The One Thing Money Can’t Buy
A huge thank you to Stormy Glenn for all her hard work in running this blog. It’s great to be a part of it. This story is a standalone, and will likely develop into a full book in the New Year, but for now it’s in three parts. Enjoy.
Caractacus Bartholomew Hudson kept one eye on the clock, one on the television screen, and one on the ticket clutched in his hand – which was a lot more difficult than it sounded, given he only had two eyes. But Caractacus was nothing if not thorough. He’d known a week ago he should’ve scheduled his regular evening drinks with Lucy fifteen minutes later than usual, but she would’ve laughed at him, joking about his incessant need to actually watch a lottery draw he had tickets in, instead of finding out the results online later.
Tonight was a huge prize – one point six billion dollars. Of course, no one actually won that sort of money. Anyone who came close to the winning numbers would probably have to share that amount with twenty other winning tickets. But there would be big winners, it was a guaranteed draw. The huge pool, which had jackpotted for months had to be won, tonight. Which was why Caractacus, or Cari to his friends, had dipped into his savings account and purchased a ten line ticket.
Gods, will they ever stop waffling. The regulation chiseled man with a broad smile in a suit, and a blonde who had legs for miles and not enough dress to cover them and her chest, were laughing in that oh so funny way people had when a camera was on them. Cari risked a glance at the clock. 8:17. If he didn’t leave in three minutes, he was going to be late which would be intolerable. Already he could feel the prickles on the back of his neck rising and soon his lungs would start working overtime.
“And now to the draw. Roll the numbers please.”
“Finally,” Cari burst out, ignoring the clock for now. He couldn’t do anything about the build up of anticipation in his gut. He knew the statistics. He had more chance of being struck by lightening in a meteor storm on the fourth Tuesday of November than he had of winning the prize pool, but still he watched anxiously as the brightly colored balls tumbled about in their huge Perspex bowl. Finally, one slipped out, rolling down the specially designed tube to rest in its designated spot.
“Twenty seven,” the presenter said, quite unnecessarily in Cari’s opinion. Anyone with eyes could see the large number painted on the side of the ball. Unless they were blind, Cari reminded himself and immediately felt guilty for his slight against the vision impaired. He looked down at his ticket. Five rows had that number, so he marked them off.
“Twenty four.” Hmm, only three of his marked rows had that number, but Cari dutifully drew a line under each 24.
Seventeen, thirty seven, nine, forty, two, thirty two, twenty eight and… “the final number is one,” the man announced with a flourish while the pretty blonde clapped and jumped up and down on the television screen. Cari barely noticed, his eyes fixed on line seven of his ticket. Every number had a neat pen line under them. There was just one number blank on the right hand side of the ticket – the power ball number. For line seven, that number was five.
“Congratulations, everybody, there are going to be some lucky people around the country tonight. Remember folks, if you have all the numbers ticked off on one line then you’ve automatically won Ten Million Dollars. If you’ve got the power ball option, you will be in to win your share of one point six billion dollars if you have this last number. Set the machine rolling, Daisy, let’s see what the power ball number will be.”
“Five,” Cari whispered, almost afraid to watch the screen. But he had to watch it, he had to know. Come on, five. Five. Five. Five.
“And the number is five,” the presenter said with a flourish and the sound of applause filled the room, although everybody knew the lotto draw was conducted on a closed set. “Hang onto your tickers, everyone. Our super-fast computer system is now tallying the results, which we will have for you in a few moments. Remember these results…”
Cari tuned out the presenter who was still waffling on the television, staring at the slip of yellow paper in his hands. All ten numbers, plus the power ball. “I actually won.” Saying the words out loud seemed to make it real somehow and Cari blinked rapidly. His heart was racing, his breathing sounded loud even to him. Risking another glance at the clock he saw it was 8:27. He pulled out his phone from its specially designated pocket. As much as he hated to let anyone down, Cari knew he wouldn’t be meeting his friends for drinks. There was only so much his brain could process at one time. Social chit chat, something his therapist assured him would help turn him into a well-rounded individual, would just have to wait.
Two days later and Cari was wishing he’d never bought a lotto ticket. It turned out there was only one winner for the huge power ball draw and the media were on a frenzied hunt to find out who it was. Someone rising to instant billionaire status was big news. Cari’s hyper senses were on overload as the lawyer, recommended by his therapist, ushered him into the main conference room of the lotto commission.
“Don’t say anything,” Barry the lawyer whispered urgently. “Let me handle this.”
Cari wasn’t sure he liked Barry, but when he’d called the lotto commission, they’d told him he needed someone to protect his interests. With none of the members of his prickle talking to him, and unwilling to burden his social acquaintances with his problems, Cari had turned to the only person who knew the most about him – his therapist, Douglas Fanshaw. Fanshaw, being a pack wolf, immediately recommended Barry, another pack member, assuring him, in an overly friendly fashion, that the pack would take care of him.
Cari hadn’t thought to question the motives behind the suddenly friendly gesture until Barry pushed ahead of him, shaking the hand of the lotto commissioner. “Let’s get this paperwork sorted, shall we, and then we can leave you to get on with your day.” Opening his briefcase, Barry shoved a handful of official looking papers into the commissioner’s hand.
“Are you Caractacus Hudson?” The commissioner looked down at the business card Barry had included with his papers.
“No, that’s me.” Cari sketched a little wave, conscious that his bow tie and hand knitted vest might not be appropriate garb for a prospective billionaire. “We spoke on the phone.”
“I’ll be handling all of Mr. Hudson’s affairs,” Barry broke in rudely. “We’ve arranged a trust for the finance…”
“Excuse me, Mr. Fanshaw,” the commissioner had clearly dealt with pushy wolves before. And then Cari gasped. Barry had the same surname as his therapist. Why hadn’t he noticed that?
“Mr. Fanshaw, it is the Lotto Commission’s policy to speak privately with any winner of a large sum of money, to ensure they aren’t being coerced out of their money and are aware of all their rights. Winning such a large amount can be unsettling for some people who are not used to handling the responsibility.”
“This is a pack matter,” Barry the lawyer had quite a glare on him, but the lotto commissioner didn’t seem to notice. Cari was starting to think he had an ally in the tall, staunch man in his expensive suit. And then what Barry said hit him.
“I’m not a member of the pack,” Cari said, seeing Barry in a whole new light. “I’ve simply retained your services as a lawyer, because the lotto commissioner said I needed support.”
“We’ll deal with semantics later,” Barry snapped, and Cari stepped back at the sudden flash of wolf in his eyes.
It seemed the lotto commissioner saw that flash too. “Mr. Hudson, did you sign the back of your ticket?”
“I did.” Cari drew himself up to his full height of four foot eight. “It was the first thing I did when I realized it was a winning ticket.” Something Barry had been grouchy about when Cari told him.
“That is very wise, Mr. Hudson,” the lotto commissioner nodded. “You’d be amazed at how unscrupulous some people can be when large sums of money are involved.” The look he threw Barry spoke volumes. “If you’d like to come with me…”
“Hey,” Barry snarled, “that’s my client you’re trying to disappear with. I have papers here that need signing to facilitate the transfer of the funds and I don’t have time to wait around all day. I have another appointment in half an hour.”
“You may be delayed.” The lotto commissioner frowned as he studied the papers in his hands. “These papers claim that Mr. Hudson completely forfeits all rights to his money and that the winnings are to be paid into a wolf pack trust account. Is that what you intended, Mr. Hudson?”
“What?” Cari knew standing with his mouth open wasn’t an attractive look for him, given he had small sharp pointy teeth, but he couldn’t help myself. “I haven’t even seen those papers. I’ve got my bank account details and my tax number all here, just like you told me to bring.” He patted his small satchel still stuck under his arm.
“You didn’t give the Fanshaw pack full power of attorney over your finances?” The lotto commissioner arched a meticulously groomed eyebrow. Cari wondered what type of shifter he was. He clearly wasn’t human if he could withstand the glare Barry was throwing at him. “Is this your signature?”
Cari edged around Barry and squinted at the squiggle on the bottom of an officious looking page. He knew he should put his glasses on, but even without them, he recognized the scrawl. “That’s my therapist’s signature. He’s been helping me….” Damn it, Cari wanted to crawl into a hole and hide. Some things should just be kept private. “He’s been helping me negotiate a possible return to my prickle. I’ve been seeing him about three months.”
“I see.” The lotto commissioner’s voice spoke volumes and Cari’s heart sank, realizing he wasn’t going to get his winnings after all. The lotto commissioner would think he was mentally incapable of handling so much money because he had a therapist, and would probably agree to give it to the pack. It doesn’t matter, he reasoned with himself. I got by without the money before. I have my job, and my little home….
“Mr. Fanshaw, I’m sure you’re aware there are laws protecting clients against fraud and embezzlement.”
“The pack took him in when his prickle didn’t want him. All members contribute to the pack in every way they can.” There was a spot of uneasiness underneath Barry’s bluster, Cari noticed.
“Since when have I been a member of the pack?” Cari asked with a bit more spirit. He might not be getting his money, but he wasn’t going to let Barry get his hands on it either. “I petitioned to join when I first came into town, but the Alpha said they don’t take runts. He ordered me to stay away from pack territory and told Douglas, my therapist, to make sure if I couldn’t go back to my prickle, then I was to, quote, ‘stay the fuck away from him’. I’m only a hedgehog, you see.” He added with a shrug. “Not many predators want little guys like us around.”
“I guessed what you were from your use of the word prickle,” the lotto commissioner said kindly. “From what you’ve said, it is clear to me, the Fanshaw pack planned to take all your winnings under the guise of a pack tithe. A tithe you don’t have to pay because you don’t get any of the pack benefits or protection, isn’t that right Mr. Fanshaw? I take it the alpha is a relative of yours?”
“He’s my cousin,” Barry scowled. “It doesn’t make any difference anyway. A runt like Hudson won’t survive five minutes with all that money once the world gets a whiff of who and what he is. The pack is doing him a favor.”
“By taking his money off him completely. I don’t think so, Mr. Fanshaw. You can go. Tell your alpha to expect a visit from the council auditors and enforcers within the week. Our lawyers will investigate this situation, including the papers you’ve tried to enforce, and determine if any charges will be laid. Gentlemen, escort him out.” The lotto commissioner waved to two solid men who’d been guarding the door. Cari hadn’t even noticed them, but he appreciated their muscles as Barry screamed and cursed as he was dragged kicking and wriggling from the room.
“I see this far too many times,” the lotto commissioner said sadly, watching them go. “Money makes people drop their morals faster than a hooker’s knickers.” He gave himself a shake, and indicated a chair with his hand. “How about we sit down, and you tell me how you plan to manage this money of yours, and then we’ll see about getting it into your account. By the way, I didn’t get to introduce myself, but I’m Ernest Poullon. I’m a lion shifter.”
Perching on the seat offered, Cari nibbled at the inside of his lip. “Do people have to know it was me that won all that money?” he asked.
“You do have the right to anonymity,” Ernest agreed, taking the seat across the table. “However, I wouldn’t trust the Fanshaw pack to keep your secret.”
“No, they probably won’t.” Cari couldn’t believe how sneaky Douglas and Barry had been. Admittedly, he always knew the only reason why Douglas kept seeing him professionally was because of the money Cari paid for each session – likely double he charged anyone else. Barry, well, Cari had only met Barry that morning, which made Cari wonder how Barry already had all those official looking papers organized. Was he in on a scam with Douglas?
“Are you mated? I don’t scent anyone on you.”
Jerked from his thoughts by Ernest’s question, Cari shook his head. “I don’t like women that way,” he said, keeping his voice low in case anyone overheard. “And the men I like don’t want anything to do with a prey animal.”
“Ah,” Ernest beamed, “you fancy a big guy with muscles, do you? I can’t blame you, I’m just the same.”
Yeah, but you’re two foot taller than me with muscles to match. But of course, Cari didn’t say that out loud, which was just as well, as Ernest hadn’t finished talking. “I’m going to strongly recommend you get yourself a bodyguard, my young prickly friend, and fortunately, I know just the person who’d be perfect for you.”
“Perfect for me?” Cari gulped, before reminding himself sternly Ernest was recommending a body guard, not a date. “Professionally, of course, I understand what you mean.”
“Well, professionally for a start,” Ernest winked. “But I happen to know my brother has a soft spot for shy young geeks in bow ties and glasses.”
I’ve fallen down a rabbit hole. Cari didn’t know what was bothering him more – Barry and Douglas’s deception, suddenly being in control of more money than he’d ever know what to do with, or meeting the sexy lion who was going to be protecting his person.
Twenty-three year old bear shifter, Daniel Borden had his life crash around his ears at the tender age of fifteen when his parents were killed in a car accident. Struggling to control his shifts during puberty, Daniel left the foster care home he'd been placed in the day he turned eighteen. Thankfully, his parents left him well provided for and he was able to realize his dream - owning a safe place to call his own. Now an international best-selling author, Daniel hides behind his computer, convinced his life is fine just the way it is. Unfortunately, his only vice - a love of wild blueberries - changes his life in ways he'd only dreamed of.
Zeke McIntyre and Ty Hollifield are two Kodiak bear shifters who've spent ten years on the road, looking for their elusive third. Determined to allow the hand of fate to guide them, they end up in a "blink and you miss it" town all because of a white picket fence. Deciding to take the time to stretch their legs and let their long suffering bear forms free, Ty and Zeke spend their days wandering about in their fur in the nearby forest and loving on each other the way mated bears do. Until a brief hint of an alluring scent in the air, guides them to the one they've been looking for.
And you'd think, that would be the end of the story. But it isn't. The older Kodiaks arrival in Daniel's life brings out issues he'd never had to face head on before. Convinced by his mates to attend a writer’s conference in Roswell, and unwilling to let his mates down, Daniel has to face the fears that kept him hidden in his lovely house. Will he ever learn to trust the safety that could be found in his lovers' arms, or will he be going home alone?
The Cub and his Alphas is an MMM standalone story that includes minimal violence and some coarse language. Intimate descriptions of the three men together are also included so this book is suitable for adults only. This is a low angst, complete, sweet bear story, although the epilogue suggests a sequel with a secondary character.
Approx 47,000 words (147 pages). Opening Excerpt
Amazon.com – https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07MKJN47J
Amazon.co.uk - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B07MKJN47J
Amazon.ca - https://www.amazon.ca/dp/B07MKJN47J
Amazon.com. au - https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B07MKJN47J
Daniel chuffed as he rubbed his furry back in the long grass, his face turned up to the afternoon sun. Berry bushes, berry bushes as far as the eye could see. Well, they were all Daniel could see, given he was splat dang in the middle of them. Heaven, heaven, heaven, he sung in his mind, reaching out with his long claws to snag the nearest branch. How fucking lucky am I, he wondered as he smashed a paw-load of blueberries in his mouth.
The run was a spontaneous thing. Daniel was, as a rule, a quiet young man who spent most of his days on the computer writing his latest novel. But today the lure of the sunshine, and a nagging feeling his latest book wasn’t going the way it was meant to, saw him taking the four mile drive to his local forest for a bit of a stretch. He had planned on fishing in his furry form, but his nose caught the whiff of ripened fruit and suddenly fish didn’t seem as appetizing to his long bear nose.
La, la, la. Daniel swiped more blueberries with his other paw, well aware his golden fur was being stained blue. Two paw lots, yeah. One lot in my mouth, two lots in my mouth and so much more for me to munch. He could feel the juices smushed under his nose and dribbling down his chin, but with the sound of the babbling creek he’d planned to fish tickling his ear, Daniel didn’t care. He could wash up before he trundled home. The birds were singing, the sun was hot on his fur and the berries were sweet.
Hang on a minute. Daniel tensed and twitched his ears. The birds had been singing, but they were silent now. Seconds later he heard the snap of a breaking twig and the thump of footsteps from a being far heavier than him reverberated up his spine.
Fuck, fuck, fuck, I should have known it was too good to be true. Daniel rolled onto his feet, his fur quivering. Blueberries did grow wild in his part of the world, but what were the chances the perfectly spaced bushes occurred naturally? He was poaching in someone else’s patch and as the thuds got closer, Daniel panicked. He didn’t know of any other bear shifters in the tiny town of Edendale, but that didn’t mean there weren’t any. He barely went out.
The bushes to his right rustled and Daniel didn’t stick around to find out who he’d pissed off. In bear terms, he was still a cub, only twenty three, and whoever was coming was bigger than him – which took some doing but was possible. Never get between a bear and his food. Why his mother’s sage piece of wisdom chose to flow through his mind now, Daniel didn’t stop to find out. Pushing through the bushes to his left, Daniel put on a burst of speed, running blindly back to where he’d left his car.
Hearing a growl behind him, Daniel risked a quick look over his shoulder. Two of them, double fuck. Daniel didn’t fight – ever. He liked to joke he was a lover not a fighter, but he was lacking lover experience as well. And if those two lumbering brutes behind him caught up with him, he’d never get a chance to make his dreams a reality.
Got to get to the car, got to get too… shit. Bursting through the tree line, Daniel could have slapped himself for his stupidity, except his paws were too busy trying to put more distance between himself and the bears chasing him. His brand new bright red Prius sat mocking him on the side of the road. Running towards it, Daniel risked another look back. The massive black bears were just coming through the last of the trees. I don’t have time to fucking shift.
With a lingering whimper as he ran around his car, Daniel took off down the road. His chest was heaving, and the pavement was scorching his paw pads, but Daniel couldn’t afford to stop. He’d come back for his car, his phone, his keys, his wallet and everything else he’d left in his ‘too-small-for-his-bear-form’ vehicle later – a lot later when hopefully the bears chasing him would be gone. I knew I should have bought a truck. It was going to be a long run home.
About the Author
Lisa Oliver had been writing non-fiction books for years when visions of half dressed, buff men started invading her dreams. Unable to resist the lure of her stories, Lisa decided to switch to fiction books, and now stories about her men clamor to get out from under her fingertips.
When Lisa is not writing, she is usually reading with a cup of tea always at hand. Her grown children and grandchildren sometimes try and pry her away from the computer and have found that the best way to do it, is to promise her chocolate. Lisa will do anything for chocolate.
Lisa loves to hear from her readers and other writers. You can friend her on Facebook (http://www.facebook.com/lisaoliverauthor), catch up on what’s happening at her blog (http://www.supernaturalsmut.com) or email her directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Amazon Author page: http://www.amazon.com/author/lisaoliver
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