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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.

WIP Wednesday: “Hook, Line, & Sinker” – NSFW

Hey, all! Yesterday I finished Hook, Line, & Sinker, which is a spin-off of Wood, Screws, & Nails featuring Aaron’s best friend, Blake, and his love interest, Castor. The members of my FB group, Piper’s Peeps, asked for me to share a smutty excerpt today. So here goes! But, first, the (tentative) blurb.

When they were teens, Castor McCormick was the bane of Blake Kowalski’s existence. Their mutual animosity led to summers filled with rivalry. Now, nearly two decades later, Blake learns Cas is moving back into the neighborhood to live in his grandmother’s old house. Blake tells himself he isn’t interested in seeing how snarky little Cas grew up, but when his mother dupes him into visiting Cas, he finds out “pretty” can evolve into “sexy as hell” on the right man.

Cas didn’t think he wanted to see Blake again. No one has ever pushed his buttons like the god of a boy he remembers from their youth. Turns out, the adult version of Blake still gets him hot under the collar—and everywhere else. With Blake on leave from work to nurse his injured leg, and Cas taking time to move and unpack, they form a tentative friendship revolving around fishing and baseball, which quickly turns in to a sexual affair neither man can resist. But when Cas’s job sends him out of state to deal with a difficult client, their new relationship will be tested, and Blake’s broken leg might not be the only thing to come out scarred.

~*~

 

Excerpt

Note: This is unedited, so please forgive any typos. To set the scene, Cas and Blake are on a camping trip, sharing a tent for the first time…

 

Cas shivered, his body warming at Blake’s tone, low and seductive in the dark. For a while, he simply lay there staring at the tent’s domed ceiling, listening to the rhythm of Blake’s breathing as it slowed and deepened. Usually, Cas jerked off before bed, just something to take the edge off the day and lull himself to sleep. He hesitated to do it now, but with the scent of Blake’s skin all around him, and the visual of that sculpted chest so fresh in his mind, his cock was hard as stone. Cas cursed silently and turned onto his side, facing away from Blake, and reached down to pinch his balls through his sweatpants. He hoped the flash of pain would wilt his erection. Instead, it forced a quiet moan from his throat. Cas shifted onto his back again, then onto his side in Blake’s direction, but that only reminded him of how little space actually separated them and how easily he could close it.

Cas grunted and flopped to his back once more. All he could focus on was the pulse of blood in his cock. Not the discomfort of the rocky ground beneath his sleeping bag, not the lingering heat in the air, not the buzz of insects from the grass and trees around them. Just that persistent, throbbing ache.

He’d never fall asleep this way. No choice but to take care of it. He could manage it quietly enough. Or so he hoped.

Cas lay unmoving for another minute or two, listening. The rhythmic pattern of Blake’s breaths remained deep and undisturbed. Slowly, Cas crept a hand beneath the waistband of his briefs. He traced the length of his cock with one finger, helpless to stop a quavering moan when he encountered sticky wetness at the tip. Cas froze, his ears straining, but if Blake had heard, he didn’t stir at the noise.

Sighing, Cas started up a leisurely stroke, working his cock with a firm grip. His hips began to rock, and the motion of his nylon sleeping bag seemed excessively loud in the small space. Cas couldn’t bring himself to care anymore. He played his fingertips over the slit, rubbing and slicking the head with the moisture he found there. Oh God. It felt so good, and knowing Blake rested only a few feet away, oblivious, only heightened the sensation.

Cas caught another moan midway out of his mouth, ending with a choked sound. His eyes were shut tight, but suddenly the colors behind his eyelids changed as light flashed across them. Cas stilled with his hand fisted around his cock. He swallowed thickly and noted that the soothing pattern of Blake’s breathing had changed, sped. Blake was awake, and if Cas wasn’t mistaken, watching him. With a light on.

For a long moment, Cas couldn’t move. Any typical guy would’ve ignored what he was doing, would’ve pretended not to hear the rustling and simply feigned sleep until it was over. They might’ve given him some shit about it in the morning, or more likely, never mentioned the incident at all. Not Blake. Cas could feel Blake’s eyes on him—and it embarrassed him as much as it turned him on.

A flush rolled up his chest and over his throat, settling in his face. The silence stretched. Finally, when he could stand it no more, Cas forced his eyes open and turned his head.

Blake lay on his side, observing him with a hooded gaze. His phone sat face-down in the space between them. The light Cas had noticed through his eyelids was the beam from the phone’s flashlight, now aimed at the ceiling. Not as intense as the miniature lantern, but it illuminated the area enough for them to see each other clearly.

Cas couldn’t find the words to speak. Couldn’t bring himself to release his cock either. Despite his humiliation, it jerked in his grasp like it had a mind of its own, seeking more touch.

“Show it to me.” Blake’s quiet voice held no inflection. He spoke the words as calmly as he might have said “pass the salt” across the dinner table. But Cas found himself obeying anyway.

He tossed aside the top of the sleeping bag, and with the hand that wasn’t wrapped around his dick, pushed the waistbands of both his sweatpants and briefs down so they rested around his upper thighs.

Blake’s gaze raked from Cas’s face to his fisted cock. “Finish,” he said.

Cas whimpered, a small sound that brought Blake’s eyes back up to his. He started to stroke again, moving more quickly now that he wasn’t trying to hide.

“Get it wet.”

Cas nearly came at the low order. With effort, he managed to fight his orgasm down and released his cock long enough to coat his palm with drenched licks. Then he fisted it again, jerking the shaft with hard, slick tugs.

Blake nodded his approval. “Faster. Let me see you beat that cum out.”

Cas grunted and pistoned his hips, pushing his cockhead through the clutching circle of his fingers. Sweat sheened his body. Pleasure blazed a path from his taint to his balls to his sensitive tip. His asshole clenched and released, craving the girth of a large, thrusting cock. Frantic pants burst from his throat, the rough sound overshadowing the wet squelch of his hand as he followed Blake’s order and yanked at his dick. Lost in a haze of lust and sex, he didn’t stop to consider what was happening or why; he simply gave himself into it.

“Come.”

One word, but said in that commanding tone, in Blake’s voice, it held power. It reached into Cas’s body and ripped the orgasm right out of him.

Cas arched off the sleeping bag, his vision graying at the edges. He gave an agonized moan as streaks of cum burst from his tip, coating his fingers, dripping down onto his sac, each spurt another shockwave of bliss along the length of his dick. And through it all, he sensed the weight of Blake’s gaze on him, the heat of that stare prolonging his ecstasy.

After what felt like ages, Cas finally came back to himself. He turned his head to see that Blake had shoved his own shorts and boxer-briefs down. His thick, veiny cock lay hard against his lower abdomen, the foreskin drawn back far enough to reveal the shiny, plum-colored head. Cas’s mouth watered.

“Come here. Jerk me off with your cum.”

WIP Wednesday: HL&S

So, last week Wood, Screws, & Nails came out. Currently, I’m working on one of the spin-offs. If you read WS&N, this story features Aaron’s best friend, Blake, and Blake’s love interest, Castor. They were rivals as teens, but when they meet again as adults, they find that their explosive chemistry manifests into something a lot more fun than fighting (although they do some of that too). This is a peek at the scene when Blake finds out Cas is moving back into the neighborhood, about 19 years after they last saw each other.

Let me know what you think! 😀

~*~

 

“Are you listening, Blejkuś?”

Blake shifted again, unable to find comfort on a couch that was simply too small to accommodate his six-foot-two frame. Mila shot him an annoyed look and leaped gracefully onto the floor—but not before digging her claws into his chest in a show of feline displeasure. Blake winced and resisted the urge to toss a pillow at her. Damn cat would probably dodge it anyway. “What, Ma?”

“I asked if you remember Cas from across the street.”

Oh, that. Blake grunted. “Course I do.” How could he forget the little shit who’d made his summers miserable between eighth grade and senior year of high school? Bane of his existence, that kid.

“Well, he’s moving in this weekend.” Karina walked over and adjusted the cushion behind his back. Her apron was flour-stained, and she smelled like onions and sauerkraut from the pierogi she’d been making. The sharp, sour scent might not have been pleasant to anyone who wasn’t a fan of the fermented cabbage, but to Blake, it reminded him of his grandmother and yearly trips to the Taste of Polonia Festival in Jefferson Park. Of home. “It would be nice if you went over and said hello,” she added.

“Ma, I haven’t seen the kid in, what, nineteen years?” Not since the summer after his senior year, when his grandmother passed away of a massive coronary just a week before he and Aaron went into trade school. Had that really been almost two decades ago? He still missed her. “We don’t even know each other anymore.”

Karina smacked him lightly upside the head. “So get to know him again. It’s never easy moving into a new neighborhood. Most of the kids who grew up around here are long gone. And your babcia liked him, bless her soul. She always thought he was a good boy.”

Blake snorted. His grandmother had thought that about everyone. He couldn’t even recollect the number of times he’d been blamed for something that “good boy” had done. Dozens probably. Kid had the face of an angel back then and a Cupid’s bow mouth to match. Got him out of all kinds of trouble.

“What?” Karina asked. “Don’t tell me you’re still holding a grudge over that silly baseball thing? That was ages ago.”

“No. Not a grudge. But we were never really friends.”

Karina patted his head and moved away toward the kitchen. “Well, you’re not teenagers anymore. You can be friends now.”

“We’ll see,” Blake said to placate her, but he had no intention of playing head of the neighborhood welcoming committee. He’d leave that to the women on the block.

Much as Blake’s own parents had when he was a kid, Castor’s folks had also sent him to spend summers with his grandparents in Villa Park. They’d meant it as a preemptive measure to keep them from running wild through the streets of Chicago all day long. In that, the effort had only been partially successful. They’d both fallen into all sorts of misbehavior anyway, regardless of the change in location.

From the very first meeting, they’d clashed, despite being forced into the sort of reluctant camaraderie that came from boredom and a dearth of other similarly-aged kids nearby. True friendship had never existed between them—only rivalry and constant one-upmanship. Now that Blake had his own place and his own circle of friends, he didn’t need to play nice for the benefit of not being shunned by the locals. He doubted Castor had changed all that much from the smart-mouthed, know-it-all of their misspent youth. Why bother trying to find out if he might be wrong? As soon as the cast came off, Blake was headed back to his apartment in Wrigleyville. Besides, Castor probably didn’t hold the memory of Blake in fond regard either. The animosity between them had never been anything but mutual.

Blake tipped his head back and stared up at the ceiling. His mother really needed to let him replace that popcorn paintjob soon. He couldn’t stand the sight of the stuff, and it wasn’t difficult to remove—just tedious and time-consuming. Much like his healing process would be.

“Cas, Cas, pain in my ass,” he murmured, then chuckled to himself. He hadn’t thought of that old taunt in years. Castor always hated it. Blake remembered the way he would flush, his pale Irish skin going ruddy, clearly broadcasting the depth of his irritation. Blake had enjoyed riling him up back then. Pretty kid. Too bad about the attitude. They could’ve had a lot of fun those summers, if Castor batted for the same team Blake did—which Blake suspected was the case—instead of doing their best to piss each other off. For a moment, Blake wondered how that lithe, adolescent prettiness had translated to adulthood. Not that he cared enough to want to find out.

Nope.

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