Thursday, January 20, 2022

Tala Ridge Hunt Pre-order

The Tala Ridge Hunt Pre-order is Live!

After a slight snafu in which I had to prove to Amazon that I was the author, the Tala Ridge Hunt pre-order is finally (!) available on Amazon. 

I appreciate that Amazon has my back and is actively trying to make sure no one else publishes my books to their site. This actually gives me some comfort, since I have neither the time nor the resources to scour the net to make sure my work isn't being pirated.

The pre-order delivers on March 19th. With over 18,000 words complete, I plan to finish early to give plenty of time for edits and possible rewrites. 

Here's a sneak peek from chapter 1:

Chapter 1

Terrell groaned. Vampire dust tastes like crap, he told his wolf. Ainle yawned, unconcerned with Terrell’s distress. Even two nights after the battle at the Tirsdagr, his mouth tasted like acetone smelled.

Moonlight filtered through the gauzy curtains over the windows, highlighting the sticks in Terrell Pace’s hands. He sat on the edge of his queen-sized bed and stared through the darkness at the sharpened drumsticks he held. He swiped his right forefinger across the wood, wiped away the remaining traces of vampire dust, and heaved a sigh. Two nights previous, before the king appointed his daughter Ophelia as his heir at the Tirsdagr ceremony, vampires attacked. Again. And again, sharpened pencils saved the day.

The Horde, once slaves to the vampires, fought with clusters of pencils, while Terrell used weapons more formidable, the drumsticks Buck, the Outcast Pack alpha, gifted him before he left for the ceremony. Others broke the wooden folding chairs for makeshift stakes.

Terrell tapped his knees with the drumsticks. Maybe he should have Dusty purchase a boatload of drumsticks and sharpen them. Just in case the vampires ever attacked the Tala Ridge Ranch. He blew out a loud breath, the rank taste of vampire dust still in his mouth. Setting the drumsticks on his bedside table, he kicked off his shoes and stretched out on top of his comforter. Tomorrow, he’d have Dusty or Joshua mount them on the wall in his office. Closing his eyes, he tried to avoid thinking about the problems he came home to.

His phone vibrated in his pocket. Pulling it out, he glanced at the screen. Buck. For a moment, he considered letting it go to voice mail, then swiped the green phone icon. “Hey, Buck.”

“Hey. Took you longer to get back than you thought.”

“Yeah. We had to fly. The king was too busy to bring us home. Any problems while we were gone?”

“No. It’s been quiet. Sheriff Jameson wants to verify we’re having the barbeque for his deputies Saturday.”

“Might as well get it over with.” Terrell rolled to his side and stared at the drumsticks. “Thanks for the drumsticks. They came in handy.”

Buck snickered, his soft laugh coming over the speaker. “Don’t tell me you ran into more vampires.”

“Actually, I did. At least this time, I had a weapon that wouldn't break when I stabbed them.”

“Wait. Really? You fought vampires again?”

“They attacked during the ceremony. They almost killed the king, but he survived.” Terrell rolled to his back, pressed the speakerphone icon, and set the phone on his chest. He laced his fingers together, slid his hands behind his head, and stared through the dark at his ceiling. “I’m too tired to go into it right now, but I’ll fill you in after school tomorrow.”

Buck was silent for long moments, then sighed. “We didn’t have any excitement here. Oh, when you didn’t make it back Monday, I told Josh to get your assignments at school.”

“Yeah. He gave them to me.”

“Um, Terrell, Mom offered to help with the side dishes and the deserts for Saturday.”

“Sounds good. I’ll let Nettie know. She’s coordinating everything.” They chatted about the school assignments for a few minutes, then Buck hung up.

Terrell rolled to his feet and headed toward the bathroom for mouth wash. Maybe the next time he fought vampires, he’d remember to keep his mouth closed.

The next morning, Terrell used half a bottle of mouth wash. The taste of dead vampire wouldn’t go away and seemed to get worse overnight. His stomach roiled. Rinsing with clean water, he spat it into the sink, then washed the sink out. After dabbing his face with the blue hand towel hanging over the sink, he tossed the towel to the counter and walked into his room.

Dressed in his favorite black jeans and a grey t-shirt, he slipped his feet into his sneakers and tied them while thinking about the assignments he hadn’t bothered to complete, yet. He grabbed his backpack and hurried downstairs to the kitchen. Nettie stood at the stove, preparing breakfast. With a nod at her, he sat at the head of the table. She smiled and turned back to her cast iron griddle.

Tig, the golden Labrador Nate brought to live with Dusty stretched out across the backdoor. With a wide yawn, he scrambled to his feet and walked to Terrell, his toenails clicking on the hardwood flooring. He nosed Terrell’s leg and whined. Absently scratching behind Tig’s ear, Terrell pulled his books out of his backpack. With his algebra book open, he worked on graphing quadratic equations. He looked up when the chair next to him was pulled away from the table with a loud screech.

Mattie plopped in the chair and leaned toward him. “What’cha doin’?”

Terrell scooted his chair away from her and frowned at her. “My homework. You need something?”

“Yep. Laney called yesterday. She wanted to know if I could go to Marianne Gleason’s house with her next week for a painting lesson. Can I go? You said I could take lessons.”

Without waiting for his answer, the girl scrambled up on her knees in the chair and leaned over his book, staring at the equations he worked with. “That looks hard.”

Clearing his throat, Terrell cast a frantic glance around the kitchen. Nettie stood at the stove, pouring batter onto the griddle. “Um, Nettie?”

“Yes, Alpha?” She turned with a smile that morphed into concern. “Mattie, go get your shoes on.”

Mattie dropped to her bottom, raised one foot over the edge of the table, and wiggled it. “Already got’em, Mom.”

Nettie’s eyes narrowed. “Are you supposed to have your feet on the table?”

“My feet aren’t on the table,” Mattie protested.

“Go get your books together. I’ll talk with Terrell and your dad about your painting lessons.”


“Now, Mattie.”

Terrell sat, shoulders and back stiff until Mattie left the room. Blowing out a breath, he bowed his head. “Thanks, Nettie.”

When her hand landed on his shoulder and gave him a squeeze, he looked up at her. The compassion in her gaze eased his tight muscles. “You could give her command to stay away from you, Terrell.”

“I know I could, but…” He swallowed hard and tried to blink away the painful emotions burning his eyes. “I can’t bear to be around her, but I can’t bear to be away from her, either.”

“Have you thought about talking to Nate?”

“I did, but how can I watch over her and make sure she’s okay if I don’t remember?”

Nettie gave him a tight hug, then tousled his hair when she pulled back. “You’re a good alpha, Terrell. You’ll make a good mate for her, too.” 

"Yeah," he groused. "In ten years." He ignored her snicker.

The smell of burning pancakes filled the kitchen. She squealed and rushed back to the stove. Terrell ducked his head to hide his silent laughter.

Nettie was the only person in the pack who felt comfortable touching him so easily. The other women in the pack didn’t understand how she got away with treating the alpha like a child, but the other women never acted like they cared about him, either. Nettie was the closest thing he had to a mom. A smile on his lips, he focused on his homework, while Nettie threw the burned pancakes into Tig’s bowl, and poured more batter on the griddle. 

The golden Labrador attacked the pancakes like someone would take them away if he didn’t scarf them down. Terrell glanced at the Labrador. With the taste he couldn’t get rid of still lingering, he wasn’t sure he would be able to eat. Sighing, he shook his head, reread the problem, and started writing the equation in his notebook.

The chapter above is a first-draft, so it is subject to change, but I hope you enjoyed it. The Tirsdagr ceremony mentioned in the chapter occurred in Wolf's Guard, book 11 in the Texas Ranch Wolf Pack series. Events in later chapters of Tala Ridge Hunt will reference happenings in Wolf's Duty, the final book in the 12 book series. 

All the books in the series, and most of the companion novellas and short stories, are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. 

Take care and stay safe,

Texas Ranch Wolf Pack Series

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