As promised, I was almost done with the book cover for Strange Brew, and now it’s here! :) Along with it, I’m posting a (decidedly) long excerpt from the story, oh my! So, just in case you missed the synopsis of this book, it can be found here, and as always, this story is a work in progress, meaning the excerpt is very subject to change as I edit! There may be a few spelling/grammar errors present, but I’ve tried to make sure this tidbit is as “clean” as possible! :)
Troy wasn’t exactly certain what he’d gotten caught up in, but after several minutes of attempting escape from his magical prison, something unexpected had changed his perspective on it entirely, being a brief, faint caress to his mind, so vague he almost hadn’t noticed.
But as he’d pummeled his fists into the rock wall, a woman’s voice whispered to him. -You’re not in any real danger, just calm down.-
Immediately, Troy turned, trying to determine the source of the telepathic link. The only female werewolf around that he knew of was Andi, and she was at the estate. So the thought he’d picked up could’ve only meant one thing.
She’s here. My mate’s nearby.
Werewolves could sometimes sense the thoughts of their mates even before they were marked, and his heart began hammering as he desperately sniffed the air for her scent—but none came. Even still, he felt as if being watched from a distance, standing close to the magical barrier of his prison to peer out into the grove and look for signs of her.
To the naked eye, there appeared to be no one around, but looks were always deceiving, especially when dealing with magic as he apparently was. So he knew that someone was hiding in the thick brush, simply watching, and whoever it was, they’d camouflaged their presence well.
Perhaps they were afraid of him. Then again, he’d likely been trapped at their hands, so there was really no way to tell what this person wanted or why they were hidden from sight. In addition, he had no way to actually know if it was his mate until he saw her in the flesh.
So he tried to listen with his mind, hoping to gain some insight through another brief telepathic link. But when nothing came to him, Troy attempted to verbally communicate and show he meant no harm.
Still, the only movement in the brush was a gentle breeze blowing through the branches with his continued his attempts. So was he just imagining things out of desperation when the sun was rising and he’d turned up no other signs of his mate that night?
That’s when two human females arrived at the scene, both wearing punk style clothing and sporting wildly colored hair. Troy growled at them in warning, but stopped when their arrival seemed to spur the hidden individual to come into view, proving he’d been right all along.
Still, she wore an irritating green cloak and hood, concealing her identity from head to foot and making it impossible to tell if she was his mate, or even a she.
“Wow, you captured a werewolf?” the blonde asked.
“I’m kind of jealous,” said the other.
Troy watched them closely, remaining ferine despite the rising sun because he still had no idea what this was all about. Yet, he finally learned that the cloaked human was indeed a woman when she replied on a feminine voice, “I wasn’t trying to, but … yeah, Lisa, Cindy, here’s a freaking werewolf.”
Despite her cloak, Troy was convinced that she was his mate, and it became hard for him to focus on anything else. But he forced himself to remain alert, particularly of the two women with her, getting an instinctive feeling that they weren’t to be trusted. As for the cloaked female, she’d sounded annoyed, likely because she knew his kind weren’t very forgiving of transgressions. So he made it a point to remember to calm her worries as soon as he was able.
But the direction of the conversation wasn’t to his liking when the purple haired girl, apparently named Cindy, suggested, “Estelle’s gonna make you a priestess right off the bat.” She sounded amused, continuing, “A werewolf would grant you a ton of power for the initiation.”
Priestess? As he wondered at that, the cloaked female canted her hooded head and asked, “How do you mean?”
“How do you think?” asked Lisa.
“You’re not intending on keeping a werewolf imprisoned, are you?”
“Not specifically, but why wouldn’t we?”
Suddenly, his assumed mate turned from them, walking away a few steps while exclaiming, “He’s gotta have a pack, others who’ll come looking for him, and that would endanger me, and your coven. Besides, I only agreed to capture something to hold until morning and then release it, not hold it captive indefinitely.”
Hearing this talk, Troy realized two things. First, as their brief telepathic link suggested, this cloaked woman actually hadn’t meant him any harm. Secondly, she was a witch, or at least practiced the Craft, and her companions were witches as well if they belonged to a coven.
The two exchanged a look, and Cindy suggested, “He’s probably a loner. There aren’t any packs around here.”
Troy almost scoffed at how little these humans knew. Even the loners belonged to a clan, they simply spent most of their time away from it, and the Ashlands would definitely hunt them down for keeping one of their people imprisoned.
“Then what do you wanna do with him?” the cloaked witch asked.
Both women sighed, a sound that spelled out their intention to sacrifice him for the power they’d spoken of because his mate suddenly drew out, “Oh no, you’re not gonna kill him.”
“No, you are. For your initiation.”
Troy let a fierce growl, catching their attention, and after a brief hesitation, his assumed mate looked back at them and shook her head. “Why? So I can have his family and friends on my ass?” She scoffed, “No thanks.”
As if explaining something to a child, Lisa asked, “Why do you think Estelle wanted you to capture something? It’s an offering, a show of trust. If you don’t do this, you’ll forfeit, and she won’t be happy about that.”
“There might even be repercussions,” Cindy warned.
And I’ll protect her until my dying breath, Troy thought, so convinced the woman they were indirectly threatening was his mate that he snarled at the witches, enjoying their apprehensive looks.
“As far as I’m concerned, Estelle can get over it,” the cloaked witch retorted. “I was never told I’d have to sacrifice someone to join, and besides, sacrifice goes against my Craft. Not to mention, I’m pretty sure he’s unwilling.”
You’re damned straight I am. Yesterday, he might’ve considered letting them kill him for power, but now that he was so close to liberation, his perspective had drastically changed.
Still, the sisters merely exchanged a look, and Lisa shrugged. “Oh well, your loss. At least we’ll be able to put your offering to good use.”
Troy was about to let another growl when, without missing a beat, his assumed mate announced on a fiery tone, “He’s not an offering. I caught him using my own devices, so if anyone’s doing anything with him, it’ll be me.”
The implication of her words nearly made him grin. But the others were unaffected by her claim, and Cindy inquired in a cocky manner, “Then what are you gonna do with him?”
She sounded unimpressed, probably because the odds were two against one, and even his mate seemed to concede defeat when she muttered, “I guess there’s not much I can do. Well, except this.”
With a wave of her hand toward her captive, the barrier imprisoning him faded away.
It only took a moment for Troy to register his freedom, and as soon as he did, he jerked his gaze at the two witches and snarled lowly, baring his fangs.
Immediately, they stiffened, stepping back, and Lisa swiftly waved her own hand, chanting words that might erect another barrier around him. But Troy wasn’t having it, darting from the niche he’d been confined inside of to head toward them at full speed. He wasn’t intent on killing them, however, not when simply scaring them into believing he wasn’t worth their effort to contain a second time was the best way to get rid of them both, and as suspected, they screamed and took off.
But so had the cloaked witch—and she was moving in the opposite direction.
Troy came to an abrupt halt, having absolutely no interest in chasing the offending witches when he was certain he’d just found his mate, and immediately turned to follow her instead. On the way, he reigned in his bestial nature until his looks returned to normal, unwilling to scare her anymore than he probably already had once he caught up.
Thankfully, she wasn’t too far ahead, though she was fast and running as if her life depended on it. But Troy was too determined to have his answers to give up, anxious to see her face and gain the certainty that she was the one he’d been so eager to find all this time.
As if he’d willed it, the cloak she wore was snagged by a few branches in passing some trees, causing the witch to roughly jerk away, leaving it hanging on the limbs. In the process, a trailing mane of crimson hair was revealed, along with a black tank top and cut-off jean shorts exposing long legs.
Automatically, Troy’s bestial nature zeroed in on one thought—she’s mine. Her cloak must have done more than simply mask her looks because he suddenly detected her scent as well, which was even more divine than the lure she’d put in her trap.
In fact, as he took her in, he could feel things shifting into place inside him. It was vague, but a semblance of his former self seemed to resurface, like she’d flipped the switch keeping his savage tendencies in check, soothing the rage he’d been struggling with for so long now.
The abyss threatening to swallow him whole receded.
It was an incredibly distracting sensation, and he stared at that red hair whipping in the air behind her, thinking it looked as if it had some curl to it. But whatever its texture, he’d love spending his time simply running his fingers through it and—
Wham! Troy’s head suddenly connected with a low-lying branch hard enough to break the wood, making him spin backwards. Thankfully, he managed to keep his footing despite the gash he was rewarded with over his left brow, righting himself and continuing on with blood trailing into his eye.
But despite his resilience, his troubles in reaching the witch weren’t over. As soon as he started gaining on her, the trees around them came to life without warning, their branches tangling together to bar his path. Simultaneously, vines whipped out to wrap around his arms, slowing his pace.
She was using magic to incite the forest to protect her, and though it was potent, Troy’s determination equaled it in strength as he tore his way through, ignoring the lashes of the wood across his chest and the pain of something sharp cutting through his upper arm. Once freed of their grasp, he quickly decided to move up and over a hill near the path she was traveling around in order to cut her off at the pass—as well as avoid the trees guarding the more direct route to her.
This meant letting the redhead out of his sight for a few moments, but it was worth the effort, leading him to the end of her trail just before she got there.
Without qualm, Troy jumped from the ledge above, and landed right in front of her.
The witch gasped loudly, coming to a stop so swiftly that she slipped in the wet grass and fell on her ass with a grunt, having landed harder than he thought she could withstand without pain. But that didn’t prevent her from turning a set of panicked crystal blue eyes up at him and immediately backing away.
Regardless, Troy closed in to help her up and make sure he hadn’t inadvertently hurt her, hoping in the meantime that he could convince her that she had absolutely no reason to fear him.
Aislinn’s night simply couldn’t get any worse.
Though she’d never been on a track team, she was moving fast enough to bring home the gold, having no idea if the werewolf would come after her, or if mauling Cindy and Lisa would satisfy his anger. But it definitely wasn’t a good idea to stick around and find out, and she ran as swiftly as her legs would carry her.
She wouldn’t have released the werewolf at all, having planned on letting him stay in the prison until the barrier wore off after she was long gone and safe from his retribution. But with the sisters insisting on sacrificing him for power, there was no choice in the matter. Aislinn refused to murder someone for personal gain, and she couldn’t let The Trine hurt him either.
So even if he caught up and decided to end her, at least she’d die knowing she’d done the right thing.
Ducking beneath a few branches as she turned down a narrow path, her cloak was snagged, forcing her to tug her arms free and leave it behind. But Aislinn ignored the loss in favor of focusing her energy while chanting in her head for the earth to rise up and protect her. As a result, anyone who followed would be slowed by the trees, if not stopped completely.
Hopefully, the spell would give her plenty of time to reach the dirt road just up ahead where her car was parked, and escape the area. Almost there!
Nearing the end of her chosen route, she suddenly ran into a roadblock when the werewolf she’d captured jumped down from a ledge above, landing right in front of her without warning. Aislinn hadn’t even heard him coming, and stopped so abruptly that she slid across the damp ground and hit her ass, tracking dirt up the backs of her legs.
Grunting, she scrambled to keep her wits about her as a sharp pain shot through her rear, backing away on all fours while the big male drew in. Oh shit!
As a last minute appeal for mercy, she held up her hand and rushed the words, “I’m sorry! Don’t hurt—ah!”
The werewolf grasped her wrist, effortlessly pulling her up. Aislinn thought she was dead, but in a surprising move, he merely turned her around, asking, “Are you okay?”
Aislinn drew a blank at the question, briefly forgetting her fear. Am I okay? Shouldn’t he be trying to kill me? Baffled by his concern, she looked back to see that he’d leaned down to inspect her for injuries, and her confusion died the moment he drew his hand over the back of her leg, then up toward her ass.
“Hey!” she shot out, tugging away from him just as a shiver ran through her body from the spot his fingers swept over.
Still, he didn’t look one bit apologetic, standing to his full height while shrugging a broad shoulder. “You fell pretty hard. I wanted to check.”
“Well thanks, but keep your paws to yourself,” Aislinn retorted, though he was right. Now that she was focusing more on her state of being rather than getting mauled, she realized she’d smacked her ass hard enough that she’d likely find a bruise there later. Nothing a little tonic can’t handle.
Ignoring it for now, she asked, “Why would you care if I’m okay anyway?”
“Thought it was fitting considering the way you stood up to those witches for me.”
Though surprising, Aislinn had to remind herself that she didn’t know a hell of a lot about werewolves. She’d simply expected the worst after all the stories she’d heard.
Still, just to make sure he understood that she’d never intended him harm, she stated explicitly, “I don’t do sacrifices, and I think anyone who needs to perform them is seriously lazy.”
Half a smile lifted the corner of his mouth, and she found herself staring. Now that he wasn’t all beastly, and despite his various injuries, the werewolf was actually pretty nice to look at. No, scratch that, nice is an understatement. This man was downright sexy, with thick, tawny hair hanging just past his shoulders in wild disarray, and eyes a chocolate shade of brown that turned golden around his pupils.
His shirtless chest was smaller in muscle mass than it’d been in his alternate form, but that wasn’t saying much. Every inch of his body that she could see looked like it’d been carved from granite. Topping it off, his pecs were dusted with dark blond hair, and there was a trail of the same color leading from his navel and into the waistband of his pants.
The fact that his jeans were tattered and he had a day’s worth of scruff growing on his face gave him a rugged appeal Aislinn had a huge weakness for. But in her currently celibate situation, such a thing only spelled trouble.
Attempting to focus, she paid more attention to the whelps across his chest and the cut in his bicep dripping blood down his arm. He even had a larger gash on his forehead above his left eye, all of which was probably the result of the spell she’d cast.
Still, she asked just to make sure, “What happened?”
As if he’d only just noticed he was bleeding, he looked down, then shrugged. “I guess your magic’s potent.”
An unexpected wave of guilt hit Aislinn, one she pushed away in favor of asking the question, “Then why did you follow me if you’re not trying to kill me?”
He shrugged, “Wanted to say thank you?”
“Try again,” she returned, knowing that wasn’t the full truth.
“Okay, then I was curious. What witch traps men just to hold for a short while and then release?”
That was a little more feasible. If the roles were reversed, she would’ve been curious too, muttering in answer, “One who’s trying to join a coven she had no business joining, and it wasn’t just men. I was supposed to capture anything supernatural to hold until morning, which happened to be you. But if I’d known they wanted to kill you, I never would’ve agreed to their trial.”
“I believe you,” he reassured, and somehow, his gaze had her heart fluttering. It was interested, and considering how physically attractive he was combined with her lack of any satisfaction in abstaining from all things sexual for the Rite of Romedra until her birthday next week, Aislinn feared her defenses would crumble much more easily than normal if he acted on that interest.
So in the effort of keeping things simple, she decided to turn and go, saying, “Well, it was nice meeting you, and I’m sorry about all of this.”
Yet, in response to her farewell, he introduced himself. “My name’s Troy Ashland. What’s yours?”
With a sigh, Aislinn came to a stop, asking without looking back, “Why do you wanna know?”
“I’m new in the area, and wouldn’t mind befriending a beautiful woman like you.”
Slowly, she turned her gaze toward him, quirking an eyebrow up. Oh boy. The incredibly sexy werewolf is flirting. To make things worse, she wasn’t getting the sense that he was playing some kind of game with her, which only increased her curiosity.
Still, she forced herself to reply, “Sounds like you’re looking for your first conquest then, and if so, you’ve got the wrong witch.” Wait until next week, then we’ll talk.
“Does that mean you wouldn’t be willing to offer me a ride? Maybe a little first aid for this?” he asked, motioning to his arm.
Again, guilt assailed her. “How do you know I’m not walking?”
“I don’t, but if you are, I could help you get home.”
Aislinn watched him carefully, having no idea what to think of this Troy Ashland or his persistence. But she also didn’t dislike it as much as she should considering the circumstances, bringing her to one simple conclusion.
It’s official, werewolves are definitely trouble.
I’ll have more updates available as work progresses, and I hope you’ve enjoyed this excerpt!