Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Lashell Collins’s Gabe and Jessica from Secrets of Lunar Falls.
When veterinarian, Dr. Carly Tipton, takes a new job in the tiny farming community of Lunar Falls, she expects to build a new life for herself. She expects to meet new people and have new experiences. Maybe she’s even expecting a little adventure. But what she’s not expecting is to fall head over heels in love – not with the town, and certainly not with its ruggedly sexy sheriff, Gabriel Masters. She’s also not expecting all the secrets Lunar Falls is hiding. Secrets that could destroy everything she ever believed was true about her own heritage and the family she left back home.
Gabe isn’t ready for Carly when she blows into town. That woman has the power to bring him – a man born and raised to be a GrandAlpha – to his knees, and she’s human! That simple fact alone makes her dangerous to Gabe’s position within the pack. But the fact that he can’t seem to stay away from her tells him that this woman is the one. Human or not … she’s his mate. And now Gabe has to find a way to make their bonding complete without sparking a civil war among his people.
Secrets of Lunar Falls is book one of an adult, sexy shifter romance trilogy.
Make sure you stick around to the end and earn another entry into the Black Friday $50 Amazon giftcard giveaway.
I Hate Black Friday
“Oh, come on. I thought girls were supposed to love this stuff,” Gabe said with a smile as he looked at the chaos going on all around them.
“Hey, I enjoy shopping as much as the next girl, okay? But look at this! This isn’t normal shopping, this is something much darker. It’s like … combat training! These women are serious! We probably should’ve brought a few Enforcer team members with us for protection,” she replied, referring to the pack’s team of elite fighters as she looked around and took it all in. The brightly marked sales signs and the hyped-up women running around in a shopping frenzy. She shook her head at the insanity of it as they stood just inside the door and gaped at the scene. She hated this. Crowds were so not her thing anyway, but this was ridiculous. And she knew that the only way she was going to get through this outing with her sanity intact was to begin devising a plan for revenge. Her brother would pay!
“Protection?” he repeated, giving her a look that said ‘are you kidding me’. “Are you forgetting that you have ten times the strength they do? You could snap any one of them in two without breaking a sweat.”
She looked at him with a smirk on her lips. “That’s not the point. Besides, you and I both know that I would never show my true nature to an uninitiated human. Remain hidden in plain sight. Remember?”
Gabe smiled at his little sister, then draped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her away from the store’s entryway and further into the crowd.
“Let’s get started,” he said.
Jessica rolled her eyes again. “What are we even doing here? I mean, seriously, Gabe! Haven’t you ever heard of online shopping? Cyber Monday?”
“Jessie, come on! You agreed to help me do this,” he grumbled at her.
“Yes, but I didn’t know that would mean coming to this God-forsaken mall at the butt-crack of dawn and wading through this horde of retail zombies for no good reason,” she protested. “We didn’t have to do this today, after all. I mean there are still four weeks before Christmas, you know! Still plenty of time to find a suitable gift for Carly.”
“Yes, but I don’t want to wait until the last minute. And between my duties at the Sheriff’s Department and my responsibilities as Pack Master, finding the free time to do some Christmas shopping is near impossible,” he explained. “Plus, this is our first Christmas together, and Carly and I have been through so much these past few months. I’m not looking for a gift that’s merely ‘suitable,’ Jessie. It has to be perfect. Just like her.”
His voice trailed off and he grew pensive as he thought about the woman who had stollen his heart so completely. Carly Tipton was the most incredible woman he’d ever met. Beautiful, to be sure, but there was so much more to her than that. Carly was strong and intelligent and independent. And brave. All qualities that a mate worthy of the GrandAlpha should possess, and Gabe felt so lucky that she belonged to him. She was his, and he loved her! And this Christmas was going to mark the first of many magical holidays spent together.
Jessie stared at her big brother for a long moment. The passion he felt for his new mate literally lit up his gray eyes from within, and they started to glow like the hot embers of a smoldering fire. She smiled at him, rolling her eyes once more.
“All right, put out those peepers, Romeo, before you draw a bunch of unneeded attention our way. Honestly, GrandAlpha, you should know better than to wear your heart on your sleeve, like that,” she joked, using his proper title.
Her snide comment suddenly made him aware of the burning sensation in his eyes, and he shut them tightly for a few seconds. When he opened them again they weren’t glowing anymore.
“Did you have something in mind?” Jessie asked, trying to get into the spirit of things. “A pretty sweater? Sexy lingerie? Something sparkly that fits on a finger perhaps?”
Gabe laughed at her questions, but the truth was that he’d considered all of the above, and he had no clue which way to go.
“Yes … definitely … and is it weird that I’m considering the sparkly shit already?” he said, answering her questions in order.
Jessica frowned at him. “No, it’s not weird. Gabe, I know that we live and work among humans, but you can’t put human relationship ideals on the bonding. We can’t help who we imprint on or the timeframe we do it in. Joe and I are proof of that,” she said, thinking about the man who had claimed her body and her heart when she was just sixteen years old. The man she still loved with a voracious hunger, whether she wanted to or not.
“Yeah, I know,” Gabe said. “But Carly’s not exactly one of us, Jessie.”
“Well, she’s not exactly all human either,” Jessie replied. “Not anymore.”
Gabe took a deep breath and nodded his head. She had a point there. Carly’s strange DNA makeup was still a mystery to everyone, but she was slowly becoming more like them with each passing day. All of her new abilities steadily transforming her into something unexpected and wonderful. He was amazed by her!
Their first stop was women’s apparel, and over Jessica’s many protests for something more bright and vibrant, Gabe chose a very soft, cream-colored cashmere sweater, imagining how the hue and texture of it would compliment Carly’s warm brown skin tone and hazel eyes. He couldn’t help imagining the sexy sight her cleavage would make in the deep v-neck either.
After he’d made his purchase, they pushed through the throng of people to Victoria’s Secret, and Gabe hesitated at the doorway.
“Are you going inside or not?” Jessie asked, looking at him with a raised eyebrow.
“I don’t know,” he replied, looking as though he’d just eaten something distasteful. “I mean, how twisted is it that I’m going into one of these stores with my baby sister?”
Jessie rolled her eyes at him. “Well, it’s not like you’re buying anything for me. That would be twisted. And sick!”
“Yeah, but … I’m not sure I want you knowing what my mate is wearing for me behind closed doors,” he said. “You don’t need to know what Carly and I are doing in private!”
“Probably the same kinky things Joe and I are doing in private,” she said, giving him a mischievous grin.
“Whoa, stop right there,” he said, holding up a hand. “I don’t want to hear about what my best friend is doing to my kid sister at night, okay?”
“At night. And in the mornings. Outside in the broad daylight. Underneath the stars,” she teased.
“Jessie! Stop it,” he warned, glaring at her.
She giggled at him. “You are so easy to mess with! I appreciate the big brother thing though. It’s actually very sweet,” she said, patting him on the arm.
Gabe growled at her, but he secretly loved her playfulness. It was nice to see her and Joe so happy now, after all their time spent apart. And he smiled as she stepped behind him and gently pushed him toward the entrance of the lingerie store.
Once inside his eyes darted around at the scantily clad mannequins and he couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable. Especially once his sister began holding things up for him to consider.
“What do you think? Pink or purple?” she asked, holding up a couple of completely see through nighties.
“Neither,” he grumbled, looking away.
“Okay, what color would you prefer?” she asked, putting the things away.
“I would prefer you not hold up any more suggestions,” he replied.
Jessica let out a loud, aggravated sigh. “Do you want my help, or not?”
“Yes, I want your help! Just not … in here,” he said as his mouth contorted into a smirk.
“Oh, my God, you are acting like such a guy right now,” she huffed. “Tell you what … I’m going to go over there and look for something to wear for my mate on Christmas eve. You’re on your own!”
“Fine,” he said as he watched her walk off to a corner of the store. Then he sighed as he looked helplessly around the shop. Why was this so embarrassing? Lots of men bought this type of stuff for the women in their lives all the time. It was no big deal.
He wandered around the shop for several minutes feeling totally out of place, like a werewolf in a den of cat shifters or something. He’d almost given up when he turned to head for the door and stopped. Right there in front of him was the gift he hadn’t known he was looking for – a Santa-themed nightie that Carly would look delicious in. It was red and sheer and trimmed with white fur around the hem, and picturing her in it made his cock twitch.
“I’m ready to check out. What about you?” Jessica said, looking down at the lovely pale blue nightie she’d picked out for herself.
“Um, what size do you think Carly would wear?” Gabe asked.
Jessica stared at him in blatant disbelief. “You don’t know her size?”
“Well, not in numbers,” he said. “The sweater I bought was a medium, but what would that translate to in this kind of stuff? I imagine you need to be a little more specific in here.”
“You are hopeless,” Jess said.
“You’re annoying,” he countered. “But I love you anyway. Now help me!”
“Jeez,” Jessica muttered, as she began to sift through the rack of Santa nighties.
Half an hour later, once they’d picked out the appropriate size and stood on the longest line imaginable to pay for their purchases, they walked out of the lingerie store feeling a sense of accomplishment. And it wasn’t long before they ended up at a jewelry counter.
“Are you really buying her a ring right now?” Jessica asked, sounding somewhat surprised.
“No,” Gabe replied after a slight hesitation. “Just thought I’d maybe look into a small sparkly token of my affection.”
“Uh huh,” Jessie muttered, giving him a coy grin.
“Besides, you said that it wasn’t too soon, seeing as we’re not following human relationship ideals here,” he said, reminding her of her earlier words.
“Yeah, I know what I said, and I meant it,” she confirmed.
Then she stood by as Gabe spent nearly another hour looking over all the baubles, and at one point she actually wanted to scream at him, “Earrings or a necklace … just make a decision already!” Oh, he was so going to pay for this day.
Gabe spent a considerable amount of time before he finally decided on a very pretty silver bracelet with a wolf’s head charm hanging from it. The eyes of the wolf were tiny blue topaz chips, and Gabe thought it was perfect because he knew the blue topaz was Carly’s birthstone.
“You think she’ll like it?” he asked, sounding anxious.
“It’s very pretty. And it’s a present from you. I’m sure she’ll love it,” Jessie answered, smiling at him.
Their mission now complete, they finally made their way out of the crowded mall and headed for home. And Jessie was starving by the time they walked into their grandfather’s home.
“Well, that was perfect timing. Nancy was just about to serve lunch,” Henry said. “How were the stores our there?”
“Crowded,” Gabe replied as he swept Carly into his arms and held her close for a long moment. Then he planted a kiss on her lips before he left the room and went into the kitchen.
“Crowded is an understatement,” Jessica added. “It was a mad house out there!”
As they all prepared to follow after Gabe, Carly placed a hand on Jessica’s arm, taking her aside.
“Hey, Jess. I was wondering if I could ask you a favor,” she said, glancing around with a conspiratorial air.
“Sure thing, Carly. What’s up?”
“Well, I’m sort of freaking out over what to get Gabe for Christmas. I mean, what do you buy the werewolf who has everything?” she joked. “Plus, it has to be something really special, you know? Since it’s our first Christmas together and everything. I want it to be memorable.”
“Well, how can I help?” Jessica asked, already dreading the answer.
“I was hoping you would go shopping with me after lunch,” Carly gushed.
Jessica plastered a smile on her face and let out a tired sigh. She hated Black Friday.
Lashell Collins is an American author of romantic suspense, contemporary and paranormal romance. She spent the last twenty years of her life working in veterinary clinics and garden centers in her home state of Ohio, and is now living her dream of writing full-time. When she’s not busy tapping away on her laptop and living vicariously through her characters, she can usually be found watching TV, rocking out to Slash, stuffing her face full of Chinese food, or riding on the back of her husband’s Harley-Davidson. Give her a shout, she loves to hear from readers!
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