Mate Claimed

Mate Claimed by Jennifer Ashley

Book: Mate Claimed by Jennifer Ashley Read Free Book Online
Authors: Jennifer Ashley
the connection he had to his sister, but the close bond could be inconvenient at times.
    “Yes, that was her,” Eric said. “And, yes, I found out all about her and who she was. So, when we needed the new houses, I asked her to try to get the bid.”
    “And you’ve kept quiet about her all this time,” Diego said.
    Eric took another sip of beer, hearing the implied why? in Diego’s voice. “Stop being a detective, Diego. I’m Shiftertown leader. If I start a relationship with a woman, it’s talked about all over Shiftertown. Shifters debate whether she’s good for them, how alpha she is, and all that crap. I’m trying to keep it casual, to ease her in gradually.”
    A half-truth. Eric would bring Iona in eventually, and when he revealed that she was half-Shifter, the shit was going to hit the fan. He needed to make sure Iona was completely safe first.
    “Don’t mention this to anyone.” Eric fixed Cassidy and Diego, in turn, with his alpha stare.
    Which they both completely ignored. “We don’t talk about your private life,” Diego said.
    “Except to each other,” Cassidy said, her smile teasing. “And to bug you with questions about it.”
    At least they were joking, thinking Eric had the hots for a human woman he’d met in a Shifter bar. He’d tell them soon.
    Some part of Eric, though, wanted to keep Iona private. Shifters had sequestered their females in the old days—they had to, to keep other males from challenging for them or outright stealing them.
    Times were changing, Shifters lived in relative safety now, and they were one big happy family. Right?
    Cassidy became serious. “What are you going to do about the modifications to the houses?” she asked. “Can she keep it quiet?”
    “I think so. But I’ll make sure before I tell her anything.”
    “Modifications?” Diego asked. “You mean your secret hideaways?”
    Diego, once he’d become Cassidy’s mate, had been taken downstairs to the hidden rooms all Shifter houses had. In them, Shifters could take refuge or hide the wealth they’d accumulated over the years, safe from humans or other Shifters.
    Go to ground wasn’t just a saying among Shifters. No one outside each Shifter clan was allowed into the spaces—even different prides of the same clan could keep each other out if they chose.
    No human knew of these things, and no human, except a mate of the pride or pack, could ever know.
    Eric was relieved of having to explain more about Iona by the arrival of Jace. “Hey, Dad,” he said, breezing in. “Graham wants to talk to you.”
    Eric didn’t hear him for a second, struck, as always, by how much Jace looked like Kirsten. He had her look, the shape of her face and nose, the quirk of the head she’d had. It hurt, but at the same time, Eric felt a wash of love.
    Eric went to Jace and pulled him into an embrace, holding his son hard for a moment or two. Jace returned the embrace, then Eric let him go and ruffled his dark hair, still amazed that Jace, his unruly little cub, had grown into such a powerful man.
    “What does he want now?” Eric asked.
    “He wasn’t about to tell me,” Jace said. His eyes were green, like Eric’s. “I said I wasn’t his messenger service, but I thought you’d like to know.”
    Nor could Eric run to Graham’s side the instant Graham wanted to talk. Graham wanted that—to make it look as though Eric had answered his summons.
    Damn the wolf. Everything Graham did and said was calculated, the Lupine determined to take over. He’d do it subtly at first and then overtly.
    Cassidy smiled a predatory smile. “Want me to talk to him, Eric?”
    “I want you as far away from him as you can be,” Eric growled. “Understand?”
    “I’m your second,” Cassidy went on in a reasonable voice. “I’m supposed to take care of things you decide don’t needyour firsthand attention. You sending me to meet him will underscore that he’s not your top priority.”
    “You’re female,” Eric said.

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