After beginning the third book in my NOLA Shifter series, I realized that, two characters who kept making an appearance, Mia and Gage, needed their own book. Because they are already together when the series starts, the idea for a prequel was born. It's allowed me to toss in my very sexy Alpha, Caine, showcasing how he became Alpha of the pard.
I'd planned for this to be a novella. I am 16.9k words away from it graduating to the novel length. If it's a novella, it's going to be on the very high end of the count!
It seems my muse has a devious side because she plans on putting Mia and Gage through the ringer before they get their HEA.. and I'm just as devious because I'm liking it! But, to kick it off, a little sweetness, and a sneak peek.
Trailing Moon Flowers
Eight year old Mia Anaise Lafluer was pouting. Why was she pouting? Because her brothers were playing tag with some other boys and they wouldn't let her play with them. “You're too small”, “You can't run as fast as da rest of us”, “You'll always be 'it'”, and her favorite “You're a girl, girls don't play tag” were all the things they'd said to her when she tried to play with them. “It's not fair! I can too run fast,” she muttered under her breath. “I'm tellin' mama!” she yelled and stomped towards their house. Mama would make them let her play.
Gage Delacroix was presently 'it' and he didn't think it was fair the other boys weren't letting Mia play tag with them. He knew from experience she was fast despite her size. Just a few days ago he'd been teasing her and pulled one of her braids then ran off. She'd caught up to him and kicked his shin for it despite the fact he was two years older and already taller than most boys his age. He ran up behind her, tapped her shoulder, and yelled “It!” He flashed her a mischievous grin and ran off.
Mia squealed and tore off after him. Sure, she was small for her age, but she was actually pretty fast. When she saw her twin, Julius, she grinned and headed right for him. “It!” she said as she ran past him and touched his arm.
“Hey! No fair! No one told me you was playin' too!” he said.
Mia's laughter echoed in the trees as she ducked under things and jumped over what she could. They played until the sun began to set and various calls of 'dinner' echoed throughout the compound. “Thanks for lettin' me play,” Mia said to Gage before she followed Beau and Julius towards the small cottage they lived in.
“A'course. It wasn't fair dey wouldn't let you play, too. You're pretty fast,” Gage replied with a grin.
“Thanks!” Mia looked back and gave him a smile before she waved and turned to head into her house for dinner.
“Mia Anaise, how on earth did you get such a tear in your dress?” Eliza said when she noticed a long tear in the hem of her daughter's dress.
Mia looked down at it before she bit her lip. “I'm sorry, mama. I didn't mean to! Da boys were playin' tag and at first dey wouldn't let me play cuz Beau said I was too little, but Gage was 'it' and he tagged me and den I tagged Jules and... I musta done it when I was runnin' from him.”
Eliza sighed. “Well, don't just stand dere, go change and wash up, I'll mend it tomorrow after it's washed.” As soon as her daughter was out of sight she turned to her oldest child. “Beau Emmanuel, you know better den to pick on your sister like dat. What am I gonna do wit' you?” she asked.
“Sorry, mama,” Beau mumbled. “I won't do it again,” he promised. “She sure proved me wrong!” he added and there was pride for his little sister in his voice.
“You remember dat. Don't tink someone can't do someting jes' cuz of dere size,” Eliza admonished.
“Yes, mama,” Beau replied.
That night Mia went to bed with a happy grin on her face. Summer was just starting and that meant she would get to play tag with Gage Delacroix every day for the next three months.
At ten year's old Gage Delacroix was already starting to get tall, like his papa. He and his brother, Remy, had both taken after their papa that way. Landry Delacroix was 6'6” and towered over his much smaller mate. That was where the similarity between father and son ended. Landry was a very serious person but Gage was the exact opposite. He was quick to laugh and he got along with everyone. Among the children of their pard, he was considered the most playful.
It was the beginning of summer and he was looking forward to spending every day playing with his friends. During the school year they had to be more serious, more reserved, because even though humans sort of knew shifters existed, the didn't really believe in them and if they knew their children were going to school with shifters, they'd no doubt throw a fit. So during the school year, he had to keep his leopard on a tight leash. Summer was for having fun.
During their first game of summer tag, he was presently 'It' when he decided to over rule what the other boys had decided. Mia Lafluer was every bit as fast as a lot of the other kids, he knew that because he'd learned it first hand. His shin was very familiar with the toe of her shoe because he'd been a bit of a shit and tugged her braid. Since the other boys didn't want to let her play with them, mainly because she was a girl, he ran past her and tapped her shoulder. “It!”
When the game ended and he headed home for dinner, the smile she gave him lit up his world. He'd do a whole lot to see that smile all the time. He didn't understand why her smile affected him so much, he just knew it did. Yeah, the summer was really going to be fun.
Every morning, after eating breakfast, Caine Bordeaux slipped off into the bayou. Things were often stressful there in the compound. Many of the cottages were in ill repair, not everyone had enough to eat, and the older members of the pard were often neglected. The adults did their best to shield their children from how bad things were. Despite wishing for a change, though, no one had the courage to challenge the Alpha.
At fifteen, Caine was already proving to be a dominant male in the pard. He was strong, stubborn, and determined. But he wasn't strong enough, not yet. When he thought about the squalor the pard lived in while their Alpha lived high on the hog, it infuriated him. What gave Zachary Eitenne the right to live in such luxury when the basic needs of most of the pard weren't even being met? A snarl was ripped from his throat as he ran through the swamp. He'd stripped as soon as he'd left the compound behind and had shifted into his animal form in hopes of running off some of his frustrations. He should have known it wasn't going to help. The only thing that would was beating Zachary and taking over as Alpha. Just a few more years. He needed to be sure he could properly take care of the pard before he issued challenge. He could probably beat the lazy cat now if he fought him but at fifteen, Caine knew he wasn't ready to take on the responsibility being Alpha would give him.
By the time Caine returned to the compound, the sun was sitting high in the sky and the other boys around his age were playing a game of football. “Hey, Caine, you wanna play some football?” The question came from Beau Lafluer. He was the oldest of the Lafluer brood and only a few years younger than Caine.
Caine shrugged. “Sure.” He might as well. It wasn't like he had anything else to do. He noticed Mia on the sidelines pouting and cocked a brow. “What's wrong, cher?”
Mia huffed. “Dey won't let me play. Dey said I'm too little for football.”
“Well I reckon dey're right about dat. As big as dey are, dem boys, dey'd squash you if dey fell on you.” He held his hands out to the sides when he said 'big', implying he was calling them fat.
Mia giggled. “You're funny, Caine.” She didn't feel quite so bad about not getting to play now.
“Dat was da point.” He winked at the little girl and went to join the game. It was something to take his mind off of things for a while.
I hope you enjoyed this little peek into the lives of the Black Water Pard.
Until next time!