Wolf at the Door, STE #4 is back from the editor. After the fiasco with Frozen Mercy earlier this year, I’ve been keeping this one close to my chest…hoping not to jinx anything. Now, I’m going through and fixing up problems and then it’ll go off for its final edit before publication. So it’s getting close to landing on your eReaders!!
You can expect to see the cover art soon (and a lot of updates to the website in general), but for now, we’ll start with the first chapter. -winks- It’s still liable to change a bit before it’s released, but right now it’s fairly solid.
Wolf at the Door, Chapter One:
The nightmares always left her shaken, ravaged. Timber Kearney dragged her knees up to her chest, the blankets tangled around her ankles, and reminded herself to breathe. She was in her house. She was safe. He couldn’t find her here. But even as the familiar words spun round and round in her head, the panic continued to mount in her chest.
She couldn’t see in the darkness. God, what if he’d found her? What if—
She cut the thought off with a low curse and scrambled out of bed. Blindly she staggered down the hall, shoved open the bathroom door, and slapped on the light. Bright purple hair and haunted eyes greeted her in the mirror. The image hit her hard enough she bent over, grasping the sink as relief flooded in with her deep, gasping breaths.
If there was anything that helped remind her she was safe and in the present, not still locked in the horror that was her past, it was the gaudy hair color. Charles never would have tolerated it. Timber clutched the counter until the hammering of her heart finally subsided. Oh, how she hated the nightmares.
Hated the memories.
She let out a shuddering breath as she looked up at herself in the mirror. The dark circles under her eyes, the frazzled hair, the big, baggy T-shirt, and while it was loose enough, there was no denying the curve of her right breast…and the absence of her left. She swallowed.
Yeah, she was definitely right here, right now. Far, far away from that bastard.
And she even had the scars to prove it.
Timber reached up and ran her hand over her chest, feeling the flat skin, right up until she touched the raised ridge of the scar…all that remained of her left breast. A whimper clogged her throat and she gritted her teeth, refusing to feel the pain. The self-pity.
She’d dragged her ass out of that hell, and she was proud of it. She’d created a life where she could be safe, one that allowed her to help others who’d lived in hell just as she had. She was proud of that, too. A soft smile touched her lips. Finally, the lingering terror that always came with her nightmares subsided. They always left her exhausted, but she knew all too well she wouldn’t be able to sleep anymore tonight.
Closing her eyes meant the dreams would just come roaring back.
No. Tonight she’d have to haul out the coffee and a good book. Maybe if she was lucky, some swashbuckling romance hero would sweep her off her feet and she’d catch a bit more sleep before dawn.
But Timber knew better than to hope for a miracle.
Ring. Brandt Lawrence burrowed his face into his pillow and snarled. Who called at three in the goddamn morning? But even as he grumbled, he swatted at the nightstand until he found his phone. Then with grunt, he rolled to a sit and answered. “Brandt.”
His name sounded sharp, angry, but hell, it’d been a late night and he had to be at Shifter Town Enforcement first thing in the morning. He needed sleep.
“Boss, we got another body.”
So much for sleep. His blood ran cold. He’d been hoping—no, praying—that the last kill had been a fluke. A one-time deal that just happened to look like the one case he’d never been able to shake. Old nightmares and all that jazz. “Same MO?”
“Yeah,” Tate said. The guy might be new to Brandt’s pack, but Tate was a good Hound. Brandt trusted his judgment, though for once he wished he didn’t.
He rubbed a hand over his face, fighting exhaustion. Part of him still hoped it was a copycat, but it was looking less and less likely. The niggling feeling of dread in his gut wouldn’t let him believe in coincidence. Not now. Not with a second body.
“The last one was only a week ago.” He tucked his cell against his chin and grabbed a pair of jeans, shimmying into them without dropping the phone. The last time he’d tried to stop this murderer, they’d happened only once a month.
Every full moon.
Though that particular pattern was all too common with shifter killings. Anyone who’d ever read a myth or watched a horror flick seemed to have that lodged in their brain, especially the psychos. No matter that real life wolf-shifters didn’t need a moon to let the beast loose.
“Can’t forget the big change, though, the one we suspected with the first victim, that’s certain this time,” Tate said, his voice soft. “This guy is definitely a wolf-shifter.”
Brandt stopped in the middle of his bedroom, brows furrowed. Then it couldn’t be the same man. The original Wolfman had been human. He’d gotten his name because he tortured, raped, and murdered twelve wolf-shifter females. All slain during a full moon. The media had gone apeshit with their headlines.
Hope sprouted anew in his chest. “Then it might not be the same guy. I’m on my way.”
He hung up, shoved the phone in his pocket. It wasn’t impossible for a human to be turned, but it was unlikely. Unlike most myths, legends—whatever—real life was different. It wasn’t as simple as a quick bite.
Then again, it could explain the three-year quiet period. If the killer actually had been turned, maybe he’d needed the time to get control. Brandt shook his head. And all of these questions could probably be resolved by getting his butt to the scene.
Because if the scent was clear enough for Tate to know for sure this guy was a wolf-shifter, it’d be clear enough for Brandt to match this man’s scent to the one that still lingered in the back of his mind.
It was a stench he’d never forget.
How the hell this killer—if it actually was the same guy—had wound up here, firing up a killing spree in the state where Brandt now headed his own Shifter Town Enforcement pack, he couldn’t even guess. But if it was the same bastard, he’d made one fatal error. Brandt knew this case, had worked it before. He’d seen what the Wolfman did to his victims.
And he’d be damned if he would let this guy get away again.