- Forces of Nature
A wolf walks into a bar...
The only punch line is the one alpha Alder Thorne takes to the heart when he realizes—almost five years later—that he was hexed to forget ever meeting magic-wielding beauty, Wren Thistle.
Finding her again will prove tricky. Wren can call down lightning from the sky, but she's hiding out from wicked witches and venomous vampires.
She’s also safeguarding one very big secret.
Can these two forces of nature navigate the twists and turns of their reunion and conquer the forces of darkness that kept them apart?
This full-length novel is intended for mature audiences.
Ain’t No Wheels On This Ship
It would take a force of nature to yank Alder Thorne from his home in the heart of the Okefenokee swamplands.
Or maybe just a little good old-fashioned vengeance.
After three years of keeping his already sensitive ear to the ground, he finally had the lead he needed.
He would not involve the pack, not even his brother. Not this time. Not when the chance to avenge their father hung like the building storm over the Tybee Island horizon.
He shouldn’t have come here. He knew better. The Antebellum coven had banned all shifters from Savannah almost two decades ago. Aggressive animal energies, apparently, had no place in a city built upon its dead.READ MORE
But Alder wasn’t here to disturb the dead. He was far more interested in the undead bastard hanging out on the coast.
He parked, opting to burn the final hour of daylight in the beachfront bar he’d witnessed in his dream.
Wolves, by the grace of their ancestral magic, experienced prophetic dreams. Usually, these dreams were reserved for mating purposes. They helped a wolf seek out a true mate and were revered as a sacred experience.
Alder had never enjoyed the pleasure of a mating dream. He likely had a true mate somewhere in the world, but his wolf had yet to hone in on her location. It did, however, dream of the monster who’d staked a dark claim on August Thorne.
Thanks to his dreams, Alder would finally return the favor.
Despite the early hour, The Wren’s Nest appeared closed. The strong gusts of wind rolling off the Atlantic had blown a solid, undisturbed line of dirt in front of the door. Still, that door was unlocked, the lights were on, and there was a woman somewhere inside. The light scent of her gardenia perfume didn’t cloy at his shifter-senses like most human concoctions. It was downright inviting and reminded him of springtime back home in the swamp.
Inside, Alder approached the bar and rapped his knuckles atop the polished walnut surface. “Anybody home?”
His ears pricked, picking up on the sound of movement in the back room. A door swung open, and the gardenia woman appeared. Her black jeans hugged the swell of her ass and the sharp jut of her hips. Her bosom was considerable enough that he couldn’t help but admire the way her partially unbuttoned henley clung to her fleshy curves and teased the barest hint of cleavage. Cleavage that cradled a few odd charms at the end of her necklace.
Deep in his chest, the wolf growled its approval.
“Can I help you?” The woman regarded him with a similar exploratory gaze.
“For you?” She leaned her elbow atop the bar, eyeing his chest. “Hell yeah.”
Again, the wolf growled.
Down, Alder told his inner beast. You know why we’re here.
“It’s considered civil to make requests with the word ‘please’ attached. Please, may I have a whiskey neat? A whiskey neat, please. It doesn’t really matter which end of the sentence you put it so long as it’s there.”
“I had no idea Emily Post tended bar,” he drawled.
She cocked an eyebrow, unamused.
“A whiskey neat, please,” he said, pursing his lips. He waited for her to pour the drink, then smirked. “Thank you ever so much. I’m forever in your debt.”
She clicked her tongue and pulled a disappointed face. “Of course you’d be a dick. Just my luck.”
“Now who’s lacking civility?” Alder downed his whiskey.
She sighed, seeming wary. “You want another?”
“My goodness. And they say you can’t teach an old dog new tricks.”
Alder’s nerves prickled. She had no way of knowing what he kept under his human skin, of course, but he damn well didn’t appreciate the reference to dogs.
Dogs fetched tennis balls. Dogs humped fire hydrants. Dogs ended up on the internet, stupid as shit and loved for every ounce of their wide-eyed, unquestioning, soppy-faced idiocy.
Wolves were hunters. They were complicated pack animals. And their wits were as keen as their teeth.
They weren’t fucking dogs.
He downed the next shot and nodded to the empty bar. “Business is booming. Must be all the charming service.”
“There’s a hurricane on the horizon, fuzzface.”
If he hadn’t sported a face full of week-old scruff, Alder might have started to wonder if she knew about the animal currently pacing back and forth inside his chest.
“And yet you’re open.”
“I like to keep an eye on the storms from the front window.”
“Sounds awful dangerous, sweetheart.”
“Oh, you really are a dick.” She appeared so crestfallen, he startled. “Hell, this is disappointing.”
“It’s not every day I get a wolf behind my bar.”
“I don’t know what you think you know—”
She cocked her head toward the jukebox, which promptly lit up. Patsy Cline crooned about falling to pieces.
Straining his senses, Alder frowned. “You’re a witch.”
“You don’t smell like a witch.”
“And what does a witch smell like?”
“Witchy. You gonna call your coven?”
“You assume I belong to one.”
He scrutinized her, suspicious. “We have a name for your type.”
“Let me guess. A lone wolf?”
“That’s right. And they aren’t to be trusted.”
“Guess it’s a good thing I already poisoned your whiskey.”
He glanced down at the empty glass, and she laughed.
“Made you look. I’m just fucking with you. If you know you shouldn’t be near Savannah, why are you here?”
“Looking for someone.”
She snorted. “Who says that kind of shit?”
“A wolf hunting a vampire.”
Her face fell. “On Tybee Island?”
“That’s impossible. Dark creatures can’t cross running water. The purity of the natural order repels them. How would a vampire end up on Tybee Island?”
“Beats me. Anyway, I’d be grateful if you give me a few hours before you dial the Report-a-Shifter hotline, or whatever the fuck it is that you witches do around these parts.”
“Shifters are always welcome in my bar,” she said, maneuvering her golden hair into a messy bun not unlike the name of the bar. “My very favorite customers are a rowdy bunch of black bears. They’re much kinder than you.”
“Why, exactly, is some toil-and-trouble bartender so concerned with my sunny disposition?”
“Boredom. I’ve still got a while before the storm hits. Also, I like to see people at least try to be their best selves.”
“I’m alpha of my pack, sweetheart.” He drew on his wolf’s voice, letting it gravel his human timbre. They’d been in perfect accord lately, from their weekly hunts for vampires to their recent decision to boot out an insubordinate gamma. Strangely, though, the wolf would not come forward, not in the way Alder wanted. “I’m the best of the fucking best.”
“Listen, wolf.” She leaned over the bar, giving him an eyeful of all that perfect cleavage. “See that sign out front? That’s my name in neon. And it doesn’t say sweetheart, now does it?”
Alder smirked again. “No, ma’am.”
“Oh, good. You can read. Now keep that sexist shit to yourself. Actions speak louder than claims or titles. All I see is a wolf with an aura darkened by his thirst for revenge. Where’s your pack, I wonder? Do they even know where their alpha is right now?”
“I came in for a drink, not a fucking spirit reading.”
“It’s your lucky day. You got both. You don’t like my service? The door’s right over there, sweetheart.”
“Do I know you from somewhere?” He tilted his head to the side as he regarded her green eyes. “You seem awful familiar.”
“Are you seriously trying to use a line on me right now?”
“I’d only use a line if I were actually interested.” Well, that was a dick thing to say. Of course he was interested. She had curves for days and the ferocity of a she-wolf. Though the steely set of her delicate features concealed any sort of surface response, the skip of her heart told him he’d hit a nerve. “But I will have another.”
He slid his empty glass across the bar, and she caught it before it careened over the edge. Easing onto a stool, he was suddenly glad to have the joint to himself.
She returned the glass without refilling it and placed the whole bottle by his right elbow. “Storm’s due in an hour. Please be gone before then.”
With that, she turned and disappeared behind the door to the back room.
Stupefied, Alder blinked. “Oh, come on! What happened to our repartee?”
Behind him, Patsy kept on crooning. Wren did not reply or reemerge.
Gritting his teeth, Alder didn’t bother with another shot. He stood, pulled out his wallet, and slapped a hundred-dollar bill beside the bottle. He left, taking a moment to kick away the dirt in front of her doorway.
He wasn’t sure why he felt the need to tidy her threshold. Or to leave such a generous tip.
Guilt, he supposed. He’d been too cocky.
She might not have been his mate—his wolf’s keen nose would have sent the animal howling—but he bet she felt soft in all the right places.
Focus, he told himself. You know why you’re here.