When Reality Invades the Paranormal
I love reading paranormal romance. That’s why I write it. I love finding new worlds, new mythologies, now species. I’m a huge fan of werewolves. Hence my Redwood Pack boys.
But sometimes those worlds take me in too deep and scare me. Or they are just so detailed and so farfetched from everything I’ve ever known, that I need something to pull me back. I need reality to grab me and shake the paranormal away before I can dive in again.
Like the fact that each of the Jamensons has a job. Silly right? But Jasper and Kade Jamenson own a contracting business. Jasper, the hero of A Taste for a Mate, is the builder of the family. He loves working with his hands. Yes, he growls and can turn into a midnight black wolf when he needs to, but he’s also part human. He’s a woodworker who makes things for his family, his Pack, and his Willow.
I like the fact that Jasper can go from howling at the moon and shifting in to a wolf in order to attack a demon bent on destroying his family to sitting on his front porch with his mate and wife, Willow and whittle something from a hunk of wood.
Willow herself is a human who owns a bakery. I love writing about her cooking and their eating scenes. It pulls me out of the dark and scary paranormal world and makes it a reality if just for a moment. I love teeth, fur and magic. But sometimes I need a bit of realness, too.
The scent of cinnamon and sugar danced on the air as Willow Delton heaved opened the heavy oven door to remove her prized cinnamon rolls. The plump, buttery pastries were baked to perfection, and she set them on the counter to cool. The only thing missing was her thick and creamy frosting, but that would have to wait.
Willow stood back and stared around her commercial grade kitchen. She’d started her bakery from scratch, and it had grown into a successful, albeit small, business. Incredible, really. She’d never thought the day would arrive when she finally had a place to call her own. She was right where she wanted to be. Her favorite part of the day was being able to meet one-on-one with her customers. She loved the looks on their faces when they bit into her temptations, that look of ecstasy not seen on this side of the bedroom door that flashed across their eyes.
Of course, that particular look as the result of a man was long absent from Willow’s face. Too excruciatingly long.
She stood back and closed her eyes, conjuring the memory of her mystery man’s face. The image that filled her mind made her forget the lack of human contact. The thought of his deep, husky voice tickled her spine whenever he spoke. Green eyes caught her in his web with only a glance. She’d fallen for a stranger and didn’t even know his name. He’d come into her store every morning and ordered a cinnamon roll and coffee with only a few words. Then he ‘d pay cash before lifting up the corner of his mouth in a semblance of a smile and walking out of her store. Was it strange she worried he’d keep walking and never return?
A bell’s tinkle pulled Willow from her reverie and self-pity. As she turned to greet her customer, her heart leapt to her throat. Him. Her mysterious fantasy man. As she tried to regain her senses, she took all of him in. He had to be one of the tallest men she’d ever seen, easily over six and a half feet. The tight black T-shirt he wore hugged his biceps and cut into his muscular physique, while his broad shoulders stretched and strained the seams. His body tapered down to a narrow waist and hips as they met his thighs. His long legs she wanted to grip, encased in worn jeans lead to work boots. Hmm, construction perhaps? She glanced back up his body to his striking face.
He wasn’t beautiful, but he did have a face most women would dream about. A strong jaw and cheekbones gave him an aura of strength, the kind of strength that would be protective. His hair was midnight black and long enough to brush his shoulders, however, today, a band held it back, showcasing his face more. He studied her, his green eyes calm and calculating. Willow let out a surprised gasp at the sexual heat radiating from him. Could she possibly be imagining things?
Jasper Jamenson fought himself as he walked into the bakery that morning. This would be the seventh week in a row he’d come here, every day but Sunday. And that was only because the damn store was closed. As good as the cinnamon rolls were, and they were little tastes of heaven, it was the woman behind the counter that brought him there every morning.
Following a particularly bad night in the forest on a hunt, Jasper had been pissed and hungry. Another wolf had tried to play a dominant game, forcing Jasper to hurt him. The stench of the other’s defeat had remained on him, only angering Jasper that much more. The scent of the morning’s freshly baked goods pulled him through the quaint and welcoming door, and the slender goddess who served him brought thoughts of a different form of servicing to mind.
Slightly above average in height – he would guess about five foot seven – she was the perfect height to settle against his body. For someone who owned and operated a bakery, she was as skinny as a rail. However, if he looked close enough he could see the telltale signs possible of curves. And with just a little bit of his help and pampering she would gain some well-needed cushion. No matter what, she’d look amazing underneath him. Her long, light brown hair curled in a bun on the top of her head. His fingers ached to pull out the pins and watch it tumble down her back. Hazel eyes sought him and begged for his protection. Damn, he was willing.
Her look made the wolf within him perk up and growl.
“Mate? I want her”. His wolf paced beneath the surface of his skin, calculating the best way to quickly claim their mate.
What his wolf spoke of was a possibility. There were only a few women in the world through time that carried the scent to signal the potential mating. Unlike his brother Kade, who had met two women recently that carried the scent, Jasper had never in his one-hundred and three years come across a woman who brought forth the mating urge. However, if all encounters were like this one, Jasper didn’t know how others walked away. The urge rode him hard and he fought his wolf for control if only for a moment, something that hadn’t happened since he was a pup.
He mentally spoke to his wolf. “We are not ready for a mate. And a human no less. She knows nothing of us. If, and that is a big if, we chose her to be our mate, we will have to go slowly into this. I don’t want us to scare her. But she is beautiful, no”
His wolf growled in response.
“Do you want to scare her away? Let’s get to know her first, see if she is a good match, other than that incredible cinnamon scent. I’ll talk to Adam and find out everything I can about her. I am the Beta; I cannot put my Pack in jeopardy.”
God, he really sucked at this. This time he needed to put on his big wolf panties and actually ask her out.
“Then we could mark her.”
He snorted at his wolf. Yeah, that was taking it slow.
Jasper shook himself from his inner thoughts and looked into those hazel eyes. The spot of flour on her cheek begged for his hand to brush it way. He fought the urge. No need to freak her out. Her chest moved slowly, her small breasts rising and falling. The cinnamon scent of her filled his nostrils and he took a deep breath, the aroma going straight to his cock. The slight gasp that escaped from her kissable lips almost broke his control, and he fisted his hands to regain it.
“Good morning.” His voice lowered an octave and became a growl. He cleared his throat and started again. “I come here every morning and I don’t think I ever gave you my name. Let me rectify that.” He closed the distance between them so only the counter separated them. “I’m Jasper Jamenson. It’s a pleasure to meet you.” He held out his hand in hopes of touching her skin.
Willow blinked up at him and seemed at a loss for words. Her lips opened slightly, begging him to lean down and taste her.
“Uh… yeah… I’m Willow Delton.” She shook her head, gave him a small smile and placed her slender hand in his. He’d been right – her skin was incredibly soft and made him want to take a bite.
“Yes, I know, you own this place.” He gave her hand a squeeze and released her.
“So, Jasper, do you want your usual?” The sound of his name on her lips hardened his cock. Without waiting for him to respond, she turned back to her work-table to ice her cinnamon rolls.
“Sounds good.” He watched as her hands moved swiftly and confidently across the baking sheets. “What time do you get off?”
“Smooth, Romeo. Why don’t you just ask her to bend over the work table for you?”
Ignoring his wolf Jasper continued, “I thought that we could grab a bite to eat tonight and go see to the arts fest they have running in town.”
Oh dear Lord. Why didn’t he ease into this?
“Oh, are you asking me out on a date?” She wrinkled her brow and looked utterly confused at the prospect.
“Yes, I am. I’ve been in here for over a month every morning, and as much as I love your food, I had an ulterior motive.”
Surprise flashed across her face before her eyes lit up with excitement. “I’ve never been to the arts fest in town. I didn’t want to go by myself and didn’t have anyone to go with me.” Her mouth snapped shut at her revealing statement.
Laughing quietly, he shook his head. “So what time do you get off?”
“You really need to stop putting it like that; it gives me ideas.” Again, he ignored his wolf’s sarcasm.
“I close at four and should be done cleaning up by five. It’s only me here today so it’s going to take me an hour to close.”
“What do you say I come back at six and we go to dinner from here?”
Her smile almost blinded him as she nodded before taking off her apron. “Okay. Sounds good. Here’s your breakfast.” She handed him his black coffee and a small brown bag with a pink logo.
Taking everything from her hands, he set them down along with the cash to pay for it. Giving into temptation he leaned over the counter to brush the flour from her cheek.
She jumped and a flash of alarm raced across her face.
Chuckling under his breath, he reassured her. “Just some flour. I’ll see you at six, Willow.” He grabbed his breakfast and walked to the door, taking one last look behind him at the woman who was his mate. He was one lucky bastard.
Whistling a jaunty tune, he walked toward his Jeep, unconcerned and happy while leaving his mate to do her work. The hairs on the back of his neck lifted, and his wolf came to attention. The street was empty but for a few people; nothing looked out of place. Jasper took a deep breath but didn’t detect another presence. With one last look toward his slender brunette, he shrugged off the uneasy feeling and continued to his Jeep.
Carrie Ann Ryan is a paranormal and contemporary romance author. After spending too much time behind a lab bench, she decided to dive into the romance world and find her werewolf mate - even if its just in her books. Happy endings are always near - even if you have to get over the challenges of falling in love first.
Her first book, An Alpha's Path, is the first in her Redwood Pack series. She's also an avid reader and lover of romance and fiction novels. She love meeting new authors and new worlds. Any recommendations you have are appreciated. Carrie Ann lives in New England with her husband and two kittens.
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