I’m not alone in the room. Every muscle in my body tenses, ready for action, while my brain rushes to catch up with my instincts. There is no one on the bed. There is something large on the normally bare nightstand on the other side of the bed. The faint aroma of magnolias fills my lungs with every breath.
“Az,” I groan, rolling over onto my side.
The lamp on that side of the room clicks on. Az is cross-legged on the square nightstand. It’s a damn good thing I don’t buy rickety furniture or else her scrawny ass would be on the floor.
“What are you doing here?”
She tosses the heavy book on the bed and stretches her arms up over her head. When she speaks, her tone is frosty. “Jose sleep licks.”
“Yeah, he does.” Now that I can see her properly, I note that her hair has that distinct just-groomed-by-a-cat look to it.
Her eyes narrow. “Someone could have warned me.”
“Yeah, someone probably could have. Why are you in here, Az?”
She averts her gaze. Color spreads across her cheeks. “You’re peaceful. You spend so much time protecting other people, that maybe I think you need someone to watch over you.” She chuckles softly, twists her fingers together. “I like you.”
Her head snaps up. Irritation flashes across her face. “Why not?”
“I’m a Shifter.” Most normal people don’t like Shifters. Witches, warlocks, Mages and other magic users downright hate us. We’re a little too close to wild animals for anyone’s peace of mind. She shouldn’t be comfortable around me.
“You’re a good person. You care for your pack. You help people.” Az rakes her fingers through her hair. “You took in someone you had every right to walk away from. Especially since, to you, I’m like a witch.”
“Oh, Princess, you are unlike any witch I’ve ever met.” I like her, too – her tenacity and her resilience and the way she genuinely cares for my people. She doesn’t cower when I growl, which may or may not be a good thing, and she has a good head for investigative work. I’m not sure either of us is ready for this sort of conversation, though.
White teeth flash in a brilliant smile. “That is the sweetest thing anyone has ever said to me.”
Well, that’s my good deed for the day. And now I’m awake. So much for kicking Az out and snoozing.
Title: Witches, Voids and Other Sanity Suckers
Author: Kara Thorpe
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Alpha of the only Shifter pack in Houston, Rick Haskell has his hands full. When the Mage of New Orleans calls for a favor – a favor that pays $400,000 – Rick can’t refuse. Even if that favor means adopting the Mage’s daughter into his ragtag pack. Az Vardan is beautiful, smart, and takes frequent vacations from sanity. Before Rick can learn how to handle the blonde kiss-and-run firecracker, wolfsbane appears in the local coven’s garden, witches mysteriously die in police custody, and a rash of centaur murders rocks Houston’s Paranormal Community. Az’s knowledge of magic may be all that saves Rick’s pack when a new, powerful threat moves in to take over his city.
First person, present tense
Warning: language, violence, and irreverence (and Oxford commas)
Kara Thorpe started writing as a distraction in French class and never stopped (don’t ask her to conjugate many verbs). Born and raised under the South Texas sun, she spends her days navigating Houston traffic and the exciting world of production planning. Nights are for creating character-driven romances and wrangling a stubborn Siamese. Look for Chai’s cameo in each story.