Wolf's Rage of the Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Publishes!
Wolf's Rage published late August 9, 2018. After writing and publishing Wolf's Enemy, I fully intended to go into Wolf's Quest.
Flora Garrett and Dottie Paddock were not happy characters. At the end of Book 7, Wolf's Queen, they decided to start their lives with their mates by having a human-style wedding. But, when book 8 opened, the wedding had already happened the night before Nate is awakened by a message from General Brighton. The two werepanthers, Flora and Dottie, staged a sit-in on my keyboard, refusing to go away until I told a totally different story than Wolf's Quest. Thus, Wolf's Rage was written.
Originally, I intended to make Wolf's Rage book 7.5, since the events occur between books 7 and 8. Amazon, however, had different ideas. KDP doesn't allow the use of non-whole numbers books in a series. So, the long and short of it is, this is book 9.
Book 9, chronologically book 7.5, brings in new characters, including Violet and her family. It also adds more dimension to Peyton's budding relationship with Gloria Pike, former Houston Police Department Detective. As always, more nuances of pack life and werekind are introduced.
When Violet escapes her abusive fiancé, he sends men to bring her back. The last thing she expects is to be rescued by two strange women with uncanny abilities.
With his last attempt thwarted, her fiancé kidnaps Violet's sister and father to force her to come to him.
But he doesn't know about her new friends.
As Violet struggles to find a way to get her family safely home, she is stunned to learn her new friends are more than they seem.
Can she accept that vampires, werewolves, werepanthers, and werebears are real?
And when they offer to help her retrieve her family, will she trust them to help her again?
Or will her world crash around her as she loses all she’s ever had?
Author's Note: The events in this book occur between Wolf's Queen, book 7, and Wolf's Enemy, book 8.
The series should be read in chronological order:
- Wolf's Man
- Wolf's Claim
- Wolf's Mission
- Wolf's Huntsman
- Wolf's Trust
- Wolf's Reign
- Wolf's Queen
- Wolf's Rage
- Wolf's Enemy
Two Chapter Sneak Peek:
Flora Garrett, werepanther clowder queen, turned first one way in front of the three-way mirror, then the other while studying the wedding gown she wore. Her panther, Leesha, hissed at the image. Flora agreed with Leesha. She wrinkled her nose and glanced at Dottie Paddock, the other bride in the double wedding ceremony coming up in less than two weeks. Not once in all her life had Flora thought she would ever wear a wedding gown. Were had mating ceremonies, not weddings.
Nate Rollins, the alpha that claimed and protected her clowder as part of his pack when the clowder was threatened, was raised human. When he married his mate, Janelle, the idea of weddings became more normal. She took another look at the gown and shook her head. “I don’t like it. It’s too . . . frilly.” She waved her hand down her body at the mountains of ruffles and ribbons.
Standing beside Flora, wearing the same gown selected by their mates-to-be, Dottie laughed and nodded. “I agree. I think we both need something a little less, um, just a little less.”
Grinning, Flora rolled her eyes. “That’ll teach us to let the sales clerk talk the men into choosing us a dress.”
“Absolutely. Or let them come with us. What say we send them shopping for groceries, or something, and look for something we like better?”
“Sounds good to me.” Flora thought for a moment, then laughed. “Nate said the ranch needs some salt blocks for the cattle he’s planning to buy at auction next month. Why don’t we send the guys after them, so we can have time to shop?”
“But the closest feed shop is . . ..” Dottie’s eyes widened, and she laughed. “That’s perfect. With traffic, they’d be gone for at least two hours.”
Arm in arm, the two women went to send the men away. Flora hummed along with the subdued, canned Christmas instrumentals wafting through the store. When they walked through the drapes into the private viewing area, Will Freyen and Ben Garrett both stood up from the upholstered bench along the wall. “See, Will, I told you those dresses would be perfect for the girls.”
At the smirk on Ben’s face, the two women exchanged glances. Flora stepped forward, gave her dad a hug, then gave Will a kiss. “You guys have great taste, but I think we’re going to just look around for a while.”
Ben raised an eyebrow at his daughter. “Great taste, huh? If it’s so great, why do you want to find something else?”
“Because,” said Dottie, slipping her hand into the crook of his elbow, “it’s unlucky for the groom, or grooms, in this case, to see the gown before the wedding.”
“And,” added Flora, “Nate said he needs about a dozen salt blocks for the herd he plans to buy, so if you guys will go get them, we’ll be ready when you get back.”
Will shook his head. “Whew! I sure was hoping you wouldn’t like the dress. We thought if we picked something really, um,” he glanced at the saleswoman and winced. “Sorry.” When she harrumphed and walked away, he winked at Flora. “The dresses are really awful, aren’t they?”
Flora giggled and nodded. She cut her eyes at Dottie, then looked up at her mate-to-be and soon-to-be husband. “We don’t have to have a wedding, you know. We can just have a mating ceremony.”
“Speak for yourself, young lady.” Her widowed dad pulled Dottie to him and kissed her forehead. “I spent years living as a hum . . ..”
Dottie gave him a fierce look and cleared her throat, jerking her head toward the clerk. “And you want a big wedding, so all your former police department friends can attend.” She gave him a smile and pulled her bottom lip behind her teeth. “Does that mean you’re going to shave your head and go gray, again, like you did for Nate’s wedding?”
When Flora and Will snickered, Ben shook his head. “Nope. I’ll tell them I’m wearing a toupee and dyed my hair, so I would look young enough to be your man.” Ben retired from his position as captain of the San Antonio Police Department, Detective Division, at the beginning of the summer. His former colleagues had no clue he was a werepanther and old enough to be the grandfather of most of them. Or even their great-grandfather. Over the years he worked there, he started shaving a bald spot in the top of his head and bleaching his hair with peroxide to pretend he was getting older. As a werepanther, he would look about thirty-five until just a few decades before he died. At one-hundred-seventy-five years of age, he still had a century or so before old age would creep up on him. After quitting the force, he stopped shaving his head and let his hair return to its natural deep brown.
Dottie laughed. “I can’t wait.” She spun in front of Ben. “You don’t really like all the frills, ruffles, lace, and ribbons, do you?”
Ben peeked over his shoulder to check the location of the clerk before he made a face like he had lemon slices in his mouth and gave her a slight headshake. “I think I’ll like whatever you choose better.”
“You guys go buy some salt licks or something.” Flora grinned. “And you could find some poinsettias to decorate all the houses, too. We’ll be ready in a couple of hours.” Flora turned her head to the side, her nose in the air like spoiled royalty. She gave them a dismissive wave with two fingers, then grinned when the two men started laughing.
Careful not to crease or rip the expensive gown she wore, Will gave Flora a quick hug. “See you later, my queen.” He stepped away from her and bent into the most perfect formal bow Flora had ever seen, his arm moving in a gallant superfluous roll, his hand ending up on his chest. When he straightened up, he turned to his soon-to-be father-in-law and swept his arm across in front of himself toward the door. “After you, my prince.”
Ben gave him a regal nod, then walked out the door, snickering while Will followed him. The women managed to keep their mirth hidden behind pretend haughty expressions until the door closed behind them. Dottie snickered, then they both started laughing. Arm in arm, they returned to the dressing room to get out of the awful gowns, so they could start looking for something more . . . less.
After changing into the soft terry robes provided for them by the boutique, they wandered through the displayed gowns for nearly an hour. Finally, Dottie sighed. “I’m not sure I really want to wear white, Flora. Or off-white. Or ecru. Since this is my second mating, I think I just want a pretty gown.”
Flora thought about it for a moment, then nodded. “I think I’d rather have something different, too. Let’s go look at the bridesmaid’s dresses.”
They walked past the Christmas tree decorated in tiny satin hearts and lace to the other side of the store. Flora stopped in front of a pale turquoise gown with a sweetheart neckline. The crocheted lace cap sleeves in a matching color draped slightly below the shoulder. Floor length satin, the skirt was modified A-line with a gentle sweep. The bodice was covered with crocheted lace matching the sleeves, with tiny pearls set into the center of the floral designs.
When Flora’s breath caught, Dottie stepped up beside her. Head cocked to the side, Dottie looked at the dress for a moment, then looked at Flora as if picturing her in the gown. “It’s perfect, Flora. And it’s your favorite color, too. Try it on!”
“I will.” Flora motioned to the clerk. “Do you have this in a size 10?”
“Ma’am, you’re the bride. Wouldn’t you prefer a white gown?”
“No.” Giving her head a firm shake, Flora raised her hand toward the turquoise gown. “I like this one.”
The clerk sighed and nodded. “Yes, Ma’am. I’ll check to see if we have the right size.”
When she slipped into the back warehouse, Flora rolled her eyes. “I’m the bride. If I want to wear something besides white, that’s just what I’ll do.”
Dottie grinned. “She’s probably upset about the difference in the commission she’ll make on this dress compared to the one we tried on earlier.”
“I’m sure you’re right.” Flora shrugged. “But I’m not shopping for her. I’m shopping for me. And I want this dress. If I can’t have this one, I’ll go somewhere else.” Flora could hear the woman walking up behind her. “Or shop online.” When she turned to face the clerk, she knew the clerk heard her, just as she intended. It wasn’t the first time someone told her they didn’t have what she wanted just to try to get her to buy something more expensive.
“Yes, Ma’am,” the clerk said with a sigh. “We do have the dress in a 10. I’ll take it to your dressing room.” She almost hid her annoyance, but not quite. Turning to face Dottie, she smiled. “Would you like to look at another bridal gown?”
“No, thank you. I think I’ll just keep looking in here.”
“As you wish. If you find something, I’ll be happy to check and see if we have it.”
Giving her an absent nod, Dottie walked until she found a high-necked dress with a mandarin collar. Made of a light coral brocade, the gown had a fitted waist with a dark coral ribbon belt and a trumpet skirt. In the same brocade, bell sleeves came to a point at the wrist. It almost looked like a medieval gown. No pearls. No lace. No ribbon, except for the belt. Simple and elegant. A slow smile spread over her lips. Flora laughed when Dottie turned to look at her. “I love it.”
Flora waved the clerk over. “She’ll take that one in a 12.”
With a sigh, the woman nodded. “I’ll bring it to the dressing room.”
As she walked away, Flora and Dottie giggled. “I guess we have our colors, now. Turquoise and coral.”
Dottie nodded. “Let’s get shoes and see if we can get veils to match.”
“If they don’t have the veils we want, we’ll just get white and dye them the color we want.”
“That works.” Dottie followed Flora back to the dressing rooms where the gowns they chose hung on hooks on the wall.
Helping each other with the tiny fabric-covered buttons up the back of each gown, they turned to face the three-sided mirrors. For several moments, the two women just stared, then met each other’s eyes in the mirror. A happy smile draped across Flora’s lips, and Dottie grinned. “Perfect.”
Flora nodded. “Let’s get shoes and veils dyed to match. And I want matching, fingerless, elbow-length crocheted gloves.”
The clerk frowned. “We don’t carry fingerless, elbow-length crocheted gloves, Ma’am.”
With a shrug, Flora looked back at the mirror. “That’s okay.” She grinned at Dottie. “Think if I find some crochet cotton the right color Mia would have time to make me some?”
“If she was excused her other tasks, I’ll bet she would.”
Flora squealed, clapped her hands, and pulled her shoulders up almost to her ears, before dropping them again. “Let’s get our shoes and veils selected and go to the craft store.”
It took several minutes to get changed, then longer before the two decided on satin kitten-heeled pumps dyed to match the dresses they chose. But when it came to the veils, they hit a roadblock. If the tulle was dyed, it would be limp, and it was very difficult to iron and make it look right and hang properly afterward, the clerk insisted. Finally, they decided to make the veils, too. Using the ranch credit card to pay for their wedding finery, Flora arranged to have them delivered to the ranch. At a huge extra expense. Dottie snapped photos of the gowns using her phone, so they could match the tulle at the craft shop.
Dressed again in jeans, boots, and cashmere sweaters, the two women walked out the boutique door and hailed a taxi. While the driver took them to the craft store, Flora texted their location to Will. After she put her phone into her front pocket, she glanced at Dottie. “I hope the guys don’t mind we didn’t get white gowns.”
Dottie lowered her voice to prevent the driver hearing her. “White is a human custom, Flora, and not even all humans use white for weddings. We found something we like. If we’re happy, the guys won’t care.” She grinned. “Besides, I’m a widow. White wouldn’t feel quite right, somehow. And Nate said we could get whatever we wanted.”
“You’re right. He did.” Feeling more at ease, Flora hummed the wedding march until they arrived at their destination. Tipping the driver more than he expected, the two women got out, stretched, and watched the taxi drive away.
Dottie grabbed Flora’s arm and tugged her toward the entrance. “Okay, we’re here for turquoise cotton for gloves and tulle for our veils. Do you want tiny pearls on the gloves? Maybe we should look at patterns, too?”
“Ooh. Pearls would be so sweet. We’ll need a pattern so we probably sh . . ..”
A shrill scream broke Flora’s comment. She whirled, searching for the origin of such terror. Half-way down the second lane of the parking lot, the side door of a dark van was open. Two men dressed in dark jeans and black long-sleeve turtleneck t-shirts were trying to pull a struggling young red-headed woman into the van. She bit the hand covering her mouth, then screamed again when the man jerked it away, cursing.
Flora ran toward them, Dottie right behind her. “Hey! Let her go!”
The man the girl bit looked up, then turned his head and muttered something at someone inside the van. Another man dressed in similar black clothes jumped out of the van, a gun in his hand. Flora stopped and glanced at Dottie. Flora’s panther, Leesha, silently spoke to Urlah, Dottie’s panther. When Urlah explained to Dottie what Flora wanted, she nodded. Dottie stopped moving forward and started side-stepping to get around the guy with the gun and get closer to the girl.
Raising her hands, Flora took another step toward the struggling girl. Then another. “Look, mister, we don’t want any trouble, here. Just let the girl go and be on your way.”
“Get lost, lady. We’re taking her home to her fiancé.”
Flora glanced at the woman’s frightened hazel eyes and took another step. “Is that true?”
She nodded but didn’t seem any less fearful. Flora took another step toward them. “Will they hurt you?”
The red-head nodded again. The two men holding her cursed and pulled her closer to the van. Flora sighed. “I really wish you guys would just let her go.”
Confusion touched the face of the man with the gun. “I already told you, lady. Get out of here.”
Flora gazed at him, and let her panther show in her eyes. Alpha command strengthened her words. “I think you should leave her here and go.”
The hand with the gun started slowly lowering until the barrel pointed at the pavement. He blinked. “What’s with your eyes?”
Flora took another step. A feral grin slipped onto Flora’s lips. “You mean the eyes that tell you I’m going to hurt you?” She jumped toward him.
He yelped and jerked the gun back up. As fast as he moved, he wasn’t as fast as an angry panther. Flora let her panther’s strength push into her and shoved the gun aside. With only her hand shifted, she swiped his throat with her claws and shoved him to the pavement. He dropped the gun and reached for his neck. Both hands clutching his bleeding neck, he screamed at his friends to help him.
Which they couldn’t do without letting the girl go. As their hands released her, Dottie caught her arm and pulled her away from the two men. One of the men charged at Flora. Using the fighting skills Nate insisted all women in the pack learn after the attacks on the ranch, Flora caught his arm, twisted, and jerked while at the same time ducking down. He flew over her shoulder, hitting the pavement face first. He landed in a twisted heap, his left arm caught beneath him. Before he could get up, Dottie shoved her foot against the back of his neck. “Move and I’ll break your neck.”
Side door still open, the van driver took off, tires squealing on the pavement, leaving the others behind. Flora glanced to see that he was staying still, then turned to the last man standing. Glancing past Flora at the two other men, he licked his lips. Pulling a knife from his left boot, he crouched, ready for her to attack. In the distance, she heard a siren and realized someone called the police. He threw a nervous glance over his shoulder, looking toward the sound of the siren.
As soon as his gaze left Flora, she pulled her phone from her pocket. “Here, catch,” she said. Startled, he whirled to face her. Automatically, he fumbled to catch the phone. Flora spun and delivered a spinning back kick to the side of his head. Without a sound, he slumped to the ground, the knife hitting the parking lot before he did. Flora kicked the knife away without touching it. “Clumsy oaf,” she muttered, when she bent to pick up her phone, then groaned.
“Is it broken?”
Flora glanced at Dottie and nodded. “The screen shattered. At least the pictures of our gowns are on your phone.” With another sigh, she slipped it into her pocket. “We’ll get another before we go home.” She swept her gaze over the trembling girl clutching Dottie’s arm. “Are you okay, Sweetie?”
Trembling, staring at the three men on the pavement, the red-head gave a hesitant nod. Before she could speak, a police car pulled up. Dottie took her foot off the man’s neck and stepped away from him. The man Flora kicked sat up, swaying and shaking his head as if to clear it. About that time, an ambulance pulled up behind the squad car. After the women answered questions, the officers handcuffed two of the three men. The one Flora threw into the pavement was treated for road rash on his face, hands, and shoulder, then released to the officers. Neck still bleeding, the gunman was treated, stabilized, then taken by ambulance to the hospital. The other two men were put into the back of the police car, then one of the officers came back.
“Which one of you struck the guy in the ambulance?”
“I did,” said Flora. “He was holding a gun on me. I knocked it out of his hand. He jumped me, and I hit him with my fingers. I guess my nails are longer than I thought.”
“Uh huh.” The officer scratched the side of his head. “He says he wants to press charges.”
Flora tilted her head, face expressionless. “Against me? He had a gun and they were trying to kidnap this woman.”
“Yeah, well, you don’t have a scratch on you, and he’s gonna need stitches.” Another police vehicle pulled up behind Flora and Dottie. “I’m afraid you’re gonna have to come down to the station while we get this sorted out.”
A car door opened, then shut, and a female officer stepped up beside him. He jerked his thumb at her. “Officer Hernandez will follow you to the station.”
Dottie glanced at Flora, then back at the officer. “We don’t have a car, officer. Our fiancés were going to pick us up later.”
“In that case, Officer Hernandez will be happy to give you three a ride,” he said, making it clear he meant the victim, too.
Flora bowed her head, eyes closed. As the clowder queen, her panther had the ability to contact the pack alpha. Leesha, her panther, called Koreth, the pack alpha’s wolf, and let him know she and Dottie were going to the police station. A moment later, she heard his response and nodded without speaking. Flora glanced at Dottie, then gave Officer Hernandez a tired smile. “Might as well go, then.”
Before putting the three women in the back of her squad car, Officer Hernandez did a quick frisk to make sure none of them had weapons. Opening the back door, she motioned for them to climb in. Annoyed, Flora got in and crawled to the other side. The victim, who said her name was Violet Heath, got in next and moved to the center of the seat. Dottie got in last. The door closed firmly behind her.
Staring through the metal mesh that separated the front seat from the back, Flora heaved a sigh. The air freshener hanging from the rearview mirror didn’t hide the stench of sweat, rage, and fear that pervaded the back seat. After a moment, Flora shook her head and snickered, then laughed. When Dottie looked askance at her, Flora laughed again. “What do you want to bet it’ll be harder to go shopping without the guys from now on?”
“Oh, Flora. That’s not even funny.”
The young woman between them hunched down into the seat, trying hard not to touch either of the women in the car with her. Flora gave a last snicker, then sighed. “You’re right. It’s not funny. Maybe Dad can help us, though. He worked for the department for years.”
“They took our phones.”
Flora sighed. “Well, Nate knows what’s going on. He’ll contact them.” Her forehead wrinkled and glanced at the worry in Dottie’s eyes. “You don’t suppose he’ll come to town, himself, do you?”
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Next to Come
Wolf's Quest is next. The first chapter is written! Now that he has an idea where Jackson hid his mate, Snarl, Thorkell Ericsson, is on a quest to get her back. Stay tuned for more!
Thank you for reading!