The preorders for Unexpected Demands are now up 🙂
Release Date is Feb 25th.
Here’s a brief excerpt (Minor spoiler for book 1)
I’m running through the woods, full out on four legs, over leaves so dry they crumble beneath me. The air’s heavy and hot, summer’s last breath.
I’m not running for my life. If he catches me, our fight will mean death for one of us, but the death will probably be his. He’s old now, his hair streaked with gray as a man, his wolf’s muzzle frosted white. A senior, a veteran who never quite made Alpha, and bitter with it. He taught me well; in my desperate fury, I could beat him.
But if I kill him, I’m not sure I’ll be sane afterward. I can feel the black abyss hovering, an emotionless darkness where I could go and let my wolf take over. My wolf wouldn’t hesitate. Hatred runs hot and acid in my throat, and only iron control keeps me from turning to finish this. I’m running for my soul, and there are heavy footfalls coming fast through the dry leaves behind me…
Shit. I’d dozed off.
I smacked the side of my head. A stupid gesture, but there was no one else in the room to see it, and the impact jolted me back to the present. I’m not that seventeen-year-old youngster, haven’t been for thirty years. Bad enough that the nightmares had invaded my sleep again, disrupting my scant hours of rest. I’d be damned if I’d let them sneak up on me when I was awake. Well, supposedly awake.
I allowed myself a moment, put my head in my hands and closed my eyes. Breathe, for one minute, don’t think and just breathe. I’d taught myself meditation long ago, for control, when control was the difference between life and death. I used those skills now to gather energy. I was tired.
Make that fucking exhausted.
Of course, I was also angry, and grieving for my old Alpha, and worried, and frustrated. And admit it, Aaron David Tremaine, scared. My pack hovered on the brink of disaster. Demands, responsibilities, and threats made my stomach roll queasily. I needed to eat soon, no matter what collection of negative emotions I was juggling.
And then there’s the one that’s really making me jump out of my skin: horny. After thirteen years of locking my needs away where sexual desire couldn’t endanger me, one tumultuous night a week ago had brought my body roaring back to life, worse than ever. And it wasn’t even a night when I got any sex.
I was still getting the hang of my Alpha bonds— the emotional links that bound my wolves to me, and me to them. I could hardly get worse at it than I’d been the first day. For those first interminable hours, as my pack bonded to me, the fears, doubts, excitements, and damned lusts of all my wolves had come roaring down the open bonds toward me, until I could hardly separate myself from them. Their emotions buffeted me. I’d felt their pains and orgasms as they fought and fucked out the disaster of our Alpha’s passing. I’d finally managed to shut things down, but the echoes still lingered.
Maybe being tired was good. Exhaustion took the edge off all the rest.
I rubbed my face briskly, sat up in my chair, and laid my hands flat on the desk. This was no time to be indulging myself. When you’re the Alpha of a werewolf pack, even a pack as small and non-traditional as mine, you have to be Alpha. No doubts, no worries, at least where the lower-ranked wolves can see you. I’d been faking that all week, ever since pack leadership had fallen into my hands.
Since I ripped pack dominance from Karl’s bleeding, dying body.
A rap on the door startled me, then the door flung open before I could respond. Vincent rushed in. His normal air of detached amusement was replaced with a frown. “Aaron, there’s trouble at Simon’s.”
“Damn.” I leaped up immediately. “Local wolves?”
“Do you know who or how many?”
“Who’s on guard duty?”
“Son-of-a-bitch.” That was only a figure of speech. There are no female werewolves. If there were, maybe we’d have a more relaxed attitude about sex and reproduction, and this whole mess wouldn’t be happening.
I didn’t mean the phrase as an insult to Andy either. He was just the wrong person to be on deck for any kind of trouble. Young, submissive, and easygoing, Andy had the softest personality of any of my wolves. And if anyone hurts him and I catch up to them, they’re going to be eating through a straw for a month, werewolf healing or not.
“Do you want me with you?” Vincent asked eagerly. The old wolf had been a surprise addition to my pack. I hadn’t expected any of the seniors to come my way. He’d appointed himself my secretary and was so useful I had no desire to depose him, even though secretly I thought he decided to be mine mainly out of boredom. Joining my pack gave him a ringside seat at the circus. Some people weren’t made for retirement.
Unfortunately, Vincent also wasn’t above stirring up a little extra excitement, just to see what happened. That was the last thing I needed. “No. Stay here. Call Joshua and tell him I’m about to come down on some wolf of his. Again.”
Vincent made a face. He’d have preferred the chance of a fight over having to call the no doubt pissed-off Alpha of a now-separate pack. Especially since Joshua was too dour for Vincent to have much fun riling him up. But as my secretary, he’d make the call, and— I gave him a hard glare until he dropped his eyes and bent his head— he would control his impulse to be snide. I left him subdued, pulling out his phone.
Simon rented a small house with a white-fenced yard. Bushes and lawn set the building back far enough from the neighbors for privacy, which was turning out to be a good thing. This wasn’t our first go-round with trouble.
When I pulled in the driveway, four men stood at the front steps. On the bottom stair, a stocky, brown-haired man with a reddened face glared upward. He looked in his late thirties, but I knew he was sixty-six. I also knew he was short-tempered, right-handed, of barely average intelligence, and as violently homophobic as they come. Dan. Shit.
The man on the walkway behind him might’ve been his clone, but for the lighter hair and eyes: Geoffrey. He’d been eighth ranked in our old pack, and was now Joshua’s Third, and not a stupid man. But he was cold and calculating, and had no love for any wolf of mine.
At the top of the steps stood my two men. Andy was dressed for the weather, his gloved hands clenched into fists, the hood of his jacket pushed back to give him a full range of vision. His breath streamed out in puffs of white, and I could practically taste his fear, but he held his ground. Behind him, Simon loomed still as stone. Not tall, but powerful, built like a fighter with muscles rippling under his copper skin, Simon was not a wolf to take on lightly, even with his feet and arms bare to the winter chill. A fact Dan apparently realized, since he was still at the bottom of those stairs.
They all swung their heads to look at me as I got out of the Hummer. Andy’s posture relaxed immediately, and his anxiety across our pack bond vanished. I appreciated his faith in me, even though his confidence might be a bit premature.
Simon held his ground, unmoving, his impassive face hiding the force of the anger and fear still burning across his bond. But then he had his lover, Paul, in that house behind him. No one would get through Simon’s protection to reach Paul. And he trusted no one, not even me, to take that responsibility from him.
My business was with the interlopers. “Geoffrey,” I said coolly. “Dan.”
“This is none of your business, Tremaine,” Dan snapped. I noted that Geoff was holding back and letting the lower-ranked wolf speak up. Interesting.
“Of course it is. My wolves, my problem. Tell me what’s going on.”
“I’m here to Challenge that… that… thing that you’re letting walk around like he’s as good as the rest of us.” Dan pointed a finger at Simon. I guessed the slight tremble was due to rage, not fear. Stupid of him to underestimate Simon, but that was Dan.
“In the first place,” I told him, “you can’t. He’s not in your pack now. You want to take on one of my wolves, you have to face me first. And I don’t think you want to do that.” I glared at him and needed less than two seconds for him to drop his eyes. I might’ve been only a few ranks ahead of him in the old pack, but I was an Alpha now, and his body knew that even better than his brain. “In the second place, Simon would wipe the floor with you, if I let him.”
“Bullshit,” Dan blustered. “He’s nothing. Stinking faggot. He’s bowed his head to me a hundred times.”
“Because he chose to. Think, you fool. Simon beat Frank in a fair fight. Frank!” The big tawny wolf had been our Fifth and a vicious fighter. In the scrambling events of that night, when I killed Karl and everything changed, perhaps the biggest surprise had been Simon rising victorious from Frank’s body. I’d known he was holding back, hiding in the middle of the pack. I hadn’t realized how much.
The memory of that night flitted across Dan’s face too, and he paled a shade, but he wasn’t the kind to ever back down. “Bullshit,” he repeated. “I can take him.”
I turned a calm eye to Geoffrey, who was watching us both. “Is this Challenge sanctioned by your Alpha?”
Geoff shook his head. “I don’t believe Dan ran it by Joshua first. But he does have a complaint.”
More than the standard “gay werewolves are the spawn of Satan and should be destroyed?” “What complaint?”
“My house!” Dan sputtered. “Someone took orange spray paint and wrote things on my house!”
I turned an inadvertent snort into a cough. Not funny, not funny. “What things?”
Dan’s face regained its red hue. “Words. Insults. He did it!” He turned to glare at Simon again. “You know he did. Cowardly, sneaking, afraid to face me. He wrecked my house!” He made a lunge up the stairs.
I grabbed his arm and swung him around to face me. “Shut up and stand down,” I snarled with all the menace I could muster. Apparently enough, because he sagged like the air had leaked out of him. “I will look into this, and if your property was damaged, I’ll see that you get compensation from the guilty party. But it damned well wasn’t Simon. I’ve had men watching him for his protection all week.” I gestured at Andy, hovering on the stoop. “Simon didn’t do anything. Now go home and let your Alpha deal with this. Unless you’d rather Challenge me?”
He didn’t even try to meet my eyes. “No, Alpha.”
“Go.” I gave him a shove toward his parked car.
From where he stood watching, Geoff said, “Maybe the vandalism wasn’t Simon this time. But your pack’s out of control. You’re only asking for trouble, letting this bullshit go on. Follow the law, get rid of the human who knows about us, deal with your fag, and then we can live in peace again.”
“Over my dead body,” I said coldly.
“Perhaps.” Geoff looked me up and down, then shifted his gaze to Simon, and to Andy still trying to look tough and protective. When Geoff turned back to me, his lip curled in a sneer, although he couldn’t meet my eyes. “Perhaps someone will take you down and then deal with this… perversion… the right way.”
“But not you.” I stepped forward, pushing into his personal space, and he backed off a step, then two. “And not today. Get out of here…”
I hope you will enjoy watching Aaron take on the challenge of his embattled pack, and a young man who stirs up more than just his Alpha protection.