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Tuesday Teaser 4/25/17 Victoria’s Cat: Sexy Snip

Here we are, the last week of April, and I have to scrape the frost off my windshield. It is currently 42 degrees F (5 degrees C) and this morning it was 29 or so (-1 C) The lows will be in the upper 20s and the highs in the mid 40s this week. Now that’s what I call spring in North Dakota! Sigh. At least it’s not snowing like it is 60 miles north of here. Yes, I do like cold weather. However, in April, I like it to be a little warmer than this!

And speaking of warmer, the snip I have for you this week is the start of the wedding night scene. Marty is finally getting his heart’s desire, and Victoria is ready to play. It’s not super hot, but maybe not something that a kid should stumble across. If you are an adult, click the link below to read today’s snip. As usual, not edited. Enjoy!

 

Victoria’s Cat Excerpt 

Tuesday Teaser 4/18/17 Victoria’s Cat Part 16

Sorry, everyone. This week’s teaser is a bit short. 🙁   I’ve been busy trying to get Olivia’s Mate ready for paperback.  It can be a challenge to get everything formatted nicely, and the cover front and back just right. I have been rejected a couple of times now and I’m almost tearing out my hair.  But hopefully it will be accepted this time. Here is the cover. I think it looks great, but what do I know?   LOL  When I am finally successful, I will hold a contest to give away a couple of copies. So stayed tuned for the newsletter in a couple of weeks.

Meanwhile, here is the snip for this week!


Hawk gave him a curled lip, not quite amused, not quite grumpy. “I will do that. You might have other plans for the evening.”

Marty looked down at her, eyes intense. “Oh, yes,” he purred. “I have plans.”

*

 

Marty held his new bride’s hand and didn’t plan to let go of her until they were finally behind closed doors. Thing is, that might be a little while. Of course, the rapid, low-voiced discussion McGrath was holding with Hawk and Quill was important, but Marty knew his responsibilities for tomorrow: to be at the train station with his wife and aunt-in-law before seven in the morning, and take charge of Miss Anna there. But that was still eleven hours away, and he had things to do in the next eleven hours. Glorious things. He drew a breath, leaned a shoulder against the dining room wall, and dug for patience. Victoria’s thumb gliding over the back of his hand did help him maintain his patience, but he gave her a slow smile, silently urging her to continue.

It was a huge relief when a knock on the door cut the conversation off. The voices of John Case and Charles Beauregard were heard in the foyer. They were here for the meeting to discuss the delegates’ questions. Those questions, Marty said to himself, are useless now. I think it will be a different topic under discussion tonight.

McGrath lifted his head, obviously having heard Beauregard and Case heading back to his office. “I’m sorry, gentlemen, my time is up.”

Hawk nodded and stuck out his hand for the mayor to shake. “We’ll talk to the delegates at the Limit about Todd, and the train. If you want us with you tomorrow when you meet Todd, send word to us. We’ll be at the Limit.”

McGrath shook Hawk’s hand and then reached his hand to Marty. “My daughter will be at the station tomorrow morning.”

With great reluctance, Marty let go of Victoria’s hand so he could shake with the mayor. “I’ll see to it that she gets safely to Kearney.”

It was a relief to get outside. The sun was down and the air had a definite chill. He wanted to be sure his wife was warm. Well, he would see to it that she was warm once they got back to the Limit. Warmer than warm, he amended. He would see to it that she was hot.

Colby and in stopped them at the bottom of the walk. “I’ve got to find Georgina,” he said in a hard, intense voice. “I want her on that train tomorrow morning.”

“I’ll go with you,” said Ray.

Rock nodded. “Me, too.”

Eagle shifted. “Me —”

“No!”

Hawk, Quill, and Sand all said the word at the same time.

“No,” said Hawk again. “Rock, go ahead with Colby. I have no authority over Ray, but Eagle needs to stay with us.”

Eagle’s expression was morose. “I’m not sleeping in that room upstairs across the hall from the lovebirds tonight.” He shot a peeved glance between Marty and Victoria and Stone. “You’re on your own tonight, Stone. It’s bad enough hearing all that ruckus from mom and dad. I don’t want to hear it from my sister, too.”

A clear peel of laughter rose from Victoria. “You would think that at their age they would have slowed down by now,” she said with another giggle.

“Why?” Marty squeezed her hand and gave her a small, wicked smile. “Do you think we will have slowed down when we’re their age?”

Eagle grabbed fistfuls of his thick black hair and moaned. “Kill me now,” he muttered.

Hawk shook his head, not smiling. “Colby, Rock, get moving. You can bring Miss Georgina back to the Limit. She can sleep alone in the room across from the newlyweds. The rest of us had better get moving. We got a lot to do before morning.” He shot Marty a glance, and continue in a dry voice. “That is, most of us have things to do before morning that don’t include –”

“Uncle Hawk!” Victoria’s voice was primly shocked.

Mrs. Renee gave her husband a deeply disappointed look. “I might not see you for a long time. Don’t you think–”

“Yes,” Hawk barked. He coughed a little self-consciously. “But this isn’t the time to talk about it, love. Let’s go.”

Colby, Rock, and Ray peeled off to go in search of Georgina Summer, and the rest of them headed at a fast walk toward the Limit. Marty didn’t mind the fast pace. The sooner they got there, the sooner he could hurry his bride up the stairs to her bedroom.

A Wonky Wolf Clan Family Tree

Over on my Facebook page someone messaged me (hi, Janice!) asking if I had a family tree for the Wolf Clan. Well… Sorta. Kinda.  This is really out of date. I slapped this together when I started playing with Olivia’s story. So many children had been born in the next generation that I needed to keep track somehow. It’s probably pretty confusing to read. Someday I really ought to clean it up and really make it easy to read. But here it is for now. If you’re interested, you can click this link: FAMILY TREE

 

Tuesday Teaser 4/11/17 Victoria’s Cat Part 15

Whoo-hoo!! Two/thirds done with Victoria’s story, and the best is coming up!

I am further behind in the book than I had planned to be by this point. Moving has taken a big chunk of my writing time. I am about three quarters settled now. I still need to figure out how arrange all my craft supplies, and I need to find a safe place for my grandmother’s wedding dress. She made it herself (she was a very skilled seamstress) in 1919. Nearly a hundred years old! Those things might need to wait a few weeks until I finish this rough draft.

Here is the next bit in the story. 🙂


Chapter 8

 

“This is not how I imagined my wedding,” Victoria mused, watching Anna dash back into the dining room with the book her father had requested.

Marty squeezed her hand. “Do you want to wait?”

“Hell, no.”

Her soon to be husband flashed her a devastating smile. “Good, because I don’t want to wait either.”

Eagle had a pained expression on his face. “How am I going to explain this to dad?”

“You won’t have to,” Victoria assured him. “I will explain.”

We will explain,” Marty amended.

The mayor interrupted. “Let’s get started. Cayla and Anna, beside me. Bride and groom in front of me. Everyone else, behind the bride and groom.”

They all scrambled to take their places, moving chairs to make make room for themselves at one side of the table. Victoria resisted the urge to pinch herself. Her uncles and cousins were being oddly complaisant. She wasn’t dreaming, was she? Captain Erickson stayed by the door with an impassive face that probably hid impatience. No, this wasn’t a dream. She was full of joy, but the mayor and the captain were grim. The threat to Omaha was real. Maybe she shouldn’t be so happy when Nebraska was under such a threat. Marty took her hand and squeezed it. But she was happy. Just the warmth of Marty’s hand around hers made her happiness grow.

The mayor opened his book and ran his finger down the page to find his place. He looked up from his book to give them an encouraging smile. “This is the short ceremony. Ready?”

Marty pulled her hand through the crook of his arm and nodded.

“Alrighty, then.” The mayor cleared his voice and his tone became formal. “We are gathered together here today to witness this man and this woman join their lives as one in the bonds of marriage. Um, I guess we’ll skip that next part.” He paused, running his finger little further down the page in his book. “Okay, here we go. Do you, Martin Madison, take this woman to be your wife? Will you love her in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health? Do you promise to be true to her, loving only her as long as she lives?”

Marty’s voice was strong. “I do.”

“Do you, Victoria Wolfe, take this man to be your husband? Will you love him in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health? Do you promise to be true to him, loving only him as long as he lives?”

“I do.” Her voice cracked so she cleared her throat and spoke more loudly. “I do!”

The mayor snapped his book closed. “I pronounce you man and wife.” He jabbed a finger at the small rectangle of paper on the table. “All we need to do is sign our names, and it’s legal.”

The marriage certificate had no fancy borders or pretty illustrations, but it had a place for their names and the date, and it said that they were married. That was all Victoria cared about. She signed her name and waited as Marty bent to sign his.

Rock nodded. “That was the quickest marriage ceremony I ever heard,” he said approvingly.

Anna looked a little disappointed. “Dad, you didn’t tell him to kiss the bride.”

Victoria had noticed that too. The mayor signed his name at the bottom of the certificate with a flourish. “No time for that now,” he said. “We—”

He broke off when at the sound of running feet in the hallway outside. Captain Erickson put a hand inside his jacket and pulled out a revolver. The person who burst into the dining room was a man in his late teens. He clutched a white envelope in his hand. He passed it over to Captain Erickson and bent over with his hands on his knees, trying to suck in air.

“A letter from President Todd,” he panted.

Rye McGrath stuck out a long arm and snatched the envelope. “Is he here already?” he demanded.

“No, sir. This came from a messenger riding a motorized bicycle. The president and his people are still more than an hour away.”

McGrath tore it open and read. Everyone in the room watched him with varying degrees of anxiety. After what seemed like a long time, the mayor looked around.

“President Todd would like to meet with me and members of the city council tomorrow morning at ten o’clock.” His mouth curled in a mirthless smile. “He apologizes for the short notice. He meant to send a letter before he left Kansas City, but he forgot.”

Another man in the uniform of the City Guard entered the dining room. It’s getting crowded in here, Victoria thought, moving a little closer to Marty to make room for the mayor to step past her.

“Lieutenant,” he said shortly. “Report.”

The lieutenant saluted smartly. “We cabled the train as you requested. It will arrive a little past five tomorrow morning. Dennis Black, the engineer, wants to know if he can continue on his eastern route.”

A small smile, which looked genuinely pleased, quirked McGrath’s lips. “No. Once it’s here, have the train get itself turned around and ready to head back west. I want it ready to leave Omaha by seven tomorrow morning.”

He turned to the man who had brought Todd’s message. “Don’t talk about this to anyone. Dean, arrange for the representatives and their parties notified quietly about the situation and inform them that the train will be leaving Omaha for the west at seven tomorrow morning. If they wish to be on it, they better get to the station on time. It won’t wait for them.”

Tears shimmered in Anna’s brown eyes. She blinked rapidly, but when her father turned to her they fell, rolling in fat drops down her cheeks. McGrath’s face softened slightly and his voice went gentle.

“Anna, you will need to get packed. The train will probably be very full, so only take what you need. I’m sure the Wolfes will provide you with anything you can’t bring with you.”

Renee gave the girl a bracing smile. “We will. Have you ever thought of becoming a pastry chef?”

Anna’s face contorted with tears even though she obviously tried to control herself. “Daddy,” she began.

Her mother put an arm around her. “You’re not leaving this second. Let’s go upstairs and get started packing.”

The room seemed slightly less congested after they left. The mayor watched his wife and daughter leave with a strained look on his face. The expression vanished immediately as he faced Marty.

“She’ll be at the train station well before seven. I’m putting her in your hands for the journey.”

“I promise to take good care of her. She will be delivered safely to the Plane Women’s House. You have my word of honor.”

The mayor nodded. “Okay, then. Will you notify the representatives at the Limit? Keep it quiet. I don’t want a panic in Omaha.”

“I will,” Marty said.

Hawk gave him a curled lip. “I will do that. You might have other plans for the evening.”

Marty looked down at her, eyes intense. “Oh, yes,” he purred. “I have plans.”

 

 

Tuesday Teaser 4/4/17 Victoria’s Cat Part 14

Last night I unpacked the last box. yay!!!! Does that mean my move is finished? Nope. That means I have a whole bunch of stuff stacked around the apartment that I need to find places for, and a bunch of flattened boxes to give away to a friend who is moving in a few weeks or take down to the dumpster. Moving is such a lot of work! But I’m getting closer to being done.

All during this move I’ve done very little –in fact, NO– writing. This next snip from Victoria’s Cat is pretty short. I’m starting with a bit from last week, but the last part is newly written. So new that I haven’t even read it. Please excuse the errors. *blush*


Quill and Stone took turns telling about the various members of the clan, recent births and deaths, and marriages. Victoria ate and listened. She didn’t know how well acquainted Mayor McGrath was with her kinsfolk, but he listened with every evidence of interest. At the foot of the table, Mrs. McGrath listened with equal interest. She knew Sand’s mate, Amanda, because they had worked together for Uncle Sky at the Limit.

Marty leaned a little closer. “I love watching you eat,” he murmured.

Victoria paused in spearing a potato. Her plate was loaded with meatloaf and potatoes drenched in gravy, with a small mountain of green beans on the side. A glance around the table told her that the McGraths’ plates were not nearly so full. “Am I eating too much?” she whispered.

“Oh, no.” His voice dropped to a purr. “You should eat as much as you need to keep that gorgeous figure of yours nice and …”

He trailed off, apparently having noticed her brother and cousins glaring daggers at him. He cleared his throat and went back to eating. Victoria glared back at her brother and cousins. Those killjoys need a poke in the eye. Dammit, just when Martin was starting to say something interesting. She moved her leg to press her thigh against his and gave Eagle a sweet smile.

She might have been bored with all the reminisces between the older people except that Marty had obviously decided not to bow down to her brother and cousins. He leaned a little closer again.

“Have you seen the house that I am building in the mayor’s compound back home?” he asked.

She thought about Eddie Madison’s home in Kearney, a stately mansion built in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Several blocks of Kearney were walled in around the mansion to form a private compound. She had never been inside the wall. “No, I didn’t know you’re building a house.”

“I am.” He smiled an intimate, quiet smile. “I started it last fall after I met you.”

Warmth fluttered in her chest.

“We’ve torn down one of the old buildings to make room. I plan three bedrooms right now, but there’s space to add on.” He cleared his throat. “To make room for more children.”

Eagle looked like he would crack teeth if he didn’t stop clenching them. Victoria gave her brother another bland smile. She turned her attention back to Marty. “When do you think it will be finished?”

She didn’t think Marty could be any more handsome than he was right then. “That depends on you, Miss Wolfe.”

He was doing that purring thing again with his voice, and Victoria had a stray thought. Would he have that same rasp in his voice when he talked to her in bed? She had to swallow to find her voice. “Oh?”

His smile said he knew how he was affecting her. “Say the word and I’ll send a message home to tell Eddie that it has to be done now. We can honeymoon here in Omaha for a few weeks until it’s done, and then we’ll go home where I’ll carry over the threshold and—”

A man rushed into the dining room, coat unbuttoned and blond hair standing straight up. He stopped in the dining room doorway, and cast a quick glance at them sitting around the table. It was the captain of the City Guard. “Rye,” he said curtly. “I need a minute. Right now.”

The smile left the mayor’s face. “My office.”

Captain Erickson disappeared.

The mayor stood up. “Please excuse me for a few minutes.”

There was silence for a long moment after the mayor left. Mrs. McGrath cleared her throat.

“I hope you have room for dessert,” she said brightly. “We have brownies and vanilla ice cream.” She nodded at her daughter. “Anna, Nick, bring it in.”

Victoria exchanged a glance with Marty. Maybe the mayor was called away from supper all the time, but Mrs. McGrath seemed a little too cheery, as if she were trying to hide worry.

“Brownies,” Quill said happily. “I love chocolate.”

The scent of warm chocolate entered the dining room before Nicholas and Anna. It was a mouth-watering scent almost delicious enough to distract Victoria. Anna was going to be a beauty one day, and she had more social graces than Victoria ever would have. Even with her gawky arms and legs she managed to serve everyone gracefully.

“Very nicely done,” Mrs. McGrath told her daughter.

The girl’s round cheeks glowed with a pleased blush.

Renee surveyed her plate of brownie topped with a perfect sphere of vanilla ice cream before taking a bite of brownie. “Heavenly,” she announced. “A perfect blend of chocolate and vanilla.”

Anna’s blush grew brighter. Her mother gave her a fond smile. “Anna made the brownies.”

Renee looked surprised. “They are very, very good.”

Mayor McGrath came back in, followed by Captain Erickson. Both of their faces were grave. The mayor stopped beside his wife at the foot of the table and looked at each one of them.

“This is unexpected.,” he said. “President Todd is sixty miles from Omaha, and he brought his army with him.”

Mrs. McGrath grabbed his hand. Her beautiful face remained calm, but her knuckles shone white. The mayor glanced down at this wife, but didn’t speak. Victoria was alarmed by the way Marty stiffened beside her

“How long till they get here?” he asked calmly.

The mayor lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “Maybe two hours to get to the river. They might camp on the other side of the river tonight or they might push through.”

“What does he want?” Hawk glanced quickly at his mate, trouble in his eyes.

Now the other shoulder rose in a shrug and the mayor shook his head. “I don’t know. We were supposed to have until the middle of the month to get an answer to him about whether or not we would accept his alliance.”

Quill looked grim. “How likely is it that this is a peaceful visit?”

“He brought his army with him. That doesn’t strike me as particularly peaceable.” McGrath looked down at his wife again, and then over at Hawk. “I want my wife and daughter safe. Will you take them back to Kearney with you?”

No,” said Mrs. McGrath instantly. “I’m not leaving you.”

“Cayla,” the mayor began.

“No,” she said again, more forcefully. “And I know you want me safe, Rye, but not all the women of Omaha have a way to leave. I will not run away and leave them.”

Worry twisted the mayor’s face as he looked at his wife. And after a long moment of silence he nodded and turned his attention back to Hawk. “My guess is Todd will do one of two things. He’ll attack tonight hoping to take us by surprise, or he will wait until morning and try to bargain with us.”

“Why would he attack and risk casualties to his own army if he can the alliance he wants?” Stone tapped his fingers on the table, frowning in thought. “Maybe he brought his army to intimidate you into agreeing to the alliance.”

Hawk stood up. “And he’s coming now, while all the representatives of all of cities and settlements in the region are here in Omaha. If he takes all the leaders hostage, he won’t have to attack the cities to control them.”

Dean Erikson nodded grimly. “That’s my take. We should notify the representatives immediately so they can evacuate back to their homes.”

Rock had an eager look on his face. “We should stay. If there’s going to be a fight, you can use us.”

Eagle and Colby nodded vehemently. “If Omaha is conquered, it’s only a matter of time before Todd heads up our way,” Eagle pointed out. “Better to stop him here.”

“Yeah,” Colby agreed.

“I could use your help.” The mayor looked tempted. “No, you should be sure Miss Victoria and Mrs. Renee get home safely. I wouldn’t trust their safety to Todd. I’ve heard stories of what he does with women.”

Colby whispered, “Georgina.”

Eagle looked torn, glancing between Victoria and Renee. “Hawk can escort them home.”

Hawk shook his head. “I am older and more experienced. I should stay. Quill, you will see to our women.”

“Rye Thomas saved my mate once. I will stand here with him. Stone?”

Stone shook his head. “We all stay or we all go.”

“But Renee and Victoria must go home,” Hawk decreed.

“Sand, you could take them,” Quill suggested.

The mayor raised hand. “Time is short, gentlemen.”

Marty’s chair squeaked as he stood up. “I will take the ladies back to Kearney.”

Eagle’s thick eyebrows dove down over his nose. “You’re not kin.”

“Not yet.” Marty flashed a confident smile around the table before turning to Mayor McGrath. “Marry me to Victoria. If I’m her husband, I can be her escort.”

Victoria’s heart leapt in her chest. It was a sign of just how much Eagle wanted to stay for the possible fight that he didn’t protest immediately. He glanced at Hawk with his lips pressed tightly together. Hawk shook his head minutely.

Hawk nodded at the mayor. “Do the ceremony quick.”

Tuesday Teaser 3/28/17 Victoria’s Cat Part 13

The move is complete! Everything I own is piled higgly-piggly into the new apartment. I can barely walk in a straight line. In fact, in my office/sewing room/guest room, I CAN’T walk in a straight line. But the move is done and (now that I found the box with my clean undergarments) I can take my time unpacking and arranging.

I have done absolutely no writing in the last ten days, and I don’t anticipate getting any done in the next week. So this is the last little bit of Victoria’s Cat I have to offer you. We’ll see what happens next week! It’s getting interesting now, though, so I’m pretty anxious to get on with the story. I’m sorry this is so short, but I hope to whet your appetites for the rest of chapter 7.


Victoria nearly floated to the mayor’s house a few hours later. She and Marty walked hand in hand, an officially engaged couple.

The mayor’s home resembled a castle Victoria had once seen a picture of in an old book. The stone wall around the property was high and thick, and the two men manning the gate were much stricter than the men who guarded the gate at The Limit. They were expected, though, so after a few questions, their party was allowed in. The approach from street was quite steep, so she used that as an excuse to hold onto Marty’s arm. She noticed Renee raise an eyebrow, but no one said anything about how closely she and Marty were walking. Maybe they were getting used to the idea that she had chosen a husband.

Mrs. McGrath surprised Victoria by being nearly as tall as she was, with a beautiful face and a voluptuous figure that age and childbearing had only softened. As she welcomed them to her home, Victoria hoped that she would be as shapely and beautiful when she was in her mid-forties.

“Miss Cayla,” Quill said fondly, giving their hostess a kiss on the cheek. “You look beautiful. How are you? Are these your children?”

The mayor beamed proudly at the boy and girl standing beside him. The McGraths had three sons and a daughter. He explained, “Our two older boys are out training with the City Guard, but our daughter, Anna, and our youngest son, Nicholas, will be joining us for supper.”

Anna was at that gawky stage where her arms and skinny legs seemed too long for the rest of her. Victoria remembered going through that stage. She’d tripped and stumbled so often that the clan had changed her Lakota name to Sandhill Crane Woman. She preferred Victoria.

“Please come in,” Mrs. McGrath urged them. “Supper is ready. Rye, will you take them into the dining room?”

Renee cleared her throat. “Do you need any help in the kitchen?”

“No, thank you. Anna will help me carry the food in.” The mayor’s wife laughed, and Victoria heard an nervous note in it. “I’ve been told what a superb cook you are. I hope you won’t be disappointed by meatloaf and potatoes.”

“It smells wonderful.”

Aunt Renee wasn’t just being polite. It did smell wonderful.

Mayor McGrath and his son led the way to an elegant dining room with a long table set with china and crystal. “Take whatever chair you like. This isn’t a formal dinner party. Just old friends catching up.”

Victoria made sure she sat beside Marty. Colby was on her other side. Colby had been quiet all day. He might have spoken with Rock or Eagle, but he’d said nothing to her about his mate. When she’d asked early this afternoon if he’d seen his mate at the coffee shop, he had only shrugged with a stony face.

Mrs. McGrath and her daughter brought in platters of meatloaf and bowls of boiled potatoes and beans. Once everyone was in their seats, the food was passed around. The mayor was at the head of the table, with Quill on his right and Stone on his left.

“I’m sorry I won’t be a very good host tonight,” he said loudly enough for everyone to hear. “The Council will be coming over at half past seven so we can continue to read the questions and discuss what answers we can give, so I’m afraid I won’t have with you as I would like. But I didn’t want to miss the chance to visit with you. We don’t see the Wolf Clan here in Omaha very often.”

Stone shook his head. “No, we don’t really fit in with city. I haven’t been here since… Well, since you became Mayor.”

McGrath chuckled. It didn’t sound amused to Victoria. “The good old days.” He shook his head. “Right now I would give almost anything to be Rye Thomas again. No worries or concerns except what my next load of merchandise would be. I actually never wanted to be mayor.”

“I remember,” said Quill. “But from what I’ve heard, you’ve been a good mayor for Omaha.”

“Better than my father.” Again, the chuckle was not amused. “I wonder how he would’ve handled Todd.” He waved a hand. “Let’s not talk about politics right now. Tell me how your families are.”

Quill and Stone took turns telling about the various members of the clan, recent births and deaths, and marriages. Victoria ate and listened. She didn’t know how well acquainted Mayor McGrath was with her kinsfolk, but he listened with every evidence of interest. At the foot of the table, Mrs. McGrath listened with equal interest. She knew Sand’s mate, Amanda, because they had worked together for Uncle Sky at the Limit.

Marty leaned a little closer. “I love watching you eat,” he murmured.

Victoria paused in spearing a potato. Her plate was loaded with meatloaf and potatoes drenched in gravy, and a small mountain of green beans on the side. A glance around the table told her that the McGraths’ plates were not nearly so full. “Am I eating too much?” she whispered.

“Oh, no.” His voice dropped to a purr. “You should eat as much as you need to keep that gorgeous figure of yours nice and …”

He trailed off, apparently having noticed her brother and cousins glaring daggers at him. He cleared his throat and went back to eating. Victoria glared back at her brother and cousins. Those killjoys need a poke in the eye. Dammit, just when Martin was starting to say something interesting. She moved her leg to press her thigh against his and gave Eagle a sweet smile.

She might have been bored with all the reminisces between the older people except that Marty had obviously decided not to bow down to her brother and cousins. He leaned a little closer again.

“Have you seen the house that I am building in the mayor’s compound back home?” he asked.

She thought about Eddie Madison’s home in Kearney, a stately mansion built in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Several blocks of Kearney were walled in around the mansion to form a private compound. She had never been inside the wall. “No, I didn’t know you’re building a house.”

“I am.” He smiled an intimate, quiet smile. “I started it last fall after I met you.”

Warmth fluttered in her chest.

“We’ve torn down one of the old buildings to make room. I plan three bedrooms right now, but there’s space to add on.” He cleared his throat. “To make room for more children.”

Eagle looked like he would crack teeth if he didn’t stop clenching them. Victoria gave her brother another bland smile. She turned her attention back to Marty. “When do you think it will be finished?”

She didn’t think Marty could be any more handsome than he was right then. “That depends on you, Miss Wolfe.”

He was doing that purring thing again with his voice, and Victoria had a stray thought. Would he have that same rasp in his voice when he talked to her in bed? She had to swallow to find her voice. “Oh?”

His smile said he knew how he was affecting her. “Say the word and I’ll send a message home to tell Eddie that it has to be completed now. We can honeymoon here in Omaha for a few weeks until it’s finished, and then we’ll go home where I’ll carry you over the threshold and—”

A man rushed into the dining room, coat unbuttoned and blond hair standing straight up. He stopped in the dining room doorway, and cast a quick glance at them sitting around the table. It was the captain of the City Guard. “Rye,” he said curtly. “I need a minute. Right now.”

Tuesday Teaser 3/21/17 Victoria’s Cat Part 12

Holy moly, I was so busy packing I almost forgot about the Tuesday Teaser! Sorry this is late. I am moving on Saturday and I am drowning in boxes. I’ve packed 18 boxes so far, and I have a LOT more to go. I hate moving.  🙁

I wrote this section and something horrible happened. It disappeared. Either I didn’t save it –which is possible, of course–but Word is supposed to save every few minutes, and I SWEAR I never leave my computer without saving.  So I re-wrote it hastily. This is certainly rough, but I like it. I hope you will too.

 


Chapter Seven

 

 

Marty hadn’t expected to feel nervous, but his palms were sweating. He wiped them dry on his pants, squared her shoulders, and knocked on the door to the bedroom where he knew the men of the wolf clan were. With their hearing and sense of smell, the wolves must have known who was there, but they kept him waiting a long minute before Stone opened the door.

“Victoria is not here,” Stone said. “You can find her in the kitchen with her aunt Renee.”

“I know. I came to talk to you.” He looked over Stone’s shoulder into the room. “All of you.”

One of Stone’s eyebrows hooked up. He stepped back open door wide. “Come on in.”

All of the men from the Wolf Clan who were in Omaha were there, except for Colby and Rock. Colby was probably still trying to woo Miss Summer, with Rock providing moral support. That thought almost made Marty smile, but this was too serious an occasion for that. Marty glanced around the room, marking Eagle, sprawled on the end of a bed, and Hawk, who was sitting in a wooden chair against the far wall. The room wasn’t small, but it felt crowded with five of the Wolf Clan there. Marty mentally girded his loins and walked over to Hawk.

The older man flipped a long lock of graying black hair over his shoulder and looked up at him blandly. “What can we do for you?”

“I love Victoria.” Marty kept his voice mild. “And she loves me. We are going to get married.”

An explosive “No!” came from Eagle.

Marty continued, looking Hawk in the eye. “We’d like your approval.”

Eagle lunged off the bed. “No,” he snarled. “We told you no.”

“At the gala in January,” Marty nodded. “And I backed off because I didn’t want to start trouble there. But my feelings for Vic haven’t changed.”

Sand slung an arm over Eagle’s shoulders just as the younger man opened his mouth again. “Let him speak, Eagle,” he said soothingly.

Directing his words at Hawk and Sand, Marty went on. “Victoria and I have talked about it, and we want to be married. Even if you don’t approve. It would break her heart to go against her family’s wishes, but she will. Please don’t do that to her.”

They all regarded at him silently. Under the weight of their stares, Marty forced himself to stand still, no fidgeting. After a long pause that grow ever more uncomfortable as the moments passed, he finally spoke again.

“What is it that you have against me?”

“You’re a cat,” Eagle spat.

“So? Miss Olivia mated with a cat.” He looked challengingly around the room. “Is that your only problem with me?”

Quill, arms folded, leaned his shoulders against the wall. “Your brother didn’t know how to treat his mate during the first year of their marriage. It wasn’t until she left him that he changed.”

Stone came up from behind and stood next to Marty. “Maybe Shadow is afraid you’d treat his daughter the same way.”

“Yeah,” added Eagle hotly.

“I wouldn’t,” Marty said flatly.

The other men all looked at Stone. Marty turned his head to see Stone nod.

Some of Eagle’s anger deflated. “Maybe you wouldn’t mean to,” he conceded, “but you could. I’ve heard about how you can turn only part of you into a cat, like your fingers into claws. That would hurt Victoria pretty bad.”

Marty shook his head. “I have too much control for that.” He drew a deep breath and let it out. “Look, Eddie had never been taught about the cat. He never learned to handle it. That’s why he didn’t treat Lisa as well as he could have. It’s different for me. I was taught self-control from the time I could walk. I knew everything about the cat before I ever shifted.  My mom taught me. Eddie taught me even more, like how important it is to accept the cat. That’s why you don’t have to worry about me ever hurting Victoria.” He leaned slightly forward, to emphasize his point to Eagle. “Besides, Vic isn’t like Lisa. Would she put up with me doing anything she didn’t like?”

Eagle’s smile looked reluctant, but real. “No.”

“Give us your blessing,” Marty urged.

No one answered, but Quill asked a question. “Why do you love Victoria? You can’t know her very well.”

The answer to that was very simple, very reasonable, and very complicated. He decided to start with the reasonable thing. “She’s a strong woman. I like strong women. My mom is a strong woman, too, the queen of our little pride. When mom is gone, we’ll need another strong woman to be our queen.”

“She’s not a cat!”

Marty shrugged at Eagle’s exclamation. “Your mom isn’t a wolf, but isn’t she the Lupa of the Clan?”

“Yeah.” Sand nodded. “So, you want a replacement for your mother? That doesn’t sound like the right kind of love.”

“No!” Marty suppressed a shudder. It was time for the very simple reason. “She’s my mate. I don’t know exactly how it works with you wolves, but Kit McQueen says that cats don’t choose mates very often. When we do, it’s for life. When I met Victoria last fall I was completely fascinated by her. She’s beautiful. She’s commanding.”

“You mean bossy,” Eagle cut in.

“Yeah, I guess she is.” Marty smiled. “And I wanted to rub up against her and purr.”

The half-smile was wiped from Eagle’s face. “What?” he growled.

“I’ve never wanted to do that to another woman,” Marty explained quickly. “Really.”

Hawk stood up, eyes boring into him. “You want to marry her,” he began.

“I am going to marry her,” Marty cut in quietly but firmly.

“Ah.” Hawk nodded. “With or without our blessing.”

“Yes.”

“Because you love her and she loves you.”

“Yes.”

“And you promise to do everything you can to keep her safe and happy?”

“Yes.”

Hawk glanced at Stone, who nodded.

“Well,” Hawk said, the lines around his eyes deepening with his frown. “I’m not her father, but I’d say she’s worth ten horses. What do you say, Eagle?”

Eagle’s bunched eyebrows didn’t look particularly happy. “Fifteen. She’s the only girl in the family. Dad would insist on at least fifteen horses, all well trained and healthy.”

Marty blinked, his head feeling oddly light. “You want to sell your sister for fifteen horses?”

“Want to?” Eagle made a sound of disgust. “No, I don’t want to.”

“It’s the Lakota way,” Quill said solemnly, taking his arm off Eagle’s shoulder. “The number and quality of horses show how much you value the woman you love.”

Marty began calculating how he could get his hands on fifteen good horses. Or twenty. “Victoria is worth fifty horses,” he said recklessly.

Stone smothered a grin behind his hand. Sand laughed out loud.

Even Eagle and Hawk smiled.

“We’re just kidding you.” Quill stepped forward to throw a light punch at Marty’s arm. “We don’t do that anymore. We’ll talk to Shadow and smooth things over for you.”

“But if you’d like to give us a token of your regard, I like a tall, powerful horse that can carry my weight,” Eagle said helpfully. “Preferably a bay.”

Marty looked around the room and felt the twist of anxiety in his guts relax. Somehow, he had changed their minds. They approved.

Tuesday Teaser 3/14/17 Victoria’s Cat Part 11

I’m getting closer and closer to my moving date. Part of me is reluctant. I’ve been going through my stuff –and I have a LOT of stuff!– one room at a time and sorting things into Keep, Throw and Donate piles. No sense moving stuff I don’t need. But another part of me cannot wait. At this moment that kid upstairs is thumping. I don’t know what he’s doing, but I imagine him jumping with all his might at measured intervals of about 5 seconds.  He can’t help it. He is autistic. But really, it will be wonderful to not have upstairs neighbors. I was going to write tonight (lord knows the move is putting me behind!) but I just can’t concentrate. So here is what I have. Like last week’s snip, this is a bit slow and draggy. Mainly, I want the reader to see what kinds of men are in Omaha, and especially Brother Saul.  Things get a little more exciting in the next chapter when the Clan and the Madisons are at supper with the McGraths.  🙂

 


Victoria’s teeth ground together. I’m representing the Lakota Wolf Clan. The delegate from the Lakota Wolf Clan should not slap the other delegates. She forced a smile as she sat down. “Good morning. I am Victoria Wolfe.”

The other men introduced themselves. Mr. Finley came to their group and held out several sheets of paper and a pen. “Who will be taking notes for your group?” he asked politely.

Brother Saul pointed to her. “The woman can do it.” He raised an eyebrow at Victoria. “You do know how to write, don’t you?”

Instead of snapping out of any of the rude replies bouncing around inside her head, she nodded. “Yes, I know how to read and write.”

The other men in her group looked at her, some appearing almost embarrassed and others dismissive. Victoria wasn’t used to that. She was the daughter of the alpha of the Lakota Wolf Clan. No one treated her with even a hint of disrespect. She uncapped fountain pen and maintained her smile with some effort. She recalled her father’s words. He had said that she would learn more by listening than by speaking, so she kept her mouth shut and waited for the discussion to begin.

One said, “Look, I’m Hank Fuller from Chadron, way out west. This doesn’t really pertain to us.”

“Yeah, same here,” said another man. “This President Todd guy won’t have any interest in a little place like Mullen. Hell, most people have no idea where it is. I’m Gary Katt, by the way.”

Brother Saul leaned forward. Victoria took a moment to examine him. He had a bony frame with long arms and long legs, and a long, narrow face topped with thinning light brown hair worn in a ponytail. He would have looked nondescript, but his brown eyes were ferocious. She tilted her head to one side to look at him again. Maybe ferocious wasn’t the right word. Insane? Maybe that was going a little too far, but there was something mesmerizing about his eyes, something not quite normal.

“That’s all very well for you to say, but Falls City is only a few miles from President Todd’s territory.” Those brown eyes brightened with fervor. “Whatever decision we make, Falls City will be the first to feel it.”

A man on the opposite side of the circle nodded. “I’m Tom Valentine from Nebraska City, and I agree with Mister Allersen. Maybe those of you who don’t live on the river won’t feel the effects the way we will. Not right off, at least. From what I can see, Todd is a maniac. He’s like a grease stain on the ground, shiny and slippery and you can’t see below the surface.”

It was interesting that although Saul hadn’t introduced himself, this man knew who he was. Victoria shuffled the papers on her little desk. “Have you met President Todd, sir?”

Valentine jerked his chin in a half nod. “Once.”

Everyone in the group waited for him to elaborate. He didn’t. Brother Saul jabbed a finger in Victoria’s direction. “You writing any of this down, girl?”

“Was there a question you wanted me to record?” she asked in her sweetest voice.

He glowered. “What is your husband thinking to let you come here?”

Victoria noticed that a couple of the other men looked embarrassed again, but she directed her smile at Brother Saul. “I don’t have a husband.”

“Then your father.” There was a sneer in his voice. “What man would allow a woman to represent him? He must be a weak sister.”

Laughter snorted out of her before she could catch it. “You haven’t met my father, have you?”

The glare he raked over her screamed with derision. “And where are you from, Miss?”

“I am Victoria Wolfe, of the Lakota Wolf Clan.”

A few of the men drew audible breaths. Saul Allersen’s expression didn’t change. She lifted her pen and smiled genially around the circle. “What questions do you have for the mayor?”

For the next thirty minutes the group discussed and decided which questions they wanted to submit to the Mayor. Victoria faithfully recorded them on the paper she’d been given. She thought most of them were good questions. How soon did Todd expect Omaha’s answer? How much would the taxes to Todd be? How large was Todd’s army? Did the mayor believe Omaha could defeat Kansas-Missouri?

The mayor spoke from the stage. “Ten minutes, gentlemen. Ten more minutes and then we need to wrap this up.”

Victoria was glad to hand her paper to Mister Finley when he came to collect them. After everybody had dragged their seats back to their original places and sat down, the mayor spoke again.

“I want to thank everyone for coming. I will be spending the rest of today and tonight reading your questions, and the city council will join me in preparing answers. We will meet again tomorrow morning at nine o’clock and we will move forward with our deliberations at that point. Good day.”

It took a while for all of them to leave the room. Victoria waited with Quill and Hawk for the congestion to clear, but before they could leave, the mayor raised a hand to beckon them toward the stage. He jumped down easily and shook Quill’s hand with enthusiasm.

“I’m glad to see you,” McGrath said. “How is Mrs. Ellie? And Mrs. Sara? It’s been how long? Twenty years?”

Quill was smiling. “You’ve been mayor for nearly twenty years, so a little longer since you rescued my mate.” The smile dimmed a little. He was probably thinking about Aunt Ellie and how she had been stolen and abused by evil men before she was found and helped by Rye McGrath. “She’s doing well. So is Sara. I’ll let them know you asked.”

“Good. Good.”

“And how is Miss Cayla?”

“My wife is doing great. She remembers you with a lot of affection. In fact, she’s insisting that you come to supper.” He aimed a small smile at Hawk and Victoria. “All of your party are invited. Are you free tonight?”

“Sure.” Quill smiled easily. “But you don’t want all of us. We’re quite a mob.”

“Yes, all of you,” the mayor insisted. “There’s only nine of you. We’re inviting the Madisons from Kearney too. Please come.” He gave a little chuckle. “Cayla insists. My wife has a way of getting what she wants, so don’t say no. Six o’clock.”

“You have the questions and answers to deal with tonight,” Hawk protested.

“Yeah, so I won’t be able to spend as much time with you as I’d like.” The mayor appeared sincere. “We’ll have all the representative for formal dinner parties over the next week, but we want you tonight. Just an informal supper. Please come.”

“Well, alright.” Quill shook hands again. “We’ll be there.”

My Book Boyfriend

Book Boyfriends. We all have them, don’t we? Z from JR Ward’s Lover Awakened is one of mine. And Curran from the Kate Daniels series. Cat from the Windflower. Oh, and Roarke from the In Death series! *happy sigh*

But finding new book boyfriends can be expensive. Here is a great promo that can help you find that perfect hero. Just click the image and answer three questions. A link to a book featuring your dream man will appear. And the books are free!!!

 

Tuesday Teaser 3/7/17 Victoria’s Cat Part 10

Happy Tuesday! I hope you are experiencing nice spring weather where ever you may be. After a Sunday in the upper 50s we’re having a  terribly windy here today. And snow.  Sigh. Winter is not yet over, that’s for sure.

As long as it’s not too cold or windy on March 25 when I move it will be alright. I am spending this week going thru my closets, drawers and shelves to weed out what I should throw away, what I should donate, and what I should keep and move. I have got a LOT of stuff! This is a lot of work! *whine*  My official move date is March 25, but I plan to have all my packing done by the 23rd. We’ll see how that goes.

This week’s snip from Victoria’s Cat is maybe a little boring. I want to show the threat facing Omaha and also introduce some new characters. This is one of the sections that I may revise pretty heavily when I do my revisions. As usual, not proof-read.


The entry of five men distracted her from that thought. The one in the lead had iron gray curls just touched with brown and an erect bearing. The last one was short, slender, and reminded Victoria of a rabbit. The men walked to the stage, climbed the two steps and filed to their seats, but did not sit right away. They stood silently, waiting for the attention of the representatives and delegates. Victoria noticed that the man with the curly hair must be Mayor McGrath.  She had never met him, but she knew that years ago, before he became mayor, he had helped to save aunt Ellie’s life. Gradually, the noise died down. Mayor McGrath raised his hand.

“Welcome to the twenty-second session of the Omaha Legislature. We have special guests for this session due to a matter which we will discuss at length. I am Ryan McGrath, Mayor of Omaha. On my left is Charles Beauregard, vice-mayor of Omaha. On my right is Judge John Case, chief justice of Omaha, and on his right is Captain Dean Erikson, head of the Omaha City Guard. The gentleman in the front corner of the stage is Joseph Finley. He is the legislative secretary, who will make a record of everything that is said here. Remember that before you speak, because any citizen of Omaha has the right to review the legislative records. Nobody wants to sound like a fool in a public record.” He smiled a thin smile and chuckled. “Not even me. Let us begin.”

The four men sat down. Mr. Finley laid a sheet of paper in front of the mayor, and then went to sit down at the smaller desk on the side of the stage. Mayor McGrath raised the paper to read, and after several minutes, laid the paper back down.

“There are a number of matters of concern to Omaha, but I think we’ll set those aside until the end of the legislative session and concentrate on the big issue that faces us now.”

The mayor had a strong voice that carried well. Victoria was pleased that she could hear him clearly. She listened attentively.

“We have invited all the towns and settlements in the area to send a representative to this legislative session. We’re glad to see so many of you here today. In the letter I sent out to your towns, I explained our situation. President Michael Todd of Kansas-Missouri wants to ally with us. I see three main benefits of an alliance between our two regions.” The mayor raised one finger and looked out over the assembly. “One, trade. Since much of Missouri is on the Mississippi River they have access to goods that we don’t, or that we have to pay high prices for. If we ally with them, there would be no additional tariffs. Goods that we would like to have would not cost as much, so more people could afford them.” He lifted a second finger. “Two, military. If Omaha is attacked, Todd would send military aid.” A third finger joined the other two. “And three, medical. If the Woman Killer Plague breaks out again, he would provide us medical personnel and medications.”

A voice rose from the middle of the room. “Yeah? About that military thing. Who would attack us?”

A second, more belligerent, voice yelled, “And what about the drawbacks?”

Victoria jerked in a breath. But the mayor didn’t seem annoyed at the interruption.

“There are drawbacks,” he said calmly. “As allies, President Todd could expect the same things from us. If Kansas Missouri or any of their people were attacked, they would expect us to send military aid. If a plague broke out, they would expect us to send medical help.” McGrath’s voice was steady and strong. “That would be fair. But there are other things I have concerns about.”

The mayor rose from his desk. “I’ve been watching Todd over the past five years. He started out as the mayor of Kansas City. In the first year, he started bringing the smaller towns and cities in that area under his control. That didn’t seem to be a problem. Todd required the other cities to send their people to work to rebuild Kansas City. That didn’t sit right with me, but I thought maybe labor was all those smaller places had to offer in exchange for protection. But it’s gone beyond that.”

Mayor McGrath stepped around the table to come to the edge of the stage and looked out over his audience. “Todd got together an army, and he didn’t use it to protect his people but to conquer people who did nothing to bother him. And then he made those people work for him. I’m not talking about jobs. Those people are slaves. That’s wrong, but did it affect Omaha?”

Victoria fixed her whole attention on the mayor. He was a good speaker, but even if he had been as dull as ditchwater she would have listened carefully. She already knew what answer she, as the clan’s delegate, would give. Her father and rest of the clan had talked at length in council as to what to stand the clan would take in this matter of alliance. The clan wanted nothing to do with a war between Omaha and Kansas-Missouri.

“No, it did not affect Omaha.” The mayor folded his arms. “It didn’t affect us then. But it does now. Todd controls all of Missouri, the eastern half of Kansas, parts of Illinois, and a bit of Iowa. He took control of those regions by offering them an alliance. When his alliance was accepted, the city was annexed to his empire. The current governing body remained in place, but reported to Todd and sent taxes to Todd. Heavy taxes. Some of the people were sent to live in Kansas City or other cities under Todd’s control.”

“Hostages,” muttered a low voice behind Victoria.

“When his alliance offer is rejected, as it was by Jefferson City and Springfield, his army simply smashes the city and takes it over by force.” McGrath was grim. “I’ve heard the stories from survivors. A lot of the people were killed, businesses looted, houses burned. Women and children were taken away and re-distributed to Todd’s loyal men.”

On either side of her, Victoria heard the low rumble of wolf warrior rage, but neither Quill nor Hawk spoke. The rules governing courteous behavior in council were too ingrained in them for their anger to be set free.

“So,” the mayor went on. “we need to decide how we will respond to Todd’s offer of alliance. That is why I’ve invited you all here now. I want to know your—”

A man three rows in front of Victoria leaped to his feet with a screech of wood on wood. “We have to fight him!” he shouted.

“No!” Another jumped up. “We’ll be killed if we fight.”

Victoria felt her jaw drop. The mayor hadn’t even finished speaking! More men were jumping to their feet and yelling. She looked at Hawk with disbelief. Didn’t these townsmen have any manners? Hawk shook his head sadly, as if he had read her mind. It seemed like she, Hawk and Quill were the only ones still sitting in their seats. She folded her arms and glared straight ahead. The yelling would stop eventually.

The boom of a gunshot cut through the shouting voices, leaving instant silence in its wake. The mayor stood with a small pistol in his fist. Victoria realized the gray square on the wall was a bullet trap.

“Sit down.”

McGrath barely raised his voice, but he didn’t have to. Victoria knew an alpha when she heard one, and the others must have too. Chairs squealed as the men sat.

“I guess Captain Erickson was right. He said we should’ve gone over some ground rules before we started. But better late than never, right?” The mayor gave his audience a fierce smile. “Dean? Would you mind?”

The lean man with short blond hair stood up and came to the edge of the stage. “The rules aren’t difficult,” he said. “First of all, only one person speaks at a time. There are ninety-eight of us in the room, and if we have everyone talking at the same time no one will be heard. Anyone who speaks out of turn will be asked to leave.”

There was more noise from men shifting in their chairs and come low murmurs Everyone will have a chance to discuss in smaller groups. One man near the front raised his hand like a kid in school wanting permission to speak. Dean Erickson stared at him for a long moment before nodding.

“With that many of us, how can we have a discussion?”

Erickson nodded. “That’s good question. We’re going to do it this is way: you will be divided into groups of eight. That’s a good number to have a discussion without having to wait an hour for a chance to speak again. Your group will take the rest of this morning to talk, ask questions, discuss your feelings about the proposed alliance. One of you will write down all the questions that the members of your group want to ask. We’ll collect your questions and read them over. Tomorrow Mayor McGrath will address those questions, and we will go from there. The important thing—” The captain said to hard Claire around the room. “Is that you discuss the issues and questions, without yelling. Do not interrupt someone else while they are speaking. Everyone’s voice will be heard.”

The mayor slapped Erickson on the shoulder. “Good job, Dean. Succinct and to the point.” He chuckled. “Let’s number off. You.” He pointed at the far end of the first row. “You are number one.” His finger veered to the right. “Two.”

The next man said, “Three?”

“Nice,” said the mayor approvingly and moved his finger again.

“Four.”

“Five.”

Marty’s voice said, “Six.”

They numbered off one by one, and Victoria wanted to be a number six, but she was a two. Everyone got up from their seats and milled around to find where their group was meeting. Chairs were dragged over the floor to form circles. Victoria approved. A circle was the best way for a group to hold council. The only person she recognized in her group was Brother Saul. He stared at her with obvious incredulity before frowning and turning to the man beside him.

“A woman?” he said. “What’s a woman doing here?”

Victoria’s teeth ground together. I’m representing the Lakota Wolf Clan. The delegate from the Lakota Wolf Clan should not slap the other delegates. She forced a smile as she sat down. “Good morning. I am Victoria Wolfe, representing the Lakota Wolf Clan.”

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