Welcome to Mid Week Tease, where my author friends and I post a little something from a WIP, flash fiction piece or from some of our published work for you, the readers. As always, a HUGE thanks to fellow author Sandra Bunino for creating this weekly event.
October is the month for the spooky and paranormal, so how about a shifter story?
Strength. Power. Domination.
The shifters in our Alpha's Claim anthology have one thing in common—they won't take “no” for an answer. Whether they lead packs of their own, or whether they walk a solitary path, these alphas won't let anyone stop them from claiming their women.
Lose yourself in these ten sinfully delicious love stories. After all, who could deny an Alpha’s claim?
The list of things Jericho constantly thought about since meeting the woman next door wasn’t a long one, nonetheless it did consume him.
#1. Protect Tatum Neill.
He could do that. He was never one to back down from a good fight.
#2. Keep her from being taken and forcibly claimed against her will by another.
He would do that. There was no choice in the matter.
#3. Claim her fully as his willing life mate.
That was the one thing on his list he was still working on, because revealing the truth about himself and her accepting him would more than likely be a little bit tricky since Jericho wasn’t exactly human.
From Tatum's Tiger:
Tatum stood at her kitchen sink, absentmindedly rinsing her coffee cup, looking out her window, intrigued by the man named Jericho who lived next door. As she had seen him do many times since moving into her new home, he was sitting on the rooftop of his house, staring out into the forest that encroached upon their neighborhood. She allowed her mind to wander to the first time she’d met him. He’d startled the crap out of her when he swooped in from nowhere and tugged her by the arm out of the woods, saying something puzzling under his breath about staying far away from the forest trails.
“Take the bus into town,” he’d said. His long fingers meandered down her arm, sending a sensation of electric heat across her skin. “It’s safer.”
She had momentarily been taken aback by the tingling and chose to ignore the commotion in her body. “Have you ever been on that bus? If you had, you may not think it’s safer.”
“You’ve heard about what happened to Little Red Riding Hood.”
His reference had been accompanied by a haunting smile as he said it and only made her more curious about some of the strange things she’d heard and seen around the forest’s edge since moving to Oregon to take a job as an academic advisor at the university.
“I’m not afraid of the big bad wolf.”
“You should be,” he’d said in an ominous tone, then vanished into the fog-covered woods he warned against.
Since then they’d talked at the mailbox a time or two, and Jericho even helped her plant some boxwoods, insistent he dig the holes and do the heavy lifting since he considered her too delicate to do “man’s work.” He may be a tad peculiar and old fashioned in his thinking, but looking at him now, he was the perfect picture of masculine beauty with his pale skin popping vividly against the contrast of his dark hair. Tatum supposed Jericho was probably more beautiful than any one man had the right to be, taking in that glossy ink-black mane as it flowed past his wide shoulders and ruffled in the mid-morning breeze. And then there were those strange, almost hypnotic icy-white irises that she recalled being ringed in black.
Entranced, Tatum scarcely noticed she’d been rinsing her cup for so long that the water from the faucet turned cool. She just continued to stare at Jericho. One long, jean clad leg stretched out before him with the other bent at the knee where his right forearm rested. He was making a fist then loosening it before he began to tap his fingers on the thigh of his outstretched leg. When he shifted, the white T-shirt he wore pulled tight and clung to his muscular build, showcasing his well developed pecs.
Gasping, Tatum watched with rounded eyes as her neighbor hopped up to his feet and started pacing the peak of his roof as if he were strolling on the sidewalk and not a shingled summit. How in the hell can he balance like that? Tatum started to ponder if she had ever seen anyone so agile and surefooted. She considered he might be some form of acrobatic circus performer who walked on tightropes.
When he ran down the slope of his roof then jumped, her heart stopped. She dropped her cup into the stainless steel sink where it shattered. She expected him to crumple into a ball of pain after he hit the ground in a wallop, but instead, he landed on both feet in a crouch as though what he did was easy. He had to be some sort of stuntman or daredevil to do what he did.
Mouth gaping, Tatum turned the water off. Outside, Jericho stood to his full height and methodically turned his head in Tatum’s direction. She panicked and immediately bent down into a squat, not wanting him to see her watching him. Tatum realized her reaction was silly, acting as if she were a peeping tom, especially since she was inside her house at her sink, but she wasn’t able to stop herself from hiding like a coward. It was like being caught with her hand in the cookie jar, only she didn’t really know why she felt that way. And what was even more ridiculous, she was crawling on her hands and knees into her living room.
I’m such an idiot.
As soon as her hands hit the Berber area rug, she stood, straightened her shirt and chuckled to herself. Eeerrrrk!
She froze. Someone had opened her screen door.
“Tatum. This is Jericho.” Even through the door she could almost feel the deep timbre of his voice. “Your neighbor,” he added as if she could ever forget who he was.
Tatum hesitated a moment before going to the door and finally opening it.
“Hi,” she said in an unnaturally upbeat voice.
“Hey,” he said, eyeing her. “I thought I heard a crash. Are you okay?”
Tatum felt her cheeks catch fire. “Oh. Um, yeah. It wasn’t a crash. I’m clumsy sometimes and dropped—”
Tatum stilled midsentence and morphed into the perfect rendition of a mannequin before she stared at Jericho with a perplexed expression.
“What?” he asked.
“I dropped a mug.”
“Ah,” he muttered.
One of Tatum’s thin brows rose.
Jericho tilted his head in a catlike gesture. “What’s wrong?” he asked.
“I know I need to upgrade my windows to something more energy efficient, but I guess my house has thin walls and requires more insulation.”
“Why do you say that?”
“I must have substandard construction. How else did you hear my coffee mug breaking?”
Jericho shrugged nonchalantly. “Excellent hearing,” he said as if that explained everything perfectly.
“That’s an understatement,” she muttered before propping the door open a bit more. “I’m sorry. Where are my manners? Would you like to come in?”
“Thanks, but I have some things to do today, and I’m already running late. Perhaps another time?”
“Oh, sure. Another time then.”
“I’m glad you didn’t cut yourself,” he said.
Tatum had lost herself in the cool white of his eyes, so she wasn’t quite sure what he said. “Hmm?”
“The cup? When you dropped it in the sink. I’m glad you didn’t cut your hand.”
For a moment Tatum couldn’t decide if she should be spooked or embarrassed. She was pretty sure he hadn’t actually seen her.
“You were standing at your sink when I heard the crash, so I assume you dropped your coffee cup into the basin and that’s how it broke.”
Embarrassment was overriding the spooked feeling. He did notice her. Tatum blinked rapidly.
“See you around the neighborhood,” Jericho said with a slight grin before he turned and walked off the front stoop of Tatum’s house with a fluidity that almost took Tatum’s breath.
Oh, and I'm giving away random Trick or Treats in my Facebook Group, Slip Between the Pages with London this month. Come on by, join the group, and join in the fun.
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