My name is Stefan Wyemore and I’m the High Alpha of the Northwest Territories. If I could snort here, I would. That sounds so high-and-mighty. What it really means is that I get to listen to every complaint and gripe everyone in the northwestern area has and figure out how to make shifters of all sorts, covens and hybrids live together in peace. It’s a nasty job, but my folks thought I was up to the job. They’re technically the leaders, but they live in Florida with the packs and prides there and ceded this place to me. Gee, thanks, folks.
Don’t get me wrong. I love it here. The mountains are incredible. We don’t have anything like that in Florida, that’s for sure. And if I hadn’t had this job, I wouldn’t have met Mali, my mate and the woman I can’t imagine life without. Though it wasn’t easy convincing her.
Mali is an amazing woman. She’s a hybrid, like me, someone who can both shift and do magic. Fortunately, we’re both feline shifters, which makes our bond even stronger. I knew as soon as I met her that we were mates, but it took a little longer for her to accept it. She’s been through a lot in her life. I can’t imagine never belonging somewhere. My folks and where I grew up were so accepting of everyone. But here, it’s not quite as open. In fact, I had to take out four betas who were lording it over their packs like they were gods or something. They quickly learned I don’t go for that. Yes, I’m an alpha and my word is law, but laws have to be tempered with compassion and acceptance. And theirs weren’t. I will not allow bigotry to spread in my packs and prides. We are all shifters. It doesn’t matter if we’re feline, canine, bovine, or something else. Shifters are shifters. And mage-shifters are even better.
That’s what Mali and I are—mage-shifters. Not only do we shift, but we can do magic. My affinity is with the elements while hers is with healing. Because of what we are, maybe others will learn what acceptance is.
Anyway, Lion’s Choice is our story. Or rather, a part of our story. It’s about how Malena and I met and how we became mates. It’s got shifters and witches, yes, but don’t be surprised if a ghost or two shows up too. My grandmother likes to interfere in my life, even if she’s not still around. Sigh. Like I said, the life of the High Alpha is not an easy one, but with Mali at my side, I can tackle anything.
Stefan the Black, alpha of the northwestern territories, needs a strong mate. It’s the only way the prides and packs will continue to follow him, but he hasn’t found the right one yet. Then Dr. Malena Troutman literally runs into him and he and his beast know that she is the one.
The problem is convincing her.
Malena wants nothing to do with prides or packs. As a half-breed—part witch, part shifter—she’s been shunned by both shifters and witches alike. But her beast wants Stefan, and so does the human part of her. Still, can she trust him not to turn her away, especially once he learns her secret?
But Stefan has more than a few secrets of his own, not the least of which is… he’s also got magic running through his blood. It’s up to him to convince the packs and prides that their prejudices are hurting the prides. Ruling a large area of multiple packs and prides takes a lot of balancing—funds, people, emergencies, and more. But with Malena by his side, Stefan turns things around and both beasts find contentment.
“Is there a problem?”
Malena looked up—something that didn’t happen too often—to find a man with raven hair and eyes the color of deep sapphires looking down at her. She immediately recognized him. She could never forget that face or his scent. Her lion grew restless, and Mali fought to stay in control. He wore cut-off jean shorts and a deep blue tee, exposing impressive muscles, but not body-builder bulk. These were the lean, long ones of a lethal animal.
“Oh! Alpha Stefan, it’s nothing. Just a computer mix-up with Miss Troutman’s reservation. I’m sure we can find someone who will take her in.”
Alpha Stefan? Damn. Of course he would be the alpha. “That’s Doctor Troutman, and I’d rather not be crammed into someone’s family room with screaming kids running all around.” Mali let a little of her irritation show in her voice.
“What about a separate bedroom with a private bath and no screaming kids?”
She hesitated the briefest of seconds before nodding. She wondered if he had orchestrated this glitch, along with the invitation. “That’s what I was hoping for.”
Not only did her lioness approve, but so did the witch side of her. That in itself was odd enough for her to pay attention.
“Where are your bags, Doctor Troutman?” He smiled at her, a grin of both invitation and consideration.
“Just this.” She indicated a regulation-sized pull-along. “The rest are still in my truck, though I have no idea where that is at the moment.”
“In the parking area. I can have one of the valets retrieve your things for you if you wish.”
“Thank you. They’re rather important, and some need to be handled with care. I’m teaching a class here tomorrow. If you could show me my room, and where my truck might be, I’ll get them myself.” She hesitated. Damn. She’d given orders to the alpha. Could she stuff her foot any further into her mouth? Her face grew warm. “My apologies, Alpha Stefan. If I’d known—”
“If you’d known, I think you would still need to handle your bags with care. Shall we?” He offered his arm and took her bag in one hand.
“I can carry that myself,” she said, not wanting to put the alpha out any more than she already had.
“I’m sure you can. I was merely being polite.”
She blew out a sigh and took his arm. “Thank you, Alpha Stefan. I appreciate the help. So where is this room I can have?”
He stepped into the elevator and punched the button for the fifth floor. “My apartment.”
Stefan enjoyed the look of pure shock on the woman’s face. As soon as he’d told her where they were going, she’d dropped her hand and stepped away from him. This was not a woman who used feminine wiles to capture a man. She wanted nothing to do with him. It showed in her stiff shoulders, crossed arms, tight mouth, and narrowed eyes. He kept a neutral look on his face but smiled inwardly. She intrigued him on many levels. He discovered he was actually looking forward to the challenge she offered.
Malena Troutman. The lion within him was practically purring, and so was the man.