Tuesday howls and yowls, shapeshifter lovers.
Yep, it's December, and the holly jolly holiday season is here. Can you believe it? Hasn't the year just flown by like some poor fool being chased by a pack of Talbot's Peak werewolves? Okay, in the scene above it looks like the wolfies are more interested in looking at the tree and checking to see if Santa is on his way.
But, heck, 2012 is practically knocking on the door. Volcano, my carnal cherub hero in WHEN A GOOD ANGEL FALLS, channels a weekly forecast through his author [me] that is a regular feature at Title Magic. To give you a sense of what he sees coming down the road, here's this week's opening:
For the following week, and during the month of December, the wild ride into the year, 2012, begins. To have an idea of what that means, picture the difference between riding a reluctant pony versus being atop Secretariat, the Triple Crown Champion, as he's racing for the finish line.
Last week I introduced two new shapeshifter heroes, the timber wolf, Zance, and his ranch partner, Dontoya, a black cougar. This week's flash introduces their heroine, Sherilyn. And, yes, I may turn this into a short story.
She Belongs to the Calendar Cowboys
Sherilyn stared at the large, graphically gorgeous poster advertising an elegant New Year's Eve event at a place called the Pleasure Club. Hanging on the community board just inside the small, somewhat odd grocery store in Talbot's Peak, it looked completely out of place.
"It's the grand opening of the Midnight Stardust, Dante's new supperclub," Brenda chattily spoke as she rang up Sherilyn's purchases. "Are you thinking of going? Ladies are free like it says. Dante himself brought the poster in. He's such a gentleman." Brenda's voice trilled, and she giggled. "He made a point of saying there will be plenty of dance partners."
For the life of her, Sherilyn couldn't tear her gaze away. An elegant couple dancing beneath a galaxy of sparkling stars -- it was magical, and everything she'd been craving of late. But that time had passed her by.
With the snow piling up, she needed to get on the road, get home. Mentally sighing, Sherilyn fished her credit card out of the pocket inside her bag. "I thought Dante ran the biker bar outside of town. That's what I heard, anyway."
"Yeah. He doesn't make it obvious, but we all know he's the power behind the pack...er...I meant throne. Long day," Brenda excused herself, and took the card from Sherilyn's fingertips.
"Are you going, Brenda?"
"No." She gave a shake of her head, just like a big cat Sherilyn thought. "Me and the mister already made plans for this year. Skiing, our own cabin, nights by the fire. We're getting away for a long weekend."
"Sounds lovely." Sherilyn smiled as she grabbed hold of her four grocery bags. When the sacker, a teenager who eyed her like a ferret asked if she needed help, Sherilyn shook her head to indicate 'no'.
"You should think about going," Brenda persisted.
"Nothing to wear." Sherilyn sidled toward the exit.
"Couple of new boutiques in town. With all the new residents moving here some high class places are opening up."
"I'll have to check them out." Sherilyn smiled again, then made a hasty escape.
After stowing her groceries inside her small, aging pickup truck, Sherilyn slip-slided her way to the driver's door. Icy cold snowflakes melted on her face, and she climbed inside quickly.
Relieved the truck purred to life when she turned the ignition, Sherilyn said a silent prayer of thanks. With the rotten way her life had gone since the bottom dropped out of the economy, she worried about when the next crisis would strike.
Even if she could have talked herself into attending the New Year's Eve grand opening at the Midnight Stardust...not likely since men were a thing of the past...there was no way she could afford a gown, or even a party dress.
Because of the worsening weather Sherilyn gripped the steering wheel with both hands, and carefully negotiated the slippery streets on her way out of Talbot's Peak, then onto the highway. Right now, all she cared about was getting home safely, checking on her horses, then indulging in a huge mug of steamy hot chocolate next to her wood stove.
Earlier, she'd rushed through all her chores so she could stock up for the winter storm coming in. When she'd bought her fifty-five acre, off-the-beaten ranch several years ago, she hadn't realized so much work went into maintaining the structures and fencing. Sadly for her, there was no way she could afford to hire anyone, even if she could find someone to trust.
Sherilyn had been desperate to find a place far away from the Templeton bastards. The father and son had tried every dirty trick in the book to steal her horses because of their superb bloodlines. Also, because she'd accomplished what they couldn't, breeding top endurance racers. In competition after competition, her horses had bested theirs in performance.
But those days were over too. She didn't dare compete, even if she could afford it. The Templetons would track her down like a wolf who'd eaten one of their cows, rifles at the ready. Before Sherilyn had managed to escape, there'd been two attempts to steal her top mare and stallion, only stopped by the grace of God, and her own willingness to shoot back.
Since it was throw-it-in-your-face known that the Templetons were attached at the hip with both local and state law enforcement, Sherilyn had skedaddled quickly and quietly, literally leaving in the dark of night.
Now traveling past her land, Sherilyn significantly slowed her speed because of the rapid snow buildup on the back road. She also kept an eye out for any break or cut in her fence.
Horse theft these days was damn lucrative, and the fate a horrible one. Recently Sherilyn had found her fence wires cut three times, the work of professional thieves.
Thank goodness, her horses were wary of strangers, and coddled enough that at the first sing of danger, they galloped toward the barn, their safe place.
Suddenly weary down to the bone, Sherilyn hoped like hell she wouldn't find a problem. Hoped...yeah, lately, it seemed like trouble had it in for her -- what could go wrong did go wrong.
And there it was. The top strand of wire had either come loose from the post, or been cut. Sherilyn couldn't tell from this distance.
She eased the pickup close, but not too close to the ditch. After parking, she blew out a long sigh as she reached for her tool box. Fighting through the grocery bags, she finally got hold of it, and with a sense of the inevitable launched out the door.
Swirling winds laced with fat snowflakes smacked her in the face as she pulled up her fur-lined hood, then tromped through the freshly fallen stuff. At least, she'd had sense enough to wear her waterproof, high-top boots.
Relieved the wire appeared to have simply weakened, Sherilyn cut off a length and twisted it together with the fencing wire. Clumsy because of her gloves, she managed to hammer the loosened bracket into the post fairly quickly.
Everything in place, she closed her toolbox. Thinking about hot chocolate and being toasty warm once she reached home, Sherilyn turned around to make her way back. As she neared the ditch, a scream lodged in her throat. Paralyzed, she listened to her own scream burst free, a terrible sound that rang in her ears.
Dropping the toolbox, Sherilyn tried to move fast, even dive out of the way as the pickup barreled toward her. But it was too late. Sliding, it slammed into her much smaller truck.
In sickening slow motion, she watched her pickup fly toward her. The impact knocked the wind out of her, and flung her backward as if she had no body weight. She landed with a terrible thud, the sound muted by the deep snow.
Everything went hazy as Sherilyn struggled to breathe. Pain seeped inside her like the cold, and her head spun with disjointed images.
No! she silently screamed. Who was going to take care of her horses?
Sherilyn fought against the darkness. But it was there, dark as the angel of death. Death, was she dying? Was the grim reaper here?
Crazily, she thought, I should have decided to celebrate New Year's eve at the Midnight Stardust. Feel like a girl...feel like a woman again.
With the names of her horses on her lips, Sherilyn slipped into the all-consuming blackness.
Authoress news ~
Today I'm blogging at THE ROMANCE STUDIO BLUE about the progress, and not progress, of my Indie publishing adventure.
Have a Magickal and Shapeshifting Holiday Season...
Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~