Christmas Cheer: Giveaway of Magic & Mistletoe by Annabelle Jacobs

Day 4 of Christmas Cheer is Magic & Mistletoe by the lovely Annabelle Jacobs.

Leave a comment here to enter the draw to win an ebook copy of Mistletoe & Magic. Draw will picked at 14th December at 9am, GMT.

Buylinks: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Christmas is Harry’s favourite time of the year, but it looks like he’ll be spending it alone. When it comes to the men he fancies, his luck is non-existent. Harry’s nerves always get the better of him—especially when he tries to talk to Andrew, the hot guy downstairs.

Everything changes when Harry meets a mysterious girl in the woods who professes to be a witch. He dismisses her claims, but when odd things start happening to him, he has to reconsider.

Andrew was attracted to Harry from the start, but their awkward encounters put him off. All goes well until Harry opens his mouth—and ruins it with his stupidity and silly comments. When Harry suddenly becomes more relaxed and they have a proper conversation, Andrew realises his first impression was wrong. As the days count down to December 25, they get swept up in the Christmas spirit and their relationship moves faster than either expected.

A little winter magic might have been the push they needed, but Harry worries that when it wears off, he’ll no longer be the man Andrew wants.

 

New Release: Magic & Mistletoe by Annabelle Jacobs

Magic&MistletoeMagic & Mistletoe

Buylinks: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Christmas is Harry’s favourite time of the year, but it looks like he’ll be spending it alone. When it comes to the men he fancies, his luck is non-existent. Harry’s nerves always get the better of him—especially when he tries to talk to Andrew, the hot guy downstairs.

Everything changes when Harry meets a mysterious girl in the woods who professes to be a witch. He dismisses her claims, but when odd things start happening to him, he has to reconsider.

Andrew was attracted to Harry from the start, but their awkward encounters put him off. All goes well until Harry opens his mouth—and ruins it with his stupidity and silly comments. When Harry suddenly becomes more relaxed and they have a proper conversation, Andrew realises his first impression was wrong. As the days count down to December 25, they get swept up in the Christmas spirit and their relationship moves faster than either expected.

A little winter magic might have been the push they needed, but Harry worries that when it wears off, he’ll no longer be the man Andrew wants.

 

NEW RELEASE: THE ALTERED 3 (LYCANAERIS) BY ANNABELLE JACOBS

Blurb:

The Altered 3 (Lycanaeris) by Annabelle Jacobs

Matt is a single shifter living in a house full of couples. It’s not that he begrudges his friends their happiness—especially after everything they’ve been through—but he wants someone for himself. He wants a mate. Living out in the Cornish countryside there seems little chance of him finding one.

Thomas’s life has recently been changed for ever. Newly altered, he finds himself in danger as his mother, a prominent politician, works to put a stop to the mistreatment of altereds and bring those responsible to justice.

To keep him safe, Thomas is sent to Cornwall where Matt and his friends offer him refuge until he can return to his home in London. Despite the circumstances surrounding his arrival, Thomas and Matt bond in a way neither of them were expecting. They struggle to come to terms with what this might mean for their future once the threat is eliminated.

Excerpt:

Chapter One

August 2015

The cool breeze of early morning ruffled the curtains, and Matt squinted against the bright sunlight. It looked as though they were in for another beautiful day—this summer had been one of the hottest they’d had in a while.
He sighed and stretched his arms above his head, content to lie in bed and enjoy the rare quiet of the farmhouse. The barn conversions were nearly complete, and in another couple of weeks, there would be three fully soundproofed, open-plan apartments ready for people to move in to.
The work had gone surprisingly quickly, and Matt would be glad of finally getting a little space again, but he’d be lying if he said he was looking forward to it.
“Fuck.” He ran a hand over his eyes, indulging the feeling of longing for just a second before pushing the covers aside and sitting up.
It made perfect sense that the three couples should take the new apartments. The farmhouse wasn’t soundproofed yet, and everyone had had enough of listening to one another’s bedroom activities. It had been Matt’s suggestion in the first place, and he didn’t mind staying where he was. It was just… he closed his eyes and let out a ragged breath as the sounds of lazy kisses and soft morning greetings now echoed down the hall. He was jealous.
Jordan and Daniel, Keira and Charlie, and now Sam and Ash. They were all so happy. Matt was glad they had each other, but he desperately wished he had someone too.
“Come on, Matt. Get a grip.” The words came out barely more than a whisper. The last thing he wanted was for any of the others to hear him. He rubbed at his chest with the heel of his hand, massaging the constant ache deep inside. It had worsened over the past few weeks, and he couldn’t put his finger on why that was, but he wanted it to stop.
God, what was wrong with him this morning? He stood and shook himself before walking over to the window and drawing the curtains wide, until all he could see was blue sky and green fields. They were so lucky to live here, surrounded by this rugged beauty, and he needed to remember that and stop feeling so fucking sorry for himself.
He was safe; his friends were safe. What more did he need?

By the time he’d showered and dressed, the others were starting to stir. Matt bumped into a sleepy-looking Daniel on his way down the stairs, and couldn’t help but smile as Daniel grumbled out a “Morning,” yawning halfway through.
He shoved Daniel’s shoulder hard enough to make him stumble, and laughed at the look of outrage on Daniel’s face.
“Fuck off.” Daniel narrowed his eyes and took in Matt from head to toe. “Why are you up so early?”
Matt glanced at his watch—seven forty-five. It wasn’t that early. “Um… shouldn’t you be gone by now?”
Daniel frowned. “What time is it?”
Matt told him and watched in amusement as realisation slowly dawned.
“Shit, I am so late. Jordan must have turned off the alarm when he left this morning, I’m going to bloody kill him!” Daniel pushed past him towards the bathroom, cursing under his breath about inconsiderate boyfriends.
“I’ll put the kettle on,” Matt shouted over his shoulder as he headed downstairs.
The slam of the bathroom door was the only reply.
Keira and Charlie were already seated at the table when Matt entered the kitchen.
“Morning.” He walked over and flicked the kettle on, then opened the cupboard above to get two mugs out. “Are you two working today?” He turned to face them, leaning back against the counter.
Keira set her mug down on the table, and stood. “Yeah, our first group is at nine.” She held her hand out to Charlie and tugged him up. “We’d better go and get ready. See you later.”
“Have fun.” Matt smiled as they left still holding hands.
They’d been lucky as far as jobs went. As soon as the tourist season had begun in the middle of May, the job market had picked up considerably. Ash managed to get a job at a surf shop in Penzance, and both Keira and Charlie worked for one of the local surf schools. It helped that the guy who ran it was an altered, and after a few tense meetings, he’d agreed to give them a crash course in surfing and then taken them on. Most of the lessons were booked online. All Keira and Charlie had to do was turn up and spend the day on the beach helping people learn how to surf. It sounded like the perfect job to Matt.
The same guy also helped Jordan get a job as a lifeguard on Sennen Beach. They might only be temporary staff for the summer, but it wasn’t as though they needed the money. Between them, they had more than enough after the sale of Jordan’s house and the gym.
Everyone had been glad to finally have something to do other than fixing up the farm. Well, everyone apart from Sam. He might be spending more time as a human than a wolf these days, but he had no desire to mix with anyone other than their small group.
Matt was just finishing off the teas when Daniel thundered down the stairs, fully dressed but still towelling his hair. “Here.” He handed one of the mugs to Daniel and then popped a couple of pieces of bread in the toaster.
“Thanks.” Daniel sat down, gratefully cradling his tea in his hands. “What are you up to today?” He eyed Matt over the top of the mug, his gaze intent.
If anyone suspected Matt felt lonely sometimes, it would be Daniel. They knew each other far too well for Matt to hide it. He wasn’t exactly trying to either, but it served no purpose to bring it up and whine about it. There was plenty of time for him to meet someone. It had never bothered him before, and he was getting a little pissed off with it becoming an issue now.
“Well?” Daniel raised an eyebrow as he took a sip. “Everything okay?”
“Yeah, sorry. Just tired, I guess.” As if on cue, Matt yawned widely, his jaw cracking and making Daniel wince. “I’ve got a couple of projects to work on first, and then I might help Sam this afternoon if I finish early enough.”
The toaster popped up, ending their conversation as Matt spread butter on the toast and they both began to eat. Five minutes later Daniel was pulling on his shoes and hurrying out the door for his shift at the beach cafe. Matt took his tea down the hallway to his office. Writing software wasn’t the most glamorous of jobs, but it paid well, and he could easily work from home. Once again he marvelled at the way everything had worked out so well for them.
He kept waiting for something to ruin it.
Turned out he didn’t have to wait all that long in the end.

Matt came out of his makeshift office, formerly known as the dining room, in search of food, and he stopped in his tracks. He needed to be able to concentrate when working from home, so the office was the only room in the farmhouse that had any kind of soundproofing. That would explain why he hadn’t heard Daniel come back, but his scent lingered in the hallway, far too recent for someone who should still be at work.
“Daniel?” Matt strained to hear anything, but the farmhouse seemed quiet. His senses were a little overwhelmed after being effectively dampened for the last three hours, but after thirty seconds or so, he heard the tread of footsteps outside and a car approaching.
Jordan’s black Volkswagen T5 pulled up onto the gravel drive at the same time as Matt opened the kitchen door. Daniel walked over to meet Jordan as he got out of the van, holding his phone out for Jordan to see. Whatever was on there had Jordan tensing up immediately.
“What’s wrong?” Matt called out, making Daniel jump, but Jordan didn’t even flinch, already fully aware of his presence. Matt walked over to them and looked pointedly at Daniel.
Daniel motioned for Jordan to give him his phone back and handed it straight over to Matt. “I got an email from Shaw.”
It took Matt a good few seconds to recognise the name. And when he did, his chest tightened at the memories it invoked. It wasn’t that anyone had forgotten what happened at the facility, but it wasn’t exactly a popular topic of conversation. Michael Shaw, along with Ash and a Dr David Adams, had been injected with the serum by Chambers and he’d ended up a partial altered. Whatever he had to say, Matt doubted it would be anything good. With a resigned sigh, he glanced down and started reading.
Altered experiments are still happening. Check the news reports for more info. Need proof of who’s involved before seeking help to shut them down. We’re working on getting it, but have someone important we need to keep safe and out of sight in the meantime. Our best option is to send them to you. Will contact you at 6pm tonight.
The email was short and to the point. Matt felt oddly pleased Shaw hadn’t bothered with pleasantries. They weren’t friends, and he was glad no one pretended otherwise. He read it again to make sure he hadn’t missed anything, and handed the phone back to Daniel.
“So.” Matt glanced up at the sky, knowing their peaceful existence was about to change. But he asked the question anyway. “Are we going to take them?”
Jordan sighed and slipped an arm around Daniel’s waist. “I don’t think it was a request.” He nudged Daniel back towards the house, and Matt followed them. “And I’m not sure it’s something we can ignore any longer, are you?”
Matt hated that Jordan was right. He hated the stirrings of guilt even more, and struggled to push them back down. “Fuck.” He scrubbed at his eyes, suddenly feeling tired.
They’d pretty much cut themselves off from everything when they left London. The fire at the facility had made the news but was reported as a laboratory accident. As far as Matt was aware, the facility’s true purpose had never been disclosed to the public.
He turned on the TV and flicked through to a news channel. Sure enough, the big bold headlines scrolled along the bottom of the screen, echoing the email sent by Shaw.
Leading government official demands new enquiry into GFACs.
Daniel brushed past him and sat down on the sofa, eyes glued to the television. Matt took the spot next to him. They waited for the local news to finish, and then the picture changed to a reporter standing outside the Houses of Parliament.
“Earlier today the Minister of State for Policing, Crime and Criminal Justice, and Victims, Teresa Knight, stood up in front of her fellow MPs and demanded the files on the Government Facilities for Altered Children, or GFACs, be reopened,” the reporter began. “Ms Knight stated she had reason to believe the facilities’ data and records had not been destroyed as previously reported, and that the program to create super soldiers had been resurrected, funded by the private sector. She claimed that altereds had been unfairly treated and cast out by society when they were no more of a danger than anyone else who possesses the skills to defend themselves. She also claimed that her son had been targeted as a means to keep her quiet, and went on to say that one facility had already been burned down, but two more remained, and certain government officials were well aware of this fact. Ms Knight refused to name names when asked who was involved. Some of her fellow MPs dismissed her claims as ridiculous propaganda and rumour-mongering.”
Matt let out a low whistle. “Jesus Christ.”
The news reporter went on to talk about Ms Knight’s missing son, Thomas, who had been abducted a few days earlier, but had since been found by the police and was currently being held somewhere safe.
“I bet by somewhere safe they mean he’s locked up tight and under armed guard. I imagine that if he was taken once, they’ll probably try again, especially since she’s talking to the press.”
“I agree.” Daniel scooted forwards and plucked the remote control out of Matt’s hand. He lowered the volume and set it back on the coffee table. “And two more facilities? Fucking hell.” His voice came out higher than normal, and Matt frowned at the sudden increase in his heart rate. “Do you think Chambers kept them up to date with his research? Would he have had time before we shut him down?”
Daniel always kept calm. Years of smothering his body’s reactions had taught him that, but Matt felt the distinct edge of panic seeping out of him.
“Hey, Dan.” He reached out without thinking and put his arm around Daniel’s shoulders. Jordan’s low growl made him startle, but Matt didn’t remove his arm. He was used to Jordan’s possessiveness and ignored it like he usually did. “Shaw said he’d call later, yeah? We can ask him about it then.”
“I thought we’d put a stop to their experiments when we burned that place to the ground.” Daniel rested his elbows on his knees and covered his face with his hands. He let out a loud sigh. “How bloody naive. We’ve been living an easy life down here in Cornwall while they’re still torturing people and carrying out tests. Christ, I feel—”
“Daniel.” Jordan’s voice cracked like a whip, and Daniel’s hands fell away from his face as he glared back at him. “We left London to start a new life because the one we had was ruined by those people. Who knows how many are involved in this? We number six shifters and a seer—no match for a large corporate organisation and possibly government officials too.” He walked around the sofa and crouched down in front of Daniel, taking his hands in his. “I know how you feel, but there was nothing we could do.”
Matt thought about the news report and what Shaw had implied in his email. “But there might be now, though, right?”
Daniel nodded. “I think so. Whoever it is they need to get out of London, we should do what we can to make it happen.”
Jordan stood and pulled Daniel up with him. “We need to make sure everyone’s home by six tonight, so we can all hear what Shaw has to say.”
Matt sighed but stood up too, pulling his own phone from his pocket. “I’ll call Ash, and then go tell Sam. You two go and see Keira and Charlie.” He dialled Ash’s number as Jordan and Daniel left for the beach.
“Hey, Matt. What’s up? And make it quick. I have customers.”
Matt cringed as Ash’s cheerful voice greeted him. This was going to suck. “You need to be home by six tonight.”
“No problem, I’m finishing at five anyway. Why, though?”
Matt hated having to tell this to Ash, of all people. Ash’s whole life had changed thanks to Chambers and his experiments. “There’s two more facilities. And Shaw needs our help.”
The line went so quiet, Matt thought Ash had hung up, but then he heard the ragged inhale and a whispered “Fuck.”
“Yeah, okay. I’ll be there.”
He did hang up then, and Matt sighed as he put his phone away. Telling Sam would be just as unpleasant. Matt hoped he wouldn’t blame the messenger.

Available now at Amazon.comAmazon.co.uk and ARe

NEW RELEASE: A CASUAL THING BY ANNABELLE JACOBS

Blurb:

Patrick Mason travels to Bristol to spend the summer with his brother, Ben. He’s cat sitting for the first two weeks while Ben goes on holiday. But Ben neglected to tell him he wouldn’t be doing it alone. Will Adams—Ben’s mate and Patrick’s long-time crush—is staying in Ben’s guest room while he waits to move into his new house after a breakup.

Against his better judgment, Patrick convinces Will that a little no-strings fun is just what they need. Patrick doesn’t want to get involved with a guy on the rebound, and Will isn’t interested in starting something serious with a student. But Patrick’s never been good at separating sex from feelings, and this time is no exception. As their weeks together draw to a close, they need to decide if they have something worth pursuing or if it’s really just a casual thing.

Excerpt: (found at Dreamspinner)

Chapter ONE

“Hey,” Patrick answered and put his phone on speaker, smiling as his brother’s voice filled the car.

“I hope you’re using handsfree. Mum’d kill me if I made you crash.”

Patrick rolled his eyes, even though Ben couldn’t see him. “Yes, I’m not stupid.” He indicated and pulled over into the slow lane, though, to be on the safe side. “I’m about twenty minutes from Bristol. Are you finishing work soon?”

Patrick heard the rustle of paper in the background and the sound of a drawer being closed.

“Yeah, I’m just leaving now.” Ben paused and a few shouts of “good-bye” and “enjoy your holiday” sounded before Ben spoke again. “Should be home before you get there. You remember how to get to the flat, don’t you?”

“Yep, M4, M32, and off at J1. I’ve got satnav for the rest of it.”

“Okay, well, call me if you get lost. Otherwise I’ll see you in a few.”

The line went dead, and Patrick grinned. He hadn’t seen his brother since Christmas, and just talking to him made Patrick feel more relaxed. Ben radiated calm. He was probably the most easygoing, laid-back person Patrick knew. Patrick’s roommate, Sean, wasn’t far behind him, which was part of the reason they got on so well, but Ben tended to put a person at ease the moment he entered the room. Patrick could do with a bit of that after the last few weeks.

He only made a couple of wrong turns before he spotted the sign for Ben’s road, and then he turned onto the street and parked outside the building. Ben lived in a two-bedroom flat on a large but nice housing estate just off the motorway—close enough to town so it didn’t cost too much in a taxi, but far enough out to get away from it all.

He had one of the ground-floor flats and already had the door open as Patrick walked down the path toward him. “Bloody hell, look at the state of you.” Ben grabbed the beanie from Patrick’s head and ruffled his hair, grinning. “Good to see you, though.” He pulled Patrick into a hug, almost crushing him in the process.

They had the same coloring—blue eyes and dark brown hair, although Ben’s curled where Patrick’s was straight—but Ben had about two inches on him, and at least a stone and a half in weight. Ben had always been sporty and played anything that involved a ball, whereas Patrick had stuck to running. He had shit coordination—an endless source of amusement to the rest of his family and friends—so he tended to avoid team sports. Patrick enjoyed watching them, though, which was just as well, considering Ben hardly bothered with any other channels except Sky Sports.

“Can’t breathe.” Patrick dug his fingers into Ben’s ribs to make him let go, laughing when Ben flinched in response. “And fuck off. There’s nothing wrong with the way I look.” He gestured to his tight, long-sleeved T-shirt, skinny jeans, and Converse. They fit him well, snug in all the right places.

“I bet you look like every other student. Where’s your sense of originality?”

Patrick gave Ben a light shove and pushed past him into the flat. “Shut up and start fetching my stuff in from the car. I’m dying for a piss.” He turned and chucked his keys to his brother, grinning at the indignant look on his face.

“I’m regretting this already, just so you know. And you better have left most of your crap at Mum and Dad’s. I don’t want a flat full of your boxes.”

“Yeah, yeah.”

By the time Patrick finished in the toilet, Ben had grabbed the two bags and was coming into the lounge. “Is this all you brought? Not much for the whole summer.”

“There’s a few more bits in the car, but I’m only here for a couple of months, and it’s not like I can’t wash stuff.”

Ben raised an eyebrow. “I see living with Sean all these years has done some good after all.”

“Ugh,” Patrick groaned. He wasn’t that bad. “He’s my roommate, not my mum. He doesn’t make me do chores you know.” Sean was also his best friend, and three years of living together at university had made Patrick more self-sufficient, but he wasn’t about to admit it. “Anyway,” he said, walking down the hall as he spoke. “I’m assuming you’ve cleared out all your shit from the spare room?” Patrick looked back over his shoulder as he opened the door. Ben usually shoved anything he didn’t use in there until he either gave it to charity or took it down to the rubbish tip.

“Yeah, um… about that….” Ben let the sentence hang there as Patrick opened the door to the spare room and stopped in his tracks.

Okay, so it wasn’t full of Ben’s stuff, but it wasn’t empty either. The bed looked recently slept in, the quilt pulled up sort of straight but the pillows at odd angles, as though it had been made in a hurry. A couple of shirts hung on the wardrobe door, and the desk had a laptop on it and some toiletries that definitely belonged to a guy.

Ben appeared behind him, scratching at the back of his neck, but not looking particularly bothered. Patrick waved a hand around the room and raised his eyebrow. “I guess I’m not staying in here, then?”

“Sorry, it only happened a couple of weeks ago, and I forgot all about it. But he’s only here for another two weeks, so you can sleep in my room while I’m away.” Ben gestured to the door opposite and picked up Patrick’s bags again. “I’m off in the morning, so you only have to sleep on the sofa for one night.”

Patrick followed him, trying not to feel disappointed at not having the place to himself. He collapsed on Ben’s bed, making sure to hang his shoes over the edge. “So, who is it, then? Do I know him?” He narrowed his eyes, watching as Ben dropped both bags in front of the wardrobe and turned to face him. “It better not be someone old and boring who’s going to judge everything I do. Christ.” He threw his arm over his face and let out a put-upon sigh. “I might as well have stayed at home.”

“He’s not old. He’s a year older than me.”

“You’re old.”

“Shut the fuck up, or I will send you back home.” The bed dipped as Ben sat down. “And yes, you know him. He’s a good guy—I wouldn’t leave my little brother alone for two weeks with someone I didn’t trust completely.”

Patrick sat up and leaned on his elbows, taking in the slightly shifty expression on his brother’s face. Nothing normally fazed Ben, and he’d said that Patrick knew the guy and that Ben trusted him, so Patrick didn’t see what the problem could be. He liked to think he was pretty easy to get along with. He maybe had a lot of energy, which irritated some people, but he tried to tone it down with anyone other than close friends or family. Ben’s mates all knew him pretty well anyway—Patrick usually came down to Bristol for at least a few days every time he had a break from uni.

“Well, I’m assuming it’s one of your friends, and honestly, Ben, they’re a great bunch of lads, so I don’t get why you’re being weird.”

“I’m not being weird.”

Patrick gave him his best “yeah right” look and sat up a bit. “Seriously, I won’t have a problem sharing with any of them,” he said, nudging Ben with his shoulder. “Well, except Will maybe, but that’s only because—”

Patrick stopped, the words dying on his tongue as he noticed Ben wince.

“No.” He jumped off the bed, fisting his hands in his hair. “No fucking way. Ben, please tell me you’re not leaving me alone for two weeks with the guy I have a huge unrequited, and frankly, embarrassing, crush on?”

Ben shrugged. “He needed somewhere to stay. I’d sort of forgotten you had the hots for him.”

“How could you forget?” Patrick paced in front of the bed. “The last time I was here, I tried to climb into his lap and told him how hot he was. In front of his boyfriend.”

“Oh yeah.” Ben grinned, and Patrick stopped his pacing to punch him on the arm.

“It’s not funny.”

“It was hilarious.” Ben ducked out of the way when Patrick tried to punch him again. “Look, you were drunk. We all were. He doesn’t hold it against you.”

“But he won’t have forgotten.” The whole thing still made Patrick cringe every time he thought about it. He may have been drunk, but sadly not drunk enough to wipe the horrifying experience from his brain.

“Sit down. I think you might be overreacting just a tad.” Ben even used his finger and thumb to demonstrate how much he thought Patrick was overreacting before grabbing Patrick’s arm and yanking him back down onto the bed.

Patrick sighed. Fine. Maybe he was being overly dramatic, but come on. This was Will. Tall, dark, and handsome, and as easygoing as Ben. He oozed charm and made you want to curl up with him somewhere warm and never ever move. Well, that last part could just be Patrick.

Fuck.

He was going to make such an arse of himself. He flopped onto the bed and covered his face. “I hate you. You are the worst brother ever.”

Ben laughed as he tugged on Patrick’s hand until he was forced to sit up. “Don’t be such a drama queen, and come and help me get the rest of your things.” He slung an arm around Patrick’s shoulders and gave him a squeeze. “It’ll be fine. Will knows you’re coming. I told him this morning. He’s looking forward to seeing you again.”

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

Available now at DreamspinnerAmazon.comAmazon.co.uk and ARe

 

NEW RELEASE: THE ALTERED 2 BY ANNABELLE JACOBS

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Blurb:

A remote farmhouse in Cornwall seems the perfect place for Ash to settle into his recently altered status. Starting a new life there with Sam—the shifter he can’t stay away from—should be easy this far from London where they faced so much danger. So why does adjusting seem impossible?

Sam has issues of his own. He has to get used to his human form again after living the last eight years as a wolf. It’s hard when human worries weigh so heavily on his shoulders. Life is much more straightforward from a wolf’s perspective, until Ash needs his human support.

Ash’s problem is simple: he’s fearful of shifting fully. How can he believe he won’t hurt Sam when his genes were altered to create a killer? Despite repeated reassurance, his anger and resentment increase. Only one thing is certain: if Ash can’t learn to trust himself soon, he’s in danger of proving himself right.

Excerpt: (provided by the author)

The floorboards in the hallway outside his room creaked. Sam knew who it was long before the accompanying knock on the door.

Ash.

Ash knocked twice, only pushing the door open a little when Sam howled softly for him to come in.

“Oh, hey.” Ash stuck his head around the door, his dark hair a tousled mess as usual. He frowned when he saw Sam. “Um. Keira said today was a human day. But, er….” He came fully inside and closed the door behind him. “Don’t you fancy it?”

Ash walked over to Sam’s bed and sat on the bottom corner, propping his elbows on his knees.

Sam sighed and padded over to sit next to him, placing his head in Ash’s lap. As soon as Ash’s long fingers were in his fur—stroking back and forth—Sam felt a hundred times better. The soothing touch spread warmth throughout his body and Sam closed his eyes, letting it chase away whatever had been bothering him earlier.

Ash’s touch always had this effect on him. Sam had known what that meant from the very first time they’d met.

Ash was meant for him.

Everything about Ash: the way he looked, his scent—which drove Sam crazy sometimes—and even his voice, made something in Sam settle. Something he’d been missing for years. It was that feeling that had helped Sam to shift back in front of other people for the first time in eight years. That, and the fact that some fucking guard had a gun pointed at Ash’s head.

The thought had been instinctive, the need to protect rushing through him and forcing his body to react accordingly.

He couldn’t stay human, though.

Everything felt simpler as a wolf. He understood what went on around him, knew what people were saying and wanted to help them, but it had been easy to remain outside of everything. To not feel any guilt.

Available now at Amazon.comAmazon.co.ukARe and Smashwords

RELEASE DAY FOR THE ALTERED BY ANNABELLE JACOBS

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Blurb:

Twenty years ago the UK’s water supply was contaminated with an experimental pathogen, Lycanaeris, causing widespread panic across the nation. Terrorism was suspected but never proven, and when nothing happened–no epidemic, no unexplained illnesses–the whole episode was written off as an elaborate hoax. But Lycanaeris was selective. Only those of a certain age, and with a specific gene in their DNA were infected. Time would reveal the pathogen’s true nature, when those susceptible grew up Altered.

Daniel is one of thousands forced to hide his altered status by living a quiet life. He’s not like the others, though. Daniel can’t help looking so distinctive or being able to see every altered for what they really are. To those abducting altereds, that skill makes him valuable.

For Jordan, shifting from human to wolf means living under the radar to avoid unwanted attention. Meeting Daniel complicates matters. Daniel’s existence is a threat to Jordan and his friends, but Jordan can’t seem to shake the strange connection between them. When danger threatens, there’s little time for Daniel and Jordan to work out their feelings before lives are at stake.

Excerpt:

Prologue

January 1995 – Cerlika Pharmaceuticals, Reading

The research department, three floors below ground, lay quiet and deserted at eleven forty-five on a Friday night. Except for one lone scientist, typing furiously and checking over his shoulder every few minutes. He pressed the Return key on his computer, and slumped back in his chair.
It was done.
The cursor blinked back at him, the rest of the screen, empty. He’d deleted all of it—every last piece of information relating to Lycanaeris had been erased forever. He should have done it after the very first batch, as soon as he realised what they were trying to do—what they’d already done.
At least they hadn’t started clinical trials yet, and with all the information gone, they wouldn’t be able to now. All that remained were the vials, and he’d take care of them soon enough.
He turned off his monitor and walked over to the bank of fridges along the back wall, housing vials and vials of samples under test. He opened the door to the third fridge and carefully took out the small rectangular container, placing it on the bench. It held ten vials—enough to infect half the population if administered correctly.
He never heard the door open behind him, didn’t register he’d been shot until the pain hit, and red began to spread across the front of his lab coat. He slumped to the floor, the voice of his attacker sounding loud in the silence of the room.
“I have the vials, everything else is gone.”
The answering voice on the other end of the phone came through faint but audible. “The vials are all we need. Do you have them all?”
“Yes, Sir.”
“Is everyone ready to go?”
“Yes, it’ll be in the water supplies by noon tomorrow.”
“Good. Destroy the lab. And Kestle?”
“Sir?”
“Make sure you stock up on bottled water.”

Chapter One

London, January 2015

“Twenty years ago this week, the majority of the UK’s water supply was contaminated by the experimental pathogen, Lycanaeris, resulting in nationwide panic and an almost crippling water shortage. Cerlika Pharmaceuticals, the company behind Lycanaeris, denied any involvement, claiming terrorists stole the pathogen from its Reading laboratory before then setting the facility on fire and killing one of Cerlika’s lead chemists.”
Daniel frowned at the TV as he walked into the living room, while doing up the last of the buttons on his shirt. “What the hell are you watching this rubbish for?” He wandered over to the sofa and sat down on the arm where Matt had his feet propped up. “And get your smelly socks off the cushions.”
“I’m watching because it’s interesting,” Matt said, leaning forward a little and sniffing. “And fuck you, my feet don’t smell.” He turned the volume up.
“Cerlika claimed the pathogen was essentially a new strain of the flu virus, but further details were never released to the general public. The UK’s hospitals and doctors’ surgeries braced themselves for an influx of patients, but after months of waiting, the government claimed the whole thing was an elaborate hoax. By this time, Cerlika Pharmaceuticals no longer existed—having closed its doors under a cloud of suspicion and secrecy and selling off its assets to the highest bidder. The head of Cerlika, John Talson, and his top scientist, Kyle Chambers, disappeared around the same time, so neither was available for questioning. The actual effects of the Lycanaeris pathogen didn’t begin to surface until—”
“God, turn it off.” Daniel snatched the TV remote and pressed the power button before Matt could grab it back. “I don’t know why you insist on watching that shit. It’s not like we don’t know what happened. We were there.”
“Yeah, but we were, like, six years old.”
“I was five, actually.”
Matt sat up and stretched, his muscles flexing and his back cracking as he raised his arms above his head. He was still wearing only his jeans, and they were supposed to be going out in ten minutes. “Don’t you ever wonder what really happened? Why it affected some people and not others?”
Not really. I guess people react differently to viruses. Anyway, Cerlika dissolved almost straight after it happened, and the fire conveniently destroyed any evidence. Obviously they were in it up to their eyes. And the fact that no one was investigated should tell you they had friends in high places. Face it, you’re never going to know the truth, so why bother?” Daniel checked his watch and frowned. “Hurry up and get dressed, or we’re gonna be late.”
Matt’s timekeeping pissed Daniel off no end sometimes. He was one of Daniel’s best friends, they’d known each other since primary school, and he’d always been the last to get ready for anything.
Matt stood, grabbed a dark blue T-shirt from the back of the chair, and tugged it on. “There, I’m ready.” He ran his fingers through his hair a couple of times, bent to pull on his shoes, and ushered Daniel toward the door. “We’re only meeting up for a drink, it’s not like the others’ll be on time either.” Matt paused and glanced back down the hall toward the bedrooms. “Is Ash coming out?”
“No. I asked earlier, and he mumbled something about being busy with wizards and guilds, and was surprised I had the energy after such an exciting day at the library.”
“Yes, the two of you must be exhausted after a day shelving books.” Matt laughed, and avoided Daniel’s attempt to hit him.
“Hey, I only got a job there because I thought it seemed like the last place anyone would think to look. Anyway, we don’t spend the whole day putting books back, and I actually enjoy my job.”
Matt raised an eyebrow, and Daniel glared at him.
“I do. And so does Ash, for that matter, despite what he says. You don’t have to be old to work in a library, so piss off.”
“Okay, no need to get so defensive.” Matt grinned at him before leading the way to the front door, not bothering to put on his jacket. The cold January evening had little effect on him, and Daniel sighed as he tugged on Matt’s shoulder, forcing him to stop. “Matt.”
He grabbed Matt’s coat off the peg and handed it to him.
“Fuck, sorry.”
Ten years of hiding, and Matt still sometimes forgot.

They walked down to the end of their street, and Daniel shivered as they passed the last house and the wind picked up. The buildings in this part of London weren’t huge or overly expensive, but they were mainly well-kept, and the streetlights gave them an old town charm that they didn’t have in the day.
Neighbours were friendly in that they said hello in the mornings, but tended to mind their own business most of the time. Daniel felt as safe here as he probably would anywhere, and they had everything they needed within walking distance or a few stops on the Tube.
The bar they were meeting at tonight was roughly a twenty-minute walk away, maybe fifteen at the pace Matt walked. At six feet tall, Daniel stood an inch shorter than Matt, but he always seemed to struggle to keep up, even though Matt insisted he was walking normally.
As they left the residential area behind, bars and restaurants lined the streets, always busy with a steady hum of people. It had been one of the deciding factors in coming to London in the first place—too many people for them to stand out in the crowd.
“Anything?” Daniel asked, watching Matt out of the corner of his eye.
“A couple, two streets over, and six just up ahead.” Matt flexed his fingers as he spoke, glancing around them.
As they rounded the corner and the bar came into view, Daniel noticed the man on the door. Matt tensed beside him.
The guy was new.
He eyed Daniel curiously, but Daniel didn’t falter, well practiced at tamping down any reaction. The guy was probably looking at his hair anyway. It used to be a nondescript light brown. An okay colour, but nothing that turned heads. The day after the pathogen changed him on the inside, Daniel’s hair turned a shocking silver blond.
Hard to forget.
He’d tried dying it, had gone through the whole range of available dyes and colours, but nothing would take. That had been one of the many reasons his family had to move.
At least his eyes hadn’t changed, though. They were the same blue they’d always been. In fact, apart from his hair and a slight increase in his ability to heal, there was only one other notable difference. Some might call him lucky, but Daniel knew he was anything but.
He carried on walking next to Matt, heart rate steady, and breaths coming slow and even as they neared the pub.
“How late are we?” he asked, pausing in front of the door. But what he meant was “How many are there?” They’d developed simple yet subtle codes over the years. Easy to remember, hopefully impossible to detect, and essential in keeping Daniel’s ability a secret. Forewarned was forearmed.
Matt made a show of looking at his watch. “Only about five minutes, they’re all probably waiting inside.” Five, inside the bar.
With the one on the door, that made six. Not loads, but more than they’d been expecting for a Thursday night. They’d only wanted a quiet drink with friends. Daniel would have to be a little more on his guard than usual, but no big deal.
“Shall we?” Matt gestured toward the door and Daniel nodded. Matt made sure to stand between Daniel and the bouncer, acknowledging the guy with a quick nod before going inside.
The bar lined the back wall of the large room, with tables around the edges and a big open space in the middle. The décor was too modern in Daniel’s opinion—he preferred the old fashioned pub round the corner from their house—but Matt liked it.
Daniel glanced around, looking for their friends and seeing if he could spot the others Matt had sensed. Knowing where they were, and where the exits were, helped him feel more in control of the situation. Just in case.
He scanned the bar, his gaze sliding quickly past the various faces, not daring to linger. Two men sat at a table in the corner, perched on high stools, both with their backs to the wall, giving them a clear view of the room.
Daniel ignored them, showing not a flicker of recognition for what they were. Two more were at the bar—a man and a woman this time, standing closer than friends would, with their fingers loosely entwined, and he searched for the fifth one, all the while following Matt to the far end of the bar where their friends waited.
Daniel was about to give up, before it could become obvious he was looking, when the hairs on the back of his neck tingled—a sensation he hadn’t felt in a long time—making him shiver. He wanted to turn around, desperate to see what or who had caused him to react that way, but years of forcing himself to hide what he was kept Daniel firmly in place.
“Hey, Dan? You okay?” Matt nudged him gently with his elbow.
They’d reached their friends—two guys Matt worked with. Daniel smiled at them while Matt’s gaze slid down to Daniel’s chest.
Shit. His heart rate must have spiked. Daniel hoped the bar was loud enough to cover it, because altereds, or shifters as the newspapers called them, had exceptional hearing and everyone was suspicious these days. The last thing they needed was to draw any curious glances.
They ordered their drinks. Only after chatting for at least five minutes did Daniel allow himself to turn around, rest his back against the bar, and have another scan around the room.
He sipped at his pint, nodding along with the conversation while stealing glances at those around him. The tingly feeling hadn’t come back, but Daniel still felt off-kilter.
The two men at the corner table sat there, drinking bottled beer and appearing deep in conversation. Daniel didn’t think for one second they weren’t aware of everything going on around them.
He laughed at the joke Matt was in the middle of telling, chipping in for a bit and teasing him, and then he felt it again, creeping up the back of his spine like icy fingers. Daniel stayed perfectly still, suppressing his body’s natural reaction, and carefully turned to place his empty pint glass on the bar.
He let his gaze wander along to the end of the bar, past the couple he’d spotted earlier, and—
Bloody Hell.
He sucked in a sharp breath before he could stop himself. Usually he got a flash of images, depending on how much they’d been altered—claws, teeth, and fur if they changed fully, but never anything like this. One minute Daniel was looking at a tall dark-haired, really hot man, and in the blink of an eye he’d changed into a huge black wolf, fangs bared in a snarl—clearer than anything he’d seen before.
The image vanished almost as soon as it appeared, and the noise from the bar suddenly jarred Daniel back to his senses.
Fuck.
He could be in serious trouble. His gasp had almost certainly been audible to altered senses, and his heart had begun to race before he’d managed to get himself under control. The whole thing lasted no more than a few seconds at most, but long enough for every altered in the room to notice if they were paying attention.
Matt stiffened next to him. A quick squeeze on Daniel’s arm let him know Matt had heard.
God, he hadn’t been that sloppy in years. Daniel had to fight the urge to run out of the bar. The need to get away was almost too much to contain, but if any of the five had noticed him, running would only add to their suspicions.
Daniel didn’t dare look at any of the altereds again, his fear of discovery barely concealed as it was. But then Matt moved in close beside him, ordered them both another pint, and quickly shook his head.
None of the others had reacted.
“You sure?” he asked, pointing at Matt’s new pint. Are you sure they didn’t notice anything?
“Sort of.”
He wanted to ask Matt what he meant by that, but with so many shifters around that was out of the question.
Matt tapped at his pint. “Last one, then we’ll make our excuses and go. I’m not feeling it tonight.”
“Yeah, okay.” Daniel took a big swallow of his beer and relaxed back against the bar again as though he hadn’t just put his life—and possibly Matt’s by association—in danger.

Half an hour later, Daniel was zipping up his jacket as he stepped out of the bar into the freezing night air. He hated winter—cold and dark when he got up in the morning and the same when he arrived home at night.
“Bollocks. I left my coat inside.”
“Again?” Daniel sighed. “I’ll wait here while you go and get it.” Matt hesitated, clearly reluctant to leave Daniel on his own, but Daniel shooed him back inside. It’d take Matt all of two minutes, and the bouncer was right there. Nothing was going to happen. “Hurry up, I’m getting cold.”
“Okay, but….” He held up two fingers and shot a quick glance down the street. Two shifters.
“I’ll stay right here.” Daniel nodded toward the bouncer. He might be a shifter too, but as long as he thought Daniel was harmless, he’d provide protection.
Probably.
The door opened seconds after Matt had gone through it. Daniel had the words “What now?” on the tip of his tongue, convinced it was Matt coming back out, but one of the bar staff poked his head out instead, and the sounds of fighting filtered out into the street.
“You better get in here.” The barman looked pissed off—and wet.
“Shit.”
The bouncer rushed inside after him, leaving Daniel on his own.
He glanced up and down the street, rubbing his hands together to keep warm and subtly trying to see if the two shifters Matt had sensed were anywhere near him. The whole thing felt off. The pub had seen better days, and the clientele could be on the rough side, so occasionally fights broke out. But this early on a Thursday night? Surely no one was drunk enough for that yet?
And what was taking Matt so long?
Daniel stepped toward the door, figuring he’d rather take his chances inside than out here on his own, but a heavy hand landed on his shoulder before he had chance to open it.
“You’re coming with us.”
Daniel didn’t hesitate. The grip was too strong to be human, and he was sure claws were pressing through his jacket and into his skin. He grabbed hold of his attacker’s wrist and pulled, twisting his body at the same time and catching them off guard. He hadn’t trained in years, but the muscle memory was still there.
The guy stumbled, cursing as he slammed into the wall behind Daniel. “What the fuck?”
He might not have enhanced speed and strength, but Daniel had studied tae kwon do for eight years before his family had to move. He could take care of himself.
Well, in a fair fight, anyway.
The punch that landed as Daniel tried to open the door to the bar was anything but. It caught him squarely on the jaw, knocking his head to the side and sending him flailing backwards to land on his arse on the cold concrete.
“He’s just a bloody seer, Jason. What the hell is wrong with you?”
Oh hell.
Daniel struggled to his feet in time to see a bloke built like a rugby player, pulling another one—Jason—roughly to his feet. They both turned around, and before Daniel had got fully upright, they had him pinned to the wall in the alleyway next to the bar.
His head spun from being moved so quickly, but they didn’t give him chance to get his bearings. The next punch hit him in the ribs, followed by sharp claws raking down his side and tearing through his jacket and T-shirt. Daniel collapsed to the ground, gasping for breath.
He fingered at the rips in his clothing, and winced. Sore but not bloody.
“What are you doing here?” one of the men growled out. He kicked Daniel hard, his boot connecting with Daniel’s already tender side and making Daniel retch.
“Having… a fucking… drink,” Daniel spat out, clutching at his bruised ribs.
“Funny.” The rugby player—prop forward if Daniel was picking positions—pulled Daniel up and pressed him hard against the wall, his large hand wrapped loosely around Daniel’s throat.
“Look….” Daniel stalled, the pain in his side making it difficult to think clearly. He hadn’t been recognised once since they’d come to London, and he was pissed off with himself for being so careless. The guy tightened his grip, and Daniel struggled to get the words out. “I don’t work for anyone. I’m not looking for anyone. I’m just here with my mates, for a drink.”
Jason—the guy not preoccupied with slowly suffocating Daniel—stiffened, and his head whipped round to look back down the alley toward the road. “We’ve got company.” He sniffed the air and growled, turning back to glare at Daniel with his fangs fully extended. “Shifter,” he muttered, the words slightly distorted by his lengthened teeth. “Smells like him.”
As the pressure disappeared from around his throat, Daniel gasped for air and slumped back against the wall.
“Hey!” Matt’s voice echoed off the sides of the alleyway. “What the hell is going on?” He snarled, low and threatening, and the next moment he was there, standing between Daniel and the other two shifters.
Matt was hunched over, claws out.
Ready.
“I believe I asked you a fucking question.” His back and shoulders rippled with tension. Matt was generally easy-going, loud, and friendly—until you pissed him off enough to make him shift.
The other two shifters had claws and fangs, more than enough to tear Matt apart between them, but he held his ground.
Rugby Guy laughed, and Daniel tensed. “What d’you think you’re gonna do?” He gestured to Matt and then to himself and his friend. “You can’t take us. And why the hell are you with him, anyway?” He sneered as he nodded at Daniel. “Do you know what he is?”
“Yeah, I know.”
“The facilities still exist. They were never fucking shut down, and they use people like him to pick us out of a crowd. And yet you still protect him?” Rugby Guy scoffed.
Matt flexed his hands, claws ready. Shit. The last thing they needed was a fight when the odds were so obviously not in their favour. Daniel reached out to place his hand in the small of Matt’s back.
As soon as Daniel touched him, Matt shuddered and took a deep breath, his shoulders relaxing as he slowly let it out… and said, “With my life.”

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