Ivy has dodged matchmaking for five years, but when her family bundles her off to the Crossroads, she hastily concocts a plan to stay away from males for the entire month. She is partially successful, but when the bartender creates something just for her and takes an interest in her work, she is falling fast.
Chuck has worked at the Crossroads for most of his adult life, so it is quite a surprise to meet a woman who isn’t stalking a mate. When he sees a fascination for the written word in her, there is nothing for it. He has to get closer to see what she will do when he opens the pages of his hear to her.
When the swan meets the serpent, it is a surprisingly fair fight.
Sunset. The light of sunset was all around her. A woman stepped forward, and Ivy recognized the set of her head and the glide of her body. It was another swan.
“Hello, Ivy. My name is Teal. Welcome to the Shifters’ Crossroads.”
“Thank you. This is a bit of a surprise. Krisia said you would help me organize myself?”
“Of course. Where did you want to stay, a bed and breakfast or the avian hostel?”
“Hostel, please. My family is paying for this, so I don’t want to tax them too greatly.”
A male who was also a bird shifter stepped forward. “If you will come this way, I will scan your tag so you can come and go immediately.”
He showed her where to swipe the charm, and it glowed briefly. “There, now you have a room in the female avian hostel.”
She smiled. “Thank you.”
“Tony. Teal’s mate.”
His movements were almost predatory, but it was the look in his eyes as her charm caught the light that made it all make sense. Raven.
She was proud of her ability to make out the distinctions, but she had to admit that as a pair, they were the most powerful shifters she had yet encountered.
Teal made a small sound. “This way, Ivy.”
They walked out of a building made of honey-coloured oak and intricate carving. Ivy’s gaze caught every detail. She was good at details. It was why she was so adept at reviewing and editing books. The word on the page, the immovable pieces that everyone overlooked, those were what sprang alive to her.
The roads were paved lightly with gravel and bordered with green, lush grass. This entire place was wildlife friendly, which was good considering the men and women who were running around.
Teal smiled, “So, another swan is in the Crossroads. Why are you here?”
“Ah. They couldn’t find a match for you?”
Ivy blushed. “Well…I sort of have been dodging their efforts.”
“Ouch. How long?”
“In total, five years.”
Teal stopped in her tracks. “You are a swan and you have avoided being set up for five whole years? By the first feathers, that takes nerve.”
“I don’t know if that is an insult or praise.” Ivy smiled and hoisted her bag on her shoulder.
“Both. I ran from my match, and after I was successful, I ended up running from Tony. He caught me.” Teal grinned and pointed at the café and the restaurant. “You can get food there, day or night.”
“How hard did you run from him?”
Teal shrugged. “Pretty hard. It led us here.”
“Is there a place to swim?”
“I can show you tomorrow. There is a pond or a lake depending on your preferences. Come on, let’s get your bags stowed so that I can give you the proper tour and introduce you to a few people.”
They walked together in silence, and once Ivy checked into the hostel with her own room and locker, they exited in search of the Crossed Star bar.
“So, this is where I can meet just about anyone?”
“Most if not all of the men come through here. They need a place that takes some of the social niceties and chucks them out the window. Speaking of…Chuck! This is the newest guest of the Crossroads.”
A huge hulk of a man came toward them. His body was covered with tattoos, and his eyes wore the unmistakable mark of a reptile. He grinned, showing a bit of fang. “Welcome to the Crossed Star. What can I get for you?”
“Hi. Um, some juice?” she bit her lip.
He grinned. “Not much of a drinker, huh?”
She shook her head and watched as his smile changed him from frightening to charming.