Saturday, July 4, 2020

Tala Ridge Alpha Available in Large Print Paperback!

Tala Ridge Alpha in Large Print!

Tala Ridge Alpha, the second book in new The Tala Ridge Shifters series, has published in large print paperback format.


Wolf shifter children attend human public school for the first time. What could go wrong?

With the king’s tentative approval, Terrell, the youngest wolf shifter alpha in the world, sends the pack children to public school after Child Protection Services investigates the ranch for never registering their kids.
But Terrell’s concern over attending school with human students is overshadowed with worries for their safety when he finds other shifters attending the school.
Buck, the future alpha of the outcast pack, isn’t happy when outside wolves start attending his school.
Who are they?
How does their presence affect his pack?
When two teen-aged alphas collide, who wins? Who loses?

Two Chapter Preview:

Chapter 1

La Veta County Sheriff Cole Jameson absently picked up his coffee cup and sipped. Cold. Making a face, he set it down, the ceramic cup thumping on his ancient wooden desktop. Glancing at the door to the front office, he called, “Mitch, that new pot ready?”

Deputy Mitch Vaine leaned into the sheriff’s office and grinned. The deputy’s straight, even teeth, boyish good looks, and meticulously combed hair paid homage to his last name. “Almost, Boss!”

Cole shook his head when Mitch disappeared back into the front office and sighed before turning back to the BOLO he received from the Colorado Bureau of Investigation, a warrant for a gang of three bank robbers headed south from Denver. So far, the perpetrators hit four banks. Two bank employees and one police officer sustained gunshot wounds in their last robbery.

The words on the BOLO faded as his mind wandered. Again. Since he escorted Micah Bird to the Tala Ridge Ranch for a CPS complaint, he’d found keeping his mind on his duties difficult at best.
Werewolves! In his county! And they’d been there for years. Even before the town was founded in 1886.

He heard the front door open and shut but left it to his deputies to see what whoever it was wanted. “Jameson! Where’s Jameson?”

He’d never forget that thunderous voice. He winced at the fury in Commander Terrence Bird’s roar, stood, and walked to the office door. Deputy Lincoln Stiles’ large form blocked Bird’s path to the office. “Sir, you need to calm down.”

“I want to see Jameson, right now!”

Tucking his thumbs in his holster belt, Cole tilted his head and narrowed his gaze at his former CO. Dressed in fatigues, combat boots, and a heavy jacket and black cap dusted with snow, all the SEAL commander needed to be combat-ready were his weapons.

Realizing the commander knew he and Micah were dating, Cole sighed. “Commander.”

Bird’s sharp eyes speared him. If looks could kill, the sheriff would be a pile of broken bones and goo. Refusing to be cowed by the man’s obvious anger, he jerked his head toward his office. Cole sighed. “Why don’t we take this somewhere more private?”

Lips pressed tight, shoulders bunched, Bird slapped aside the short gate separating the front office desks from the waiting area and walked past Deputy Stiles, brushing the man’s shoulder. Cole raised an eyebrow. There weren’t many men as big as Commander Bird, but Stiles matched him inch for inch, with one or two to spare. The dispatcher and the rest of Cole’s deputies watched wide-eyed. His former CO stopped a foot in front of Jameson, hands on his hips. Cole met his gaze, then jerked his head toward his office door.

“Have a seat, Commander. I’ll get us some coffee.”

Wordless, Bird shoved past him and walked to the visitor’s chair. Now that the commander wasn’t glaring at him, Cole took a quiet, deep breath, then blew it out. He glanced at Vaine. “Coffee ready, yet?”

“No, Sir. It’ll be another five minutes or so.”

Cole nodded. “Bring us two cups, black, when it’s done. Otherwise, y’all get busy.”

Ignoring the scamper to find something to do, he turned his back on his deputies, took another deep breath, and blew it out. Closing the door behind him, he walked to his desk and sat. “Morning, Commander.”

Bird leaned forward, askew elbows resting on the arms of his old-fashioned wooden chair. “What the blazes do you think you’re doing, Jameson?”

“You spoke with Micah?”

“Nah, Mom told me. Said you’ve been keeping company with Micah since before Christmas.”

“Yeah, well, that’s true.” Jameson fixed Bird in a level stare. “I won’t hurt her, Sir. I’m serious about our relationship.”

Bird tensed. “If you’re just...”

“I’m not.” Cole opened his top desk drawer and pulled out a small box. “If she’ll have me, I plan to marry her.”

Taking a deep breath, Bird visibly forced himself to relax. He glanced at the midnight blue ring box, then raised his gaze to his Navy friend. “Tell me.”

“I accompanied her to a CPS visitation before Christmas. She was pretty shook up by everything that happened. Afterwards, we had a meal and started talking. We had coffee the next day, and since then we’ve met for coffee or a meal almost every day.”

Cole shrugged. “I know it’s quick, but I love her, Terry. I’ll never purposely do anything to hurt her.”
Bird sighed away some of his anger. “I wanted her to find a safe guy, you know. Someone not likely to leave in the morning and die before coming home. Not a soldier.” He glared at Cole. “And not a cop!”

“I know.” Cole fisted his coffee cup and stared at the cold coffee. “I didn’t plan it, Terry, it just happened.”

“Because she got upset about that CPS visit? What happened?”

Cole hesitated. The pack alpha had decided the command to keep them secret placed on him years ago in Oregon was good enough. He thought he could talk about the local pack, but he wasn’t sure he should. Chewing the right corner of his bottom lip, he glanced out the only window in his office. 
“You know I can’t talk about that, Terry.”

“Yeah. That’s what Micah said. But she’s hiding something from me, Cole. Something that scares her. What is it?”

Rubbing an itch above his left eye, Cole opened his mouth, then snapped it shut when a sharp tap sounded on the door. “Sheriff? Coffee got done quicker than I expected.”

“Hold that thought.” Cole stood and walked to the door, opened it, then took both cups from his deputy. “Shut the door, Vaine.”

With a nod, the deputy pulled the door shut. Cole carried the coffee to the desk and set a cup in front of Micah’s brother. “Here you go. Black and strong enough to float horseshoes, since Deputy Vaine made it.”

The commander’s large hand lifted the cup. He sipped, then winced and nodded. “I think you could walk on that.”

Cole grinned. “Boy’s talented when it comes to coffee.”

Bird snickered, then his face settled back into a tight expression. “Just tell me if there’s something I need to be worried about, Cole.”

The automatic denial refused to leave Cole’s lips. He sighed and moved aside the first, cold cup of coffee to make room for the second hot one. “Terry, I can’t tell you anything, but I promise I’ll do everything in my  power to make sure she stays safe.”

“Meaning there’s something to worry about.”

Cole studied Terry’s worried eyes. “You remember Nate Rollins? Lieutenant-Colonel, Marines, Brighton’s Elite Unit?”

Bird blinked. “Sure. What about him?”

“He says everything is cool. He’ll keep everything safe.”

“Marines are involved in one of Micah’s cases?”

“No.” Cole tried a different direction. “You ever meet Captain Waylon Rickles?”

All expressions left Terry’s face. “I did. What’s he have to do with this?”

“You ever see him...” Cole grimaced at the pain erupting in his head. Pain warning him to stop talking. Aware of his former CO’s tense consideration, Cole sighed. “Never mind.”

“You know.”


“You know about Rickles.”

Cole’s gaze snapped to Terry. “Rickles is a...” He couldn’t force out the word.

Soundlessly, Bird mouthed, “Shifter.”

Face pale, Cole stood and swayed for a moment. Walking to the door, he turned and glanced at Terry. “I’ll be right back.”

Closing the door behind him, he marched across the outer office, ignoring Stiles’ heavy frown and the questioning looks from the other officers. Stepping out on the sidewalk, he pulled the door shut, then walked to the alley. With shaking fingers, he pressed the Tala Ridge Ranch button on his cell.

“Tala Ridge Ranch, Dusty speaking.”

“This is Sheriff Jameson. I need to see Nate and Terrell right away.”

Chapter 2

The alpha of the Tala Ridge Wolf Pack, twelve-year-old Terrell Pace, thirteen next week, he reminded everyone, tossed a baseball to his beta, Josh Tatlow. Mind busy considering the ramifications of King Nathaniel being called back to the ranch, he almost missed Josh’s return throw. His lightweight denim jacket more than enough to keep him warm, he took a deep, snow- and pine-scented breath and tossed the ball back to Josh. Most of his pack was still indoors, kids enjoying the warmth of the fireplace while playing games or reading, and the women preparing a communal meal for the evening.

The men and teens worked in the fields, feeding cows and horses, or chopping wood for the fireplace. Terrell found himself in the unenviable position of having nothing to do. Every time he decided to do something productive, one of the adults swooped in to do it for him. Ainle whined in the back of his mind, sympathetic but not knowing what to do to change things. “Ugh!”

“What’s wrong?” When Terrell didn’t throw the ball and didn’t answer, Josh walked to him. “Want to talk about it?”

“They won’t let me do anything!”

Surprise flashed on Josh’s face. “Like what?”

“Anything! Chores!”

Josh laughed and sauntered over to an old stump. Wiping the snow off, he sat and studied his alpha. 

“You know you’re like the king of your kingdom, right?”

Terrell dropped his glove and ball next to his boot and kicked a snowdrift. Shoulders hunched, he shoved his hands in his front jeans pockets. “So?”

“Well, it was before my time here, but I’ve heard talk. What would have happened if your father started doing something and someone didn’t jump to take it over?”

Understanding washed over Terrell and he looked up. “They were punished for making him do it.”

Sighing, Terrell gazed down the dirt road that led to the ranch gate. “So, they still don’t know me well enough to know if I’ll do the same thing.”

“Right.” Scooping up a handful of snow, Josh molded it into a ball, then tossed it into the air. “And since Nate gave you your dad’s power, you’re more powerful than any wolf here, including Dusty.”

Terrell huffed. He wasn’t at all sure he was more powerful than Dusty, his regent. Nate assigned Dusty as pack regent and guardian to Terrell until he reached eighteen. It hadn’t taken Terrell long to realize that power wasn’t everything. Courage, skill, and cunning played a huge role in almost every aspect of pack governance. Abilities Terrell hoped to learn from his guardian, someday.

He stared at his feet, his too-short jeans leaving too much sock showing. Receiving his father’s alpha power, then facing vampires in the attack on the King’s pack had forced early puberty on Terrell. The challenge battle to keep his position and title intensified his growth spurt. In the past two weeks, he’d grown at least four inches in height. The growth spurt had him tripping over his own feet at times. And his bones ached most of the time. He’d be glad when the growing stopped for a while. His feet were shod in Dusty’s extra, too-long shoes because his own no longer fit, and unlike his jeans, he couldn’t just pull them up higher.  He didn’t recognize himself in the mirror either, his face longer and narrower than he remembered it being. Even his shoulders were wider, enough that he had to wear some of Dusty’s shirts.

He looked older than his years, too. Samantha and Larissa, the only two teen girls on the ranch started following him around, whispering and giggling. He sighed. His fated mate already found, their whispers and giggles did little more than annoy him. And since he couldn’t tell anyone yet about her, there was little he could do to dissuade them. But when school started, the giggles and whispers would be more about his unfitting clothing than the new maturity he showed.

“Know what? I’m going to have Nettie or Dusty take me shopping for new clothes tomorrow. Want to come?”

“Sure. It’s my job to go where you go.” When Terrell rolled his eyes and huffed, Josh laughed. 

“Anyway, I need some new clothes, too. Gramma said I don’t have enough for school.”

“Hmm. She’s probably right. I don’t think any of the kids have enough. Maybe we all should go and get some new clothes.” The young alpha pushed his hair off his forehead. “And maybe haircuts, too.”

Thunder rolled through the mountains and blue lightning flashed, washing out the late December sunlight shining down on the ranch yard. When it cleared, a white, twenty-six-passenger StarCraft Allstar bus sat in the driveway. The door opened and Nate, King of all Werekind, stepped out, followed by Magnus, the king's guard. “Hey, Terrell. I brought the bus you asked for.”

“Hi, Nate.” Terrell walked around the bus, examining it. He climbed the steps and surveyed the individual seats, each with a seatbelt buckled across the seat. “It’s a bit big, isn’t it? We only have sixteen kids.”

From outside the bus, Nate answered. “Choices were fifteen passengers or twenty-six passengers, so I got this one.”

Terrell turned, jumped over the steps and out the door, then scratched his cheek and winced. “I’m not sure when I can pay you for it, Sire.”

Nate clapped a hand on Terrell’s shoulder. “Don’t worry about it. Consider it a gift. After all, you’re going to be our test case for sending the kids to human schools.”

Heat suffused Terrell’s face and he ducked his head. “Thank you, Sire.”

“None of that. Where’s Dusty?”

Behind them, the door on the main lodge opened. “Hey, Nate! Wow! That’s a bus.”

“For the kids. When Ms. Bird mentioned the school didn’t have the funds to send a bus to the ranch, Terrell requested a bus.” Nate raised an eyebrow. “I’ll assume someone here has the proper license to drive it.”

“Someone will have a license before school starts in January,” inserted Terrell.

“Good enough.” Nate flashed him a grin before looking at Dusty. “You said the sheriff needs to see me?”

The silver-burn scars on his neck mostly covered by a turtleneck sweater, Dusty shrugged and nodded. “Yeah. He’s bringing someone to the ranch. He wouldn’t tell me what he wants, but he insisted you be here.”

Nettie, Dusty’s mate, told Terrell that Dusty received the silver-burn scars on his neck and wrists when an evil alpha kept him in silver chains because Dusty wouldn’t tell him how to find Nate, the boy who grew to become their king. As far as Terrell was concerned, the scars were a testament to Dusty’s unwavering courage and loyalty. His musings were cut short by Josh’s comment.

“Looks like they’re here.”

Terrell followed Josh’s pointing finger to see a La Veta County Sheriff’s car driving toward them.

In Other News

In the next book, Tala Ridge Storm, Alpha Terrell and Alpha Buck must work together to save a bus full of children. So far, I have nearly 3,000 words written. Back to work!

Take care,

Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Series

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