Sunday, January 31, 2016

Hunted – 34



While Logan and Skye were at the restaurant eating supper, Brice stood across the street from his building, staring up at the lit window in his condo as he tried to remember if he’d turned the light off before he’d left that morning.

He had returned to his car the same way that he’d left, by teleporting. With a bit of trepidation he started it, even though his common sense told him that if his stalker had wanted him dead he wouldn’t have left the note. When the engine turned over and the car didn’t blow up, he let out a huge sigh of relief before he left the parking garage.

As he drove down the street that fronted his building he’d glanced up at his place, saw the light, then kept driving until he found a parking lot two blocks away that had an attendant on site. He walked back to his building, and now had to make the decision. Did he presume he’d just forgotten to turn off the light and walk blithely into his condo, or did he take the sensible route, even though it made him look like a wuss, and have the building security guard go up with him, just in case.

I can just teleport away if there’s a problem, he reminded himself. With that thought in mind he crossed the street, entered the building and took the elevator up to his floor. Then, cautiously, he walked to his door. The scent of wolf came to him as he inserted the key in the lock. He hesitated, sniffing the air. The scent was unfamiliar. Not Logan’s, not the one left in his car by his stalker. Screw this, grow a pair. He unlocked the door and entered his home.

A man stood at the window. He turned to look at Brice, nodded, and held his hands away from his sides as he bowed his head, his thick, dark auburn hair hiding his face for a moment. It was as close to a submissive stance a human could perform, short of physically groveling.

Brice watched tensely as he asked, “Who are you, why are you here, and how the hell did you get inside?” He understood the man’s posture but wasn’t ready to believe it just yet.

“My name is Faol├ín. I’m here because, like you, I was the victim of Maximus’s attentions, although much more recently.”

Brice closed the door then leaned against it, arms crossed over his chest. “Why should I believe you?” 

“You shouldn’t of course, even though it’s the truth. You were his first victim. I doubt I’m the last. I was a mere pup when you took off…”

“I didn’t take off,” Brice interjected angrily. “I was forced to leave by the rest of the pack because of what I am.”

Friday, January 29, 2016

Hunted – 33



“By the time I reached high school I had already decided I wanted to be a lawyer like dad. But then he died---cancer---and we were left with almost no money, what with the medical bills and all so…” Skye shrugged. “Now secretary is me, at least for the time being.”

“You’re planning on going to college?” Logan asked before he took the last bite of his hamburger.

“Oh yes, someday, when I get enough saved up. And you? Are you going back?”

“To college, I hope so. But not back there.”

“Why not?” she asked then mentally kicked herself when she saw the pain that flashed across his face for a second.

“I don’t know,” he replied quickly. “Too…small town, even with the university. Besides this city is growing on me.”

“It’s a good place to live. It’s got everything you could want if you know where to look.”

Logan smiled. “And I’m betting you do.”

“Oh yeah. But then I grew up here. So if there’s anything you want to know, or any place you want a tour of, just holler.”

“I just might do that, after I find another job.”

“How’s that going by the way?”

“I’ve got a couple of offers actually. I just have to make the decision. One’s way across town but pays better. The other one’s in Hyde Park, another interior reconstruction.”

“Which you like doing?”

“Yeah, actually I do. Better than just plain construction work.”

“Then it’s a no-brainer. You take that one,” she said with a wide grin.

“I think you’re right. I will. Do you want dessert or are you ready to go?”

“Let’s go. It’s getting late and I do have to get up bright and early for work. And you’ve got to get up and go tell them you want the job before someone else snags it out from under you.”

Wednesday, January 27, 2016

Hunted – 32



"We can’t let her know," Brice said, his voice tense with worry as he mentally spoke to Logan.

"‘Then come up with something reasonable. Why do people stalk actors?"

Brice shrugged without thinking. “Because they look up to us maybe, or identify with a character we play. Because we’re in the limelight and they believe the shit that’s written in fan mags or the sleazy papers in the supermarket. I don’t know.”  

“Okay,” Skye said as she watched them. “If I didn’t know it wasn’t possible I’d say you two were mind-talking like in your show, Brice.”

Brice ignored her to ask, "How likely is she to keep this up, and how much would you trust her?"

“Like I said, she’s tenacious, like a dog with a bone. As to trusting her, I don’t know her well enough to make a call on that, but as far as I know she hasn’t told anyone you’re gay."

"As far as you know, so," Brice replied with a slightly malicious smile, "get to know her. You boy, she girl, use it. Because for sure as hell I can’t, or won’t."

"You’re an ass. Besides it’s not going to solve the immediate problem."

Brice turned to Skye. “Look, right now I don’t know if this is a stalker or just a random action by someone who happened to see me and wanted to get my attention with a bad practical joke.”

Skye snorted. “Yeah, right.” Then she shrugged. “You’re not going to tell me, are you?”

“Not unless something more happens—and quite honestly, probably not even then.” Brice stood, saying, “I’ll see you tomorrow, Logan?” and when Logan nodded Brice beat a hasty retreat before Skye could start up again.

“Sooo…” Skye leaned forward to rest her elbows on her knees, “I guess I’m going to have to use my feminine wiles to worm the secret out of you.”

Logan’s eyebrows rose. He didn’t know if she knew exactly how much she was revealing, leaning like that, but her top was cut just low enough that he got a good view of the tops of her breasts. “Keep that up and I’ll be putty in your hands.”

Skye straightened quickly when she realized where his glance had landed. “I didn’t mean to…” she said as she blushed.

“I know. I was just teasing. However…”

“Umm?”

“If you want to work your wiles, how about you at least do it over supper. I’m starving.”

“Oh my god, a date, a real date?” Skye said in mock shock.

“Yeah,” Logan replied with a grin, “so go put on your best duds.”

Skye laughed. “I don’t have anything better than what I’m wearing now. And if I hadn’t overheard the two of you, I’d have been changed already into jeans and a sloppy, comfortable shirt.”

“Then shall we get a move on and see what we can find that’s, to be honest, cheap?”

“Cheap is good, so yeah.”

Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Monday, January 25, 2016

Hunted – 31



“Yeah I’m scared,” Brice said as he paced the communal living room at the boarding house. “But more than that I’m angry as hell.”

Logan had been surprised when Brice appeared in the middle of the room. He started to tell him that was a foolish move, as Brice had no idea if it would be empty or not, but one look at his friend’s face and he knew something was very wrong. So he listened with rising dismay when Brice told him what had happened.

Now Logan looked at him with concern. “You have to control the anger or your wolf might appear without warning.”

Brice stopped his pacing to look at Logan. “It’s not my wolf I’m worried about right now. It’s the one who’s after me.”

“I get that, but it’s not going to help if he can sense your wolf, which he will if you loose control.”

“How the hell did he find me in the first place?”

“You haven’t exactly been under radar,” Logan pointed out.

“True,” Brice agreed as he dropped down at the other end of the sofa. “So I guess it’s more a question of why now? Why come out of the woodwork and threaten me?”

“Looking at it from his point of view, what fun would it have been to torment and kill you when you didn’t know who you were and why it was happening. My best guess is that he’s been watching you, probably on and off, and just recently discovered that you’d regained your memories, and your wolf.”

“So now he’s going to start stalking me.”

“Whoever he is. You could call the cops on him,” Skye said as she walked into the living room. Then she glared at Brice. “Back to cause more trouble?”

“Skye, shush,” Logan told her. “He’s not causing it, he’s in it, up to his neck it seems.”

“So who’s after you?” Skye asked as she settled in the chair opposite the sofa. “Some woman’s pissed off boyfriend or husband?”

Brice smiled slightly. “That I could handle.”

“So?” She looked between the two men. “Give, ‘cause I’m not going away until you do.”

“She means it too,” Logan muttered. “She’s tenacious, and nosy.”

“Nosy? Moi? I so don’t think so” When Logan arched an eyebrow she sighed. “Okay, maybe a little, but I still want to know what’s going on. After all, if someone’s stalking him, and he’s here—well not to point out the obvious but the stalker might try something and we’d be caught in the middle. Not good, boys.”

“She does have a point,” Logan said as he glanced at Brice. “The problem is…”

“Yeah, I know. Do you think she’d buy the pissed off boyfriend scenario?”

Skye snorted. “Not any more. You should have gone with it while you had the chance.”

Sunday, January 24, 2016

Release day! 'The Hitchhiker Murders'

The Hitchhiker Murders
http://www.jms-books.com/index.php?main_page=product_info&cPath=29_94&products_id=1614

When married private investigators Brent and Quinn Collins are hired to find Andrew, a young man who has disappeared after heading to Idaho Springs, little do they know they will become embroiled in murder. Two other young men have gone missing under similar circumstances and their bodies found buried in the mountains outside of Denver.

The Collins’ investigations soon bring to light another similarity between the murdered men: they were all slender, effeminate, and gay. After Andrew's body is discovered, Brent and Quinn think they may know who is responsible for the hitchhiker killings.

But when Quinn goes undercover, he finds himself in much deeper waters than he expected. All they have to do is prove it ... without ending up dead themselves.

EXCERPT:
    “First stop, Andrew’s apartment?” Quinn asked after Mrs. Taylor left.

    “Yep, but not for a couple of hours. Presuming his roommates hold normal jobs, they probably won’t be home until sometime after five.”

    “Or they’ll have left by then, if, like Andrew, they’re restaurant workers.”

    Brent snorted. “With our luck ...”

    “So grab your jacket and let’s move.”

    “Yes, bossman.” Brent ducked when Quinn took a swipe at him, only to find himself being hugged by his husband.

    “You know this is a democracy. You can always say no,” Quinn said, giving him a fast kiss.

    “I never say no to you,” Brent responded. “Well, almost never, after the first couple of weeks.”

    The two men had met when they’d been students at UCD, working on their bachelor degrees in criminal justice. Brent was a year ahead of Quinn and had taken the younger man under his wing -- and into his bed two weeks later when they discovered there was an undeniable attraction between them.

    Right after graduation, Brent had applied for and received his private investigator’s license -- as had Quinn a year later. They moved in together and set up their business. At first it had been called Collins and Brannon Investigations.

    Then, late one evening after celebrating the successful conclusion of their first truly difficult case, Brent had gotten down on one knee and asked Quinn to marry him. Quinn gleefully accepted.

    In 2010, there were only a few states where gay marriage was legal. Luckily, New Hampshire, where Quinn had grown up, was one of them. They flew out, after ‘warning’ Quinn’s family why they were coming. The wedding was all they hoped it would be, thanks to Quinn’s parents. The party afterward was a rousing celebration lasting until early the next morning. When it was over and they had recovered, Quinn and Brent returned to Denver -- married men and ecstatically so.

    Brent paused at Milly’s desk to tell her where they were going, asked her to send Mrs. Taylor the form she needed to fill out, and then he and Quinn headed to the garage where they parked their car.

    Quinn wondered, as they pulled up in front of Andrew’s residence, if Mrs. Taylor considered the place a big step down from her home. It wasn’t actually in an apartment building. The address was a small house in a less than classy neighborhood at the edge of the downtown area. While the lawn was mowed, the bushes in front of the front porch were in definite need of trimming, and the paint on the porch uprights was beginning to fade.

    There were four mailboxes by the front door. Two were for the ground floor, the others for the second floor -- one of which listed three names, Brown, Wilcox, and Taylor.

    “Best bet, the house is broken into units,” Quinn commented with a smirk.

    “No bet.”

    Beside the mailboxes was a row of buzzers, with names below each one. Brent pressed the one for Taylor and company.

    “Yo,” a disembodied voice answered after a short wait.

    Quinn gave Brent a thumb’s-up before saying, “I’m looking for Andrew Taylor.”

    “Not here,” the voice replied.

    “I’m here on behalf of his mother. May I talk to you about him?”

    “You are.”

    “I mean face to face.”

    There was a long pause, then he was told to take the stairs at the end of the hallway up to the second floor, and the buzzer sounded to unlatch the front door. When they got inside, a light smell of pot greeted them. It got heavier as they walked up the stairs. A young man -- Quinn guesstimated he was barely out of his teens -- waited for them in the upper hallway.

    “You didn’t say there were two of you,” the guy said.

    “You didn’t ask. Which one are you? Brown or Wilcox?”

    “Wilcox. Mike Wilcox. Who are you?”

    “Quinn and Brent Collins,” Quinn replied. “We’re private detectives, hired by Mrs. Taylor.”

    “Just like on TV, huh? You might as well come in, since you’re here.” Mike opened the door right behind him.

    If asked, Quinn would have admitted he was surprised when they entered the apartment. The living area was neat, with decent if not fancy furniture. Three doors led off it to -- Mike showed them -- the kitchen and two bedrooms.

    “This one’s mine and Vick’s,” Mike said about the bigger one. It had two beds with a dresser between them.

    Andrew’s bedroom was sizably smaller, and not nearly as neat. Clothes were piled on the only chair, and the bed had obviously been ‘made’ by pulling the spread over tumbled sheets. A bong stood on the small dresser along one wall. No real shock in Quinn’s opinion, since Mrs. Taylor said Andrew was open about indulging.

    “Do you mind answering a few questions about Andrew?” Brent asked Mike when they returned to the living room.

    “Ask away.”


Saturday, January 23, 2016

Hunted – 30



“So they decided you were worth keeping around after all,” the actor who played the lead vampire said with a sneer as Brice walked into the room. “How many women did you add to your stable while you were gone?”  

Brice was tempted to tell him to go fuck himself, but managed to hold his tongue and reply with a smile, “Probably more than you’ve had in your lifetime.”

Most of the other people around the table managed to find something interesting in their scripts to keep from laughing, although a couple of them had brief coughing spells before they did.

“Gentlemen, if you would, let’s get down to business,” the director said firmly.

The first read-through went as they always did, with additions, changes and the occasional complaint from one actor or another that they didn’t understand their motivation for a scene. Brice was heartily glad when it was over, even though he was happy to be back in the harness again. For a brief moment he thought about practicing his teleporting so that he could get home faster, but decided he might be chancing ending up in an ice cream shop, or somewhere worse.

As he walked through the parking garage to his car he frowned. Something was off but he couldn’t figure out what. He just knew something was tickling his senses. A smell, a sound… He looked around, but saw nothing out of the ordinary. It wasn’t until he opened his car door that he knew what was wrong. The interior reeked of the smell of wolf, and it wasn’t Logan’s scent.

He backed away then spun around to look for whoever had left the scent. There was no one in sight. He steeled himself ans got into the car. Once the windows were all opened to let the scent dissipate, he started to put the key in the ignition. That’s when he saw a slip of paper, tightly rolled up, stuck in the key slot.

“What the hell,” he muttered, more angry than afraid at the moment. He unrolled it and his mood switched instantly to one of panic when he read the words scrawled on it—‘I promised I would find you, and kill you. What if you had turned the key?’

Thursday, January 21, 2016

Hunted – 29



For the next two weeks, Logan and Brice spent almost every night in the Woods. Then Brice was called back to the show. The publicity surrounding his character’s death, and the viewers’ reaction to it, had worked beyond the producer’s wildest dreams.

“I should shift during one of the scenes for real,” Brice had commented with a grin, the night before he was due back at work.

Logan chuckled. “Oh that would go over well… Not.”

“I’m going to miss this.” Brice looked around, his expression wistful.

“Why? You can come here, or go to any of the large parks around the city, any time you want.”

“Is that what you do?”

Logan smiled. “Not until I met you. But then, before that I had other things I had to do, like work. I didn’t have time to find a park, so I could come back to it later.”

“The teleporting thing.”

“Exactly, but now that I know about this place… You can do that too you know.”

“I know, but…” Brice chuckled wryly. “I have this vision of ending up somewhere entirely different from where I planned, so I think I’ll pass. My car gets me places just fine.”

“Concentration, Brice. You have to focus and you’ll be there. Picture the destination and wipe your mind clear of everything else.” They were, at the moment, beside one of the small ponds that were scattered through out the Woods. “See the large tree over there with the lightening blasted branch? Focus on it and then try to end up there.”

“On the branch?” Brice asked with a grin.

“Hey if you can, sure, although I was thinking more just by the tree.”

Brice stared at it for a long moment before he closed his eyes. He opened them seconds later to find he was right beside the tree. He cheered, closed his eyes, pictured his point of departure and instantly was standing next to Logan. “I did it!”

“Told you you could. It’s all in the concentration. If you wanted to, you could think about your living room and you’d be there, or anywhere else. Just don’t let your mind wander.” Logan chuckled. “I remember once when I was a kid. I was in our territory and needed to get back to our house in town. I thought about my bedroom, but just as I was about to teleport there, the idea of an ice cream cone and how good it would taste flashed through my mind. Thank goodness Mr. Tambor was busy filling one of the cases and didn’t see me arrive. As it was I gave him a real shock when he turned around and saw me standing by the counter.”

“Dressed, I hope,” Brice said, laughing.

“Instantly,” Logan replied. “But that’s what I meant about not loosing focus. As long as you’ve been some place and can picture it, you can go there.”

“Okay. I think I’ll stick to short hops until I’m comfortable though, and use the car for longer trips.”

“Probably a good idea, for now.”

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Hunted – 28



Logan was awed at the beauty of the wolf. “Splendid,” he murmured. Then he laughed delightedly when the tawny beast lifted its head to howl, the feeling of freedom in the sound echoing through the trees. Quickly he shifted to join his friend.

"I suggest a bit less howling," Logan cautioned. "We are not really in the wild."

Brice shied away in surprise when Logan’s words came clearly in his mind then bowed his head in acknowledgement. "You startled me."

"Sorry. To run, however, is fine." Logan loped across the clearing to the edge of the trees and then began to race through them, twisting and darting among them with Brice following on his heels.

"Such freedom, I’d forgotten how it feels," Brice said in elation, "Like being at one with the natural world. No restraints, nothing to hold me back, to hold me down." He howled again with joy.

"Keep on howling and you’ll be restrained when someone calls animal control," Logan replied with a chuckle.

"‘Duly noted, but damn…" Brice leapt, spinning in mid-air, to land on all four feet in front of Logan, his lips curled back in a wolfish grin. Then he sobered. "I wish…"

"That you could stay like this forever?"

"No. I wish I hadn’t buried my wolf so deeply for so long. I… If it weren’t for you I might never again have known what it means to be truly…me.” Then, before Logan could reply, Brice took off running again, leaping and capering as he did, like a pup getting its first taste of independence.

Eventually they began to tire. Logan led the way back to the clearing where they collapsed, panting.

"Time to return to ‘real’ life?" Brice asked somewhat querulously.

"I’m afraid so. But we can do this again as often as you want." With that said, Logan shifted.

Brice followed suit then gave a soft chuckle. “If I had the energy, and if you were gay…” He left the sentence hanging, a hopeful note in his voice as he once again got to see Logan in all his naked glory.

‘Sorry,” Logan said with a smile as he clothed himself. “Although if I were… well…”  He had to admit that even from his perspective Brice was a prime example of classic male beauty.

Brice frowned. “How do I..?”   

“Just think it,” Logan told him, knowing what he was asking.

Brice envisioned himself in the clothes he’d been wearing and was instantly dressed. He took a deep breath then said pensively, “I wonder, now that I can do this again, if my life will somehow be easier for me to handle.”

“It’s possible, if you mean being able to deal with the anger that sent you to Noah for relief,” Logan replied as they started back to the car. “I’m no psychologist, but some of that could have come from the wolf raging inside you, even though you didn’t know he existed. Your rage called to him and he responded, albeit silently so to speak.”

With a slow nod, Brice considered that and then chuckled. When Logan quirked an eyebrow Brice said, “Hopefully I can control my wolf nature better than my character in the vampire show controls his. I have a feeling shifting and attacking my director, or my most recent departing lover, would not go over too well in the grand scheme of things.”

“I rather think not,” Logan agreed with a laugh.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

Hunted – 27



As they drove out to Pioneer Woods again the following evening, Brice’s nerves were strung tighter than a bow string. He had to get his mind off of what he planned to do, so he glanced at Logan asking, “Last night you said you didn’t have a pack any more. Why, if I’m not being too nosy?”

“They were slaughtered,” Logan replied, the anger he still felt after all this time mixed with the pain of his loss.

“By another pack?”

“No. That I could accept as part of the way life is for a wolf, and for a shifter pack. It was the government, our esteemed government.” He sneered as he said that. “They bowed to the will of the ranchers and went on a hunt. Those they didn’t kill, hunters did, and my pack, my family, was wiped out of existence.” Logan pressed his face against the cool window pane as he whispered, “And it wasn’t even wolves that they destroyed.”

Brice frowned. “Wouldn’t they have...?” Then he shook his head as he remembered. “We stay in the form we die in.”

“Exactly,” Logan replied. He turned to look at Brice. “So those bastards celebrated the fact that they’d eliminated a vicious pack of predators. Even if they had been true wolves, that would have been a tragedy based on misconceptions.” With a deep sigh, Logan shook his head. “You don’t need a lecture, and I will start to rant if I continue talking about it.”

Brice reached out to squeeze Logan’s shoulder. “I’m sorry,” he told him sincerely.

“Thanks.”

After that, they switched to just talking about inconsequential things. Logan could sense Brice’s tension and tried his best to take his mind off of the reason for this trip. For the most part he succeeded until they pulled into one of the parking lots inside the Woods.

As they got out of the car Brice took a deep breath. “I can do this.”

Logan chuckled. “That’s what we’re hoping.”

“Yeah. Yeah it is.”

When they reached the clearing Brice asked, “What am I supposed to do?”

“I was thinking about that today. I guess the first question is, now that you’ve had time to think about everything we talked about last night, do you really believe you are a shifter.”

“Well, I know for a fact you are. I saw you shift. That goes a long way towards helping me believe it’s possible.”

“For me, yes, but you have to believe it for you. That means you have to find the wolf within you. It’s there, but it’s been buried for so long you may have trouble—even though you finally remembered it exists.”

“Should I…no, you didn’t. I wish I could remember actually shifting, not just me as a wolf.”

“Didn’t what?” Logan asked, curious.

“Undress. In the show every time my character shifts his clothes tear apart. Hard on the wardrobe.” He chuckled.  

“But it makes for a more impressive scene I suspect. In reality, and to be honest I don’t know why, when I shift my clothes just vanish and then when I return to human form I can will myself dressed again.”

“Damn, this is complicated, isn’t it?”

“Not really. It just…happens. I think of my wolf and I’m him.”

“That easy?”

“Yes, but then I’ve always done it. I never tried to deny to myself what I am—my dual natures.”

Brice nodded. Then he closed his eyes to search for his other nature, his wolf. Seconds later he opened them again. “Does it hurt?”

“Nope, because it’s what we’re supposed to do.”

“Good.” Brice closed his eyes again. For what seemed like forever he felt nothing, no matter how hard he concentrated. Then, suddenly, the wolf was there, enfolding him body and soul with its beauty, its strength, its freedom. And he was the wolf.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Hunted – 26




Brice shrugged. “I did the extra thing for a TV show and was discovered."—he made finger quotes—"I ended up with an agent who sort of created my bio out of a whole cloth, after I told him I’d been in a car accident and lost most of my memories of my childhood. Actually, that’s what I told anyone who asked, because I believed it myself.”

“No wonder you’re a decent actor, you’ve been doing it in real life for a long time.”

“Only decent?” Brice looked a bit offended.

“I really haven’t watched the show enough to know, truth be told. I think it’s funny though that you ended up playing a were-wolf.”

Brice stared pensively at the ground. “You know, it’s like…fate or whatever has been conspiring to make me remember. First the show, then you, and the fact that you and Noah live in the same house—because if I hadn’t had that run-in with him and Kief, you probably wouldn’t have said what you did and we wouldn’t be out here now.”

“Interesting idea.” Logan stretched and then yawned.

“Yeah me too. I’m exhausted. What say we get back,” Brice suggested as he got up.

“Sound good to me.” Logan joined him, then said as they headed back towards the car, “Are you going to be all right, now that you know?”

“I’ve got a feeling it’s going to take a while to accept and…”

When Brice stayed silent Logan asked, “And what?”

“Would you mind terribly coming back here with me sometime soon, so I can see if I can still shift? I mean who knows; maybe I’ve pushed that part of me down so deeply it won’t be possible.”

“I think you’ll be able to, but after such a long time it would probably be a good idea for me to be with you—as moral support if nothing else. So yeah, just tell me when.”

“Thanks. Tomorrow night?”

Logan laughed. “When you decide to do something you jump right on it. Sure, tomorrow night’s fine.”

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Hunted – 25




“If I am what you say. If…Then why would I run from my pack, from my…my family?” Suddenly Brice shuddered as an image flashed through his mind. Snarling wolves, lips tightened to expose their teeth, stalked a lone wolf. Cornered it. One huge wolf moved to the lone wolf, ears forward, the hairs on its body standing erect… The vision faded as quickly as it had come.

Did you run?” Logan asked quietly.

“They…they…tried to…they forced that poor wolf away. They made him leave because he was inferior.” Brice spoke as if he was telling a story, his eyes distant and glazed. “They would have killed him if he hadn’t left. So he slunk away, tail between his legs until he was out of the pack’s territory. But that wasn’t…it wasn’t the end,” he whispered.

“What happened next?”

“He hated what he was. He was different. He tried to find a safe place to hide. But one of them came after him. Tracked him. Attacked him. He was his…” Tears welled up in Brice’s eyes. “His lover, though the pack didn’t know that.” Brice turned to look at Logan. “I escaped with his threat ringing in my ears. He said he would find me, kill me. He was…he was my alpha, the pack’s alpha.”

“The alpha was your lover? Damn,” Logan spat out. “No wonder he wanted you dead. How was he able to hide what he was?”

“He…” Brice shook his head. “He preferred males but could mate with a female and he did to keep his secret a secret.”

“What happened after you escaped?”

“Once I was far enough away from the territory, I began looking for a place where I could live as a human. I thought if I could do that I would be safe.” Brice slid off the log to lean back against it. “I ended up in…” he chuckled softly. “In Iowa. Corn country, as you called it. I got a job on a farm. I was sixteen. The family I worked for took me in. I did see Eisenhower’s inauguration on their television. That part was true.”

After a long pause to gather his thoughts Brice continued. “I suppose…the longer I lived there, safe and secure, the more human I felt. I didn’t want to be what I was; I wanted to be what those people thought I was. It didn’t happen over night. I didn’t forget for a long time, but as I got older I realized I wasn’t aging as fast as humans did so I left there. I spent a long time going from city to city, trying to find a place for myself, and in the process I did forget what I had been—apparently. I don’t remember doing that but…” He looked up at Logan. “Guess I wouldn’t remember, would I?”

“I’d say not,” Logan replied with a smile. “And you did a damned good job of forgetting and recreating yourself. I wonder…”

“Umm?”

“I wonder if you ever would have remembered, if we hadn’t met.”

“I might have, that or gone crazy wondering why I don’t seem to be as old as my bio says I am.”

“How did you come up with that anyway?”

Monday, January 11, 2016

Hunted – 24




Brice looked at Logan as if he’d gone totally around the bend. “Did you say we?”

“We. Me, my family, your family, you, anyone who’s a shifter.”

With a snort of laughter Brice said, “You’re right, I do think you’ve escaped from the mad house, or worse.”

“Guess I’ll have to prove to you I haven’t.” Logan took a deep breath.

“Fuck no! This is insane! I’m…what the hell did you do? Hypnotize me or something?” Brice shouted as he sprang to his feet and backed away.

The wolf stood his ground in front of Brice, his tail relaxed and moving slowly, his eyes locked on Brice, his posture non-threatening. He was gray and reddish-brown with a black-tipped tail, and stood about three feet tall at the shoulder.

“I didn’t hypnotize you,” Logan said seconds later when he regained his human form. “I’m one of the dual-natured, a shifter; we both are.”

Brice couldn’t take his eyes off Logan, although at this point it had nothing to do with what he was saying or the form he had taken only moments ago. Logan saw the look of lust on Brice’s face and with a though clothed himself.

“Damn,” Brice whispered regretfully before he took in what Logan had just told him. “You think I’m a…a shifter? You’re crazy.”

Logan chuckled. “So you keep saying, but I’m not. For some reason, and I can’t even begin to guess why, you have sublimated your true nature—denied the wolf half of yourself.”

“Yeah, right,” Brice replied almost contemptuously. “I don’t know how you pulled off that trick, but I’m not for one minute believing that was for real. It’s no humanly possible for a man to turn into a wolf.”

With a smile Logan said, “You’re right, it isn’t humanly possible. But I’m not human, I’m a shifter. Brice, think about it. I didn’t know we were coming out to this particular place until an hour ago. How could I have set up some elaborate ruse and more to the point, why would I?”  

“I…” Brice began to walk around the clearing. He searched the ground and the surrounding trees for anything that would prove this was an elaborate hoax—although he couldn’t think of any reason why Logan would try to pull such a thing on him. Finally he sank back down on the log to look up at Logan. “I don’t understand,” he said in confusion.

Logan sat down beside him. “My best guess is that something happened to you that made you force what you are deep down into the back of your mind.”

“How did you…I mean if I really am…which I’m can’t believe, how did you know?”

“Your scent to start with. You can’t disguise that or wish it away, because it’s part of what you are. Any shifter could pick up on it if you’re not old enough to know how to hide it, which you aren’t.”

“Guess there aren’t any in the city then. Well until now.”

“Very few. Cities aren’t our thing, for obvious reasons. We like to run, to hunt, to be free.”

Brice looked quizzically at Logan. “Then why are you here?”

“I was traveling and ran out of money?” Logan’s words held a note of deep sorrow, despite the slightly joking smile on his lips.

“There’s more to it than that. Are you on the run from…I don’t know, your pack, if that’s what shifters call it? That’s what happened in one of the shows, a… Never mind that’s hardly real, or germane to what we’re talking about.”

“Pack is correct, and no I’m not running from it, because I don’t have a pack any more.” Logan stared down at the ground for a long moment before he turned his gaze to Brice. “But maybe you are on the run. It could explain a lot.”

Saturday, January 9, 2016

Hunted – 23




“Yes,” Brice replied defiantly. “What's with the third degree anyway? What’s my childhood got to do with anything?” he growled.

“If I’m right, it has everything to do with things. How old are you?” Logan asked.

“Thirty.”

Quickly Logan bombarded Brice with questions. “What did you watch on TV when you were a kid? Who was the president when you were in high school? What kind of car did your father drive? Did you have pets? Come on, you should be able to answer without thinking, Brice.”

“Yeah we watched TV. I remember the first time even, seeing Eisenhower’s inauguration. I was sixteen and we stayed home from school to watch it.” He smiled at the memory. “Mom was on the sofa and us kids were huddled around the TV. It was brand new. Dad gave it to mom for Christmas. He set it on the table in one… In one...”

“What, Brice?” Logan asked when Brice stopped talking.

“That can’t be right. That was…”

“Almost sixty years ago,” Logan said quietly. “You said you were sixteen, so that would make you about seventy-four now.”

“I must be remembering some…something from a movie. Yeah that’s it. I saw that in a movie and when you were hitting me with questions that popped to mind. It’s late. I guess I’m tired and spacey.”

“Brice, sit down.” Logan pointed to a log at one side of the clearing.

“Why?”

“Please, just do it.”

Brice hesitated momentarily, then with a shrug did as Logan asked.

Logan stood in front of him, a few feet separating them. “What I’m going to tell you will probably make you think I’ve escaped from a mental ward.” He smiled a bit. “At least I’ve got a starting point of sorts, considering the role you play in that show. You think it’s just a fantasy about paranormals. And as far as the show goes, it definitely is pure fantasy.”

“Tell me about it. It’s a crock but the audiences seem to eat it up.”

“Of course they do. It gives them an outlet from real life. The problem is, while the show is make-believe, there is a part of it that is based on reality.”

“Yeah sure. There are vampires wandering the streets after dark looking for victims.”

Logan chuckled. “Now that I couldn’t speak to, never having met one.”

“Whew. I would think you were crazy if you said you have. There’s no such thing as vampires, or were-wolves.”

“Now that’s where you’re wrong, although we prefer the term ‘shifter’.”

Friday, January 8, 2016

Release day for 'The Element Case'

The Element Case
Clay Richardson is a well-known artist who owns his own gallery.

Quint Hawk, a police detective makes contact with Clay when he sees a portrait Clay has painted in the window of the gallery. A portrait of a homeless young man who was murdered just days before. Unfortunately, Clay has no idea who the subject was.

Several months later, Quint contacts Clay to, again, ask about one of Clay's paintings. The subject has been murdered, as has a third man in another of his paintings. 

The reclusive artist and the handsome detective are drawn to each other, as the two men try to determine what is happening, and why. They come up with a plan to catch the killer. A plan that could end up in their deaths, before they can decide if there is more to their feelings than a couple of very good nights in Clay's bed. 

EXCERPT:

"What are you doing?"
"What does it look like I'm doing?" Clay replied scathingly.
"Sketching."
"Score one for the home team."
"You're very good," the young man commented, peering down at the drawing Clay was doing of one of the men on the dance floor.
Disgusted by the interference, Clay snapped the sketchpad closed, put it on the bar, and took a long pull on his beer.
"Prick," the guy muttered as he walked away.
Ignoring the comment, Clay opened the pad again and, after resting his feet on the rungs of the empty stool next to him, went back to what he was doing. He had a concept for his next painting that required dancing bodies in motion, and where better to find them than here at a club where he was a fairly regular patron.
He finished two sketches and was starting on a third when, again, someone tried to interrupt him.
"I know you," a deep voice said from behind him.
"Well, I don't know you," Clay replied after taking a quick look at the man, "and I'd like to keep it that way."
There was a low chuckle then the man said, "The kid was right. You are a prick."
"So I've been told more than once."
"Not the best way to win friends and influence potential buyers."
"Since you're neither, I'm not too worried about it."
Again the man chuckled. "Now how do you know that, Mr Richardson? Perhaps I'm interested in purchasing one of the paintings that I saw at your gallery."
"Then talk to the manager, Amanda Dane. She handles that." Clay finally turned to face the man, who looked about his age, if a bit oldera man who sported a neatly-trimmed beard and mustache. "Why the hell are you bothering me here?"
"Because I can?" The man smiled, holding out his hand. "I'm Quinton Hawk. Quint for short."
"Apparently you know who I am, so I'll forego introducing myself in return," Clay said, ignoring Quint's outstretched hand. "Now if you don't mind, scram. I have better things to do than try to make nice at the moment."
Instead of leaving, Quint pulled out the stool Clay was using as a footrest—forcing Clay to move his feet—and sat down. "Buy you a drink?" Quint asked.
Clay's mouth tightened angrily as he held up his half-empty bottle. "I have one."
Quint glanced at it then ordered water with a lemon twist. "You have a good eye," he said after taking a drink.
"That's why I draw and you…don't."
"Presumptuous, but true. An artist I'm not."
"But you know what you like," Clay retorted with a sneer.
"Yep. I wasn't kidding when I said there's a painting of yours at the gallery I'm interested in—Element of Woe."
Clay shrugged, going back to his sketching.
"All right, cards on the table, something I should have done to begin with. But after watching you put that kid down, I couldn't help yanking your chain a bit to see if you were an ass with everyone."
"Now you know that I am." Clay wanted to get up and walk away but what Quint had said piqued his interest. "What cards?"
Before replying, Quint took out his wallet, opening it to show Clay his badge. "I'm a detective with the DPD."
"Okay. And that concerns me why?"
"Because I need to know who the young man in Element of Woe is."
"I'm sorry. I don't know his name. I did a couple of sketches of him when I saw him in a park and turned them into that painting."
"Damn."
"Why the interest in him?"
"A man was murdered a week ago, on May eighth. I passed your gallery this morning, saw the painting, and realized the guy in it was the spitting image of the murder victim. When I asked the woman at the desk how to get in contact with you, she gave me your phone number. I tried calling you but…"
Clay nodded. "I don't answer it unless I'm in the mood. How did you manage to track me down here?"
"Triangulation. Not an exact science but it got me in the neighborhood and from there it was just footwork."
"You must have been pretty desperate."
"The young man who was murdered died hard."
"I'm sorry. I wish I could help you, but as I said, I only saw him in the park."
"Which one?"
"Skyline. Downtown."
"I know where it is. Was he alone?"
"He seemed to be. That's why he caught my attention. There were a lot of people around but he was sitting by himself on Block Fountain." Clay snorted. "Why they call it a fountain when there's no water… But that's beside the point. He was sort of curled up against one of the blocks, looking like he'd lost his last friend. He caught my eye. I sketched him and he became the centerpiece of the painting."
Quint nodded. "At least that gives us a starting point, presuming that wasn't the first time he was there. Given that he seems to have been homeless, I suspect he hung around that area, at least sometimes."
"Where was he—? Where did you find his body?"
"Down by Cherry Creek. Not all that far from Skyline."
Clay shook his head. "I wish I could have been more help."
"Not your fault." Quint stood, started to leave, then said, "There are times I wish I had the guts to be as cantankerous as you."
"It's all in the attitude. Act like an ass in public and people leave you alone."
"Not an option in my case, considering what I do. As my mother used to say, you catch more flies with honey than vinegar." Quint chuckled. "I never did figure out why you'd want to catch flies. Anyway, thanks for your help. At least it sort of pinpoints the area he probably hung out at."
"Welcome," Clay replied. He watched the detective walk away, grabbed his pencil, and did a quick sketch from memory of Quint's face. He'd be a good subject for a painting. He shook his head. Not like he'd be willing, I'm sure. Getting back to what he'd been doing before the detective had interrupted him, he focused in on a pair of young men on the dance floor and knocked out some rapid sketches.