PHASES VOLUME TWO
Wolves and Coyotes, Lions and Tigers, Bears and Hares…
When Hollis Chambers agreed to teach summer school in rural Michigan, she planned on checking out the local wildlife. She never imagined that it would be checking her out in return. Lynx shifters, Daniel, Josiah and Dylan are more than a little hot for teacher, and they want her for their own.
A tingling feeling trembled through Hollis Chambers’ stomach as she tried not to stare while two men took turns kissing her friend Maggie goodbye. It was hard not to watch in open-mouthed fascination. She’d never known Maggie to be particularly unconventional, but here she was with two men. Two incredibly hot men.
Hollis couldn’t imagine hooking up with two guys at once. At least, she didn’t think she could. But the longer she stood there, trying not to intrude, she realized that she could imagine two sets of hands stroking her, two mouths kissing her, two men spreading her legs, making her come…
And she needed to stop thinking like that. She’d come to Maggie’s hometown for a job. Not to get laid.
Turning slightly to give them at least the illusion of privacy and to smother her lust-filled daydreams, she studied the chipped red paint on the wooden screen door of what would be her home for the summer. Small and quaint, it was the perfect size for her. Right next door was the diner Maggie and her sister owned. Behind both buildings waves crashed endlessly on the Lake Superior shoreline. Birches and towering pines dotted the surrounding land and across the road, the forest grew thick and seemed almost menacing.
“If you don’t like it here, you can always come stay with us, okay?” Maggie said, pulling Hollis’ attention back to them.
“Nah. Besides, this way I can keep an eye on your sister’s place while she’s out of town, and you can have your privacy. It’s win-win for everybody,” she said with a grin.
“I’m positive, Mags. Besides, I’ll be here for the whole summer. We’ll see each other a lot.”
One of the men standing next to Maggie slipped an arm around her waist—Hollis couldn’t remember if he was Lucas or Quinn. “If you change your mind,” he said, looking at Hollis, “our door is always open.”
She smiled. He really seemed like a nice guy. They both did. “Thank you. I really appreciate it.” She didn’t bother saying it wasn’t going to happen. But she could tell from the expression on Maggie’s face that she knew.
Lucas and Quinn left for work after insisting on carrying Hollis’ suitcases in from the car, leaving Maggie to her help her get settled. Hollis followed her friend inside, taking in the fieldstone fireplace and the worn but comfortable looking furniture scattered around the living room. The sounds of rolling waves and bird song drifted in through the open windows, and a sense of peace settled over her. This was exactly what she needed. To be away from the endless people, cars and buildings.
Later, she’d drive up to the school where she’d be working for the summer. Granted, spending her summer vacation working really wasn’t she wanted to do, but she’d needed to get out of New York. Her roommate had relatives staying for the next month and a half, and the only way Hollis could afford to get away from that insanity was to have a working vacation. Hence, teaching summer school in the wilds of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. Not the most relaxing job, but the scenery was absolutely gorgeous, and who knew? Maybe Maggie’s guys had some available friends.
What was she thinking? Even if they had available, interested friends, she didn’t have the guts to jump into a threesome. And given the fact that she was considerably chunkier than most men liked their women, she didn’t imagine she’d snag the interest of one man let alone two.
Maggie showed Hollis where everything was in the small cottage. It was pretty self explanatory, but Hollis suspected her friend was more comfortable explaining the quirks with the hot water knob in the shower than she was discussing her unconventional relationship. After they’d finally exhausted all of the idiosyncrasies of her summer home and Hollis had changed clothes for her orientation, she broached the subject.
“So…” she said, glancing over to where Maggie sat, taking the house key off her key ring. “Two guys, huh?”
Maggie blushed but didn’t look away.
“I’m sorry. I don’t mean to pry, but…wow. And also, well done. They’re gorgeous, and they seem really nice.”
Her friend seemed to visibly relax at Hollis’ acceptance. “They’re amazing. I thought it would be weirder than it is.”
Hollis tried to imagine waking up with two guys every day. Two sets of dirty socks on the floor. Extra dishes in the sink. But maybe Maggie’s guys weren’t slobs. And the sex probably made up for everything else.
“But it feels like the most natural thing in the world,” Maggie continued handing her the house key. The glow of love on her face was unmistakable. “I don’t know how I got so lucky, but things couldn’t be better.”
Hollis had to concur. She couldn’t remember the last time she’d seen her friend so happy. Apparently, having two men agreed with her. She wanted to know more, but asking felt nosy. Besides, if she didn’t hurry, she’d be late.
Fitting the house key on her own key ring, she slipped her purse over her shoulder.
“Wish me luck.”
Maggie smiled and gave her a hug. “Don’t be nervous. You’ve already done all the hard stuff. After you get back, come over to the diner and have supper with me and the guys.”
Hollis hugged her back. “I’m so glad I’m here. I missed you.”
“I missed you, too.” She grinned when she saw Hollis locking the door. “You’re not in New York, anymore. Nobody locks up, here.”
“This girl does.”
Shaking her head, Maggie handed her a piece of paper with handwritten directions. “You’ll also find that your GPS doesn’t know all the roads up here and your cell phone’s coverage will likely be spotty at best. Welcome to paradise,” she said with a wink.
Following Maggie’s directions, Hollis skirted the western shore of Lake Superior on her way to the town of L’Anse. There were trees and water as far as she could see. The road looked as if it could be swallowed up by nature at any given moment. After going so long seeing very few dwellings, the houses clustered on the outskirts of town were almost a surprise. From what the principal had said, most of the town was taken up by a Native American reservation and the school sat on the very edge of it.
As the small, squat structure came into view, her nerves started to get the better of her and butterflies roiled in her stomach. She’d had several phone interviews with both the principal and the superintendent. Her teaching license was valid in the state. Everything was in order. And it wasn’t like she’d never taught tenth grade biology, so what was the big deal? And if it sucked, she’d only be here for the summer, so no real problem. But the butterflies persisted as she parked and headed into the building, smoothing her skirt and hoping she didn’t trip on her heels. Following the signs leading to the office, Hollis swallowed her nerves and pushed open the door.
* * * *
Daniel Cichosz turned around at the sound of heels clicking on the tile floor. A gorgeous brunette made her way to the office with his friend, Josiah, following close behind her. This had to be the teacher Jameson hired from New York City of all places. He couldn’t imagine an inner city instructor working out well in a rural school district, but the principal had insisted.
As Daniel observed her, Josiah projected his voice into Daniel’s mind. Please tell me this is the new teacher because I could happily follow her all summer long.
Daniel fought the urge to roll his eyes. Sometimes the ability to hear the members of his pack was a giant pain in the ass. Knock it off, he responded. The last thing I need is a sexual harassment suit on my hands.
The other man grinned at him over the woman’s head. C’mon, she’s totally your type.
Daniel had to admit, his friend was right. She had long brown hair pulled back at the nape and huge brown eyes set in a heart-shaped face. Her boring beige suit did very little to conceal her ample curves—full breasts and hips that he guessed she wasn’t altogether comfortable with judging from the way she carried herself. Full breasts and hips he shouldn’t be thinking about since he was her boss for the summer. Daniel extended his hand. “You must be Hollis Chambers. I’m Daniel Cichosz, the Vice Principal. The principal is home with a cold and asked me to give you your orientation tour.”
She grasped his hand with her much smaller one and smiled. “It’s nice to meet you.”
It was impossible not to respond to her warmth.
Josiah circled to stand in front of her. “And I’m Josiah Wilder,” he said, offering her his hand as she turned to face him. “Fellow summer school victim, I mean, teacher.”
Hollis’ smile broadened, and she shook Josiah’s hand, too.
“I’ll be accompanying you on your tour and filling in any blanks Daniel misses,” Josiah continued. “Like the location of the nearest Starbucks.” At her hopeful look, he added, “It’s in Marquette. About sixty-three miles away. It’s a hell of a morning commute.”
Hollis’ eyes widened. “Seriously?”
“Sweet thing, you’re about as far from New York City as you can get up here.”
Sweet thing? Daniel projected at the other man. That. That right there is why you’ll never be in administration.
Daniel nodded. “But don’t worry,” he said, hoping she wouldn’t take offense at being called sweet thing. “Wonder boy over there can make a great latte if you’re in need of caffeine.”
“Good to know,” she said. “I’m ready to get away from city, but I don’t think I’ll ever be ready to forgo good coffee.”
“Why don’t I take your paperwork and show you around?”
Daniel gave her the tour of the school while Josiah kept up a running commentary on all the things Daniel neglected to point out—the broken water fountain by the gym, the pop machine that spit out only orange Faygo no matter what button you pushed and the locker all the kids swore was haunted.
Hollis was seemingly more relaxed by the time they made it to the science room, laughing at Josiah’s lame jokes. The low, husky sound of her voice slid up Daniel’s spine, and he couldn’t help but imagine other noises she’d make if he kissed her. If he made her come.
He sighed. He was as almost as bad as Josiah, but there was something about Hollis that pulled at him. Something that demanded he touch her. That he taste her. However, that something needed to be ignored. At least for a little while. He didn’t want to scare her away. Not when she might be the one they’d been waiting for. Instead, he showed her where everything in the room was and gave her keys to the supply closets, managing to fight the urge to drag her in there and taste her. Barely.