WIP Wednesday: “Prickly Business”

Hi, all! Prickly Business, the first book in the Portland Pack Chronicles series by me and Kenzie Cade, is currently under contract by DSP and entering the editing stage. It’ll be out some time in July or August and we’re currently hard at work on the sequel, Prickly By Nature. If you’ve never heard me mention Prickly Business before, it’s a paranormal shifter romance set in contemporary Portland with mystery elements and a healthy dose of snark. Here is a peek at the tentative blurb:

Some people might call Avery Babineaux a prick. He’s a hedgehog shifter from an old money Louisiana family with a penchant for expensive shoes and a reputation for being a judgmental snob. His attitude is why he and his fated mate are estranged. Not that Avery cares. He doesn’t want to be mated to some blue-collar werewolf anyway. Or so he keeps telling himself.

No werewolf likes to be looked down upon, least of all Dylan Green. He doesn’t need a mate, especially not some snotty hedgehog who sneers at his custom motorcycle shop and calls him a grease monkey. But when Avery gets into trouble with a shady loan shark,  Dylan can’t stand by and let him be hurt—whether he wants the brat or not.

Yet once Dylan steps into Avery’s world, he realizes it won’t be so easy to walk back out. There’s more to Avery than his prickly exterior, and that unexpected vulnerability calls to Dylan’s protective instincts. Not to mention Avery’s habit of landing himself in hot water. The sassy little hedgehog needs a keeper, and despite their horrible first impressions, Dylan starts to believe he just might be the wolf for the job.

sassyhedgie

And here is an (unedited) excerpt from the story. 🙂

Avery rolled his eyes and slid off his stool. The room went blurry, and he reached out to steady himself on the bar top. Whoa. Those four glasses of ale had snuck up on him. Maybe ordering another wasn’t the best of ideas.

Once his vision re-sharpened, he wove his way to the back of the pub, passing the pool tables as he went. Broderick had apparently missed his shot since his companions were heckling him about not being able to aim his stick. Avery smirked, slowing subconsciously. Had he been clearheaded, he wouldn’t have lingered, not wanting to draw attention. But even as he went to move on, his presence was noticed. One of the big, bearded wolves elbowed the one next to him and lifted his chin.

“Well, if it isn’t our favorite little prick,” Glenn called, his beer bottle dangling from his fingers.

The guy beside him laughed. “I thought I smelled a rodent.”

Avery narrowed his eyes. “Here’s a zoology lesson, Rover: hedgehogs aren’t rodents.”

Glenn shrugged one beefy shoulder. “I’m sure if I ripped off your quills, you’d look plenty like a rat. Wanna test the theory?”

Avery opened his mouth to respond, but Broderick’s rumbling voice cut in: “Leave him be, Glenn. You know the Alpha doesn’t like pack members harassing each other.”

Glenn scoffed. “He’s not pack.” He refrained from saying more when Broderick turned a disapproving look on him.

“He lives here under Alpha Odell’s protection. He might as well be pack.”

Avery bristled at Broderick’s assumption that he couldn’t handle himself in an argument with this overgrown asshat. “You don’t have to defend me. He’s right. I’m not pack. Hedgehogs aren’t pack animals. Another lesson for you.”

“How about I shove your lessons up that little prickly ass of yours?” Glenn snarled.

“Aiken!” Broderick rounded on him, the word grated out on a growl, his muscles seeming to swell as his anger flared. “One more time and I’ll take it as a personal challenge.”

Glenn instantly dropped his gaze and tilted his head, exposing his neck to his beta. Avery wanted to say something snide, but Broderick cut him a glare that sent a cascade of goose bumps along his spine.

Avery wasn’t predisposed to submit to a stronger shifter—there was no hierarchy in hedgehog culture, and males could be notoriously aggressive with each other when provoked—but he also knew when to pick his battles. He was too drunk to defend himself. Even if he hadn’t been drinking, well, not even a supernatural hedgehog stood much of a chance against a wolf in a physical fight. It wasn’t as if he’d shift into a man-sized powerhouse of spines, claws, and fur. He’d be the same size as any wild hedgehog—puny.

With a haughty lift of his chin, Avery stalked off toward the restrooms. He did his business and glowered at himself in the mirror above the sinks as he washed his hands.

What the hell was he doing here with these ignorant dogs? Jaden excluded, of course. He was the only respectable, intelligent wolf in the bunch. Much like the Cajun wolves Avery knew from back home in Louisiana, these were volatile, quick to anger and just as fast to laugh it off, except when it came to him. They reveled in every primal pleasure—feasting, fucking, and fighting.

To Avery’s family, werewolves were undisciplined heathens who ran the woods surrounding the bayou, terrifying the smaller shifters and keeping everyone awake with their howling during full moons. Avery’s parents despised wolves. His father had hated having to ask Alpha Odell permission for Avery to live on pack land. He’d done it because Avery wouldn’t let him rest otherwise.

Avery had fallen in love with Oregon when he’d visited the summer between his junior and senior year, but despite his fondness for the city of Portland and how it called to his soul as home, the Northwest was a veritable breeding ground for werewolves. Their numbers were concentrated here where there were forests aplenty and natural wolves to help disguise their presence from humans should they be discovered while in shifted form.

This was really no place for a small-species shifter like himself. Yet, regardless of his upbringing, he might have tried to make a place for himself in the pack, if it wasn’t for—

No. Avery shook his head. He wasn’t going to go there. He wasn’t going to think of him.

Avery paused at the dryer for a few seconds and left the restroom with his hands still damp. Distracted by unwanted thoughts, he collided with something hard and unmoving as he exited the hallway that led back to the main bar area. Avery stumbled back and nearly lost his footing, but even as he struggled to stay upright, the familiar scent struck his nose and made his entire body react. His skin heated, pulse quickened, cock filled, and that ache inside him—the one that longed for its mate—returned with a vengeance so strong it robbed him of breath.

Avery gaped as Dylan Green tossed him a glance over his shoulder.  The musky scent of this particular wolf burned in his nostrils, made the animal inside him stir. He both loved and loathed it in equal measure. His eyes greedily took in the broad back beneath the lines of Dylan’s leather jacket, the long legs encased in form-fitting denim, the strong, square jaw. Dylan’s light brown hair was wet from the drizzle outside and shorter than the last time Avery had seen him, but it worked with his high cheekbones and bold features, and his dark stubble emphasized his well-sculpted mouth.

Dylan turned away, dismissing Avery without a word. It was then Avery noticed he had his arm draped over the shoulders of another guy. A human from his scent. A good-looking human who looked mighty comfortable all snugged up against Dylan’s side, as if it were his right to be there.

Avery fought back a hiss. Fuck that. No one else had the right to—

He cut off that line of thinking. How dumb could he be? It was as though his thoughts in the bathroom had somehow conjured Dylan just to torment him.

Dylan, his destined mate. The wolf who’d rejected him and their potential bond two years ago. The one who Avery should most assuredly not be staring at or admiring because there was nothing between them and there never would be.

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About Piper Vaughn

Piper Vaughn wrote her first love story at eleven and never looked back. Since then, she's known that writing in some form was exactly what she wanted to do. A reader at the core, Piper loves nothing more than getting lost in a great book—fantasy, young adult, romance, she loves them all (and has a two-thousand-book library to prove it!). She grew up in Chicago, in an ethnically diverse neighborhood, and loves to put faces and characters of every ethnicity in her stories, so her fictional worlds are as colorful as the real one. Above all, she believes that everyone needs a little true love in their life…even if it's only in a book.

Posted on April 1, 2015, in blurbs, dreamspinner press, excerpts, hedgehogs, piper vaughn, portland pack chronicles, wips and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 5 Comments.

  1. Love this book, can’t wait for the sequel!

  2. waxapplelover

    Love non-traditional shifters! And the picture is so cute.

  3. Oh Piper. Oh Piper. Oh Piper.

    It’s beautiful. I love the cover. I love the premise. I am dying over the excerpt *squee!

    When is it coming out. I have to buy this. I have to have this!

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