Mate of Her Heart - R.E. Butler
R.E. Butler - Wilde Creek #1 - Mate of Her Heart
Mate of Her Heart (Wilde Creek #1)
One week. That’s how much time Eveny Moore had left before her first heat-cycle struck and her body would try to attract a male to impregnate and mate her. She looked at the calendar on the wall of her father’s kitchen and touched her stomach through the thin material of her top. A week seemed like both an eternity away and a very short time period. She could do a lot of things in a week. Break a habit. Learn a new song on the guitar. Go on a vacation. But the one thing she couldn’t do in a week was tell the one male on earth who meant more to her than anything – her best friend, Luke Elrich – that she wanted to mate with him.
He deserved to know. But every time she looked into his big blue eyes and noticed the dimples in his cheeks when he smiled, all her good intentions fled. How had the boy that she’d been stuck to like glue since they were kids turned into such a gorgeous specimen? And why was life so unfair? If life were really fair, he wouldn’t have turned into such a hunk with a compassionate personality. He’d have wound up looking like Quasimodo, and she wouldn’t be so torn about her biological duty as a wolf shifter. She needed more time. She’d had plenty of time over the last several years to talk to him, of course, but she was a big fat coward and now she was nearly out of time. She could feel her heat-cycle coming on, and knew that at most she had a week before she would be consumed by it.
“Dinner’s ready, Eveny,” her father called from the back deck.
The warm September Saturday evening had inspired her father to make his famous beer-can chicken, and she’d spent the afternoon peeling and marinating vegetables for the grill pan, which he’d begrudgingly allowed her to place alongside his chicken.
She peeled her eyes away from the calendar and exhaled loudly. She couldn’t stop her coming heat-cycle by willing it away. Her whole life, she’d known that she would experience her first heat-cycle during the month of September in her twenty-fifth year. She’d known it as a harsh truth of her werewolf biology. But she hadn’t welcomed it. Most of the females in her pack assured her that the heat was all good times and hot sex, but Eveny knew that no matter the good times, or the hot sex, if a male came inside a female during her heat-cycle, he was the one that she was mated to. And for wolf shifters, mated meant married. And married meant forever.
Joining her father on the deck, she sat on one of the wrought-iron chairs and lifted her plate. He set a chicken quarter on it and she set it on the table, reaching for the grill pan full of teriyaki-glazed veggies.
After scooping a generous portion onto her plate, she held it across the table and waited for her father to take it.
He wrinkled his nose. “We’re wolves, Eveny, not rabbits.”
“Last time I checked we’re also human, and humans eat a variety of things, including vegetables. And rabbits don’t grill their vegetables, the flames singe their fur.”
Her father, Dade, smiled warmly and chuckled. “Fine, baby girl,” he said, placing a scoop of her medley of snow peas, zucchini, yellow squash, and carrots on his plate.
She pulled the meat from the bones and made a neat pile on her plate, placing the bones on a separate plate. Eating slowly, she considered a hundred ways to start a conversation with her father about her concerns with the coming heat. She wasn’t embarrassed to talk about the physical aspects of the heat with her dad – after her mother passed away when she was eleven, her father had become both parents to her and they had no secrets.
The secret that was the cause of her balking against the traditions of her people. If she couldn’t have Luke, then she didn’t want to take a mate. Not this heat-cycle and not for any future heat-cycles. Her beast liked Luke, cared about him, and she loved him and had always loved him. But her people’s specist attitudes towards humans kept her from having more than a friendship with Luke. If she chose to go through her heat-cycle with him, knowing that she wouldn’t be able