A modern-day knight in shining armor is a man with a secret. He’s an immortal direwolf shifter. A man who can trace at will into a lethally dangerous canine who holds the ability to step into the stillness and achieve any goal.
When he finds himself without a career after retiring disabled from his last mission in the military, he has to rethink the direction of his life. He needs to reinvent himself before anyone realizes that he stopped aging at the age of thirty-five. He’s learned just enough to make his existence a bit dangerous. The sexy high school teacher neighbor he’s been near stalking has her own secret. She feels like everything and claiming her is all he can focus on.
He’s determined to win her as his own until a shadowy evil attacks her and reveals a situation that forces him to be the man of action that he’s always been. To keep the woman he loves safe, he’ll become the alpha pack leader he was born to be. A Pack Forms is the first volume in the steamy paranormal romance saga of Draoithe.
Tropes: Band of Brothers/Sisters, Band of Misfits, Born Hero, Chosen One, Conspiracy, Dark Enemy, Fated Mates, Hunted, Immortality, Interspecies Romance, Library of Secrets, Parallel Worlds, Sex Magic
Word Count: 80435
Setting: Tyler, TX, Draoithe
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Same Universe / Various Characters
A cold rain drizzled out of the January night sky, illuminated by the streetlights of a quiet country neighborhood. The sprinkling rain made strange halos around the streetlights.
The Moonlight cruised silently along. There was no radio playing. Eli was tired. It was late, almost midnight.
Everything was eerily silent as she cruised past her neighbors' homes. She was almost home. The drive had been too long, but worse she had been lost in thought for most of it, reliving the past.READ MORE
Eli missed her farm. Well, it was not a farm, more of a suburban homestead, only an acre with a creek outback. She was still teaching high-school social studies full time, but in the summer, Eli was an avid gardener. The chickens got fed every day and laid the eggs. The small orchard gave a variety of fruits, nuts, and berries. She spent very little at the grocery store on produce. She was an urban homesteader, sort of.
The kids were both at university. Her son was working on his Master’s. Her daughter was in the last year of her Bachelor’s. She had made the trip alone, leaving on Thursday evening after school. The substitute handled her classes on Friday while she finished the drive to El Paso and made her title loan company appointment that afternoon.
The tiger inside just wanted to get down from the truck and stretch.
But the trip she was coming home from was not the kind of travel that she had always dreamed of. Eli had gone back to El Paso to sell her house there. It would not bring much cash, but it would help her tie up the loose ends of her previous life. Maybe, she could finally move on. She could put the past firmly behind her.
She was forty-eight. It was time to live by her own rules. The time for answering to someone else was over. She had raised her children, and she had her life back. Things were finally good. It had been emotionally hard to move forward alone after Javier had decided to move back to El Paso, but she was happier; freedom was wonderful.
Eli had known it was likely to happen, but that did not mean it had not hurt when she saw him with another woman in the house that they had raised their children. Maybe she had secretly hoped he would stay when she moved to Tyler, that she would be able to win the competition for his affection.
If she was honest with herself, she was never the jealous type. She was extremely territorial and had a possessive streak a mile wide, but Eli knew who she was, and what she wanted. A man who could not make her his ‘one and only’ was certainly not it.
Competing with another woman for a man’s affection was pointless. If a man wanted a woman, she would receive all of his attention. He would not have time for anyone else. The consolation was that Javier did not love the other woman either. She was just a distraction for him.
Her ex had never acknowledged it. She knew. The kids knew. His family had known. Javier and Eli had two children together, but the last seven years of their relationship had been sex and business.
Eli took her pleasure from him and used him to help the kids. Eli had stayed so her children could finish high school. There would never be a step-father. She had never brought another man into her children’s home. She had made a promise, and she had kept it. It was a point of pride for her.
She had bought the house in Tyler at the end of her son’s junior year in high school. When her daughter had graduated from high school, she had resigned from her teaching position and withdrew some of her retirement money. She moved to Tyler and applied for a teaching position there.
Eli had been teaching in Tyler for almost two years. God had blessed her, and she was teaching World History to sophomores, working in a career she was passionate about, and living in a veritable paradise of forest, farmland, lakes, and streams.
She should not have passed by her old home while she was in El Paso, but it was a long trip. And after she had signed all the papers selling the house, she had little to do but go back to the hotel which held no appeal to her.
Eli had toyed with the idea of meeting up with some old friends, but her mood was black. She felt as if she would not be good company. El Paso had brought out the cynic in her, hardcore. So, she took one last look at the past instead.
Eli had gone for a late dinner alone avoiding the empty hotel. She had driven by her house one last time, pausing for a while as she said her silent goodbyes. Then she had turned left two blocks up and driven by her old home. The one that should have been hers forever.
It was late, going on ten o’clock when she stopped on the street across from the chain-link gate. She hated how he had painted the outside. Eli had liked the dark gray trim she had chosen all those years ago. The new red just did nothing for the brick.
She sighed and started the Moonlight after a few minutes, but as she took a long look for the last time, they came out. He was laughing at something the woman had said. The sound cut off as Eli rolled the window up and drove off down the street. Eli had known Javier would not be alone, but she could have done without that mental picture.
She drove back to the hotel, checked in, and tried to get a good night’s sleep. A person could always hope. Eli met an old friend for brunch the next morning after checking out of the hotel. They chatted for a bit, and Eli thanked them for keeping an eye on the house. After about a half-hour of catching up, Eli was making her apologies to her friend about needing to hit the road. Eli was soon leaving El Paso and her old life behind.
It was done. She had sold her house and left the pieces of her heart that had once belonged to Javier in the street in front of her old home. Eli bought a Mountain Dew, filled up the gas tank on the Moonlight, and rolled out of town headed east on I-10. She was rolling out of El Paso for the last time around eleven in the morning.
She was finally free.
Her son and daughter would talk crap about how she should have rested longer before starting the drive back, but Eli just felt better leaving the desert and all the painful memories behind. Javier had truly been the best man she had ever met, but their differences had come between them.
Whatever they might have had once, it was long since gone now. No crying over spilled milk. She had no tears left; clean it up and move on.
Eli had been Tyler bound for the last twelve hours. Desert had given way to grassland sometime after she rolled past Odessa on I-20. Eli had kept on I-20 till the piney woods outside of Dallas. She was bound for home and a new life.
Eli loved the Moonlight and thanked God for giving the truck to her. It was just as comfortable to sleep in as it was to drive. It was paid off and still drove like a dream. The cream-colored 2008 Ford F-150 was the Lariat edition. Heated leather seats and a moonroof, the 5.4-liter v8 engine had less than 180,000 miles.
She guided the Moonlight into her driveway, slowly rolling to a stop in front of the house as the gravel crunched under the truck’s weight. She would get the oil changed soon. She had made it home, finally.
The house was dark, silent. There was no one home except her. Eli breathed in the damp, country, winter air as she got down from the truck. She stretched and yawned for several long minutes, hit the lock button out of habit, and shut the driver’s side door.
She prowled up to the house as she pulled her wrap tighter against the cold January drizzle. She noted everything was as she had left it. She would get the luggage down tomorrow.
She stopped on the porch taking in the peace and serenity that she had always loved. She could smell smoke in the air from a neighbor’s chimney.
Eli smiled to herself as she put the key into the lock and pushed open the heavy wooden front door into the foyer. She slipped off her shoes and left her wrap on the hall tree as she closed and locked the front door behind her.
She breathed deeply again. She was at home.
Eli headed down the hall to her room, enjoying the cool tile floors through her socks. She did not turn on any lights. She lit the fireplace in the bedroom, added a log, and closed the fire screen. She padded barefoot into the adjoining bathroom turning on the water to fill the tub.
A nice soak sounded good. She lit the candles and added the bubbles to the jetted tub. She stripped off her clothes and left them on the rug. Then she stepped into the tub and sank into the bubbles, sighing as the stress and tension from the drive began to fade away.
Eli stared out the window to the forest behind her house. The leaves were gone on the deciduous trees but the pines were still silhouetted nicely in the dark.
Her property backed up to a green belt that was not going to be developed. Tomorrow, she would go for a long run. It had been too long.
It was half-past one on Sunday morning when she released the cooling water, stepped out of the tub, and began to towel off. A good night’s sleep was in order.
No classes on Monday for Martin Luther King Day meant that Eli could sleep in and enjoy a bit of a break. She opened the chest drawers near the bed, pulled out an old faded cotton nightgown, pulled it on over her head, and was asleep before her head hit the pillow.
Luke was sitting on the porch swing, finishing his brandy, when her truck passed by. The mist from his exhaled breath floated on the frosty air. Eli had not been home since Thursday morning.
It was not his business, but she intrigued him. He had been marking her comings and goings for a while. Who could blame him for noticing a beautiful woman, especially when she passed his house every day?
He had asked around and learned that she had purchased the house several years ago, and used it as a summer home for about two years before becoming a full-time resident.
Luke also knew that she had two college-age children and that he had not seen a man beside her son and her brother enter her home. He wondered about her story. What had kept her out for two nights?
More importantly, he wondered if he could be the third man inside her house. There was something about her that made him sit up and take notice.
He had moved to the neighborhood last year after retiring from the military. Luke was trying to live a quiet life. He had gotten used to the cane. The physical therapy was over. He had even thought about looking for some part-time employment lately to relieve the boredom.
His therapist had signed off on him two weeks ago. He had dealt with PTSD well. A few nightmares here and there. Overall, he was on the mend. His career had been long and boring for the most part.
He had never spoken of the calm stillness that he endured to kill. It was his secret, the stillness. No more missions to go on meant no more killing. No one needed to know.
Luke did not need the money from a job, just a way to keep busy. His parents were gone. They had left him a nice inheritance. He was only recently even discussing the trust fund with his lawyer, the one he had never withdrawn money from.
His sister and her kids were in Chicago. They had wanted him to stay with them or near them. He did not want to be cooped up in the city.
He had always liked the East Texas area. Tyler was big enough at 100,000 people to be able to meet his needs. He could live just outside of town and enjoy the peace and quiet.
At fifteen after midnight on Saturday night (or was it early Sunday), he grabbed his cane, set his brandy glass on the porch railing, and stepped off onto the lawn for a walk. He headed down the road in the cool damp air making his way toward the high school teacher’s house.
It was too late to speak with her, but he could ensure that she was safe. Luke still had not introduced himself to her. Yet Eli stayed on his mind.
Luke tried to tell himself that he could not sleep, and his curiosity as to why Eli had been gone so long had him moving rather quickly past the empty neighboring house and down the road towards Eli's house. He told himself that he just wanted to be sure she was okay.
He would pass by, turn around, and head home at the end of the block. Maybe expending energy and the brandy would help him sleep. He didn’t believe the lies he told himself.
As he drew closer, Luke saw her step down from the truck. Her long leisurely stretch had his attention glued to her.
He raked his eyes over her curves as he watched her ease the ache in her muscles. She had a shape to her that set his heart pumping faster.
He was quick to note that she seemed unharmed, just tired, and perhaps stiff from a long ride. Luke told himself to keep walking.
When Eli locked the truck door and began to prowl towards the porch, he was transfixed. The way she moved was beautiful in the shadows. It was a graceful and silent motion towards the house. Her muscles showed off nicely in the moonlight as she was wearing stretchy yoga pants.
Luke was standing in the shadows. A nearby street lamp cast an easy light on the path to her front door. He watched her as she moved, light and sure-footed like a cat. He was alert as he realized she was analyzing the grounds ensuring that everything was still as she left it.
As she moved into the house and shut the door, Luke let out the breath he had not realized he was holding. He could smell the oily heat from the cooling truck engine and the wood smoke from a neighboring chimney. The smell of shade in the summer still hung in the air where she had been.
Luke's heart was racing, as he shook his head at himself. He started walking again as he tried unsuccessfully to clear his mind of the image of Eli walking away from him.
Was he fifteen years old again? He was so hard in his jeans that it was uncomfortable to walk. Damn, she was sexy. The way her hips moved as she stepped up on the porch was so graceful.
He was puzzled. Why was she so alert? Was she just playing it safe because she lived alone, or did she have a reason to fear? That last thought had him feeling a bit edgy. He had an unsettling need to make sure she was safe.
Before he thought twice, Luke walked down the edge of her property along the fence line beneath the leafless trees of her small mixed orchard. He stayed in the shadows and did a thorough check of the front and side yards.
Was she afraid of something? He growled at the thought that someone might harm her. He paused; when had she become his responsibility?
When he rounded the back of the house, he checked the hen house and the glass greenhouse that had seedlings in it for the spring planting. It was all clear.
Luke continued even though his ankle was complaining a bit and checked along the creek and around the other side of her house, all clear. The pool area and the patio area contained only some empty planters and a few stray leaves.
The woods behind the property were all quiet. There was no scent of any other human.
Luke was about to head back around the house and start back down the road towards his house when he looked up as a dim light came on in a room on the back of the house. He could not tear his eyes away from the scene in the window.
Eli was disrobing in her bathroom before the tub. He almost reached down to rub his erection on seeing her. He needed to relieve the pressure in his pants. He needed to get a grip before he lost control of himself.
The window faced out toward the creek. She had not closed the blinds. The property backed onto a green belt. She probably did not think she ever needed to close them. Who would see?
Luke could not move, even though he knew things were not going to go well if he were caught trespassing. The whole town would think he was some perverted voyeur.
Eli was gorgeous. She worked-out regularly. She had to be at least forty. Luke had seen her college-aged children coming and going several times.
As she sank into the tub, he managed to tear his eyes away. Luke eased away from her property and headed home.
Even though it was damp and cold, Luke’s blood was boiling in his veins. He was fifty-three years old, wandering through his house at half-past one in the morning with a serious hard-on for his neighbor and unable to quit thinking about her.
He moved into his bathroom, stripped off his clothes, and got into a cool shower until he had control of his body again. Luke seriously needed to check for long-term side effects on the pain medication he had recently stopped taking. What was he doing, peeping into the window of his neighbor like a horny teenage boy?
Luke dried his shoulder-length chocolate hair with a towel, then wrapped it around his waist as he stood in front of the sink vanity after exiting the shower.
He grinned as he realized he still had a full head of hair with no gray. He could easily pass for thirty. Water dripped on the floor as he picked up his toothbrush and rinsed with mouthwash getting ready for bed.
He hung the towel on the bar and shut off the bathroom light. He padded into his bedroom naked and climbed into bed. He set his alarm to get up to go to the gym to work out and drifted off to sleep.
Luke suffered no nightmares. The sheets were a tangled mess from erotic dreams of Eli when he woke the next morning. The nightmares however seemed banished.
Luke was hooked on Eli. He was dreaming about her at night and found himself randomly fantasizing about her during the day. She was under his skin for sure.
On his way to the gym the next morning, he wondered again what her story was. He was going to find a way to get to know the lady.
Step Into the dream, feel the magic. Steamy hot, wickedly delicious paranormal fantasy stories set in a dream to live for. It all began in 2016. It became a retreat and a sanctuary for various immortals as Luke and Eli discovered love, magic, and danger. They find friends helping other immortals overcome problems and also find love in exchange for different magic and skills to aid in protecting the sanctuary that is Draoithe. Those who come to Draoithe add to the balance. Grab a good drink, curl up in a good seat, choose a book from the Saga, and escape into the dream at Draoithe while you meet the men and women who call it home. A place where myths, legends, and fairytales walk unmolested among the strange and wonderful, where the magic from the past lives again! Welcome to the dream...