Wyoming is a land of contrasts. There’s the rugged peaks of the Teton Range on the west side of the state, just south of the geysers and painted pots of Yellowstone. On the eastern edge of the state, you have Devil’s Tower among the rolling hills of near Hulett. In between, you have miles and miles of prairie and high plains, where there are more cattle than people.
But in the middle, there’s a strange geological site that few tourists ever see. Even from the highway that goes by it, you can easily miss it if you don’t know it’s there. Until a few years ago, you were able to stand right at the crumbling edge if you dared to look over the sight, but now it’s fenced off.
The area goes by the name of Hell’s Half Acre, and I’m sure the early settlers thought it deserved the title. It’s a lot bigger than half an acre-actually about 320 acres. It’s an area of cliffs and rock spires and boulders and an assortment of colors. It’s hard to imagine what geological forces created it.
Lori Grenville, the main character in my new release, Wolves’ Gambit, didn’t have the opportunity to visit Hell’s Half Acre while she was in Wyoming. (I couldn’t figure out a way to write it into the story.) She spent her time in the dusty plains nearer to the Bighorn Mountains. She didn’t have time for sightseeing anyway.
Wolf-shifter Lori Grenville was rescued from near-slavery and a brutal pack leader by the Free Wolves. To pay back the favor, she’s dedicated her life to helping others in the same situation, leading shifters to safety and a new start, risking her life in the process. She’s faced down alphas and has no qualms in undermining pack structure.
Now she’s challenged with the task of restoring an alpha to his rightful place. If she gets it right, she can stop a war from ripping apart two packs and spreading across an entire state. If she fails, she’ll be among the first to die.
There’s still the option of walking away and letting the Jaeger and Destin packs destroy each other. That means she’ll fail in her original mission of rescuing the daughter of the Jaeger alpha before the girl is forced into marriage for political gain.
Lori hasn’t failed in a mission yet. This one may be the exception.
“Breathe, dammit, breathe!”
Hands pounded on her chest. A spasm ran through her body and she gasped. Air rushed to her aching lungs. She struggled to breathe but her throat was blocked. She couldn’t stop coughing and bile rose. It settled at the back of her mouth. The acid mingled with the sweet flavor of blood and her stomach churned. She retched and a seizure wracked her body.
She was rolled on one side, too weak to protest. Her hair was gently brushed away from her face. She took a shuddering breath and spit, trying to get the bitter tang out of her mouth.
“I’ve got you,” a low voice said.
She heard the words both with her ears and her mind. She slammed the blocks into place. It was too risky to reveal herself when she had no defense against an attack.
A trickle of water slipped across her lips and her tongue darted out to capture it. “More,” she pleaded, and then coughed again.
“I’m going to sit you up so you can have a proper sip. Don’t worry, I have you, little human.”
Strong arms wrapped around her and brought her to a sitting position. The screaming pain in her leg settled into a dull ache. A warm body behind her gave her something to lean against. A cool object was pressed to her lips and she tilted her head back as water slipped into her mouth.
“Spit it out,” ordered a new voice.
Reluctantly, she did so. It seemed a shame to waste perfectly fine water.
“This time, swish it around and rinse out your mouth.” It seemed like a good idea. She didn’t want the bitterness of blood to ruin the water’s freshness. She spat out the third sip as well, and the coughing started again.
“It’ll get better. You can swallow this time.”
She lapped greedily as the water bottle touched her lips, demanding more. It was pulled away far too soon. She whined in disappointment.
“A little at a time.”
The swallow was bigger this time. She tried to open her eyes but they were glued shut. Like a tired child, she raised her fists to rub them. Someone grabbed her arms to stop her and she groaned.
“Let me wash your face first. We need to see what the damage is and don’t want to injure your eyes.” Another new voice. How many people were there?
While wet fabric stroked her face, she listened. She counted the breathing of four people close to her, but quiet murmurs told her there were many more nearby. A soft buzz in her head was either the beginning of a massive headache or a sign of many unheard conversations going on.
And a Giveaway! In celebration of the release of Wolves’ Gambit, one or more lucky people will win an e-book version of Wolves’ Pawn, the first book of the series. You can enter here:
About the Author
Born and raised among the rolling hills of western Pennsylvania, P.J. MacLayne still finds inspiration for her books in that landscape. She is a computer geek by day and a writer by night who currently lives in the shadow of the Rocky Mountains. When she’s not in front of a computer screen, she might be found exploring the back roads of the nearby national forests and parks. In addition to the Free Wolves’ stories, she is also the author of the Oak Grove series.
P.J. MacLayne can be reached on:
Google + https://plus.google.com/u/0/+PJMacLayne/posts