When Claire Webster was five years old Tyler Buckley, the wolf next door, told her he was her mate and then ordered her not to play with one of her friends. Butting heads throughout their childhood, her choice to leave Willow Bend tore them apart. Eight years later, she sends a request to the new Alpha—she wants to come home, and when he grants it, she’s both relieved and terrified. The first person she runs into is the last one who ever wants to see her again.
This book is noted as number 5 on Amazon, I am following the numbers as they appear on Heather Long’s website.
Tyler had known Claire was his mate from a young age. Feeling stifled she had an opportunity to leave Toman’s pack and she took it. Her parents were devastated, Tyler even more so.
Now she’s requested to return to Willow Bend, Mason is a good Alpha but his concern is for the whole pack. Tyler will be a major factor in whether or not she gets to stay even though his mother has offered to sponsor her.
This is a favorite scene after a showdown with his family, specifically his brother Linc.
The wolf had recognized his mate a long time ago, long before Tyler even understood what it meant. Then their mate left them. Mates didn’t do that.If they learned nothing else from her homecoming, they would know why.
She didn’t look up from her hands, so he sat on his haunches and waited. Sooner or later, she would have to acknowledge him. The minutes ticked by and she straightened, chin lifting. He met her red-rimmed gaze and refused to flinch.
“You shouldn’t have fought your brother,” she told him. Her voice was huskier than he remembered. Sexier.
What he did or didn’t do with his brother was none of her damn business. So, he stared and waited. When she was younger, she’d had hollows in her cheeks, such fragile, exquisite bone structure. He’d hated when she shifted, the brutal crack of bone and jerk of muscle on her delicate body worried him.
Her wolf, though, she’d been exceptional and well worth the torture of seeing Claire change.
“I’m sorry me coming home has created problems for you.”
He flicked his ears away. She still hadn’t mentioned what he wanted to hear. Her time in Arizona had done more than tan her skin to a lovely shade of brown. Supple muscle coated her arms and legs. Her shirt rode up over her belly and betrayed the taut pack of her abdominals. A hint of a stripe across the lower part of her ribcage caught his attention, but she tugged the fabric down.
Ears forward, he tested her scent. The sweetness he definitely remembered, but a bite rode beneath it. A bite he didn’t recognize. His lips peeled off his teeth.
Had she mated? Was it possible for her to have done so when she’d left him behind?
Wiping her face, Claire rose. “If you want to keep glaring at me, you can come inside. I’m—tired and I need to figure out what I’m going to do next.” Not waiting for his response, she strode into the house. The graceful sway of a predator comfortable in her own skin teased him and Tyler straightened. His Claire hadn’t been that athletic. She didn’t play sports and only hunted at specific times when she couldn’t get out of it—usually when he’d made her come along because he’d wanted her company.
A dozen questions flooded his mind, the chief among them being what happened to her in Sutter Butte? What had she become there?
Rising to his feet, he padded up the steps and followed her into the house. Tyler might have his reservations, but his wolf didn’t. He found her in the kitchen unpacking the basket from his mother. Studying the room, he chose the padded window seat. It was perfect for sunning oneself on cool mornings, something Mrs. Webster used to do. When they were little, Claire napped in the same window. He used to sneak out of his own naptime to check on her.
“You can sit there, if you like.” She motioned to the window. Tucking the front strands of her bobbed hair behind her ears, she studied the food his mother packed. “Are you hungry?”
After settling onto the window seat, he faced her. Yes, he was starving. For knowledge. Claire took her time setting up her meal, then she filled a glass with water. Once seated at the table, she glanced at him. “Two can play that game, Tyler. If you want answers, you’re going to have to ask me the damn questions.”
Then she ignored him and ate her food.
Tyler didn’t blink, nor did he stop staring at her. She’d never spoken to him like that before. So why the hell did he feel like he’d missed this about her most of all?
More questions and even less in the way of answers. When she’d finished her food, she cleaned the kitchen and began to work in her house. Tyler stayed with her, maintaining his vigil. His wolf was as curious as him about their mate.
They were patient. They would wait her out.
Hours passed. When she finally climbed the stairs to her room, he followed. At the doorway, she paused and glanced at him. She raised her eyebrows, and he met her gaze without a single sound.
“Have it your way,” she said and closed the door, shutting him out.
Stumped and more than a little fascinated, he settled into a spot at her door and kept his ears focused on the bedroom. She was right, he didn’t belong in her room, but she was wrong if she thought she would shake him this time. This time, he’d get the damn deleted scenes.
Long, Heather. Wolf Next Door (Wolves of Willow Bend Book 5) (pp. 42-44). Heather Long. Kindle Edition.
As Tyler slowly learns her reasons for leaving, he also knows he still loves her. He is also going to have to come to terms with his part in why she left.
Claire will also have to find her place within the pack, and also figure out her relationship with Tyler. Much has changed under Mason all for the good but he will do what is best for the whole pack, not an individual.
Emotional with plenty of family drama and the ever intuitive Mason who seems to know the outcome before it’s a reality.
5 Contented Purrs for Heather!
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USA Today bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas in the summertime.
From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories–her characters drive the books.
When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.