Here is the Excerpt for my Coming Soon from New Concepts Publishing
www.newconcepts publishing: PMSing
Home is where the heart…hideout is. Psychic Karen Ridley, with her
hormones in overdrive and a killer on her trail, heads back home to
Texas and into the arms of her furry childhood friend Brandon Weis.
Can these two overcome the shadows of the past to build a future
together? Book 2 of the Blue-Collar Worker Werewolf series.
Karen Ridley sucked in a breath and fought not to scream again.
Unreasonable fear damped her skin with sweat. She hated fear. Hated
reacting to it. But the bathroom floor was crawling with scorpions.
Perched on the tiny inside edge of the bathtub, she saw that some of
the tan insects had squared off to fight one another. The dry scratch-
scratch as they clamored over each other, skittered up her spine and
lodged in her neck. She wanted to whimper. She didn’t dare take her
eyes off of the shifting floor, even to snag a towel to dry off or
cover up with.
Few knew of her phobia, and fewer still knew where she was holed up
in the tiny run-down motel. Her brain was too frozen to dredge up
which of her enemies could have pulled off this stunt.
She wasn’t a supernatural or a fey to sluff off that much poison, but
her metabolism was way better than a normal human’s.
But then, she wasn’t really human. Not according to the purists
who’d hunted her across two states. She wasn’t about to test the
endurance of her mixed supernatural and human biology, either.
Karen took a deep breath and crept around the edge of the tub. Some
of the crawlies were trying to scale the slick side of the off white
enameled tub. Bile rose in a burning line up her esophagus. She
forced her leg out and gingerly rested toes on the toilet seat.
Normally, Karen was fairly agile. Another shudder and the sight of a
scorpion clinging to the hand towel hanging above the toilet nearly
made her lose her footing.
It won’t jump on you. It won’t jump. She stared at the tiny six-
legged monster with its pincers and tail at ready to jump for the
first opportunity. Like her naked boob.
She shook off the vision. Don’t jump. Please, don’t jump.
Both feet now secure on the toilet seat and her eyes glued to the
scorpion on the hand towel, she leaned out to the shut door and
twisted the knob. It swung open. Yellow light shone down from the
vanity area, highlighting the industrial brown carpeting. Something
on the floor moved.
Karen whimpered and caught movement out of the corner of her eye.
Screaming for all she was worth, she reached and flicked the towel
into the floor. She swiped the spare towels and wash rags at the
horrid things as well and stood shaking, gripping the shiny chrome
bar as a lifeline.
She could have been safe at Packhome with her mom, stepdad, and the
rest of the wolven pack. Mom made it clear that she was more than
welcome every time Karen phoned. Only with her ex-fiancé Bradley and
his mate living there, Karen had to think of her pride first.
She didn’t want their pity, or the guys’ advances. Since she cycled
like a wolven, her hormones were on overdrive like a female wolf in
heat. And the guys being guys, were dogs. Or werewolves. Most of them
were like brothers and uncles, not potential mates.
And then there was Brandon. Her ex-fiancé’s identical twin
was so completely different from his brother that they had never
looked the same to her.
She’d get herself out of this fix. It was no worse than some of the
others she’d gotten into. She’d probably laugh at this one day.
Right. For God’s sake, they were scorpions, not injured predators,
angry fairies, or even serial killers. Those she could deal with,
maybe even bemusedly mull over later.
But not the serial killer. Being forced by the crazy psychic
werewolf hunter to drive at knifepoint had been the worst that had
happened in her life.
Occasionally, she still dreamed of being forced to drive the car at
knifepoint by the crazy psychic claiming that they were werewolves.
Karen could still hear each gasp of air her mother fought for as her
lungs slowly filled with blood.
The insane werewolf hunter had been so intent on trying to escape her
mom’s last effort to stop him that he didn’t see the real wolven
until too late. It had been a bloody and fitting death.
Karen took another breath. It was time to save herself. She
considered her options.
There was the open door and there was no telling how many creepy-
crawlies in the main room ready to sting her. She made another sweep
of the tiny bathroom. Above the tub was a small opaque ventilation
window about three feet wide.
Yeah. Let’s hear it for a bed on a budget. As in a really small, I-
kind of budget.
Lawrence Dailey had been human psychic and a fairly unimaginative one
at that. He lived for his computer programs and sucking up to the
company’s higher-ups. Dating then sleeping with him had been a stupid
She should have realized that not all psychics were like her and her
Rabid paranoia of the supernatural races and a cultist religion had
ruled the lives of the community born psychics she’d lived among in
Arkansas. Once they found out she wasn’t ‘pure’ the psychic
community rallied to eliminate her.
Lawrence, her lover, had led the mob.
Karen worked her way back over to the tub. Her initial fear was
beginning to ease, though an occasional shudder worked its way up her
spine. She tiptoed up to check out the window. It was wide and narrow
and had that swirly opaque pattern found on cheap bathroom glass. It
was dark outside and no light filtered through.
Thank God she was taller than her mother. Mom would never have
The window turned out to be a hand-cranked jobber that was caulked
into place and served no other function other than being tacky.
She glanced down at the scorpion covered hand towels and wished she’d
kept at least one. Well, she wasn’t getting one now.
The towel bar took a moment to wrench from the wall. Another cheap
bathroom fixture, the aluminum paint was beginning to flake off of
the bar. She took an experimental swing. It skittered across the
glass, leaving a scratch.
She rapped at it again. Her imagination worked overtime. Visions of
being trapped naked with a room full of scorpions eating her alive
gave her strength. The glass cracked. Another good whack and a chunk
of glass fell. She moved before it could cut her.
Karen stared at the glass. She’d be sliced to ribbons crawling
through that. She looked at the floor, considering.
Were there more of them than before?
Karen shuddered and smacked the weakened window pane. Broken glass
was preferable to scorpions any night.
“Dammit! Stop wacking on the window.”
The order came from the darkness on the other side of the cracked
glass. Startled, Karen nearly fell from her perch on the side of the
tub. Throwing her arms out, she balanced. The cool air on her naked
skin sent a shiver of goose bumps over her body.
Her stomach clenched at the thought of her ex finding her like this.
The voice gave a short bark of laughter. There was no humor in the
“As if. You got a toilet plunger in there?”
It was him.
Relief watered through her spine. She rested her forehead against the
speckled tile and dingy grout. He didn’t answer, but she knew it was
She didn’t try to use the pack bond to psychically reach him. Brandon
might not like that.
There was a scraping noise from the outside of the tiny window and
several thumps as he attacked the outside of the bathroom window
She looked down by the toilet. There was a small toilet plunger
there. Scorpions hadn’t climbed the slick plastic handle, but a
couple crawled around the base of the toilet. She didn’t want to
touch the thing.
“Yes, there’s one. I thought you were still gone. Stationed out of
the country. Army, right?”
Nerves made her chatty. She needed some kind of connection. The sound
of his working paused. Karen wondered if he ever thought about their
Or if he even thought of her fondly at all.
Brandon had been her best friend. She’d been engaged to Bradley, his
twin brother. Then everything had fallen apart just like Adam, her
stepdad and the pack alpha, had predicted.
All because she couldn’t commit.
“I got out a year and half ago. Pass the plunger outside to me
through the break. I’m going to knock the glass inside. Then pull
He went silent and the scratching started again.
For once Karen wished she had her mother’s ability to read other
people’s emotions. She’d like to know where she stood with her once
So many stupid misunderstandings.
Brandon hadn’t spoken to her since before high school graduation.
Not one word in nearly ten years.
If only she hadn’t been so wrapped up in herself and the perfect life
she’d imagined with his twin, Bradley.
If only she’d kept her big mouth shut about him needing therapy to
get past Garrick’s, may-he-rot-in-Hell, abuse.
If only the brothers weren’t at opposite ends of pack hierarchy, with
Brandon as omega.
The if onlys could go on forever.
Karen gingerly caught the end of the plunger and tapped it against
the side of the toilet to free it of its occupants. Double checking
to make sure that none of the scorpions were hiding inside, she eased
the thing up through the hole in the window.
Strong looking fingers appeared through the opening and gripped the
“Go to the door. I’m going to finish breaking out the glass..”
“I can’t. There are scorpions everywhere on the floor.”
Brandon didn’t say anything. He was one of the few who knew her
terrors. Even in Arkansas, she’d only had two friends close enough
for confidences. Lawrence, her lover, and Bailey Sparks, her best
“Okay, just move back. I’ll pull you through the window after.”
She stepped back onto the top of toilet lid. The glass moved away
from the frame with a grinding sound. Small pieces tinkled into the
tub. The hand appeared again and knocked the loose pieces away.
“Gimme a towel.”
His voice was different than she remembered. Deeper. More sure. She
shivered as she caught a stray whiff of masculine scent.
“No … I can’t.”
The patient silence on the other end was almost as unnerving as the
No. Brandon would never hurt her. He’d killed once to save her and
“I dropped them on the floor.”
Silence again. Then, he smoothed fabric on the bottom edge of the
window. His t-shirt. Strong male hands an expanse of brown muscle
cored forearms reached through the opening.
“Come on, Tigger. Time to go.”
Karen smiled. It was Brandon’s own special nickname for her.
* * * *
“You bounce like that tiger in the Pooh books”.
The skinny third grade boy stayed huddled, hiding away from the
He peered through the straggles covering his dark eyes. Smudges of
dirt and bruises shadowed Brandon Starr’s hollowed cheeks.
She liked his honest eyes and the way he didn’t make fun of her pig-
Karen knew he was different. Kind of like the way she and her mom
The boy flinched when she touched him. Terror flooded her as images
filled her mind of the horrible things that the monster had done to
him. Karen felt that Brandon tried to block her from seeing
Bad, bad things.
Worse things than her mom warned her about.
She cried and hung on tighter. There wasn’t anything she could do but
be his friend.
And she had until the eleventh grade.
* * * *
They hadn’t spoken in years and now he’d called her Tigger. A knot
she hadn’t known was lodged in her heart loosened. She let herself be
pulled to safety.
The trip through the narrow window scraped the hide off of her
shoulders, back, and butt. Stifling a screech at the stinging pain,
she clung to Brandon’s bare shoulders as he lifted her out.
He stood easily as Karen wrapped herself around her savior. The raw
scrape of her back burned and throbbed in time with her heartbeat.
Familiar arms held her so close that she fell apart, shaking in
relief. Pressed tight against his warm solidness, she squeezed her
eyes shut and buried her nose in the security of his neck. A
tenuous link opened between them, the connection of magic and pack.
Images of the scorpions skittered across the back of her eyelids,
making her shudder again.
Her name penetrated the frightened haze of her brain. She looked up.
It was dark, but the shadowed planes of his face were visible.
He was older, leaner and harder somehow, and still Brandon. It was
the eyes that gave him away.
She laid a hand on his cheek and smiled, startled when he set her
He pushed her away.
Physically with his arms. Emotionally with the use of her given
The link disappeared, as if imagined. The accusation in his voice
finished closing him away from her.
Karen wrapped her arms around herself and turned away to face the
parking lot. They were at the back of the motel. A wooded lot
afforded some privacy.
“I was taking a bath.” she snapped, feeling put-out. “I wasn’t about
to go skipping through the scorpions to get a robe.”
She shuddered again.
He growled with frustration.
Without warning, Brandon snatched her back up in his arms and strode
away. He was all dominant male purpose.
“Dammit, you’re bleeding.”
“Where are you taking me?”
She hung on. The ordeal, his mixed signals, and her hypersensitive
hormones had her in an emotional tailspin.
He gave that short derisive bark again and stepped out into the
parking lot light.
“To my car. Unless, you’d like to brave the wild kingdom again?”
He didn’t used to be surly and sarcastic.
The Brandon she liked to remember was shy and sweet, with gentle
chocolate brown eyes and shadows in his soul. She’d once imagined
that she could help heal the hurts the old alpha had done to Brandon
before Adam Weis took over the pack.
The one she’d left behind had forsaken humanity to live as her mom’s
pet rather than deal with his past. Later, she’d heard he left the
Apparently, she wasn’t the only one to grow up.
Karen huddled in his arms. She shook her head in answer to his
No. She’d rather stay with this new unpleasant version of her
childhood friend than face those scorpions again.
Brandon Starr may be able to shift into a werewolf of legend, but in
her mind, the scorpions were the true monsters.
She shuddered again and fought not to cling as he set her down beside
the passenger door of a traditional Jeep Wrangler and opened the
Very aware of any creepy-crawlies that might appear, she watched him
reach into the backseat and produce a blanket. He shook it loose and
draped it over her shoulders before settling her inside and shutting
The Jeep held the comforting scent of a working man. Sweat, and the
wood and dust combination mixed that always clung to those who worked
for Lobos Luna, her stepfather’s construction business. She’d learned
to equate that scent with strong capable men.
The blanket was crocheted. The heavy warmth lulled a sense of peace
into her as the Jeep travelled over the darkened streets. Out here on
the highway, near the city limits, there were few street lights.
“Who made your blanket?”
Brandon grunted. He appeared to be concentrating on driving. She
“I don’t want to go to Packhome.” Her brow furrowed and she turned
back to the silent man at the wheel. “How did you find me? How did
you know I ….”
* * * *
He cut her off with a canine huff. A street light passed overhead,
illuminating the angry glare he shot at her.
Red reflected off his eyes. He lifted his chin, nostrils flaring as
he took in her scent and pinned her with a feral stare.
Wolf eyes. A predator.
Brandon turned back to the road and switched on the headlights. He
didn’t need them. He could see in the dark. But getting stopped by
the highway patrol, they didn’t need.
Emotions churned inside him. Willpower and a lifetime of
hiding his feelings kept him in control. Still, she was here.
Feeling the danger that surrounded her, he’d just known that
the bathroom was the best mode of escape.
Having to stop and work out the security bars, then the window frame
had allowed him to control relentless drive see to Karen’s safety.
If not for the monster he was, for the filth of his past, they might
have become mated.
Too bad she was still pining for his twin brother.
It had been a lifetime since his bright, bouncy Tigger had been close
enough for him to reach out and touch.
He was going to have to be careful to call her by her given name.
Otherwise, he wouldn’t be able to maintain his perspective. Or
Alone at night, Brandon often wondered if being in Karen’s presence
would be the same tantalizing torture it had been growing up. In the
tense silence, he was still on the outside looking in.
He’d been a significant part of her life, but she’d been everything
to his. Now, he didn’t have to take care not to step on his
Had Bradley been there for all her school events? No.
Had his twin shared lifeblood to heal her injuries? No.
Brandon had killed to keep her safe.
Bradley had abandoned her to the San Antonio Pack and married another
Brandon had followed them. He’d kept watch over her from a safe
distance, always staying close when he thought she might need him.
Just not too close.
When he spoke, his voice was as dark as the interior of the car and
gravelly, like before the change from man to wolf.
“I always find you.”
Karen didn’t know how to take that, but decided it had something to
do with the pack bond.
She still didn’t want to run into her ex and his mate. She opened her
mouth to speak.
Brandon spoke first.
“We’re not going to Packhome. My place is closer.”
End of Excerpt
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