Who likes to try before they buy?
Most people, right?
So, I've listed teaser chapters from two of my books on Instafreebie for you to sample.
HUNTER'S BLOOD, book one in my
Cursed by Blood Saga is a
Shaken, Tanya managed to crawl back to her spot by the tree. Sinking to her knees, she wrapped her arms around her middle, trying not to hyperventilate. Squeezing her eyes shut, she rocked back and forth.
“I’m just stoned, right? Please let me be stoned,” she muttered, but knew otherwise. What she witnessed was real. In the back of her mind she knew she was going into shock and there was no one to help.
Earsplitting howls sent goosebumps across her flesh. Covering her ears, she scrambled back to the dark cover of the trees, huddling into the roots of the largest trunk she could find.
Hurried footsteps grew louder and she molded her body further into the darkness as fear sent her adrenaline into overdrive. Not knowing who or what approached, she closed her eyes and braced for the worst.
An unbelievable scent, warm and earthy with a hint of musk floated past her nose, and a gradual calm swept over her, even as her breath hitched in her throat. Her shoulders relaxed out of her ears, and the feeling worked its way down to her toes.
“Feeling better?” A rich masculine voice asked.
Her tension ebbed to the point of sleepy and she nodded. “Don’t eat the browhttps://amzn.to/2w0ZFXZnies. Bad trip,” she mumbled.
The deep voice chuckled. “I can imagine.”
Tanya tilted her head, a silly smile on her face as she tried to focus on the man standing above her. Her eyes widened and sucked in a breath, smacking the back of her head on tree’s trunk.
“And…she’s back.” Jared chuckled again.
“Ouch! Damn it! Who are you? Did you see what happened?” With a faint hiss, her fingers slid to the sore spot on her head.
He squatted beside the backpack he left behind and unzipped the top. “Drink this,” he replied handing her a bottle of water. “It’ll help with the cotton mouth.”
Her gaze balked. “I am not stoned.”
He grinned. “I also have some ibuprofen, if you want.” He gestured to her head. “For your bump.”
She shook her head to clear what was left of the lethargy. “Did you see what happened?” She gave her head another shake and winced, realizing she was repeating herself.
“Maybe we’d better take this slow,” he said. “You do realize you panicked and passed out, right?”
“I don’t panic. I’m a lawyer.” She cringed at how senseless and self-important that sounded. “What I meant was I’ve faced worse in my line of work.”
“I doubt it, but if that’s what you need to think, knock your judicial socks off.”
“Okay, then. Explain. I can’t seem to remember much, except…Her voice cracked and she drew a ragged breath. “This is insane. I think we should call the police.”
He didn’t say a word. Just watched from where he squatted by his pack. “Fine. I’ll get to the bottom of this myself.” Annoyed she tried to stand, but a wave of dizziness pitched her forward, instead.
In a blur of movement, his arms were around her waist. “Hey, take it easy.” He steadied her against him for support. “Besides, we can’t call the police. We’re in a dead zone. Try your cell if you don’t believe me.”
Skeptical, Tanya fished her phone from the front pocket of her jeans and ran a thumb over the touch screen. No bars.
“Great. What are we supposed to do, now?”
The air was cool on her skin though his arms were warm as he held her loosely around the waist. Acutely aware of him and their close proximity, she put her hands on his chest and pushed herself back. “I’m okay, now. Thanks.”
She nodded, taking another step back.
He was at least six foot four. Standing this close she had to crane her neck to look at him, though her own height was above average for a woman.
From the feel of his chest she guessed his body was lean and muscular. The complete opposite of her full, soft curves.
His hair was thick, curling to just past his collar, and in the dark it seemed almost black. For a moment she wondered what it would feel like between her fingers,
“If we can’t call for help, we’ve got to do something,” she blurted, conscious of her own wandering thoughts. “We can’t just leave those poor people there.”
“You need to calm down. You’re upset and I get it, but believe me the matter is well in hand.”
Tanya flung her arm out, unconvinced. “What are you talking about? We’re the only people here! In case you weren’t paying attention, a bunch of enormous wolves ripped that creature to shreds, whatever it was. Who knows where they are now or if they’ll attack again?”
Without waiting for an answer, she flicked her gaze toward the parking lot, hesitating only a moment before twisting around ready to run. Her sudden turn sent her crashing forward and she lost her footing again. She went down hard, hitting the ground with an audible huff.
“Are you all right?” he asked helping her up once more.
His hands were strong against her waist and she ignored the zing from the very male feel.
“Yeah,” she muttered. “Looks like I owe you, again.” In the dappled moonlight she saw his eyes were a clear blue. Self-conscious heat warmed her cheeks at the way he looked at her. There was something about him, something she couldn’t quite explain. Unusual.
“What’s your name?” he asked.
“Tanya. Tanya Richards—” Before she could continue a piercing howl echoed in the near distance and she scrambled closer, digging her fingers into his forearm. Breathing hard, the air tasted fragrant and loamy, but it was his scent, wild and earthy and entirely masculine that calmed her.
Resting against him, she was exhausted and terrified, but still very much aware of the extremely male body pressed against hers. Through her thin blouse she felt every muscle in his arms as they held her. She felt the rise and fall of his chest as if it moved in tandem with her own.
His hand innocently rubbed her back in composed, fluid strokes. Her body reacted to his simple touch and she squeezed her eyes shut, dismissing the dampness between her legs as a by-product of panic and adrenaline.
Ashamed, she focused instead on the unanswered questions racing through her head. What the hell kind of creature was that? Was it alone? How many others had it killed? What about the wolves?
As if reading her mind, he tilted his head toward the wooded trail that continued across the parking lot. Following his line of sight, Tanya watched a set of glowing yellow eyes watching them from the edge of the tree line.
Wide-eyed, panic tore through her again and mouthed the words, “What the hell is going on?” but his only response was to put his finger to his lips.
Something else was happening, but she was in no position to argue, so she just gaped. Her mind and body had enough, and with a strangled cry she lurched away from him, emptying what was left in her stomach onto the leaves.
With an annoyed growl he stepped behind her and held her hair away from her face. “It’s all right. I told you, everything’s going to be okay.”
Tanya wiped her mouth with the back of her hand. “Yeah? And how is that?” she snapped. “Can you explain what the hell happened here?”
Before he could answer, another wave of queasiness hit her. He held her until the dry heaves passed and then steered her toward the base of the tree. “I can explain, but it’ll have to wait. Right now I have something I have to do, but I promise you’ll be okay as long as you stay put.”
Tanya leaned on the wide trunk. She sucked in breath to quell her remaining nausea, but her underlying panic persisted. “I gotta get out of here.”
“No! Please, trust me. It’s not safe. I’ll make sure you get home, but right now you need to stay here. I won’t be far.”
“Why? I’ve been taking this shortcut since I was a teenager. I’m perfectly capable of making my own way home.”
He put his hands on her shoulders and urged her toward the tufted grass beneath the tree. “You’ve got to trust me. Don’t go anywhere. If you don’t listen, I can’t help you if something happens.”
She opened her mouth to argue, but something in his eyes told her to drop it. Cracking open the bottle of water he gave her earlier, she took a small sip. “When you put it that way, I don’t have much choice.” She hiccupped. “Do you want my cell phone? Oh right, I forgot…no signal.”
His mouth curved into a half smile.
“No worries. I won’t be far.”
Tanya shivered and he unzipped his hoodie, draping it over her shoulders. Their eyes met and she swore it looked as if he wanted to say more, but then a shadow crossed and he frowned. “Just promise you won’t move from this spot.”
She could only nod.
The look he gave her seemed almost regretful, as though he didn’t want to go, but he turned and took a step toward the trails end.
“Hey, what’s your name?”
He glanced over his shoulder and with the most beautiful smile replied, “Jared.”
“Thank you, Jared,” she answered lifting the water bottle she gave him in salute. “You’re coming back, right?” Her eyes locked on his, and a rush of nerves hit her at the thought of being alone leaving her queasy stomach in the dust.
“Of course,” he murmured with a nod and without missing a beat turned and leapt straight into the air.
“Whoa! What are you, part cat?” Her vision blurred for a moment and she rubbed her eyes as the air sizzled and snapped, filled with static and the distinct odor of raw electricity making the hair on her arms stand on end.
When her eyes refocused she was speechless. Even through the darkened haze she saw his clothes shred as he transformed in a flash of white to a large, silver wolf.
“Holy shit!” Tanya sputtered, clamoring to her knees. Dropping her water bottle, she scrambled back against the tree away from where Jared’s body shifted and reshaped.
“I’m having a brain bleed,” she thought, watching in doubt as a large wolf majestically shimmered into being, landing effortlessly on the ground before taking off toward the trail lot.
She promised not to move, but she couldn’t make herself stay. Keeping within the tree line, she clamored until she crept close enough to watch the same wolves she saw earlier raucously greet the silver wolf as he padded toward the pack.
“Impossible,” she breathed. Her mind was a huge question mark. She stared in stunned disbelief, as every fairytale she heard as a child, every legend and myth paraded past her thoughts.
The way the wolves moved, ruthless in the way they attacked and almost military-style execution, practiced and with obvious rank—it was unbelievable, yet here it was.
Where did they come from? How is it they even exist? They had to be protecting something. But what? She was both scared and compelled by the irrationality. It was surreal, like being caught in a virtual reality game.
Tanya’s mind reeled watching the events unfold. Jared’s wolf was sinuous, graceful in its movements but undeniably predatory. Every muscle rippled and bunched with brute strength. As a man, he’d been strong, quick-thinking and determined. Watching his raw strength now, Tanya wondered what other similarities the he shared with his wolf.
Closing her eyes, she remembered the hard planes of his chest and his well-defined arms as he held her against him. She wondered how those muscles would feel under her fingers as she glided them along his skin. As if reading her thoughts, the silver wolf twisted his head toward where she sat hidden and looked at her with such intensity a blush fanned from her throat to her ears.
This was crazy. She was having an out of body experience or at least that’s what she told herself. Looking at the others, she tried to figure out where Jared fit in pecking order. It was clear he was older and larger than the two smaller wolves, but the large black one was definitely their alpha.
He was bigger and stockier than the others and moved with more power, yet Jared’s wolf was faster and more agile. When the black one howled, the sound was abrupt, almost a command. It pierced the stillness, and as if on cue, a low yip echoed from another trailhead and a smaller, russet wolf padded from the darkness. The animal was accompanied by a man, and unlike Tanya, it was apparent he wasn’t there by chance.
The wolves made fast work of the clearing the area, each taking a piece of the creature and carrying it into the woods. When they didn’t come back for what remained of Jesse and Marlene, a shiver of worry passed that Jared wouldn’t be coming back for her, either.
“Damn.” Was he planning to leave her in the open by herself? Maybe he took her earlier bravado as gospel and decided to let her find her own way through the mess.
Crouching down, she crawled toward the edge of the deserted parking lot and then sprinted across to the second trailhead.
Heart pulsing through her chest, Tanya darted into the woods. She stayed low and listened, waiting for the blood to stop pounding in her ears.
The wolves were about a hundred feet from where she hid, and she crept as quietly as she could, trying to keep her distance. When she got within thirty feet she stopped, lowering herself to the ground.
The man had built a ring of stones, somewhat like a campfire, only bigger. He was packing it with dried wood, leaves and bark while the wolves paced back and forth, rumbling low, anxious to get on with it.
The creature’s remains were tossed into the circle while dried grass and herbs were taken from the man’s pack and thrown in, as well. With a flick of a match, the whole thing went up in flames. The burning herbs were fragrant, but underneath was a pungent, almost rotted smell, and the flame itself sizzled and sputtered as if choking on something foul.
Thinking the smoke would camouflage her, Tanya moved in closer. But the wind changed and the large black wolf raised his snout, turning in her direction. He stalked toward her, his dark lips pulled back over his sharp teeth.
Seeing the menace in his advance, Tanya struggled to get to her feet. “Oh, my God! Please No! Jared! Jared! Help!” she screamed, stumbling backwards. Landing on her butt she scuttled back, legs and feet scraping and kicking dirt and leaves as she tried to push herself away.
With a growl, Jared leaped over the alpha’s head, landing hard, his large paws hitting the ground in an explosion of dirt and rock before he turned toward the black wolf, teeth bared ready to attack.
The dark wolf stopped and growled low, the two posturing, pacing as each waiting for the other to strike.
The man who built the fire stepped forward, walking between the two wolves like they were nothing more than a pair of stone library lions. “Who are you and how do you know Jared?” he asked his face dark with suspicion.
Tanya stuttered. “I…I just met him. He…he saved me from that…that…thing!” Her hand shook as she pointed toward the fire.
Jared stood directly in front of her. He growled and snapped and it wasn’t hard to measure his intentions. The man standing raised one eyebrow.
The silver wolf gave three short yips and pawed the ground, scoring deep claw marks into the earth. To Tanya it looked as if he’d drawn a line in the dirt, daring them to cross.
There was a snap and spark and suddenly a dark haired man stood in place of the dark wolf. He was completely naked and Tanya’s eyes widened as he moved toward them.
“You’re sure, Jared?” The dark haired man asked the large silver wolf, his voice ringing with skepticism.
He paced back and forth shaking his head. “You have no idea what you’re getting yourself into, little brother.” His voice held more than a casual warning. “She hasn’t a clue as to what’s happening. Don’t you think you’d better explain things?”
From their exchange, Tanya understood the dark haired man wasn’t just the alpha, but also Jared’s brother. The man turned and gave her a cold look. “We need to finish here. You’ll have to come with us when we’re done. There is much to be discussed.”
Shaking her head, Tanya put her hands up in front of her. “Look, I didn’t mean to interrupt whatever it is you’re doing. I’m grateful Jared stopped me before I interrupted that creature and got myself killed, but fact remains I know those people back there on the pavement.” She spared a glance in the direction of the parking lot. “Someone needs to notify the authorities, not to mention their families, and I’m sure as hell not going anywhere with you. I’m calling the police and then I’m going home.”
Lip curled, Aidan stared at Tanya, a low rumble starting at the back of his throat.
“Easy, man,” the other man warned, putting a hand on his shoulder. “She’s a civilian Aidan, and still qualifies as an innocent regardless of what she witnessed.”
“Take your hand off me Luke or I’ll take it off permanently,” Aidan barked.
Jared snarled, and in a shimmer of sparks and ozone, phased to human form. Standing in front of Tanya his body shook in anger as he glared at his brother.
“Back the hell off, Aidan! This isn’t your call. Besides, Luke’s right. Tanya is still a civilian and therefore entitled to our protection.”
“And you…” he said, whirling to face Tanya. “Are you crazy? Why didn’t you stay put like I told you?” Jared’s hands were clenched into fists at his side. “I told you to trust me, didn’t I? Didn’t I tell you I’d be back?” he stomped around, oblivious to the fact that he too, was completely naked, his muscles rippling and twitching, flexing in anger with his every move.
Tanya stood speechless, not sure which stunned her more, the fact he was completely nude, or that he was yelling at her like this was her fault.
Her eyes narrowed. “You’ve got to be kidding me, right? Not only does that thing murder my friends, but then you transform into a whole other species right in front of my eyes, and I’m supposed to be okay with it? I’m just supposed to sit patiently in the middle of the woods and wait?”
She met him scowl for scowl. “I don’t know who or what you are, but your brother’s right,” she said throwing her hand out toward Aidan. “I deserve an explanation! Before you decided to freak me out with your own impression of An American Werewolf in London, you said you could explain everything. So start talking!”
Hands defiantly on her hips, Tanya watched the little muscle in Jared’s cheek work as he processed all she said.
“Look, Jared, what did you really expect me to do? I was scared. You were the only thing I had at the moment that made me feel safe, and when you took off into the woods with the others, I panicked.”
Tanya’s voice broke slightly, and against her will, a single tear escaped down her cheek. She tried to shrug it off, whispering “I’m sorry,” as she folded her arms in front of her chest.
The whole implausible situation was suddenly too much for her. Insanity had taken its toll, and though she tried to put up a brave front, she started to cry. Wrapping her arms around her middle, she turned away trying to hold herself together.
Jared took a deep breath and let it out slowly. “I know,” he said softly, closing the distance between them in one step. Turning her around.
“I didn’t mean to shout, and I certainly never meant to scare you. But you have no idea how close you’ve come to being killed tonight.”
Tanya felt herself blanch in shock and disbelief. What the hell had she gotten herself into? Jared’s eyes held such intensity, she wondered from what he had saved her, the creature or his wolf pack? Somehow she knew the answer was both.
“Are you two finished with your little love spat? In case you’ve forgotten, we have a job to finish. It’s going to be dawn soon and we still need to sanitize the area,” Aiden snapped.
“Take it easy, bro. I need to get Tanya settled first.” Jared replied as he took a T-shirt and a pair of black cut offs out of Luke’s pack and slipped them on. “I’m taking her home, then I’ll be back to see to the rest of this.”
Aidan stepped in front of Jared and crossed his arms. “She stays,” he said his face like stone.
Jared stood straight and met his brother’s stare. He was at least a head taller than Aidan, and from the look on the alpha’s face it goaded him to have to look up. “It’s late Aidan, and Tanya’s had quite enough for one night. I doubt highly she’s going to say a word about this to anyone. I’m taking her home.”
Aidan’s expression was still severe. “You know as well as I do that claiming her only gives her immunity if you mate, otherwise…”
Jared shot his brother a dirty look, as Tanya’s head snapped up. Mate? Her eyes flashed from one brother to the other, but before she could find her voice, Jared took her by the hand, ignoring her questioning gaze and pulled her towards the parking lot. “I’ll be back later.”
Luke took a step forward. “Jared….”
He turned toward the other man. “It’s done Luke, so don’t go there. It’s my decision.” With Tanya in tow he walked out of the woods.
Afraid he’d let go of her hand if she lagged, she moved quickly trying to keep up with Jared’s long strides. She didn’t know him, but out of everyone she’d come into contact with in the last hour or so, he seemed the least likely to cause her harm. She hoped.
Glancing over her shoulder, she jumped every time a twig snapped for fear his brother had changed his mind about letting her leave.
She had no idea what she had gotten herself into—nor did she know where her courage came from, but as Jared lead her back onto the pavement she paled, her stomach turning over at the mess that used to be her friends.
Tanya pulled away from him, her eyes brimming with tears. “How can I just leave them like that? It’s wrong. They didn’t deserve this.” Straightening her shoulders, she swallowed back on the bile that rose in her throat and stood her ground, determined to do something.
Jared put his hand on her arm, stopping her before she could turn. “You don’t want to do this, Tanya. It’s bad enough from here, but up close it’s a sight that’ll haunt you for the rest of your life, believe me, I know.”
Tanya looked at Jared’s face. He looked to be no older than her, yet his expression was hard, and for someone so young it was like looking at a lifetime worth of memories best left forgotten. She truly had her fill of the weird and the terrifying tonight, so she nodded her consent. “Take me home, then.”
Jared spread his hands. “Just tell me where.”
Tanya looked back toward the woods where Jared’s family was busy ‘sanitizing’ the area. “I was originally taking the Meadowbrook trail. It winds around to the woods behind my house, but now that’s probably not such a good idea.”
“That’s not going to be a problem,” he announced, reaching behind his head and yanking off his T-shirt, but when he began peeling his shorts from his hips, Tanya’s eyes widened in understanding. “Whoa! I don’t think I can take any more of this!”
“Trust me,” he said, tossing her his clothes, and in the blink of an eye he phased into wolf form.
Tanya stared, paralyzed, afraid to even breathe. The animal was enormous. Instinctively she took a step back, but the wolf’s blue eyes looked right through her. “Jared?” she prompted.
The large silver wolf dipped his head as if nodding, and then lay down on the pavement giving her a short, yip.
“If you want to go home, honey, you need to climb onto his back,” Luke interrupted as he came out of the woods carrying a red plastic gasoline jug. “That’s what he’s waiting for.”
A rough, nervous laugh escaped her throat. “Are you crazy? No way! I’m not getting anywhere near him like that.”
Luke shrugged. “Suit yourself. But if you want to get home, this is the only way Jared’s going to take you. There’s no trail through the part of the forest we travel, and it’ll be easier for both of you if Jared is in wolf form. Besides, you need to stay off the main road. We don’t want a visit from the police before having a chance to finish this.”
Jared yipped again as if to say hurry it up, but Tanya looked back and forth between the large wolf, and the man standing holding the gas can. What the hell had she gotten herself mixed up in?
She took a step toward Jared, but stopped. Hesitating, she looked at Luke. “What about the fire and the smoke? Won’t that bring the cops?” she asked, indicating the black column billowing through the trees.
At Luke’s indulgent smile she flushed, like she’d just asked a stupid question.
He chuckled. “Don’t worry, it’s all good, but the longer you hesitate, the longer it’ll take us to clean up this mess, and the more risk there is of someone calling the police. I’m sure Jared will explain everything to you once you’re out of here, which should really be like, now.”
Luke stood waiting for Tanya to decide, but it was obvious he itched to get on with it. She looked at Jared still lying with his head on his front paws. With a quick breath, she approached the silver wolf, carefully running a hand through his thick fur. He made a contented sound low in his throat, but then yipped again.
“Mount up, honey,” Luke insisted, pouring gasoline over Jesse and Marlene’s remains. “Because this is no wiener roast.”
Mouth tight, Tanya grabbed hold of the wolf’s neck, and squeezing her eyes shut climbed onto his back. With a soft, very canine-like sound he rose to his feet, lifting her as if she weighed no more than a feather.
In the distance, the peel of sirens pierced the air, and Tanya’s stomach fell. Someone called the cops Great. Just what she needed. One more thing for the wolves to blame her for. Dear God, anything else tonight?
Jared howled and with a single leap took off full speed toward the forest.
“Fasten your seat belt, honey, you’re in for a bumpy ride,” Luke yelled after them, but there was no humor in his voice as the sirens grew louder.
Want the rest of the story?
Shhhh.... don't tell, but Tanya's a witch and doesn't know it!
Hunter's Blood - Book One of the Cursed by Blood Saga
Revenge. It’s what Lily Saburi craves since the brutal murder of her best friend. A vigilante bent on striking a blow for humanity against the shadowed world of the supernatural one bullet at a time, until she meets Sean Leighton, Alpha of the Brethren. Sexy, powerful, Leighton is charged with destroying anything threatening his pack, and that includes Lily. Dangerous passions ignite and confuse, but can they rise above hate and distrust to find love?
This teen suspense has a splash of history, horror and romance! Set in modern day Sleepy Hollow, old wrongs from 200 years in the past are bleeding over into the present. Something wicked this way comes, but it's not who you think!
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