Monday, August 8, 2011

Ready To Run [WARNING: Blatent Promo Ahead]

I'm not sure how other paranormal writers do it, but my world has been evolving as I write about it. When I began Yours, Mine and Howls, which is the werewolf book I started writing first, I had a few real firm ideas.

In my world, there was no magic. The fae--which included everyone from high fae to gnomes and brownies and dryaads and dwarves--and the shifters, which include werewolves and all other animal shifters--occupied different branches on the same tree as homo sapiens. The high fae were the only ones with preternatural talents: telepathy, telekinesis, the ability to inflict pain or bend someone else's will...there were thousands of different talents, but they came one to a customer. And preternatural is kind of a species-ist term, since it assumes that only humans are normal. The shifters and the fae, of course, consider themselves perfectly normal.

Shifters (except for Vargalf) had no talents. Or, rather, shifting was their talent, along with their superior strength, speed and senses. The lesser fae had lesser talents than the high fae, and those talents were based on species, not individual (i.e., brownies live in families' homes and clean and cook, dryaads protect trees, dwarves live underground and have an unerring instinct for finding minerals.)

I also knew that in my world, the non-humans had been "out" since the end of World War Two. Werewolves were an important part of the Allied victory over Germany and Japan, but in the process their cover was blown. Immediately after the war, miners digging for uranium in Nevada stumbled upon the dwarves. After that, all the different races came out. Upon first learning that they were not the only sapient creatures on the planet, humanity had a nervous breakdown that lasted a few years. But eventually most everyone got over it, and now fae and werewolves and all the other races are more or less integrated into human society ("more or less" depending on countries and cultures).

I knew that all shifters were assumed to be male.

And that was pretty much it.

Then I got to thinking. It only stands to reason that some people weren't ever going to adjust to the new, multi-sapient-species reality, right? Some people will never accept the new, the different, the strange. How would those people react to the discovery that creatures of myth and legend were real? Probably not very well.

I decided that most of these people would be religiously fundamental.

I figured the three religions of The Book would have the most trouble with the whole thing, but Jews might be okay. There's a lot of stuff in Jewish lore (lore? apocrypha? the non-scriptural stuff is what I'm talking about) about angels and demons and the Nephalim and other supernatural, non-human actors. On the other hand, neither Islamic nor Christian holy writ really have room for any of that, so fundamentalists of both faiths might decide that these non-human sapients were not part of the family of God.

Now, all the Muslims I know range from moderate to liberal. But I do know quite a bit about fundamentalist Christians.

I don't actually have anything against fundamentalists per se. I was raised by humanely fundamentalist Baptists (you either know what I mean or you don't), and they're wonderful people. I'm a Christian, and I'm certainly not disparaging Christians. But you have to admit that many fundamentalists have trouble with the concept of "live and let live."

So. When the shifters and fae came out at the end of WWII, a small (almost but not quite close enough to insignificant) minority of Christian fundamentalists decided these creatures of myth and legend were evil. And not just evil, but Satanic. They believed that the non-human sapient emergence was a sign of the End Times--i.e., the Apocalypse was just around the corner. And some sixty odd years later, after the rest of humanity has gotten on with the business of living with NHS's, the Apocalyptics are still waiting for the end of the world.

Even the Catholic Church has decided that the NHS's are okay (mostly because there are werewolves in the priesthood and more than a couple of fae nuns. A mother superior currently living in Basque country was a close personal friends with Joan of Arc.) But Apocalyptics aren't having it. As a result, they live in small isolated communities, effectively cutting themselves off from the wider world. They have television and the Internet, and they do business with the outside world, but they keep it to a minimum, convinced that everyone but them is either misguided or downright evil.

The heroine of Ready to Run, Sara Hedges, has lived her whole life in the Apocalyptic town of Luxor, Texas. All she's ever wanted is out, and she's two short months away from freedom. But her sleazy Uncle Wayne and the hot new guy in town are about to ruin her plans.

Here's the blurb and an excerpt.

A Werewolves in Love story.

Sara Hedges had planned to escape the backwater, bigoted town of Luxor, Texas on the wings of a college degree—not on the back of a Harley, riding for her life.

Just a couple months shy of loading up her Miata, however, betrayal bares its ugly fangs. Her scumbag uncle has sold her to a pack of werewolves willing to pay any price for her special bloodline and it looks like there’s no way out. She never expected the new-in-town, sex-on-a-stick loner to come riding to her rescue. Or to discover he’s a werewolf, too. A good one...with one too many secrets.

Bryan Keeton waited two months deep undercover for the chance to get his hands on one of the gangster Eurowolves wreaking havoc across the South. After calling in the FBI to blow the lid off Luxor, he’d planned to leave town before he did something he might regret—like get involved with the suspect’s niece.

But Sara makes him stupid. And now they’re on the run from the Feds, who aren’t interested in her innocence, and from the wolves who want her for their own personal squeaky toy…

Warning: This story includes an undercover alpha with a sexy Texan drawl, a heroine with a dangerous secret, a ring of wolves willing to pay just about anything to own her, and a small town that needs to learn a little something about tolerance.


“You’re really not like everybody else around here, are you?”

She never could seem to look him in the eye. There was something about him that intimidated her, but in a very “God, I hope he backs me up against a wall” way, not a “God, I hope he doesn’t kill me” way. So she stared at his mouth instead, and the gooey feeling got worse. “No, I’m not.” It gave her a huge, dangerous thrill to sit here and admit something like that. “You’d be surprised how different I really am.”

His eyes searched her face for a long moment. They were sitting there, next to each other but not touching, and just before she became unbearably itchy (and gooey) beneath his scrutiny, he said gently, “I think I have a pretty good idea. And I’m glad you didn’t say anything, angel.”

“You are?”

“Yeah. I’m not from around here, and I’m not going to be here for much longer. I don’t have to care what people think. This is your home. You’re gonna have to see these folks for the rest of your life, so—”

“The hell I am.” Her throat constricted at his casual mention of leaving town soon. Well, she would be leaving town soon too. If she hadn’t already been so good at hiding her feelings, the urge to cry, or maybe throw up, would’ve been hard to resist. But a long-term relationship with Nash had never been in her future.

Why did she have to keep reminding herself about that?

He looked surprised. “You’re not going to come home for holidays or anything?”

“Hell, no. When I’m gone, I’m gone. There’s no one here for me but Wendy, and she can visit me in Marshall, or wherever I end up.”

In fact, she planned on dragging Wendy out of Luxor at some point. But she had to rescue herself first.

“Staying away might be harder than you think, Sara. No matter how much you don’t like this place, it’s your home.”

“It won’t be, not once I’m out of here. I hate this town! I swear to God, I do. I hate every person in it except for Wendy and maybe three other people.”

“What about the rest of your family?”

“Especially the rest of my family.”

The force of it overwhelmed her, leaving her shaking all over. “I hate this backwards-ass, narrow-minded, locked-in-a-fucking-time-warp piece-of-crap dump.”

“Hey. Hey, come here. It’s all right.” Nash took the beer from her hand, setting both hers and his on the coffee table. Then he wrapped one strong, warm arm around her shoulders and pulled her in tight against him. She inhaled deeply, savoring the scent of him, shivering as he gathered her hair at the back of her neck and laid a kiss atop her head. “You’re getting out.”

“December isn’t soon enough,” she said against his chest. “Tomorrow wouldn’t be soon enough.”

He laughed into her hair. “Well, I’m glad it’s not tomorrow. I need more time.”

“What for?”

“To get to know you better. Every time I turn around, you’re surprising me. I keep thinking I’ve got you figured out and then it’s like, hey, here’s something new.”

She shrugged, even as his words set her heart to pounding inside her rib cage. “There’s a lot of stuff I don’t know about you too.”

Her face was still pressed against his chest, and she liked it there, but he’d stopped stroking her hair. Something in his body, some subtle tensing, made her look up.

He wasn’t smiling. His brows knit together as he stared at her with an unreadable gaze. She got a sudden, sick feeling in the pit of her stomach—a feeling nothing like the excitement and arousal of two hours earlier, or the warm comfort of one second ago.

“What? Please don’t tell me you’ve got a wife stashed away somewhere. Or a girlfriend or a murder conviction or something like that.”

He mouth quirked in an embarrassed kind of smile. “No. No wife, no girlfriend, no felony convictions. Come here.”

“What? I—whoa!”

He put his free hand under her knees and scooped her into his lap. Now both his arms, with those chiseled, bronzed biceps, were wrapped around her. One hand rested on her thigh—between her legs, scorching her right through her blue jeans—while the other one warmed her back through her cotton shirt. Lord, he smelled good. Whatever cologne he was wearing, she wished she could spray it on her sheets and roll around naked.

“What’d you do that for?” she asked in a shaky voice.

“Trying to get comfortable, so we could talk.” His smile said he knew he was turning her on. Somehow the hand on her back had slipped inside her shirt, where it now traced tiny patterns of fire across her skin.

She twisted a little, trying to get comfortable on his legs.

“Hmm. That’s good,” he said. “I like that.”

“Like what?”

“The way you’re wriggling in my lap.” He ran his hand up to her stomach. She gasped as heat flared through her body, her legs going limp and tingly. Instinctively she covered his hand with hers, pressing it harder against her. If he moved it the teeniest bit downward, she’d start ripping her clothes off. It had been so long since—

“I didn’t know you didn’t like your family.”

“Huh?” Hadn’t he been about to kiss her?

“Your family. I didn’t know you didn’t like them.”

“Oh. Um, yeah. We’re not close.”

“Your grandmother raised you, right?”

Why were they talking about this? Why didn’t he kiss her?

“Yes. But I moved out when I seventeen.”

“Why? Why didn’t you stay there ’til you graduated and then go to college?”

“Because…it’s a long story. It just— It wasn’t a good place for me. I needed to get out.”

“Okay.” He reached up to pull a strand of hair out of her face. “What about your uncles? Are you close to them?”

“I don’t—no. No, not at all.”

“Why?”

“That’s a long story too. Why are you—wait.” She froze as she realized where this was heading. “Wait. Did someone tell you about my family? Is that why you’re asking?”

“Huh? No, I— Wait a minute, where you going?” She was wiggling again, only this time it was to get off his lap. He tightened his arms around her. “Wait. Wait a minute, stop. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to— Okay, yeah, I was prying. I’m sorry. I’m just trying to figure you out.”

“Figure me out how? What’s there to figure out? I don’t like my family. I didn’t have a happy childhood, and now I avoid them, even though it’s kind of hard to do in a town this size.”

“So that’s why you’re moving to Marshall?”

“It’s one reason, okay? If you want to know about my family, ask the guys at JP’s, but it’s not really something people talk about around here.” He’d either understand what she meant or he wouldn’t.

“No, that’s okay. I’m interested in you, not them. What about the werewolves?”

“What?”

“The werewolves. You knew something about them. I don’t think most people around here know about werewolf culture, and if they do, they sure as hell don’t talk about it.”

“I wasn’t really thinking. It slipped out.”

“But it means you’ve read about werewolves, right? You’re interested in them?”

He still wouldn’t let her off his lap, but she put her hands on his chest to push him back. “Nash, why are you asking me these questions? Why do you—?”

“Look, I’m sorry, I—damn. I sound like a freak, don’t I?”

“No. Well, yeah, kind of.”

“Okay. Let’s start over.” He finally loosened his hold and she scooted back, her legs still in his lap. She tried to smother her moan when he started rubbing her foot, but she couldn’t help it. So, smiling, he went to work with both hands while he talked.

“It’s just that you’re nothing like I thought you’d be, you know?”

“No. What are you talking about?”

He let out a frustrated sigh, as if having trouble finding the words. She didn’t mind waiting, because what he was doing to her feet was almost—almost—as good as sex.

“All those times I sat in your section and talked to you, I had no idea, and even after I first asked you out, I assumed you were like everyone else around here.”

“Oh. And I’m not?”

That made him laugh out loud. “No! And don’t act like you don’t know that! I figured you were some sweet, backwards Apocalyptic babe who was working in the diner ’til you found someone to marry and have babies with. And then you’d spend the rest of your life in Luxor, hiding from the big bad world.”

That was exactly how she thought of everyone else in this town, even Wendy, and exactly what she didn’t want to be. But for a second, she was tempted to defend Luxor. Even if she hated it, even if she wanted out more than anything, it stung to hear an outsider talk that way about the people she’d grown up with.

“Well, if you thought I was so backwards and everything, what the hell did you ask me out for?”

That grin again. “Because you were so hot. And I was lonely.” His strong, supple fingers were massaging the balls and arches of her feet, and she decided that this was, in fact, better than sex. “And then I find out you’re taking college classes and you don’t want to birth a bunch of babies and grow old in Luxor. And that was cool, that was interesting. Then, tonight, I find out you don’t like your family—” now his grin turned evil “—and you have a thing for werewolves!”

“Hey!” Embarrassed, she slapped feebly at his arm, but she was too blissed out and enervated by the foot rub to sit up and really hit him. “I do not have a thing for werewolves.”

He reached under her to pinch her butt. “Maybe you do and you just don’t know it.”

“I don’t!” God, it was like he read her mind sometimes. Was he hacking her Internet account? How could he know about her fascination with shifters, or her desperate dream to meet someone, anyone, with fae blood? “I think they’re interesting, all right? I don’t think they’re evil. Just because they’re not human doesn’t mean they’re not, like, you know

“People,” he said quietly.

4 comments:

books4me said...

Love the excerpt! Where can we purchase this book??!

books4me67 at ymail.com

flchen1 said...

Whoa, Kinsey! Thanks!! Yowza!

Kinsey Holley said...

Thanks guys.

I looked at the post this morning and I thought "Damn! That sucker's long!" Don't know why I didn't realize it when I originally wrote it.

Books: it's out tomorrow at Samhain (www.samhainpublishing.com) - actually I think you can still preorder at a discount today - and at Amazon.

Juniper Bell said...

Whoo-hoo!!! I've been waiting semi-patiently for this one. Yay!!!