"Between The Books" Scenes: "Homecoming"
So I was thinking of fun things I could share as we hit the home stretch toward “Deceiving The Protector”‘s release day. 🙂
Then it hit me, it’s been a long year since the first book, “Tempting The Enemy”–which, actually, is On Sale at Carina Press for $0.99!! So now’s a good time to grab it and be ready for the sequel on the 15th!–and readers might wonder if anything has been happening since we saw the shifters of Resurrection last.
I thought, maybe you might be interested in reading more about who lives in Resurrection and maybe get to know a little bit more about the hero, Jensen Tate.
And that’s exactly what we’re going to do. The first scene goes live today! Be sure to come back Monday, August 8th for another scene and the final scene goes live Friday, August 12th!
For those new to this world, don’t worry! These scenes will also introduce you to this dark alternate world where humanity is separated into three groups—the hunters, the hunted and the feared. While humans continue to rule the world, Shifters hide their abilities, their cultures shattered, their numbers dwindled. Only the mysterious Sibile, female mercenaries indiscriminate in their goals, are able to create their own fates. In a sleepy mountain city, four men are secretly building a future for their people, creating a Pack from the ashes. But the closer they come to achieving their goal, the more forces out of their control would rather see them dead.
Hope you enjoy!
The sounds of hollered cheers and whistles hit Jensen Tate as he hiked up the last steps into Resurrection. Not that he minded the three mile trek from where he’d hidden his car, but it would have been mildly heartwarming if anyone from this no-longer-so-makeshift camp had been interested enough in his arrival to say hello. Instead, the small pack of little kids that saw him walk into the clearing at the heart of their encampment all stopped dead and stared at him for a full second of horrified terror before turning tail and running toward the back of the various cabins. Toward the training grounds the Alpha had insisted they clear beneath the canopy of trees where all the ruckus sounded from.
Something told him the excitement wasn’t because the Alpha was teaching the teenagers a self-defense technique. Though the terror might be, since Pale’s idea of self-defense was slicing his enemy open with his claws and strangling the idiot with his own entrails. No, all that excitement could mean only one thing.
The Alpha was training his mate again.
A smile tipped the corner of Tate’s lips as he picked up his pace. He and Jade Rysen couldn’t exactly claim a friendship, but something about watching the tiny woman try to knock some sense into his brother’s rock-solid head was too entertaining to miss. Especially considering she often used the explosive force of her growing pyrokinetic power to do it. She had yet to win a single match, but he had to give her points for tenacity.
And a few bonus ones for setting her mate’s clothes on fire in front of the entire camp.
“Son of a bitch!” The sound of Pale’s frustration carried over the laughter and reached Tate just as he passed the final line of cabins. His step stuttered as he realized that possibly all three hundred of the shifters living in Resurrection were surrounding the practice clearing, give or take a pup. The teenagers didn’t surprise him—those boys could sniff out a fight from ten miles away—but seeing the women and girls cheering and waving to their Alpha pair sure as hell did. Some of those women hadn’t been seen outside their cabins since they’d finished building them. Three of them, he barely recognized with smiles on.
The cynical side of him frowned, immediately disturbed at how embedded into the fabric of this place Pale’s little Sibile had become in the last eighteen or so months. They wouldn’t cheer her if they didn’t trust her and trust didn’t come easy to shifters of any kind. It shouldn’t come at all in respect to a Sibile, even a half-Wolf like Jade. Every soul on Earth knew those female mercenaries had no sense of loyalty.
Except these souls, it seemed.
Tate stared, watching the crowd and resisting the urge to shake his head. Especially when he saw the young ones who’d run from him, tugging on a woman’s skirts and pointing at him as if he were a one-man invasion crew. One by one, heads turned his way and hushed whispers swept through the crowd as those heads turned back to the sparring couple in front of the wooden bleachers someone had added since his last visit.
So his brother wasn’t exaggerating. He’d hoped Aaron, the most level headed of his four adopted siblings—possibly the most level-headed person on the planet—had just been yanking his tail. But no, he seemed to be right in his opinion that the entire community had been strengthened by Jade’s arrival, not divided as Tate had expected. Tate hadn’t taken him completely seriously because Aaron seemed to worship the ground Jade walked on after she’d helped him pull a pup back from a traumatized state. Seeing it with his own eyes, though…
What were they getting from Jade that he wasn’t? Was all this devotion simply because she had brought the Alpha back home to them, where he belonged? Because she’d birthed him a healthy son that already looked to be his father’s miniature? Or had she earned it from each person on the mountain somehow? Tate didn’t come up as often as he used to, so it was certainly possible. And a Sibile’s abilities—in Jade’s case, especially—had their uses…
He finally skirted enough of the crowd to see his brother alone in the clearing with his wife, opting to wade into the middle of the pack of teen boys since no other adult seemed interested in that duty. Being able to see over them might have had a little to do with it, too. Like the kids, he watched the couple with undisguised curiosity.
All right, not Pale so much. Apart from regular haircuts to keep that black hair at least somewhat tamed and an arguably less feral attitude, not much had changed about his brother since mating. Still a hulking, demanding pain in the ass. Jade, on the other hand, was dripping sweat and her appreciably lush figure was a little more on display than usual in a form fitting tank top and some black stretchy pants of some kind. A big change from her usual, teeth-grinding formality. Her short black hair was pulled back into a barely-holding ponytail, the long bangs wetly dropping into her field of vision. No doubt Pale would make sure she’d regret that particular oversight.
Just as soon as he finished yanking off the smoking remnants of his shirt.
Pale threw it down with a disgusted snarl. “This is supposed to be hand-to-hand only, Jade.”
“What can I say? You were pissing me off.” She reached out to swipe a clawed hand at his face, but he blocked her easily, taking hold of her wrist.
“If you paid attention to the fundamentals instead of always relying on your gifts to get you out of trouble,” Pale’s foot swept Jade’s legs out from under her, dumping her on the ground with about as much subtlety as a sledgehammer. “Maybe you wouldn’t have your ass handed to your in every sparring bout.”
Tate took in the militant twist to Jade’s lips and wondered if his brother had been mated long enough to recognize a female about to go for his balls.
Her foot rose with surprisingly little telegraphing before she took a pretty good stab at it. Tate bit back a grin when Pale had to hop back, deflecting the blow into his thigh instead of avoiding it altogether. That one was going to hurt like a bitch later, especially if Jade wasn’t interested in doing her Evil Amish thing and using her ability to heal it for him.
“What did I tell you about cheating?” Pale’s growl had the gruff tones of actual anger.
Then again, so did Jade’s. “To do it as often as possible.”
She went for another kick, earning a raucous noise from the crowd, but this time, Pale grabbed her booted foot to flip her onto her stomach in the dirt. He dropped over her, grabbing her hands and pinning her to the ground. She struggled, flattened like a pancake under a semi, which just rose Tate’s brows further. How the hell had the two of them ever managed to complete a mating bond if they still hadn’t even figured out their own dominance?
“I said to do it right. Half-assed gets you all-dead, understand? Now yield.”
She didn’t, her body still straining, the exertion staining her face red. Tate dropped his pack, the hairs on the back of his neck raising with warning just as her gaze turned glassy. Light, small orbs growing brighter by the second, formed in the palms of her hands.
“Back it down, Jade.” The command in Pale’s voice was irrefutable, as was the underlying note of concern. Pale wasn’t bothered by much when it came to physical threats, but when his black brows drew together, there was no missing the worry on his face as he tossed a command toward all of them. “Get out of here. Now!”
Tate scanned the front of the crowd for his other brothers, the energy of the group having gone from laughing to apprehensive in a heartbeat. Aaron was there, already turning to direct the never-ending stream of small kids around him back toward the cabins. Ty stood, putting his bulk in front of the largest group of women, his stare never leaving the couple on the ground. As if he knew there wouldn’t be enough time to move the adults. Tate collared the nearest of the teenagers gawking next to him, yanking him close enough to rumble in the kid’s ear. “Your Alpha gave an order, pup. Move.”
The kid paled, stumbling as Tate let him go, but the boys finally snapped out of it and started moving after the other kids.
“Jade, dammit, pull it back now.” Pale’s roar turned to a hiss as he leapt off her, the skin on his chest an angry shade of red. She didn’t listen. Her body arched, until only her head and the tips of her toes touched the ground.
Then not even that.
The light in her hands flared, grew, coursing up her arms and over her body in a ripple of movement he’d have recognized if she’d become a wolf or a bird or a cat of some kind. She’d shifted, but not into anything he’d seen anywhere else. Almost too bright to look at, she’d disintegrated into a flare of light, poised and still in front of Pale. In the blink of an eye, she began streaking around the clearing, bouncing like some kind of pinball, but too fast to see anything but the smear of light behind her. Before he could even move to defend, she sped toward Pale. One second she was there, half a heartbeat later, Pale was flying through the air and into the treetops, the light gone with him and a tree suddenly crashed to the ground.
Tate was moving before he even made the realization that Pale must have come down with it. Hooking his pack with one hand, he ran through the clearing, already calculating the supplies from his bag that might be needed for likely injuries. The kit on top, for meds. Belts—tourniquets or slings. Cotton shirts—bindings or bandages…
His booted feet actually skidded to a stop beside the tree. They were both tangled in the branches and each other. The tree trunk blocked his view of Jade, but that was probably for the best given the possessive way Pale crouched over her. Blood poured from the side of Pale’s face and if the unnatural angles of his lifted forearm meant anything, that arm was broken in several places. Jade’s hand on his chest looked human shaped again, but she still glowed brilliantly beneath Pale’s menacing hold.
Tate could only stare as Pale glared at him through the haze, snarling. As if he were some kind of threat. Which was only half as disturbing as watching the gash along the side of Pale’s face slowly seal shut while his arm straightened with audible cracking noises as the bones fit back into place.
He raised his hands, finally averting his gaze and waiting until the glow of Jade’s power faded. Not that Pale’s snarl curbed any. Moving might turn out to be suicide. Which left only talking, which usually he was good at. Just not with Pale.
Ah well, gotta die sometime, right? “You need help getting her out of there?”
“Anything I can cover her with in that bag?” Roughly translated, No.
Tate opened the bag and yanked out a t-shirt. “Do me a favor and tell her not to burn it.” He tossed it, already kissing it goodbye. Pale wasn’t likely to do well with another Wolf’s scent all over his mate, no matter how it got there. Just the thought of marking Jade in any way made Tate itch, but he couldn’t predict his brother’s reaction. When it came to his mate, Pale had no idea what rational was.
Rather than instigate anything worse, Tate backed away. He didn’t get two steps before Pale called his name, his voice almost too graveled to decipher.
“Make sure the practice field is clear, then I need you and Ty to meet me back there in an hour, ready to run.”
Tate nodded. He’d expected something like this when he’d gotten Pale’s message to clear his schedule for the next few weeks and come up the mountain. Ty had been given the same message two weeks before, leaving Tate alone to ride herd on the lakeside city of Moonridge and the few Ressurection pack shifters who’d joined them there of late. Which was part of why he’d been so relieved to get Pale’s message to come home. The only thing worse than Ty’s company was his own. Or… “What about Aaron?”
“Aaron has something else to do.” The dismissive tone said what Pale really meant. Get the hell out of here before I peel the skin off you.
He held his breath until he was far enough away that the slightest twitch wouldn’t get him clawed. At least before Jade had come along, Pale had a semblance of reasonability. Now that she was here, his already overprotective instincts went into overdrive every time she sighed… Tate shook his head, hiking his pack higher on his shoulder. “And people wonder why I never want a mate.”
By the time he made it back to the clearing, everyone was gone, leaving the bleachers empty but for one person. Ty. Built like an armored truck without wheels and wearing a face like a slab of granite, Tyler Herrick looked like a Grim Reaper no matter how happy he was. Unfortunately, Tate could tell well and good that Ty wasn’t happy. Even if the face hadn’t been menacing, the low growl was a dead giveaway.
He stood as Tate warily walked over to him. “Nice work, Jenny.”
That name was bait Tate could never keep himself from rising to. He narrowed his eyes on his sibling. “I haven’t even set foot in my cabin yet, and you’re blaming this on me?”
Ty, never one for pulling a punch, hitched a shoulder and started walking back to the cabins. “You weren’t supposed to be here until after sunset.”
Grudgingly, Tate followed—he wasn’t going to get any answers if he didn’t. “Judge dropped the charges on my last case of the day.”
Not that he would say as much, but he’d been eager to come home. It had been months since his last visit and even that had been only a weekend. His brief glance at the crowd had shown him many faces he didn’t know because so many new shifters had come in from the Underground that he hadn’t escorted here. New kids, new females especially. A few more families, even… They were going to need more cabins soon, if not already. He’d have to make time in his schedule to help with the building.
“What does that have to do with Jade going ballistic?” It wasn’t as if Tate were in the ring with her. God knew Pale could frustrate a saint and there were hardly any of those around Resurrection.
Silence. Just the even tread of Ty’s steps.
“What the hell, man? When did I become the fucking town pariah?”
Ty turned, still walking backward. “I don’t know, man. Maybe when you let your old shit get in the way of your own good sense.”
Tate stopped walking, his hackles up and no one to spend the anger on because Ty simply righted himself and kept walking. Tate glared at his back, almost wishing he were still a dumb enough kid that he could still shove him down and force a fight. Those days were long gone, though.
And Ty would be ready for him if he tried it.
“Pale wants us back here in forty-five for a run.” The shout was at least a little relieving, even if all Ty did was wave his hand without turning back.
Soon enough, Ty was out of sight, just like everyone else. Less than ten minutes in the place he’d worked over a decade to build and he’d cleared it out without even trying.
“Home, sweet fucking home.”