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Moonlight Champion

Ashton Grove Werewolves series, book 4

Author(s): Jessica Coulter Smith

The last thing Connor Tierney expected was to have his mate dumped in his lap - literaly! After a hard day at work, Connor is relaxing when Aislinn Walsh materializes in a ray of light. Seeing at once that she's injured, he does all he can to help her.

Aislinn has been married to an abusive husband for the past year. When she finds out she's in Aston Grove, she finds it unbelievable. Even more unbelievable is the handsome man taking care of her. Claiming to be her mate, does she date trust him with her heart? She's been waiting a long time for a knight in shining armor. Little did she realize it would be a night in furry armor!
 
Prologue

Aislinn sat in her favorite chair reading a book. She’d always had a thing for paranormal romances and was reading about a werewolf in a town called Ashton Grove, Georgia. The hero was everything she’d ever dreamed of in a man. As she turned the pages, she lost herself inside a world where the women always found the men of their dreams, princes among men. It was such a far cry from her life that it was almost funny. At twenty-three, she was married to the worst possible man. Hugh Winston had been charming, funny, and a gentleman while they were dating. It had been no small wonder that Aislinn had accepted his proposal nearly a year later. If only she could turn back the clock! At the very least, she was thankful she had kept her name when she had married him. In retrospect, she was surprised that Hugh hadn’t pitched a fit when she’d told him she was keeping her maiden name.

Hugh and Aislinn had been married for nearly a year now. The first month hadn’t been too bad, but after that… well after that Hugh had changed. She’d often heard women say they married one man and ended up with another. No truer words had ever been spoken! A little over a month into their marriage Aislinn noticed that Hugh was drinking more and more. The more he drank the louder and more obnoxious he became. It didn’t long before he started hitting her.

Aislinn remembered the first time as if it were yesterday. She had been ironing his shirt when he had suddenly backhanded her across the face, yelling at her for using the wrong type of starch. The blow had been strong enough to knock her to her knees. She had apologized profusely, having no idea what had set her husband off in such a manner. However, the next day he found something else to complain about and hit her again. Now he didn’t need a reason.

As Aislinn fell into her book, she wondered why she hadn’t been given a fairy tale ending. Sure, she was young and could always divorce her husband, except he’d made sure that she had nothing and nowhere to go. She supposed she could call a women’s shelter, but just the thought of doing something like that made her shiver. Was it really too much to ask for a knight in shining armor to come riding up her driveway, knock her husband upside his head, and carry her off into the sunset?

Hearing a car in the driveway, she quickly put her book down. Running to the kitchen, she checked on dinner. The roast still had another fifteen minutes before it was finished. What was she going to do? If dinner wasn’t on the table when Hugh walked in, she knew there would be hell to pay. Never mind that he was home half an hour early it would still be her fault somehow.

Opening the fridge, she spotted his favorite brand of beer in the back. Grabbing the bottle, she popped the top and placed it on the table beside his comfy chair in the living room. Maybe she could placate him while the roast finished cooking. Rushing, she quickly set the table. Aislinn was just placing the silverware on the table when Hugh walked in the door.

“Something smells good,” he said, putting down his briefcase and taking off his suit coat.

Aislinn popped her head out of the kitchen. “I’m making a roast with potatoes and carrots. I made your favorite salad on the side,” she said with a smile.

He grunted. “It isn’t ready yet?”

“Almost; I put your favorite beer by your chair. I thought you might like to change clothes and relax for a minute while I put the finishing touches on dinner.”

Hugh stormed into the kitchen, “You’re full of shit and you know it! You’re just trying to butter me up because you screwed up and didn’t have dinner ready on time!”

Aislinn backed toward the other kitchen door, ready to flee if she needed to. “No, Hugh, I honestly thought you might like to change and relax! Really! Besides, you’re home a little earlier than usual.”

Hugh roared in anger and lunged for her. “So this is my fault? I’m early you say! It’s never your fault, is it Aislinn?”

Aislinn took off for the bedroom, but she didn’t make it in quite enough time. She felt Hugh grab a handful of her long hair and pull as hard as he could; pulling her off her feet, dangling her like a rag doll. When he released her, he backhanded her across the face, knocking her to hands and knees.

“I’m tired of your lies and deceit, Aislinn. No more!”

Hugh kicked her in the ribs, sufficiently knocking the air right out of her lungs. Aislinn curled into a fetal position, gasping for air and trying to see through the haze of her tears. She felt the blows fall one after the other to her arms and legs. She had her face covered as best she could, but knew she would have one bruise for sure.

Just when she thought he was finished, she felt Hugh’s hand grab her by the throat. He hauled her to feet and slapped her. Grabbing her throat once more, he lifted her into the air and threw her across the room. Aislinn flew the four or five feet to the bedroom wall. As she was flying through the air, she made a wish; she wished that her fairy tale ending could come true and that she could find her knight in shining armor. Aislinn hit the wall with a sickening thud and her thoughts were no more. As her unconscious body fell to the ground, it suddenly vanished into thin air.

Chapter One
Early March

Connor was happy to be inside his home. He’d spent a long day outside and was ready to unwind. His cousins had offered to let him work at their auto shop, but he preferred being outside. He figured it was his wolf side that pushed him into working in the great outdoors. When a local construction company started going belly up, he had bought them out. Not wanting anyone to accuse him of being lazy, he often worked right alongside his men, and woman. He had one female construction worker who worked as hard as the rest, but she also worked hard at trying to get the boss into bed.

Connor never asked anyone to do a task that he himself was not prepared to tackle, so he often found himself working shoulder to shoulder with his employees. It didn’t bother him to get a little dirty and sweaty thanks to the southern heat and humidity. It could be back breaking work at times, but it was always rewarding.

He looked around his spacious living room and wondered why he’d his family talk him into buying the monstrous place. He’d been living one town over, but apparently that wasn’t close enough for his cousins; they had insisted that he move to Ashton Grove to be closer to the pack. Now he had a spacious four bedroom home all to himself. His brother, Colin, had also bought a home nearby.

Grabbing a beer out of the fridge, he sat down and turned on the TV. Just as he was bringing the beer up to his mouth for a drink, a bright light flashed and a woman materialized in his lap. Startled, Connor almost dropped both the beer and the woman. He quickly grabbed the woman and set his beer down on the table. He briefly wondered what in the hell was going on. Being a werewolf, he wasn’t immune to the unknown, but having a woman literally drop into his lap was a first.

Seeing that she was unconscious, he lifted her into his arms and carried her into the bedroom. Laying her down on his large bed, he turned on the light to get a better look at her. Her long brown hair was tangled, but her face … someone had damaged her beautiful face. He swore under his breath at the large blue bruise blossoming on her cheek. Her face was swollen and he would almost guarantee that she would have a black eye in the morning. He wanted to check her for further damage, but was afraid to. Picking up the phone, he called Gabriel.

On the third ring, the joint-alpha picked up the phone. “Hello.”

“Gabriel, I need your help,” Connor said, a death grip on the phone as he looked worriedly at the woman on the bed.

“What is it Connor? Are you okay?” Gabriel asked sensing the tension in his cousin’s voice.

“No, I’m fine. But I do need some help. Do you think Kiera feels up to coming over? Or should I call Marin?” he asked.

“Connor, why do you need one of the women to come over tonight?” Gabriel asked, knowing that something was missing from the conversation.

“My mate just materialized in a flash of light. She’s been hurt though and I don’t know how bad it is,” Connor explained, knowing he sounded ridiculous.

“Appeared? Is she a fairy?” Gabriel asked.

“No, she seems human. I think someone did a number on her though. Her face is blue on one side and swollen. I’m worried that she might have sustained other injuries.”

Gabriel growled; the one thing he hated most was violence against women. “We’re all coming over. We’ll be there in fifteen minutes.”

When Gabriel hung up the phone, Connor got a cool cloth to wipe the woman’s face. He tried to make her as comfortable as possible while he waited on reinforcements. He was afraid to move her too much in case she had serious injuries he couldn’t see.

much in case she had serious injuries he couldn’t see. The woman on the bed whimpered, a frown creasing her brow. Connor hunkered down beside the bed so his height wouldn’t frighten her if she should awake.

“Shh, it’s okay. You’re safe now,” he murmured to her.

Aislinn heard the soothing voice and felt a calm settle over her. She fought to open her eyes, but they weren’t cooperating. Had someone come to help her? The last thing she remembered was hitting the wall after Hugh had thrown her. Was she dead? Had she made it to heaven? The voice speaking to her was deep and soothing; it could easily belong to an angel.

her was deep and soothing; it could easily belong to an angel. Slowly opening her eyes, she tried to focus on her surroundings. Nothing looked familiar. Her gaze came to rest upon the man kneeling beside the bed. He was broad shouldered with a strong handsome face, set with green eyes and full, strong lips. His chin had a slight cleft in it, which would have made her sigh if she weren’t in so much pain. His brown hair brushed the tops of his shoulders, giving him a bad boy look.

“Where am I?” she asked in a whisper, her throat still sore from Hugh’s iron grip.

“You’re in my home in Ashton Grove,” Connor answered.

Her eyes widened and she tried to move, only to wince in pain. Ashton Grove? Had he just said Ashton Grove? But it didn’t exist! It was merely part of the book she had been reading… lying back against the pillow, she realized that she must either be dead or dreaming. Maybe this was her version of heaven. Her brow furrowed. If this were heaven, wouldn’t the pain have stopped?

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ISBN (Print):
ISBN (Electronic): 1450543537
Genre: Paranormal
Date Published: 06/04/2010
Publisher: JCS Books

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