Carol suppressed another yawn. A nap sounded rather nice, but the chatter of voices rising as the doors to the House were opened kept her from nodding off. She stared at the now-opened double doors to find a mix of old and young, male and female, and every race coming into the room.

 

Some of the faces made her gasp as quietly as she could, not wanting to bring attention to herself. There was a freaking movie star in the room, one she’d thought was paired up. They must have broken their contract if he was on the hunt again. Next to him was a model who used magic to keep her appearance young and wrinkle-free. She’d probably try to match up with one of the smaller familiars. From the pictures Carol had observed, she preferred pocketbook-sized dogs.

 

Unfortunately, not one of them made her anima tingle like she’d heard it was supposed to when a sorcerer who might be a match came near her.

 

Anima had to match to animus and vice versa. Both familiars and mages could sense their opposite in each other, something that drew them together, an indescribable attraction that bound them together. Only time would determine if there was a true match or not. Most were temporary matches, some aspect of personality forcing the pairing apart. And she’d never heard of animus being bound to animus, not even in fantasy stories. She even thought that an animus mage would be turned off by an animus familiar, at least magically.

 

She sighed and closed her eyes, laying her head on her paws. There was no one here for her, not one who would make her theirs.

 

Oh well. The thought of following some movie star around sounded boring as hell. They had to stay close for a bit for their magic to mesh, and Carol had dreams she wanted to pursue. Her perfect match would be—

Stacey hopped off Carol’s snout, startling her. Carol opened her eyes to find someone holding Stacey with a glowing smile. “You must be mine.”

 

Carol doggie grinned, aware she gave the impression of being a silly pup, but she couldn’t help it. The man holding Stacey was cute, a tall, thin man with blond hair and shining blue eyes. He radiated kindness. From the way Stacey was practically dancing in his hand she bet Stacey had found a sorcerer she could potentially bond with long-term.

 

Across the room, a woman squealed, picking up one of the cat familiars. She was a plump, plain woman with nice eyes and a wide, beautiful smile. Trevor was a sweet guy who hadn’t managed to find a long-term bond. Maybe this woman would be the one for him. Carol could only hope so.

 

The woman petted Trevor, causing the cat familiar to begin purring. “I think we could bond!”

 

The cat squirmed free, causing the woman to slump. Carol watched, already aware of what the tabby cat would do. Trevor wasn’t the type to judge people based on looks alone. Besides, she could hear his purrs. He was definitely into the female.

 

Trevor’s kitty form shivered, changing into a tall, stunning blond man who took hold of the woman’s hand. “Your aura is good. I think we can work together.”

 

Thank goodness clothing reappeared when a familiar changed shape or the whole room would be getting an eyeful of Trevor’s Willie Wonka and his Everlasting Gobstoppers.

 

Carol chuffed a laugh before putting her head back down. All around the room, she observed both matches and refusals as familiars found sorcerers and vice versa. Not one sorcerer approached either her, the tiger, or Brent, who was back to snoring lightly in front of his air conditioner. She closed her eyes, prepared to nap once more through the matching process.

 

“Hmm.”

 

Carol shivered at the deep, masculine voice. There was a slight rasp to it, as if he’d recently gotten over a cold.

 

“Oh, Mr. Sound, welcome to Familiar House!” Perky Patty was practically gushing all over the…guy who…

 

Mmm, what was that scent?

 

Carol opened her eyes.

 

Holy.

 

Fuck.

 

Jonah Sound, younger son of one of the richest men in L.A., had walked into her Familiar House, and he was even more attractive in person than he was on the Internet.

 

She kept her gaze on the dark-haired sorcerer as he wandered the room. His eyes drifted from one familiar to another, but he never stopped his slow stroll, not even when Perky Patty tried to take his arm and lead him toward the smaller feline familiars.

 

When he stopped in front of Brent and smiled, Carol thought that maybe her friend had found a sorcerer, but Mr. Sound moved on, shaking his head when Skipper tried to steer him to where the three current owl residents were perched in the rafters.

 

He stopped in front of the tiger, who stared at him with bored golden eyes. The tiger stood, stretched, and turned his back on Mr. Sound.

 

Ouch. That had to hurt the man’s pride.

 

If it did, Mr. Sound didn’t show it. He merely chuckled again, sending another shiver down Carol’s spine. What the hell was going on?

 

And why was her anima beginning to hum the closer Jonah Sound got to her?

 

Jonah Sound’s gorgeous hazel eyes landed on her. They widened slightly before he smiled. “Well. Hello there, Ms. Wolf.”

 

Carol lifted her head and studied him. Now that he was standing in front of her, she realized he had an absolutely decadent scent. It reminded her of the time she’d walked past a Starbucks that had been placed next to a chocolate shop. She’d practically puddled into a ball of furry goo right then and there, but Stacey had dragged her away before she could make a fool of herself. Well, any more than she already had.

 

This man smelled just like that, and Carol was having a hard time not licking him to find out if he tasted as good as he smelled.

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Dana Marie Bell.

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