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Authors: Amber Kell

Tags: #M/M Paranormal Romance, #Shifters

A Prideless Man

BOOK: A Prideless Man
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A Total-E-Bound Publication

www.total-e-bound.com

A Prideless Man

ISBN # 978-0-85715-593-1

©Copyright Amber Kell 2011

Cover Art by Posh Gosh ©Copyright July 2011

Edited by Lisa Cox

Total-E-Bound Publishing

This is a work of fiction. All characters, places and events are from the author’s imagination and should not be confused with fact. Any resemblance to persons, living or dead, events or places is purely coincidental.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced in any material form, whether by printing, photocopying, scanning or otherwise without the written permission of the publisher, Total-E-Bound Publishing.

Applications should be addressed in the first instance, in writing, to Total-E-Bound Publishing. Unauthorised or restricted acts in relation to this publication may result in civil proceedings and/or criminal prosecution.

The author and illustrator have asserted their respective rights under the Copyright Designs and Patents Acts 1988 (as amended) to be identified as the author of this book and illustrator of the artwork.

Published in 2011 by Total-E-Bound Publishing, Think Tank, Ruston Way, Lincoln, LN6 7FL, United Kingdom.

Warning:
This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers. This story has been rated
Total-e-sizzling.

Supernatural Mates

A Prideless Man

Amber Kell

Dedication

To my husband, I wish your health problems were so easily solved.

A PRIDELESS MAN

Amber Kell

5

Chapter One

James Everett woke up and made the mistake of moving. Pain ripped through his body like burning brands. Gasping, he blinked back tears while trying to keep still. By now he should know better than to try any motion first thing in the morning. His Rheumatoid Arthritis made waking every morning a new definition of agony. Only the medicine his father cooked up in his lab relieved the pain. He grabbed his bottle of medication, wincing as the pills made a light rattling noise inside the container. Shit, he was almost out. He didn’t want to have to call his father. He hadn’t talked to him since their last fight over Shifter rights.

A man that fanatical had to be wrong.

That’s why he’d moved to this town. To learn more about the creatures his father branded as evil and James had always found so fascinating, especially the lions. The lion pride kept him here. He didn’t know why, but when they came into town he always felt an uncontrollable urge to join them. Not only because of the gorgeous alpha—it was very clear Talan was devoted to his little wolf—but because something about the lions called to him.

Watching the alpha and his mate made James long for a relationship of his own, but who would want a skinny guy on heavy pain medication? Or when touching caused screams of agony, instead of moans of pleasure. Yeah, he was a real catch.

Slowly he rotated his wrists, easing the joints into their assigned roles of moving through the day. Next his fingers got attention as he stretched his hands, listening to the sickening popping noises they made as he flexed each digit. Curling his toes he listened for the crackles before rotating his ankles. Hell, with all the crackling, snapping and popping he was his own breakfast cereal. Eventually, his familiar routine paid off and his aching joints loosened enough to sit up. A cry of pain tore from his chest as he shifted positions. He quickly stifled further sounds. He didn’t want anyone running to his rescue. He didn’t want anyone to see him like this. If she found him suffering, his holistically-inclined landlady wouldn’t hesitate to recommend at least a dozen homemade remedies. She’d already hinted as much. James wasn’t fooled into thinking they would work. He’d tried every possible solution before he turned ten. By twenty-three there weren’t any new treatments to try anymore.

A PRIDELESS MAN

Amber Kell

6

Unlike most people with arthritis, weather didn’t affect his RA, and neither did his amount of activity. In a moment of whimsy he once told his father it was probably the phases of the moon causing the flare ups. His father’s screaming response proved the man had absolutely no sense of humour.

Looking around his small apartment James felt depression descend again—not for the size of the apartment, but for its solitude. He could afford a bigger place. His trust fund was large enough. However, he liked the small MIL unit he rented at Ms Tyler’s house. She was a sweet Labrador shifter and though she said he smelt off, once he assured her the scent was medication, not inherent evil, she happily rented him the place.

James tried to save as much money as possible since his constant pain made it impossible to hold down a steady job and he had no idea how long his trust fund would need to stretch. Currently he taught classes online which finally let him find a use for his expensive college education.

Sliding into his ergonomic leather desk chair, James popped his pills and booted up his laptop while waiting for the drugs to take effect. He sometimes took extra medication on really bad days, but he hated how loopy the drugs made him feel. He’d rather suffer through pain than walk around in a drug-fuelled haze, especially if he ran into the sheriff again.

His cheeks burned whenever he thought of the sexy bear shifter. Sheriff Louis Arktos, a big barrel-chested bear shifter with black hair and dark eyes, starred in all of James’ hottest daydreams. He’d seen the other man watching him from time to time, but he didn’t dare get his hopes up. After all, what did he have to offer such a strong, fit manly man? Some days he could barely make it across the room without screaming.

Sighing over the hopelessness of his infatuation, James logged into the college website and answered several emails from his students. His slow two-fingered typing took forever, but eventually he got through them all. After he finished working he checked his personal email account. His father’s name sat in bold text squatting at the top of his inbox like a waiting spider beckoning him to its web. With strong resolve he closed his email and shut down the computer. He would deal with his father tomorrow. He had no idea how to explain to his shifter-phobic parent about moving to a town almost completely populated by shape shifters.

* * * *

A PRIDELESS MAN

Amber Kell

7

“I haven’t seen him yet, Sheriff.”

Lou looked away from the window and into the amused eyes of his waitress, Kelly.

“Who’s that?”

“Now, Sheriff, we both know you’re waiting for that odd-smelling boy.” The deer shifter waitress gave him a sweet smile.

“He doesn’t smell odd. He smells wonderful.” Beneath all the medication, James’ scent drove Lou wild even as he wondered about the human’s health problems. The pain the other man suffered carved deep lines on either side of his mouth and the slow methodical way he moved made Lou wince with sympathy and wish he could comfort the stoic human.

“We all know you’ve got it bad for him. The only thing I wonder about is why he fights it. He wants you so bad even Blaire commented on how he looks at you.”

“Really?” He ignored Kelly’s disdain as she talked about the other woman. Blaire was a perceptive person but Lou knew they were both vying for the same man—a feckless coyote shifter who wouldn’t be faithful to either of them. He kept that opinion to himself. Kelly wouldn’t thank him for the advice and he had a policy to keep out of other people’s love lives unless weapons and claws became involved.

“Yep. Oh, look who the cat dragged in.” Kelly winked at the sheriff. “It’s a shame we don’t have any extra tables. Maybe you’ll share yours.”

“I’d be happy to share mine.” Lou gave the waitress a wide grin, blithely ignoring the five empty booths surrounding him.

He watched in amusement as Kelly whisked a protesting James to his booth. The young man looked flustered as he leaned on his cane. Lou frowned at it.

“Is that new?”

He thought he’d have noticed if the man had a cane before.

James gave a slow shake of the head. “I only use it on really bad days. You mind if I join you? Apparently you have the only available seat.” He gave Lou an apologetic smile over Kelly’s antics.

“Of course not. Please sit.” Lou waved a welcoming hand towards the opposite side of the booth. He bit his lower lip to hide his pleased smile.

As Lou watched the fine lines around the human’s mouth tighten, his shifter muscles twitched in sympathy. The human looked to be suffering from excruciating pain, but he A PRIDELESS MAN

Amber Kell

8

made no sound or bid for pity as he sat and turned to the waitress. “A cup of coffee and a blueberry muffin if you have them, please.”

“Sure do, be right back.”

“You need something more than that,” Lou protested.

James gave a soft laugh as he spied the multiple plates of food sitting before Lou. “I don’t eat quite as much as a bear shifter.”

Lou offered him a smile even though he didn’t really feel the humour. Worry riddled his chest like a physical ache. He took a deep sniff. “What kind of medication are you on?”

“Is that a polite way of asking what the hell is wrong with me?”

“Or a not so polite way,” Lou admitted. He went silent as Kelly returned, placing a muffin and a mug of coffee on the table before James.

“You boys want anything else?”

“No, thank you,” James said in his calm voice.

“No.” Lou didn’t look away from the human. He had the odd feeling if he turned his head, James would vanish. A ridiculous fantasy since the man couldn’t move that fast.

“Well, I’ll be around if you need more coffee or decide to eat more than a muffin.” He heard her move away to greet another customer, his eyes never leaving the other man’s face.

James carefully lifted his cup with both hands and took a sip before speaking. “I have Rheumatoid Arthritis. I’ve had it since I was very young.”

“I thought only old people got that.” Fear, cold as ice, shivered up and down Lou’s spine.

James shrugged. “Just lucky, I guess.” He gave a bitter smile as he pulled apart his muffin to eat it in tiny bits. Watching James’ wet tongue slide across his lips to remove stray crumbs momentarily sidetracked Lou’s thought processes. Imagining the human’s hot moist mouth on other parts of his body almost had the shifter coming in his pants.

For the life of him he couldn’t figure out why. Although cute, the human wasn’t as gorgeous as some of the town’s residents, but he pulled at Lou more than any shifter or human he’d ever met. If he could pinpoint the reason maybe he could get rid of his fascination. Looking at James’ blushing cheeks, he wondered if he wanted to.

“Does the medication help?

James swallowed his bite, unwittingly drawing the shifter’s attention to his neck. Lou swallowed the growl his bear urged him to make. He wanted to bite the human’s long lean A PRIDELESS MAN

Amber Kell

9

throat and mark him so others would know this man was his. He refocused when James spoke again. “It takes the edge off. The only way to completely get rid of the pain is to take a lot of medication and I don’t like how it makes me feel.” Lou fought the urge to tell him what to do. Never sick a day in his life, he didn’t feel qualified to give advice to the younger man. Instead he asked the question preying on his mind since James came into town. “What is it you do for a living?” He’d asked around town, but no one knew the source of the human’s income.

BOOK: A Prideless Man
9.05Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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