Tuesday Teaser 12/16/14: Daughter of the Wolf Clan

Sky1 Oh, dear. Today’s teaser is very short. Sorry! Does it help if I tell you I’m writing the first love scene between Sky and Rose? Well, it’s not a full love scene. I have to ease them into this. After all, they’re both virgins. Rose is giving off confusing signals and Sky is reluctant to push her for fear of frightening her. But they’ve just woken up in the same bed, and they must have drawn close together in sleep, because when Sky wakes up Rose had her face pressed into his chest and they have their arms around each other. Sky wakes first and just lays there with a huge smile on his face, because his mate is sleeping so trustingly in his arms. Then Rose rolls away from him onto her back and his hand ends up in an interesting place. They both freeze, shocked yet delighted. I wonder how far I should have them go before Sky forces himself to stop and let Rose flee to the shower, leaving him alone in his pristine white sheets?

 

Well, here is the teaser from Olivia and Kit’s story:

 

He hauled her up into his arms and began running. She had never travelled so fast. How could he run so fast? He was running uphill, carrying her in his arms like a baby. Even her wolf-born brothers and cousins couldn’t run like this. Over his shoulder she could see Devlin shaking his head, getting smaller and smaller.

“I told you not to challenge him,” he yelled, but Kit had carried her so far so fast that the words were very faint.

He was moving too fast for her to try to throw herself out of his arms. A spill on the steep mountainside could be fatal. Kit would get tired soon; he had to. Maybe then she could get away from him. His heart pounded calmly and steadily against her cheek, not seeming to labor at all. The wind created by his speed forced tears from her eyes. Yeah, it was the wind that made her cry. Olivia blinked the hot tears away, determined to fix landmarks in her memory to follow back home when she’d gotten away from him.

And she would get away. She might have been willing to allow him to court her, but the way he’d treated her showed her he’d be a terrible mate. Escape might be difficult, but she was her mother and father’s daughter. She could track and survive in the mountains as well as either of her brothers. Even if she wasn’t able to get away on her own, her father and brothers would come for her very soon. Grimly she settled into the steely arms that held her against a warm chest, waiting for her opportunity to escape.

See? I said it was short. Sorry! More next week!

 

Tuesday Teaser 12/9/14 Daughter of the Wolf Clan

In spite of my evil computer chewing up nearly all of chapter 14 in Wolf’s Princess, I’m making good progress. I’m shooting for the rough draft to be done by December 31. With all the holiday get togethers I might not make it, but I’m going to give it my best shot. Rose is easing away from her sarcasm and Sky is beginning to open up to her. At this very moment, Rose is just waking up from a nightmare and Sky is about to comfort her. Please excuse me so Sky can get on with the comforting…  meanwhile, enjoy this next tidbit from Olivia’s story.  ;)

 

Yermade roared and fastened a hand around her throat, and by either luck or care on his part, his claws didn’t touch her skin. “No dokdim! You mine! Mah madte.”

“Okay.” Olivia hated the tremble in her voice. “Just don’t hurt me. Okay? Don’t hurt me.”

The hand on her throat became caressing and he made that purring noise again. “Naherchu, Yermadte naherchu.”

Your mate not hurt you. Yermade wasn’t his name. Olivia forced herself to look into his eyes. “What’s your name?”

“Kih.” It seemed he struggled to make the right sound. “Kihdt.”

“Kit?” she guessed. Wasn’t that what the other man had called him? Those monstrous fangs must make it hard for him to pronounce Ts. “Kit, my family will be looking for me. I need to go home.”

The lion man roared and this time his claws pricked her neck when his hand tightened. The other man spoke soothingly, and Olivia was able to follow most of what he said.

“Kit, you’re scaring her. You don’t want to hurt your mate. Let me talk to her so she’ll understand. I won’t try to take her away from you. Kit, I smell blood. You’re hurting her.”

Kit growled something completed unintelligible to Olivia but the other man seemed to get it right away. Kit was tense as he moved a few inches, enough for her to see the other man, but although he retracted his claws, his hand remained circling her throat. “Dok nahluk,” he growled.

“Lady, we can talk, but don’t look at me,” the other man said quietly, in perfectly enunciated English, his eyes cast to a point past her left shoulder. “And don’t stare at him either. Don’t do anything to make him think you’re challenging him. He’s pretty emotional now. He doesn’t mean to hurt you, but he doesn’t have good control right now.”

Kit turned to cover her with his body. He pressed closer to her and Olivia found her nose buried against his chest. He had an earthy scent, but not unpleasant, and she could feel the vibrations of his quiet snarls against her cheek.

“His name is Kit?”

“Yeah, Christopher. I’m Devlin.”

“What is he?”

Kit’s growls rose in volume and his hand tightened.

“Sorry,” she whispered hastily. “I’ve just never seen anyone like you.”

Devlin’s voice was cold. “He’s a person, same as you are, and he can hear and understand everything you say. After he calms down he’ll go back to his human form.”

Olivia wondered what he looked like in his human form. “Sorry,” she said again.

“Kit’s chosen you to be his mate. It might be a little rough at first, but you’ll adjust.”

Were Devlin and Kit lions like her brothers and cousins were wolves? Those men in the Wolf Clan who had wolves didn’t marry. They waited for the wolves within them to choose a mate for them. If that was how Kit’s lion worked, then he should be courting her in an effort to get her to accept their mating. If this was courting she’d hate to see how he treated someone he didn’t like. Her back ached and her throat hurt from being crushed and the multiple small claw marks. Those injuries, plus his feral roaring and snarling, didn’t make her see him in a lover-like light. But if his lion had chosen her for a mate, she should be polite. She had seen her cousins’ pain when their mates rejected them. Olivia aimed a smile up at Kit’s lion face.

“If Kit and I are mates, then Kit needs to come and meet my parents,” she said brightly. Once home her father and brothers would protect her while Kit courted her. They could also teach him the correct way to court a prospective mate.

Kit roared.

“Stop that,” she told him, annoyed. On the other hand, the roars were loud enough that if her brothers were anywhere near they’d hear them and come investigate. “It’s only polite for you to meet my family. If I accept you, they’ll be your family, too.”

“You come wih me,” Kit returned, speaking very carefully, with more than a hint of a growl.

“I can’t. My brothers would worry and if I’m not home soon they and my dad’ll start looking for me.”

“Nah find you.”

“Yes they will! My father’s the greatest tracker alive. And if he doesn’t find me, he’ll send for the Clan to come help. That would be three hundred men! You can’t hide me from that many people who love me.”

His shrill scream sent shudders down her spine. “Kit –“

“Quieh!” he snarled, squeezing her throat so tightly she choked. “You come me now.”

He hauled her up into his arms and began running.

Wolf’s Lady Has Released!

Wolf’s Lady is out!

I’ve priced it at $0.99 through the holidays. After that it will be raised to $2.99. I’ve enrolled it in Kindle Unlimited, so it will be available only at Amazon until March. After that it will be at Barnes & Noble, Kobo, the iBookstore, and Smashwords.

 

Wolf’s Lady takes place a few months after Wolf’s Vengeance. In this 45,000 word novella we get a look at Sky and what he’s been doing, and we re-visit Sara, Stone’s mate.

 

Wolf's Lady, After the Crash 6.5

In the year 2070, there are no cool advanced technical gadgets or weapons. In fact, most people are living like it’s the American frontier all over again. Terrorists used nuclear devices to simultaneously destroy most major US cities, as well as major cities in other countries. With the huge loss of life, the infrastructure crumbled. Hospitals and rescue services were so overwhelmed that they failed. The terrorists also released a virus that later came to be known as the Woman Killer Plague. It killed both men and women but more women died, making females valuable commodities.

This is the world of Sand Wolfe, a lonely bachelor of the Lakota Wolf Clan, and Miss Amanda, the woman his wolf claims as their mate.

Sand goes to Omaha to work as muscle in his cousin Sky’s whorehouse. There he meets his mate, Miss Amanda, who also works in Sky’s House, although in a very different position. She is the only woman his wolf will allow him to have, and she’s the only woman he wants. He will do anything to convince her to accept his mate claim.

Can a businesswoman leave her glamorous life and settle down in a wolf den? Amanda finds Sand’s methods of persuasion very persuasive. But will the men of Omaha allow her to leave? Sand figures he might have to kill a few of her clients, but it’s a small price to pay to bring his mate home.

BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON.COM

BUY IT NOW FROM AMAZON.UK

 

Tuesday Teaser 12/2/14 Daughter of the Wolf Clan

Wow, is it really December? Yikes! I have to decorate for Christmas (probably should do some cleaning too!) write and send out cards, finish my Christmas shopping, take care of my eleven year old niece for a weekend, go to various parties, and I have another 25,000 words to write in Wolf’s Princess. I’m exhausted already! But I’m hopeful I can finish the story by December 31. If I can write an average of 6,500 words a week, it’ll be cake. Wish me luck!

 

KitHere is the next snip in Olivia’s story. Oh, and can you imagine what the lion man looks like? Here you go. Enjoy!

 

Her lion man backed up until his back was an inch from her front. “Mine!” he roared.

Slowly, the words they had been speaking began to make sense. Lehergo. Let her go. Muzlergo. Must let her go. Nahyorz. Not yours. Olivia exhaled with relief even as she dabbed at the blood on her neck. Somehow, knowing they spoke English helped ease some of her fear. Not all of it, but some. If the lion man would just move and let her breathe she would be even less afraid. She wedged her hands between them and gave his back a shove. He roared and crushed her between his back and the hard rock wall. Her shoulder blade was ground into a sharp jag in the rock hard enough to drag a shriek from between her clenched teeth.

“Get away,” she yelled, trying to shove him away. “You’re hurting me!”

The pressure eased slightly, but she could feel growls and snarls vibrating in the body pressed against her. The other man said, “See? Yuherher. Lehergo.”

You hurt her, Olivia translated. Let her go. “Yes, please let me go. My brothers—”

“No!” screamed the lion man, slamming her into the wall again. “Mine!”

The other man spoke, once again using his Alpha tone, but her lion man half crouched, all his muscles bunching in preparation for a spring. Olivia could just see over his shoulder and the other man looked perfectly human. His hair was black, either very short or pulled back tightly from a suntanned face with regular features. With his long lean body he looked like he would be fast on his feet, but could he defeat the lion man? Olivia didn’t want the sane one hurt; she was counting on him getting her out of this mess.

She tapped the lion man’s shoulder. “Excuse me. Let me introduce myself. I’m Olivia Stensrud. And you are?”

The dark-haired man’s eyebrows climbed up his forehead in disbelief. Her lion man loosened his crouch a little bit, head tilted slightly as if to hear her voice better, but he never looked away from the other man and his snarls didn’t stop either. Maybe she’d spoken too quickly?

“I am O liv ee ah Stens rud,” she enunciated carefully. “Who are you?”

The lion man looked over his shoulder at her, almost calm now that she was talking to him. “Yermade.”

“Yermade? That’s –uh—nice.” She looked past him to the dark haired man. “And you?”

The dark-haired man flinched when the lion man crushed her between his hard back and the harder rock wall, snarling at the other man. Olivia screamed in pain and anger when her already bruised back flamed with new pain.

“Would you stop that? It hurts!”

Yermade half-turned to her, still keeping part of his attention on the other man. He made a strange noise deep in his throat. A purr? “Sorry, Yermade noherdchuh.” He dipped his head briefly for one quick swipe of his rough tongue over her throat. “Yukay?”

But the look of concern on that alien face was wiped away by fury as he wheeled on the other man, who had taken several silent steps toward them. The dark-haired man froze, speaking in a quiet voice too rapidly for Olivia to decipher what he was saying. But Yermade seemed to understand, and consider the man a threat. He spat something back, but the words were so distorted by snarls and growls that Olivia had no idea what he said. Since he had moved a foot or so away from her she took the opportunity to sidle to the left, away from his punishing back. He must have eyes in the back of his head, because he didn’t have to look at her to pin her against the rock wall. She frantically tore at the elbow digging into her windpipe.

“Yuherder, Kit,” the dark haired man said urgently. “Moofyarm.”

The elbow eased a centimeter away. Able to breathe again, Olivia tried to translate what they had been saying. Yuherder? You heard her? You hurt her? Moofyarm. Move your arm. “Look, Yermade, I just want to go home.”

“Mahmade no go!” Yermade growled, still facing the other man as if he were a threat.

“Mahmade?” Olivia said doubtfully.

“You mahmade.” Yermade looked over his shoulder at her, and his eyes glowed fiercely at her. “You. Mahmade.”

“No, I’m Olivia.”

Yermade turned on her, ignoring the other man long enough to stab a wickedly sharp claw at her face. “You. Mah. Madte,” he yowled.

Mah ma … Olivia felt the blood run out of her face. “My mate?” she gasped. “You think I’m your mate?” She looked past Yermade to the other man. “He thinks I’m his mate?”

Tuesday Teaser 11/25/14 Daughter of the Wolf Clan

      Yikes!! I meant to get this out last night, but I was really on a roll with Sky and Rose. She has just put two girls who like to flirt with Sky firmly in their place, all with lots of possessive snarling. Now Sky is wearing an expression of insufferable smugness and Paint and Stone are calling her Lupa. It was a fun scene to write!

      Anyway, here is the next snip in Olivia’s story. Things are starting to get interesting now. ;)

 

All her caution didn’t keep Olivia from being surprised by the thing that dropped from the rock wall twenty feet above her.

At first she didn’t know what it was. A large sack? A man? A mountain lion? Instead of thudding to the ground in front of her, it landed lightly, perfectly balanced. Olivia was so startled that she stepped down incautiously on a rock and nearly lost her balance. She had just found what had spooked her horse into flight.

The thing was a man. Sort of. He wore brown pants and a tan shirt, but no boots and his feet were … paws. He crouched on his haunches in front of her, leaning his weight on one hand –paw, snarling, head down, his hair a wild mane of tawny gold spilling over his shoulders to hang almost to the ground. His face was strangely feline, with a flat nose, and a pointed chin, and eyes of icy green. They almost glowed. If he was a lion in the same way her brothers were wolves, he looked as if he had gotten stuck in mid-shift. But unlike her wolf brothers and cousins, he didn’t seem to hold women in high regard. No man from the Wolf Clan would ever show a woman disrespect. This … person lifted his lip in a snarl that showed frighteningly sharp teeth in a deadly threat.

Olivia tired to breathe normally, trying to decide if she were terrified or fascinated. The lion-man shifted a few inches closer to her, still snarling, and she settled on terrified. Her fingers shook as she slid them to the hilt of the knife sheathed at her waist. The lion-man roared with bone rattling rage. Olivia froze for a sickening moment before forcing herself to slowly back up. He roared again, and snarled until she stopped moving. Then he stared intensely at her, sniffing the air and making almost sub-vocal noises in his throat. Olivia reached behind her to feel how close the rock wall was to her back. The lion man slowly straightened out of his crouch and took a step toward her. One step was all it took for him to be only a few inches from her. He was tall. Taller than she was. Taller, maybe, than her brother Taylor, who was taller than their father. One of his hands lifted toward her face. Olivia didn’t want to take her eyes off his, but she flicked a lightning fast glance at the hand. It was hairy, with long, deadly claws instead of fingernails. She flinched away and he snarled some more, gripping her jaw in his big, claw-tipped hand.  A soft voice spoke from above her head.

“Lergokit,” the voice said quietly, but it held a hint of the same sort of command she’d heard Uncle Muddy Wolf use.  “Na owrs. Lehergo.”

The cat man roared. “Mahmayd.”

Who were these men? What language were they speaking? Olivia resisted the urge to tear his hand away. Those claws could lay her face open to the bone with no effort.

The man on the top of the rock wall spoke again, sounding almost shocked. “Sheezeeyoomahn. Lehergo.”

The hand clenched painfully on her jaw, squeezing a whimper out of her.  She felt tears well and spill, but wasn’t sure if it was because of pain or horror or simple shock. No one had ever caused her pain. Her father and brothers protected her. Everyone knew that she was one of the precious daughters of the Wolf Clan, which could call up almost three hundred wolf warriors to defend her if needed. No one dared trouble her. Except this creature.

The hand loosened and the rough thumb rubbed gently over the edge of her jaw. “Sahrie. Naherchu.”

Olivia saw that the eyes, looking almost tenderly at her, were unexpectedly beautiful, gold and green like the eyes of a mountain lion, but not even remotely sane. The lion man inched closer to her until she could feel his warm breath on her throat at the opening of her wool flannel shirt. His tongue, rough like a cat’s, touched her throat, lapping up a delicate taste of her skin there. A tiny heat flared between her legs, embarrassingly like what she’d felt with Rob in the stall. Fainting would be bad, she was sure. She braced her hands against his chest, trying to hold him off.  He snarled at her, tightening his grip on her jaw until a thin sound of pain came from her throat.

The voice above said something forceful in their language, and then a slight thud marked the arrival of another body. Olivia couldn’t see anything past the bulk of the lion man, but she guessed it was the man who had spoken from up above. Was he another lion man like the one who had trapped her? The lion man holding her screamed in rage as he whirled to face the newcomer. Olivia felt one of his claws slice her neck and thin trickle of blood roll hot over her throat. The same voice she’d heard from the top of the rock wall spoke quietly, this time from a couple feet away.

“Lehergo. Muzlergo,” he said quietly. “Kit, nahyorz. Cumear, kit.”

Her lion man backed up until his back was an inch from her front. “Mine!” he roared.

 

What do you think? Fun?

Wolf’s Lady News

     In this day and age of digital publishing (and Amazon) authors have many options in getting their stories out to the reading public. I’d say 99.999% of us write because we have stories we want to tell. Having people read them and then tell us, “I really enjoyed your book!” is the greatest return we could receive for the hours we put into our writing. But making a little monetary income from our work never hurts, you know? My original plan was to release Wolf’s Lady for free everywhere. I’ve since decided to put it up at Amazon for $0.99 in their KU and Select programs. It will go up at Barnes & Noble and Kobo and the iBookstore in March, but that’s not fair to those I told it would be free. So I will be including links for free .ePub, .pdf, and .mobi downloads in the newsletter I will send out next weekend.

     So if you don’t get my newsletter, the sign up link is on the right. I won’t be offended if you sign up in November and cancel in December.  :)

 

Happy Reading!

Tuesday Teaser 11/18/14- Daughter of the Wolf Clan

First, a quick writing update: I am mostly done with edits on Wolf’s Lady, which will be a free read released on December 5. And I’m plugging along with Wolf’s Princess. I estimate Sky and Rose’s book will be around 85,000 words long, and I’m at 58,000 words now, so I’m 2/3 done. I’m working hard, I promise, but there is a lot of story left to write. I suspect it will be over 85,000. We’ll see.

 

The next Tuesday Teaser will be Daughter of the Wolf Clan, which is a story about Tami and Tracker’s daughter and the odd stranger who steals her to be his bride. Hint: he is distantly related to Eddie Madison.  Here we go. As always, this hasn’t been edited, so there will be typos and weirdness.

 

Daughter of the Wolf Clan (working title)

By Maddy Barone

 

Rocking C Ranch, Colorado

October, 2088

 

 

Chapter One

 

Olivia Stensrud rubbed her sore rear end while she watched her spooked horse flee, taking her rifle and canteen with him. Stupid animal, leaving her stranded here alone, miles from the ranch. What had scared him? Olivia looked around the mountain trail but saw nothing. It was silent, no noise that might have scared him, only the sound of the wind in the aspens and the burbling water in the ice cold stream cutting through the meadow below. She sniffed the air, trying to catch the scent of an animal that might have spooked her horse, but she didn’t have her father’s sense of smell.

Her brothers would never let her hear the end of this. She hadn’t been bucked off her horse in years. They loved nothing more than teasing their baby sister, except, possibly, scaring off any boy brave enough to smile at her. They were still teasing her about being sweet on Rob Russell down in Kearney. If they knew just how far she and Rob had gone in the stall in his father’s smithy her brothers wouldn’t have teased her about it; they would have beaten Rob to a pulp.

But that was months ago and what they didn’t know wouldn’t hurt them. Right? She was almost twenty years old, practically an old maid, and Rob was one of the few men brave enough to court her. He was tall, and strong, and handsome. And he was a really nice guy, with a good job in his father’s blacksmithing business. Rob said he loved her, and he would speak to her father about marriage, but dad had packed them up and got back to the ranch for the winter earlier than usual this year, so Rob never got the chance to ask. When she got back home she would write Rob a letter.

Olivia shrugged her shoulders to loosen the tight muscles and looked down the trail, hoping her horse would stop so she could catch him. She whistled for him, but he didn’t come. He was probably a mile away by now, heading for his stall back at the ranch. She was going to have to hoof it home. Unless her brothers saw her riderless horse? They might tease her to death about it, but they would come find her. Overprotective idiots. If she were very lucky, they wouldn’t mention it to dad. She knew the rules about riding too far from the house alone, and she was well past his one mile limit. Her father was a reasonable man, but he was also a wolf, and wolves tended to go overboard in protecting their families.

Olivia brushed herself off one more time, touched a hand to the hilt of the knife in her belt for reassurance, and headed down the trail after her horse. It was a pretty day for a walk, a perfect October day in Colorado, with the aspens gold against the deep blue of the sky, contrasting with the green of the scrubby pines. Yes, a lovely day for a walk, and she would stress that to her brothers when— if they found her before she got back to the ranch.

The path was rocky, so she walked carefully in her high-heeled cowboy boots. There was a sheer rock wall soaring toward the sky a yard to her left, and a grassy slope started about ten yards away on her right, spreading out into a grassy mountain meadow cut in half by a stream. In the meadow, tumbled rock lined the edges of the stream. This is one of her favorite places to come to be alone and think. Her mom had shown it to her when she was little.

As she had been taught, Olivia kept her eyes moving to and fro to find any trouble before it found her. She hadn’t forgotten that something had scared her horse. Everything might look serene and calm, but a horse didn’t shy and buck for no reason at all.

All her caution didn’t keep her from being surprised by the thing that dropped from the rock wall twenty feet above.

DIY Advent Calendar

advent cal

I realize that not everyone celebrates Christmas, so if you don’t, you might not find this post interesting. Please feel free to skip over it. :)

For me, Christmas is my very favorite time of the year. It’s only 39 days away!  That means you still have time to put together an advent calendar. For me, an advent calendar is a way to prepare for Christmas. We had an advent calendar only once when I was growing up, the paper kind with the little perforated windows you tore open to reveal something.  In a family of 8, there’s only so many little windows to be opened by each kid, and my mom got tired of our fighting over who got the honor. But I love the idea of an Advent Calendar. I saw that some tea companies put out tea advent calendars. I love that idea!! Too bad the prices are so high. But I’m creative, right? I decided I can make my own, so I did. So can you. I’ll show you how.

 

You should think ahead about what theme or look you want. Rustic, like the one I made?  Something cute for kids? At this time of the year all kinds of Christmas decorations are on sale at craft stores.

 

You will need:

 

advent cal 5

  • 24 small goodies/gifts. I’m a tea lover, so I used individual tea bags. You could use small chocolates, or a  mix of small gifts like earrings, lip balms, candy, mini ornaments, gift cards, etc. If you’d like to make this a religious themed advent calendar, you could write or print out Bible verses to include with each gift. Cost could be anywhere from $10.00 for a couple of variety packs of tea to whatever you choose to spend on gifts. Diamond earrings, for instance, might run a bit more.
  • 24 small containers. I used envelopes like gift cards come in that I ordered online. Maybe they are available locally in craft stores or stationary stores? You could use mini gift bags, or opaque candy bags or even wrap each little gift individually. My cost for 100 envelopes was $14.00 including shipping and handling.
  • 24 (approx. 2″ long) mini clothes pins. Bought in a package of 24 from Hobby Lobby for $3.49
  • 3-5 feet of some kind of string to hang the gifts on. I used jute for my rustic theme. You could use holiday ribbon, or even that fake evergreen garland. No cost as I already had a spool of jute.
  • A pen to write numbers on your containers. No cost as I already had pens.
  • A few decorations to add to your string, like Christmas bows, Christmas picks, small ornaments, etc. No cost, as I used leftovers from last year.

 

Directions:

advent cal 3  1. Write a number on each container, 1 through 24.

  2. Fill each container with a gift. I licked all 24 of my envelopes closed at one time. Yuck. I suggest using a damp wash cloth. I swear, I can still taste that glue in my mouth.

  3. Tack the string to the wall in the formation you want. You could also string this on the Christmas tree like garland. I never put my tree up so early, but I know a lot of people do.

advent cal 2  4. Take each individual container and use the clothespins to clip them to your string in numerical order, #1 first and #24 last.

  5. Add some ribbon or bows or whatever decorations you like to the ends.

 

Then wait until December 1 to open the first gift. Open one gift a day until Christmas Eve. Wasn’t that easy? The great thing is you can use this idea again next year, and change up the colors and decorations for a whole new look. I almost can’t wait for the after Christmas sales on decorations at Joann’s and Michael’s so I can do another Advent Calendar next year. Maybe I should get one of those inexpensive bare wreathes to clip the envelopes on?

 

If you decide to try to make one of these, please tell me about it. I hope you have fun getting ready for Christmas!!

 

 

Tuesday Teaser 11/11/14: Wolf’s Lady Cover Reveal

First, let me say Happy Veteran’s Day to all those who have served their countries in the armed forces. Hats off to veterans!

 

I’m not doing a regular teaser today because I have a Cover Reveal for you.

Wolf’s Lady, After the Crash book #6.5

 

 

Wolf's Lady Cover Art

Sand Wolfe, a lonely bachelor of the Lakota Wolf Clan, goes to Omaha to work as muscle in his cousin Sky’s whorehouse. There he meets his mate, Miss Amanda, who also works in Sky’s House, although in a very different position. He will do anything to convince her to give up her career and accept his mate claim.

 

Can a businesswoman leave her glamorous life and settle down in a wolf den? Amanda finds Sand’s methods of persuasion very persuasive. But will the men of Omaha allow her to leave?

 

 

Chapter One

 

Omaha, Nebraska – the new Sin City of what had once been the United States

September 10, 2070

 

Sand Wolfe looked at the distant wall enclosing the city of Omaha, hiding the distaste wrestling with curiosity in his belly behind a blank face. He had been here only two months ago as part of the group escorting a cousin’s mate to her uncle, but on that trip he had stayed outside the wall while the others took Sara into the city. He liked to run free, and stepping foot inside a dirty city was something he’d never wanted to do. Curse Snow for talking him into this.

“C’mon,” his cousin Snow muttered. “The gate is right ahead.”

They walked, leading their single horse behind them, through an area which had once been the outskirts of Omaha. Now it was empty, all buildings and trees burned away decades before he was born to prevent attackers from using the scenery to sneak up on the city unseen. Sand flicked a glance up at one of the watch towers built into the wall, his excellent eyesight finding two men there, and the long barrels of rifles aimed at him and Snow. The barrenness of the land gave the guards a clear line of fire. Sand forced his shoulders not to twitch.

The road led them directly to the gate. More guards were there, armed with rifles and questions.

“Names,” one guard barked at them.

“I’m Snow Wolfe,” Snow said in his quiet, gentle voice. “This is my cousin, Sand Wolfe.”

The two guards, beefy and well fed in their olive drab uniforms and black boots, exchanged a glance, but they said nothing about the names as one wrote them in a book. Snow was actually Snow On His Fur of the Lakota Wolf Clan, and Sand’s full name was Wolf Running In Sand. The cousins showed their Lakota heritage in their waist length braids and dark skin. They wore denim jeans and cotton shirts in deference to city peoples’ requirements, but they both wore comfortable moccasins.

“What’s your business in Omaha?”

“We’re visiting family.”

The man poised his pen over his book. “What’s the name of the people you’re visiting?”

“Sky Wolfe.”

The guard who wasn’t writing gave a low whistle. “Sky, huh? Lucky. Or does he make you pay full price?”

Sand scowled to hide his confusion. Pay full price for what? The guard writing paused with his pen above the paper. “Cute. Snow, Sand, and Sky. No sun?”

“No.” Snow’s voice was flat.

“Alright. Ages?”

“Twenty-eight,” Sand answered.

“Twenty-seven,” said Snow.

The man wrote it down. “How long are you staying?”

Snow raised his eyebrows at Sand. “Two months maybe. We’ll head out before winter comes.”

Maybe he could stick it out that long, but Sand doubted it. He was sure they could have snuck into the city and avoided all this gab. No wolf warrior liked to be interrogated by human men who were clearly inferior. One of the guards went to their horse and searched through the saddlebags, inventorying their spare clothes and scant food stores. Sand tensed with a low growl bubbling up his throat when he pawed through the sealed letters Taye, Rose, and others from the den had sent for Sky, but the guard only noted the letters down in his book too.

“No weapons?” he barked.

“We both have a knife,” Snow said, touching the grip of the knife in his belt.

The guard wrote for a while longer, then tore the sheets out of his book to hand one to Sand and the other to Snow. “Your Visitor Permits. Keep those with you at all times. They’re good for two months, until October 31. The City Guard can ask to see them at any time and if you don’t have your visitor’s permit with you, you will be escorted out of the city.”

Sand read the words on his permit. It identified him as Sand Wolfe, age twenty-eight, six feet two inches tall, 170 pounds, slender build, black hair very long, brown eyes. Nose aquiline, mouth full. All accurate enough, he supposed, folding the paper and putting it on the breast pocket of his plaid cotton shirt. He rolled his lips together, wondering what the paper meant by “full”. He hadn’t eaten anything since the rabbit his wolf had caught and eaten last night.

Once they were past the gates Sand took a deep breath and steeled himself to enter the city. “Let’s find Sky.”

Feeling like a wide-eyed boy from the country made Sand scowl. The city was said to have twenty-five thousand residents. What were they all doing on the street at this very moment? He could see only a few yards ahead of him on the sidewalk because it was so crowded with pedestrians. Some of them were women, and as far as he could tell they had no male escort.

Women, walking alone? What were their men thinking? Were they crazy? Anyone could snatch them away!

Well, maybe not. The sidewalk was full of people. If a woman screamed for help, there were plenty of men to step in. The women dressed differently, some in skirts and some in pants, but every one of them he saw wore a silver whistle around their neck. To make a call for help? It made sense. The sound of a whistle could travel farther than a human voice. He saw more men in the olive drab uniforms and black boots standing at corners, watching the people on the sidewalk with sharp attention, noting each wagon or rider than passed on the street.

“I don’t like this place,” he muttered to Snow. “What is that noise?”

His cousin grabbed his arm. “Look! It’s the bus!”

A large wooden rectangle on wheels rolled laboriously up the street toward them, accompanied by a roar, like a fierce wind in January. A team pulling a wagon on the opposite side of the street shied, half rearing, until the driver jumped down to pull them to the side of the road out of the way of the box. He soothed them with gentle hands until they stood quietly, only little shudders rolling through them.  Sand felt kinship with them. He didn’t like the noise either. He didn’t see horses pulling the box, and when it passed them he saw no one pushing it. The stench it emitted made him want to gag.

“Isn’t that marvelous?” Snow said enthusiastically. “I saw it last time I was here, but I didn’t get to ride it. Let’s go!”

Ride in the belly of that thing? “What about the horse?” he said, keeping his tone mild so Snow wouldn’t know he was unsettled by the evil thing. With the noxious odor lingering behind the bus, even Snow’s keen nose wouldn’t detect his unease.

“Oh. Right.” Shoulders slumped, Snow watched a door open in the box and steps lower. A dozen people crowded around the opening, and one by one they disappeared inside. “Well, I’ll ride it later, after we stable the horse.”

Sand started walking again. “Why do you want to ride it? It stinks.”

“But it goes all over Omaha. Omaha is big! Instead of walking from the river to the outer wall you could sit and ride.”

Sand slanted a glance at his cousin. “We have feet for a reason. How hard is it to…?”

He trailed off as something caught his attention. He was riveted on a splash of color on a pale bare arm, a hand with long fingers tipped with red paint holding a railing as a woman stepped up into the bus. Sand’s heart stuttered. Long brown hair, glossy with health, rippled in the breeze as the woman disappeared into the box. He’d had only the briefest glimpse of her, but the sight was seared into his brain. He watched the box roll away, almost too stunned to register his wolf’s frantic attempts to burst out, almost too stunned to be able to think. But one piece of knowledge swirled in his belly.

His mate was in Omaha. His mate was in that noisy, stinking box and she was going away from him. The hell she was going away from him! He tore at the buttons on his shirt to strip to let his wolf out, but Snow grabbed his arm hard, keeping him from ripping his shirt off so he could release the wolf. His wolf clawed at his insides, demanding to be let loose so he could follow his mate. Sand tried to jerk free but Snow held on.

“What are you doing?” Snow hissed.

“My mate!” was all Sand could get out. “Let me go! My mate is in that box thing.”

For an instant Snow’s hands loosened, surprise flashing over his face, but he tightened them again. “Hold on, you can’t change here in the street. The City Guard—” he nodded at the uniformed men “—will shoot you if you do. Calm down. We’ll find her. Omaha is big, but there’s not that many women here, and half of those are too young to be your mate or too old. What did she look like?”

It took effort, but Sand forced himself to take his fingers away from the buttons on his shirt. He drew a deep breath and closed his eyes, calling up the image of his mate. He’d seen her only from the side, but he knew he would recognize her again in an instant. “She’s about six or seven inches shorter than me. Soft, and round in all the right places. Her hair is down to the middle of her back. It’s brown and a little wavy. Not plain brown. The glowing brown like that polished wood desk Taye got for the Lupa.”

“Walnut,” Snow supplied.

“Yeah. Her cheekbones are high. Her chin has a shallow little dent in it. Her face is soft, her mouth is wide.” How he wanted to stroke a thumb over her lips! “I didn’t see her eyes, but I think they’re light. Green, maybe. Or blue. Her skin is very pale. She was wearing a skirt down to her ankles, light flowered fabric, floaty. Her shirt …” He swallowed, remembering the scrap of green fabric that barely covered the most beautiful body he’d ever seen. “She has a picture painted on her shoulder. It goes from her upper arm, across her shoulder down to her –er, under the neckline of her shirt.”

“Uh-huh.” Snow reached to pat the nose of their horse. “She sounds distinctive. I bet Sky can help us find her. “

“Yeah.” Sand began walking briskly in the direction of the river, where his cousin lived. “Let’s hurry.”

It was an hour long walk, even hurrying as they were. There was a tall stone fence around Sky’s house. That wasn’t unusual. A man had to take steps to protect his property. The gates were made of fancy black iron twisted in ornate shapes. They were pretty but wouldn’t do much to keep attackers out. On the pale stone wall hung a rectangle of metal. It said:

The Sky’s The Limit

A Gentlemen’s Club

Open Tuesday through Thursday 5:00pm to 1:00 am

Friday and Saturday 6:00 pm through 2:00 am

Private Entertainment by Appointment Only

 

A man he didn’t know came to the gate to ask their business. He looked tough, and was armed to the teeth.  He was polite though, and became politer when Snow said they were Sky’s cousins, come to visit for a few months.

“Mr. Wolfe has been expecting relations to come,” he said, opening the gate. “Y’all sure do look alike. I’m Keith Henderson. Stables are around back. There will be a boy there to take the horse. Mr. Wolfe is probably in his office this time of day.”

As they passed through the gate Sand nodded approval when he saw a pair of secondary gates were made of stone. Not so pretty, but much stronger. Then he looked forward. The gravel drive was a tan ribbon cutting through green grass that stretched like a well-tended carpet a good half-mile to a tall, three story red brick house sitting on a rise. The drive split and one fork became steps that marched up to the fancy front door, and the other curved away to the back of the house.

“This is where Sky lives?” he asked Snow. “This is his house?”

“Yep. Wait ‘til you see the inside.”

As they led their horse down the drive around the house, Sand got a good look at the place. It was huge! Had Sky suddenly become rich? Only a rich man could afford to live in a house like this. It had a fancy porch with white columns, and lots of tall narrow windows with white woodwork around them, and rounded sections Sand didn’t know what to call. He couldn’t believe his little cousin lived in a house a hundred times nicer than the den.

“He’s got humans living here, right?” he muttered to Snow. “Must be a pain to heat in the winter.”

“Oh, sure,” Snow agreed. “Most rooms have fireplaces, but with the electricity generated by the river, it keeps pretty warm anyway. The ladies’ appointments wouldn’t appreciate coming into a cold room to do their business.”

Before Sand could ask about appointments and business, a pair of men stepped onto the drive. “Paint!” Snow called joyfully.

Sand hung back a minute, examining the other man. He was a stranger with brown hair and eyes, his face behind its close clipped beard hard and expressionless. Sand noted the burly shoulders and long arms. He could be trouble in a fight, Sand judged. Then Paint was pounding on his back.

“I’m glad to see you two!” he said, adjusting his eye patch. “Now I can head back to the den for a while. I don’t mind helping Sky out, but this place gets to me. You’ll know what I mean after a week or so.”

Sand suppressed a sigh. He hadn’t wanted to come in the first place. Except … His mate was here.  In his amazement at seeing where Sky lived he had almost forgotten that. He had to find her!

“This is Neil Marzek. He’s head of Sky’s enforcers. Neil, this is my cousin Snow and my cousin Sand. I’ll take ’em in to see Sky. You’ll take care of their horse?”

Neil’s face still showed no warmth. Sand could respect that. They were strangers in his domain. “Sure,” Neil said in a gravelly voice.

Snow grabbed the saddlebag to carry into the house before following Paint up the back steps to a mudroom and on to the kitchen. Sand looked carefully around as the three of them passed through the kitchen to a narrow hall that led into an office. A man in a suit and tie sat at the desk, his dark hair cut short, his hands pale and pampered, holding a pen. Who wore a suit to sit at a desk?

The man looked up, blue eyes narrow under black brows, then he stood. He was as pretty as a girl, Sand thought derisively, before amazement unhinged his jaw.

“Sky?” he yelped.

The man grinned, then, a dimple biting into his cheek beside his mouth. “Sand. I know it’s you by that broken tooth.” The grin deepened. “Breaking that tooth is one of my happiest memories.”

“It’s only chipped,” Sand said with dignity as Sky came around the desk to crush him in a hug. Then he did the same to Snow, before lightly punching Sand’s shoulder. “You! Sand, you are the reason I was on kitchen duty so much back at the den. Whose idea was it to sit out in the hall outside the Lupa and the Chief’s room when they made love?”

Sand laughed. “That was a long time ago! We were all just kids back then.” He sobered, running his gaze from Sky’s glossy black shoes to his gray-blue slacks with their perfect creases to the matching coat, crisp white shirt and navy blue tie. “You cut your hair. You don’t look like yourself. What’s happened to you?”

Sky’s face retained the smile, but somehow it seemed to Sand as if a door had closed. Sky propped one hip on the edge of his desk. “Like you said, it’s been a long time. People grow up. So, are you here to work with me or just visiting? I can always use more muscle to keep the visitors in line.”

Snow bounced on the balls of his feet. “We’re here for a couple of months. We can help you out. But Sand—”

Sand cut him off. “I found my mate, Sky. She’s here in Omaha, somewhere. You have to help me find her!”

Sky stared for a moment, his level brows pulled low. “Of course.” He looked down at his feet, crossing one ankle over the other and apparently examining the shine on his shoe. “You realize, don’t you, that if she is in Omaha she is probably either already married or working in a house?”

That had been the thought circling his mind like a caged beast ever since he’s recognized his mate. He joined in Sky’s contemplation of his shiny shoes. “I know,” he said softly.

Sky reached out to give him a comforting slap on the arm. “But you never know. Maybe her family is well off and they’re able to afford to pay to keep her single.”

They would have to be very rich to afford the yearly Single Status tax. She hadn’t been middle aged, but she didn’t look like a teenager, either. Sand didn’t know anything about rich women. Had she been wearing rich woman’s clothes? “Yeah, maybe.”

Snow dug in the saddlebag. “Before we get into Sand’s mate, here’s the letters from home.”

Sky took them and leafed through them until he came to the one with Rose’s handwriting on the outside. As far as Sand knew, this was the first letter Rose had written to Sky since she’d found out he was running a whorehouse in Omaha. Sky’s hand clenched on the envelope so tightly his knuckles shone white, and that invisible door over his face opened just enough to show the edge of raw emotion before it slammed shut again. “Thanks.” He set the letters casually on the desk behind him. “So tell me about your mate.”

“She’s beautiful,” Sand said immediately. “I know every man says that about his mate, but mine truly is. Her hair is long and brown and it shines in the sun. Her skin is very pale.” Words failed him when he remembered her soft, curved body. “She has a painting on her arm and her shoulder.”

“A tattoo,” Snow put in.

Sky nodded, using one finger to scratch his chin. “What was the tattoo of?”

Snow shrugged, looking at Sand. Sand shrugged too, helplessly. “I don’t know. It went from here,” he touched his biceps and drew his fingers up the outside of his arm, over his shoulder to his heart, “and went here. Do you know her, Sky?”

Sky looked at Paint. “Maybe,” he said at last. “I know of a few women who fit that description. We’ll find her, Sand. Not now; it’s late in the afternoon. But we’ll find her, I promise. Why don’t you get them settled in, Paint? I’m going to my room to read my letter. My letters,” he corrected himself.

Sand’s wolf didn’t want to wait even another minute to start the hunt for his mate, but Sand forced him down. His mate was here in Omaha. He would find her. Sky had his letters in his hand, running his thumb over and over the one with Rose’s handwriting on it. Sky must be anxious to read Rose’s words.

“Sure,” Paint said. “I’ll get them beds out back and then show ‘em around.”

Sky pushed away from the desk. “I’m glad you’re here,” he told Snow and Sand with fervent honesty. “I’ll see you tomorrow and we’ll start the hunt for your mate.”

 

After the Crash Q&A

Back on October 29 I had a Facebook party to commemorate the make believe take off and crash of the plane that took my heroines to their future happiness.  One of the fun things we did that night was talk about what’s going on in the lives of my heroes and heroines 8 years later. Reader Sarah suggested that it would be nice to share the Questions and Answers that were brought up because not everyone could make it that night.

 

So here it is, poorly edited, but hopefully readable.  If, after reading through this, you find yourself with more questions or want clarification, feel free to leave a comment. I’ll try to answer all the questions I can. Like most authors I’m thrilled to talk about my characters until most listeners zone out and wish we’d just shut up. LOL

 

 After-the-Crash-Party-QA

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