As the onsite doctor for Lake Haven Lodge, Christina Davis is used to keeping secrets big and small. Lately, she’s taken confidentiality to a whole new level. There’s a secret she’s been keeping from her clan, and it involves the brawny, ever reserved carpenter, Owyn. The two share a pact no one knows about, and Doc’s finally ready to tear the lid off it. She only has to convince the steely panther that she’s the perfect match for him.
Panther shifter, Owyn Wade, has seen his fair share of unfortunate feline matings, and he has no plans to allow his female to fall under the same curse. A vow to protect her and see to her needs without an official mating, is the only way to ensure she’s safe. From him. But five years later, things around the Ouachitas have changed, and now a future with his mate seems possible. Suddenly, there’s only one thing on his list of priorities: winning Doc’s heart.
When the clan is threatened by a group of rebel shifters, Owyn and Doc’s time might be running out. They’ll have to rely on their love and family to see them through, because a shadow is looming over the Ouachitas. And things might get dark before they get brighter.
Mason Miller stood at the top of the foot bridge looking over Lake Haven and the lodge he called home. Bad things were coming. Hard things. And he could only hope he was doing the right thing now while there was still time.
The same Elders that guided the wolf shifters had been speaking to him. Why him, he didn’t know. Maybe because he was known for being the rational one of his clan. Maybe because no one else was listening. Whatever the reason, they’d dumped a shitload of responsibility on his head that he didn’t want.
Danger was coming for the Ouachita clan. It was a warning repeated often, with no suggestion on ways to prevent it. Only reason for that was if it was unpreventable.
Hands gripping the wooden rail of the bridge, he relished the way it bit into his palm.
The holidays were over and business at the lodge would be slower until spring. This was a good time to push the rest of his plan. He needed to get his clan mated ASAP. As many of them as possible. Mating would make them each stronger. Mating could heal a multitude of wounds. Both emotional and physical. So when trouble came for them, they’d be solid in the head and resilient in body.
He was like fucking Cupid or something, the way he’d been shooting arrows to push people together. Of course none of his tinkering behind the scenes would’ve mattered if fate wasn’t involved. He’d just helped speed the process along.
Layna and Ryan had been the fucking worst. The two were stubborn as a shitcicle in hell.
Ryan’s talk of leaving before Christmas had put the panic in Mason. The human was a part of them, and his absence would’ve ripped a hole through them impossible to fix. It would’ve left the clan vulnerable. Mason had done the only thing he could think of at the time.
He belonged there, with the cats. He was theirs. So Mason had ripped into his flesh leaving a scar that would prove it. Temporary of course. Just until Layna could come to her senses and prove it in a more permanent way by mating him. Because that female thought she was fooling people with her tough mouth and aloof attitude, but the truth was she was soft as putty inside. And she’d come through, finally letting that sappy bastard—and Mason could say that because the guy was as close as a brother to him—into her heart.
He’d gambled and came up a winner. Or maybe, as Renner liked to say, it was a Christmas miracle. Whatever the case, another mating to mark off his list.
But maybe his efforts were backfiring. Already two of the clan’s mates, Bethany and Josie, were with young. Young would make the clan weaker. Young could be used as weapons by their enemies.
He knew. From experience.
The wooden planks under his feet vibrated, alerting him someone approached. Mason didn’t bother looking over his shoulder to see who. He already knew, and he’d been waiting.
It was time to come clean. Time to let someone else in on what was coming.
Footsteps stopped beside him and another set of large hands gripped the rail. Several beats of silence joined the silence of the lake below them before gruff words broke the peace of the early morning.
“Tell me what you know. How you know it. And why the fuck you marked a man you knew belonged to Layna.”
Mason let out a humorless laugh as he turned to stare at this glaring leader. Magic was typically grouchy at any given time, no reason necessary. His mate, Josie, had given him the nickname Grumpy Cat. But this time, his hissing was deserved.
Their peaceful existence by the lake had been compromised when members of a shadow clan—the most lawless of shifter clans—had set a steel claw trap on their property in an attempt to get revenge on Gash, an ex-member who’d gone clean and joined the Ouachita clan.