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200-year-old Gideon, adviser to the lycan royal family, has been searching for his erasthai for longer than most humans live. He long ago gave up, but tonight he smells something heavenly… He follows it to his bed, and finds someone is already there…

22-year-old Layla, a human in a family of werewolves, has been trying to be independent her whole life. But taking a shift from a sick coworker, she ends up in a house that smells good enough to make her crawl into the owner’s bed…naked…

Age Rating: 18+

 

Gideon by Nicole Riddley is now available to read on the Galatea app! Read the first two chapters below, or download Galatea for the full experience.

 


 

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Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

1

Summary

200-year-old Gideon, adviser to the lycan royal family, has been searching for his erasthai for longer than most humans live. He long ago gave up, but tonight he smells something heavenly… He follows it to his bed, and finds someone is already there…

22-year-old Layla, a human in a family of werewolves, has been trying to be independent her whole life. But after taking a shift from a sick coworker, she ends up in a house that smells good enough to make her crawl into the owner’s bed…naked…

Age Rating: 18+

Original Author: Nicole Riddley

GIDEON ARCHER

“Lord Archer! Fancy meeting you here.”

Alistair Pembroke. Founder of Pembroke Motor Corporation—the maker of everything from small airplanes to fancy automobiles to boats and yachts.

Playboy extraordinaire.

He’s as pretentious as they come.

Eager and desperate to make a connection with the Palace. If only he knew that the Crown Prince and his pack were here, in California.

He reaches for my hand and pounds my back like we’re old friends.

“Mr. Pembroke.” I acknowledge him because to do otherwise is rude, and I am anything but uncultured.

It doesn’t mean that I like the prick.

“Ms. Helen Aristophanes.” He turns his attention to my companion. “How do you do?”

I have to refrain from making a snide comment because I know they knew each other in a biblical sense…more than once, even though she professed to be loyal only to me.

“Mr. Pembroke.” Helen bestows him with one of her sultry and seductive smiles and offers him her hand. His eyes make a quick scan over her body before he lifts her hand up to his lips.

“So, what brings the legendary Lord Archer here tonight?” he asks, bringing his attention back to me after slowly releasing her hand. “I never thought I’d see you among humans.”

I dig my hands into the pocket of my pants and look around us.

The Charity Gala is in full swing: flowing champagne, live music, men in their thousand-dollar suits and women flaunting themselves in designer dresses. This place is crawling with humans.

I only see two other lycans here tonight. They’re probably Pembroke’s security detail or his friends. It’s the place to see and to be seen. No one really gives a damn about the cause.

“Why, to support the charity, of course,” I deadpan.

“Yes, of course,” he replies.

“There you are, Alistair.” A beautiful lycan woman sidles up next to him. “I was looking for you,” she says before she casts her eyes up to me expectantly.

“Lord Archer, let me introduce you to my date, Juana Vega,” says Pembroke. “Juana, this is Lord Archer and his date, Ms. Helen Aristophanes.”

“His companion, actually,” says Helen before I have the chance to say anything. She curls her fingers around my arm. “It’s nice to meet you.”

“Oh, my…you’re Lord Archer,” breathes Juana Vega. Her eyes brighten in her face. “Alistair, you never told me that you knew Lord Archer.”

“It’s a pleasure to meet you, Ms. Vega,” I tell her, shaking her offered hand.

“The pleasure’s all mine.” She’s still looking starstruck. I feel Helen’s hand tightening around my bicep and try to hide my annoyance.

I need to have a talk with Helen about this possessiveness soon. We both understand that she has no claim over me—as I have no claim over her.

“Well, you have to sit with us.” Pembroke raises his hand to indicate the VIP section at the front.

“I’m afraid we won’t be staying,” I tell him.

“Oh, do stay, please. The dance floor will be cleared for dancing soon,” he insists.

Pembroke has been trying hard to get close to me for years. I’m guessing that’s because of my connection to the palace.

“I wish I could, but I have work to do, Mr. Pembroke.”

“Darling, you’re always working. The party looks like fun.” Helen pouts. I’m sure Alistair Pembroke finds her pout sexy. I find the sight irritating.

“You know very well that I can’t stay. Besides, we have that reservation at Providence,” I tell her.

I’m here to deliver a message from the palace to one of the most powerful allies outside the Kingdom. Message delivered. My job is done. I need to leave.

“Perhaps our paths will cross again in the future, Mr. Pembroke.”

***

Helen pouted and didn’t say a word at the back of the limo. Since the moment we sat down for dinner, however, she’s been talking my ear off.

I see her mouth moving but my mind is occupied with other matters, and that’s a bad sign.

I made the arrangement with Helen to be my companion five years ago. No strings attached. I found her to be entertaining then.

It’s understood that this is not going to be a permanent thing. I’m never going to make her my mate. That offer is never going to be on the table. If one of us finds our erasthai—or if we’re simply bored with one another—we will end our arrangement at any time without any bad feelings.

Even with this arrangement, we’re not always together. Sometimes we’re away from each other for months, sometimes for nearly a year. When she leaves, she claims to be spending time in Mykonos where her parents live, but I doubt it.

I never question where she goes. It’s none of my business. Nor do I answer to her where I’d been or what I’d been up to.

I’ve found her more irritating than usual these last few months…

Well, actually, it’s been a lot longer than that. I don’t quite remember when she stopped being entertaining.

Every word coming out of her mouth is grating on my nerves.

After my last stint with the Crown Prince Caspian and his pack, trying to save his erasthai Quincy from the clutches of her former pack, I am positive that I need to end things soon with Helen.

Maybe meeting with genuine females in Caspian’s pack reminded me of how it should be with your partner.

Or maybe the way Helen threw herself at the Prince and tried to create trouble between the royal couple despite my warning is getting to me.

I have long given up all hopes of ever meeting my erasthai, but I need someone I can trust and genuinely like.

For a werewolf, his mate is the other half of him. For a lycan, an erasthai is almost what a mate is for a werewolf. She is the one who your instinct tells you would be most compatible with you—mentally, emotionally, and physically.

Your instinct tells you that, in time, this is the female that you could fall deeply in love with for the rest of your life—above all others. That is if you’re not already in love with her at first sight…or the first scent.

She will be your obsession. Your life. Your everything.

“I heard there will be a Mating Ceremony at Banehallow Palace and that the Crown Prince and his pack have flown back to Russia. I’m sure you’re invited,” Helen’s voice penetrates through my thoughts. “Why don’t we go back to Russia? I’m sure the ball is to die for.”

Indeed I was invited, but I have a few things to do here and in other places. “I don’t think so.”

She pouts again. “You’re such a workaholic,” she complains, not for the first time. “Oh, just as well. I heard that the Prince is going to reject his intended.

“I still can’t believe he’s going to make that woman Quincy his queen. She’s a little too plain, don’t you think?”

She knows all too well that Quincy St. Martin is anything but plain. That woman is stunningly gorgeous and powerful.

In fact, Quincy St. Martin was the only woman I found intriguing enough to even consider mating with. Too bad she’s the Crown Prince’s erasthai and my future queen.

I’m loyal to the crown; I don’t bite the hand that feeds me.

“I’m bored. We’re in L.A. I feel like partying even if you don’t.”

“Very well. You’ll have the car at your disposal tonight. I’ll let the driver know.” I have no doubt she’ll be with Alistair Pembroke. I’m feeling relieved to be alone. He’s not the first man she’s spent the night with.

He can keep her if he wants her.

I think it’s time to cut her loose. This is not working for me anymore. It’s good to end things while we’re still amiable. I just have to find a way to do it without her going crazy.

Maybe I can sweeten her up with an expensive parting gift… She loves expensive gifts.

I call myself a cab and drop a few extra hundred dollar notes on the table to make up for Helen’s rudeness to our server tonight.

***

Home is a 5,000 square foot penthouse with a 15-foot ceiling and a perfect view of the Pacific Ocean. I never stay in one place for long, so this is just a temporary home.

I’m the royal liaison between the palace and the rest of the world.

I have my team, but I prefer to do certain things myself. I have been sent to solve conflicts between packs by delivering confidential messages from the King to other leaders, like tonight, and vice versa.

Anything to do with royal matters. All around the world.

On the way to the bar, I take off my jacket, loosen my bow tie, and undo a few top buttons before I remove the cufflinks and roll the sleeves of my dress shirt up to my elbows.

I pour myself a drink, then walk over to the sofa and open up my laptop to work.

My phone buzzes in my pocket, and I fish it out to look at the screen. It’s one of my buddies, one of the trusted few, Louis de Vauquelin. Last time I heard, he was in Ibiza.

“Gideon. Where are you, man?”

“Louis,” I answer. “I’m in L.A. Where are you?”

“I’m still in Ibiza, but I’m done working here.”

I bring my pocket watch out and flip it open. It’s almost midnight, which means it’s almost nine in the morning there.

I let out a snicker. Working? “Partying, you mean. When are you done partying?”

He chuckles. “Well, not all of us are hard at work 24/7 like you. Some of us like to do something that’s called…uh, living?”

“I enjoy my work.”

“Yeah, yeah…so you keep saying, but L.A. sounds good this time of the year. I’ll come visit you,” he says.

“No, don’t bother. I’ll be leaving L.A. soon. Maybe you can meet me in Lisbon in a few days?” I have some business to attend to, and a meeting with a few pack leaders there.

“Sounds great. Let me know when you’re leaving L.A.,” he says before he hangs up.

LAYLA

“Is that what you’re wearing for dinner?” asks mom, inspecting my ripped jeans and a big green sweater.

The sweater has the face of a smiling cow with big googly eyes and the word “Got Milk?” on it. There are some evil looking ducks and some chickens too.

“What? It’s adorable!” I say defensively.

Okay, it’s ugly…but she doesn’t need to know what I really think of it.

Her eyes bulge. “No. I want you to get changed now, Layla.”

“Ugh, mom!” I stomp to my closet. I’m twenty-two, but my mom still treats me like a little kid. It’s sad, really.

“Nope! Not another ugly sweater,” says mom when my hand lands on a grey hoodie that used to be my brother’s.

“Here, wear this,” she says, taking matters into her own hands. She hands me a light pink dress that I wore just once before.

Reluctantly I take it and she leaves my room. Gah! I can’t win.

I moved out of the house to live among humans a year ago. It’s about half an hour away from the pack territory, but almost every weekend they would guilt-trip me into coming back to have family dinner with them.

Maybe I should have moved further.

I do love my family, but their meddling in my life is getting out of hand.

Right after I’m done changing, she barges back into my bedroom.

God, what I put up with…

“Now, sit down, Layla.” She pulls out a chair facing the vanity for me. I try not to roll my eyes as I take my seat.

“You’re a beautiful girl, sweetie. Why do you have to hide it like that?”

We both stare at our reflections in the mirror. I don’t look much like my mom. My mom is a human and my dad is a werewolf.

“You’re lucky to have the beautiful were-gene,” she says.

I want to tell her that I don’t have a werewolf gene. I’m a human…just like her. The only difference is she has a mate who loves her. I don’t.

Her light hazel eyes, the only feature that I inherited from my mom, stare back at me, but I don’t say a word.

She scrunches my wild, brown, curly hair and shakes her head. Then she works on piling it up into a loose bun on top of my head. She only lets me go after she’s satisfied with my appearance.

***

“Grandma, your seat is right there.” I try to “gently” push my grandma to sit at her usual chair.

Now she’s sitting in my chair, which means I have to sit in the only available chair next to the guy they’re setting me up with, Kofi—the reason why I’d been working extra hard to look ugly.

She refuses to budge. “Ouch, my hip. I don’t think I can get up now. I swear, I might need a new hip soon. Now, what was that, Layla dear?”

I’m trying not to murder my 87-year-old grandma—my mom’s mom. She’s been living with us since my grandpa died ten years ago.

She’s also a crafty old lady who is actually as fit as a fiddle but shamelessly pretends to suffer from every ailment known to man to get her way.

Sitting at the dinner table tonight is my dad, my mom, my grandma, my younger sister, Maya and her newly found mate Abraham, my older brother Kaleb, his mate Carmen, and Kofi.

I sigh and admit defeat.

I walk to the other side of the table and sit next to Kofi. Kofi is my older brother’s friend who lost his mate ten years ago.

He’s almost a permanent fixture in this house every weekend because they think that he’s perfect for me.

“You look beautiful tonight, Layla,” says Carmen. “Don’t you think she looks beautiful, Kofi?”

“She always looks beautiful,” replies Kofi with a big smile.

I suppress a groan. Oh God help me.

 

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2

LAYLA

There’s nothing really wrong with Kofi. I guess he could be very sweet, but I’m just not feeling it.

I was born without a wolf, unlike my two siblings. Not having a wolf means there is a big chance that I don’t have a mate like they do.

Ever since my younger sister Maya found her mate seven months ago, they’ve doubled their effort to set me up with some guys, especially Kofi. The torture is real.

“Oh, how sweet,” coos grandma. I send her a glare, but she continues, “You two would make beautiful babies together.”

Shoot me! Just shoot me now!

“Didn’t I tell you that I want at least ten grandkids?”

I know they all pity me, but I think Grandma is joining in the fun just to torture me.

Even my grandma has a boyfriend. Yep, that’s right, my grandma’s getting more action than I do. I, a twenty-two-year-old woman, am getting less action than her eighty-seven-year-old grandmother.

How sad is that?

My sister is holding hands with Abraham, talking softly and giggling. This reminds me of why I chose to move out.

Pretty soon, my mom and my dad will be whispering to each other, Kaleb and Carmen will be acting all cute.

It’s PDA central.

The only thing that could make this better is grandma bringing around her boyfriend for dinner next time and starting to act the same way.

Arrghhh!!!

The image of that sears my brain.

“Layla,” says Kofi, taking my hand in his. “You really do look pretty. I appreciate the effort you made to look extra pretty for me tonight.”

Oh, no…

***

I feel cool fingers sliding over the back of my hand and swat them away. Kofi’s hand retreats, for now, but Carmen peeks around my brother to give me the look.

That look.

It’s the look that would land me in trouble later if she reported me to my mom.

We’re in a darkened theater now, and I’m trying to concentrate on what’s happening on the screen. Fantastic Beasts: The Crimes of Grindelwald is playing.

When I promised my mom that I would give Kofi a chance, that didn’t include groping or romantic hand-holding.

We’re having a double date with my brother Kaleb and his mate Carmen, of all people.

Carmen’s been in my family for over ten years now, so she is more or less like my own sister.

An annoying one most of the time.

She means well, but she’s as meddlesome as everybody else in my family.

Kofi places his arm around my shoulder and I smack it away again.

Carmen shoots me another warning glance and I huff. I don’t want to be here anyway, but since I caved, once again, the least they could do is let me enjoy the movie.

But noooo… Mr. Grabby-hands decided that he wants to be touchy-feely.

I still regret what happened this morning when I told my family that right after lunch I would be leaving to go back to the city.

I should have run right after breakfast…or snuck out before breakfast.

I saw mom slide a glance at Carmen before Carmen casually “suggested” that I should go with Kofi on a double date with her and Kaleb.

I should have known that they would join forces to get me to agree. I blame it all on my tummy.

I had stood my ground and refused to partake in their crazy match-making plan in the beginning, but then they brought out the big guns: my dad.

My dad raved about how lucky I was that a Gamma like Kofi was interested in me when so many other un-mated werewolf women were interested in him…according to Kofi himself.

My dad tried to make me feel guilty for moving out to live so far away from the pack (only half an hour away).

He recounted how his friends’ kids my age are all mated with babies, and how the babies of their babies are having babies soon

Eeekkk!! Not true!

He went on and on about how his heart and lungs and kidneys or whatever organ he could think of were going to collapse due to the stress I put him under for not being mated and taken care of.

Drama queen much?

Finally, I agreed to the date. What can I say? He’s a bit extra…and I’m a pushover.

I heard grandma snickering in the background when I gave in. I swear, that octogenarian lives for my pain.

I slump in my seat as the movie comes to an end. After countless hand slapping and endless glares from Carmen, I give in. I let Kofi hold my limp hand. He seems happy.

I give up. I don’t even know if the movie was any good.

Everybody looks happy by the time we all walk out of the movie theater. Well, everybody except for me.

Kofi places a hand on the small of my back, smiling triumphantly at my brother and Carmen.

I roll my eyes. Whatever.

I let him hold my hand when we reach the concession stand. It’s not like I’m going to be mated to him tomorrow.

Right?

“Hey, Carmen!” somebody yells from the crowd of people lining up to buy the tickets and snacks.

“Oh, my gosh! You guys. What are you doing here?” Carmen yells back excitedly, running to hug her friends. I resist the temptation to roll my eyes…again. They’re here to watch a movie, obviously. Duh! I bet the last time they saw each other was this morning.

This movie theater is in a small town, a neutral zone, just outside the pack’s territory. There are many humans and younger werewolves, both from our pack and the neighboring pack, who come here to hang out for dinner, movies, or clubbing.

“Hi, Kofi!” says one of the women there.

“Hey, Kofi!” says another.

Wow, he really is popular with the ladies.

He’s looking at them with a big smile on his face, but when he notices me watching, his smile turns sheepish with a hint of guilt. He awkwardly scratches the back of his close-shaven head.

Well, he is very attractive with his smooth, dark brown skin, tall build, charming personality, thin mustache and goatee, and that big smile. As I said, there’s nothing wrong with him.

He just doesn’t do it for me.

No spark at all on my part. Maybe I’m the one who’s broken.

“Kofi’s on a date with Layla tonight,” says Carmen proudly as if I’ve achieved something. The smile on one lady’s face dims considerably.

“I need to go home now,” I remind them. “I have a class tomorrow.” I do have a class tomorrow but not until noon.

They don’t need to know that, though.

“Yeah, err…I’d better take Layla home,” Kofi says. “See you later, Kaleb, girls.”

“You drive my sister home safely, Kofi.” Kaleb flashes him a warning look.

“Yeah, for sure, man,” Kofi replies while I give Carmen and Kaleb a goodbye hug.

“I really had a great time tonight, Layla,” says Kofi after he stops the car in front of my house.

Oh, I’m sure he did.

He had been talking non-stop in the car, mostly about himself. I didn’t really mind it, actually. It gave me time to think of all the things I have to do tomorrow and plan the day after that.

All I had to do was just say the proper response while he was talking, like: “uh-huh,” “oh, really,” “wow,” “ok,” “interesting.”

“You are such a great listener, Layla.” His teeth glow white in the dark. I wonder what teeth whitener he’s used.

“Uh-huh.”

“The other girls sure don’t measure up to you,” he says

“Oh, really?” I reply, still only half listening.

“I like someone who’s not easy. Someone classy but shy, and plays hard to get, ya know?” He’s looking at me meaningfully. “I know, beneath all that ice queen act, you do like me.”

Wait. What?

“You can just quit the act now. You’ve got my attention, girl. I know you’re attracted to me as much as I’m attracted to you. You’re the one for me.”

Say what? Oh God, that sounds like a super bad, cheesy song.

I want to tell him off, but then again, I can’t, for fear of my mom’s wrath. So I end up staring at him worriedly while chewing on my bottom lip, thinking of what to say.

I have to handle this delicately. If I do it wrong, I’ll be getting phone calls from my mom all night tonight. She’s relentless.

Delicately, right.

“Uh, Kofi… I’m not shy, and I’m not playing hard to get,” I tell him. “I do like you.”

His smile widens.

“What I mean to say is, I don’t dislike you. But I don’t like you like…like like you, you know. I—”

Suddenly, he swoops in.

Eeekkk!

I turn my face just in time so that his lips smash on my cheek. His hand comes up to grip my chin and turn my face his way, but I smack his forehead, his chest, and everywhere else that my hands can reach.

“Ow—Layla. Ow! Ow!” he yelps.

“Behave yourself, Kofi!” I scold him. I wipe my cheek and scramble out of the car very quickly, like my ass was on fire.

“Oh, come on, Layla. Don’t be like that,” he says.

“Don’t you ‘come on, Layla’ me!” I yell at the window before I stomp into the tiny driveway. “Sheesh! What has the world come to?”

I continue to grumble as I push the key forcefully into the lock.

Now I’m pissed. So pissed!

 

Read the full uncensored books on the Galatea iOS app!

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