Ride: Episode Ten
RIDE: EPISODE TEN – ONLY HUMAN
A supernatural investigative blogger took the púca stallions from the shadows and thrust them into the limelight by releasing a tell-all book. This old enemy surfaces and a new danger threatens the púca shape shifter clan. It gets loads better with a hot hunk of Navy Seal willing to face any danger in order to protect what’s his, especially his curvaceous mate. Will Sage and Maelíosa defeat the evil hate group determined to destroy the clan?
Reader Note: This book is for those who are 18+. It contains explicit language, sexual situations, and one helluva cliffhanger. However, if you like curvy shifter romance, a stallion who can’t resist his curvy woman, and a dash of humor, then this is the story for you. Please read these installments in order. Enjoy!
Sage shifted in the chair. He stared at Maelíosa, his eyes riveted on her face. “Are you fucking joking?”
Maelíosa drew back, as if the language offended her. “No.”
He ran a hand through his hair. She was as hard to read as she was beautiful, and it was impossible not to think about her body when mating with her was the current proposition.
“I’m not kidding. This is a real offer, and likely the only way your application will be accepted in time.”
Sage winced. He knew, of course, what that meant. If he didn’t accept the offer, his remaining time would be spent in bed, too weak to help Carina with her homework. It meant making arrangements for his daughter’s life, with someone who would do more than a half-decent job of caring for her. Time was everything, and Sage couldn’t risk losing another minute second-guessing this arrangement.
“I’ll do it.” He’d applied for a mate, but he hadn’t really expected anything to come of it. Not with the long wait list.
Maelíosa didn’t move.
“And thank you. I really, really appreciate this. I…” He trailed off, desperately curious about Maelíosa’s motives. What was she getting out of this, anyway? He couldn’t be sure, but he thought there was a small smile on her beautiful face, and he couldn’t stop thinking about kissing those full lips. He didn’t know how this whole mating thing worked, but he was pretty sure it was more than just a ceremony.
Sage shifted again in his seat as his cock hardened against his inner thigh. His jeans were way too tight. “What else d’you need from me?”
“For right now, nothing,” Maelíosa said. “You’ll bring your things to the Realm, of course. I’ll escort you and your daughter.”
Sage wondered how his daughter would adjust, not just to a new school or a new city, but to a whole other Realm.
Maelíosa stood up and brushed her palms off on the hem of her tunic. Sage couldn’t help but notice how the garment clung to her slender but muscled frame. “Do you have any questions about what I’ve explained or the welcome packet I gave you?”
“I probably should have questions, but after the other day, I didn’t think my application would be accepted,” Sage said. He shook his head and chuckled. “But I’m damn sure I will at some point.”
Maelíosa grinned. She led him out of the room, keeping her head high. Sage glanced at her and watched as she darted behind the front desk, grabbing Kieran’s sleeve and whispering something too soft for him to hear.
“Dad?” Carina stood up with a nervous, hopeful expression on her face. “What’s going to happen? What’s going on?”
Sage couldn’t help but break into a grin as Carina bounded across the lobby and stopped in front of him.
“Honey, we’re gonna stay here. Well, not here…in the Realm. It’s not temporary…” He gestured outside the window. “Since you’re under eighteen when you enter the Realm you won’t be bound by the same rules. Maelíosa explained that the magic guarding the veil takes hold once someone comes of age… when they can mate. When you’re an adult you can choose to leave, but if you return you will need a mate to cross the veil. I’ll be able to visit once Maelíosa and I are mated if you decide to go to college or return to the States. I know we talked about it. Are you sure you’re okay with that?”
Carina’s face lit up, and she leapt into Sage’s arms. His midsection ached but he ignored the pain, wrapping his arms around his daughter’s slender waist and hugging her close.
“Dad, I’m more than okay. I’m so happy,” Carina whispered in Sage’s ear. “I can’t believe it!”
Sage hugged her tightly, then gently set her down on her feet. “Me neither, baby,” he said, ruffling the top of Carina’s already-mussed hair. “Maelíosa says she’s going to escort us into the Realm. You have everything, right?”
He’d reminded her more than once to make sure she grabbed everything from the bathroom for her suitcase. His brain was so foggy these days that he often repeated himself.
“Dad, come on. I’m nine, not three, remember?”
She raised her eyebrows so seriously that Sage had trouble not bursting into laughter.
“And yeah, it’s right here.” Carina skipped over to the other side of the lobby and grabbed her pastel suitcase, dragging it behind her. “I’m so excited!”
“Me too,” Sage admitted.
He didn’t tell Carina that he was equally nervous. In the SEALs, he’d been through hell and back—that was expected. This, on the other hand, was completely uncharted territory. Sage had no idea what was about to happen. All he knew was that once he was mated with Maelíosa, he’d be mated for life. And having a mate meant someone for his daughter, which was all that really mattered to him. But now that it was really happening, he couldn’t help wondering what Maelíosa looked like under her tunic.
As if on cue, Maelíosa appeared so stealthily Sage thought maybe she’d teleported. Was that something they could do?
“Are you all ready?” Maelíosa glanced from Sage to Carina. “If you have your things, we can go now.”
“It’ll be a real craic,” Kieran hollered from the front desk.
The man at the desk had been watching them. He seemed really amused, but Sage wasn’t sure why he was wearing such a face-splitting grin.
Maelíosa whipped her head over her shoulder and glared at him. “None of your cheek, thanks. I’ll be back later, Kieran. Make sure you file that paperwork.”
“I will in my fuck,” Kieran said.
“If you had two brains you’d be twice as stupid,” Maelíosa muttered.
“And you’d best watch your mouth with a kid around,” Maelíosa scolded.
Kieran put up his hands defensively. “Relax, love. I forgot. I’ll file your bloody paperwork.”
Maelíosa rolled her eyes and then turned back to Sage. “All right, come with me.”
Sage couldn’t help but notice how straight she stood and how brisk her manner was. It was almost like being back in the SEALs.
Sage carried his suitcase in one hand and Carina’s in the other as they walked behind Maelíosa. At first Carina insisted on lugging her own things, but Sage could tell she was getting tired. He didn’t blame her—the terrain was hilly. Sage admired the way Maelíosa navigated the steep slopes. She was nimble, more graceful than Sage would’ve guessed. Trailing behind her and watching her hips move was making the hike harder, in more ways than one. Her occasional sarcastic outbursts probably wouldn’t appeal to many men, but he suspected there was more to her than most.
“We’re almost there,” Maelíosa said over her shoulder. “I know it’s been a bit of a leg, but—” She let out a cry of surprise. “Darcy, what the bloody hell are you doing out here? Does Da know?”
Sage raised his eyebrows as a coltish girl, who almost looked like a younger version of Maelíosa, skipped into sight. She had dark, shining eyes, tan skin, and glossy hair pulled back into a messy ponytail.
“Ariel told me about your mating. The whole clan is curious about it. I couldn’t wait,” Darcy confessed shyly.
Sage watched the girl carefully size him up and then turn toward his daughter with the same calculating gaze. “Howya!” Darcy said.
“Hi,” Carina said, sounding a bit shy. “I’m Carina.”
“I know. I’m Darcy,” she said, a grin spreading wide on her face. “Wanna race?”
Darcy pointed off into the distance. Sage squinted, putting his hand on his forehead. The island was misty and damp, but there was a tall stone tower rising out of the fog.
“There,” Darcy said. She smiled at Carina and hopped from one foot to the other. “C’mon, let’s go!”
“Okay,” Carina said. She turned toward Sage. “Dad, d’you mind?”
Sage could barely keep from grinning himself. He’d worried a little about Carina—how she’d fare in the Realm, among new people and strange things. Knowing that she’d likely already made a friend helped him relax. One less thing to worry about.
He gave a slight nod of his head. “Go for it.”
“I’ll take your suitcase,” Maelíosa said.
Carina and Darcy took off running, brown hair flapping behind their backs. Sage heard a cry of “That’s not fair!” and looked up to see Carina running beside an elegant, muscled young filly. He burst out laughing.
“My sister,” Maelíosa said, rolling her eyes. “She’s a bit of a handful sometimes. I’m sure she’s pleased over having another girl around.”
Sage snorted. “She looks like you… I mean, younger.” And far less beautiful, he wanted to say, but bit it back. He didn’t know his mate-to-be very well, but he got the distinct impression Maelíosa was the kind of woman who wouldn’t know what to do with a compliment.
Maelíosa raised her elegant eyebrow. “And?”
“Nothing,” Sage said, shoving his hands in his pockets.