We’re shining a spotlight on the Mates series by author Cardeno C. The 2nd editions of the series were just released with fabulous new covers. If you haven’t read the Mates series or just read one or two of the books within the series, now’s your chance to grab them up. Below you will find a generous excerpt for each novel and a chance to win your pick of one of the Mates series novels. Enjoy!
Wake Me Up Inside
A powerful Alpha wolf shifter and a strong-willed human overcome
traditions ingrained over generations and uncover long-buried secrets to
fulfill their destiny as true mates.
Regarded as the strongest wolf shifter in generations, Alpha Zev Hassick is
surprised and confused by his attraction to his best friend. His very human, very male best friend. A male shifter has to mate with a female shifter to keep his humanity, so shifters can’t be gay. Yet, everything inside Zev tells him Jonah is his true mate.
Maintaining a relationship with the man he has loved since childhood isn’t easy for Jonah Marvel, but he won’t let distance or Zev’s odd family get in their way. When unexplained ailments begin to plague Jonah, he needs to save his own life and sanity in order to have a future with Zev.
Zev and Jonah know they’re destined for each other, but they must overcome traditions ingrained over generations and long-buried secrets to fulfill their destiny.
He reached out a trembling hand and stroked the soft fur on the head still resting in his lap. The wolf whimpered and turned into his hand, licking it. Then those familiar eyes looked up into Jonah’s face.
Okay, so it’d be fine, but at that moment he felt cold and sweaty, he was having trouble getting air into his lungs despite rapid attempts to suck it in, he was nauseous, and he thought he might faint. Yeah, okay, so maybe he was in shock. Just a little bit.
Jonah dropped to his knees and then laid flat on his back, trying to calm down. He propped his feet up on the chair.
“Blondie?” Zev’s concerned face was right above him, petting his hair. “You’re shaking. Oh, damn. Jonah, do you hear me?”
He hadn’t even seen the wolf turn back into a man. It had happened that seamlessly.
“I… I… I’m fine. Just, um, need to lie down a little. Maybe…” Jonah tried to gather his thoughts. That effort alone was helping. “Just get me a blanket, okay? I’m cold.”
Zev shot out of the room, and before he knew it, Jonah felt a blanket being tucked around him. He looked up and saw that Zev’s gorgeous eyes were wide, his forehead was creased with worry, and his full lips were drawn in tight lines. Jonah tried to exude comfort.
“I’m okay, Pup. Promise. This is just a lot to take in. Give me a minute to adjust.”
All right, time to man up. So his boyfriend could turn into a wolf? Hell, he’d done rounds in the ER of a huge metropolitan city at night. Some of the shit he’d seen there firsthand was way scarier than a furry woodland creature who liked to nuzzle him. That train of thought almost made him laugh out loud.
He might have even managed a smile because he heard Zev let out a relieved sigh and felt the man relax, even though they weren’t touching. How could he feel what was going on in someone else’s body?
Okay, yeah, that was weird. He’d need an explanation. Add it to the ever-fucking-growing list.
“All right. So you can turn into a wolf.”
Jonah’s voice almost sounded steady. He gave himself mental props for that achievement.
“Yeah. Are you still freaking out?” Zev asked.
“Nah. You’re not the first seemingly normal guy I’ve seen turn into a wolf.”
Jonah shook his head.
“No. Of course, it usually happens at bars late at night when the guy’s had too much alcohol or controlled substances and he’s making a pathetic last-ditch attempt to get laid. Still, I’ll take your type of wolf over the kind that shows up right around last call anytime.”
Zev’s jaw dropped.
“Are you… Was that a joke, Blondie?”
Until Forever Comes
A sensitive wolf shifter and a vicious vampire challenge history, greed, and the very fabric of their beings in order to stay together until forever comes.
Plagued by pain and weakness all his life, Ethan Abbatt is a wolf shifter who can’t shift. Hoping to find an honorable death by joining his pack mates in a vampire attack, Ethan instead learns two things: draining his blood releases his pain and his wolf, and he has a true mate–a vampire named Miguel.
Over four centuries old, strong, powerful, and vicious, Miguel Rodriguez walks through life as a shadow, without happiness or affection. When a young shifter tells Miguel they’re true mates, destined to be together, Miguel sends him away. But Ethan is persistent and being with him comes so naturally that Miguel can’t resist for long. Their challenge is staying alive so they can be together until forever comes.
“I was right,” he said, looking up at me, his lips swollen and eyes heavy-lidded. “You’re delicious.”
I reached for him, feeling like I was going to fly right apart without his weight to keep me grounded and safe. He took my hand in his and kissed my palm before crawling over me until his face once again hovered above mine.
I took a deep breath, gathering every ounce of strength I possessed. “How much do you know about shifters?” I asked.
Miguel Rodriguez was my mate, which meant I was going to stick to his side like white on rice. I reckoned it was only fair for me to explain that to him.
“I know that none of them have ever felt as good as you.”
I frowned and a growl rumbled out at the thought of my mate feeling anyone, ever.
Miguel smirked. “That’s adorable,” he said, dipping down and tugging my lower lip between both of his before nibbling his way across my jaw to my ear. “I know quite a bit about shifters, actually. For example, I know your kind are very territorial, and based on that noise you just made, I’m guessing you’re trying to stake a claim on me.”
Oh, there was no “trying” about it. “You’re mine,” I nearly shouted. “And you best realize it right soon.”
The grin left his face, and he looked truly regretful when he cupped my cheek and responded. “I’m not a good bet, wolf. I tried to warn you before, tried to tell you to stay away.”
“That’s never going to happen,” I said adamantly. “I belong with you, and that’s all there is.”
“I’m a vampire,” he said, as if that explained anything.
“You’re my mate,” I replied, knowing that trumped everything. “My true mate.”
“Vampires don’t mate, Ethan. We don’t settle down and build dens and raise puppies. We’re not monogamous. We—”
“Oh, well, you surely are now,” I told him. “There’s going to be nobody but me for you from here on out.”
“And how do you plan to explain me to your pack?” He sounded frustrated. “Like I said, I know all about shifters. I know your kind looks down at everyone different. Humans are lesser beings, half-souls; that’s what you call them, right? They can’t shift into two forms so they’re not worthy. And bloodsuckers,” he scoffed. “We’re worse, aren’t we? Dirty, soulless, immoral.”
“I never said that,” I said hurriedly, feeling sickened by his hostile tone and harsh language.
“No, you didn’t. But do you deny that it’s true? Shifters live in packs, live for the pack, and you’re never going to bring me home to meet your mother. So how, exactly, do you plan on this going?”
He was right, of course, and it wounded me deeply, the fact that he’d never be accepted by my pack, the fact that I’d have to leave them in order to live by his side.
“I don’t deny it,” I whispered sadly. “But I hope that my mama will come into town to meet you.” I wiped the back of my hand across my eyes. “Either way, I’m staying with you. That’s where I belong. That’s where my loyalty lies now.”
“You’d choose me over your pack?” he asked skeptically. “You’d leave pack lands to live with me?”
It was the only choice I could make, the only choice I wanted to make. Like I’d said, Miguel was mine.
“Yes,” I answered simply, because, well, it was just as simple as that.
In Your Eyes
Two very different men with a tumultuous history must overcome challenges from all sides and see past their society’s rules to realize they are destined for one another.
Raised to become Alpha of the Yafenack pack, Samuel Goodwin dedicates his life to studying shifter laws, strengthening his body, and learning from his father. But despite his best efforts, Samuel can’t relate to people, including those he’s supposed to lead.
When Samuel meets Korban Keller, the son of a neighboring pack’s Alpha, he reacts with emotion instead of intellect for the first time in his life. Resenting the other shifter for throwing him off-balance, Samuel first tries to intimidate Korban and then desperately avoids him. What he can’t do is forget Korban’s warm eyes, easy smile, and happy personality.
When a battle between their fathers ends tragically, Samuel struggles to lead his pack while Korban works to break through Samuel’s emotional barriers. Two very different men with a tumultuous history must overcome challenges from all sides and see past their society’s rules to realize they are destined for one another.
“You look like you’re about to fall over,” he said. He sounded concerned, not like he was mocking or judging me, so I didn’t argue. “You haven’t slept in days, have you?”
I shook my head and focused on keeping myself upright.
“Well, that explains why all that tightly held control finally snapped.”
Wincing at the reminder of what I’d done to him when I lost my control, I lowered my gaze and started stepping away so I wouldn’t crowd him.
“No.” He grasped my shoulder and then eased his hand onto my back. “That wasn’t a complaint.” He sighed. “We need to talk, but first we need to get you operating on all cylinders, which means sleep. Where’s your room?”
Pride should have kept me from letting him decide what I needed and when. Instinct should have prevented me from leading him to the place where I slept and was most vulnerable. Self-respect should have stopped me from giving in to my exhaustion by slumping my shoulders and shuffling my feet as I neared the bedroom. And yet I did all of those things without a second thought or a hint of hesitation.
When we got to the bed, he dropped his hand from my back and waited for me to get in. I shivered, suddenly cold in my core. I looked at him, not sure what I wanted, but certain he could provide it.
“I’m filthy,” he said, gesturing to his blood- and dirt-covered body. “You lie down and I’ll go wash up.”
He was right. I could only imagine how he felt, coated in filth and grime. “I’m sorry. I should have thought to… I shouldn’t have put you… I—”
“Shhh.” He cupped the back of my head and massaged my scalp. “You need sleep. You can’t complete a thought or think straight.” He tilted his chin toward the door at the end of my room. “That’s the bathroom, right?”
“Take your clothes off and get in bed. I’ll be right back.”
It wasn’t until my shoes and pants were pooled around my ankles and I was stripping my shirt off that I realized what I was doing. Why on earth was I listening to what he said? Why was I putting myself in an exposed and vulnerable position? Why was I letting him bathe in my shower when I normally couldn’t stand anyone in my personal space?
“You know why, Samuel.”
I darted my gaze up and saw Korban standing in the bathroom doorway, looking at me.
“Did I say that out loud?” I asked. “No.” He shook his head.
“Then how did you—”
He smiled at me, his expression soft. “Sleep, Samuel. You know all of this in here.” He tapped his hand against his chest. “You just need to let go of the things you’ve learned in here”—he tapped the side of his head—“to realize it.”
Whether I would have argued or demanded more answers, I’d never know because Korban walked into the bathroom and I heard the shower turn on. It would have been mean to prevent him from washing, so instead of pushing him for an explanation, I padded into the bathroom, retrieved a toothbrush from the drawer where I kept extra toiletries, and set it on the counter.
“There’s a toothbrush next to the sink,” I said, trying not to look at his form behind the steamy glass enclosure. “Everything else you need should be in the shower.”
“Thanks, Samuel.” When I didn’t move, he chuckled and spoke again. “I promise I won’t be long. Go to bed before you fall over where you’re standing.”
I was tired beyond belief, but I doubted I’d be able to sleep with everything going on. I was far too anxious. Still, I did what Korban asked and slid between the sheets.
Though I remained awake, the sounds of him in the adjoining room lulled me into a relaxed state instead of making me tense. Even the water turning off, his bare feet slapping on the tile floor, and him brushing his teeth melted tension from me. By the time Korban walked into the bedroom, I was breathing easier and no longer felt ice-cold inside.
“You look better,” he said quietly, pressing his palm to my forehead and then brushing my hair back. “Still tired, but better.”
I blinked my eyes open and watched him, trying to figure out what he was doing. He was being nice, tender. It didn’t make sense. And I liked it, which also didn’t make sense.
“A good night’s sleep and you’ll be back to yourself.”
“Why are you doing this?” I said quietly. “I hurt you and you’re taking care of me. Why?”
“For the same reason I’m going to get in bed with you and you’re going to let me.”
“There are lots of other bedrooms in this house,” I said. “The beds are just as comfortable. The doors have locks.”
Not that I couldn’t break through a locked door, but at least it would be some barrier to keep him safe from me.
“I know.” He picked up the blanket and sat down. The man had no self-preservation instinct.
I looked at him for a second and then slid over, making room for him to lie next to me.
Immediately, he reached over, wrapped his arms around me, and tugged me close until we were pressed together. It was then I remembered he was nude. It made sense because he hadn’t been wearing clothes before the shower and he didn’t have any at my house. But still, he was nude. In my bed.
“What?” he asked.
“I didn’t say anything.”
“Your entire body tensed and you’re barely breathing.” He smiled and combed his fingers through my hair. I had never let anyone touch me that way, not even my parents. But I let him. I liked it. “That’s saying something with your body. What freaked you out?”
“You’re not wearing any clothes.” “I know.”
“Oh.” I swallowed hard, thinking about his nonresponse. “Why aren’t you wearing any clothes?”
“For the same reason you’re glad I’m not wearing any clothes.”
Meet the author:
Cardeno C. – CC to friends – is a hopeless romantic who wants to
add a lot of happiness and a few “awwws” into a reader’s day. Writing is a
nice break from real life as a corporate type and volunteer work with gay
rights organizations. Cardeno’s stories range from sweet to intense,
contemporary to paranormal, long to short, but they always include strong
relationships and walks into the happily-ever-after sunset.
Heartwarming Stories. Strong Relationships. Forever Love.
Connect with the author:
Blog: (Shared Blog) http://caferisque.blogspot.com/
FB Profile: http://www.facebook.com/CardenoC
FB Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/CardenoC/
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