Sunday, July 5, 2009

Sunday Sneak Preview ~ Coyote Moon by Pat Cunningham

Cody Gray hiked into Coopersburg just shy of sunset, and right off the bat he smelled she-wolf.
Cody’s mouth stretched in a great big fox-in-the-henhouse grin. If he’d had his tail right then, he’d’ve wagged it. All the way up from Texas he’d been on the lookout for some nice wild country to set up a pack in, and a mate to help him get started. Just when he figured northern California might fill the bill for one, Fate dropped the other in his lap. Chaos, patron of the coyote-folk, must be smiling on him.
He set his nose to the wind. He’d already spotted a bar up ahead, and a couple of houses and a gas station, before the two-laner he’d hitchhiked in on widened out and entered Coopersburg proper. The she-wolf was at the gas station, and plenty riled by the scent of her. He drank in a noseful of her and sighed. Nice and pungent. Alpha, maybe? He liked his girls feisty. Cody quickened his pace.
Closer to the gas station, he spotted a nasty tableau: three big apes closing in on a pair of ladies. The lady in back, getting herded into the dubious safety of the garage bay, was slender, blonde and cursing like a dock hand. The herder had auburn hair and three-four inches on the blonde. She looked fit to chew brass and spit tacks. Cody’s pulse ramped up to a gallop. There was his wolf, and she was about to get herself trounced. Her bared teeth kept the apes at bay, but they wouldn’t hold much longer.
He slowed and came up on them careful and unnoticed, close enough to smell the alcohol on the apes and hear the menace coloring their taunts. The wolf-gal said something. The snarl in her tone announced the apes were in for a whuppin’, but she made no move to attack. Cody crouched behind a parked car. Chaos, only three of them. Why didn’t she just shift and end it?
Then, in a heartbeat, the situation changed. The blonde screamed. Cody’s hackles lifted. The apes had a buddy, and he’d snuck in through the office into the bay and caught the blonde gal from behind. She writhed in his grip while the other apes hooted. The wolf-gal darted in to help the blonde, but the ape in the lead grabbed her arm. Cody didn’t catch his words, but the leer on his face said it all.
So she let him have it. No girly slaps for this she-wolf. She socked him a solid one, right in the nose. The smell of blood joined the odors of liquor and adrenaline that already charged the air. The words she barked at the lead ape weren’t the kind ladies should know, much less repeat in public, but given the situation Cody allowed she was entitled.
The big ape’s face got uglier, no mean feat. If the wolf-gal hadn’t switched by now, Cody realized, she either wasn’t going to, or couldn’t.
That clinched it. This was his future mate getting threatened by those drunk knuckle-draggers. He bared his teeth, revealing canines just a tad longer and heavier than a human’s. Time to get involved. In true coyote fashion, of course.
This being a garage, naturally it had a peck of cars sitting around, and naturally some trusting soul had left their keys in the ignition. Cody slid in behind the wheel of a sporty little Mustang that started up real nice. He took aim and floored it.
The rev of the Mustang’s engine must’ve cut through the boozy haze on their brains because they looked around and finally noticed the car rocketing right at them. They abandoned the wolf-gal and scattered. Cody plowed through the midst of them, then swung a tight U-ey and shot after their leader, the biggest, ugliest ape in this bunch of bananas. The man scrabbled desperately over the tarmac. Cody brought the Mustang right up on his heels before he slewed it aside. He reached out and slapped the ape’s John Deere cap clean off his head. The ape stumbled away, and the car shot on by.
Cody let loose a Texas howl and wheeled around for another go. Chaos, this car handled sweet. “Gotta get me one of these,” he murmured.
And one of those, he added mentally, as his squealing turn faced him toward the garage again. The goon in the bay had let go of the blonde, and now the wolf-gal was all over him like, well, like ugly on an ape. Poor guy couldn’t even land a slap. Too quick and strong for him. Cody’s butt hitched on the seat, wagging a phantom tail.
Since the wolf-gal didn’t need his help, he went back after the apes. They’d made fast tracks across the street and piled into a pickup parked by the bar. They took off down the road without so much as a cussword flung at him. Cody offered up a mental shrug. Didn’t want to dent their truck, most like. Apes had oddball priorities.
He trundled the Mustang up to the garage. The wolf-gal had the fourth ape flat on the greasy floor. The ape contracted into a ball. “C’mon, Willy. I said I was sorry.”
“You’re sorry, all right,” she growled down at him. “I expect cheap thuggery from Les, but you—”
She cut herself off and sniffed the air. She turned just as Cody hopped out of the Mustang. He watched her eyes get big and her body tighten up to full attention.
She knew what he was, all right, but only on some basic, primitive level, not in her head or her nose. She didn’t recognize him. Any she-wolf worth her pack standing would be showing her fangs by now, with a growl at him to git, rescue or no rescue. That’s how your average wolf saw coyotes, pests to be run off. Because your average wolf had no sense of humor.
He stared hard into her eyes. A fine honey-brown shade. Wolf eyes ran to yellow, like his own. This one had a whiff of ape on her. Half-breed? That might explain why she hadn’t switched.
Her stance had shifted into a pose of wary friendliness. She let him get pretty close up before she stopped him with a little twitch of her mouth, not quite the flash of a fang. “Thanks,” she said.
“My pleasure, ma’am.”
“I could have handled it. Those jerks are losers even when they’re sober. But I do appreciate the help.” She smiled just enough to get Cody’s invisible tail wagging again. “Nice moves with my car, by the way.”
Her car? Chaos love it, this just got better and better. Cody flashed a smile wide enough to eat the moon. She didn’t even have her hand halfway out before he seized it. “Glad I could help. I’m Cody Gray, up from Texas. You’re going to marry me.”

COMING REAL SOON from Siren-BookStrand!!! Git those pinkies ready to click the buy button!


Serena Shay said...

Nice! This looks like a very interesting shifter story! Let us know when we can get it!! :)

Paris said...

I love your first meet and your characters! When's your release date!

Savanna Kougar said...

Hi Serena and Paris, Pat's release date is July 7 ~ last I knew.
Sometimes, those dates change.

Anonymous said...

The web site and the editor are both telling me July 7. A full moon, too. Wonder if that was planned.

Pat C.

Serena Shay said...

Woot! Well then, Happy Release Day, Pat!