Very soon, you’ll be able to download the second installment in The Leopards Unleashed Series. Wereking follows the character Brom, King of Wereleopards, as he eats a lot of humble pie, which he should do after the mess he made of his daughter’s life in the first book. And as the poster child for bad relationships, has Brom unloaded enough of his baggage to risk falling in love all over again?
Check out the first chapter of Wereking now and stay tuned for its release this month of October, 2014…
A streak of sunlight hit me right in the eye, piercing the back of my cornea and stirring me from sleep. I turned my head a fraction to the right and got hit in the left eye with the hot ray. My hand flew up, slapped me in the face and a grunt escaped my lips. The room was warm but it felt good. Too much time had passed since I had enjoyed the kitty piles of my youth, but this feeling, here, brought it all to the forefront.
My arm, still heavy with sleep, or alcohol, or both, labored over the empty sheets around me, so I popped a lid only to find I had no clue whose bed I was in. At first, my mind was blank, but it soon filled with snapshots of recent events past. Some of which couldn’t possibly belong to me. Wasn’t my bag to hang out with humans. At all. But since coming to Los Angeles, I didn’t have much choice.
Soft chanting came from nearby. The voice was vibrant and haunting—interesting word that kind of summed up my last six months of existence. The haunting part, at least. To sum up the rest, well, let’s just say if I stopped my binge now, the liquor industry would be paralyzed.
I stretched my mouth in a yawn and cringed at the nasty taste. Dignity had fallen way by the wayside.
Sitting up, I palmed my cock still sticky from last night’s use. With no condom in sight, I slapped a hand over my face and rubbed vigorously. And cursed. The drink was suddenly calling to me again.
I heard the female’s approach before I looked up. She was wearing a slip of a dress and her features were oddly similar to mine; same caramel skin color, green eyes, and blonde kissed brown hair. All coincidence since she was not Egyptian as far as I could tell. It was rare I came across people from my homeland.
She stepped in between my knees and pushed me back down on the bed. I noticed for the first time that it was a strange mattress. Firm but I sunk right into it. She climbed on top and straddled me.
“Are we finished here, because I have a big day ahead of me, so…”
Did she just “…” me? I blinked and my eyebrows shot up. This was a first.
“What?” My deep voice came out with more gravel than usual, from sleep.
She put her hands on her hips and lessened the blow with a sultry smile. “Didn’t your mother ever teach you not to overstay your welcome?”
“What time is it?”
She was too cheery for this early in the morning. But, then, with my nocturnal habits I couldn’t judge.
“Yeah,” I groaned, “Just let me get my shit and I’ll be out of your hair.”
“Great.” She leaned down to trail kisses from the corner of my mouth to my ear and then my neck. This close, her long, wavy hair fell onto my face. She smelled good, like sex and patchouli. Too soon, she crawled off of me. I sat up and watched as she bounced off to the bathroom like some dark-skinned, Mediterranean pixie. A lump started to rise in the sheets until I remembered my last encounter with a pixie I mistook for a wood nymph who had super-sized herself for a night. Her clan wasn’t too happy come morning when I woke up on top of her lifeless tiny frame. It was unspeakable how they punished me. Well, a certain part of me. Thank the gods, I healed quickly, but the memory…
The sound of rushing water snatched my attention back and I stood to my full height, dwarfing the room to junior bedroom size. I found my jeans underfoot, with the underwear still in them, then my t-shirt and boots at the end of the bed. As I slipped on the last boot, my nose followed the sweet and savory scents of patchouli and sage to her altar. This must have been where she was chanting earlier. After putting the foreign language, icons, and physical attributes together, I realized she was Indian. Not that it mattered, but I had to get her info before I left. To make sure the unprotected sex didn’t come back to haunt me. Or her.
There went that word again. Uma hadn’t made a peep since I woke up here, and without my usual dose of alcohol, I wondered why I had the privilege of her silent treatment.
The human’s cell phone was lying out in the open on the dining table in the main living area. There was no purse in site, which was odd. You didn’t have to hang around many human females to realize the purse was something they couldn’t live without. And the money they put down to wrap their belongings in leather hide, I could make a fortune from my skin alone. It was a sick thought.
The cell phone’s case bulged in the back as I flipped it over. After I unwrapped the rubber band holding it together, her ID and credit card popped out of the not-so-private hiding space. I shook my head. This female was… different. I memorized her name, Siddhima Iyer, and her address then began putting the things back when I had the distinct feeling of being watched.
I glanced around the small apartment as my senses kicked into high alert. Nothing could get by me in such a small space, I thought, but as I took a step toward her bedroom I almost stepped on it. I little runt of a dog sat at my feet. What the… to say it was humiliating to have a little meat-sack get the drop on me was an understatement.
“Where did you come from?” I growled at it.
The thing just sat there looking at me. Not scared in the least. I shifted my stance, tried for intimidation and… nothing. I think they called these things Weiner-dogs? I started to snarl at it when the girl’s voice yelled out from the shower in a familiar rhythm. Was she rapping?
The dog took off in her direction and I took off in mine before things got any weirder.
I needed a shower too. The girl’s name, Siddhima, as well as her scent kept running through my head. I thought if I washed it off maybe I could go back to being haunted by one female only, though an exorcism was preferable.
Interstate 10 was packed this time of morning. I knew it would ease up once it turned into the PCH (Pacific Coast Highway), but time alone in my truck without the influence of alcohol meant an invitation to my ex.
We were never ex, lover. Uma’s voice purred a vibration in my ear canal.
I cringed at the term lover. For some reason, now that she was dead, it disgusted me how I had kept her alive for so long. And how she had looked… love hadn’t been an activity we participated in at any point during her infirmity. Her shriveled up, decaying body was vomitous to me then and now. How I endured even touching her back then was a mystery only a case of whiskey and a thick club upside the head could explain. I was desperate to put distance between then and now.
“I was wondering when you’d show up again,” I spoke to the empty cabin of my truck. “You’re powers must be slipping.”
Not slipping. I don’t know what you mean. I’ve been here the whole time. Her Japanese accent that had stuck through hundreds of years of living in the U.S. was still thick in the afterlife. It was charming before, but now it grated as a reminder of time wasted and important things lost.
“Really? You don’t have anything to say about the female I was with last night?” That shut her up for a minute. Maybe I had found the weakness in her powers of possession. “Hello, you still there?”
You’re messing with me. There was no female.
“If you say so. You did always know everything and I knew nothing.”
Now, you accept it? If you had listened to me back then, I would still be alive and that abomination would be worm food, festering in the dirt where she belongs…
She practically yelled the last part. This was usually my cue to swallow my first half of Scotch for the day. Stuck in this truck between idiot slow driver number one and dumb-fuck on the cell phone number two, the liquor store couldn’t come quick enough. I honked my horn in angry asshole fashion, pushing against traffic that wasn’t going to budge no matter what preternatural powers I had. The fact is I could have run through the woods faster than drive in this parking lot they call a freeway.
As Uma kept up her tirade about what a loser I was for letting our daughter live, I turned up the music as loud as my sensitive ears could stand. Pop music. There were practically no country stations I could reach on my old beat up Ford. Freaking Hollywood pansy-asses only seemed interested in girly boy bands and gay clubbing music, something I learned about when I was trying to find info on Mac and stumbled upon a gay nightclub she had auditioned for. Big mistake that.
As some guy sang about how he was going to abuse some female’s private parts, I went through my list of justifications for using Miranda’s territory as my own. Being King of the wereleopards meant I had an all access pass on any wereleopard territory, but in this case, even I had to admit this was probably a bad choice. Last year, Miranda put a hit on my daughter last year that flushed her out of hiding, which then set into motion many terrible events for Mac. Her life was filled with them, the first of which was being born. But things worked out in the end. She hitched herself to my best friend of all people, started a family, and came into her own powers, which was my goal for her from the beginning. I knew she had it in her all along. My ex, on the other hand…
Not ex she exclaimed, interrupting her monologue and my thoughts.
Uma never trusted me, nor did Mac, though I couldn’t blame her. But when I ended up being right, did I get a Thank you or I’m sorry for not listening to you? I shook my head. Anger rose up like acid in my throat, the unspoken words bitter on my tongue. Suddenly they exploded. “Fuck you, Uma! You deserve to rot in hell!”
As do you, my lover. Her cackling laugh took the sting out of my curses and I felt her power over me settle in for the bazillionth time.
Soon enough, I was on the PCH coasting toward the woods. Miranda’s woods. With one hand steady on the steering wheel I reached over to open the glove compartment box, felt around for any stashed bottles and came up disappointed. I hooked a quick exit at the next liquor store. I stumbled in and cleared them of their stock on Whiskey, enough bottles to last me through the day and night.
The cashier’s eyes kept darting from the bottles back to me, a frown creasing his features. I stared him down, daring him to say something, anything, like Have a good day, sir so I could put my fist in his expensive dental work. Unfortunate for me, I left without the privilege.
Back on the road and a few miles later, I pulled into the small alcove on the edge of the woods where I liked to park my truck. Parking here made me feel close to Mac. She used to hunt these grounds undetected with the help of her friend Doug. Her soft musk was like a stain in the brush, the chemical register of her vehicle’s oil droppings on the ground along with the lighter scent of that mutt she called a pet. The urge to be near my only living kin was more pressing than ever, including her babies, of course. I ached to roll around with them and cuddle them against my downy soft belly in my animal form. Fuck, I was turning into such a sap. I took a few long dregs from the forgiving amber liquid and turned off the engine, cutting the music off instantly and leaving a void where Uma’s voice rattled off like a ticker tape of background noise. Now, I could deal.
I found my way uninterrupted to the nearby creek. This time of morning, most wereleopards would be asleep, which I was counting on for some quiet time. I could start my whiskey drip and be blitzed by lunch.
After washing my clothes in the water, I laid them out to dry on a couple of rocks, then found a spot at the creek’s edge to sun bathe. With my long dreadlocks drying in the sun, I drifted. The sounds of birds lulled me into a doze. After a while, the whiskey fog wavered and I felt a presence hovering over me. I wasn’t worried that someone could sneak up on me. All that mattered was that they backed it up with the threat that it was.
“Either stick your claws into me and be done with it or fucking leave. You’re blocking my sun.”
“King of wereleopards.” His voice was thick with disrespect.
I cracked a lid. “I said you’re blocking my sun.” My words were kind of slurred so I should’ve given him some slack. Heck, who was I kidding?
Chuckling to myself, I laid there, unabashed in my nakedness. Came with the species even though the male stood above me in jeans. In human form, practicality usually took precedence.
He looked off across the creek and nodded, appearing lost in thought. I already knew what he was going to ask before he opened his mouth. He wasn’t the only male possessed, or was it obsessed, around here.
“Have you seen her, yet?”
Of course I had seen her, in glimpses. I was reduced to sneaking around the property when I knew Ramone wouldn’t be around, but even that was a risk. They would know my scent; know I had stalked them since I crossed into the city limits months ago. But this male wasn’t inquiring about her latest wardrobe. “You do realize she’s mated?”
“You’ve got nerve, old man.”
True enough. I would have offered him a sip of my bottle if I could spare it. Doug, or Travis—most of our kind had more names than pairs of underwear—was pining for my daughter much the way I used to pine for Uma when she was alive and I was young and stupid. I had tried, not too hard mind you, to teach Doug from my mistakes, and much like me, he was not convinced. If he hadn’t learned from the fact that Mac had abandoned him to the bitch that was ruining his life, then there was probably no hope for him. That was something I could relate to on many levels.
“You’ve gotta give it up, man,” I said.
“What, like you did? I heard what happened with you and your mate. That was some sick shit, man. And, besides, I’m not like you. I just want to…”
He let the thought hang in mid-air. No matter the excuse, said out loud it would still sound like the lie it was.
“Talking isn’t going to fix that broken heart you got there. You think she’s going to pick you over Ramone?” I made a disgusted noise. Anger started to punch through the drunken haze. “You had your chance with her and the best male won. End of story.”
He still stood there looking out over the creek with familiar tormented features. I thought for a moment Uma might be channeling through him, too. It would be just like her to pick on any male in her vicinity and make him miserable.
“I just… I didn’t expect to come back here and live so close to where Mac and that… her mate live. I can’t believe she would shaft me like she did.” He looked at me like I had all the answers. I didn’t but I knew this one.
“No, man.” It was my best friend who had sold him out. As a werehunter, Ramone picked off rogue weres and sent them to the wereprison at Somervillage in Texas. One would that think him being one of us would make the capture easier to swallow, but he was the most vicious of them all. And the most respected. He was the one brokered the deal that freed my daughter of her past crimes and the hit on her pretty little head. Strangely enough, if it were Mac’s decision, she would have laid down her life for the poor excuse of a male in front of me. Ramone did what was best for Mac, though, and sent Doug back home with his homicidal female. I could understand why he was upset, but we all have to make our own mistakes… I mean way. In life. “My baby wouldn’t do that to anybody.”
“Well, I wasn’t just anybody. We were…”
“Whatever the hell you think you two were, she’s moved on, buddy. You should, too.”
“Yeah, well, that’s easier said than done. I’ve tried that before and it didn’t work out so well for other parties involved. Mac was… different.”
I had heard about Miranda’s indiscretions, mostly rumor unless you took Doug’s account seriously. Not that he could prove his innocence. Once you’re accused of killing a human, it stuck like a scarlet M, for monster, on your record. All of us took a hit in terms of the public at large.
“Looks like you got one option.” I felt the sadistic smile spread across my lips.
“What, kill her? You couldn’t do it.”
No, but hindsight’s a bitch with a vendetta. So much clearer than when you’re not neck-deep in irrational feelings. That was definitely the theme for the day.
“You don’t have to follow my example. As a matter of fact, you have every reason not to.” That seemed to tickle him. Doug glanced off and snickered to himself. I could see the suggestion swimming around in his mind and knew it wasn’t the first time. “Look, there’s no pressure. You don’t have to do it right now.”
“Sounds like you’re sanctioning me, or am I reading this wrong?”
“I’m not sanctioning anything. I’m just saying you’d be surprised what you can get away with. As King, I can’t govern every nook and cranny of this country.” And I had my own reasons for wanting Miranda dead. I suspected she still had it out for my little girl, though I wouldn’t bet on her odds now that Mac had a grasp on her abilities. But it was the principle of the thing. As for the matter of sex and sharing property, well… she was an enemy and I had her dead in my sights. And what Mac didn’t know wouldn’t hurt her.
“Wow, this conversation didn’t go like I thought it would.”
“Why? What did you expect?”
“I don’t know, I guess that you were moving in. I came here to tell you I wouldn’t fight it. You can have Miranda and her territory, all you have to do is say so.” A burst of laughter erupted from him, letting go some tension. “Sounds crazy to think anyone would want any part of her, but it’s possible.”
I had been in and out of L.A. since my mate’s death several months ago, trying to reach out to my daughter. But, now, with a new determination to stay and see this through, it must have looked like I was setting up shop out here. That couldn’t be further from the truth. I was working on a B-plan between the alcoholic stupor and the insanity cage Uma had imposed on me, which left me with zero to no time to make any real decision. This territory was not the solution, though. It would be my undoing if it got out to my daughter or my best friend who would no doubt take it as a betrayal.
I sat up and let the world spin for a minute before I looked up at him. “I’m not solving your problems for you, man. This has your name written all over it.” I raked a hand through my dried locs and cursed the thump that started at my temples. I was cranky now that this asshole had disturbed my nap.
Doug nodded as though he read my mind. He thought he had it bad, but didn’t know how bad it could get.
“How long you going to stand there looking at my junk?” I sneered.