Born to a shifter in horse form, Nika has always had trouble dealing with family. Her mother’s herd cast them out because of the pedigree of Nika’s father. Fey shapeshifters are not acceptable genes.
Keeping her heat at bay has taken up a lot of Nika’s energy, but she has no option. No other shifter will come near her because of what her father is.
After a night of drinking with her paternal parent, she wakes in the Crossroads with a note pinned to her. She is going to stay there until she finds a mate.
Markkios is familiar with Nika’s father, but when he is told that the trickster’s daughter is his ideal mate, he has to see it to believe it. The moment he meets her, he knows that her charm is genuine and her father only passed on his hair colour. It is a very good start.
He walked up to the door of the modest house with the huge barn in the back and knocked on the door.
Annabella appeared in the window, and she made a face before opening the door. “Frennin. I wasn’t expecting to see you.”
He took in the long cascade of her hair, the intelligence in her dark-brown eyes and the lush curve of her lips. She was even more stunning in her beast form and that grace and beauty had been his downfall.
“Annabella, I need to talk to you about Nika.”
She paused, nodded and let him in. He sighed. It was a big step. Fey and shifters did not normally get along, and if not for their beast forms, sex would have been heralded with enough electricity to jumpstart a car. He had seen a beautiful mare with intelligent eyes, and eleven months later, he had come by to find a woman sitting in the field holding a baby. Annabella was a shifter and their mating had had perfect timing to bring little Nika into the world.
Annabella made some tea and put some cookies out on a plate. “Tell me about your concerns.”
“Nika needs a mate. She is rapid-cycling into heat and going through casual hook-ups at an alarming rate.”
Annabella smiled. “You have been trying to put likely candidates in her path?”
“She rode them and kicked them out.”
Annabella snorted and poured the tea for him. “Yeah, I have been meaning to speak with her about that.”
“I have a solution, but I will need your help to execute it.” Frennin sipped at the tea and smiled. Even after a decade, she made the perfect cup of tea for him.
“What are you planning?”
Frennin explained about the blending of the fey and shifters at the Crossroads and how it would be the perfect place to find Nika a mate she could not simply dismiss. The human world was no place to try out a mating for a shifter.
“You think this will work?” Annabella raised her brows.
“I think that it is her best chance for an equal mating. With their power balanced, it will extend her life and bring her power, plus most of the fey have accumulated money. She will live a comfortable life.”
Annabella sighed. “You do so well, and then, you put your foot in it. Listen, Horse Lord, we have a comfortable life. I board the horses and Nika helps me with them. She has a gift for dealing with them that I know you take full credit for, but we make enough to get by.”
“I could have helped you do so much more if you had let me.”
Annabella sipped at her tea and smiled softly. “And there you have it, Frennin. You are asking permission. That isn’t what Nika is looking for. She wants someone to take the reins, if only for a moment. She has yet to find one, so she simply rides them and lets them go.”
Frennin listened and finally understood. “I know who to contact.”
“You have a friend into light bondage?” Annabella smirked.
“No, but I know someone who is an expert at taking the reins; it is just a matter of running the idea through the seers. They are in control of which fey go to the Crossroads.”
Annabella nodded and finished her tea. “Too bad there wasn’t something like this when I was younger.”
Frennin looked at her in surprise. “You would have gone to the Crossroads to be matched with a fey?”
“I would have gone to seek a mate. I wouldn’t have cared what it was as long as we got along and had a meeting of the minds. Or as long as my beast wanted him.”
Frennin finished his tea and got to his feet. He turned, “Did you ever want me?”
Annabella sighed. “I wanted you and my beast wanted the dark stallion that thundered through the meadow. We both thought you were beautiful, but you never came back for us.”
The grief in her arched neck was unmistakable. Frennin reached out for her, but she flinched away and he had no right to stay. He left her home and transported himself to the courtyard of the seers. If his daughter needed someone to take the reins, he knew just the fey. Now, he had to find out if they were in each other’s future.