Sunday, December 19, 2010

1 + 1 + 1 = Story

By Pat Cunningham

(Note: this post originally appeared on Shapeshifter Seductions back in January 2010. The book in question, under the title "Belonging," was recently accepted by Siren. That's how long it takes me to write something. E-pub date is tentatively scheduled for May 2011. In the meantime, check out the action with the Guts and Butts Gazette over on www.shapeshifterseductions.blogspot.com. It's a howl!)


I can’t remember the book or the author now – it was either Damon Knight or Ben Bova, I was writing SF then – but one of the many how-to-write texts I studied in my early writing years offered this advice: for a good story, you need more than one idea. A single idea is a sketch, a scene, a vignette. A story needs at least two ideas to play off each other. Not too many or the story gets muddled – I’m looking at you, Pirates of the Caribbean 2 – but enough to provide weight and depth, and give the characters, and the readers, something to sink their teeth into.

I got to test this theory recently when I was inspired by a TV show and started fiddling with plots. I found several ideas that fit together and gave me plenty of grist to put my characters through all kinds of angsty hell. Isn’t that’s why we write in the first place?

Idea #1 – a couple months back I guest-blogged on the bizarre ideas my mind keeps throwing at me, like where a shapeshifter’s clothes go when they change and would a vampire’s fangs be considered concealed weapons by the police. One question dealt with a vampire’s sex drive; can the undead get it up? This led to the theory fresh blood in a vampire’s veins makes them horny, and sooner or later some enterprising brothel owner would catch on. Originally I’d planned to write about a prostitute and the vampire she falls in love with, but … well, you’ll see in a minute.

Idea #2 – I try to write every day. When I don’t work on a WIP, I jot a few lines in a notebook. Sometimes it’s flash, sometimes it’s a scene or a character sketch or a dialogue exchange. Recently what came out of my pen was a bit about a human who’d been raised by vampires. That’s not a story by itself, but if added to something else …

Idea #3 – okay, this one’s embarrassing. It stems from that TV show, and the fan fiction that’s grown up around it. I’m familiar with fanfic – I’m a Trekkie from way back – as well as the interesting phenomenon known as slash. So I went poking around on a fanfic site, and – well, as the pistol-packin’ preacher said, Holy shoot. I don’t remember Trek slash being quite that graphic. There was stuff on there that would make Ellora’s Cave editors blush. And so MUCH of it! You wonder where these guys find time to actually fight evil. Inspired, as it were, by this, I decided to try my hand at a M/M story. I couldn’t use the TV characters, of course, but there’s nothing to stop me from “casting” the actors in the roles. I find it’s easy writing dialogue when you can hear a particular voice. (I put Stone Cold Steve Austin in a novel once and his dialogue just flowed. Not bad for a wrestler.)

Adding the three ideas together, I had my plot and characters: a young human man, raised by a nest of vampires, who becomes a prostitute in a bat brothel and the object of affection of one of his male vampire clients. Both come with hefty baggage, especially the vamp (idea #4, which I can’t divulge because it’s a plot twist) which they have to wade through to reach their HEA.

None of these ideas could really sustain a full story, let alone a novel, on their own. Put ‘em together, though, and I just might have something. I’m still working on the draft. I’ll let you know how it turns out.

By the way, I’m not going to say which TV show it is. Bad enough I start laughing whenever the one actor comes on screen because I can’t help thinking, “Hey, it’s the man ho.” I don’t need any defamation lawsuits. Writing as a profession is risky enough.
~~~~~~

Thursday, December 2, 2010

The Magic of a New Print Release ~ BRANDED BY THE TEXANS


Happy Holidays, everyone. My Western Erotic Romance Menage recently became available In Print at the usual vendors. So, if you’re in the mood for lustin’ and lovin’ cowboys who know how to win over the woman of their dreams... well, dang it, take off your dusty boots, put your feet up before the crackling fireplace, and do some private enjoin’!

~ Sliders Meets Bonanza Meets the Three Star Republic ~

BRANDED BY THE TEXANS

Blurb ~

What can three Texans do to a woman’s body and heart?
Kylie is about to find out.
Beyond her wildest dreams.
On a parallel Earth.

It’s 2009... Kylie is on the run from the law for a crime she didn’t commit. A promising doctoral student, she’s lost everyone and almost everything, except for what she stows in her car. Now, Kylie has to salvage the rest of her life. But, where in this age of GPS tracking, TV’s Most Wanted and cameras everywhere?

It’s 2009... Dillon, Dono and Dash are three brothers desperate for a wife to brand as their own. The Union made women scarce in the Three Star Republic by releasing a bio weapons’ plague during the border wars. These tough-as-leather Texans will do anything to keep the right woman, even if they have to lasso her like a wild filly and love on her until she loves them back.
~~~~~~

Story Excerpt ~

Dillon hitched his boot on the first rail and leaned forward, resting on his crossed arms. Swishing their tails, four of their year-old fillies munched on the fresh hay they’d been given in the morning. They were part of the next generation in the ranch’s breeding program to create the hardiest and best-looking stock.

Joining him, Dono and Dash keenly studied his expression, once they’d planted themselves.

“I don’t want to know,” Dillon forestalled any explanation. Looking away from his brothers, he eased himself by watching the fillies, yet kept Dono and Dash in his peripheral vision.

“We need more of a plan than just the garden,” Dono began.

“What kind of plan?” Dillon kept his tone neutral.

“You know that hole in the dimensional wall near Pine Springs at the gas station? I hear tell it’s still open.” Dash propped his boot up.

“Talked to Craig last Saturday,” Dono continued. “He says they still get vehicles with license plates and the people want to pay with credit cards. When they ain’t single women, he pretends to take the information and tells folks to make certain they get back on the main road the same way they came through town because a bridge is out.”

“Craig keeps a whole dang list of bachelors like us—”

Dillon shook his head, stopping Dash. “I’d lasso a woman for us quick as a rattlesnake strikes and bring her home. That’s accepted here. It don’t seem right when the woman is from a parallel world.”

“Hell, you could be doin’ the woman a favor,” Dash persisted. “Pamela says there were all sorts of women from her Earth who were looking for what she called their ‘soul mates’ and having no luck.”

“Talk about wanting a woman, big brother. How long will it take us to lure a woman here, even with the niceties? Right now, unattached women are scarcer than hen’s teeth.” Dono punched the fence plank, emphasizing his frustration.

“Yeah, and the fallout from the plagues has caused a low birth rate.” Dash kicked the dirt, barely stirring any dust from the low mountain ground of northwest Texas. “Besides, I don’t want no close-to-the-cradle bride. I want a real woman.”

Dillon dropped his head, staring at nothing. “Yeah, I agree. I want a woman not a child that still needs raisin’. What does Craig want from us?”

“Stud service for his two mares,” Dono quickly answered. “I know he’s been after our line for a long while.”

“Shoulda known. Dang it, they’re poor stock. What’s he offerin’ exactly?” Dillon raised his head and eyed his brothers.

“We tell him our general preferences, and he puts us at the head of the list for that type of female. One of us has to be within ridin’ distance of his fill-up station or someone else gets the call.” Dono’s gaze glittered with his desperate hope.

“It’s still faster than tryin’ to lure a woman here or canvassing the whole republic for a bride.” Dash used his most convincing voice.

“Let me guess, you two already told Craig our preferences.”

Dono and Dash nodded as one. “Just like we discussed,” Dono seriously replied.
“And how is this plan supposed to work? There are no roads to drive the Tesla or the trucks into Pine Springs. And the ranch don’t take care of itself.”

“We all take three day shifts,” Dash answered too enthusiastically. “It’s only half a day’s ride down our mountain path.”

“Besides it will give us a chance to make more barter deliveries to the general store.” Dono slightly grinned.

Dillon figured he knew that he and Dash were winning their big brother over. “You two got this all worked out, have you?” Turning at the waist, he leaned on the top rail again.

“We’ve been talkin’ a lot, figuring it out, yep.” Dash tossed back his long auburn hair. An unruly forelock had fallen over his eyes. “You’re not the only one loco and longin’ for a woman around here.”

“Must be true.” Dillon heard the dry retort of his voice. “Since you two got stud hormones that won’t be eased by pounding fists on each other. Promise to stop, and I’ll go along with this plan.” Dillon drilled them with his gaze. “Act up again, and I’ll stop it deader than a border raider’s blasted ass.”

“Wahoo!” Dash leaped straight up.

Dillon scowled. “This doesn’t get you two out of garden duty.”

Dono jabbed Dash’s ribs with his elbow. “Come on. She’s not gonna want a steady diet of meat, canned vegetables, biscuits and beans.”

Watching his brothers gallop toward the fenced-off plot with Maisy and Wayward hot on their heels, Dillon briefly shook his head.

One of the fillies, a chestnut he called Stargirl because of the marking on her forehead, approached and nuzzled his chest. He rubbed her gleaming neck. Her winter coat had fallen out mostly and she shone with a deep red color. “You’d make a good mount for a woman, my Stargirl.”

Despite his misgivings over the whole dang scheme, Dillon shrugged. He could kill two birds with one stone. They could all be on the lookout for a woman while increasing their trade with the general store. Their ranch’s tanned hides and smoked beef were always in demand. To their benefit, they’d stock up on needed items as well as purchase more of the luxuries. A woman would appreciate that.
~~~~~~

SEXCERPT ~

...She slid against him in a dang erotic way he surely relished.

“How about your ankles, darlin’?” Dillon swirled his thumb over her outer ankle.

“Please.” Her voice was barely above the sound of the water.

Continuing to massage her foot with one hand, Dillon smoothed his other palm over her ankle. Dash watched him languidly stroked the sweet shape with the length of his fingers. Dono followed his lead using his thumb to lightly stimulate her sexual point, the one located below her inner ankle.

“I should be dreaming.” She sighed luxuriously. “I’m keeping my eyes closed just in case I am dreaming. Besides, those cowboy cocks of yours are looking for love already.”

All three brothers locked gazes with each other. “Lookin’ for love, like the song?” Dash fondled her ass with small squeezes.

“Yeah, the song. From a John Travolta movie.”

“John Travolta?” Dono cupped her ankle between his hands and massaged.

“He’s a well-known actor on my Earth. Oh, I like what you’re doing, musketeer cowboy. Both of you, what you’re doing.”

“There is no John Travolta, the actor, here.” Dillon gradually smoothed the heel of his hand up the water-slickened flesh of her calf.

“Mmmm…Viking cowboy. Who did sing it? I can’t recall on my Earth.”

Dash watched the shower spray strike his wife’s body forming rivulets that flowed over her delectable round shape. Heaven had definitely found him, and he wanted to stay. “Lots of artists here, honey. I’ve been known to belt it out now and then.”

“Mmmm… a singing prince cowboy.” Kylie moved against him, sensual as a big cat. “Oh, yes,” she moaned, “your hands are driving me so sexy-insane.”

Dono braced her foot against his solar plexus, then slipped both of his hands up her leg. Sweeping longer strokes, he massaged her calf, gradually including her knee.

Clenching her ass tighter, Dash slipped his thumbs over the tender inner flesh of her crack.

“Three against one. I’m liking this more and more.” Arching her back, Kylie pressed her butt against his loins.

Dash groaned. Of its own accord, his shaft nudged her twat’s petals, steamier than inside the shower stall. Controlling himself, he gently rubbed his cock’s head back and forth, and ached mightily to plunge inside her.

“Such a nice tease, prince cowboy,” she throatily crooned. “Yes, oh God, my thighs have never felt this good…Dillon, Dono.”

Nestling the crown of his shaft between her carnal folds, Dash took a look at what his brothers were doing. They massaged in different ways, fondling the entire length of her thighs.

“Kylie,” Dono darkly purred above the sound of the shower. “I’ll bet you’d like me pleasurin’ your nubbin.” Dono eased his hand over her curls. Cupping, he kneaded her woman’s plump mound.

Tightening her hold on his neck, Kylie uttered a strangled whimper and rocked her sex rose on Dash’s cockhead.

Dono slipped the side of his hand between her thighs. Teasing the cleft of her mound, he fingered open her female flesh. “I’ll bet you’ll like Dash puttin’ his big cock inside you at the same time.”

“Come here, Kylie,” Dillon commanded. “I’ll hold onto you and suck your teats.”

A needy cry escaped her throat, and Kylie let go of Dash’s neck. Leaning forward, she reached for Dillon. Her arms flew around his neck and she clutched him like a lifeline.

“That’s it, my sweet thang.” Dillon roved his hands over the voluptuous swells of her hips and the slender dip of her waist. “Dash’ll keep himself reined in till you want him real bad.”

Gripping her thighs near her ass, Dash spread Kylie as her legs loosely surrounded Dillon’s hips. Rearing wild with ache, he jabbed his cock’s head inside her slick little hole. Not wanting to take her too fast, he fucked her entrance and waited for Dono to do his special magic with her feminine bud. “She wide enough for you, brother?”

“Yep. I feel her. You’ve got the most exquisite nubbin, Kylie love,” Dono crooned, coaxing her to let go of any inhibition. “You like me squeezin’ it this way? Strokin’ this way?”

“Oh, please, yes…keep doing what you’re doing. Dono, yes, pinch me.”

Kylie squirmed on the hot poker that was his cock and danced in that cat-like sinuous way of hers. Dash stroked her inner thighs with his thumbs. More and more, he fell in love with the way his wife moved, with the feel of her body.

“Dang, princess,” he growled. “I want to melt the cream in your sweet pussy.”

“Yes, do it!” she cried out.
~~~~~~

Have a Happy Ridin’ and Ropin’ Holiday...

Savanna

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~
~~~~~~

A Siren-BookStrand #1 BESTSELLER ~ http://bookstrand.com/branded-by-the-texans ~ http://bookstrand.com/savanna-kougar ~ Rated: SEXTREME *Ebook & In Print*
~~~

READER REVIEWS ~

Hi Savanna,

I wanted to tell you that I just read Branded by the Texans and LOVED IT! I really hope you are planning more books in the Three Star Republic.

I loved the seamless way you blended a historical western feel with a sci/fi-alternate universe reality. I aways enjoy pop references in a story as well (Captain Sisco and Chuck Norris comments). I'm certain I'll be rereading it many times in the future.

Thanks for the great read!

Corinne

~ corinnedavies.com
~ daviesromance.blogspot.com
~~~
This is Judy’s review at Amazon

5.0 out of 5 stars Love, love, loved it!, August 31, 2010
By Judy L. Hauge (Lindale, Tx United States)

This review is from: Branded by the Texans [Three Star Republic] (Siren Publishing Menage Amour) (Kindle Edition)
I know everyone usually says that they don't usually write reviews but in my case it's true. I love this book. As a Texas woman it hits to the heart of what a Texas man should be and want in a wife. The males were tough, strong, and dominant but gentle and calm. This went for their land, their animals, or their wife. They were rivers that wore away her resistance. This author was also able to insert into this book the political climate witch is brewing in Texas and put it into the story line to make the whole book seem more realistic. The only drawbacks that I could see was that the Kylie seemed a little too accepting of another "Earth" and the fact that she had been kidnapped, but she stayed true to the pioneering spirit of defending her man no matter what.
~~~~~~

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Anthology Magick ~ The Tiger’s Masquerade


As many of you know, I've had a lifelong love of mysticism and all paranormal topics. So, it's a natural for me to write erotic romances in those subgenres ~ futuristic, fantasy and everything paranormal.

Halloween, Samhain, the thinning of the veil between the worlds, has become a very Muse-inspirational time of year for me. And, currently, I’m penning away on my witchy WIP, Kandy Apple and Her Hellhounds.

So far, of course, I’ve only scratched the surface of all my story ideas. But, scratch I’ve done with two of my heroine feline shapeshifters, Sun Rocket and Sable. And now, my Tiger Shapeshifter hero, Zyrru, is scratching my heroine, Stacy, in all the right romantic-passionate places.

Zyrru stars in my short story, THE TIGER’S MASQUERADE, which is part of the Just Another ParaNormal Halloween anthology ~ now available at Mojo Castle Press as an ebook, and will soon be in print.
~~~
In the mood for Just Another ParaNormal Halloween... ?

Here is K.A. M'Lady’s clever intro of all the short stories included in the anthology.

On the Darkest Knight of a Pixies Holiday, you'll feel an A-mazing Grace, but beware of Love, Lies and Zombie Cries, for Samhain's Visitor and His Girl will arrive at the Tiger's Masquerade, followed by the Man in the Long Black Coat.

It's Just Another ParaNormal Halloween at the Castle... Mojocastle.

By K.A. M'Lady
~~~

What follows are the blurbs, and an excerpt from THE TIGER’S MASQUERADE:

Blurb ~

Stacy wasn’t looking for a tiger-man to erotically and exotically fill her tank, then steal her heart. That is, until the Halloween ‘Call of the Wild Masquerade’ ball. But, what kind of tiger does she have by the tail?

Zyrru wasn’t looking for a human woman to un-tame his fiercest passions, and alter his royal life forever. After all, he’s only vacationing on Earth, and is almost engaged to The Princess. But, her rosefire scent is irresistible.

Excerpt ~

Stacy slipped her hands over her gown’s full skirts reveling in the feel of the shimmering pink satin. Picking them up as elegantly as she knew how, she moved toward the mansion’s ballroom.

Excitement pounded her heart. Expectation had shadowed her all day and now it heightened. For what, she wasn’t certain, except that her boss had teased her with promo pictures of the tiger men she’d hired for her Call of the Wild Masquerade ball.

Stacy paused at the arched entrance, sweeping her gaze over the huge room’s starry ethereal decorations, the ones she’d helped to arrange the day before. Not quite prepared for more than images of the Tame a Party Tiger men, Stacy came to a sliding halt on her dancer’s shoes.

Aware she looked ridiculously awkward with her arms akimbo and her body leaning forward, still, Stacy stared, and practically panted. Thankfully, her mask didn’t impede her breathing any, and she wasn’t wearing a corset, or she might have keeled over in an un-ladylike faint.

Exotic. Sexy. Gorgeously handsome.

Mygawd! Their bods were fighting lean, yet with beefcake muscles galore. At least, from what she could observe, since they wore updated versions of sixties’ sharkskin suits. Damn, who knew her heart could beat this fast over looking at a man? Okay, sharp-dressed tiger men.
~~~~~~

The Man in the Long Black Coat
by Susan Gabriel

“Behold, I come as a thief in the night and I tell you, ye worship ye know not what.”

Blurb:

Mariah Bishop, the preacher's daughter, lives in a town where religion and superstition are so deeply entwined there's no telling where one ends and the other begins. But her father, the good Eldon Bishop fears there is something more than religious rapture stirring in the young Mariah.

When the mysterious man in the long, black coat blows into town and holds an old-time revival on All Hallow's Eve, Mariah and the colorful characters which surround her are set on a course with consequences they couldn't possibly foresee.
~~~

A-Mazing Grace
by D. McEntire

Sometimes a wrong turn can be the right choice…

Blurb:

Halloween never meant anything special to Grace. That is until taking up an offer by her best friend for a night time trip through a local corn maze leaves her changing her tune—and her life. Coming face-to-face with a man sporting glowing red eyes and fangs, then rescued by a man who seemed just as unreal as the first makes for one hell-of-a wild night only she seems to remember.

Connell has hunted alongside his brothers for centuries, following a code to protect the secret of their race—vampires—by removing rogues vampires who refuse to blend in among society. That secret is threatened when wiping the memory of a feisty human female he saves from a rogue doesn’t take completely.

But, it isn’t her recollection of him that leads her deeper into his world. Arriving moments too late on the scene of her second attack by a rogue leaves him facing the choice of converting her or leaving her to die.
~~~

A Pixie Holiday
by Brigit Aine

Halloween brings all sorts of interesting things to Kira's life, and some of them are worth it.

Blurb:

On Halloween Kira is able to go out as herself, with no glamour on and allow others to see her true self, a pixie As she is trying to avoid the man her father sent years ago to try and marry her, she runs into a someone else, someone who makes her feel safe and protected. Although she isn't even aware that she needs protecting, yet.

Lance knows he needs to get Kira to like him, after all they are going to be married, but he has to keep her safe and get her to the conclave before any of that can happen. And it seems as if those who do not want to see an alliance between the Pixies and the Wolves would do whatever it takes to make sure his plans are foiled.
~~~

His Girl
by Sapphire Phelan

Erotic paranormal romance with vampires.

Blurb:

My Girl was more than just a song for Evan McPhail and Aimee Saunders; it was the music of their love and passion for each other. For nothing could tear them apart, not even death.
Then Aimee vanished.

She returns to Evan thirty years later, no longer human. To the tempo of their passion, they prove that doesn't matter.
~~~

Samhain's Visitor
by Kiki Howell

Samhain's visitors can be anything from dark and shadowy to sexy and full of surprizes.

Blurb:

When an uninvited visitor shows up during Sarah’s Samhain ritual, her Mute Supper is literally disrupted by cups and plates being tossed about. Soon, the shadow weighing on her and the voices with cryptic messages incite terror.

But, help comes in various forms. And, one is sexy and full of surprises.
~~~

Darkest Knight
by Ashley Blade

Blurb:

What would happen if you woke up one day a vampire?

Julie asked herself the same question many times, especially after reading one of her favorite paranormal stories.

Now what seemed like a fantasy world captured in descriptive words becomes her reality and she has to figure out if it was all it was cracked up to be.
~~~

Love, Lies & Zombie Cries
by K.A. M'Lady

When It Comes To The Heart, Something Always Bleeds

Blurb:

Jayda Oslynn knows what death feels like. She knows the solitude in the darkness’ silence. The lonely spaces between life’s last breath and the realm of the undead.

Like the women in her family before her, she’s had a life-long affinity with those that wander in the land between. Some call it black magick or necromancy, but to the Oslynn family it’s always been known as death dealing. And, whether a blessing or a curse, Jayda’s always been able to feel their feelings – their love and suffering, their happiness and sorrows. The truth, when shared through her eyes, always has a way of being felt and seen.

This Halloween, Jayda finds that when dealing with the dead, some memories are better left buried, for the real truth never stays buried and hearts, once broken seldom seem to mend.
~~~~~~

SHAPESHIFTER LOVERS, come on by and check out the *new* look for SHAPESHIFTER SEDUCTIONS, the home blog of authors: Serena Shay, Pat Cunningham, Rebecca L. Gillan, Solara and yours truly.

Mr. Wolf will be looking for you.
~~~~~~

Happy Thinning of the Veil ~

Savanna

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Friday, August 27, 2010

Good News, Good Reviews

Just dropped in (because Savanna nagged me) to share some happy news: BAD BOYS has received a 4-1/2 tea cup review from Happily Ever After Reviews! Here's part of what reviewer Lorien had to say:

"Readers who are in the mood for a sinful romance and fantastic plot are sure to enjoy Bad Boys. The book contains a ton of heat and plenty of emotional tension. I was hooked from the first page. The characters were likeable and amusing with their own desires and imperfections. It was a fun, deliciously erotic read with just enough conflict and a jaw-dropping love scene near the end."

Clearly, a woman with taste. You can read the whole review at hea-reviews.blogspot.com.

I'm really struck by the positive response to the boys and their angel/demon romance. This was my first time writing M/M and apparently I got it right, or close enough because nobody's complained. I'll definitely be doing at least one more M/M. After that, who knows? (Though I doubt if I'll ever do more than two guys at once. All those hes, his and hims can drive a girl bugfutzy.)

Pat Cunningham

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Magical Monday ~ BRANDED BY THE TEXANS


August 2, 2010 is the official release date for my *Sliders meets Bonanza meets The Three Star Republic* erotic romance novel.

Okay, to give a glance at the numbers, Numerology-wise, that is... August is the 8th month meaning all things in the material realm, including money or finances, is highlighted. It’s about looking good and being prosperous.

The 2nd day... the number TWO represents love and couples, and bringing forth cooperation. LOVE is a good thing for the launch of a romance story. Yay! Yippee!

Okay, 2010 is a THREE year. The focus is on communication, from personal to the wild, wild west of the internet. And, in all the ways communication during 2010 is being used as a major influence from the world stage, for good or ill.

So, when added up ~ 8+2+3=13 ~ in numerology this breaks down to a FOUR. For some reason, unknown to me, several of my books have been released on FOUR days. How? Why? I can’t answer that since *4* is not one of my personal numbers. However, it means stability, a steadiness and reliability of action. I can always hope Branded will endure in the minds and hearts of the readers.

Plus, given Branded is a menage... well, Kylie and her three heroes, Dillon, Dono, and Dash... yep and whoop! Add up to a FOUR. Coincidence? Synchronicity? What do you think?
~~~~~~

Blurb ~

What can three Texans do to a woman’s body and heart?
Kylie is about to find out.
Beyond her wildest dreams.
On a parallel Earth.

It’s 2009... Kylie is on the run from the law for a crime she didn’t commit. A promising doctoral student, she’s lost everyone and almost everything, except for what she stows in her car. Now, Kylie has to salvage the rest of her life. But, where in this age of GPS tracking, TV’s Most Wanted and cameras everywhere?

It’s 2009... Dillon, Dono and Dash are three brothers desperate for a wife to brand as their own. The Union made women scarce in the Three Star Republic by releasing a bio weapons’ plague during the border wars. These tough-as-leather Texans will do anything to keep the right woman, even if they have to lasso her like a wild filly and love on her until she loves them back.
~~~~~~

R Excerpt ~

Dillon hitched his boot on the first rail and leaned forward, resting on his crossed arms. Swishing their tails, four of their year-old fillies munched on the fresh hay they’d been given in the morning. They were part of the next generation in the ranch’s breeding program to create the hardiest and best-looking stock.

Joining him, Dono and Dash keenly studied his expression, once they’d planted themselves.

“I don’t want to know,” Dillon forestalled any explanation. Looking away from his brothers, he eased himself by watching the fillies, yet kept Dono and Dash in his peripheral vision.

“We need more of a plan than just the garden,” Dono began.

“What kind of plan?” Dillon kept his tone neutral.

“You know that hole in the dimensional wall near Pine Springs at the gas station? I hear tell it’s still open.” Dash propped his boot up.

“Talked to Craig last Saturday,” Dono continued. “He says they still get vehicles with license plates and the people want to pay with credit cards. When they ain’t single women, he pretends to take the information and tells folks to make certain they get back on the main road the same way they came through town because a bridge is out.”

“Craig keeps a whole dang list of bachelors like us—”

Dillon shook his head, stopping Dash. “I’d lasso a woman for us quick as a rattlesnake strikes and bring her home. That’s accepted here. It don’t seem right when the woman is from a parallel world.”

“Hell, you could be doin’ the woman a favor,” Dash persisted. “Pamela says there were all sorts of women from her Earth who were looking for what she called their ‘soul mates’ and having no luck.”

“Talk about wanting a woman, big brother. How long will it take us to lure a woman here, even with the niceties? Right now, unattached women are scarcer than hen’s teeth.” Dono punched the fence plank, emphasizing his frustration.

“Yeah, and the fallout from the plagues has caused a low birth rate.” Dash kicked the dirt, barely stirring any dust from the low mountain ground of northwest Texas. “Besides, I don’t want no close-to-the-cradle bride. I want a real woman.”

Dillon dropped his head, staring at nothing. “Yeah, I agree. I want a woman not a child that still needs raisin’. What does Craig want from us?”

“Stud service for his two mares,” Dono quickly answered. “I know he’s been after our line for a long while.”

“Shoulda known. Dang it, they’re poor stock. What’s he offerin’ exactly?” Dillon raised his head and eyed his brothers.

“We tell him our general preferences, and he puts us at the head of the list for that type of female. One of us has to be within ridin’ distance of his fill-up station or someone else gets the call.” Dono’s gaze glittered with his desperate hope.

“It’s still faster than tryin’ to lure a woman here or canvassing the whole republic for a bride.” Dash used his most convincing voice.

“Let me guess, you two already told Craig our preferences.”

Dono and Dash nodded as one. “Just like we discussed,” Dono seriously replied.
“And how is this plan supposed to work? There are no roads to drive the Tesla or the trucks into Pine Springs. And the ranch don’t take care of itself.”

“We all take three day shifts,” Dash answered too enthusiastically. “It’s only half a day’s ride down our mountain path.”

“Besides it will give us a chance to make more barter deliveries to the general store.” Dono slightly grinned.

Dillon figured he knew that he and Dash were winning their big brother over. “You two got this all worked out, have you?” Turning at the waist, he leaned on the top rail again.

“We’ve been talkin’ a lot, figuring it out, yep.” Dash tossed back his long auburn hair. An unruly forelock had fallen over his eyes. “You’re not the only one loco and longin’ for a woman around here.”

“Must be true.” Dillon heard the dry retort of his voice. “Since you two got stud hormones that won’t be eased by pounding fists on each other. Promise to stop, and I’ll go along with this plan.” Dillon drilled them with his gaze. “Act up again, and I’ll stop it deader than a border raider’s blasted ass.”

“Wahoo!” Dash leaped straight up.

Dillon scowled. “This doesn’t get you two out of garden duty.”

Dono jabbed Dash’s ribs with his elbow. “Come on. She’s not gonna want a steady diet of meat, canned vegetables, biscuits and beans.”

Watching his brothers gallop toward the fenced-off plot with Maisy and Wayward hot on their heels, Dillon briefly shook his head.

One of the fillies, a chestnut he called Stargirl because of the marking on her forehead, approached and nuzzled his chest. He rubbed her gleaming neck. Her winter coat had fallen out mostly and she shone with a deep red color. “You’d make a good mount for a woman, my Stargirl.”

Despite his misgivings over the whole dang scheme, Dillon shrugged. He could kill two birds with one stone. They could all be on the lookout for a woman while increasing their trade with the general store. Their ranch’s tanned hides and smoked beef were always in demand. To their benefit, they’d stock up on needed items as well as purchase more of the luxuries. A woman would appreciate that.
~~~~~~

Happy Ridin’ and Ropin’ Summer...

Savanna

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~
~~~~~~

AVAILABLE for Pre-Order from BookStrand ~ http://bookstrand.com/branded-by-the-texans ~ http://bookstrand.com/savanna-kougar ~ Rated: SEXTREME
~~~~~~

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Good Girl Goes "Bad"

By Pat Cunningham

("Bad Boys" is now available from Siren Classic. Boranaz the demon is determined to prove to Solian the angel that women are into the bad boys. The only speed bump to his scheme is that Boranaz wants to be into Solian. Sometimes romance can be Hell.)

Let me rephrase that. I’m not as good as I could be. That’s why I write every day, to get better. As far as technique goes, I hope it’s working. As for the plots and ideas …

I didn’t set out to deliberately write a M/M paranormal romantic comedy involving angels and demons. It just sort of happened. Specifically, I was trolling the Internet for markets and discovered a publisher wanted stories involving an angel and/or a demon. Fine, said my twisted brain. We’ll give them both. We’ll make them both male. Then we’ll ditch the chick and put the guys together. I hate my brain sometimes.

I’ve got nothing against same-sex pairings. I like a good slash story as much as the next rabid fangirl. I grew up on Star Trek, after all. As a fan of the X-Men as well, I always had my doubts about the Angel. I mean, c’mon. Blond, blue eyes, inhumanly beautiful, wings growing out of his back, calls himself Angel and he’s straight? Suuuurrrre. I still think he and Sauron would have made a cute couple. Maybe it’s a good thing I never became a comic book writer like I wanted to.

The hardest part about writing M/M? For me, it was pronouns. I had to keep using names because “he” could be either. The most fun? Picturing two smoking-hot guys going at each other. Writing is the best damn job on the planet, no foolin’.

I’ve got one other guy-on-guy tale in the pipeline and then it’s back to het. Or maybe I’ll put together all I’ve learned and write a mĂ©nage. In this job you never stop learning, and every day is a brand new adventure. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Branded’s Magical Cover Art

Here it is, a sneak peek of my cover art for BRANDED BY THE TEXANS, due out in August 2010 from Siren-BookStrand.

Didn’t Amanda Kelsey do a phenomenal, western-magical job? The cover just pops so beautifully and reflects an amber-hued, X-passionate scene in the story.
I feel as if I’m right there, near Pine Springs, Texas and the Guadalupe Mountain grasslands, with my heroine, Kylie, and her cowboy-rancher heroes, Dillon, Dono and Dash.

You can find Amanda at ~
http://razzdazzdesign.com ~

BLURB ~

What can three Texans do to a woman’s body and heart?
Kylie is about to find out.
Beyond her wildest dreams.
On a parallel Earth.

It’s 2009... Kylie is on the run from the law for a crime she didn’t commit. A promising doctoral student, she’s lost everyone and almost everything, except for what she stows in her car. Now, Kylie has to salvage the rest of her life. But, where in this age of GPS tracking, TV’s Most Wanted and cameras everywhere?

It’s 2009... Dillon, Dono and Dash are three brothers desperate for a wife to brand as their own. The Union made women scarce in the Three Star Republic by releasing a bio weapons’ plague during the border wars. These tough-as-leather Texans will do anything to keep the right woman, even if they have to lasso her like a wild filly and love on her until she loves them back.

~~~~~~

HAPPILY EVER AFTER TRAILS

Savanna

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Mother Goose, Meet Louis L'Amour (or, a Western Nursery Rhyme

By Pat Cunningham
(I started this story for an anthology, then got distracted by vampires. I may finish it someday. Until then, enjoy the opening.)

Jillian Spooner shaded her eyes and peered first at the sere expanse of grass her ranch had become, then up at the pale, bleached sky. No clouds at all up there, no promise of relief. No water, no rain. No hope. A phoenix, its brilliant feathers bedraggled from the heat, dropped down to perch briefly on the withered tree beside the corral, uttered a single melancholy squawk, and then flapped on.
Sighing, she trudged to the well and began the tedious process of cranking up enough liquid to fill the trough and water the stock. The horses were a tough breed, descended from fey mares her grandfather had brought up from the south. They could live on dew and the wild beans whose vines crisscrossed the pastures, but not forever. They needed grass and grain to stay healthy. All the valley did. There must be water, and soon.
Jill turned gritty, bitter eyes to the north, to Fountain Hill. The spring on its peak, it was said, had been a gift of the benevolent, maternal Goose Woman herself, enchanted to never run dry. In happier times water had tumbled in an unending cataract from that hidden source, and irrigated the entire valley. But times change, and magic ends. The track of the cataract gleamed like a bone, the Goose River had shrunk to a narrow trickle in its cracked and brick-dry bed, and what people said of Goose Woman now Jill would not repeat.
The Spooners had their well, but that was not nearly enough. The Peterses, their nearest neighbors, had already packed up and gone, leaving their pumpkins to split and curl beneath the merciless sun. The widow Mary Sparks, contrary to the last, clung stubbornly to her parched garden patch. She’d outlasted troubles worse than this, she said, and vowed to sit tight. Jill wanted badly to do the same, but how long could they hold on?
With the trough three-quarters full, Jill set to drawing two last buckets for herself and Uncle Orly. Alerted by the scent of water, the horses drifted in, their once-bright faerie coats now dulled by dust. Her heart ached to see them so. “I’ll make it better,” she promised them. “Somehow.”
Phaedra, the lead mare, halted abruptly. She turned her head and pricked her ears toward the wavery horizon. Jill squinted along the line of her interest and spotted movement. Another neighbor pulling out? That didn’t look like a wagon. That was a rider, headed for the ranch.
Jill set the bucket down, suddenly alert. She’d left her rifle inside. Before she could move toward the house, however, something about the rider struck her as familiar. She froze in place, staring, as her heart did a series of painful flips and her throat became a dry and dusty echo of the land. All the while the rider drew ever nearer, nearer.
Jack.
She stood rooted to the earth and let him approach her. No mistaking him now. Within the lean, rangy face and form of the man she could still make out the sparkling eyes and careless ease of the boy she’d known. That brought back to her mind the careless
, easy way those eyes had broken her heart, just before he’d ridden off without a word to her. Her legs found their resolve again, and she reconsidered a dash for her rifle.
Too late. He reined his horse to a stop just inside the gate. She automatically assessed the stallion with a horsewoman’s practiced eye. Those eyes grew wide. A tigerstripe! Their fey blood mingled with Gorgon; it was said they couldn’t be tamed. Yet horse bore rider with no complaint. No easy or careless man could get near a wild tigerstripe, let alone catch it and break it to saddle. She peered more closely at his face, suddenly uncertain. Perhaps this wasn’t Jack after all.
His voice dispelled her doubts. “Jillian,” he said. Just that, but it broke open her heart and flooded through her like a torrent down an arroyo. Somehow her mouth found enough liquid to swallow.
“Jack. You’re – ” She couldn’t go on.
“I’m back,” he said simply. He removed his hat. There were the sparkling eyes and the lean face with its easy smile. The eyes did not sparkle as brightly, but the smile still invited a woman’s confidence, and tempted her lips to touch his. A dangerous thing, that smile. First in the hands of the boy he’d been, especially now on the face of the man he’d become. Jill tried to steel herself against it, and already felt herself faltering. The bucket weighed like lead in her hand, but she couldn’t look away from him long enough to set it down.
“What do you want?” she managed.
She wavered anew before his frank stare. As if he were assessing her, as she had his horse. The tigerstripe eyed the mares at the trough. Jack looked at her with much the same expression.
“I’ve come home,” he said, “to claim what’s mine.”
Before she could respond to this, a rifle clacked behind her, startling them both. The tigerstripe skinned back its lips, revealing teeth far too sharp for a normal horse. Jill risked a glance over her shoulder. Uncle Orly stood in the doorway, the rifle trained on Jack.
Jack only smiled. “Orlando Spooner. Peaceable as ever. How’s that dance-hall girl you got to run away with you?”
“She run off on me. What do you think?” Uncle Orly settled his aim on Jack’s chest. “You ride on, Horner, and you keep on riding. You’re not welcome here.”
“Too bad. That gal was quite a dish.” He resettled his hat on his head, and tipped its brim to Jill.”Jillian. I’ll be seeing you again.”
“No, you won’t,” Uncle Orly said,. “There’s no place for you in Goose Valley. You be on your way.”
Jack smiled to them both, but mostly at Jill. He turned the tigerstripe and rode off at a leisurely trot.
Uncle Orly didn’t lower the rifle until Jack had traveled well byeond the gate. “Horner,” he muttered. “Like we didn’t have enough trouble. You all right, sweetheart?”
That was debatable. Up until five minutes ago she’d have sworn before the parson Jack’s return would not affect her, that she’d cried him out of her system years back. That was before he’d trained his eyes on her and made that remark about claiming. Somehow the pain and the years between dissolved before those eyes.
Mentally she shook herself. She was no woman to wear a man’s brand. Certainly not Jack Horner’s. She hefted the bucket. “I’ll be all right,” she assured her uncle. “Let’s get dinner started.”

Monday, April 26, 2010

Magical Snippet from KANDY APPLE FOR HALLOWEEN

Currently, I’m writing a story that includes all sorts of magic and magick... my heroes are physically similar to Pierce Brosnan in their human form... here’s a little blurb ~

What happens when two of Hades’ most mission-accomplished Hellhounds find just the right witch for Halloween?
~~~

Dance scene snippet [unedited] ~

Not doubting that for a second, Kandace followed him as he walked backwards with a dancer’s lithe power. The dark glisten of his eyes compelled her to match his movements.

“Zin.”

The sensation of her body flowing toward him became real as his arm clasped her waist and he pressed her against his virility. That’s what he felt like, hard polished virility. His beast smoky scent didn’t merely fill her nostrils, but seeped into every crevice of her, including her sweltering sex crevice.

Zin dreamily whirled her onto a surface meant for dancing. Like magic, ceiling lights created a silvery blue radiance around them. In her head Ella Fitzgerald’s beyond-compare voice crooned what Kandace felt.

“You do that something to me, that something that simply mystifies me,” she sang just for Zin.

He paused, draping her over his arm, his gaze blatant with desire, yet lit with curiosity.

“Tell me why should it be,” she throatily continued, “you have the power to hypnotize me?”

“My Kandy Apple,” he rasped so seductively, she wasn’t quite prepared for his next move.

With utter ease, he twirled her, then brought her flush against him. He swayed her body with such suave demand, Kandace clung to him, molten to her core.

Definitely magic, the melody from Cole Porter’s song enveloped them.
~~~~~~

HAPPY SAMANTHA NOSE TWITCHING...

Savanna

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

The Magic of the Western is Back... say yeehaw!

The magic of the Western is back, only bigger and better. Why? Because for one thing there’s a happily ever after ending. In the golden, shoot ‘em up days of the TV western, mostly the love interests would be killed off or die, or marry someone else other than the main characters. It was REALLY disappointing, I can tell ya. And, my heart hurt, a lot.

The Western Romance novel is better and bigger, now, because authors/aspiring authors have embraced the genre in every heat level. And, I mean *every* heat level, from sweet to xxx-erotic. Plus, paranormal authors are offering up their subgenre versions with werewolves, ghosts and vampires, just to give you a sampling.

Yep, pardner, a lot of readers are gobbling them up, and only wanting more to feast on. For example, Siren-BookStrand’s new line,
Menage Everlasting, is based on the lustful doings of cowboys in the West and the Old West. Already, the books are top sellers. Wild Rose Press has offered Western romances for several years now. Check out Celia Yeary, author of TEXAS BLUE, SHOWDOWN AT SOUTH FORK and ALL MY HOPES AND DREAMS. Also, I’ve noticed Ellora’s Cave has jumped on board the Wild, Wild West train.

And, why not? Western heroes are definitely a natural as those alphas many of us love and can’t get enough of. They’re the type of *real* man many of us sigh over and fantasize about. Oh yeah, many of us ladies want to ride off into the sunset with our own rugged hero. After all, why should he be alone and lonely?

I cut my teeth on the first Western TV shows. I would race down on Saturday mornings as a little kid to watch Gene Autry and especially, his horse, Champion. I graduated to Roy Rogers and Trigger, the golden wonder horse. Dale Evans starred as his partner in getting the bad guys, riding her horse, Buttermilk. Now, that was women’s liberation before it came about. There was also, Fury, starring the *now in heaven* Peter Graves.

No, over the years, there weren’t many Western shows and movies I could resist. Some of my TV absolute faves ~ The Lone Ranger, Disney’s Zorro, Bonanza, The Virginian, Bat Masterson, The Texan, Rawhide and, of course! Wild, Wild West.

More recently, I think it was the early 90's, Bruce Campbell starred in an offbeat, highly imaginative Western, The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. I loved that show and thought it was absolutely incredible in its scope and themes.


This post wouldn’t be complete, if I didn’t include western erotic romance author, Gem Sivad, and give a big WAHOOOO! Of congratulations to her for all of her success with INTIMATE STRANGERS, WOLF’S TENDER and A STAGED AFFAIR.

Her BREED TRUE has just earned two FIVE reviews, one from a review site that should know an exceptional western, Love Western Romances ~

According to Rose~

“Breed True starts off with a bang…after the initial explosion of activity, the author sets out to help the reader unravel Jewel’s life, one piece of the puzzle at a time.

AND!

Got Romance Reviews ~ Reviewer: Suki

“First I need to preface this review by saying how I rarely read western Romances, those few that I have read I haven’t enjoyed. That just changed.
~~~


Yep, this is also a self-serving blog since my own, BRANDED BY THE TEXANS, is due out in August 2010 ~ from Siren-BookStrand. I’ve always, always! Wanted to pen a Western with a happily ever after, where the heroine rules and is just as strong as the hero. I mean it’s been a huge ole itch that’s never gone away. As a running-around-the-neighborhood kid, I would wear my Annie Oakley Halloween costume, complete with pistol. Definitely, a foreshadowing of this story and all Western stories I’d like to write in the future.

Here’s an *unedited* snippet scene, where my heroine, Kylie, is feeling Wanted: Dead or Alive... and has just crossed the dimensional divide.

Heading outside, she surveyed her surroundings as she moved to her car. A tall broad-shouldered man in a tan Western suit, complete with bolo, gassed up what looked like a Caddy. Sidling in front of her pump, Kylie checked out the directions, then unscrewed her gas cap.

“Need some assistance, ma’am?” the Caddy Cowboy asked politely. He tipped his impressive cream-colored Stetson as Kylie met his gaze. “I can fill ‘er up in two shakes of a lamb’s tail.”

Kylie blinked at the old phrase he’d used. “Thanks. I think I can handle it.”

“It’s, okay, ma’am, I’m not moving in on another man’s territory. Happily married myself.” He extended his hand flashing a wide gold band on his ring finger. “Mabel wouldn’t be happy if she knew I didn’t give you a hand.”

Kylie knew when she’d been defeated in a good way. She gave a nod and stepped back. “Thanks.” She was about to say her name again, but realized she shouldn’t be doing that anymore. In fact, she probably needed to decide on another name, and get used to it fast.

With smooth efficiency, he handled the nozzle gassing up her car. “There ya go, little lady. And don’t you worry, you’ll be married in no time.” He screwed her gas cap back on. “Come to Texas from the eastern states?” he asked.

Kylie’s brain felt like it spun, and she saw the image of whirling clothes inside a dryer. Where had that come from married in no time? Still, she’d better go with the flow. “I came from the east. Does it show a lot?”

“Yer accent, mostly. But we have a few ladies that make it across the border the way you have, lookin’ for a better life.”

Border? “I am looking for a better way of life.”

Turning on his boot heel, he tipped his hat again. “It’s right around the corner I’m bettin’, little lady.”

~~~~~~

HAPPILY EVER AFTER TRAILS

Savanna

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Friday, April 2, 2010

Magical April Showers

Yes, it’s definitely showering on my tame prairie, one of those deep gray days, one of those magical April showers that brings forth Mother Nature’s life after a long winter’s sleep.

Earlier a storm moved through, the winds tremendous for awhile. I’ve noticed the force of nature is increasing and will probably continue as we move through these times, the Quickening, as it is called by some.

Here, the daffodils and jonquils are also blooming up a storm and the green is taking over day by day. A couple of days ago I bought some organic cherry tomato seeds with the hope that I’ll get them planted... that I will be able to care for them well enough to enjoy the fruits of my labors.

This weekend the decorated colored eggs are taking over and so are the bunnies... chocolate bunnies in all different shapes and sizes, dark chocolate, milk chocolate. What about all those stuffed toy rabbits? So many are much too adorable to resist.

There are several treasure in my personal Easter basket right now, as far as my writerly career. I have my two print copies of STALLION OF ASH AND FLAME, hot off the Siren-BookStrand presses. Yes, it was lightly smooched upon arrival.

Each of my books has had its own journey toward publication. None of those journeys has been easy. Fun, yes, and definitely magical, but also exceedingly, exceptionally difficult at times. And, yes, I am very proud of each story, of the effort I’ve put forth and continue to put forth.

Another treasure is my next scheduled release, BRANDED BY THE TEXANS, due out in ebook in August 2010, then in print February 2011. I just e-sent my blurbies and info to Siren-BookStrand in preparation. And, the amazing cover artist, Amanda Kelsey, will be doing the cover art. So, I’ve been working on the questionnaire.


Here’s the long blurb ~

What can three Texans do to a woman’s body and heart?
Kylie is about to find out.
Beyond her wildest dreams.
On a parallel Earth.

It’s 2009... Kylie is on the run from the law for a crime she didn’t commit. A promising doctoral student, she’s lost everyone and almost everything, except for what she stows in her car. Now, Kylie has to salvage the rest of her life. But, where in this age of GPS tracking, TV’s Most Wanted and cameras everywhere?

It’s 2009... Dillon, Dono and Dash are three brothers desperate for a wife to brand as their own. The Union made women scarce in the Three Star Republic by releasing a bio weapons’ plague during the border wars. These tough-as-leather Texans will do anything to keep the right woman, even if they have to lasso her like a wild filly and love on her until she loves them back.

~~~~~~

Yep, there’s lots of treasure eggs in my author’s basket. I recently penned a short story, THE TIGER’S MASQUERADE, for submission to a Halloween anthology. We’ll see. If this doesn’t work out, I think the story will find a good home. Tiger was a romp to write and definitely a pantsing adventure.

Now, I’m caught between two of my WIPs. After Branded, I’ve been doing the intense writing on my black wolf story, THE BLACK WOLF’S PROPHETESS. However, if I want my WIP ~ KANDY APPLE FOR HALLOWEEN ~ to have a shot at being pubbed for Halloween, it has to be finished in May... so what’s an author girl to do? I haven’t decided.

~~~~~~

But, Hey, it’s Easter and no, unfortunately, I don’t have a rabbit shapeshifter Easter story coming out. What I do have is this Easter greeting from Bekki Lynn, my author friend who hangs out with me at the HAPPILY EVER AFTER blog. I thought I’d share it here just because it’s fun and clever... and yep, true.

All I need to know

I learned from the Easter Bunny!


Don't put all your eggs in one basket.

Everyone needs a friend who is all ears.

There's no such thing as too much candy.

All work and no play can make you a basket case.

A cute tail attracts a lot of attention.

Everyone is entitled to a bad hare day.

Let happy thoughts multiply like rabbits.

Some body parts should be floppy.

Keep your paws off of other people's jelly beans.

Good things come in small, sugar coated packages.

The grass is always greener in someone else's basket.

To show your true colors, you have to come out of the shell.

The best things in life are still sweet and gooey.

May the joy of the season fill your heart.

AND MAY GOD BLESS YOU!

Happy Easter!


Savanna

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Thursday, March 25, 2010

London Werewolf, Chapter 4 (test post)

Chapter 4
The club wasn’t bad, for a fang bar. Noisy, of course, but not
excessively so. Not as many monkeys as he’d feared. Costumes were a bit
more restrained than on South Street. The interior reeked of basil, simian
sweat, desperation and overexcitement. Just the sort of place gormy Eugene
would pick to hold a family get-together.
“Place is slow tonight,” Eugene remarked in an irritated tone, as if this
were a bad thing. They had a table just off the main aisle, just small enough
for Roderick to feel cramped. His cousins ringed him—hyperactive Eugene,
cool Lucy, quiet little teenaged Emma. Charlie was on duty and wouldn’t be
joining them. Lorraine, next eldest after Charlie, had married since Roderick
had seen her last, and now lived with her mate’s pack in New Jersey. He
wondered if Eugene had dared bring her here for her last night as a lone
wolf.
“Hang in there, Rod.” Eugene clapped him on the back. “After midnight
we’ll head home and have a run. We might even scare up some game, but
don’t hold me to that. The park’s overrun by coyotes these days, and you
know how they are.”
He didn’t, having never met a coyote, but the thought of a good, long
run in wolf form made his limbs ache with yearning. He sipped his drink, a
frothy concoction heavy on the goat’s blood, and politely shook his head at
the ape girl trying to entice him to dance. Eugene claimed her instead.
Roderick watched them move onto the dance floor and engage in jerky
movements that resembled a three-legged dog attempting a hump. He didn’t
watch for long.
He tried to make small talk with Lucy and Emma. His cousins remained
polite but reserved, intimidated by his alpha presence. When a couple of
were boys came to their table and nervously asked them, through him, for a
A London Werewolf in America 32
dance, Roderick wasn’t sure who was more relieved. He nodded permission,
and the girls gratefully made their escape.
For a time he watched the staff at work. Two wolves and a Japanese fox
tended bar. They doled out straight liquor to the apes but kept a separate list
of blood-based, nonalcoholic drinks for their real clientele, the steady stream
of vampires who drifted in and out. Their noses told them who was who,
monkey, were or bat. An efficient system.
Lycaon bite it, what was wrong with him? The apes with Eugene was
comely enough. Two days ago he’d have moved on her without a second
thought. He wasn’t one to think too deeply with a she involved.
That was then. Now had become downright uncomfortable.
He growled and downed a stiff gulp of his drink. Face facts: He’d quite
lost his taste for casual romps since he got Darinda’s scent in his nose. The
witch must have put a spell on him. This restlessness, these thoughts, were
all her fault.
He glanced around the dank interior. Eugene and the monkey had
finished their dance, or whatever you wanted to call it. The girl had
disappeared. Eugene was attempting, with little success, to chat up a
disinterested bat. Lucy and Emma giggled at the bar while their conquests
bought them drinks. No age restrictions on service, as weres could not
stomach alcohol.
The wolf lads appeared harmless enough, and Lucy would look after her
sister. Bugger Eugene. No one would miss him, Roderick decided, if he
stepped outside for a bit.
Free of the fang bar, he stood on the pavement and sucked in the brisk
night air. It made a sorry statement indeed that a city’s grimy air outranked
the club’s. At least the street had decent circulation. He took in a long
breath, slowly, through his nose, and let it sigh out again with only a little
cough.
Tomorrow night he would meet his intended. After that, his days of
freedom would be numbered. Mother wanted this transaction wrapped up
quickly. Tighten up the choke collar, cut off his air completely.
He supposed he could always slip the collar, abandon the family, run
lone. And die or go mad, cut off from pack support. He could have
challenged Bernadette, but what good would that do? Even if he won he’d
A London Werewolf in America 33
still have to marry, because the family would never accept an alpha of his
age without a she and the promise of pups. Check and literal mate.
You had to hand it to the Queen Mum, she always covered all the
angles. No doubt the reason she’d remained alpha so long.
That skipped his thoughts back to Darinda. She’d faced him down when
he’d cornered her in her den. Confident, eye straight to eye, not an inch of
give. Now that was an alpha. Think of how magnificent she would be in
bed. He sighed. If only she’d been were.
Lost in hopeless fantasies, at first he didn’t notice the scruffy pair in
battered denim creeping up on him. Their primate stench alerted him. He
whirled on them abruptly, and they froze. They were done up in vampire
leathers, their faces painted like Kabuki actors. Headed for the club, no
doubt. He stepped away from the entrance, but they kept coming toward
him. Why, he couldn’t fathom. “Can I help you with something?” he asked.
The male opened his mouth, then hesitated. Sweat poured off him like a
cataract. The sullen female shouldered him aside. Her dirty blonde hair was
streaked with purple. She stood with her hands thrust into her coat’s baggy
pockets and her eyes thinned to slits. “You Roderick Chase?” she
demanded.
He raised a brow. “Yes. How did you—”
“Told you,” she said to her partner. She yanked a knife from her pocket
and lunged at him.
Sheer dumbfoundment rooted him in place. She thrust her blade directly
into his unprotected chest, right for his heart.
Except the knife seemed to hit something that wasn’t him. It skidded
right over his sweater without even leaving a crease.
The girl’s eyes widened, but she didn’t lose her pluck. She took a blunt
jab at his neck. Given her proximity she couldn’t possibly miss, yet
somehow she did. The blade whispered right around his neck without even
touching the skin.
This time the both of them gaped at the knife. “What the hell?” the girl
blurted.
“What’d I tell you? He’s a werewolf. You gotta use silver.” The male
charged in to try his luck. His knife belonged to the butcher family, with a
tarnished patina on the blade. In addition he wielded a length of chain, not
silver but nonetheless deadly.
A London Werewolf in America 34
No need for resistance with the likes of this. Roderick simply
sidestepped and stuck out his foot. The male belly-flopped on the pavement
with a painful-sounding thud. Both knife and chain went skidding into the
gutter.
That left him only the stupefied female to deal with. Roderick seized her
wrist and twisted. Her knife clattered on the cement. He opened his mouth to
question her. She stared up at him, and screamed.
Oh bugger. Of course it was the teeth, long and getting longer by the
second.
The change was a common enough response to mortal danger,
automatic, instinctive. Just not what he wanted right now. Not only couldn’t
he interrogate his attackers without a human voice, he’d had no time to shed
his clothes. To the girl’s shrieks were added the immensely painful ripping
noises of a perfectly good pair of trousers shredding off his werewolf body.
He also lost his grip on the girl, as paws aren’t made for grasping. She
backed off frantically as he pitched forward to land on all fours.
Phhhhtttt. There went the seams on his pullover. By Lycaon, these
murderous monkeys were going to pay for this.
He shook off the rags that had been his outfit and bared his fangs at the
girl. Yes, you’d better scream, you sodding ape. Damn his tail, where was
Eugene? At this point the primate was terrified enough to babble all the
answers he wanted. Once she realized he couldn’t do worse than snarl at her,
they could bid cooperation good-bye.
Something whistled over his head. He’d all but forgotten the male. The
monkey had abandoned his knife in favor of the chain. A landed blow would
be damaging, but none of the blows landed. Granted they were monkeys, but
could even apes be so incompetent?
Enough of this. He needed only one to question. He eyed the male’s
crotch and licked his muzzle. The baboon took the hint. “No amount of
money’s worth this,” he said, dropped the chain, and fled.
That left the girl, crab-scrabbling away from him and screaming her
painted face off. Their performance had drawn quite an audience, with their
pointed fingers and cell phone cameras. Not what he, both a were and a
foreigner, needed. He caught the girl’s shirt in his jaws and dragged her
toward the fang bar. He suspected it wouldn’t be the first time some wolf or
bat had hauled a struggling victim inside.
A London Werewolf in America 35
It seemed a workable plan, shattered like the bullet that struck the
doorjamb just above his head.
Roderick dropped the girl and stared about. Another bullet pinged off
the sidewalk just short of his right forepaw. The gathering crowd added their
screams to the girl’s.
There. The beat-up Chevrolet across the street. The one with the rifle
barrel poking out the window. He scented gunpowder and exhaust but
couldn’t get a fix on the gunman. It might be a monkey; it might be a bat. It
might be one of his own.
A third shot parted the fur on his shoulders. The man in the car cursed
viciously. Like the chain and the knives, the bullets couldn’t seem to hit
their target.
No sense in pushing his luck. Roderick whirled and bolted.
Shots followed him up the block. He plunged across the street. Brakes
squealed and drivers cursed. Pedestrians scattered. Sirens wailed in his
direction, and he flattened his ears against their shrillness.
He ran flat out for several blocks until noise and panic faded with
distance. Eventually he slowed to a trot, then a complete stop. He stood
panting, ears back and tail at an uncertain angle, and took stock.
He had no idea where he was.
All right, think it through. The fang bar was on Arch Street, near
Chinatown. Eugene had said so. Which meant next to nothing to Roderick.
He could back trail himself to the fang bar, although, judging by the scream
of converging sirens, that probably wasn’t the best of options at the moment.
He had no clue how to return to Fairmount Park, and couldn’t ask directions
in this form. His other form now had no clothing. He imagined the prudish
monkey authorities would take a dim view of that.
They’d known his name. They’d known he was were. They’d confirmed
his identity before they attacked him, and they’d come at him to kill.
His first day in the City of Brotherly Love. Growling under his breath,
Roderick began walking.
Luckily this part of this blighted city was nearly free of pedestrians. The
few apes he encountered and sidled around paid him little attention beyond
snapped fingers and “Here, doggie, doggie.” Nobody seemed upset by the
sirens, or the sight of a wolf on the street. Life in the big city, as Eugene no
doubt would put it.
A London Werewolf in America 36
Then, like a ray of sunlight bursting through fog, he caught a whiff of
grass and trees. Eagerly he loped in that direction.
He spotted the outline of Independence Hall and breathed a whine of
relief. The only spot in this ape-infested jungle he was familiar with. He
couldn’t find his way back to Aunt Letty’s from here, but he could make it
to South Street. He oriented himself on 5th and broke into a trot.
* * * *
After dark, Set A Spell’s mortal trade slowed to a trickle, and Darinda’s
real customers came in. After five years of serving an otherworldly clientele
she thought she’d seen it all, but a vampire with a broken fang was new.
“This happened how?” she asked him.
“Pnchth innuh muph,” the vamp said around his hand and her fingers.
She dabbed a bit of gel on the stump. “Ouph! Wch whuttuh doinph!”
“He got punched in the mouth,” the vampire’s androgynous human
companion translated. “The vic had a set of brass knuckles. He looked like
an accountant. Who knew?”
Darinda tsked while she smeared gel. “This will regenerate, you know.
When you wake up tomorrow night it’ll be good as new.”
“Hrts now,” the vamp complained.
She took her hand away. “Still?”
The vampire considered. “Um, no. Not any more. Thanks.”
“Good. Like I said, it’ll regenerate by tomorrow. And don’t lick it.” The
vamp guiltily tucked his tongue back into his mouth. Darinda shook a
handful of white pills into a packet. “Calcium,” she said. “Toughen up the
dentin.”
The vampire took the packet. “You wouldn’t happen to carry blood,
would you? I missed dinner.”
“I don’t do the Dark Arts. Try Schuman’s.”
“Hope he has straws.” The vamp counted out a trio of bills. “Brass
knucks inna face. From a vic. What’s the world coming to?”
“Yeah, tough town,” his companion agreed. “I say we go back to Ohio.
Hey, you got a werewolf out here.”
Darinda came to attention. “What’s he doing?”
A London Werewolf in America 37
“He’s scratching on the door. Now he’s trying to work the knob with his
teeth. Should I let him in?”
He’s got his nerve, Darinda thought with a huff. Of course it would be
Chase. Couldn’t he take a hint? Or a flat-out refusal? She stalked across the
shop and opened the door herself. The wolf ducked inside.
The sight of him squelched her indignation under a burst of awe as well
as a thrill of fear. Her vision at the airport hadn’t done him justice. In wolf
form he was enormous, with rich black fur and a huge brush of a tail. His
form resembled an Alaskan Malamute more than the slender American
wolves she was used to: broad chest and forehead, compact muscular body,
blunt muzzle, small round ears. It was the ferocity in his yellow eyes that
almost made her recoil. This was no simple wolf, said those eyes. This was a
lord of the forest, used to power and command. This was the monster that
once kept frightened peasants cowering in their huts, that Irish wolfhounds
had been bred to kill.
Roderick stopped before her, reared up on his hind legs and shifted.
Little changed from shape to shape. He still radiated dangerous power. He
was still covered in black hair. And he was still enormous.
The vamp’s companion gasped. “Oh! Hello, sailor!”
While Roderick withered the vampire’s boyfriend with a glower,
Darinda was able to compose herself. C’mon, she mentally chided herself,
it’s just a naked man. You’ve seen those before.
Not so often, though, her inner self admitted. And this one was a naked
werewolf, which made him a whole other animal.
Not interested, Darinda thought firmly. Her inner voice scoffed. She
slammed the gate shut on it and met Roderick’s eyes. Maintaining her eye
line proved harder than anticipated. “What are you doing here?”
His pale face and quivering nose belied the force of his voice.
“Somebody just tried to kill me.”
“Oooh, poor baby. Who’d do such a thing?” the vampire’s boyfriend
gushed. “You stick with us, honey. We’ll—”
“Let’s go,” the vamp snarled. He grabbed his companion’s arm and
propelled him out the door.
This left Darinda alone with a panting, highly agitated and thoroughly
naked werewolf. “Uh…you’re sure…”
A London Werewolf in America 38
“Yes, I’m sodding sure. Somebody shoots a rifle at you, it’s hard to
mistake their intentions.”
Good point. Crap, still hard to concentrate. She darted to the clothing
rack and grabbed a wizard’s robe. “Here. Put this on.”
“I’m not—oh, of course.” He shrugged into the robe. “One forgets
propriety when one’s nearly murdered. Hmm. Roomy.”
“Most of the wizards I get are full-figured. Are you hurt?”
“No, they missed. Repeatedly. Which is odd.” He stopped. His
expression darkened. “Where’s the cat?”
“He went home with Peri. Come here. Sit down.” She steered him
around the counter and onto the folding chair behind the register. The shock
of his outrage and adrenaline hit her even through the thick wool robe. “Stay
here. I’ll be right back.”
Unfortunately, nightsiders getting shot at wasn’t new to her. She kept
emergency supplies to deal with a number of species. Within minutes she
returned with a mug of steaming beef broth, a were’s equivalent of a hot cup
of coffee. He all but snatched it out of her hands. His own were trembling
from delayed reaction. He angled his body so she wouldn’t see, and she
pretended not to. He downed half the mug at a gulp. “Thank you,” he said
roughly.
Quietly, Darinda went to the door and turned the hanging sign from
Open to Closed. She returned to the counter and leaned against it. “Tell me
what happened.”
“I already have. Somebody tried to kill me. Knives as well as guns.” He
peered up at her sharply. “This isn’t some pretense to get at you.”
“No, I believe you. You’re clearly in shock. What was it? A drive-by?
Robbery?”
“They established my identity before they attacked. Called me by name.
They knew I’m were. Is that how muggers operate in your country?”
“Noooo, not usually. So this was a hit. Was it other weres? Vampires?”
“Humans. At least the ones with the knives. I can only assume with the
gunman. I couldn’t catch his scent.” He polished off the broth. “Life in
danger. You called that one right enough.”
Darinda indicated the wall phone behind him. “You want to call Charlie,
or should I?”
A London Werewolf in America 39
He barely glanced at the phone. His mouth was tight, his eyes cold as a
winter moon. “Nobody outside the family knows I’m here in America.”
“Big Alex knows,” she reminded him. “He could have ordered this as a
warning.”
“He wouldn’t know I’d be at that club tonight, unless one of my cousins
tipped him off. Is he in the habit of employing apes to do his dirty work?”
She had to shake her head. Hiring non-weres for a hit wasn’t Big Alex’s
style. Roderick set his empty mug aside. “So it’s family. You were right.
Someone in the family wants me gone.”
“Or your fiancĂ©e’s family,” Darinda pointed out. “Maybe she didn’t
agree to the marriage. Maybe she has a human boyfriend with serious
objections.” When Roderick still didn’t reach for the phone she headed for it
herself. “I’m calling Charlie.”
His hand shot out and caught her wrist, stopping her. “We can’t trust
him.”
Her heart stuttered at his touch. She forced herself to ignore it, and
overlook his automatic “we.” “He’s a cop.”
“Yes. Trained to use firearms. That aside, he’s a wolf first. You’ve no
idea of the politics. Rank-shifting’s as natural to us as changing shape. It
goes on constantly. Even for someone like Charlie. If he saw an advantage
in killing me, he’d take it. So would any of them. That must explain why
they waited until now,” he went on, more to himself. “Isolate me in a
foreign land, then go for the throat. You’re right, it probably isn’t Charlie.
It’s more likely Mother or Tamra.”
Carefully Darinda pried his hand off her wrist. “Who’d benefit from
your death?”
He shrugged. “All of them. My sister and mother would be free of a
rival. The lower ranks could advance. You need suspects? Let me list my
relatives. We haven’t even gotten to my betrothed’s family or your Big
Alex.”
“That doesn’t leave you too many options.”
He slanted a calculating look up at her. “There’s you.”
“No, there isn’t. I’m—”
A squeal of tires interrupted her. Both she and Roderick looked up. A
police cruiser had pulled up to the curb just outside the shop. The chair
scraped back as Roderick stood. “Cousin Charlie.”
A London Werewolf in America 40
“Saves us a call.” Darinda trotted to the door and opened it just as
Charlie’s hand hit the knob. “Hi, Charlie. I’ll bet you’re looking for him.”
“Rod! Lycaon, this is a stroke of luck.” Charlie Meadows was a tall,
trim wolf with chestnut hair and a thick moustache. “Eugene called me, told
me what went down at the club. Why the hell didn’t you call somebody?
Mom’s going scatty.”
Roderick opened the wizard’s robe. “I seem to have misplaced my cell.”
“Uh huh. Darinda. Thanks for watching him. Mom told me you two
met. I was hoping maybe you could track him, but I see you’re way ahead.
Now.” He advanced on Roderick, all cop. “You want to fill me in? I
couldn’t get scat out of Eugene.”
Once again composed, Roderick recited chapter and verse of his recent
adventures. Darinda learned some additional facts, and noted the ones he left
out, such as his attackers’ awareness of his name and species. “Fortunately,”
he finished up, “I was able to find my way here. I was just about to call Aunt
Letty. Sorry for the delay.”
“Any idea who they were or why they went for you?”
Roderick shrugged. “They were monkeys. Who knows why monkeys do
anything?”
“Probably a robbery. Kids after dope money. Speaking of which…”
Charlie pulled a leather wallet from his pocket and tossed it to Roderick.
“We recovered it from in front of the bar. You’ll have to tell me if
anything’s missing. Looks like the money’s intact.”
He riffled through the wallet. “Were my assailants still there when you
arrived?”
“Are they ever? Of course not. Probably took off when you turned into a
wolf right in front of them. I realize you were under duress, but— Lycaon’s
guts, Rod, this isn’t Chase Manor. We don’t do that in public here. The
humans are already leery of us. We don’t need any more bad press.”
“I’ll try to remember that next time I’m shot at.”
“Yeah.” Charlie sighed. “Sorry.” He glanced to Darinda. “He’ll never
tell me, so I’ll ask you. Was he hurt?”
“Not that I could see.” And she’d seen everything. The memory made
her quiver inside. Mind out of the gutter, she ordered herself.
“Yes, that’s the strange bit,” Roderick said. “I can understand how the
shooter would miss. Cars whizzing back and forth in the street and all that.
A London Werewolf in America 41
But the girl had me dead. Twice. And she missed, both times. Same for the
other’s chain. Nothing could touch me.”
“The weapons bounced off?” Darinda said. “Like they’d hit a force field
or something?”
“More like slid around. It was awfully odd.”
Darinda nodded. “I think I know what happened. When you approached
me at the airport, did you notice anything unusual? Any strange sensations
or visions?”
“Well, when I first saw you, my heart sped up.” He smiled disarmingly.
She didn’t smile back. He let the smile and the charm both drop. “Now that
you mention it, I recall the color violet, of all things. And feeling full, like
after a big meal. Feeling…”
Great-aunt Sophia. That was it. His mind leapt to a pack gathering in the
deep forest, back when he’d been a small cub. He’d been drowsing in Greataunt
Sophia’s lap, full-fed and secure. Great-aunt Sophia wore her favorite
violet dress. “Safe,” he concluded. “I felt safe.”
“That must be it, then,” Darinda said to Charlie. “My brother was flying
back to Chicago. I put a protection spell on his plane. Roderick came up to
me while I was at it. He must have gotten caught in its sphere.”
“And it’s still operating?” Charlie said doubtfully. “After over a day?”
“It was a big plane. I cast a potent spell. It should fade by morning.
Protection spells are always temporary. I can give you a charm to improve
your luck, but that’s the best I can do.”
“Why?” Charlie pounced. “You think these people will try again?”
Should she mention the reading? She glanced at Roderick. His
expression begged her to keep quiet. “Maybe not them specifically,” she
said carefully. “Let me get you an amulet. Couldn’t hurt.”
“Yeah, okay.” She could tell Charlie had his suspicions, both as a wolf
and a cop. But without cooperation, he had to let it drop. “Lycaon bite it,
this better not be targeting. Rod, don’t walk the streets alone for a while.
There are places in the city even we stay out of, and you don’t know them
yet. And no more shifting in public. The were community tries to keep a low
profile. Big Alex’s orders.”
“I won’t shift if they don’t shoot.”
“Oh, for—”
A London Werewolf in America 42
Charlie broke off at Darinda’s approach. She held a small pendant, a
simple red stone on a thin bronze chain. She handed this to Roderick. “For
luck. It won’t deflect a knife, but it might increase your chances.”
He bounced the pendant in his palm. It held a faint warmth, perhaps
from her hand. Her scent washed over him. He shot a grin at her. “So I’m
going to get lucky?”
With an almost lupine growl she shoved Roderick toward Charlie.
“Take him home before I shoot him.”
“The station first,” Charlie said, taking Roderick’s arm. “I want a full,
official account of what happened tonight. Humans, vampires, I don’t care.
Nobody jumps family and walks away clean. Thanks, Darinda. For
everything. You ever need help, just howl and we’ll hear you. I’ll send the
robe back in the morning.” He checked the street before he herded Roderick
outside. The two climbed into his car.
Darinda watched them pull away. Roderick’s smoldering stare was
locked on the window, and on her. She stepped back. She’d done all she
could to protect him, all any witch could do. It was up to him and his pack
now. The same pack that might have just tried to kill him. “Not my
problem,” she muttered to herself.
If only she could get the memory of those piercing yellow eyes out of
her head.
“Not my problem,” she repeated. It sounded even shakier this time.
Irritated at herself, she picked up Norman and cradled him, basking in his
warmth. “Wolves,” she crooned to him. “Let them chase their own tails,
huh, baby?”
Norman sighed. So did Darinda. Tonight wouldn’t end fast enough.
* * * *
Darinda was with a customer, and so couldn’t dash to the wall phone
when it rang at midmorning. She kept up her spiel on which herbs could do
what and tried to look more chipper and wide-awake than she felt. She’d
closed the shop at two a.m. and gone home to a fitful sleep, full of dreams
about wolves getting shot by gorillas. She thought about calling Charlie for
an update but didn’t want Roderick to hear about it. He didn’t need any
encouragement.
A London Werewolf in America 43
Peri snagged the phone. “Hey there! You’ve reached Set A Spell,
purveyors of all things witchy. I’m Peri. What can I do for you? Who?” She
glanced over her shoulder at Darinda and smirked. “‘Dahrinder’? She’s with
somebody. You want to hang on, or leave a message?”
He must have picked message, because Peri stayed on the phone but
turned her back for privacy. Darinda masked both a curse and a yawn and
focused on her sales pitch.
Ten minutes later, with a satisfied, herb-laden customer safely out the
door, Darinda steadied her voice and asked, “Who was that on the phone?”
“Like you don’t know,” Peri said with a maddening grin. “That was
your werewolf buddy. I said you’d call him back.”
“I don’t want to call him back.”
“I think you should. I don’t think he wants a date. He sounded all
serious-like.”
Darinda came fully awake at once. He’d found something out. “Did he
leave a number?”
“On the pad.”
She didn’t dial right off. Don’t look too eager. Oh, Goddess. What was
she, in high school? She stabbed in the number. The strain in Aunt Letty’s
answering voice wiped all the vexation out of her. “Darinda? Oh, thank you
for calling. It’s been so horrible. Poor Roddy’s just beside himself.”
“Is that her?” Roderick came on the line. “Darinda. Thank you for
returning my call. I’ll be blunt. I want to hire you.”
“For what? I told you last night, there’s nothing more I can do.
Protection spells work, but only short-term. I know you think it’s a risk, but
really, you should confide in Charlie and let him—”
“Not as a witch, per se. I want to hire you as my bodyguard.”