Wolf Tales 10
©2010 Kate Douglas
Reviews and awards ~~
Affiare de Coeur Readers/Writers poll:
Top erotic romance: Wolf Tales 10
Top 10 favorite romance authors:
Jo Beverly - Dakota Cassidy - Christina Dodd - Kate Douglas - Emma Holly
Beverly Jenkins - Sherrilyn Kenyon - Lora Leigh - Nora Roberts - Lauren Willig
Affaire de Coeur Reviewer's Choice
"...A beautifully written story."
"...Wow! What an emotional roller coaster ride Wolf Tales 10 was. Kate Douglas always has a way with the sensual world of erotic romance. But this time she has outdone herself as you follow the loss and gain of this compelling and hedonistic world... must say as a fan of this series and one I have followed from the beginning, there is an extra emotional tie I felt with these characters which only added to this sensational read!"
WOLF TALES 10 opens with an EXPLOSIVE beginning!...Emotions run very high with this story...WOLF TALES 10 made me catch my breath with the turn of each page. The series is sinfully sexy and the attention to detail made this her best novel yet.
"...Douglas is back on track with a powerful story, terrific ending and a satisfying variety of sex scenes that move the plot along. Some of the sexual situations early in the book are more intense than her usual fare. You’ll be up all night reading to see how it ends."
"...The Chanku have dealt with intense sadness and despair, but nothing compares to Wolf Tales 10 by talented author Kate Douglas. ..Wolf Tales 10 is unbelievably hot, yet still manages to showcase an enjoyable story with tears and laughter."
© Kate Douglas 2010
SPOILER ALERT--I absolutely hate reading about characters dying in a series where I feel as if I know each one--even worse is being surprised, but maybe that's just me! Anyway, those of you who get my newsletter already know that one of the Chanku dies in the first chapter of Wolf Tales 10. However, a number of readers let me know they'd prefer to be surprised by the character's identity when they read the book. So, if you prefer not to know, do not read the following excerpt. I can promise you this is NOT a depressing story--I need that happy ending whether I'mwriting or reading a book, and while there is a death, among the Chanku, that doesn't necessarily mean the character is gone forever. Things happen exactly the way they should in Wolf Tales 10.
Scroll down for first chapter excerpt
Eve Reynolds raised her hands above her head and grasped the iron railings of the headboard. Who needed handcuffs when there was hard iron to wrap her fingers around?
And a gorgeous guy ready and willing to have his evil way with her?
She had to bite back the giggles, but damn this was great.
It was so rarely just the two of them. She'd almost forgotten what it was like, to be the entire focus of Adam's attention, but Mei was working in the garden with Keisha, and she'd last seen Oliver heading across the driveway to the main house to talk to Anton.
But why was she wasting her time, thinking of them?
Not now. Not when she was naked and quivering with need and Adam was still partially dressed, wearing nothing but faded jeans and a sexy grin. She licked her lips, admiring him. Letting him know exactly what it did to her to see him this way.
Powerful muscles rippled over his chest and arms. His belly was flat and hard, the sharply defined six-pack accented by a trail of dark blond hair growing darker, following a line from between his copper-colored nipples, down the center of that gorgeous belly to disappear beneath the half-opened placket of his worn Levis.
He knelt between her thighs and ran his strong, callused hands from her knees to her hipbones. She whimpered with the pleasure of his touch, loving the way his work-roughened hands glided over her sensitive skin, the strength in his long fingers, the energy that always seemed to arc between them when they touched.
Adam might be a powerful healer, one who fixed what was broken, but damn, he was an even more powerful lover. Especially now, in the bright morning light while the rest of the pack went on about their normal morning routines.
There was something decidedly decadent about lying here naked on the bed with sunlight streaming through the windows and such a gorgeous man between her legs. Soft denim over his hard muscles rubbed against her inner thighs and sent shivers through her body. Dark blond hair curling out above the unfastened steel buttons of his fly teased her with the hint of what lay beyond.
Adam tugged at the blond curls between her legs. Eve twisted her hips, silently begging for more.
He flashed her a knowing smile as he slipped his warm palms beneath her butt and raised her up until her legs dangled over his forearms. Raised her closer to that smile, those lips, that amazing tongue.
He nuzzled the blond curls covering her mons, inhaled deeply and mentally shared the rich scent of her arousal. The connection was always there, that amazing mind link they'd forged when they finally mated as wolves. As sensual, as familiar as their shared arousal had become, she wondered if she would ever grow used to such a powerful union, to the sense that she was in him, a part of him even as he was part of her.
His tongue touched her clitoris, a quick little lick that still managed to send a strike of lighting straight to her womb.
She could have been growing a baby there, but it hadn't happened. Not the one time they'd tried to conceive, that magical night late in the spring when Tia's babies were born, but she refused to let her disappointment ruin this glorious fall morning. She focused on Adam, on his magical touch and the deep sense of his love.
Arousal blossomed. Desire primed the quick rush of her fluids. Adam groaned when he licked her, taking long, slow strokes with the flat of his tongue that quickly had her quivering in his grasp. His lips circled her clit, swollen now and slick with cream.
Close. Dear Goddess, she was so close, but he stopped and lowered her butt to the bed, leaned over and kissed her mouth. She ran her tongue over his lower lip, then the upper, tasting Adam. Tasting herself. Her fingers tightened on the iron bars.
He backed away, grinning like the amber-eyed devil he was. Eve returned his knowing look with one of her own. She might have been a doormat for most of her life, but not anymore. Not now. Now she was a Chanku bitch, more powerful than she'd ever imagined. Self-assured, confident, complete.
If she wanted to open the rest of that button fly on his jeans, she could. If she wanted to turn the tables and mount him, it was her call, but she loved this game, this playful lovemaking that took her higher than she'd ever imagined. So instead of calling the shots and taking what she wanted, Eve clutched the iron bars in almost desperate need, arched her back and whimpered.
He laughed. The deep joy in his voice, the sparkle in his eyes forged an even stronger bond between them. He used both hands to shove his tangled, dark blond hair out of his eyes. “Eve, my beautiful Eve. What would I ever do without you?”
He stared at her a moment as if he didn't dare even contemplate such a thought. Why should he? She was his. She would always be his. Teasing, she bucked her hips against him. He shucked his jeans in a heartbeat, grabbed the thick length of his erection in his hand and pressed between her legs.
The slick mushroom head forced her swollen lips apart. She arched her hips just so, taking him deep. Thick and long and hot-so amazingly hot-he filled her. Pressing closer, deeper, until the dark blond hairs at the base of his cock meshed with her lighter thatch.
She groaned and tightened her fingers around the iron bars until her hands ached, but it was good. So damned good. So much better than she'd ever imagined. Than she'd ever dreamed.
“I love you, Eve.” His lips moved along her jaw, over the curve of her ear, kissing her gently while he drove into her with almost painful force. Claiming her.
“You're mine,” he whispered. “Forever.”
A chill raced along her spine, cold and unwelcome. She shrugged it off, arched her hips and hung on to love for all she was worth.
Eve wiped steam off the bathroom mirror, shoved her wet hair over her shoulders and frowned at her image. The face of a contented, well-loved, pregnant woman should be staring right back at her.
Definitely well-loved. Just thinking of how she and Adam had spent the morning made all her feminine muscles clench in response, but as far as being pregnant?
Maybe tonight. Her heat was due.
Maybe this time I'll get it right...
Lisa Quinn got it right. She'd popped out an egg right on time and now she and Tinker were expecting their very first baby in just four more months. Even Tala had figured it out, though how that tiny little thing was going to bear twins to two big bruisers like Mik and AJ boggled the mind.
But Eve? Nope, not her. She shrugged and grinned at her reflection. Typical. If anyone was going to blow it, she was the one, though she still wasn't quite sure where she'd gone wrong. Everything had felt right. The sex as wolves that night in the forest, her body ripe with her heat and Adam so emotionally high after helping Tia deliver, had been amazing. Her hormones were certainly pumping and her heart had felt so full after Tia's babies were born, that things couldn't have been more perfect. And, as always, Adam had left her smiling.
She just wished he'd left her pregnant. Thank the goddess Adam wasn't upset. In fact, if anything, he'd acted more relieved than disappointed when she'd told him they hadn't conceived, but with both Tala and Lisa expecting their babies around the same time, he probably figured he'd have enough on his hands helping Logan with deliveries.
The last thing he'd want was his own mate, pregnant and needy at the same time as Tala and Lisa, especially now that Anton had built the clinic here in Montana. Both women had already said they'd be coming here to deliver, the same as Tia had last April.
Which was why Eve hadn't brought it up again through the long, busy summer. Logan and Adam had certainly had their hands full delivering Tia's twins. Adam could be so damned focused at times, so busy taking care of everyone else Eve sometimes wondered if he even remembered he had a mate. Not that he didn't love her. He did. She knew she was in his head and his heart most of the time, but especially when they made love. When they linked, his love was strong and true, and she never had cause to doubt him.
But she'd learned to accept the man as he was, and Adam was first and foremost, a healer.
It hadn't taken Eve long to realize that if she wanted his attention, she'd just have to reach out and take it. If she wanted his baby, she figured she'd have to take control there, too. After a lifetime of abuse, it was an empowering thing, to know she could take control without losing her man's love.
All her adult life she'd been attracted to the bad boys. Whether it was her conviction that they somehow needed her to love them, that she could find their warmer, nurturing side, or what, she'd ended up as a doormat and punching bag for every single one of them.
Until Adam. He was a bad boy, all right, and sometimes rough around the edges, but good where it counted. She never had to fear him, never had to wonder if he was going to hurt her. That alone was empowering.
Eve checked her lipstick, grabbed her purse off the big bed and headed down the hallway to the front door.
A scream stopped her. Primal. Agonizing.
Eve jerked to a stop with her hand on the door. Adam?
Her heart pounded. She spun around and raced through the living room to the media room beyond. Terrified of what she'd find, she burst through the door into the darkened room.
Adam lay flat on his back on the floor, arms spread wide, a video game controller clutched in his fingers.
Oliver stood beside him, doubled over with his hands on his knees, laughing hysterically.
“No!” Oliver barely got the word out. “You can't moan. You're dead.”
“Good Goddess!” Eve leaned against the door jamb with her hand pressed to her thundering heart. “You scared me half to death! I heard you scream and thought something terrible had happened.”
Adam raised his head and grinned at her. “Something terrible did happen. That's the third time in a row the bastard's killed me. I'm getting tired of always being the one who dies.”
“And does dishes,” Oliver added. “That's three nights you owe me.” He held out a hand. Adam grabbed hold and Oliver tugged the larger man to his feet. “It works for me.”
“You up for another game?” Adam palmed the controller and aimed it at Oliver.
“Always. I love a good loser.”
Eve took a deep, controlling breath and slung her purse over her shoulder. “Don't ever do that to me again! You scared me half to death. Look, I promised Xandi I'd make a run to town. She's low on diapers for Alex, plus she needs a few things for dinner. Adam, you want to go with me?”
He shook his head. “Are you kidding? With my honor on the line?” He strolled across the room, his tall, lanky frame taking her breath as only Adam could. Leaning down, he kissed her. His fingers traced the line of her jaw as his lips melded perfectly to hers.
Eve felt the kiss all the way to her toes, though as always, it settled in that ever-needy spot between her legs.
After an entire morning of sex, she still wanted more.
“You sure you have to go to town?” His question was nothing more than a breathy whisper against her mouth.
“Yes.” She smiled against his lips and ended the kiss, even though her body cried out to stay and see just what else Adam had in mind. Oliver, too, for that matter. She shook her head in mock dismay. “Far be it from me to interfere with the reclamation of your honor.” She turned to leave, but glanced over her shoulder at Oliver. “Oliver, be gentle with him. His ego can't take much more.”
“You're kidding, right?” Oliver jabbed Adam with his elbow.
Both men were laughing when she closed the door behind her. With Xandi's grocery list tucked in her pocket, Eve crossed the driveway to the little red convertible Volkswagen bug she shared with Mei. A soft breeze lifted her hair and the hazy late September sun made her squint. She plucked her dark glasses out of her purse and put them on as she slipped into the driver's seat.
The morning had been cool, but now the leather upholstery felt warm against her legs and back. Cicadas hummed in the trees along the drive. She sat there for a moment in the driveway, just listening to the familiar sounds that always gave her such pleasure: Keisha's laughter and Lily's giggles, Xandi's soft voice as she sang the Barney song to Alex. A phone rang in the big house. Eve's sensitive Chanku hearing caught Anton's deep voice as he answered. A raven flew overhead, its long, black wings sounding almost mechanical in flight.
She heard a rustle in the grass to her right, and looked up just in time to see a fox carefully picking its way through the dry weeds along the forest edge. A large doe with two speckled fawns at her side grazed in the strip of greenery between the houses and the deep woods.
The sense of peace that settled over Eve brought tears to her eyes. After so many years with abusive men, so many lost years when she'd barely managed to survive-this life, this beautiful home and this amazing group-this pack of Chanku shapeshifters that welcomed her as one of them, who loved her unconditionally-was more than she'd ever hoped for.
More than she'd even known to want, yet now all of it was hers. Life was good. So good, in fact, that sometimes it made her nervous for things to feel so perfect.
Which was downright stupid. She needed to be more like Tala and learn to live in the moment, because this moment, right now, was great. Smiling with the conviction that life just couldn't get any better, Eve started the car and followed the curve of the long driveway. She loved driving into town, especially when it was warm enough to run with the top down on the bug.
It was especially nice being able to go by herself.
Not that she didn't love the pack. No, she loved them all. Adam, of course, but Anton and Keisha, Stefan and Xandi, Jazzy and Logan and Mei and Oliver as well. They were the family she'd dreamed of having one day, friends and lovers who accepted her for who and what she was.
Even so, loving and being loved, she still needed time by herself. Time when she could count her blessings and think of all that she had as much as all she'd escaped.
Sometimes she ran alone as the wolf, but that always made Adam nervous, especially since she'd once been so badly injured by a grizzly that still roamed the area. Adam had saved her life then. Saved her and loved her and made her love him back.
At least when she went into town on errands, Adam didn't worry. Didn't feel as if he needed to be with her every moment. Now that the attacks against the Chanku had ended, these shopping runs saved her sanity.
Togetherness was good, but a girl needed her space.
She sped down the highway toward town. The breeze was cool and fresh, the sun warm on her head and shoulders. It was late enough in the year that the tourists had mostly gone home, so the traffic was light. The day couldn't be more perfect.
Smiling as her hair whipped around her shoulders, Eve reached for the radio and flipped it on. Loud heavy-metal blared out of the speakers.
Laughing, she fiddled with the channel. Obviously Mei had been the last one to drive the bug. Eve glanced at the radio to check the station. A horn blared. She looked up.
Directly into the grillwork of a huge truck.
She'd drifted into oncoming traffic.
Eve jerked the wheel to the right, but the Freightliner barreling down on her clipped the left front panel of the bug, spinning it out of control. She slammed her foot down on the brake. Tires squealed. The little car skidded, hit the berm at the right side of the road and flipped, end over end.
Light and color spun. Sound and time compressed into a kaleidoscope of sensation. For Eve, time ceased to exist.
She was going to die. She knew it with a deep, soulful regret. She'd never been so happy. Had never known such peace.
If only she could have held on to it just a little longer.
Time resurfaced. The ground rushed up to meet her. She screamed a single word, her final word before death reached out to claim her. A word powered with love.
“Eve!” Adam fell to his knees with his hands over his ears. “Eve!” He cried out again. Burning, his mind was burning but it was cold as ice and barren. He searched frantically for the connection, the sense of his mate. She was always there, always in his head, the soft sense of her love, her nurturing warmth.
Nothing. He'd felt the blast of his name, the power of her scream, the pain of sorrow and fear and regret.
Oliver knelt beside him. Wrapped his arms around his shoulders and held him. Vaguely, Adam heard the front door slam open, the pounding of boots against wood floors. Anton and Stefan raced into the room.
Still he searched.
Logan, Jazzy and Mei crowded in behind, but he ignored their questions. Ignored them in his frantic hunt for Eve's thoughts. For her love.
He was still looking, still huddled on the floor surrounded by his pack, all of them trying to find her when the call came from the highway patrol.
Still numb and unresponsive hours later, unwilling to believe when Anton Cheval returned from the morgue, from the horrible task of identifying Eve's broken body.
If he'd only gone shopping with her. If he hadn't been so damned self-centered and selfish, he could have saved her. She would be here with him now, alive and whole, not lying on a slab in the fucking morgue. She wouldn't be broken. Not anymore.
Slowly, he lifted his head. Stared at his hands. At the scars and calluses, the stains at the edges of his fingernails. He fixed things with these hands. Broken bones. Torn muscles. Damaged brains. He could have healed her, if only he'd been with her.
He raised his head and looked into Anton's sorrowful eyes. “That's what I do,” he said. His voice cracked on the words. The useless words. “I fix things, Anton. Anything that's broken. No matter how badly. If there was a spark of life, any life, I could have saved her.” He let out a long breath of air. “But I wasn't there.”
“No.” Anton shook his head. “You couldn't have. Not this time. Eve died instantly, my friend. Her injuries were fatal, too much even for you.”
Adam raised his head and gazed into Anton's amber eyes and refused to believe. He slowly folded the fingers of his right hand into a tight fist and stared at it a moment, hating his hands. Hating himself.
He slammed his fist into the floor, through the oak boards, into the concrete below. And again. Splintering wood. Breaking bones. Crushing flesh.
Anton was the one who stopped him, the only one who had the strength to grab Adam and hold him back. The one who wrapped his arms around Adam and held him as he wept.
Held him, linked minds with him, mesmerized him. Made him forget. At least for this one night.
Darkness descended like a soft blanket covering him. Protecting him. Insulating him from pain.
Anton's gentle hands supported his mangled fist. His voice seemed to echo in Adam's numb mind. “Logan. We need your healing skills. His hand's a mess.”
Someone helped him to his room. Pulled back the covers and made him lie down. Logan was there and then he was gone, leaving Adam alone. Alone and locked in the darkness in the same bed where he'd made love to his mate just a few hours ago. He lay there with nothing more than his memories. Memories, and Eve's subtle scent still clinging to the bedding.
He had no idea how many days had passed. Couldn't remember eating or sleeping. He'd not shifted. Hadn't spoken, though Adam didn't think he'd been left alone. It seemed someone was always beside him, a silent presence.
Not Eve, though. Never Eve.
Stefan finally came to his room and dragged him out of the big bed that no longer carried Eve's scent. He helped Adam undress and made him shower, stepping under the spray with him, bathing him like a child.
Adam hadn't shaved and his beard had grown enough to give him a ragged, unkempt look, even after he'd washed the sour stench from too many days of mourning off his body.
He refused to shift, so they walked him up the mountain, all of them silent and filled with grief. They'd come from all over the country, all of them grieving. Somehow, Adam understood that their distress was as much for him as for Eve, which made no sense at all.
Eve was gone. He was still here, still drawing breath. It wasn't right. Not right at all.
Anton spoke. Adam tried to pay attention, but it was so hard. Impossible to focus, to make sense of what the fuck Anton was trying to say. Lies. All his compassionate words about life and death and rebirth. All lies.
There would be no rebirth.
Eve was gone and Adam was hollow and his life might as well be over. His heart might be beating, but there was no soul to keep alive. His lungs might draw air, but there was no reason to breathe.
They scattered her ashes across the small meadow, one Eve had loved because of the wild pink primroses that flowered in late summer, but it was almost October and they should be long gone. The primroses bloomed now, which was wrong. So terribly wrong, that her favorite flowers should bloom when she could no longer see them.
The others left and walked down the hill. Adam stayed behind, aware of Anton watching quietly from the shadows beneath the dark branches of an ancient cedar. Adam waited, standing in the center of the meadow, hoping for some sign, something that would tell him Eve hadn't suffered, that she was okay, that she had found peace.
There was nothing of Eve here. The dust of her bones, but no sense of the woman he loved. Not yet. Later, maybe?
Just in case, he stayed. Night fell, and still he waited.
Anton stayed on in silence, waiting with him.
The eastern sky glowed with the silver gleam of the rising moon. A wolf howled, and then another. He heard a rustling in the brush, sensed the hearts and minds of the pack. Felt their sorrow and was comforted by their pain.
Pain was something he understood. Something that made sense.
Within minutes they surrounded him. He recognized Stefan, Xandi and Keisha. Mei and Oliver. Then Tinker and Lisa, her belly already rounder with their coming child. Luc was there, though he didn't see Tia. She must have stayed behind with the babies-hers, Keisha's and Xandi's.
Eve had wanted a baby. He hadn't been so sure, hadn't shared her disappointment when she'd not conceived. Hadn't broached the subject again when she'd come into season.
Damn it, be honest! He'd been relieved. Glad she'd not gotten pregnant the one time they'd tried.
Selfish bastard. Had he been the reason it hadn't worked? Maybe she wouldn't have gone out, if she'd been with child. If only...
Regrets. He had time enough for regrets.
More wolves entered the meadow, arriving in twos and threes. Ulrich and Millie came together. His mother looked his way with so much love in her heart. So much sadness. He couldn't meet her eyes. She didn't need the burden of his pain added to her own.
Matt, Daci and Deacon stepped into the moonlight. Beth and Nick and the pack from Maine-Baylor, Manda, Shannon and Jake. He shared a quick glance with his twin. Manda understood pain. She'd known loss for most of her life, but now she had Bay.
Someone to share her burdens. Someone to love. It hurt too much, and Adam looked away. Manda had Baylor. He was alone. Just as he'd been most of his life, but he hadn't minded before. Before Eve, he'd not understood what love could do. How it changed a man. Made him need the other half to his soul.
Mik and AJ trotted into the meadow with Tala between them, moving slowly, her belly already big with their twins. More babies. Another reminder how he'd failed Eve.
Jazzy and Logan slipped into the meadow. The entire pack had arrived.
All here to honor Eve. He glanced toward Anton. The alpha waited patiently, still standing alone beneath the dark cedar. Anton's eyes sparkled with tears, his grief an almost tangible entity. Once again, Adam sensed Anton's sorrow was as much for himself as for Eve. And once again, it made no sense.
None at all.
Slowly Adam began to disrobe, removing his heavy boots, his shirt and jeans, folding the items neatly and setting them to one side. The upper crescent of the moon broke over the mountain, spilling more silver light across the meadow as Adam shifted and found his place within the pack.
All of them mated, in pairs or in groups of three, each wolf here with the ones who loved them.
He'd never felt so alone, never loved his packmates so much. They'd come for him. For Eve. Together in their grief, they'd come across the country, left their homes, their work, to celebrate Eve's short life, to mourn her death.
Adam gazed across the small meadow and once again caught Anton's eye. The pack alpha had shifted and the big wolf stood alone, as if waiting.
Waiting for Adam? Not for Eve. There was no reason to wait for her. Not anymore. She was gone.
Adam lowered his muzzle almost to his paws. Gone forever.
The full moon finally crested the mountain. Need rose up in Adam and he raised his muzzle to the sky and howled, spilling his grief across the landscape even as silver tears of moonlight spread across the earth.
The others joined him. Their voices echoed over the mountains, growing in power and strength, a powerful, heartfelt tribute to one of their own.
Then, long minutes later, almost as one, their song ended. A harsh scream, the cry of the panther Igmutaka, rose and died in a haunting, final crescendo. Silence followed, a long pause of sound before the crickets once again took up their song and the deep hoot of an owl ended the spell.
One by one or in pairs, the wolves blended back into the forest. To hunt, to run, to make love in the dark woods.
Keisha stood beside her mate just this side of the forest. Anton pressed his muzzle to hers. Then he left her and trotted across the meadow. He rested his muzzle on Adam's shoulder.
Will you be okay?
Adam thought about that a moment. Would he? He honestly didn't know. This was the first time since Eve's death that he'd even left the house. That he'd been aware of anything beyond the emptiness of their bed, the silence in their room, of his own heavy burden of grief. He gazed across the moonlight meadow.
Once again he searched in vain for her presence.
There was no sense of Eve. She was not here. As far as Adam could tell, she was merely gone. Dead and gone, her ashes scattered among the primroses. He sighed. Go, my friend. I need to stay here awhile.
Anton raised his head and stared at Adam with eyes that were much too perceptive. Then, without a word, he turned and followed his mate into the forest.
Adam lay down amidst the drying grasses and wildflowers and rested his muzzle on his paws. He opened his heart, his mind, his entire existence, to his mate.
Alone, he waited in vain for her voice as the moon crossed the nighttime sky and disappeared below the horizon in the west.
Eve awakened in the meadow she'd always loved, lying in the cool grass beneath a perfect blue sky. Bright pink primroses blanketed the ground.
She frowned and slowly sat up. It was the same, but not. The sky seemed too blue, the trees too tall, the colors brighter than she'd noticed before. She looked down at the white gown she wore and slowly shook her head.
Memories filtered into her mind, confused and disconnected. Thoughts of Adam, of the little red car, the shiny grill of an oncoming truck.
There was no memory of pain. No sense of death, though she knew she'd died. Knew there must be a reason she'd awakened here in this place without her mate.
Adam seemed but a distant memory, a love she'd known and treasured, yet she felt no sense of loss. Shouldn't she miss him? Grieve for her own death? Wonder more at her circumstances?
All in good time.
Eve sensed another and looked over her shoulder. A woman of average height stood directly behind her. She held her fingers to her lips. Her eyes were wide and she had a look of utter shock on her face.
“What are you doing here?”
“Don't you know?” Eve stood up and took a good look at the woman. She had an ethereal beauty about her, a pale face framed in shimmering blond hair that draped her full breasts and flowed over rounded hips. Her eyes seemed to change color, from green, to gray, to brilliant amber. Back to green.
“You shouldn't be here,” the woman said. She stepped closer. Her white gown flowed around her bare feet as she stopped directly in front of Eve. “How did you come here?”
Eve thought about the woman's question for a moment. “I died,” she said. “Isn't this heaven?” She smiled and held her hands out to her sides. “I was hoping this was heaven.”
“No.” The woman shook her head. “This is my where. My when. My world. It is where I exist. Where I rule.”
“Ah.” Eve smiled. It was all beginning to make sense in a wonderfully convoluted fashion. “You're our goddess,” she said. Knowledge flowed into her. “I wasn't supposed to die, was I, Goddess? Where were you when my life ended?”
“I was...” The goddess snapped her head from one side to the other, almost as if she were afraid. “I was here. I was busy, and...”
“And once again you were not watching over your charges.” Eve shook her head, unsure where her knowledge came from, yet very certain of the words she spoke. “Because of you, I'm trapped here, on this plane. I can't go back. I can't move forward. Looks like maybe you're stuck with me.”
The goddess narrowed her eyes and looked down her perfect nose at Eve, not easy to do with Eve towering over her. In another life, Eve might have felt intimidated. She wasn't. She'd never felt so powerful, never been so sure of herself, even trapped here in an unfamiliar place with a woman who obviously had allowed her to die before her time.
Power flowed through Eve's veins. Unexpected power, thrilling beyond belief. She raised her chin and smiled. Spoke gently, as if explaining an unhappy truth to a small child. Again, she spoke from the heart, but without any idea how she knew what she knew.
“From what I understand, my Lady, there's only room here for one of us. I hate to be the one to say it, but I believe your days in paradise are numbered.”
This is an unedited excerpt
Wolf Tales 10, coming in July 2010...
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