Author Charlie Richards
Now Available at eXtasy Books!
Wolves of Stone Ridge: Book Forty
Out of the Cage: Freedom takes all forms, including how to learn to live with yourself…and your limitations.
Drako Rundin had a rude awakening to the paranormal world—holy crap, vampires and shifters are real! Still, he thinks it’s pretty cool. After so much time thinking he’s weird for being a gay, video-game-loving geek, he finds he’s not the only oddball. Accepting his new friends’ offer to go to Denver, helping the pair move an ostrich farm in the process, he meets so many more people who are different.
Kwanza learns he’s been in captivity for a long, long time. He’s grateful to the group of friendly paranormals who rescued him and knows they worry about him. While he remembers shifting to human form—decades ago—he struggles to actually do it. The other shifters are patient and accommodating, giving him wide open spaces in which to live.
When Kwanza meets Drako, he recognizes the plump, cute human as his mate. While he succeeds in shifting, he can’t seem to hold it for long. With Drako’s help, can he relearn how to be human all over again?
Excerpt - Rediscovering Himself
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Kwanza couldn’t believe it. The smell coming off the young human was…amazing. He wanted to wrap his arms around the man, hold him close, and bury his face against his neck. He wanted to rub all over the man and saturate himself in his scent.
As soon as the thoughts slipped into his mind, Kwanza felt his body tremble. His legs buckled, causing him to crash to the ground. A shudder worked through him as pain surged through his body.
Cracks and pops echoed through the area as his bones realigned. His fur retracted, revealing dark brown skin. His tail and horns receded, and his head reshaped.
After what felt like an agonizing several minutes, Kwanza blinked open his eyes. He found himself sprawled on the lawn, several sets of feet around him. Feeling a hand on his back, he turned his head and realized Alpha Declan knelt beside him.
“Hey, buddy,” Alpha Declan rumbled, rubbing over his back lightly. “Just relax. That took a wee bit longer than it should have, but ye finally did it.”
Kwanza swept his gaze around the area swiftly, searching for the young human. He spotted him a few feet away, the strange vampire’s hands were on his shoulders as if he’d pulled him away. Lifting his hand, Kwanza reached for him.
“Mate.” Kwanza’s voice came out deep and rough as if rusty from disuse. “Who are you, mate?”
The man slipped from the vampire’s hold and stepped toward him. After a few seconds of uncertainty, he knelt a few feet before Kwanza. He reached out and took Kwanza’s hand between both of his own.
“Hi, there,” the man murmured softly. “I’m not sure what you said, but everyone sure seems happy for you. What’s your name?”
As the human spoke, Kwanza swept his gaze over him, hungrily taking in his features. His mate had dirty blond hair and warm, dark-brown eyes. He sported a concerned expression on his round face with several pock-marks on it.
Kwanza didn’t think that detracted from his cuteness, however. Instead, to him it showed character. He also noticed the extra weight he carried around his midsection. That extra flesh eased his fear that he might injure his human with his shifter strength.
“You are beautiful, perfect, stunning,” Kwanza continued, his focus glued to his mate’s cherub-like face. Using the hold he had on the much smaller male’s hand, he tugged. “Mine.” At the same time, he rocked to a sitting position. In seconds, he cradled the sweet-smelling human on his lap. Ignoring the human’s cry of surprise, he buried his nose against his neck and crooned, “I am called Kwanza. Who are you, sweet human?”
“Ooookay.” Declan rested his hand on Kwanza’s shoulder, drawing his attention. “Now I see why ye suddenly shifted. Is this young human yer mate?”
Kwanza nodded, nuzzling the man’s neck. He felt the stranger rest his hands on his shoulders and tilt his neck, offering more room. Nothing pleased him more than the knowledge that he held his mate, and the man wasn’t pushing him away.
“Yes. My mate,” Kwanza murmured. He lifted his head and grinned at the man, taking in his clearly surprised expression. Lifting a hand, he gently traced the fingertips of his left hand over the human’s jaw as he again asked, “What is your name, sweet human?”
“He is speaking an African dialect,” the big man, who Kwanza had learned was called Mutegi, stated slowly. The man knelt on Kwanza’s left, but he seemed to be addressing the human on his lap. “His name is Kwanza. He is claiming that you are his mate. He wants to know your name.”