I love autumn and this is the perfect time of year to enjoy a hot wolf-shifter story and guess what? I have one for you! This excerpt is from "Loup-Garou For You" chapter two (Yes I know that rhymes)
(In this excerpt, Aubert is corned by a long-time family associate Mister Aldridge and given some bad news.)
…Aubert’s heart hammered in his throat as he forced himself to stop and turn. He was confronted by the cold gray gaze of Mister Aldridge, the family’s solicitor-trustee. Mister Aldridge was the sort of man who could incite vexation with a glance. The last thing Aubert needed today was more provocation. Corrine had fled the ballroom and he was no longer free to pursue her. He hated Mister Aldridge for it and fought a rising snarl. “Our obligatory annual meeting is tomorrow, Mister Aldridge. You’re a day early. Why?”
“Tomorrow might be too late, lad.” Mister Aldridge stared down the bridge of his hatchet-sharp nose. He stood in the doorway of the drawing room, slender and straight, attired in an elegant charcoal riding coat paired with a somewhat wild head of platinum hair. “I’m here a day early to enforce the conditions of the Marston family will and head off possible disasters before they occur.”
“I have no idea what you’re talking about.” Aubert padded toward the drawing room. He drew his broad shoulders back and stood at his full height, which was taller than anyone else on the plantation by a considerable margin. “I’m not a lad, Mister Aldridge, so stop treating me like one. I’m the master of this plantation and it’s never been more profitable. I’m not afraid to work hard and make my own decisions. I’m a grown man. I’m twenty-seven. I shouldn’t have to endure these annual meetings with you or the added insult of being called a lad.”
Mister Aldridge frowned. “Correction—you’re twenty-six. You won’t be twenty- seven until midnight and your stubborn refusal to take my advice is what makes you a lad.”
Aubert passed close and gave Mister Aldridge’s shoulder a deliberate nudge as he entered the drawing room and headed toward a sideboard set with breakfast. He picked up a teapot and poured a cup of strong black tea.
“It’s cooled.” Mister Aldridge frowned with disapproval. “But drink some anyway. It might clear your head.”
Aubert sipped the tepid tea. “I’ll admit I don’t look forward to our yearly meetings. May I be so bold as to ask when they will end?”
Mister Aldridge smiled. “Do as I say, Aubert, and this meeting can be our last.” He walked to the far side of the massive mahogany desk and placed a chunky, age- weathered wooden box in the center.
Aubert eyed the box with dread. He hated Mister Aldridge’s unending annual surprises.
Mister Aldridge drew a deep breath. “As you know, when I was a young man I was apprenticed to your grandfather, the senior Aubert Marston. He possessed a commanding spirit I respected. I learned a lot from him. I was honored to be in his service and swore to carry out my duties with the highest integrity.”
Mister Aldridge turned toward the far wall and pointed at an imposing oil portrait of a handsome young man with a dimpled chin. “Your father Graham and I were raised as if we were brothers. The night you were born, in this house, I was present and promised Graham I would always look after you until you were ready to look after yourself. What you don’t understand is that our families—yours and mine—share a common ancestor and a bond thicker than blood. You treat these annual meetings since your dear parents’ unfortunate deaths as a great inconvenience, but I see them as a soul- honored necessity. I also have it in writing from your late father that they must take place.
“I am here to enforce your late father’s wishes and act in Graham’s stead. If you don’t like it that’s too bad. I do this out of loyalty to Graham. You see, there are no more male Marstons in the world—you are the last in your branch of the family—and I will not allow the noble Marston line to flicker out in disgrace.”
Aubert balked. “I’ve done nothing disgraceful.”
Mister Aldridge huffed under his breath. “Not yet.”
“What is that supposed to mean?” An odd chill raced through him. The fleeting thought occurred that Mister Aldridge had heard rumors of, or even sensed, his inner turmoil and strange metamorphoses. He didn’t want anyone to know about his personal troubles, and cringed.
“Aubert, why didn’t you follow my advice from last year’s meeting?” Mister Aldridge’s bony fingertip tapped the tabletop. “You had an entire year to act. I handpicked several eligible, wealthy young women from the ancient Marston bloodline and you didn’t bother to contact any of them.”
“What the hell, Aldridge? An arranged marriage from the old country? In case you didn’t notice, we don’t live in a feudal society.”
“Really?” Mister Aldridge’s gaze swept across the elegant plantation drawing room, built on the labor of slaves. “You don’t see the irony, do you?” He reached toward the weathered wooden box. “Do you have any idea how much this pains me, to arrive today and confront you this way? Today should be a day of celebration, not incarceration.”
“Incarceration?” Aubert paced the room. “Are you mad? I spent this past year working like a dog. Do you have any idea what this plantation has endured in the last twelve months? Cotton blight, weevils, floods, hail, cane rats and swamp fever that kept half my men from the fields. I rolled up my sleeves, dealt with it all and made a profit on top of it. Exactly what am I being accused of?”
“You’ve worked hard—that’s not the problem—but you ignored my most important request.”
Aubert threw his hands into the air. “That I marry before my twenty-seventh birthday? Were you serious about that? I thought that was just more of your outlandish tomfoolery. I’ve been busy, Mister Aldridge, and I didn’t meet the right girl. Besides, it’s none of your goddamn business whether I marry or not.”
“In fact it is my business, and since you’ve made a deliberate choice not to act on your own behalf, for the good of the Marston family legacy and the innocent people of this plantation you’ve forced me to take action.” Mister Aldridge opened the weathered box, revealing a rusted set of medieval-looking iron manacles and chains. “It’s no use fighting—the chains carry a heavy enchantment that you will not be able to resist. During transport, Le Brut Entraver is meant to protect you from yourself and prevent harm to others.”…
Loup-Garou For You is available now from Ellora's Cave for only $5.95