Thank you for having me!
Demi isn’t a big talker, so having her tell me their tale was hard work. Well she’s not much of a talker unless you’re a tree. But then we all know that trees are terrible gossips!
I hope you enjoy Earth Born, and the tale of these two crazy people….shifters,…witches…ah man you know what I mean!
Nate Barend’s past has left deep scars. Growing up in foster homes, he never dreamed of his family coming to find him. Why would he, when he remembered so clearly the day they’d thrown him out with the trash.
As an earth elemental, Demi Hills has an affinity with nature—well, most nature anyway. But when her relationship with Nate goes from “friends with benefits” to “it’s complicated,” she can’t seem to shake him. The damn coyote/wolf is like a dog with a bone—or should that be a shifter with a bone?
With a cautious look around the room, Nate lifted the cup to his nose and sniffed at it. Because if he was sitting here, right now, with these people, someone had to have drugged him.
“I understand we’re probably the last people on earth you’d expect to see.”
That was an understatement of magnificent proportions.
“But once we realized that Alpha Dawson was trying to contact one Nathanial Dawson, we couldn’t stand by and do nothing.”
Trying to contact him? That was a joke. The old Alpha had written, emailed, and even telegrammed. How the hell he had even found a telegram machine and someone to actually deliver it was still a mystery. More importantly why couldn’t these people stand by? It wasn’t like they’d ever bothered before.
“We realize that the normal process would have been to petition the local Shifter Council, but we are racing against time. If we didn’t get to you first to warn you, well things might be very different right now.”
Warn him? That had probably been the third most interesting and shocking thing that had happened to him today.
Not only had he watched a pack of coyote shifters—or at least part of one—ride into town on motorbikes, but when they’d said they’d been looking for him, he started to look for hidden cameras.
But the one thing that amazed him the most, the one that made him question if he’d been drugged, had been when they announced they were family. Actual blood relations of his.
For an orphan and a child of the care system, it was the last thing he’d ever expected to hear.
Some kids in the homes he’d grown up in had dreamed of days like this.
But not him. Never him.
He knew his family, knew exactly where they were. He remembered them all very clearly. Especially the moment his grandfather had taken a scared little six-year-old boy, who’d just lost his parents in a car crash, had barely survived it himself, and handed him over to child services because he didn’t want him.
If he had been born a full wolf shifter, like his father and grandfather, he had no doubt his family would have kept him. But his father had made the mistake of falling in love and mating with a coyote shifter.
The ‘weakness’ of his mixed blood had been too much for the old man to handle.
Now here he was, sitting across the table from his mother’s family, almost thirty years later.
He placed the cup down on the table and looked across at the man opposite him.
Apparently they were cousins, but he didn’t remember them, and he definitely didn’t see the family resemblance. They were pure coyotes, with reddish brown hair and cold eyes. Nate’s own leaned more toward natural gray, showing his gray wolf heritage.
The Alpha had introduced himself as Carlos and told him they were cousins. Apparently Nate’s mother and Carlos’ father were siblings. Nate couldn’t remember him, not that he tried very hard. He’d spent a lifetime forgetting about that family who’d clearly forgotten about him.
The second man was Franko, the beta and clearly the less chatty of the two. The man’s gaze made Nate want to reach across the table and punch him in the face, just for the sake of it.
He looked them both over. It was time to remind them this wasn’t their home.
“A few things spring to mind.” He leaned back in the chair as if he didn’t have a care in the world. “One, my name is Barend. Nate Barend. Nathanial Dawson died the day Alpha Dawson threw me out with the trash.”
He raised two fingers, counting off his points.
“Two, I ignored every communication I’ve had from Alpha Dawson. Since the man I called grandfather is dead to me. And three, and this is the most important one.” He leaned forward to emphasize his point. “I really don’t think my family likes having you in their home.”
Low growls, from different species, could be heard.
Carlos, who’d been looking far too self-assured for Nate’s liking, started to look around nervously.
“Little brother, everything okay?” Damian walked into the room from the back garden.
He didn’t need to look to know that Jake was at the other door; and out of sight, but not too far away, would be the foster children of this home, watching and waiting.
“Everything is just perfect.”
“Little brother? You let a cat call you brother?”
The look of disgust on Franko’s face was entertaining, another reason not to have these bigoted coyotes around longer than needed.
“No, of course I don’t allow a cat to call me brother. I allow three cats to call me brother. It’s a shame you won’t get to meet my alpha. I’m sure he’ll be disheartened.”
“Your alpha is your adopted brother?” Carlos asked.
“Yep, and a lion. But hey, we don’t judge here.”
“I’m sure, if I speak to his beta, we can make arrangements to stay.”
“You are.” That shocked him. “But why stay? I have no interest in Alpha Dawson, or you.”
“Alpha Dawson went to great lengths to keep you away from your rightful family. He told us you were dead. Don’t you care why he’s trying to get back in touch now?”
“Nope.” He really didn’t. Perhaps he might’ve once. But not anymore.
“But your life is in danger. Doesn’t that worry you?”
Nate laughed. He couldn’t help it. “Boys, you really have no idea where you’ve come to, do you? My life’s been in danger since the second I left my father’s pack. If you think for a second an old alpha and some long lost cousins are going to worry me, well, it just goes to show how much you really don’t know about me.”
He stood, the chair scraping on the floor as he did. When he was at his full height he looked down at the first blood relations he’d seen in years.
“You know what, there’s a bed and breakfast in town. If you feel you want to stay for a day or two, I won’t stand in your way. But this—” he waved a hand between himself and them, “—isn’t going to happen. I have no interest in you, or Dawson. As long as you remember that, you’re welcome to stay.”
Without a backward glance he headed out of the kitchen and the house and down the back steps. Damian caught up with him as he reached the ground.
“Your grandfather’s been in touch? Why didn’t you tell us?”
He’d thought about it, but what was he going to say? His grandfather, alpha and the man who’d abandoned him, was contacting him? Several of the letters had started off nice enough, but the ones of late had started to sound more like orders.
They’d all grown up as children of the state. He didn’t doubt that his brothers would love to hear from their own blood family. It would’ve been wrong of him to rub it in their faces. Besides, the letters had brought back memories he’d rather have left buried.
The nightmares had come back after the first letter. Dreams that put him back in that car, trapped in the wreck, screaming for his parents, crying for them to save him. But both were already dead.
In his mind’s eye he could still see the blood dripping down his father’s face, past lifeless eyes.
He’d tried to forget, had buried it deep. Until those letters.
So when he said he had no interest in any part of his family, he wasn’t joking.
“I need a drink.” He headed off to town, with the only family he cared about right by his side.
© Cherie Nicholls 2015
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Cherie Nicholls is an author of Paranormal Romance. By day she is an IT Manager and by night she whips up worlds where alpha men find their mates and people are always more than human.
Cherie was born and lives in London, UK, and is a daughter, sister, sister-in-law, aunt, aunt-in-law, great-aunt, and godmother in an ever-growing family. She has a passion for shifter stories, most any sport and thimbles…don’t ask.
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