Thursday, 30 April 2015

The Cat Burglars are back: A Mate for the Alpha and His Brothers

OUT TODAY! A Mate for the Alpha and His Brothers (MFMM)
By Cara Adams The Cat Burglars book 4

Elsie "LC" Parker needs to return a stolen jeweled dagger given to her brother JJ before leaving town forever. The Alpha of the panther pack to whom she takes it has no intention of letting her go. He wants her to be his mate.
Amory craves her with every breath he takes, but he doesn’t want to touch her because he feels guilty about claiming a mate when so many of his men don’t have a woman of their own.
His brothers, Favian and Brayden, really like Elsie as well, but don’t want to claim her and share her when Amory so clearly wants her. They don’t understand why he doesn’t ask her on a date or at least try to kiss her. Amory might be the Alpha of the pack, but when it comes to romance, he obviously needs his brothers’ help to get moving, before Elsie gives up on them all and really does leave.

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“My brother, who is much younger than me…um…came across the dagger. His friends wanted to give it to a person they know who pays for such items, but I wanted it to be returned to the person who owns it, so I brought it to you.”
“How do you know about me?”
The scary, fierce look was back on his face. Elsie refused to be cowed. “I play chess. I used to belong to a chess club.”
The Alpha spoke very slowly, as if he was dredging the information up from the bottom of his memory. “Someone at your club lost their travel chess set.”
“That’s right. Your company returned it to him.”
“That was several months ago.”
“Yes, about three months ago. I had to leave the club just after that.”
“I wasn’t able to pay my membership fees. They gave me an extra six months free because—Well, they did, but I still couldn’t pay.” Because her mother had died, and she hadn’t had a paying job for twelve months as her mother had needed her. But the neighborhood they lived in now didn’t look good on a resume. Especially one that had only intermittent work for the past five years because she’d always put her care for her mother higher than her need to keep her job.
And I don’t regret that at all. I will cherish the memories of Mom and me spending time together on her better days.
“Getting back to this dagger. Your brother stole it.”
“No, he didn’t.” Her response was instant and heartfelt, although possibly not one hundred percent accurate.
“He might have been the look-out person or something, but not the actual thief. He doesn’t want to join the gang and end up in jail. It’s just that in our neighborhood, well…” Elsie ran out of words.
How would these people have any concept at all of the grinding poverty in the neighborhood where they lived now? Before her mom had gotten sick, they hadn’t been rich, but they had been surrounded by good, hard-working people and kids who went to school. But her mom’s illness had drained every cent of the family’s savings, and then gradually they’d sold everything they could, even the car. Finally they’d moved into the cheapest apartment they could find. Her brother, so much younger than her, had suffered the most.
Even on the days when he went to school, she didn’t think he learned much. Some of the teachers didn’t care what the students did or even if they went to class. Others cared, but spent most of their time trying to maintain discipline. Elsie didn’t think very many of the teachers managed to instill much learning in the students. After a while, her brother had simply avoided school.
She really couldn’t blame him.
The Alpha gave a hand signal to the other man, who left the room, closing the door behind him. The Alpha poured them both a second cup of coffee, leaned back in his chair, and said, “Why don’t you begin at the beginning and tell me why a young woman would arrive at a shape-shifter enclave on foot, with spare clothing hidden inside a coat.”
Elsie sighed. “It’s a very long story. Five years long.”
For the first time, the man smiled. “Do you think you could cut it down and tell me in five hours?”
Elsie’s breath caught in her throat. When he smiled, he was amazing. His eyes sparkled, the creases on his forehead smoothed out, and he looked like what he was, an exceptionally handsome man.
“I’ll aim for five minutes. My mother had cancer. It was much too late to operate when it was discovered. It was already in her spine. She quit her job and had chemotherapy and took pills, but like I said, it was much too late. She got a lot sicker quite quickly, so I left my job and took on part-time work so I could be with her and help her.”
“You said your brother is much younger. Was he working?”
“He was twelve. He’s seventeen now and still in school. When he goes. We had to move into a cheaper apartment, and the schools in the district aren’t…aren’t…well, I’m sure you can guess.”
He nodded, and she took a mouthful of coffee, bracing herself to continue.
“He said he has to be seen with one of the gangs to be safe. I expect it’s the truth. Like I said, it’s not a nice neighborhood. He’s resisted joining, but he has to cooperate with them. The gang has started working with a man called The Fixer. He tells them what to steal and which houses to go to and steal it. He’s even given one of the older boys a car so they can travel anywhere around town.”
“How did you learn about the dagger?”
“The person who’d ordered it changed their mind, and The Fixer hasn’t paid for it yet. The gang left it with JJ, and he’s supposed to hand it over when the time comes. I begged him not to. He’ll end up in jail for sure. The Fixer doesn’t care. He laughs at the boys when they go into danger. I’ve told JJ to leave town, to go away, and he wants to, yet he won’t.”
“So you’re going to run away instead? Will JJ follow you?”
“I don’t know. I’m planning to go to another state and get a job and then send for him. I have to do it fast though. The rent on the apartment is only paid for another month. That was all the money I could get. No one wants to hire a woman with no reference.”
Elsie realized she sounded bitter. She wasn’t. Her mother couldn’t help getting sick, and JJ couldn’t help only being a boy still. She was the adult. It was up to her to find a job and make a new start for herself and JJ. And she’d do it, too.
“Where are you going?”
“I don’t know.”
“There’s a diner where the trucks stop about five miles from here. I’m going to walk there and find a truck driver who wants a passenger. I’ll go wherever he’s going.”
The Alpha jumped to his feet, gray eyes blazing. “No you will not.”

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