I Hate Black Friday - A Lunar Falls Short

When Lies of Lunar Falls was first released back in 2015, I was asked to participate in a Paranormal Romance, Black Friday themed promo where all the authors wrote a holiday short story involving their characters. I Hate Black Friday was the result. This little story was posted on the promo organizer's page for a very short time, and hasn't been posted anywhere since. I hope you enjoy it as much as I enjoyed writing it!

I Hate Black Friday - A Lunar Falls Short

By Lashell Collins

“I cannot believe that I let you drag me out here,” Jessica said with a roll of her eyes. “And at this hour! I hate Black Friday.”

“Oh, come on. I thought girls were supposed to love this stuff,” Gabe said with a smile as he looked at the chaos going on all around them.

“Hey, I enjoy shopping as much as the next girl, okay? But look at this! This isn’t normal shopping, this is something much darker. It’s like … combat training! These women are serious! We probably should’ve brought a few Enforcer team members with us for protection,” she replied, referring to the pack’s team of elite fighters as she looked around and took it all in. The brightly marked sales signs and the hyped-up women running around in a shopping frenzy. She shook her head at the insanity of it as they stood just inside the door and gaped at the scene. She hated this. Crowds were so not her thing anyway, but this was ridiculous. And she knew that the only way she was going to get through this outing with her sanity still intact was to begin devising a plan for revenge. Her brother would pay.

“Protection?” Gabe repeated, giving her a look that said ‘are you kidding me.’ “Are you forgetting that you have ten times the strength they do? You could snap any one of them in two without breaking a sweat.”

She looked at him with a smirk on her lips. “That’s not the point. Besides, you and I both know that I would never show my true nature to an uninitiated human. Remain hidden in plain sight. Remember?”

Gabe smiled at his little sister, then draped an arm around her shoulders and pulled her away from the store’s entryway and further into the crowd. “Let’s get started.”

Jessica rolled her eyes again. “What are we even doing here? I mean, seriously, Gabe. Haven’t you ever heard of online shopping? Cyber Monday?”

“Jessie, come on! You agreed to help me do this.” He grumbled as he stared at her.

“Yes, but I didn’t know that would mean coming to this God-forsaken mall at the butt-crack of dawn and wading through this horde of retail zombies for no good reason.” She glared at him as she protested. “We didn’t have to do this today, after all. I mean there are still four weeks before Christmas, you know! Still plenty of time to find a suitable gift for Carly.”

“Yes, but I don’t want to wait until the last minute. And between my duties at the Sheriff’s Department and my responsibilities as Pack Master, finding the free time to do some Christmas shopping is near impossible.” Gabe huffed out a breath that sounded more like a growl than a sigh. “Plus, this is our first Christmas together, and Carly and I have been through so much these past few months. I’m not looking for a gift that’s merely ‘suitable,’ Jessie. It has to be perfect. Just like her.”

His voice trailed off and he grew pensive as he thought about the woman who had stollen his heart so completely. Carly Tipton was the most incredible woman he’d ever met. Beautiful, to be sure, but there was so much more to her than that. Carly was strong and intelligent and independent. And brave. All qualities that a mate worthy of the GrandAlpha should possess, and Gabe felt so lucky that she belonged to him. She was his, and he loved her. And this Christmas was going to mark the first of many magical holidays spent together.

Jessie stared at her big brother for a long moment. The passion he felt for his new mate literally lit up his gray eyes from within, and they started to glow like the hot embers of a smoldering fire. She smiled at him, and sighed.

“All right, put out those peepers, Romeo, before you draw a bunch of unneeded attention our way. Honestly, GrandAlpha, you should know better than to wear your heart on your sleeve, like that,” she joked, using his proper title.

Her snide comment suddenly made him aware of the burning sensation in his eyes, and he shut them tightly for a few seconds. When he opened them again they weren’t glowing anymore.

“Did you have something in mind?” Jessie asked, trying to get into the spirit of things. “A pretty sweater? Sexy lingerie? Something sparkly that fits on a finger perhaps?”

Gabe laughed at her questions, but the truth was that he’d considered all of the above, and he had no clue which way to go.

“Yes … definitely … and is it weird that I’m considering the sparkly shit already?” he said, answering her questions in order.

“Yeah, I know,” Gabe sighed. “But Carly’s not exactly one of us, Jessie.”

“Well, she’s not exactly all human either,” Jessie replied. “Not anymore.”

Gabe took a deep breath and nodded his head. She had a point there. Carly’s strange DNA makeup was still a mystery to everyone, but she was slowly becoming more like them with each passing day. All of her new abilities steadily transforming her into something unexpected and wonderful. He was amazed by her.

Their first stop was women’s apparel, and over Jessica’s many protests for something more bright and vibrant, Gabe chose a very soft, cream-colored cashmere sweater, imagining how the hue and texture of it would compliment Carly’s warm brown skin tone and hazel eyes. He couldn’t help imagining the sexy sight her cleavage would make in the deep v-neck either.

 

After he’d made his purchase, they pushed through the throng of people to Victoria’s Secret, and Gabe hesitated at the doorway.

“Are you going inside or not?” Jessie asked, looking at him with a raised eyebrow.

“I don’t know.” Gabe looked as though he’d just eaten something distasteful. “I mean, how twisted is it that I’m going into one of these stores with my baby sister?”

Jessie rolled her eyes at him. “Well, it’s not like you’re buying anything for me. That would be twisted. And sick!”

“Yeah, but … I’m not sure I want you knowing what my mate is wearing for me behind closed doors.” Gabe shot her a deadpan look. “You don’t need to know what Carly and I are doing in private.”

“Mmm. Probably the same sexy things Joe and I are doing in private,” she teased, giving him a mischievous grin.

“Whoa, stop right there!” Gabe held up a hand and glared at her. “I don’t want to hear about what my best friend is doing to my kid sister at night, okay?”

“At night. And in the mornings. Outside in the broad daylight. Underneath the stars ...” Her sentence gave way to a wave of giggles as she continued to tease him.

“Jessie. Stop it!” Gabe practically snarled as he glared at her.

Jessie laughed out loud before she finally pulled herself together. “You are so easy to mess with, God! I appreciate the big brother thing though. It’s actually very sweet.” She gave him a patronizing pat on the arm.

Gabe growled at her, but he secretly loved her playfulness. It was nice to see her and Joe so happy now, finally. After all their time spent apart. He smiled as she stepped behind him and gently pushed him toward the entrance of the lingerie store. Once inside his eyes darted around at the scantily clad mannequins and he couldn’t help but feel uncomfortable. Especially once his sister began holding things up for him to consider.

“What do you think? Pink or purple?” she asked, holding up a couple of completely see through nighties.

“Neither,” he grumbled, looking away.

“Okay, what color would you prefer?” Jessie sighed as she put the things away.

“I would prefer you not hold up any more suggestions.” Gabe frowned at her.

Jessica let out a loud, aggravated sigh. “Do you want my help, or not?”

“Yes, I want your help! Just not … in here,” he said as his mouth contorted into a smirk.

“Oh, my God, you are acting like such a guy right now,” she huffed. “Tell you what … I’m going to go over there and look for something to wear for my mate on Christmas eve. You’re on your own!”

“Fine,” he said as he watched her walk off to a corner of the store. Then he sighed as he looked helplessly around the shop. Why was this so embarrassing? Lots of men bought this type of stuff for the women in their lives all the time. It was no big deal. He wandered around the shop for several minutes feeling totally out of place, like a werewolf in a den of cat shifters or something. He’d almost given up when he turned to head for the door and stopped. Right there in front of him was the gift he hadn’t known he was looking for – a Santa-themed nightie that Carly would look delicious in. It was red and sheer and trimmed with white fur around the hem, and picturing her in it made his cock twitch.

“I’m ready to check out. What about you?” Jessica said, looking down at the lovely pale blue nightie she’d picked out for herself.

“Um, what size do you think Carly would wear?” Gabe asked.

Jessica stared at him in blatant disbelief. “You don’t know her size?”

“Well, not in numbers!” His tone was defensive as he took in her look of pity. “The sweater I bought was a medium, but what would that translate to in this kind of stuff? I imagine you need to be a little more specific in here.”

“You are hopeless,” Jessie stared at him and shook her head.

“And you’re annoying,” he countered. “But I love you anyway. Now help me!”

“Jeez,” Jessica muttered, as she began to sift through the rack of Santa nighties.

Half an hour later, once they’d picked out the appropriate size and stood on the longest line imaginable to pay for their purchases, they walked out of the lingerie store feeling a sense of accomplishment. And it wasn’t long before they ended up at a jewelry counter.

“Are you really buying her a ring right now?” Jessica asked, sounding somewhat surprised.

“No,” Gabe replied after a slight hesitation. “Just thought I’d maybe look into a small sparkly token of my affection.”

“Uh huh,” Jessie muttered, giving him a coy grin.

“Besides, you said that it wasn’t too soon, seeing as we’re not following human relationship standards here.” Gabe studied her face as he reminded her of her earlier words. Was she changing her stance on the subject?

“Yeah, I know what I said, and I meant it.” Jessie nodded with total confidence as she answered him. Then she stood by as Gabe spent nearly another hour looking over all the baubles, and at one point she actually wanted to scream at him, “Earrings or a necklace … just make a decision already!” Oh, he was so going to pay for this day.

Gabe spent a considerable amount of time before he finally decided on a very pretty silver bracelet with a wolf’s head charm dangling from it. The eyes of the wolf were tiny blue topaz chips, and Gabe thought it was perfect because he knew the blue topaz was Carly’s birthstone.

“You think she’ll like it?” he asked, sounding anxious.

“It’s very pretty. And it’s a present from you. I’m sure she’ll love it,” Jessie answered, smiling at him.

Their mission now complete, they finally made their way out of the crowded mall and headed for home. And Jessie was starving by the time they walked into their grandfather’s home.

“Well, that was perfect timing. Nancy was just about to serve lunch.” Henry smiled at the both of them. “How were the stores out there?”

“Crowded,” Gabe replied as he stepped past his grandfather and swept Carly into his arms. He held her close for a long moment, then planted a kiss on her lips before he left the room and went into the kitchen.

“Crowded is an understatement,” Jessica added. “It was a mad house out there!”

As they all prepared to follow after Gabe, Carly placed a hand on Jessica’s arm, taking her aside.

“Hey, Jess. I was wondering if I could ask you a favor?” Carly glanced around with a conspiratorial air, not wanting anyone to overhear.

“Sure thing, Carly. What’s up?”

“Well, I’m sort of freaking out over what to get Gabe for Christmas. I mean, what do you buy the werewolf who has everything?” She smiled at her own joke. “Plus, it has to be something really special, you know? Since it’s our first Christmas together and everything. I want it to be memorable.”

“Well, how can I help?” Jessica held her breath, already dreading the answer.

“I was hoping you wouldn't mind going shopping with me after lunch?” Carly gushed, looking at her with eyes full of hope.

Jessica plastered a smile on her face and let out a tired sigh. “Of course.” She hated Black Friday.

Jessica frowned at him. “No, it’s not weird. Gabe, I know that we live and work among humans, but you can’t put human relationship ideals on the bonding. We can’t help who we imprint on or the timeframe we do it in. Joe and I are proof of that.” She smiled as she thought about the man who had claimed her body and her heart when she was just sixteen years old. The man she still loved with a voracious hunger, whether she wanted to or not.

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