Title: Healer’s Fate
Author: Beth Caudill
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Corliss Rumdone hides behind her status as Healer to avoid the normal wolf pack hierarchal challenges. A forced mating changes the course of her life. Instead of Raymond, the beta wolf selected for her, she mates with Liam—her best friend and heir to the Alpha pair.
Liam whisks them away to a shifter retreat so they can allow the mating bond to settle in private. But interference from those seeking power and two terminal children arouse past hurts and challenge their new relationship. Even their home is not the haven it should be as Liam must watch Corliss fight for the right to stay his mate. For one healer, death becomes a weapon to balance life.
"Enough of this," Corliss thought. The bastard was thirty minutes late and she grew tired of waiting on him. He could explain to the Alphas why the ceremony hadn't taken place. Time to move on, something she should have done a few years ago.
She'd stayed, hoping for a miracle that wasn't going to come. There were other packs. Maybe she'd find one where she would be appreciated and happy.
As she turned to take the first step back to the forest's edge, a howl reverberated across the open field. "Damn, too late," she mumbled under her breath. The series of wolf howls from the sentries signaled the arrival of the groom and his attendants. A ritualistic send-off of the male to his mate. She watched as the phalanx of males proceeded across the clearing.
A gasp escaped her as she glimpsed Liam in the honorary middle position. For a moment, she let herself imagine he would become her mate.
Quiet descended as those remaining pack members realized a change had been made. For once, she was thankful for Mollie's selfish attitude and that the Beta female had left after five minutes of waiting. With Liam's and Raymond's parents called away, no one could stop whatever happened next.
Liam's black, short-trimmed hair blended into the shadowed forest backdrop. He never let it grow long like the other males in the pack. He'd once told her it kept the females from petting him every time he walked through the village. Shadows hid his eyes but she knew they were green. A deep, piercing shade she loved to look into.
She smiled at the picture he presented wearing the forest green bowtie, no shirt, and an overly tight tuxedo coat. He appeared very masculine in the ill-fitting attire. The tightness of the coat outlined his well-defined muscles and moonlight glittered off the strip of fur on his chest—the proclamation of his status as an Alpha; a reminder of how close to the surface his wolf resided.
She'd dreamed of running her fingers through the fur, wondering if it was soft or coarse. Of discovering how far down his body the fur grew. But she never dared take the chance, afraid of stepping too far above her rank and angering his parents. Of losing his friendship, the only thing that made staying in the pack tolerable.
He took her hand, and warmth traveled up her arm and into her body from the contact. A shiver traveled along her spine as his eyes met hers. Something primal moved within their depths. For the first time, she wished shifters possessed telepathic abilities. She wanted to know what his thoughts were and, almost as important, why he was here?
When he leaned close and whispered, "Go with this. I'll explain later," she had little choice but to follow his lead as he turned and faced the elder charged with performing the ceremony. A mate would be chosen for her no matter what. She preferred him to anyone else.
Her mind wandered throughout the ceremony. A slight breeze carried his tangy smell to her and she wanted to run under the intense stare he directed her way. There were so many unanswered questions. What happened to Raymond, and most important, what prompted Liam to stand beside her?
Despite the chaotic thoughts, she answered, "I accept Liam as my mate," in the appropriate place.
She expected the ceremony to end as the elder's last howl echoed into silence. Instead, he handed Liam a slim, unadorned, silver dagger. A final and permanent symbol of their mating and an act reserved for love matches.
Corliss closed her eyes as Liam took her left hand and used the dagger to make a thin cut around her wrist. She gritted her teeth as the knife burned the layers of her skin. But she refused to flinch.
"All done," he whispered.
Corliss opened her eyes when he released her hand. Drops of blood beaded along the cut, but thanks to her quick healing would stop. A never ending circle representative of the moon and their entwined lives topped by a five-petal flower.
She blinked, afraid she might cry at the very artistic embellishment he added. She'd forever have a scar from the silver in the impression of her favorite wild rose.
"It'll be okay, Sunshine." His quiet words were intended to reassure her as he handed the dagger to her.
The warmth and familiar tingle of his hand in hers gave her the comfort she needed. With a deep breath, she stopped the shaking of her right hand and touched the edge to his skin. Careful not to cut too deep, she sliced her own circle into his wrist, except she completed his with a crescent moon.
Simple and easy for her to draw, but still symbolic: A wolf secure in the guidance of his pack and a man who forever walked enlightened by moonlight.
After the elder's blessing, they walked across the clearing, hand in hand. When they reached the forest's edge, he dragged her behind some trees to give them privacy. Those who'd witnessed the ceremony whispered amongst themselves on the way back to their homes.
Corliss and Liam stood face to face, but an awkward tension kept her quiet. She didn't know what to do. They never used to have problems talking to each other. They were friends, almost best friends, but everything seemed different now.
Buy Links (including Goodreads and BookBub):
Amazon – http://www.amzn.com/B00DR28SA2/
Barnes and Noble – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/healers-fate-beth-caudill/1029825898
What makes your featured book a must-read?
This friends to lovers story is a sensual tale of werewolf love and peril.
Enter to win a $30 Amazon (US) gift card:
Runs June 8 – June 12, 2021.
Winner will be drawn on June 16, 2021.
Although Beth grew up in West Virginia, she currently resides in North Carolina with her husband, two sons and a Cavalier King Charles Spaniel who makes an excellent lap warmer. Blending the analytical and creative sides of her brain, she delights in creating fantasy worlds for others. Catch her online most days except when NCIS and Once Upon a Time air.
Social Media Links:
Author Website: http://BethCaudill.net/
Author Newsletter: https://BethCaudill.net/newsletter/
Author Email: email@example.com
Author Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/beth_caudill/
Author Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/AuthorBethCaudill
Author Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/bethcaudill13/
Author Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bethcaudill13/
Author Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/bethcaudill
Author Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/beth-caudill
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00538IWEU