Blood Moon Rising, #1
by Lola Taylor
Date of Publication: February, 2014 (Fourth Edition, October, 2016)
Publisher: Indigo Dreamer Press
Genre: Werewolf PNR
When the Blood Moon rises, the wolves come out to play… and find their mates.
Danica has about given up on love. In a last-ditch attempt at finding “the one,” she agrees to a blind date through an online dating service. But instead of finding roses and romance, she finds someone intent on killing her. That is, until the mysterious, brooding Gage shows up to save her….
Gage is running out of time to find a mate. If the Blood Moon sets before he can find her, he’ll lose the rank of packmaster—and the peace within the pack he’s worked so hard to obtain. When he saves a luscious blonde in the parking lot of a bar, he has no idea she is his mate—until he Marks her with his touch.
Determined to keep her safe at any cost, Gage whisks Danica away into a hidden world full of lust, unlikely love, and treachery. Someone’s put a hit on his mate, and he’s hell-bent on finding out who, all while the Blood Moon looms closer, threatening to destroy his chances at true love forever. That is, if something—or someone—doesn’t kill the woman he’s falling for first.
All right, it was official—her date had stood her up.
Honestly, it shouldn’t surprise her. Seriously, who took someone on their first date to a bar?
And not even a nice bar. Howl was anything but swanky. With wooden floors that looked like they hadn’t seen polish—or a broom—in a decade, posters of couples in crude positions all over the walls, and the stench of sweat, beer, and sex in the smoky air, it looked like a gigantic version of a man cave.
Speaking of men, there were entirely too many rough-looking individuals here. Admittedly, it made her pause when she drove up and discovered there were more motorcycles than cars parked outside. She loved chrome and fast wheels as much as the next girl, but all the, er, “decorations”—animal skulls, hides, etc.—adorning said motorcycles gave her the heebie-jeebies.
She took another long sip of her beer. What the hell had she been thinking, agreeing to meet a total stranger at a place like this?
Because you’ve been lonely since Seth broke up with you and moved away.
Being the only person left in her high school town, the only one in her old circle of friends who hadn’t gone to college or gotten married, Danica had started to feel pretty damn unwanted. That definitely showed in the extra pounds she’d packed on since the “Epic Breakup.” Since the only people left in the small town of Moonstruck, Arkansas, were either the young or the old, it was sparse pickings for friends, and even slimmer prospects for dating. And since her empty bank account said moving was not an option, she’d turned to online dating.
“They worked,” the advertisements said. Countless people on the commercials preached, “I met my soul mate online, and we got married, like, instantly.”
In hindsight, she should have known better. If history had taught her anything, it was “Karma isn’t going to make it easy for you.”
She smiled wryly. “Karma, fifty, Danica, zero.”
Taking another swig of her nearly empty beer, she looked around. For the most part, the men had watched her with curiosity, but they hadn’t come over yet. People seemed to be keeping their distance, which she found odd. She thought she looked damn cute in her tight jeggings, black ankle boots, and a black see-through tunic that showed off her black lace bra. The bra alone should have at least earned her a “get-to-know-you” beer from somebody. But alas, here she was, sitting by herself at a bar, waiting for a date that obviously was never going to come.
Shouting erupted from across the room as one burly man threw down his pool stick and shoved another man, nearly spilling beer all over the pool table.
From the dais near the table, a tall man stood from the shadows, his silhouette suggesting broad shoulders and a lean torso. The dim lighting revealed dark jeans, a button-down shirt, and a dinner jacket—not the typical biker bar garb the other men wore.
He also wasn’t nearly as stacked as the two guys about to go at it in front of him, yet they took one look at the man and instantly backed down.
Huh. This place was getting weirder by the second.
Danica felt her arms prickle with the sensation of being watched. She looked up to find the mystery man had stepped into the light—and was looking right at her.
Her breath caught.
Okay, the lighting in here sucked, but she could definitely see a defined jawline, a straight nose, and light brown hair that had been styled with a bit of gel. Despite his Adonis looks and more fashionable wardrobe, he didn’t look any less masculine for it. If anything, it made him look sexier.
Danica sighed, feeling heat building below her navel.
She blinked. Wow, this was an all-time record for her. She’d gone from falling head over heels for a man in a few weeks—i.e. Seth, who’d been a jerk—to lusting for one at first sight. She blamed the fact she hadn’t had sex in six months.
But she wasn’t about to bring a man home with her tonight. She didn’t want a one-night stand. She wanted romance, flowers. She wanted “the fairy tale” as Julia Roberts had said.
And something told her she wasn’t going to get that with any of the guys here. Might as well cut her losses and bail.
She’d started to take another sip of her beer with the intent to finish it when that pleasant tingling sensation went up her spine. Unable to stop herself, she turned around.
The handsome stranger smiled at her.
And dammit if she didn’t smile back.
Gage’s inner wolf grinned as the luscious blonde tried covering the smile she’d flashed him. Normally, human women didn’t do it for him, but this one had a sense of spirit about her that was incredibly alluring. The fact her top left little to the imagination in regards to her plump breasts only made him harder.
God, he was so freaking horny. Ever since the mating heat had taken hold of him at the beginning of the month, his cock sprang to life at the mere sight of a little cleavage. It was like going through puberty all over again, a hell he never wished to relive. The heat had only intensified as the month drew to a close. In exactly one week, the Blood Moon would rise, sealing him forever with his mate the first time they made love.
Now, if only he could find his mate.
His best friend and bodyguard—as if he needed one—came up beside him. He was also his brother. The slightly older wolf wasn’t wearing as much metal tonight as he usually did. His ears were only partially lined with studs, and he’d taken his tongue piercing out. Ink crawled up the wolf’s massive arms, which he showed off in a black tank top, despite the chilly autumn weather. Since werewolves ran hotter than humans, due to their animal nature—and especially during mating season—they rarely worried about the change of temperature.
His bodyguard, Nikolas, nodded in the direction of the bar. “You’ve been eyeing that female since she walked through the door.”
“And?” Gage raised a brow in challenge.
Nik shrugged. “And I can’t blame ya. She’s hot for a human. Got soft curves too. Wouldn’t be like banging one of our she-wolves, all hard muscle and bones.”
Gage’s cock throbbed with desire at the thought of feeling the woman below him, of his hands moving over her soft, smooth skin. He’d never been with a human before. He wasn’t the type to hold back during sex, and the she-wolves were tough by nature. Humans were fragile. Breakable. He’d feel guilty if he injured a woman during love-making.
Yet the thought of making her dizzy with pleasure never left his mind as he watched the woman down the rest of her beer and snag the bartender to cash out her tab.
Nik chewed on his lip ring. “So I take it you’ve had no luck with the last were-princess I brought you, Your Highness?”
Gage scowled. He knew Nik was aware he hated being called that, which was exactly why Nik did it. Sometimes, he was as childish as a pup. “I’ve… met with all the princesses you’ve brought me, but alas, I have yet to mark any of them.” Saying it aloud like that, voicing the possibility he might lose his pack because of some stupid law, turned his blood to ice.
He swallowed past the lump in his throat.
Nik studied him, then elbowed him lightly. “Think nothing of it. You’ll find your mate before this month’s Blood Moon sets.”
“I have to,” Gage muttered darkly. An unmated packmaster was not worthy of calling himself a King of Wolves. After at last claiming the position of Alpha over Malachite (a.k.a. “that sadistic son of a bitch”) only this past month, Gage couldn’t afford to be demoted for the sheer fact he couldn’t find a worthy female to be his mate. But he didn’t get to choose—the magic in his blood did.
His attention snapped forward as the woman, casting him one last look, donned her jacket and purse, then started walking toward the exit. His blue eyes trailed her, unblinking, his heart speeding up. He took a step forward, and Nik grasped his arm.
“Best let that fish return to the sea,” he said. “Your efforts are better spent on courting other royal she-wolves going through their Fevers, considering the circumstances.”
Still, he found himself leaning toward the woman, wanting to go with her.
What was the matter with him?
A dark figure moved within the shadows, detaching itself from the wall and following the woman out the door.
Gage’s hackles rose. “Excuse me,” he said, shoving Nik’s hand aside as he stepped off the dais and toward the door.
Nik swore then rubbed his temples. “Don’t say I didn’t warn you!”
Following a gut instinct and feeling half-mad for it, Gage continued his deliberate pace toward the exit, senses wired for danger.
Then he heard her scream.
A Blood Moon Rising story
When Blake reluctantly agrees to go to a pack Christmas party, the last thing on his mind is finding his mate. But fate—and possibly Santa—has other plans…
Blake observed the party with a look of supreme distaste. Crescent Manor had been decked out in blue and white twinkle lights, silver garland, and sparkly tinsel. Just looking at it made his eyes hurt. Not to mention the smell. Oh, God, if he ever had to smell pine, cinnamon, or pumpkin spice whatever-the-hell-it-was-called again, it would be too soon. Being a werewolf royally sucked sometimes, mainly the enhanced sense of smell. And this place—his damn home for the past fifteen years—was doing nothing but reminding him why he hated the holidays.
Everybody here seemed to have found a date or had brought their mates. All but him.
It wasn’t his fault he couldn’t find a mate. Hell, he’d tried dating. And rutting. That part he especially enjoyed. But the Mating Mark, the mystical symbol that designated his soul mate, had yet to appear on anyone. Which was supremely frustrating.
Damn, did the universe hate him that much? He was thirty-five, for shit’s sake. And he was beginning to wonder if, maybe, he was destined to be alone for the rest of his life.
His best friend and fellow Moonstruck Pack member, Ryan, walked up to him, interrupting his scowling. Ryan had gotten a little more into the Christmas spirit, wearing a red button down and black slacks. Blake, on the other hand, had gone with a Metallica T-shirt that should have been thrown away ten years ago, a pair of rugged jeans, and his shit-kickers. Like hell he was dressing up for a party he didn’t want to attend in the first place. These people had been lucky he’d shown up to this damn circus. If it were up to him, he would’ve stayed up in his room, reading. Yeah, yeah, despite appearances and general “don’t give a shit” demeanor, he loved a good Brandon Sanderson novel.
Ryan surveyed him with a knowing twinkle in his eye and nudged him. “Someone piss in your champagne?”
“This ain’t champagne. I hate that bubbly shit. I went to the kitchen and grabbed a Guinness. Poured it in this fancy glass so Alara doesn’t yell at me.” Alara, the queen of the Moonstruck Pack and one of the newest additions to their ever-expanding family, was the only reason he’d deigned to show up to this shit show. One, because she was a hell of a leader and business woman. In the past few months since she’d been here, she’d increased profits from the pack’s real estate business by fifty percent. Blake, loving the shit out of math and money, could appreciate that. Especially since he was the pack’s accountant.
Two, he downright respected Alara. Not only was she smart, level-headed, and beautiful, she was into epic fantasy. After her mate, Nik, convinced her to binge-watch the entire Lord of the Rings trilogy and all six seasons of Game of Thrones, she was hooked to the genre. Knowing he was a big fan himself, she’d asked to borrow his wide collection of fantasy books. He’d happily obliged, and the two of them had become fast friends.
Friends or not, however, this was downright torture. But it wouldn’t be right, for political or friendships’ sakes, for him not to attend. Alara was one of the few people he considered a true friend. Plus, he was the pack’s accountant, and he loved his job. He wasn’t about to spit in their faces by not spending Christmas Eve in hell, er, at a party.
Ryan was quiet a moment. “You’ve been holding that wall up all night. Gonna come talk to some of us?”
“Nah. People seem too busy sharing pup pictures and dancing with their mates.”
Ryan tried not to look ashamed. He’d found his own mate, Stephanie, about a month back. Blake had been both thrilled for his bud and disgruntled their bachelor evenings were coming to an end.
Blake rolled his eyes, giving Ryan a dry smile. “You don’t have to hide your happiness—or your mate—from me, man. I’m glad you found Steph.”
Ryan’s shoulders seemed to relax, and he looked out at the dancing crowd. They were in the parlor. The furniture had been pushed aside to make room for a dance floor. A gorgeous brunette danced with a group of friends. Her face lit up when she saw Ryan, and she smiled and waved.
A stupid-happy grin, one that Blake couldn’t help feeling jealous of, lit up Ryan’s face as he waved back.
He and Blake made small talk after that, with Blake checking the clock every couple of minutes. God, had time stopped? Shit, he loved his best friend, but he couldn’t take much more of this. Every second here reminded him of how alone he felt, and exacerbated his fear that he would never find someone to share his life with.
After a conversation about hockey, another of Blake’s true loves, Blake said, “Hey, man, I’m gonna grab another beer and get some air. Care to join?”
A slow song started, and people went for their dates or mates. Stephanie started to approach. “Nah, man. I owe Steph a dance. Promised her before we came down. I’ll catch up with you later for that beer.”
“Holding you to that.” He said “hello” to Stephanie before slipping from the room.
After snagging another beer from the kitchen, he let himself outside, onto the back patio. Nobody was out there. One, because it was freaking freezing, even for a werewolf. Their body temperatures ran hotter than that of a normal human, but cold was cold. And the air was practically subzero.
His breath fogged as he looked up at the stars, at the open sky, full moon, and silvery tips of trees in the forest surrounding the property. This place was beautiful. Always had been, even when it had sometimes felt like a prison during Malachite’s reign.
Blake shivered, banishing thoughts about that psychopath to the recesses of his mind. After filing those bloody, dark memories away in the archive of “Shit He’d Rather Not Think About,” he took another swig of his beer about the same time a husky voice said, “Taking a break from the glitter festival, too?”
Blake nearly choked on his beer as he struggled to swallow and inhale at the same time. Whirling, he could barely make out the curvy figure standing in the shadows. Then she stepped into a pool of moonlight, and he forgot how to breathe.
She was gorgeous, like something from a dream. With curves that would make Marilyn Monroe jealous and long, satiny blond hair that tumbled over her shoulders in waves, she looked like a siren come to steal him away into the night. Her dress was black, shimmery, and skin-tight, clinging to her like a second skin. Her four-inch crimson pumps made her nearly as tall as his six foot five.
A wave of desire made his skin hot, and an assortment of lustful thoughts filled his mind.
Clearing his throat, he shifted his weight and angled his body in such a way he hoped it would mask any obvious signs of his growing desire.
Could it be a mating fever, the time when all a werewolf could think about was sex? Possibly. Then again, sex was usually at the back of his thoughts, especially since he hadn’t had any in the past two months. Work had simply kept him too busy.
But now, in the presence of this dream girl, he found he couldn’t stop thinking about how soft her skin would feel or what her full, cherry-red lips would taste like.
As if sensing what he was thinking, she slowly smiled, and his heart skipped a beat.
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“Lola Taylor” is a pen name created for the romances I can’t show my grandma without blushing. My favorite genre to write is romantic suspense, usually involving hot werewolves, warlocks, or any other type of paranormal creature. Keep the action hot and the romance hotter—that’s my motto! I’m a horror film junkie, I still love Halloween as an adult (seriously, I think I get more excited for it than some kids do), and what precious spare time I have is spent with my family, reading (everything from sci fi to middle grade), playing the flute, painting pretty pictures, or screwing around on Pinterest or Etsy. Hailing from the South, I currently live in the Midwest with five fur babies and my hubby.
I’m pretty easy-going. If you want to get to know me or just say “hi,” you can find me on Facebook, Google +, Pinterest,and Goodreads.
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