The Awakening Aidan - By Abby Niles

Chapter One

Aidan O’Connell juggled an armload of groceries as he tripped up one of the cabin steps. Damn it. When he reached the front door, he knocked on it with the only thing he had available at the moment: his foot.


He took a calming breath between clenched teeth.


A virtue he feared he was running short of. Hadn’t he already used every ounce he’d possessed? He’d offered his friend a place to stay while he mended a broken heart, and at first his new living situation had been fine. But over the last few weeks his temporary roommate seemed to forget this wasn’t his house, and that common courtesy—like opening the blasted door when needed, or hell, helping unload the groceries—was expected.

“Liam, come on, man. Open the door!”

He listened for the heavy footsteps of his friend on the other side of the wood. The only thing he heard was a pissed-off squirrel chattering in the distance. Most likely some other animal was creating a disturbance in its life. He could sympathize. Liam had completely disrupted his.

He grimaced at the thought. That wasn’t fair. Liam couldn’t help it. Though if he’d freaking listen, he’d at least get some therapy.

He kicked the door with more force than necessary, taking satisfaction in the way the wood groaned in response. No way Liam hadn’t heard that.

Still, no one answered.

Cursing under his breath, Aidan shifted the brown grocery bags in his arms, fished his keys from the front pocket of his khaki cargo shorts, then fumbled with the lock. He probably should’ve done this from the beginning and saved himself the irritation. He kept giving Liam chances to prove that his old friend was still there. The friend who would’ve heard Aidan pull into the driveway and been outside to help before he’d even parked the truck. He hip-bumped the door open.

“Liam! I could use some help here.”

Crickets. Aidan tightened his grip on the bags. He shouldn’t be surprised. Liam had been MIA for weeks. Oh, he’d been around in body, but he’d checked out mentally ages ago. If he didn’t get some psychological help soon, it wouldn’t be Liam who went stark raving mad, but Aidan. He backed into the living room. “Dude, we’ve got to have a serious talk.”

As he turned around, he stumbled to a stop.


His friend sat ramrod straight on the edge of the black leather armchair, his gaze focused on the wall in front of him, unblinking. If it weren’t for the muscle that jumped occasionally in his jaw, Aidan would’ve thought Liam was dead and rigor mortis had set in. Aidan slid the bags down his body and dropped them on the matching leather couch as he stepped toward his friend. “Hey, Liam?”

He didn’t move, didn’t even acknowledge that Aidan had spoken. He remained as still as the armchair he sat in. Laying his hand on Liam’s shoulder, Aidan was stunned by the rock-hard tension of his friend’s muscles. He gently shook. “Hey, buddy. You okay?”

Stupid question. Liam was certainly not okay. Aidan squatted beside the chair. “Li-am.” He sing-sang his friend’s name. No reaction. Shit.

Could the tales be true?

Panic tightened his throat. Dsershon was rare among shifters—so rare that most shifters only knew about it through someone who knew someone who knew someone else. And the stories had become like old wives’ tales.

But Liam had been increasingly agitated over the last month. Aidan had walked on eggshells around his friend, worried that one wrong move would find him on the biting end of Liam’s sharp tongue, which had gotten even sharper lately. He’d rather take his nasty attitude than this. This scared him, and made the unbelievable all the more real. He called Liam’s name again with no response.

Aidan straightened and dug his wallet out of the back pocket of his shorts. He hadn’t wanted to do this. Had hoped Liam would come to this conclusion on his own, but the time for his friend to see reason was long gone. The man needed help—months ago.

He retrieved the business card Britton had given him a few days earlier. “Dr. Jaylin Avgar, Psychiatrist” was imprinted on the off-white stock paper in a gold italic font.

Not that a normal human therapist could ever help Liam, but the symbol in the right-hand corner of the card, a square with three lightning bolts inside that represented the beast within, was exactly the therapist he needed—and there were only a handful of them in the United States.

Liam was going to be pissed, but he’d just