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Merrily Mated

By:By P. Jameson

Merrily Mated

By P. Jameson

Chapter One

It was the day after Thanksgiving. The biggest shopping day of the year. Black fucking Friday, and yes, the fucking was necessary. It added a little pizzazz. Made a day dedicated to shopping sound a little more badass. Kinda pumped you up for the battle you were about to wage over ten dollar toasters and TVs they’d jacked up the whole month before so they could mark them down to regular price.

Layna stood in the predawn hours outside a Best Buy that wouldn’t contain the line that wrapped around the building and doubled over on itself. She glared at Clara and her sister-in-law, Beth. This was their idea. She’d rather have just gone straight to Toys R Us and spent a bundle on Rhys. Her little nephew was the first young born of the Ouachita clan, and he was spoiled accordingly.

Her two human friends were bundled in parkas with fleece-lined hoods, scarves, and gloves, but still they shivered uncontrollably. Bethany shifted from foot to foot, breathing into her cupped hands. Clara bounced up and down, her hair springing from her hood with every move.

Layna grinned at their discomfort. She was just fine in her turtleneck sweater. Her cougar kept her adequately warm.

Thank you, kitty cat.

Served ‘em right for dragging her all the way to Little Rock when she really wanted to hang around the lodge in case…

A smile worked its way up her face just thinking about him.

… in case he tried anything with her again. She wouldn’t stop him this time. Telling him no was among her biggest life regrets, but she’d had her reasons. Good fucking reasons.

For one, she couldn’t mate before, and what she wanted with him was a lifetime. Sure her brother, Renner, had broken the no-mating pact. And so had Eagan. But Layna couldn’t do it. Not because she was afraid of the commitment or afraid she’d get run over like other females of her kind did. It was because she knew how badly it would hurt their leader, Magic, and the others in the clan who hadn’t been ready for the laws to change.

She was there the night Magic lost his first mate to a suicide. She’d seen—no, felt—the pain he’d endured. And over the past ten years, she’d known his decline better than anyone else in the clan. They worked too closely for her to miss those fine details that implied her friend and boss was gradually falling apart.

Magic would have taken her mating as the ultimate betrayal, and she thought of him as a brother, so hurting him like that was out of the question.

Even for the chance at happiness of her own.

But all that was changed now. Josie, a human turned werecat, had shown up and flipped his brittle, bitter world on its head. He’d mated her, and mated her hard if the young growing in her belly was any indication. Magic was happy. For the first time in so damn long, he was truly happy, and it was like a prisoner seeing the sun after months of solitude.

It did something good for Layna’s soul, seeing someone she cared about finally free of their demons. And it’d been good for the clan too.

She breathed the frigid air into her lungs and then let it out on a happy sigh.

But there was another reason for the lighter step she had this morning. The no-mating pact their clan followed had been amended, and now Layna was free to fall in love. For the first time in her life.

It was utterly… liberating. The choice was all hers, and she knew exactly who she wanted.


A sexy-as-hell human, who’d become part of their clan after his sister mated Layna’s brother.

“How are you so cold?” Layna laughed, shaking her head at Clara. “Aren’t you used to brutal winters?”

Before she’d mated Lake Haven’s chef, Eagan, Clara had lived in the woods, a hermit, hiding from a hurtful past. She was a simple human, desiring a simple life. She was no frills, plenty of spills. So her standing outside an electronics store in search of a bargain was both ironic and poetic.

“Yeah, yeah,” she grumbled through shivering lips. “I guess I’ve grown used to being warm. I swear Eagan is like a living heater, and he lets me sleep on him—” She stopped suddenly like she’d said too much.

“Wait, you sleep on him?” Layna frowned. “Like, snore-snore? Like he’s your bed?”

Clara nodded, huddling farther into her hood. “I’ve had a hard time getting used to the mattress,” she murmured low.

“That’s…” Kind of sweet. Really fucking sweet. “… kind of weird.”

“I think it’s precious,” Beth said, her voice all soggy with emotion.

Layna blinked at her brother’s mate. She was expecting her second young, and she might not be showing yet, but the prego hormones were already in full effect. In fact, she’d been uncharacteristically whimper-y today.