Calliph and Mateo are back! The peace of the shifter pair's calm, quiet life is shattered by a visit from one of Calliph's old pack members. Calliph must travel to the town of his birth, Naolassel, to speak on behalf of his twin brother, Rupos, who has been charged with murder. But Calliph's decision will endanger his beloved kitten...not to mention their relationship. Can Mateo reconcile with who Calliph was--and what he did--during the war, or is the truth of his wolf too much to bear? Previously published by Noble Romance.
Mateo sat next to Calliph as the carriage rolled and bumped along. Calliph held himself rigid and tense, jaw tightly clenched. Across from them was Paular, with his legs crossed and his hands folded in his lap. He and Calliph hadn't stopped staring at each other since the journey had begun. Mateo had tried to make small talk at first, but the wolves' disinterest had quickly become obvious. Though Calliph had indulged him with a few answers, they had been short and terse, and Mateo had given up.
Outside the snow fell, sticking to the windows and sliding down to collect in an ever-growing ledge of white. Mateo could barely see out the window to his left, but what he could make out alarmed him: high-banked drifts of snow. The carriage moved slower and slower, and by the time the blackness of night had enveloped them, they were forced to stop.
Paular's human driver dismounted and came to the door, tugging it open with a grunt. "The snow is too thick for the wheels," he explained, forced to yell over the howling winds. "I'm going to unhook the carriage, and tie the horses under the trees. I'll stay here. You'll have to continue on foot if you want to keep going." He surveyed the three of them. "Or paws, I guess."
Calliph left the carriage first and helped Mateo down. He unfastened his cloak and slid it around Mateo's shoulders over Mateo's own. "You will stay with the horses."
"No." Mateo shook his head as he pulled the cloak tight. "I'm going with you."
"Naolassel is still hours away. It's a treacherous journey for you." Calliph took him by his upper arms and looked into his eyes. "And you know why."
Mateo frowned. All Paular and Calliph had to do was shift and continue -- their thick, furry coats would keep them warm. However, unable to hold his panther form for long, Mateo didn't have such an option. While running wasn't nearly as strenuous as fighting, he would be able to go only so far until he'd be forced to revert to his human form. And humans didn't do well in the cold -- he was already shivering.
"I'll send a carriage for you when we reach Naolassel." Calliph turned and strode away to speak with Paular, who was helping the driver with the horses.
Mateo's frown deepened. The prospect of spending a frozen night huddled in the carriage with the human, surrounded by the stench of horses wasn't one he relished. He grabbed Calliph's arm as the werewolf walked by. "I'm going."
Calliph stopped and looked down at him. "Kitten..."
"Don't ask me to stay behind without you." Playing on something he knew Calliph wouldn't be able to ignore -- his fear of being alone -- he leaned into Calliph and laid his head on Calliph's chest. Manipulation wasn't a talent he was particularly proud of, but it would get him to Naolassel with Calliph. "Please."
The tension melted from Calliph's body and he relaxed into the embrace as he slid his arms around Mateo. He pressed a kiss to Mateo's forehead. "You're a manipulative little bastard, you know that?"
Mateo nodded. He went back to the carriage and rearranged their clothing into one bag, had the human strap the bag to his back, and they were off.
Romance author, sci-fi fan club Captain, cosplayer, reigning Queen of Monkeyland, and random menace. Yep, we’re talking about DC Juris. She’s a cupcake-making, football-watching, rubber-duck-collecting, drag-show loving, full-of-fabulous-with-a-capital-F kinda gal. She’s also an ordained minister and an amateur photographer. She lives in Upstate New York with her husband, three dogs, and three cats. When she’s not writing, you can find her in her favorite chair watching Star Trek and Supernatural repeats on Netflix, or surfing the web for porn. Er…research. Surfing the web for research. She may speak softly but she lives and loves loudly. Just ask the neighbors. ::wink::