Meet Titus – the Soon to be Alpha of the Rock Prowler Pack when interviewed by one of his pack’s cubs.
“You want something, Sammy? An interview for your school magazine? Well… I suppose it couldn’t hurt.”
Sammy giggled and opened up his writing book. “So, T. what’s your nickname.”
Titus: “Never had one. Not unless T. counts. You started something the first time you called me that. Now the whole pack uses it.”
Sammy blushed. “It suits you. But I said Big T first, what with you being so big and all. Anyway. Where did you go to school?”
Titus:“I planned to head to earth and do some serious study”—he shook his head—“but things went so far south it never happened. Some witch kidnapped my true-mate and I spent almost a century trying to free her.” The wolf’s shoulders slumped as he stared into the distance. After a deep breath, he added. “Not that she wants anything to do with me or the pack. I guess you can say I graduated from the school of Hard Knocks.”
Too young to understand Titus’s pain, Sammy shook his head. “Girls suck.”
Titus:“Only when you’re a cub. Give it a few years and you might say different. My best dream was to bond with my true-mate but she wouldn’t even look at me. Now I don’t have any dreams left.”
Sammy carefully wrote Titus’s every word in his notebook. “What would you do if you became rich overnight.
Titus:(growls softly). “I can’t see my luck changing now. No, don’t write that bit down. Let’s just say I’m not hurting financially and I don’t need more money.”
Sammy broke off to sharpen his pencil. “And what’s your favorite food?”
Titus:Nothing tastes good anymore except whisky. No, don’t write that down either. Just put that I don’t have much appetite. I hunt and I eat whatever I can find. That’s it, Sammy. Interview over.”
Titus stood and beckoned a group of cubs over.“Time for your tracking lesson. Give me a two-minute head start, and if you find me, I’ll shout the lot of you an ice-cream.”
To Seduce an Omega
The Rock Prowler alpha condemns Viola for her inability to shift. Forced into poverty and isolation, she ekes out a meager existence as a healer. As the pack omega with a crippled knee, she’s forbidden to mate. Her first heat beckons, but no wolf will dare to bed her.
Titus, a wolf rejected by his true mate, overflows with violence and anger. The Lykae King sends him to take over the Rock Prowler pack. He condemns Viola for wanting payment before she treats her patients and threatens to bring in a new pack healer. With her crippled knee and no other income, she’d starve.
She-wolves from families who disagree with the alpha have vanished. When Titus investigates, the alpha’s allies imprison both him and Viola. To escape, he must seduce Viola—the she-wolf he insulted and reviled. If that’s not bad enough, she despises him for his seeming allegiance to the alpha. As he gets to know her, she steals his heart, but after all that’s happened, how can she accept him when even his fated mate refused him?
“Heal her.” The stranger scowled and thrust the injured woman at Viola.
She blinked and stepped back so quickly she almost overbalanced. After taking a moment to stand up as straight as her crippled leg allowed, she donned her professional healer persona. “For a price. Cash. Up front.”
Viola lied, of course. Leaving anyone in pain was beyond her, but the man with the broad chest and gold-flecked eyes didn’t need to know that. Besides, unless she got hold of some cash soon, she might never eat meat again.
The low growl that rumbled from his throat and the way his eyes narrowed made her wish she’d stayed silent. He bared his fangs, and although she wanted to retreat, she stubbornly held her ground.
His lip curled. “Do it. I’m good for your fees. Just get a move on.”
His deep, angry rumble made her think of a volcano ready to erupt. And damn, when she stared up him, he looked as tall as the mountains that trapped her in Rock Prowler territory. Out here in the midst of the forest, miles from the nearest settlement, she should be wary. This stranger emanated strength, protection, and…flat-out fury. At her.
His jaw clamped as he shoved past her into the hut. She followed, mentally triaging her patient. Tansy’s clothes hung off her in tatters, and an arrow stuck out of her leg. Deep scratches, the sort only a murder thorn could inflict, covered her torso. The woman’s breathing came in fast, shallow pants. Her skin looked as though it had been touched with frost, and rivers of dried blood stained her leg.
Absently, Viola wondered what the other woman been up to that involved tangling with a bush renowned for shredding skin. Not running from Mr. Fix-It here, I hope. Ignoring her concerns and her attraction to a newcomer with the short hair and bad attitude, she reached out to stroke Tansy’s hair. Rather than gather her supplies, Viola hardened her heart and met the stranger’s gaze.
With his torn ear and bent nose, Mr. Fix-It looked ready to tear out her throat. Her stomach clenched as though he’d punched her, and his disgusted look promised a reckoning once she’d tended Tansy’s wounds. Viola’s tender heart went out to the woman in his arms. Despite her bold words, she’d never let Tansy suffer, but she needed to bargain to survive.
As the pack’s omega wolf, she expected nothing from anyone—except insults, of course. Chin high, spine stiff, she kept her hands at her side. “Perhaps you shouldn’t have chased her into a murder thorn in the first place. Of course, I’ll help her once we’ve agreed on a price.”
The stranger’s furious growl cut to her heart, but unless she demanded her cash in advance, she’d starve.
About Kryssie Fortune
Kryssie’s imagination runs wild. She loves dragons, sensual Fae, and sensual vampires. Show her a dominant Lykae male and her toes curl. Feel free to visit her website or check out her blog. She can also be found on Facebook or Twitter.
One of my first series, that’s still ongoing, is my Night Fall series. It’s near and dear to my heart. And there are 14 stories in the series, so far. The last title I released was Big Bad Wolf, which I adored. What wasn’t to love? A rugged, backwoods wolf with no love for vampires. A vampire with every reason to hate wolves… Of course, they had to fall in love. And there will be more stories. So, dive in. None of them are terribly long. You can consume them like candy. I dare you to give them a try…
Comment for a chance to win your choice of download from among the stories shown below! I’ll pick three winners!
Click on the covers to learn more about the stories!
Big Bad Wolf
Ginnie Martin is a badass. She was born that way one horror-filled night. Forged in blood—her own and her family’s. All were ravaged by savage beasts. Her vampire savior recruited her to fight with his small army against the creatures responsible for her devastating loss. But now, he’s asking too damn much. He wants her to open her home to new allies who, until only recently, were their fiercest foes. Wolves.
Calum Fletcher already bristles against providing muscle to a vampire force. Content living in his remote mountain cabin, he’s never been much for mixing with other wolves, much less making nice with vampires. He was already having a hard time dealing, but the woman letting him bunk in her home wears an even larger chip on her shoulder. Quickly, his new favorite sport is goading her into losing her temper—because everyone knows a vampire’s bloodlust leads to very sexy places…
Read an excerpt…
The moment Calum Fletcher stepped into The Cavern, his body quickened. The heavy thud of his heart pounded at his temples. His skin prickled. Above the scent of booze and sex, he noted the musty, metallic odor of blood, and his stomach churned. Every instinct shouted danger.
Striding past the brawny, dull bouncer at the door, he kept moving, needing to draw calm around him before his nature was revealed. Although the vampires had been warned of his pack’s arrival in Seattle, he preferred to cloak himself in humanskin, free of wolf scent. The better to study the enemies he’d now be aligning with in war.
Dance music beat against his body. Bright, strobing lights pierced his eyes. Turning from the dance floor, he moved toward the bar, ignoring the activities of the patrons—the feasting, the fucking. Everywhere, except at the bar, an orgy of bloodlust and sexual excess was in progress.
The blonde behind the bar gave him quick, assessing glance. Her green eyes narrowed. “Can I get you a drink?” she asked, all the while continuing to watch him as though she expected trouble.
He shook his head, wanting to look away, but he was studying her as well. The blonde, uneven cut that barely reached to her chin looked wind-tousled. Her pale unpainted cheeks were as smooth as porcelain. Her mouth was bowed but held in a tight, firm line. Below, her figure was lean and muscled with only a slight flare of hips and a meager bosom.
And then he viewed her clothing—a black, form-fitting tank and faded blue jeans with ragged holes over both knees, stuffed into square-toed black boots. Harsh, dark. Echoing the look in the eyes.
Vampire, he concluded. Had she already guessed his true nature?
She placed the beer on a cardboard coaster in front of him. “Haven’t seen you here before,” she said, her voice soft, but with a hint of an edge.
“I’m from out of town.” Out of state, actually, but he didn’t elaborate.
“How did you find this place?”
He gave a shrug then met her gaze, locking with it. “I was walking along the docks. Heard the music.”
She frowned. “And once you came inside…?”
Her tone clued him she was angling to hear what he thought of what was going on. A human who ventured inside by accident should be shocked. So, she hadn’t made him.
He held still. Barely breathed. If she knew he wasn’t a willing “host,” someone who understood the rules of the blood exchange, what would she do? His curiosity was piqued by her deepening frown and downturned mouth. Was she considering giving him a “friendly” warning?
Calum broke with her gaze and glanced at the dance floor. Most pairs danced, bodies moving in a wild fervor. A few barely swayed while hosts’ necks bent and vamps’ mouths worked, teeth and tongues biting and licking. He barely repressed a shudder. Worse, his gums tingled. When he turned back, he didn’t bother hiding a frown.
She reached out a hand and cupped the back of his wrapped around the beer. “Are you curious?” she asked, her voice thicker than before and lisping.
Curious about her, yes. Which should have alarmed him. But she wasn’t flirting and wasn’t attempting to use her vampire’s tricks to seduce him. Her gaze was direct. A straightforward challenge.
And although he wasn’t there to play, he did have time to satisfy his curiosity. The rest of his pack would be arriving soon enough. He’d pushed ahead of the convoy while they’d stopped for a meal. He gave a slight nod.
Her chest rose, and she lifted a hand to signal to a waitress, who made her way behind the far end of the long wooden bar. Then the blonde lifted the hinged, vertical opening in the bar and stepped through to join him.
Standing next to him, she had to raise her head to meet his gaze, something that appeared to irritate her, because a frown dug a line between her brows. “Bring your beer.” She stepped past him, skirting the dance floor and moving toward a row of leather-upholstered booths at the opposite side of the room, lit only by candles set in decorative glass bowls.
He followed, beer in hand, then slid into the booth she indicated.
Rather than taking a seat opposite him, she slid in beside him and turned, raising one knee to the seat. Her gaze went to his beard then trailed over his chest and below, before slowly rising again to his face. “I’m Ginnie,” she said, her voice huskier than before.
He noted the sharpened tips of her corner canines, peeking from beneath her upper lip. “Calum,” he said, his own voice deepening. His breathing was coming faster, sitting this close to her, drinking in her sweet-almond scent, which should have acted like repellent. But almond blended with a slight hint of vanilla and her feminine musk, and now moisture gathered in his mouth. He wanted a taste.
His mouth twitched and, inside, he laughed at himself for his attraction. How long had passed since he’d fucked a woman? Now, he wished he’d come better prepared. Vampires were naturally sensual creatures. That was all this lust was. He was growing aroused because she was what she was, and he’d been without for far too long.
A year ago, Bravo Team WOLF faced the challenge of discovery when Corporal Kaitlyn Amador was assigned to their unit. The wolves serving as a special unit of Force Recon Marines come from different packs as part of a negotiated agreement between the U.S. packs and the U.S. government. Bravo Team WOLF serves their country and the packs maintain their autonomy and secrecy. Kaitlyn’s presence threatens that agreement, but Captain Jax Raymond’s interest in her is an even greater threat to his peace of mind.
Now, Sergeant Carlos “Cage” Castillo faces a new challenge when he leads a small contingent of the team to rescue a kidnapped child in Costa Rica. It’s just another day at the office until he accidentally bites aid worker Bianca Devlin who invested herself in saving the kid, too.
What happens in the jungle doesn’t stay there, and now Cage must stick close to Bianca in case his bite turns her—falling in love wasn’t in the mission statement, nor was turning her life upside down.
When you’re writing wolves you know a lot about the characters before you start:
They want to protect.
They are fierce and passionate.
Dominance games aren’t always played through physical action
These wolves come from different packs, different backgrounds—so much, that while they have a lot in common, they have different socio-cultures that come into play. Serving together, however, has also given them bonds of brotherhood. Immersing myself in that world is always a thrill.
These guys will go the distance to serve their country, their packs, and each other. What makes them a team is their loyalty, toughness, fierce protectiveness and their innate desire to serve. It also gives the term hard-headed a whole new meaning. Every single one of them volunteered. They train together. They work together. And they balance their differences with a common goal—getting the job done.
Cage kicks this book off with a lot to prove—to himself. Bianca is a woman who grew up in the service of others, and she thrives on saving people. Sure, they seem like a match made in wolf heaven, but what if being a wolf isn’t what she wants? And what if all the secrets Cage is keeping costs him more than he knew he could want?
All of this and more comes into play in Bitten Under Fire, releasing on May 28. May is Military Appreciation Month, and Monday the 28this Memorial Day. While Bravo Team WOLF is a work of fiction, it’s also a love story to those who serve in all walks of life.
In honor of all of these, I’m giving away an e-copy of When Danger Bites, book 1 of Bravo Team WOLF. Just tell me what your favorite part of wolf or military stories are…what do love about these kind of heroes? C’mon, take a walk on the wolf side and discover Bravo Team WOLF today!
Cage gave up on even the pretense of sleep and rolled out of the too-soft bed at four a.m. His body clock, still tuned to East Coast time and training, told him he should be out with the team. He could be on a run with the guys, alternating their training between wolf and human forms. Hell, if he timed it right, he could be out in the hill country and running free for the sheer joy of it. Instead, he stood in a dark bedroom, on a hilly suburban street near Austin, staring broodingly at the house across the street.
Bracing one hand against the window edge, he debated the next step. Spending time with Bianca was not a hardship; in fact, he’d half forgotten his purpose over dinner the night before. Watching her eat the ice cream aroused him and left him lusting hard. So much so, he’d been sure his erection would have a permanent zipper imprint.
His wolf didn’t help, not one bit. In fact, the beast settled in her presence and wanted to take root. The animal hated leaving. Between her tantalizing scent and absent-minded licking of her lips, Cage had to admit he found it difficult to bid her good night and walk out her front door.
Once outside, he’d noticed her windows were still open, upstairs and down. She hadn’t turned on any external lights, and he was pretty sure if he navigated his way over the back wall and leapt onto the deck, he’d find her French doors still wide open.
They’d eaten on her deck. She seemed more comfortable outdoors than in. He could get inside, maybe even steal a kiss before telling her to lock up for her own safety.
I’m not here to seduce her.Having to repeat the mantra after a sleepless night didn’t improve his mood. Bianca had accepted his reasoning for being across the street, but her suspicions filled him with pride. She wasn’t the type to just take a story at face value. Then again, he hadn’t been 100 percent honest with her.
There was no easy way to say, “I might have just changed your life forever…by the way, how do you feel about becoming an animal?” The wolf didn’t give a damn about Cage’s reasons for why they were there. The wolf liked Bianca, enjoyed her scent, and her husky voice. So do I.
Movement by her front door attracted his attention, and he let the wolf peek out. The shift of his eyes was a controlled move, and it allowed his night vision to expand. Bianca exited her place wearing a pair of denim shorts with frayed hems, an open button-down shirt over a tank top, and her feet were encased in pair of sneakers. She paused to lock the door, a bit of a struggle with her splinted wrist.
Hair swept back into a ponytail, she looked fresh and bright—if one discounted the bruise on her cheek or the scrapes visible on her forearms and long legs. Where the hell was she going at four in the morning?
Leaving, she moved slowly and deliberately down the steps, favoring her right leg. Her feet had been scratched, bruised, and damaged. Even last evening when she sat on her deck, bare feet stretched out to rest on the rail, he’d seen the angry marks on them.
As she reached the sidewalk, she paused, hands on her hips, and looked left then right. Her gaze swept back and forth, and it was then he realized her lips were moving. Even with his superior night vision, he couldn’t read what she said. Finally, she turned toward the uphill rise on her right and began walking.
At four in the morning.
In a city she didn’t know.
In a neighborhood she’d just moved to.
Cage growled then hurried to throw on shorts, a T-shirt, and running shoes. In less than three minutes, he’d dressed, descended the stairs, and let himself out of the front. Jogging, he followed her scent easily. Even at her limping walk, she’d made it to the end of the block and continued around the curve.
He’d almost caught up to her when it occurred to him that running at her in the dark might not be the wisest course. Slowing, he opened his mouth to warn her he was there, when she spun and slammed a taser into his side. The voltage sent a cascade through his nervous system. One minute he was standing, the next he lay on the ground staring at her dumbly.
“Oh, shit!” Bianca cursed, then turned off the flickering taser. Kneeling, she grimaced and touched his arm. “Are you okay?”
“No,” he said, slowly, not sure he trusted his voice. His wolf felt as stunned as he was. The shocks rioting along his nerve endings zapped him in lessening increments. Tingles spread throughout his limbs. His tongue seemed permanently rooted to the roof of his mouth. “No.”
The weight of her hand on his arm riveted him, helping to ground out the solid scrambling she’d sent through his system. Wolves were hardy beings, and they could take a solid beating. Most minor injuries they could heal in a short time. More serious wounds—bullet wounds, knife stabs, even claw rips—they could heal by shifting.
Electricity ripping through them? That hurt on multiple levels, and not even a wolf could recover from the stunning effect swiftly. Maybe it had something to do with the disconnect he felt with his wolf right now. The animal seemed dazed and distant.
He’d almost forgotten Bianca was there; her fingers traced over his arm.
“I’m really sorry, I just heard someone coming at me, and it’s dark and…”
And she took his ass out with a taser.
Who Heather Long?
USA Today 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.
Heather is best known for her 18-book paranormal romance series Wolves of Willow Bend, which begins:
Prequel: Wolf at Law
1: Wolf Bite
2: Caged Wolf
3: Wolf Claim
3.5: Wolf Next Door
4: Rogue Wolf
5: Bayou Wolf
6: Untamed Wolf
Heather’s other fantasy romance series include the paranormal westerns Fevered Hearts starting with Marshal of Hel Dorado, Black Hill Wolves which start with What a Wolf Wants, Witches of Mane Street, Mongrels, and the forthcoming Bravo Team WOLF series.
Her contemporary romance series include: Always a Marine, Going Royal, Elite Warriors, The Love Thieves, beginning with Catch Me and Lone Star Leathernecks, beginning with Semper Fi Cowboy.
Heather is well-represented in fantasy wither her superhero series Boomers, a sci-fi western called Space Cowboy Survival Guide, an urban fantasy series called the Chance Monroe Adventures, and a stand-alone ghost novel titled Haunt Me.
I don’t know about most of you, but I’m really picky when it comes to what kind of journal I like to use. I’ve bought or been given some lovely and expensive notebooks and one of three things inevitably happens to them:
1. I use them once or twice and end up ripping out the pages and tossing the journal away.
2. I give them to my SIL
3. I sell them at a yard sale
I think I’m intimidated by fancy journals. Problem is, the kind that I like are getting more difficult to find.
I use the Moleskine Volant notebooks that come in a set of two. Used to be able to get various sizes and colors, but I’ve noticed in the last year it’s getting harder to find them. So, I recently bought 2 packs at the bookstore, which gives me four in total. With the ones I am currently using, and the one new one I had tucked away, I’ll be good for probably a couple of years…maybe.
I’m hoping the company will keep producing these notebooks. The 8 12/ X 5 inch size is the one I use the most. I love the colors and the fact the notebook lies flat. It also slips easily into my purse so I always have a notebook on me, just in case I get an idea or a snippet of dialogue I need to remember. They make a smaller size too, which is also a great size for jotting notes.
I’m also picky about my pen. I use a fine purple Pilot pen for writing.
What about you? What kind of notebook or journal do you prefer? Do you care?
Wolf of her Own
Salvation Pack, Book 9
Mikhail Matheson may be an outsider in Salvation, but he stays with the pack to be close to his sister. It has nothing to with the fact that Elise—the most fascinating woman he’s ever laid eyes on—is part of the pack. Mikhail has wanted Elise for years, but being with her could cost him his life. Soon he’ll have to decide if he’s going to leave the pack or risk it all to pursue a place at her side.
After escaping her abusive mate, Elise LaForge has made a home in Salvation with her sons. She never expected to have her emotions stirred up by the always serious and seriously handsome Mikhail. But can she finally put her past behind her and dare to move on?
When danger creeps into the pack, both she and Mikhail have to be willing to sacrifice everything to have a chance at love.
Elise set her mug down on the table and stood, curling her bare toes against the cold wood. She was going to get dressed, grab her camera, and try to capture the essence of the morning. She’d taken one step toward the door when she realized she wasn’t alone.
He was out there.
She always knew when Mikhail was close by. Every cell in her body hummed in a way that made her both hot and uncomfortable. She seriously thought about pretending she didn’t know he was there, but that smacked of weakness. And after so many years of being browbeaten by her former mate, she was through being a coward.
“Come out,” she demanded. Heart pounding and hands damp, she waited. Her breath quickened when he coalesced out of the morning mist. He was a big and powerfully built wolf. His fur was dark brown with glints of red and some streaks of gray on the top of his head. His green eyes shone with intelligence and something else she really didn’t want to acknowledge.
N.J. Walters is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who has always been a voracious reader, and now she spends her days writing novels of her own. Vampires, werewolves, dragons, time-travelers, seductive handymen, and next-door neighbors with smoldering good looks—all vie for her attention. It’s a tough life, but someone’s got to live it.
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.
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.
Popping in just to say—Woot! WMR is out! I’m on to the next project before I can circle back and think about what happens next in the series. I kinda know now, but I’m letting it stew. There will be fairies!
I hope you love this story! One reader has already said: “It is full of surprises. Very sweet, very sexy and very mysterious.”
Wolf Moon Rising
In Jefferson Parish, deep in the bayou, is a place called Bonne Nuit. Off the beaten path, isolated by swamp and connected to the sea, there the Beaux Rêve Coven thrives.
Five witches…Too many demons to count…
Aoife is the flightiest of the sister witches, and she has a secret, one her mother warned her to keep close to her heart. Her father was a fairy—which explains her quirkiness and her affinity for flowers. She lives in a cabin on stilts that juts into the bayou, and one of her demon guardians is a werewolf. She’s attracted, but how would he feel if he married her, fathered a child, and that child disappeared into the land of the fae? Desperate to find a solution to her dilemma, she flees her guardian’s protection. Her last hope is to enlist her father’s help. Plead her case. Her happiness, and that of her one true love, Sigurd, depends on whether she can escape this fairy curse.
For Sigurd, acting as guardian to the witch, Aoife, was both a blessing and curse. A blessing, because he’d never known anyone as innocent and pure, and a woman who truly didn’t know her own allure. A curse, because he had to guard her against his own lustful nature.
And again, he was thankful two other demons were assigned the protection detail, because more than anything, he wanted her kept safe. However, he was equally annoyed at having two competitors for her affection.
Of course, many more among the demons living around Bonne Nuit aspired to hear the “echo” of their bonding with a witch. Such a bonding brought power to the lucky demon—and demons were greedy about that sort of thing. They frequented Aoife’s small cabin poised on long stilts above the bayou on the flimsiest of excuses. One needed a fragrant oil to help him sleep. Another needed a healing balm to soothe a bruise. And they were constantly underfoot in her garden and her workshop, interfering more than helping—at least, to his mind.
However, Aoife appeared blissfully unaware of the males’ attempts at garnering her exclusive attention. Her radiant smile flashed indiscriminately upon her pursuers, never mind their unsuitability as possible mates. And despite the fact they’d done nothing to earn the right to call her wife.
Unlike Sigurd, who suffered her proximity and who stood ready to serve her in any way she pleased. Who quietly stood guard over her while she slept, losing his sleep and his pride because she slumbered so soundly, completely unaware of his constant state of arousal.
Sigurd wasn’t naturally a patient man, but he had withstood the torture of being close day in and out for seven months. He was nearing his breaking point. If something didn’t happen soon, he would press their leader, Ethan, to ask his pretty wife for help. Bryn liked him well enough, always turning to give him a wink when “family” dinners took place, and one of Aoife’s admirers fought for the privilege of sitting at her side. Sigurd preferred to sit across from her at the table anyway—the better to glower at his competition. And perhaps raise a lip in a menacing snarl.
Bryn seemed to be in his corner. Perhaps she would be eager to see her sister witch settled. If something didn’t change soon, he’d speak with her.
On this evening, Sigurd wore his wolfskin and lay curled on the wooden floor beside Aoife’s bed. Just before she’d begun softly snoring, she’d reached down and scratched behind his ears. Probably not an act she was even aware of doing. She was kind to all creatures and seemed especially fond of his wolf form, sometimes taking a brush to his fur or giving him a bath in the large metal tub on the porch. He lived for those moments.
He shook his head in disgust. What a sorry excuse for a wolf he was. Wolves weren’t pets. They were pack animals who needed to belong to a family and a mate. A male needed to dominate his bitch, but he didn’t think Aoife would ever agree to be his bitch.
However, the thought did stretch his wolf’s mouth into a feral grin. He laid his head atop his paws and settled with a disgruntled whine.
Minutes passed, and he was nearly drifting off to sleep when the bed creaked and feet softly lowered to the floor. He perked his ears and pushed up to peer over the mattress, just in time to see Aoife slip through her bedroom door.
He followed, freezing when her steps paused, ducking behind corners when she glanced around. Something was afoot, and his hackles rose when she reached for her cloak and a small bag from the hook beside the front door.
Was she meeting a lover? Or were the witches gathering in secret? Somehow, he doubted the latter because Bryn was very pregnant and couldn’t slide gracefully from Ethan’s bed. And Miren would have to escape three mates, and that could never happen. Which reminded him, where the hell were the other two guards?
When Aoife opened the door and crept outside, closing it behind her, he drew up short. He hadn’t considered how he would exit the house, so he quickly shook free of his wolfskin and strode onto the porch. His glance went to the steps at the side of the porch, but then a sound, a soft splash, pulled his gaze to the canal flowing past her porch. She’d taken a boat. The fact she was already on the water meant she’d been in a hurry.
What the fuck?
Footsteps sounded from inside the house. A door creaked open then slammed shut. So much for stealth. Hamdir, also a wolf, walked to his side, scratching his chest. “Where’s the witch? I was sleeping on the couch. Thought you were watching her.”
“I was.” I watched her escape. “Go back to bed. I have this handled.”
“Sure about that?” Hamdir yawned. “Don’t know how you aren’t dead on your feet. You really ought to let us have turns inside her bedroom.” His large hand patted Sigurd’s shoulder. “Driving to New Orleans in the mornin’, or I’d join you on this hunt,” he said with a waggle of his eyebrows.
His gaze followed Hamdir as he stepped back inside. Their group had grown complacent since Ethan defeated the council’s champion in battle and no retribution had been settled upon their unbanded group. Most presumed the mere presence of so many demons, concentrated in their small town, was deterrent enough to rogue demons seeking to steal a witch for a mate.
Sigurd was reminded he’d have to enlist another guard from among the bachelor demons during Hamdir’s absence.
A cool wind wafted against his skin, raising chill bumps. Early Winter in the bayou was mild, but he couldn’t easily follow Aoife on foot.
Instead, Sigurd shifted again and fell to his paws. With a single quick yelp, he leapt past the stairs to the bank. Lifting his nose to the breeze, he followed Aoife’s delicious witch’s scent through the murky, shadowed bayou. If he startled a gator, the bastard better move out of his way.
I really appreciate Delilah letting me appropriate her blog for today, so let’s see if I can entertain y’all.
As you can see by the y’all, I’m from Texas. Born in Houston, raised all over. And by all over, I do mean all over. Norway, Egypt, Dubai, Honduras… Daddy was an engineer who designed offshore o’l rigs. Yes, o’l. It’s cute how some people actually pronounce that silent i in the middle. *gg*
I married the Air Force just to stay on the move, and I must say, it’s worked out pretty well. 23 years later, we’re still married, and we’re pretending to have settled down in the Midwest. Just for a little while.
Along the way, I’ve picked up a lot of odd ideas and ways of looking at the world. One of those ideas is actually something I remember from living in Norway. I’ve never enjoyed the cold, but Scandinavians seem to pull it off with style. They embrace not just the wintry weather outside, but the full coziness of life when they come in from the snow and ice.
In Denmark, there’s a specific word for it: “hygge.” Not higguh, not hoogah, but heugeh (sort of like a yew sound). However you say it, the concept of hygge is basically…coziness.
Turn off the glaring LED Christmas lights. Instead, light a fire and some candles. Wear your favorite cozy sweater, or pull a soft blanket over your lap. Close up the Kindle and read a paper book in your favorite chair, with a cup of real hot chocolate by your side.
It’s also hyggelig to go out and meet with friends at a cafe where the phones stay in everyone’s purses and pockets. To go out for a hike in the snowy woods, then come back for a little mulled cider and a board game.
Hygge is those moments of peace and contentment found both in your own company, and in the convivial company of friends and family.
It’s a Currier and Ives post card. It’s a Dickens happy ending. And it takes a little work to set up, but when you can finally sink into that comfort, it’s worth it.
Have a happy and hyggelig holiday!
And in the spirit of holiday reading, I should also mention that I was very happy to be able to participate in an anthology that just came out called MERRY & BRIGHT. Nine new stories that are set in the Nocturne Falls Universe, you’ll be charmed by these sweet, fun shorts that are just right for reading while you wait for your cocoa to cool.
My entry, Magic’s Frost…
Lonely werewolf Dima Samarin looks forward to watching his favorite winter elf every morning at the Hallowed Bean. He rescues her unfinished novel from the perils of spilled cocoa, and becomes her hero.
Elin Bergstrom’s day job is at Santa’s Workshop, but she secretly writes sci-fi novels on the side. She accepts Dima’s invitation to the Christmas Ball, but when their date gets derailed by a drug deal gone bad, this elf isn’t about to stay on her shelf.
Sometimes a werewolf can use a little helpful frost magic to win the day, and save their date.