Stanzie was barely twenty was she fell in love the first time. Her romance with Grey was spiced with rebellion – her pack didn’t like him – and they met in line at the movies and clicked immediately. Even when he asked her to bond with him and she knew she’d have to leave Mayflower, her birth pack, she had no doubts and very little fear.
But twelve years later when she met Liam Murphy at a dinner table at the Paris Great Gathering, there was no immediate connection and tons of doubt and fear.
Life had kicked the crap out her between that afternoon at the movies and that night at the Gathering and Stanzie suspected that happily ever after was a vicious lie. But she still craved it.
When she and Liam were thrown together and forced into bonding, she vowed to make the best of it. He intrigued her even as he confused her. One moment he was warm and inclusive, the next he was out the door. She knew he missed his first bond mate, Sorcha, and gave him room to come to terms with the changes in his life.
Stanzie and Liam began a long, slow process of getting to know each other and, at least in her case, falling in love. Liam was not anything like Grey and all her old beliefs and rituals were torn down and replaced with something fragile, yet compelling and beautiful.
She tried to tell him how she felt, but was rebuffed by the ghost of Sorcha.
Murphy is the typical Alpha male who wants to protect people. He doesn’t believe in delegating much and so he tries to do everything and as a result, maybe spreads himself a little thin. He fell for Sorcha instantly, but with Stanzie, although he’s very attracted, he’s less willing to open himself up to potential heartache.
In the fourth novel in the Wolf Within series, Inside Out, Murphy made a difficult decision to leave Stanzie and return to his birth pack, Mac Tire, without her.
Devastated, Stanzie vowed not to beg him to reconsider. She loved him, but she was pretty sure he didn’t love her. In About Face, the fifth novel, her cousin, Faith, tells her about a dream she had which fills Stanzie with confused dread. Faith’s dreams have a habit of coming true.
Does Murphy need her? Is he in trouble? Does the Mac Tire Alpha male, Paddy, need her help to save Murphy?
When Councilor Allerton sends Stanzie to Dublin to convince Murphy to back off his quest to find Sorcha’s killer, Stanzie decides she’s going to try to reconcile with him. This takes all her courage because she’s so afraid of rejection.
Murphy is a favorite with Mac Tire and they all saw how Sorcha treated him. They remember how Murphy returned to Dublin without Stanzie and for the past four months has been miserable. They blame Stanzie and she has her work cut out not only trying to convince Murphy they should give themselves a second chance, but also to prove herself to her new pack.
Add in the danger of the Great Pack conspiracy and the heartbreak of discovering that people are not who they seem, and even if Stanzie and Murphy get back together, it might still be too late for that happily ever after. Maybe.
Stanzie’s job as Advisor to the Great Council is discovering other people’s secrets. When those secrets are being kept by the ones she loves most, can she find the courage to expose them?
Under orders from a Councilor, Stanzie journeys to Dublin and the MacTire pack. Her mission: warn her estranged bond mate, Liam Murphy, to abandon his overzealous search for the man responsible for the death of his first bond mate. Not only is he endangering himself, but also disrupting the delicate balance between opposing factions in the conspiracy threatening to tear the Great Pack apart.
Liam needs Stanzie’s help to protect their Alpha, who has entangled himself in the conspiracy’s deadly web. But he also desperately wants her back. In a race against time, Stanzie and Liam discover enemies often wear the faces of friends.
CONTENT WARNING: Vulgar language, sexual situations, some violence
A Lyrical Press Paranormal Romance
Our fingers were still linked when I opened my eyes hours later. The bedroom smelled of sex–of us–and while he wasn’t snoring, Murphy’s breath was slow and heavy, the way I remembered from the nights we’d spent together in America.
For a moment I was filled with such aching happiness I almost expected to levitate off the bed. But then I remembered everything, and black despair bit into me so hard I wondered I didn’t bleed.
He’d rolled off me at some point, but we were still on top of the covers. I let go of his hand and slid off the bed. I found his t-shirt and my panties, put them on and fled to the living room.
The remains of our dinner had congealed on our plates on the table. The lights were still on, and I got as far as the sofas before my legs went out from beneath me and I couldn’t breathe.
Murphy appeared like a ghost in the bedroom doorway. His eyes were very dark.
“Can we talk about it, Stanzie?”
“What’s to talk about?” I drew one of the throw pillows defensively close to my stomach.
I loved him but he didn’t love me. I’d tried so hard not to let that overwhelm me and make peace with it. Of all the people in his life he protected, I was the last on the list and that’s not where I wanted to be. “You chose Paddy and Mac Tire over me, and I guess I get that, but it hurts.”
“I had no idea you loved me.” His tone was raw and desperate. “I thought I was doing the right thing. You didn’t need to be put at risk in this, and I thought I could–”
“What? Don’t lie to me, Liam. You didn’t want me involved because you’re going to do something stupid to save Paddy and your father. Why should you martyr yourself for them?”
“Paddy came to me for help,” Murphy shouted and the muscles in his face strained as he struggled to regain control. “He had nowhere else to turn, don’t you see? It’s not like I could tell him to go screw himself. He’s my best mate.”
“But it’s okay to tell me to go screw myself, I guess. I’m your bond mate. You wouldn’t come to my tribunal. You threw me out like so much garbage when Paddy told you his problems. And you couldn’t even tell me why. You’re so hell-bent on saving everybody, but it’s always on your terms and you have to be the one to give help–you never want it in return. I would have helped you. I would have done anything for Paddy–he’s my Alpha–but you decided what was best for me in your typical high-handed Liam Murphy fashion, and to hell with what I thought, what I wanted.
“And then tonight you take advantage of the fact I love you so you can, what? Have sex?
Haven’t you screwed anyone in four months, or have you just screwed people over?”
His face blanched of all color, and he stared at me, his dark eyes bottomless.
“That wasn’t just sex. Did that feel like just sex to you?”
“No, not to me. I love you. But that’s what it was to you. Will you please leave me alone? I’m tired and I want to go to sleep.”
“Stanzie, I know you’re tired, but we’ve got to talk about this.”
“In the morning. Maybe.” I turned away from him because I couldn’t stand to look at the entreaty in his eyes. In a heartbeat I’d be across the floor to him, and screw that.
He abruptly gave in. “Look, you take the bed, I’ll sleep out here.”
“No, I’ll stay out here.” I was ten seconds from tears, and I wanted him gone so he wouldn’t see.
“Stanzie, take the bed.”
“No,” I shouted, and the damn tears poured down my cheeks. “It smells like us in there, don’t you get it? And us is a lie. Just let me do what I want, goddamn it.”
He opened his mouth to argue, but then, defeated, retreated and did as I asked.
About Amy Lee Burgess
Amy Lee Burgess is a transplanted New Englander living in Houston, Texas with two dogs and lots of DVDs. In an attempt to bond with the city after being forced out of New Orleans post-Katrina, she turned to her writing. Determined to finally finish that novel she’d been hacking away at since high school, Amy managed to come up with a wolf shifter character named Stanzie Newcastle. She and Stanzie have been BFFs ever since.
In addition to Stanzie, Amy has also forged a relationship with several vampires, a witch or two, and other assorted supernatural creatures she hopes will entertain her readers. But she will always have room for coffee and butterscotch squares with Stanzie.