This week's excerpt is from The Necromancer's Prey, book 3 of the almost complete Paranormal Council series (books 1-14 are out now!) It follows Alden (an owl shifter) and Rory (a necromancer) as they discover they're fated mates. If you've ever wondered where the problems for the necromances in the Paranormal Council started, this is where!
Copyright 2017 Laura Greenwood
"Aurora," the voice said, sending shivers down Rory's spine. Just like it always did. It didn't help that whenever she had a meeting with her necromancer liaison, it always seemed to be at night, and somewhere dark and gloomy. It was as if he was trying to conform to stereotypes. She wasn't even sure where the guy she was meeting was, with all the echoing under the bridge.
"Hello?" she asked tentatively.
"Any updates for us, Aurora?" She shivered again, hating the way that he said her name. Besides that, no one called her Aurora. Not since she was a little girl and the other necromancers had made fun of her for having a princess' name. She'd started going by Rory after that, but it was too late, and she’d already been on the outside.
"They've discovered a name. Dean Winters," she replied to the empty space in front of her.
"Never heard of him," the voice said. Rory's heart sank. She'd been expecting the answer, but she'd still hoped that she could take some good news back to Alden for a change
"Could you ask about?" Her voice shook as she asked, not wanting to think about what the answer might be.
"You think I won't, little Princess?" The voice sounded closer this time, and despite herself, Rory stepped backwards. She hated how weak she felt around him. Especially when she compared it to how safe she felt around Alden. She briefly wondered why her Council was so different from his.
"N-no," she stammered, trying to dredge up some courage from somewhere, but failing miserably. Something felt off about this situation, but then again, it always did. She backed away further, bumping into the cold stone wall of the bridge. Something clawed at the skin of Rory's throat and her hands flew to it, not finding anything there. She tried to take a deep breath, gasping as she discovered that she couldn’t. She screwed her eyes shut, but that didn't make any difference.
"Don't question me again, Aurora. You won't like what'll happen if you do." She could swear that she could feel the man's breath on her cheek, but when she opened her eyes, he wasn’t there.
An odd screech sounded, and the pressure on Rory's throat lessened. On reflex, she ducked down and covered her head with her hands, trying to take deep breaths to calm herself.
"Hello? Are you alright?" a deep male voice asked, one completely at odds with the necromancer she'd been meeting with. And a somewhat familiar one.
"Alden?" she asked weakly, removing her hands from her head and standing up slowly. It took her a moment to realise that he was completely naked, and her cheeks flamed red.
"Rory?" He seemed surprised that it was her he'd saved, but other than that, he didn't say a word. She nodded slowly, trying not to let her eyes stray downwards. Though after the eyeful she'd already had, that was going to prove difficult.
"Do you often walk up to random women naked?" she asked, still a little confused about what was happening. Alden chuckled, and a weight within her lifted. It was an odd sensation, and one that she didn't really want to examine too closely.
"I wasn't exactly in human form." He lifted an arm to scratch the back of his head, and Rory almost drooled over the sight of his rippling chest muscles. He was slimmer than most male shifters, with more of a swimmer's body than the stocky shape most seemed to have. She found herself trying to work out what kind of shifter he was again, but failing to come up with anything more than it had to be something small. There wasn't really any other way for him to get about unseen; even at night.
"And how were you going to explain that to some poor unsuspecting woman?" She quirked an eyebrow at him, feeling much less uncomfortable now that the other necromancer was gone. On the other hand, Alden was looking uncomfortable for the first time since appearing before her.
"Erm...I didn't think much past saving her. Well you," he admitted.
"Thank you," she said softly, knowing that she should have said that first, but she'd been distracted. Reasonably so, as she was sure most women would agree.
"You're welcome. What were you even doing here?" He folded his arms, and Rory glanced down instinctively. When she looked up again, she was greeted by a smirk that did funny things to her insides. Almost as much as his lack of clothing was.
"Meeting," she muttered and he nodded, not needing to ask any more than that. Considering the current situation, it was safe to say that he was as used to odd situations like this as she was.
"Do you want a drink?" he blurted out suddenly, seeming a lot less at ease than he had a few moments before.
"Are you asking me out?" she asked without thinking.
"Yes." He seemed surer of himself this time, probably spurred on by the fact that she hadn't said no straight off. Which made her wonder why she hadn't.
"I think you need more clothes on for that." She smirked.
"That's not a no."
"It's not," she acknowledged, her heart fluttering as she realised that she was finally giving in to her feelings for him.
"My flat's just over there." He waved towards a tall building on the other side of the canal. A look of horror crossed his face as he realised he'd just asked her to come back to his, but all Rory could do was giggle. He'd need to go there anyway to put some clothes on.
"Okay, but how are you going to get there without being arrested?" Once her words sunk in, his smile grew smug, and mere seconds later, a large dark grey owl was stood in his spot.
She bent down to his level and reached out to touch the downy feathers. It took a moment for it to sink in how special this moment was. Most shifters never revealed their true forms to non-shifters, much like witches and their familiars. For him to share this with her meant that he trusted her. And that she probably wasn't alone in the odd feelings she'd been having around him.
"Alright then, Alden. Lead on."
A paranormal romance series following various interlinked characters as they each find their fated mate. Each book can be read as a standalone. Part of The Paranormal Council Universe.
Heat Level: Medium - Relationship Type: m/f (with the exception of book 9) - Build: Fast - Point of View Character: Dual third person POV, changes between books - Cliffhangers: No - Tense: Past