Chapter One: Was Meant to Be
-Seven Weeks Later-
Josie Potter looked at the gas gage and moaned. She’d filled it not that long ago. Where was the gas going? Her car sputtered and rumbled, and before she could pull off to the side of the road, it died.
“Damn it!” she hollered as she slapped the steering wheel with both hands.
Headlights shone in her rearview mirror, and her heart beat out of control. Without even knowing she had moved, the buckle was off, and she was out of the car. Her purse was miraculously in her hand, and she was across the road before the car slammed into hers, crushing it. She watched in shock as her car flew into a tree and crumpled. The driver of the other car didn’t even stop.
“Fuck me,” she whispered.
She’d be dead right now if she hadn’t found the kind of speed only a cheetah would have. She giggled hysterically. How will she get to her new job now?
Her car combusted, and she watched with her mouth open as it burned. Well, there’s no way she’s getting any of her shit out of there now.
She looked up, and the only sign she could see to tell her where she was, was a billboard advertising for a Shifter Bar. Okay, so she’s not a Shifter. But maybe something else will be open by the time she gets there. She read the address on the billboard then typed it into the GPS on her phone, and she followed the instructions to the bar.
Hopefully, it’s a big enough city; she can find help from someone, anyone.
Two hours of walking and Josie was so tired she couldn’t feel her feet, and her back hurt so bad she would kill for a back massage.
She saw the neon sign for the bar where it said the name of the bar in big letters.
THE SHIFTER DIVE
She looked around and found that nothing else was open at this time of night. She took a deep breath, then headed for the bar. If she’s killed, then she’d only been saved from that wreck to be slaughtered by hungry wolves, or bears. Wait, aren’t there big cats too?
Ah, fuck. She’s heading into the Lion’s den.
“Shar!” Marry-Beth hollered excitedly when she saw Dustin and his mate enter the bar.
“Hey, Marry-Beth!” Shar called out as she made her way to the bar.
“Got any pictures?” Marry-Beth asked with a grin.
Shar smiled, “of course.”
“Gimme,” Marry-Beth said as she held out her hand.
Shar smiled as she handed the owner of The Shifter Dive her phone; after she pulled up the folder with tons of pictures of her and her mate’s cub.
“She’s beautiful,” Marry-Beth said as she wiped a tear from her eye. “How old is she now?”
“Seven weeks,” Dustin said as he wrapped his arms around Shar from behind.
“Hey, Bro. What are you two doing here?” Dylan asked as he joined them at the bar.
“Mama needed some time away from the cub,” Dustin said with a smile, then kissed Shar’s temple.
“I didn’t ask for it,” Shar said with a pout.
“I was going to strangle her if she didn’t get out of the house and communicate with someone who could talk,” Dustin whispered.
Shar elbowed him in the stomach but was smiling happily.
“Where is the bundle of joy?” Dylan asked with a snort. “Hah, get it, Joy?”
“Yes, we get it,” Shar said with a roll of her eyes.
“Return to your planet,” Dustin said, giving his brother a shove.
“She’s beautiful. Where is she now?” Marry-Beth asked as she handed Shar back her phone.
“With her grandmother,” Shar said as she placed her phone into her pocket.
“My mother loves her times with Joy,” Dustin said with a smile.
“What will you have to drink?” Marry-Beth asked with a smile.
“Beer,” Dustin said.
“Soda for me, I’m still nursing,” Shar said with a smile.
Dominic Kraftman watched his brother and Shar as they talked to Marry-Beth. He’s really happy for his brother. He not only found his Fated Mate, but they already have a cub. A little girl, which is the apple of the whole family’s eye.
“What about that one?” Dylan asked as he shoved Dominic.
Dominic looked at the female Shifter his brother was pointing at and felt nothing. “Nope.”
Dylan sighed, “me either. Fuck, this business of finding our mate is hard.”
Daryl chuckled, “well, if you stick with just this bar, of course it is.”
“We’ve actually gone to a few Human bars and searched,” Dylan said.
Dominic snorted, “until we got thrown out. No Shifters allowed…”
“What about her?” Dylan asked, pointing to a female Shifter who sat at a table with three others.
“Nope,” Dominic said, getting a bit agitated.
“Here comes Dustin and Shar. Behave,” Daryl said, then looked at their sister and smiled.
“Good to see you out again, Shar,” Dominic said with a smile.
Shar smiled at him. “Thanks. I miss Joy.”
“You’re supposed to be relaxing, babe, not stressing,” Dustin said as he placed his arm over her shoulders.
“I know,” Shar said with a deep sigh.
A commotion at the front of the bar had them looking towards the entrance.
“A Human,” Daryl whispered.
“What is a Human doing here?” Drezden asked as he sat up.
“Fuck,” Dylan said as he sniffed the air.
“I do believe you have a new member for your club, Sharissa,” Dustin said as he jumped to his feet.
Shar stood and moved to look at the woman. She had long black hair and a pretty face. She looked frightened out of her wits. But who wouldn’t be with all those horny Shifters getting to their feet and heading towards her?
“We need to save her,” Shar whispered.
Dominic watched the dark-haired beauty. When her eyes met his, his heart beat out of his chest, and his skin crawled with pleasure. No, can’t be. His Cougar growled and begged to be let free.
When one of the other men touched her, he jumped to his feet and let out a growl that had the walls vibrating.
“Mine,” Dominic snarled.
Everyone at his table looked at him.
“No fucking way!” Dylan cried out.
Dominic ignored his brother and walked around the table and strait for the Human woman who is the other part of him.
“Move!” he growled, yanking the other Shifters out of his way.
“Hey, you can’t just claim her. We were here first,” a man complained.
Dominic ignored the man and went straight to the woman.
The man went after Dominic, but someone grabbed his arm, and he turned to find four other men standing behind him.
“Read the fucking sign, prick,” Dylan said, pointing to the new rules above the bar. “No cockblocking.”
The man shrugged, then turned and walked away.
Josie’s heart was pounding in her ears. She wasn’t sure if it was all the Shifters surrounding her, or the tall one coming at her with a look of… She didn’t know how to explain that look.
Determined? Elated? Shocked? Like he wanted to bend her over the bar and fuck her?
Probably all of the above.
“Mine,” the tall one growled as he neared her.
She was about to say she belonged to no one; when she was lifted into the air by strong arms.
“Uhm, hello,” she said, looking into the man’s silver eyes.
“Hello,” he said, his eyes never leaving hers. “Do you know what a Fated Mate is?”
She blinked. She has read something about Shifters having mates, but she doesn’t know anything about it.
“Get the fuck back!” Marry-Beth said as she pushed her way to where Dominic held the girl in his arms. “Dominic Kraftman, you put that girl down, now!”
“Dom, come on,” Shar whispered.
Dominic looked down at Shar. “I must make her mine,” he whispered.
“We know, Brother, but not in front of everyone,” Dustin said as he placed his hand on his brother’s shoulder.
Dominic sighed as he placed the woman on her feet. He refused to leave her side when Marry-Beth took her by the hand and walked her to the bar.
“What can we do for you, Honey?” Marry-Beth asked as she pulled out a stool.
“This is a bad idea,” Daryl whispered to Marry-Beth, “she’s an unclaimed Fated Mate.”
“I know what she is,” Marry-Beth said, glaring at Daryl. “Can’t you see she has been on her feet for a long time?”
Everyone looked at Josie, and she felt her face flush.
“What happened?” Marry-Beth asked as she poured the girl a glass of ice water.
“My…my car ran out of gas, then a car hit it from behind and threw it into a tree, then my car burned…” Josie picked up the glass of water and took a long drink.
Everyone stared at each other, then looked at Josie. She felt uncomfortable, knowing all of their eyes were on her. She looked at the Shifter, who had lifted her against his chest. She didn’t feel uncomfortable around him.
“How did you get here?” a young, pretty blond asked.
She had blue eyes, so Josie knew she wasn’t a Shifter. What was she doing in a Shifter bar? And what had they meant by Josie being an unclaimed mate?
“I walked,” Josie said.
“Walked?” several of them asked at the same time.
“I typed the address to this place into my phone and followed it here,” she said as she held her phone up to them.
“How did you get the address?” one of the tall men asked.
“It was on a billboard by where my car was destroyed.”
“I have a really big question,” the one with his hand around the Human woman’s waist said. “How did you survive what happened to your car?”
Josie shrugged, “not sure. I saw the car coming, and before I knew it, my buckle was unfastened, my purse was in my hand, and I was out of the car and across the road. I watched it all happen from the other side of the road.”
There were murmurs around her, and Josie watched as they talked about her as if she wasn’t there.
“It was the Goddesses,” Dylan said.
“How else can you explain her appearance here? The wreck would have killed her. And it happened in front of the billboard for this bar?” Daryl said with a shake of his head.
Dominic sat on the stool beside the woman and sniffed her hair. “You smell like tangerines.”
“Oh,” the woman said, looking at him, “I don’t use scented soaps or lotions.”
Dominic smiled, “I know.”
Shar looked at her brother and smiled. He is doing a lot better than Dustin had done when he’d found her. But of course, a big difference between an office and a bar.
“What are we going to do?” Daryl asked. “We can’t let her leave. One of those assholes will follow her.”
“I need to claim her,” Dominic said with a growl.
“Wait a minute,” Marry-Beth said as she leaned over the counter. “Who says she’s yours anyway? I don’t see your mark on her.”
“It doesn’t just appear, Marry-Beth,” Dustin said.
Marry-Beth snorted, “besides, maybe she’s not into guys.”
The woman’s eyes opened wide, and Dominic and the others chuckled.
Marry-Beth snorted then turned. “I want to see this so-called mark before you leave this bar with her.”
“Let’s go to the office where it’s more private,” Shar said as she took hold of the woman’s arm and helped her to her feet.
“Fine,” Marry-Beth growled. “But you better not be cockblocking, Dominic Kraftman!”
Dominic rolled his eyes as he followed the others through the back to the office.
“What’s going on?” Josie asked as she was practically dragged to the back of the bar.
“Going to the office, so those assholes out there will stop staring at you,” the nice Human said as they entered the office.
“Why? Are you going to gang-rape me?” Josie asked, a chill running down her spine.
The men snorted, “we don’t do that shit.”
The woman turned Josie to face her. “My name is Sharissa. But you can call me Shar. And this is my mate and husband, Dustin Kraftman. These are his brothers Daryl, Dylan, Drezden, and you met Dominic,” she said as she pointed to each of them.
When she pointed to Dominic, Josie turned to him. He still had that elated look on his face, and now his eyes burned with something else. She sucked in a breath. He looked at her as if he wanted to bend her over the desk and fuck her brains out. It’s even tenser now than it was out there, now that they’re in a private room.
“You’re safe with us,” Shar assured her.
Josie wondered if she was really safe with the one who wanted to devour her?