Here’s a look at the first chapter of The Shifter’s Surprise. This is from the unedited manuscript so please forgive any errors.
Amina studied Jaxon in the dim light of the bedroom. His smooth, muscular chest was rising and falling steadily.
“Jaxon?” she whispered. “Jaxon are you awake?”
He sighed. “I can feel you staring at me. Of course I’m awake.”
He rolled over on top of her and kissed her.
She returned his kiss eagerly but stopped him and pushed against his shoulder. “That is not why I’m awake!”
He went to kiss her again.
She put her hand over her mouth and rolled her eyes. “Seriously Jaxon! Get off.”
He sighed again before rolling off her and closing his eyes once more.
“Hey! Don’t go back to sleep. I want to talk.”
“Amina, it is two o’clock in the morning. I have to work tomorrow. If my choice is sleep or talk, I want to sleep right now.”
He closed his eyes tight again. Amina leaned up on one elbow above him. He was very handsome. You barely needed light to see how perfect his bone structure was. And his body? Wowza. Just muscles on top of muscles. But as unbelievably hot as he was, her boyfriend could be a real pain in the ass. Why did the cute ones always have to be handful? Was it really so much to ask to have ridiculously hot guy who also had a sweet personality?
“I can’t sleep,” she told him.
“Go watch a movie or something! I want to sleep.”
“You aren’t even a little curious why I sleep?”
She pressed her lips into a tight line and counted to ten in her head very slowly. It was a new thing she was trying so she didn’t end up killing Jaxon in a fit of rage one day. Now that they were basically living together, he could really get on her nerves. She just wanted to talk!
She ran one finger down his chest. “You know. Maybe if I didn’t have so much on my mind, I’d be in the mood.”
“Are you trying to sex bribe me? Seriously Amina. Either go back to sleep or get out of bed. I need to sleep.”
“Because today was super stressful right?”
“It was. I really can’t…” he opened his eyes. “Fine. Let’s talk.”
Amina smiled triumphantly and laid her hand on her arm so she could face him. “Those kids are a freaking terror! I mean who would of thought something so small could be capable of that much destruction. I mean they can’t even walk for goodness sake!”
“It was much worse than I thought it was going to be.”
“Doesn’t it make you want to never have kids? I mean Wilson practically ran out the house as soon as we got there.”
Jaxon laughed. “Come on he’d been stuck with them for a whole day all by himself. At his age, I don’t think I would jump at having to babysit two kids under two.”
“I know but we only spent a day like three quarters of day with them before tapping out. Seriously Jaxon, it was much harder than I thought it was going to be.”
Jaxon’s cousin and his wife had gone out of town for a weekend to a bed and breakfast. They had left their twin one year olds, Robbie and Sarah Beth, at home. Everyone had offered to watch the kids but Luke and Elle didn’t want to put anyone out for five whole days. So Elle’s mom Barb watched the kids for two days before handing them off to Luke’s Grandpa Wilson. Jaxon and Amina had taken over for one night before bringing the kids to Black Oak Springs and handing them off to Jaxon’s parents for the weekend.
Amina thought it wouldn’t be too bad to watch the kids for one night. She and Jaxon spent a lot of time with the Rivers’ family already. The kids were absolutely darling whenever they went to visit. Since Jaxon was going to be there too, she thought they could each take one kid and it would work out fine. Nope. Nothing like that at all.
Those darling kids? They were absolute monsters. Sarah Beth, sweet little doll-faced Sarah Beth, had dumped over an entire bowl of spaghetti in the time it took Amina to bend down and pick up Robbie’s dropped spoon. By the time Jaxon came back from the bathroom, there was spaghetti everywhere since Robbie had to dump his out too. Really, she should have known spaghetti was a bad idea but Elle had warned her that the twins were only eating spaghetti with plain tomato sauce, cheese sticks, apples, and dry cheerios.
Cleaning up the kitchen had taken a solid half hour. While she was wiping sauce off the floor, Jaxon was watching the kids outside. Letting them run around naked outside while she was cleaning had been a great idea. That is until Sarah Beth decided to make an exception to her very strict diet and start eating dirt. Instead of stopping them, Jaxon had sprayed them with the water hose.
Amina came outside to two muddy babies who were having a great time playing in the puddles. Jaxon had just shrugged.
“Why did you think spraying them with the hose was a good idea?” she asked him in the dark. “They aren’t animals.”
“I am going to have to disagree with you on that one. I wouldn’t be surprised if that little girl didn’t shift into a little piglet any day now.”
Amina laughed. “I was thinking honey badger. But seriously, it really made me think.”
Jaxon turned on his side to face her. “That was hard because they aren’t ours. It wasn’t our house. When you’re with kids everyday its easier in some ways.”
“And much freaking harder! Can you imagine having to do that day in, day out?”
“I can. I would love it. I told you, I would love to have four kids.”
“Luke wanted to have a lot of kids too. You don’t hear him saying boo about more kids. And Elle told me that she was happy with two and wouldn’t dream of being ‘greedy enough to ask for more.’ Which is just code for, this sucks!”
“Come on. You have to admit, it was pretty nice when Sarah Beth gave you that mud she had made especially for Ama.”
She had to smile at the kids name for her. “Ok. That was cute but having to wrangle two slippery kids into the tub wasn’t so cute.”
“It won’t be that bad with only one kid at a time,” Jaxon assured her. “Even if it is, it’s your kid. That makes a lot of difference.”
“Yeah it means you never get to hand the little demon back to its parents and go back to your nice quiet house.”
Jaxon kissed her on her forehead. “You don’t have to worry about that tonight or anytime soon. I have full confidence in our ability to step up to the plate and be great parents. But that isn’t going to be for a few more years.”
“If you say so.” Amina muttered.
“I really need to get back to sleep. I have a meeting with Runner, the Committee and the Council.”
“Whoa! Why didn’t you tell me that before?!” Amina reached over and fluffed Jaxon’s pillow. “That’s a major big deal. You really do need your sleep.”
“Thank you. I love you.”
“I love you too.” Amina looked out the window at the empty field next to Jaxon’s house. She was tempted to ask him what the meeting was about but she knew it was no use. He never told her what his meetings were about until after it was all said and done. She didn’t even know about the “security” measure Jaxon and the men of Black Oak had taken part in until just a month ago.
There had been trouble with humans who were part of a shifter hate group. They were stalking the woods around Black Oak which wasn’t good for anybody. Amina knew about the hunters but she had no idea that they’d all been killed to keep them from finding Black Oak and doing the town’s people harm.
She didn’t know why Jaxon had kept it from her. It wasn’t like she was going to blab and put on the front page of the Times or something. Plus, what if he’d gotten hurt out there? She would have at least liked to wish him luck before he went and stay up worrying until he got home. They had a small fight about it but she had let it go fast. There was really no use fighting about something that had already happened.
Whatever the meeting was about tomorrow, it was a big deal. Sheriff Runner was in charge of the Committee. It decided most of the town’s human issues. How many kids should be sent to the schools in the surrounding towns, approval of people’s jobs outside of Black Oak, and all that kind of thing was now up to the Committee. It used to be decided by the city Council until the mayor formed the Committee two years before. If they were all meeting something big was about to happen in Black Oak.
Amina was very interested in anything the Committee did. As the only human living in Black Oak and as Jaxon’s girlfriend, she wanted the shifters to stay on good terms with humans. Jaxon was in line to be mayor of the city one day. If the town’s people didn’t like humans and wanted nothing to do with human society, that would put Amina in a very tough spot. That was really what had been keeping her up that night.
She was already living in Black Oak Springs most of the time. There was no other way for her to see Jaxon since he was basically Sheriff at this point. She only slept at her parent’s house three or four times a month. That really pissed her parents off. They were trying to be more understanding but she could tell they weren’t happy with her choice. She had no idea how she was going to tell them that the guy she wanted to marry was a shifter either.
It was all so much to think about! If she was a shifter or Jaxon was a human, it would be so much easier. She knew how to do human relationships. She would have taken Jaxon to have dinner with her parents and sister after they had been dating a month. He would have met her friends on their third date so they could give her an opinion before she decided to sleep with him or not. They would have gotten engaged after they were dating two years and then had a big wedding at her parent’s country club.
But this? This was a mess really. She didn’t let herself think about it too often but it really was kind of a disaster. Yes, she was still working as reporter which was her childhood dream. Yes, she had a loving and super hot boyfriend who wanted to build a future with her. And yes, they had a pretty good social life too. They were always over at his cousin Luke’s for some dinner party or at his parent’s for a party. Jaxon had met her friends and they went to a few parties a year with them.
It sounded great. But she still hadn’t even introduced Jaxon to her parents. How were they going to pay for the wedding when they had never even met the guy she wanted to marry? Her sister knew everything and said she would support Amina when she decided to tell their parents but she couldn’t. She just couldn’t yet. Her two year anniversary with Jaxon was just around the corner too. She had always vowed she wouldn’t date a guy longer than two years without getting engaged at least. If you didn’t want to marry someone after two years, you probably wouldn’t ever want to.
And she did want to marry him. And she was pretty sure he was going to ask her to marry him sooner rather than later. That all sounded so great. And it was mostly. Except for one tiny little thing. Amina had missed her period this month. And the two before that. And she had taken a pregnancy test and a little blue line had popped up. And it had popped up on the four she had taken after that one too.
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