Authors: Lavinia Lewis
A Total-E-Bound Publication
Cover Art by Posh Gosh ©Copyright April 2011
Edited by Stacey Birkel
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,
Way, Lincoln, LN6 7FL, United Kingdom.
This book contains sexually explicit content which is only suitable for mature readers. This story has been rated
Dad, thanks for everything you’ve done for me over the years. I’ll try to show you every day how much I appreciate you.
, thank you for all your love and support.
You were truly a special person. I miss you. Louise, you were there for me when I needed you most. I can’t thank you enough.
The author acknowledges the trademarked status and trademark owners of the following
mentioned in this work of fiction:
Stetson: John B. Stetson Company
Jack Daniel Distillery,
“Luke! Get your butt in here and help me carry these damn boxes!”
Luke put down the book he was reading and rolled his eyes at his brother’s
’. He’d been happy to move home after finishing his senior year in college, but his elder brother
had taken to
’ his ass on a daily basis about anything and everything.
As much as he loved the ranch, he was beginning to wonder if he’d be better off finding himself a place in Houston. Sure he couldn’t live for free then like he was now, but the few hundred bucks a month seemed like a small price to pay for his sanity.
“I’m coming!” Luke shouted back. “Jeez, can’t a man have five minutes peace in this place?”
Luke stormed into the kitchen and glared at his brother.
was piling boxes near the door that looked damn near as heavy as he was.
was shirtless, his muscles rippling as he worked and he was sweating up a storm.
At five foot seven and a hundred and forty pounds, Luke was not a large man especially when stood next to
who came up at six foot four. Luke often wondered if they were from the same stock. But looks could be deceiving. Luke’s wolf genes meant he was stronger than most men his size. Strength aside, he looked at the boxes and groaned.
raised an eyebrow and his mouth curled up into a smirk.
“What? Too heavy for you, or you afraid you might break a nail?”
“I might be small but I could still take
.” Luke sniffed.
let out a low, booming roar of laughter.
“I’d like to see the day, little brother. In fact, I’d probably welcome it. Looking out for an entire pack is not all it’s cracked up to be,
know. Some days I’d gladly hand over the responsibility.”
Luke was surprised by his brother’s response. He knew
loved being alpha of their pack. He’d been born for it. Maybe something had happened that Luke wasn’t aware of. That would sure explain why
had been so riled up lately.
“Is everything alright with the pack?” he inquired.
looked thoughtful for a moment. He opened his mouth to say something then shook his head and picked up a box.
“Nah, it’s nothing I can’t handle. Now get over here and grab a box, will
? I need them loaded in the truck.”
Luke didn’t push. If
wanted to tell him, he’d do so in his own time. His brother could be as stubborn as a mule when he wanted to be. Luke crossed the room and lifted the first box. Yep, they were as heavy as they looked. He grunted and made for the kitchen door.
“What the hell is in these things anyway?
“Tools I found in the barn.
Used to belong to pop.
Figured they were no use to us, so I’m giving them to old man Walker. He just bought another hundred acres and took on two new hands so I reckon he could put ‘
to good use.”
Luke hid his grin from
as he lugged the box outside. As obstinate as his brother could be, he had a good heart. He was always looking out for members of the pack. It was one of the things that made him such a good alpha.
When they had finished loading the boxes,
went into the house to get cleaned up and grab his shirt. Luke followed him inside. After a quick shower, he caught up with his brother in the kitchen.
“You want me to come with you to Joe’s? I can help unload the other end.”
grabbed a bottle of water out of the fridge and took a long gulp before turning to Luke and offering up a mischievous grin.
going to do that anyway. Nice of you to offer though,”
“No problem. Anything I can do to help, bro.”
narrowed eyes at his brother’s response. Before he could do anything to prevent it, Luke stole the bottle of water out of his hand and drank it down, finishing it quickly. He handed the empty bottle back to
with a snicker.
“You may be bigger than me, but you’re as slow as molasses in January.”
“That a fact?”
I’d say you’re…
Before Luke could finish the sentence,
had tackled him to the floor and had him flat on his back, arms pinned above his head. He straddled Luke’s stomach and grinned down at him with a devilish glint in his eye.
“Care to say that again?”
“Sure, you’re as slow as…
Luke screamed when
began tickling him relentlessly.
“Okay, okay I give.” he panted.
“No sir, that
good enough. What am I now?”
“You’re the biggest, strongest, fastest, brother in the world. Okay?”
“Now see, that there’s more like it.”
got off his brother’s chest and stood, reaching a hand down to help Luke up.
“But you forgot best looking.”
“Nu-uh,” Luke argued as they made their way to the truck. “I’ll give you biggest, strongest, and I’ll even stretch to fastest, but best looking? Please. We both know I’m the prettiest in this family.”
sputtered. “Okay you got me there bro. That’s a title you can keep. I’d take most ruggedly handsome though. And stud.”
Give me a break. When was the last time you went on a date with anyone? You actually need to be getting some to describe yourself as a stud, brother dearest.”
“And how do you know I’m not? I do just fine, thank you very much. I don’t see you bringing any girls around here anyhow. You afraid they’ll take one look at me, realise they’re with the wrong brother and dump your skinny ass?”
“In your dreams, bro.”
Luke retorted. “And I’m not skinny, I’m athletic.”
They were still arguing over their merits when they arrived at Joe Walker’s ranch.
knocked on the door and they stood on the porch, waiting for an answer. A couple of minutes later, a flustered, red faced, old woman appeared at the door, squinting at them before ushering them inside.
“Boys!” she cooed, smoothing a hand over her white as snow hair. “It’s been an age. You called at just about the right time I’d say. I’m
’ supper. Come on in.”
said, tipping his hat and walking into the house.
“Mrs. Walker,” Luke said, following his brother.
“Now, I’ll have none of that Mrs. Walker business. It’s Alice to you boys.”
“Don’t go to any trouble on our account, ma’am,”
I bet you boys haven’t had a decent meal since your ma has gone, God rest her soul.”
Luke didn’t have the heart to tell Mrs. Walker he was an excellent cook and there was a pot roast waiting for him and
when they got back.
Have you seen my new… oh, sorry, didn’t realise we had company.”
Mrs. Walker’s son, Ethan, strode into the living room. He was a tall man, almost the height of
, with broad shoulders, every inch of him solid muscle. He stepped up to Luke and
and reached out his hand.
“Luke, good to see you again.
I didn’t realise you were home from college,” he said, grinning at Luke in an almost predatory manner. Luke shivered but reached out and shook Ethan’s hand. Before he released it, Ethan stroked his fingers over Luke’s palm.
“Just got back,” Luke explained, feeling his face fill with heat.
, good to see you.
What brings you boys to our neck of the woods?”
“We just called by to see Joe,”
said, giving Ethan’s hand a firm shake. “I’ve got some old tools I thought he could use.”
“Oh, that’s mighty nice of you,
.” Mrs. Walker said. “You just missed Joe. He’s taken his new foreman to the bunkhouse to introduce him to the hands.”
asked in surprise. “What happened to Pete? He quit?”
The old woman scrunched her nose up in distaste.
“Seems Pete was having
with one of the hands, so Joe let them both go.
We run a clean, respectable, family business
couldn’t have any of that carrying on, now could we? What would the neighbours think?”
“Good riddance too,” Ethan added, shuffling from one foot to the other, refusing to meet either
or Luke’s eyes.
Luke stared at Mrs. Walker and her son open mouthed. He turned to
just in time to catch the frown on his brother’s face, but it was gone as quickly as it had appeared.
“If you’ll both excuse me,” Luke said, “I need some air.”
Luke turned on his heel and left the house without waiting for a reply. He stomped to the truck and got in, slamming the door behind him. He groaned and gripped the steering wheel when he felt his eyes shift to their wolf form.
When he had been younger and less in control of his
would happen a lot. But now he had to be pretty damn angry for shifting to happen without any warning and without him being able to stop it.
Luke closed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. He hated bigotry in any shape or form. He wasn’t attracted to men himself, but his elder brother Cody was gay and Luke didn’t think any less of his brother because of it. If anything, Luke loved Cody more because of who he was.
When Cody had come out at seventeen, everyone—including their parents—had given him a pretty hard time.
But Cody had taken the abuse and criticism with dignity. He had risen above the closed-mindedness and never pretended to be something he wasn’t. Luke respected his brother for that. He was proud of him. So there was no way Luke was going to stand there and listen to another thing Mrs. Walker had to say on the matter. And he knew for certain that Ethan was gay—the man had come on to him more times than he cared to remember.
Luke was used to men coming on to him. Looking the way he did, most men assumed he was gay when they met him right off the bat. It used to bother him when he was younger but now he couldn’t care less. Luke concentrated on his breathing and slowly he felt his eyes return to normal.
A few minutes later,
came out of the house and walked straight to the truck. He got in and held his hand out to placate Luke before he even had a chance to open his mouth.
“Now, I know what you’re going to say, Luke, but we live in the goddamn Bible
. What do you honestly expect? You can’t stop people around here from speaking their minds and you can’t change them either.”
“So you just go along with it? Is that what you think we should do?”
we do? Just because I don’t go around raising a ruckus whenever someone says something I don’t like, doesn’t mean I agree with them, okay?”
his shoulders in defeat.
“I just feel like such a traitor to Cody,
know? I feel like we should have defended him in there. Even though he had nothing to do with the discussion, he also had everything to do with it.”
“Cody knows how we feel about him, Luke,”
said, patting Luke on the arm.
“Does he though?
Because you know what,
I don’t think Cody has the first clue what we think of him. How would he? When we were kids and dad was ripping him a new one every chance he got, where were we? What did we do to help him?”
Luke. What could you have done? Me, on the other hand…”
shifted in his seat, looking uncomfortable.
“Look, I’m sorry,” Luke said, dipping his head in shame. “I didn’t mean to insinuate anything. You were
only twenty yourself
and dad was a pretty scary man to stand up to. It just makes me so angry when I hear shit like that,
“Yeah I know, bro, me too. Say, you think Cody’s happy in New York?”
“I don’t rightly know. When I went to see him last year, he said he was happy enough. Got
a good life there by all accounts.”
“I don’t know,”
said, shaking his head. “He always says he’s happy, but I get the feeling he’s lonely.”
“Yeah, I imagine he is. Can’t be too many wolves living in New York. I hate the damn place myself, never saw the attraction.
Too many people and not enough space.”