NY Times Bestselling Author
Bloody hell. How inconvenient.
Werewolf Byron Adwell prides himself on his hard-won self-control.
He’s hours away from beginning the most important job of his life. What seemed like a harmless drink with his new team suddenly feels like fate is meddling. His restraint is tested like never before the moment he spots her.
The gorgeous green-eyed, raven-haired witch has a magnetic energy that calls to him like a siren. She walked straight out of his dreams into the exclusive New Orleans club for paranormals.
What’s more, she makes him want to forget all his training, his plans, his duty.
This can’t be happening. Not here. Not now.
Not with the lives of the six resident Stigward Guardians in Byron’s hands. His time, focus and dedication must be on them, on his work.
He absolutely, positively does not have time for a mate.
For once I am starting a series at the beginning and this one is going to be good.
Cassia is a bartender at Club G, an exclusive club for paranormals in New Orleans. She’s a talented witch and making some drinks is a show worth watching as is her subtle yet effective handling of obnoxious patrons.
Byron is starting the most important job of his life in the morning, but tonight he is out with the people he would be working with and also getting some training. Gael is leaving the position Byron is beginning, butler for the Stigwards. The position is far more than the word implies. It’s a stepping stone to training and the next level of protectors.
From the moment he entered the bar, Byron was very aware of the beautiful bartender. He immediately sensed she’s his mate but this was not the time. He can’t afford to lose his focus, he’d been working his entire life for this opportunity and he wasn’t going to mess it up.
Cassia on the other hand while attracted to Byron isn’t opposed to a fling. She also can’t fall in love but for another reason entirely. She could however entice and possibly get him to walk her home. Something she succeeds at.
This is a favorite scene.
The crowd had thinned to a trickle, but he still sat with Gael, looking observant in a way that made her skin flush. The rest of the team had left a while ago. As much as he’d been keeping an eye on her, she’d been watching him. Her divided attention had cost her a frosty beer mug, but his strong jaw and wide shoulders were worth a broken glass or two.
She smiled as she wiped down the bar.
“Why don’t you head out? I’ve got this,” Xavier said, handing over her share of the tips. She tucked it into her front pocket with a quick thank you.
Cassia glanced at the lone couple swaying in the middle of the dance floor. Maddie, the curvy, strawberry-blonde from earlier, had snagged a hottie of her own.
And he only had eyes for her. They seemed completely in tune with each other as they moved ever so slightly to a slow song.
Cassia’s gaze skipped past the couple to Byron. A strong name for a seemingly powerful man. He looked like he should be a pro football player. American, not the real football. And his jaw… holy smokes, his jawline.
“See you tomorrow,” she said to Xavier, heading for the break room. After gathering her things and slipping into her leather jacket, she returned to the club floor.
Byron’s blue eyes flicked her way as if he’d been waiting for her.
A girl could get used to that.
Even though her apartment was only an eight-minute stroll away, and she wasn’t particularly scared of the dark, she felt like a little company.
“Any of you fine gentlemen want to walk a lady home?”
Byron shot a quick glance to Gael and then Alistar. What was that about?
Gael gave him an almost imperceptible nod, and she wasn’t sure she appreciated Byron needing permission to see her.
But when he said “Happy to, love,” with the dreamiest trace of an accent, all was forgiven and forgotten.
She was old enough to have heard it all, but seriously, there was something about the way the word love rolled off a British tongue.
Offering him a smile, she took a step back and then headed up the stairs to the mezzanine. Again, she felt Byron’s gaze as if it was a genuine caress. Up her calves, thighs, ass, higher still to her waist.
It’d been a long time since Cassia had experienced such a delicious hyper-awareness. And to be honest, feeling so connected, so curious was new.
Primož, their bouncer, gave her a nod and wished her a good night. His gaze locked on Byron, giving him a once over.
Out on the sidewalk, she took a deep breath of the humid air. The sky was cloudless and inky, but she couldn’t see any stars thanks to all the city lights. It was quiet, by New Orleans’ standards, and there weren’t many people out and about.
That was fine by her. The only person who mattered was at her side.
“Mind if we take a detour? The river’s really peaceful this time of night.”
A quick glance at his profile had her insides turning to mush again.
“Not at all.”
They fell into a companionable silence, and she surprised herself by not rushing to fill it with idle chatter. Somehow, he followed her lead without feeling like he was following. But beneath his calm exterior, she sensed a potent energy, and could tell that he was aware of everything going on around them. Every shadow. Every doorway.
“So, you’re the new butler at the Stigward House,” she said, as they strolled down St. Ann Street toward Jackson Square.
It wouldn’t be long before local artists returned, setting up their wares around the perimeter of the park. Colorful paintings would cover the iron fence. Tables boasting brilliant clothes would dot the stone path, and women would sit ready to read tarot cards.
Tourists flocked to the Square most days, steeping in the history and culture. And while that was great for the city and its bottom line, such people were easy pickings for unscrupulous vampires. That was partly why the Stigward had such a strong presence here. Only vamps with a death wish were crazy enough to hunt on Stigward turf.
“As of tomorrow,” he responded in that deep, luxurious voice. “Though Gael will stay on a while to mitigate the transition.”
That explained a lot, actually. How stoic he was, for starters. She hadn’t noticed him fidgeting, picking at invisible lint or bouncing a foot. He seemed completely at ease with his surroundings. Who knew calmness could be so sexy?
The vest helped.
She cut him a look.
And those shoulders. Good grief.
Had she mentioned his biceps? They filled out the button-down shirt fabulously.
But it was more than an innate sense of confidence and incredible physique that set him apart from so many of the immortals she’d met. Where they oozed cockiness, he radiated calm. Where other males were brash and liked to show off how strong they were, Byron was quiet, watchful. She bet he didn’t miss a single detail.
Because she was extra aware of the energy others gave off, being around someone with such a tight leash on himself was almost intoxicating.
And at the same time… a challenge.
He might be brand new to the Stigward team, but she already sensed a protectiveness in him.
“I have a feeling you’re going to be very good at it.”
He and Gael hadn’t let the team sit without a drink for any length of time. And they had not given any of the waitresses a chance to take their order, either. The butlers took care of their Stigwardians at home, and away.
Years ago, she’d learned that a Stigward butler preferred drinks go right from the bartender’s hand to his. There was less opportunity for any funny business, and a Stigwardian couldn’t be too careful.
They were much loved, but also much hated. There were those who’d try to bring them down by any means. One by one, if they had to.
Cassia had always been slightly fascinated with the Stigwardians. Though she knew the local crew by name, they kept to themselves. She felt safe when the elite warriors were around. But she wasn’t a groupie, by any stretch.
Except, she thought, giving Byron another sideways glance, he might be the exception.
“How long have you been in New Orleans?” she asked, as they crossed the railroad tracks that ran parallel to the park, and the Mighty Mississippi river.
“Since last Friday, actually. I’ve been familiarizing myself with the city and the shops. How about you?”
“I grew up here. But that was ages ago. And I was away for a while.”
“Seeing the world?”
“As much as I could.”
A large ship powered beneath the iconic Crescent City bridge. As it drew closer, its mammoth shape blotted out the other side of the Mississippi.
A sharp breeze whipped her hair around her face.
She couldn’t begin to guess how many hours she’d stood on the brick path or sat on one of the benches watching ships ferry cargo up and down the river. It was a true artery of America, and she often wondered what was in the big, metal containers.
“You enjoy this,” he said, staring down at her, a thoughtful expression softening his features.
The ornate lamps behind them cast his blond hair in a honeyed light. She half turned and smiled up at him. Gracious, he was tall.
“I do. I love watching all the boats go by, wondering where they’re going. Where they’re coming from.”
“There’s probably an app that will tell you all that.”
“I know. But that ruins the mystery.”
Somehow, he seemed closer even though she was sure he hadn’t moved. He glanced over the top of her head and once again, she got the feeling that he was ensuring her safety.
But then those pale-blue eyes met hers, and she felt like she was the center of his universe. So much attention, such keen focus and all dedicated to her.
Her stomach fluttered, and her hands twitched with the desire to smooth up his chest. This close, she could see how impeccably tailored his clothing was. From the fit of the vest to the polish of his leather shoes.
Did he do everything well? She’d be lying if she said she wasn’t tempted to find out.
His gaze narrowed on her lips. “You like mystery?”
Selena Blake. Stranded with a Cajun Werewolf: A Stormy Weather Story (Kindle Locations 2251-2319).
We learn about the Stigward protectors, what they do and how they work. Byron does manage to pursue Cassia but at first he does it as a warning of a danger around the club.
There’s suspense and intrigue entwined with the magical setting of New Orleans. The romance that simmers before it sizzles is really just icing on this tale.
I can’t wait to read the next book in this series.
5 Contented Purrs for Selena!
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An action movie buff with a penchant for all things supernatural and sexy, Selena Blake combines her love for adventure, travel and romance into steamy paranormal romance. Selena’s books have been called “a steamy escape” and have appeared on bestseller lists, been nominated for awards, and won contests. When she’s not writing you can find her by the pool soaking up some sun, day dreaming about new characters, and watching the cabana boy (aka her muse), Derek. Fan mail keeps her going when the diet soda wears off so write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org