Read an Excerpt
The Spirit Wild Series
By Kate Douglas
KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP.Copyright © 2014 Kate Douglas
All rights reserved.
December 21, 2008, Kalispell, Montana
Igmutaka, spirit guide, puma shapeshifter, and currently a very nervous man, stood at the foot of the birthing bed, hands raised in supplication to his gods and the woman's goddess. Tala TempleFuentes squatted amid the tangled sheets with her mate, Miguel Fuentes—a man who had long been Igmutaka's charge—supporting her gravid frame.
Her other mate clung to her hand, gazing at her with such love and so much intensity, it was almost as if AJ Temple planned to push the babes out himself.
There were two. The male—the one created from the seed of the white man—would be a strong boy. AJ was a good man, and his son would grow to be a powerful warrior, an ideal sibling for the child Igmutaka waited to meet.
The one who mattered to him most.
The girl child, the one born of Miguel's seed, was to be the first female ever in Igmutaka's charge. Her father, like AJ, was a powerful Chanku shapeshifter, a good, strong man. Called Mik, he was the latest in the long line of Lakota Sioux warriors who had looked to Igmutaka as their spiritual guide.
Always, Igmutaka had watched over the male progeny, but this child was different—not merely because of her gender.
He felt her strength, her power—the feminine power so different from that of the males he had guided. He'd been aware of this babe almost from the moment of conception. He'd known she was special, though he still didn't understand how or why.
He glanced up. He'd been unaware of the bedroom filling so quickly. Other females—shapeshifters all—coming to share the pain and the joy of the one who labored, using their minds and bodies to ease Tala as she pushed the babies from her womb. Men arrived, ready to share in the celebration of new members joining their pack, but also generously taking on Tala's pain.
It was all good. All as it should be.
Igmutaka focused once again on the mother.
She grunted and strained. He had no time to think, no time to question why he should be the one who slipped his hands beneath her straining body and caught the babe amid a wash of fluids and blood, caught her in his big hands and stared into eyes that saw him in a way no one else had ever seen him before.
He held the squirming bundle of new life as his own impossibly long years flashed before him. Hers so new and fresh, his beginning so long ago that most of his childhood was lost to memory. He knew he must have started in a time long past, though not as a babe like this. No, he'd not been a helpless child, born of woman into an ancient world.
He knew he'd been a puma cub. Born one amid a litter of siblings, though he had no memory of that life.
He'd been spirit far too long.
He'd taken on a physical body again only in the past few years, running as a wild puma so that he could interact with the Chanku shapeshifters who had called him from the spirit world.
Then, mere weeks ago, he'd manifested as a human male for the first time, the same male who stood here now, holding Tala and Mik's newborn daughter. A beautiful, dark-haired girl who would one day grow to be a strong and beautiful woman.
Adam, one of their healers, cut the umbilical cord, separating the newborn from her mother. One of the women quickly wiped away the blood and afterbirth on the child he held as Tala delivered the second babe. Twins. A boy and a girl. Both strong, healthy young.
Igmutaka bowed his head as he placed the newborn against her mother's breast. Bowed to the babe and to fate, to the woman this child would grow to be.
A woman Igmutaka knew would change his life for all time.
New Haven, Connecticut, thirty years later
Star Fuentes heard the soft tone that signaled her mother's call, checked the time, and realized she still had a few minutes before her date was due to arrive.
She took a sip of her wine, flipped on the phone, and smiled at her mom, a sixty-two-year-old woman who appeared to be in her late twenties. That was one of the wonderful things about being Chanku—aging slowed and practically stopped at the prime of life.
Tala's mates looked just as young—early thirties at most—both of them so damned good looking it was hard for Star to think of them as her two dads. In reality, Mik was sixty-eight and AJ already seventy-two. As with all Chanku, each faced an unlimited lifespan with those same youthful bodies and minds.
Star quit woolgathering as Tala's broad grin and sparkling amber eyes chased away the discontent that had followed her like a cloud over the past weeks. "Hey, Mom. What's up?"
"You mean other than your fathers?"
Star slapped her hand over her mouth to keep from spewing wine on the small screen. "Too much information, ya know?"
Tala's laughter sent a shaft of homesickness through Star. She hadn't been home to Montana for much too long. She missed Mik, her biological father, and her other dad, AJ, her mom's second mate. Hell, she even missed her damned spirit guide, but that was the last thing she'd ever admit.
"I just wondered when you were planning to come home." Tala's smile slipped. "I miss you, honey. You've been gone so long."
"I visited last Christmas." A short visit—not nearly enough time to reconnect with her mountain home. With her family. Her pack.
"You know that visit was much too brief, and you only let us talk you into it because it was your thirtieth birthday." Her mom sighed. "Don't you think it's time to come back? You're a pack animal at heart, Star." Tala laughed, but Star felt the sting of tears in her eyes. "You can only stay away for just so long, honey. Even Jack misses you."
"Jack said that?" Star rolled her eyes. "Now that's hard to believe."
"You're not kidding. For your twin to admit something like that, well, it's downright scary." Then the smile slipped from Tala's lips and she softly added, "It's been almost fourteen years, sweetheart."
Scrambling for yet another excuse, Star glanced at the stack of papers lying beside her computer. "I don't know, Mom. I'm thinking of applying for another doctoral program. I'll need to make the decision this week."
"Star, don't you think you have enough letters after your name? Don't you miss the pack? Miss your family?"
So much it hurt even to think about it, but she wasn't ready. Not yet. A brisk knock on the door caught her attention. "Gotta go, Mom. My date's here, but I promise to think about it. I love you."
"I love you, too. The dads send their love. Sunny said to tell you hi."
"Thanks. Give her a big hug for me, and the dads, too. Bye, Mom."
"Star? Before you go, one last thing."
"You can't hide from him forever, sweetheart. Some things are stronger than we are, and he's one of them. I love you."
A shiver raced along Star's spine as the screen went dark. In all the years she'd been away, her mother had never asked her to come home to stay, had never mentioned the real reason she'd chosen to live so far from the pack. Why now?
Besides, she wasn't hiding. Not really.
He knew where to find her.
Another knock brought Star to her feet, and her womb clenched in what she knew was probably futile anticipation.
That was the problem with living among humans. Her Chanku libido ran circles around that of the average male. Fourteen years of less than satisfactory sex was probably reason enough to call it quits and head home, but damn it all, the risk was too great.
She'd gotten her spirit guide's promise to let her live life on her own terms while she was away at school. Of course, he probably hadn't figured she'd make a career out of getting an education, but she knew that once she returned, he'd be right back in her life.
Taking over her life.
She'd grown up with two fathers, a concerned mother, an overprotective twin brother, and a pack full of uncles and aunties watching out for her. None of them had threatened her independence the way Igmutaka managed with nothing more than a soft suggestion, a raised eyebrow, or the turn of a phrase.
Talk about frustrating. He protected her and guarded her against harm, which also meant protecting her from life in general. He'd also managed to keep all the eligible boys away at the same time, but that wasn't the worst part.
No, it was the fact he was absolutely beautiful, and she'd loved him. Loved him as only a young girl could love. Deeply, with all of her heart and soul. Tall and lean with smooth, bronzed skin, gorgeous green eyes and long, thick dark hair, he had an androgynous beauty that would make him look as striking if he'd been a woman, yet there was no doubting the masculinity of the man. Nope. No doubt at all.
Star practically whimpered as she drew his image close. So beautiful as a cougar, with a sinewy grace that carried over to his human form. He'd rarely shown himself to her as a man, yet his was the face that filled her dreams, her fantasies, and her lonely nights.
Unfortunately, he didn't feel the same way. Igmutaka was her spirit guide, fated to protect her, not to bed her. She'd loved him without reservation from the time she could remember—first as a father figure, and then when she'd realized he was still young and sexy and she was definitely growing older and interested, as a potential mate.
He'd treated her as something fragile. Untouchable. And while she knew he wasn't celibate, he'd certainly kept his charge—the one he called Mikaela Star—that way. She'd not lost her virginity to a man until she finally left home for college.
She still didn't know what the big deal was.
She knew other Chanku women managed to have wonderful sex with humans, though they all eventually mated with Chanku, but she'd never once found satisfaction with a human male.
Not that she didn't keep trying, but since she'd rarely had the chance to have sex with another Chanku, and only on the rare occasions when one of the guys visited her in New Haven, she really had very little for comparison, goddess be damned.
She pushed Igmutaka and a lifetime of sexual frustration out of her mind and opened the door. Her date stood there, poised to knock a third time. He was tall and handsome, his smile as perfect as modern technology could make it.
And for the life of her, she couldn't remember his name.
"Are you ready?" he asked.
"As ready as I'll ever be." She flashed him a bright smile as she grabbed her bag and a soft wrap. At least as ready as she'd be with a man she hardly knew, but who, at least, wasn't her insufferable, sensual, pain-in-the-ass spirit guide.
Sunny Daye sprawled , limp and sated, over the long, lean body of her lover. He was gorgeous, absolutely spectacular in bed, and it just about broke her heart knowing he'd never satisfy that empty spot in her soul, the part of her crying out for a mate.
His long fingers stroked her left breast, and then he playfully tapped her nipple. It tightened immediately, and she felt the touch between her legs as her womb rippled in response.
Supporting her upper body on her elbows, she raised her head and glared at him. Why in the hell couldn't he be the one? She'd known, though. Since the very first time he'd made love to her—the night he gently took her virginity so many years ago—that as much as she loved him, she couldn't love him that way. Still, the man could make magic when they came together. She sighed, flopped back on the mattress, and arched into his touch. "I hope you're planning to follow through with that."
Igmutaka gave her a long, lazy smile, reached down, and stroked his sizeable erection with one hand. "Have you ever known me not to follow through?"
She felt her anger sliding away. It wasn't his fault he was absolutely perfect, and at the same time perfectly wrong. For her, at least. She knew the one he loved. Knew that, so far, anyway, that love wasn't being returned. "Star's an idiot."
He grinned as he stroked a line from her throat to her pubes. "Mikaela Star is young. She has yet to discover her path. It will, of course, lead directly to me."
"You sound so sure." She laughed softly as his hands slid up her body and he stroked the sensitive skin beneath her breasts. "What if you're wrong? What if she chooses another?"
Lying beside her, he teased the nipple he'd tapped earlier, working it gently with teeth and tongue for a moment before lifting his head. His lips were shiny—as slick and shiny as her nipple—and they parted on a soft smile. "Then I will kill the bastard."
Sunny laughed. Ig was not really a killer ... was he?
He grinned at her. "I've not told this to many, but it was foretold when she was still in Tala's womb. I knew Mikaela Star was special when Tala carried her and we actually communicated before her birth. When Tala pushed her forth and she fell into my hands, I knew she was mine." He gazed at Sunny over the dark red nipple he'd so skillfully aroused. "One does not question a gift from the gods."
"I see." She moaned as he lowered his head and began working on the other breast. After only a moment of pure bliss, Ig raised his head again.
"You are a gift as well, Sunny. Not for me, though. Your man is out there. I sense him drawing close. You will know him soon." He tilted his head and frowned. "Very soon."
My man? Soon? Sunny shoved herself up on her elbows so quickly she knocked Igmutaka aside. "Where is he? Who is he? How do you know?"
Laughing, Ig rolled to his back. "I don't know the details. I just know he's coming." He sat up and his look grew pensive as he shrugged those wide shoulders. "Just as I know that tonight Mikaela Star is with yet another young man, another lover who will disappoint her. Before long, she will accept that I am the one who loves her, that I am the only one who can make her happy."
The yearning in his voice was almost her undoing. Sunny ran her fingers through the thick hair tumbled across his forehead. "I know you're not my mate, Ig, but you've never disappointed me, and you always make me smile."
He leaned close and kissed her. Covered her small body once again with his much larger one. She arched beneath him, finding the broad head of his penis already pressing against her labia. With a slight tilt to her hips, she opened to him, felt the slick burn as he filled her, sliding that thick length all the way to the end of her vaginal sheath.
He was big and hard and fit her perfectly. He was funny and sweet, brave and powerful, and so beautiful he made her ache.
A perfect man.
Just not a perfect mate.
At least not for Sunny Daye.
After a really nice dinner, they'd ended up back at his apartment, which was a good thing, especially since Star still hadn't recalled her date's name. She finally spotted it on a framed diploma on the wall. Haydon. His name was Haydon Smith—she finally recalled meeting him in one of the libraries on campus.
Another good thing about ending up at Haydon's apartment was that it was his place, not hers. She hated having to ask a man to leave after sex, but she had sex with a lot of guys and she didn't want them hanging around afterward, especially when they never managed to leave her satisfied.
This guy hadn't even tried very hard, but he'd certainly managed to find his own satisfaction. More than once. Now he slept soundly, so she carefully lifted his arm off of her breasts and slid out from beneath him. As she turned away to get out of the bed, that same arm snaked around her waist.
Well, crap. "Uh, yeah. I need to get home." She glanced over her shoulder and realized he was wide awake, glaring at her for whatever reason.
"What if I don't want you to go yet?"
She shrugged her shoulders. "It's late. I had a good time, but I really have to leave."
His grasp around her waist tightened. He was a lot bigger than her, and he pulled her back across the bed and roughly nuzzled her neck. "Mmmmm. You smell good." He bit her earlobe hard enough for it to hurt, but she refused to react.
He was really starting to piss her off.
"You know what the guys call you?" He tightened his hold around her waist. "The Ballbuster. Word is you can go all night and then walk away like it was nothing." His voice dropped to a low, threatening growl. "I haven't had all night yet, Star. You can walk away when I say you can walk. Not before."
Excerpted from Dark Moon by Kate Douglas. Copyright © 2014 Kate Douglas. Excerpted by permission of KENSINGTON PUBLISHING CORP..
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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