Against All Odds (Shifters)

By: Sam Crescent

Chapter One

“I can’t wait for you to meet him, Heather.”

Heather Howard listened to her friend, Dana Ashton, talk about the latest man she was interested in. She finished putting some plates on the table for the feast that was about to begin. Every year the Ashton family hosted a huge barbeque and invited the entire street to eat. Not only was the street invited but several friends as well.

What made the barbeque special was the fact most of the people were some form of shifter. Heather wasn’t a shifter, but Dana could turn to a leopard. The barbeque brought them all together, and Heather was pleased to be invited. She’d been away exploring Europe for the past six months and hadn’t expected an invite.

She was only a human and didn’t hold any special abilities, unless making a mean lasagne was considered a good skill.

“Have you asked him out, or has he asked you out?” Heather asked, taking a stick of cucumber from the vegetable tray.

“No, you don’t ask tiger shifters out. They’re strange people. I don’t think they’re anything like the animal out in the wild. Ben is different. He’s quiet, and I’ve heard he doesn’t give many women the time of day.” Dana sighed. “Ben’s the bad boy. He fucks and doesn’t care about getting back in touch.”

Heather frowned. “And you seriously want to get to know him?”

“He might just be looking for that woman to change him.” Dana shrugged.

Nibbling on the cucumber stick, Heather stared at her dear friend. Dana really wanted to find her mate. Heather knew there was a desperation inside Dana. The leopard inside her friend was begging to be with someone.

“Look, he’s different with me. Dad has said so. Ben doesn’t treat me like all he wants is a fuck. I’m getting older, Heather.”

“You’re twenty-five. That’s not old.” They’d been friends a long time. She knew everything there was to know about Dana as they had grown up together. When her parents were away from home she’d spend all of her time over with Dana. Heather always found it funny that she was more comfortable with Dana’s shifter family than she was with her own. She’d kept their secret, and in turn they’d all accepted her within their circle.

“I know, and my aging has slowed down. I don’t want to wait to be in love and to have a mate. Look at Mom and Dad. They’re so in love, and I want that, Heather. I don’t want to wait.” Tears glistened in Dana’s eyes.

“I’m sorry.” Wrapping her arms around Dana, Heather pulled her close, trying to offer her comfort. “I should have known. I’ll never know what it’s like to be mated with someone. Remember, I’m human, and we don’t have that kind of connection.”

Dana hugged her tight. “You’re one of us, honey. I keep forgetting you don’t shift. You’ll have a guy go crazy over you. I’m sure of it.”

“Until that happens, I’m looking forward to meeting your guy.” Heather walked behind Dana as they both entered the kitchen. The house was bursting with activity. Kids were running around, people were hugging, and Heather finally felt at home. Last night she’d returned home from her trip and been forced to sit through a tense dinner with her parents. There was something going on at home, but she didn’t want to know. She’d always felt like a hindrance to all their plans. Heather heard then talking years ago about how much they could have done if they hadn’t had a child to deal with.

When she watched the people around her, Heather realised that this was home, and this was how life was supposed to be. Letting out a sigh, she accepted another hug from Dana’s uncle and older brother before heading back out with a bowl of salad and several jars with spoons of honey inside. She placed the bowl on the table then set the jars away from the food. It was something she’d read in a book for attracting bugs and wasps. The last thing they wanted was having bugs buzzing around their food.

She stood for several minutes to watch the dancers in the centre of the garden. The barbeque was lit and waiting for some steaks, chicken, and whatever Dana’s father wanted to cook.

“What are you thinking about?” Felix, Dana’s brother, asked.

“Nothing, I’m just watching everyone.” There was a time a few years ago when she’d developed a crush on Felix Ashton. No more, she’d watched his whoring ways, and she never wanted to be with a guy who used her. Dana had warned her that men knew when their mate was close by. She was not Felix’s mate.

“Travelling agrees with you. You’ve got this nice tan, and I love what you’ve done with your hair.”

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