Moon Shifter Series
Length: 32,000 words
Author note: Set in the Moon Shifter world, this novella features all your favorite characters in a final wrap-up of the Moon Shifter series.
She was surprised by how quiet it was when she entered through the open front doorway. There was no actual door installed yet. In the foyer she saw that almost everything had been framed out and most of the drywall was done, but they still had a way to go.
Other than the buzz of a saw from the back of the house, there was no chatter. No banging of hammers. Nothing. Following the buzzing sound, she exited through one of the back door frames—which also had no door installed—and saw Nathan O’Neill cutting a piece of tile.
Her traitorous heart leapt at the sight of him. She started to back away, hoping he wouldn’t notice her, but of course he did. Because that was just her damn luck.
The sound died as he turned off the saw and looked up. He shoved his goggles onto his head. “Noel.”
God, the way he said her name made everything feminine inside her flare to life. She shoved all those feelings back down. Apart from a few kisses they’d shared a year ago, nothing had happened between them. She’d gone out of her way to avoid him and he sure hadn’t come after her, pursued her for more. Clearly she’d meant nothing to him other than some fun. And once things had gotten real, he’d moved on to greener pastures. Or she assumed he had. Not that she could exactly blame him.
She cleared her throat, shoved her hands in her jeans pockets. “Hey. I, uh, I thought Liam was working.”
Nathan watched her with steady green eyes. Heading toward her, he tugged his work gloves off. Even the way he walked was sexy, all coiled strength, each move precise. He moved like the predator he was. “He took lunch with December. The others are at lunch too but I wanted to finish up some tile work. Everything okay?”
She swallowed hard as he reached her. Since she was five feet two, most people towered over her, and Nathan was no different. He was broad though. Broad, muscular and very dangerous to her sanity. Wearing work clothes and covered in dust and dirt, he still looked good enough to eat. His hair was a light auburn, his beard the same color. He looked like what she imagined a lumberjack would. He was ridiculously masculine. She inhaled, breathing in the scent of sawdust and something earthy, primal. Something all Nathan that she could never forget. Even if she wanted to.
“I’m good.” She took a step back, needing to put distance between them.
His expression softened as he followed. “How are you doing? I know it’s hard this time of year for you.”
The sincerity of his question ripped something open inside her. She hadn’t expected it. Hadn’t expected to see him. If she’d known he’d be here she’d have never come. Because simply being around Nathan made her feel weak, needy. She never wanted to be like that for anyone; never wanted to fall for someone so hard that she couldn’t live without them. Losing her sister and parents had been hard enough.
She tried to answer around the lump in her throat but was too close to crying. So, coward that she was, she turned on her heel.
“Damn it, Noel.” For such a big guy Nathan moved incredibly fast. Even for a shifter. Before she’d taken two steps he’d sidestepped around her, now stood in front of her, blocking her exit.
“What?” she rasped out.
“You’re obviously not okay. Do you want to talk about it?”
She shook her head even as she blurted, “I miss her so much.” Stupid tears pricked her eyes. Before she could swipe them away she found herself pulled into strong arms.
It had been a long time since she’d been held like this. And the truth was, no one had ever held her the way Nathan was right now. He wrapped his arms around her as if she was precious in a way that was both intimate and protective. Feeling something break inside her, she buried her face against his flannel shirt, wrapping her arms around him as a wave of sadness swept through her. She didn’t let any more tears fall, didn’t want that dam to break right now. If it did, she wasn’t sure she’d stop.
But she still held onto him for dear life. “Christmas is just hard,” she whispered, pulling back after a long moment so she could look up at him.
He cupped her cheek with one hand, the feel of his callused palm a shock to her senses. God, she’d been avoiding him for a year because she’d known she’d be weak enough to fall into his arms given the chance. No one had ever looked at her the way Nathan did.
As if he could devour her.