First Chapter Sneak Peek: Alpha Enchanted (Haven City Series #8)

Bam! It's that time again. Time for the almost release of another Haven City book. The book comes out next Tuesday, September 1st!

And I'm fucking exhausted. I reworked this book so many times I want to crawl into a cave and sleep for a year. *cries in corner*

It's not that Tyler and Quinn were stubborn (like some people *ahem* Felix *ahem*), but the book was a lot different in my head than the finished project.

But it's finally done!!! And I'm gonna take a few days off to recuperate. Maybe read some yaoi. Play some video games. Read some books/fanfiction. Not drown in my tears.

Thankfully, I found this while looking for tattooed yaoi guys.

Thank you, Yoneda Kou. Thank you. She makes everything better.

Also this. I just sort of ship everyone together on Free! I mean, Reigisa is my Free! OTP, but then I also love the idea of Sougisa. Or Nasuke. And basically everyone fucking each other all the time. 

Finally, here's a peek at the first chapter of Alpha Enchanted. Quinn isn't crazy. Or is he? Or isn't he?!?! If you want to read the second chapter, you can join my mailing list here


Everyone in the room thought Quinn Winters was insane. Even Dr. Ross, who was one room away. Sometimes, at moments like this, Quinn wondered if they were right.
He leaned back in the uncomfortable waiting room chair, the ones that made it impossible to do anything with his long legs, and crossed his arms over the gray button up shirt.
It wasn’t his shirt. Nothing was his, but it fit well enough. It was slightly snug so the buttons pulled the fabric a bit, but that seemed to be the style for certain men. The jeans were snug too, and those ugly slip-on white tennis shoes were just slightly too big. They slipped off his heel when he walked, which gave him blisters that then healed and reformed on a weekly basis. The shoes were the only things Bradley Montgomery, the light mage who kept Quinn prisoner, bought for him.
That morning, Bradley had been unhappy with Quinn again. Of course, that wasn’t unusual. Bradley Montgomery was mostly unhappy since he was the only member of the Montgomery family left, and Quinn was entirely his responsibility now. Not only that, but Quinn’s magic had been declining, which meant Bradley’s magic declined with it.
And if Quinn’s magic faded enough, Bradley had little reason to keep him around the house twenty-four hours a day. That meant he might actually listen to Dr. Ross for once.
A cold, dark knot coiled in Quinn’s belly. He’d rather be dead than shoved into the place Dr. Ross thought suited him.
The woman behind the desk, Sarah, glanced at him when she thought he wasn’t looking with a pretty yet wary smile. Her expression was always full of pity and a tinge of regret, though the latter wasn’t aimed at Quinn himself. She was probably disappointed that someone like him was certifiable.
His kind tended to attract humans, even when he wasn't in his true form. However, he couldn't complain about his human shape either. It wasn’t nearly as crude as some. From the looks Sarah gave him, and the mirrors that studded the prison where he lived, he knew what they saw in him.
“Mr. Winters. Dr. Ross is ready for you,” Sarah said and gave him another tight smile as her gaze drifted from his face to his chest.
Quinn smiled pleasantly and sauntered into the office. Dr. Ross had redecorated recently with brand new brown leather chairs and dark stained furniture. The man himself, squat and pudgy with beady eyes beneath his wire-framed glasses, watched Quinn enter carefully.
“Take a seat, Quinn. We have a lot to discuss today.”
Quinn didn’t do as he was told. He walked to the window and leaned on the generous sill. Behind him, the mixture of modern high-rises and art deco apartment buildings that dotted Haven City’s downtown towered around them. In the distance, the view faded toward the river in one direction and the colorful Victorian neighborhoods in the other. “I don’t sit on the skin of dead cows. It’s gruesome.”
Dr. Ross jotted something in his notebook. “And why is it gruesome?”
Quinn pouted. These meetings were a waste of time, well, if his time could be wasted. It really couldn’t, considering the circumstances that brought him here. And at least he got away from that prison for a while, but coming to therapy didn’t feel like much of a reprieve, especially with Dr. Ross eyeing him carefully—the same hint of pity in his eyes. The entirely wrong type of pity.
It’s not as if Quinn could tell the truth either. Even if he could, they’d think he was even crazier since the ‘they’ in question were all humans who didn’t know a damn thing about the world of shadow folk living right under their noses.
“You know why,” Quinn said and looked out the window.
Dr. Ross’s pen scratched across the paper. “Does this have to do with the magical shadow world? The one only you can see?” he asked slowly, like he was speaking to a child.
Which, when talking to a creature as noble as Quinn (who was actually closer to thirty than three, but Dr. Ross didn’t care about that) was distinctly insulting.
Quinn smiled and tugged at the thin chain necklace that hung from his neck. No one else could see it besides Quinn himself and the man who controlled his fate: Bradley Montgomery. “It’s not just my magical world. Plenty of others subsist in it, and you see it every day. You see me right now.”
Dr. Ross nodded. Scribbled. Quinn just made out what it said. Over the years he’d learned to read that sloping script upside-down. It nearly haunted his dreams.
No improvement.
“You look human to me,” Dr. Ross said and pushed his glasses up his pig-like nose.
“Don’t insult me like that. I’m not such a simple being,” Quinn said and waited.
Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.
Narcissism getting worse. Institution? Different meds?
“And what are you, Quinn?”
Dr. Ross regarded him, and Quinn bristled up and down his spine. He pushed the hair behind his ear. It was as pale as that of his true form, and his eyes were as otherworldly as well, but of course a man like Dr. Ross would never think that perhaps some bit of truth could come from Quinn’s words.
It was all part of the cage that held him, and that part wasn’t even magic, infuriatingly.
The magic did keep him from speaking of his actual plight and that included divulging his real form to anyone. Even worse, his very own nature worked against him at moments like this. Lies didn’t slip off his tongue, but he could twist things if the need suited him.
Like now.
“I could be a griffin. Or a dragon. Yes. Imagine if I were a great dragon. I’d set your head on fire. Then you’d believe me.”
Dr. Ross’s face turned tomato red.
Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.
Threat of violence.
“Is that really what you want to do? Set my head on fire?”
“Yes,” Quinn said and smiled. “That would work.”
The man’s fingers worked faster, the pen pressed into the paper so hard Quinn thought it might rip. “Do you have violent thoughts toward others? Bradley said you jumped into the lake with all of your clothes on again.”
“I was trying to drown myself. It didn’t work. It never works, and that’s the shame. I don’t really want to die, I just don’t want to—don’t want to—” Quinn’s throat closed up, and he frowned at his fisted hands. He knew it was no use, and yet he kept trying.
Stubbornness. That was it. The inability to give in.
Montgomery senior often said it was one of his worst traits, along with the selfishness and that ever-present arrogance.
Well, none of that had done Montgomery senior any good in the long run. He’d died like all the others. After so many years, he finally stumbled upon Quinn during a full moon. At that point, it didn’t take much to push him over the edge—his truth was as rotting and diseased as his corpse. Still, Quinn was bound to the family who captured him. The ones who locked him up and kept him as a caged animal for their own gain.
“Do you have violent thoughts of Bradley?”
“Most of all, but I can’t act on them so you don’t need to worry,” Quinn said and grinned mildly. He tapped one foot against the wall and hoped it left an unsightly black smudge from the underside of his shoe.
“What sort of thoughts do you have about Bradley?” Dr. Ross asked and his mouth pinched.
Quinn studied the window he leaned against. They were nailed shut and double paned, probably to prevent someone crazy from leaping to their death. Well, it wasn’t really crazy to want to get away from Dr. Ross since he was nearly as insufferable as Bradley. “Drawing and quartering sounds fun. Medieval, but I like the fact that he’d really suffer through the whole process. I found pictures of that in the library. Illustrations, really, but they were graphic. Very bloody.”
Scratch. Scratch. Scratch.
“Have you been taking your medication?”
On the street below, Quinn watched the cement darken with rain and those who walked freely going about their day. Did they take that freedom for granted or did they relish in it the way he would? Difficult to tell.
One person in particular caught Quinn’s attention—a young man with bright blue tips of hair. He wore a black jacket and jeans, and a trail of smoke snaked behind him. Quinn watched him bend and pick up an umbrella that a woman dropped and hand it back to her, and then he crossed the street, turned the corner and disappeared.
“Quinn?” Dr. Ross said, his pen smacked the paper, and his brow furrowed.
“Hm? I’m bored. The people outside are more interesting than you,” Quinn said and pressed his nose into the glass, like he could melt into it and find that man again.
He couldn’t.
“Your medications?”
“Oh. I toss them out. I’m not as crazy as you think. Or delusional. Or narcissistic,” Quinn said with a heavy sigh.
Dr. Ross frowned and covered the paper with his hands. “Leave the diagnosis up to me. You know what’ll happen if you want to harm others, Quinn? Do you understand the consequences for those actions?”
“I don’t want to harm anyone but Bradley and you, to a lesser extent. Mostly out of spite for making me sit here for an hour and torture me with this view. I want to try ice cream. I have to watch people go into that shop and come out with brightly colored things on delicate cones, and they all look so happy. What does it taste like?”
Dr. Ross blinked. “You’ve had ice cream before, I’m sure. We’re not making a lot of progress today, Quinn. Do you see that? You’ll never make progress until you realize the truth—the Montgomery family is trying to help you. You’re very sick and you need to start taking your medications and living in this reality, not the one in your mind.”
Quinn snorted and crossed his arms.
“However,” Dr. Ross said, wilting under Quinn’s gaze, “you haven’t asked to make a bargain with me in a long time. That’s progress, in a way.”
“Making a bargain with you is an act of stupidity because you couldn’t fulfill your end of it,” Quinn said and studied his nails. His foot tapped faster now.
Dr. Ross opened his mouth, but the phone rang and cut him off. He held up a finger and rose to his desk.
Quinn heard the voice on the other end—his sense of hearing was sharper than normal humans since he was a shifter. Different sorts of shifters had different senses. His were scent and hearing, but others had increased sight as well. Not that it mattered. He could do something no other shifter could, and that’s why the Montgomery family kept him locked up.
Because he was a monster—one to be feared in the depth of the night. Though, most people who laid eyes on him wouldn’t believe that until he acted.
It was Bradley on the phone, and though his voice was distant, Quinn still heard bits of the conversation. Bradley said something about the institution—was it really a good idea?
Dr. Ross hardly hesitated. “We’ve tried almost everything else. No matter what, he retreats from me.”
On the other end, Bradley huffed and grumbled something crude.
Dr. Ross looked at Quinn. “Can you wait in the lobby for a moment? Merci is coming to get you now.”
Quinn nodded and left quietly, his heart pounding.
Sarah was on the phone, her eyes turned away from Dr. Ross’s office. No one else was in the waiting room, and if Merci, the raccoon shifter who doubled as Montgomery’s driver, wasn’t there yet, that gave Quinn a unique opportunity.
He didn’t stop to think. He slid out of the door and stepped down the hall. Quinn half expected someone to charge after him.
They didn’t.
He got to the elevator without anyone from Dr. Ross’s office noticing his absence. It wouldn’t last long, so he pressed the ‘down’ button and trotted to the stairway instead.
Stepping out into the cool spring evening, without Dr. Ross, Merci or Bradley and his fetid stench at Quinn’s side was as close to freedom as he’d had in over twenty years. Even with the weight of the necklace and his binds tying him down, he had this moment to do whatever he wanted.
So, Quinn turned in the direction the blue-haired man had gone and walked.
None of the people on the streets knew he was supposed to be crazy, and they cast him curious glances. Many smiled, and Quinn smiled back. The air was cool and seemed to drift under the collar of his shirt and up his long sleeves, but it was better than the stuffy air in an office that smelled like leather and Dr. Ross’s pungent aftershave.
As evening darkened into night, Quinn found himself walking with a crowd of people down the side of the river. The water, though murky, still sparkled with the golden lights from the streetlamps and the shops on the other side of the road.
Most people had umbrellas, and even though the rain wasn’t particularly hard, it was steady enough to soak into his shirt and mat the pale hair to his head. A shiver shot up his spine, and Quinn ignored it.
It didn’t matter how far away he got—Bradley would find him eventually. The tether that held him in place would tighten, and he’d be punished for this infraction. Painfully, no doubt. Yet none of that dampened Quinn’s mood. He hadn’t escaped since he was much younger, and at that time Haven City looked too big and intimidating to be much fun.
Now, all he saw were people enjoying themselves. Lively music poured from the buildings on his left, a war between the steady thump that shook the sidewalk under his feet and the voices that rose on the street.
People spoke to him as he passed them. One group of women invited him to get a meal with them, and Quinn agreed. It was something in his eyes or his looks that drew them in since he hadn’t spoken. Some people, those with weak minds, could be nudged gently from his voice when he spoke the truth, but he didn’t try that now.
He didn’t have to.
The food was good even if he didn’t remember much else besides several of them touching his legs. When he told them he wasn’t interested in sex, they got a little annoyed and Quinn made a hasty exit.
The moon hung high in the sky by then, her light kind and familiar. Quinn smiled at her as he strolled on.
Finally he stumbled upon a cinderblock building that looked like all the others along the street. A rainbow flag fluttered over the entrance. Inside, besides the scent of alcohol and humans, he caught the hint of others like him—shadow folk.
The burly man at the door who smelled like magic of some kind (not rotten magic, like Bradley, but a cool clean scent) asked Quinn for money, which Quinn didn’t have. Unfortunate, since the inside of the building looked better than the outside with all those flashing lights, and the constant noise that could drown out anything.
Another group of people came up behind him and made some negotiation with the burly man, who finally let them all in.
Once inside, they handed Quinn drink after drink, usually brightly colored and fruity with the bite of bitterness underneath. Some even had punctured fruit inside them, and those were his favorite.
Between each drink he got pulled onto the dance floor, and everything turned into a wonderful sweaty mess of bodies pressed together. Hands wandered over his arms and chest. Fingers flicked his shirt open, and that was soon lost somewhere. Another set of hands rested on his hips. At some point, a group of helpful young women gave him a band to keep the hair off his neck.
The only problem was no one listened to him.
Quinn tried to talk to the shadow folk who were there, but none of them seemed to understand his plight. He couldn’t flat out ask for help, of course, the spell that bound him prevented that. But even having a conversation beyond “what do you want to drink” or “let’s dance” seemed impossible.
At one point he even spotted a flash of blue hair across the room. The man attached to it stood at the bar, a bottle clenched in his fist. Shadows pinched his dark eyes, and he stared right at Quinn.
The slight scent of wolf musk met Quinn’s nose, and he wondered if that was whom he smelled. An alpha—a hungry one.
Then the crowd swept in the way and the wolf disappeared from his view.
Quinn frowned. If Bradley let Dr. Ross lock Quinn in a mental institution, he’d never find someone who could break his spell. And if this was Quinn’s last night—his only night—of freedom, he swore he’d make it better than all the others.
He wasn’t going back to the Montgomery prison.
He’d either find someone to help him break his binds, or he’d free himself in another way.


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