Sam: Guarded Hearts Book 6 by Claire Marta and Nia Farrell
Length: 87,000 words. Cover Design by Crystal Visions.
Release Date, Jan 2, 2021.
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A psychic, an ex-priest, and two shifters walk into a bar… But it’s no laughing matter. All hell’s about to break loose.
Gael Fournier is harboring a secret—one that threatens to jeopardize his brothers at the Citadel and their fated mates. Broken, scarred, he refuses to open up to anyone, especially his partner Elijah.
Unwanted, Elijah Marley fights to break through to Gael anyway. Watching him from afar, nothing he does seems to pierce the wall around the Frenchman’s heart.
One chance meeting brings them face to face with their fated mate, Sam Henderson, a psychic medium who talks to the dead. Gael’s hostile reaction drives Elijah into the arms of another whose destiny is linked to theirs.
Angry, alone, Gael unknowingly walks into the clutches of the monster who’s been stalking him the whole time. After Elijah is unwittingly thrown into danger, too, it’s up to Sam and Father James Carver to race to the rescue of both men.
Not an easy task when their enemy is a vampire hell-bent on claiming and keeping what’s his….
Shifters with a sci-fi twist, Guarded Hearts Season One (Books 1-7) follows members of The Order of the Phoenix. Each book in this interconnected storyline provides a happily-ever-after for the main characters. While the first book of Season One can be read as a stand-alone, the following titles need to be read in order, beginning with Morgan (Guarded Hearts Book 1).
This story has potential triggers, including forced compliance. MMFM ménage erotic romance with MF, MM, and MMF scenes, written for Ages 18+.
BOOKS IN GUARDED HEARTS SEASON ONE:
Morgan http://mybook.to/GH1 (19 Oct 2019)
Casey http://mybook.to/GH2 (13 Mar 2020)
Raven http://mybook.to/GH3 (8 Aug 2020)
Riley http://mybook.to/GH4 (12 Sept 2020)
Darcy http://mybook.to/GH5 (23 Oct 2020)
Sam http://mybook.to/GH6 (2 Jan 2021)
Ash (7 Mar 2021)
Grandma was at it again.
“Sammy, get that one to bend over for me, would you, hon, so I can check out those tight buns of his in those jeans?” she murmured.
Sam bit her lip and swallowed down her reply. She’d had plenty of weird looks when people thought she was talking to herself. No one could see Grandma. They only heard her one-sided conversation which made things awkward.
“Oh, yeah, come to Grandma,” the old woman crooned, circling around behind the men and eyeing their tushes.
Please don’t get handsy, Grandma, she mentally warned and hoped she was listening in. Bum pinching was Ellie Mae Henderson’s afterlife obsession. Okay. Sam would admit they were both drop-dead gorgeous. The blond had a broody, bad boy vibe going and the other one’s smile was bright and friendly. His eyes twinkled and there was something about him that made her warm all over. She really needed to get laid. It had been months since her last hook up. Not since North Carolina. Her grandmother’s inability to keep her hands to herself had ended every relationship she’d ever been in. Her longest had lasted a month until he’d gotten spooked. Once Grandma got grabby, it was goodbye, boyfriend.
“Come on, girl! Don’t just stand there with your mouth hanging open. Charm these fine young men. Winner, winner, chicken dinner. Play your cards right and you’ll have some dark and white meat in your bed tonight. If it makes you feel any better, I promise I won’t watch.”
Talk about killing the mood. Sam shook herself and focused on the men who’d come with Prince.
“I’m Sam,” she repeated. “And you are…?”
“Elijah Marley.” The handsome black man with the blinding smile had a Jamaican accent. He had his hands full holding the Irish wolfhound, who was straining to check out Gus.
She looked expectantly at the broody one, a tragic blond with a dark shroud clinging to his shoulders.
“Gael Fournier,” he clipped in a French accent, as unhappy to be here as Elijah was delighted.
She intuited that they were partners but they sure didn’t act like it. If they were in a committed relationship, it was on the rocks. She sensed a separation looming with a chance of a reunion. The future had yet to be determined. It would have to be both their choices to make things work. Otherwise they were doomed to fail.
Which was too bad. They really were a beautiful couple.
Sighing, she wished them well. Just her luck to attract two gay men. She seemed to have a knack for it.
“And this is Prince,” she hummed, dropping to her knees. Putting her hand beneath his muzzle, she looked him squarely in the eye. “They tell me that you’ve been chasing a cat. Want to tell me what that’s all about, hmm?”
In her mind’s eye, Sam saw a blanket that used to be the dog’s. Somehow the cat had gotten hold of it and hidden it.
“You need to help them find it,” Grandma told her. “Go on! Tell them what you saw! If anyone can handle your truth, it’s these boys. Trust me.”
Sam lifted her chin and met their gazes, shifting hers back and forth between the two of them.
“The cat—Gibbs?” she asked Prince, double-checking what she thought he said. “Prince says that Gibbs stole his blanket. He’s only been trying to get it back. The cat’s hiding it somewhere on the property. If you like, Gus and I can do a search-and-rescue…, help find it and restore peace in the household. I’m afraid Prince isn’t going to stop until he gets it back. He barely tolerated the cat before this. He seriously dislikes him now. Sneaky thief, he says. And my precious. Dear Lord. He says he likes Lord of the Rings on movie night. This is one seriously fine animal you have.”
Gael remained stonily silent, eyeing her with suspicion. He wouldn’t trust easily. There were scars on his soul that might never heal.
Elijah looked at her in wonder. “You are a conjure woman, yes?” he asked. “You see things. Hear things.”
Gael curled his lip and made a scoffing sound.
Sam refused to apologize for her gifts. “I don’t do spellwork,” she told them. “I don’t intentionally conjure things, but I do hear them. Spirits. Animals. Trees. My grandmother. She’s gone but she’s still very much with me. My gifts are what let Gus and I be such a successful search-and-rescue team. When the trail goes cold, I can point him in the right direction until he picks it up again. Look, I know this is as unconventional a class as what you could imagine, but I’m happy to give you a refund. I just want to help Prince find his blanket. And I’ll have a talk with Gibbs while I’m at it. Hopefully, he’ll see the error of his ways. With cats, it’s hard to say. Too many of them remember when they were worshiped as gods.”
“Yes!” Elijah agreed excitedly. “We would be honored with your presence and help in our home.”
Gael’s jaw tightened but he didn’t say a word. The look in his eyes, though, spoke volumes. He didn’t believe a word she was saying—or at least he refused to.
“Great!” Sam replied, brightly ignoring the cold blue eyes directed at her and Grandma’s satisfied smirk. “Let’s start the lesson and then we can work out when I can come over.”
Prince turned out to be a good listener. Full of energy with a boisterous nature, he loved to play. Gus was a good influence on him. Well-trained and patient, her partner helped to show the younger dog what he was supposed to do. By the time the lesson was up, Prince and Elijah both were more confident with each other. Unlike Gael, who hung at the back of the room like a storm cloud. He hadn’t attempted to interact. Instead, he’d watched and silently judged.
“That one’s a project.” Grandma commented, eyeing the Frenchman. “He needs someone to take him in hand.”
Sam’s traitorous thoughts slid to a certain part of his anatomy she would love to take in hand. From the way he filled out his jeans, he wasn’t short or small in that department. Feeling her cheeks heat in a blush, she shook herself. Holy Batman, what was she thinking?
Although Elijah could be the actor Henry Cavill’s crotch double if there was such a thing. Her attention settled on the Jamaican’s natural endowment. The ridge in his pants reached to the side of his hip. It looked like he was housing an anaconda down there and growing by the second the more she watched.
“Oh, child,” Grandma chuckled. “Just wait until you unwrap it. It’s going to be like Christmas Day come early!”
Sam choked on the breath she’d just inhaled. They’re gay. She could sense a connection between them and her gift never failed.
Although, they could be bi…
“Bi,” Grandma confirmed, then sang it like NSYNC. “Bi, bi, bi…”
Sam and James walked to where the path divided, one side heading for the chapel, the other winding its way through the gardens. The property was softly lit from the glow of security lights that reached some of the flagstone walk. She let Gus mark a tree, wrapped his lead securely around her hand, and told him, “Find Grandma.”
Gus took off toward the back of the chapel. The spirit of Ellie Mae Henderson was walking the labyrinth, singing, “Follow the yellow brick road,” and spouting quotes from The Wizard of Oz and Airplane!
“It’s a twister! It’s a twister! Don’t call me Shirley!”
“What should I call you, then?” Sam whispered, not knowing if there were other ears around. James was in the chapel but Gael was missing. He could be out here somewhere, moping in the dark.
“Nope,” Grandma told her, reading her mind again. “There’s no one here but me, myself, and I—and now you and Gus and that good-looking man of the cloth on his knees in the chapel. You should check on him, Sam. Father James is in a world of hurt right now. He’s used to being the rock for everyone else, but he needs to feel an anchor, too, even if it’s the weight of a therapy dog.”
Sam had to hand it to Grandma. She hadn’t considered offering the comfort that Gus could provide someone. How many times had she seen him go to someone upset, someone in mourning, and accept their hugs and tears? “All right,” she said. “We’ll go. Will you stay here or are you coming in?”
Her late grandmother didn’t skip a beat. “I’ll stay here,” she chirped. “I’m still looking to catch me an elf—or a leprechaun! They’ve got ‘em, mark my words!”
If that’s what her grandmother believed, Sam wasn’t about to try and dissuade her, especially if it kept her out here and away from James.
Sam led Gus to the door of the chapel and stopped just outside it, wondering whether or not she should take him in. James might benefit from some pet therapy, but her instincts told her that he needed the human touch more. The comfort and support of an understanding, nonjudgmental soul might make all the difference to him right now.
Slipping inside, she spied James in the second row of pews, kneeling in prayer with his head bowed over his hands clasping the back of the seat in front of him.
His shoulders were shaking with silent sobs. She could feel his anguish from here.
Tying Gus to the coat rack in the back, she walked softly to the front, making just enough noise to let him know he wasn’t alone. She didn’t want to startle him when she slipped into the pew beside him and placed a healing hand over his back heart chakra.
“He’s going to be alright,” she promised, as certain of that as she was of anything right now.
“It’s my fault,” James choked out. “If I hadn’t gotten greedy. If I’d only stayed… By the time I saw what was going on, it was too late.”
“You were there when he needed you to be. If they’d taken you down first, there’d have been no one to intervene. You saved him, James. I was there, too, remember?”
Straightening in his seat, he swiveled his head to meet her gaze. In the thin light of the room, she could see the sheen of tears on his skin. Finding the bottom of her broomstick skirt, she raised her hem and dried his face.
“As for what happened before… you were needy, not greedy,” she said softly. “We all have needs. There’s no judgment here. Elijah sees the same things in you that I do. You’re a good man. A strong man. An honorable man. Someone he can connect with in a way that he doesn’t seem to with Gael. I’m worried about him,” she confessed. “Something doesn’t feel right, but I don’t know what it is and my guides aren’t saying anything.”
He looked at her, puzzlement in his eyes as he tried to sort out what she was saying.
“Who are you?” His voice was thick with emotion, his mind full of questions.
“Someone you’ve known before. In other lifetimes. Other places. Tell me you don’t feel it, too.”
He blinked, trying to clear his vision. “I don’t totally discount the idea of reincarnation, given that it’s referenced in the Bible, but I’ve never… I mean, I don’t see how…”
“You’re only shown what’s allowed when it’s time,” she explained. “Maybe one day you’ll remember—or maybe not at all. Because of my mission, I’m allowed to recall more than most. I’m a psychic medium. And you, Sir, are a very old soul. It’s nice to meet you again.”
Hopefully, things would be better for them this time. She sensed that their last lifetime together didn’t end well. The longer they were together, the stronger the impressions Sam was receiving. Why he felt so familiar was now making sense.
“I wish…” She stopped herself before she said too much. She wished that she’d found him first. Wished that they’d found Elijah together. In her mind’s eye, she could see the three of them happy and in love.
The kind of love they’d shared before, despite the laws, despite society and family and religious institutions. She sensed they’d risked everything once.
What about now?
Throwing caution to the wind, she lifted her hand and cupped the side of the ex-priest’s face, learning the feel of him. The warmth of his skin. The short thatch of beard. Leaning forward, she slipped her hand behind his head and urged him closer, lifting her forehead to press against his. They stayed like that for long, soul-searching minutes, sharing each other’s breaths, struggling not to overanalyze but to accept.
James heaved a cleansing breath, letting go, releasing the shackles of guilt that had bound him. Sensing it, she rewarded him with the soft brush of her lips on his, a tentative kiss, not demanding a response.
He went still, locked in an internal struggle. Thanks to her actions, he faced a moral dilemma. What was right? What was fair? Different races. Different backgrounds. Different genders.
What about Elijah?
Sam kissed him again, needing him to see what she did, that whatever had sparked between them was worth pursuing. She teased the seam of his lips, probing his defenses, not letting up until he’d surrendered to the moment.
Surrendered to her.
Thrusting his fingers into her hair, he finally took control and kissed her back.
Sam swore she heard a chorus of angels singing hosannas and smiled.