Happy Friday, everyone! It’s even more happy for me because today is a release day. In Deeper, book 2 in my Tybee Island Shifters series is now available. I just got the cover a couple days ago, so the cover reveal is coinciding with release day. For fans of the first book, you’ll be happy to know that Micah Randolph and Celeste Proctor finally admit the elephant in the room…namely their shared attraction. Sparks fly in this one and I’m excited to see how ya’ll like it!
Celeste Proctor has always had the best of everything…expensive homes, fashionable clothing, and the coveted position of beta to the most powerful of all lycans, Drake Randolph. But after the alpha chooses a bride, she’s left with the unenviable situation of choosing another wolf to pin her sights on. She needs a mate – the stronger, the better – to help maintain her carefully cultivated image. One of Drake’s brothers will have to do, but which one?
Micah Randolph has always been cast in the shadow of his oldest brother. With his country music career heating up, Micah is looking forward to a whirlwind tour and finally having success on his own, separate from his position within the powerful Randolph family. But when the beautiful yet untouchable Celeste Proctor shows up, determined to mate with him or his twin brother, he has a choice to make. Will his pride allow him to take what he’s always wanted? Or will he risk it all to make her admit she wants him for more than just his strong lycan blood?
Applause echoed through the packed arena, reverberating off the concrete flooring and resonating to the domed ceiling. Micah Randolph slung his guitar behind his back and waved at the fans who’d come to see the kickoff of his and Max’s summer tour. The concert had sold out due to their new single topping the country charts. The energy of the crowd and intense stage lighting made the temperature soar.
Beads of sweat formed on his forehead, and Micah lifted the hem of his T-shirt to swipe at his face. Another round of thunderous applause started. He smoothed his shirt back over his abs and shot a grin to the girls in the front row.
Max, the other half of the band’s duo, unplugged his guitar from the amp and strode over to smack his palm in the center of his stomach. “Tired of being a sex object yet?” his slightly younger brother asked with a smirk.
“You tell me,” Micah shot back. His brother experienced no lack in the female attention department either, despite his attempts to stay out of the spotlight.
“It’s you they come to see,” Max remarked. He waved to the crowd, and the cheers increased. “Not me.”
Micah arched an eyebrow. “Really?”
“Shut it.” Max gave him a quick nod. “Good show.”
As one, they turned to take a bow. They exited the stage to the pounding of drums and an electric light show to rival any of the big-name country artists. The production was nothing like the small gigs they’d done in Nashville, playing their hearts out for the small crowds at Deanie’s. Backstage, the crew gathered around the brothers and handed each an ice-cold beer. Micah took a deep draw from his bottle before raising it in a mock toast. “To my brother for writing kick-ass songs.”
Max, ever the unassuming one, shoved his elbow into Micah’s gut and grunted. “I’ll see you back at the hotel. Drake and Emma are waiting for us.”
Micah’s good mood evaporated. He’d forgotten his oldest brother and new wife were coming to Atlanta for the first show. Although he loved his family, he’d been in the mood to celebrate. Something Drake, stern alpha that he was, didn’t appreciate. Since his marriage to Emma, Drake had become softer but not soft enough to allow his younger twin brothers to party it up all night at a club.
Micah drained the bottle and tossed it into a nearby trash can. Another crew member pressed a second bottle into his hand. He unscrewed the cap and drank half of it on the way to his dressing room. Thank God no press functions were planned for the night. He and Max had been on the media circuit for weeks, gearing up for their first headlining tour. With the success of their latest single, they’d garnered the music industry’s attention, and all the major networks sought an interview.
He shifted the bottle of beer to his left hand and turned the knob to his dressing room. The scent of flowers assaulted him. Roses permeated the entire room, not something he’d expected to find in the space he’d left just ninety minutes ago. He recognized the scent in an instant.
It betrayed the familiar female standing before the dressing table even before he locked eyes with her.
Gorgeous as ever. A tall, willowy blonde with perfect teeth and perfect hair. Unattainable. The one woman he’d always wanted but could never have. Despite Drake finding a mate, Celeste was still off-limits to Micah.
“Celeste.” He placed the bottle on a table near the door and carefully shut the door behind him. “What are you doing here?”
Celeste shoved aside the items littering the top of the vanity and placed her delectable ass on the counter. She swayed long legs, encased in tight leather, back and forth. “Hello, Micah.”
He ignored the greeting and strode forward. The closer he came to her, the angrier he got. How dare she come here? He’d said everything he’d had to say to her at Drake’s wedding. “I repeat. What are you doing here? Did Drake invite you?”
She cocked her head to one side. One long, loose curl fell over her shoulder to coil around a full breast pushing against the lacy corset she wore. “Drake doesn’t know I’m here.”
Despite his anger, the attraction was undeniable. Celeste, with her fucking million-dollar smile and tight-ass body, drove him insane. He sneered at her, struggling to keep lust from clouding his judgment. He’d given into it once. Damned if he’d do it again. “You’ve always been such a good little beta. Are you sure you want to risk Drake’s anger by coming here and fucking around with me?”
His cruel words hit their mark. Her lips turned down at the corners seconds before her eyes glowed with the flame of her anger. “It’s been a month, Micah. I thought we agreed it was a mistake.”
“It was a mistake.” He lifted his shoulder in a shrug. “We were drunk. You were drunk. The perfect shifter who always follows the rules. What would my brother say about you drinking yourself into oblivion after his wedding and ending up in my bed?”
She lifted her chin, and a hint of the wolf appeared in her honey-gold eyes. “I don’t have to explain my actions to him.”
“Damned right you don’t.” He strode forward and grasped her haughty chin in his hand. “But you owe me an explanation. Why did you fuck me that night?”
Her gaze slipped away from his. “We were drunk. You said it yourself.”
“Bullshit.” He waited for her to drag her attention back to his face. “The truth, Celeste.”
Even angry, her beauty took his breath away—her oval face one of pure perfection, with tawny skin and a glorious mass of blonde curls. The locks of her unpinned hair reached beyond her waist and caressed the rounded slope of her ass.
She took a deep breath and her chest rose. “The alcohol loosened my inhibitions. I was horny. You were there. So I had sex with you. End of story.”
Jesus. Just the memory of her body moving beneath his, her lips gasping his name, sent a jolt of lust through his hardened frame. “You’re lying.”
He stepped closer, trapping her between the table and his hips, and enclosed her body between his arms. “You come here dressed in this getup, expecting me to believe that’s the end of the story?”
He ran his eyes over her low-cut corset and tight black pants. Red fuck-me heels and matching lipstick should make her look cheap, but it was impossible for Celeste Proctor to look anything but classy.
He’d known her his entire life. She was his brother’s beta, a shifter he’d been forced to consider as his future sister-in-law. But that had been before Emma turned Drake’s life upside down and took the man Celeste had always thought she’d marry.
He growled out a warning, “The truth, Celeste. Now.”
She licked her too-bright lips. “I made a mistake.”
“Damn straight,” he shot back. Only it hadn’t been a mistake. No sane man would ever consider her a mistake. Sexy, successful, and so damned stubborn she made his teeth ache. “You couldn’t text me an apology?”
She tossed her hair over one shoulder and glared at him. Despite her beauty, she was fierce in her annoyance, a warrior who fought for what she wanted. “Poor Micah, always so willing to play the victim.”
Her taunt made him see crimson. He jerked a handful of her lace corset and thrust his face next to hers. “You played the victim card better than I ever could. Poor Celeste. Losing the man you love to a non-shifter. It stings, doesn’t it? Knowing you weren’t good enough for him?”
The expensive foundation and powder she wore were no match for the flush of shame tinting her cheeks. “Fuck you, Micah Randolph.”
He grinned, but it lacked humor. “Been there, done that.”
She lifted her hand, but he caught her wrist before she landed the stinging slap on his cheek. As a warning, he tightened his grip just enough to feel the bones in her wrist. “Careful. You might hurt yourself.”
She tugged at her arm and cursed when she was unable to break free of his grasp. “You made your point. Let me go.”
God, it hurt to look at her and know he could never be good enough, too much of a fuckup to have perfection. He let go of her wrist and shoved away from her. “Time for you to leave.”
She stayed where she was, her legs spread as if Micah still stood between her thighs. The provocative position reminded him of tangled sheets and sex so hot it burned in his soul.
“Micah.” Her tone dropped an octave and turned seductive. “I need your help.”
Damn it all. Even her voice made him think of tangled sheets and sweaty limbs. “Find someone else.”
She stood. The six-inch stiletto heels she wore put them on eye level despite him being several inches over six feet. “You don’t even know what I’m asking.”
“I don’t need to.” He pulled off his sweaty T-shirt and dug in his duffel bag for a clean one. “I’m not your man.”
Her gaze dropped to his chest. He would have to be blind to miss the spark of interest there, and he’d never missed any of Celeste’s expressions. She’d haunted his dreams since puberty. Too many nights he’d spent jacking off to the picture of her as a cheerleader in their high school yearbook. Too many afternoons seeing her flirt with his brother and knowing she’d never be his.
Celeste never backed down from a fight. She ignored his disinterest and forged ahead. “With Drake out of the picture, I’ve had to reevaluate my position within the Society.”
Micah shoved his arms through the sleeves of a faded black T-shirt and jerked it on. He pulled the hem down and waited for her to say more.
For the first time, she showed hesitation. Unable, or unwilling, to meet his eyes, she looked anywhere but at him. “I’m the last of my family. The pressure has been on me for years to marry well. I thought I’d found the perfect match with Drake, but I can’t ignore it anymore. I need to find a mate.”
The words ripped into him, flaying him with dreams of what could never be. He stuffed the old shirt into his bag and slipped the strap over one shoulder. “Congratulations to you and the lucky bastard, whoever he may be.”
She jerked her chin in his direction. Heat singed him from the flames in her expression. “Don’t be an ass. I need your help.”
He lifted an eyebrow. “If you think for one second, I’m going to play matchmaker for you, you’re…”
“I want you to be my mate.”
Her words forced him to a complete halt. “Come again?”