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Behind the doors of the Blue Moon Saloon, alpha shifters confront their darkest fears and their deepest desires.
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~ EXCERPT ~
“Are you sure you want to do this?” Tina asked.
Jessica forced herself to keep up her steady, confident stride. “I want to do this.”
I need to do this was more like it, but pride was about the only thing she had left.
Tina was looking at her, but Jessica kept walking down the sidewalk in this dusty western town, pretending not to notice.
“There it is,” Tina said, waving to the two-story building. “The Blue Moon Saloon.”
Jessica drew in a long breath and slowed to look it over. She couldn’t have conjured anything more Wild West out of her imagination if she’d tried. The whole historic center of town was like that – a high altitude frontier town dragged into modern times.
“Perfect location, just a block off Whiskey Row.” Tina nodded in pride.
Her inner wolf whined. I like home better.
Yes, well, home was gone, and she could never go back to that place.
Want my mate, the beast whimpered.
Yeah, well. He didn’t want us. When would the stupid beast get that through its head?
“You can stay in the apartment upstairs…” Tina continued.
“Perfect,” Jess said, trying to keep doubt out of her voice.
“It will need some work…”
Jessica wondered if Tina meant the saloon, the apartment, or the whole new life she faced.
“…and you’ll have to share a bathroom with the guys…”
That was the other unknown in the equation. She’d have to live under the same roof as her new bosses. Who were the two men running the place, anyway?
“They’re good men,” Tina added quickly. “Hard-working. Honest.”
Jessica sure hoped so.
“…a little rough around the edges, maybe…”
She pictured natty beards, worn jeans, Western drawls.
“…but I’m sure they’ll be fine. And they can really use your help.”
That was another thing. Everything Tina didn’t say suggested the saloon wasn’t off to a stellar start. What exactly was she getting herself into?
Jessica took a last, deep breath and followed Tina through the saloon doors – a pair of real saloon doors that swung both ways. At first, she couldn’t see anything, but as her eyes adjusted to the dim interior, she could make out the trappings of the saloon. Four round poker tables stood in the middle with booths on each side. A weathered sign on the right read, Check your guns at the door, and it was hard to tell whether the message was a gag or not. The walls were decorated with black-and-white scenes of the frontier town in days gone by – all covered with enough dust and grime to suggest that the new management hadn’t changed the decor. Or the menu, judging by the faded chicken-scratch on the chalkboard by the front door.
“Hello?” Tina’s voice echoed down a narrow hallway that lead to a back room.
“Coming,” a deep voice boomed from out of sight.
Jessica’s wolf perked its ears and practically pointed like a god damn hunting dog. She gave it a mental swat, but the beast didn’t budge. What the hell was that about?
“Be right there,” a second voice came. A low, rumbly voice, like that of a bear roused from his den.
Her wolf soul had been slumbering for most of the morning, but now, it jumped up and down, waving its tail frantically in a crazy cocktail of mixed emotions. Excitement with a splash of hope, a touch of arousal, and a whole lot of fear, clinking around like a couple of ice cubes in a whiskey glass.
What? She wanted to scream at her wolf. What?
Two square-shouldered forms stepped out of the shadows of the hallway, one half a step ahead of the other. Big, burly men who moved like bulldozers, absolutely confident that any living thing would back the hell out of their way.
Short, sandy hair. Short, scruffy stubble. Dark, wary eyes. Huge, steely hands permanently clenched into fists. Two men who couldn’t be anything but brothers.
A warm rush of adrenaline exploded inside her and bounced around her veins, and her mind whirled. Not possible. It couldn’t be…
Tina started the introductions. “Jessica, meet–“
“Simon,” Jessica blurted, looking over the shoulder of the first man toward the second.
The man she’d never stopped loving, no matter how hard she tried. The bear shifter who still inhabited her dreams, even after all this time.
Mate! Her wolf whimpered joyously. Mine! Alive!
Blue eyes the color of the coldest, clearest alpine lake locked on hers and refused to let go.
“Jessica,” he murmured, too low for human ears.
“This…” she stammered at the man who’d pretended to love her, then cast her aside. “This will never work.”
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