Tuesday Teaser 2/9/16: Olivia’s Mate

     Well, it looks like I might be getting to the end of the overtime at work.  I think that would be lovely. I’ve been just a little under the weather for about three weeks, but Sunday I felt really awful. Today I felt awful too. I made it through the whole 8.5 hours at work, muttering that as soon as I finished X I would punch out.  It’s not fair, is it? I mean, when criminals are sentenced to prison time doesn’t the time they’ve already spent in jail reduce the length of their sentence? Since I’ve had this coming on for three weeks, shouldn’t I have a sentence reduction? *pout*  Actually, cough, sneeze, blow nose, and repeat.

     Anyway. I’m sure I’ll be feeling better soon. Part of me hates giving up the overtime on the paycheck but the rest of me is throwing a party. More writing time!!! I’m very close to finishing the rough draft of Olivia’s Mate. I think I can say confidently that you will have the whole polished and edited story in your hands by April 29 at the LATEST.

Now that I’ve said that, knock on wood.

     Here is the next little bit in Olivia and Kit’s story. Unedited and unpolished, of course. It ends on a high note, wouldn’t you say?

 

The family room was too crowded for pacing, so Olivia forced herself to sit still and only cast occasional glances at the ceiling. Victoria shoved Parker out of the way and sat down next to her.

“Your dad isn’t crazy like mine,” she said comfortingly, patting her knee. “He’ll give permission.”

“Yeah.” Olivia tried to relax. She was sure her parents would give their blessing. She cast another glance up and picked at a chip in her fingernail. “I want my parents to like Kit, not just tolerate him.”

“That might take some time.” Victoria looked like she was trying to suppress a smile. Her expression melted into glumness. “If my dad would even tolerate Marty, I’d be doing a victory dance.”

Glad to have her mind taken off her own concerns, Olivia turned quickly to her cousin. At twenty-six, Victoria was the oldest unmarried woman she had ever heard of. “Does Uncle Shadow know about Marty?”

“If he doesn’t yet, he will soon. I sent a letter back to the winter camp two weeks ago.” Her mouth quirked into a smile that was half sarcastic. “Maybe he doesn’t. I haven’t heard him roar about it. I figure news like his daughter wanting to be courted will make him howl loud enough to be heard across two states.”

Now Olivia patted her cousin on the knee. “Marty is a good guy. He’s Kearney’s representative in Omaha; he can afford to support you, and his brother is good friends with the Pack. What could Uncle Shadow possibly have against him?”

“I don’t know.” Victoria looked sincerely troubled. “But there’s something about Marty. I don’t know what it is, but something seems a little off.”

“Off?”

“No, off isn’t the right word. It’s nothing bad. Just different. I think—”

But Olivia didn’t hear what Victoria thought because at that moment Kit came through the door. His big smile and shining eyes told her he had won her parents’ blessing. Silence descended over the entire room. When he located her his smile grew even brighter. She flew across the room and into his arms. Warmth shot through her when he clutched her tightly to him for a moment. She missed it immediately when he released her. The tight silence was broken by low murmurs when he went down on one knee in front of her.

“Olivia Stensrud,” he said formally, as if reciting a memorized speech, “would you do me the very great honor of becoming my wife?”

From the corner of her eye she saw Aunt Sara muffle a gasp behind her hand, and then blink hard as if to keep tears back. “Aw, how sweet,” she breathed, hand sliding down to press against her throat.

Olivia stared down into his anxious face. He had never looked more handsome. “Yes.”

Kit’s eyes went wide. “Yes?” he whispered.

She didn’t want to whisper. She wanted everyone to know she was going to marry him. “Yes!” she shouted. “Yes, Kit, I’ll marry you!”

Leaping to his feet, he clamped her hand hard against his chest. “When?” he demanded, face shining with eagerness. “Tonight?”

She laughed. “Tonight? That’s too soon.”

His eagerness didn’t dim. “Tomorrow?”

“No!” shouted several women in the room.

Kit blinked and clutched her hand more tightly to his chest. She looked over her shoulder and saw aunt Sara and aunt Marissa pushing their way to them. Aunt Sara shook her finger in Kit’s face. “We need time to plan the wedding.”

“We need to make Olivia a dress,” added Marissa.

Connie stepped forward. “Renée will need time to prepare the wedding feast. Rushing something like that will really piss her off. Believe me, you don’t want to get on her bad side.”

Kit’s fingers tightened on hers. His eyes looked desperate. “Then when? How long will this take?”

Multiple voices rose in a confused babble about dresses and flowers, locations and decorations, cakes and steaks, and things that Olivia didn’t catch. She stared into Kit’s eyes, not caring about any of that. His chest was warm beneath her fingers and a new feeling of possession came to her. He was hers. They didn’t even need an official ceremony to make true. It wasn’t that long ago that a marriage was sealed by a wedding night, not a priest saying special words over the couple. Even now many of her Lakota relatives didn’t bother with the Christian ceremony.

“Kit,” she whispered, “I don’t need a special dress. We can go to Kearney’s Catholic church by ourselves. I’ll marry you tomorrow.”

His face took on a happy glow that faded instantly when her mother’s voice came from the door behind him. “Absolutely not.” Her voice cut through the jabbering like a knife. Silence fell. “Olivia, you are the first daughter of the Wolf Clan to marry in decades. It doesn’t have to be an elaborate ceremony, but you are not sneaking off. Your young man has gone to the trouble to get your father’s permission to marry you, so we going to do this right.”

“Besides,” said Sara with a sly wink, “where would you spend your wedding night if you sneak off without warning?”

Kit’s green gold eyes met Olivia’s. A tiny tremor of heat started deep inside her. “That’s a good point. I guess I hadn’t thought that far ahead.”

“I have,” Kit said with a purr in his voice. “I can arrange a private room in the bunkhouse where I’m staying.”

“No!” shouted nearly everyone in the room.

Her dad slipped around Kit and put his hand on her shoulder. “Christmas is a week off. If we set your wedding ceremony for December 23, that gives all the ladies five days to get everything set. That ought to be enough time to get a dress ready, arrange for the priest to come here, and to make a good dinner.” He looked around the room with his usual stoic expression. “Sound good?”

There was a chorus of mostly cheerful agreement. Her dad squeezed her shoulder. “Since you’re engaged I guess you can have a little time alone. That little dining room is empty.”

Kit teeth shone white in a huge smile. He turned to pull her with him out the door. Her father said in a fiercely pleasant voice, “And when I say a little time, I mean ten minutes. Not a second more.”

Kit’s smile fell. Olivia squeezed his hand. She didn’t bother to whisper since nearly everyone in the room would be able to hear her anyway. “In five days we can spend all the time alone we want.”

That seemed to cheer Kit up. “Yes,” he agreed exuberantly. “And we can do it naked.”

 

 

Tuesday Teaser 2/2/16: Olivia’s Mate

Hey, look! It’s February. That means I get to turn to a new month in my The Walking Dead wall calendar. And who do we have this month? Why, it’s Glenn and Maggie! I liked Glenn right from the start, and Maggie has grown on me. Less than two weeks until TWD is on again!

The overtime at the day job continues. *yawn* It will go through the end of February. I bet I’ll be happy about it when I get my pay check, but for right now I’m  kind of grumpy.  I hate it when my job gets in the way of my writing! LOL  It will slow me down, but it won’t stop me from giving Kit and Olivia their happily ever after. Y’all might have to be patient with me for a week or so.  :(

Here is the next bit in Olivia’s Mate. Enjoy!

 

“So.” Her dad looked Kit over with cool thoroughness. “You want to marry my daughter.”

Olivia watched Kit swallow. “Yes, sir,” he said.

After a long moment of silence her dad looked back at her mom. She stood up and came toward them. Her brothers stood up too, but her dad shot a hard look at them and shook his head minutely. Dissatisfaction and anger all over their faces, they sat down again.

“I guess we should take this somewhere more private.” Her dad jerked his chin at the door. “There’s a little dining area back way, if I recall.”

Yes there was. Olivia turned to lead the way, but her father put a hand on her arm. “No, Livvy.” His voice was more gentle than the look he’d given her brothers, but firm. “You stay here.”

“But, Dad,” she began.

“No, go sit down with Taylor and Parker.” Dry humor colored his tone. “I think they still have something to say to you.”

She turned to Kit and squeezed his hand. She wished she dared kiss him, but it wasn’t a good idea to rile dad right now, so she just smiled. “I’ll see you in a little while. I’ll be waiting right here for you.”

*

 

This was a moment Tracker should have expected. Any father of a young woman would have to deal with her suitors requesting permission to marry his daughter. Olivia was plenty old enough for courting, but somehow he still thought she was a child. He stalked into the smaller room with its one table and half a dozen chairs.

“Sit,” he growled at the cat.

The cat, looking ridiculously young, took off his coat and hung it carefully on the back of a chair before sitting. Tracker remained standing, arms folded over his chest. Tami came to stand beside him so they were both standing in front of the cat. He let the silence stretch, waiting for the cat to break. He didn’t, just keeping his hands on his thighs and his eyes turned up at them. Tracker gave him a sliver of respect for his composure. He leaned slightly toward the cat and inhaled. He couldn’t tell truth from lies like Stone, but he could scent emotions. Nervous? Yeah, this cat smelled of nerves, but there were other things too, like determination and hope.

“What’s your name, boy?” Tracker didn’t bother to gentle his voice or even try to sound civil. If the cat could be scared off by words or tone alone, he couldn’t keep Olivia safe. Any man who wanted to be Olivia’s husband had to be strong.

“I’m Christopher McQueen. Most people call me Kit.”

“All right. Why do you want to marry my daughter, Mr. McQueen?” he said quietly.

“She’s my mate.” That was quick and definite. “And I love her.”

That’s what Stone had said. Tracker slid a quick look at his mate and saw Tami lift a single eyebrow in an expression of doubt. Once again the young man kept still, only watching them without speaking more.

“Do you think you’re good enough for my daughter?”

For the first time he looked away, studying his fingers spread over his knees. After a moment he looked back up. “Maybe not, but I’ll do anything I can to make her happy.”

“What do you have to offer her?”

Tracker watched as Kit’s jaw squared. There was softness in the youth of the face, but there was character there too. “I don’t have land. I don’t have money. I know those things are important to humans. I’m strong and willing to work. I’m a good hunter. But the most important thing I have to offer Olivia is a heart that has never loved another woman and never will love another woman. Only her.”

Tami shifted an inch closer to him. Tracker was sent back to that moment so long ago in the dark corner of the den’s rec room when Tami had asked him to marry her. In that moment he hadn’t been sure that he was good enough for a woman like Tami or that he had anything to offer her. His life had been lived on the road, always roaming from one place to another, with no home to take her to. They had somehow managed to make each other happy for the past two and half decades. There had been some hard times over those years, but they had remained united. He wondered if this young man could possibly understand that love wasn’t just a feeling. Sometimes it was hard work. There were times when a man had to put his own plans aside and let his mate have her way, because that was what love did. It was worth it. He looked down into Tami’s eyes and knew she was thinking along the same lines. Her lips curled into a faint smile and she gave a slight nod.

Tracker gave Kit a hard stare. “My daughter tells me you’d like to take land near our place, raise cattle. You got any cows to start a herd?”

“No, sir.”

Tami spoke for the first time. “I think six cows would make a nice wedding present.”

Wild hope sprang into Kit’s eyes, tempered immediately into caution. “That would be very nice.”

Tracker hid an inner sigh. “Six cows ain’t enough to start a herd. You’ll need a bull. You work for me for one year and you’ll earn yourself wages and a bull. You can’t earn our daughter, no matter how hard you work. But she wants you.” He extended his hand to shake. “You have our blessing to marry Olivia.”

Tuesday Teaser 1/26/16: Olivia’s Mate

My goal was to have the rough draft of Olivia’s Mate done by the end of January. Thanks to overtime at the day job, that’s not going to happen. But I have only a chapter and a half left to write, so the end is near! Here is the next tidbit in Olivia and Kit’s story (unedited, of course!). You enjoy this while I go off to my local critique group meeting. I’m going to run the last chapter by them and get their take on the ending. :)

 

As Kit approached the gate to the house where his mate lived, he ran a hand over his hair to smooth it. Her parents had arrived this afternoon. He had watched from a distance and immediately recognized her father when the man stepped from the train. He hadn’t appeared particularly happy even when he saw his daughter. Her brothers had been worse. Her father’s face had been cool, but theirs had been angry. He must be the only reason they would be angry with their sister.

The icy night wind caught his hair again. His hand trembled slightly when he reached it to pull it back. The guard came to the gate. He recognized Gray Shirt. He was the son of Des and Connie.

“Hey, Kit” said Gray, opening the gate. His oddly light blue eyes crinkled in a smile. “You’re a little early. You might want to hang out here with me for a while.”

As Kit stepped through to the yard, he heard a roar muffled by distance. He froze, trying to identify the voice. “What’s going on?”

Gray barred the gate and turned back to him. His grin was friendly. “Just a little family discussion.”

“Is Olivia okay? Is she— Her parents… Are they angry?”

“Nope, it looks like Aunt Tami and Uncle Tracker are okay with you. Maybe not thrilled, but okay. Parker and Taylor, though …” He gave a mock wince at the next roar. “Well, you can hear how well they are taking it.”

Kit stared at him. “Why are you being so friendly? Don’t you hate me too?”

“Nope.”

“But you used to.”

The other man shrugged, one of his black braids sliding over his shoulder to hang down his chest. “That was before Stone cleared you. Since you’re going to be marrying my cousin, I guess we should be friends.”

Kit clutched his arm. “Am I? Am I going to marry Olivia?”

Gray cocked his head toward the house. “It might not sound like it right now, but never bet against a Clan woman. We men try to take care of them, but they’ve been raised to think for themselves.” A smile spread over his face as the sound of a feminine screech rose. “Hear that? Olivia seems pretty set on marrying you.”

He had to go find her. When he took a step toward the house, Gray stopped him with a hand on his chest. “Where you going? Better hold off a while.”

They both heard the sound of footsteps the same time. Their heads turned to search the dark outside the gate. And it was Stone, followed by a shorter round figure and four more.

“Stone. Aunt Sara.” Gray opened the gate for them. “Come in. India, you’ve grown. You must be how old now? Twelve?”

The smallest of the figures answered with dignity, “Thirteen.”

Kit wanted to go to Olivia but he found himself pinned in place by a pair of narrow brown eyes in a plump, pretty face with a smile lines showing age. This woman must be Stone’s mate.

“You must be the young man that Olivia is in love with,” she said. Glee threaded her words. “We got here just in time, Spot. Let’s go in quick so we don’t miss anything.” She beckoned to the four other people who had come in with her and Kit realized they must be her children. Amazingly, two of them were girls. “Come on, kids.”

Kit was going to follow them in, but Stone put a hand on his arm. “Hold on a minute. Let’s give Sara and the kids a minute to say hello and get settled. She’d be disappointed to not see the whole show.”

With effort, Kit relaxed. He owed this man. Gray said the reason he accepted Kit as a future cousin was because of Stone’s word. He should be polite. The four children following the round woman into the house weren’t all children. The largest was a young man in his late teens. “You have a nice family,” Kit ventured. “Your son is named Spot?”

“No.” Stone’s voice was dry. “It would be me. My mate’s idea of a love name. No, we have five children, two boys and three girls. Cut Ear, Red Paint Woman, Black Sun, and India are here. Suzanne is only seven and she decided to stay at the den tonight. It’s too cold for her and besides she wanted to play with her favorite cousin.” The ghost of a smile drifted over Stone’s lips. “Colby is amazingly patient with her.”

Kit spared a moment to be fervently thankful that Colby hadn’t come. The roars had dwindled to murmurs. He hoped that meant things had been resolved in his favor. “Can we go in now?”

“Sure.”

*

Olivia shot her brothers one last disgruntled look. They had subsided, scowling, onto one of the couches in the family room. Satisfied that they would finally be quiet, she turned when the door opened.

“Aunt Sara!” She enveloped the older woman in a hug. “Oh, you’re cold. Come sit by the fire. Alexia — I mean Red Paint Woman, it’s so good to see you.” Most of her girl cousins went by their European names, but not this one. Red Paint Woman was tall and slender and stately, but she gave Olivia an enthusiastic hug.

“I saw your mate outside,” she whispered. “He’s handsome.”

Olivia’s heart gave a leap. He was here! She shot a single quick glance at her father. He was greeting Sara gravely and shaking hands with Cut Ear and Black Sun. She made herself turn away from the door. “India, look how big you are. You look just like your father.”

There was a round of hugging and a shuffling of seats for the newcomers. Just as everyone was settling in, the door opened and Stone came in. Olivia smiled at him. Her smile grew when she looked past her uncle to the man behind him. Kit returned her smile, but he immediately looked around the room. Even crowded as it was, he seemed to have no trouble finding her dad. She watched his Adam’s apple bob up and down as he swallowed.

Her dad stood still, watching Kit with his usual impassive face. He didn’t look away even when he murmured into Stone’s ear. Stone replied in a voice too low for Olivia to hear. She hoped he was telling dad about how truly Kit loved her. She looked quickly at Kit. He was watching her dad. She crossed to him and slipped her hand in his. He looked down at her quickly, and gave her fingers a squeeze. Of course her brothers growled. She gave them the evilest eye she was capable of. It didn’t stop them. Her father’s cold glance did. He nodded once to Stone and came toward them. Kit’s fingers tightened almost painfully on hers.

“So.” Her dad looked Kit over with cool thoroughness. “You want to marry my daughter.”

She watched Kit swallow. “Yes, sir,” he said.

After a long moment of silence her dad looked back at her mom. She stood up and came toward them. Her brothers sprang up, but dad shot a hard look at them and shook his head minutely. Dissatisfaction and anger all over their faces, they sat down again.

“I guess we should take this somewhere more private.” Her dad jerked his chin at the door. “There’s a little dining area back that way, if I recall.”

Tuesday Teaser1/19/16: Olivia’s Mate

     We’re getting down to the last couple of chapters in Olivia’s Mate! The writing is going a bit slowly, as I’m working overtime at the day job and busy with other things 3 nights a week. At least I can say that on every night I’ve had available I have done at least some writing. Slow and steady wins the race, right?

     This latest bit is a lot of dialogue. When I revise, I may do some re-writing here. But I like the time with Tracker and Tami. What do you think?

 

Supper was oddly tense. Well, maybe it wasn’t so odd, Olivia admitted privately. Renee’s chili and cornbread were warm and tasty, and the dozen or so people crowded around the table were laughing and talking over each other as usual. Everyone wanted to hear how her parents and brothers had been and how the ranch was. Conversation covered Christmas, and the weather, and the health and doings of every member of the Clan and Packs. The one subject no one brought up was Kit, but he there, like a buffalo that everyone politely pretended wasn’t in the room. As she ate, Olivia tried to think of the best approach to the impending conversation.

Nothing seemed right. Supper was quickly over, and when her brothers moved toward her, her parents waved them off. Olivia led her parents up to Des and Connie’s apartment and sat down in the one armchair. Her parents took the couch. Olivia swallowed and waited for her parents to say something. At least Parker and Taylor hadn’t been allowed to join in this meeting.

For several minutes her parents simply looked at her. Finally, her mom said, “You look good, Olivia. Happy.”

Geez, Mom didn’t have to sound so surprised. “I am happy,” Olivia replied quickly. Her breath stalled for a moment as that sank in. “I really am.”

Her parents exchanged a quick glance. Her father leaned forward, his elbows on his thighs and his eyes fixed on his callused hands dangling between his knees. Slowly, he looked up at her. “Livvy, we’re worried about you. You haven’t written for nearly a month.”

She shifted in the chair, staring at her fingers to avoid her parents’ eyes. “I know. I meant to. I’m really sorry.”

“Let’s not beat around the bush.” Her mom sat ramrod straight, back not touching the couch. “You have been seeing that cat.”

She said ‘that cat’ like it was a swear word. Olivia had to swallow twice before managing to speak. “Kit. Yeah.”

Dead silence. Her parents didn’t even glance at each other. They probably didn’t need to. After all those years of being married, they could probably read each other’s minds. Olivia looked between them, trying to decide which would be more open to what she wanted to say. She’d thought her mom would be, but maybe not.

“Olivia,” her mom said quietly. Olivia wasn’t fooled by the quiet. Her mom was angry. “You’ve written every week since you came to Kearney. In those letters you’ve told us about a dozen different boys who wanted to court you. But you didn’t say one word about this one. Why?”

Olivia floundered. “Well, because … Because…”

“Because,” her mother finished in that same quiet voice, “you knew how your father and I would feel about it.”

Olivia stopped squirming. “That was part of it,” she admitted.

She looked from her mother’s face to her father’s. It wasn’t always easy to know what he was thinking, but it seemed that his cool eyes held hurt. “When Kit first came to Kearney I was surprised. I didn’t know what to think.” Her mind went back to those minutes in the Martins’ store. Shock had numbed her for a moment, but a spike of something had jabbed a hole in the shock. Excitement? Happiness? Curiosity? It might have been a mixture of all three or something else, but it hadn’t been fear. “At first I didn’t write because I wasn’t sure what to say. I was going wait until I knew what my feelings were. I didn’t want to alarm you.”

Her dad looked at her. “Do you know what your feelings are now?”

“Yes.” Olivia sat straight, making herself look each of her parents directly in the eye. “I love him.”

Olivia wondered how silence could sound shocked. The look of angry horror on her mom’s face hurt. Not a muscle in her dad’s face moved, but Olivia remembered that night on the mountainside when her dad had told Kit he would kill him if he ever came near his daughter again.

“And he loves me too,” she hurried to add.

“Those are just words,” sputtered her mom. “They don’t necessarily mean anything.”

Olivia clenched her hands on her knees. “Yes, they do! I told him back when he took me that I could be with someone who wasn’t civilized, so he lived with regular people for a year to learn how to be civilized.”

“Livvy,” her dad said, “you’re our baby girl. We want you to be safe and happy.”

Taking a deep breath, Olivia forced her hands to relax. This was the attitude that Victoria had been dealing with for her whole life. Except, she amended, that Uncle Shadow tended to roar and howl, and her parents kept their voices calm and low.

“Mom. Dad. I love you and I’ll always be your daughter, but I’m not a baby girl any more. I’m grown up now.” She blinked back tears. “I love Kit and he loves me. We’re going to be married. We want your blessing.”

Her mom was shaking her head. “Olivia, how long have you known him? A few weeks? That’s not long enough for love to take root.”

Olivia turned to her dad. “He loves me. Uncle Stone says he does. Kit says he will do anything he can to make me happy. Uncle Stone said he’s telling the truth.”

Her dad’s posture eased minutely. He and her mother exchanged another of those glances that showed nothing but which they seemed to understand completely. “That’s good,” he said in a neutral tone. “Will you be happy living with the mountain cats?”

“We won’t be.” She took her dad’s leathery hand. “They kicked him out because he wanted to learn to become civilized.” She took one of her mom’s hands too. “We’re thinking of taking over the Scranton place. Raise some cattle.”

Her mom’s hand clutched hers hard. “That’s only eight miles from our ranch.”

“Yeah. I’d still be right there. You’d see me all the time.”

Her parents looked at each other again. After a long minute of silent conversation, her dad nodded. “Your mother and I’ll talk it over.”

She didn’t let them free their hands from her grip. “Kit is coming by tonight. You can talk to him too.”

Olivia was sure there was a violent struggle going on behind her dad’s eyes. He squeezed her hand. “Okay. We’ll talk to him too.”

“You won’t attack him?”

The corners of her dad’s mouth turned up a fraction in a tiny smile. “I won’t attack him.”

She lurched forward to grab her mom and dad in a big hug. “Thank you. You’ll like him.”

Her mom gave a sigh that stirred the hair at Olivia’s ear. She leaned back to look into Olivia’s eyes. “Will you really marry him even if we don’t approve?”

Olivia steeled herself. “Yes. But I’d really, really rather have your approval.”

Her mom looked at her for a long moment before nodding. “We’ll see.”

As Olivia hurried out she heard her mom sigh again. “Our little girl has grown up.”

“Yeah,” her dad agreed, with a hint of sorrow in his cool voice. “We better have a word with the boys.”

Tuesday Teaser 1/12/16: Olivia’s Mate

Well, it has begun. Overtime at the day job. Sigh. That will cut into my writing time. But, to look on the bright side, it will be nice to have extra money on the paycheck (I’m still paying for that darned surgery). The weather here in Fargo has gotten quite cold. The low on Sunday was -22F, which is about -30C. It’s a good thing I like cold weather! Although, to be perfectly honest, -22 with a windchill of -36 might be too much of a good thing. How’s the weather where you’re at? I hope you’re keeping warm–or cool, depending on where you’re at.

Here is the next snip from Olivia and Kit. Keep warm and enjoy!

 

How had Kit gotten her uncles to agree to let them have ten minutes alone? Olivia wasn’t sure they actually were alone, but the family dining room was empty and most everyone was working the lunch shift in the restaurant. When he sat next to her on the sofa, she glanced around. Except for Rob Russell, she’d never been alone with a man. Remembering what she and Rob had done in the stall of his father’s smithy made heat creep up her checks, and flare in other places too. She swallowed and pressed her knees together to prevent any telltale scent from escaping.

It must not have worked. Kit leaned close her and inhaled. Then he groaned. “Olivia, I promised Del and Hawk that I wouldn’t touch you.”

“You’re touching me now,” she pointed out. She liked the feel of his shoulder and thigh pressed to hers and missed it when he moved circumspectly away. “When we’re married …”

He muttered something in a low rough voice she didn’t understand. “If your parents consent.”

“They will! Why wouldn’t they?”

“Your father said he would kill me if I ever came near you again.”

Olivia shifted her weight on the sofa. “That was before he knew you truly loved me and I love you. Besides, you’re not giving up now, are you?”

“No.”

She smiled. That sounded definite. “The train should arrive in an hour. You stay away until after supper. That will give me time to explain everything. Okay?”

He looked unhappy. “Okay.”

She couldn’t help it. She scooted over to him and kissed him. For a moment his lips were soft against hers, and then they did something that sent her heart speeding. She felt it slamming against her ribs. She was practically in his lap, their mouths hot and open and mating with a heat that shook her. It lasted only a minute before he dragged his mouth away from hers and stood up, panting.

“I promised not to touch you!” he cried.

“I didn’t promise not to touch you,” she said, smug satisfaction running through her. “Now I really can’t wait to be married.”

The expression on his face indicated painful torture. Even the thick denim of his jeans didn’t hide his erection. “That’s not fair. Your family won’t trust me if we do that anymore.”

“I’m sorry,” she said, chastised. “You’re right.”

When Hawk came to find her a few minutes later, she sat on one end of the sofa, and Kit sat on the other. Her uncle sniffed, gave them a neutral look that turned pointed when he nodded at Kit, and spoke.

“Train will be here soon. We’re leaving in five.”

Kit took the hint. “I better get going then. I’ll see you tonight, Olivia. Sir.”

Olivia always blinked when he called her uncles ‘Sir’, but it was respectful, and he was all about showing her uncles that he was polite. She smiled at him. “I’m looking forward to it.”

Kit was barely out the door before Hawk raised a brow at her. “Did he kiss you?”

“No,” she said earnestly. “He said he promised he wouldn’t touch me.” She paused to smile wickedly. “I kissed him.”

His chuckle sounded reluctant. “You kissed him, huh?”

“He made me stop.”

Hawk shook his head. “Must have ice water in his veins to stop his mate when she’s kissing him.”

She remembered the bulge in the front of his pants. “No, just too much fear of what you would do to him.”

“Smart boy. Go get your coat. Don’t want to miss the train.”

*

The wind sent snow scurrying over the train platform, circling the benches and whistling around the corner of the station. Olivia could have gone into the station to get out of the cold, but she was too excited to see her parents. She raised her scarf further over her nose and watched the train pull even with the platform. She ignored the men who hurried to the freight cars to begin unloading and kept her eyes glued on the passenger car. A conductor jumped down, lowering the steps for the passengers.

The first person to emerge from the train was Parker. Any childhood animosity she’d ever felt for her bossy older brother was forgotten in a blaze of happiness. Taylor came next. The boys gave the platform a careful examination, searching for any trouble as was their habit. Satisfied that it was safe, Taylor turned back to the train and waved. Her mom came down the steps, closely followed by her dad, and the sight of them brought tears to her eyes. She launched herself at them.

“Mom! Dad!”

Her mom dropped her suitcase just in time to catch her in a hug. Her father laid a hand on her shoulder and squeezed. She could tell by the warmth in his eyes that he was glad to see her. Then Taylor and Parker closed in and the twin expressions of angry accusation on their faces made her forget that she was glad to see them.

“Later,” her mom said sharply.

Her dad gave her a long, thorough examination, and though his face didn’t reveal his thoughts, Olivia was sure he was unhappy with her. “Later,” he agreed, and gave her shoulder another gentle squeeze.

At least he wasn’t glaring at her. Not that he ever glared. Hawk and the others from the Plane Women’s House came forward to greet the newcomers. The baggage was collected—there wasn’t too much, as her family believed in travelling light— and headed back to the House. Olivia was careful to walk beside her mother. Her brothers were behind with Sharp Tooth and He Charges, probably getting every detail about Kit out of them. She cast one glower over her shoulder at them before moving closer to her mom and asking about the trip.

When they all came through the back door, stamping snow off their feet, Connie and Des were there, smiling widely. Connie and her mom had always been good friends. They didn’t hug, but they grinned widely at each other.

“We’re putting you and Tracker in our third bedroom,” Connie said above the chatter of welcome, “and your boys can bunk with Hawks’ brood. Sound good?”

Her mom agreed.

“Good,” said Connie briskly. She pointed at her older son. “Rock! Get the bags carried up.” She turned again to Olivia’s mom. “It’s four o’clock now. Renee will have chili and cornbread for family in half an hour The Eatery opens for supper at five o’clock. Olivia is on the roster for kitchen duty this week.”

Olivia hid a sigh of relief. Her parents would have to put off grilling her until after supper. Connie’s next words rushed her worry right back.

“But since you haven’t seen her for over a year, we’ll make do without her. Give you a little time alone with her.”

Olivia would have sworn her dad was too deep in conversation with Red Wing and Des to have heard Connie. She should have known better. He turned from the men to look at her. She swallowed, feeling like a bug pinned to a card.

“Good,” was all he said, but Olivia swallowed again. She was going to have to find the right words to convince her parents that Kit was the right man for her.

Tuesday Teaser 1/5/16-Sara & Stone Excerpts

Hello, All! Imagine, a Tuesday Teaser coming out on Tuesday!

Sorry for the delay, but I hope you’ll enjoy what I have for you today. We’re going to skip over Kit & Olivia this week. Instead, I have a late Christmas present for you: some deleted scenes from Wolf’s Princess! I had multiple readers email me to ask about Stone and Sara, and how they made up. Well, I did have a few more scenes about them than ended up in the finished book. I removed those scenes from the manuscript because the story was already super long, and I thought it was alright without them. Maybe I was wrong. I’ll let you decide for yourselves. Let me know what you think.

 

Sara & Stone Excerpt One

Stone sat on the bottom step of the dormitory beside Snow, offering him silent support. Inside the women’s dorm the doctor was speaking quietly, so quietly that even wolf hearing couldn’t distinguish the words, as he worked on Odell Graham, Snow’s newly found mate. She had been beaten. Who would do something like that to a woman? Every time he remembered Odell’s battered body and bloody face he wanted to kill something. He didn’t know how Snow was controlling himself. Sometimes they could hear her groan, and her breathing alternated between hoarse and rough, and so soft they were afraid she’d stopped breathing altogether. Every now and then Stone heard his mate’s voice answering the doctor in calm tones.

Sara. He dropped his head into his hands. This could happen to her. If she wasn’t married in the next few weeks she would have to go to work in a house, and one of her customers could beat her up. Picturing her soft, pretty face black and swollen, with blood dripping from torn lips and a broken nose, made him spring up from the step. He couldn’t let that happen. Imagining her with other men twisted his guts up, but that was jealous hurt. When he imagined her broken like Odell, a black rage bubbled inside him, fighting to get out and find a victim.

“Stone!”

One of the Omaha men Sky hired to guard the gate to the Limit ran toward them. Snow gripped Stone’s arm in a painful clutch. “Make him shut up!” he snarled. “He’ll disturb my mate.”

Stone sprinted to the man. “What?”

“There’s a man at the gate,” he said, panting. “He’s asking for you.”

Without responding, Stone ran to the gate. He didn’t know what else could go wrong today. But it didn’t look like trouble. The man standing outside the gates holding a fabric bag in one work worn hand was Sara’s uncle.

Mr. Nelson lifted the bag. “I brought Sara a change of clothes and some other things. I figured she might be here for a while.” His lined face wore a look of concern. “How is the lady?”

Stone stood with one hand clenching a bar of the gate. “The doctor thinks she’ll be okay. He’s here with her right now for the second time today.” Sky’s orders were to not open the gate for anyone except one of them or the doctor, but he didn’t think the bag would fit through the bars of the gate. He opened the gate just wide enough for the bag to pass through. “Thanks for bringing this. I’ll see that Sara gets it.”

Mr. Nelson didn’t release the bag. “That’s not the only reason I came. I think it’s time we talked.”

The words whipped through Stone like a cold wind over water. He was pretty sure he knew what his mate’s uncle wanted to talk about. Only a coward would jerk the bag free and turn his back on the older man, and Stone wasn’t a coward. He nodded at Nelson. Maybe it was a good time to walk around the fence to be sure no one was trying to get inside.

“Okay. I’ll come out. We can walk and talk.”

Mr. Nelson let go of the bag and waited for Stone to set it inside the gate. They walked side by side in silence for a few minutes. Stone divided his attention between the brick fence that surrounded the Limit and the man he walked with. The afternoon air was brisk and clean, not obscuring Nelson’s scent, but Stone wasn’t sure what his emotions were. Perhaps nervous, but determined.

“When Sara first came to live with me,” he said in a slow, measured tone, “she was a wreck. She spent at least twelve hours a day crying. If you would have come after her then, I would have done my darnedest to kill you.”

He turned his head to look at Stone, and somehow that lined tired face was deadly. Inside, Stone’s wolf rolled over and exposed his belly. Stone refused to show his throat, but he kept a respectful silence as the man went on.

“I’ve never seen anyone as miserable as Sara those first few months. Every time she’d get to being almost normal, one of your letters would come and the tears would start again.” Exasperation crept into his voice. “If you were only going to write once every four months, couldn’t you have written more than two sentences? Did you like punishing her?”

That was more than he could take. “Punishing her? I wasn’t!”

Nelson’s grunt was loaded with disbelief. “And then when Amanda went to live out west with you all, you stopped writing.”

Stone clenched his jaw. He’d written now and then to let his mate know he was still alive. Amanda was her cousin. She could tell Sara he was still alive. “I didn’t have anything to say.”

Nelson stopped. “Yeah. That’s the whole problem, isn’t it? Instead of talking to her like a man, you just packed her off like a sulky little boy who didn’t want to play with a toy because it had a tiny chip.”

Tiny ch— Sulky boy? Stone unclenched his teeth enough to say, “Do you know what she did?”

“Of course I do. She told me every day and twice on Sundays! She kissed some other man in front of you. Yeah, she told me the whole story. Over and over. Did she ever blame you? Nope, not once. She took all the blame. Said she was stupid, and selfish, and silly.”

“She was stupid and selfish!”

“Yeah.” The older man began walking again. “She was. Seems to me she did it to get back at you for something you did that she didn’t like.”

Stone didn’t stomp as he walked, but he felt like it. Just like a sulky boy. That realization nearly made him stumble. “I went somewhere without her. She couldn’t come. It would have been impractical. And to get back at me she kissed another man. That’s wrong.”

“She knows it. She’s told me so about two million times. Son, she’s sorry. She’s grown up a lot since she’s come to Omaha. Isn’t it time you grew up too?”

Stone walked for a while in silence, wrestling with feelings he didn’t want to admit. “Words are easy to say,” he finally managed to get out. “What happens the next time she gets mad at me?”

“I think she’s grown up enough that it won’t happen. Oh, I’m sure she’ll get mad at you again. Probably lots of times. But she won’t try to get back at you like that.” Nelson thrust his hands in his coat pockets and looked at Stone. “Maybe I’m not an expert on women’s feelings, but I had a sister, and a wife, and a daughter, as well as a niece, and I’m telling you that girl loves you.”

Misery thickened his voice. “I wish I could tell what she feels.”

“Oh yeah. Sara told me you can tell if someone is lying, except for her.”

“I can’t feel her like that at all. It’s like being blind.”

“Can you tell if I’m lying? When I say that Sara loves you, am I lying?”

Stone felt his eyes widen. “No,” he breathed. “That’s true.”

“Darned right it is. Now you listen.” The alpha-like tone was back in Nelson’s voice. “Sara will be eighteen soon. I can’t pay to keep her home. She’ll have to go to work in house, maybe the same house that poor woman was beat near to death in. Is that what you want for Sara?”

“No.” Stone grasped the other man’s arm. “She loves me? You’re sure?”

“Yes, she loves you. You thick headed idiot. You should be ashamed. If she says she loves you, you should believe her, not rely on the word of another man.”

The clean scent of truth swept around Stone. Sara loved him, truly loved him! Elation filled him, making him feel as if he could fly. “I’ll believe her next time. Thank you,” he said fervently. “We better hurry back.”

“Uh-huh.” Mr. Nelson shook his head. “You kids make me tired. But congratulations on finally growing up.”

 

 

Sara & Stone Excerpt Two

 

Sara’s lower back ached from hours of nursing Odell, but she ignored that when Odell struggled to sit up. “I’ve got you,” she told the injured woman in the calmly encouraging tone the nuns had taught her. She braced Odell with one arm while the other hand re-arranged pillows to support her. “Water?”

“Snow.”

The name was a moan slurred by swollen lips, but Sara understood. “I’ll get him,” she said.

But of course she didn’t need to. When she stepped into the hall, the front door of the dorm was already opening. Snow walked down the hall with long, silent strides. She stepped back and he gave her a distracted smile as he passed her. He went to one knee beside the bed and took Odell’s hand gently. Sara watched him stroke his mate’s fingers as tenderly as he would a newborn kitten.

She was over tired. That must be why she felt like crying. Why didn’t Stone show her that kind of tenderness? Blinking to keep back the tears, she turned to bedside table and poured water.

“See if you can get her to take some water,” she said to Snow.

He smiled at her as he took the glass. “Sure. Why don’t you go lie down for an hour? I’ll sit with her.”

“Thanks.”

She quietly closed the door behind her. During their trip to Mel’s ranch a couple years ago, Snow had always been nice to her. He was that kind of guy. Why wasn’t Stone more like him? Sweet, kind, and tender, instead of cold, judgmental and bossy? Even before she had ruined everything by kissing Mord, Stone was often surly. She paused at the dorm’s front door to lean her forehead on the cool wood. Maybe, she admitted privately, he would have been nicer to her if she had been nicer to him. When he made eager protestations of devotion she had laughed at him. And worse. She lifted her head from the door with a weary sigh. She was such an idiot. How could she ever make him believe she had changed?

 

Sara & Stone Excerpt Three

 

“Sara!”

At the tiny table in the equally tiny breakfast nook in the women’s dormitory, Sara jerked awake and blinked. She stared blankly down at the remains of her lunch and shook her head to clear her mind. She stood up and crab-walked around the table to the door.

“Stone. What’s wrong?” She looked down the narrow hall towards the door of Odell’s room. It was closed. She looked back at Stone. “Is Odell okay?”

“Sure, she’s fine.” His eyes, the color of raw honey, held excitement. She loved his eyes. “I want to talk to you. You have time to talk right now?”

She’d already wasted half of her sleep break at the little table in the nook, but if Stone wanted to talk to her, she wanted to hear what he had to say. “I’d love to talk to you.”

He took her hand and led her out to the small entryway of the dormitory. “Let’s talk outside, so we don’t disturb anyone. Is it too cold for you? The sun is out and there’s no wind.”

She didn’t want to take her hand out of his and so she reached one-handed for her coat hanging on a hook. Drat. She would need both hands free to put it on. Stone seem to feel the same way, but he let go of her hand and helped her put her coat on. He stood close behind her smoothing her collar down with a hand that seemed… gentle. She felt his breath warm on the back of her neck. For a moment she stopped breathing, wondering if he were going to brush his lips over her nape. She waited for a moment but he stepped around and began fastening the buttons up the front of her coat. He paused for a moment looking down into her eyes. She gazed back up at him, knowing her eyes were wide and her lips dry.

The moment passed. Stone took her hand and put it in the crook of his elbow covering it with his other hand. “Sara, I’ve been thinking…” He trailed off and opened the door to the outdoors. “Let’s walk. I think better when I walk.”

Sara allowed him to lead her down the step to the backyard. Butterflies were doing their very best to create a whirlwind in her stomach. They strolled for several minutes without speaking. She began to wonder if he would ever open his mouth.

“It’s a nice day,” she ventured. “Odell is doing better today.”

“Yeah, yeah, that’s good,” he muttered. Suddenly, he stopped walking and looked down at her. “Sara, I know I’ve been mean to you.”

“No, you haven’t. At least, not more than I deserve.”

“Yeah, I have. I accused you of being a bratty little girl, but I haven’t been so grown up either.” His hand tightened over hers where it lay on his arm. “I never gave you a chance to explain or apologize.”

No, he hadn’t. “I wish you had. What I did was stupid. I was sorry for it right away. But you know what? Until a year ago I didn’t really realize just how stupid it was. So maybe if you would have given me a chance to apologize it wouldn’t have meant as much as it does now. If that makes any sense.”

“I guess it does. Maybe both of us were too young then.”

He didn’t return her trembling smile. His free hand, warm in spite of the cold October air, lifted to cup her cheek. She savored the connection, awed by its sweetness. “Stone, I am so sorry,” she whispered.

His other hand lifted to caress her other cheek. “Sara, tell me one thing. If you say it, I’ll believe it.” His eyes gleamed in the week sunlight, burnished by a shimmer of tears. “Sara, do you love me?”

Tears rushed to her own eyes and spilled over. “Yes, Stone,” she said as clearly as tears permitted. “I love you.”

He lowered his head until their foreheads touched. “Sara, will you be my mate?”

A giggle choked its way out of her tight throat. “We’re already married.”

He didn’t laugh. “Will you accept me as your mate?”

Sara swallowed. Her cousin Amanda had written to her about this. To Stone and his kinsmen, mating was much more than marriage. “Yes, Stone, I accept you. Do you accept me?”

“With my whole heart.” His face was solemn for a long minute before a wide smile broke through. “If it wasn’t for Odell needing quiet, I’d howl loud enough for Taye to hear me way out by Kearney! Can I kiss you?”

She looped her arms around his neck and dragged him down to her lips. The kiss started out hesitant, gentle, even awkward, but the tenderness of his lips made her want to cry until heat flushed trough her body and made her want something else. When he lifted his head she found herself panting.

“Oh,” she said weakly.

“Bad?” he asked, anxiously.

Pure joy made her laugh. “No, good!”

His smile bloomed again, wide and full of the same joy she felt. Something must have caught his eye. She quickly looked around, and saw Katelyn waving from the step of the dorm. “What is she saying?” she asked. “Is Odell worse?”

Stone, with his superb hearing, shook his head. “Odell wants you to come help her with something, but it doesn’t sound dire.” He smiled down at her. “I want a wedding night.”

“Me too!” she said instantly. “But when? Where?”

“I don’t know, but I’ll figure it out.”

“Okay. I better go.”

He walked her back to the dorm. With a quick touch of his hand on her arm, he whispered, “I love you.”

She went inside with his words held tightly to her heart. He loved her.

Tuesday Teaser 12/29/15: Olivia’s Mate

Wow, this is the last Tuesday of 2015! We’re getting close to the end of Olivia’s Mate. The manuscript is at 32,751 words now, and I estimate another 5,000 words to wrap it up. I had intended for it to be about 30,000 words. I guess no one will mind if it’s a little longer?  I am beginning with a bit of revisions of last weeks, and then we go to the tail end of chapter 11. I hope you enjoy it!

 

Olivia stared intently into his eyes, before looking down at her fingers twisting together. “There’s only one more thing.” She swallowed and drew a long breath. “What would happen if you decide someday that you don’t love me anymore?”

His jaw dropped. He looked at Stone and then at Colby. The younger man looked smug. Kit snapped his gaze back to Olivia. “I won’t,” he said simply. It was a vow he meant with all his heart.

Olivia shrugged, still looking down at her hands. “It could happen. People fall out of love all the time. And cats aren’t like wolves, are they? Wolves only find one mate, but cats are fickle.”

The smugness deepened on Colby’s face, and Kit was sure he knew where Olivia had gotten the idea that cats couldn’t be faithful. “The men in my pride don’t find mates very often, but when we do, we are true to her to death.”

He looked at Stone, who nodded. “Truth,” the other man said clearly.

Olivia looked almost miserable, but she persisted. “I saw what your pride is like when I was with you in those caves. All the men sleep with the women, don’t they?”

“They don’t have mates.” He wanted her to understand. “It’s not like that between mates. I have a mate. You are the only one I’ll sleep with.”

“Until you get tired of her,” Colby put in with a sneer. “Okay, fine, maybe you won’t sleep around,” he admitted with a glance at his uncle. “But that doesn’t mean you will be happy.”

“Shut up, Cole,” Olivia snapped.

The one Kit was getting tired of was Colby. “I’ve seen among humans how unhappy some of them are with their mates. Most of the time, it’s their own fault. They don’t even try to talk together to make it better. Well, they talk,” he corrected himself, “but they don’t listen.”

Olivia tilted her head, showing she was listening.

“I don’t think husbands understand what their women are feeling. Humans aren’t good at sensing those things, I guess, but seems like they don’t care. Sometimes it seems like the women aren’t saying the right things to make their men understand.” He wanted to reach across the table to take her hand, but he didn’t dare. “We won’t be like that. When you talk, I’ll listen. If I don’t understand what you mean, I’ll ask you to explain more. And you’ll listen to what I say, and if I’m not clear you can tell me I need to try again. Then we won’t fall out of love.”

Every eye in the room was directed at him. With approval? Stone cleared his throat. “It’s not always that easy, but that sounds like a good plan to keep each other happy.” He nodded at the room in general. “He has my blessing.”

“Shush!” said Olivia over Colby’s dissatisfied grunt. She smiled at Kit. “The only thing left is for my parents to meet you and give their approval.”

Remembering the cold, narrow face of her father, he swallowed. “What if they don’t like me?”

A shadow crossed her face. “I can’t marry someone they don’t approve of. But they’ll like you!” She faltered. “Once they get to know you,” she tagged on.

Behind him, he heard a woman murmur, “When we were young we would have laughed at the idea of needing our parents’ permission to marry.”

And another woman replied, “The world has changed a bit since then, Connie.”

“Where are your parents?” he asked.

“At the ranch. They’re coming for Christmas. So just a couple of days.”

Praying was unfamiliar to Kit, something that humans did. But he stared at his mate and prayed for all he was worth that her parents would give permission.

 

*     *     *

 

Tami gave the chili a good stir. She was making a triple batch to feed the ranch hands while she, her husband, and her sons were away for Christmas. Between the chili, the huge ham, and the venison sausage, the four men staying behind wouldn’t go hungry. The back door opened and shut so quietly that the only reason she knew it had opened was the swirl of icy wind that swept through the mudroom into the kitchen.

Tracker paused in the door of the kitchen. “Where did the boys go?”

“Town,” she answered, tapping the spoon on the side of the pot. “To get the train tickets to Kearney and pick up any mail. There should be a letter from Olivia by now. It’s been a few weeks since we heard from her. They should be back anytime.”

“They’re heading in. Saw ’em on the ridge,” her husband said, shaking his head to dislodge the snow clinging to his braids.

“Brr!” she said, when some of the melting snow fell on her. “That’s cold, Tracker.”

“Sorry.” He slipped an arm around her waist. “I can warm you up. Which position haven’t we tried in while?”

She melted against him like the snow on his hair. “Hmm, how about…” She reviewed the various lovemaking positions in their repertoire and suggested one.

Never a man to chatter, Tracker kissed her deeply and began maneuvering her away from the stove toward their room.

“But you said the boys are on their way in,” she protested half-heartedly.

“They know better than to bother us when our door is closed.”

His teeth grazed that one spot behind her ear that drove her crazy. “Right,” she breathed. “Oh, Tracker…”

It took them several minutes to get to their room, and just as she was about to kick the door shut, Tracker stiffened against her, head turned as if listening to something she couldn’t hear. “What is it?” she asked.

“Something’s wrong.”

He gently disengaged from her and strode out to the kitchen. She fumbled to button her shirt and hurried after him.

“Mom! Dad!” Parker yelled, as he slammed open the back door and ran in, holding an open letter in his fist. “Mom! Dad! A letter came from uncle Hawk!”

Hawk? It had to be about Olivia. Her daughter had written every week, but they hadn’t received a letter for a couple of weeks. Was she hurt? Tami looked automatically at her rifle in its niche beside the door. If anyone had harmed her…

Tracker already had the letter and was reading it with his usual lack of emotion. But she, who had been married to him for over twenty-five years, could see the tiny signs of rage on his face. When he lifted his face, his mouth was set in a long, flat line.

“You got the train tickets?” he asked tersely.

Parker patted his coat where the inner breast pocket was. “Yep.”

Tami snatched the letter from Tracker’s hand. It was a single page of Hawk’s carefully formed hand writing. She read with growing horror and confusion. “What is he saying? Who found Olivia?”

Tracker’s hands were in fists at his sides. “That damn cat. He found her and he’s courting her.”

“What? You mean the one who kidnapped her?” Tami stared at her husband and son. “And Des is allowing it?”

“Hawk says Olivia agreed to it.” Parker scowled. “The question is, what are we going to do about it?”

Tracker was back to being coolly relaxed. He didn’t smile, he didn’t frown. He simply said, in a very quiet voice, “We’re gonna kill him.”

Tuesday Teaser 12/22/15: Olivia’s Mate

Christmas is only THREE days away!!! I still have too much to get done! Hand stitching the binding on a quilt, wrapping presents, taking my mom out on one last shopping spree, cleaning the bathroom and the sewing room/guest room. That place looks like a bomb hit it! But my brother from Minneapolis will be staying in there for a few days and he needs to be able to walk around the bed without getting a pin stuck into his foot and find scraps of thread or fabric stuck to him. (I gave up on the cat hair. One of his gifts is a lint roller he can use immediately.)

 

Another thing on my list was to write a lengthy piece in Olivia’s Mate. I didn’t actually get very far and I haven’t had a chance to review and go in and add the little bits like emotions and little actions. Still, here is the bare bones of the next bit in Olivia’s Mate.  I hope you can enjoy it anyway.

 

Merry Christmas!

 

 

 

“You can force people to do other things, things they don’t want to,” Colby accused bitterly. “Like surrender.”

Oh. The reason for the anger and suspicion became suddenly clear. “I didn’t want you to get hurt.” He looked at Olivia pleadingly. “I told you I wouldn’t do it again. I promise, I never will.”

Again, all eyes went to Stone. “Truth,” he said.

“Oh, Kit,” Olivia said softly. She smiled at him with … Love? Was it love? “Are you sorry you stole me?”

“Yes,” he said.

Stone’s brows twitched together and he shook his head. Kat stared at him. How did he know? He pronounced true or false, and all of his kinsmen believed him without argument. Was he never wrong? Maybe not. He wasn’t wrong now.

“I am sorry!” Kit burst out. “I’m sorry that I did it all wrong and you were afraid of me. I’m sorry that I scared you.”

“I wasn’t scared of you,” she said defensively.

Her uncle looked at her. “Lie,” he whispered.

Color rose in her face. “Only a little at first.”

“That’s what I’m sorry for,” Kit said.

“But not for stealing me?”

Even though the entire room was listening intently, and with varying degrees of anger, he answered honestly. “No, I’m not sorry for that. I’m glad I had the time with you.” He almost mentioned his pleasure in feeling her mostly bare body pressed to his when they slept, but a glance at her uncles, Des and Hawk, made him swallow the words. Colby was rigid with temper, but the young wolf didn’t concern him as much as the elders. “I’m sorry because I didn’t listen to you. You told me I had to take you home. If I had listened to you, I could have begun courting you then.”

Colby snorted. “We would have killed you.”

“True,” Stone said with a wicked smile. “Or probably true, anyway.”

The low rumble of chuckles from around the room sounded dark and threatening.

“No, I wouldn’t have let them,” Olivia said stoutly.

“What could you have done to stop us?” Colby sneered. “You’re only a girl.”

Olivia’s eyes popped wide, then narrowed, as she half stood, slamming her fists on the table. “Only a girl?” she shrieked, at such volume that Kit’s sensitive ears quivered. “You— You idiot!”

Stone reached and patted one of her fists. “Calm down,” he said mildly. And to Colby, in the same mild voice, he said, “Have you found your mate yet?”

Colby’s nostrils flared in his reddened face. “No,” he growled.

“That’s a good thing.”

Kit watched while Colby’s jaw worked. “Why?” he ground out after a long, tense silence.

“Because now we’ll have time to whip you into shape for her.”

Colby’s face got redder. “Sit down,” he growled at Olivia.

Kit noticed several of the men looking at Colby with varying shades of displeasure and disappointment. The women looked nearly as outraged as Olivia. Olivia did sit down, still glaring at her cousin.

“What are you talking about?” Colby demanded of his uncle.

“I think you know.” Stone leaned back in his chair, still mild and conversational. “You didn’t learn that attitude from your father. You’ve known from the cradle the way a man should treat a woman.”

“I know how you treated Aunt Sara at first.” As soon as the words were out, Colby twitched as if controlling a cringe. “Sorry.”

Stone nodded. “I’m older and wiser now, and I gained that wisdom the hard way. We need to talk soon, but right now we’re talking to Kit and Olivia. Olivia, do you have any more questions for Kit?”

She turned her shoulder on her cousin and looked at Kit. “Are you really willing to live where ever I want?”

He paused, sure that Stone would know if he were lying. “Almost anywhere. A big city would be hard for me.”

“I mean, if I wanted to live close to my parents that would be okay?”

“Yes. Olivia, you can ask me anuthing.”

She stared intently into his eyes, before looking down at her fingers twisting together. “There’s only one more thing.” She swallowed and drew a long breath. “What would happen if you decide someday that you don’t love me anymore?”

His jaw dropped. He looked at Stone and then at Colby. The younger man looked smug. Kit snapped his gaze back to Olivia. “I won’t,” he said simply. It was a vow he meant with all his heart.

Olivia shrugged, still looking down at her hands. “It could happen. People fall out of love all the time. And cats aren’t like wolves, are they? Wolves only find one mate, but cats are fickle.”

The smugness deepened on Colby’s face, and Kit was sure he knew where Olivia had gotten the idea that cats couldn’t be faithful. “The men in my pride rarely find mates, but when we do, we are true to her to death.” He looked at Stone, who nodded. “I’ve seen among humans how unhappy some of them are with their mates. Most of the time, it’s their own fault. They don’t even try to talk together to make it better. Well, they talk,” he corrected himself, “but they don’t listen. I don’t think husbands understand what their women are feeling. Sometimes it seems like they don’t care. Sometimes it seems like the women aren’t saying the right things to make their men understand.” He shook his head at the tangle. It seemed easy to him. “We won’t be like that. When you talk, I’ll listen. If I don’t understand what you mean, I’ll ask you to explain more. And you’ll listen to what I say, and if I’m not clear you can tell me I need to try again. Then we won’t fall out of love.”

Every eye in the room was directed at him. With approval? Stone cleared his throat. “It’s not always that easy, but that sounds like a good plan to keep each other happy.” He nodded at the room in general. “He has my blessing.”

“Shush!” said Olivia over Colby’s dissatisfied grunt. She smiled at Kit. “The only thing left is for my parents to meet you and give their approval.”

Remembering the cold, narrow face of her father, he swallowed. “What if they don’t like me?”

A shadow crossed her face. “I can’t marry someone they don’t approve of. But they’ll like you!” She faltered. “Once they get to know you,” she tagged on.

Behind him, he heard a woman murmur, “When we were young we would have laughed at the idea of needing our parents’ permission to marry.”

And another woman replied, “The world has changed a bit since then, Connie.”

“Where are your parents?” he asked.

“They’re coming for Christmas. So just a couple of days.”

Praying was unfamiliar to Kit, something that humans did. But he stared at his mate and prayed for all he was worth that her parents would give permission.

Tuesday Teaser 12/15/15: Olivia’s Mate

Oh, my gosh! Christmas is only TEN DAYS AWAY!!! Are you going crazy getting ready? I still have to quilt and bind a table runner gift, bake cookies, take my mom shopping, clean the guest room/sewing room/ office for my brother who will be staying with me, and decorate.  But not tonight. Tonight I’m relaxing.

Kit, however, isn’t relaxing. He is being interrogated by Stone under Colby’s antagonistic eye. :)  Enjoy!

 

Kit stood outside the gate to the Plane Women’s Eatery. Big lazy snowflakes filled the air and collected on his hair and shoulders while the guards moved slowly to open for him. They had never been friendly, but tonight they bristled at him. Literally. One was in wolf form, his hackles raised and his teeth showing. Kit knew he had somehow offended Olivia. He just didn’t know how. His offense obviously annoyed her entire family.

He nodded to the guards as they let him pass. Olivia’s uncle Hawk was at the front door to let him in. The Alpha, Des, stood in back of the entry, arms folded, brows pulled down. He was another of Olivia’s uncles. Justin and his mate had taught him about human family relationships. An uncle was the brother of a person’s parent. So Des and Hawk were the brothers of either Olivia’s father or her mother.

He followed Des down a corridor to a different room than before, this one smaller. There were three couches pushed against three of the walls, with small tables and chairs scattered about. Just about every seat was taken. Most of the people in the room were men, but he saw five women there. A quick glance around showed him Olivia wasn’t there. Fear gripped its icy fingers around his heart. What had he done to offend her so badly that she wouldn’t see him?

The sound of his mate’s voice melted the fingers’ clutch and he turned back to the doorway. She came in with her cousin Colby behind her and a man he didn’t know beside her.

“Kit,” she said, smiling. “Sorry I wasn’t here when you came in.”

“That’s okay.” He felt the relief leap into his smile. “I just got here a minute ago. How are you?”

She walked to a small square table and beckoned him over. “Sit down, Kit,” she said. “Meet my uncle Stone.”

Kit shook the other man’s hand. He wasn’t young, but neither was he old. He wore his hair the way many of Olivia’s kinsmen did, in two long black braids. His eyes were light brown instead of inky black, but they held a watchful expression as he accepted Kit’s hand and gave it a vigorous pump. They all sat down at the table. Kit wished Colby would’ve chosen somewhere else to sit. His eyes were not only watchful, but anger smoldered there as well. Was that just Colby’s usual dislike, or was it related to whatever Kit had done to offend Olivia?

He sat opposite her at the small table and smiled at her beautiful face. There was something there but he wasn’t sure what it was. Excitement? It wasn’t that cautious, almost fearful, look she had given him on the sidewalk yesterday. Her uncle Stone sat at her right hand and her cousin Colby sat on her left. A quick glance around the room showed him that most of the people there weren’t staring this way. Some were playing cards and others were working on some sort of handwork. Talk was quiet and the tone was casual. Nonetheless, but he could almost taste suspicion and anger on the air. Kit was sure they were straining their ears hear everything he and Olivia would say. They were all related to Olivia in some way.

“How many uncles do you have?” he asked her.

She counted on her fingers. “Well, there’s Taye, and Shadow, and Des. Hawk, Red Wing, Quill, Sand, Snow, Sky, and Stag. Oh, and Snake, Raven, Lobo, Standing Bear, White Horse, and Matt, but Matt’s more like a cousin, I guess.” She screwed up her face and looked at Colby. “Who am I forgetting?”

“Never mind,” growled Colby, looking from her to the uncle. “Get on with it.”

Stone leaned forward, catching Kit’s attention. “Do you love Olivia?”

Another protective male relative. Kit didn’t mind answering that question. He would say it as many times as he needed to. “Yes, I love her.”

Stone looked over at Olivia and gave a brief nod. “I’m glad to hear it,” he said. “What would you do to keep her safe? If the only way to save her life was for you to die, would you do it?”

He felt no hesitation. “Yes. I would do anything to keep Olivia safe.”

The other man lifted one eyebrow and gave a very subtle nod to Olivia. Her face lit with a smile so beautiful Kit caught his breath. Every time he saw her she was more lovely and more precious to him. If he could see her smile at him like that every day he would be the luckiest man in the world. A faint sniff sounded from one of the couches against the far wall. Kit sent a quick look in that direction and saw the woman named Marissa raise a finger to swipe a tear away. Alarmed, he glanced quickly at the woman’s mate. Making a woman cry couldn’t be good. Her mate would want to punish Kit now. But the man, Red Wing, didn’t look angry at all. He wore a tender smile as he slipped an arm around his mate’s shoulders.

“How about happy?” Stone tapped a finger on the table to bring Kid’s attention back. “What would you do to make her happy?”

“Anything. I want her to be happy.”

Colby slouched in his chair with a scowl. “Yeah?” The younger man sneered. “Would you brainwash her to make her think she was happy even if she wasn’t?”

There was dead silence in the room. Kit shifted in his chair when he felt everyone staring at him. “Brainwash? What is that?”

Colby jerked upright, his chair scraping on the floor. The anger that had been smoldering at the back of his eyes was now a fiery blaze. “Like you don’t know.” Breath whistled between his clenched teeth. “You’ll stare deep into her eyes and tell her she’s happy and she’ll believe you because your magic will force her to.”

No one had touched him, but Kit felt like Colby had just sucker punched him. “I would never, never do that to her.”

Both Colby and Olivia looked at her uncle.

“Truth,” he said.

Colby sneered again. “But you could if you wanted to.”

A tiny spark of anger pricked Kit. “No, I couldn’t. I can’t make people change their emotions. I can’t make people love me, or think they’re happy.”

“You can force people to do other things, things they don’t want to,” Colby accused bitterly. “Like surrender.”

Oh. The reason for the anger and suspicion became suddenly clear. “I didn’t want you to get hurt.” He looked at Olivia pleadingly. “I told you I wouldn’t do it again. I promise, I never will.”

Again, all eyes went to Stone. “Truth,” he said.

Holiday Book Sale!

 

December is such a busy time of the year. There is decorating the house, shopping for presents, parties to go to, writing out cards, baking, cleaning for company, attending school programs, going to church functions, wrapping presents, standing in line at the post office…  Sometimes I just want to scream, “Could I please have one lousy evening for myself?!!!”

 

And it’s expensive. Presents, fancy food, and extra tips for the postal worker, the hairdresser, the newspaper carrier really strain my budget. I feel guilty spending money on myself when there are still presents to buy. Even a $6.99 book makes me count my pennies. Maybe you feel the same. But don’t you deserve to spend a little time and money on yourself?

 

This sale is for you. Sleeping With the Wolf is FREE, and the next book in the series has been reduced to $2.99. Other books are $0.99! So take that evening for yourself, snuggle under an afghan and read! Heck, who says you have to save ALL your cookies for Christmas?

sleepingwiththewolfSleeping With the Wolf  FREE

AMAZON US

Barnes & Noble

 

wolfsgloryWolf’s Glory $2.99

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

LSB Cover Art Template for PhotoShopWolf’s Oath  $0.99

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

 

Wolf's Lady Cover ArtWolf’s Lady   $0.99

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Sales goes until the end of December.

 

Happy Reading!

 

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