Tuesday’s almost over and I just realized I have something to share this week! My new novel will be out in July so here’s a teaser from the urban fantasy that centers around a family of Amoven – werewolf shapeshifters – in San Diego and the crazy, angsty, sometimes mystical things that happen to them. Of course with three adult siblings and their five children sharing a house together with a misanthropic old uncle, they don’t need magic for their lives to be absolutely insane.
Here we go! An excerpt from my new novel Amoven: Prophecy.
In the bitter cold of winter, deep in the Rockies, a wolf’s howl echoed joyfully through the forest, joined by others in a cacophony of wild pleasures. Dark shapes flitted through trees, mingling almost too fast to see through the moon shadows. Paw prints left in the mountain snow filled repeatedly as the wolves raced along the same path.
A large, powerful, dark-haired wolf with startling blue eyes led the pack, his human mind and emotions subsumed by a far more savage need… the female in heat who led them all on a merry chase. There was more than one, their scents lush and ripe, enticing, traveling easily on the icy wind. Daniel followed this one with the single-minded intensity that had propelled him to the front of the pack, and the drive that kept him there.
No one and nothing escaped him for long.
Long Way From Home
Cut into the very mountains, an austere, four-story, three-hundred year old fortress stood dark against the surrounding forest. It harkened back to the time when problems were solved with swords and might, rather than discourse, and would easily suit any mountain range in Europe or Russia. Nestled as it was in the Colorado Rockies, the structure stood out. It was hardly a meeting place for civilized beings.
Although ‘civilized’ might be stretching things, Simon thought in amusement. Seated in a comfortable chair by the fire, the warmest place in the room, he watched his brother’s agitated pacing and observed, “You’re going to wear a hole in the floor, Daniel.”
Daniel snarled, the sound menacing and chest-deep. It should have raised the hair on the neck of any sane human in warning, but didn’t scare Simon in the least. If the other man was truly enraged, claws or fangs would have accompanied the angry sound, and Simon would have been very careful not to make any aggressive movement. Daniel never Shifted in anger, no matter the provocation.
Lips quirking into a brief grin, Simon silently amended, Well, not against a family member, anyhow.
Pale-blue eyes glared at him, glittering with the frustration of too many meetings and not enough accomplishment. Daniel was nothing if not goal-oriented, and the lack of progress drove him to the edge every time. “I hate. The cold.”
Daniel stopped and stood, shivering intermittently by the window. The room designated as their office for the duration of the Enclave was luxurious and certainly warm enough, not that that seemed to matter. Simon figured that his brother’s reaction to the weather was at least 50 percent psychosomatic since cold temperatures didn’t really penetrate Shifter hides in either form. The real problem, he knew, was being out of their home territory. Daniel’s famed need for control was thwarted, and there was nothing he could do about it.
“Staring at the snow isn’t going to make you feel any warmer. Besides. You’re the one with the natural fur coat. How do you think I feel?”
Daniel flashed him an irritated glare. “You’re hilarious, Si. So. Where are we?”
Since he’d broken through his brother’s pique, which had been his goal with the teasing, Simon glanced at the spreadsheet waiting on his laptop and reported, “Five confirmed pregnancies, ten more matings tonight that look to be promising, and another night yet to go.”
“Better than projected,” Daniel murmured, quietly triumphant.
Simon smiled to himself and saved the file before exiting, even though he’d made no changes. He’d already e-mailed the information to the Council members and had it backed up on a flash drive and a web server. He wasn’t paranoid, as his family so often teased; he was simply careful. As the first ever McTavish historian, and fully human to boot, Simon took no chances.
Looking back at Daniel, he asked, “When do you next see Lauren?”
“Have you worked out what you’re going to say?”
Daniel flashed him a broad, boyish grin, pale eyes merry as he quipped, “Aside from, ‘Stuff it, you old bitch’?”
“Yes, aside from that,” Simon said, dry.
“I’m sure I’ll think of something when it’s time.”
“I believe that’s what Uncle Walt’s afraid of.”
Daniel waved off his mild concern and said airily, “I’ll make nice, don’t worry. I’ll have to, if I’m to take her Chair one day.”
Simon looked at him, nonplussed by the assured statement. It wasn’t as if he wasn’t used to it after all these years, but sometimes his brother’s ambition really did take him by surprise. “You know, I honestly can’t decide sometimes if you’re exceedingly ambitious, terribly arrogant, or just plain stupid.”
That charming grin resurfaced as Daniel told him, “Little of each, I expect.”
A knock interrupted further possible declarations of grandeur, thankfully. Daniel walked over and, as he reached the door, a soft growl emanated from the Amoven. Simon startled at its intensity, heart thudding against his chest unexpectedly. That was the kind of growl that warned Simon to be very careful around his brother, unlike the one just a few minutes ago. He watched closely as Daniel took a deep breath and opened the door with a patently false smile.
Cole Bishop stood in the hall with his too-expensive, tailored suit and perfect smile; he reeked of wealth and privilege. That alone wasn’t something that normally ticked off The McTavish, but coupled with a condescending attitude and an apparent lack of anything resembling a work ethic, and Daniel often tipped into outright antipathy in his dealings with Cole.
Simon found their interaction fascinating, vacillating as it did between hate and a strange political seduction of sorts. Certainly, if they ever moved beyond the natural enmity, they would make a striking couple on a purely physical level. Daniel’s classic, black-Irish good looks and pale-blue eyes foiled by Cole’s blond lightness and amber eyes, both men exceptionally fit and highly intelligent.
No matter what Daniel and plenty of others said, Simon had witnessed Cole’s astuteness on several occasions. Simply organizing this entire affair took a level of efficiency and skill that those who didn’t work in support fields wouldn’t see. He wasn’t the vapid pretty-boy everyone assumed; he couldn’t be. There was something in those golden eyes that spoke of an ambition equal to, perhaps even greater than, Daniel’s. Simon didn’t know what the other Amoven’s goals encompassed, however, and he certainly didn’t trust the Shifter.
“You will do something about that cousin of yours,” Cole said bluntly. “She has the kitchen in an uproar.”
Daniel snorted, shoulders losing a little of their tension. “You came all the way up here to tell me that?”
Cole offered a thin smile and said, “Would you like to eat for the rest of your stay here?”
“It’s a phase, Cole. There are stranger things than her being a Vegan.”
“Not if one’s Amoven. The Executive Chef is… finding the challenge a bit more than he wants to deal with.”
Cole’s eyes flashed and he half-snarled, “Bring her in line, McTavish, or I will.”
Daniel moved almost too fast to see. In a blink, he had Cole against the wall, hand wrapped tight around the other’s throat. His body pressed Cole’s into the unyielding stone, and the grip was strong enough to make Cole wince and struggle futilely to free himself.
Simon held his breath, wondering if this time they would actually erupt into violence. He glanced over to the bathroom, which was the nearest place he could hide. It was just about an acceptable distance if he had to run for it. One didn’t remain in the same room as battling Amoven if one expected to live, after all.
“Don’t ever threaten one of mine again, Bishop,” Daniel stated in a scarily calm voice. “You won’t live to do it a second time.”
The calm was belied by the claws Simon spotted digging into Cole’s throat. One had drawn blood, a sharp contrast to the golden skin.
Cole didn’t bat an eyelash as he snapped, “Don’t be ridiculous, McTavish! Let me go this instant!”
Daniel held on a few more seconds, probably just to make a point, and then stepped back fast enough that Cole stumbled at the release. Offering the other Amoven a bland smile, Daniel said, “They’ll deal with Josie’s food choices or answer to me.” He closed the door in Cole’s face.
Shaking his head, adrenaline still making his body a little unsteady, Simon returned to his chair. He didn’t even remembering standing to make the bid for safety; instinct had taken over. Daniel paced the room and Simon could practically see the swish of an as-yet-invisible tail and the baring of fangs in his brother’s sharp, jerky movements. The main danger in having the Enclave at all, even on neutral Council ground, was the Alphas losing control and going after one another in a bid for dominance.
Despite being the ones in charge, Simon had observed Alphas to often have the least self-control. Daniel was an anomaly in that aspect. The McTavish had unusual discipline and controlled himself with a ruthlessness that Simon had never seen in anyone else except, perhaps, Uncle Walt. But then, the old man was from another generation entirely.
“Sorry,” Daniel said at last, bringing himself to a stop by the table. “Cole just…”
“Gets under your skin?”
“Among other things.”
Reassured by the dry tone, Simon asked, “You have heard the jokes being made at Josie’s expense, right?”
Daniel snorted derisively. “She brought that on herself. I’m certainly not going to defend her against bad jokes.”
“Actually, some of them are quite good.”
“Oh yeah? Like what?”
“Well, have you heard the one about the Goth Vegan Amoven?”
Before Daniel could respond, a reluctant grin already twitching around his mouth, the door burst open and Josie herself stormed inside. Henna tattoos adorned pale, perfect skin and the dyed-black hair made her seem even paler, accentuating perfect cheekbones and wide, blue eyes.
The family eyes, Simon thought, his old jealousy long gone. He’d always wished for those vibrant eyes growing up, instead of the plain hazel he’d been dealt. But then, he was adopted, not blood.
She flounced onto the bed and shouted, “I’m going home! I refuse to have those… those… dogs sniffing around me like I’m some bitch in heat!”
Daniel cleared his throat, a suspicious sound given the circumstances, and replied, “Josie, technically, you…”
“Do not finish that and expect to keep your balls,” she snarled, eyes glinting gold.
Simon stood hastily and said, “I think I’m just going to find Uncle Walt and give him the good news. I know he never checks his e-mail.”
Daniel mouthed, ‘Coward,’ at him as Simon beat a quick retreat.