Two mates are better than one...
Vanessa lives vicariously through the romance heroines in her overflowing bookshelf. No real man can ever measure up to the sultry, shapeshifter heroes with their feral smiles—or so she thinks until a creepy costume shop and a chance encounter with a fortuneteller shake up her ordinary life. When Vanessa's best friend brings her to a sexy costume party, she realizes more than fur is going to fly.
Rick is an Alpha cat shifter and co-owner of the Imaginarium. When he scents the luscious Vanessa, he has no intention of letting her slip away. But Rick isn't the only man searching for his one true love. Cian is a former Captain of the Winter Court in Faery, wielder of shadows and magic. When Fey enchantment and shifter might collide, more than mere hearts are caught in the crossfire. And as a threat looms closer with the turning of the season, both men may be the keys to Vanessa's heart—and her survival.
Reader note: contains BBW heroine, ménage, spanking, light BDSM, and erotic romance elements
“Are you sure about this?” Vanessa eyed the costume shop with disdain, preferring to go to the party in a little black dress and a mask. That was easy…and it was within her budget.The sun roasted the sidewalks even at six o’clock in the evening. September in Monroe, Texas, was nothing if not consistently hot, and right now all Vanessa wanted to do was go home, take off her work clothes, kick her heels into the deepest recesses of her closet, and escape into the pages of her latest romance novel.“Come on, spoilsport. Where’s your sense of adventure?” Aria grinned and led her inside. Creepy and deserted, the shop stank of mothballs and old fabric. What kind of strip mall was empty this close to Halloween? The pizza place on the end had no cars in the lot and even the nail salon was suspiciously dark. A sign on the window indicated a fortune-teller in residence.Unease slid through her and the sense she was being watched made her skin creep. “It’s at home. With my smutty book collection, that’s where.” Vanessa glanced around, her eyes widening at some of the strange jewelry made of hair in the glass display case near the entrance. She’d seen something like it in the National Museum of Funeral History in Houston. It creeped her out then, and it really creeped her out now.“How did you hear about this place again?”Aria rolled her eyes. “Look. All the other costume places were pretty much empty. This one’s out of the way. You remember Robin from the mail room? She came here last year and found this awesome nymph getup that had all the guys in a lather.”“I’ll bet.”“God, woman. I’m trying to help you find a date. This party is supposed to be the hottest thing since college. And we have invitations.” Aria waved the two red envelopes at her and shoved them back in her purse.“Yeah, yeah.” But what if she didn’t want a date? It was just too tiring being out with random guys and spinning her wheels. Most of them just wanted to get into her pants, and who wanted that?OK. Aria did and that was fine. But she wanted something a more. A connection. A supernaturally awesome man who could fuck her against a wall and make her come screaming his name before he ever even thought about his own pleasure. Someone who took the time to make her experience things instead of just being a body to bump up against. Might as well be science fiction, because that fantasy had yet to happen to her.There was no supernatural world. Only the mundane everyday world, and she was bored. She’d landed her first job out of college, and she knew her dad was proud of her, but at times like this a girl needed her mom. Not the woman her dad was married to but her real mother. The one he never talked about.Vanessa shook off the maudlin thoughts and brought herself back to the party this weekend. Her dad would flip if he found out she was going. She simply wouldn’t tell him. There were some advantages to living two towns over from him. He couldn’t keep tabs on her morning, noon, and night, and she could finally breathe. And this weekend, she was going to get an infusion of whoop-ass fun, thanks to her new work buddy Aria.The girl had taken Vanessa under her wing. She showed her the ropes and kept her off the boss’s radar. That in itself was a feat. They’d also started swapping e-readers and devouring each other’s libraries. It was then she made the guilty admission she loved BDSM smut. Aria laughed and invited her to the party.If she were really honest with herself, she’d admit she didn’t want a human lover. If this were fantasyland and she could choose, she’d pick the bad boys in her novels over a boring human any day. The cat shifter who made her toes curl. The vampire who nibbled on her neck. Or even the wolf who chased her though the underbrush in her backyard and took her from behind under the stars. Hair pulling, butt spanking, wild-ass sex that left her panting for more. That’s what she wanted, and she damn sure knew it wouldn’t be at whatever party they went to. Carlisle. The guy was a nerd from accounting, for Christ’s sake.“What do you think of this one?” Aria held up a long blue gown that reminded Vanessa of Mata Hari.“Erm…no. Thanks.” The cutout panel alone made that a hell no. She had her curves and a stick woman she was not. A girl had to play to her strengths. Leaving her midriff open…not on your life.“So the party’s at Carlisle’s house?”Aria shot her a sideways glance and kept thumbing through the racks. “No. I told you I’ve been working nights at this club, right?”“I think you mentioned something.” Vanessa picked up a giant banana costume. “Hey what do you think?”“Are you serious?”“Sorry.” She shoved it back on the rack and kept going.“Yeah. I’m trying to get some extra money for a new car. Anyway…the guy who owns the club is having a thing at his house. I thought you might like to go. Carlisle is coming too. I saw him at the club, of all places.”“What kind of club is it?”“Oh…just someplace for people of like minds to get together and dress up. That’s why we’re getting costumes.”“Sounds cool.” But Aria still hadn’t answered her question.Aria continued chattering to herself but Vanessa was distracted by the movement at the rear of the store. An older woman emerged from the back room and moved toward a table at the front door. The sign in the window had made reference to a fortune-teller.“Do you want your fortune told, my dear?” The crone’s rheumy eyes met hers, and a shiver slid down her back. The woman gave her the willies.“I…”“Please. Be my guest. It will be my treat to show you your fortune.”Indecision warred within her. “I’m here with my friend.”“Go ahead! Get your fortune read.” Aria came up beside her and looped an arm around her neck. “Let’s find out what kind of night you’re going to have at the party.”“OK.” Vanessa made her way to the small table and lowered herself into the seat. In front of her laid a strange-looking Ouija board printed with an alphabet and a yes and no.The older woman took an item out of a wooden box and placed it carefully on the surface of the board.“What’s that?”“It’s called a planchette, silly.” Aria rolled her eyes and grinned at the annoyed look Vanessa gave her.“I’ve never used one of these, OK? My father would kill me.”“Why? Does he think they’re a portal to some other dimension or something?”Vanessa wrinkled her nose. “I’m not sure. He just never let anything like it in the house. It’s beautiful.” The workmanship of the board and the intricate lettering transfixed her. She reached out to touch the planchette but the older woman stopped her.“Not yet, my girl. First you must think of a question.”“What kind of question?”The woman’s thin lips curved upward. “The spirit board offers much guidance but also warns of things to come. Ask the right questions and you’ll find the answers you seek.”“Cryptic, much?” Aria yawned. “Why don’t you play with the board and I’ll find you something to wear.”“Sure. Whatever.” Vanessa focused her attention on the board in front of her. The letters weaved in front of her eyes.“Now,” the old woman began, her eyes bright in her pale face, “think of the question you would like to ask the spirits. But be warned…”“Of what?”“The truth can wound or it can set you free.”Vanessa held out her hand and the old woman enveloped it in her own. She placed Vanessa’s hand on the planchette and released her. “Fingertips only. Now…think of what you want to ask.”Vanessa moved her fingers until only the tips touched the planchette. Her mind raced. There were so many questions she wanted answers to. Who was her mother? Not her father’s wife, but her biological mother. Should she go to this party with Aria on Friday or stay home like she always did, safe behind a pile of books?Before the woman placed her own fingertips on the planchette, it took off toward the yes. Then it sped to the letters and began to spell out something.“What the—?” Vanessa snatched her fingers away as if they’d been singed.“Goddess…” The fortune-teller stood abruptly, knocking her chair over. Her brow contorted and her eyes were owlish with fear showing a ring of veined white around the iris. “Stop.”“It’s still moving,” Vanessa whispered, her pulse hammering beneath her skin. “I’m trying to make out what it’s saying, but the thing is going too fast.”“What’s going on over here?” Aria scrambled back toward the table, an expression of horror on her face. “Jesus, Vanessa.”“I didn’t do it,” she snapped. “It’s wigging out.”“Obviously.”The old woman backed up, her eyes wide. “You must go to the party. Something you need will be revealed to you there. That is all I can tell you.” With that, she yanked the planchette off the board and swiftly tucked it back into the wooden box it came from. Without looking at either of the girls, the fortune-teller retreated into the back room, the door shutting behind her with a resounding thud.