Wolf’s Glory Excerpt
Here is the unedited first few pages of Wolf’s Glory. I would imagine there will be some changes made during editing, but meanwhile, enjoy!
Wolf’s Glory, Chapter One
Maybe they were doomed to walk the prairie forever, never finding help. Glory shook her head fiercely. No, that was tiredness and hunger speaking. There had to be people somewhere. This rotted old railroad track would lead them to civilization eventually. Glory threw a desperate look around and saw nothing but tall dry grass and blue sky as far as her eyes could see–just empty prairie as bare as it must have been when the pioneers first settled the West. If she and Jane didn’t find help, people would die. Maybe people had already died. It had been over twenty-four hours since they’d left the crash site and dozens of people had been hurt, some so badly that they hadn’t regained consciousness before the rescue teams had left the crash site. Jane still trudged along in her sensible librarian’s shoes, but turned her head back to look at Glory, a thin eyebrow raised in inquiry.
“Just hoping I might have missed some sign of civilization,” Glory muttered.
She watched Jane pull out her cell phone and try again, for the millionth time, to make a call. Glory sighed when Jane returned her cell phone to her purse. “Still nothing?”
Jane’s brown hair swayed over her shoulders when she shook her head. “Maybe the search and rescue team has already come,” she said hopefully.
“Maybe.” Glory didn’t say anything else. What was there to say that they hadn’t already said? Their plane had crashed and the only surviving member of the crew had tried repeatedly to send a mayday, but the plane’s radio didn’t work. Nor did any cell phones, and none of the survivors could connect with the Internet to send an email mayday. The co-pilot had told them that help was certainly on the way, and organized the efforts to free those trapped by the debris and make the injured more comfortable.
“Perhaps the co-pilot has gotten the plane’s radio to work by now.” Jane persisted in her cheery optimism.
An optimist Glory was not. “Fat chance,” she grunted as she stumbled over the rough ground. “She spent hours trying to call, right?”
“Yes. She did.” Jane was slightly subdued, but lengthened her stride in determination. “Now it’s up to us to find help.”
Glory had to hand it to the co-pilot. Even though her ankle was smashed to smithereens, she had kept it together. She had done everything she could to get them help. But hours later, with no help yet on the scene and medical aid desperately needed, she had asked for volunteers to pair up and walk for help. Glory had volunteered, and so had others. The co-pilot rejected some as too young or too hurt, leaving six to be paired up into three teams that she sent in different directions. Glory had been paired up with Jane Terry, a forty-something librarian from St. Paul, and they’d been walking since yesterday afternoon without finding any sign of people at all.
Glory caught up with the librarian and resumed walking. She had been so excited yesterday morning when she had boarded the plane in Minneapolis that would take her to her job interview in San Francisco. After spending almost four years as a glorified aquarium cleaner at the Mall of America’s Underwater World, she had landed a face-to-face interview with an international ocean-life study center. To work as a researcher at a place like that would be a dream come true for Glory. Why else had she gotten her degree in marine biology? They were interested enough after a couple phone interviews to buy a plane ticket for her to come to them for a face-to-face.
Glory swore when her low-heeled pump got caught in the thick grass covering the rail, making her stumble again. Damn, that hurt. Jane gave her a prim glance of reproach, and Glory forced back more curses at her new shoes.
“Are you okay?” Jane asked.
Glory wondered what Jane would say if she cut loose with her normal repertoire of four-letter words, and cleared her throat. “Fine,” she grumbled. “Why did I buy these stupid shoes, anyway? Oh, yeah, because they go with this stupid business suit.”
“You want to make a good impression at the interview,” Jane said, looking approvingly at the boring business suit Glory was wearing and less approvingly at her hair.
True. Glory wanted the job so much that she had bought the sedate navy blue trousers and jacket for the interview. She doubted her usual dressy goth gear of black jeans, black satin bustier over a blood red silk T-shirt, and ankle-length black duster would have impressed them much. Too bad. She loved the way the bustier cinched in her waist and emphasized its curve. She was a big woman, but she had all the curves a woman could want. And then some. Her figure was more along the lines of Marilyn Monroe than Tyra Banks.
“Yeah. Like this outfit is going to impress anyone now. It’s ruined.”
“I’m sure your prospective employer will re-schedule your interview. Our misadventures are completely out of our control. It’s probable they are already aware of the crash. I’m sure that by now rescue teams have arrived on the scene.”
Geez, talk about Miss Pollyanna. The never-ending wind blew Glory’s hair into her eyes, and she shoved it behind her ear with an impatient hand. She had stripped the purple, red and black streaks from her hair and changed it to a pink that matched the blouse she’d bought to go with the suit. Yesterday before boarding the plane she’d smoothed it into a sleek French twist. Now it blew like a ragged curtain over the tops of her shoulders. She had left her nose ring and the rings for her left eyebrow at home, wearing only a tiny fake diamond stud in her nostril, with a matching pair of studs for her ears. When she had boarded the plane she had looked like a successful business person. A little boring… Well, a lot boring, but she really wanted this job. They were supposed to land in San Francisco at 2:36 p.m. Pacific time, and her interview was at four. She figured she’d have time to touch up her hair and makeup in the airport ladies’ lounge before taking a taxi straight to the interview.
Well, she had missed the job interview, and her new suit was ruined by her misadventures. She liked that word–misadventures. It sounded better than ‘her shitty luck.’
“You’re probably right.” Glory tried for some of Jane’s optimism. “They’ll reschedule the interview, won’t they? Sure, they will. After all, we’re heroes, braving the wilderness to get help to save the rest of the passengers.” The cheerfulness died when she stepped on a rock and bit off another four-letter word. “It never seems this hard in the movies.”
“Heroines,” Jane corrected. She smiled, but it was sober. “True. But we’re still better off than the ones left at the plane.”
So many of the passengers who had boarded the plane yesterday morning had been killed, including the little girl whose whiney complaints about not being able to run around had made Glory want to slap her during the first hour of the flight. Remembering her made Glory feel sick. What was she doing, worrying about her clothes and her feet and her interview when that little girl would never have a chance to grow up and have a job at all?
Hey, was that–? Glory squinted at a distant low hill. Yes! Something had moved out there! People? Her heart pounded so hard it felt like it was making her fuchsia silk T-top flutter.
“Hey, Jane, look! Look!” She jabbed Jane in the arm to bring her attention to the dots bobbing along in the distance and began hollering and waving her arms madly. Jane was more sedate, but she waved her arms too.
“Thank God,” Jane said. “Finally, we’ve found help.”
The dots came closer, turning into a dozen or so people on horseback, with a whole bunch of big dogs running alongside. Glory gaped as they rode up to them at a gallop and formed a circle around them, the horses kicking up so much dust that she began to cough. What the hell–? When the dust settled a bit she could see that they were Indians. They had long black hair and bare brown bodies made barely modest by a strip of fabric that covered their important bits in front and back but left their chests and legs bare. Every last one of them was model handsome. Their bodies, unconcealed by clothing, were mouthwateringly perfect. Crap, was this a movie set? They looked like they were actors in a Dances With Wolves movie. The dogs were huge. She thought they were wolves, but they were too big for that. Maybe a mixed breed? One of the dogs came right up to her and sniffed her crotch. She slapped at his muzzle, shouting, “No! Bad dog!”
Some of the Indians looked shocked. Laughter bubbled in her throat. Hysteria? Gloria refused to do hysteria. She swallowed hard to force it back. The dog stared at her for a minute, grinning at her with his tongue hanging over sharp teeth, then trotted off and disappeared behind the horses surrounding her.
She turned her attention back to the Indians, searching them for phones. She didn’t see any phones, and none of them wore enough clothing to hide a cell phone in, so she supposed they didn’t have any with them.
“Um.” Glory had to clear her throat to cut through the dust coating her throat. “Hi. Sorry to interrupt. But can you help us? Our airplane went down back that ways and – and … Wow.”
Another Indian walked through the horses, tightening the string around his waist that held his diaper thing up, and Glory completely forgot what she’d been saying. It was a movie set! That was her favorite wrestling star in makeup and a really long black wig. And very little clothing. Yowza. He was living proof that guys like the ones on romance covers really did exist. She swallowed, wiping a hand over her chin in case she was drooling, and started over.
“Hi. Look, sorry to bother you, but our plane crashed, and we need help. Like an ambulance. And…” her voice trailed off again because all these men were looking at her very strangely and sniffing the air. She and Jane weren’t freshly bathed, but talk about rude. “Hey!” She snapped her fingers. “Listen up! This is important.”
Jane gave her a patient look and took over. “Yes, gentlemen, Glory is correct. We need immediate medical assistance. There are approximately three dozen injured at the crash. Our cell phones are not working. They may have been damaged in the crash, or perhaps there’s no coverage here?” Her voice lifted at the end, inviting them to make a call for an ambulance.
Glory restrained herself from rolling her eyes. Jane was a nice lady, boring as beige paint, but nice. But who talked like that? Glory had a master’s degree in biology and she didn’t talk like a prissy British butler. During the last day Glory had concluded that she and Jane were total opposites. Glory listened to Nine Inch Nails and Linkin Park; Jane loved Bach. Glory and Jane both loved to read, but Glory liked hot vampire romances; Jane read literary masterpieces.
The romance cover model look-alike ignored Jane. He stepped even closer to Glory, and boy, did he smell good. She took a couple quick breaths to savor his scent. What cologne did he wear? Something spicy and so yummy that she wanted to push her nose into his neck and inhale. He growled something over his shoulder without taking his eyes from her. She should try to pay attention to what he was saying, but damn, he was so gorgeous she had trouble focusing. Geez, had she wandered into a rehearsal for the movie? Where was the director? Any movie with a hot piece of eye candy like this guy would get her money at the ticket booth. And if he was dressed like he was now, they’d get her money multiple times. Holy cow, he was so big and buff he made her feel like a size ten.
“Look,” she told him. “Mister … um … I’m really sorry to interrupt your movie stuff, but like Jane said, people are hurt. We need to get them some help right away.”
“You can call me Um if you want,” he said in a low rumble that made her want to melt into a puddle of feminine goo at his feet. His smile was quick and white. “My name is Wolf’s Shadow. What is your name?”
Yum, is more like it, she almost blurted. “Gloria Peterson. Well, Glory. And this is Jane Terry.” He was really into his part. Unless he wasn’t an actor? It sure looked like he must be an actor, or maybe a model, with that handsome face and even more handsome bod. How many guys looked that good, especially wearing only a diaper? Well, not a diaper. A breechcloth. It showed off the side of his body from ankle to armpit very nicely. He must do some serious lifting, to have such a well-developed physique. Glory could look at him all day. Too bad they didn’t have time for that. “Can you help us? Do you have a phone?”
He looked from her to Jane, a slight frown pulling his brows toward each other. “We have no phones. Where are your men? Why did they send two women out alone?”
Glory swelled with tired outrage at his critical tone, but Jane’s voice was mellow. “All the men are injured or killed. There was no one else to go for help.”
Wolf’s Shadow turned his head toward another of the Indians, and the wind lifted his hair. Was that shiny black curtain falling down his back and brushing his butt real? Holy crap. “Stag, take the others to the injured.” He looked at Jane and indicated one of the other men. “My cousin Jumping Stag has medical training. He and the others will go with you to help your friends. I will take Ms. Peterson back to our camp to rest.”
Glory was tired, and her feet in their new pumps were killing her. But Jane must be tired too. Neither one of them had slept well last night. Without sleeping bags or a tent to keep them warm, they had huddled together so closely that in some cultures they would be considered a married couple. It was one of the few mornings in her entire life that Glory had been glad to see the sun come up.
“Jane is tired too,” she began. “I don’t think we should separate. The co-pilot said we should stick together.”
Wolf’s Shadow frowned. “You will come with me to camp,” he ordered.
Glory eyed his magnificent physique with appreciative disgust. Wasn’t that just the way it went? Guys that good-looking were just naturally bossy. It came from being used to getting what they wanted. Too bad for him she was used to going against the flow. “Sorry. We’re sticking together. No offense or anything, but I don’t even know you.”
For some reason that made him smile approvingly. “Don’t worry. I promise my intentions are strictly honorable.”
Pity, thought Glory.