The familiar itch to keep riding had been absent for several weeks after Gus met Bex, but ever since the wolf had shown up with all his theories and troublemaking, it was back. The desire to run as far away as he could get. Only, he couldn’t do that. Not now. He was in deep and leaving Bex behind was out of the question.
She was his home.
And he wouldn’t let her fight alone. He didn’t trust anyone to keep her safe better than he could.
He took a sharp curve, then another, and another. With each climb through the mountain pass, Bex clung tighter to him. Her thighs gripped around the hips. Her hands clasped at his t-shirt. But she didn’t tense. She wasn’t scared or frightened on the bike with him. She trusted him and he’d never betray that.
So, he’d stay. He’d resist the urge to run from his adoptive family, from the pain of the past being dredged up, from the tethers of falling in love with Bex. He’d resist it all and he’d stay.
Only, he didn’t know how to fight through it. He’d never had to. He’d always just picked up and left.
When the bike reached a stretch of road that was somewhat flat and straight, Gus took one hand off a handlebar and used it to cover her hands, linking their fingers. She calmed him. From the moment they’d met, she’d touched something inside him and the first time he touched her, peace unlike anything he’d ever known flowed through him.
He’d been scared ever since.
And none of it made sense to him. He was content to go with the flow, to take it however it came. But ever since the wolf, Luke Blackwood, had shown up, all Hell had broken loose and not only was Bex’s quiet life disrupted, but everything from her past and Gus’s past was coming back to haunt them.
He eased his fingers from hers and resumed holding onto the bike with both hands as the curves ahead came into view.
Bex leaned into him and laid her head on his back.
She was comfortable with him. She was at ease with him.
She’d never been scared of him, but she had been curious about him, something he’d relished. He’d been interested in her from the start. Her smile made him ache. Her body made hungry.
She had no idea what she did to him.
He knew for someone like Bex, trust didn’t come easy. She didn’t have many friends, no family left, had a sketchy coming into the world. She was naturally wary, but she was strong. And faced with what had been presented to her in recent weeks was more than any one person should have to deal with in a lifetime. She wasn’t who she’d always thought she was.
But she was who he needed her to be.
The winding country roads brought him freedom. Being out and away from the closeness of a family who didn’t really belong to him usually made him feel at one with nature, at one with who he really was. A bear. A shifter. A lover of the outdoors. An artist. The forests and the mountains were his inspiration for the art he used to express himself and that he used to help others find ways of expression through ink.
Bex relaxed against his back as he began to decelerate the closer they got to Dandridge. He loved it, the way she put her faith in him. As he turned down the side street that led to the Victorian house they were still in the process of renovating into her bed and breakfast, he scented the wolves, first. Blackwood must’ve left them behind. He also scented the bears of his adoptive family, namely his adoptive mother.
Bex gripped his shirt and lifted her head when he parked his bike. Her thighs didn’t ease their grip on his hips. Her arousal was strong, the way it always was when the wolves were around. It was the craziest damn thing that he scent of them made her angry and horny and aggressive.
If he hadn’t been on the receiving end of her horny aggression, or seen the split second shift from mild to angry aggression, he wouldn’t have believed Bex capable of it.
“She’s cooking,” Gus said, speaking of the woman who’d raised him as her own. He took his helmet off and hung it on the handlebars.
“I smelled it about a mile out,” Michael remarked as he mirrored Gus’s actions with his head gear.
“I can’t smell it. What’s she cooking? Anything good?” Bex swung her leg over and slid off the bike.
“She’s frying fish. Catfish.”
“Trout,” Gus countered.
“Nope. Catfish. It’s my favorite.”
“What does it being your favorite have to do with anything? She’s here at our house. So, it stands to reason that she’s making my favorite.”
Bex shook her head and took the back steps up to the kitchen door. “You two are pathetic.”
“They are,” Mama Bear agreed. “They’ve always argued about food. Especially fish. And sweets.”
“Other than fish, what are you making? Smells like hamburgers.”
“Yes. Hamburger steaks. The wolves didn’t want fish.”
“Why does it matter what they want?” Gus asked, elbowing Michael in the ribs. “Catfish. Told ya.”
“There’s trout too, you big baby.”
Michael grinned and hugged his mother. “I knew I was your favorite.”
There will be more information for you soon about a new set of Southern Shifter books coming in early February from some awesome paranormal romance authors, so stay tuned.
I have written a new Kindle Worlds story in the Southern Shifters world. It is a continuation of Gus and Bex’s story which began in Ink To Bear. In this new title, questions from Bex’s past arise and secrets are revealed that even I didn’t know until recently… There will be a book 3, as well, coming in late October.
Inked By The Bear
READ AN EXCERPT
Gus tried – and failed – to ignore the rumbling beneath his feet. He heard them coming long before anyone else would have. And, he felt them.
He turned the wrench harder than he should have and reminded himself that it wasn’t his bike he was working on right then.
It was a neighbor’s bike. A human’s bike. And a normal human wouldn’t have that kind of strength behind the simple turning of a wrench.
The roar of multiple engines gutted the silence of the normally peaceful little town of Dandridge, Tennessee. He’d brought Bex here when she sold her childhood home to start
He gave her a ride from North Carolina and hadn’t left. Didn’t have a plan to leave, either.
He also didn’t want to cause her or anyone in the small town issues and the wolf shifter leading the handful of other wolf shifters was nothing but one big, furry issue.
Gus stood, wiping his hands on a rag, and pretended he wasn’t tense as the first bike pulled right up to his feet. One by one, the engines shut off. It wasn’t until all was quiet again, that Gus looked up.
“Blackwood,” was all he said by way of greeting.
“I’m here to talk about the human woman.”
“She’s mine. Which makes her off limits to you. No need to talk about her. Have a… Safe trip back.”
“I’m not looking to cause trouble.”
Gus smirked. “You and your pack are nothing but trouble from what I hear. Especially, you.”
“At least the reputation fits,” the wolf said with a grin. His expression turned serious again. “She’s not a pure human. And I know you sense that. We all sense it. She’s part shifter, and given her age and where she comes from, I think I might I know something about her past.”Gus stared at the alpha wolf, one brow raised in question. That was a lot of specific information to just be tossed out into the open. Was Blackwood telling the truth? If he wasn’t, Gus would tear the wolf apart. But… But if he was…? Only Bex could say whether or not she’d want to know.
“Look, I know you have no reason to trust me, but when I saw her a few weeks back outside Sweet Retreat? Let’s just say it triggered some things I’ve been pulling together about past events involving our kind.”
Now, Gus was even more wary about the wolf and his intentions. “She gets off work in a few hours.”
“We can go see her now,” Luke said impatiently.
“We sure as hell can’t. I’m not letting you and your pack loose all over town or upsetting her at her job.”
“Possessive or protective?”
“Where you’re concerned, both. Definitely both.”
“Fair enough. What’ve you got for entertainment? Sounds like it’ll be a bit of a wait.”
“You can work on your bikes, or nap, or best idea, go back where you came from.”
“How about some ink?”
“You trust me with a needle?”
“Guess we’ll find out.”
Gus regarded the wolf shifter for a long moment. He couldn’t get a real solid read on the pack and their intentions. Something didn’t feel right, but he couldn’t figure out what it was. The best way to get to the bottom of it, was to keep the wolves around for a bit. “All right. Come with me. Don’t touch anything. She’ll know if it’s out of place.”
Through the back door, Gus led Luke through the kitchen. It was mostly put together. Bex was waiting on the stove top. She’d bought it at an estate sale when the money can through from the sale of the bed and breakfast in Bryson City.
She had a thing for vintage appliances and the oven was being repaired at a local shop down the road.
She had a whole vision for the place. His vision was only for her and the home he wanted with her.
“Don’t suppose you or any of your boys brought donuts from that little place in Deal’s Gap, did you?” He hadn’t had a chance to go get any himself since he’d been back from his last tattoo trip. He had a hankering for something sugary and cake like.
“No. Can’t say that was on my mind when we set out earlier.”
“Shame. Would’ve been nice, since I don’t think you’re here to talk about anything good.”
“Guess it all depends on what you consider good.”
“She tell you about what happened to her mother?” Luke asked as they climbed the staircase. Gus had refinished it down to the original wood a couple of weeks back. He needed to earn his keep. He couldn’t let her be the only one working while she got things off the ground. She didn’t make him feel that he did. No, the feeling came from within him, from when he’d been taken in and raised by a family who didn’t owe him anything, who didn’t have to keep him, yet did.
He couldn’t and wouldn’t be beholden to anyone, not even the woman who made him feel as though he fit with her more than he’d ever fit anywhere. “Yes, she told me,” he answered honestly.
“Did she tell you it was a bear? One like you?”
“She did, but he wasn’t anything like me. I wouldn’t have done what he did. I don’t know any bears who would.”
Gus rounded on Luke so fast, the wolf nearly fell down the steps. “No, you son of a bitch. I don’t. If you’ve got something to say, say it. Otherwise, save your story for Bex or leave.”
Luke raised his hands in a show of surrender. “Guess donuts would’ve been a good idea. Maybe they’d have kept your temper in check. You’re touchy.”
“We’ll find out who’s touchy when I get the tattoo gun out.”
“You don’t scare me, bear,” the wolf muttered once they started up the stairs again.
“That was your second mistake,” Gus bit out.
“What was the first?”
Available as an ebook:
The quaint little town of Dandridge, Tennessee is about to get a whole lot less quiet and a whole lot more interesting…
Bex and Gus have kept busy since leaving Bryson City and arriving in Dandridge. Between renovations on her would-be bed and breakfast, Gus tinkering on a couple of bikes and planting roots for the first time in his adult life, and Bex pulling long hours at a local restaurant, there’s been little time for much else.
But when werewolf Luke Blackwood, of the rogue Blackwood Pack, shows up with answers to secrets from Bex’s past, revelations that question whether or not she’s truly human, and and theories that may lead them all in dangerous directions, Gus must call in the cavalry to help them sort things out.
*Author’s Note: This is not a standalone read. Ink To Bear – Black and White series, Book One, can be read as a standalone, and is the beginning of how Bex and Gus met, but Inked By The Bear, a continuation of Bex and Gus’s story, cannot be read that way. Inked By The Bear has a cliffhanger ending. Book Three will be out in October 2015*
For More Information On Eliza Gayle’s Southern Shifters Kindle World, Click HERE For More Information on Kindle Worlds, Click HERE
I’m in the process of writing a second Southern Shifters novella for Eliza Gayle’s Southern Shifters Kindle World. I don’t usually drop everything else, or push other things back in order to work unexpected stories in, but this werebear did better than any other paranormal I’ve written, so while it was still doing fairly well, I figured I’d give in to the urging of readers, and Eliza, and The Blackraven, and try to get one out…
September 17th will be the next one… That’s right around the corner. Next week. ACK!
Did you read the first one? Ink To Bear? Here’s a little snippet for you, if you didn’t…
Bex shifted her weight from one foot to the other. Her orange canvas sneakers were bright in the pre-dawn light compared to her companion’s black motorcycle boots, the same one’s he’d been wearing the day before. His shirt had changed from black to a deep, dark espresso brown. The pair of jeans he wore were loose on his hips and threadbare. She wanted to lick him up and down and she wished she looked even a fraction as sexy as he did in jeans and t-shirt.
That’s all she’d brought with her to Bryson City, but hers didn’t do the justice for her body the way his did. She traveled light and hadn’t brought anything fit for riding a motorcycle while wrapped around Gus.
She probably shouldn’t let her mind travel down that particular road either. She’d wanted him so much just a few hours ago and when he’d teased her, but said it wasn’t the right time… No. She wasn’t going there at the moment. There were more pressing things she needed to focus on.
Like the fact her life was changing rapidly. So much so, she hadn’t had a chance to catch her breath. Maybe she didn’t want to. Maybe she didn’t want to stop and think about what she was doing. If she did —
“You seem nervous,” Gus remarked, interrupting her thoughts. She was grateful.
“You’re observant.” It was apparent she was also a smartass.
“Prickly, too.” His offhand remark did exactly what he knew it would; make her smile, in spite of herself.
“Are you sure I’m going to fit? There doesn’t seem to be room for me,” she said. Midnight blue fenders. Handlebars that were low in the middle like a U and wide at the top. Bags on the side that weren’t leather like those she’d seen on other motorcycles. No, these were hard plastic or something. She didn’t know anything really about motorcycles, not enough to be able to distinguish one from another other than cosmetic differences.
Gus’s was beautiful. All shiny chrome, black leather, and that shade of blue that would match the sky just as it shifted to black.
The dashboard… Was that what it was? Like in a car? The speedometer and other gauges looked old fashioned and fit the bike, but if she knew Gus, they were probably more high tech than what they seemed at face value.
She was consistently surprised by him.
“You’ll fit.” It was all he said as he attached a small seat to the back of the bike, bringing her back to the conversation. She’d been so lost in looking at the bike, that she’d almost forgotten her concerns. He turned toward her, a helmet in his hand.
“You came prepared.”
“You never know when there might be a damsel in need of assistance.”
She smirked and took the headgear. “Run into a lot of those, do ya?”
“Not one I’ve ever used the seat and helmet for.”
“I should consider myself special, then?”
“Without a doubt, pretty girl.”
Bex smiled at the endearment. She settled the helmet on her head and fumbled with the strap beneath her chin until she got it snug enough to not fly off. “Good thing I’m not vain enough to worry about having helmet head.”
“No one would care anyway.”
She scrunched her face in displeasure. “That’s not nice.”
“Not what I meant, but if it makes you feel better, I care. I care so much I’ll probably be unable to look at you after you remove the helmet. Happy?”
Bex did her best to keep from laughing, but her best wasn’t good enough. “You’re a jerk,” she said, in the midst of her laugh and shoved at his shoulder.
“Nah. Just a shifter trying to make you happy.”
Now, you should go grab the book, if you hadn’t before, so you’ll be ready to read the next one next week!
Over the next few days you’ll be seeing me and thirteen other incredible authors talking about a new writing adventure that we’re on… It’s been super secret up to now, but this week we’ve been able to talk about it…
Are you ready? (more…)