And on to the next one!

I have a book mark. The very first bookmark I ever got as a kid (talk about never throwing anything away, right? lol). It reads: Behind Every Good Book is a Lot of Housework Going to Hell. I’ve discovered that’s as true for writing a book as for reading one. However, as of this morning, I have officially caught up on a lot (not all, mind you, but a lot) of housework. So far this morning, I’ve done a load of dishes, three loads of laundry, cleaned my bedroom and changed the sheets, cleaned my desk, picked up the office (notice I didn’t say cleaned, lol), downed 1.75 pots of coffee, drilled holes in my desk to string up my sparkly lights…

christmas desk

See how pretty?

…and put on my monster socks…

monster socks


I am now–FINALLY!!–ready to start writing. Look out, Masters of the Castle, here I come!!!


Posted by on November 17, 2015 in Uncategorized


So… now what?

Gabe’s Bride is finished, published, promoted, I’ve pinned a $20 bill to its front cover and sent it out to make its own way in the world. Now what?

Would you like to know how I’m relaxing for a couple days before I start my next Masters of the Castle book?


This is the one I just finished. It’s a wreath made out of coffee filters in all the stages of its creation. :)


This is all you need to start: Wreath form, 1.5 packages of coffee filters, and a glue gun.

wreath 2

My husband modeling it up against our unfinished basement wall. Yeah…that probably ought to be my next ‘craft’. If only I liked spackle as much as I do glitter.


The pretty sparkles I put on the bottom. Give me a sparkly and I become Jeremy the Crow from Secret of N.I.M.H.


The top and center pieces.


And the finished piece, all sparkly, glittery and hanging on my bedroom door! I bought some cinnamon-scented pine cones, which I’ll be attaching just as soon as I wrest the glue gun away from my sister. :) It turned out pretty good, didn’t it? Here’s a step-by-step for anyone who’s interested.

Today’s craft? I’m back to work on my Hawaiian Mandala by Chatalaine. And yes, I am doing it on black because I am just that masochistic.

Have an awesome and crafty weekend of your own!


Posted by on November 15, 2015 in Uncategorized


Gabe’s Bride is now Live!

We are now live! Yay!

gabe's bride

Thank you to everyone who helped spread the word. Since the book is live, I went ahead and threw names in the squid hat. The winner of the free copy of Gabe’s Bride is…**insert drum roll here** Morganna! Your free copy is on the way!

Gabe’s Bride, Book 2 of the Hollow Hills series, available now on Amazon Kindle for $2.99. Click here to read the first few chapters for free.

Have a great weekend!


Posted by on November 14, 2015 in Uncategorized


Last glimpse of the Sneak Peek of Gabe’s Bride!

Last chance to be entered to win a free copy of Gabe’s Bride.As always, make a comment to be entered! For extra entries, don’t forget to like the post, Tweet all about it, and/or share it on Facebook. Have a great weekend, and good luck everybody! I’ll be drawing just before midnight or as soon as it goes live. :)

gabe's bride

The Blurb:

Neoma is the low wolf. For years, she has lived under the cruel eye of Deacon, the Alpha of Scullamy. But when Deacon decides to attend the Bridal Hunt of long-time territory rival, Hollow Hills, hosted by its new Alpha, Colton Lauren, at last Neoma thinks she’s found a way to escape. All she has to do is enter to run, become the Bride of whomever is fast enough and strong enough to catch her, and so long as that male isn’t from Scullamy, then she and her son will finally be free. But on the eve of the Hunt, Deacon discovers what she’s done. Rather than suffer the disgrace of backing out of the Hunt, he orders Neoma to run…and to be caught by the new mate he’s assigned her.

When Gabe Michaelson learns that childhood sweetheart, Maya, has entered the Hunt, he joins as well, determined to bring her home as his Bride. But in the heat of the run, just as Gabe springs to catch her, Maya is knocked out from under him and the skinniest, scrawniest Scullamy female he’s ever seen takes her place. Robbed of the love of his life, Gabe has no choice but to accept Neoma as his Bride, but—Hunt or not—he vows never to forgive or forget what she’s done.

Everyone knows Scullamy isn’t to be trusted, but right from the start something about Neoma doesn’t fit Gabe’s preconceptions of what a Scullamy spy should be. She’s too skinny, too nervous, too…haunted, and with the shadow of Deacon never far behind her, gradually he comes to see there’s more to Neoma than anyone realizes. She needs him—she and Scotty both—in ways no one has ever needed him before. As the words ‘love’, ‘honor’, and ‘protect’ take on whole new meanings, Gabe realizes he has to find a way to cut Scullamy out of both their lives.

Before he loses Neoma forever…

* * * * *

When she tried to pass him, Gabe Michaelson hooked an arm around Maya’s waist and spun her in a playful circle.

“Gabe,” she both sighed and laughed, and yet it sounded almost tired to him. It left him wondering, and not for the first time, whether she might not feel for him the same way he did for her.

They’d lived in this small town, four doors down from one another since birth. They’d grown up together. The kid sister of his best friend from kindergarten on, Maya had been his first romantic crush. He thought he’d been hers too, especially during her mid-teen years when her feminine curves filled out and her braces came off, and she started smiling and flirting back at him. But then something had happened, and Gabe couldn’t really put his finger on what exactly that something had been. They’d grown up, that was all. Grown up and grown apart. Maya left Hollow Hills for college, her brother moved to California, and Gabe met Colton. She’d been back for two years now, but it was impossible not to notice that something between them had changed.

That was all right, though. Sometimes love—the real thing, not romance novel nonsense and Hollywood movie magic—took a little time. If what she needed was a little bit more, then he could be patient. He could be whatever she needed him to be, so long as she was his. Once he’d won her in the Bridal Hunt and she got a chance to see him as Gabe her mate rather than Gabe her brother’s friend, things might improve between them. No, no might about it. He was positive. Things would get better, because they sure couldn’t get much worse.

“What path are you going to take?” he pressed. “I have to help Cole bag his Bride, but after that…”

Maya laughed again. “Gabe…That’s not how this works.”

“Says who?” he countered, but when she pulled, he let her go. The look she gave him was one of mild exasperation. She softened it with a smile, before stepping up to a food vendor and buying two skewers of roasted meat. One smelled like lamb, the other like chicken. Both were drenched in a thick honeyed sauce, but that wasn’t what he was hungry for.

God, she was beautiful—all long dark hair and dark eyes, her partial Native American ancestry still showing strong despite several generations of Caucasian influence on the bloodline. Long limbs, rounded hips, breasts he ached to get his lips on—one more day, that was all he had to wait. One more day, and then she would be running for a mate and he would be chasing her.

Remnants of her aggressive participation in the pre-Hunt games showed in the bruises she wore, but she wore them like she wore everything else: handsomely. Of course, that might just be him. He had the most fantastic urge to kiss each and every one of those injuries, from the scuffed tips of her pink-painted toenails all the way up to the small cut high on the bridge of her nose. His dark gaze lingered on that cut while she took her skewers.

“You didn’t have to do that, you know,” he finally said.

“Want one?” she offered, but he waved it away. Hard as she’d been playing, she needed the protein more than he did. Licking a drop of honey off her thumb, she bit into the chicken as she stepped into the grass to find an empty picnic table. “What didn’t I have to do?”

As if she didn’t know. Gabe arched an eyebrow at her, which she stubbornly ignored by pretending to scour the field while she ate.

“The chevolak,” he specified. “You didn’t have to defend her.”

“Nobody else was.”

“Because she doesn’t belong here, and that’s coming from someone who likes her.”

“Do you?” She looked at him, but uncomfortable with any conversation that involved Karly, the only human to have, in living memory, defiled the sanctity of a Hunt, now it was Gabe’s turn to look anywhere but back at her.

“Yeah, I do,” he admitted, though he wasn’t all that happy to do so. “What’s happened isn’t her fault, I know that. But that doesn’t change anything. She has no place here, and the sooner she figures that out, the better off she’ll be.”

The better off Colton would be too.

Against his will, Gabe felt his gaze being pulled across the field. Colton wasn’t on it anymore. He’d gone home shortly after the confrontation that landed Karly every bit as battered and bruised as Maya. Joela had been the aggressor in that fight. That made him doubly proud of Maya for standing up to the Scullamy bitch, but it also left him feeling sorry for his friend.

Colton deserved a strong Bride, one who knew their ways and their traditions and who would keep them, the way an alpha’s Bride should. A volka Bride. There wasn’t anything Colton could ask of him that Gabe wouldn’t do, but no alpha should ever mate to a human. Sleep with them, sure. He had nothing against the chevolak as a species, but to take a human Bride…it simply wasn’t done. Unless, of course, one lived in the Scruff. Companionship was companionship, after all. And Karly was nice. She was sweet and even somewhat pretty around the human edges, but she brought nothing beneficial to the community. No strength, no social ties with a stronger pack. Nothing but an abusive soon-to-be ex-husband—a cop, no less—who wasn’t going to stop causing trouble until he got Karly back under his thumb. Colton could hardly be blamed for wanting to put a stop to that. Still, this infatuation with Karly bothered Gabe. It bothered a lot of people, both in and outside of Hollow Hills. Theirs was, at best, a tenuous leadership. They couldn’t afford a misstep right now. Regardless of how much he might like Karly, she represented one hell of a giant mistake.

“If the Alpha desires her, doesn’t that automatically give her a place among us?” Maya softly countered. “Who are we to stand between the Alpha and the mate of his heart?”

“The mate of his heart?” Gabe echoed before he could stop himself. He didn’t mean to laugh, but one rolled out of him anyway. “And that right there, is why romance novels should be outlawed.”

Tossing her long black hair, Maya snorted. “You’re running after your heart’s desire. Why shouldn’t he be allowed to do the same?”

“I’m not the Alpha,” Gabe told her. “An alpha has to do what’s best for the community. He needs to strengthen his position, not fall in love. And besides, my heart’s desire is a beautiful volka woman, who would keep our traditions in ways Karly couldn’t, even if she knew what they were.”

Maya hummed, a noncommittal sound. “Perhaps if you saw what I did when the chevolak dared the Deacon bitch out onto the Field, you wouldn’t be so quick to dismiss her.”

Hooking his arm around her waist again, Gabe spun her into a waltzing step that ended when he got her back up against the nearest tree. His only regret was he didn’t do it further away from the porta-potties. “Perhaps I didn’t notice because I was too busy looking at a different benefit for our pack.”

One small hand, sticky with honey sauce, pressed against his chest. She did not push him away, but he thought he caught a whiff of barbeque-flavored sadness in her exasperated sigh.

“There is no shame in being a first lieutenant’s Bride,” Gabe told her, fighting hard to swallow back a surge of defensiveness. That niggling voice in the back of his head that kept suggesting she might not want to be caught by him grew a little louder.

Maya’s fingers on his chest splayed, as if she were feeling for his heartbeat. “I never said it was.”

“Then what is it?” His chest tightened. “You’re hoping for an alpha.”

Amber fire lit the black of Maya’s eyes. She didn’t push him away; she balled up her fist and slugged him square in the chest, hard enough to knock his arm from her waist and the rest of him a half-step backwards.

“Since when have I ever cared two twigs for rank?” she demanded, no part of her either smiling or soft anymore. “Little chevolak girls dream of big cakes, white princess dresses and fancy June weddings. From the moment I learned of them, all I have ever wanted was to run in a Hunt. So long as the one who catches me is good and kind and strong enough to Claim me, then I will be the most fierce and loyal of Brides! And I don’t care, Gabe Michaelson, if he is alpha, omega, or even from the Scruff, just so long as he is not Scullamy!”

She punched him, knocking him another step back. She was so beautiful. He couldn’t stop admiring her even when she snapped about on her heel and stalked angrily away.

Rubbing his chest, Gabe watched her go until the crowd swallowed her and he couldn’t see her anymore. He breathed in, still able to smell her. But then, she’d been in his nose for years. That she wasn’t harboring hopes of rank made him feel better, but it wasn’t going to be an alpha or an omega who caught her. Nor would it be some wanderer from the Scruff, and it sure as hell wasn’t going to be someone from Scullamy. Maya was his, in his heart if not in fact. All he needed to make it official was the rise of tomorrow’s sun.

His pulse quickened, his blood firing in his veins. Tomorrow could not come soon enough.

The wind shifted, chasing away the lingering sweetness of honeyed chicken skewers. His hackles rose at the scent that replaced it. Following his nose, Gabe found the source. It was Deacon, in his camp on the far side of the Ridge and conspiring with his latest recruit. As if his massive army of a pack required any further strengthening. A female stood with them. They grew them pretty in Scullamy, Gabe would grant them that. Like the Deacon’s own daughter, the woman was small, blonde, well-made (if a little too thin), and like everyone else from that packline, full to the Scullamy brim with treachery.

Concluding the meeting, Deacon left them, and the Scruff male and small female went into the tent. Though none of them were close enough to see the insult, Gabe spat on the ground. The ratio of male-to-female runners was such he had no doubt that every Bride would be claimed by the end of the Hunt, including the Scullamy bitches. He pitied every male forced or fool enough to Claim one. Gabe was neither, and he’d be damned if he welcomed that kind of Bride into Hollow Hills, much less his life.

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Posted by on November 14, 2015 in Uncategorized


Part 2 of the Sneak Peek of Gabe’s Bride!

We’re doing something different today regarding the drawing on Saturday. For each day of the promotion, leave a comment to win one entry into the drawing to win a free copy of Gabe’s Bride, due to be released on Saturday. But, you can also earn extra daily entries by liking this post, Tweeting it, or sharing it on Facebook. Have a wonderful day, and good luck! :)

gabe's bride

The Blurb:

Neoma is the low wolf. For years, she has lived under the cruel eye of Deacon, the Alpha of Scullamy. But when Deacon decides to attend the Bridal Hunt of long-time territory rival, Hollow Hills, hosted by its new Alpha, Colton Lauren, at last Neoma thinks she’s found a way to escape. All she has to do is enter to run, become the Bride of whomever is fast enough and strong enough to catch her, and so long as that male isn’t from Scullamy, then she and her son will finally be free. But on the eve of the Hunt, Deacon discovers what she’s done. Rather than suffer the disgrace of backing out of the Hunt, he orders Neoma to run…and to be caught by the new mate he’s assigned her.

When Gabe Michaelson learns that childhood sweetheart, Maya, has entered the Hunt, he joins as well, determined to bring her home as his Bride. But in the heat of the run, just as Gabe springs to catch her, Maya is knocked out from under him and the skinniest, scrawniest Scullamy female he’s ever seen takes her place. Robbed of the love of his life, Gabe has no choice but to accept Neoma as his Bride, but—Hunt or not—he vows never to forgive or forget what she’s done.

Everyone knows Scullamy isn’t to be trusted, but right from the start something about Neoma doesn’t fit Gabe’s preconceptions of what a Scullamy spy should be. She’s too skinny, too nervous, too…haunted, and with the shadow of Deacon never far behind her, gradually he comes to see there’s more to Neoma than anyone realizes. She needs him—she and Scotty both—in ways no one has ever needed him before. As the words ‘love’, ‘honor’, and ‘protect’ take on whole new meanings, Gabe realizes he has to find a way to cut Scullamy out of both their lives.

Before he loses Neoma forever…



Five years later…

“No!” Neoma bolted upright on the old army cot that had been her bed for four days now. Her heart thundered in the back of her throat. Sweat that had nothing to do with the heat of the day or lack of airflow within the army surplus tent, beaded her brow. She gasped once, swallowing back the rest of her cries while the remnants of her dream faded and the sights and sounds of where she actually was filtered back into awareness.

It was broad daylight and the next to last day of the Bridal Hunt that had brought the Scullamy volka out of their city, over the mountains and all the way to Hollow Hills. It had been a stressful four days. She was exhausted, hungry and her nerves were frayed. They frayed even more when she glanced at the cot beside hers and found it empty.

“Scotty!” Neoma fell over her worn shoes in the haste to get out of bed. She hit the tent flap, throwing it out of the way and startling the two women sitting in lawn chairs just outside. Both were young, with young children beside them: one had a toddler gripping onto her fingers, taking practice steps; the other, a frilly-dressed infant not quite able to sit up by herself. As close as the women were to Neoma’s own age, it was unlikely either child was their first, but young as they were, the Alpha Deacon would have made certain there were no mothers younger than this here. He was always cautious about the image Scullamy presented when the alphas of other packs were near.

Caught staring, the women quickly looked away, as if the social taint that had covered Neoma these last five years might somehow spread to them.
Neoma looked away too. She reined in her panic, schooling her expression to show none of what she really felt. What they thought of her wasn’t important anyway. Scotty was all that mattered, and right now, finding him mattered most of all.

The happy squeal of playing children pulled her attention out of the campground section Scullamy had claimed on Hollow Hills’ North Ridge. Nine packs had answered the call for a Bridal Hunt. Scullamy sat apart from them, the way Scullamy always stayed apart. But although there were no fences or razor wire here, everywhere Neoma looked it was still a prison. Guards patrolled, either alone or in casual-seeming pairs, along an invisible perimeter. But nothing was casual here. One had to be constantly aware of who was watching, who was listening, and who might be carrying tales back to Deacon’s ever twitching ears.
She had to find Scotty, before someone with eyes, ears and a wagging tongue noticed she wasn’t close by.

Putting her shoes on at the door, she tugged her t-shirt down over baggy jeans and knotted her hair in a ponytail so no one would be able to see how unbrushed it was. Their first night here, she’d traded her mother’s pearl-backed hairbrush for two corndogs once the rations had all been distributed and she realized she and Scotty wouldn’t be getting any. Neoma didn’t know why she was being punished again so soon. Oh, she knew why she deserved it, but if Deacon knew, the consequences would have been much worse than starvation. So, perhaps being out of the compound reminded him of the last time she’d escaped his reach—that one and only time five years ago. Or maybe it was Scotty, that constant reminder of the volka who had betrayed him. Or perhaps the Alpha Deacon was simply be in a mood to see her suffer. He often liked to do that.

In the last year especially, starvation had become his favorite method for reminding her how low in the social order she had fallen. It was an insidious punishment, as subtle as it was constant and gnawing. Perfect for public places, for who outside the Scullamy pack would even notice she wasn’t eating? And how long was it going to last this time—the duration of the trip, a week…forever? She honestly didn’t know, but thin to the point of gauntness already, neither she nor her son could afford to miss many meals.

But, Deacon didn’t know yet. If she was successful, he wouldn’t find out what she’d done until it was far too late to stop it. That was a mighty big ‘if’ though. One that was progressively making it harder for her to sleep.

Wending her way through the tight cluster of tents, Neoma avoided as many people as she could. Tainted as she was, no one would stop her or talk to her anyway. At least, that was what she thought, right up until she passed the last circle of tents before she reached the edge of the perimeter and old Elda Cullington—half blind, mostly toothless, still better fed than Neoma—looked up from her camp cookstove and the percolator of coffee she was tending for the sentries and said, “Heading out?”

Not unlike a rabbit confronted by a fox, Neoma froze. Why was Elda talking to her? Why was she looking at her, her rheumy gray eyes piercing her just a little too directly? She had to work to keep her voice every bit as casual as Elda’s question had been. “Just looking for Scotty.”

“Out playing tag n’ tackle with the other pups.” Elda nodded in the direction of the distant laughing shrieks. She stirred the coffee. “The Alpha was looking for you. I told him you were sleeping. He gazed on you for a while, then left again.”

It was too hot a summer’s day for the kind of cold that crept into her. “What did he want?”

“What does he always want with you?” Tapping the spoon twice against the side of the tin percolator, Elda looked at her again and waited.

Neoma’s mind raced. Did he know? The cold inside her spread. Wouldn’t he have wakened her if he did? “Thank you,” she whispered, and walked away from Elda just as quickly as her increasingly unsteady legs would let her. She had to find Scotty. She had to find him now.

Eyes were on her when she crossed the perimeter. She felt them the moment she left the Scullamy camp in favor of the carnival-like atmosphere the volka of Hollow Hills had provided. Food vendors were spaced all over the field, selling everything from elephant ears to onion bloomers, and even bacon-wrapped possum on a stick. A lot of people had tried those. She’d been rescuing partial portions from the garbage cans for days, but it was broad daylight now and too dangerous to go digging through the trash. It wasn’t food she wanted now anyway. She folded her arms over her empty midriff and kept walking.

Brightly colored pennants circled the children’s section of the Ridge, where matron mamas from all the packs kept careful watch. Neoma didn’t trust any of them, but there was no denying no one approached that play area without being seen. Not even her, and that made her feel better. That meant no one—not even an alpha—would walk away with a pup that wasn’t theirs, not for any reason much less revenge.

Neoma circled the outer edge of the pennant-dotted ropes, searching among the volka children until she finally spotted the one she wanted. Just another tumbling body in the rowdy mosh of puppies running, wrestling, nipping and tugging at the faux fox tails that were their play toy of the minute, he barely twitched an ear when she called to him. “Scotty! Come on, time to go!”

“We’ve got him,” a nearby matron called back to her. “Go. Have fun. Enjoy yourself.”

Her closed expression did not match the friendliness of her tone. One didn’t have to look hard to see the insult—Scullamy bitch—lurking behind those shuttered eyes.

Her nerves were too frayed for this. The urge to cross under the ropes and fetch her son away was almost more than she combat. It would be seen if she did. It would be wondered at, too. She couldn’t afford for people to talk. She definitely couldn’t afford for him to wonder. And it wasn’t Scotty’s fault anyway. It had been a long bus ride over the mountains, culminating in four days of just sitting beside her. That was too much to expect of any five-year-old filled to the brim with too much energy and excitement, and too little understanding of the very real danger he lived in.

Hugging herself tighter, Neoma shivered, despite the midday heat beating down on her between shady spots in the canopy of so many giant evergreens. One more day. Then, with any luck, neither one of them would have to live this way any longer.

“Peaceful place, isn’t it?”

Neoma ceased to feel the sun’s heat. She felt the prickles moving up her back as, footsteps as soft as any predator, Deacon walked up to stand at the ropes beside her. He cast his cool gaze across the crowded fields, studying the children at play.

“Once upon a time, Scullamy used to be peaceful,” he said. “Of course, that was back before the chevolak stole our land and lumber rights, cut down our forest, built their Air Force base and their Walmart right on our doorstep.” The Alpha drew a heavy breath as he tilted his face to the sun, seeming to enjoy the softness of the noon breeze. He still looked like somebody’s grandfather. He still terrified the hell out of her. “Now, you cannot hike your leg without pissing on a human. Not so here. I like it here.”

Did he know? She gripped the pennant rope between her hands, fighting to control her shaking. Did he even suspect?

“You entered the Hunt,” Deacon said gently and reached up to twist a lock of hair from her ponytail around his finger.

All solidity went out of Neoma’s legs. She almost dropped to her knees, her heart in her throat and beating so hard she was certain he could hear it.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered, forcing herself to summon air enough to speak the words. “It’s just I am so lonely.”

His eyes did not soften, despite the cloying sympathy of his tone. “Of course you are. A woman your age, raising a son alone—an ache for companionship is only natural. I wonder, though, why you made your mark upon the entry page instead of signing your name. One would think you might be trying to hide your participation.”

She couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t breathe. She fought to keep her mask of calm. “I didn’t want to shame us.”

Rare surprise crossed his features. He tipped his head. “Explain.”

“I barely found the courage to enter.” She didn’t have to lie about that part.

“Ah,” he sighed. “And now having done so, you fear you may lack the courage to run.”

It was a poor excuse and a wonder he bothered to pretend he believed it. But, he did.

“You should have come to me. Asked my counsel.”

“The insecurities of one low woman hardly seem worth my Alpha’s time and attention,” she said, her heart racing. “Especially at a time like this.”

“The welfare of even the most insignificant of my pack is always worth my time and attention,” he lied. Turning to face her, he gave her no choice now but to look on him directly. His eyes did not warm, not even when he released her hair to cup her chin, briefly caressing the pad of his thumb down the curve of her cheek. “You, little Neoma, have never been among my insignificants. It is my failing, I suppose, that you do not know this.”

She swallowed hard, scrambling to find some way to answer that, but with a blink he abruptly turned away.

“Walk with me.”

It was not a request.

Legs wobbling, Neoma cast a last look back at Scotty only to spot Alaric on the far side of the children’s field. He was looking straight at her.

There were too many matron mamas from too many other packs for him to do anything and she knew it, but she felt the panic anyway. And still, when the Alpha walked away, she followed him. Away from the children’s section to the roped-off field where the bridal games were in aggressive play. The men had had their chance the day before. Today, it was the Brides’ turn and they were out in full pack force. Rough and tumble football was an easy means by which to display their strength, speed and ferocity, and no one was holding back. Even Joela, the Deacon’s daughter, was on the field. Her closest pack mates shielded her from the brunt of most tackles, helping her look her best. But then, Joela had always been beautiful—all long blonde hair, slender limbs, and high full breasts. To watch her, laughing and tossing her hair each time she brought a member of another pack to the ground, one would never suspect her of being anything but another prospective Bride, vying for the attentions of the alpha hosting this Hunt: none other than the Alpha of Hollow Hills itself. All Neoma could see, though, was Deacon. Every inch as ruthless as her father, Joela didn’t scare Neoma as much as he did.

“What are your thoughts on the Alpha Lauren?” Deacon asked unexpectedly.

Neoma glanced across the fairgrounds, past the games of ring toss, porta-potties and food vendors, back to where the Brides were competing and the crowd of prospective mates and their packs were thickest.

It was a good turnout for a Hunt. Males outnumbered the would-be Brides three-to-one, but it was the last day of the games. By morning those odds would grow even further apart with latecomers trickling in all through the night. The volka of Hollow Hills must be very proud to have so many other packs attending.

Among those gathered along the ropes, talking to two other males and watching the competing women from the corner of his eye, was the Alpha of Hollow Hills: Colton Lauren, dark hair, sun-bronzed skin, the honeyed-amber of his eyes missing nothing of the game taking place. Every inch of him was a male in his prime, practically poured into the tan Fish and Game uniform he wore. He seemed friendly enough, offering a word or a nod to just about everyone who stopped to speak with him. Each time his gaze found a Scullamy volka, however, the glimmer of open friendship in his eyes closed like the slamming of a physical door.

“He scares me,” she admitted. She didn’t have to lie about that either.

“That’s because he knows he will not hold his alphaship long enough to plant a pup in the belly of the bitch he Claims.” Deacon glanced across the field and, as if sensing his gaze, the Alpha Lauren turned to meet it. “Do you harbor hope that the bitch he Claims might be you?”

Neoma shuddered. “No.” If rumor could be believed, the Alpha Lauren wasn’t looking for a volka Bride, much less a Scullamy one. From the very first, his sights had been locked on the only chevolak on the Ridge. Neoma hadn’t seen her yet, but she’d caught the woman’s scent once or twice while pilfering food late at night. When she caught whiff of her during the daytime, Neoma had always been careful to walk the other way.

Apparently, her Alpha had heard the same rumors she had. “Hollow Hills will need to be purged before we move in, but there’s plenty of time for that later. I understand his first lieutenant is also running. Michaelson, I believe his name is. From what I have seen, his attention is more appropriately fixed upon the volka ladies. What do you think of him?”

Neoma gave the man standing at the Alpha Lauren’s right a quick glance. Only slightly shorter and perhaps a little broader in the chest, his sandy brown hair was lighter and shorter than Colton’s. She had been careful to avoid him too. She had no idea what color his eyes might be, but he wore the same uniform as his Alpha, with a badge upon his chest and a utility belt complete with gun—Neoma shuddered all over again. He seemed more ready with a smile, but only when laughing, talking, and dealing with volka from anywhere but the Scullamy side of the Ridge.

“I wouldn’t worry,” Deacon soothed. “I count four strong packs in attendance here. Six if you consider the Nabesny or Patoka as ‘strong’…or even as packs. Debatable, I know, but any of their males might Claim you. If you run.”

If? Everything inside of her sank. “Do you want me to withdraw?”

“I don’t think I could bear for you to run.” He sighed. “What if you were taken by someone other than a Scullamy? You and poor, young Scotty would be taken far, far away from me. Is that what you want?”

With all her heart.

“Never.” Her voice shook, and she couldn’t breathe. Her heart was choking her, preventing her from swallowing. She stopped where she was. “I’ll withdraw immediately.” She snapped around. She would have run, but his hand clamped onto her arm, staying her.

“Don’t be hasty,” he said. “People are scrutinizing our every move as it is. To withdraw now, one day before the Hunt, would not paint us in a favoring light. They will call you a coward at best, and at worst, honorless for not keeping the promise you made when you put your mark upon that registry. That shame will reflect on all of us.”

Her skin crawled where he touched her. “What do you want me to do?”

She couldn’t bring herself to look at him. Across the field, another bone-cracking tackle sent a cheer through the watching crowd. She felt sick.

Deacon leaned in to her, breathing in her frightened breaths, and smiled. “I want you to walk with me,” he said, the paternal warmth of his voice never once reaching as far as the ice of his eyes. “Walk.”

She didn’t think she could, but over the encouraging shouts of the crowd and cries of the combatants, the laughing, talking and bartering of the vendors hawking their wares, and all the other volka packs milling among the tents set up across the Ridge above the sleepy town of Hollow Hills, Neoma thought she heard the yips of the children, running in both their human and puppy forms. Matron mamas called encouragement, making games out of hunting and tracking and mock battles that once upon a time had been so important for volka living hidden among humans. Scotty was with them. Safe for now, but safety was such a fragile illusion, especially when it came to children.

Falling into step once more beside the Alpha she feared above all others, Neoma let him take her out of the crowd, beyond the watchful eyes of anyone who might otherwise intervene, and back into the wooded area where Scullamy had staked their temporary camp. She felt the watching eyes when she crossed the perimeter back into the sentries’ militant keeping, every one of them absolutely loyal to Deacon’s smallest whim. Mostly because he accepted nothing less, but also because he bought it from them with things that had not been done in hundreds of years.

Providing members with a place to live was a fairly standard practice among most packs who actively recruited soldiers, but Scullamy was the only place she’d ever heard of that kept volka-only apartments and doled out units like a privilege. Fresh from the Scruff or other packs, new recruits lived in common barracks, while lower ranking soldiers received small one-bedroom apartments. Higher ranking soldiers got bigger, roomier dwellings. Some, like the Alpha’s lieutenants lived in houses, two stories, with flowerbeds and the luxury of grassy lawns where their children could run and play. She’d had that once. It seemed a whole lifetime ago.

The days of rewarding loyalty with horses was long gone. Cars and motorcycles were Deacon’s first reward of choice these days. And as far as she knew, Scullamy was the only place that still practiced the old pravica do sre: the right to wed. Nothing settled a male fresh from the Scruff faster, Deacon was fond of saying, like a Bride. In Scullamy, they were passed out, much like apartments. Neoma had been two weeks shy of her fifteenth birthday when Deacon rewarded Matson with her. Less than a year later, she’d given birth to Scotty. And now, here she was again, that familiar knot of dread tightening in her stomach as she followed her Alpha across the wooded glade, past the widows’ tents to those assigned for potential new recruits.

New recruits were always welcome in Scullamy—especially if they were hardened, accustomed to fighting, and not at all shy about doing whatever might be required with no questions asked. She’d been fortunate with Matson. Rough around the edges, her mother had called him, but he’d never beaten her. That was more than some females in Scullamy could say.

It might be more than she would be able to say after this, too. A man stood outside the recruit tents, sauntering a lazy pace back and forth, staring at the dirt around his scuffed boots. He looked like a biker—worn leather chaps over equally worn jeans, off-white t-shirt stretched tight over a lean but powerful frame. His shoulder-length hair was muddy blond and his eyes when he finally noticed their approach, were as gray as stone. The knots inside her tightened as she drew nearer. When he tipped his head, dragging his assessing stare all the way down and then back up her again, her knees tried to buckle.

“This is Wayman,” Deacon introduced. “He is the latest to join our little family, and I wish to reward him for all the future service he’s going to give me. You will be a good mate for him, I think, and he will be a good role model for our young Scotty. After all, we would not want him to grow up following in his father’s seditious footsteps. Far better it would be if he did not grow up then at all, don’t you think?”

Her knees did buckle then. She might have dropped but for the Alpha’s hand, catching her elbow and holding her steady while his breath caressed her ear. “You are still my ever-obedient Neoma, are you not? Stiffen your back, child. Fortitude. Summon the dregs of what courage it took to sign your mark upon the registry and do now as your Alpha commands. Give him your hand.”

Screams from the past melded with the shouts from the field. The fresh smell of grass and trees, cooking meat flavoring the summer wind…Matson’s blood still hot in her nose after all these years.

Neoma put out her trembling hand. Her fingers looked positively bony compared with Wayman’s.

Wayman noticed. “Kind of scrawny,” he said, his thin mouth curving upward as he looked her over. Those stone gray eyes drifting back to her face, he then turned to Deacon and nodded. “Yeah, okay. She’ll do.”

“Excellent.” Smiling at them both, Deacon passed her arm to Wayman. “I’ll leave you lovebirds to get acquainted.” He started to turn away, but stopped. “Oh, there is one slight problem. Neoma was lonely. She signed up to run in the Hunt. You’ll need to deal with that first thing in the morning.”

Wayman’s smile became a grimace.

“Well, it’s every girl’s dream, isn’t it?” Deacon mused. “To enter a Bridal Hunt. To be competed for and eventually brought to ground by the mate of her dreams—a man of passion and virility.”

That Wayman wasn’t happy at the thought of expending so much effort to prove he was that mate was etched into every hard angle of his unsmiling face.

“Consider this a test, as well as the first request your Alpha makes of you.”

Except that it wasn’t a request, and no one was fool enough to mistake it for one.

It was almost imperceptible, the lift of Wayman’s chin and subtle flash of throat as he conceded to the older volka’s wishes.

“Good.” Deacon nodded. “In the meantime, you have all the hours between then and now to become better acquainted.”

“Scotty—” Neoma hedged. She took her hand back from Wayman, but she may as well have been caught in quicksand for all the further she could extricate herself.

“Don’t worry,” he told her. “Both I and now our new friend, Wayman, are dedicated to ensuring your son be very well cared for.”

He waited only long enough to be sure she had no other objections, and then Deacon walked away, leaving her alone with the new mate she had just been assigned.

He broke the silence first, his chuckle bearing more disgust than mirth. “I have to fucking run for you?”

Neoma looked at him, not realizing her hands had become fists until she felt the pain of her nails biting into her tender palms.

“I’ll bet the house he promised ain’t nothing but a travel trailer, huh?” Shaking his head, Wayman made up his mind anyway. Tipping his head toward the tent, he said, “Get inside, then. Let’s see if your bony little ass is worth it.”

She’d been so close. So close to getting out. Hungry, tired, and now depressed, Neoma did as she was told.



Posted by on November 13, 2015 in Uncategorized


Holy Hannah, has it been a while!

Okay, I am not dead (thank you for all your emails of concern). Also, I have not stopped writing. My long bout of silence was due to me grinding away on my book (and the fact that I’m a piss-poor blogger), but all of that is now behind me because, guess what? The book…is DONE!!! Gabe’s Bride, the second in the Hollow Hills series and sequel to Karly’s Wolf, is set to be released this Saturday! Like Karly’s Wolf, this is a Penny Alley book, which is a mainstream paranormal romance. No spankings, guys. Sorry.

How about a sneak peek at the cover and maybe a sample of the prologue and the first chapter over the next two days? How about a chance to win a free copy?

Same rules as usual apply. Leave a comment to be entered to win, one comment per day, each day’s comment gets you a separate entry. :) Have fun, good luck, and I hope you enjoy it!

gabe's bride


The Blurb:

Neoma is the low wolf. For years, she has lived under the cruel eye of Deacon, the Alpha of Scullamy. But when Deacon decides to attend the Bridal Hunt of long-time territory rival, Hollow Hills, hosted by its new Alpha, Colton Lauren, at last Neoma thinks she’s found a way to escape. All she has to do is enter to run, become the Bride of whomever is fast enough and strong enough to catch her, and so long as that male isn’t from Scullamy, then she and her son will finally be free. But on the eve of the Hunt, Deacon discovers what she’s done. Rather than suffer the disgrace of backing out of the Hunt, he orders Neoma to run…and to be caught by the new mate he’s assigned her.

When Gabe Michaelson learns that childhood sweetheart, Maya, has entered the Hunt, he joins as well, determined to bring her home as his Bride. But in the heat of the run, just as Gabe springs to catch her, Maya is knocked out from under him and the skinniest, scrawniest Scullamy female he’s ever seen takes her place. Robbed of the love of his life, Gabe has no choice but to accept Neoma as his Bride, but—Hunt or not—he vows never to forgive or forget what she’s done.

Everyone knows Scullamy isn’t to be trusted, but right from the start something about Neoma doesn’t fit Gabe’s preconceptions of what a Scullamy spy should be. She’s too skinny, too nervous, too…haunted, and with the shadow of Deacon never far behind her, gradually he comes to see there’s more to Neoma than anyone realizes. She needs him—she and Scotty both—in ways no one has ever needed him before. As the words ‘love’, ‘honor’, and ‘protect’ take on whole new meanings, Gabe realizes he has to find a way to cut Scullamy out of both their lives.

Before he loses Neoma forever…

* * * * *


Neoma was half her husband’s age, but she tried to be a good wife. She hadn’t been his first choice of Bride and he’d made no effort to hide the fact that he’d never really wanted her. But he did like the house and car bequeathed to him at their mating, and he certainly seemed to want the cash bonus the Alpha Deacon paid the day their son was born. Of course, none of that mattered the night Matson came home late, with blood on his shirt and a face that showed fear instead of his usual tired resignation.

Dressed for bed in an old sports t-shirt, Neoma jerked out of a nodding doze when she heard the truck door slam. She jumped up from the end of the sofa and hurried to set the table for his supper. The leftover pot roast was still warm in the crockpot and she was just filling his plate when Matson burst through the door hard enough to lodge the doorknob in the wall plaster beside the china hutch. From his cradle in the back bedroom, Scotty began to cry the reed-thin hiccupy wails of a newborn startled awake, but Neoma didn’t offer one word of censure. She was too surprised. She took in the blood spatters and the pallor of Matson’s too-pale face, and when she finally looked into his eyes—wide, the whites showing all around his brown pupils, a contrast of panic behind the gold of an inner wolf barely held in check—that was when she got scared.

“Get the baby,” he ordered. Old enough to be her father, at times it was his favorite way of talking to her, but this was different. His voice wasn’t just hard, it was trembling. “We’re leaving.”

Leaving? That shocked Neoma all over again. Nobody left Scullamy.

The plate in her hand forgotten, Neoma didn’t move until Matson charged across the room to catch her shoulders. He shook her once, hard, sending long locks of golden blonde hair flying about her face and the dish crashing to the floor. It shattered between their feet.

“Now,” he told her, his tone at once both calm and shaking. It shook almost as badly as his hands, bruising where he grabbed her. And still she could only stare in shock until the yellow of his eyes flashed, fear giving way to anger. For the first time in the ten months they’d been together, Matson fixed that anger on her. “Go,” he growled. “Right now, or I swear I will leave your ass here.”

Letting her go, he shoved her backwards. The glass edge of the table bit into her hip when she fell against it, the cast iron legs digging groves as it slid across the hardwood flooring, stopping abruptly when the table hit the kitchen wall. Shaking now herself, her arms aching from the strength of his grip, Neoma bolted for the bedroom.

She didn’t get dressed, she simply grabbed the baby from his cradle by her side of the bed. Red-faced and wailing, he turned his wobbly head toward her shushing voice, clawing the air with both tiny hands until he found the warmth of her chest.

“It’s okay,” she whispered while he nestled in, his cries dwindling to grunts as he found the back of his own small fist and began to suckle.

“Move, Neoma!” Matson yelled. A chorus of small crashes came from the bathroom, as if an entire shelf of toiletries had just been thrown into the bottom of the tub. She jumped a moment later when, in a shattering of glass, something much larger followed them.

A thin quiver of panic taking root inside her, Neoma knew something must be very wrong. What she didn’t know was whether it might be ‘phone call’ wrong. It was always better to err on the safe side and yet, clutching and caressing the baby’s small back, she hesitated. A good wife gave her husband every obedience, but a duty to one’s alpha preceded all other considerations.

And no one ever left Scullamy.

“Neoma!” Matson yelled, making her jump all over again. The fear she could hear under the anger in his voice made the quiver in her chest tighten. She had to make that phone call. Now. Before she was pulled into this—whatever this was—any deeper. And yet, she made no move toward the phone on the bedside table. She clung to Scotty instead, stroking and caressing him in her nervousness. In the end, a second’s indecision was all she gave the bedroom, the house, and the life she’d had here in the city of her birth.

Panic growing, she grabbed nothing—not the baby’s bag or an extra diaper. She didn’t even grab a pair of pants, much less her shoes. She simply abandoned the bedroom, almost slamming into Matson when he emerged from the bathroom. He yanked shut the zipper on the blue sports duffel bag he carried before she caught a glimpse of what bulky thing lay inside. What she did see was the gaping hole he’d left in the wall above the sink where the mirror used to be.
That knot inside her breast became full-blown horror in the space of a single heartbeat.

“W-what is that?” She backed from him as far as the wall behind her would allow. His jaw clenched, that flash of anger in his eyes in an instant becoming something akin to resentment.

Without a word, he grabbed her arm and shoved her out ahead of him, hurrying her through the house and back out the front door. Late as it was, the streets were lit in the amber glow of the streetlamps that crowned the posts on the razor wire fence, high atop the block wall that surrounded the volka compound in the city of Scullamy. Tiny rocks in the pavement cut into her bare feet, but Matson didn’t slow his pace. He propelled her down the walk to his truck, idling in the narrow driveway—in full view of all the other townhouses that lined their street. Almost all had at least one lit window. The knots in Neoma’s chest grew suffocatingly tight.

Matson didn’t bother helping her up into the truck. Yanking open the passenger door, he ran around to the driver’s side. They didn’t even have the baby’s car seat. The old leather sticking to the backs of her bare thighs, Neoma hugged Scotty tighter as Matson stuffed the duffel bag into the very narrow gape between the back of the cab and the seat and hopped up into the truck beside her. Neither one of them had their lapbelts on when he threw the vehicle into reverse. The sudden jolt as they lurched into motion made the baby cry all over again, and they peeled out of the driveway.

“Shut him up, please,” Matson said, tense as he eyed both the rearview mirror and the road. One short city block separated this residential street from the guard shack and the well-armed volka soldier who paced in front of the gate. It was the only access in or out of the five city blocks that separated the compound from the human portion of the city that had grown up around them.

That guard was not going to let them leave. Neoma’s chest grew tighter still, her breaths coming in quick, shallow pants.

Coming to the same conclusion, Matson swore under his breath. He rubbed his mouth, silently weighing his options. There were only two: Go through that gate or go home. He swore again. “I’m serious. Either quiet the kid or muzzle him.”

More scared than she’d ever been in her life, Neoma rocked Scotty against her shoulder, actions that only accelerated his cries until she realized it was because she was crushing him. She struggled to relax her grip. “I-I think I changed my mind. Take me home.”

Matson cast her a hard glare. His eyes still glowed gold, the wolf in him very close to the surface. He did not turn the truck around. Rubbing his mouth again, when the sentry ahead motioned for him to slow down, Matson did.

“Don’t say a word,” he warned, rolling his window down as he eased up to the gate and the guard.

Afraid her eyes might betray exactly what they were doing, Neoma dropped her gaze to the shadowy floor mats. Shushing and rocking, she tried her best to quiet her crying baby.

“Hob,” Matson said, once he’d eased the truck to a stop beside the armed sentry.

“Pass?” Hob countered, all business. Rifle slung over his shoulder, he stepped up to the window, glancing once at her before returning his attention back to Matson.

“Emergency hospital run,” Matson told him.

“Not without a pass,” Hob replied, leaning one hand against the door frame. His cool gaze flickered with curiosity when he looked at her again. “What do you want a chevolak doctor for anyway?”

“Young mothers.” Tone dripping derision, Matson indicated her with a nod of his head and it became all Neoma could do not to cry out when he lied, “Turned my back for one minute and she damn near boiled him in his bath. Kid’s got burns all over him. Just talked to the Alpha, he said he was going to phone you his approval.”

“No one’s called all night.” Hob shot her a withering look. “Poor kid,” he sympathized with a frown. “Still, Doc Numen oughta be home. He didn’t have a pass either.”

“I pounded on his door a good ten minutes without answer.”

“Probably three sheets to, then. Already.” Hob scoffed, his frown deepening as he regarded the baby. “How bad is it?”

“Cooked lobster red from the chest down,” Matson said.

Unwittingly boosting the story’s credibility, the infant loosed another shrill cry. Neoma rocked him, but too many upsets in too short a period left him red-faced and tight-fisted as he refused to be comforted.

The sentry studied them, sympathy for the infant seeping into his expression. But in the end, he still shook his head. “Can’t let you out, Matson. But, I think I got some aloe in the first aid kit. Maybe a baby aspirin we can crush up for him. Hang on.”

“I appreciate it,” Matson told him, his hand dropping to the stick-shift as Hob patted the truck twice and shoved away. Switching the rifle to his other shoulder, the sentry returned to guard shack. “Buckle up,” Matson told her, raising a two-fingered wave when Hob conversed with a second guard inside the shack and both turned to look at the truck.

One-handed, Neoma reached for her seatbelt, but quickly grabbed the dash instead when, waiting only until Hob stepped into the shack and both men looked away, Matson stomped on the gas. Yelping, she clung to Scotty and braced for the impact as the truck rammed the security gate, snapping the wooden arm like a ruler and leaving shards of clear and yellow plastic from both headlights and blinkers scattered on the pavement. The truck fishtailed when he took the corner, but Matson didn’t slow down. Shifting into a higher gear, he floored the gas and, like the compound, left the speed limit well behind them.

And she still didn’t have her seatbelt on, and Scotty still wasn’t in his car seat.

“What are you doing?” she cried.

“Shut the kid up!” Matson snapped back. For a man who rarely showed his true feelings, that scared her more than the recklessness of his driving. She gasped when they blew through a stop sign and through the empty parking lot of an abandoned Wal-Mart supercenter. The truck bounced so hard when they re-entered traffic on the far side, if she hadn’t ducked, she’d have whacked her head on the ceiling. She lost her grip on the dashboard and almost lost her grip on the baby.

Abandoning the seat, Neoma dropped to the floor of the truck. Squeezing up under the glovebox, she folded herself around Scotty, though she knew at this speed that wouldn’t keep either of them safe for long. “Slow down!”

“So they can catch us?” Matson stomped the gas pedal all the way to the floor. The engine roared as they shot down Main Street, past two miles of chevolak shopping centers, hardware stores and restaurants. Past the new highway, a toll road nobody had wanted, heading for the old country highway that wound its way up into the mountains. He would have to slow down then, or those narrow lanes and sharp corners would kill them all.

Matson did little more than glance at the rearview mirror, but Neoma knew when their trouble deepened because the entire rear window suddenly lit up with flashing police lights. The wail of the police siren made her heart catch but, big hands gripping and re-gripping the steering wheel, Matson only shook his head. He shot through the next red light, but at the last intersection before they reached the end of town, traffic was stopped. Without slowing, he swerved, driving up onto the sidewalk to get around them. She whacked her back on the underside of the glove box as they bounced back off the curb. This was madness!

“Stop!” Neoma wrapped as much of herself around the screaming baby as she could, crashing sideways into the door panel when Matson swerved again. She felt two tires leave the pavement, needles of dread prickling up her back at the blaring horns and screeching tires that followed his deviation, up over another curb and through a Home Depot parking lot. “Please stop!”

“They’ll kill you too, damn it!” Tiny beads of sweat glistened across his brow. Hands tight on the wheel, Matson swerved back out of the parking lot and onto the road.

They had reached the end of town. Trees were flying past the windows now, not buildings or streetlamps. Cowering under the dash made it impossible to see the police cars she knew had to be closing in around them, but there was no missing how the splash of their flashing lights lit up Matson’s face. A bare second later, however, just as the truck reached the first hilly incline of the old highway that cut through the mountains, the wailing sirens suddenly ceased and the lights disappeared. Matson shot nervous glances from the rearview to the side mirror.

“Shit,” he breathed, flickering panic coming back into his eyes. He swore again. “It’s Alaric.”

A wash of absolute cold moved through her. It squeezed into her too-tight chest, leaving no room at all for breath. “What did you do, Matson?” she quavered, staring up at him in dread disbelief. “What did you do?

“Shut up,” he muttered as they swerved into their first winding turn. It was dense forest around them now, dark and ill-defined shadows making the black inside the truck seem all the more foreboding. She felt the sharp incline of the road, the hard pull of gravity as they took the winding road faster than his old truck had ever done before. The engine was struggling now to put out the power their escape demanded. “Hang on!”

They were hit from behind. Neoma folded herself even tighter around the baby as the truck swerved violently. She heard the peppering spray of gravel hitting the vehicle’s underside as they went off the narrow shoulder, but somehow Matson got them back on the road.

“Slow down!” she shouted, so frightened she was almost in tears.

They were hit again, and this time the truck spun out of control. The scream of the tires drowned her out completely, and then the vehicle tipped, crashing sideways down a short ravine before they banged into a tree. The force of the sudden stop slammed her underneath the dash and then face-first into the hard edge of the seat. Wet heat gushed from her nose. Hissing steam escaped from under the crumpled hood, filling the air with a hot, mechanical smell.

Not just crying now, the baby screamed. Neoma shook. Everything else was silent, still. As if the world had simply ceased, or they had ceased to be in it.

Bent over the steering wheel, Matson lay as if sleeping. Thin trickles of sweet-scented blood dripped down his nose and off his chin. His fingers twitched, the only sign she had that he was still alive. Then the whole truck rocked and both front doors flew open.

Matson was yanked out. So was she. Hands grabbed her arms and her hair, ripping the wailing baby out of her desperate grasp. Neoma screamed then too, tasting her own blood in her mouth as she was thrown to the ground. She was dragged, branches and grass slapping her face, to the rear of the crashed truck. An amalgam of foreign scents—dirt, blood, and broken vegetation mingling with oil and spilling gasoline—assaulted every breath, along with an army of frighteningly familiar ones. The Alpha’s lieutenants, trusted soldiers, people she had known all her life now stalked around her, the wolfish glow of their yellow eyes burning with cold contempt. One pinned her to the damp forest floor, his dirty boot on the back of her neck. She froze, every maternal instinct frantic to reclaim a child she couldn’t see, but too terrified to move lest her struggles be mistaken for a challenge.

On the far side of the truck, crashing brush told her Matson had no such reluctance. He fought the hands that held him, grunts turning to snarls as his wolf at last broke free. Shifting didn’t help. They pinned the wolf just as easily as they pinned her, careful only of his teeth as they brought him to ground. Only then did Matson seem to realize he was caught. His growls turned to whines, and Neoma knew the reason the second she heard the snapping twigs and soft-earthed sliding of footsteps coming down the steep ravine.

Flanked by his first lieutenant, Alaric, the Alpha Deacon parted his men simply by strolling in among them. With ice blue eyes and a few strands of salt mixed in among the dark pepper of his hair, he looked like someone’s grandfather, albeit with the physical fitness of a man much younger than his fifty-odd years. Still, it was what Neoma thought every time she saw him. He looked so…kind, good-natured. But in spite of his appearance, this was one grandfather she never looked forward to seeing.

He paused mere feet from her. That boot still pressing down on the back of her neck, making each breath she took a struggle to achieve, Neoma tried to lift her chin. She averted her eyes, too afraid of what she might see even if she could see as far up as his face. On the other side of the truck, she heard Matson whimpering.

But from Deacon, there was nothing. He was quiet for a long, long time before he finally said, “I am so very disappointed.”

Though she couldn’t see more than his legs, Neoma knew who he addressed. She almost whimpered too.

“Always have I doted on you,” he said, lowering himself onto haunches beside her. “I’ve given you everything you could have wanted: Food, home, family. Favored treatment no one, not even my own children, enjoy. And this is how I am repaid? So very disappointed, indeed.”

It wasn’t until she smelled the ammonia that Neoma realized she’d just pissed herself.

Picking a leaf from her bangs, Deacon caressed them back from her eyes before brushing specks of dirt from the cheek not currently being pressed into the earth. “You should have called me.”

Shaking, Neoma almost couldn’t speak. “I wanted to.”

“Did you?” He was quiet again, a small eternity broken only by the despondent wails of her baby, the still hissing truck, and the whisper of the cool night’s breeze rustling through the trees. “How hard did you try?”

Guilt washed over her, making the truth impossible to confess.

Eventually, the Alpha got tired of waiting. “A good Bride is ever obedient to her husband’s rule,” he finally said, and stood. “For as long as I have known you, little Neoma, you have practiced the traits of being a very good Bride. Perhaps the fault is mine. I did, after all, give you to this man, this traitor. Still, we are all adults, are we not? We must take responsibility for our actions. This lapse in judgment cannot go unaddressed.”

The smell of damp earth and rotting leaves laced every frightened gasp she managed. Dread quivered her, otherwise she couldn’t move. She wasn’t sure she would have even if someone were not standing on her neck.

“Whip her,” he at last decided, and walked away.

Neoma lost every ounce of breath she’d been hording, terrified disbelief combining in the wild ringing that filled her ears. She couldn’t hear anything else. Just the ringing, and then the chinks as multiple buckles unfastened and worn leather hissed out of pant loops. The boot left the back of her neck, and for one frozen second in time, Neoma had a choice: submit or try to run. Her shaky exhale shuddered the dead leaves, but Neoma didn’t move. Then they were on her, a brutal storm of snapping belts that rained down, striking everywhere at once—her shoulders and back, her cheek, scrambling legs, even the bottoms of her feet. They branded her in welts and fire until she screamed. Until her voice cracked and her blood ran, tickling everywhere it dripped, flung by each impact until it sprayed the leaf litter. She could not hold sill, despite her best intentions and all her resolve, but she could not run either. Scotty. He was her only thought, his name lighting up in her heart and mind with every crack of every belt. Scotty.

“Enough,” Deacon called.

The storm ceased, leaving Neoma writhing in the dirt, each breath a gasping whimper. Everything hurt. She throbbed, burning as though doused in fire, willing the agony away, but it refused to go.

The throb of each new welt pulling across her skin, she dragged her arms and legs in under her and tried to rise. Part way up, her stomach rebelled and she vomited in the dirt between her hands.

The ice blue of his eyes darkening with cool calculation, the Alpha Deacon studied her in silence. Motioning to the soldiers nearest her, he ordered, “Stand her up.”

Two sets of hands grabbed her arms. One still clutched his belt, stained red with her blood. The length of it knocked into the welts down her side as she was dragged to her feet. Pain flared so bright it was almost blinding, but still Neoma managed to get her legs under her. She shook, though nowhere near so badly as when the Alpha’s gaze slid to the wailing baby, held by loyal soldier Lyman, a volka with seven children of his own and the drawn blade of his hunting knife already in his hand.

Without expression, Lyman waited until Deacon gestured him forward. With gentle hands, he drew Scotty into the cradle of his arms and her buckling knees nearly went out from under her.

“No,” she begged, the rising swell of tears blurring them together.

“Shh, shh,” he soothed, his gaze never leaving her as he rocked and swayed and gradually walked the baby back to her. “Healthy lungs on this one. That must be your good genes contributing. Too bad the other half of him stems from a traitor.”

Her hands itched, but Neoma didn’t dare snatch. She waited, shaking with pain, anxiety crawling through her veins, until her Alpha deemed her punished enough. A knowing smile curling his handsome mouth, he offered the baby back to her. Neoma couldn’t help snatching then. Holding him quickly became agony, his minor weight almost more than she could cling to.

“Pay attention, Neoma,” he said, tapping a finger lightly upon the baby’s nose. On the other side of the crashed truck, Matson whined as, drawing a hunting knife of his own, Deacon started toward him. “I should hate to have to teach this lesson more than once.”

Ignoring the pain, Neoma’s arms tightened around her infant son and, from first cut to last, dared not look away. Not even during the worst of it when they peeled her husband out of his pelt.

For the rest of her life, she would remember how Deacon had watched her, the cold of his eyes never once leaving hers. She would remember the shame of simply standing there, helpless and shaking and bleeding, until those awful cries fell silent. She would remember the guilt and the horror, and the way her Alpha patted her cheek once it was over, his once more gentle hand coated in blood and fur.

“Forgive my severity,” he’d said with a smile, tiny laugh lines crinkling the corners of his eyes.

Those memories fed her nightmares damn near every night.

* * * * *

Don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered to win a free Kindle copy when publication goes live this Saturday!


Posted by on November 12, 2015 in Uncategorized


Introducing debut author Keith Anderson!

I don’t host many authors and in particular, I don’t host many new authors at all. I don’t know why that is. Probably because I’m socially awkward. However, having read Pretty When You Cry and having enjoyed the stories immensely, I thought I would invite the author here to share his first book with you.

Introducing Keith Anderson, author of Pretty When You Cry.


Just kidding! lol Sorry, couldn’t help myself.

Ahem…Keith Anderson and the real cover of his first ever book, Pretty When You Cry.

Pretty When You Cry 2

Hey everyone! I’d like to thank Maren Smith for inviting me to her blog to meet you all. She’s given me some questions to go over and then I’ll be sharing an excerpt from my short story anthology, just published on It’s called “Pretty When You Cry” and I’m very excited about and thrilled to be sharing it with you!

So! On with the questions!

What was the inspiration behind your book?
Well, “Pretty When You Cry” is an anthology of the best short stories I’ve written, six in all, plus a special advance sneak peek from my upcoming novel (more about that later!) and a poem to top it off. I’ve been writing in general since I was a kid. The oldest one from this collection is “The Game’, which was written back in 2006.
The different stories in this anthology have different inspirations. “Antici-” was inspired by the TV show LOST and its story telling device of the flashbacks. “Instruments” was inspired by an essay about the Leather Community written by Guy Baldwin about how certain kinky subjects were broached back in the Victorian era. I’ve been involved personally with BDSM since 2000 and have been active in our local community since 2009 and a lot of the BDSM activities covered in my stories are ones that I have either done personally or have been able to talk to my kinky friends personally about them.

You said you’ve been in the scene since 2000, is there a particular activity that pulls at you more than others?
I really love impact play. I enjoy spanking, flogging, paddling, and caning. It’s physical and involving and I get a visceral reaction from my bottom from these activities. I really enjoy the responses I get, I have to say it’s the main reason I do what I do. The squirming, the gasps, the yelps, watching their body tense and relax, their fingers clawing at the wood of a spanking bench or St. Andrew’s Cross and the noises.. I really love the auditory responses. There’s a George Eliot quote that really exemplifies this, “Cries of pain are music for his banquet”. That’s so ME! :)

Tell us about your next project!
My next project will be my first novel, which I am very excited and very nervous about! It’s called Kinky in Flatland and tells the love story between Jax and Holly, two people who happen to be in the subculture of BDSM. Jax is an old hand in the scene and Holly is a neophyte, each with their requisite baggage of issues in the past. Can old girlfriends, intrepid reporters and personal failings get in the way of these two living happily ever after? I started formulating the story when I was getting tired of whenever BDSM was on any TV show, it involved a chalk outline. So instead, I just wanted to tell a love story between two people who were active in the scene.
My second objective is that I wanted to remove the lifestyle from the trendy coasts or other fashionable hot spots. My story takes place in the Great Plains (which is why it’s called, “Kinky in Flatland”) and I wanted the characters to be believable real people, people you could really see living just two doors down from where you live. Because to be honest, that’s probably what’s happening anyway!

The excerpt I’m going to share is from a story called “Pretty Little Lies”, again available from “Pretty When You Cry”. Jax and Eve have met at a BDSM convention and after negotiating a scene have retired to his hotel room. Eve has been to conventions before, but this is the first time she has played with Jax, so she’s flush with butterflies.


Once in his room, he instructed her to disrobe while he lit some candles. The candlelight flicked shadows on the wall and she shivered slightly from her nakedness. When she saw him emerge from the bathroom, he had taken off his shirt and had put on some dark snakeskin pattern pants; he also had a length of rope in his hands. When he saw her, he smiled gently.

“Very nice, pet,” he said, as he took her hands and tied them together. His hands were strong, but they took care in tying her hands. The restraints were firm and as she struggled slightly she realized how real things had gotten. Her breathing got deeper as the helplessness set in and she noticed the slight moisture between her legs.

When he was done, there was a long tail of twin ropes left over. He wound these over and over in his hand, drawing her close. Close enough to grab her hair and pulling over to one side, he revealed her neck. He leaned in and she felt the brush of his goatee and his breath against her skin as she closed her eyes. Then his lips kissed gently up her shoulder and neck, making a slight hissing sound, then nibbled back down. She struggled slightly against the restraints and tried to move her head, but she was unable to stop his advances. She let out a sigh. Her nipples begin to tighten as they touched his body and her legs instinctively pulled together to deal with the tickles she felt between them.

He pulled away and looked at her beauty, smiling at her blush. “Lay down on the bed, pet, face down, with your hands toward the headboard.”

“Yes, Sir,” she said, and did as she was told.

He firmly took the ropes and tied them to the headboard, doubling each knot so there could be no chance of escape.

Jax went to the dresser where he had his floggers laid out and looked at them carefully. There were several different types, soft suede ones, some with cowhide falls which delivered a thuddy sensation, a crop and a tawse–twin leather bands the size of belts, but shorter, attached to a wooden handle. She breathed a small sigh of relief when he picked up the suede flogger to start with.

Starting at her feet, he trailed the flogger slowly along her calves and then across her ass. She wiggled slightly from the tickles as it continued up her back and then back down. The lashes then fell softly on her ass, warming her up. The strikes grew stronger until they felt like a massage, her cheeks warming as the blood rushed to them.

The lashes grew harder, amping up the pain, but they also slowed down, giving her time to process the increasingly wonderful sensation. Moans escaped her lips as the flogger lashed against her ass, leaving red trails behind. She felt the skin begin to tighten and swell as more blood pumped to the area and that’s when the endorphins kicked in. The next thing she knew, the lashes felt distant, but the pain was still there, transformed into bliss by her natural high. Her chest heaved as her breaths deepened; she grunted with each strike.

Then he stopped. He walked over to the dresser, picking his next instrument carefully, and she took advantage of the respite to breathe. The flogging had caused her to sweat against her pillow and also made parts of her body so wonderfully tingly, she couldn’t help but writhe against the sheets. A splitting pain against her left ass cheek interrupted all this. She yelped and instinctively pulled against her restraints, turning around to see Jax had chosen his crop.

“That was just to get your attention, pet.” He smiled.

He then patted his crop against her other cheek and swatted…hard. She jumped and yelped again, unable to help herself. Her breathing turned to pants as the cropping continued, a few soft pats followed by a whip-sounding smack, sending her deeper into a wonderful euphoria. Her body continued to writhe instinctively, a pool of wetness spread over the bed where her crotch lay. It went on for what seemed to be an amazing painful beautiful eternity. Her ass, like other parts of her, were on fire. Her moans were almost constant, punctuated by squeals and some screams.

From what seemed like so far away, she heard him say, “There’s probably a part of you that wants all this to stop, and then there’s that other part of you, that just wants this to go on forever.” He smiled. “That’s the part I like.”

He had grabbed his tawse and slapped it hard against her raw ass.

Her legs bent at the knees on reflex as she screamed and grunted, her hands balling up into fists, pulling hard at the restraints, but they held firm, she whimpered at her helplessness. He tawsed her again harder and deep grunts came on every exhale, through her gritted teeth. She would relax and then would come another strike sending her again into heaven and her body would just react, as if on autopilot.


“Pretty When You Cry” is available HERE, at or borrow it for FREE from the the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library, if you’re an Amazon Prime subscriber!

Thank you for reading my post! I can be reached at the following places, please feel free to shoot me an email or check out my blog and Facebook, I love my FB friends! :)

Email :
Keith Anderson’s Facebook Page
Keith Anderson’s Dungeon


Posted by on March 19, 2015 in Uncategorized

Maren Smith

Writin' kinky since before it was cool


The BDSM world of Master P


This blog contains themes of an adult nature. It is intended for audiences 18 or older. This blog is NOT SAFE FOR WORK. If you are offended by nudity, explicit sexual material, or images of BDSM then this is not the blog for you. Have a great day!!


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