Happy Tuesday! Today I’m sharing Cherie’s interview with her characters from the Big Bone Lick Pack, an anthology which came out January 24 from MLR Press. http://www.mlrbooks.com/ShowBook.php?book=ANTHBBLS
It features stories written by Kendall McKenna (www.kendallmckenna.com), Jambrea Jo Jones (www.jambrea.com) and Cherie Noel
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Thanks Tempe for having us on your blog! Today we are starting a three blog installment! This is Cherie and her boys. Enjoy!
A shiver traced its way along Simon’s spine. Drawing in a deep breath he flicked a desperate glance out the big picture window of the coffee shop. Josiah tuned his head towards the window as well.
“What’s wrong, babe? I thought you were all excited to see Ms. Noel again.”
Simon’s stomach grumbled at him, but he knew better than to indulge in a snack at this point. He might be hungry, but he was seriously about to piss kittens. The muscles in the small of his back tightened more with every breath he drew. He could smell bear, at least two wolves besides Josiah, and at least a dozen humans. The humans he could disregard, the wolves were both known, but the bear’s strong musk had fine hairs standing on end at the nape of his neck. A steady whoosh, whoosh, whoosh in his ears grew louder with every inhalation. Simon knew from experience that he was only moments from his mouth being flooded with the sour metallic taste he equated with anxiety.
“Yeah. I love hanging out with Cherie. She’s not put off by anything and never hesitates to tell wankers to bugger off. I just don’t understand why we need to all do the interview together. I mean, we see them all at the pack meetings—”
Josiah raised an eyebrow. “Simon, the only pack member you’ve connected with besides me and my parents is Rae. You have to start expanding your horizons a little.”
Dishes clattered behind them, the clink and ting noises they made cutting through the mellow rock playing over the cafe’s speaker system. Simon raised and then lowered his shoulders. A woman’s voice raised in counterpoint to the hissing of the espresso machine. The afternoon’s low grew light grew dimmer as rain began to fall outside.
“I can’t help it Josiah. Grizzlies and foxes are exactly setting up bloody play dates in the wild, you know. What if he—you know—loses control again? I saw the size of those paws when he shifted. They’re bigger than my whole little fox head. I—”
A deep growl reverberated through the air. Josiah immediately tipped his head subtly to one side, lowering his eyes as he spoke.
“Alpha, Alpha-mate, Ms. McKenna. We’re pleased to see you.”
A gaping chasm yawned in the pit of Simon’s stomach. Oh, hell, he recognized that power infused growl. The possible pissing of kittens grew more likely. Shoulders climbing right back up around his ears, Simon hunched down and tipped his head to one side as well.
“Alpha—” his voice squeaked to a stop. He had no idea what to say.
Josiah patted his knee, then stood between him and the others. “Alpha, I’m so sorry. He means no disrespect. I’ll explain it to him.”
A weighted silence filled the air, and then Josiah spoke again. “Yes, Alpha. I’ll make sure my mate understands the commitment pack has to one another before the next pack meeting.”
Asa, Seth, and Ms. McKenna moved off toward a table against back wall. Josiah returned to his seat, clearing the line of sight between Simon and the pack’s alpha. Asa gave him a small smile and a wink before turning to his mate and the author they’d worked with for the whole Big Bone Lick Pack anthology project. She cast a sharp glance Simon’s way, nodded briskly at someone behind him, and then turned back to the two men at her table.
Cherie and Ms. Jones entered the dining area together. Behind them were Kane and Dov. Ms. Jones nodded at something Cherie said, and then drew Kane and Dove over to a table mostly secluded from the rest of the café. “Simon, Josiah, so good to see you again. How are things?”
Josiah snorted. “Hello, Ms. Noel. We’re not talking about our sex life today. Can you ask us about something else?”
Pushing a hank of curling hair out of her eyes, she chortled. “Sure thing, Josiah. I wanted to ask a bit more about what it’s like to be back in the pack you grew up in. I understand you were temporarily part of another pack while in medical school?”
Josiah relaxed back against the tall wooden back of his seat. His shoulders heaved, a gusty sigh escaping his lips. Tipping an imaginary hat to Ms. Noel, he grinned.
“Now that I’m happy to answer. I spent some time with the Poughkeepsie pack while I was going to school in New York City. It was definitely different.”
Cherie glanced over at Simon, winked at him and continued questioning Josiah. “Different how?”
Josiah squirmed in his chair. “Well, for one thing, they didn’t consider me an Omega. I mean, an Omega is an Omega, right? But their pack only considered the least powerful adult wolf an Omega. The most powerful was their Alpha, and everyone else was mid-pack. They didn’t have Betas. I liked some stuff about it, but honestly, I could never get comfortable.”
She nodded, turning to Simon next. “Simon, I understand you didn’t even know you were a shifter until you met Josiah. That must have made for some serious adjustments in your worldview, huh?”
Simon blinked. “You look just like a jolly auntie, and then you open your mouth and I see fangs and a forked tongue. It’s like you can taste my thoughts the way a snake scent-tastes the air.”
Cherie’s eyes opened wide, and she opened her mouth to speak again. Simon shook a hand at her. “Hang on a moment. I only meant your questions are rather pointed. Ah, spot on about the worldview. I don’t think I’ve found my sea-legs yet. I keep having reactions because of what my fox wants, and then finding out I’ve made an ass of myself.”
He glanced over to where Dov and Kane sat. Heat flooded Simon’s cheeks. “I mean, look at how I’ve been treating Kane’s mate. Everyone knows he wasn’t himself when he attacked Seth. Every time I get within sniffing distance of him though, my fox wants to run and hide… I think when I get a better handle on the dual nature of being a shifter I’ll be able to stop being such an ass around him. I. Honestly? I’m a bit ashamed. It’s just so knee jerk. And because I’m just learning all the stuff most of these guys have known since they were little boys.”
He waved his hand to encompass the other shifters, a wry smile flitting across his face. Cherie reached over to pat his hand. “I expect they give lee-way in special circumstances, hon. Isn’t that right, Josiah?”
Josiah nodded. “Yeah, Asa’s really great about that. One of the things I learned by being away was how well run our pack is. Asa’s dad was a great alpha, and so far Asa’s turning out to be equally good.”
Cherie smiled. “Okay, I think that’s enough for what I need. I’m going to get a white chocolate-cherry cookie and some hot chocolate, and then we can just hang out for a bit, okay?”
Simon’s mouth watered at the mention of cookies. “Oh, that sounds great. And thanks. I know you took it easy on us today. I—I’m trying to get better about this whole shifter thing. And Asa told me it’s a hard and fast rule that no one is allowed to turn me into full moon kibble. So, you know, that’s settled. No need to worry or miss out on potential friends because my fox is nervous. Josiah keeps telling me we’re not just animals. I know that. I do.”
Cherie patted his hand again. “You’ll get there, Simon.”
As she walked away, Josiah leaned across the table. Grabbing Simon’s upper arms, he pulled him partway out of his seat to press their lips together. “Now who’s the silly muppet? Of course fox is off the menu. You’re pack, babe. That means everything. Dov is pack too, so you’ll have to remember not to take anymore nibbles out of him either.”
Simon’s mouth dropped open. “You are completely corked, aren’t you?”
Josiah, just winked, kissed him again, and then settled back into his chair. He kept hold of Simon’s hand though. “Nah. Just mad for you, mate. I’ll help you learn what it means to be pack. Pretty soon you’ll be so used to all this those knee-jerk fox-mind responses will be a lot easier to control.”
Simon glanced around the café. Dov and Kane, Asa and Seth, and Josiah and himself. They were all pack. Maybe if he thought of them like foster brothers he liked, he’d make fewer mistakes. That could work. Sometimes his foster brothers were right frightening until he got to know them. Asa caught his eye and winked again. Simon chuckled.
“I think I’ve got it sorted in my head, mate.”
Josiah stroked a thumb across the back of Simon’s hand, scooted his chair around the table and pulled Simon close. “That’s a start, Simon. That’s a fine start.”
Simon leaned into Josiah’s side, shoulders loose and free, breaths oming easy. “When Cherie comes back maybe we could ask the others to eat with us?”
A smile like sunrise broke across Josiah’s face before he bent his head to lick his way into Simon’s mouth. Well, Simon would take that as an affirmative. Baby fox steps, but he would get there. All he had to do was believe in his mate, his alpha, and his pack.
For today’s prize Cherie is giving away a donation to Fox Wood Wildlife Rescue in your name. Here are a couple links so you can check it out.
You’ll hear from Dov and Kane when we visit Tara Lain’s blog on Friday the 7th. http://taralain.com
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Bad Wolf & Devil Dog by Kendall McKenna
Big, Bad Bear by Jambrea Jo Jones
Shifty Fox Shenanigans by Cherie Noel
Welcome to the Big Bone Lick Pack: A more friendly and hospitable group of werewolves you’ll never meet! Visit with; ‘Devil Dog & Bad Wolf’, a ‘Big Bad Bear’ and enjoy some ‘Shifty Fox Shenanigans’. Watch yourself, ’round the state park, ’cause we had a grizzly on the loose, just a bit ago. Our brave men and woman of the Boone County Sheriff’s Department have everything under control. (Except maybe their own love lives!) But if you find yourself needing a doctor, head on down to Rabbit Hash clinic, or St. Elizabeth’s Hospital is just up the road a piece. We hope you enjoy your stay.
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