April was crazy-busy! My daughter was scheduled for surgery and I’ve been taking care of her, her house and kids for the tail-end of the month, but before that there were tons of April goodies! (Be sure to read to the bottom for contest details!)
There were new releases…
Three brand new short stories!
Free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers and just $0.99 for everyone else!
(Click on the covers to purchase!)
Johnny Blaze ~ A firefighter moonlighting as a male exotic dancer gives a librarian a birthday spanking she’ll never forget…
The Runaway Bride ~ After leaving him at the altar, a headstrong bride is captured by her cowboy and taught the pleasure of sensual discipline…
Tailgating at the Cedar Inn ~ Two construction workers come to the aid of one woman looking for a last taste of freedom…
One hot new box set!
SEVEN SINFUL STORIES
~The Second Collection~
Slip between the sheets with seven New York Times & USA Today bestselling authors in one anthology. These seven sizzling and sinful erotic stories are sure to burn up the pages!
~Available for a Limited Time~
FIND ME IN DARKNESS by Julie Kenner
A doomed woman. A dangerous and mysterious man. And an epic passion that cannot be denied…
BOND WITH ME by Anne Marsh
Fallen angel Brends Duranov offers Mischka Baran an unforgettable taste of sin and seduction when she visits his elite Moscow club, but she’s looking for her missing sister—and not an angel mate. But with a sadistic killer carving up his brethren, Brends is playing for keeps, hunting the one woman whose bloodline can end the mayhem, whose bond can restore his lost wings…and now he wants Mischka to bond with him.
PLANET MAIL by Kate Pearce
As far as job hazards go, Douglass Fraser didn’t think crash-landing on an alien planet and spending her recuperation being erotically pleasured by three gorgeous men was in the United Planetary Parcel Service’s courier handbook. There certainly wasn’t a section on what to do when a very sexy king wants you to have his baby and save his world.
UNMASQUED by Colette Gale
When not-as-proper-as-one-would-think Victorian woman Jane Clemons convinces her father to take her on a jungle expedition, her only goal is to find her lover, Jonathan, who disappeared three years earlier. But shortly after their party arrives in Madagascar, Jane finds herself enthralled not only by the freedom and beauty of the lush jungle, but a reclusive wild man who seems to be fascinated by her….
CORPORATE AFFAIRS by Nana Malone
Powerhouse project manager, Kyra Benson, loves her new job. If only her domineering boss wasn’t the bane of her existence & a boon to her fantasies. X2 Games CEO, Bryan Ross, has devoted his life to his company. The last thing he needs is to get sidetracked by a woman who thinks she knows more about his business than he does. Can the two adversaries negotiate a truce & find love?
ONE LAST NIGHT by Caridad Pineiro
An act of compassion leads to unexpected pleasure . . .
Thrown together, Trevor and Maggie can’t ignore the sexual heat between them. As they satisfy one set of needs, another slowly develops as passion breathes life into other emotions. Will Trevor and Maggie’s one last night together possibly lead to many other nights in the future?
WARLORD’S DESTINY by Delilah Devlin
Mora has no illusions she’s anything other than the sacrificial lamb to ensure peace between her peace-loving planet and the warlike world that demands a royal union with one of their own. However, when she meets the rugged warlord who will be her husband, she decides in that moment to win his heart—she’ll settle for nothing less.
Note from Delilah: I’ve been absent, mostly, since late last week. For those of you who wanted to know, my dd’s surgery went well. The recovery’s about what you’d expect—painful, slow, depressing. The first couple of days she was sure she was going to die. By the third, she was asking her hubby to go buy a gun so he could shoot her—so you know she’s on the mend! 🙂 Her three kids have been angels (NOT!); the dogs and cats are great company (sneeze, wheeze—there are 9 of them!). I’m getting naps here and there, so feeling a little sluggish. I haven’t quite yet figured out how to disappear so I can get a little work done. There’s always someone needing something. They even have ME cooking! You know that’s not good. I keep a Pinterest board called “Food I Want My Daughter to Make” FOR A REASON! But hopefully, I won’t be sleeping over there for too many more days. My mole-hole, office cave is looking like paradise! Later!
In the meantime, check out April Vine’s hot new book! ~DD
Reclaimed by Her Master
He’ll catch her in the act—and never let her go.
No one breaches the defenses of billionaire Dom Stephen Black—until Aria Swift does just that, stealing a priceless painting from his collection—along with his heart. But two can play that game, and soon a treasured necklace that belonged to Aria’s late mother ends up in Stephen’s skilled, waiting hands—along with a dare to retrieve it…
Eight years later, Aria is ready to put closure on her infamous past by meeting Stephen’s challenge. And suddenly, she’s caught in his trap…
There’s only one way to master a woman like Aria—and only one place to do it. Stephen’s luxuriously decadent Gold Room is where he’ll mete out her punishment, stroke by excruciatingly ecstatic stroke. Where Aria will submit to his every desire—and find in his touch, in his control, a frenzied yearning, and the ultimate pleasure of surrender…
With her breath clogged in her throat, she swiveled around. The sight of him butchered coherent thinking, turned her blood hot and her body into a frenzy of chaos. Life sparked between her legs, and her pussy clenched. All against her will.
He hadn’t changed at all. Yet he had. Eight years ago, his clear blue eyes held less coldness, his aura nearly not as dangerous. The width of his shoulders had seemed far less formidable. He was thirty-two years old now, and still his natural masculine force bewildered her femininity, as it had long ago. She abandoned the crazy notion of succumbing to him without question, or hesitation, or even invitation.
Her boots whispered against the thick fibers of the carpet as she stepped toward his desk and moved in behind it, giving herself a few more seconds to gather her wits. She needed something solid between them, something that could protect her. Something with more substance than air.
She leaned into the gleaming wood and used it as support for her weakened knees while she faced him. He shouldn’t be here. She hadn’t prepared herself to see him in person. No amount of time or practice could have readied her for that, not in this life or any other. Instant arousal, confusion, anger, and fear cluttered her mind, as if the years between them had never occurred.
Do you believe in ghosts? I’m open to the possibility, though I don’t think I’ve ever seen one—despite my years as a ghost tour guide in an historic Pennsylvania town, and once owning a Victorian house in Philadelphia that I carefully restored.
Though I’ve had more than my share of opportunities for paranormal interaction, I seem only to have fueled my imagination during my years of entertaining tourists and renovating my old house. My new release, LIP SERVICE, set inside a Victorian home similar to the one I owned, was inspired by my years as a ghost tour guide—the most fun job I’ve ever had.
Here’s a little about my new release:
LIP SERVICE by ADELE DOWNS
Some ghosts won’t take “yes” for an answer.
Jack Harris has loved Legs Anderson since they were kids. Now that he has her in his bed, he has no intention of letting her go. Aunt Ada has other ideas, even from the grave.
GETTING BETWEEN JACK…
Orphaned at a young age, Legs Anderson owes her Aunt Ada everything. The stoic old lady raised her, and Ada’s warnings about men—and the Harris boys in particular—have stuck, even after her death. Of course, that could be because Ada stuck around, too.
…AND HIS LEGS
Patience is not one of Jack Harris’s virtues, and he’s waited too long to start a life with the woman he’s loved since childhood instead of them just knocking boots. Now Ada is interfering from beyond the grave, haunting the old Victorian house she bequeathed to her niece and reinforcing Legs’s fears of commitment. But Jack won’t give up. No matter what trouble may follow, the house will be renovated, Ada will learn to let go, Legs will put her money where her mouth is…and then Jack’ll put his lips everywhere else.
The roar of a Harley-Davidson motorcycle on Rachel’s block and the rev of a throttle in her driveway announced Jack’s arrival. Legs tried to appear nonchalant when he walked through the poolside gate, but the sight of his sun-streaked hair and tanned, muscular good looks nearly knocked her out her seat. She eased her sunglasses down the bridge of her nose to get a better look.
When he stepped into the pool area dressed in black jeans, black biker boots, and a white muscle shirt that framed his pumped-up shoulders and biceps, she caught her breath. Everyone in the group said “hey” and Rachel offered him a cold drink, but his focus had remained on her. He slid his sunglasses on top of his head and nodded in her direction.
Legs remembered his gaze meeting hers before his attention strayed to her gold and black bikini then savored every inch of her skin. An appreciative smirk curled his lips and desire flashed in his beautiful blue eyes. He took a long pull of the soft drink someone handed him and then set the can down on the patio table. He looked her way and said, “Want to go for a ride?”
The invitation came out like a dare. All eyes shifted to her, watching to see what she’d do. They all knew she wasn’t allowed to date Jack Harris. Taking a ride on his motorcycle might not have been the same thing, but there would be hell to pay if her aunt found out.
She stretched her arms over her head and offered a lazy smile. “I guess so.” Though she’d been as nervous and excited as a rabbit, she never let on. She stood and pulled on her shorts and shirt, slid her sandals over her feet, and made her way across the patio to him.
Her aunt’s spies might see her on the road, but she pushed that worry aside. Mere weeks remained before she’d move away to college and the subject would be moot. She’d be gone most of the next four years, and by the time she got back, Jack would probably be married with a couple of kids. Half the women in town had their eyes on him and his brothers.
The idea of Jack marrying someone else made her furious, and more determined than ever to enjoy this rare day alone with him.
His gaze tracked every step of her approach, as if memorizing the lines and planes of her face, learning the shape of her breasts, and tattooing the curves of her waist into his brain. When she reached his side, he smiled at her so intently she almost faltered. Her heartbeat raced when he took her hand. She barely heard her friends say good-bye as they exited the patio door.
His Harley was built in classic style—all black steel and leather with silver chrome, glinting majestically in the sunlight like a god. She ran her fingers over the warm plush seats.
“Ever been on a bike before?” he asked, watching her with eyes so blue she almost missed his question while she stared back.
She pulled an elastic band from her shorts pocket and tied her hair into a ponytail. “Uh. No.” Her hair swung with the shake of her head. He probably knew the answer, but she appreciated the benefit of his question. He hadn’t made her feel like a total geek.
He gave her a tutorial with simple instructions, including the demand that she hold on to him tight and not let go. No problem there. She resisted a fit of giggles, determined to act her age and accept responsibility for her own safety, as tenuous as that might be on the rear end of a motorcycle wearing shorts and sandals.
Yikes. Hormones really did rule the heart.
He slid his sunglasses into place and got on the bike, steadying it with his feet while she scooted in behind him. After shifting her weight to find her center of balance, she wrapped her arms tight around his chest. The solid feel of his body thrilled her beyond anything she’d imagined. He smelled fantastic too, like musk cologne, leather, and sweat tossed with August air and sunshine.
“Ready?” he asked.
Leaning closer for support, she pressed her torso against his back and stifled a gasp at the sensations the friction created. If he never started the engine, and they simply sat together like this, it would have been enough.
About the Author:
Adele Downs writes best-selling contemporary romance inside the office of her rural Pennsylvania home. She is a former journalist, published in newspapers and magazines inside the USA, UK, and Caribbean.
Adele is an active member of Romance Writers of America and her local RWA chapter where she serves as a past-president. When Adele isn’t working on her current project, she can be found riding in her convertible or reading a book on the nearest beach.
I’m so delighted to be back at Delilah’s and grateful to have the opportunity to share my latest historical romance, His Captive Princess. Growing up, one of my favorite legendary heroes was King Arthur, so when the movie Excalibur came out, I loved everything about the film–from the noble Knights of the Round Table, to the shiny armor, sexy Sir Lancelot, and the dark mysticism of the wizards Merlin and Morgana.
As long as I can remember I’ve been drawn to anything medieval, so when I learned that most castles were located in Wales, I had to find out more about the country. Turns out, Wales also has lots of legends and myths. I eventually discovered the true story of Gwenllian, a brave medieval Welsh princess who fought the Normans herself, and then I knew I had a story to write! My bow and arrow-wielding heroine Princess Eleri is based on Gwenllian.
As the title of the book hints—His Captive Princess—our brave lady has met her match in the charming enemy, Warren de Tracy.
****For a chance to win a $5 Gift card****
Leave a comment below telling me who’s your favorite hero or historical character.
Earned respect is sweet…but deserved revenge is sweeter.
Warren de Tracy was assured the Welsh village of Dinefwr would be an easy conquest, as would the widow of its fallen prince. Wedding her will appease the locals and win the respect of his liege, the usurper King Stephen.
Instead, Warren is ambushed, taken prisoner by a hooded Welshwoman with skin that glows like moonlight. If he must die at her hands, at least his honorable death will silence the whispers of disloyalty hanging over his name.
Princess Eleri has never seen a knight as stoic—and as eager to die—as Warren. She’d love to oblige the bastard, but something in his ocean-blue eyes stays her hand. Plus, suspicion nags at her, for the arrows that wounded him and killed his men are Norman, not Welsh.
A ghostly prophecy portends danger that thrusts the enemies closer together, where hate explodes into passion that won’t allow Eleri to surrender Warren to her vengeful clan. But returning him to his king breaks more than it mends…and for Warren, retaliation will be sweet, indeed.
Product Warnings: Contains a Norman warrior with a thirst for justice, a Welsh rebel princess with second sight and a steady bow hand, magical prophecies, and a plot of royal proportions.
“‘Your Highness’?” Warren jerked in astonishment, pulling against his bonds. The ropes chafed his raw skin, sending a fresh wave of pain down his arms. “You’re of royal blood?”
She leaned over him, reaching for his bonds. “Hush! In addition to your arrow wound, I trow your tongue has healed as well these past days. It would behoove you to use it less and just be grateful you’re alive.”
Her breasts hovered inches above his face. In fact, if he lifted his head, he could bury his face between them. What would she do, this spirited wench, if he chose to do so? He would’ve enjoyed finding out if circumstances had been different. “I’d rather be dead than be a prisoner. But first…I’ll kiss your feet if you’d scratch my nose.”
She made a choking noise in her throat that almost sounded like amusement.
He felt a tug at his ropes and the friction of a knife. By the saints, she was freeing him. He couldn’t allow it.
Air stung his raw skin as soon as one of his wrists came loose. With his one arm still useless in its restraints, he shot out his free hand and clutched her forearm. Using all his strength, he turned her over beneath him, wedging her between his torso and the bed. Nose to nose, he could make out her eyes gone wide with shock in the darkness. “No!” he growled. “Do not let me leave here alive.”
Suddenly, her warrior was upon him and his knife back against Warren’s throat. “Get off the princess, you cur!”
The woman’s blade touched his chest plate. She could dispatch him with ease. Her arms were strong and lean. Her body was far from frail, and he recalled her skillful defeat of his conroi. She twisted beneath his pelvis defensively, and the grinding of her soft mound awoke his sex. Shame heated his cheeks at his sudden need and dark desires. This one time, he would allow himself to speak his mind. “If you release me, Princess, I’ll go to Kidwelly and inform my commanders what has befallen my five men at the hands of you and your people. The king will strike at the subjects of Cantref Mawr with vengeance such as you’ve never known.”
Her expression shifted from stark panic to slow derision as her saucy lips curved up at one corner. “You think I don’t know what you’re capable of?” Her eyes flashed downward meaningfully, and he knew she’d noted the turn of his wicked thoughts. “You want to have your way with me. To tear my clothing from my body and part my legs. But you know nothing of my people, Norman. You haven’t even bothered to learn the language—” she broke off, slurring in Welsh at her vassal.
The burly guard grabbed Warren’s bandaged shoulder, twisting it back until bile climbed in his throat. “Umpff!” While he convulsed in pain, the woman slipped loose and turned him on his back, pinning his groin beneath two very sharp knees. He hissed through his teeth, “Par les saints!”
If he’d been successful in his mission, this devil-wench would’ve been his bride?
“You are my prisoner, knight.” She planted the flat of her hand against his neck, leaving no doubt of her desire for domination as her angry pulse drummed against his skin. “I am the Princess of Deheubarth, widow of Prince Owain ap Daffyd, murdered by your Norman peers. It will be my pleasure keeping you alive. We’re taking you to those who will do with you what they will. I care not. Until then, you are my dog. My captive. My slave. And you will obey!”
Sandra proudly considers herself a history geek. She is the author of five historical romances including the new RiverRogues series set in frontier America. When not researching or writing, she enjoys traveling, genealogy (she’s the direct descendant of a Norman knight) and watching British TV. She and her husband of twenty-five years live in a cabin on the river with two spoiled cats.
She also loves chatting with readers. You can connect with Sandra at any of the following links:
As a lifetime lover of reading, I have devoured book after book since I could read. In elementary and middle school, it was adventures and literature. In high school, much to my parents despair, I discovered Romance, and never looked back. My addiction to reading grew to the point of staying up all night to finish a book – every night.
But in all that time I never once stopped to think about the process of writing or even touched on imagining how much hard work all those awesome authors put into a book.
Now, as a writer myself, I am discovering the ins and outs and ups and downs. In the writing world, there is a distinct divide between processes and writers. The descriptions are as follows:
The plotter – those writers I can only aspire to be. They plot and plan and lay out their story in outlines and timelines in a web so finely woven there is no way to get lost. They know what they want to write before they even start, follow the plan and make every word count.
The panster – woe is me. Literally. The panster is a creature without a roadmap, a compass, or even the North Star. We write and let the story unfold as we go. Sometimes it takes us down a road lined with glittering gold and diamonds. The story just flows. Other times, the road is rocky and runs into wall after wall, forcing the panster to turn around and go another direction.
I’ve tried to plot to no avail. Plotting is not in my blood. As a panster, I usually write about 300,000 words for each 80,000 word book. Obviously, pansters are creatures of self-torture and believe in doing a lot more work than is necessary. But I’ve found through trial and error – you don’t mess with the process.
Whatever the process, they both work. And just like different processes there a thousand different types of books. What you like to read is all about personal preference. I love all things romance – period – but romantic suspense will always take the lead.
As a reader what is your favorite type of book? Western? Suspense? Erotic? Sweet Contemporary?
A HEART & HANDCUFFS ANTHOLOGY
Love is all you need. Really? Tell that to her unattended lady boner. Sure they had a love so relentless it shouldered the weight of children, careers, in-laws, and out-laws. But what happened to that zing of excitement his mere presence evoked? It grew into comfortable expectation.
Things had gone to hell in handcuffs. Convicts and caseloads. Files and felons. The stranglehold of work had kept him from husbandly duties long enough.
They had love, but how did they get back to lust?
With a little bit of Anticipation…
Anticipation contains two ten thousand word sizzling suspense short stories. In Megan Mitcham’s story “Climax,” a busty and brainy red-head arrests her police chief husband and shows him exactly what she’s had to do to get by without him for the last two months. In Lindsay Cross’s story “Need,” a stay-at-home mom pushed to the brink pushes back, revealing her un-sated desire and making her Dominant reestablish control.
Coming soon: OCTOBER 2015
MEN OF MERCY SERIES
For Hunter James and his squad, Task Force Scorpion, killing terrorists is as easy as cleaning their guns. Dark, deadly and destructive, TF-S is called in for government missions that are so far off the record, not even the president knows of their existence. But when Hunter is assigned to his hometown, he comes face-to-face with his ex-girlfriend, and all his training and discipline disappear.
Evangeline Videl tucked Hunter’s memory into a nice neat box in the back of her mind and tossed the key off a cliff. Their bond had been hotter than the summer in the South and deeper than the Mississippi River. But Hunter pulled a disappearing act years ago and left her shattered. Now he’s back and intent on winning her heart once more.
As the enemy pulls the strings, will Evie dance to his tune or risk her heart and join forces with Hunter in a fight that could destroy them both or forge a union so scorching hot it will leave them forever scalded.
Maybe you’ve been paying attention…not that you had to. This week’s blown so far as work. I missed my Friday short story release. Sorry!! But I’ll restart this coming week. Expect something new soon…something about a timid seamstress who takes on a sexy challenge…
So, why have the past few days been so crazy? My daughter and best friend, Kelly, underwent a radical hysterectomy yesterday. Everything went well, and she’s recovering in the hospital. She gets to drink things today. No food yet. And she’s already thinking about the foods she can’t wait to eat. Her wish list includes some dishes she hardly ever craves: barbecue brisket, pickles, and potato wedges. She’ll be dreaming about that as she sucks down her beef broth today.
I let her choose today’s question. So guess what the theme is? Yeah, food.
What’s your favorite thing to eat—THE dish,
the one you’d drive to the next town (or state) to eat?
Enjoy this excerpt from Heather’s brand new book, Untamed Wolf! ~DD
Wolves of Willow Bend Untamed Wolf
Book #6 in the Wolves of Willow Bend Series Releasing April 24, 2015 — TODAY!
Dylan Royce, Willow Bend Hunter, is a natural flirt and courted his fair share of she-wolves, but he’s never found the woman who makes his pulse race. With the new pack’s borders verging on Willow Bend territory, he’s tasked with keeping an eye on them. His job grows more challenging daily, especially since one seductive female keeps crossing the line.
Chrystal Landros knows she’s supposed to keep to her side of the Three Rivers-Willow Bend line. But she loves to explore, and Willow Bend is home to some spectacular sites. As a former Lone Wolf, she hasn’t always been certain of her welcome, but her new home in Three Rivers opens a wonderful world of unfamiliar opportunities. Too bad the wolf who makes her blood heat is tasked with keeping her away from the places she wants to visit.
While Dylan and Chrystal clash repeatedly over her border incursions, the game between them threatens to turn deadly. Tensions between Willow Bend and Three Rivers continue to rise. Could their forbidden dalliance be the spark to ignite a war?
Series Reading Order: Wolf at Law (Prequel) Book 1: Wolf Bite Book 2: Caged Wolf Book 3: Wolf Claim Wolf Next Door, featured in Under a Wolf Moon Book 4: Rogue Wolf Book 5: Bayou Wolf
National bestselling author, Heather Long, likes long walks in the park, science fiction, superheroes, Marines, and men who aren’t douche bags. Her books are filled with heroes and heroines tangled in romance as hot as Texas summertime. From paranormal historical westerns to contemporary military romance, Heather might switch genres, but one thing is true in all of her stories—her characters drive the books. When she’s not wrangling her menagerie of animals, she devotes her time to family and friends she considers family. She believes if you like your heroes so real you could lick the grit off their chest, and your heroines so likable, you’re sure you’ve been friends with women just like them, you’ll enjoy her worlds as much as she does.
Racing the wind, Dylan Royce danced over a thin shell of snow without sinking into the powder. A recent blizzard dumped three feet of fresh accumulation in twelve hours, all of it atop the ice-hardened pack beneath. Cold, crisp air flooded his lungs with his every footfall. Invigorated by the chill, he kept his mouth open to sample the breeze. The natural wonder from the weather made running his circuit a pleasure rather than a chore as he spun through the remote pack campgrounds.
Human families escaped to these campgrounds during the warmer summer months. The remote location, coupled with the bordering state park, also made it ideal for young wolves to learn to hunt, stalk and play away from day-to-day life. Winter often proved the second favorite season for families with older youths to escape and romp in the snow. With Three Rivers’ border so close, however, Mason slapped a moratorium on any vacation plans to the area for the pack.
The usually populated area remained virtually abandoned during Dylan’s tenure as Hunter guarding the border, a downside to Mason’s order. Such a critical position would typically have fallen on Owen Chase, but their Senior Hunter left for Hudson River eight weeks prior with his mate to train the pack’s young healer and to provide assistance to the Alpha.
So, while Dylan landed the miserable position, at least he got to enjoy the snow. And, in a few hours, he would get to enjoy Tawny, the sleek, svelte law student interning with Ryan Huston. Dylan pursued her for months before she finally consented to a drink.
Where he spent his weekend off hinged on the date. His wolf thrilled at the challenge. They would definitely enjoy taking a bite out of her taut ass. Still, better to burn off some of his frustrations…plus, he had all the gorgeous unbroken snow to himself. After climbing to the highest vantage, he growled his approval. Pristine powder lay in smooth waves down the hill.
Testing the ice crust, he found only soft powder. It clung to his fur and bunched between his claws. The swirling breeze carried the promise of more snow. Panting, he arched his head back and loosed a single call. Infusing power into the call to demand a response, he cut it off abruptly and listened.
Any wolves within his range would respond. Flicking his ears, he heard only the wind brushing the trees, the faint groan of branches heavily laden with winter’s kiss and the whuffs of his breathing. No scents teased his nostrils, no sounds alerted him to intruders, and all the magnificent snow lay waiting for him to play.
Tail wagging, he danced away from the edge and trotted several paces. Judging the distance to be perfect, he dashed forward, rushing on adrenaline-fueled muscles until he reached the edge and flung himself onto the slope, legs sprawling out. His trajectory and angle gave him additional speed. He flew to the base of the hill and crashed into a snowdrift.
Bounding out, he shook to free his coat of the snow and sneezed. Damn, that’s fun. He turned to make another climb and repeat the wild ride when a tangle of lemon and orchid teased his nose.
Whirling, he raised his head to catch the direction of the scent, because beneath the citrus was the musk of wolf—a wolf he’d already tossed three times in as many weeks.
Dammit, Chrystal. All at once, his plans for the evening began to disintegrate. If the Three Rivers bitch hightailed it over the line again, he’d have to track her, catch her, punish her, and drop kick her ass back to Luciana “I Have No Idea What the Hell I’m Doing” Barrows.
Tawny wouldn’t wait for him, either. Five minutes late, she’d warned, and he would be out of luck.
Snarling to himself, he trotted west slowly and caught the trace of Chrystal’s scent again. The swirling wind kept yanking it away from him like a tease, but he was a Hunter.
He would find her.
An hour of stalking and two false trails later, he’d finally narrowed her scent to a tract of land below the campgrounds near the old falls. The snow continued, fat heavy flakes crusting on his coat. His phone—like his clothes—were in his truck, parked more than a few miles away. He tried to bury his sour mood, knowing his date with Tawny slipped further and further out of reach.
Pausing in the shadow of a tree, he scanned the rocky slope where the water spilled from any icy crevice and flowed down into a sluggish moving pool. Ice shimmered around the shores, slicking the hard surfaces. Despite the wind, Chrystal’s scent grew stronger with each blast of wind skimming the pseudo valley.
With so much white on every surface, he expected to find her swiftly, but it took him some time to pick her out. She climbed the icy rock face along the edge of the waterfall.
His irritation switched to concern. What the hell is she doing?
Dressed in jeans, a sweatshirt, and a too-thin jacket, she climbed with determination, fighting for every hand and foothold as the slippery ice gave way beneath her grip. Straightening, he followed her progress and eyed the landscape in search of his best route to the top. A skittering of skin and shoe against the slick rock jerked his attention back to the curvy little pain in his ass. She’d dropped a foot from her upward progress and clung to the rock through will alone.
The little minx needed a damn keeper. Inch-by-inch, she continued her creeping ascent of the sheer shale. Between the composition of the stone and the ice, she risked serious injury to her bare hands. Even from his position, he could see the dampness soaking her jeans.
What the hell could be worth courting frostbite? With a leap, he bounded into the dip and sank into the wetter snow around the waterfall’s pool. Fording through the dense drifts, he found the path he’d been seeking and began to climb along the outer rim. Worn by the passage of many feet over the years, faint stone steps existed deep beneath the snow. In midsummer, the waterfall served as the perfect diving point. The pool below was a good twelve to fifteen feet deep, which meant high divers didn’t usually crack their skulls. Of course, the water wasn’t half-frozen or frigid in the middle of summer either.
Chrystal continued easing her way to the precipice. Ahead of her finally, Dylan scrambled onto the ledge and leaned over to judge the distance between them. He’d need to shift to grab her. She was beyond his neck range, even if he were able to snag her damp jacket. If she ascended another foot or two…only she didn’t. She stopped.
Dylan stared, disbelief sinking into his bones. Instead of climbing—or even holding on with her flimsy grips—she slid her free hand into her jacket and pulled out a cell phone. She stretched the phone away from her, angling toward the plunging water…why?
Forgetting the idiocy of her actions, he rushed his shift. Fur slid away, muscle twisted and bones snapped. Part of Hunter apprenticeship required shifting under high-stress situations. His mentor’s lesson had been brutal on the point. They needed to be able to change on the fly and, since they were at their most vulnerable mid-shift, hurrying the process was the only alternative.
Bliss and agony intertwined until he suddenly knelt in the icy snow with his palms flat against the chilly surface. The cold assaulted his overheated and sensitized skin like so many needling daggers plunging into his flesh. Fuck me. Blowing out a frosty breath, he did his best to ignore the wind shivering his balls and threatening to geld him.
The trembling in his muscles had more to do with the temperature than his shifting. Pushing to the edge, he found the idiot wolf with her phone angled at the spraying water, her thumb hovering over a button.
What. The. Hell?
He opened his mouth to snarl at her, but she hadn’t glanced toward him once and her scent hadn’t changed. Focused on whatever the hell her goal was, she failed to notice his position or the precariousness of her own. If he snapped at her…he clamped his teeth together, molars grinding, and waited.
Hating himself—and her more—he flattened to the snow. Working to ignore the way his dick threatened to fall off, he stretched out an arm. He could reach her. The snow blew sideways and a faint flicker of sunlight broke through the cloud cover. The light hit the water as his fingers brushed the back of her jacket.
“Yes!” she whooped. Her thumb slapped against the shutter control, snapping several shots in a row. The thin tendril of sunlight lit the water, dancing off the frost and ice around it, to shatter into prisms. Dylan might have even enjoyed the sight, save for Chrystal’s enthusiasm as she leaned further away. One moment, she dangled precariously. The next, she slid.
Even a wolf would take a beating on the rocks below.
Fisting her jacket, he ignored the scream in his bicep from lifting her falling deadweight and hauled her upward. Yes. I have her. Her howl of surprise gave him a measure of satisfaction. So did jerking her over the edge then tossing her sweet ass into the snow. She came up spluttering as Dylan rose above her and scowled.