Thank you for having me!
I have a special kind of love for shifters. Just about all of my books have involved them in one form or another. But this is the first time I’ve written about Lions. King of Beasts, majestic, authoritative, and a little bit moany.
But Luka is just too cute, I couldn’t stay mad at him.
His love for Aura is true and deep and, as far as he is concerned, unrequited. But then again, Lion Shifters are many things, including blind… really really blind.
Luka Barend is an alpha lion shifter, member of the Shifter Council, teacher, and big brother. He’s also stuck firmly in the “friend zone.” In point of fact he is King of the Best Friend zone. Sometimes it really sucks to be him.
Aura Vietor is a High Priestess, an air elemental witch, and a woman who really, really wants Luka to realize that his best friend is actually a woman, with needs. Many, many dirty needs. Stupid blind lion shifter!
Luka lay facedown on his bed and wondered, not for the first time, what he could’ve done in a previous life to be cursed with a family like this.
Granted, what with them all being orphaned at young ages and ending up in children’s homes, he’d not had much choice. But still he must’ve really pissed off a couple of gods in a previous life if this crazy menagerie was his punishment.
“So I said to her, ‛Baby, if you’re impressed now, you should see what I can do with it.’ And let me tell you, she was really impressed.”
He looked up at one of his younger brothers and glared. In nature, lions and wolves didn’t mix. Sadly, that wasn’t the case here. He was a lion shifter, and Nate—well, Nate was a pain-in-the-ass wolf-coyote shifter. Another perk of being in an adopted, mixed breed family.
“Is there a reason you’re in my house?”
He waited, but Nate didn’t seem to want to offer more.
“Nate, it’s been a long day. I’ve been in a council meeting for the last five hours. Tell me why you’re here before I shift and bite your tiny little wolf head off.”
“Seriously, bro, since you made the council, your fun meter has dropped, like, twenty percent.”
“Geez, chill. I’m here because Aura was looking for you. Something about a ritual and the lake. If she needs a sex sacrifice, I’m totally up for that.”
Luka dropped his head back to the bed and groaned.
“Please tell me you didn’t offer her your services.”
“I thought about it, and then I remembered the last time I kindly offered my time and how it took a month for the green color to fade from my fur.”
“Smart move. I’ll give her a call. Now get out.”
“I’m crashing here tonight,” Nate threw over his shoulder as he headed for the door.
“You have your own place.”
“Yeah, but your place is closer. I mean I’m literally already standing in it. So, win.”
He didn’t argue as Nate closed the door. It was true he did have his own place, but more often than not, Luka would walk into the kitchen to find one or more of his siblings there.
He was sure some psychologists would say it had to do with their childhoods. How losing their parents at such young ages had affected them. Now they would cling together, needing each other’s presence to feel secure and connected.
Personally, he thought that was all crap and they just liked eating him out of house and home.
With a resigned sigh, he rolled onto his back and grabbed his phone off the bedside table.
He punched the quick-dial number and waited for the call to be answered. It didn’t matter that it was near midnight. There wasn’t a worry that he’d wake up the person at the other end. Aura was a night owl, something he’d learned as a kid.
“About goddamn time, freak,” was the greeting he received. As tired as he was, he couldn’t help smiling.
“Sorry if I wasn’t waiting by the phone for your call, hag.”
“What were you doing? Off licking your own ass?”
“No, I was with the council planning our witch hunt.”
“Yeah, like you’d have any chance against us.”
“Us? Who said anything about the others? Nope, we’re just planning on hunting whining air elemental witches.”
“Flea-ridden alley cat.”
“Reject from The Wizard of Oz.”
There was silence on the other end for a second before he heard the snorted laugh.
The sound warmed his heart. Aura might be an air elemental witch, a rare breed of witch to say the least. She might even be one of the most powerful magical women in the world. But first and foremost, she was his best friend. And wasn’t that all sorts of fun. Somewhere in their teen years he’d landed not only in the friend zone, but he was in point of fact, king of the best-friend zone. Yay him.
“So what did that boring group of dried up has-beens have to say this time?”
“That group of has-beens is the authority around here, and I happen to be a member, in case you’ve forgotten.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever. I told you when they asked you to join that you’d be at least nine hundred years too young. But no, you wouldn’t listen. So deal with it, kitten.”
“No, please, Aura. You’re drowning me with your admiration.”
“Only if you ask me nice.”
He heard her breathy laugh come down the line again and willed his body not to react. He’d have more chance swimming up a waterfall.
“So, I hear you were looking for me,” he said, and tried hard to distract his body and the part of him that was getting hard at the thought of her luscious mouth on it.
“Sure was. The full moon is coming.”
“And? Happens all the time.”
“Yes, I know that, o wise one. But this one is different. It’s a blood moon. Rare and very powerful. I need to have a ceremony down at the lake. It’s going to happen, but I figured I should get your approval first, what with you being all council-like now. That way the boring old farts can’t shut me down.”
“You ask so nicely too.”
“You want nice? Okay, fine.” He closed his eyes. He knew what was coming and so did his body. “Please, Luka. Oh, oh, oh, God, please, Luka,” she panted down the line. “I promise to be a good girl, really good…oh, mmm, so good.”
He swallowed hard and forced out a laugh. “You’re getting better at that.”
“I should be. Practice does make perfect.”
That dragged a silent snarl from him. The thought of another man’s hands on what he’d always considered his had his lion pawing to get out.
“Fine, have your little magic show at the lake. But don’t poison the lake, don’t burn anything down, and, Aura, if you really must be naked, at least put up a border spell so I don’t find a group of teenagers all standing there watching you and your coven.”
“Man, Nate was right—you really have lost your fun side. Okay, fine, Mr. Prude. I’ll make sure the poor innocent boys are shielded from our perfection. I guess I shouldn’t really ruin them for all the other women.”
“I appreciate it. Now go away. I have sleeping to do, and your cackle grates on my last nerve.”
“Yeah, love you too, twinkle.”
He hung up, dropped the phone back onto the table, and lay back down.
Luka stared up at the ceiling and wondered again if the gods were messing with him.
© Cherie Nicholls 2015
Cherie Nicholls is an author of Paranormal Romance. By day she is an IT Manager and by night she whips up worlds where alpha men find their mates and people are always more than human.
Cherie was born and lives in London, UK, and is a daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, aunt-in-law, great-aunt, and godmother in an ever-growing family. She has a passion for shifter stories, most any sport and thimbles…don’t ask.
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