Letting go of the past to embrace the future…
Things are changing for Marcus and Nathan, in more ways than one. Nathan is still trying to deal with the action he took in order to save Marcus’ life. It isn’t easy to do, and sometimes he fears he’ll give in to all the doubts and fears plaguing him.
What they need is some time alone, without guards shadowing their every move, no one to interrupt. Because soon, they’ll be busier than ever.
A short vacation before the annual gathering of Alpha Anaxes at the compound, that’s what they decide to do. But their vacation isn’t so private when they discover a wild pack of young shifters barely surviving.
Changes are coming.
A strange young shifter with abilities neither Marcus nor Nathan have ever seen before. Alpha Anaxes and attitudes. An intruder in their midst. And with the help of Shania, the pack doctor, the most important event of Marcus and Nathan’s shared life is about to happen.
Changes are coming, and they’re coming fast.
About the Author
A native Texan, Bailey spends her days spinning stories around in her head, which has contributed to more than one incident of tripping over her own feet. Evenings are reserved for pounding away at the keyboard, as are early morning hours. Sleep? Doesn't happen much. Writing is too much fun, and there are too many characters bouncing about, tapping on Bailey's brain demanding to be let out.
Caffeine and chocolate are permanent fixtures in Bailey's office and are never far from hand at any given time. Removing either of those necessities from Bailey's presence can result in what is known as A Very, Very Scary Bailey and is not advised under any circumstances.
Read an Excerpt
Copyright © Baily Bradford 2015. All Rights Reserved, Totally Entwined Group Limited, T/A Pride Publishing.
The New Mexico sun beat down on Marcus Criswell as he led his guards in a fighting exercise. He’d been teaching them Krav Maga for a while now and was pleased at how quickly they were learning.
Beside him, his mate, Nathan Grant, executed every move perfectly. Marcus let him take over for a few minutes just because Nathan was a study in martial arts perfection, better at Krav Maga than Marcus would ever be. Nathan was lithe and limber, and he had the body of a gymnast. His long red hair fell into a braid down past the back of his knees. He looked like some kind of supernatural fairy-slash-assassin. Marcus wanted him, always.
Nathan whirled around, and his hair flew out like a whip.
“Put a couple of weights on the end of that braid of yours, and it’d make a deadly weapon,” Marcus thought to his mate.
Nathan executed a deadly series of strikes and kicks. Marcus should have done the same, but he had to watch his mate. Marcus was entranced, as he often was, by the sheer masculine beauty of Nathan’s fighting form.
“You’d have been killed already,” Nathan scolded, while shouting orders to the troops, “Pair off for groundwork and grappling!”
“Are you going to grapple with me?” Marcus teased.
Nathan shot him an arch look. “Love, I will take your ass down in a heartbeat.”
The guards were too busy pairing off and getting into position to pay attention to anything else. Marcus leered at Nathan and whispered, “I’ll hold you to that in about two hours.”
Nathan winked at him before they resumed instructing the troops.
Rather than train together, Marcus and Nathan sought out a guard each to work with. Marcus chose Athena, one of the newer members. She was tall and leanly muscled, and very quick with her strikes. “Don’t hold back because I’m the Alpha Anax. That won’t impress me at all.”
“Yes, sir,” Athena replied, bobbing her head. She narrowed her eyes right after she gave him a blinding smile. Had Marcus not been watching for tells, he wouldn’t have expected the kick or some type of offensive strike. Athena was every bit as quick with her grappling and groundwork as she was with her punches, and Marcus had to work to keep from being pinned or hurt.
In return for her honest attempts, Marcus only held back a little. He would have done some serious damage otherwise. Athena would have some bruises, but it would have been an insult to her had he refrained from making contact at all.
“Thank you, sir,” Athena said an hour later, panting as she bowed to him.
“You did very well, Athena. Your aunt is going to want to coddle you for those bruises and scrapes, though.” Marcus grinned as Athena groaned and straightened up.
“Oh, gods, she so will! Aunt Shania wants to baby me still, and I’m twenty-five!” Athena bounced on her toes and gave Marcus another brilliant smile. “She’ll probably make me some honey and pecan ice cream, though, so score!” She pumped a fist in the air then turned and ran off toward the rust-colored main building.
“She’s going to be fun to have in our troop,” Keegan said, shaking his head. “Smart, sarcastic and deadly. We could use more like Athena.”
“Keep on and I might get jealous,” Olin muttered, nudging Keegan’s side. “Well, if you swung that way. As is, I gotta agree. Athena was arm-wrestling some of the other guards last night, and she might be lean, but she was kicking ass. She’s a good one. Come on, Keeg. I want you to take apart the surveillance system in the eastern quadrant, then—”
“I know, I know,” Keegan huffed. “Put it back together again. I swear, Olin, I can probably do it with my eyes closed.”
Olin cupped Keegan’s elbow. “Yeah, well probably doesn’t cut it. Once you can, then we can move to the equipment in the western quadrant. Dana’s got the guards. You and me are going to work on the electricals.”
Marcus chuckled, listening to Keegan grumbling and arguing with Olin as they walked away. Olin had been a wise addition to their pack. All of the surveillance and alarms were top notch now, as was the security on the computers and everything else that needed to be secure. Olin was a technical genius.
There’d been several new editions to Marcus’ home pack over the past years. The compound was going to be insufficient to house them all soon.
Which brought to mind one of the bigger problems he and Nathan had been wrestling with—what to do about overcrowding in their pack. It was a problem that they might possibly decide to contribute to. The compound was fast approaching maximum capacity. Marcus looked at the place he’d called home with his mate and pack for years now. The adobe buildings were all interconnected, except, of course, for the outside storage sheds. He loved the rust color of the compound, the way it blended so well with the land and the colors the sun painted the sky with. He’d felt more at home here than anywhere else.
Marcus gave himself a mental shake, and turned to face his mate. “Yes?”
Nathan bit his bottom lip, but didn’t look at him. Instead, Nathan appeared to be studying the mountains in the distance.
Marcus felt Nathan’s thoughts drifting, as they sometimes did, to the event almost two years in the past. At first Nathan had been plagued with nightmares, but those had eased until they were rare occurrences.
Nathan, for all that he could be fierce, had a tender heart. That was why, even two years after he’d killed Robert Butler, he was still haunted by his actions that day. Nathan had saved Marcus’ life at an expense that he still lived with—guilt, doubt, anger at having had no other option if he wanted Marcus to live. And Nathan had wanted that, enough to pull the trigger and blow another shifter’s brains out.
Marcus gently stroked Nathan’s cheek. “Honey, you saved my life.”
“I know, and I don’t regret it,” Nathan said. “And the fact that I don’t regret killing Butler still bothers me more than the fact that I did it, which makes me feel like a heartless bastard. But I’m not.”
“You most definitely aren’t. Conscience is a tricky thing to deal with.” Marcus kept touching Nathan, his rough fingers gliding over silky skin.
“I don’t ever want to be in that situation again.” Nathan turned to him. “That’s not even because of what I did, for the most part, but because I am so over people coming after you—us. I know there haven’t been many challenges since then—”
“Two,” Marcus stated. “And both were over practically before they began.”
“Right, with the challengers swearing fealty to you before you even landed a hit to them, but still.” Nathan shook his head. “We’ve got to figure out a better way. I keep saying that, and you keep agreeing, but we haven’t come up with a solution yet.”
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
It’s no secret that I love the Southwestern Shifters series and loved that I got to gorge myself on the series in August. So you won’t be shocked to learn that I was beyond thrilled when I found out about Retrograde’s release and I nearly went through the roof when I discovered that Bradford had written it as another chapter in Marcus and Nathan’s life. I love all of the couples in the series and each has a special place in my heart, but with all the Nathan has dealt with as Marcus was under attack from more than one quarter, it felt right for them to get another installment in the series and Bradford managed to make me love this couple even more than I already did. Because of assassination attempts and challenges for Marcus’s position, Nathan has been on edge for a while and having to kill another individual (even one who was bad) in order to save Marcus’s life makes that edge even finer. It’s not that Nathan regrets saving Marcus’s life or even that he killed to do so, but rather that he was forced to take another’s life. Having been raised by a human, Nathan still finds the easy acceptance of violence among shifters too much to bear at times. Sensing that his mate needs to get away and realizing that they need a chance to reinforce their bond before an upcoming conference of the Alpha Anaxes, Marcus makes arrangements for a short getaway for just the two of them. Having the chance to let their wolves run free in a safe environment that’s not fenced in, to spend time alone with just the two of them, and to connect sexually on a more primal level does wonders for both men. Yet even on vacation they can’t seem to get away from the needs of other wolves when they discover a wild pack of young shifters who know nothing about the shifter society. Thank goodness Marcus and Nathan know of a wolf who loves to take in strays – Gabe. But when demands of Marcus’s position require that they return to the compound, they are once again faced with treachery when another plot to take out an AA is discovered. For once, Marcus wasn’t the target but because it was being attempted in his home it affected him no less. Thankfully Marcus has a pack filled with loyal and intelligent shifters who were able to help thwart yet another assassination attempt and strengthen ties with other honorable AAs. Retrograde was another excellent addition to the Southwestern Shifters series. I loved watching Nathan and Marcus get back to nature so to speak and embrace their wolf so fully. It was obvious it did them good mentally, but it also made for some smoking hot sex scenes. They were lucky they didn’t start a forest fire with as hot as they got. I liked that Bradford made another AA the target in this novel and that for once Marcus didn’t have the bullseye on his back. I found his handling of the territory situation to be very telling of the kind of man Marcus is – a good man who only wants what’s best for all shifters. I loved meeting Lexxie and hope to see more of her in the future and learning more about her heritage. That Bradford foreshadowed the changes that are coming for Marcus and his pack made me so freaking happy because that means more books are in the future. But the end. Oh my word was the end sweet. I mean… We’ve got puppies! I received a complimentary copy of the book in exchange for an honest review. Reviewed by Angela at Crystal's Many Reviewers!