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Channing: Big Cat Shifters Looking for Fated Mates (Big Cats Book 5) by Crystal Dawn (1)

 

Chapter 1

 

The Move

 

 

The meeting had been interesting. As far as females went other than the mates, there had only been Vivian, daughter of Maddie, a mate. His eyes had locked on her and he’d been hit with lightning. It was too bad the time wasn’t right. She would have to wait on the backburner for now.

His PA, Samuel, would be the one working with her the most. He was here and for now he’d been stuck in this three bedroom apartment. A house that suited him might be available soon only five miles out. Apparently Maddie had it and had been waiting for interest in it before it would be worked on. Now that he’d expressed an interest, Viv had put a team on it. He hoped they would work fast.

Since he was handsome, rich, and drew females like flies, Viv would wait for him. It was just the way things were. Right now he had to get things going for his people. The lynx had planned to join them as one group, but the numbers of both his people and theirs had exploded. There were just so many more of both than they had expected. Most of the newly discovered ones were half breeds. Not that it mattered. Instead, they would be separate since a lynx had stepped forward to take the head position. Thank the goddess. He had his hands full as it was.

No, truthfully, he was relieved. Both groups were quite different and while blending could be done, being separate was so much better. The lynx planned to wait for two months maybe, but a few would come early to check things out. Many of his people were in high level management, but he had several companies and investments in the billions. Not something he wanted everyone to know. He didn’t really want anyone to know.

Sebastian had already told him once he was settled in, he would get to work with Moe handling the business that allowed them their privacy fences and anonymity. Each group would provide some service for the federation as a whole. As far as work went, it was something he could easily handle. The lions had done more than their share. Tigers were in charge of the school and associated matters. Panthers handled security for the group. Leopards, since they were all so pretty, handled advertising.

The cougars were running the medical clinic. He wasn’t sure what the jaguars or lynx would do, but he would bet Sebastian would find something for them to do. Lynx were fast. They ran messenger services and things that required speed. Jaguars were sneaky and wonderful investigators. It would all work out and they would all contribute somehow.

This was tough to build a federation and from what he saw, everyone was working hard. He’d noticed the mates were doing a lot too. His was human, and while he knew the others had been too, that was no guarantee she would change. What he thought best was what he would do. She would wait and they would see. It was possible he’d not mate her at all.

Tomorrow, he would watch as she started on his coalition house. Watching her work would help him decide his course of action. Samuel would run most of his business empire for him while he did the work of helping his people move. Samuel was his brother, the youngest one. Others in his family might or might not come. Cheetahs were slow to make personal decisions. He was different and that was why he was successful and most of them were not.

Oh, most did alright since many were in management. Many managed his companies and didn’t even realize it. He wasn’t stupid, letting others know how wealthy he was would be a mistake. They thought he ran several companies for the owners, not that he owned them himself. Being a millionaire among them, no big deal. Being a multi billionaire would bring on expectations and resentment.

He sat at his computer starting some of the work the move would require. The emails were overwhelming but he got on them anyway. It seemed expectations were there even though none of them thought he had the resources to deal with them. Crazy cheetahs. Many were out of work due to recent cutbacks. He’d been assured there was work here but not necessarily the kind his people usually did.

Now he sent an email to Viv. She was assigned to help him so he’d let her. He sent her the names of the first ten people that needed jobs and homes. Let’s see how she handled that. Chuckling, he moved on to the next problem.

An hour later he got an email from her. There were jobs for half the list, but housing for only three of those. Not bad for an hour. He sent the information to the first three. The housing wasn’t family houses but these would all eventually live in the coalition house. All three accepted. They would be there in two to three days. Now he sent her the information and asked her to get more housing.

As far as he was concerned, his day for working on his people’s move was done. It was time to work on his personal business. Pulling out a business card, it was for Roger, a wolf. There was also Mairi one of the mates who found housing, both rentals and ones to buy for people. He’d give Roger the first shot. He dialed his number.

“Hello, this is Roger.” Clearly this was his personal number.

“This is Channing. I’m the cheetah leader and looking for property including a place for a business.”

“I’m sure you’re aware there’s not much left. I’ll put together some options and send them to you. I assume you want residences too?” Roger asked.

“Yes, I want a little bit of everything.”

“Does that mean you would accept land?”

“If it is a good deal and close enough.”

“I’ll get on it right away. Thank you for calling me.”

“Ariel and her crowd look out for you.”

Roger chucked. “I know. I mated one of them.”

“I’ll be looking for your email.”

They said goodbye. He figured it would be a while but the email came in an hour. Land to build on was his best option to see his people settled. That would only work for those that had money. Some were coming because they’d hit rock bottom and anything was better than where they were at. Since it was late, he showered and went to bed. He couldn’t wait until the morning when he’d see the coalition house get started.

His alarm went off and it was screeching. Normally he didn’t set it, but so much was different right now. He needed to get back into a new routine. Breakfast, that’s what he needed now. Sara’s was said to be good so he would try it. Once he was dressed, he headed there. There was enough time to eat before he got to the construction site.

When he got there, Sara’s was packed but Roger and his mate, or so he assumed, were at a large table alone. He headed there to talk to him. “Why don’t you join us?”

“Thank you. I don’t mind if I do.”

“This is my mate, Suki.”

“Nice to meet you.”

“Did you get the list?” Roger asked.

A waitress brought their food and took his order. “I got the list. The land looks best, but a couple of the houses and one building are a possibility.”

“I can show them to you anytime.” Roger offered.

“If you want to take your mate home, once I eat I’ll be at my coalition’s building site.”

“Suki drove separately. She knows I run into people all the time.”

“Okay. Once I finish eating, we can go.”

The two of them sat with him and told him about the local area. They’d both had lived here a long time. All the food was good and the conversation interesting and informative.

“Who is building the coalition house?” Suki asked.

“Viv is in charge.”

“She must have stepped in to help Ariel out. There’s so much construction going on.”

“Viv is new?” He asked a bit concerned.

“Not at all. She just doesn’t normally work for Ariel anymore. Viv does Maddie’s and her own projects.” Suki explained

“How long has she been in construction?”

“I’m not sure. You’ll have to ask her.” Suki replied.

It seemed the information had dried up. He was done eating now anyway. “Why don’t we go ahead and look at the properties now?”

“Great. I’ll follow you wherever you want to leave your SUV and then you can ride along with me.” Roger said. He turned to give his mate a hot kiss then she left. “I’m ready.” He put a tip on the table and Channing added to it. “Sara will love you.”

“She waits on tables herself?” He asked.

“I think she would sometimes anyway, but she can’t keep good help. Her place is open so many hours.” Roger admitted.

“I can see how that may be an even bigger problem with all the new people coming in.” Now he began to think about a restaurant. And why not?

Roger followed him to the construction site. When they arrived, he stopped to watch little Mairi who looked like a kid from the back yelling at the workers. Viv stood next to her with a clipboard grinning and marking off items. It was hard to pull himself away but he did.

Once he got in the SUV with Roger, they took off. “What was Mairi doing there? I didn’t realize she was working the site too.”

“I don’t think she is. She is an expert on foundations. Her crew and Viv’s are probably working together to get it done as quickly as possible. Ariel likes to hire a particular company to do it, but they’re two months behind.” Roger explained.

“How do you know so much about it?”

“I tried to get a foundation poured for a buyer. Ariel agreed to convince Mairi to do it. Mairi hates doing that. Those girls will do just about anything for Ariel.”

“Because she’s the white wolf?”

“No, because she’s family and they love her.” Roger explained. Now they pulled into a field. “There’s not much to say about this place except what’s on the paper. It’s a hundred acres of farmland you can build on. There are rules.”

“Why are they selling it?”

“Parents died. No one wants to farm in the family. They just want the money. The price just dropped and they might entertain an offer. It was priced sky high originally. Kids live in California and New York. They forgot this ain’t there. They just want out.”

“I want to put in an offer, but I want to look at all the places first.”

“Good idea. Things aren’t lasting long. Land is sticking around the longest because everyone wants houses.” Roger informed. “They need places to live right now. There just aren’t enough places. Let’s go to the next place.”

They drove to the other part of town. This place was near the school. Not the best place for a shifter to be. It was right at the center of things. Still, many cats were desperate. If none of his wanted it, one of the other kinds would jump on it.

This house needed a lot of work. “What’s your opinion on it?”

“You’ll have a hard time finding a crew unless you’ve got connections. If someone doesn’t take it soon, it may get too bad to save.”

“How’s the price?”

“You’re basically buying the lot. Prices have jumped so much.”

“Okay, let’s go to the next spot.”

Roger seemed happy enough to take him everywhere. This place was on the edge of town. “This isn’t a house.”

“No, but it could be. Once it was a workshop or a garage. It’s huge and could also be a business. This place has changed hands a few times. It’s in bankruptcy so the price is right but you have to deal with the bureaucracy. The place can be anything you want it to be.”

“A house?”

“Easily. It has utilities among other things. Let’s go inside.”

Inside it had only the basics but he saw a bathroom, a kitchen area, and light fixtures. His thought was it would make a business, even possibly a restaurant which the area needed right now. The price was good, but dealing with whoever was about to take a loss, not so much. Roger would do that and earn his pay.

“What’s left?”

“A house and two tracts of land.” Roger replied.

“Let’s do the house first.” They drove about five miles out. This house was just off the highway.

“This house is also a repo. The husband lost his job. They didn’t take it too well and messed up the inside.”

He could see broken windows and paint all over the inside. It was not cool, but it would give him a better deal. Most people wouldn’t even bother to look at this place. One thing was for sure, he’d need a crew to do renovations. That made him think about Viv. Everyone said she and her crew were good. All those associated with Ariel were.

“Any land with it?”

“Around ten acres.”

“This is the last place?”

“There are a few more tracts of land. If you’re interested, there is even a farm, about two hundred acres. It’s between where the apartment buildings are and where Viv and Caro live.”

“Let’s go there. You can point out the places of interest.” He hoped Roger would point out Viv’s place. He did point out the apartment buildings. There were three and the last one was being built. It was a nice complex.

“Viv built that for Maddie. Maddie has a lot of land around here she never worked with much. She’s starting to build on it now and Viv is doing the work for her. Caro even did a small house. Those small houses are adorable, but I couldn’t stand living in one.” Roger admitted. “Here’s the farm. I’m afraid the buildings may be beyond hope, but I’m not positive. The one barn might be salvageable. It’s the old style and they built things to last.”

“Which side is Viv on? I might want her to look at this. I’ve heard even a little something to work with can be a big help. I know nothing about construction.”

“She lives that way. But I wouldn’t drop in on her. The females in that family are pretty wild and can get irate.” Roger said.

“Okay. I’ll take your word for it. Is there any interest in this place?”

“It just came available today. I forgot about it until you ask about more places. My feeling is it will sell by the end of the week for asking price or more even in this shape.” He said and Channing believed him.

“I’m ready to put in some offers.”

They got in the SUV and headed for the office. Roger’s office was outside of town. It was a renovated two story farmhouse.

“One of my agents rents the upstairs. It gives him an advantage if anyone comes by after hours. I like having someone there looking out after the place.” Roger admitted. “It works out for both of us.”

Roger led him into the back section. It was a nice roomy office. Channing pulled out his list. “Let’s start with the first house.” And so it began. They went through each place including the last and he put in offers on all of them. Normally he would have waited and thought about things. The environment here was a buy it or lose it.

“I think you’ll get most of these except maybe the farm. That one just came up and they might not be willing to go down this soon. Let me drop you at your SUV and I’ll come back and put these in one at a time.”

That’s what they did and now he sat at home reluctant to get on his computer but needing to. He also needed a construction crew. Somehow he felt Viv wouldn’t be excited to work for him. It was just a feeling. Having delayed all he could, he went to his computer and shot a dismayed look at eight hundred emails. It was time to get a secretary, probably one for Samuel as well. The ones back home had decided to stay and work in the office in Los Angeles. That was fine, he needed people there too.

Now he started on the emails running through them quickly sorting out spam. Over a hundred spam emails was ridiculous. Now he was down to seven hundred plus emails. Running through them again, he picked those he knew to be important. Roger had already sent him an email. Two offers accepted and one rejected. The farm would require a higher offer.

“Roger here.”

“Hello Roger. What do you suggest about the farm?”

“Channing. You have competition. Maybe you should just let it go.”

“I don’t suppose you could tell me who wants it?”

Roger laughed. “No one would trust me if I did. I will tell you it’s a determined buyer.”

“Okay. You’ll need the money for the other offers?”

“Yes. Just send it to me.” Roger gave him the account information and the total needed for the two. He also had high hopes on the other places and told him what those amounts would be.

“What are the odds of another place like the farm coming up soon?”

“There are three places the government has of various sizes. They’ve held them back as they often do. One is coming up for auction in a month. I could represent you after we take a look at the place and decide what your high bid would be.”

“Okay. Let’s deal with the places we have now, but let me know if anything comes up. Farm, building, or land.”

“I will.”

Channing felt good about the two places but he hated letting the farm go. He just didn’t want to waste his time against a buyer that had money and intended to get the place. At this point he wasn’t ready to go all out on anything. It made him wonder if Roger listed properties on the lake. Some of his wealthier cheetahs were expressing interest. Most cat shifters loved the water. He’d find out next time he talked to Roger.

After giving it some thought, he packed up his stuff and drove to the coalition house site. No one was there and he realized it was lunch. Calling in an order, he went to Sara’s to pick it up. When he went in, he saw the crew there eating with Mairi and Viv. They were a rowdy bunch, but Mairi and Viv seemed able to handle them.

His hearing helped him catch part of the conversation. Mairi said, “You just need to tell him to look elsewhere.”

Viv sighed heavily. “I know, but I feel bad for the guy.”

“It’s no reason to ruin your life. Hell, he abducted you, your mother, and your daughter. How would you have felt if he’d mated them to someone too?”

“He wouldn’t have.”

“He planned to. Talk to your boys. They’ll admit it. They told your mom to watch Caro.”

“That asshole.”

“That’s what I’m saying.”

“Sir!” The girl at the counter said. “Your total is 26.78”

He paid thinking he was saving some serious money on food here. Now he had no choice but to leave. It wasn’t like all the tables weren’t full. Heading out, he went to the picnic table he’d borrowed from Sebastian. The king had said it was the same table everyone borrowed and set at the construction site.

“Why would I want a picnic table there?” He’d asked.

Seb had grinned. “If you don’t, you’ll be the first one.”

“Thank you. I’ll check it out.”

Now as he sat there waiting for the crew to return, he decided to order a dozen so Seb could get his table back. The crew returned as he sat and ate. Once he was done, he got on his emails. It was relaxing and the air smelled fresh. The work on the foundation would probably be done before the workday was.

The emails were now up to six hundred even though he’d had them down to four. Many of these were requests for housing or jobs. Channing started two lists, one for housing and one for jobs. Serenity wanted a job as a secretary. He needed one. Quickly he sent her an email and told her he had a spare room. Eventually he would have a place of his own and she could keep that one if she wished.

Serenity was a single female but they were friends so she wouldn’t have expectations. She’d worked for a lawyer so she should have the needed skills. The female emailed back right away. Her packing would begin immediately. Give her three days and she would be there. It sounded like an easy move to him.

Now he moved on to other business. After an hour, he had two long lists of job and housing seekers. Where would all the housing be found? A few of the people he knew well and he sent emails asking if they’d be willing to accept a commute thirty minutes or so to live near a lake. Of the six he queried, three answered right away with a yes.

Roger sent another email so he called him. “Roger.”

“This is Channing. I got your email.”

“Yes, the others accepted your offer. I’m getting the paperwork completed so if you put the money in the account, everything will be ready to sign in the morning. You will get immediate possession of all these places since they are empty. Everything about the agreements are customary terms.”

“While I’m talking to you, I wanted to know if you deal with land around the lake.”

“Which one?”

“Any one or part that is usable and within a thirty minute drive of the coalition house.”

“Yes, I do. That would be mainly Table Rock.”

“I would like to see any properties within that limit.”

“When?”

“Excuse me?”

“When do you want to go?” Roger asked.

“Can you go now?” He asked.

“We can go see a few now and the rest tomorrow. There are usually several available, but some are overpriced for the area.”

“I’m at the coalition house. Just come get me.”

He watched at the crew began to clean up. Now he approached Viv. She looked at him suspiciously. Mairi just grinned. “Hello, ladies.”

“Hello Channing.” They said together.

“I needed to talk to Viv about some business.”

“I’ll go check on the crew.” Mairi suggested then she hurried away.

“I need a construction crew to do some work.”

Viv laughed. “Good luck.”

“I meant your crew. Even volunteers part time would be a help.”

She sighed heavily. He was aware Ariel had asked her to help him. “What do you have?”

“A couple old houses in need of work and some land to build a subdivision on.”

“No one round here will be able to take on a subdivision.”

“I just need someone to get things going. I’ll have a manager in place and a new construction crew put together in a few months.”

“The houses, I need to see. We’ll start there because some of the problems may ruin the houses.”

“We can go look tomorrow. I’ll be here in the morning and we’ll go whenever you’re ready.” Channing suggested.

“Alright. I’d better get back to it.” She hurried over to Mairi just as Roger pulled in.

Roger didn’t say much and it was a quiet ride. The first house was unbelievable. “This is fabulous. It must be high.” He said.

“It would be if it was directly on the lake but it’s lake view. The subdivision is given access to the lake, but it’s owned by the guy that manages the subdivision. Everyone pays a yearly fee and they have security and the lake access is kept in good shape. They have a boat dock those who own boats can use. It’s nice, but many locals want their own lake access.”

“You’re not the listing agent, right?”

“No, I’m strictly on this for you.”

“What should I offer?”

“I’d start low to test the waters. Few cats have made it out this far so the market is still as it’s been.” Roger shot him a price.

“Think I’ll get it for that?”

“Price has dropped three times in the last year so who knows.” Roger declared.

“Let’s do it. Now what’s next?”

They drove to a great place that had a nice house for the average family. Four bedrooms, three baths and a large porch in the front and the back. An outdoor kitchen in the back yard and a small guest cottage. The cottage would be tight for a couple.

“This has lake access?”

“It does, but it’s not huge and no one has improved it. The road goes to the lake but it’s dirt. You can see it’s grown over with trees and weeds. It’ll need some work. Still if I didn’t already have a lake house I’d consider it.”

They discussed price again. He approved an offer. Three more places and he decided to offer on them all.

“Those are it for Table Rock.”

“So what’s left?”

Roger handed him a catalogue turned to a page. He looked at the sheet and whistled. “A million?”

“I wasn’t sure if you could afford it.”

“Let’s have a look.”

“This is located on King’s river. It’s that arm of the lake. That’s not too far from here or your coalition house. Place is huge with a guest house that’s big enough for a family. I think the owner’s originally thought to make it a bed and breakfast. There are six bedrooms upstairs alone. Downstairs has the master and two more bedrooms with the kitchen, dining room, living room, and office. Basement has a rec-room, laundry, and storage area. There’s also a small three room guesthouse out back.”

They pulled in and he fell in love right away. Roger took him around the outside where there was a dirt stairway down to the lake. This house sat on a cliff overlooking it. “The property owns a big section of lake access below. Those rules aren’t as strict because they somehow bought it zoned as commercial.”

By the time they were done, he was in love with the place. “Let’s put in an offer.” He knew Roger realized he was rich. But this guy could keep a secret. At least this place needed no work. This was where he wanted to live and if he got good employees in place, it was where he would be more often than not. Now he realized there were places available but in the higher price range. “How many high priced places like this are available? I have some wealthy cheetahs moving. A few could go for a place like this.”

“Keeping this one for yourself? Can’t blame you. There are a few more. I don’t usually deal in them, but I can send you a page like this one has so you can check them out. Tonight, when I have your offers in I’ll send it. It doesn’t pay to wait.”

“That will work fine.”

Roger dropped him at the Coalition house. With the lake house empty, he’d be able to move in quickly if he got it. Now his housekeeper and cook could move down here too. He’d need a gardener. It seemed all his needs were for physical workers but he knew some of his people did those jobs and some of their mates did. Quickly, he sent an email about the workers he would need to his secretary in his main office. Going into detail, because he wanted exactly what he needed. Those needed for his own place could come in about a week.

The others were dependent on finding housing. Once the coalition house was done, everything would be better, right? Maybe but families were still a problem. Goddess help him. Some helpers needed to get here. A text came in. It was from Samuel.

 

I need a secretary, maybe two.

Samuel

 

Look at the list of those moving here, pick them, and find them housing.

Channing

 

Easy peasy, right? Nothing was working out like he planned and Viv was on his mind. He wanted to find out about this male that had taken her. Azrael would know, but Seb was the one he knew the best. Now the day was nearly at an end and he needed to go to his apartment. Packing up, he drove there in a few minutes. That would be worth the longer drive to live in that fabulous house. It was also ready for a family, a big one.

He left his computer packed up and scrounged his fridge for leftovers. Not the best meal, but he didn’t have to go anywhere. Once he’d eaten, he stripped for the shower and cleaned up and dropped into bed. A loud knock on the door woke him. He pulled on his pants and hurried to the door.

Serenity jumped into his arms. He pushed her away. “What is all this about?”

“You asked me to move in with you.” She said.

“No, I gave you a job and offered you the spare room until I move out. Then if you wish, you can rent the apartment. How did you get anything personal out of that?”

She turned bright red. “You have affairs all the time.”

“Not as often as you seem to think and not with employees.”

“What about Lila?”

“She changed jobs before we dated and that didn’t last more than two nights. This is strictly a job. If that’s not what you want, I can’t help you at all.”

“It’s not personal.” She said. “I mean it’s just a big deal to have an affair with you. Not that you’re not hot. Shit! This isn’t coming out right.”

“Why don’t we start over? You’re here for a job right?”

“Exactly. Can you show me the room?”

“It’s this one.” He said leading the way. “I’m about to get a house, I think. If you want place I’ll be out of your hair soon. Let me tell you about this place.”

They quickly discussed the rent, utilities, and other things.

“It sounds just like what I need. What about the job?”

“Here’s the pamphlet that tells all the usual benefits and pay. You can start as soon as you want.”

“I’ll start today if you need me to.” She decided.

“Great. I need word sent out that I need construction workers, a gardener, and soon I’ll need restaurant help. This area doesn’t pay as well but cost of living is less. They’ll get our benefits package which is much better than that given around here. I’ll be going through my emails too and sending some of them to you. I think that will work best. I have a list of those needing housing and those needing jobs I’ll send you. I’m about to go to breakfast. You can come if you want to. We can work while we eat.”

“I’d like that. How many places to eat are around here?”

“Few. This is the main one. That’s why I’m opening a restaurant. I have the building, but it needs work. Workers are needed, but only in a few fields, I’m afraid. More businesses will get going in time, but this has started out as a semi-rural area.”

“I noticed that when I got here, but I thought the town must be hidden.”

He grinned. “This is the town. Most of it anyway.”

“Oh, my.”

They got in his SUV and drove to Sara’s. Everyone seemed to watch them. Serenity was gorgeous, but not what he was looking for. Sara popped up right in front of him. “Need seating?”

“Yes, for me and my secretary. This is Serenity. Serenity, this is Sara. She owns the place.”

They exchanged greetings and Sara gave them the table with the silverware on it. Both of them set up their computers and he started to send her emails.

“I see why you needed help.” Serenity observed. “I didn’t know we had so many of our kind.”

“We’re finding more all the time although many are half or less. They feared being ostracized. That’s why they stayed away. We told them to come and be part of the family. Many will. Hopefully all will be accepting of them.”

“It may be an issue.”

“That will be dealt with. There will be no bad behavior toward any. It will be dealt with harshly.”

Serenity giggled nervously. “I believe you. I’m not a problem anyway. My best friend Carlotta is a half breed and her family is thinking about coming. I think she will with or without them. A new age is dawning for our kind. Come to think of it, her father is a wolf and works construction. The male is experienced and you need that.”

“This is true.” Channing admitted. Their food came and they began to eat. “Just invite them. They’ll live with you or you can find them a place of their own.”

“What?” She took a bite of her food. “Wow. This food is amazing.”

“Good home cooking.” He agreed. It made him wonder if Viv could cook.

They finished and left. Once they were back at the apartment he dropped her off and headed to the site. The crew was busy and from a distance looked like ants crawling all over the site. Mairi wasn’t here today. Viv was in full control and was everywhere at once. They seemed to be preparing the foundation to be covered.

Sitting down, he got his computer out and got to work. It looked like it might rain today. Maybe that was why Viv’s crew worked so hard. They couldn’t work in the rain either. The sound of them at work and the scent of the material like wood being delivered was exciting. This roof, windows, and plumbing would be out sourced. More things if a company could be found that was available.

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