Belong to the Night Excerpt
The Wolf, The Witch, And Her Lack Of Wardrobe
Tully was wondering how long he would have to sit here. He wasn’t much for sitting when he’d rather keep moving. And although it had only been five minutes or so, he was already getting restless. Then, the earth beneath his feet moved, like a hard jerk, and the circle set into the middle of this clearing that was empty, now had Jamie Meacham in it once again. She was naked and on all fours, her body covered in bruises and cuts, and she was coughing up…uh…fire.
You know…it’s just not everyday ya get to see a woman cough up fire.
Terrified he was watching her die before him, Tully tore down the hill he’d been on, heading right toward her. She must have sensed him, too, because she reached outside her circle and picked up the .380 she had with her, jerked it so the holster flew off, and aimed it right at him.
He slid to a stop, his eyes locked on that weapon. Any other human, he wouldn’t be too worried. But her…?
She was still coughing, but no longer big balls of fire, instead just puffs of black smoke. He slowly sat back on his haunches, letting her know that she had nothing to fear from him. At least, not at the moment. She waited a beat, then two, until she finally began to lower her arm. But a roar from the surrounding woods had her raising the gun again, but aiming it away from him. That’s when they saw the first one. It came soaring at them, screaming in terror the entire way.
Jamie automatically fell back, the gun still raised, although he knew it wouldn’t do her a damn bit of good. He shot up and dived at her, shifting from wolf to human with no more than a thought, and landed on top of her, rolling them both out of the way.
The first one slammed into the space Jamie had just been kneeling in before it bounced up and away. Then another followed, and another. Tully quickly rose up on his knees, and grabbed hold of Jamie’s hand. But before he could pull her out of range, it came tearing out of the trees, running right at them on all fours. Rage making him froth at the mouth, fear making him completely irrational.
“Shit,” Tully muttered before he yanked Jamie to her feet and tossed her over his shoulder in one move. She’d never be able to out run it, so he didn’t have much choice. He took off into the woods, knowing it was following right behind them. Desperate, he let out a short call and kept moving. It was gaining on him, getting closer. Taking a risk, he jumped up on the boulder and leaped onto the higher one next to it. He turned just as Bear McMahon tore out of the darkness and went after the outsider. Another grizzly. The boar roared, rising up on his rear legs as Bear did the same. They slammed into each other, their jaws opening wide, trying to get a grip on the others head or neck.
That’s when Tully’s Pack charged in, going after the outsider-some Yankee businessman from Delaware, if he remembered correctly-and forced the boar back and away from Bear and, more importantly, Tully. The outsider caught a few of the wolves that came too close, batting them away, but there were a lot more of the wolves than of him and Bear wasn’t backing off him either. He suddenly seemed to run out of fight, abruptly turning and charging back the way he’d come.
Tully’s Pack and Bear followed after the boar, while one little hybrid wandered on up to him. She had the muzzle of her feline daddy and the ears of her canine momma…and she had that dang snaggletooth. She trotted over to the boulder Tully stood on and shifted into his beautiful baby sister-thankfully without that snaggletooth. Those braces had thankfully worked on her human form if not her shifted one.
Katie smiled up at him. “You all right, Tully?”
“I’ve been better.” He let out a breath. “The hyenas must have startled that bear. He tossed them at me like hockey pucks.”
“I’m glad we were nearby to hear your call, but uh…” She bit her lip, and he knew she was trying not to laugh.
“But uh what?”
“Well, that’s a nice ass you’ve got there, big brother.” Which seemed like a really strange thing for his baby sister to say to him when they were standing around naked. There were certain shifter protocols between siblings and blood kin to avoid awkward moments just like this one. But then she laughed and added, “You plannin’ on keepin’ it?”
“Am I plannin’ on…” He cringed and glanced over at the ass resting on his shoulder. Something told him this wouldn’t go well, but he had to admit his baby sister was right-this was a damn fine ass he had here.
“Why don’t I leave you alone with your ass and we’ll make sure that tourist bear gets back on over to the bear side of the river so he can get some fresh salmon.” She winked at him, shifted, and headed off, leaving Tully alone with one probably very irritated witch.
This, however, was a new kind of humiliation and one she wasn’t particularly enjoying.
She didn’t say anything until Tully placed her safely on her feet. He stared down at her for several long moments before finally asking, “You all right?”
That’s when she grabbed him by that damn gold hoop earring he insisted on wearing, even when wolf, and twisted until he was nearly on his knees again. “When everyone talks about this” — and gods know they will all talk about this — “you just remember that I am as light as a feather and I’ll remember that you are a very brave and well-hung wolf who protected me. That’s the story, Marmaduke, and it better not change or by all that you hold dear, I will make your life one unholy nightmare after another. Understand me?”
Even with her dangerously close to ripping that earring right out of his head, the man still managed to grin at her. “I think I understand all that.”
“Good.” She released him and carefully made her way to the smaller boulder and then jumped off that to the ground.
“Are you going to finally tell me what you were doing up here?” Tully’s voice asked from above her.
“Nope,” Jamie easily replied as she turned and found the damn wolf right behind her. She instinctively raised her weapon that she was proud to say she still had a tight grip on, but he caught her hand and held it. She could feel the strength in that hand, knew he could break her fingers if he wanted to, but he didn’t.
Instead he said, “Don’t point that gun at me again, beautiful. I don’t like it.”
“Then you shouldn’t have followed me.”
“And if it hadn’t been for me, you’d have been bombarded with all those hyenas.”
Jamie paused a moment to think on that. “Those were flying hyenas I saw, weren’t they?”
“With a little help from an out-of-town bear…yep.”
“That’s something you simply don’t see every day,” she murmured, then shook her head. “Whatever. I need to get home.” She was tired, exhausted really, and running out of energy fast. She needed a carb-filled meal and she needed it in the next ten minutes.
But when she tried to pull her hand away from his grasp, Tully held on tight. Still not hurting her but not giving an inch either. After several tries, Jamie stopped and asked, “Why aren’t you letting me go?”
“Because you need to realize that until people around here start trusting you, someone is always going to be watching you.”
“That’s not my problem, Tully. You people brought me here to provide a skill you were lacking. I never said I’d change who I was to keep everyone calm. That’s not my business or my concern.”
His thumb brushed against her hand. “You still don’t see it, do you?”
“We’re not ‘you people,’ we’re your people.”
Jamie didn’t buy that for a second. “From what I understand from my Alabama cousins, if you’re not born in the South-you’re always an outsider and a Yankee. So let’s not play that game.”
“But something tells me, beautiful, that you don’t think you belong anywhere.”
“I’m going home,” she said rather than replying to that surprisingly accurate statement.
“Why?” he asked softly. “Because you don’t like where this conversation is going? Or because I look so dang good naked, you can’t keep those beautiful brown eyes off me?”
“As entertaining as I find your little fantasy world, I need to go home because I’m about to-”
And that was the last thing she remembered.