Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Part Two Chapter Fifteen


Mine! Part Two Chapter Fifteen


“I’m sorry you got hurt, Caleb.” I pushed down a stab of guilt, but what was I supposed to do? Let the guy get away? Caleb had to stay to finish clearing the shack.

“The idiots inside the cabin fled right out the front doors anyway. One of them just got in a lucky shot.”

“Did anyone see any other human werekin with bonded werekin souls?" I asked. “The one I found has two distinct scents.”

“Does your brother have three scents, since he has two stolen souls?”

I growled. “Watch what you say about my brother.  He didn’t steal anything. He was kidnapped and experimented on against his will.”

“Okay, okay. I didn’t mean anything by it, sheesh.”

“Sure you didn’t.” The panther was a prick, and if he didn’t watch it, I was going to show him just how much more dangerous a Tiger could be. “Pick that human up and let’s go.” I turned and headed back the way I came. I didn’t like the idea of Ritch alone with that other guy.

Landon made his way through the group to walk beside me as we made our way through the dark woods. “How hurt are you?”

“It’s nothing. I’m fine.” I jumped over a log. Landon hopped on top and then down on the other side.

“Can you drive?”

That was a good question. “Ritch can drive. He has been for a while.”

“We’re going to have to drive back to your territory without stopping for more than gas. He’s not to be able to drive all that way.” Again, Landon made a good point, but I didn’t like it. “He can stay in my car until Ritch needs to swap out for a break, but I think Victor would get on your nerves the least.”

“As long as it’s not Silas.” I fought the urge to snarl. “If that jaguar doesn’t learn some manners, I’m going to kick his ass.





Ritch was in the driver’s seat when we made it back to the clearing. He had his visor down and was looking in the mirror, so he missed it when we stepped out of the woods. He jumped and cursed when I said his name. “Stop sneaking up on me,” he complained.

That might be a fun game for another day, but I was too tired to even tease him. “Sorry.”

He got out of the car. “Is everyone okay?”

“Not everyone, but no one was hurt too bad. We’ve got another captive, he’s going to ride with Christian. You’re going to have to keep driving,” I said. “I’m sorry I can’t do more, but when you need a break, Victor is going to take over for you.”

“The wolf?”

“Yeah.”

“Can you trust him?”

“As much as I trust anyone who isn’t from our streak. He’s here to do a job. We’ll be fine, and if he does try something, I’m still armed.”

“I think we should get going,” Christian said. He finished patching Caleb up with his big first-aid kit.

“Agreed. I’ll call Deke from the car. He’ll pass along the information to your alphas for a convocation. Hopefully it’ll all be worked out by the time we get back.”



We’d been driving for six hours, before Ritch finally asked for a break. I texted Landon in Christian, and they pulled over at the next exit. We decided to gas up all the vehicles at the same time.

When Ritch opened up the backseat passenger door, I went around the car and got in behind the driver’s seat. “What are you doing?” He asked.

“Yeah, what the hell are you doing? I don’t think I like you right there behind me," Victor complained.

“Too fucking bad." I really didn’t care what he liked or didn’t like. “Just drive.”

He kept grumbling, but I ignored him. “Just relax against me,” I told Ritch. “Scoot down, you can use my leg for a pillow.”

“I should probably wear my seatbelt. I’m just a human werekin, I wouldn’t survive a crash.”

“Neither will the wolf, if he gets us into an accident.”

The wolf snarled, and I hit the back of his seat. “Shut up.”

“It’s been a long night, on top of a long couple of days, that guy’s in the back, and there’s a wolf in the front seat. I think we both feel better if you just lie down.” The scent coming from the back was disturbing enough that I knew I wouldn’t sleep.

Rich studied me for a second, but then he let go of his seatbelt. He turned and slowly sank down on his side. I slowly lowered one hand onto his shoulder. Rich gradually relaxed, until he was sound asleep. My body ached, but I caught what rest I could earlier. I stared out the window and watched the miles pass.



“They knew we were hunting for these guys. What the hell is taking so long?”

 “Making arrangements for an alpha to leave their territory takes time, as you well know" Deke said. “I’ve assigned guards, and the prisoners will be kept isolated until the others can arrive tomorrow.”

I growled. “We need to find out what they know now.”

Deke narrowed his eyes, and his answering snarl sent a shiver down my spine. I lifted my chin, exposing my throat. “I’m sorry.” I was exhausted and angry, but that was no excuse.

“The convocation will take place as soon as possible. Your mom’s been asking about you, so why don’t you go see her and then go home and get some rest. As my beta and the leader of the hunt, you will be the first to know when the meeting happens.”

Rich was waiting outside Deke’s office. Dark circles clone under his eyes, and guilt swamped me. If nothing else, this delay would give him some time to rest. “Come on, let’s go.” I knew Mom was going to ask what we found.

TBC

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Monday, April 17, 2017

5 Stars for Rising Beauty, Book 3 in the Cubi series by Meraki P. Lyhne


Length: 250 Pages
Genre: Paranormal, Incubus, MMM
Find it at: Amazon 

My Review:
If you've read the first two books in the Cubi series, you will be thrilled with the story in Book Three! If you haven't bought this book yet, what are you waiting for? I see so much of the underpinning themes and ideas that I want to know how the plots from series books all fit together immediately, which colored my read from book one. Fortunately, Meraki P. Lyhne, is whipping out the Cubi series so now, while I am left with questions unanswered in each book, I know they are coming!

Finally, the hints from book one are coming back into the plot in Rising Beauty.  The title, "Rising Beauty" perfectly describes the storyline in this third installment that takes place right after Claimed Beauty leaves off. We've learned about the Cubi society and Daniel's place in it with Untouchable Beauty. We get to see a big shift in his place in that society and his relationship with Seldon in Claimed Beauty. In Rising Beauty, we get to see Daniel's evolution both as a Cubi and a leader, as well as a partner in his relationship with Seldon. But so much story goes into that evolution from book one to three that the author has truly sucked me in as a reader, creating a vivid world with compelling characters I can't help but cheer for, despite very complex feelings about them at the same time.

Rising Beauty brings back that pivotal element from book one that I just knew needed to be explored--the slave brought back the same time Daniel was taken--and he throws their whole system into chaos. Just like with any society, there are politics at work and conflicts arising from that, both personal and public, that kept me flipping pages long after I should've been asleep. The story ends with the characters thrust into a whole new world with struggles to face that seem almost unsurmountable. That might seem vague, but to tell you more might reveal too much, and I would never want to mar the enjoyment a reader has exploring the Cubi world in each book.

As always, once I read 'The End' I was left with a burning need to know what is going to happen next.... Will Daniel live up to his role in the Cubi society, even as it changes for the first time in an untold number of years? Will the Cubi survive? I can't wait to find out!

Where can you find more by Meraki P. Lyhne?

Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Part Two Chapter Fourteen


A little late, but that's just me being busy. Lots of action in last week's installment, and this week there's even more!



Chapter Fourteen
Branches left stinging cuts on my skin, but I couldn’t slow down. I’d followed the bastard’s scent trail until I got close enough that I could hear his footsteps ahead of me, but I couldn’t catch up. He wasn’t going to get away from me.

I finally got a little luck when a stream created a deep ravine too wide for him to jump. The opposite side was muddy and steep, too steep to climb up easily. The sight of him spurred me on, and I snarled as I leapt into the water. The rounded rocks were slippery, and I stumbled, but I didn’t stop. He turned to face me, his hands up and claws out. I barreled out of the water and slammed my shoulder into his chest.

He fell backwards into the bank, and we rolled together, coming to a stop at the water’s edge. He was on top of me, his claws embedded in my shoulders, but he’d missed my neck. I growled, and shoved hard with my right leg, flipping us over. His claws ripped long tears as I reversed our position. What was it with these guys in my arms?

The pain spurred me on, and I used my greater height to lunge both of us forward a few feet so I could pin him against a large rock. I reared back and punched him once, and then a second time. He cried out, and tried to offend me off, but I was heavier and stronger.

He wasn’t much of a feral.

I shoved his arms out of the way and reached for his neck. I slid both hands around the vulnerable column and push down. My claws flexed and the tips buried in the flesh of his throat; it would be so easy to tear it out. But I couldn’t.

“You’re going to wish I killed you,” I hissed.

His eyes flared wide as he choked, he beat his hands against my arms, but he couldn’t get a grip with the blood trickling down my skin. His struggles weakened, and then he went limp, his eyes rolling back in his head.

I was panting hard, and my shoulders were fucking killing me, but I got to my feet. I dragged the werekin’s limp body over the rocks looking for an easier place to climb out of the trench. Once we were back on higher ground I secured his arms and legs, and then threw him over my shoulder. I grunted. “Heavy bastard.” He wasn’t all that big, but he was solid. If he had any idea of how to fight, or how to use his claws and fangs, I might’ve been in trouble.

The way my father’s familiar scent and the stranger stench combined together made my stomach roll. It was wrong, completely and wholly wrong. My skin crawled from having to touch him. Fortunately, we were closer to the cars them a compound. I made my way back to the vehicles. Hopefully the men would be coming back soon, with more prisoners or news that they cleansed the hunting camp.



Ritch had rolled the windows down in the car, and he was sitting in the driver’s seat. His head swiveled from side to side, and his mouth dropped open when he saw me. “Are you okay?” he cried out.

“I’m fine,” I said. “Open the back.”

He jumped out of the car and opened up the back hatch. I tilted, and let my captives body fall with the. He was still out cold. There was a metal ring embedded in either side of the storage area. I used a spare wrist cuff band to attach his wrists to the ring, and another one to secure his feet. The final precaution was a muzzle. His face didn’t jut out as far as a normal bonded werekin’s, but it still fit over securely so I could fasten the buckles in the back. Trussed up like he was, the fucker wasn’t going to go anywhere.

“Are you sure you’re okay?" Ritch opened up a passenger door and grabbed a towel. My shoulder wound had started to clot, the pressure of the body helping to slow the bleeding, but when I dropped him in the car two of the wounds had broken open on my left shoulder. He pushed the towel against the jagged cuts. “You aren’t even fully healed from the last attack.”

“I’m healed enough. Look, I need to go back to the hunter’s camp, since no one else has returned.”

“You should stay here,” Ritch argued.

“I can’t.” I let Ritch tie the towel around my shoulder, and then I threw a T-shirt over top the makeshift bandage. It stretched, but it held tight which would help keep pressure on the cuts. “I’ll be back just as soon as I can. Be careful, Ritch.”

“You better,” he said fiercely.

Exhaustion dragged at me, but I shook it off. The night is fading fast, and I needed to find the others. I headed back toward the camp in a straight line, and I was almost there when I heard footsteps. I stopped and hid behind a tree.

Landon’s voice carried, so he was making little effort to be quiet. Someone groaned, and he told him to suck it up. That didn’t sound like they’d been captured, so I took the chance to reveal myself. A quick look around the tree was all I needed.

They were all there, and everyone was on their feet, though Caleb was leaning heavily on one of the other werekin. One human werekin was standing with them his arms behind his back, and I gag in his mouth. Blood trickled from a cut in his forehead, and he swayed and stumbled. No one helped him up.

“There you are,” Christian said when I stepped out.

“Where the hell did you go?” Landon demanded. “You left Caleb.”

“The werekin bonded with my dad’s soul escaped. I tracked him down.”


TBC

I think Park might have felt a little let down in his fight with the werekin possessing his father's soul.

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Tuesday, April 11, 2017

New Release! Barbed Wire Cowboy by Renee Stevens

Today I'm featuring a new release by Renee Stevens. Who doesn't love cowboys? And look at that cover!

Buy Now:

Blurb: 
After having been kicked off the family ranch by his father, Marc Poulson has made a new home for himself as the foreman of the Double R Ranch. His fellow ranch hands are his family, but he’s still not complete without Casey Morgan, his counterpart at the neighboring Del Rio Ranch. In the middle of a feud with his one-time best friend, Marc struggles to understand why Casey would rather take a swing at him than talk to him. He wants to put the past behind them and rebuild what they once had and make their relationship stronger than ever, but Casey is having none of it.
Casey has his own demons to deal with, and Marc serves as a reminder to things he’d rather forget. Casey can’t see beyond the past and continues to make mistakes that put both him and Marc in harms way. After one close call too many, Casey must decide whether his past is more important than his future, or if he can live with Marc walking out of his life—possibly forever.


Excerpt:
“EARTH TO Marc, come in, Marc.” Rick made a show of waving his hand in front of Marc’s face. He waited until he had Marc’s attention. “Did you hear anything I said?”

“Sorry.” Marc glanced at him, but the lure of Casey Morgan was too strong to ignore. He returned his gaze to linger on the blond who had walked through the doors of the bar a moment earlier. “I was distracted.” Half of the bar separated them, but he knew from experience that the chances of avoiding a confrontation were slim to nil.

“Obviously.” Their companion, and coworker, Jason snickered.

“What is it with you and him?” Rick’s gaze danced between the two men. “You two can’t be in the same room together without going for the jugular.”

“It has nothing to do with you.” Marc didn’t want to get into it and was desperate to stop the barrage of questions before they could start. “You concentrate on yourself and let me handle my own problems.”

Marc tracked Casey’s progress through the bar until he sat at a table with two of the hired hands from the Del Rio Ranch. As the foreman for the Del Rio, Casey was the direct counterpart of Marc’s position at the Double R. The owners of the two ranches were close friends, and up until a few months earlier, so were Casey and Marc. It was amazing how one thing could cause friends to become bitter enemies, and it was nothing more than a misunderstanding.

“We lost him again.” Jason needed to wipe the smirk off his face.

“Knock it off.” Marc forced his attention away from Casey and back to Rick and Jason. “What were you asking?”

“Never mind.” Rick shook his head. “Since we have tomorrow off it can wait until Monday. No sense in talking ranch work if we don’t have to.”

“Sounds good to me.” Jason finished off the beer in front of him.

Marc swallowed the last of his own drink and headed toward the bar for the next round. Despite being the sole bar in town, it wasn’t busy, and within a couple of minutes he was turning to head back to his table with three fresh beers. As he turned, his shoulder brushed against a newcomer, and Marc turned to apologize, but the words stuck in his throat when he found himself face-to-face with Casey. If he’d realized Casey had the same idea, he would have stayed in his seat and let one of the other two go.

“Poulson.” Casey’s greeting dripped with hostility.

“Morgan.” Fuck the apology. Marc pushed past him but stopped when Casey mumbled something under his breath. His entire body went stiff, and he struggled to breathe through the anger. He should have ignored it and walked away, but it built inside him until he was seething with every breath he took. “What the hell did you say to me?”

“You heard me.” Casey leaned against the bar and tried to stare him down.

“That’s bullshit and you know it.” Marc took a determined step forward. He had a couple of inches on his former friend and wasn’t above trying to intimidate him. Not anymore.

“It’s not bullshit if it’s the truth.” Instead of backing down, Casey straightened up, anger flashing in his eyes.

“I’ve had it with this crap.” Marc clenched his jaw. He’d tried to keep his cool, but if Casey was itching for a fight that bad, Marc was ready and willing to oblige. He ignored the little voice in his head telling him it was a bad idea. Marc plunked the bottles he was holding onto the bar, flexed his hands at his side, and waited. He wouldn’t throw the first punch, but if Casey did, he wouldn’t walk away. “I wasn’t the only one there, and you damn well know it.”

“You may as well have been.” Casey sneered and grabbed the beer the bartender set down. He tried to shoulder his way past, but Marc refused to move.

Marc reached out and grabbed ahold of Casey’s arm to keep him there. “Oh, I don’t know about that. When are you going to admit you liked it?” 

With a wrench of his arm he whirled Casey back around. The bottle clutched in Casey’s grasp slipped free, shattering on the floor, and beer splashed up onto their boots. Their gazes collided, and Marc could see the fury simmering in Casey’s eyes. Determined to use his height advantage, he took a step forward until there were a mere couple of inches separating them, forcing Casey to look up to meet his eyes. When Marc didn’t release his hold on him, Casey knocked his hand away.

“Don’t.” As cliched as it sounded, if looks could kill, Marc would drop dead on the spot. “You have no fucking right to touch me.”

“Like this?” Marc reached out with one hand and shoved Casey’s shoulder.

“Bastard,” Casey replied.

“Point being?” Marc repeated his earlier action, this time putting enough force behind it to cause the infuriating man to stagger into the table behind him.

“Go to hell.” Casey growled and turned toward his table.

“I’ll meet you there.” Marc laughed and moved to grab the beers from the bar. He heard one of the Del Rio hands yell and turned a second too late. Casey’s fist connected with his jaw and sent him stumbling back into the bar.

“Fucker!” Marc launched himself toward Casey and placed a couple of well-aimed blows to Casey’s stomach and ribs. It didn’t bring near the satisfaction he’d expected. Instead, regret trickled through him and was enough to throw off his concentration. Casey didn’t hesitate to take advantage, but Marc managed to deflect the blow with his shoulder. He grunted in pain as the next one connected with his ribs. Thank god Casey hadn’t managed to land a shot to his liver. That would have had him writhing in agony.

Shelving his feelings of remorse to study later, Marc shoved Casey hard enough to send him careening into a nearby chair. Taking advantage of gaining the upper hand, he pressed on and within moments Marc was rolling on the floor with Casey as they each tried to gain domination over the other. Marc managed to land a few more punches, but then someone grabbed his arms and pulled him away. His entire body hurt, but he ignored the pain and struggled to get free.

“Fuckers. Let me go.” The more he fought, the tighter he was held. Despite his attempts, Marc was no match for the men intent on dragging him away. Through the haze of anger he saw two men pull Casey to his feet and resumed his struggles, but there was no freeing himself.

The adrenaline drained out of him, and, as his vision cleared, he recognized the two men holding Casey back as the two hired hands from the Del Rio Ranch. He turned his head to see who had him and met Rick’s gaze. A groan slithered from his throat as he looked on his other side and found Jason regarding him as if he was a snake about to strike.

“You can let me go now.” Marc tried to jerk his arms free.

“Sorry, boss man, can’t do that.” Rick’s grip tightened to the point Marc was sure he’d have bruises. On top of the ones he’d have from Casey.

“You’ll fucking pay for this.” Casey struggled against the two men holding him, blood flowing unimpeded from his nose.

Marc glanced at his hands and winced at the blood coating his split knuckles. With his quarry now out of his reach, he allowed Rick and Jason to lead him toward the exit. He couldn’t believe he’d been goaded into yet another fight. Though, if he was honest, he’d egged Casey on as well. Now he had to figure out how he was going to explain the night’s events to his boss, once word got around, and it would. That should be fun. Rick and Jason almost had him to the door when it opened and revealed the lean body of the sheriff blocking their escape.



Renee Stevens first started writing in her teens but didn’t get serious about being an author until her mid-twenties. Since then she’s written a number of contemporary stories, as well as delved into the paranormal. When not writing, or spending time in the outdoors, Renee can usually be found working on GayAuthors.org in her capacity of Admin, Blog Coordinator, and Anthology Coordinator.

Renee resides in Wyoming with her wonderfully supportive husband and a menagerie of four-legged critters. Making the most of the nearly constant negative temperatures and mounds of snow, Renee spends much of the winter months in hibernation with her laptop, the voices in her head keeping her company while her husband works.

When she needs a break from writing, Renee takes to the sewing machine to design, and make, beautiful quilts. When the snow finally disappears, usually around May or June, Renee can be found in the great-outdoors. She spends her time on the mountain, at the lake, and just anywhere that she can do some camping, take some photos, and ride the four-wheelers with her hubby. Once back at home, it’s back to writing.


Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Part Two Chapter Thirteen


Hey! Time for some action... but what kind? Check out this week's installment inspired by the prompt: "It's now or never". Enjoy!


Chapter Thirteen

I couldn’t help but wonder if this was going to be the last time I got to see Ritch. Whatever they’d created… it was strong. Kraig was wasted, his body weak, but he’d been far stronger than he should’ve been when they sent him feral. And who knew how many they had?

Ritch was with our car. “Why aren’t Christian and Landon staying?”

“Remote start. They can get the rigs going if we have to come running. Christian might look mostly human, but he’s not. I need you safe.”

“But I should be doing something.” Ritch shook his head. “I hate this.”

“You are. I don’t have remote start. I come running, I know you’ll be on the ball. This is dangerous. They could have someone patrolling farther out than we thought.” I stepped closer to him. “Don’t be afraid.”

“Of being here alone? In the dark?” Ritch’s sarcasm was more than clear, but I ignored that.

“No.” I leaned in, slowly, watching every second to see if he was going to move back. That was all it would take, and I’d stop, but he didn’t move. Ritch froze, his eyes widening slightly. “Of this,” I whispered.

I took a long, slow breath in as I pressed my lips to his. His scent surrounded me as I caressed his lips, brushing back and forth slowly, never parting for more than a second. I wanted to wrap my arms around him and pull him close, but this was enough, for now. Reluctantly, I pulled back.

“Why…?” Ritch frowned. “Why did you do that?”

I stilled. My tiger was excited, my heart was pounding harshly in my chest, but Ritch looked upset. My stomach instantly began to churn. “I wanted to. I plan to come back, and we’re going to get to go home together. I thought you realized how I feel.”

“No. I don’t. I mean. I thought I was just going to stay in my room. You said….”

Well shit. “I thought I was clear. Our home. Yours and mine. Not just because I want you to stay with me, but because I want you to be with me. I can smell your arousal, I know you’re attracted to me, and I thought you knew I wanted you too, even if you can’t sense it the same way.”

Ritch’s eyes widened. “Together. You and me?”

“Park! Let’s go.”

Double shit. “Yes. But not before you’re ready. I would never do anything to hurt you.” I pressed the keys in his hand. “Stay alert. Be careful. We’ll talk more when I’m back.”

Walking off into the dark woods with Ritch staying behind made my skin crawl. I didn’t want to leave him alone, but this was what we had to do. The deeper in the woods we went, the darker it got. We walked in a staggered line. I watched to make sure I didn’t step on any twigs. All we needed was some damn fog to make this whole midnight march complete.

It must have been nearly an hour before the faint glimmer of lights stood out in the middle of the woods. Christian indicated we were close, which was unnecessary. Every step was taken with the utmost precaution, every movement taken with deliberate intent. The wind changed, and I caught the acrid stench, sickness and pain.

This was definitely the place. It was now or never.

Tactical strikes took planning. Good thing we’d done ours. We split up. I paired with the horse. Caleb’s speed and muscles paired well with my claws and stealth. I lead the way toward the back of the cabin on the left. The buildings were rickety, weathered, the wood silvery gray in the moonlight shining down in the clearing. We paused at edge of the woods, waiting until everyone would be in place.

I had my claws at the ready, the gun I disliked using at my back. A handful of werekin strength zip ties were in my front jacket pocket. “Ready?” I mouthed.

Caleb nodded once. I had no idea how he was so quiet wearing those shit kicker boots, but he didn’t make a sound as we crept closer. I was surprised we didn’t run into any guards, but once we were close to the rough cabin, I could hear voices.

The stench was strong. Fear and death hovered in the air like a dark miasma. I nearly gagged. Taking short breaths, my heart pounding, I held up three fingers, then two, then one. Caleb kicked in the door just as the sound of wood splintering came from the front of the cabin.

I roared as I rushed inside, tackling the first body that I saw. It was a human. His weak and frantic struggles were easy to subdue. I slapped zip ties on his wrists and attached him to an exposed metal pipe.

“Stay there, or you’ll have more than a few claw marks on you,” I warned.

There was a sound of a struggle in the living room, but I heard the crash of glass off to the left. I followed the short hall, kicking in each door I came to. The third door led to a bathroom. The window was shattered.

“Someone escaped,” I shouted. I sniffed. Whoever it was had cut themselves. I sniffed, catching the scent. “Bonded werekin.” But… more, and familiar. My stomach clenched. It had to be the one they used to capture my father’s soul. I winced as a shard of glass caught my shoulder as I followed, but I ignored the hot pain in my need to find the bastard.

Nothing was going to stop me from sinking my claws into him and dragging him back to Deke, Kraig, and my mother. I crashed through the woods, tracking the iron tang, no longer worried about stealth.

Hopefully the others could handle the rest of them.


TBC

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Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Want to win a free copy of Maze for Three? What about other eBooks?

Today Maze for Three is one of the prizes available to win during The Romance Review's Anniversary event! Just answer a question to enter your name in the contest for a free eBook copy. The month, and the contests, are almost over, so don't miss your chance to win some free ebooks!!

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Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Part Two Chapter Twelve


Another week, another update! Did last week make you want to smack Park? LOL This week's prompt inspiration was: Why do you have to be such a dick? (totally fits, right?)


Chapter Twelve


“What in the hell happened to you guys?” Ritch asked. He shut the car door and followed Christian over to where we were sitting near the tents.

“Did you guys pick up the ice like I asked?”

“Yeah.” Christian went back to the car and grabbed the bag out of the trunk. He opened the ice chest. “It couldn’t have melted that fast.”

“Nope.” I held up a strip of my shirt holding a handful of ice before putting it back over the split in my lip. “We needed it.”

“Seriously, what happened? Were you attacked?”

“Yes,” Beau said. The gator glared at me, holding another chunk of ice in another torn off piece of my shirt—it’d been damaged beyond repair anyway—against the back of his head. The only one not holding ice was the bear. He had a solid layer of fat over his firm muscles and a thick pelt of curly hair too.

He was watching me warily though. I might have taken a flying leap and drove my shoulder into his belly, knocking the wind right out of him.

“Training exercise,” I said.

“Seriously?” Ritch raised his voice. “So, you beat up your own guys right before you have a potential conflict with some seriously dangerous werekin and who knows how many humans and doctors?” His tone, the way he crossed his arms, and the expression on his face all screamed just how stupid he thought I was.

But the throbbing in my lip had masked the ache of his absence, and I’d discovered a few weaknesses we needed to fix. I pointed to the bear. “He’s slow.” The horse’s speed and strike power didn’t help when he was hampered by too many people around him. “Beau’s got a blind spot behind him.”

Ritch snorted. “We all do. Only moms have eyes in the back of their heads.”

“Ha, ha,” I fake laughed. “It was rough, but we’re all nursing minor injuries. I could’ve been hurt a lot worse if everyone knew how their strengths and weaknesses meshed. Now we have a fighting shot—pun intended.”

He crossed his arms over his chest. “So having a busted lip and black eye is no big deal?”

“I’ll heal fast.”

Christian shook his head. “Why do you have to be such a dick?”

I snarled at him but didn’t get up. The bear might have gotten in a good punch on my ribs in return. Ritch gasped and stared wide-eyed at Christian.

“What?” Christian made a face. “You think he hasn’t done this before? He likes to sneak attack as a training tactic. If you’ve patrolled the border of our territory, you’d been on the receiving end of one of Park’s little games.”

“And you wouldn’t have been tricked when I took on everyone here, would you?” I asked.

He shrugged. “Maybe. You wanna hear about what I did learn while I was gone?”

“Yeah.”

Christian and Ritch both grabbed seats. “There’s an old hunting camp, usually packed with guys this time of year, that’s empty. Confusing the hell out of the game wardens, except there’s been talk of some weird animal attacks high up in the mountain. Folks are nervous. Usually they’d just track it down and kill whatever’s mauling animals, but there’s a group of government guys studying the specimen. They’re not naming it, and that’s got conspiracy theorists—dime a dozen in a small down—whispering pretty loud.

“Nothing about werekin, though.”

“Do you think these are real government guys?” Landon asked.

“No.” Ritch shook his head. “I recognized one of the descriptions as a guy who was once at the doctor’s.”

“So that’s it.” I leaned back and winced. “Confirmation. You call Deke?”

“Yep.”

“And?”

“We’ve got to wait until tomorrow. Get the go ahead from the full council.”

I sighed. “Of course.”

“Time to heal.”

The gator hissed. “Time to waste.”

“No. We need to be prepared. Fighting a feral is nothing like fighting me. Ferals don’t quit. They don’t give up. They don’t care about borders or dominance. They want food. Or blood.” I avoided looking at Ritch. “Sex.”

“So, what now?”

“When it’s dark, we leave, staggered timelines to avoid the cars standing out as we go through town. Move closer. Wait for the word to go.”

“I’m going to take a nap.” Beau lumbered over to his tent.

“Probably a good idea for everyone,” Landon said. The purple bruise on his cheekbone was already fading to green around the edges. The guy healed impressively fast. “I’ll take first watch,” he offered.

“Thanks.” I followed Ritch toward our tents. He was wearing a pair of jeans that draped nicely over his ass, and I felt my tiger rumble inside.

“Can we talk?” Ritch asked.

“Of course. Do we need to go for a walk?”

Ritch shook his head. “No. You can lie down.” With the doors open our tents, we were close enough and angled so I could see him if I kept my head toward the door.

I didn’t quite hide my groan as I crawled into the low tent.

“Serves you right, you know.” Ritch snorted. “Getting in a fight.”

“I needed to know how they all defended themselves and if they could work together,” I said again. “It wasn’t all just a single attack. We also went through some defense scenarios, attack options.”

“Oh.” Ritch fiddled with the zipper on his tent door. “And where do I come into play?”

“You and Christian stay with the cars, protect our retreat.”

Ritch’s shoulders slumped. “Okay.”

“These are bonded werekin, and human werekin who might be altered and feral. We’re going to try to capture as many as possible, but you’re going to have a gun to protect yourself and you shoot to kill, you hear me? They get to the cars, you kill if you have to, and get out if that’s not enough, even if it means leaving us behind.”

TBC

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Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Part Two Chapter 11


Yep, another week, another update! Sorry for any typos, we've been upgrading GA like crazy since last week, and the bugs just keep coming. I still managed to get a chapter out, though, so I hope you'll enjoy it.


Chapter 11


“You have to know how much I want you around,” I said. I snagged Ritch’s arm and turned him to face me. “Ritch….”

He looked at me with so much trust in his eyes. Maybe I had done something right. He didn’t look away, and there was no need to fight for dominance because he wasn’t a bonded werekin. My tiger had nothing but a need to curl around him and purr.

“I want to be clear.” I ran my hand up his shoulder and then cupped the back of his neck. Ritch’s eyes flared wide and his mouth dropped open. “I want nothing more than to take you home, and I mean our home. We’re taking this at your pace, but I don’t want you worrying about what’s going to happen after we take out these plotting human werekin and their scientists. I want you to stay with me.” 

Ritch swallowed hard. “I don’t know how to do this.”

“It doesn’t have to be hard. Just go with your instincts.”

He made a face. “I don’t have instincts.”

I rubbed the side of his neck with my thumb, and he leaned into my touch. “Yes, you do.”

Snapping branches under someone’s heavy tread reminded me we weren’t alone, and camp, with a variety of bonded werekin with enhanced senses, was no place to take Ritch if I let myself get out of hand. The way he smelled was amazing, heat and want mixed with the tinge of uncertainty that helped keep me from pulling him close and devouring him.

“I think I hear a stream,” I said instead. “Let’s go check it out.”

The trees opened up just enough for a small stream to cut through the forest. The water was clear, but it was moving slow.

“Oh my God, that’s cold,” Ritch said.

“I think it feels good.” I loved being surrounded by nature. I could still hear the others, but the birds, bugs, and wind helped mute the sounds of their voices. If it was just me and Ritch, I might convince him to strip down and go wading. When I ran the borders of our territory, I spent a lot of time in the wilds, and a cold stream was the only option to clean up after a long, sweaty day of hiking. “Let’s dip our legs in.”

There was a wide rock on the edge of the water. It was a tight fit, but we sat down side by side and dangled our feet into the water. Well, Ritch dangled his and I rested mine against a few of the rounded rocks.

Ritch brushed against my side as he leaned back on his fists. I shivered. “Too cold?” he asked.

“Nah, I like cold water.” My toes were already numb to the chill.

“That seems strange, you being a tiger.” Ritch closed his eyes and tilted his face up to watch the thin, early spring sunlight.

“Tigers love the water. I am not a big fan of pools, since the chemicals mess with my sense of smell, but a river or a pond? I can spend all day in the water.”

“Huh.”

I tilted my head. “Weren’t you ever curious about the kinds of animals the werekin around you shared souls with?”

Ritch sighed. “Sometimes. But I didn’t have a lot of access to learning. I was homeschooled, up to a point, so I could interact with humans and not appear like an idiot, but it was all basic stuff. And my room didn’t have a TV. Sometimes I could get books besides my lesson books, but that wasn’t very often, and I was never allowed on the computer unsupervised.”

It made me sick, to hear about how he grew up. By comparison, Kraig’s life was positively privileged. And I knew worse things had happened to Ritch after his herd traded him off, and sometimes human werekin were treated worse than animals. Kept in cages, or even killed at birth. Not all clans would accept one, in any role. My claws scraped on the stone, and I winced and sheathed them.

Ritch sat up, his shoulders hunched. “Don’t worry, I can learn,” he said. “If I’m giving access to a way to do it.”

He needed some reassurance, and I needed to touch him, to take away that slump to his spine. I put an arm around his shoulders and squeezed him. “You already have the phone. I have a spare laptop you can use, and we’ll get you hooked up with an email account so you can get online as soon as we get home. And, unless I’m watching a game, the TV is all yours.”

“Really?”

I patted his arm. “Anything you need,” I promised him.



Letting Ritch go with Christian was harder than I thought it would be. A low growl built up in my chest when I warned Christian that Ritch wouldn’t leave his site or I’d rip his guts open, but I suppressed it when Ritch came out of his tent. He looked tired.

“Make sure you guys pick up some coffee when you hit down. Might be a good place to get some gossip, and you’ll need the caffeine boost so you’re on your toes.”

I closed the door behind Ritch, then hit the top of the car. Cameron left the SUV in case the rest of us had to move for some reason. The rising panic inside me pissed me off, which fueled my aggression.

But I had a plan to handle it.

“Let’s see how you guys do with a sneak attack.” I was in motion even as I yelled my warning. I kicked the wood log out from under the gator, and he fell to the ground, hissing. The horse was up after I chucked my water bottle at his head. I ducked behind the bear when the horse tried to throw it back, and he roared.

Oh yeah, time for some fun.


TBC

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Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Wednesday Briefs: Mine! Part Two: Chapter Ten


Another week! This one isn't inspired by a prompt, but I hope you'll like the direction it goes.

Chapter Ten

We lapsed into silence. I was scared I said too much, but Ritch was focused on driving. We left the freeway a few miles back the way we’d come, but now we were heading into hills. I folded up the map and tucked it between the seats.

I rolled down the window and leaned back in my seat. The air was scented with sunshine, warm dirt, and the scent of living things. It relaxed me. We turned off the main road and gravel crunched under the tires. Ritch dropped back so we could avoid the cloud of dust coming from Christian’s SUV.

“How much farther?” Ritch asked.

“Well, the elevation map showed this peak going up a few hundred feet. I’m not sure where we’re going to camp, but I’m sure there’s plenty of spots around here.”

“Good thing we brought camping gear.” Ritch maneuvered the car around a few deep potholes. “It’s been a while, but I used to camp all the time.”

“Me too. My usual campsites are basically bare bones, but we brought along more in terms of luxury than what I usually carry, since we have the cars. If we have to hike out, that might change.”

Ritch shrugged. “I can handle it, if that’s what you’re worried about.”

“I’m sure you know how to make do.” That didn’t mean I didn’t feel the urge to make sure he didn’t have to. After this was over, and I had all the determination in the world we were going to stop these bastards, I was going to make sure Ritch’s life was nothing but easy. “Looks like Christian might have found a spot.”

We followed him off the primitive road and onto something that could barely be called a track. Our car threatened to bottom out several times, but we were finally behind the screen of trees that lined the road.

Everyone got out and stretched. We’d had an early start, halfway through the night, and we’d been traveling long enough to be stiff and tired of being cooped up. “Let’s set up camp before we start making plans.”

My individual tent was quick to pop up, but Ritch wouldn’t let me do it. Ritch didn’t have any trouble putting his up either. Our sleeping bags and packs fit inside snugly. We had a few camp stools, which I put in the center of our clearing. Even without discussing it, the tents created a ring. A fire would be too risky, and the smoke would cling to us and our gear, but I’d packed a camp stove that I placed on some flat rocks I laid side-by-side.

“What are you setting up?” I asked Landon. The eagle had a small table filled with electronics.

“GPS. I have tags for everyone so I can track the teams. Coms.” He pointed at a small plastic container. “They send and receive. I’m also going to set up my laptop with a mobile hot spot so I can get to work hacking the DMV. We need to know more about that car.” His talons clacked against the keys of his laptop.

I put a hand on his shoulder, surprised as always by the bulk of his muscles since he looked so lean. “Good.”

The rest of the group centered around the camp stove. I straddled my stool. “We don’t have much to do today. I want everyone to get some rest after last night. I’m still healing. Landon is going to track down as much information as possible, and then Christian and Ritch will head back toward town and see what they can find out from the locals. Keep it subtle,” I warned them.

Christian nodded.

“The rest of us will make sure our gear is ready. Weapons, communications, an exit plan. It all needs to be ready. We’re either going to have to hike out from this area or, if we’re lucky, we might be able to drive closer to cut miles off our travel time.”

“What about me?” The wolf pointed at his nose. “This is what I’m here for.”

“You’ll get your chance. Once we have a general idea of the area, we’re going to have to pinpoint the exact location. That will require your tracking.” I gestured toward him and the panther. “Both of yours.”

“We’re going to need your strength and size,” I said to the bear and buffalo. “And their speed.” I gestured toward the gator and horse. “Everyone has a role, and we’re going to have to work together. Right now, I think we should rest. Take some time to yourself if you need some privacy, but don’t wander too far. Staying in pairs still applies, make sure you’re armed if you go outside of camp, and no fighting.” I spread a warning glare over everyone equally.

I could see the others giving Ritch some looks. I suppressed a growl. “Want to go for a walk?” I asked him.

“Sure.”

The air was cool, and Ritch shivered. “Not used to the cold?”

He shook his head. “The herd stuck to the lowlands even if we had some decent hills on the southern edge of our territory, and the alpha’s streak didn’t travel outside their territory. I like it up here.” Birds chirped and something skittered up a tree. Somewhere close, a woodpecker pounded holes into the bark looking for food.

“Well, when we get back I’ll take you out on patrol with me.”

Ritch shoved his hands in his pockets. “Really?” He looked down at the ground. “I sorta thought, when all this was over… I’d just be given a menial job somewhere so I could find my own place, get out of your hair.”

I stopped him. “Have you been worrying about that?” I cursed. I’d tried to keep my feelings quiet to help reassure him, but he was still afraid of his future. He needed something solid.

TBC

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Friday, March 10, 2017

Cover Reveal: Separation by Louise Lyons!

Today I'm featuring Louise Lyon's upcoming novella, Separation!


Release date: March 31, 2017
Length: 45,000 words
Cover design: Simon Searle
Blurb
Matthew Langford is told on his twenty-first birthday that he has a twin. After the initial shock, he quickly realizes this is why he always felt part of him was missing. His search takes him 200 miles to Devon, UK, where he meets fraternal twin, Tremaine Wheal.

The pair discover many things in common, and quickly become as close as if they’d never been separated. But when they share a moment in a nightclub, each realizes there is more between them than having shared a womb. Panic sets in and they part. Once again their separation brings loneliness and pain.

Eventually, unable to stay away from each other, they tentatively move forward together as lovers. But secrets don’t stay secret for long, and discovery and questions threaten their happiness.

This is a taboo story featuring twins.



Author Bio

Louise Lyons comes from a family of writers. Her mother has a number of poems published in poetry anthologies, her aunt wrote poems for the church, and her grandmother sparked her inspiration with tales of fantasy.

Louise first ventured into writing short stories at the grand old age of eight, mostly about little girls and ponies. She branched into romance in her teens, and MM romance a few years later, but none of her work saw the light of day until she discovered FanFiction in her late twenties. Posting stories based on some of her favourite movies, provoked a surprisingly positive response from readers. This gave Louise the confidence to submit some of her work to publishers, and made her take her writing "hobby" more seriously.

Louise lives in the UK, about an hour north of London, with a mad dog called Casper, and a collection of tropical fish and tarantulas. She works in the insurance industry by day, and spends every spare minute writing. She is a keen horse-rider, and loves to run long-distance. Some of her best writing inspiration comes to her, when her feet are pounding the open road. She often races home afterward, and grabs pen and paper to make notes.

Louise has always been a bit of a tomboy, and one of her other great loves is cars and motorcycles. Her car and bike are her pride and job, and she loves to exhibit the car at shows, and take off for long days out on the bike, with no one for company but herself.

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Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Wednesday Briefs: Mine Part Two! Chapter Nine


Another week, and I have another update! Yay! This week's update to Mine! Part Two was inspired by the prompt: Do you want to know a secret?

Chapter Nine


“That was as much for me as it was for you.” I wanted to smack myself the second the words left my mouth.

Ritch frowned and glanced at me before focusing back on the road. “What do you mean?”

How could I save this? I was tired, injured, and clearly shooting my mouth off when I should just be quiet. “My senses are sharp. I’ve spent a lot of time alone for the last few years. Whenever I’m around other people, it’s hard to relax. Deke says I’m hypervigilant. If you’re unable to sleep, I’m unable to sleep, especially if we’re in the same room.”

Shit. I’d still said too much.

“Does that mean… at your house, you woke up every time I did?”

“Yes,” I said reluctantly.

Ritch pressed his lips together into a thin white line. “So, you heard….”

“Yes.” I’d heard every single nightmare that he cried out against. Every time he stumbled into his bathroom to retch over the toilet. Every sob he tried to smother.

It tore me up. At first, it made me think about how Kraig had suffered, brutalized for what he was, treated as less than a person. Then, as I got to know Ritch, it became about him. I wanted to give him a better life, but if I pushed his boundaries, he could decide to leave.

“Sorry.” He rubbed the back of his neck with one hand. “Why didn’t you have me stay somewhere else?”

“It’s not a big deal.” I tried to dismiss his concerns.

“Obviously it is. You let me put you in handcuffs.”

“So you could sleep. It’s fine. No big deal. Can’t we just forget about it?” Ritch looked at me again, so I gave him my best pitiful face. It must have worked.

“Sure.”

Silence descended, and my eyelids grew heavy. I leaned my head back and closed my eyes. So tired. The hum of the tires blended with Ritch’s breathing, and I dozed off, never fully asleep. The miles drifted away in silence until the sun had fully risen, and Christian hit his turn signal, indicating we should pull off.

I straightened and looked at the gas tank. We had a quarter tank, but the SUV was probably getting closer to empty. This place looked tiny, barely a blip on the highway. Ritch and Christian got out and started pumping for all three vehicles, talking quietly for a minute. Ritch came back to our car, and Christian went inside.

“What’s up?”

“Deke’s been calling around to clans in this area. No one’s missing any human werekin, but apparently one alpha mentioned rumors of strangers just outside his territory.”

I leaned forward. “Really?” This is what we needed. Christian and Ritch could question the humans to get more information. I looked around at the single-story buildings and the broken light at the intersection. No way would strangers blend in here. “I wonder why Deke didn’t call me?”

“Didn’t you say Christian is the tracker for your clan? It’s his job to find these guys. It’s your job to figure out how to take them down.” Ritch stood up when the gas pump shut off.

A surge of embarrassment heated my cheeks. I hated feeling useless, but I was letting my frustration turn into whininess. Ritch had just casually put me in my place, reminding me that this was a team, but without negating my role within the mission.

I resolved to do better.

Christian came out of the tiny store with a couple of bags. He walked straight to the driver’s side of my car. Ritch was unhooking the gas nozzle from the car behind us. Christian leaned in the window, handing over a bag. “Snacks and drinks,” he said.

“What did you learn?”

“The cougar clan claims some territory in those mountain peaks to the south. Apparently just east of town there’s a gorge with a good-sized river running through it. One side is steep cliffs, the other side rises in a gentler incline, but it’s covered with thick woods. Because of the strong natural cougar presence, no one hikes out there, but there have been a lot of strange cars through here for gas, and they’re all headed that way.

“Not much else out there, I guess.”

I bared my fangs. “Sounds like the perfect place to set up a lab.”

He dropped a map into the car. “Guy at the counter said this had all the local roads, because GPS isn’t going to work out there.”

The map had topographic information. “Nice. Let’s head out of town, but backtrack. Don’t want anyone getting information on our movements. I’ll study this map and see if there’s any other way to get to that gorge.

Ritch glanced at the map before he put the car in gear and pulled out behind Christian. “All better now that you have something to do?”

I grimaced. “I know why Deke was so irritated that he had to send us, because I feel like I’m back home, for all the good I’ve been doing. I need action, results. I want these bastards under my claws, paying painfully for what they’ve done.” I stretched my claws out, then sheathed them. “It’s almost a need.” The thought of bathing in their blood pleased my tiger, but I didn’t say that.

Even without revealing that much, I thought I scared him, but then Ritch asked, “Do you want to know a secret?”

“Anything,” I said.

“My whole life has felt that way. But you’re… different. I don’t feel like I’m less with you. You believe I can do anything.” He swallowed. “Like I’m important. To you.”


“You are. Ritch, you are so important. I can’t even begin to explain the way you’ve awed me since we met, but you have.”

TBC

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