Author Charlie Richards
Now Available at eXtasy Books!
Healing his Forever
Shifter's Regime: Book Eight
Keeping the Peace: A chance encounter at a barbeque changes the course of a councilman's life.
Councilman Lorian Bakerman knows his mother’s dinner invitation is a set-up. Having been dodging her attempts to introduce him to eligible shifter women of her choosing for the last several years, he knows all the signs. Ever since other single councilmen have begun finding their mates—male mates—she’s been urging him to settle down…with someone she finds appropriate.
When Lorian accepts a barbeque invitation from Enforcer Germaine for the express purpose of avoiding his mother’s plans, he’s shocked to find himself drawn in by a pair of sad hazel eyes. Scenting the shifter, he realizes that Randy Cullers is his mate. While Randy acknowledges their connection, he seems timid and uncertain, leaving Lorian confused…until he learns that Randy is mourning the loss of a long-standing partner.
Lorian wants Randy and is willing to give him time. Can his patience hold as he helps Randy’s heart mend while stopping his meddling and manipulative mother’s ways before she scares him off?
Excerpt - Healing his Forever
The excerpt below contain explicit adult language and sexual content.
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Life is simpler as a fox.
“Ah.” Dakota released his shoulders and placed the platter in an open area of the table near the bags of buns. “Change is hard, but having a support system makes all the difference.” Smiling at Randy, Dakota grabbed the bag of hamburger buns. “Want one?”
Randy shook his head. “I’m going for the hot dogs,” he revealed, picking up that bag instead.
Dakota hummed as he took two buns. “Nice. We have all the fixin’s. Germaine doesn’t do anything by halves.”
“It all looks amazing,” Randy stated, for want of something to say.
Then Randy took two hot dog buns, closed the package, and set it back down. He doctored his buns with mayonnaise, mustard, and ketchup. After placing the dogs in the prepared buns, Randy added relish and onions.
Randy looked over all the possible side dishes, and he decided simple comfort food was all he needed. Popping the top on a canister of French onion Pringles, Randy poured a pile of them onto his plate beside the dogs. After closing the container and putting it back on the table, he grabbed the serving spoon in a massive bowl of macaroni and cheese and helped himself to a couple of scoops.
“Let’s find a table,” Dakota offered, bumping Randy with his arm. “I’ll introduce you to whoever stops by.”
“Oh, um.” Randy looked Sage’s way again, but he didn’t see him.
“Sorry about Sage ditchin’ ya.” Dakota must have followed where Randy was looking. “They’re newly mated, and Sage walked outside with your scent on him.” He smirked and rolled his eyes. “I’m guessing Germaine felt the possessive need to replace your scent with his own.”
Parting his lips in surprise, Randy nodded absently. He’d seen the pair slip away plenty of times over the last few weeks.
Especially any time Sage gave me a nice comforting hug.
“That sounds about right,” Randy murmured. Giving Dakota a small smile, he nodded. “Okay.”
“Come on.” Dakota stopped at a couple of coolers. “Beer, wine, or other?”
“Um, white wine, if possible.”
Dakota nodded. “Sure. Sit at the table here, and I’ll get it from the kitchen.” Then he started toward a nearby table.
“Oh, I can have something else,” Randy countered, not wanting to put the nice shifter out. “Juice. Water. Whatever’s in the cooler.”
Chuckling, Dakota shook his head. “Don’t worry about it, Randy.” He placed his food in front of a chair. “I think the councilman is ready for a refill, too, so I’ll just bring the bottle.”
Following where Dakota pointed, Randy just about swallowed his tongue. He spotted a tall, broad-shouldered man who appeared to be in his mid-to-late forties. For some reason, the image of the man rubbing his neatly trimmed beard over Randy’s shaved groin popped into his head.
Randy yanked his gaze away from the councilman, fighting back the heat that suddenly began to permeate his body. To his shock, arousal swam through his veins. He even began to plump up—something he hadn’t done since Cain had left him.
Thoughts of his ex eased his arousal somewhat.
“Think he’s pretty hot, huh?” Dakota rumbled softly, patting his shoulder. “I’ll introduce ya.”
Before Randy could decline, Dakota headed away from him. He quickly pulled out a chair and sat in it. His gut churned for a new reason—uncertainty. Randy couldn’t ever remember getting boned up from just a brief glance at a guy.
Randy watched covertly as Dakota headed not toward the councilman, but toward the house. Sighing in relief—definitely not disappointment—he picked up a chip and popped it into his mouth. Chewing slowly, Randy hummed at the delicious flavor.
Starting on a hot dog next, Randy took a big bite. He sighed in contentment. The comfort food was just what he needed.
Unable to help himself, Randy found his gaze straying across the yard. The man Dakota had indicated was talking to another blond man. The hand not holding an empty wine glass was shoved into the pocket of his designer jeans, stretching the fabric over the fly of his groin. Even from a distance, Randy could see that the councilman was well-endowed.
Typical of a shifter. Yum!
Ugh! I should not be thinking about him, or anyone, like that. I’m not ready.
Besides, Dakota had said the man was a councilman. There was zero chance the man would want to date a bottom-boy twink like him. The councilman would need some buff guy or socialite woman on his arm. Someone of good breeding and standing in the shifter society.
Randy knew he was a no-one.
Just as Randy had shoved the last bite of his hot dog into his mouth, the councilman looked his way. The man pinned Randy with a rich, chocolate-brown-eyed gaze. Randy quickly lowered his focus to his plate and grabbed his napkin. After wiping his fingers and his mouth, he picked up his spoon and took one bite after another of his mac and cheese.
“Here’s your wine, Randy.”
Dakota’s voice pulled Randy out of his singular focus on his food. He saw the glass as well as the bottle the other shifter placed before him. The label read a white zinfandel he didn’t recognize.
“Thank you,” Randy murmured, reaching for the glass.
“Hey, Councilman Lorian,” Dakota greeted, causing Randy to freeze, his fingers wrapped around the stem of the glass. “Ready for a refill?” Grinning, he pointed at the table. “You don’t mind me bringing it out, do you? Chow’s ready, too.”
“No, I don’t mind at all, Dakota,” a deep baritone voice replied. “And I told you. Call me Lorian when we’re not at the office.”
Dakota chuckled. “That’ll take some getting used to, Lorian.”
“I imagine so.”
Randy peered at the councilman—Lorian—from beneath his lashes. His breathing hitched as he met the other shifter’s deep brown eyes. The man’s eyes narrowed just a smidge as he openly inhaled deeply.
Then the corners of his lips curved into the smallest of smiles.
“While I told you that anyone was welcome to try the case of wine I brought, I have to say”—Lorian’s deep voice caused goose bumps to break out on Randy’s arms—“the fact that you’re offering it to my mate pleases me to no end.”
“Your mate?” Dakota’s voice was full of surprise. “Randy is your mate?”
Randy’s breath caught in his throat.
I’m his mate?
Then Lorian’s scent finally registered, and Randy bit back a whimper at the delicious masculine goodness emanating from the man.
Lorian reached out and used crooked forefingers under Randy’s chin to urge him to meet his gaze fully. “Your name is Randy?”
Instead of answering Lorian’s question, Randy blurted out what he’d been thinking just a few minutes prior.
“I’m not ready for a mate.”