Book Cover: Forces of Nature
Part of the Sweetwater Wolves series:
  • Forces of Nature
Editions:Kindle
ISBN: B01M079ZXJ
Paperback
ISBN: 978-1539023470
Size: 5.50 x 8.50 in
Pages: 222

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.

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Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Ain’t No Wheels On This Ship

September 2011

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.

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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.

“You open?”

“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.

“Whiskey. Neat.”

Please.”

“Excuse me?”

“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?”

“Please.”

“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.”

“Why’s that?”

“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’re observant.”

“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.”

“Lucky lady.”

“Sworn enemy.”

She snorted. “Who says that kind of shit?”

“A wolf hunting a vampire.”

Her face fell. “On Tybee Island?”

He hummed.

“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.

And Wren.

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.

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Book Cover: Winter Solstice
Part of the Ever Afters series:
Editions:KindlePaperback

The Afters Brothers are Cursed.

Every winter solstice for the last eight years, grizzly shifter Clayton Afters has roused from an enchanted slumber brought on by a dark curse. While his brothers are locked in their own forced hibernations, Clayton is allowed three months to tend to his family’s wintering apple farm.

With only two winters left before the curse swallows him whole, Clayton faces the impossible task of finding the one road to salvation: his true mate. Bordering on hopelessness, he has no reason to think his ninth winter under the curse will be any different from the last eight. True mates are rare, after all. Clayton isn’t even sure he has one.

He isn’t sure, that is, until he almost rear-ends her Camaro in the midst of a blizzard.

Penitent witch Clementine Weatherspoon has a penchant for fire, a knack for communing with the dead, and a complicated family tree. She never expected to meet her beloved in the middle of a snowy country road. She definitely didn’t expect him to be a towering bear shifter, either. But from the second she sets eyes on Clayton's inner light, she is smitten by the wild beast lurking beneath his golden stare.

On the darkest day of the year, Clayton and Clementine’s connection sizzles the snow. But fate has a peculiar sense of humor, and the winter solstice proves to be full of surprises for this fated pair.

This novella is the prequel to the Ever Afters series. It is intended for mature audiences.

Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Harpers Ferry, West Virginia

Winter Solstice, 2014

“That oughta do it.” Clementine Weatherspoon tightened the cap on the vial of her favorite oils. Sage and frankincense would purify the entryways. Verbena would keep darkness at bay.

“It’s really gone, isn’t it?” Greta Carmichael breathed in deeply. A shock of white hair cut through her frizzy chestnut waves. “The air feels so different.”

She’s gone.” Clementine employed her gentlest tone. It never sat right with her when people referred to ghosts as its. Ghosts were once people, too, after all.

“Honey, you should pull out that trick on the Fourth of July. I ain’t never seen such a light show.”

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Clementine hummed as she stored the bottle in her satchel, ensuring that it was slotted into place beside her container of rock salt. “She’s found peace now. That’s all that matters.”

“It’s funny, old Aunt Aggie’s been creaking and groaning her way around the house all these years. It almost won’t feel right without her.”

“It was long past her time. Restless spirits become angry. I’m just glad I could help before she got a little too—”

Greta widened her blue eyes and nodded in quick succession. Clementine didn’t need to finish that thought, but she still felt an urge to comfort.

“Homes are like an old quilt. Everyone who’s ever stepped foot inside becomes a patch on the top layer. Even after they’re gone, they’re still woven into the house’s memory.”

“That’s a nice thought. You know, I was never one to put much stock in w—” Greta trailed off, hesitating over the word. “In what you do. But I’m mighty glad you can do what you do.”

Clementine pulled on her jacket. Not that it would help much against the building blizzard outside. “Happy to help.”

Greta reached into one of her dress pockets and retrieved a handful of cash.

Clementine shook her head. “You hang on to that.”

“Don’t be a fool. You saved Christmas! It’s my turn to host the family this year, and it just wouldn’t have done at all to have old Aggie throwing the plates against the wall. Please, take it.”

After she’d draped her satchel over her shoulder, Clementine pushed both hands into her jacket pockets. “No, ma’am. Thank you, but I don’t do this for money.”

Balls,” Greta huffed. “Hang on, you wait right there.”

Clementine considered sneaking out before the woman could return, but Greta was spry for her age.

“Here,” she said, forcing a covered pie dish into Clementine’s arms. “And take these, too.” She offered a canvas sack containing a few Mason jars filled with preserves. “There’s a jar of apple butter and two jars of apple sauce. All handmade from the best damn apples in the whole state.”

“Mrs. Carmichael, I couldn’t pos—”

“You can and you will.”

Clementine relented with a sigh. The pie was still warm. Cinnamon and nutmeg clouded her judgment. “Thank you. That’s very kind.”

“You enjoy. You earned it.”

When Greta opened the front door, a frigid gust of wind greeted her. Bracing herself, Clementine stepped out onto the porch.

“You all right to drive in this?” Greta asked, eyeing Clementine’s Camaro. “It’s awful dark out. You’re gonna slip and slide all over the roads in that thing.”

“I’ll be just dandy,” Clementine said, heading down the sidewalk. She cast a fleeting smile over her shoulder. “I’m a witch.”

⋅⋅⋆∙⊱❖⊰∙⋆⋅⋅

‘I’ll be Home for Christmas’ wafted from the Ford’s old speakers. Static obscured Bing Crosby’s melancholy delivery.

Clayton Afters had been awake for seventeen hours. Not that he planned on sleeping anytime soon. He avoided sleep during the few short months out of the year he was actually conscious.

Snow fell in heavy sheets around his trusty blue truck. He kept his speed measured and his gaze fixed on the road ahead. What little he could see of it, anyway. Enhanced shifter sight didn’t matter much when someone shook the snow globe.

Clayton didn’t mind the perilous drive. Blinding flurries aside, the rumble of the engine soothed both man and beast. Every bump in the road felt like breathing.

It’s funny what you miss when you spend most of your life trapped under the weight of a curse.

Clayton tried to avoid those thoughts as best he could. As he grew older, though, the thoughts were inescapable. His future hung over his head like a question mark.

From today until the spring equinox, he was free to live and just be. But it was hard to be anything when you knew your brothers were trapped in their own enchanted slumbers.

Braxton had the summers to roam. Dalton had the autumns to harvest. And Houston got to watch their endless acres spring back to life. Clayton got the cold and the dark.

He hadn’t felt the summer sun or watched the leaves turn gold in almost a decade. He hadn’t shared a joke or a beer or a shift with his brothers in just as long.

At least he still had Vangie. The lone Afters sister had been pardoned from the curse. She hadn’t gotten off easy, though. As far as Clayton was concerned, Evangeline Afters was a damn saint. She was their very own guardian angel. In place of wings, she wielded razor-sharp teeth and claws with a wit to match.

Vangie still believed there was a way for them to break free of the curse. Clayton could never bring himself to shred her hope. Braxton probably could. He’d always been the one with the temper to mirror his animal.

Clayton had always been the runt. The cerebral one, as Vangie liked to say. The one who thought before he spoke. The one who plotted and planned before he made a move.

He wasn’t sure that had ever served him well. Considering he’d yet to find his true mate, all his careful thinking and planning had never really amounted to much.

Cold crept into the old truck, and Clayton tightened his grip around the steering wheel. He passed the familiar sign for Ever Afters Farm and Orchards.

God, he hated that name.

Once upon a time, it had seemed charming. But the Afters were cursed, and there was nothing whimsical about their unhappy ever after.

Their lives were a fairy tale, sure. Complete with an evil witch. Most people forget that traditional fairy tales almost always end bloody.

There was no magic apple to bite. No castle wall to scale. No flaming sword to slay a beast.

They were the beasts. And Clayton had read enough to know that no one ever comes to save the beast.

He slowed, preparing to make the turn onto the long, private driveway that led back to the family farmhouse. A shock of red cut through the flurry of white, staining the air crimson.

Taillights.

“Sssshit.”

He slammed his foot onto the breaks. The truck skidded on the slick asphalt. He winced, readying himself for the inevitable collision.

Seconds before his truck met a canary yellow Camaro, everything went still.

Clayton blinked. It took a second for him to realize he was holding his breath. Exhaling, he threw the truck into park and hopped out of the driver’s side door.

Rounding to the front of the Ford, he squinted through the heavy snow. The truck had come within a hair of the other vehicle. The ass of the Camaro and the nose of the truck were so close, he couldn’t have slid so much as a toenail between them.

“The hell are you doin’ out here?” He strode toward the other driver’s door. “Farm’s closed! Come back for your tree tomorro—”

The window rolled down. A pretty redhead with green eyes peered out at him.

Cinnamon. She smelled like cinnamon. No, that wasn’t right. Sage. And rosewood. Verbena petals.

She smelled like snow and lightning. Like an old book and a mug of honeyed tea laced with whiskey. Like long nights by a crackling fire and endless mornings under crisp sheets.

Most of all, she smelled like mate.

Bear blood always ran hot, but Clayton’s grizzly now burned beneath his skin. This was it. He felt it in his marrow.

She was his. And she was beautiful. From her artfully arched brows to the slight cleft on her chin, her delicate features crumpled into a thunderstruck expression.

“Oh hell,” she whispered, gawking at him as if he’d just burst into flames.

Startled, Clayton straightened. Had he frightened her?

Before he could reply, she’d rolled up the window and snapped her attention back toward the road.


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