Sedona Surrender by Lisa Kessler

~ new ~

One touch makes keeping his distance from her impossible, but surrendering to his feelings is not an option…

The door opened behind us, and I caught Chandler’s scent instantly. Fuck. Could this night get any more screwed up? He came straight for us. At least he saved me from answering her question.

“Hey, Cole,” he said as he approached. I got up from my stool and clasped his forearm in the traditional pack greeting. I shot him a questioning look while my back was to Madison, and he whispered, “Just checking on my sister.”

I rolled my eyes and stepped back, growling so low only shifters would be able to catch it. “I can fucking control myself.”

He narrowed his eyes at me and then smiled at Madison, pulling her in for a hug. “I was in the neighborhood after I finished the newscast. Thought I’d stop by and say hi.”

She pulled back with a grin. “Oh please. No one here buys that.” She shoved him playfully. “I’m way too old for a chaperone.”

God, it was easy to like her. She didn’t take anyone’s shit and she had no problem speaking her mind. Her no-games approach would’ve been refreshing if I could be honest with her in return. But no, the big blond guy standing beside her was determined to keep her in the dark.

Yes, he had good reasons, but I was betting Chandler had no idea Deidra Harlow owned Serenity Farms, either.

Chandler took the stool beside her and ordered a beer. “Okay, so I wanted to make sure Cole was being good to my sister. Guilty.”

I took a swallow of my beer and leaned forward to make eye contact. “Because I’m some kind of big bad wolf and she’s Little Red Riding Hood?”

A muscle jumped in Chandler’s jaw, but he shook off my jab and focused on Madison. “I sent you a text with the address for the baby shower tomorrow. I can pick you up if you want to ride with us. It’s sort of remote.”

Madison turned my way and hooked her arm with mine before facing her brother. “Actually, Cole offered to take me.”

I did no such thing, but I wasn’t going to pass up a chance to stick it to Chandler for showing up here tonight. I snapped up a fry and nodded. “I’m picking her up at one o’clock.”

She squeezed my bicep, warming my blood through my shirt. “So I think I’m all set for the shower tomorrow. Thanks for the offer, though.”

Chandler opened his mouth to respond when the deejay called out, “Madison and Cole to the on-deck circle.”

Madison grabbed my hand to tug me off my barstool, and from the depths of my soul, my wolf howled, clawing forward in my consciousness like a raving beast before I could tamp it down. My eyes dilated, blinding me for a second as I struggled to keep my balance.

Holy fuck. I blinked, fighting to clear my vision. What the hell?

I didn’t get time to process what was happening as Madison pulled me toward the lighted corner of the bar. My wolf…recognized her. This had to be a mistake. Maybe I wanted it to be true so I’d imagined it.

When she stopped, I almost ran into her. She turned around, so close to me I could smell the Kahlúa on her breath, and I wanted to taste her lips so bad I could barely breathe. The full moon was still a week away, but my wolf was just beneath the surface, the animal instincts pushing me to claim my mate.

Mate.

Madison was my…

I vaguely noticed the applause in the background, and she tugged me into the bright lights. I winced, shielding my eyes as we stopped in front of a television screen. She handed me a mic, and for the first time, she must’ve looked up at my face. And the shock must have been written all over me.

“Are you okay? You don’t have to sing with me. I didn’t realize you really had stage fright. You can sit this one out.”

I stared into the ocean of her eyes as the guitar strings plucked out the first notes. Without thinking about it, I lifted the mic to my lips and started to sing. The crowd didn’t exist as I asked her if she was happy in this modern world. Was there something she was searching for? I poured myself into the lyrics. I hadn’t realized until this moment that I really was longing for change.

For her.

God, her smile. I’d sing all night to see her smile.

She lifted her mic and took the next verse. Her voice was clear and bright, but there was something beneath the surface. Passion. I couldn’t pull my gaze from her face. When she hit the chorus, she broke eye contact, facing the rest of the bar.

I’d forgotten we were even in one.

She was a superstar. I swallowed the lump in my throat before she turned to me again and we sang together. Our voices blended into a melody I never could have imagined—a union I never realized I wanted.

We were miles from the shallow. I was sinking into deep emotions.

And she had no idea.

What the fuck was I going to do?