THIRDS Thursday - 8/2/18

Hello, all! So a few weeks ago I posted a fake newspaper image I'd created back when I was writing the very first draft of Hell & High Water. I also talked about the first time Dex and Sloane met back when the book was written in first person, and in Dex's point of view. I mentioned how although Dex knew who he was from the beginning, I kept trying to steer him in a different direction, a far more serious one, and he was having none of it.

Some of you may also recall in the original drawn, Hudson's name was actually Rafe, he was a bit of a douche, had a past with Sloane, and Cael had a crush on him. That didn't last long because Ash came onto the scene, decided Cael was his, Rafe became a huge tiger Therian with a chip on his shoulder, and Hudson was reborn the sweet, slightly awkward nerd we know today.

So here we go. Let's travel back in time to a piece of the original incarnation of Hell & High Water.


“Take off the jacket.”

“What?” I turned to Cael who just shrugged.

Before Rafe could elaborate, something large and dark loomed over me. For a moment, I thought my life was going to flash before my eyes. Then I realized it wasn’t death that had stealthily crept up into my personal space. It was my new partner.

My first instinct was to flee. Even though I knew it was my partner who stood over me in his Human form, the words Apex Predator seemed to be overriding all my good senses, and before I knew it, I had my Sig aimed at his chest with the safety off.

“Back off,” I growled, wondering what the hell was happening to me. All I knew was every instinct I had was on high alert, sirens blaring, my adrenaline pumping like some heavy shit was about to go down around me instead of the eerie silence that had descended. Why hadn’t I had this reaction to any of the other Therians I’d walked past? I knew they were dangerous, Tony had confirmed it. Sloane wasn’t the only Apex Predator, so why couldn’t I put my gun down?

All six and half feet of sleek, raw force stepped closer, and my gaze moved up. He was big, bigger than me, bigger than most of the guys I’d walked past in here, dressed all in black tactical pants and tight black t-shirt—as if his height, set of his shoulders, broad chest, and thick arms didn’t give him enough of an imposing presence.

Sloane was rugged, with a square jaw, and stubble. His pitch black hair gleamed with a faint blue sheen under the lights. It was unruly and windswept, curling slightly around his ears and his collar, but it was his eyes that pinned me to the spot. They were golden molten amber, intense, and unmistakably, one hundred percent Therian. I would have thought he was the hottest guy I’d ever seen if I wasn’t so distracted by the sheer fact that before me stood a man who could rip my throat out with one bite, and I didn’t even know what the hell kind of Felid he was. There was something about him, something he gave off the others didn’t. It struck me deep down inside my core, validating what Therian scientists have been insisted for decades: that Humans were no longer at the top of the food chain.

I knew Sloane wasn’t going to hurt me, but my gut wasn’t taking any chances. Taking a deep calming breath, I slowly forced myself to move the safety into place, but I still couldn’t put my gun away. Not yet.  I stood exceptionally still when he leaned into me, his breath tickling my ear.

A shiver went up my spine when I heard his purr. Goddammit, he was purring, actually purring, and it was vibrating against my ear, like a faint chainsaw. His proximity was radiating heat, making it difficult to breathe, and I didn’t much care for it.

“What is that?” he growled, taking a sniff.

“Awkward? Nah, this ain’t awkward.”

“Answer the question.”

“I don’t know. Tea? I accidentally spilled some black tea on me this morning.”

“Not enough on you to affect me,” he murmured huskily, his voice barely above a whisper. He inhaled again. “It’s something else.”

I wondered what this something else could be. The Citrus Mint Forming Cream? Shower gel? Deodorant? Aftershave? Shampoo? Conditioner? Jesus, did I really use that many products? Didn’t matter. None of those things were any different from what I could detect on him with my paltry Human sense of smell, well, minus the Citrus Mint.

He pulled back with a snarl of disgust and pushed his index finger against the dimple in my chin. “Watch your step, Fancy Feast. Black tea is off the menu unless you’re looking to be on it.”

“I’ll keep that in mind. I’d prefer it if you didn’t sneak up on me.”

“I’m sorry. Next time I walk into the room, I’ll announce my presence so you don’t shit yourself.”

I swiped the apple off my desk and started tossing it back and forth between my hands like a baseball. Prick. “Thanks. To show my appreciation, I’ll make sure to bring you a nice ball of yarn.”

With a humorless laugh, he shoved his hands into his pockets. “Nice one. Tell me, do you write all your own material or does Google help you out with that?”

Oh this was just peachy. We were getting off to a grand start. That was all I needed, for my new partner to hate me as much as my old one. Well if Sloane thought I was going to cower down before him, he had another think coming. There was no way in hell I was going to let him push me around like I was the weaker species. There was a sharp gasp from somewhere in the room and it was only then that I realized I had been so lost in my own inner monologue, I hadn’t noticed Sloane’s pupils dilate to the point where his eyes were almost black. His head was slightly lowered and his gaze was fixed on the apple, following it as it went back and forth, back and forth. His dark brows were drawn together and his jaw was clenched, his nostrils flaring. God help me. It was terrifying, yet exhilarating to watch the gradual transformation.

Then I remembered the catnip. Shit. Was Sloane susceptible? But he wasn’t acting like the others. I’m pretty sure none of their pupils had dilated. In fact, he wasn’t even looking at me. His gaze was still fixed on the apple.

“Listen up, Rookie…”

I followed the soft whisper over to Rafe, surprised to find him with both his hands up in front of him. It wasn’t so much that he looked about ready to spring into action that had me feeling all kinds of nervous, but the alarmed look on his face. I opened my mouth but he shook his head and continued to speak just above a whisper.

“Slowly move the apple away from you and put it on the desk, but make sure he’s following it when you do. Then stay extremely still. No sudden movements.”

I looked over Rafe’s shoulder and nearly dropped the apple. Everyone within our general vicinity had come to a standstill, with half of them looking ready to flee. I kept tossing the apple back and forth as he’d suggested, and turned my gaze back to Sloane. I might not be an expert on the subject, but thanks to Cael, I knew that look. He was getting ready to pounce, and not in a sexy way, but in a cause-serious-bodily-harm kind of way.

Shit. Shit. Shit.

Okay, I had to calm down. I sure knew how to make one hell of a first impression. Doing exactly as Rafe said, I slowed down my movements, and with the apple in my left hand, I made sure he was following it before gingerly placing it on the desk to one side. I drew my hand away very slowly, and stood exceptionally still.

Everyone and everything seemed to be frozen in time, including Sloane, who was just staring at the apple. When I thought I would pass out from holding my breath, he blinked a few times, snatched the apple off the desk, and took a big chunk out of it before Rafe burst into laughter. What the hell just happened?

Sloane laughed and gave my cheek a firm pat. “Welcome to Unit Alpha.” He waved his shiny apple before strolling out of the office as if nothing out of the ordinary had just happened, calling out over his shoulder, “Thanks for the apple, Fancy Feast.”  Rafe wiped a tear away from his eye, laughing as he trailed off after him, and outside, everyone was having a good old fashioned laugh at my expense.

I turned to Cael who looked like he didn’t know what to do with himself.  “What the hell was that? Was he going feral or did I just get punked by my new dick of a partner?”

Cael shrugged. “I don’t know. For a moment, I really thought he was, but then he just sort of snapped out of it.”

“I could have shot him!”

“Not likely. If Sloane believed you to be a threat, he would’ve taken you down the moment you reached for your Sig. His reflexes are far quicker than yours. Seriously, man, don’t mess with him. He’s one of the most lethal Alphas around. I thought dad filled you in on all this.”

“No, dad failed to mention that tiny yet life threatening tidbit of information.”

“What did I fail to mention?”

I spun toward my dad who was watching us curiously and threw my hands up in frustration. “The fact that my partner is one of the most lethal Alphas in this unit and a complete dick!” Taking a deep breath, I dropped down onto my chair and sighed. This wasn’t how I’d pictured my first day going. “You and your stupid ideas.” I cast him a dirty look. “You gave me that apple, and when I started tossing it around, Sloane started to go feral, or pretended to, I have no clue.”

“His pupils dilated,” Cael pitched in, coming to stand next to Tony. “I thought it was the real deal. I could smell it.”

“You can smell a shift?” I asked, wondering if I really wanted to know. “Sounds gross.”

“If someone sweats a lot you can smell it right?”

I nodded.

“Similar principle.”

Tony frowned and shook his head. “I gave you the apple so you could give it to him because he loves those things. Figured it might get the two of you off on the right foot.”

“Well, it didn’t.”

The more Tony appeared to think on it, the more nervous I became. He obviously had something on his mind. It was written all over him like someone had taken a Sharpie to his bald head.

“What?”

“Remember when you kids were younger, how you were all moody and pissed off all the time?”

I waved that remark away. “We were teenagers. Of course we were moody and pissed off all the time.”

“And remember that time I took you boys camping and you two got into that stupid fight over who was getting to sleep in what tent and you started waving that flashlight in Cael’s face?”

How could I forget? One minute we were cursing at each other like brothers do and the next minute I was on my back with a death grip on my flashlight because it was the only thing keeping Cael’s fangs from sinking into my neck. Cael had gone feral on me and his Therian side was having trouble communicating with his Human side. After our dad managed to get Cael to change back, we’d taken him straight to the hospital, where the good old doctor explained it was all part of growing up for my feline brother. Like going berserk and sinking your fangs into someone was right up there with zits or jacking off twenty times a day. Cael’s teenage hormones wreaked havoc with his neurological makeup, so until he grew out of it, he’d have to take some suppressants to keep him from getting himself into trouble, just like any other number of teenage Therians out there.

“So… what? You think he was actually going feral and then tried to cover it up? Besides, the whole hormone imbalance thing only happens to kids and teenagers, right?”

Cael shrugged. “It can happen to adults if something really gets under our skin. I mean really gets under our skin, but that never happens to Sloane. The guy’s impervious to everything.”

A worried look came onto Tony's face as he sat on the edge of my desk. “Either way, Dex, and don’t take this the wrong way—”

“Which basically means I will.”

“Look, I know you consider yourself pretty tough, and I’m not saying you’re not. Hell, you gotta be to do the job you do, but this is a whole different world. You need to be careful about who you piss off, and not just in here. Sure, you might find yourself roughed up a little, but none of these guys would cause you any serious damage. Not intentionally. Sloane’s… not the easiest guy to handle, but he’s a good guy and he’ll have your back. Out there is a danger the likes of which you’ve never faced.”

I was watching him carefully as he spoke, taking note of all his little nuances and reading between the lines. Slowly it all started coming together. Sloane was considered dangerous, even among his own kind. Obviously, he was one hell of an asset. Why the hell had they paired him up with me? Tony seemed to read my mind.

“You got something, kid. Whatever it is, Kyler and Howell saw it and decided you were the guy for the job. I think you and Sloane could learn a lot from each other.”

I had no idea what exactly he thought Sloane could learn from me. I on the other hand could learn how to keep myself from getting mauled by my partner.

“Say, what kind of Felid is Sloane, anyway? He wasn’t exactly forthcoming with that information.”

“Pantherinae, first lineage. Black Jaguar,” Tony replied, sounding almost proud. I guess he was, considering this was his department. “Congratulations, Dex. You got yourself partnered up with one of the rarest Alphas in the city.”


So there we have it. A good deal of world building changed after that. Dex was fighting me every step of the way. This wasn't how he wanted the story told, and Sloane was getting even grumpier that he wasn't getting his side of the story told. I'd written about 25,000 words, and scrapped it all. I kept some of the scene ides, like Dex  in his HPF captain's office, the plot revolving around the Isaac and the Humi-Therians being killed. Every interaction with Dex and Sloane was scrapped and started from the beginning. Sometimes you have to listen to your gut. Or in this case, a gummy bear, cheesy doodle crunching blond menace.


Be Still My Heart official release day giveaway!

Hello, all! Today is the official release day for Be Still My Heart which means we’re celebrating with an awesome giveaway!!

One lucky winner will receive a Four Kings Security gift pack which includes a host of awesome goodies!

To enter the giveaway, just leave a comment below!

Giveaway is open internationally. Ends August 15th, 2018 at midnight (Eastern US time). Winner will be notified via email and announced here on the blog shortly after.

Please allow time for your goodies to arrive.

Former Special Forces medical sergeant Russell “Red” McKinley knows a thing or two about wounds, like the fact some can take a lifetime to heal, if they heal at all. The scars Red carries run deep, and living with PTSD often means battling the memories of his past. Injuries he received while working an executive protection case with fellow Kings and co-owners of Four Kings Security, have once again forced past heartaches to the surface, but Red is determined not to let it derail his blossoming romance with sweet and sexy fashion photographer Lazarus Galanos.

Laz can’t deny there’s something special developing between him and Red, but Laz has wounds of his own. He’s hesitant to jump into a new relationship after his recent explosive breakup. Experience has taught Laz to doubt his judgement when it comes to men. Guys who seem too good to be true, usually are, and no one appears more perfect than Red.

When an attempt is made on Laz’s life, Red is determined to keep him safe. Laz may not be a client, and Red is still off duty, but Laz is one of their own, and nothing means more to the Kings than family. While an investigation is underway, Red and Laz are growing closer, but can they find a way to help each other heal and take a chance on love, or will their fears and insecurities cost them more than their future together?

BUY LINK

Amazon Kindle US: Amazon.com eBook and KU: https://amzn.to/2mQoVI9

Amazon Global Link KU: mybook.to/BeStillMyHeart_CC

Paperback: https://amzn.to/2LIr47B

💛 EXCERPT

goodreads-badge-add-plus

**** GIVEAWAY CLOSED ****

Thank you all so much for entering the giveaway and for your amazing comments! We have the winner of our swag pack.

Chosen at random, congrats:

Aibopals!

You'll be emailed regarding delivery of your goodies! Thank you again all so much for joining in the fun! More giveaways coming soon!

 


Love in Spades $0.99 this weekend only!!

Hello, all! To celebrate the upcoming release of Be Still My Heart, book 2 in the Four Kings Security series, Love in Spades is $0.99 on Amazon.com from Saturday, July 28th @ 8am PDT through Monday, July 30th @ 8am PDT only. If you haven't started this series, now's your chance to grab the first book for just $0.99! This countdown deal only lasts through the weekend, so don't miss out.

https://amzn.to/2qRKBp2  

THIRDS Thursday - 7/26/18 Giveaway

Hello, all! For this week's THIRDS Thursday we have a swag-tastic giveaway! It's open internationally and includes:

  • A signed and numbered mass market paperback of Hell & High Water.
  • Mini lion phone charm
  • Donut keyring
  • Gummy bears and candy notebook
  • Lighthouse pen
  • THIRDS swag: DD notepad, DD button, DD magnet, Threat Level Fuchsia button
  • 3x bookmarks
  • Charlie leopard print pouch

Giveaway ends Aug 9th at midnight Eastern US time. Winner posted here on this post Friday, Aug 10th.

To enter just leave a comment below. By entering the giveaway you agree to be notified via email if you should win.

**** GIVEAWAY CLOSED ****

Thank you all so much for joining the giveaway!! So many amazing comments! If you didn't win this time around, no worries, we have plenty more giveaways happening, and a regular THIRDS giveaway every month.

Chosen at random, the winner is:

Catherine Wininger

Congrats, Catherine! You'll be contacted shortly regarding delivery of your goodies!! Thank you all again so much for joining in the fun!

Love in Spades audiobook now available from Audible!

Hello, all! I'm super excited to announce that the Love in Spades (Four Kings Security, Book 1) audiobook has been released at Audible! iTunes and Amazon links should be available soon, but the Audible link is live!! I'm so very excited. Greg did such a fantastic job in giving the King a voice. I hope you love the audio as much as I do!

AUDIOBOOK DETAILS

Title: Love In Spades Series: Four Kings Security, Book #1 Genre: Gay Romance, Romantic Suspense Length: Unabridged, 7 hrs and 53 mins Published: June 20th, 2018 Publisher: Charlie Cochet Narrator: Greg Boudreaux

AUDIOBOOK PURCHASE LINKS

Audible.com

THIRDS Thursday - Win an ARC for Love and Payne, plus an excerpt!

Hello, all! The final proof for Love and Payne is with Dreamspinner Press, and I'm excited to announce the release date! Austen and Zach's love story will be out on September 4th, 2018!! Which means it should be up for pre-order around August 6th. In the next few weeks I'll also be bringing you the fabulous cover, created by the lovely L.C. Chase.

Love and Payne is the first book in the THIRDS Universe Novels, a series of books centered around a different couple we've met in the original THIRDS series, and although we may hear about or have the THIRDS guys pop up in these books, these are stand alone books that focus on the couple, so readers won't have to have read the whole THIRDS series to pick these up, though obviously having read the series will enrich the experience since that's where we first meet these guys. The books have a slightly different feel than the THIRDS series as far as the romance is concerned.

With Dex and Sloane we were able to follow them and the rest of the crew for ten books, giving the relationships plenty of time to grow. With the THIRDS Universe Novels we have one book to get these guys their happy ever after. I didn't want the love stories to be overshadowed by the action and suspense. In the THIRDS series, the books tend to lean a little heavier toward the action. Of course there's plenty of story, action, suspense, and sexy times, but we also have plenty of the guys falling in love.

With Austen's book I went back and forth a lot. We know who Austen is, who he works for, and the possibilities for his book were endless. When I started brainstorming his book, I was thinking of all these complicated TIN story plots, and all this action, but then realized we've been waiting for Austen and Zach to get together for quite a while now. Years, in fact. I didn't want to cheat Austen and Zach, out of their love story, but at the same time, I needed to remain true to their characters, especially Austen. Finding a balance for this book was tough, but I'm happy with the results, and I can't wait to share this book with you.

GIVEAWAY

I'll be giving away 3 Love and Payne ARCs to 3 random winners.

To enter: just leave a comment below. Giveaway ends: June 28th at midnight, Eastern US time. Open internationally.

By entering this giveaway, you agree to be notified via email should you win.

ARC: The ARC is an Advanced Reader Copy so you'll find that it has no book cover or design formatting, as it's been put together at this time to give folks enough time to read it..

Very important: If you're selected to receive an ARC, please do not share it with others. Unfortunately, piracy is a big problem within the publishing community, and sadly, some folks don't realize what an impact this can have on the author, their publisher, and the work.

EXCERPT

“Hey.”

Austen turned his head to Zach, who crouched down in front of him, a big dopey smile on his face. His cheeks were pink, and he dropped his gaze to his fingers in a shy gesture.

“Can I help?”

Austen turned his attention back to Brayden, but his friend and Edan were gone. This wasn’t supposed to happen. Austen thumped his tail anxiously. The last person he wanted giving him PSTC was Zach.

“Austen?”

Austen turned to Zach and stiffened when Zach slowly reached up. His brain told him to move away, not to let Zach touch him, but his heart kept him still as Zach ever so gently laid his hand on Austen’s head. His smile was blinding as he gingerly ran his fingers through Austen’s fur, as if any sudden movement might spook Austen, which wasn’t too far off the mark. Austen sat very still as Zach petted him lovingly before scratching him behind the ear, making him close his eyes with a purr. Austen hadn’t meant to purr, but his cheetah half was too content to care what he had to say on the matter.

“You’re so beautiful.”

Austen’s eyes flew open, and he was taken aback by the awe on Zach’s face as he ran his fingers through the fur on Austen’s neck. Warmth flooded through Austen, and he surprised them both by stretching his neck out and quickly delivering a wet kitty kiss to Zach’s cheek. Wondering what the hell had gotten into him, Austen headed off to the changing room where his clothes were. Once inside, he turned to find Zach where he’d left him, looking wide-eyed. His expression quickly turned uncertain, and Austen chirped. He sat on his haunches and flicked his tail impatiently, making Zach chuckle. When Zach reached the changing room, Austen half expected Zach to get into the room with him, but he didn’t. He smiled tenderly as he started to close the door.

“I’ll be right out here when you’re ready, okay?” With that he closed the door, and Austen was touched by Zach’s consideration. He could have easily used this as an excuse to see Austen naked, but he didn’t.

Austen closed his eyes and willed his cheetah half to retreat, his bones once again popping, muscles stretching and contracting. His feral yowls of pain soon turned into Human grunts and groans. As soon as he was on two legs, he shakily dropped down onto the padded bench and with a trembling arm, reached for the robe hanging on one of the hooks. Fuck, he was freezing. It took him a few minutes to find the strength to slip into the robe and tie it at his waist.

“Zach.” It was nothing more than a whisper, but Zach heard him. He opened the door just wide enough to step inside the room before closing the door behind him. The space was big enough for two, with several hooks on one wall and an extrawide cushioned bench that ran from one end of the changing room to the other. On the third wall was a cabinet stocked with protein bars and several flavors of Gatorade. Zach reached for one of the Gatorade bottles first and twisted the cap open. Austen expected Zach to stand over him to help him drink, but he didn’t. He took a seat on the bench beside Austen, placing one large hand to the back of Austen’s head while he brought the bottle to Austen’s mouth, gently tilting it.

Austen slowly sipped at the drink. He closed his eyes in the hopes of tamping down the overwhelming desire to lean into Zach. His body radiated warmth, and Austen was shivering. Fuck. He just couldn’t get warm. Suddenly Zach pulled the drink away and dragged himself on the bench until he was against the wall.

“Come here,” Zach said softly, reaching for Austen, who stiffened, but he allowed Zach to pull him between his spread legs. He wrapped Austen in his tree-trunk arms, his chest pressed against Austen’s back. Zach nuzzled the side of his head, murmuring by his ear and sending a shiver through Austen that had nothing to do with the cold. “I’m just helping you get warm. The second you are, I’ll stop. I promise. No funny business.”

Austen was about to protest, but his body was already feeling the effects of Zach’s proximity, and it felt so damn good.

“Just until I get warm,” Austen grumbled, his voice still rough from postshift. “Not one second longer.”


Autism Awareness Blog Hop

Hello, all! I’m honored to once again be part of the annual blog hop for Autism Awareness along with a fabulous group of authors. If you’d like to check out the other posts, you can do so here: http://rjscott.co.uk/autism-awareness-month-2018

Autism Fact:  Dogs have been shown to improve autistic children’s quality of life, independence, and safety. The presence of a trained dog can reduce aggressive behavior, calm the child, and serve as a link to the child’s community.

I may write about Big Cats, but at home, I have a different type of four-legged fur baby. I’m a big believer in the healing power of dogs. I love dogs. Love how they have the power to impact your life. Olly has certainly made a big dig difference in my life. He’s a four-year-old Doxiepoo who has done a world of good for me. Being an author, I spend a lot of time in my office behind my desk. Olly doesn’t just keep me company. He makes sure that I don’t spend too long at my desk without getting up. He takes a nap, maybe plays with some of his toys, and then decides enough is enough and mom needs to step away from the glowing rectangle.

When I don’t feel well, Olly knows. How do I know he knows? When I’m in bed he either curls up at my feet or on them. When I’m not well, he stretches out his long little body and is pressed against my side from nose to tail. Sometimes he’ll be at my shoulder. If I’m having a rough day, all I have to do is look at his little face, and it helps so much. He makes me laugh all the time with his weird little dog ways and his expressions. I swear sometimes he looks at me like I’m just so weird. It’s hysterical. He’s definitely a snuggler, and far too smart for his own good. He’s an expert at conning a treat out of you. I’m just blown away by how much love dogs have to give, how attune they are to their humans.

How about you? Do you have a fur-baby?

GIVEAWAY

I'm giving away a $10 Amazon gift card to one random winner.

Just leave a comment below. Giveaway ends May 4th at midnight Eastern US time. Winner will be notified via email and announced here on the blog shortly after.

*** GIVEAWAY IS NOW CLOSED***

Thank you all so much for joining in the blog hop, and for taking the time to comment. We have our gift card winner. Xanthe Anderson! Congrats! You should have received an email regarding delivery of your prize. Thank you all again so much for joining in!

 

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