“Did you hear?” Duncan Thorne leaned over the table toward his cousin Lance Thorne and best friend Grant Harkness. He wasn’t sure why he was lowering his voice. Most, if not all, of the small town of Forever, Texas, already knew.
“Sure we have.”
Duncan ran his hand through his longish, brown hair and fixed his gaze on the gray-blue eyes of his older cousin. He and Lance had grown up together in Los Angeles, but once Lance had started getting involved with gangs, both their families had uprooted them and moved to Amarillo, Texas. After living there until they were young men, they’d spread out, searching for the perfect place to make their dream of owning a cattle ranch come true. While visiting a friend in the nearby town of Shatland, they’d stumbled across the quiet, shifter-friendly town of Forever and had never left.
“That doesn’t mean we’re going to be part of it.” Grant shot Duncan a hard look. He’d already owned the Crescent Moon Ranch that both cousins had fallen in love with and wanted to buy. Sensing a great friendship in the making—not to mention also needing cash flow to keep the ranch going—Grant had accepted their offer of becoming partners. From that day on, the ranch had grown more profitable and the Thorne cousins had been accepted into the community.
“Why the hell not?” Duncan wasn’t about to give in that easily. He knew the reason Grant was against hanging around town. Knowing Grant, he’d probably analyzed the ins and outs of the situation a hundred times over. He liked Grant, but sometimes his careful nature was irritating as hell.
“Do you think one night’s fun is worth risking it all?” Grant nodded at Milly, the owner of Milly’s Coffee Spot, as she set their dinners in front of them.
“Are y’all talking about the amber moon?” Milly’s golden hair bounced around her face with every move she made. She pulled their order ticket from the pocket in her skirt and put it face down on the table.
“We wouldn’t miss it,” answered Duncan.
“There’s not a chance in hell that we’re sticking around.” Grant let out a low growl. Although he wasn’t the oldest of the three werewolves, he tended to take charge.
That’s just one of his other irritating traits, thought Duncan.
Milly laughed. “Better give it some real thought, boys. I’m sure you’ve heard what happened last time. I’ll be back in a sec.” She hurried off to answer the request of Ezekiel Harper, the oldest werewolf in those parts, for yet a third raw steak. Like most werewolves, his teeth were as sharp at one hundred and five as they were at fifteen.
“Maybe she’s right.” Lance shrugged at Duncan’s glare. “It’s only one night. And once the amber moon is past, everything will return to normal.”
“And what’s so great about normal? Have we found our mate yet? Hell, no.” Duncan shook the bottle and dumped ketchup onto his hamburger.
He’d heard enough about the rare celestial event to know what it might mean to their future. “Naw, man. We can’t let this pass. There hasn’t been an amber moon for over fifty years. I know the danger, but the possible reward is worth it.”
The amber moon, as shifters called it, came with only a few days’ warning and lasted for one or two nights before it disappeared. Humans never saw the change in the moon, either with their bare eyes or with all the technology they used to track the heavens. More importantly, they never felt the powerful influence it had. Unless they ran into a werewolf during that time, they’d never know anything had occurred.
Unmated werewolves, however, were deeply affected by the change in the moon’s color and the increased gravitational pull. During that time, the color changed to bright amber and brought out their inner wolves, sometimes so abrupt and with so much power that they lost control. But even more alarming, werewolves were struck with uncontrollable sexual urges. Urges that they would do almost anything to satisfy.
The problem was that, should they meet their intended mate during the phase of the amber moon, the intensity of that meeting was much stronger than it normally would’ve been. So strong, in fact, that it could damage the precious werewolf-mate connection that brought mates together, burning it out completely. Unfortunate mates could wake up no longer attracted to each other the following morning. After that, they’d have to settle for a mate they could try to love, or live their lives alone, knowing that they’d ruined their chance with their intended mate. Rumors had it that the intense meeting sometimes resulted in the werewolves hurting, even killing, their mate.