The Shaman's Mate
By Donna McDonald
Grand Canyon park ranger and expert tracker Jason Cloud always considered himself a good person, just not a religious one. After searching the canyon’s woods for months to find his wife’s killers and failing to do so, Jason decides he would bargain with any deity willing to help him. When an unfamiliar fellow park ranger walks up moments after his pleas for help and sets him on the right path, Jason sends his gratitude out into the universe for answering his call. The last thing he ever suspects is that the same man would return to abduct him and insist he make good on his promises. Jason is not opposed to helping the Chileaans, but it’s what they want him to do that’s the problem. With his wife barely dead, he is definitely not ready to have any sort of relationship with another woman, not even the beautiful Chileaan Shaman, who he is told is his destined mate.
Shaman Aiyanna has waited a long time for her chosen mate to be ready to join her, but she has learned to have patience about the matter. When she rejected the idea of Jason initially, the Great Mother forced her over a span of six human years to stand helpless in the portal between their dimensions and watch while Jason committed himself to a human realm mate. It had both surprised and hurt Aiyanna to see him happy with the woman, but it had also been illuminating about his character. When his human mate dies, Aiyanna finds herself grieving deeply for Jason’s pain and loss. Willing to do anything to relieve his suffering, but forbidden to intervene personally, Aiyanna is grateful when her spirit brother offers to help. The last thing she ever expected was that the tribal council would send Kiell back to retrieve Jason before the Great Mother gave Aiyanna permission to contact him. Now Jason hates her for and there is little she can do but try to find a way to release him from their destiny.
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Jason started across the grounds realizing that he had no idea how to get to Shaman Aiyana’s house on his own. Then he started noticing that when he walked in one direction, his hands hummed. When he turned a different way, the humming stopped. Deciding to follow the humming, Jason walked quickly and eventually recognized Aiyana’s temple.
Now that he was here, Jason hesitated before climbing the steps slowly. For the first time he wondered if he was already too late, if Cheveyo was already with her. This might be embarrassing for all of us, he thought.
Jason looked at the door, compelled to go inside no matter what he came across. Being with Cheveyo wasn’t going to work anyway. Jason didn’t know how he knew that about the situation, but he just did. Even the thought that Aiyana would try with Cheveyo upset him now, but being upset was not right either. So Jason didn’t bother knocking, but he did remove his shoes as Aiyana had asked last time.
Once inside, he walked softly through the house looking and listening at every closed door. Finally, he came to a large open room at the back of the house that faced a lush courtyard with a cascading fountain. In the center of the room, Aiyana sat in the middle of a pile of pillows wearing only a very sheer bra top and equally sheer pajama pants. On her shoulders and down her arms were intricate designs made of fine black dots. As Jason walked towards her, he saw the dots on her start to glow.
She stood and turned to him in one fluid motion.
“Jason. Why are you here? I’m expecting. . .” Aiyana found she couldn’t say the truth to him while he was looking at her so fiercely.
Jason walked up and stopped in front of her, placing his hands on her arms, matching their designs. He winced at the pleasure-pain sensation it caused both of them.
Aiyana moaned as the power flowed between them. “Jason…” she began, then caught her breath.
Jason sensed the man at the door before he actually saw him. He dropped his hands from Aiyana to face the man who had just entered.
“Who are you?” the man at the door demanded. “Why are you touching Shaman Aiyana?”
Jason looked at him for a few moments. There was no doubt who the man was because he fit the description. He studied the man that Aiyana had told him was more handsome than he was, a man who had pleasured her more than once.
“This is the final time I ask you the question before I take further action,” the man said quietly.
Jason heard Cheveyo speaking in the same dispassionate, but I-really-mean-it manner of speaking that Hania used. Maybe he should be more worried about the fierce glare he was receiving, but he just wasn’t feeling anything but relief that he stopped Aiyana from…holy hell. He was jealous.
“Aiyana won’t need your services after all, Cheveyo. I am the Shaman’s mate,” Jason growled the words, shocked at how fiercely he sounded saying them.
Jason watched the man study him for long moments. He was prepared to fight him if needed, but hoped it would not come to that. The man was a lot bigger and looked a lot stronger than Hania, who had managed to take him down easily.
Aiyana’s heart stopped, and then started beating with a thunderous sound. Jason had told Cheveyo that he was her mate. How was this possible? He was staring at Cheveyo, his eyes glowing with the Great Mother’s power. Shocked happiness shook her to her core and she started to fall.
“Aiyana, are you okay?” Jason asked, grabbing her arms to hold her upright, accidentally matching their marks again.
“Jason…” she called his name, and then collapsed in a heap at his feet, her hands sliding down his body. She wrapped her arms around his legs because she simply had to touch some part of him to believe it was real.
Aiyana looked across the room, pain in her heart for yet another misdeed she had done to the man at her door. “I’m sorry for this situation, Cheveyo. I truly did not expect Jason to return to me, but I am glad he has.”
Cheveyo looked at him with the most hateful look Jason had ever received from another person.
“There is no dishonor here, Aiyana,” Cheveyo said softly. “I serve Shaman Aiyana, who serves the Great Mother. If you have need of me, I too will return to you.” He bowed his head to her and left, not sparing Jason another glance.
Jason looked down at the woman wrapped around his legs and wondered what had possessed him to stake a claim. What was it to him if the woman bonded with the whole tribe? But thinking of Cheveyo at her door, he was pleased he’d sent the man away. God help him—maybe he felt a sense of duty growing for her. Somehow he instinctively knew that Shaman Aiyana’s ascension wouldn’t happen with anyone but him. Walking through Aiyana’s door moments ago, he was following some inner voice that demanded he help her, regardless of what form that help took.
As he pulled Aiyana up into his arms again, the voices he’d heard when he kissed her started chanting again. This time though the chanting perfectly matched the heat in his blood as he studied Aiyana’s nearly naked body. This time when desire for her moved through him, Jason accepted it physically, even though he still had to work at setting the emotional guilt aside. His body was insisting that he be with her. There seemed to be no other choice.
“So where are we doing the deed?” Jason asked Aiyana. “Do you have a bedroom?”
“What?” Aiyana asked, not quite understanding what Jason meant. She was still recovering from what had just happened, from the joy that Jason had returned, and from her shame at having to send Cheveyo away. It wasn’t often that she experienced emotional turmoil.
“For this ascension thing to work for you, you have to have sex with me, right?” Jason demanded. “I don’t know how I know that, lady, but I just do.”
Aiyana looked hard at Jason, trying to see into his spirit, trying to see if he would have any regrets. “You told Cheveyo I was your mate. Did you mean those words?”
Jason tugged her forward by the center of the bra top she wore, until they were nose to nose because she was so tall.
“God help me for disrespecting my dead wife, but I do,” Jason admitted, rubbing a thumb across her left nipple and making her tremble. He watched their dots glow brighter as he touched her through her clothes. “Kissing you put these glowing dots on my hands. And I see you have a matching set.”
“Praise to the Great Mother for all her gifts,” Aiyana said breathlessly, finding it difficult to have conversation when Jason was touching her so intimately.
“You might want to save that gratitude for after we’re done,” Jason joked, hoping he would not back out on her once they started.
Part of him was hard and aching for her, so he knew he was up for the challenge, so to speak. Still another part of him was trying to decide if he would be betraying Emily and her memory by what he planned to do to help a woman he didn’t really even know.
“What you bear are the Great Mother’s marks. You are also ascending Jason. I did not know that would happen when I kissed you. Are you okay with receiving the power of it?” Aiyana asked, concern evident in her face.
“If I turn into some really ugly creature after having sex with you, there’s going to be hell to pay,” Jason warned, still toying with her top.
“When ascension is complete, you will be what you already are, only more so,” Aiyana told him with a smile, trying to reassure Jason that he would not be harmed.
“Will there be more tattoos?” Jason asked, thinking he needed to be prepared for what would happen.
“Yes. You’ll get a lot more tattoos,” Aiyana informed him, laughing painfully, not really finding any humor.
Jason pulled her closer to him, listening as the chanting grew louder and louder in his ears.
“Next question. Why do I hear people talking every time I get near you?” he asked her.
“It is the voices of the ancestors. Can you understand what they are saying?” she asked in return.
“Not the words, but it seems like they are encouraging me to just…take you hard and fast,” Jason finally admitted, hoping she did not find it offensive.
Aiyana stepped away from Jason, untied a string on each side of her hips, letting the pants fall to the floor. “That’s exactly what they are saying,” she agreed. “And I am ready for you to do so.”