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Seeing Eye Mate
By Annmarie McKenna
Samhain Publishing, Ltd.Copyright © 2006 Annmarie McKenna
All right reserved.
Chapter One"Eight ball, corner pocket."
Caelan Graham tipped the bottle of Bud Light to his lips and took a long drag as he pointed his cue stick toward his chosen spot. He tried to alleviate some of the tension strumming through his charged body by rolling his head on his shoulders. Tonight was a full moon and he was restless. He needed a good, long fuck and a run through the woods, preferably in that order. Since he'd come here tonight to fill Eli in on the latest pack developments, it didn't look like either the fuck or the run was going to happen in the immediate future. Instead, he'd settle for winning another round of pool.
He set the bottle on the edge of the table and lined up his shot, rocking the stick three times before striking the cue ball. With a satisfying clack, it careened into the eight ball, knocking it into the pocket.
"I win. Again," he said flatly. This was getting way too easy.
Caelan ignored the pissed off shout of his younger-by-two-minutes brother, Eli. Maybe tomorrow night he'd go for the run. The woods around his and Eli's ranch had been calling to him for days now. Their land sat about an hour outside of St. Louis. It was close enough to the city for practical purposes, yet far enough away from urban sprawl to provide hundreds of acres of wooded area for his kind to roam freely.
The steady flow of jobs at Graham Securities had kept Caelan too busy to even think about shifting lately. Not to mention the ongoing duties as his pack's Prime.
He held his palm up just in time for Eli to slap a dollar bill into it. They'd long since given up playing for bigger money, or Eli had rather, for the simple fact he lost all the time. Shaking off his longing to slip into wolf form for the moment, Caelan chuckled and scooped up his beer. He headed to one of the few empty tables in the typical-for-a-Friday-night packed bar.
"How'd it go last night?" Eli asked, yanking a chair around. He straddled it and placed his arms along the top of the backrest.
So much for the happy moment. Caelan didn't even want to think about how the pack meeting went last night. Or how it had ended with a knockdown, drag-out fight. But since Eli had been on another assignment and hadn't made it to the meeting, Caelan had to inform him of the situation. He cocked his head and leaned closer so they could talk without being overheard. No one seemed to be listening. They were too busy drinking, dancing and having a good time. "Jared Ramsey's mate was killed two nights ago. She's the third one in two weeks."
The Ramsey pack was settled in Junction City, about a hundred miles from the Graham pack. It hadn't taken long for word to spread about what had befallen the young woman, especially not with Jared being the Prime's son.
As the Graham Prime, it was Caelan's duty to protect every member beneath him. So far his pack hadn't been touched by the brutality of the three attacks.
"What kind of fucking sicko would do that to an innocent woman? Hell, three women." Eli smacked his hand on the table, making it wobble precariously. Their beers skittered across the top, nearly taking a fatal nosedive off the edge.
Caelan grabbed both sides of the small, round table before it collapsed and made him lose his one drink for the night.
"Shut up, Bro. You want the whole damn place to hear you?" he growled.
"He killed another one of our mates, Cael," Eli hissed.
Caelan nodded in agreement, understanding the implied "our" encompassed all mates in the shifter community. "I know what he did, E." Every pack for three states knew what the asshole had done. It was finding out who he was that had them all chasing their tails. Literally. "The elders have asked all the packs to unite so we can pass information and better protect our mates."
Talking about mates made Caelan suddenly glad he hadn't found his yet. Yet being the operative word. The pack elders were pressing hard for him to do so and ensure the next generation of Prime. Hell even Eli was nudging him in the same direction. Of course Eli didn't want the responsibility of Prime, which would be his should anything happen to Caelan.
The situation gave Caelan the ultimate enticement to stay away from women right now. He didn't need the added responsibility of protecting a mate from the same person he was hunting. His brain knew that; his cock argued every step of the way. The insane growing compulsion to fuck was making Caelan growl and snap at everyone he came across. Especially when one of the elders had suggested to him that his need meant he was getting closer to finding his mate.
Thus the fight outside the pack meeting last night. Everyone's tempers were already hot with the news of yet another attack. It had only taken a not-so-private conversation he'd picked up on for Caelan's overloaded nerves to explode.
"Methinks our Prime needs to get laid," Caelan had overheard.
He ground his fist into his thigh. Damn Michael Hayward to hell and back for being the one shifter in their pack able to pick up on Caelan's need to get laid. No, that wasn't entirely true, the elders thought so also, but their flat-out innuendos didn't piss him off near as much as the bastard Hayward did. And leaving a bruise the size of Texas on Hayward's jaw hadn't eased the pounding need to fuck a woman either.
"Ooowee. Now that is one fine-looking specimen."
Caelan snapped his attention back to Eli. God, but the man could change a subject quick. Of course, since Caelan's mind had been on getting himself a woman too, he couldn't fault his brother much. Caelan grinned. Having a woman, not keeping her, just having her. For the night. Or two, maybe. Not forever. Not now, anyway. Later.
Eli slapped his hand down on the table again. Caelan snatched his beer and balanced it on his knee while his fool brother stared and slobbered at someone over his shoulder. Caelan didn't even bother to turn around.
"Cael, brother, I think you're going to have to find someone else for that job tomorrow morning. I'm gonna be busy with that little filly over there."
Caelan snorted. Born identical, neither of them ever had trouble attracting the opposite sex. More so for Caelan, being Prime. Females, both human and shifter, were always vying for his attention, but then, the humans didn't know what he was.
"She's close to her heat. Hot damn is she gonna be sweet." Eli rubbed his hands together like a kid at Christmas.
Caelan had to admit a female in heat or even within a few days of it, was nearly irresistible, wolf or human. Any babies born to a human woman, like he and Eli, were considered special, as they could control their shift and change to their wolf form whenever they chose. A pure blood shifter was forced to deal with their transformation once a month, on the night of the full moon.
Unfortunately, or fortunately depending on how you looked at it, the only way to impregnate a human was for her to be your mate. That in itself virtually ensured an offspring.
Despite his desire to avoid women for the foreseeable future, Caelan found himself sniffing the air. The fruity scent of a very alluring woman wafted across his nose, and Caelan froze. The hair on the back of his neck rose and every muscle in his body tightened in response. Including his cock, which stood at attention like every good soldier ought to, demanding to be buried as deep as it could get in the woman's pussy.
"Son of a bitch," he said succinctly. He dropped his chin to his chest, closed his eyes and counted to ten. Then he begged whatever god was listening to make this situation a dream instead of the reality he feared it to be.
He didn't need to open his eyes to know that it wasn't.
Eli droned on beside him. "Mmm-mmm. It's gonna be a long night ..."
Caelan couldn't contain the canines that lengthened and sharpened inside his mouth. A low growl emanated from his throat as he listened to his brother continue to talk about the woman Cael had yet to look at. He instinctively knew the woman he smelled and the object of Eli's current wet dream were one and the same.
"I thought you wanted Nikki," he snarled.
Caelan glanced up to see a different kind of heated desire cross Eli's face. A look that changed from I'm-gonna-roll-in-the-sheets-for-fun-tonight to she's-mine-forever. Caelan wondered if there was more to the story with Nikki than Eli was letting on.
Eli stood, clearly shaking off whatever had been in his head a second ago, ready to swoop in on his prey, a stupid grin splitting his face.
Caelan reached out and grabbed his twin's arm. "No."
Eli tried to shake him loose, his smile slipping. "What the hell, Bro?"
"She's mine." His voice rumbled out of his chest, and he grimaced. He looked up at Eli, begging with his eyes for his brother to understand.
"Damn it." Eli slung himself back into his chair, pouting and jostling the table again. "Ain't this just the perfect fuckin' time!"
Caelan had to disagree with him. This was the worst time to finally find his mate.
Excerpted from Seeing Eye Mate by Annmarie McKenna Copyright © 2006 by Annmarie McKenna. Excerpted by permission.
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