Story Excerpt
White Paws & A Dream

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He headed for the front doors. Only his quick reflexes kept him from being part of the chaos going on around him. He was getting more fed up with each passing moment. When a sudden blaring pain shot through his back, Ifan breathed deeply and turned to stare at a man holding the remains of a chair in his hand.

"Are you out of your fucking mind?" he shouted as he wrenched the chair away from the man and tossed it across the room. He distantly heard it crash into the wall. "I am not going to mate you."

He didn't want a mate. He didn't want anyone messing with his life. He liked living alone. He didn't want someone coming in and messing with the quiet existence he had created for himself.

"The elders gave us twenty four hours to find a mate or go feral," the man snickered. "It doesn't look to me like you have a choice."

"There are always choices."

The man's mouth dropped open. "You'd rather die than find a mate?"

"I don't want a mate," Ifan growled.

"Who does?" The man laughed. "I was having way too much fun playing without one but going feral doesn't sound like much of a choice."

Ifan shrugged. If he went feral, he went feral. He wasn't going to be forced into mating anyone, no matter what the elders wanted. "It's not going to happen, so go find someone else to play with."

The man smirked. "Your loss, big boy. I could rock your world."

"And I could end yours."

The man shrugged until someone else caught his interest and then he was running across the room. Ifan clenched his jaw. Some days it just didn't pay to get out of bed. Ifan turned and headed for the doors again. The quicker he got out of here, the quicker he could go feral and hopefully be put out of his misery.

Maybe he had lived on his own too long but he didn't like people as a general rule. Humans were too bent on destroying paranormals and paranormals were too bent on destroying each other. It was a vicious circle Ifan wanted no part of.

He just wanted to go back to his little cottage in the woods and be left alone, and he didn't want to bring anyone with him. At this point, going feral was looking pretty damn good. At least it might put him out of his long misery.

Ifan stepped out ballroom doors and headed down the long stone hallway toward the exit. He rounded a corner just in time to see a ball of fire shooting out from some man's fingers hit a guard in the chest, crumpling him to the floor. The other guard advanced, and a blond haired man swung out, connecting solidly with his jaw and sending the man to the ground next to the first guard.

Ifan quickly decided this was not the place to be. He avoided fights whenever he could help it. Fighting just seemed to be a worthless pursuit. Someone always got hurt, and sometimes killed. Ifan didn't want to be responsible for that.

It was yet another reason he didn't want a mate. Siberian tigers were very territorial, especially white Siberian tigers. That was one of the reasons he chose to live alone, that, and the fact that most of his breed were extinct. Apparently, his white fur coat was highly prized by hunters.

Ifan's eyes widened when one of the men suddenly ran for the door. The next thing he knew, the little man was flung backward, rolling ass over end until he sprawled on the ground at the blond man's feet.

Nope, he didn't want any part of this. Ifan turned and went back down the hallway. There had to be another way out of this damn castle. Ifan glanced into the ballroom as he passed it. The chaos seemed to have calmed to a dull roar and the elders were returning, walking up onto the stage.

Ifan paused. Maybe he was going about this the wrong way. Dying wasn't that scary to Ifan. Going feral and being put down wasn't even that scary. Having a mate terrified him. Maybe he could just skip through to the ending without all of the hassle?

Ifan drew in a deep breath, contemplating his next move. He could feel his tiger right under his skin, pacing, agitated. He felt the need to extend his claws, to shift and chase something down.

Ifan was an old shifter, nearing two thousand years. He'd been alone for the last two hundred of those years. Not since he was a young cub had he not been able to control his tiger but the hot burning itch that was starting to crawl across his skin was clawing at his control.

Suddenly decided, Ifan crossed the ballroom floor and headed right for the elder dais. They could end him now and forgo all of the rest if this crazy scheme of theirs. He wasn't going to take a mate.

Ifan reached the dais and clasped his hands together, giving the elders a respectful bow. No matter how fucked up he thought their plan was, he refused to give on his personal values, one of which was being respectful to the United Paranormal Alliance of Cooperation, or UPAC, as most paranormals called them.

"Elders, please forgive my intrusion."

"Ifan Vashnikov," one elder said. Ifan recognized him as Elder Lucas, the elder of the Felid Clan. "I did not expect to see you at this year's gathering. My understanding was that you never leave your forest."

"I was sent an invitation."

"Good, good." Elder Lucas smiled. The elder glanced at the space around Ifan, an eyebrow raised. "Have you come to have your mating recorded?"

"I am sorry to say I have been unable to find a suitable mate." Ifan wished he could roll his eyes at the council of elders and let them really know what he thought of their grand plan. Again, his sense of honor raised its ugly head. "As such, I am requesting that—"

"No mate?" Elder Lucas said. "A man of your stature? I'm surprised, Ifan."

Ifan frowned. There were times in his life when something significant occurred. It was always preluded by a cold shiver down his spine. Ifan was feeling such a shiver right that instant. The elders had something up their sleeve and it involved him.

Ifan started to get an itchy feel at the back of his neck as he watched Elder Lucas lean over and whisper into the ear of the elder sitting next to him. He had missed enough great gatherings to not know all of the elders. Many had come and gone over the years.

Elder Lucas was smiling as he sat forward. The elder next to him began to write in some large book. Ifan clenched his jaw. He wasn't going to like this. He just knew it. Ifan braced himself.

"Ifan Vashnikov, your mating has been recorded."