The first novella in the ebook only Lycaon series.
Release Date: September 20, 2011
Kaitlyn leads a regular life in a normal town, until one day the force of an unknown connection pulls her into an alternate reality. On the flip side of the veil Kaitlyn finds herself in the hands of two powerful dire wolf shifters, Rafian and Lucas, who tell her she is their mate.
Lucas has lost everything to the Magica Hunters who want the Lycaon shifters driven from their world. He passionately craves Kaitlyn and must employ every ounce of his formidable control once she’s near enough to touch. Her presence soothes the pain of his past.
Rafian has experienced loss too, though his comes with a dark guilt that haunts him. His brand of loving involves rope and handcuffs, acts he knows Kaitlyn may not be ready for, but he has waited years for her and it’s difficult to master his desires.
Together, he and Lucas tempt Kaitlyn’s body with every erotic move they have to make, while they stealthily seduce her heart. They make her see them for who they truly are—her perfect matches in every way.
Lucas and Rafian awaken emotion and passion in Kaitlyn that she’s never known, but the weight pulling at her from the other side of the veil is formidable. Will she be able to stay with the men she loves?
“When it came to Kaitlyn’s choice near the end, I got quite choked up. I was totally invested in Kaitlyn’s character and Anya’s writing allowed me to experience her emotion and anguish first hand… Keeping Kaitlyn combines well realised characters with an engaging story and some super erotic sex. Highly recommended!” —Grete, Book Thing review blog
“The fantasy of having two lovers who cater to your every need is a win/win situation…absolutely scorching…” —Hanging with Bells review blog
The man had a body made for battle, all strong bones, long lines, and powerful muscle. His axe swung over his head and came down with a thwack on a huge chunk of wood. Every movement showed the powerful flex of his back and upper arms. Birds twittered in nearby trees but she barely heard them. The scenery was far too distracting. He paused for a moment to push his dusky blond hair away from his face, perspiration glistening on his skin.
She wondered what it would be like to be with a man like that, to have the freedom to touch him as much she liked, to have those arms around her, his bare skin brushing against her body, that magnificent chest pressed against her breasts…
Kaitlyn had never dreamed watching someone chop wood could be so compelling. She could stay here all—
“Kaitlyn Isabella Gannet.”
Kaitlyn jerked her head up to stare into her sister’s eyes. Immediately the sounds of the coffee shop filled her consciousness like air into a vacuum. Voices murmuring. Cups clinking. Espresso machine whirring. She grimaced. “Ugh. Don’t do that. You sounded like Susan.”
And just like that, she was in a thronged downtown Chicago coffee shop, the scent of espresso replacing the fresh smell of forest. She was back and he was gone. How depressing.
Paige’s lips parted in a mischievous smile “I know. Gotcha. Where were you just then? I’ve been saying your name for the last two minutes. I feel like I’m having coffee by myself.”
So she’d pulled the old sound-like-Susan. Kaitlyn shuddered. Even the memory of their stepmother could give her the shivers. She shrugged and shot a smile at Paige. “Just distracted, I guess. Daydreaming.”
“Uh.” She ducked her head and took a sip of coffee. Nearly cold. “Work.”
It was a lie. It was a lame lie. Daydreaming about work? Guilt filled her for fibbing, but no way was she going to tell Paige the truth. Her sister would take her to the emergency room right away and, while Kaitlyn wasn’t sure she actually shouldn’t go to the emergency room, she didn’t want that. The doctors might admit her to the psych ward and make her two fantasy men go away.
She knew she was probably going insane. The problem was that insane was a nice place to be. Nice enough Kaitlyn was considering relocating forever.
“Daydreaming about work, huh? Wow.” Paige tipped her cup back, draining her café mocha. “Your daydreams are boring, sis. You need a vacation. Some sand, a piña colada. We could take off for the Bahamas for a few days or something. You could start writing that book you’re always talking about.”
Her sister had been nagging her to take a vacation for a while now. After her divorce, Kaitlyn had thrown herself into her career headfirst. “Are you kidding? I have three projects due within the next month.” She glanced at her watch and jerked with surprise. “Speaking of, I need to get back.” Scooping up her paper to-go cup, she made for the door.
“Caroline invited us for dinner on Sunday,” Paige called after her.
Kaitlyn waved a hand at her, clutching her tote under one arm as she opened the door. “I’m in…as long as Susan isn’t there.” She shot one last smile at her sister and burst into the bright sunlight, hurrying across the square to the office building where she worked.
Paige’s office was just a couple blocks over. When Kaitlyn could grab the time, they went for lunch or coffee at noon. Caroline, their other sister, worked clear on the other side of town, but they saw her often. They were close, the three sisters. Only a year apart, they were all very different in personality, but surviving their childhood had made them best of friends.
She wished she could tell her sisters about the strange forays from reality she’d been taking lately. She’d called it a daydream, but that was far too mild. It was a little more like being sucked, mind, body, and soul into a dream for a few minutes. Every time it happened, it was too short. They were a little like blackouts, except with sound and pictures. Lovely, wonderful moving pictures of two incredible men…
Shivering at the memory of the wood chopping daydream in the coffee house, she pushed open the door of her building.
Entering the elevator, she found herself shoulder to shoulder with Evan, who worked in accounting at the software development company she worked at.
“It’s a hot one out there today, huh?” said Evan, smiling.
Oh, great, small talk. She forced a smile. “Yes, yes, it is.”
Silence. The elevator music soothed them with soft jazz. Wow, it took a long time to get to the sixty fifth floor.
Evan cleared his throat and turned toward her a little. “I was wondering if you were busy tonight, Kaitlyn. There’s a—”
“I can’t.” She blurted, and then froze, realizing how rude she’d sounded. Evan was a nice guy, good looking too. He wasn’t married, or obnoxious, and it really was time she got back to dating. Yet… “I’m sorry. It’s not you. You’re an awesome guy. I’m just really into my work right now.”
Evan took a step back from her. He gave her a smile that didn’t reach his eyes. “No problem. It was just, you know, an idea. An…elevator pitch.” He laughed, but it sounded a little trembling. Nervous.
The car dinged, stopped, and let on another passenger. She and Evan moved to the back and Kaitlyn touched his arm. “Like I said, it’s not you, but I appreciate it.”
“No problem.” But he wouldn’t look at her.
Great. She felt like a total asshole now. Her sisters would kick her butt if they knew she’d just turned down a date with a suitable guy, too.
The elevator doors opened and Evan scooted out as fast as he could. Kaitlyn exited slowly, letting Evan get the distance from her that he so clearly needed, and found her office, closing the door behind her. All she wanted was to lose herself in work. Drown in it. If she couldn’t be locked in those amazing daydreams all day, she wanted to be completely distracted with something else. Something she knew. Something safe. Something she was good at.
She worked into the early evening. Finally, after the sun had gone down and the office outside her door was dark, quiet, and the cleaning crew was working, she sat back in her chair and stretched. Time to go home to her empty, lonely apartment.
Maybe it was time to get a cat. She sighed.
Closing her eyes, she tried to drift into that lovely dreamscape, but she couldn’t do it. She could never invoke the daydreams on her own; they were always involuntary. A result, Kaitlyn was sure, of a life filled with stress. Not only was she swamped at work, but that nasty divorce had an emotional echo. She’d had to file a restraining order against a man she’d thought had loved her. So it was likely these little snatchaways she was having were probably her mind’s way of dealing with all the tumult in her life. Harmless…though their uncontrolled nature was strange. Worrisome, even.
Her head told her she needed to seek help, but her heart jealously guarded every second she spent with the two men in her daydreams. Both of them were tall, ripped—one dark haired and one light. One of them was tattooed. There was something animalistic about the pair of them, something brutal…something wild. Yet she sensed they wanted nothing but to protect her.
They just wanted her, every inch of her. Forever.
She supposed that would be frightening if the men were real. But they weren’t real. They were a figment of her overstressed, overstretched, overworked imagination. So she was free to admire them whenever they sprang up.
Neither of them had talked to her in her daydreams, or touched her. They were always doing something, forging iron, riding a horse, chopping wood, whatever. That was okay, looking at them was enough. It was like she segued into an alternate reality just for a couple minutes at a time, observed their life there, except both the men knew she was watching them. They looked her with such determination on their faces, such hunger. They wanted her. They both had claimed her as….
Ours. The word breathed through her office, spoken in a low, rough male voice.
Kaitlyn shot to her feet, every muscle in her body tight. Occasional mental vacations were all right, but hallucinating voices in her office was going too far. She stood frozen for a moment, trying to convince herself that she hadn’t just heard a disembodied male voice claim her as his, but she couldn’t do it. She’d heard that voice clear as if someone had been standing right next to her.
Maybe she needed help after all.
“No.” She gathered her tote bags, stuffing in a few files she might want to look at before bed. “I don’t need help, I need Caroline. I need company. I need—” She groaned. “Now I’m talking to myself. That’s just great.”
She raced out of the office, trailing loose sheets of paper behind her and nearly colliding with one of the cleaning people. All she wanted was to get to Caroline’s house. Her sister lived alone and would still be up; she wouldn’t mind her little sister dropping in for an unexpected visit.
Kaitlyn shouldered her tote bag and mounted the stairs to the elevated L stop at Milwaukee and North, not far from her office, and walked onto the platform to wait for her train.
This was an affluent area, yet she was still very aware of her surroundings. But even though it was well after dark in downtown Chicago, she wasn’t afraid. That’s what self-defense classes were for, classes she’d been taking with abandon since her former husband had gone wonky doodle. And pepper spray. No way was she going to be held captive by the fact she was a woman.
Ours. The voice drifted on the air, filling up the space around her. Just one voice, but more than one claim. The two men of her daydreams, she assumed.
Her eyes widened and she went stock still. A man sat on the metal bench near her reading a book. He didn’t budge. Seemingly, the voice was in her head. That was so not a good thing.
Come to us.
“Come to you?” The words slipped out of her mouth before she could stop them, a gut reaction to the whispered request of one of the men who were only supposed to exist in her fevered, overworked imagination.
The man on the bench shifted uneasily and glanced at her.
A train sped by, blowing an empty drink container around the platform and buffeting her hair. Come to us, the voice breathed again. She turned to run away, off the platform, down the street, anywhere to escape the voices in her head, but she knew she couldn’t run from her own crazy. Maybe wonky doodle was catching.
Something tingled through her body. A pulling sensation tugged at her clothes.
The train whipping in front of her seemed to speed up and grow longer. She looked down the track and couldn’t see the end of it; it was just one long stretch of blurry silver. Paper and trash buffeted around her feet. The air from the passing train became stronger, thrumming around her head and yanking at her clothing. She stepped back and saw that the man with the paperback was gone. Had he run away…or just vanished?
The wind grew stronger, roaring in her ears. The train sped impossibly faster. She turned to flee and she staggered to the side. Her tote slipped from her shoulder and dropped to the pavement. This was not right. This was not normal.
Her vision became fuzzy. She dropped to her knees. Throwing back her head, she shrieked in fright, but the roar of the wind swallowed the sound, tossing it away like it was nothing.
Blackness. Silence. Floating.
A couple moments later, her throat raw from screaming, and she lay on something soft and cool. She cracked her eyelids, letting in a flood of bright light. Her pupils weren’t ready for that. She pushed up and scrabbled backward, shielding her eyes with her forearm.
“Take it easy,” said a low, male voice.
She whipped her arm down and blinked owlishly. The cool soft stuff was grass. The bright light was sunshine. The low, male voice came from…..
“Oh, my….god.” She must have had a psychotic break at some point, because one of the men from her daydreams was standing in front her, though this experience lacked the wispy, vague, removed quality that was always present.
This was real. Real grass. Real ground. Real sunshine.
She squinted up at him, drawing long, deep breaths into her lungs to stave off a panic attack. Had she leapt completely into insanity? She pushed to her feet. “What the hell is going on?”
It was the dark haired one. He looked just as he always had—tall, broad, dark-haired, black tattoos snaking down his sinewy arms and crawling up his throat. Chocolate brown eyes that were deep and dark, full of mysteries she wanted to explore. A face as if chiseled from rock, not quite handsome, one cheek marked with a long, white scar. Full, expressive lips—lips that made a woman want to suck, nibble at; lips that made a woman think the most impure thoughts. She wondered what a man could do with a mouth like that.
His body seemed chipped from rock, just like his face, yet she bet his flesh was warm. She wanted to find out, wanted to explore the planes of his chest with her fingertips, trace over the ridges of his abdomen. She could spend hours exploring a body like his.
He was, in short, her dream man. One of a matched set.