Tuesday Teaser 11/24/15: Sleeping With the Wolf

 I said I was adding a couple of new scenes to Sleeping With the Wolf, and I have. They are fairly short, and they add to the story without changing it. Here is one. I like the idea of giving readers a little hint of what is to come. What do you think?


     With that issue resolved, Taye cocked his head. The voices in the hall were so low even his superior wolf hearing couldn’t make out words. Carefully, he disentangled himself from Carla and walked silently to the door.

     “I hope I find my mate soon,” said Snake. Taye imagined the young wolf with his wavy dark hair spilling loose and wild over his shoulders. “I don’t want to be old when my wolf chooses a mate for me. I want to be young and strong so I can protect her and our children.”

     “Yeah?” Sky challenged him. “Even if your wolf chooses a mate for you, how will you get the woman accept you?”

     “I’ll do anything she wants. I’ll bring her the best horses, or I’ll bring her many deer to feed her family, or I’ll kill her enemies. Then she’ll love me.”

     “My mate will do everything I tell her to.” The complacent note in Sky’s voice made Taye grin and shake his head.

     “Everything?” Jelly asked.

     “Everything. She’ll obey me because I’m the Alpha.”

     “Oh.” Jelly’s voice was low and thoughtful. “But what if she doesn’t agree with you?”

     “Why wouldn’t she? I’ll give her everything she wants. She’ll agree with me because she’ll love me.”

     “Oh,” said Jelly again, doubtfully. “If you say so.”

     Sky muttered something in Lakota. “So what will your mate be like?”

     “I don’t know,” Jelly said dreamily, “but she will love only me. She won’t even notice other men.”

     A low snort came from Sky. “Of course she’ll love you. Mates never love anyone else.”

     Taye caught the faint rustle of a fourth person in the hall outside. “That might not be true,” Quill said in a mild tone. “What if a mate already loves someone when the wolf chooses her? It could happen.”

     Sky’s snort was slightly louder. “So what do you want from your mate, Quill?”

     “Love,” was the instant answer. “I only want to love her, and for her to love me.”

     “And sex,” said Sky. “Like the Chief and the Lu…” His voice broke off and even through the closed door Taye could smell his abrupt wariness. “Do you hear anything? Are they sleeping now?”

     Taye spoke in a growling whisper. “Not yet. Go to bed!”

     The muffled gasps and the scamper of bare feet down the hall made him laugh silently. He remembered trading dreams with his cousins when he was young. In those dreams his mate was always beautiful and brave and loving. He turned toward the bed, his gaze lingering on Carla, asleep in his formerly lonely bed. A smile of wonder curved his lips. His mate was so much better than his dreams. His wolf had chosen well. He was a lucky man. He went to the bed and curled up around Carla’s wonderfully bare body. Sleep caught him with that smile still on his lips.


Tuesday Teaser 11/17/15

We’ll be getting  back to Kit and Olivia soon, but I’m still working on revisions for Sleeping With the Wolf. I’ve found two places to add small scenes, and I’ve added little bits here and there along the way. For instance, Jelly is never named in the first book. So I’ve added this little bit. What do you think?


      Taye’s smile was wicked. “You can thank me tonight. After supper. When we’ve retired to our room.”

      Carla’s blush was hot. “O-o-okay,” she stuttered, remembering the way his fingers worked her last night.

      After he stripped off his pants and handed them to her to put away, she took one long, deliberate look at him. And she liked what she saw. He didn’t seem to notice, only smiling at her and leaving the dining room. Carla fanned her face for a minute, then gathered their dishes to take into the kitchen.

      The kitchen was in the process of lunch clean up. Two teenagers were there washing dishes, cleaning the grill, and wiping the counters. Sky was one. The other teenager was only thirteen or fourteen. His hair was as long as Sky’s, but instead of blue eyes, his were the golden brown of caramel. He nodded to her with a smile and took her tray. “Hi, I’m Jelly.”

      He was adorable in an all arms and legs sort of way. “I’m Carla.”

      “I know.” His tone was bright and sunny, like the goofy grin he shot at her. “Everybody knows who you are. You’re the Lupa. The Chief found his mate. He’s so lucky! He loves you a whole lot.”

      “He does?” Carla mentally kicked herself for asking and shifted her weight in preparation to leave.

      “Oh, yeah. I have the best nose in my generation.” Pride lifted his chin. “Even Tracker says so.”

      Sky rubbed a washrag over the counter, but he was watching her. He nodded in support of Jelly’s statement. “Tracker says Jelly is better than he is in some things.”

      Carla turned to Sky. “Who is Tracker? What does Jelly’s nose have to do with it?”

      “Our cousin.” Sky lifted a shoulder. “We don’t see him much.”

      “But Tracker has the best nose ever.” Jelly was clearly impressed by his cousin. “My nose is good too. I know when someone is lying. I can tell what they feel by their smell.”

      “Seriously?” Doubt kept into her tone in spite of her efforts to keep it even. “And Taye smells like he loves me?”

      “Uh-huh,” said the kid. “Last night— Ow!” He glared at Sky. “Why did you… Oh.” He turned back to her with innocence all but glowing on his face. “Not just like he wants sex. He loves you because you’re his mate. He loves us because we’re Pack. It’s different with you. He loves you in a special way. And he wants sex too.”

      Her mind went back last night, to Taye’s clever fingers and hot mouth. The kitchen was warm with the heat of the stove. That’s why she needed to fan herself. Jelly’s mouth spread in an artless, sweet smile. She was not discussing this with a fourteen-year-old boy. “Okay. Thanks.”

      He sniffed delicately at her. “So, you and the Chief finally gonna do it tonight?”

Tuesday Teaser 11/10/15: Sleeping With the Wolf

Hello! Did you know I’m doing a little revising of my very first published book? Yes, Sleeping With the Wolf will be re-issued in about a month, and I plan to add a few scenes to the book to expand it. I did a quick, informal poll on my Facebook page, and most people would like to see a scene with Sky, Jelly and Quill, and a scene where Taye and Carla cuddle and talk. What would you like to see? Leave a comment below if you’d like to take an opportunity to tell an author what you’d like to see!


I had forgotten how much I like Taye. He really is a great hero, both strong, and yet tender with Carla. Happy sigh. I’ve revised the first four chapters, mostly doing a little re-wording and adding little bits here and there. Would you like to see the first two chapters? These have been revised, but not proofed, so there may be little goofs here and there.


Oh, and I should mention that .mobi and .epub links to the revised book will be sent out in my mid-December newsletter, so if you’d like to read it for free, you can sign up for the newsletter on the right.


Chapter One

It wasn’t the crowd that made Carla’s palms sweat, or even the fact that this crowd was made up exclusively of men who were staring at her. She had spent most of the last five years standing on stage, singing her songs and playing her guitar for thousands of enthusiastic fans at a time, both men and women. She’d even received half a dozen marriage proposals from men she had never met. None of that had ever made her suffer from nerves before. There were only a few hundred men fixated on her here, but her sweaty hands were shaking worse than they ever had before a show. The difference was none of her adoring fans had a snowball’s chance in hell of marrying her, but one of these half-savage men lining up to fight for her would be her husband in a few hours. God help them.

How could she have gone from being a rising country music star in the year 2014 to a piece of merchandise in 2064? Useless questions raced angrily around her head, bringing her perilously close to tears, so she scowled at her surroundings. She’d be damned if she’d cry in front of this crowd.

The theater she was in now must have been a showpiece in its glory days, and maybe a historical site later. Right now it was a shell. The majority of one wall had been knocked out and replaced by mismatched windows so light could come in. The afternoon sun lit the interior like a spotlight on a once elegant but now aging diva. Half the fancy chandeliers were missing, and the ones remaining were missing most of their crystals. The balconies, like the one she stood in now, lined the only intact wall. Carla could see traces of the gold paint that once embellished the ornately carved wood. The raised stage was below and to the left of her balcony, but the curtain was gone. The slightly sloping floor was bare wood, marked with rough spots where the seats had once been fastened. The stage had a large square marked off to designate where the fights would take place.

Several of the men made a point of standing below her balcony while they stripped off their shirts and shoes to get ready to fight. They preened for her, stretching muscled lean bodies and trying to catch her eye. Some made kissing faces at her. She pointedly ignored them.

Her fingernails, showing only chipped remnants of Cherry Bomb nail lacquer, were ragged while they bit into her palms. If she counted correctly, today was The Day. If her world hadn’t ended four days ago she would be singing the national anthem at game five of the World Series tonight. But that world was gone. No cell phones, no cars, no computers, no planes. At least none that could fly … When she left Minneapolis after a show four days ago and boarded a plane to Denver, the world had been sane. Highways were full of cars driven by people who listened to CDs and played DVDs for their children. There were restaurants and grocery stores and malls in every town they flew over. The plane had been full of businessmen tapping away on their laptops and families with teenagers who were glued to their cell phones or tablets. And then … the world ended. Somehow the plane had gone fifty years into the future. And this future was after the apocalypse.

Carla glanced over at the woman on the balcony beside hers. Lisa Anton was beautiful. Of course she was beautiful: she was a model. She had long blond hair—natural blond!—perfect skin, perfect body, perfect makeup. At least, her makeup had been perfect when she’d got on the plane and taken the seat next to Carla. Carla, already in her seat, had cynically tagged her as a Blonde, not too bright, way too vain, and useless. They’d made superficial conversation during the flight, and what Lisa said hadn’t changed Carla’s mind about her. But when the plane went down and the survivors tried to dig through the wreckage to find others, the blonde model had done more than her share of digging and lifting. Her perfect makeup had been smeared all over her face, her perfect clothes torn and dirty. She’d held a little boy while he died and smiled for him the whole time, not crying until after he was gone. While others were hysterical when their cell phones and laptops didn’t work she stayed calm. When co-pilot Connie Mondale, the only surviving member of the plane crew, asked for volunteers to walk to try to find help, she immediately offered to go. Three pairs of survivors each set out in different directions to find help. Carla had been impressed by the blonde and hadn’t minded being paired up with her as one of the teams going to find help.

Help? Carla glared blindly at the windows opposite her balcony. A fat lot of help they had gotten. They had been glad and relieved to see the farm people after hiking for a day with no signs of life. The two-lane asphalt road they found was badly cracked and overgrown with grass and weeds. They didn’t know where they were, except somewhere between Minneapolis and Denver, without any cell phone reception. There had been nothing to see but grassy plains for miles. The first town they came to after walking for two hours was totally empty except for rusted shells of cars and sagging buildings. They continued to struggle on, confused by the emptiness around them and worried about the people they left behind. They passed a number of empty ruined farmhouses without ever seeing a person. It made no sense why miles of farm and grazing land were empty. Carla grew up on a ranch in eastern Wyoming, and it wasn’t unusual for ranches to be spread far apart, or to see an occasional older house or barn abandoned. But a dozen empty houses? Carla knew there was something weird about that, but she never in a million years would have guessed they had gone fifty years into the future.

The crash had been completely unexpected. Of course, who did expect a plane crash? It was a beautiful day for travel, so when the turbulence hit it caught all the passengers by surprise. Carla swallowed. Alarm closed her throat just as it had when the plane jolted violently and fell. So many had been killed or hurt she’d felt almost guilty to be merely bruised.

But the crash, terrifying as it had been, didn’t explain the eerie emptiness of the houses and towns she and Lisa had frantically searched. It was all surreal, like the set for an end of times movie. She’d constantly looked over her shoulder, half expecting a zombie to attack, but that was ridiculous.

The walled farming community they found the following morning was ridiculous too. Well, weird, anyway. The men guarding the gate had worn plain dark clothes, and held some sort of shotgun or rifle which Carla didn’t recognize. A militant Amish community? Or some strange group like at Waco? If she and Lisa hadn’t been so tired and hungry, and if their feet hadn’t hurt so much from walking in high-heeled boots, they would have passed on. But these were the first people they had seen, and the people from the plane needed help.

They should have passed on. Like her mom said, hind sight was twenty/twenty.

There were plenty of suspicious men, but very few women in the Odessa farming settlement. The farmers wore plain pants and shirts, and their wives wore ankle-length dresses. These farmers did without phones or televisions or computers. They seemed odd but not aggressive in spite of the armed guards at the gate. Their religion was rigid, and all-prevalent. At the midday meal the elder had prayed for “the two worldly strangers from the Times Before whom God sent to us as a gift to save us from the harsh winter.” Carla had to bite her tongue to keep from saying something rude. The women had fussed over their blisters and torn clothes and set up skimpy baths of water heated over the stove, like in Little House on the Prairie. The men agreed to take Carla and Lisa to the nearest town so they could get help for the survivors.

Right. Fooled by a bunch of Amish farmers. The farmers had taken them in a horse-drawn wagon into a nearby town that looked like a cross between an Old West town and a military base, to the so-called mayor, Ray Madison. The town was strange, with tall walls made of stone sectioning off some blocks and no signs of technology anywhere. There were no cars, no lights, no fast food places. They passed a building that had once been a popular chain restaurant, but the familiar sign was bleached by age and weather. Some men and boys were on the streets, staring at the two of them like they had two heads each, but they saw no women. Ray had looked them over like they were prime livestock while they had explained about the plane and the survivors needing medical help. Ray hadn’t shown much interest in that. He only gave the farmers some boxes and bundles in trade for the two of them. The farmers had left them with Ray. Lisa had cried. Carla had argued. But Ray had rubbed his hands together gleefully and announced that he would offer them as prizes in a Bride Fight. It seemed that two unknown women in their twenties were hot commodities in this future hell.

So that’s what they were now, prizes the best fighters could take home. And no help yet for the plane crash survivors. Had either of the other volunteer teams found help? Carla met Lisa’s eyes just for a minute and saw the model shaking. Her fair skin showed the signs of tears. Carla hoped her own tanned face was calm. She was so furious she’d like to punch these men. If there hadn’t been four guards standing behind her chair she’d have tried to escape. But where could she go?

Ray, the man who had bought her, stepped into her balcony. He smiled at her, showing a few gaps between yellowed teeth. Dental care must be hard to come by in this place. He indicated the men below. “One of those fine men will be yours in just a little while. You got a preference, little lady?”

His father-of-the-bride attitude rubbed Carla the wrong way. “My preference is to go home,” she said between clenched teeth.

Ray looked pitying. “Can’t,” he said patiently. “We’ve told you over and over that your world doesn’t exist anymore. Hasn’t for fifty years. Same thing happened a few years back. My missus told you about them other women from the Times Before who showed up out west of here. They never got back neither. They got good husbands now, and couple kids too, I heard. But I ain’t never heard nothin’ about them complainin’. So, buck up. You got twelve men fighting for you.” He sounded like he was congratulating her. “No more than what might be expected, a healthy-looking gal like you. You have a bit of meat on your bones. Gives a man something to hold on to.”

Carla’s teeth were in danger of shattering. She wore a size twelve, and a size twelve was not fat.

“But,” Ray went on, “even that skinny yellow-haired gal has ten men fighting for her, including my son.”

Ray was proud of his son, and with good reason, Carla had to admit. Eddie was a golden god, as handsome as any model Lisa might have worked with in the past. And he had been nice to her and Lisa when he tried to explain about terrorist nuclear weapons destroying most major US cities fifty years ago, and the asteroid that had hit Texas the following year, and the epidemics that wiped out more women than men, and how hardly anyone alive now even remembered computers or phones. Only a tiny percentage of the population was older than fifty. Eddie had made it plain that this wasn’t a dream, and even if they found help for the plane crash survivors they could never go back to their own time. His mother, Darlene, and his sister, Bree, had told them this wasn’t the year 2014 anymore, and having two more women in town increased their number to an even two hundred. There were over 4,000 men in the area, and about 1,000 of them were of marriageable age but unmarried. Lots of men would like to marry them, but only a couple dozen would be allowed to enter the Bride Fights.

Carla wanted to believe everyone lied to them and it was not 2064. But what else could explain the lack of cars, the lack of modern appliances? Sure, crazy fundamentalist technophobes could all move out to the middle of Nebraska and make their own community without street lights or phones or electricity, but that didn’t explain the obvious age of the tumbled buildings or the fact that her cell phone wouldn’t place a call to her mother or even 911.

“But you got good men fighting for you,” Ray went blithely on. “Like Doug Gray, there. He don’t have much to offer a wife, but he’s got education. They say he might be able to get some of these gadgets from the Times Before to work someday. You’d like that, hey? And he comes from a pretty well-respected family, too. Bill Russell is a blacksmith. Don’t let his size scare you. My wife says he’s a real gentleman. He’s got a good business. His wife would be taken care of real good. Or there’s Taye Wolfe. He’s head of the Pack from north of town, and he’s got ties to the Lakota hereabouts. Nobody would be stupid enough to mess with his wife. Got probably fifty men under him. They’re a bit odd, those wolves, but good people. My daughter says he’s a handsome man. Whatchu think?”

Without meaning to, Carla followed Ray’s pointing finger. Taye Wolfe was tall and dark, and he had just taken off his shirt, showing an impressive expanse of taut brown skin. Native American? He met her gaze and inclined his head to her before turning away to talk to someone. Carla frowned and jerked her eyes back to Ray.

“You don’t have the right to do this,” she snapped at him. “I am not a slave! You can’t sell me off—”

Ray had heard it a dozen times already. “Yes, I can. Common sense says you need to be married. This ain’t the Times Before. You are a grown woman without a husband, a father, or a brother. There’s too many men here and hardly any women. If you don’t get a husband quick the men will fight over you, and not the nice organized fights like these are gonna be. They’ll ambush each other, kill each other. They’ll commit outright murder. Just to get hold of you. You want that?”

Carla opened her mouth to reply, but he didn’t give her a chance.

“And I ain’t selling you! All these boys have paid an entrance fee to be able to participate in the Bride Fight. I’ll take my fair cut, but the rest goes to the town, to fix the streets and what not. I’m letting only the best men enter. The ones that have enough goods to support a wife, and ones who have a respected position in the town. Sure, Doug Gray’s not as well off as the rest of these others, but he’s respected. All of ’em are good fighters. The best fighter deserves to have a wife. That way the best genes will pass on to the next generation.”

Carla said a word she seldom used.

“And,” Ray went on, raising his voice to cover her profanity, “my wife got final pick of who got to enter. She made sure all of the fighters are good men. They’ll treat you right. She thinks any of these men would be good enough for our own daughter. If they’re good enough for Bree, they’re good enough for you.” He gave her a fierce nod. “Now I’m going to go over to the other gal and give her a pep talk too.”

Carla forced her fists open and took deep breaths, not bothering to watch Ray leave. Pep talk. Right.


A low, deep voice made her jump. It was Taye Wolfe, standing just below the balcony. Carla realized that he was a handsome man, with thick shiny black hair cut neatly at his nape, but long enough in front to fall into his eyes. His eyes were dark too, with surprisingly long lashes, under elegantly curved black brows. And he was younger than she had thought, maybe only twenty-three or twenty-four. His mouth was full and soft, a contrast to the hard angle of his jaw, and a hint of a dimple showed at the corner of his mouth.

“Ma’am,” he said again. “I heard that you are from the Times Before, and you don’t want to be here. Is that so?”

Maybe it was her love of putting sounds together to create music that made his deep voice so attractive to her. Shivers ran down her back at the sound of it. She leaned over the balcony, holding her long walnut brown hair back so it wouldn’t fall past the railing. “Yes! I need to go back to the plane! People are dying!” She looked around and noticed several of the other fighters scowling at Taye. She lowered her voice. “Can you help me get away?”

“No, ma’am.” His teeth were very white against his brown face when he smiled at her. “I plan to win this fight and marry you. But I want you to know that I’ll always take good care of you. I don’t know you yet, but I hope we’ll love each other someday. Until then I can promise you respect and gentleness.” He nodded once and walked away, leaving her gaping after him. He paused and turned back. “And I think I should tell you that I’ve read a bunch of those romance novels from the Times Before, and I know what a woman likes. I promise you’ll be satisfied in our bed.” He smiled again, a wicked white slash in his brown face, and sauntered away. Carla stared after him, appreciating the narrow waist and wide shoulders before remembering why he was here. Curse him. Curse them all!

Carla’s thoughts raced around her head. Like it or not, she was going home with a stranger after this tournament. Did she have anything in her purse that could be used as a weapon? She had a lot to choose from in there. After carrying it for a day and a half she knew how much it weighed. She picked it up from the floor beside her and rummaged through it, cataloging its contents. She was vaguely aware that Ray was down on the stage now, making announcements. She heard her name and the roar of applause from the crowd and looked out at them, glowering. Now, what did she have? Keys for an apartment and car that had no doubt been destroyed in the past fifty years. Wallet with useless money and credit cards. Knitting needle? That could be a weapon, but she was knitting socks on size one double-pointed needles that her brother called toothpicks, so probably not. Nail file? It was blunt and pretty small, from a purse-size travel kit. Darn the airline security regulations. She was wearing a leather belt with her barrel-racing championship buckle. The buckle was large and solid. If she swung it by the belt and hit someone, it could cause a lot of damage. Even kill a person. Her hands stilled. Was she capable of that?

The preliminary fights had already taken place when she decided to start paying attention. By the time she figured out what was going on, there were only eight men left on the stage aside from the referees, four fighting for her and four for Lisa. The contenders for her were on the right. She knew this because Taye Wolfe and Doug Gray were there. Lisa’s men, including Eddie, were on the left. Eddie kissed his fingertips and flicked his hand up, smiling at Lisa in the balcony besides hers.

Carla looked over at Lisa. The blonde tried to smile at Eddie, but she was terrified, and not hiding it well. Eddie would probably make an okay husband. Carla hoped he would win. He would treat Lisa nicely. Only two days ago Lisa had been only a name and a picture in magazine. Now she was like a sister. Carla wanted Lisa to be okay and happy, if possible. She looked down at the stage again, and her gaze met Taye Wolfe’s. His face was tilted down so that when he looked up at her it was from under dark brows. His dimple flashed with his quick smile. Carla folded her arms and frowned briefly before looking away.

She couldn’t help but look, though, when Taye and Doug Gray went into the square and both turned to face her. They nodded formally, almost like a bow, then shook hands, and at a word from one of the referees began to fight. It was a brutal mixture of boxing and wrestling. With four brothers, Carla had seen plenty of fights, but this was vicious. Compared to Taye Wolfe, Doug Gray was lanky, not as muscular. He fought well, though. Taye was hurt, but he won in the end, pinning his opponent in a strangle hold. Doug Gray slapped his hand against the floor to signal his defeat. Taye Wolfe helped him up and they shook hands. Doug Gray nodded to Carla, and Taye Wolfe sent her another wicked smile. Jerk. Did he think she was glad he had won? She looked away and yawned as if bored.

But actually, her stomach was jumping around so much she thought she might throw up. She barely watched the next fights because she wasn’t sure she could keep her face cool. She knew Eddie won his last fight because Lisa gave a half sob and said, “Thank God!” audibly, and then the spectators began applauding and chanting Eddie’s name. That was good. Lisa liked Eddie, and Eddie was obviously smitten with her. Ray’s voice was proud when he announced that the hand of Miss Lisa Anton had been won by Eddie Madison.

The spectators quieted down when the last two fighters stepped into the square. Taye Wolfe was facing a large, heavily muscled black man. Wasn’t he the blacksmith Ray had pointed out to her? Taye was barehanded, but the black man had a knife. Was that allowed? It must be, if the referee didn’t take it away or try to stop the fight. Carla couldn’t quite suppress her nervous shiver. One of these two men would own her. Taye was almost slender compared to the other man. The smooth way he moved seemed like a ballet to Carla. For all that, the fight was brutal. The black man had pinned Taye Wolfe down with his teeth sunk into his chest, trying to stab him with the knife. But Taye managed to free himself and kick his opponent in the head. He had a gouge in his pec from where the black man had bitten him. Blood ran in a dark stream down his chest. Carla turned her face away, teeth clenched. She didn’t look again until she heard Ray shouting that Taye Wolfe had won her. An unearthly howl rose above the roar of the spectators. When she forced herself to look she saw the black man lying still in a pool of blood and Taye with his head flung back and his mouth open in the howl that made her shudder. His teeth closed in a hard grin and his eyes slanted to look up at her with fierce triumph.

Taye Wolfe was her new owner, and he looked as feral as his name.

Chapter Two

The fights had been hard, especially the final bout. Taye knew he was bleeding from the slice across his forearm and the bite over his right pec, but he didn’t care. He screamed his victory, his howl rising above the roar of the crowd. The first thing he saw when he finished was Eddie Madison with his arm tenderly around his prize, and the trusting way she laid her cheek against his shoulder. Taye looked up at the balcony where his own prize stood. Surely now she would have lost that aloof expression of disdain. Now she would know he was worthy of her.

Carla had lost the disdain, but replaced it with disgust. Horror? Fear? That wasn’t right. His wolf’s protective instincts took over. Genetics and adrenaline gave him the strength to leap from the stage to the balcony. Her hair swung when she jerked back from his reaching hands. Her hazel eyes were wide, going from the stage where he had been standing to him now standing in front of her, before fixing on the blood seeping down his chest and then jerking up to his face.

“Don’t touch me!” she hissed.

“Shh,” he soothed gently. “It’s OK.”

“Yeah, right,” she snapped. “You touch me and you’ll be sorry.”

She was trying to hide it, but he could smell her fear. It hurt him. He pulled back a little. “Don’t be afraid. I promise, all I want is for you to be happy. For us to be happy.”

Her sour expression doubted him. “Yeah, right,” she said again.

His mate was beautiful even with a sour expression. Her face was triangular with a broad forehead tapering to a narrow, stubborn chin. Greenish eyes were outlined with long dark lashes, and her mouth was made up of a narrow upper lip and a plump lower lip. Her legs were long, too, and he wanted to wrap them around his waist and put her against the wall … No, better to not think of that yet. The urge to touch her, to feel that full red lower lip against his was overpowering, but he forced himself to keep a little space between them. “Don’t be afraid,” he said again. “I’ll be a good husband. I’ll take good care of you and our children.”

The scent of her fear grew stronger. His words weren’t working. She didn’t know him yet. Time would show her that she was safe with him. He signaled to Pete and Jay, his packmates standing below the balcony as guards. Here at a public contest like a Bride Fight he should be guaranteed safety, but the three mile walk home could be an invitation for sore losers to try to steal the prize they had lost. He and his Pack would need to be extra vigilant. ”Let’s go home, wife.”

Carla folded her arms over her chest. “I’m not your wife.”

“Yeah, you are.”

“Since when?” she challenged. “I don’t remember being invited to the ceremony.”

Taye caught hold of his patience. “I won the Bride Fight, remember? Didn’t you hear Ray make the announcement? You’re mine now.”

“That’s it?” Her voice rose sharply. She clutched her leather satchel against her chest like a shield. “That’s the entire ceremony? What about the church? What about the vows?”

Taye stared at her strangely for a moment, trying to remember anything about the marriage customs from the Times Before. “We don’t have a church or a priest here. Don’t need ’em to be married. You want vows? I’ll make vows to you. I promise to take care of you as long as I live. If there’s only enough food for one of us, you’ll get it. I’ll keep you warm when it’s cold. Anyone who tries to hurt you will have to go through me first. How’s that?”

“Those aren’t wedding vows!”

Taye shrugged. His new mate was obviously too upset to be reasonable. Taye shook his head, picked her up with one arm under her knees and the other around her shoulders and jumped out the balcony. The shriek she let out almost popped his eardrums. She let go of the satchel to clutch at him. He landed and reluctantly set her on the floor. For just a second her arms remained clenched around his neck. But she remembered herself too soon and scrambled out of his arms.

“What the h—How did y—ARE YOU CRAZY?” she screeched. She stumbled in her hurry to back away. “Don’t ever do that to me again!”

“All right,” he agreed mildly. A quick slash of his hand killed Pete and Jay’s grins. Jay held out his shirt and shoes. “I’ll get my things on.” A smear of his blood stained her green blouse at the shoulder and breast. It made him perversely happy to see that. All the spectators would know she belonged to him. “Why don’t you say good-bye to your friend before we leave?”

Lisa Anton was standing in the embrace of Eddie’s arms, blue eyes wide, eyelashes dark and spiky with tears. Carla’s brown leather satchel hung from her free hand. Unlike Carla, the blonde seemed content to let her husband hold her. She held the leather satchel out. “Carla, here’s your purse. Are you … Are you okay?”

“Peachy,” Carla snapped. Taye was bent over putting on his shoes, so he couldn’t see her face, but he heard her voice soften. “Sorry. Yeah, I’m okay. You?”

Lisa’s pale hair rippled when she nodded. “Yeah. But Eddie says he doesn’t see much of Taye or his Pack. I’ll miss you.”

Carla’s eyes were gleaming. With tears? “I’ll miss you too.”

Yes, tears. But she was blinking hard, daring them to fall. Taye straightened and nodded once at Eddie Madison. “You have free passage if you want to bring your wife for a visit. Send a message ahead. I’ll clear it for you.”

Eddie smiled. Taye had never in his life been attracted to a man, but even he felt the sensual beauty of that smile. “Thanks. Lisa will like that. After the honeymoon we’ll take you up on that.”

Eddie’s mate flushed a delicate pink, and she smiled at her new husband’s mention of a honeymoon. His own mate jerked her chin up and glared at him. Taye hoped that wasn’t a bad sign for his own honeymoon. He had been looking forward to tonight for years. The sooner they got home, the sooner he could begin gentling his mate.

“We better get moving. We need to get home before dark. Eddie. Ma’am.” He nodded at the blonde politely. “Congratulations.”

Book Scout

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What is Book Scout? It’s a website and a newsletter that features romance novels that have a lower heat rating. It is just now getting off the ground. Here is what one of their FAQ says:


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Nope! Some of our best friends write sex.

The truth is that books with lower heat levels have fewer marketing opportunities and less buzz. We wanted to create a place where those books got to be the focus without creating a community that was anti-sex or pro-any-religious background.

Book Scout is first and foremost about finding more good books.


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Book Scout




Tuesday Teaser 11/3/15: Olivia’s Mate

Eek! How did it get to be November already? I am tentatively hoping to be done with Olivia’s Mate by December 30. We’ll see. I am planning on re-releasing Sleeping With the Wolf around December 5. I will be writing a few new scenes for it. It’s possible that Olivia and Kit will be pushed onto the back burner while I concentrate on Carla and Taye. But for now, here is the snip from Olivia’s Mate. Enjoy!


He slowed his steps to look down into her eyes. “Would you like to live close to your parents?”

He was so handsome. And so earnest. And so sweet. “Yes,” she whispered. “I would.”

His eyes glowed turquoise in the cold winter sun. He stopped walking and put his hand, warm in spite of the cold winter air, on her cheek. “If you want to live close to your parents, then we will.”

She was drowning in his eyes. So beautiful. “Thank you.”

His head bent, and his lips touched hers. Without actually meaning to, she opened her mouth under his, inviting him in. His arms went round her, pulling her close.

Through a haze, she heard Colby’s snarl, and a heavy weight leapt onto Kit and tore them apart. She stumbled back while Kit crashed to the icy sidewalk.

“Colby!” she shouted at the gray wolf standing on Kit’s chest, snapping his teeth at Kit’s throat.

Kit was holding him off with a forearm against his throat, and his face took on the subtle lines of his cat. She stared when claws sprouted at his fingertips. She jumped a few inches when Howling Wolf spoke beside her.

“He’s different from us,” her younger cousin said thoughtfully.

She spared him a glance and saw him folding Colby’s discarded clothes into a neat pile in his arms. “I mean for us, the wolf comes out all at one time. But look at his hands. They are paws, like a cat’s, even though the rest of him is human.”

“Yeah,” she agreed, trying to sound casual. Casual was difficult when her cousin and the man who was courting her were doing their best to kill each other. No, she realized, Colby might be trying to kill or at least hurt Kit, but Kit was clearly trying to not damage Colby. She swallowed and forced her voice to steady tones. “The cats aren’t like us. You have a wolf, but you aren’t a wolf. I think the cat and the man are one person.”

“Huh, that’s interesting.” Howling Wolf stepped closer to her, watching Kat flip Colby onto his back to expose his belly. No matter how Colby strained against Kit’s hold he couldn’t break free. “I think your cat is going to win this one.”

He was right. Kit held his clawed hand poised over Colby’s throat. “I don’t want to hurt you,” Kit said, with a thread of his cat rasping in his voice. “You are kin to my mate. Yield.”

The wolf’s slips peeled back in a snarl that was answer enough. He squirmed frantically but couldn’t budge the cat in mostly human shape. Kit stared intently down into Colby’s eyes.

“Yield,” he said, his tone almost a caress.

Howling Wolf grunted. “Cole is too Alpha to give up so easily.”

The wolf made only a half-hearted effort to escape, and gave a little whine.

“Yield,” Kit said, still staring into Colby’s eyes.

Olivia felt her jaw drop when Colby tilted his head back to expose his throat. Beside her, Howling Wolf gave another grunt, this one tinged with disbelief. Howling Wolf was right: Colby was too much an Alpha wolf to submit so tamely. He was stubborn and infuriatingly sure he was always right ,and he’s shown an implacable prejudice against Kit. Was this some sort of trick?


But when Kit stood up, Colby twisted to his four feet, shook the snow from his fur and shifted back to human. Without a word, he took his clothes from his brother and dressed. For the first time Olivia noticed they’d drawn an audience. Several spectators, female and male, watched Colby’s strong naked body with appreciation.

Kit came back to her and took her hand to place it in the crook of his arm. “I should take you back to your house,” he said, smiling down at her as if nothing had happened.

“Okay.” She walked with him in silence for several minutes, her two cousins almost a block behind them. “How did you do that? I never expected Colby to submit to you. He’s the sort to gnaw off his own paw rather than submit. It was almost like you hypnotized him.”

Kit was silent for a long moment. “It’s something I can do. I’ve always been able to do it. It’s … I guess it’s sort of like magic.”

Unease, like icy fingers, slid down her back. “Magic? I don’t believe in magic.”

He laid his free hand over hers on his arm. “No? But your fathers and brothers turn into wolves. That’s not magic?”

“No! That’s just the way they are.” Actually, she did believe in magic. It came from the Lakota side of her heritage. “What did you do to Colby?”

His hair slid over his shoulders when he shrugged. “Just made him agree with me. That way he wouldn’t be hurt and you wouldn’t be mad at me.”

She almost jerked her hand free. Instead she swallowed. The house was only a block away. She hurried her steps. “How did you do that?”

“I just looked at him and thought it.” His brow wrinkled as he thought about it. “I just think of what I want someone to do, and sort of push it at them until it goes in and they do it.”

Cold that had nothing to do with the air temperature swept over her. “Did you ever do it to me?”

He looked away, toward the gate in the fence that was only yards away, and swallowed. She watched his Adam’s apple bob up and down. “Just once,” he confessed in a whisper. “When I carried you back to my lair. I told you to sleep.”

Yes! She remembered how odd it was that in spite of her fear she had fallen asleep. She ripped her hand free of his hold, fear and suspicion swirling inside. “Never do that to me again!”

He took a hesitant step toward her but stopped when she retreated. “I won’t. I promise.”

She continued to back up until she was at the gate. Red Wing shifted narrowed eyes from her to Kit, and then to Colby and Howling Wolf who came up to the gate with expressionless faces. She managed a smile at her uncle. “We’re back,” she said cheerfully, and unnecessarily. “Let me in, please. I need to get into the kitchen to help with dishes.”

Kit took a quick step forward. “When can I see you again, Olivia?”

The pleading on his face softened the wild emotions churning inside her. Her immediate refusal died. “Tomorrow night at 8:30. Unless Uncle Hawk says no. Come here tomorrow night.”

The relief on his face almost made her smile. “I’ll see you tomorrow.”

A Most Wanted Wolf by Sela Carson

Sela Carson has a new book out!


I think I’ve read everything she’s written. I like her characters, I like her humor, I like her stories. If you enjoy reading about hot men, kick butt women, werewolves, aliens and spies, I think you’ll like this series.


A MOST WANTED WOLF (Wolves of Fenrir)


A spy and a werewolf walk into a firefight… Whose A** do they kick?



Andrew Wyatt thinks all he has to do is bring a scientist back into the fold. He doesn’t count on a sizzling hot alien wolf shifter getting in his way, and getting under his skin.


The last thing Ule tärEinar needs is a tall blond spy interfering with her life. She may not trust Andrew, but that doesn’t stop the sparks from flying around them.


The trust is hard won, and they’ll need each other to survive an invasion that could draw their two allied cultures into a war neither can afford.


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Tuesday Teaser 10/27/15: Olivia’s Mate

Wow, what a week and it’s only Monday! My tire picked up a screw, and I’ve taken it top the shop twice and they couldn’t fit it in either time! Then this morning I was brushing my teeth and a tooth broke! It’s not like I was scrubbing my teeth with a wire brush; I use a soft toothbrush. oh, well. At least it doesn’t hurt. I’ve called the dentist and have an appointment tomorrow around noon. My fingers are crossed that the screw doesn’t come out of the tire and the tire goes flat. See what a mean? What a week!


But poor Kit is about to have a harder week than mine! Enjoy!



The kitchen door swung open and Marissa appeared carrying a tray. She set down plates loaded with steaks and baked potatoes and long green beans. “Here you go,” she said cheerfully. “Need more bread? Butter?”

Olivia inhaled the scent of perfectly seasoned and grilled beef. “I’m good. This is terrific. Please tell Renee thank you.”

Kit nodded enthusiastically and Marissa laughed. “Save room for dessert. We have apple pie and cinnamon vanilla ice cream.”

After she left, Kit spoke in a low voice. “Ice cream is good, but I know what I’d like for dessert.”

Something in the way he stared at her made her blush. “Kit,” she began, darting a look around the restaurant to be sure no one had heard. Oh, crap, there at a table near the front of the restaurant were Colby and his little brother Little Feather— No, he was Howling Wolf now. Both of them seemed absorbed by their food, but knowing how sharp wolf hearing was, and seeing Colby’s brows pulled low, Olivia guessed they had heard.

Kit held up a hand. “Sorry. I wasn’t supposed to say that. That wasn’t what a civilized man should say.”

Although the tables in the restaurant were filling with diners, no one seemed to be paying any attention to them. Even Colby and Howling Wolf were doing a good job of pretending not to hear. Olivia went back to cutting her steak into small pieces. Maybe it wasn’t civilized, but his obvious hunger for her sparked an answering hunger in her. She only hoped none of the pack could smell her desire. That could get Kit into serious trouble. She concentrated on her meal in an effort to cool down, but she snuck quick peeks at him. He was cutting his steak and eating with perfect table manners. Every move he made with his fork and knife was elegant. It made her aware that she wasn’t eating as neatly as he. She was almost embarrassed.

Kit caught her eye during one of her peeks and gave her a slow, hot smile before eating another bite of steak. That smile didn’t help her cool down. They ate in silence. She was surprised it wasn’t uncomfortable. Kit was like most of the men in the Clan. When he was eating, he paid attention to his food and didn’t bother with small talk. That was fine. She liked looking at him. When they had finished, he balanced his knife and fork on the edge of his empty plate.

“It’s warmer today,” he said. “Would you like to go for a walk?”

Through the window she could see it was clear, with the sun bright in a vivid blue sky. “I’ll need to get my coat and hat.”

“I’ll go talk to your uncle while you get them. He’ll probably want to know where we’ll go.”

“He’ll probably send a chaperone,” she said on a sigh.

He reached across the table as if to touch her hand, but drew back. “That’s okay. I’m doing this right. You go get your coat. I’ll go talk to your uncle.”

When she came back downstairs, Kit sat on one of the benches in the area Aunt Connie had set aside for those who were waiting for a table to open up. Standing opposite him, arms folded over their chests, were Colby and Howling Wolf. She smiled at her cousins to prevent her lips taking on a sour curve.

“You’re going to escort us?” she said a little too brightly.

Colby nodded brusquely, but Howling Wolf smiled sweetly. He was still young, only twenty, and he was much less aggressive than most of his kin. Instead of inky black hair, he had brown hair that he wore in a ponytail that fell to mid back. “Uncle Hawk said to stay back so you and your cat can have some privacy.”

“Thank you,” said Kit gravely.

They stepped out into the bright winter day and Olivia’s foot slipped on a patch of ice. Kit neatly caught her before she fell. He lifted his voice slightly. “I’m going to tuck her hand in my arm,” he said. “So she won’t fall.”

“Okay,” said Howling Wolf cheerfully. Olivia thought Colby growled, but he didn’t speak.

With her hand tucked in the crook of Kit’s elbow, Olivia walked at a sedate pace to the gate in the fence around the Plane Women’s House. Red Wing gave them a steely stare, nodded at Colby, and opened the gate for them. Colby and his brother allowed them to put some distance between them, but Olivia was sure it would be obvious to anyone that her cousins weren’t strolling for their health. They were there as bodyguards. Whatever. They were half a block behind, so she and Kit could talk quietly.

“Thank you for walking with me,” he said, pressing his bare hand over her gloved one. “Are you cold?”

“No. There’s no wind. You were right, it’s a nice day. What do you want to talk about?”

“Us. Our future. I want you to be my mate. What do you need to make that happen?”

“Um… Well, there are things I need to know.”

“Like what? Ask me anything.”

She walked in silence for a minute, watching the sidewalk. “Okay. If I do accept you, how would you support me and any children we have?”

He nodded. “That’s a good question. Justin and Teresa taught me a lot of things besides good manners. I’m good with numbers, so I could be an accountant. I’m better with horses. I could be a cowboy. There’s still a lot of land unclaimed. We could start our own ranch.”

She shot a sideways glance at him. He didn’t look like an accountant. Maybe a cowboy. A start up would be a lot of work. A ranch took years to become profitable. “Do you have money to buy cattle and horses?”

“No. Maybe I could work somewhere and make enough money to buy what we need.”

Maybe. But how long would it take to get enough money? “I know there’s some land not far from my parents’ ranch. They might give us a few cows and loan us a bull to help us get started.”

He slowed his steps to look down into her eyes. “Would you like to live close to your parents?”

He was so handsome. And so earnest. And so sweet. “Yes,” she whispered. “I would.”

His eyes glowed turquoise in the cold winter sun. He stopped walking and put his hand, warm in spite of the cold winter air, on her cheek. “If you want to live close to your parents, then we will.”

She was drowning in his eyes. They were so beautiful. He was so beautiful. “Thank you.”

His head bent, and his lips touched hers. Without actually meaning to, she opened her mouth under his, inviting him in. His arms went round her, pulling her close.

And then she heard Colby’s snarl, and a heavy weight leapt onto Kit and tore them apart.


The winner of the paperback of Tales of the Wolf Clan is


Sherry M.


Congrats, Sherry! I have sent you an email.

CONTEST! Win a Paperback Book!

TalesYou know I just love to do these little impromptu contests. I just happen to have an extra copy of Tales of the Wolf Clan on hand. This is the paperback version of both Wolf’s Oath and Sherry’s Wolf in one volume. To celebrate the website being back up, I am going to give the extra copy to one lucky commenter. Yep, just leave a comment below before 6pm Central Time on Sunday, October 25. That’s the same time zone as Chicago IL USA or Mexico City, Mexico. I’ll mail the book Monday night to the winner. The contest is open world wide. If the winner lives in Australia or Africa it may take a little longer to get there, but it will get there eventually. :)


So leave a comment on this post and I’ll draw a name on Sunday around 7pm. I’ll email the winner and post here.


Good luck!

Tuesday Teaser 10/13 and 10/20: Olivia’s Mate

TalesMy apologies for the delay in the Tuesday Teasers. The server was down for an upgrade that took longer than expected. No one’s fault, just one of those things. But we’re up again now, and to celebrate I’m going to give away a paperback copy of Tales of the Wolf Clan over the weekend. I’ll post about it again on Friday, with instructions about how to enter, so stay tuned.


Since it’s been so long, I’m giving you a double helping of Olivia and Kit! Enjoy!



Olivia gripped the edge the table so hard her fingers hurt. She swallowed. “That was quite a speech, Kit.”

“I practiced parts of it,” he confessed. “But that doesn’t make it less true.”

She stared at him. Victoria was right. It took guts for him to come all this way and face off against her menfolk. “Okay.” It was hardly more than a whisper, so she cleared her throat to speak louder. “You can court me. We’ll see how it goes.”

She wasn’t surprised to hear the growls coming from the men. “This is my choice,” she told them with a fierce tilt of her chin. “I won’t be stupid. I won’t be alone with him. But he deserves a chance to prove himself to me.”

Colby broke from his position against the wall to loom threateningly over Kit. “If he puts one toe over the line I’ll kill him.”

Kit rose to his feet and stared Colby dead in the eye. “That’s fair. I won’t do anything to hurt Olivia. I promise I want to do this right. I want her to be safe and happy, just like you do.”

The sound of derisive disgust came from more of the men than just Colby, but no one said anything. After a minute Uncle Des waved Colby back. He laid a heavy hand on Kit’s shoulder and it looked like he squeezed little more than necessary to get his attention. Olivia saw Kit’s slight flinch.

“Tomorrow,” he said, “you can come here and have lunch. 11:30. Don’t be late.”

Kit looked at Des and nodded. Olivia noticed that Kit was an inch or so taller than the Alpha, but more slender. He might be slender, but he hid great strength in his lithe body. She remembered him carrying her for hours at a run. She also remembered how angry and frightened she had been then. Was she still frightened? No, she was safe here with all the men of the Packs on hand.

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Kit,” she said, smiling.

He smiled back. “I’m looking forward to it.”

He looked like a normal young man, the type she might meet at one of Aunt Carla’s concerts, all dressed up for the event. Just how deep did the civilization he’d acquired at his brother’s hands go? As a couple of the men herded him out she found herself forward to seeing him again.




Kit walked away from the house his mate lived in, feeling the eyes of at least two of her kin on him. Joy bubbled fiercely inside him. She’d agreed to his courtship. He wanted to lift his head and scream his elation. What did a civilized man do when he was this excited? He glanced up at the stars and began to count them to control his urge to yowl. The wolves ghosting behind him wouldn’t like him to scream his victory here in the middle of this town.

He never saw the wolves, but he was sure they followed him all the way to the place he was staying at. John Hudson, a townsman with a house on a large lot, had given him a bed in a sort of bunkhouse behind his house for a small amount of money. Kit walked past the house and entered the bunkhouse. It held six beds that Hudson rented out to men passing through Kearney. It wasn’t fancy. There was no electricity or running water, but for a man who had lived in caves until recently, it was perfectly acceptable shelter. The bed was clean and there was a chest at the foot of the bed where he could keep his few belongings. At the moment, Kit was the only one staying there.

He could see well enough in the dark, so he didn’t bother to light the lamp to open the chest at the foot of his bed. It had a lock, which was one of the things about civilization he hated. Why should anyone have to lock their possessions away? To keep other civilized people from stealing them? But he used the lock Hudson gave him because he had only a little money and couldn’t afford to have someone take it. He crouched now and carefully counted the coins and snips of gold. Justin had given him all he and Teresa could afford, but it wouldn’t last long. He might have to find work to earn more. How long would it take to court Olivia and gain her consent to their mating? He tucked the bag of money back into the chest.

He carefully took off the suit Kathy had made for him. He stroked the soft fabric, enjoying the plushness of it. Olivia had liked it. He remembered her quick expression of pleasure when she’d first seen him. She had instantly wiped it away, but he’d seen it, and he treasured it. As he neatly folded the suit coat and trousers into the chest, he folded the image of Olivia’s pleasure into the little box in his mind, where he kept all his best memories. He’s opened it often in the past year and a half, taking out precious memories of Olivia to comfort himself with when he struggled and failed to comprehend civilized behavior. The lessons Justin and Kathy had drummed into him were paying off. Olivia had smiled at him. Her male kin hadn’t tried to hurt him.

No, it was the others who had hurt him, those strange cats. They had followed him from the store this afternoon and dragged him into a snow-filled alley. He lifted a hand to his shoulder, feeling the bruises the cat named Marty had left. Although the two seemed to be the same age, Marty was clearly more dominant. Ray was aggressive, but followed the other’s lead.

“Who are you?” Marty demanded, a hand around Kit’s throat slamming him into the brick wall at his back.

“I’m Kit. I’m only here to find Olivia Stensrud. I don’t want your territory. I didn’t know there was a pride here.”

The two men exchanged a glance. Ray growled and Marty leaned close, eyes slitted. Had he been in his cat form his tail would have been lashing from side to side. “Where’s your pride?”

Kit hadn’t seen them in a year and a half. “New Mexico. Maybe Arizona. We winter down south and come north to Colorado in the summer. They’re not here. Just me.”

“Why are you here?” Ray bared his teeth. “What do you want?”

“My mate,” Kit answered simply. “Olivia Stensrud is my mate. I’ve come to court her.”

Marty and Ray exchanged another look. Marty released his throat with a chuff. “My mother will want to meet you. Come with us.”

They didn’t give him a choice. Marty’s hand clamped so tightly over his shoulder Kit could feel fingers pressing on bone. He didn’t struggle though. Of course the queen of this pride would need to give her consent to him being in her territory. How many cats did she rule over? And why hadn’t his pride ever heard of them? They walked to a part of town Kit hadn’t been to yet. It was surrounded by a stone wall guarded by armed men. They weren’t cats, though. They were let in and they walked to a grand house. It was a fit home for a queen. They went into a bedroom in the back of the house next to the kitchen.

When he saw the queen he was shocked. There was still fire in her faded blue eyes, but her body, lying in a bed loaded with blankets, was emaciated and weak. It was hard to tell her age, but if Marty were her son, she couldn’t be seventy yet. Marty bent over her, calling her Mom and kissing her cheek. He whispered in her ear so low that Kit couldn’t hear. The queen nodded a few times and beckoned to Ray to come closer. He called her Grandma. Finally the men straightened and the queen pointed at him.

“You, come here. Tell me about yourself.”

He did, emphasizing that he was only here to court Olivia. She asked more questions about his pride, and it seemed as if she didn’t know how a pride worked. How could that be? He wanted to ask questions too, like how many cats were in her pride and where were the other queens. But he didn’t want to be disrespectful. In only a short time her eyes lost their fire and she fell asleep. Kit stared at her and then looked at the other men.

Marty led him out of the queen’s bedroom to the kitchen. Another man was there, older than Ray and Marty, but resembling both of them. He froze for a split second when he saw Kit, then his eyes shimmered cat gold.

Marty jerked a thumb. “Eddie, meet Kit. Kit, meet Eddie, my brother and the Mayor of Kearney. Kit is visiting while he tries to woo Olivia Stensrud. Mom is okay with him staying in town.”

Eddie relaxed a little. He even offered his hand in the human mode of greeting. “Nice to meet you. Sorry I have to run, but Jasper Packard’s mare is foaling. Look after him, Mart.”

That had been Kit’s introduction to the Kearney Pride. Marty and Ray had both walked with him back to Hudson’s house. They weren’t as friendly as Eddie, but other than warning him to watch himself, they made no threats. There was nothing now to prevent his courtship.

He lay on the narrow bed and pulled the sheet up to his waist. Tomorrow he would see Olivia again. He would begin his formal courtship.


Chapter Ten


Olivia checked the small round table one more time to be sure the tablecloth hung evenly. The usual beige tablecloth had been replaced with one of bright, Christmas red. She was surprised that uncle Des was allowing her and Kit to sit alone for their lunch date. Well, not really alone since there were a dozen other people already eating lunch in the restaurant. But at least they would be at the same table, and unlike last night, the table was small, so they could have at least the illusion of privacy. She stepped back and jumped when she bumped into somebody. Something prickly poked her shoulder.

“Hey.” Victoria’s voice was a growl.  “Look what you did.”

Olivia brushed at her shoulder and admired the small arrangement of pine boughs and cinnamon sticks tied with cheerful red ribbon. One of the pine twigs was broken. “Sorry.”

Victoria carefully pulled the broken piece free and set the arrangements in the center of the small table. She stepped back, head tilted to the side to check the placement, and made a minute adjustment. “There. Festive, don’t you think?”

“It’s nice,” Olivia agreed. She glanced around the restaurant, noting that all the tables had cloths of red or green, but not centerpieces. “Did you make enough for all the tables to have an arrangement?”

Her cousin shot teasing look over her shoulder. “Nope. Just the one, for our special guest.” She put extra emphasis on the word ‘special’. “We want everything to be perfect for him, don’t we?”

Yes, she did. She glanced around the restaurant, noting Hawk was the only man of the Pack in the dining room, although she was sure some of her younger cousins were around, ready to bus tables and wash dishes. She was sure they would all be keeping an eye on this little table.

Victoria’s gaze shifted toward the entry and a slow smile curved her lips. “He is such a pretty boy.”

Olivia whirled around and saw Kit walking behind Mrs. O’Connor, the hostess. His face was pretty, but his wide shoulders and whipcord physique were all man. Mrs. O’Connor waved toward her and turned back to the hostess desk up front.

Victoria murmured, “Have fun.” Then she disappeared into the kitchen.

Olivia started forward to welcome Kit. She was relieved to see he was casually dressed in jeans and a flannel shirt. She had debated what to wear today. This was their first date, and last night he had dressed so nicely. She didn’t want to be under dressed. After wrestling with it, she had settled for wearing her usual jeans and a sweater.

“Good morning!” he said eagerly. The tip of his nose was red. He might be cold from the December air, but his smile was warm.

“Hi.” She waved at the table. “We’re sitting here.”

Kit stepped forward and eased a chair out, looking at her expectantly. It took her a minute, but she realized he was waiting to seat her. The heat of a blush surged into her cheeks. She gathered her composure and stepped in front of the chair. As she sat, he scooted the chair forward. It was as smooth and graceful as if they had done it a dozen times. When she looked up, she saw Aunt Renee in the kitchen door, nodding approval.

Kit sat across from her. The table was so small that with the centerpiece there would barely be room for their plates. It was strangely intimate. He leaned forward slightly to speak in a low voice.

“I dreamt of you last night,” he told her.

In anyone else that might have sounded flirtatious, but Kit was matter-of-fact.

“You did?”

“Yeah. It was a good dream. We were old and gray, with grandchildren—”

He broke off when Marissa came to their table and set a cup in front of each of them and poured hot, fragrant coffee into the cups. Marissa was Red Wing’s mate, a comfortably plump woman with smile lines on her pretty face.

“Good morning,” she said cheerfully. “How would you like your steaks done?”

Olivia stared. “Steak? I thought today’s lunch was Boston Baked Beans with a slice of ham, or a hamburger and fries.”

“For everyone else, that’s right.”

Kit patted his front pocket with a wrinkle between his brows. “Steak costs more, doesn’t it? I’m not sure I can afford steak.”

Marissa waved that away. “It’s on the house. Renee likes you, young man.”

Olivia’s mouth dropped open. “She does?”

“Yep, and she doesn’t like many people enough to offer them a free steak. So how would you like it done?”

“Medium rare for me,” Olivia said and looked at Kit.

He still had that wrinkle between his brows. “But a man is supposed to buy his date’s meal,” he protested.

Marissa gave him a warm smile. “If you try to pay for this, Renee will be unhappy. You don’t want to make Renee unhappy. If Renee is unhappy, her mate is unhappy, and her sons are unhappy. An unhappy Hawk is not a good thing. Believe me.”

Kit smiled, the line smoothing from his face. “Okay. I’d like my steak rare, please.”

Marissa went to the kitchen and returned immediately with a basket of dinner rolls and a small bowl of butter. “There you go. Your steaks will be out before long.”

Kit buttered a roll and handed it to Olivia before buttering one for himself. “So, Renee is mean?”

“Oh, no. She’s just a really good cook, and she expects people to appreciate her cooking.” Olivia took a bite of the roll and almost moaned. Fresh out of the oven, with butter melting over the edges, the roll was just a preview of the excellent lunch to come. “Aunt Renee is a wonderful person, but she isn’t the warm, fuzzy type. But if she likes you, then Uncle Hawk will like you. He’s the pack Beta, so his opinion carries a lot of weight.”

“That’s good then.” Kit leaned over the table. “But the most important thing to me is whether you like me.”

That stupid blush was back, but she gazed at him steadily. “That’s what we’re going to find out, right? That’s why we’re courting.”

He nodded with a slow smile. “Yeah. Do you like living here? You used to live on a ranch out west.”

“I like it well enough. My family lives on the ranch, but we travel a couple of times a year to visit other family. This isn’t a new place for me.”

“But you’ve been here a long time, not just a visit. Is it because of me?”

Olivia forced a bite of bread down, and picked up her coffee to drink. She wouldn’t lie to him. “My mom and dad thought it would be good for me to be away from the ranch for a while.”

“They thought I would try to take you again.”


He stared out the window on the far side of the room, showing her his perfect profile set in melancholy lines. “I wouldn’t have. I watched you and your family walk away from me on that mountain and I realized then that I had done wrong by stealing you. That’s when I decided to go to Justin and have him and his mate teach me how to behave.”

He had seated her like a perfect gentleman. He kept his elbows off the table and ate his roll in small, controlled bites. Which was more than most of the men in the Pack did. “You learned a lot.”

He flashed a smile at her. “Before I went to them I searched for you. Not to take you, but just to see you from a distance. I found your home, but I figured out you weren’t there. I heard your brothers talking about you, though. That’s how I learned you were in Kearney. I’m glad you are still here.”

She had missed the ranch, and being with her family, bitterly, but now she was glad she was here. “Did you like being with Justin? Was it hard to be away from your family?”

“Sometimes it was hard.” He looked down at the roll he crumbled. “I can’t go back to the pride. Tricia and Maria forbade it.”

The roll she’s so enjoyed turned to lead in her stomach. “You’ve been banished?”

He lifted one shoulder in a shrug. “Justin and his mate said I was always welcome. If you accept me, we will need to discuss where we will live.”

The kitchen door swung open and Marissa appeared carrying a tray. She set down plates loaded with steaks and baked potatoes and long green beans. “Here you go,” she said cheerfully. “Need more bread? Butter?”

Olivia inhaled the scent of perfectly seasoned and grilled beef. “I’m good. This is terrific. Please tell Renee thank you.”

Kit nodded enthusiastically and Marissa laughed. “Save room for dessert. We have apple pie and cinnamon vanilla ice cream.”

After she left Kit stared at Olivia so intensely that she shivered. “What?”

A faint wash of red swept into his face. “I know what I’d like for dessert,” he murmured. “But that’s not civilized.”




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