Title: Waiting for Raine
Series: Comet Lake Chronicles, Book One
Author: Layla Dorine
Publisher: NineStar Press
Release Date: 09/27/2021
Heat Level: 3 - Some Sex
Pairing: Male/Male, Male/Male Menage
Genre: Paranormal, LGBTQIA+, shifters, mates, author, menage, hurt-comfort, disability, intersex, pregnancy, offspring
Every Gathering, Raine hides from potential mates, knowing that in a society where tri-bonds were the expectation, a wolf wanting a mate all to themselves was an anomaly.
Enter Gabriel. They’d met two years before, both left disappointed when no bondmark appeared on their wrists at that time. Gabriel’s been hunting, but there’s been no sign of Raine, outside of the one brief visit that didn’t end the way he’d hoped for.
Fast forward to the present Gathering. He’s stumbled onto Aiden, a wolf miserable in his own pack due to the way he’s treated. Born with a disability, he knows he can’t keep up, but no one has taken the time to teach him where his true potential lies—until Gabriel that is. Gabriel’s protective instincts kick in almost immediately.
Now Gabriel has one wolf he desperately wants to care for and another who has been hiding from him. Unfortunately, it might not be a challenge Gabriel is up for.
Waiting for Raine
Layla Dorine© 2021
All Rights Reserved
Midsummer, or, as most of the pack called the season, matesummer. Raine watched the vehicles pulling onto the grounds. Large motorhomes and SUVs packed with members of other packs flooded their lands for the gathering. Resting his cheek against the bark of the tree he was sitting in, Raine grumbled a stream of curses, a nearby squirrel angrily chattering his own stream of profanities back at him.
“Why does it always…have to be…a tree?” Huffing and grumbling preceded his brother Noah’s appearance beside him, a sour expression on his face as he gripped the branch overhead.
Shrugging, Raine looked away from his annoyed gaze and back toward the impending invasion. As soon as they got settled, all those foreign wolf scents would fill their lands and linger for weeks afterward. “I like trees.”
“I like trees too—to pee on, not to climb. We’re wolves, and wolves are supposed to keep their paws on the ground.”
“There are exceptions to all things.”
“What are you doing here, Noah? Shouldn’t you be curled up with Evan and Holden in your little love nest?”
He knew he’d failed to keep the bitterness out of his voice the moment his brother’s eyes narrowed at him and wolf amber momentarily replaced the gray.
“And yet I’m here. I wonder why that is.”
“That’s what I’m asking you.”
“I came to deliver a message, not that you’ll care. That big brown-and-white wolf from the northwestern pack is looking for you. I believe he said his name is Gabriel.”
For a moment, Raine couldn’t breathe. It was like Noah had sucked all the air out of the forest and left him digging claws into the branch of the tree to ground himself.
“How’d he look?” Raine gritted out between clenched teeth.
“At first glance, you’d never know he was in a fight that nearly killed him.”
“No one asked him to do that.”
“With the way he was always watching you and trailing you, there was no way anyone was going to tell him not to.”
Sighing, Raine scrubbed a hand over his face, his shoulder aching from how heavily he was leaning against the trunk. Butterflies and fear warred in his belly, clenched tight to keep from vomiting up his last meal. He would not think about the gathering two years past, or the mistake he’d nearly made in allowing himself to be claimed.
“Saw him struggle to lift his backpack with his left arm. It’s a wonder he can use it at all. I was certain he was going to lose it with as mangled as it was.”
“Shut up, Noah.”
Of course his brother didn’t listen. That was part of his charm. He was stubborn that way, always had been, even back when they were young pups and Raine steadfastly refused to have anything to do with their father, Noah’s mother, or the rest of their siblings. Alone. Scared. Grieving over the death of his mother, he’d become a snarling, feral thing, living in the small apartment at the back of the house that he and his mother had lived in for as long as he could remember. He’d bitten everyone who approached until Noah.
“My guess is he was still rehabbing it last year, which was why he didn’t show up to the gathering then,” Noah continued on, as if Raine hadn’t interrupted. “You should talk to him. It’s the least you can do.”
His brother was right, not that he planned to listen. Nearly going down that road once was bad enough. Never again. His mother had taught him better.
“He was alone, if that helps any. No mating marks on his wrists either, so it’s safe to say he’s still single.”
“Stop pretending you don’t give a shit and take the second chance you’re being offered. I doubt you’ll get a third one.”
“Why can’t you stop meddling and drop it? For fuck’s sake, Noah, I’m not interested!”
“Could have fooled me, what with the way you called to check on him every day after he first went home.”
“And then I stopped, which should tell you something.”
“Yeah, that you’re clinging to an irrational notion put in your head by an irrational woman, who…”
“Do not talk about my mom!”
“Why? Afraid of hearing the truth?”
Snarling, Raine ripped a furrow in the wood. “Leave, Noah, before I forget how much I love you and throw you out of this tree.”
“You’re ruining your life; you know that, right?”
“No. Taking a mate and trusting that I would be their one and only would ruin my life. I won’t do it, Noah, and I wish you’d stop asking me to.”
“I’ll stop asking when you come to your senses and see that there is room in our hearts to love more than one person,” Noah insisted, not for the first time. In fact, he was sick of hearing it.
“Do you really believe Evan and Holden love you as much as they love each other?”
“Yes, I do.”
“Then you’re a fool. They had three years together before they met you. Three years of memories, moments, and promises. No matter what you do, you can never catch up. It will never be equal.”
“If that’s all you think love is, then I pity you, Raine, I really do.”
The look on Noah’s face, disappointed, sad, left Raine momentarily upset that he’d put it there. Until he thought about his mother, her tears, the way she’d looked in the mirror, asking what was wrong with her that his father couldn’t love her. Asking why she’d never be enough. He’d spent his early years with a broken ghost who’d hug him one moment and scream at him for wanting to play with his siblings the next.
He’ll drown you the moment I’m not around to protect you, she’d rage, grabbing him by the arm, shaking him hard enough his teeth clacked together. Sometimes she’d forget her strength, or claws, leaving deep, bleeding marks in his upper arm or accidentally dislocating it. It had happened so many times he could do it at will now—a constant reminder of her pain.
“I don’t want your pity.”
“No, you never want anything, do you?” Noah glanced away from him, over to the slowly filling grove where the gathering would take place.
“Wrong. I want to be left alone.”
“Fine, wish granted, but I want you to remember this moment in ten years when you’re alone and sorry you blew your opportunity with someone who really and truly loves you.”
With those last words hanging in the air between them, Noah lowered himself to the ground, shifted, shook, and disappeared into the forest. Asshole! He’d be the one to see, in ten years, when he was living in an add-on apartment or back at Mom and Dad’s after his two mates decided there was no longer room for him in the relationship.
If only there was a way to ensure a pairing would never become a tri-bond. Then he’d happily go to Gabriel and explore the possibilities.
Another idea took hold then, as he watched awnings popping up on campers and people pitching tents. Maybe he should go to Gabriel anyway, talk to him and get it out of his system. Maybe they’d prove to be incompatible, and he could stop daydreaming about what it would be like to belong to someone. Hell, maybe he was just looking for Raine to curse him out about the fight. Hearing Gabriel say he hated him would go a long way toward helping him to stop dreaming about the man.
Decision made, he dove off the branch, somersaulting twice before hitting the ground in a crouch, sniffing.
Rabbit, squirrel, skunk, deer, moss, dirt, pine, rotting leaves, cinnamon…
That didn’t belong out here.
Nutmeg, dough, sugar…
Those definitely didn’t belong out here.
His nose led him back to the trail, fully aware that following it might mean running into strangers and pairs already getting a jump on the frolicking and fooling around portion of the event. A bunch of pups would be born ten months from now; that was for damn sure. And then what? Some pairs would end up trapped by those stupid bond marks. Others would raise their pups alone. Hell, he even knew of occasions where one parent took half the litter and the other raised the rest, siblings who never saw, or even knew, of one another until they met at a gathering, stunned to discover someone else who looked like them.
Meet the Author
Layla Dorine lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.