WHY WHISTLE IN THE DARK…
There are very few days off when you’re on an epic quest. Believe me, I know. I’m Hedi Peacock–one half Fae, the other were–and if being a half-breed with one foot in each world isn’t tough enough to manage, there are the four chambers of my heart to consider. The one who holds the strings? Robson Trowbridge, the Alpha of Creemore. If I had my way, he and I would be locked in a bedroom, for eternity, but a pressing family matter needs my attention. It’s true what they say: A woman’s work is never done.
WHEN YOU CAN HOWL AT THE MOON?
My twin brother is being held captive by the Old Mage in another realm. Lo and behold, as soon as Trowbridge and I arrive in Merenwyn, we’re separated in spectacular, dramatic fashion–and I’m left to figure out how to maintain the fragile balance between my Fae magic and my wolf’s blood in a realm that cries to both. Not easy, particularly when I’m keeping an iron-grip on my temper so as not to?dispatch?with extreme prejudice the odd wizard or?smart-mouthed mutt servant who crosses my path. My mama never told me there’d be days like these, but I’m not going down without a fight…or my mate.
Read an exclusive excerpt from The Danger of Destiny:
Approximately two and a half hours later
We found the creek before a jinx found us, which was a minor miracle, since much of the crusted mud that had turned Trowbridge’s back into a crocodile hide had long flaked away and what was left had turned to a slick film of taupe.
Murphy’s Law: the day had turned stinking hot and muggy. My One True Love’s scent disguise kept sliding off him.
Trowbridge took a step off the bank into the lower edge of the stream where the ground was covered with a layer of last year’s leaves. He kicked aside a heavy mat of rot- ting mulch, then sank to one knee to dig into the foul- smelling mud. With an expression of acute distaste, he slapped a handful of goo on his chest.
I grimaced in sympathy. Then, biting down on a wince, I cupped my hands and leaned forward to slurp up a mouthful of creek water. It was sweet and cold and left an after taste of freshness. I splashed some on my face, then tipped my head back, letting the icy water sheet down my throat and cheeks.
“So. Much. Better,” I informed Merry.
My amulet-friend, intent on feeding on tender shoots of elder, commented with a tiny blip of primrose light. Merenwyn’s sun was still strong and its powerful rays shone right through the heart of her, turning an amber belly into a gleaming golden one.
Ralph was in the shade, quietly supping on a nearby branch.
Seabiscuit let out a soft whicker.
“Keep the pony quiet,” Lexi told Mouse. After taking his fill, he’d pulled off his boots and now cooled his ankle in the icy current, a few yards downstream of Seabiscuit and the teen. My sibling’s gait had de-evolved over the last few miles from a smooth glide to a hitched limp. He hadn’t complained, but then again, he hadn’t spoken much since we left Daniel’s Rock.
“ ’Tain’t my fault if she’s talkative,” muttered Mouse, stroking Seabiscuit’s neck.
I stood, gritting my teeth. My butt was on fire and my thighs one spasm away from a full-blown muscle cramp. I’d covered the ground astride my trusty Seabiscuit. Certain private parts of me that were supposed to stay tender and plump felt puffy and bruised from the saddle burn.
Still, I’d take those muscle aches over walking. The over- hill, over-dale potion of our journey had flattened the Gate- keeper’s mouth into a seam of fatigue. She sat on a rock, a squat toad, impatiently waiting for me to release her from her restraints so that she could drink from the stream. Lexi had volunteered his belt, which I’d used to secure her hands behind her. “I’m thirsty,” she complained again as I sloshed past her.
“Do you expect me to lap water like a dog?” “Up to you.”
I couldn’t stand her.
Her and her fuzzy topknot.
Trowbridge twisted around as I approached. He’d al- ready applied the scent screen to his chest. The soft thatch of hair between his nipples was matted with mud.
I bent to scoop up a gritty handful. “I’ll get your back.” He rotated to face the woods, his arms falling to his sides. Though the river sludge smelled rank, it was relatively easy to spread. I smoothed a thin layer over his bulky shoulders, noting the tension stored in his muscles that he’d striven to hide from us.
Unlike the forests we’d gone through yesterday, this terrain had seen fire and was covered with regrowth. Instead of a forest of fat trunks, layers of green obliterated the sight line, a fact that clearly troubled my mate.
“What is it?” I asked, following the deep groove of his spine. “Your instincts talking again?”
“Pinging like sonar.” My mate checked the sky, then eyed the ridgeline to the south. “I know a place where I can see the lay of the land better. It’s not far from here,” he said thoughtfully. “It wouldn’t take me more than twenty minutes to make a quick recon of the area.”
Silently, I ran a line of sludge along the edge of his waistband.
Trowbridge tensed his belly muscles until his navel stretched into a taut smile. Victim to gravity and the lack of love handles, his cutoffs slid so low they were admirably indecent. “It won’t take long. And I won’t leave you if you’re—”
“I’m not scared.”
And I wasn’t . . . much. I just didn’t like being parted from him again. On the other hand, I respected his instincts. If they were saying, Danger, Will Robinson, then we should be on alert. And taking the whole crew for a look-see— the slow-moving Gatekeeper, the noisy pony—would defeat the purpose of Trowbridge’s scouting mission.
I gave him an ass-pat. “Done. Turn around; I’ll do your face.” He pivoted and bent his neck so that I could reach his face. He’d rinsed off the old layer after drinking. His skin was still slick. He looked like a cover model who’d been artfully disarranged. Beautiful, beautiful man. I started at the bridge of his long nose. “What if you walked into something?”
A posse of Faes. A group of hunters. A pack of wild boars.
“Same deal as before, Tink,” he said, trying not to move his lips as I took swipes at the grooves bracketing his mouth. “The Fae might rough me up, but they won’t kill me. They’ll take me to the castle.”
My fingers paused.
He touched my chin gently with his knuckle. “If I do get captured,” he said softly, “I’ll be expecting you to come rescue me.”
My gaze jerked to meet his fierce blue eyes. “What? Again?”
A lopsided smile from the man wearing the mud mask. “As often as it takes.” He reached to draw me to him, then stalled, grimacing at his mired palms. He took a rueful step backward. “Tink, I swear I’ll be back within a half hour.” A foot separated us and I already missed him. “I have no watch.”
“See that tree?” he asked, pointing to the tallest fir to the west. “If I’m not back before the sun sinks behind it, you come find me.”
I closed the gap, winding my arms around his slick neck. “Deal.”
He pulled my hips to his and grinned down at me. “I’m going to kiss you now.”
I smiled as his mud paws came up to cup my jaw. “Just out of curiosity, are all your kisses going to come with advance notices?”
He lowered his head until my lips could feel the warm flow of his breath. “It builds up anticipation.”
“Trowbridge,” I whispered, “you had me with the cut- off jeans.”
“Geezus,” he murmured against my mouth, “you’re easy.”
“Keep that in mind.”
He didn’t slide his fingers through my hair, and I didn’t plaster myself to his body. There was an audience: I could feel Lexi’s penetrating gaze piercing my back. There was slime: the aesthetics of mud wrestling will forever be a mystery to me. And there was a sense of déjà vu.
How many good-bye forever kisses can you do in the space of two days?
Our lips touched and melded. I tasted him (salty and somewhat muddy) and he supped from me (salty and less muddy) and the passion that was always there, ready to flare between us, was nothing but a gentle promise.
Please, Goddess. Let us have some laters.
His gaze swept over my features, lingering on my mouth, then moved beyond me to my brother. I would have bet my last dollar that silent communication between my mate and bro was never going to happen (with the possible exception of fuck you and fuck you back), but as their gazes locked I re-formed my opinion.
Trowbridge lifted his chin in a question.
“What?” I said, my eyes moving from mate to twin. Lexi answered with a slow, silent nod.
My guy squeezed my shoulders. “Be back soon.”
“Do that.” I smothered a smile watching him leave. The seat of his cutoffs sported a perfect handprint.
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Meet the Author:
Leigh Evans was born in Montreal, Quebec but now lives in Southern Ontario. She’s raised two kids, mothered four dogs, and herded a few cats. Other than that, her life was fairly routine until the day she?decided?to write a book about a half-Fae, half-Were girl who’s a magnet for trouble. The first Mystwalker novel was grabbed by St. Martins, and released as THE TROUBLE WITH FATE in 2012. Second and third books quickly followed: THE THING ABOUT WERES and THE PROBLEM WITH PROMISES. At the age most people start thinking about retirement, Leigh is slinging words and pummeling plots. Leigh’s destiny has finally been met: she’s a writer. A little tardy, but then again, her mum always said she was a late bloomer.