Back Cover Copy:
BELONG TO THE NIGHT
“THE WOLF, THE WITCH, AND HER LACK OF WARDROBE”
Jamie Meacham has enough trouble controlling her supernatural abilities. There's no time for lust, or for Tully Smith, even with his smoldering amber eyes. But Tully's grappling with his own animal instincts as a powerful shifter-wolf, trying to protect all his territory—including a certain sassy witch—from vicious rivals.
BELONG TO THE NIGHT
“The Wolf, the Witch, and Her Lack of Wardrobe
Jamie woke up on her couch, a quilt wrapped around her. All the lights on and a fire blazing away in her fireplace. An open bottle of water rested on the coffee table in front of her couch, along with a bowl filled with grapes she’d brought that afternoon from the farmer’s market. Using what strength she had left, she pulled herself up until she had her back against the arm rest. She grabbed the water first and swigged back half of it, her throat raw from the flames she’d been forced to eat before she figured out her opponent’s weakness and won the tournament. After hydrating, she placed the bowl of grapes in her lap and proceeded to devour them. She was so glad she’d gone for the seedless when she made the purchase since she’d never been a big fan of spitting, unless she was in a fight with her cousin.
As she was nearing the last few grapes and wondering what else she had in her refrigerator or freezer to eat, she heard a loud bang somewhere in the back of the house followed by extensive cursing.
She started to get up when Rico flew into the room followed by Tully Smith trying to catch her.
“Come here you little bastard!” He made a wild grab for the gyrfalcon and the bird went up into the rafters. One of the reasons Jamie had picked this cabin for her new home was because of the deliciously extravagant high ceilings.
“Don’t think runnin’ up there’s gonna stop me,” Tully growled.
He’d put on clothes—tragically—and she wondered how long she’d been out for Tully to go to his place, change, and get back here without her knowing. Then on the end table at the opposite end of her sectional couch, she noticed not only her gun but the dress and satchel she’d brought with her when she’d gone out to the clearing. Christ, what time is it anyway? Because if there was one thing she knew about the man, it was that he didn’t have a vehicle to get around quickly in. Every time she saw him he was either walking on two feet or four, but he was always walking slowly. If he wasn’t walking, someone else was driving. Yet she did have to admit…all that walking had done the man wonders. He had what could only be called an astounding body. The kind that the supermodels appeared to have in those giant billboards in Times Square but when Jamie had actually seen them in person—usually during drug busts—they were way too thin and narrow. But not Tully Smith. He was definitely a man who could handle her physically, which was a nice change of pace.
“What are you doing?” she finally asked when she saw the wolf bending at the knees so he could try and make a lateral jump to the bird. Although what the shifters could do—and withstand—physically did amaze Jamie, she also knew he’d never reach the bird. Then again, dogs could be kind of dumb sometimes.
Tully let out a breath before slowly turning to face her. “I’m trying to make you a fricassee.”
Jamie snorted, wincing a little when it made her raw throat and nasal passages burn. “You may want to stick with easier birds to catch than falcons.”
“Thought that was a hawk.”
“Nope. A gyrfalcon.”
“A jerr-falcon,” she said slowly so he could understand the pronunciation. “A bird of prey. I looked it up.”
“You got yourself a pet bird of prey?”
“I didn’t get myself anything. One day I opened my front door and there she was. I call her Rico, after the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act.”
“Because Tweety was too obvious?” He walked toward her and Rico came down from the rafters and landed right on his head. The wolf stopped and let out a very long and very frustrated sigh. “It’s on my head.”
“Yes, she is on your head.”
“Why is it on my head?”
“Maybe because you keep calling her ‘it’ when she’s a ‘she.’”
“Her talons are digging into my skull.”
“She’s just trying to protect me from the likes of you. She’s my familiar, so that’s her job.”
“I thought you said she was a falcon.”
Not in the mood to give a full explanation of the magickal connection between certain animals and witches, Jamie lifted her arm and Rico came to her immediately. She landed on her forearm, talons gently holding onto the skin. Jamie smiled at the majestic bird who’d chosen her. “Isn’t she beautiful?”
“Oh, I don’t know. I think I see much prettier things right here in this room.”
Jamie looked up to find the wolf staring right at her chest, exposed because the quilt was down to her waist and she wore nothing else. Surprisingly embarrassed since, to quote Mac, “Jamie’s all about being naked when she can manage it,” she started to reach for the quilt when Rico spread out her wings, covering Jamie up.
Tully glared at the bird. “Spoilsport.”
Tully heard the timer go off in the kitchen and went back in to dump the pasta he’d made into the strainer. He didn’t go for anything fancy tonight, more concerned with getting Jamie fed rather than dazzling her with his cooking skills. He dumped a healthy amount of spaghetti in a bowl and poured bottled sauce on top of that. Then he grabbed a fork, grated cheese from the refrigerator, and some paper towels. He brought it out to the living room and found Jamie sitting up, the quilt wrapped around her from chest to feet. Too bad since he’d enjoyed staring at her beautiful body in all this light.
For a full-human her body was strong and riddled with scars. No fang marks, like most of the Smithville females received after they hit puberty, but knife cuts, bullet holes—at least two—and a scar across her upper chest that had probably needed more stitches than he was in the mood to count. And yet she didn’t hide those scars from him or anyone else. Nor did she run around showing them off so that everyone could “ooh” and “aah” over her suffering. Like the beautiful brown color of her skin and those dimples in her cheeks, the scars were simply a part of her that she accepted and didn’t question.
“Here.” He placed the pasta in front of her. “Eat.”
“Thank you.” She dug into the meal and Tully went back to the kitchen to get her more water and some fresh bread she had lying on her counter. He brought all that out to her and placed it on the coffee table.
“Anything else, ya need?”
Busy eating, Jamie only managed to shake her head. So Tully dropped onto the other side of the big sectional, picked up the remote and turned on the TV before putting his feet up on her coffee table and relaxing back. After five minutes of trying to find something decent to watch, he heard a delicate throat clear. He glanced over at Jamie and found her watching him.
“Comfortable?” she asked.
Tully grinned. “Mighty comfortable! Thank ya kindly.”
How could he not be with a beautiful woman wrapped only in a quilt within groping distance, a big-screen TV for his viewing pleasure—proving he didn’t need his own TV when he had friends who already did—and a couch that his butt was taking quite a shine too? What more could he need?
Of course when that large splatter of bird shit hit him dead center of his head, he did realize that he could use a good rifle with a sight. Could this be the thing Jamie had been saying “Honey, I’m home” to the other day? Because Lord forbid the woman should do something normal.
Laughing so hard she fell back on the couch, Jamie couldn’t manage more than, “Oh, my God! She hates you!”
Yeah, he was sensing that. And he’d be lying if he said that the feeling wasn’t mutual.
Jamie watched Tully walk out of the bathroom with his hair freshly washed. He glared at the bird as he passed the bookcase she was perched on.
“I smell like damn honey,” he complained about her shampoo and conditioner. “Every bear in three counties will be following me around town.”
“I like all natural hair-care products. No sulfates or silicones for me.” When he glared at her like he’d glared at Rico, Jamie could only laugh.
Tully roughly towel-dried his hair before dropping on the couch and using her favorite comb to get the shiny brown locks off his face. The entire time he watched her.
“What?” she finally asked.
“I need you to tell me what’s going on.”
Not quite sure what Tully was asking, Jamie only replied, “Nothing. Why?”
Tossing her comb down, he rested his elbows on his knees, leaned forward, clasped his hands together, and said, “There’s only a couple of ways we can do this, beautiful. You either tell me what happened tonight and you tell me right now. Or you get your shit and you go. You and your coven…including Emma.”
The panic eased when she realized he was asking about a few hours ago rather than what had been slowly building for the last few weeks.
“Kyle’s never letting that happen,” she said confidently.
“You’re right. He wouldn’t. But Kyle don’t run this town. For all the tigers, the lions, and the goddamn bears, only the Smith wolves have ever run Smithville County. And only Smith wolves ever will. That don’t mean to say that Kyle won’t go wherever little Emma goes. He will. But we both know that boy won’t be happy anywhere else but here.”
“But you’re going to run us out anyway?”
“I’m going to protect my town. That’s what I do. That’s what I’ll always do. And right now, beautiful, you are nothin’ but trouble. So unless you start talking right now, and unless I believe every word coming out of your mouth, I want you gone by sun up.” When she opened her mouth to respond, he added, “And stop trying to test me, it’s only pissing me off and we both know I’ll do what I say I will.”
“We both know that, do we?”
“I’m a Smith, beautiful. There ain’t nothin’ I won’t do.”
Tired but no longer exhausted, Jamie leaned back into the couch and studied the man sitting across from her. “I’m on a search for power. Undiluted. Untapped.”
“I thought you found that here.”
“I did. But it’s kind of like having a joint checking account. Every time I pull power from here, my Coven knows.”
“And they ask questions.”
“So that’s what tonight was? A search for more power?”
“Kind of. I’m trying to become the champion of one of my goddesses. It’s hard, dirty work, and often requires me to fight Greek giants who like to use fire as a weapon.”
“Sounds like a lot of risk for a Yankee from Staten Island.”
She glared at him through slits as her eyes narrowed. “I’m from Long Island, Marmaduke. There’s a difference.”
“And it still sounds like a lot of risk.”
“It is. But to become a god’s champion is to enhance your power tenfold. So it’s worth the risk.”
“I don’t understand you.”
“What don’t you understand?”
“You already have so much power. Everyone in town knows it, we can all feel it. But it’s natural. Part of you like the wolf is part of me. I don’t understand why you would want to enhance that.”
Annoyed by his statement—although she wasn’t sure why—Jamie lobbed back, “And I don’t understand how you can be happy wandering around this town every day. Don’t you get bored?”
“Nope. ‘Round here there’s always something interesting going on.”
“I’ve been here ten months and I haven’t seen anything all that interesting. It’s a nice little town, don’t get me wrong. But…”
“But what? Go on, say it.”
“Don’t you crave more?”
“So you’re happy to settle?”
“I guess we have a different opinion of settling, beautiful.”
She lifted her hands, palms up. She didn’t want to fight since the man had saved her from flying hyenas. “Hey, ya know what? To each his or her own. If you’re happy here that’s all that matters.”
“Can you think of anything better than being happy where you are?”
“Yeah.” Jamie smiled. “Power.”
Copyright © Shelly Laurenston 2012