Thursday, January 31, 2013

Guest Author, Kate Hill

Hey all you shapeshifter fans out there, please help me welcome our awesome guest author, Kate Hill.

She's here today to share a bit about herself and her writing, plus she'll be offering a free download (winners choice) from her Whisper series to one lucky poster!

So, lets get to it..

Hello Kate,
Welcome to Shapeshifter Seductions!  Tell me...



Where do you get the inspirations for your books?

Kate: Just about anything can inspire a book. Sometimes it's a person or a place. The Whisper series, for example, was inspired by several different New England towns. It has a seashore, a wooded area and a picturesque town square with historical buildings. It seems like a typical New England town, except most of the residents are supernatural.

Do you find it difficult at times to write love scenes?

Kate: I need to be in the mood to write love scenes, but when the characters have strong chemistry, it's easy to get into that mood! Black Cat starts out with a love scene and I really looked forward to writing it because throughout the series I've been hinting at the relationship between Edmond and Tobias. It was great to finally explore it.

If you could change places with one character from your books, who would it be and why?

Kate: I'd like to change places with Cal, the hero of Whisper 1: Dragon's Bar because I think it would be interesting to have shapeshifting abilities.

How long have you been writing and who are your publishers?
 
Kate: I’ve been telling stories for as long as I can remember, but when I was sixteen I started writing with the hope of being published. It took over ten years for me to actually get published. My first story was accepted in 1996, so it's been a while. I currently write for Changeling Press, Ellora's Cave and New Concepts Publishing.

Tell us a bit about your new release.

Kate: Black Cat is the last book in the Whisper series. Whisper is a fictional New England town founded for the supernatural by the supernatural. It's governed by a secret organization called the Original Town Council that is made up of a vampire, a cat shifter, a werewolf, an elf and a witch.

Edmond Chancellor is leader of the council. He's a vampire who severed ties with his family because he didn't agree with their violent ways. His dream was to create a sanctuary for supernatural beings who want to live in peace, so Whisper was his idea. Edmond is deeply in love with another member of the council, cat shifter Tobias Crawford.

Though Tobias loves Edmond, he has refused his proposal to make their union permanent. Tobias is still haunted by his past, but Edmond is willing to wait for him to come to terms with it.

Do any of your characters from previous books appear in your latest?
 
Kate: Yes, just about all the characters from the previous Whisper stories appear in Black Cat. Cal from Dragon's Bar, Sara and Nathaniel from Bronzed, and Hugh from Mating Call make appearances. Also Marka and Reese, secondary characters in the series, have parts in Black Cat.

One of the things I love about a series is having the same characters appear throughout the books. As both a reader and a writer I love to revisit old favorites.

I hope you enjoy the following excerpt from Whisper 4: Black Cat.

Whisper 4: Black Cat
by Kate Hill
(M/M Vampire/Shapeshifter)
From Changeling Press
http://www.changelingpress.com

Vampire Edmond Chancellor and cat shifter Tobias Crawford have had a not-so-secret affair for over three hundred years. Edmond wants to bond with Tobias permanently, but Tobias has reasons for keeping his distance.

On a chilly December night, both men turn to past memories for guidance, but it's a present danger that makes them realize that time is precious, even to men who are practically immortal.

The Following Excerpt from Black Cat is for readers 18 and over.
Tobias had hoped that by bringing his family to this new world, they would have a chance to build a life for themselves, away from the unsubstantiated hatred. The endless wilderness of this place would take generations to populate, even for creatures as ambitious as man.

His thoughts were interrupted by the sound of heavy breathing and the familiar slash of a blade through air. Tobias growled and his fur bristled. On silent feet he stalked through the snowy woods and paused behind a boulder outside a clearing. A man wearing boots, breeches and a linen shirt, damp with sweat despite the weather, practiced with a sword with a silver pommel. He had shoulder-length brown hair bound at his nape. Several tendrils had come loose and clung to his damp cheek and neck. His wide-set blue eyes gleamed in the moonlight as he fought an imaginary opponent. Tobias' heart skipped a beat at the fierceness in those eyes.

Tobias knew this wasn't a mere human--the man's scent told him that. It was a deliciously powerful aroma, similar to that of an animal shifter. It was musky yet fresh but with an underlying potency-like the finest Egyptian incense. Tobias had met people with a similar scent and they were invariably dangerous.

Blood drinkers.

Killers.

Vampires.

Tobias tensed. He hadn't expected to find a vampire here in this untamed land. Vampires liked their creature comforts, not to mention they preferred to mark their territory in heavily populated areas where hunting was simple, plentiful, and where no one asked questions when slaves and peasants went missing.

Worst of all, Tobias knew that there was never only one vampire. Like wolves, they traveled in packs, yet unlike wolves they killed for pleasure, not simply to survive.

Tobias' protective instincts rose. Should he attack now and rid his new home of this fiend? Yet if he did, this vampire's kin would hunt him and his family. Although they despised most other races, vampires were fiercely loyal to their own families.

The vampire stopped his practice and stood, panting, his jewel-like eyes surveying the area.

"Who's there?" he called in a smooth voice, neither too deep nor too high. It was perfect and Tobias resisted the urge to purr at the sound of it.

Tobias remained still, blending in the shadows.

"I know you're there. I can smell you."

Damn. Vampires' senses were almost as keen as those of cat shifters.

"Show yourself, since I've ruined your plans for a surprise attack. Or perhaps you'll run. I wouldn't be surprised if you did. After all, only cowards hide in the shadows."

Tobias nearly snorted with laughter. It was a childish taunt, designed to draw out a stupid foe. Tobias hadn't lived thousands of years because he was stupid or merely lucky.

For several moments neither Tobias nor the vampire moved or spoke. It seemed they didn't so much as breathe.

Then the vampire approached. Tobias considered running or attacking, but like most cats, curiosity got the better of him. He stepped from behind the boulder, directly in the path of the vampire who stopped walking, his blue eyes wide.

Tobias' tail swished in a warning and he growled softly.

"Can't say I expected this," the vampire said.

Tobias circled him. The vampire turned slowly, following Tobias' movements. He held his sword firmly, but not in an attack position. Still Tobias was prepared to dodge a blow and defend himself. He knew better than to trust a vampire.


Previous books in the Whisper series:

Whisper 1: Dragon's Bar
Whisper 2: Bronzed
Whisper 3: Mating Call


About Kate

Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, Kate Hill started writing over twenty years ago for pleasure. Her first story, a short erotic vampire tale, was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then she has sold over one hundred short stories, novellas and novels.

When she's not working on her books, Kate enjoys reading, working out and spending time with her family and pets.

She enjoys hearing from readers and she can be contacted at katehill@sprintmail.com .


Contest

To enter this contest you must be 18 or over.

To enter for the chance to win a download of one of the first three books in the Whisper series (winner's choice of title), please comment. The contest will run for three days from the day of this post. At the end of that time, a winner will be selected from the comments. Thank you!

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

The game is afoot...



“Have you put up all the fliers?” Lex asked the boys. They looked up from pulling off winter coats and snow boots and nodded eagerly.


“The sheriff saw us, though,” Loki said quietly.

“Aw, he ain’t gonna do nuthin’ about it,” Thor said, punching his melancholy brother in the shoulder. Loki shot him a dirty look and rubbed his arm.

“I saw him take one of the flyers. I’ll bet you he took it to Mum.”

Lex looked up from the notebook he’d been recording data from his latest batch of elixir. Marissa was no more their true mother than she was his niece. But he had raised her and she had married the boys’ father. This made Loki and Thor his great nephews by extension and his personal minions by choice. They had even stopped responding to their real names, insisting on being call “Loki” and “Thor” after finding out that he was descended from gods. He had tried to get them to adopt the names of Egyptian gods, but that movie “Avengers” had just come out, so they decided that they should emulate those two goofballs. Lex sighed. Oh well, there were worse things than being an Egyptian cat god with adolescent wolf minions who pretended to be Norse gods. Such as Marissa finding out what they were up to before he got the first batch of elixir sold.

He wasn’t sure how he had managed to raise that girl to be so disgustingly honest. He suspected her husband, Mooney, had something to do with it. Before she met the beta of the McMahon Pack and decided to settle down, he had always been able to get her to go along with his schemes. This wasn’t even a real scheme. It was just medicine.

With that nasty strain of flu running through town, the Health Department had begun quarantining people. That had not pleased him. Sick people who could not go out of the house could also not go have a beer. Then Louie, Gil, and Porkey had all come down with the crud. Not only was he not able to sell his microbrew beer, he was being forced to miss his weekly card game. That was intolerable.

He smiled at the results for this last batch of elixir. It was perfect. If he could just get it out the door before his goody-two-shoes niece found them, he’d be back in business in no time!

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Lion Dragon Man at Midnight ~ Immortal Shapeshifter: Part Three


Tuesday howls, yowls, and growls, shapeshifter lovers.

So, here's the next flash scene in what appears to be an ongoing story. At least, if the Muse has her way. Which she did, anyway. Because she fell in love with the title for this week's flash, even though it's not exactly descriptive of what happens. Hopefully, you all will forgive me for that, and enjoy the continuation of Zephan and Solanja's story.

~~~~~~


Lion Dragon Man at Midnight

Immortal Shapeshifter ~ Part Three

"Beyond fur, fang, and dragon wings," Zephan muttered, more to himself than to Solanja, the beautiful woman not three feet from him on his couch.

Damn, if he didn't feel her gaze, though, like miniature arrows striking his big ole mug. 

After a long swallow of his coffee, which he didn't taste, Zephan lowered the mug. Might as well go with 'unexpected' flow. "Yep. That's one way of sayin' it."

"Yes," she uttered softly. "From what I deciphered you were a slave during the time of Spartacus, and fought alongside him."

Zephan nodded, then put a lid on the memories that were as fresh as if they'd happened yesterday. "They?" he prompted.

She hissed a sigh, and Zephan watched her head drop forward. Her shoulders slumped like someone had dropped a huge iron weight on top of her. "Some call them the Illuminatti."

"Heard of 'em. The evil mucky-mucks runnin' the world behind the scenes." Zephan figured he'd hold his tongue on saying anything else he knew, and let Solanja explain it her way.

For moments, she nervously toyed with the mug. "What most don't know is...well, there's the black-hearted bloodline. They are terrorizing the world into surrender. And..." She lifted her head. Once again, her gaze appealed to him, and Zephan dived into the irresistible pool of her eyes--dark but with a sheen that was the same color as a peacock.

"There is the white-hearted bloodline," she whispery continued. "Not many of us."

Zephan knew from his own research...hell, from personal encounters...that the corrupted, priest-king bloodline she referred to had divided along genetic lines, during the decline of the last Egyptian dynasty.

"White-hearted?" he asked, to keep her talking.

Solanja clutched the mug tight, her fingers white. "Most of my ancestors...let's say they followed the enlightened path. For centuries we've battled to stop those practicing the black arts. Just as they've fought against us, to stop the way of light."

She tipped up her mug, taking a quick swallow of her coffee. The strain on Solanja's face when she looked at him again, softened Zephan's heart.

"There's one rule." Solanja paused, eyeing him for his reaction. "We are forbidden to end their lives, as they are forbidden to kill us off. To break that rule means they forfeit the power gained by their evil rituals."

"You lose the power of good, if you knock them off," Zephan finished for her.

She nodded. "That trait was originally placed in our bloodline so there would be cooperation instead of too much ambition between us."

"However." Solanja cradled the mug on her lap, her gaze following it, so he could no longer see her eyes. "While I can't be killed, I can be captured...held...forced..." She heaved in a large breath. "You get the picture, right?"

As he let her words sink in, Zephan drank from his mug. Damn, if his mid-section didn't tighten like a bigfoot's fist plowed into him. "Because of what you discovered about me."

Solanja didn't lift her gaze, and Zephan was reminded of a tea leaf reader, the way she kept staring into the remains of her coffee.

"I...I travel extensively searching for relics, for the oldest manuscripts on Earth, and for the Law of One teachings. Whatever will help our cause. And, of course, to keep them out of the hand of the black-hearts."

Solanja raised her gaze, and her eyes shimmered with the beginnings of tears. Zephan knew they weren't false. He felt them trickle inside his heart.

"What happened?" he asked.

"I should have waited until I returned home to fully decipher the merchant records. But I wanted to make certain, and I was fascinated."

Zephan watched her swallow back tears. Her whole body heaved as she drew in a large breath. "I was in the hotel room. I'd been studying the writings about you for hours. It was closing in on dawn...I thought he'd been sent by our side...but, it was a trick."

As Solanja described what occurred, Zephan observed it before his mind's eye. At least, how the good-looking SOB used his mental sorcery to put her in a trance.

"That blonde devil didn't get the documents, but I was under his spell long enough for him to use his photographic memory." Tears streamed down her cheeks.

Zephan dug for the soft cloth in his pants pocket, and handed it to her. He used it for cleaning his guns, but fortunately this one hadn't been used yet.

"I'm sorry," she wailed softly, dabbing at her face. "He escaped before I could erase..."

Scowling for several reasons, Zephan started to take a drink, but his mug was empty. He slapped it down on his thigh. "Why weren't you being protected?"

From the expression on her face, he knew he'd spoken too harshly.

"Our ranks are too thin, I'm afraid." She sniffled, suppressing her tears. "I should never have...I knew better than to...it was my mistake. A terrible, terrible mistake."

Zephan had to ask, the compulsion too fierce to ignore. "How do you know the black-hearts know what I am? Any proof?"

Solanja stayed silent for several moments. "Do you need proof to know I'm telling the truth?"

Well, she had him there. Given he wasn't the only one who possessed psi abilities. Not by a long shot. She had her share.

"Besides," she squarely eyed him, "I was taunted by that blonde devil with what he knew about you--when I allowed him brief telepathic contact."

Straightening, she gave her hair a shake. "And not to mention, Lion Dragon Man, all the attempts to kidnap me lately...while I was searching for your location."

Zephan couldn't think of any other reply, so he uttered, "I don't morph that often."

Complete seriousness owned her expression, before Solanja spoke. "That's to your advantage. Their Sweeper as they call the device, would zero in on your Manticore frequency. However, they can't get a lock on your human-immortal vibes."

"What a relief," Zephan drily offered.

He'd paused a few beats before speaking. His human male side was too damn distracted. Yep, to the point of sheer lust. 

"It is to me," she answered, her words purely heartfelt.

"How about I rustle up some grub? I could sure use some supper."

When Solanja didn't respond, Zephan added, "Unless, you want me to change into the Lion Dragon Man at midnight? That's what happens when I don't get a regular feeding."

Zephan grinned to let her know, he just joshed her.

Her slowly spreading smile was his reward.

TO BE CONTINUED...


~~~~~~


~ Have a Magickal and Miraculous New Year ~ 

Savanna

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Monday, January 28, 2013

Hart's Desire

Normally, as a columnist and not a stringer or reporter for the Guts and Butts Gazette, Ziva didn’t have to run down possible story leads, or cover new store openings in town or mundane things like that. But she’d heard certain rumors about the new Hart’s Desire Gift Shop down on the square, and especially about its proprietor, that prompted her to investigate personally.

Besides, Nick’s birthday was coming up. Maybe she’d find something unique to give him. Choke chain collars and leashes had started to wear thin.

The hand-carved sign over the door showed a red deer, as expected. However, the scent that greeted Ziva’s nose was unmistakably canine. The petite redheaded girl with the splash of freckles and the friendly smile didn’t smell like a herbivore either. “Top o’ the morning to you,” she greeted Ziva, with a passable Irish accent. “And what can I be doing for you today, ma’am?”

“For starters, you can drop the ‘ma’am.’ And the accent, unless you’re really Irish.”

“Thanks.” Almost instantly Boston replaced Dublin in her voice. “We haven’t been Irish for a couple generations. I was born in Massachusetts.”

“I’m guessing you’re not the hart on the sign, either.”

“That’s quite the nose you’ve got, ma—miss. The Roebuck family owns the franchise. I’m just the manager. I’m Siobhan.”

“And I’m—”

“From the Guts and Butts Gazette. I figured somebody would be by at some point to check me out.”

Ziva raised her brows. “So you’re—”

“Psychic?” The girl grinned. “Annoying? Yes to both. I’ll save your nose the trouble. I’m an Irish setter.” She tossed her red hair playfully. “Not a wolfhound, so you can quit worrying. You are a wolf, correct? You’ve got the walk.”

“Guilty as charged. The name’s Ziva.” She glanced around the shop. “If you’ve got a couple of minutes, I’d like to—”

“Find a gift for your boss’s birthday?”

“You’re really good at the annoying thing.”

“I know. But it’s my psychic gift you need right now. This way.”

The girl led Ziva over to a set of shelves loaded with carved wooden figurines, from exquisite little bears and beavers no bigger than the length of her finger to life-sized duck decoys so realistic Ziva expected them to quack. Siobhan handed Ziva a business card. “I suspect you won’t find what you want on the shelves. You’ll want to contact the artist personally.”

“My boyfriend’s not that into knickknacks.”

“But he is into wood, isn’t he? I’m getting those vibes. Chester does commission work. You pick the object, you pick the wood, he does the rest. I’m seeing … a ruler, oak or maybe mahogany, with hand-painted inch markings and a fine polish. Maybe even a coat of lacquer to toughen it up. He likes to play rough with his toys?”

“You’re good.”

“It’s the faerie blood. All Irish have a drop of the fae in them.” She winked at Ziva. “Either that or the whiskey. We’ve got more than a drop of that in us, too. Both will make you see things.”

“I’ll bet.” Ziva slipped the business card into her purse. “Would you like to give an interview to the paper? It would mean—"

“Free publicity for the store. Of course. I never turn that down.” Ziva growled softly. “I’m being more annoying than psychic, aren’t I? Sorry. I promise to tone it down for your reporter.”

“You don’t mind if they ask you about the psychic thing?”

“They can ask all they want. I can’t guarantee answers. A girl has to keep some secrets.” She winked again.

“Uh-huh,” Ziva murmured. Normally she got along all right with dogs, but this overeager bitch made her nervous. For the sake of the story she kept her fangs hidden. Which reporter did she like the least? Ralph? He was always making crude remarks around the paper’s females. She might just “suggest” to Nick that Ralph get this assignment.

“Tuesday,” Siobhan said.

“Ha?”

“Tuesday afternoon would work out fine. For the interview.”

“Right.” Ziva accepted another business card, this one with the store’s number on it. She wondered if she ought to buy something. Siobhan must have picked up on it, because she steered Ziva past a counter holding an assortment of salt and pepper shakers. The matching penguins seemed to waddle to the forefront. Mistress P would love those, Ziva thought. Siobhan kept her mouth shut, but she grinned and winked yet again.

Ziva made a hasty exit. After purchasing the penguins, however.

# # #

Poor girl, Siobhan thought with genuine sympathy at Ziva’s retreating back. A brush up against the supernatural could prove unnerving even for shapeshifters. But the wolf had provided a bit of a laugh, and would spread the word about Hart’s Desire and its annoying but harmless manager. Just the type of camouflage Siobhan was aiming for. Best of all, the wolf had provided her, all unknowing, with the information she needed.

He was here. The wolf had seen him. Not to talk to, not to interact with, but he’d passed through her awareness more than once. There were places he went to slake his many thirsts, and the wolf had known their names. Dante’s came with images that made her wrinkle her little freckled nose. She’d save that one for later.

The other was right here in town. The Bighorn Diner.

Run all you like, she thought with a smile nowhere near as friendly as the one she’d shown to Ziva. Not even a pooka could outrun the reach of the Roebucks. They’d sent her here to Talbot’s Peak for that very purpose. She would flush him out and point him out, and stay on point until the Roebucks’ hunter arrived to finish the job.

Tomorrow she’d be having breakfast at the Bighorn Diner. See what there was to be seen and smelled, in the real world and in others’ minds. If she had to visit the bar, so be it. She knew a pooka’s taste for Irish whiskey.

A slight breeze stirred behind her butt, the wag of an imaginary tail. Siobhan quickly stilled it. She didn’t mind leaking rumors of psychic powers, but she wanted to keep her telekinesis under wraps for now. Best if the prey didn’t know all her tricks. She set about dusting the shelves.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Take Two: Been Down to the Crossroads






Gill opened his mouth to curse. . .And not a damn word came out.  Shriller squirrel barks echoed until canine barks answered.  Gill slid the minute guitar off his shoulder ready to toss it down and stomp off.  He glanced around.  No one—not any one of significance—would notice.  So friggin’ much for being the Peak’s most sought after ambassador.

In the darker corners of the photo studio, a muffle laugh could be heard.  Gill wanted to shield his eyes and find the culprit.  The ass would answer or face. . . frig it twice over.  Whose bright numb nutted idea was this?  Some social secretary? A moronic public relations left over from Link’s crew?  Gill would find out who hired the dumb one once they stop letting the moonlight in through the window.

“This way Mr. Mayor.  Smile for the camera.  Just a few more shots and the calendar will be done.”  Gill fought the urge to jump off the table and run up the photographer’s pant leg.  Gnaw his way up to his. . .nope those nuts would leave one huge nasty taste that he’d never get rid of as squirrel or human.

Gill sighed and closed his eyes as flashes stopped blinding him.  Much more and spots would be haunting him in his sleep if he was ever allowed any again.  Three throats cleared.  Gill ignored them.  A few minutes reprieve he’d earned.  Even something more substantial than a miniscule ground up nuts.  Hell, give ‘em a beer.  A tall cold stout ale made from Dante’s microbrewery.  A fine steak from Louie’s personal stash and . . .

“Come on Mr. Mayor.  Time to change into the Santa Claus costume.”  Gill set the guitar down on the stand next to him and he leaned on it.  If anyone read squirrel body language they would have thought twice about their next remark and the props they dragged onto the table.  Six stuffed catnip mice looped with yarn and a miniature sleigh complete with seat and reins.  Somewhere in the outer office a loud cat yowl was heard.  Gill swallowed hard.

“Be careful don’t let the cat in,” someone shouted.  Gill looked behind him as a white blur leapt toward him.  He swallowed hard, counted and prayed.  He jumped and dove into the first open space he saw.  

Ten minutes later the photographer’s assistant began shucking her clothes and cussing about a perverted squirrel in her thong panties and lapping up and over her lacy covered breasts.

Friday, January 25, 2013

Sneaky Peek...

Okay, yes, I'm a naughty author. I've been neglecting my earmuffs, or er, in this case my flashing, again.  But, I have a good reason...you see, I took a photo of myself during the last week.  Right over there, buried in the editing cave.  I have only two things I've allowed myself to work on this week...editing for my second book in the jaguar series, The Submission, and our awesome Shapeshifter Seductions Newsletter!  Both are coming along wonderfully and I hoping they will be ready really soon.

Now, just 'cause I've been a flashing slacker, doesn't mean I'll leave you hanging.  I did tap into the Talbot's Peak collective for a little what's what and what's happening and found some pretty intriguing situations...

First up...

Finley Fairaday says screw the frigid weather up top, I'm cruising the depths below Talbot's Peak for beauty and fun.

Join me if you'd like to see a new world filled with sights you'll never see up top, or believe to be true.  Yep, down here there be sharks, Nessie and dragons...oh my!


Then, of course, there's Ex-Mayor Link monkeying around with his friends...or, is he preparing for the next election.  Just how badly does he want to run Talbot's Peak?

And finally...
Penelope's been getting not so secret admirer letters...such a lucky peaparrot!

This is just the tip of the iceberg for reasons to visit Talbot's Peak, but in the intreast of safety and well being, I'm going to keep the darker, sexier side of TP to myself.  Hey, I'm looking out for ya'll, you know...what?  Not fair?

Well, okay, you broke me down so I'll give you a hint... The pleasure club has been ultra busy in this cold weather, lots of broken rulers in the trash.  The TP Pet Store had a run on handcuffs and O-rings while the new Pub has been filled to the rafters with kilted men and the females singing their praises.  Hey...shifters know how to stay warm!

~~~

Stay safe, keep warm and bring on the sexy!


Serena

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Beyond Fur, Fang, and Dragon Wings ~ Immortal Shapeshifter: Part Two


Tuesday yowls, howls, and growls, shapeshifter lovers.

The month of January is slip-sliding away fast, and here we are newly in the sun sign of Aquarius, in the Age of Aquarius. Likely, this will be a very interesting time period on our planet, to say the least. The whirlwinds of change are all around us now.
~~~

So, here's the followup to last week's flash scene. And my naughty snickering muse has done it again. The heroine has dropped a bombshell on the hero. Yep, it looks like there will be a part three.

~~~~~~


Beyond Fur, Fang, and Dragon Wings

Immortal Shapeshifter ~ Part Two

"Come on in before you freeze." Zephan couldn't tell, if the woman was more frightened of having to knock on a stranger's door, or having to trek back to her obviously disabled snowmobile.

"I have a ham radio," he added, to encourage her.

While Zephan well knew he was no danger to her, she didn't know that. He took a step back. Although, if she didn't enter, he'd grab her and haul her inside, then deal with the consequences of having scared her to death.

To his relief, she moved over the threshold with tentative steps. Damn, she was a mite of a thing, and he guessed her age to be around the mid thirties.

"A ham radio will have to do then, Mister...?"

She continued edging inside. Hoping not to spook her, Zephan waited until he could shut the door in a casual manner.

"Just call me by my handle, Zephan." He offered his hand in the modern way.

"I'm Solanja." She removed two pairs of gloves, then gave him her small hand.

He embraced it briefly, but what Zephan learned with his sixth-sense ability astounded him. The least of which, was that Solanja was armed, and knew how to use the derringer she carried.

Zephan smiled to himself. He sure did appreciate a woman who knew her way around a gun. "Why don't you come sit before the fire, and I'll get the radio up and running."

Pausing, he watched her stuff her gloves in her side pockets, then begin unwrapping the thick material guarding her face.

"I could put on the coffee pot," he added.

She didn't answer. Instead her gaze searched his face as if she intently studied every last contour and line of his big mug.

"Are you...?" she began. "I mean I was trying to find someone. When I got lost, and the snowmobile kinda went on the fritz. And...and, well now, I'm wondering if you're...him."

She frowned with speculation, and Zephan buzzed inside like a whole swarm of bees. His ominous feeling wasn't because of Solanja. The danger to him, and to mankind, was from those--likely her family--who surrounded her.

He'd psi-picked up her reason for braving the frigid back country. She searched for someone important to her, her intention single-minded. Zephan sure didn't think it was him. Still, why not find out?

"Might be," he answered. "Don't think so. Important thing is you're out of the cold."

She gave him a wide smile that reminded him of a flirtatious pixie. "Coffee sounds good. Warming up in front of a fire sounds good, too."

Before he could move, she unzipped her heavy duty parka. Zephan observed the ultra-expensive garment she wore. Designed to retain body heat well below zero, it damn sure wasn't sold on the regular market. That he knew.

Of course, what really caught his eye was how the skintight, black suit hugged her small, beautifully shaped figure. "This way, Miss Solanja," he gutturally uttered, once his tongue obeyed his brain.

"Solanja, please. Forget the 'miss'." She stepped beside him as he moved toward the center room where his open hearth blazed.

From the corner of his eye, he watched her graceful strides. She'd professionally trained as a modern dancer yet that wasn't her career. Her specialty, as he'd psi-sensed it, involved finding and purchasing artefacts--the ones that never made it inside a museum. Yeah, the priceless pieces of history the public was never supposed to know about, let alone view.

"Have a seat." Zephan indicated his over-sized couch, the only decent piece of furniture in the small room. "Can I take your coat, Solanja?"

She shoved her hood back, shrugging out of the strictly utilitarian parka. With a soft confident smile, she handed it to him.

Figuring he'd do everything and anything to keep her feeling comfortable with him, Zephan turned and hung it over one of his coats. All of his other hooks were crammed with winter gear.

"Bachelor pad," he explained as he faced her. "I'll grab the coffee. Just brewed a pot. Cream, sugar?"

"Black for now, please. I could use a good dose of caffeine."

With a flip of her short, curly, bronze-red hair, she lowered herself to the couch. Half-mesmerized by the glorious color of her hair, Zephan watched her bend over and unbuckle her tall, supple boots. Again, they weren't the type marketed to the public.

Reluctant to take his gaze off her, he stayed long enough to watch her tuck her slim legs beneath her. Then, he headed for his huge old-fashioned stove, lodged inside a tiny room he called a kitchen.

So far, Solanja played it straight with him. What had him pondering overtime was the fact that--other than her cell phone, which was dead--nothing on her clothing or on her person tracked her location. No bio-device inside her, either.

At least, not that he could detect. Quite unusual for someone in her elite circle. Too unusual.

Zephan quickly placed two mugs beside the coffee pot, and poured out the fresh brew. He'd get answers soon enough. She wanted to talk.

Meanwhile, the mystery didn't sit well with him. And, meanwhile, her woman's fragrance tantalized his nostrils, competing with the steamy coffee he carried.

Solanja had worn no perfume of any kind, and obviously used cleansing products without scent.

Just who in Hades did she search for, as if her life depended on it?

Zephan eyed her as he crossed the room, and she eyed him right back. Gods, she was a distraction he couldn't afford, but wanted.

"Hot," he warned, handing her the mug.

After meeting his gaze, she sniffed her coffee for moments, then wrapped her hands around the man-sized mug. "It's not Starbucks," she teased.

"No, ma'am. Drink enough, and it'll put hair on your chest. Be a real shame in your case."

She glanced up at him quizzically, as if she couldn't quite believe he'd said that.

Zephan grinned broadly. During his gentleman days in Spain, he would never have been so crude. He imagined the men she knew wouldn't either.

Not taking his gaze off her face, he took a healthy swallow of his coffee. Once she'd taken a long sip, and sighed, he parked himself on the other end of the couch.

"Sure you don't want me to get the ham radio operatin'? Must be someone concerned about you."

It took a moment, but she looked at him squarely. "I don't want to be found."

"Running away from someone? 'Course, that don't make sense, does it? You wouldn't be in the backwoods during a winter freeze." A beat later, he continued, "You said you were searchin' for someone. Must be important. Can I help?"

She lowered her gaze, and clutched her mug tightly. "I am running away."

She paused, and when she looked up again, her gaze begged him to understand. "That's only part of the story. I'm here to warn you, too."

"Warn me?" Zephan narrowed his eyes as he rested his mug atop his knee.

She took a sustaining swallow of her coffee. "I'm sorry. I truly am...but, I didn't know."

Zephan didn't interrupt her, waiting as she drew in a sharp breath. "I found..found records of you. I mean, there are ancient writings that describe what you are."

"Ancient writings?" Zephan took a gulp of his coffee.

No doubt, the slaver merchants had kept meticulous records about him, and given she knew her way around artefacts--could read the languages.

"They know." She spoke just above a whisper, her voice strained. "They know you're beyond fur, fang, and dragon wings. I had to warn you."

TO BE CONTINUED...
~~~~~~


~ Have a Magickal and Miraculous New Year ~ 

Savanna

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Monday, January 21, 2013

The Year of the Serpent

“The time has finally come,” Itzcoatl announced. “Let the reign of the Obsidian Serpent commence.”

Oh crap, Suzy thought. “Can’t it wait a little longer? We haven’t even had breakfast yet.”

“The time is now,” Itzcoatl insisted. “It says so here.” He brandished the morning copy of the Guts and Butts Gazette at his eternal mate and fellow demi-goddess. A tiny three-inch article on the front page alerted everyone to the upcoming start of the Chinese Year of the Snake.

Suzy desperately latched onto the “Chinese” aspect. “That’s just how they mark their calendar. They aren’t your true followers. Didn’t the Aztecs say to wait until 2030 at least?”

“The reach of the Feathered Serpent extends far beyond the puny Aztec Empire. All cultures worldwide have dragon myths. Who did you think prompted those?”

“Um … dinosaurs? Ancient peoples finding fossils?”

“Dinosaurs,” Itzcoatl scoffed. “Brutish creatures incapable of proper worship. The apes know how to do a sacrifice. Beating hearts ripped from the chests of still-living victims. Ahhh, those were the days.” He straightened majestically. “That’s what I want to begin my reign. A hundred thousand sacrifices. Cull the herd at the same time. Everyone benefits.”

“You can’t do that!”

“Why not? They’re just apes. They breed like flies. Sacrifice a hundred thousand, they’ll make more.”

Suzy groped for a plausible-sounding dissuasion. “We—that is, humans, we’re not used to seeing our gods in the flesh. They’ll be terrified. They won’t be able to worship you as you deserve.”

“You’re too harsh on your former species. They’re adaptable. They’ll adjust.” He hissed irritably. “I’ve held myself in hiding too long anyway. I should have manifested last month. The ancient calendar foretold the end of the mammals’ age and the rise of Quetzalcoatl’s scion. I should have been fully ensconced as ruler of the Earth by now.”

“I don’t think that’s what the Mayans meant.”

“Of course not. Forgive me, my love. We should be ruling the planet by now. These primitive monkeys need their god and goddess to set the perfect example for their imperfect lives. Have you seen the planet lately? They’ve focused solely on the male and ignored the female, and look where that belief’s gotten them. What in the name of my father were they thinking? Well,” he finished stoutly, “we’ll set that right soon enough.”

Stall, Suzy thought. As powerful as she had become once Itzcoatl ignited her ancient blood, she hadn’t force enough to stop a god. Especially not such a pigheaded god. Then she thought of someone who might be able to. “Shouldn’t you confer with your seer first? To make absolutely certain all the signs are right?”

“Of course. You’re correct as usual, my beating heart. I shall summon my prophet, and he will tell me how best to reveal myself to my god-starved people.” Itzcoatl licked his lips. “And where best to hold the sacrifices.”

# # #
 
Normally Itzcoatl’s power masked him from the delicate senses of the mortals around him. Those who accidentally met him instantly forgot. That included his erstwhile “prophet,” Lamar. He’d been going about his life in blissful ignorance, prepping his column for the Gazette, when the Obsidian Serpent’s demand blasted into his brain.

Mierda, he thought, once the excruciating pain of the summons faded down to a stabbing ache. Damn loco snake’s gone off the rails again.

He wasted no time hotfooting it to the modest little bungalow the ancient serpent-god shared with his herpetologist, formerly-human mate. Itzcoatl welcomed him with a broad smile. “Lamar, my prophet. Embodiment of the sacred male and female. Has the time at last arrived for my glorious manifestation?”

“Hah?” said the prophet of the Serpent God.

Behind Itzcoatl’s back, Suzy held up the Gazette and pointed to the damning three column inches. “Oh yeah,” Lamar said. Jesu Cristo. Who the hell had let that slip? But then, who knew gods read the paper?

“He wants sacrifices,” Suzy said. “A hundred thousand of them.”

“Bad idea,” Lamar said at once. “Same for the manifesting. You can’t just jump into a manifestation. These are humans you’ll be ruling. They’re not big on sudden surprises, or global rulers popping up out of nowhere. They get loud and they get violent. You know apes.”

“Pah. Bronze axes and excrement. I’ve endured worse.”

“Um, it’s a bit more complex than that. The monkeys have gone nuclear since the last time you were out and about. Things could get messy.” Itzcoatl stared at him blankly. Hadn’t anyone ever explained to him about missiles and bombs? “A waste of good sacrifices,” Lamar said. The god’s face cleared again.

Lamar scrambled frantically for inspiration. Thank every other god in the universe, his writer’s brain complied. “You misunderstood the announcement, my lord. It says year of the snake. That means the entire year will be devoted to preparing the people of Earth. Paving the way for your coming. At the end of the year, then you show up. Then we’ll all be ready and can worship you properly, as you deserve.”

His tongue flicked in and out, beyond reach of his conscious control. He wished he had the nerve to openly wipe the sweat off his forehead.

“A year,” Itzcoatl grumbled. He looked to his mate. Suzy nodded eagerly. “A year of preparation. Yes, that would be helpful. It would spare me the effort of having to quell riots. Apes are such a nervous lot. But I will require sacrifices. That’s non-negotiable.”

“No prob.” Lamar shrugged. “Swallow a couple of world leaders.” That never hurt in any case.

“Very well, prophet. I will accept your counsel. How best am I to go about preparing the world for my rising?”

“Leave it to me,” Lamar said quickly. “You lay low. Stay out of sight. I’ll get the ball rolling. I’ll tell you when or if to put in an appearance. And no sacrifices. Not until the right moment. You know, once it’s too late.” He figured the god ought to get behind that one.

He did. His white teeth flashed. “Then go. Announce my coming. Let the world know the son of mighty Quetzalcoatl has returned, and soon will take his rightful place as ruler of this sorry planet. The Golden Age has come.” He glowed, as if to underscore his booming words. Just for an instant, Suzy glowed with him.

Lamar bowed himself out of the cottage. Once in the street, he ran like hell. Fast as he moved, he couldn’t outrun the memories. Distance didn’t help. This time, he realized with a sinking gut, he wasn’t going to forget. He’d been charged with a divine purpose. No protective amnesia allowed.

One year. He and Suzy had a year to figure out how to stop an Aztec god from taking over the world. And publically swallowing quite a few people, but that was secondary.

Shit, Lamar thought. Normally he swore in Spanish, but for a case like this you couldn’t beat the blunt impact of Anglo-Saxon curses. Shitshitshitshitshit. And one heart-felt fuck for good measure.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

The Things Some People Have To Do





Gill looked in the mirror.  Some how the outfit didn't seem right.  However he'd agreed to attend the Renaissance Fair as part of his good will tour to the neighboring towns near the Peak.  Pain was the full moon left him shifted rather than full sized.

Melody was still recovering from the crude that had laid half of the new city council low for three weeks.  Gill had taken Louie's advice on seeking out Bettina's Mage physician and letting his recipes help out.  Chicken soup became Acorn and Squash with walnuts for the herbivores amongst them.  Louie had even forgone his favorite Broccoli and Cheese concoction for less onerous items.  Still by the end of the week even Gill had craved meat.  Louie had some of his prime cuts delivered and the household had dined on scrumptious cuisine.  Now work had demanded the few less than sick return to work.  Gill was amongst those.

He trotted out on to the faux grass turf of the miniature golf set up.  Lights and cameras surrounded the two foot by two foot area.  He'd have to hold still for several moments while flashes blinded him.  At least, the stint would be over until tomorrow when he would return to normal.  Bruno stood by to make sure Loki and Thor didn't interrupt with their wolfish desire to tree him.  Though Bruno kept eying one of the gaffers and licking his lips.  One more longing look and Gill would have to poke the grizzly in the ass with his small sword.  The bear could devour the female bear shifter off duty.

Gill stepped up on the small dais.  Oohs and ahhs followed.  Gill swallowed, raised his sword, and barked in squirrel.  One of the reporters laughed and called out.  "Let the shooting begin."


~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Happy weekend Readers!

Sorry for the ultra late post.  The Spice Homestead had a family gathering today.  I took time to reconnect and enrich the day with my loving family.  Mage and his wife, DP (domestic partner) and his gal pal along with me spent the afternoon talking with friends.  Its great when you can spend time like that discussing whatever comes to mind.

For the rest of your weekend share a good book or two with your spice and loves in between discussion.  Hot for Torrey is a good one for this or Jet Lag Blues.

Keep warm and healthy!

Solara

Friday, January 18, 2013

Play...Play...Play Time!

I only wish to much play time was my excuse for not having a flash ready this week, but alas it was not.

Nope, seems I over extended myself and forgot to add in time to flash ya'll.  ;)  Fear not, though, I did hear from Glenn over at the Talbot's Peak Pet Shop and he sent me the little ditty below...

On another note, we here at Shapeshifter Seductions have been talking about adding a newsletter to the site. Something fun, a way for crazy characters in Talbot's Peak to share their trials, tribulations and fun with you.

So with that in mind I'd like to ask for your input.  What do you dear readers, like and dislike seeing in a newsletter?  Let us know so we can put together something you look forward to getting in your email box.

And Now....An ad found in this weeks Guts & Butts Online!

Pretty puppies white as snow
Take us home and watch us grow
We're eager for you to get to know
See our picture right below...

We need a home
Please don't moan
We promise to love you 
and never roam!


See Glenn for details...




~~~

Have a wonderful, puppy filled weekend!


Serena

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Trouble Brewing



“Good morning, Miss Marissa.”


Marissa looked up from her register, where she was trying to change the receipt paper roll, and smiled distractedly.

“Good morning to you, too, Sheriff Coletrain. What can I get for you today?”

“Oh, just a cup of whatever you’ve got brewed,” the grandfatherly peace office said. The tone of his voice sounded a bit too casual to her, so Marissa took a second, closer look. The sheriff smiled but she noticed the smile didn’t reach his eyes. She closed her eyes and sighed.

“Which one is it this time?” she asked, resigned to an afternoon spent chewing out one of ‘her boys.’ She handed the sheriff his cup of regular black coffee and leaned on the counter, trying to look calm even if she didn’t feel that way. She loved her life in Talbot’s Peak. She loved her werewolf husband madly and even those little hellions, Loki and Thor, whom she’d inherited when she married their dad. If given a choice, she wouldn’t change anything. But wolves were trouble. They went looking for trouble when they got bored, started trouble when they couldn’t find any, and got involved in other peoples’ trouble whenever they could. The sheriff chuckled, knowing full well what was going through her mind.

“I saw your boys hanging fliers down town. They were advertising something called ‘Egyptian Elixir of Health and Vitality.’ I figured it might be a good idea to let you know what was goin’ on before we have a repeat of Valentine’s Day two years ago.”

Right. Not one of her wolves, or at least not exclusively one of her wolves. This would be Lex, the ancient Egyptian demi god who’d raised her. If wolves were trouble, Lex was a walking, imperial catastrophe. His grandfather, a true god by the name of Nefertem, had made huge strides in the arts of healing and perfume thousands of years ago. His father, Shezmu, also had a thing for perfuming but also for wine. Lex had decided that he would make his mark on the world by brewing beer. Lex brewed some mighty fine beer, too. If that was all he did, Marissa would not have been so worried.

Valentine’s Day two years ago was just one example of Lex trying to “make his mark on the world.” He’d brewed up a special love potion. It exploded. Nine months later there had been an explosion of babies born. There was a flu epidemic running through town. Marissa didn’t know what that crazy cat god was up to but she knew she needed to nip it in the bud.

“I’m on it,” she sighed. The sheriff smiled, this time a real one, though it looked like there was a glint of pity in his eyes.

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Immortal Shapeshifter Among Us


Tuesday yowls and howls, shapeshifter lovers.

Here we are already at mid-month. Time certainly isn't slowing any in my universe, despite leaving that superspeed year, 2012.

Today's flash scene got going, and the heroine arrived on the hero's doorstep, but...hey, time ran out, so their story will have to be continued.  

~~~~~~

The Immortal Shapeshifter Among Us

"That werewolf ain't the only one in this territory buildin' underground. Preparin' for the worst."

Zephanaiah wrapped his hand around one of his favorite modern rifles, swung it upward, and sighted a target in his personal shooting gallery. In seconds, he'd shot the center hole--about the size of a dime--clean out.

With satisfaction he lowered the weapon onto the gun rack after reloading, and gazed around at his extensive collection of weaponry. Mostly guns, though--from powder shot muskets to specialized guns that used ice bullets.

Truth was, he possessed about every make and model there'd ever been. Another large room held the machinery and materials to manufacture ammunition, a trade he still learned.

Manly pride dictated Zephan take several minutes to scan the walls of his enormous bunker, where he'd mounted the pistols, handguns, derringers, glocks, hunting rifles of every variety, sawed off shotguns, tommy guns--plus the in-the-news, falsely labeled automatic weapons.

Not only that, he owned about a hundred custom-designed sidearms, including his most favorite, a pair of fast-draw, pearl-handled, single-action Colts. One thing Zephan knew for damn certain, he'd never be enslaved again.

Not without one hellacious fight to save himself, and anyone else. After fighting side-by-side with the Thracian gladiator, Spartacus, during the slave uprising, he'd ironically won his freedom by dying first.

He'd been reborn with the stench of death in his nostrils, covered by the slaughtered bodies of his comrades. With madness assailing him, Zephan had believed he'd been taken by the gods to an underworld hell, meant for the souls of rebellious slaves.

He'd wandered about, his throat parched from lack of water. Once he'd slaked his thirst at a village well familiar to him, Zephan had realized he remained among the land of the living.

Thus, his world travels began, mostly battling tyrants, and escaping the pursuit of slavers who knew what he was, one of the immortals. If captured, he'd be forced to breed like an animal, and be repeatedly killed for sport in the gladiatorial arena.

Reminiscent of Zephan's past, battleaxes, spears, and other primitive weapons, along with knives and blades of every type, decorated his bunker walls, as well. A long sturdy table held several enormous, leather-bound tomes.

Inside, he'd recorded the detailed history of each ancient and modern weapon, beyond his personal experiences, that is. Given his constant search for more knowledge, Zephan was always adding to the pages.

He also listed ale recipes, having developed a yen for a goodly brew. When the finest ingredients were used, the naturally transformed grains and herbs were medicinal, and kept muscles on a man.

Zephan slipped his finger along the thin blade of a rapier he'd used during his days in Renaissance Spain. The life of a gentleman had suited him then.

These days his desire for freedom fired through every last particle of him, unrelenting, unceasing. He'd tasted liberty for far too long.

As an American colonist, he'd joined up with the revolutionary army, once the battles had begun in earnest. Later, during the Indian wars, he'd lived with the Apache, and known the freedom of roaming the great open lands as a warrior.

Since then, living on the fringes of society, as what some called a mountain man, suited his solitary nature. And, also suited the creature he shapeshifted into on rare occasions--what some now termed a Manticore.

The lion-dragon-man beast was a cousin to the phoenix, and had originally been genetically designed by the Atlanteans to defeat a race of giants. Somehow, Zephan had inherited genes that not only turned him immortal, but into this odd killer creature.

"I'm one of those damn complicated men they talk about in them romance novels," he groused to himself, since no one was around. And, hellfire, dark humor had gotten him by for centuries now.

With his mountain man buddy, Dead Aim Dane, a puma shifter, sweet on the ranch lady, Stormy, they'd spent less time together, hunting in the backwoods around Talbot's Peak.

He didn't begrudge Dead Aim. But a man got mighty lonely. And with Brandon Wayne always tied down to his ranching business interests, and pleasuring his woman, that gal reporter, Leona Lane... well, he needed to find some new companionship. One of these days.

Zephan strode through a narrow archway, and into the armory he'd setup for the population of the Peak...just in case. He'd gotten the idea from the fact that the government of Switzerland armed their people to the teeth, had redoubts throughout the countryside, and expected the men to be highly trained with weapons. So far, no one had dared invade that tiny country.

Truth was too, Zephan was trying to talk himself into making an appointment with Dante, so they could discuss the protection of their territory. He well knew, the werewolf alpha, his pack, and his crew already patrolled regularly, and had stopped many a takeover attempt by various nefarious forces.

He'd stopped a few himself. On a couple of those occasions, Zephan had been on the same page as Dugger, the dingo shifter, and his warrior woman, Symone. They'd fought in concert with each other, ridding the Peak of invading enemies.

'Course, many of the shapeshifters and supernaturals likely figured with their superior abilities a weapons cache wasn't all that necessary for survival. But, Zephan begged to differ.

Besides, a free man, a free woman for that matter, was always armed. Or, guaranteed, at some point down the road of history, they wouldn't remain free from the slavers who still operated in secret, and ruled by corrupting officials.

With that in mind, Zephan surveyed his stockpile of simple, easy-to-use guns and rifles, all of them in pristine condition. He'd even considered opening a shooting range with training classes. Although, he doubted that idea's time had come.

With a harumph and a growl of frustration, he pivoted on his booted heel, heading toward the ramp that led to his humble abode above ground. He knew why the moment he stepped a foot inside.

Someone timidly rapped on his front door. While he hadn't heard the sound, his gut knew. A man, even as an immortal, didn't live free this long without relying on his gut instincts.

Who would be roaming 'round the back country as darkness settled over the snow-covered land, and the temperature fell like a rock--or fell like a boulder tossed by Odin himself...well, Zephan had to wonder.

As he strode over his stone floor, he sensed the woman begin to turn away. Not wanting man nor beast, and especially not a woman, left out in the brutal cold, he hurriedly jerked open his roughhewn door.

"Ma'am, can I help you?"

At least, she was dressed for the weather, with her face mostly covered. Her gaze met his, and Zephan fell into the dark intriguing pools that were her eyes.

"I...I think I'm lost. I...do you have a phone? The signal isn't..."

TO BE CONTINUED...

~~~~~~


~ Have a Magickal and Miraculous New Year ~ 

Savanna

Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance ~

Monday, January 14, 2013

Cougar's Revenge

Bradley clambered nimbly up the side of the cliff to the top where his brother Stan perched. Lately Stan had taken to standing sentinel on this and other lofty crags. Alert, Bradley guessed, for signs of his unwanted paramour.

Sure enough, Stan jumped when Brad appeared too suddenly from around a jut of rock, and made no attempt to hide his guilty look. Brad settled himself on a thin strip of ledge. Too winded to shift, and with Stan too nervous, they spoke in mountain goat.

(“So how’s your love life, bro?”)

(“Get bent. She’s out there. I can feel her.”)

(“You already did. Isn’t that how all this started?”)

(“I will butt you right off the top of this cliff, I swear.”)

(“Dude, relax. Mrs. Wembly’s not even in the area. I saw her drive into town.”) Stan’s breath left him in a bleat. (“Man, you have got to resolve this, pronto. You’re shedding. Look.”)

(“I know.”) Stan sat and let his horned head droop. (“I never thought I’d say this, but … I feel guilty about the whole thing. It was supposed to be the end of the world. I thought I’d do her a favor. Go out with a bang, so to speak. How was I supposed to know she’d take it so personally?”)

(“Or that the world wouldn’t end.”)

(“That too.”) Stan looked thoughtful. (“I should do something for her. Like get her a jaguar or something. Jaguars appreciate experience. They’re not that good with cubs, either, so her being past breeding age is an extra plus. Where can we find a big male jaguar who isn’t too picky?”)

(“Dude. She doesn’t want a jaguar. She wants you. She wants a piece of that billy goat action.”)

(“Don’t rub it in. What do I do, Brad? Widows eat their mates. That’s why they’re widows.”)

(“That’s insects, dude.”)

(“And cougars, I mean pumas. Especially if their last mate was a herbie. What am I going to do?”)

(“Hey! I think I’ve got it. We can get you off the hook and do nice things for Widow Wembly’s rep to boot. You with me?”)

(“Hell yeah. I can’t hang out on top of cliffs for the rest of my life.”)

(“Good. Now: we need a car. You did finally pay off your insurance, right?”)

# # #

Eula Wembly wasn’t hard to find. Her Army-green pickup truck was parked in front of the shopette at the edge of town. Brad and Stan peered in through the store’s display windows to verify her presence, then went into their act.

“You had your chance,” Brad loudly announced as he stormed through the sliding doors. “A lady of her quality deserves a real man.”

“Like you, I take it?”

“Yes. Like me.” Brad marched right up to where Mrs. Wembly stood by the paper towels with a plastic shopping basket on her arm. He took the hand not holding the basket and bowed over it. “Mrs. Wembly. Would you do me the honor of allowing me to escort you to dinner?”

She narrowed puma-golden eyes at him. “Excuse me, young man. Do I know you? Oh.”

She’d spotted Stan. He smiled weakly and waved. “Hi, Mrs. Wembly. How’s it going?”

“Back off,” Brad warned. He added a maahhh that sounded threatening. In reality it was Stan’s cue.

(“Oh yeah”), Stan maahhed back. He straightened his back and puffed out his chest and shook his head as if it bore horns. “Forget it, bro. I’ve got a prior claim. Isn’t that right, Mrs.—er, Eula?”

“Boys, please,” Mrs. Wembly fluted. “There’s no need to fight over me.”

By now they’d drawn a crowd. Even the bunnies industriously shoplifting in produce paused to watch. Ignoring her protests, Brad eased Mrs. Wembly aside and squared off against his brother. They wouldn’t actually fight, of course. He fully expected the store manager to escort them outside before words gave way to head-butts. By then the whole store would have seen two studly young goats competing for the amorous attentions of the older cat. She’d have more dates than she’d know what to do with. Enough to keep her from hunting down Stan.

“Seriously,” Mrs. Wembly said. Her voice was now a cougar’s clawed snarl. “There’s no need.”

The goat boys turned to her as one. “There’s not?” Brad said. Oh cripes, what if she wants a threesome?

“No, there’s not.” Mrs. Wembly stepped around Brad and patted Stan on the cheek. “You’re a sweet boy, dear, but not my type. Neither is your—brother? Yes, brother. You’ve got the same slack-jawed stare. It was a one-time thing. I’m sorry if you read more into it.”

“Uh?” Stan said.

“But the hunting,” Brad said. “The screams in the woods and stuff.”

“You thought that was for you? Oh dear.” She showed them the large bottle of prune juice in her basket. “As one gets older, digestion gets trickier. Blockage, you know. No, you wouldn’t know. Most of your diet is roughage. Mine is red meat. Occasionally it leads to problems.”

“You didn’t say no,” Stan blurted defiantly.

“Well, of course not, honey. I’m a predator. No cat turns up her nose at an easy kill. As for any future … ” She leaned in close and said to Stan in a whisper loud enough for the whole store to hear, “I’m sorry, sweetheart, but you just weren’t that good.”

# # #

“Get away from me,” Stan blasted. “Don’t you say one word to me. Not one friggin’ word.”

“But—”

“Not. One. Word.” Stan threw himself into his car and roared off, leaving Brad stranded in the shopette’s parking lot. Brad turned toward the store. Every face pressed up against the display windows quickly drew back. All but Mrs. Wembly’s. She exited the store and, without a glance his way, climbed serenely into her truck and drove away at just under the speed limit.

Brad bleated an obscene word in goat. “I wish the world would end,” he muttered, “because right now it sucks.”

Saturday, January 12, 2013

Our Saga Continues





Gill pulled two tissues from the box sitting between him and Melody.  Rascal lay on the dirty clothes pile scattered across the master bedroom floor. Two lousy weeks of chills, fever, and hacking coughs were fraying what bits of nerve Gill had left.  

Melody grabbed the tissue, barely covering her mouth as two loud sneezes followed.  Gill tried to speak.  A high pitched "Bless you" squeaked out.  Rascal snorted and snored more.  Down the hall, Bruno sang off key in the shower.  Gill rolled his eyes heavenward and sighed.  How much longer did he have until. . .

The muffled rings of the phone sent Gill scurrying out of bed and into the kitchen.  He didn't want Bruno threaten anyone even with teasing.  The bear had no common sense he swore when tact was needed with press rather than demanding they show up and explain themselves.  At  least Nick hadn't sent someone over to interview the Peak's newest mayor yet. 

As Gill reached the phone, he cleared his throat and picked up the receiver.  "Gill speaking," he puffed before a fit of coughing over took him.  A laugh followed by similar sounding coughs echoed over the phone line.  Gill smiled as best he could and squeaked more.  "Louie, this crud got you too?"

Louie tossed his fist in the air, shaking it for several moments.  He looked down at the suitcase and tote bag next to him.  Good thing Gill's house had three stories and 8 bedrooms.  "Yes, this animal whatever has me in its grips.  And I'm headed to your place.  Be there in fifteen minutes."

Gill held the phone away from his ear, sucked in air and managed to blurt out, "What do you mean headed here?"  

As Louie began to speak a loud banging sounded near the front door.  Gill whispered as loud as he could for Louie to wait a moment.  "I'll be right back," he gasped.

Gill trotted across the living room cussing softly as his voice was rapidly diminishing.  As he opened the front door, a truck bearing County Health Department signage pulled away.  The wind whistled through the trees lining the street side walk way and rattled the metal sign stuck to one of the pillars making up the front wraparound porch.  Gill's mouth dropped open as he made out the sign: Quarantine-Sick House 

Gill noticed the envelope with his name on it stuck to the sign as he stepped closer.  He tore off the envelope, opening it as he closed the door.  If he could have, he would have cussed in squirrel, human, and a few other languages he'd picked up smatterings of since the influx of new residents to the Peak had begun.  

Gill dropped into the closest chair, shaking his head as he read further,   His home, his kingdom and sanctuary was the town's newest temporary medical facility until all who were admitted to it were out of quarantine.   So much for mayoral dignity and authority.

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Happy Weekend Readers!

Poor Gill keeps on wondering if being Mayor is all its cracked up to be.  Who knows who else is going to show up before this nasty crud plaguing the Peak starts to clear up?
Hope you and yours are keeping warm and in good health.  The Spice Homestead is doing well.  Remember to share a good book or two with your loves and spice.  Download a free read or two from my publisher Siren Publishing along with a copy of Hot for Torrey.  


Smiles,
Solara