Let the Wild Out by Madelyn Porter
Paranormal Shapeshifter Erotic Ménage Romance
Rachel Dunne thinks she’s safe from the politics of her people by keeping a low profile in America. When she comes face to face with one of the clan chiefs in search of a mate, she’s stunned yet incredibly turned on. There is a catch—one queen to two opposing clan chiefs. It’s hard enough fighting off the advances of one sizzling hot piece of alpha man-flesh, can she possibly resist two?
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Everyone should have at least two lovers.
That’s what Rachel Dunne’s crazy aunt used to tell her anyway. Her mother would have rolled over in her grave if she’d known her father’s sister had been given custody. After her parents died, Aunt Elvie was the only family member who could take her in. Rachel spent her teenage years under the care of a free lovin’, spirit séance havin’, illegal herb growin’, occasionally under arrest, Auntie Elvie. Luckily the sheriff was one of Elvie’s pot customer slash on-and-off-again lovers, and Elvie never stayed behind bars for too long.
It wasn’t an ideal childhood. But what Elvie lacked in modern morals and conventions she more than made up with love and patience. As for an Uncle Elvie, there wasn’t one—there were several. Elvie rotated her lovers like most people changed toothbrushes, and she always kept at least two of them around at a time. Though, for their kind, such things were not unusual.
Oh, Aunt Elvie also happened to be a bird shifter. Rachel always thought it accounted for her flighty behavior and great appetite for life. Though, how a bird shifter could get arrested in the middle of a forest was beyond her. Rachel suspected her aunt liked being put in cuffs.
For some reason, Aunt Elvie and her childhood had been on her mind a lot lately.
“What kind are you?”
Rachel pretended not to hear the man who spoke, keeping her attention on the ebook reader she held. She had seen him following her as she left the bookstore where guest authors, Mandy M. Roth and Michelle M. Pillow, had joint book readings. She’d felt his presence as she walked the streets and smelled him as he came into the coffee shop. She didn’t need to look at him to know he had dark hair and a rock-solid body. That much she’d seen from the reflection in the bookstore window. But experience taught her to stay away from other shifters. They had a wildness about them, an animalistic quality and a freedom Rachel fought hard to control in herself.
“What kind are you?” The unmistakable brogue of his Gaelic accent seemed out of place in the small Colorado town. That might account for his forward behavior. The shifters she’d met from overseas tended to have less puritanical ways. In America, unless on a preserve, shifters tended to mind their own business.
Rachel glanced at the hand he pressed flat against the table. There was no point in denying his claim. She could smell the shifter on him, as he could on her. However, his fragrance was potent and raw. He’d changed recently and, if the prickling sense of danger curling through her was any indication, he was dangerous. No wild bird here. Without looking up, she said, “I heard you the first two times, but my parents told me to never talk to strangers. Just keep it moving, buddy. I’m not in the life and I’m not looking for friends.”
The man turned his hand over so she could see his palm. An ancient, circular design had been burned into the flesh with a branding iron. It looked old, probably given to him in childhood in an ancient ritual. She stiffened, not needing further introduction. Rachel didn’t move for a long moment. She knew that mark. Everyone with shifter blood knew that mark. She’d never expected to see it in her lifetime, had hoped not. As far as she’d known, the marked ones were all living overseas, and she preferred it that way. Slowly lifting the back of her hand to her head in a subtle gesture of respect Aunt Elvie had taught her, she said, “My chief.”
“For someone not in the life, you know who I am.” He pulled his fingers into a fist. “Now I asked you a question. What kind are you?”
“Trout,” Rachel lied, finally looking up at him. “My kind is a trout. I’m diluted blood.”
She wasn’t sure it was wise to lie to her clan chief, but if he was asking about her kind, then being a tame creature of the river wasn’t useful to anyone. It had been a long time since she shifted, so her smell wouldn’t be potent at all. The lie would be believable. Hopefully he’d leave her alone now. Rachel fought the nervousness in her stomach. If he caught her lying to him she wasn’t sure what he’d do. The stories from the old country were brutal, practically medieval.
He slid into the chair across from her. “Trout?”
“Yes, my chief. A fish. When I change I swim in streams and try not to get hooked by fishermen while avoiding other spawning creatures. You can see why I’m not interested in the life.” Rachel made a move to stand, refusing to look into his eyes in case he sensed her fear. “If you would excuse me, I have to get to—”
“Wait.” He reached for her hand. The warmth of his touch took her by surprise.
“Yes?” Was it just her imagination, or could she feel the scar on his palm? Her attention focused on it, on him. Awareness shot through her.
“Who are your family? Which clan?”
“My family is gone. My aunt, Elvie Dunne, raised me. She passed two years back. My father, her brother, belonged to yours, the Duncanis clan. I don’t talk to any others. Any other questions you have are better directed at someone else. I hear there are shifters living in Colorado Springs. Perhaps you should try there.” Rachel withdrew her hand and he let her go. “Excuse me, Chief, but I can’t lose my job.”
“No reason to be so formal. Call me Douglas.”
She nodded, not saying his name or meeting his eyes. Grabbing her ebook reader, she held it a little too tightly.
As she walked away, she detected his whisper, “I’ll be seeing you, little trout.”
Rachel really hoped not.