Author Charlie Richards
Now Available at eXtasy Books!
The Acolyte's Education
Kontra's Menagerie: Book Thirty-Two
On the Road: When a fae prince makes a bad bet, he must rely on strangers to win his freedom.
Shannon knew it was a mistake. He should have found a better way, a way that didn’t put the remaining members of his sleuth in danger. Except, with his brown bear driving him, he takes advantage of the unguarded phone and calls the very people who’d enslaved them—the witch circle. To Shannon’s relief, no one is seriously injured in the witches’ attack, and the circle is stopped. On top of that, the women brought Shannon exactly who he’d hoped—Evan Reyes. Shannon had known Evan was his mate the second he’d scented the skinny twink while in the head witch’s kennels. Being be-spelled, Shannon had never been able to do anything about it. Now, he can. Of course, Shannon has a butt-load of restitution to get through first—not to mention having to figure out how to counter the witches’ lies that are filling Evan’s head—but this is his mate. With the help of his sleuth, even though they’re annoyed with him, Shannon can fix everything, can’t he?
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Excerpt - The Acolyte's Education
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When Evan had first met Amelia, she’d confirmed that someone had put a curse on Evan, which was the cause of the continued unfortunate events that befell him and those around him. She’d assured him that her circle of witches could help. Because Evan didn’t have a job or source of income, he’d agreed to work for them as repayment.
To that end, Evan had moved into a small garage apartment owned by one of the circle members so he could always be available to them. He’d done things as mundane as weeding their gardens to as dangerous as cleaning cages for the shapeshifters the witches had captured. While Evan had always been assured that the creatures couldn’t hurt him because they were under several spells to keep them compliant, being near them always scared the ever-loving crap out of him.
And this last job they ordered landed me in this mess.
When Amelia had confirmed where some of her stolen bears had turned up, she’d organized her circle to go there. She’d insisted that Evan join them as a gopher and pack mule. Imagine his surprise when, instead of talking to whoever held the bears, she’d just attacked the group instead.
It hadn’t turned out so well for the witches…or him. The bears had been guarded by not only other shapeshifters, but by demons! One had rendered Theresa unconscious—the witch Evan had been carrying supplies for—and dragged his unresisting body into the yard.
For some reason, some guy had whisked Evan away from the demon. There had been a lot of shouting that he hadn’t understood, but then the man had been ordered to take him into the house.
Evan girded up his courage and turned his head just enough so he could look around. Seeing the non-descript bedroom furniture, he took a longer appraisal. The space was clean and mostly well-kept, but obviously old. He spotted a book on the nightstand, indicating it was occupied by someone.
Perhaps the guy holding me? I should at least say thank you. He is the guy who stopped the demon from hurting me, after all.
Except, why did he do that?
Tipping his chin up, Evan peered at the large man from beneath his lashes. To his shock, the man’s deep brown eyes held warmth, even wonder. His full lips were curved into a smile that actually appeared a little nervous.
“Hi, Evan,” the man rumbled in a deep bass voice that caused Evan’s pulse to spike. “It’s so nice to finally officially meet you.”
Evan would have remembered seeing this handsome guy, even in passing.
The dark-haired man nodded. “Yeah. Officially.”
Oops! I said that out loud.
Evan did that sometimes when he was nervous.
“Yes, you did,” the man stated, his smile losing its worried edge. “My name’s Shannon.” Then his expression slipped a bit as he told him, “And I mean officially because I’ve been watching you for over a year and a half, praying to the gods that I would finally be able to talk to you just like this.”
“W-Watching me for a-a year and a half?” Evan’s nerves spiked as confusion clouded him. “Wh-What do you mean?”
Evan couldn’t help the slight squeak in his voice. After all, he had no idea what had happened to the witches he’d been working with. Last he’d seen, they were either unconscious or dead or worse—captured by the very creatures they were trying to contain.
Amelia had explained it to Evan. Once someone was infected with the virus, there was no cure. Those changed humans could only be helped with spell treatment that curbed their aggressive tendencies.
“I’m one of those bear shifters that the witches kidnapped, tortured, and enslaved,” Shannon told him, confusing him further. “The Horsemen helped stop the asshole we’d been rented to, and Kontra and his warlocks are doing what they can to remove the spells those bitches carved into us.”
Realization slammed into Evan, and he jolted from Shannon’s hold. “You’re a shapeshifter?” he squawked, peering around wildly. Seeing the door, Evan rushed toward it.
Evan didn’t make it two steps before thick arms wrapped around him from behind. No matter how he wriggled, kicked, and bucked, the arms didn’t loosen. He screamed and pleaded for a few seconds before one large hand covered his mouth. The other arm felt as if it were an unyielding steel cable around his torso, holding Evan securely against the much larger man’s thick frame.
Finally, two things registered to Evan’s fear-scrambled brain. First, Shannon wasn’t hurting him—not really. Instead, he just held him securely, not allowing him to leave.
Second, Shannon was crooning whispered words of reassurance and safety to him.
“You’re totally safe, Evan,” Shannon rumbled, nuzzling the side of Evan’s neck with his cheek. “I won’t let anything happen to you. It’s going to be okay.” There was a definite note of pain in his tone as he continued, “I’d never hurt you, my mate. None of us would ever hurt you.”
Evan stilled, ceasing his struggling. Breathing heavily, he tried to make sense of what Shannon was telling him. It countered everything Amelia and her women had ever told him about shapeshifters.
What’s going on?
He’s gotta be lying to me.
But why? What’s the point?