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Published by EVERNIGHT PUBLISHING ® at Smashwords


www.evernightpublishing.com




Copyright© 2017 April Zyon



ISBN: 978-1-77339-181-6


Cover Artist: Jay Aheer


Editor: Jessica Ruth



ALL RIGHTS RESERVED


WARNING: The unauthorized reproduction or distribution of this copyrighted work is illegal. No part of this book may be used or reproduced electronically or in print without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in reviews.


This is a work of fiction. All names, characters, and places are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.



DEDICATION


To Tracie, thank you for reading for me and for always being there for me. You are truly special and amazing, I am blessed to have you in my life.


Rhonda, you are just the best.


Avril, I would be lost without you.


To all of my readers and fans - I love each and every single one of you. You are the reason that I write.



A MATE FOR THE SHERIFF


Shifters-Match.com, 4


April Zyon


Copyright © 2017




Chapter One


“No.”

“Come on, Jess, he’s not that bad.”

“Damn, Phi, that’s a lie and I could feel it coming in the door.” This came from a very pregnant and satisfied-looking Quinn Raske. She rubbed her belly and added, “Don’t tell Daddy Mommy said a bad word.”

Jessica laughed. Piran had gone over the freaking rails when he found out that Quinn was pregnant, and he was driving everyone in Shifter Falls crazy because he swore that kids could hear in the womb and that was why Phi and Jagger’s cub’s first word was damn. Jess didn’t believe it for a minute, but what did she know? “And what do I get for not telling him that you are cussing while preggers?” she asked Quinn, a good friend of hers since Quinn had made her home in Shifter Falls.

“My undying gratitude?” Quinn tried. “Okay, and brownies,” she said when Jessica gave her a look.

Phi went running for her cub, who had climbed up the massive TV wall unit Piran had hand carved for Phi and Jagger. Quinn gestured toward the claw marks and deep impressions made from the cub’s feet as he climbed up the unit. “Told you that you never should have put something like that in here. It’s pure temptation to the little guy.”

“I know, but I wanted it and it’s so beautiful,” Phi said as she pulled her cub down.

“Mommy…” he cooed to her, now a little boy and smiling up at his mother.

“She’s going to melt, watch,” Quinn said with a smirk.

“Aww, how could I be mad at you, my wee man?” Phi said as she hugged the little boy cub to her chest. The child looked over his mother’s shoulder and at the women, grinning as if he knew just what he was getting away with. And just when Jess thought she was off the hook, Phi looked up and said, “Seriously, Jess, what about the sheriff’s office? Because I think you’d be perfect for the job.”

“I already have a job.”

“Yeah, but—”

“No way,” she said, fixing Quinn and Phi with a wry smile. “Absolutely not. I cannot work for Sheriff Hotty McHot because number one, the man is so big and sexy that he makes every woman in the county’s panties wet. Number two, the man is far too observant. Number three, he would drive me crazy within two minutes. Number four, he would likely shoot me because I would drive him crazy within a minute. So yeah. No.” There was one more reason why she couldn’t work for the sheriff. A few years back, she’d accidentally touched him one day at a party, and she had realized in that moment just what he was to her. Thank God she’d been swallowed up by a whole mess of people, and he hadn’t realized who she was, or he would have tracked her down. She’d always thought it was strange that he hadn’t felt the sparks between them, hadn’t scented her somehow. From everything Jess had heard, shifters were supposed to just know when they found their mate. But Novak hadn’t, and Jess had tried not to push her luck where he was concerned ever since. She was something that shouldn’t be, and even her mother’s coven had put her out when her mother revealed that she was born without abilities. To them she was only human and therefore wasn’t allowed inside the hallowed halls of the coven. If it hadn’t been for that prophesy, she would have been dead—no matter what family she had been born into—and she knew it.

Quinn and Phi both looked at each other, laughed, then in unison stated, “Sheriff Hotty McHot?” Phi was the one who continued and snickered. “Oh God. I so have to tell Jagger that one. I don’t think anyone has ever spoken of the sheriff like that. It’s too cute. Jessica and Novak sitting in a tree, K-I-S-S-I-N-G…”

“Oh Lord love a duck, you are so juvenile,” Jessica replied with a snort. “Now, if you two are finished, I’m going home because some of us need to get to work in the morning.” Jessica worked for the town council, and while she tried not to make waves where she worked, she didn’t go out of her way to make things easy for them.

She stood, walked over to Phi and the little boy, and gave the child a noisy kiss on his cheek. She was rewarded with a growl from his inner bear. “Well, growl to you as well, my darling.” She stroked her fingers over his long black hair and smiled. “Gracious, your momma cooked up a very handsome little boy.”

He frowned at her. “I no cook.”

She smiled and nodded. “I know you didn’t really cook, baby boy. I was just teasing you.”

That had him smiling and he growled again. “Wike you,” he told her.

“I know and I wike you, too. I have to go, but I will bring you goodies next time, and no more climbing the wood furniture that your uncle Piran makes for your momma and daddy.”

“Me wood,” the boy said with another freaking adorable rawr.

“I’ll ask Piran to make you something,” Quinn said easily. “As long as your mom and dad approve, I think you would like it.”

“Oh Lord. Not the cat tower idea again, Q,” was the last thing Phi said before Jessica walked out of the house and into the darkness so she could head home.


Chapter Two


There were days he loved being sheriff, with his home base in the small town of Shifter Falls and the small county of Round Rock. It was a laid-back community where everyone knew everybody else and yet didn’t really get into other folks’ business. There were a few budding problems that growth brought in, but for the most part the town looked after their own and kept shit in check, just like the surrounding towns of Dragon’s Horn and Shadow Valley.

Then there were days that Novak seriously wondered what the ever-loving fuck he’d been thinking taking the damn job when the mayor had practically begged him to run for election. The least he could’ve done was get a larger salary for this crap. Like today. Two idiots had devised the brilliant plan of drag racing down an old abandoned logging road. In their parents’ cars and without even checking the road prior to tearing off down it. Now he had two totaled vehicles, four angry parents, two terrified kids practically pleading with him to take them off to jail, and one hell of a migraine. There was not enough money in the world for him to do this job on days like today.

Stepping between the parents who had pretty well regressed to childhood themselves with the insults they were slinging, he let out a piercing whistle. “All of you, shut the fuck up or I’m throwing the lot of you in jail overnight. It would be worth the paperwork to stop this bullshit.”

While everyone was gaping at him, he looked to the tow truck drivers. “Haul out the cars and take them to impound. Make an assessment on the damages and file them with the department.” He faced the parents again. “At which time, along with my report, I will give you both a copy, and you can then file with your insurance companies. Your premiums are going to go through the roof. And you’re all probably going to be paying for your own repairs because your children were idiots. The boys will be going down to the station to issue statements that will be binding in court. One parent each is permitted to ride with them in the deputy vehicles, and the other can meet you there. If you feel the need to get your lawyers involved, please do so, but do it quickly. And boys.” He turned a menacing look on the two scared teenagers. Both were barely seventeen and knew they were in for hell to come for many months to follow. “You lie at any point, I’ll know, and I will toss you in a cell and hold you for the maximum allotted time. Do not test me.”

After both gave him a good impression of those bobble head figures he occasionally saw in vehicles, he waved in his deputies. The parents looked ready to argue, but Novak wasn’t having any of it. Cutting them a scathing look, he pointed to the vehicles they’d arrived in and waited them out.

Only when the deputies, the parents, and the tow truck drivers were gone did he finally blow out a breath. He didn’t know what he’d done in a past life to deserve this shit, but whatever it was he knew he had to have paid his dues already. In spades! Rubbing a hand to his nape, Novak headed toward his SUV and slid into the driver’s seat. He really should check in, but he needed a moment’s peace and quiet first. Leaning his head back, he took a long, slow breath in, then let it slide out. He repeated the breathing a few more times, until the worst of the tension around his shoulders slid away.

A few minutes later he picked up the radio to check in with the office. There were no other pressing issues, so he had the dispatcher patch him through to the deputies on site and gave them a heads-up about the incoming squabble. Despite their amusement, he knew they’d be stone-faced and professional when everyone arrived.

Satisfied he had completed his investigation, Novak put the camera he’d used to document the entire scene into the case behind the passenger seat and locked it. He’d have a deputy come back out to the scene tomorrow to clean up the markers and tape once he doubled-checked he had everything he needed.

Pulling away from the scene, he took his time up the logging road. Definitely something the teens should have done. They were damn lucky neither ended up with more than a few bumps and bruises. A thought that had him reaching for his phone to call the clinic. The local doctor did the department the occasional favor by stopping by to check out anyone in custody that hadn’t required a hospital but still had sustained even the smallest scratch. Novak left a message for him, as he was in with another patient, but he didn’t worry about the delay. They’d still be a good twenty minutes before reaching the station.

Since there wasn’t anything pressing on the books, Novak took the scenic way back to town. He hadn’t had many quiet moments lately, and he missed just tooling about the back roads, listening to nature and the hum from his wheels on the various road surfaces.

Eventually he gave in and turned toward the town. And wouldn’t it just have to happen, he spotted a car with its hood up on the roadside. He couldn’t tell who it was yet, local or tourist, but when he got closer his internal antenna went straight up in the air.

“What are you doing out here, Ms. Morris?” he muttered to himself. Flipping on the lights, he angle parked behind her, ensuring he was protecting the driver’s side before turning off the engine and climbing out.

He heard the cursing first—colorful and entertaining swearing coming from the front end. He leaned a hip against the bumper and cleared his throat. When she swung around with the guiltiest look on her face, he almost gave in to the laugh bubbling up. “Car troubles, Ms. Morris?” The hot color that flooded her cheeks had his inner animal stretching awake to take note and liking what it saw.

****

Jessica turned to the voice in the darkness. The sexiest voice on the face of the planet. “Sheriff,” she said, her pulse increasing when she turned to look at him.

He looked as if he had been built of stone, and again she wondered just exactly what sort of shifter he was. No one seemed to know, or be willing to share, which was very strange in a town like Shifter Falls. Then again, she didn’t let anyone know what she was, either, so it could just be a privacy thing.

“I’m not sure what’s going on, but suddenly all the electronics inside the car went completely dead. The lights, dash, everything. I’m afraid it’s the alternator, since it has a brand-new battery.” She might be a lot of things, but she wasn’t completely stupid. “And I think that Jagger’s cub swiped my cell phone, again, so do you think you could maybe call a tow for me?” She shook her head. “That little guy gets me every single time. I swear he’s taken more cell phones off of me than I can count. Phi is never able to find them, so there’s no telling what he does with them.” She was snickering as she said that. She didn’t know why she was talking so much, but she was.

The sheriff was watching her intently and didn’t seem all that bothered by her random rambling. He merely pulled out his cell and put in a call for a truck. “Mick will come get your car. He said to leave the keys on the passenger front tire since he might be a while. They had to pull a couple cars from a slough after some young twits decided that drag racing with their parents’ cars was a good plan. Come on, I’ll give you a ride home.”

She whistled. “Oh boy. I bet there are going to be some kids in serious trouble about right now. Thanks for the offer of the ride.” She grabbed her purse, locked the car, and put the keys on the front passenger tire as she had been instructed. “You’ll probably be going out of your way a bit. I live at twenty-nine Forest Acre Road.” It was a dirt road surrounded by forest and she loved it. Nature called to her, and at least there she didn’t have to worry about nulling any abilities as she typically did when she was near other witches.

“No worries at all. It keeps me out of the station until the parents have finally wound down to a dull roar and the kids have had a few minutes for everything to sink in. Anyhow, I think that an hour’s worth of stewing before I arrive to come up with some interesting charges might help the situation. By then I’ll know if the lawyers have actually been called in or not and can figure out how to play this to keep the kids from doing something worse down the line.” The sheriff held her door for her, then shut it when she settled into her seat. A minute later he was setting out reflective markers behind her car before sliding in behind the wheel to take her toward town and home.

“You are a good man. Too bad you can’t keep a secretary to save your gorgeous ass.” She felt her face turn red from heat when she realized she’d blurted that out. “Crap, ignore me. I don’t know what I’m saying.” She cringed, but then shrugged. Since it was too late to take her candid observation back, she pressed on. “Well, from what I understand, you have gone through thirteen of them inside of three months. That’s outstanding right there.”


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