Erotic Paranormal RomanceDate Published: 9/17/2013
When Aspen Clarke saw Skylar Ashmore for the first time, her cougar screamed that this wolf would be hers. But Aspen can't trust the mating call because she knows all too well that sometimes fate can get it wrong. After a steamy night with Skylar, Aspen is broken-hearted to find that her worries are founded when she awakens alone and confused. So, she runs back to Pinewood Creek and her old pride that’d always made her feel welcome, unlike her own parents. Little does she know that she carries more with her than emotional baggage. Now faced with motherhood alone she's decided that she doesn't need a mate.
Skylar just wanted to forget his last assignment, so like he had for the past six months after he was forced to execute yet another shifter he stopped at the little restaurant a town over from his apartment to lose himself in good food. He never expected to lose himself in a female. He took the beautiful Aspen to bed the moment he caught her scent, his wolf beside itself wanting to claim its mate. But after it was over he knows he's made a mistake...because he's already mated. So, he runs and hopes he can beg his mate for forgiveness.
Xavier had never felt a betrayal as deep as when Skylar slid into bed beside him smelling of a female, not even when his old pack had nearly beat him to death. But soon that feeling of betrayal faded to confusion, then surprise when he realized that whatever female his mate had taken was also his mate.
Now Skylar and Xavier will hunt for their missing mate. But little do they know, Skylar's last assignment has a loose end that's just waiting for the right moment to strike--and it's set its sights on Aspen.
Can Aspen accept the man who left her pregnant and doubting mating all over again? Can Skylar and Xavier convince her to mate with not one, but both of them? Will Aspen survive to forgive?
"The baby is fine, Aspen."
Aspen breathed a sigh of relief at Dr. Sanchez's words. She felt even more relieved when the alien picture of her growing baby graced the screen. Miranda squeezed her hand and Aspen tried to smile, but more was weighing on her than just the welfare of her unborn child. It was almost as though she was caught in a nightmare and she couldn't wake up. Had she actually been witness to the mate who'd left her kissing another man? More confusing still was the instant attraction she felt for that other man. It was like meeting Skylar for the first time all over again. Her body, soul, mind and cougar wanted him instantly.
But how could this be? Was her connection to Skylar false? Had she spent the last three months pining away for a man that wasn't even her mate?
"Can I come in?"
Aspen gasped. Skylar filled the doorway, his presence making her heart beat a little faster.
Well, there goes the false connection theory. Aspen looked into familiar green eyes--green eyes that haunted her every dream and fantasy--and nodded.
"We'll talk later, okay," Miranda said before releasing Aspen's hand and walking toward the door. She stopped in front of Skylar, barely reaching mid-chest on the male and pointed her finger at him. Aspen wanted to laugh at the way Miranda transformed from friend to alpha female before her eyes.
"And you, whoever you are, better not hurt Aspen. She is a member of my pride and I also consider her my best friend. Consider yourself warned."
Miranda nodded at Aspen before turning and walking out of the room.
"And with that, I'll get all the paperwork filled out so you can be discharged, okay, Aspen."
"Thank you, Dr. Sanchez."
"My pleasure, Aspen. Oh, and do me a favor and tell Theresa hi."
Aspen laughed. "Of course."
Then Dr. Sanchez left and the tension in the room reminded Aspen of a dense fog. She took a calming breath when Skylar took a hesitant step toward her. She could do this. Couldn't she?
"I missed you."
"Then why did you leave?"
Aspen slapped her hand over her mouth. Skylar's lips curled into a small smile and her cougar went crazy at the sight of their mate's sexy grin.
"I didn't leave...well, I came back and you were gone."
"You left me without a word. What was I supposed to think, and before you tell me I should have stayed and waited, I know you left me with the intention of never coming back."
Aspen fisted her hands, her claws digging into her palms. The pain was a welcome distraction to keep her from tears. She would not cry in front of this man. He wouldn't know how much his leaving had hurt her. Skylar hung his head and sighed, his actions confirming what she'd always known. He'd never planned to return, but biology had overridden his own desires. And though it felt as though she were ripping a piece of her heart out, she knew how badly this would end. Hell, weren't her parents’ proof that sometimes fate got it wrong?
"Skylar, sometimes fate doesn't get this mate thing right-"
Skylar covered the distance between them in the blink of an eye. His hands framed her face and forced her to look into his beautiful green eyes.
"I'm not letting you go, Aspen. You are mine and I don't care if that other male is your baby's father, I am your mate and you belong to me."
His words were like a slap in the face. Aspen bit her lip and pulled away.
"Go," Aspen said between tears that could and would not be stopped.
"I said that I wasn't leaving."
She swiped her tears and her cougar rose to the surface, the familiar ripple of fur erupting over her arms.
Skylar bent into her face, an obvious challenge for her cougar, his green eyes going wild.
"No," he said between clenched teeth.
"I believe my patient has asked you to leave, sir. Don't make me call security."
Aspen shifted her attention to the short and curvy female standing in the doorway, her eyes cautious but firm as she regarded Skylar.
"I won't leave my mate," Skylar said.
The female smiled sweetly.
"I believe you don't have a choice, sir. Now, mate or not, my patient has requested that you leave, so you can leave or I can make you leave."
Skylar closed his eyes, his whole body shaking. He leaned down and took her mouth, his tongue invading on her gasp. She wanted to hate that he kissed her, wanted to push him away, but her traitorous body relaxed for the first time in months and basked in his dominance, the way he was rough until he got her acquiescence. How he gentled his kiss, dueling his tongue with hers. She hated that she wanted him so badly. Hated that she'd soaked through her panties with wanting him, and she was so confused because all she could imagine was Xavier joining them.
"You're mine," Skylar said before turning and leaving her alone with the curvy female.
"Are you okay?"
Aspen nodded and touched her lips with her fingers. The curvy brunette smiled.
"My name is Destini and I'll be your nurse. We just changed shifts, so I'll be taking over your discharge."
"You need to follow-up with Dr. Sanchez next week. I know your previous appointment was next month, but in light of your visit to Pinewood Creek ER Dr. Sanchez thought it would be better if she saw you next wee...Are you even listening?"
Aspen jumped when a hand touched her shoulder, pulling her from varying thoughts of clawing Skylar's pretty face and kissing him senseless. How dare he even think this baby was anybody's but his! She looked up into Destini's face and sighed.
Destini sighed and looked at her watch before taking a seat on the stool sitting beside Aspen.
"Okay, spill it. What's bothering you?"
"Don't give me that crap, girl. I may be twenty-five, but that doesn't mean that I'm naïve. Pfft! I’ve been a nurse since I was twenty. Seen and heard it all...Ok, maybe not all, but a lot...so spill."
Aspen bit her lip and stared at the curvy brunette. She leaned forward and took a deep whiff of the female's scent.
"I'm a platypus."
"You were sniffing me to figure out what I was, well I'm a platypus."
Destini laughed. "Okay, now that you've determined It is okay to talk to me about super secret shifter stuff, tell me."
Aspen's tenseness slowly eased when she realized that if she told this person who didn't know her at all she could relieve a lot of the stress she'd felt for the past three months.
"Skylar's my mate...or at least I think he is..."
"You're not sure?"
"Well, I was the night...the night we-"
Aspen smoothed her hand over her abdomen and the baby resting there.
Aspen knew her eyes were the size of saucers and she couldn't help but laugh when Destini broke down into giggles.
"I guess you could put it that way. Anyways, He didn't claim me and left me three months ago. I moved. I've never told him or anyone, but I watched him for months before I got the courage to go up to him, and then I did and it was like wham! He was the one. I couldn't stay and see him after he left me, so I came back to my childhood home."
"So what made you doubt that he was your mate?"
Aspen grimaced. This was where it truly got freaky.
"Before we came to the hospital, I met Skylar's mate an-"
"Whoa! He's already mated?"
"Yes and I'm pretty sure that his mate is also my mate."
"Phew! No wonder you're freaking out."
Aspen threw her hands in the air. "I know! So, do you have any advice?"
Destini sighed and patted Aspen on the knee.
"Honey, if I had that kind of advice then I would still be at home instead of here. I will say that I believe fate can get it wrong sometimes. I mean, who’s to say that biology is always right? Now, let's go over your discharge instructions and then you go home and rest, then tomorrow you can figure this whole love triangle out, okay."
Aspen smiled. "Okay."
About the Author
Astrid Cielo is a Mississippi girl who enjoys a variety of things. By night, she is a nurse in her local ER, and by day, she is spilling her imagination out on paper.Astrid began writing when she was a child her stories featuring a variety of characters (including her imaginary friends). When she was in high school she wrote her first completed story and was published twice in poetry anthologies. Gathering her courage, Astrid self-published her first book, Surrender Serenity, Salin' Salvation, Book 1 and enjoyed every minute of it.Now she balances her time between being a nurse (which she loves) and writing down the scenes that play out in her mind. She also plays World of Warcraft (which all of her friends think is weird)!