they'd made it clear to anyone who took the mayor position that the government fast track stopped right there. So what could some extremely attractive, kind of charming, thirty-something wolf shifter want with being the mayor? Then, after a few months of watching Tully Smith amble his slow-moving-but extremely fine-ass around town, it suddenly hit her ... he was happy with what he had.
Which, to be honest, Jamie found kind of fascinating. How could anyone be okay with what they had? How did he not want more from his life? Not even close to thirty-five and he was happy with living in a small town, wandering around all day on two legs and all night on four? She didn't get it, but then again, she didn't have to. His life was his own and Jamie didn't involve herself with other people's lives. She had enough trouble managing the one she had. And although she didn't really understand Tully Smith, she did find him entertaining.
Like now. Instead of bouncing this meeting over to his stepfather, Jack, Tully relaxed in his chair, one arm thrown over the back of it, smiled up at her and said, "Aww, beautiful. I call for you every night but you never show up."
"And I thought you were just serenading me."
They smiled at each other, Tully about to say something else, when Jack Treharne's hand slammed down against the table. Everyone else jumped, except Tully, who was most likely used to the drama after being raised by the man, and Jamie who had a very low startle response. She stayed still a moment, allowing the tension to ratchet up a bit before she moved only her gaze over to Treharne.
"Something wrong ... Jack?"
His eye twitched, annoyed that Jamie insisted on calling him by his first name rather than "Mr. Treharne."
"Y'all are late ... again."
"True. But we are running a hotel. Had a whole Pride to check out before we could head this way. But that's not why you demanded to see us."
"You were seen out in the woods again. At night."
"I didn't realize there was a curfew."
"There ain't. But you weren't out there wandering around. You were doing some ritual."
"I'm a witch. That's what I do."
"Without your coven?"
Jamie could feel her cousin's eyes on her, and knew she'd hear about this later from Mac. When Jamie had agreed to give up the life she had in New York and bring her coven down to Smithville, she hadn't really thought about the dynamics of small town life compared to suburban life. Since she'd had her first athame, a lovely ritual knife given to her by her first mentor, Jamie had been doing her own rituals and spells. And since she did these in the privacy of her basement or her backyard, and she'd never been friendly with her Long Island neighbors, her coven had never been the wiser. Something she'd appreciated since the work she did with her coven brought her much satisfaction, but there was something about the power she obtained on her own that drove her to find more and more of it.
In the end, though, it was no one's business what she did on her own. Unfortunately, those in Smithville didn't seem to feel the same way, no matter what she was doing. Every time she turned around they were in her business.
These people knew when she got packages from her father, when her allergies were acting up, when she and Mac were arguing. And not only did they know, but they butted in. Having locals walk up to her and hand her their favorite allergy medication was, to say the least, off-putting. To have them chuckle about "you and that cousin of yours" as if they knew her and Mac so damn well was pissing her off. And to find out that every time she went into the woods to handle a little personal business with the gods, they pointed it out to the Elders made her feel like she was living in a town not filled with predators but rats. Big, constantly-in-her-business, never-knew-when-to-shut-it rats!
"I was told when I came here that we'd be left alone to worship in the way we chose."
"It ain't what you worship that's the problem. It's you."
"You should have thought of that before you signed us up."
"And you should have some consideration for those who were born and raised in this town. You already poisoned one of our lakes."
"That was an accident and I cleaned it."
"I mean, how are we supposed to deal with pure evil in one of our lakes? Aren't you supposed to be keeping evil out?"
"I said I cleaned it. And you need to let it go."
"What about when you set the woods on fire?"
Were they back here again? "I put it out."
"What about the trees that were destroyed?"
"They'll grow back."
Treharne shook his head. "Do you care about anything but yourself?"
Done with this conversation, Jamie pushed off the stage and walked around the table. "You've all made it perfectly clear you don't like me and don't want me as part of your community. But even knowing this, my coven has been working its butt off to protect this town. If that's still not enough for you, then buy us out of the hotel and send us on our way. But don't think for a minute you can tell me how to live my life as a witch."
Jamie headed toward the doors, her coven in step behind her, when Treharne said, "You know, missy, it's real hard to be part of something that you think you're better than."
"I never said I was better than you," Jamie shot back as she opened the doors and walked out into the hallway. "But, then again, you haven't exactly proven that I'm not either."
Tully watched that sexy witch slam the doors open by doing nothing more than raising her forefinger. After she stormed out, her coven right behind her, Tully sighed and said, "I sure do like her."
That's when his stepdaddy threw his notebook at him, hitting him in the face. "You are the biggest idiot!"
Laughing, Tully placed the book back on the table. "What did I do?"
"It's what you're not doing, boy! You ain't taking care of what you should be."
"I'm mayor, not an Elder. And last I heard coven issues fall under Elder management."
"Well, ain't you smart."
"I ain't dumb."
"Then you'll watch her."
Tully blinked at his daddy before they both turned to Miss Gwen, who'd been the town's sheriff for more than twenty-five years before she became an Elder. "Pardon?" he asked, positive he must have heard her wrong.
"Don't 'pardon' me, Tully Ray Smith," the sow said calmly. "You wander around this town like you've got nothing but time on your hands."
"I'll have you know I'm working. You know I don't believe in sitting behind a dang desk all day signing papers. In order to find out what this town needs, I get out there and look."
"Exactly my point. So you're going to go look and find out what she's up to. And then you're going to put a stop to it."
"Me? What makes you think she'll listen to me anymore than she'll listen to y'all?"
"Because we all know you'll find a way to shut her down. That's what you're good at. And that's what you're going to do." Miss Gwen banged her gavel on the table. "Meeting adjourned."
No one said a word until they were on the quiet street of Cardinal Lane. That's when Mac grabbed Jamie's T-shirt and pulled her back.
"You're making them nervous."
"I make everybody nervous."
Mac released her T-shirt. "You don't have to look so proud about that."
Jamie stared up at her much taller cousin. Except for them both being black in a predominantly white town, there were very few indicators that Jamie and Mac were first cousins on their mothers' side.
"Not proud, sweetie. Just accepting. Nothing I do is going to make these people feel better about me."
"You could stop traipsing off to the woods in the middle of the night."
"I've got work to do."
Might as well tell them now. "I've been called to be a champion."
When Jamie only stared at her, Mac threw up her hands and paced away while the others simply looked worried.
"What is it with you and the Celtic gods anyway?" Kenny asked. "It's not like they're abundantly friendly."
"She called. I answered."
"She's always liked you," Sen said sweetly.
"Gods know why," Mac muttered.
"Mac, you know what's required for becoming a champion. So I'm not sure why the attitude about this."
"Because you're making them nervous."
Emma frowned, her arms crossed over her chest. "Don't you care about them at all?"
"I don't not care." They all stared and she added, "That's actually pretty good for me."
Mac stepped up to her. "One day you're going to go too far."
"I always go too far," Jamie said simply before turning and walking away. "You'd think you'd be used to it by now."
Tully sat on the boulder on top of Barrett Hill. He was still in human form since he'd headed this way straight from his last meeting. It amazed him how one simple, yearly event caused so much trouble. The Mayor's Spring Dance. The entire town was invited and usually came. Every year it was held in the Crystal Palace where most big parties for the wealthier residents took place. Tully would probably enjoy it more if he weren't in charge of it, but he was. Which meant lots of meetings with the Elders, the Mayor's Office Association, and the vendors. Bor-ing.
Excerpted from Belong to the Night by Shelly Laurenston Cynthia Eden Sherrill Quinn Copyright © 2009 by Kensington Publishing Corp.. Excerpted by permission.
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this is another antho that should be in all ShellyLaurenston fan collections. the other two authors are good as well. This antho is the second story of the long island coven series.