IceSurrender, page 1
Book eight in the Werewolf Sentinels series.
Ryder finds the process of coming into his full shaman powers harder than he expected. And it doesn’t help that he’s being relentlessly pursued by a female werewolf who doesn’t step down from a challenge. Unable to bed her for reasons of his own, he struggles to keep his yearning hidden from everyone—especially her.
Wren has set her sights on Ryder, and that is that. He may have turned her down time and time again, but she knows he’s the one meant for her. If it takes a little persuasion on her part, all the better. And sexier. She won’t give up until she gets the ultimate prize—the sentinels’ shaman as her mate.
A Romantica® paranormal erotic romance from Ellora’s Cave
Ryder slumped in the patio chair and leaned his head against the back of it. He shoved his hands into the pockets of his jacket. It was now the beginning of September in Juneau, Alaska, and colder weather had slowly crept in.
He closed his eyes and sighed. He’d hoped to have gained his full powers by the change in the seasons. So far nothing he’d done made that happen. It frustrated the shit out of him. The wolf brothers needed him to have all his shaman abilities to aid in their fight against the dark wolves. And it didn’t help that for the last few weeks his shaman ancestor had sent him vision after vision, almost demanding he claim his powers.
The sliding glass doors opened behind him. “There you are. I was looking for you.”
Ryder barely held back another pained sigh. The voice belonged to Wren, the only unmated female werewolf of the house and the one who had set her sights on him the instant they’d met. So far he’d been successful in keeping his distance, but his luck was soon going to run out. Not because Wren was persistent. No, it was because his will was weakening. She had no idea how very attracted he was to her. If she ever found out he would be toast.
He opened his eyes, sat up straighter and watched Wren sit in the chair next to his. “As you can see I wasn’t that hard to find,” he told her.
“No, but this is the second place I looked. I went to your bedroom first.”
Of course that was where Wren would have gone before coming out here. She was forever trying to get him to allow her to share his room with her. And he was pretty sure she didn’t want the sleeping arrangements to be in separate beds. Right now she slept on the couch in the living room. Durlach, the wolf brother who lived with his mate Meadow next door, had offered Wren one of his spare bedrooms, but she’d refused.
“Was there something you wanted?” Ryder asked, hoping to get rid of Wren as fast as possible. The longer he stayed around her, the harder it was for him not to stare at her beautiful face and think about all the things he wanted to do to her sexy body.
Wren shifted her chair closer. “Yeah. You.”
Ryder bit back a groan. When Wren talked like that, it played havoc with the act of indifference he put on around her. Unlike the wolf brothers, he wasn’t a werewolf, so he had no idea if Wren was his mate. Edensaw, the alpha of the sentinels, had offered to turn Ryder, but that wasn’t to be his fate. He was their shaman, and like their first one, he’d remain what he was.
He shook his head. “Are you ever going to give up?”
Wren smiled. “No. I go after what I want, and I definitely want you.”
“We’ve discussed this before. You’re a werewolf, I’m a mortal. I can’t take one whiff of your scent and know you’re my mate. For all you know there’s a male werewolf out there just waiting to find you to set off his mating urge.”
She waved what he said away with a flick of her hand. “I know there isn’t one. Psychic, remember? I’ve never seen me with a werewolf for a mate. Not even an ordinary mortal.” Wren leaned toward him. “The only mortal I see with me is the one I’m looking at right now.”
Ryder’s cock twitched in his jeans. He shifted his hands inside his jacket pockets to cover his crotch. If Wren happened to notice the bulge in his pants had suddenly gotten bigger she’d be all over him.
“So you actually saw us together, as mates?” he asked.
“Well, to be honest, the vision I had wasn’t all that clear. I didn’t see your face, but I know it was you I was with. And it was hot.”
She was going to kill him. Already his mind was filled with his imaginings of what Wren would look like naked as he made love to her in all the ways he’d thought of over the last few months since she’d moved in. If he did them all, they wouldn’t leave his room for at least three days.
“I’m not going to comment on that one,” he said, hoping Wren didn’t hear the slight strain in his voice that he did. “And if that’s everything, I want to be left alone.”
She appeared to study him closely. “You’re getting stressed out because you can’t bring on your full shaman powers, aren’t you?”
“You could say that.”
“You know what’s a good stress reliever? Sex. And lots of it. I can help you out with that.”
Ryder’s cock gave another jerk. Yup, she was going to kill him. He wanted nothing more than to take her up on her offer, but he couldn’t. Out of all the visions his ancestor had shown him about gaining his full powers, one thing was very clear. Ryder had to remain celibate until that happened. Why? He didn’t have a clue, and his ancestor was not forthcoming with that information. He just knew if he went against that dictate he’d never gain them. Too much hinged on what he would become to take the risk. It could mean getting laid or losing an advantage over the dark wolves.
He shook his head. “Thanks for the offer, but I’ll pass.” And damn, didn’t that hurt to say it? If not for the whole celibacy thing, Ryder would have Wren stripped naked and already have his cock buried deep inside her.
As usual, his rejection didn’t seem to faze Wren at all. “There’s always another time. I can be very patient when I need to be. I’m not going to give up on you.”
“I wish you would.”
“No, you don’t. You need me, want me. You haven’t admitted that to yourself yet. That day will come though. Then we’ll make up for lost time. I can’t wait.”
“And what if it takes years to happen? Will you remain so patient?”
Wren reached across and tucked some of his shoulder-length hair behind one of his ears. Something she liked to do on a regular basis, and something Ryder, for some reason, always allowed.
“It won’t be that long,” Wren said as she stared into his eyes, her green ones seeming to look right into his soul. She leaned even closer, their faces a mere inch apart. “I have the feeling I’ll get what I want very soon.”
Ryder’s cock grew harder. It would be so easy to close the little space between them and take Wren’s lips in a heated kiss. He’d ached to taste them, to feel them under his. At twenty-five, he thought about having sex all the time, as a male did at his age. It was so damn unfair he couldn’t do anything about it. And after he came into his full powers, he wasn’t sure what he’d become.
That thought had Ryder jerking away from Wren. It was something he tried not to think about, and deep down inside he had a feeling his unwillingness to accept the changes that would happen was what held him back from being able to become what he was born to be.
The sliding glass doors opened behind Ryder once again. He looked over his shoulder, thankful for the interruption. Edensaw, Wachei, Ketah, Kajakti and Capac filed out onto the deck with their mates following behind them. Cassidy, Edensaw’s mate, held their three-month-old son Wyatt in her arms. He was bundled up in a warm jacket and wrapped in a knitted blanket against the cool afternoon breeze.
Most of the group headed down to t
Wren sighed, then rose to her feet. She fell into step with Jaren, Eryn, Riya and Haven. Ryder watched her shift to her dire wolf and timber wolf mixed form once she reached the grass. Even though she wasn’t mated to a wolf brother, she’d asked to be bitten by one, to be turned into the same kind of werewolf as the sentinels. She also happened to be the strongest female of the pack.
Cassidy came to stand beside Ryder’s chair. “You don’t mind watching Wyatt, do you?”
“Of course not.”
His alpha’s mate placed the baby in his arms and smiled. “I didn’t think you would. If it gets colder, you don’t have to stay out here. I just finished feeding Wyatt so he should be good for a while.”
Cassidy walked down the deck stairs and joined the others on the lawn. Her body blurred and shimmered as she took on her dire wolf form. Ryder watched the werewolves cluster together. It looked as if they were staring at each other, but in actual fact, he knew they were telepathically communicating with one another. It was something only they could do. Modern-day werewolves—the descendants of the original six sentinels—hadn’t inherited that ability.
The baby squirmed in Ryder’s arms. He adjusted Wyatt so he was propped in the crook of his arm in a sitting position. Wyatt smiled up at him. Ryder kissed his silky cheek in return. Everyone in the pack showered the newest generation with love and attention. Wyatt would never have to worry about being ignored. There was someone always there, ready to give him whatever he needed.
“You look more and more like your dad,” Ryder told the baby. Wyatt was a miniature version of Edensaw, right down to the black hair and brown eyes.
He shifted his gaze to the activity taking place on the lawn. Of course he focused on Wren before anyone else. She was paired up with Ketah and seemed able to hold her own against the wolf brother.
Wyatt let out a grunt, which was accompanied by a sound Ryder had not wanted to hear. He looked down at the baby in time to see his little face turn red as he finished filling his diaper. Ryder glanced toward Cassidy and saw she was in the middle of sparring with Edensaw. He sighed. There was nothing for it. He’d have to change Wyatt.
Ryder went inside the house and headed up the stairs to Cassidy and Edensaw’s room where there was a changing table and everything he’d need to clean the baby up. He laid Wyatt on the bed while he unwrapped him from the blanket and then removed his jacket. A distinct odor wafted from Wyatt once he kicked his legs.
He picked up the baby, then carried him over to the changing table. “You’re a cute little thing, but you smell pretty bad right now. Hopefully I can do this without messing it up.”
Ryder had only changed one other of Wyatt’s diapers, and it had turned out to be a total disaster. He hadn’t been able to get the clean diaper on properly. The baby had peed again right after Ryder had finished and picked him up. Needless to say, both of them had needed a change of clothes that time.
“All right, buddy. Let’s see if we can get this done without any mishaps.”
He tugged off the baby’s pants before he opened the diaper to see what he was faced with. It was a big mess. Ryder breathed through his mouth as he grabbed some baby wipes, then used them to clean up Wyatt.
That was the easy part, even though it was the smelliest. Ryder put a clean diaper under Wyatt’s bottom, then pulled the front up between his legs. He fastened the tabs across Wyatt’s stomach. Wanting to make sure he did the job right, he picked the baby up and looked at the diaper from every angle. He shook his head at the sight of Wyatt’s butt crack showing above the top of the diaper. That was another disaster waiting to happen. He fixed it just as Carson and his mate Laci walked into the room.
Carson waved his hand in front of his face. “How did you get stuck on poopy-diaper duty?”
“Everyone else is out back training. I didn’t want to interrupt and get Cassidy to change Wyatt.”
“Then I guess we arrived just in time. If it had been any earlier you might have tried to get one of us to do it instead.”
Ryder worked at putting the baby’s pants back on. “Like you would have changed him,” he said. “You’re the only person out of the pack who has yet to do it, and seems to conveniently disappear when it needs to be done.”
Carson smiled. “I know, it’s a skill.”
Laci shook her head. “When we end up having kids, be prepared to change messy diapers. I won’t let you get away with sticking me with them all.”
“We’ve only been mated for three months. Let’s not hurry into having kids.”
Ryder picked up Wyatt. “So what brings you two over here so early? I thought you weren’t going to show up until dinner when Durlach and Meadow are to arrive.”
“We were at their place before we came here,” Carson answered.
“Why didn’t they come with you two?”
“Taylor’s leaving. Apparently for good.”
Taylor had worked for Meadow for the last few years, looking after her two horses and handling anything that needed to be done on her property. He even lived in the apartment above the stables. As a cat shifter, able to take on the form of a cougar, he knew exactly what the sentinels were. Even though he didn’t have a great fondness for werewolves, Taylor had taken a liking to the wolf brothers and their mates. It mostly had to do with the fact Meadow had become Durlach’s mate. She thought of the cat shifter like a brother.
“I guess Meadow isn’t taking it well?” Ryder asked.
Laci shook her head. “No, not really. We left because Meadow was trying to get Taylor to explain why he had to leave with no warning. We figured he might open up if we weren’t around to hear.”
“I doubt Taylor will explain anything,” Carson added. “And I don’t think Meadow can say anything to change his mind. He already has all of his belongings packed and loaded into his pickup truck.”
From knowing Taylor, Ryder had to agree with Carson’s assumption. If Taylor had decided he had to go, then he would go, regardless of what Meadow said to try to convince him to stay.
“I take it Taylor isn’t going to stop by and say goodbye,” Ryder said.
“I don’t think so. He looked more than anxious to be on his way.”
“Let’s go downstairs. I’m going to sit with Wyatt in the living room until the others are done. You two can join them if you want.”
“I should get a little training in,” Laci said. “I’m still pretty new at all this werewolf stuff. And fighting in my dire wolf form, I need all the help I can get.”
Carson nodded, then looked at Ryder. “I guess we’ll head outside.”
Laci and Carson walked out of the room. Ryder followed behind them. At the lower level, he went to the living room while the couple continued on to the glass sliding doors.
Ryder sat on the couch with Wyatt once again propped up comfortably in the crook of his arm. He turned on the TV. Taylor was going to be missed. Even though he wasn’t part of their pack, they all considered him a close friend. It would seem strange to go over to Durlach and Meadow’s place and not see Taylor around. He was like a permanent fixture there.
He flipped through the channels until he found something he wanted to watch. A glance down showed Wyatt had fallen asleep. Ryder smiled. The baby had such a tough life. He got fed, had someone change his diaper and could nap for as long as he wanted. With the amount of sleep Ryder had been losing, he would have liked nothing better than to join Wyatt, but he wasn’t even going to try. For the last few nights, every time he fell asleep he dreamed about the dark wolves and how if he didn’t gain access to his full shaman powers the scales would tip in their enemy’s favor.
Ryder rested his head on the back of the couch. The baby let out a little breathy sigh in his sleep. A picture of Wren rose to the forefront of his mind, something that seemed to happen more frequently than it had in the past. He was sorely tempted to ask her if she would be able to “see” what the hell he was doing wrong, but he was reluctant to do so. It would change how they interacted with one another. The last thing he wanted was to encourage her at this stage.
No, he would have to figure this out on his own. No matter how hard he found it, it was something he was responsible for bringing on.
Wren looked over at the deck when she caught movement out of the corner of her eye. The first thing she noticed was Ryder was no longer sitting in the patio chair with the baby. He had to have gone inside when she wasn’t looking.
She turned her attention back on Ketah as the wolf brother lunged in for a strike. Wren barely managed to sidestep out of the way before his sharp teeth came within a mere inch of her neck. She swiped back at him with one of her front paws, just barely brushing an ear as Ketah ducked out of the way.
You’re getting faster, Ketah said telepathically to her. We’ll make a real fighter out of you yet.
Maybe if I get good enough I can become the first female sentinel.
A wolf sister. I like that idea. But aren’t you too busy trying to make Ryder yours? Ketah asked with a laugh.
I’ll get him yet. He’s weakening. It’s only a matter of time before he admits he wants me as much as I want him.
If you do, you’ll be the first woman I’ve seen Ryder with since he came to take on the role of our shaman.
Wren knew Ryder wasn’t seeing anyone, and he wasn’t having any one-night stands either. For one thing, he never stayed out overnight. Plus, Wren always made sure she got a good whiff of him whenever he came home after being out by himself for a while. He never smelled like a female, which was good because she didn’t know what she’d do if he ever did. She’d already staked her claim over him and considered him hers.
MARISA CHENERY SERIES:
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