Thursday, 24 February 2011
Welcome Terry Spear!
Excerpt from Wolf Fever:
“Setup: Darien is the pack leader, and Lelandi his alpha mate. Jake is his brother. Carol is the heroine, a psychic and newly turned werewolf, and the pack wants her mated, pronto. But here, the pack is playing in a game of tag—and that’s when Ryan comes into the scene, a leader from another pack—all he wants is to convince her she’s not truly psychic, and she knows something else is going on with him in regard to her, he just can’t admit it to himself…so she proves it and soon the wolf fever is catching…”
Darien fondly patted Lelandi’s ribbon in his belt, but then without warning, he dodged after Jake’s ribbon first. His brother, already eyeing him warily, bolted away from him in time, and Darien headed for Tom with an evil glint in his eye, aggressively, no holds barred this time. Carol figured he was leaving her for the bachelor males instead of retaliating and taking her tag.
She went back to protecting her tail and targeting the guys who were out to get her, never having had so much fun in her life.
Six tags so far, and…
Bang! She was hit, shoved onto her back, taken down by…the red-and-white-striped fiend from her vision. Mervin, the barber?
He smelled of heavy hair tonics and sweat. She moaned, just thinking what being mated to him would be like. He was the only man in town who wore a costume year-round—a barber quartet type of affair, complete with bowtie, red-and-white-striped sports coat, and dark pants, even for playing a rough-and-tumble game such as this. At some time or another during the game, he’d lost his white straw hat.
At least while he had her pinned on her back, he couldn’t get to her tail. But then he wasn’t trying very hard to get it either, she belatedly realized. Keeping her pinned beneath him, he seemed to be enjoying another sport just fine.
She squirmed, trying to unsettle him, but her actions only brought a smile to Mervin’s thin lips. His pale yellow eyes smiled just as brightly. Great.
Without warning, Mervin flew aside, his eyes wide and mouth gaping. Her rescuer, Ryan McKinley, crouched next to her and rested his hand lightly on her shoulder, his brows knit in a deep frown, his eyes dark as a stormy night.
“Are you okay?”
The entire playing field grew silent again, and her heart pounded in panic.
“You shouldn’t be here,” she whispered. “They’ve been looking for you.”
“Carol’s fine,” Darien said, his voice terse as he drew close.
Darien offered his hand to help her to stand. She grabbed Ryan’s knee instead and started to help herself up. Ryan quickly seized her hand and pulled her to her feet, keeping her close by his side in a protective mode, the heat of his body warming hers, his fingers still holding onto hers in a possessive way. But she was more concerned about protecting him!
Darien gave Ryan a dark look, but not in the least bit cowed, Ryan squeezed Carol’s hand reassuringly and tossed a sly smile to Darien. “Good game.”
Lelandi quickly stepped forward and waved a handful of ribbons. “Blue team won!”
Still, everyone waited for Darien to respond, either concerning the game or Ryan, or both. Darien looked at one of his men, who lifted their team’s captured ties, minus Lelandi’s that Darien still had tucked proudly in his belt. His team was definitely short a few.
Darien gave Lelandi an evil smile. “Lelandi’s team won. Let’s eat!” He wrapped his arm around her waist, offered Ryan a warning look, and then nodded to Tom and headed for the house.
Carol breathed a tentative sigh of relief. As uptight as everyone was when waiting to see how their pack leader dealt with issues, she couldn’t shake loose of the tension tightening her chest. She figured that the pressure wouldn’t go away until Ryan left the area for good.
Taking his brother’s cue, Tom approached Ryan. “What are you doing here?”
“Don’t any of you talk to each other?” Ryan moved his hand to Carol’s back and stroked it once in a reassuring way. “I told Jake I wished to speak to Carol about a matter concerning the murder investigation.”
Tom’s eyes widened a little. “Why? The case was solved. All guilty parties were held accountable.”
“Just a couple of questions concerning… investigative techniques.”
Carol’s heart sank. That was what this was all about? Or was Ryan just saying so as a cover? He still stood next to her in protective wolf mode, their bodies lightly touching, the heat curling through her. He sure seemed to want something more of her than to question her.
“Why were you here last night, skulking around?” Tom asked.
Ryan didn’t say anything, which made Carol wonder again if he had an agenda he didn’t wish to discuss with anyone else.
Tom cocked his head to the side, gave Ryan a look that said he didn’t trust him, and then gave a short nod.
“All right, ask your questions of her.”
Frowning, Tom hesitated. Then he motioned to the side of the house. “Over there. That’s as private as it’s going to get.”
People were milling about, most likely interested in what Tom was going to do to Ryan, or what Ryan had in mind to do with Carol. Most of the onlookers were bachelor males, including one particularly sore-looking barber, who was brushing at yellow-green grass stains on his red-and-white-striped coat.
Ryan took Carol’s arm and led her to the side of the house. His touch was gentle, caring, and protective, and every time he got close, a spark of interest seemed to ignite between them. She looked up at him, expecting… well, hoping he wanted to see more of her. Date her or court her, or whatever werewolves did before they decided they were the right ones for each other and mated for a lifetime. Not that she was ready for a long-term commitment, but a couple of dates would be nice, just to see if he was even her type.
“Carol…” Ryan released her arm and shoved his hands in his pockets, his head bent to speak more privately with her. “Are you sure you didn’t overhear conversations, which is how you came to the conclusions you did and were able to solve the case?”
Instantly, he stoked her ire. She folded her arms and narrowed her eyes at him. So he truly wasn’t interested in her. “What are you inferring?”
He cleared his throat. “Darien and his brothers wouldn’t let me speak with you concerning this matter when I was here before, first, because you had been injured so, and after that…” Ryan shrugged. “They were being protective, I suppose. But after giving your situation further thought—”
“For five months?” Her voice was rife with annoyance, yet she wondered why he’d truly thought about it for that long. Just a rabid need to learn the truth? Or was there more to the story than he was letting on?
Calmly, he ignored her outburst and continued. “Just that you may seem to have psychic powers or a sixth sense or something, but in truth…” He let his words fade, allowing her to draw her own conclusions, his gaze studying her eyes, observing her reaction. Like a P.I. and former cop would. Most likely jaded. Believing the worst in anyone they thought might have something to hide.
In truth, what did he believe?
She opened her mouth to speak but then clamped her lips shut. Hell, ever since her seventh birthday, after nearly drowning in a lake—well, technically she had drowned in the lake, been declared dead, and then revived, she’d had these unwelcome visions. She’d thought everyone else did, too, until she mentioned one to her mother.
She still remembered that day as if it were yesterday. She’d explained how she’d seen a man driving a pickup truck down the street from where they lived and running over one of her classmates. Except that the accident didn’t happen until two days later. And the boy died. Night terrors followed, waking her, and she’d try to catch her breath, tears streaking down her cheeks, her pillow soggy.
Horrified and unable to deal with what she’d seen, she finally told her parents. They’d immediately sent her to a special doctor to get rid of her episodes. After three years of visits, he gave up on her, declaring her utterly hopeless. Well… even worse than that. To mollify her parents, he’d said in an appeasing but not very sincere way that she’d probably grow out of it. The real reason he dropped her as a patient in such a hurry went deeper than that.
Waiting for her to respond, Ryan cleared his throat and shoved his hands in his pockets.
“Sorry. You had a question for me?” She tapped her fingers on her folded arm, an insincere smile playing on her lips. He hadn’t asked her a question, but the way he spoke was definitely a ploy to get her to respond to his observations. And she wasn’t biting.
“Don’t you suppose you might have come by the information you did through some means other than a psychic connection?”
“Hmm, sure. That’s what happened.”
Ryan’s mouth curved up ever so slightly, but she could tell he wasn’t being taken in by her surrender. Before she’d become caught up in the werewolf culture, she’d kept her abilities secret. Now that those in this pack knew about her, she really didn’t care if any were skeptical. As long as they didn’t try to tell her that she didn’t have a sixth sense because it wasn’t possible.
She supposed that was all because of Dr. Metzger and the way his icy blue eyes would peer through his brass rimmed glasses at her, while his big chin tilted down, condemning, judging. If people didn’t believe her in private, fine. Yet, usually if people confronted her like this, she would smile disingenuously and tell them how right they were. She never felt the need to defend what she could see when others couldn’t, or what she could envision or perceive sometimes when she touched an object.
“But you truly believe otherwise,” Ryan finally said.
This time her smile was bright and true to her feelings. She couldn’t help liking Ryan, despite his denial of her abilities. He had an easy but determined manner about him, not brusque like Darien or teasing like Jake or afraid to make waves like Tom. His determination was matched only by her own.
She glanced at the men standing about, including both Tom and Jake. Which made the situation worse. Why couldn’t any of the alpha males show any real interest in her? She was not a beta kind of girl. She supposed that was because her father had become so downtrodden by her mother’s treatment of him. She couldn’t see being married, um, mated to someone like that.
“Carol?” Ryan said, his deep baritone voice again yanking her from her faraway thoughts.
She really needed to get more sleep. She turned her attention back to Ryan. He thought she wasn’t being honest with him about her abilities, when he wasn’t honest about why he had been lurking in the woods last night, watching her window. She didn’t have to be psychic to know something more was going on between them. Time to turn the tables. Throw him off balance.
Trying to look like this was a perfectly natural way for her to act, she smiled, wrapped her arms around his neck, and leaned into the soft sweater covering his hard body, which instantly reminded her just how hard his body was when he wasn’t wearing a stitch of clothes.
She only meant to give him a slow kiss on the mouth, just to prove to him that he had another agenda that he wouldn’t admit to. Or if not, then maybe Tom or Jake would finally show some interest in her. But more than anything, she wanted to get Ryan off the subject of her abilities before she said something in anger that she shouldn’t.
To her surprise, he eagerly captured her mouth with his. Not cautiously, building up the desire in slow careful increments, but judiciously, as if he had been starved for affection for a very long time. His hand cupped the back of her head, his free hand drifting lower on her back and holding her in place.
She hadn’t meant to respond so fully to the kiss either, but his unbridled need fed into hers. Forgetting they had an audience, she parted her lips to accept him, to open an intimate path between them, their tongues dancing, touching, exploring. Her hands fisted in his soft sweater at the back of his neck and held him even tighter. She pressed her body against his hard muscles, and shamelessly she wanted more.
But then he released her and unwrapped her arms from around his neck, his eyes smoky and dark, his expression otherwise unreadable, his hands still securely holding her wrists. Their breaths came quickly as their hearts thundered at a runner’s pace. He opened his mouth as if he was going to say something, but she didn’t want to hear the apology she figured he would offer or another word about her abilities, if that’s what he had in mind.
She quickly spoke instead. “I accept. Come pick me up for a date at six o’clock. Promptly.”
She’d show him he wasn’t as much in control of the situation as he might think.
Then she winked, pulled free, and stalked off toward the house without a backward glance, her blood sizzling with arousal and irritation.
She harrumphed under her breath. All the idiotic romantic notions she had been harboring for Ryan McKinley… and all he really wanted was for her to confess she wasn’t psychic?
©Terry Spear, 2009