a hot, shapeshifter romance blog
I’m super excited to discover that my spicy, new adult, twisted fairy tale, Goldi and the Bear is a finalist in the Colorado Romance Writer’s Award of Excellence. Goldi is the third book in the Twisted Tales: Come Into the Woods series of hot, shape-shifter romance novellas from Passion in Print Press.
I love this series of novellas. They are fun and fast-paced, and I had a terrific time writing them. I can’t wait to get back to this series and write a few more about my Colorado shape-shifters and fairy-tale twists.
Goldi Lycan’s father has gone wild wolf. She needs his signature and the money he’s hidden or the bank will foreclose and sell to a buyer she suspects is her ex-boyfriend, whose heart she crushed. Zeke has a secret. He’s never stopped loving Goldi, or forgotten their steamy nights together, and he’s determined to make her pay. When Goldi is injured in a Rocky Mountain blizzard she’s forced to take shelter in Zeke’s empty house. But look out! When Zeke arrives home to find a naked she-wolf in his bed, all hell will break loose.
Goldi and the Bear
Goldi took a last despairing look in the mirror. It had been a long time since she’d done anything as frivolous as looking good and dressing up. Today, of all days, it made her skin crawl.
Crazy blonde curls tamed? Check.
Conservative, navy dress? Check.
Medium heels to match? Check.
Well, sort of. She eyed the shoes. She’d taken an old black marker and covered the scuff marks. They’d do, as long as no one looked closely and saw that the black was a little smeary. With no money for the last two years for anything besides the needs of the sheep, the ranch, and paying the bills, there was nothing leftover for anything as impractical as a new dress or shoes.
The old navy dress and black pumps had better be up to the job of looking serious enough to impress Jonas MacGee at the Smittsville Savings and Loan. She didn’t have much choice. If Jonas didn’t give her father an extension on the loan, she’d not only be nearly dressless, she’d be homeless too.
She smothered another sigh and pasted on a smile.
This was the best she could do. She couldn’t make her wild curls look like she had a corporate job, and she couldn’t make Dad crawl to the bank manager twenty years his junior. All she could do was force him to go and hope he treated Jonas with respect. Something the old wolf would have trouble enough doing. Lots of trouble.
She grabbed her purse and headed for the living room, checking for wallet and keys and calling to her dad. “Dad, are you ready?”
“It’s time to go.” The hairs on the back of her neck rose.
It was a short trip through the small, one-story house, sniffing deeply for her dad’s woodsy scent, a suspicious, panicky ache growing in the center of her chest as she checked each room. He wasn’t in his bedroom, the bathroom, kitchen, or living room. His scent was fresh, he couldn’t have left more than an hour ago. Just when she’d gotten into the shower.
She pressed her lips together, squashing the twinge of anxiety before it bloomed into a panic attack. Pushing open the wooden screen door, she hollered out into the ranch yard, the cold rising wind whipping her words away. “Dad! It’s time to go.”
Ned, their latest ranch hand, limped around the corner of the half-empty hay barn holding her dad’s best blue jeans, the shirt she’d ironed yesterday, and his only tie. “He’s gone, Goldi.” He stopped and leaned on the rusting, pale-green 1975 Ford pick-up. “I saw him running for the hills about twenty minutes ago.”
The tightness in her chest clamped down hard as panic blossomed into a full-blown attack. She sucked in air to shout once again for her dad, knowing it was useless. He’d shifted to wolf, run off, and left her here to face the debt all by herself.
Ned shook his head and pursed his lips. “You’d better go without him.”
Cold sweat dampened her fresh dress and she stifled the urge to rip it off her body. The urge to get rid of the tight shoes and confining dress and shift to wolf grew nearly unbearable. Why couldn’t she run for the hills and hide like Dad from the demands of the world?
Her lungs seized up.
She couldn’t do this. She couldn’t talk Jonas MacGee into extending the loan for a twenty-two year old, unemployed, high school drop-out.
“Maybe I can find him.” She gasped, struggling to breathe past the lump in her chest.
“You might, but you’d have to come back here, get dressed again, and still make it into town for your appointment.” Ned’s typical dour expression darkened. “I doubt you’d impress the banker.”
“You’re right.” Goldi dug into her purse for her keys. “Can you look for him?”
Ned’s eyes shifted away, and Goldi’s outstretched hand dropped to her side. She should have known it was futile to ask. Ned never did more than he had to, and looking for her dad would be actual work.
“I could…” He pulled a package of tobacco out and pushed a wad in front of his stained teeth. “But I was going to go check on the pregnant ewes in the south field.” He lifted his head and sniffed the air. “It smells like snow. What do you want me to do?”
A bank of dark threatening clouds loomed behind the western mountains. Rocky Mountain blizzards could be heavy in late February, and the cool breeze, carrying the taste of snow, smelled wet. Suddenly, it was all too much. She was exhausted from having to make all the decisions. Every blessed day her father left more and more responsibility to her and took off for the woods. Today, she’d really needed him. And he’d known it.
Ned slouched against the old pickup, his tobacco-full lower lip pushed out as he waited for her decision.
She tried to take a deep breath. “No, you’d better check on the ewes. If I can talk Jonas into giving us until May, we’re going to need every single lamb to dig us out of debt.”
He nodded and spat a brown liquid stream into the dirt. “Yup,” he said and turned away, heading back to the small cabin he had all to himself.
Once again, she wished her dad would let her talk to the other wolves in Radon. Then, they’d be able to hire someone from the pack, not some lone-wolf with a hidden history, like Ned. Somewhere, somehow, Ned had left his pack. Or been driven out. He didn’t say why, and Goldi wasn’t sure she wanted to know how, but she’d seen his leg. It was covered with scars from some wolf’s teeth.
But she had few choices. At this point, Ned was all she had keeping the ranch together. Her dad would never hire anyone else. All the things she didn’t like about Ned made her dad like him. He had no ties. Was loyal to no pack. And best of all, in her dad’s opinion, Ned didn’t care if her dad spent more and more time running as a wolf. Much as she didn’t like it, Ned was sticking around.
Goldi got into the old truck and cranked the engine. It fired up with no problem, the old motor rumbling unhappily away. Her panic attack loosened its hold on her chest. At least one thing was going right today. She drove away from the ranch and turned up the dirt road toward town.
An old country tune sang out of the radio and she sang along with it, howling out the high notes and trying to push all her worries out of her mind. It would take an hour to drive to town and she needed to be ready to face Jonas. Calm, collected, cool as the proverbial cucumber. Every inch the woman he would give an extension to. Not the scared little girl she’d become over the last few years since her mom’s death, prone to letting fear take over, panic attacks, and turning tail.
Today, if she didn’t face the world, the world would take over. She had to rock this appointment or lose everything.
Driving past the dilapidated house that marked the intersection to Rover’s Corner she made the left-hand turn onto the road that led into town. Out of habit she averted her eyes from the dirt road on the right that curved up the side of Beresford Mountain. The sight of it didn’t even hurt anymore, at least not much. She hadn’t been up there in years and didn’t allow herself to even think about all the happy time she’d spent up there. That was bear territory and if her father ever caught wind of how tempting it was every time she drove by to turn up that road, he’d be furious. It had been bad enough five years ago when her mom had passed, but now?
Wolves hated bears, bears didn’t like anyone else, and the closer her father came to slipping into the wild, the more he distrusted outsiders. Humans, bears, and wolves.
She shoved the yearning for the past back in the same place with her worries and turned her attention to forming careful arguments that would impress Jonas MacGee. Mr. MacGee, I…
The truck sputtered.
“Come on, you piece of junk, come on.” She hit the dash with her palm. “You can do it!”
The engine gave off a few guttural growls, coughed, and died.
“Noooo!” she wailed, and with the truck’s last rolling effort she guided it to the side of the road and into the high grass. She checked the mileage. One hundred and fifty-two miles. Nowhere near the two hundred and twenty mile mark that she needed to get gas. With the old truck’s speedometer broken as long as she could remember, they’d always re-set the odometer so they could get gas before they reached the two hundred mark. The twenty was just in case.
There should be an extra sixty-eight miles left before she ran out of gas.
She turned the car over and over, the grinding sound of the starter wearing on her nerves. No gas. And no one in sight on this lonely road that led nowhere but bear territory and Lycan Ranch. No one would be coming, and she only had half-an-hour to make it to town. On her own two feet. Or four.
She hopped out of the car and, for a fleeting moment, considered stripping off her clothes, tying them to her back, and running in wolf-form all the way to town. But, before she could put it into practice, she heard a motor. Someone was coming from the direction of Rover’s Corner. She turned. And as the expensive, shiny black pickup approached, dust blowing from its rear wheels, her lungs tightened and her heart sank.
Only one person in this area drove a new, black pickup.
The truck rolled to a stop next to the old, stalled truck, and the automatic window rolled down. Zeke Beresford leaned across the seat and asked, “Heading into town? Need a lift?”
At the sound of his voice, her heart skittered.
It had been over five-and-a-half years since she’d heard Zeke Beresford speak, and he sounded just the same. Sexy. Hot. Tempting. But he looked different. Way different. He still had thick, dark brown, straight hair, and deep, rich, chocolate brown eyes, but everything else had changed.
She couldn’t even get enough air to speak.
“I won’t bite.” His words were soft, almost flirty. But he wasn’t smiling. His face was hard, his eyes cold and assessing as he checked out her conservative clothes. And by the small shake of his head and sardonic lift to his brow, he found her wanting.
She looked up the road at the long, dusty walk to town and knew she had no choice. She had to take him up on his offer.
He started to pull his head back into the pick-up.
“No, wait.” She got the words out, grabbed her purse off the front seat, and slammed the creaky door of the betraying old truck. “I would love a lift into town.” Opening the door of the too tall truck, she raised her heeled foot up high, tugged her skirt down, and hauled her ass into the cab. “Thank you,” she said, with all the sophistication and air she could muster as she stared into the dark, dangerous brown eyes of her ex-boyfriend.
The one she’d stopped talking to when her mother had died and she’d dropped out of her junior year of high school. The one who had begged and pleaded with her to re-consider and whom she’d told she never wanted to speak to again.
Zeke Beresford, bad bear made good.
Goldi huddled on her side of the luxurious cab, working on breathing past the tight squeeze of her heart, as they drove to town. Zeke’s capable, large hands expertly handled the powerful truck and she caught herself staring at them, remembering the way they’d felt on her skin. How, a full year older, he’d taught her inexperienced high school self all the things her parents never wanted to know she’d learned. Especially at the hands of a bear.
Old desires, long forgotten, tingled along her skin. She yanked her gaze from Zeke’s hands.
“Why didn’t your date pick you up at the ranch? Afraid Daddy dear might see?” Zeke’s mocking tone raised her ruff.
“I don’t have a date,” she said, her voice stiff.
She darted a look at his hard face as he stared straight down the road. No one except Ned knew how close her father was to permanently turning wild wolf, and she wasn’t about to tell Zeke. Not now. Not with that callous tone in his voice telling her he’d never forgive her for dumping him.
He darted a look at her as they rounded the curve heading down the valley and into town. “Why are you all dressed up if it’s not a date? I don’t remember you being the kind to wear a skirt to grocery shop.”
“For your information, I have an appointment.” She didn’t want to tell him about her mission. But she was damned if she’d let him make fun of her. She felt uncomfortable enough as it was in the skirt and heels, and now being in his car was the icing on the cherry.
“Oh? What kind of an appointment?”
“A none-of-your-business kind.” That’s just what she needed, Zeke to know that she was begging the bank for time to pay off the mortgage. Her nerves pushed the tension from her tight chest into her throat. She swallowed past the lump.
“Well, you just let me know where you want to be dropped off.” Zeke eased the truck onto Main.
“Right here would be fine.” She pushed the words out past the straight jacket of her lungs, the lump in her throat, and her tightly clenched teeth.
“Here?” He pulled into an empty parking space and was out of the truck and around to her side before she could figure out which of the fancy buttons unlocked the door. He yanked the door open, and she was faced with Zeke Beresford at eye level. Anxiety clamped down on her chest and she couldn’t get any air.
“Let me help you,” he growled.
She had no choice.
She turned her knees to the side and slid out. He caught her and held her tight, pressed against his hard, muscular body. She gripped her purse in one hand, the other one landing on his shoulder as her breasts caught on his chest and he eased her down. Past his eyes, his lips, the dip of his throat, her pelvis and abdomen sliding down the thrust of his erection.
Her feet touched the pavement, but he didn’t let go. She gasped for air, drowning in the rich, spicy, familiar scent of Zeke and wished her traitor skin didn’t reveal everything she felt.
“Let me go,” she wheezed.
He didn’t move. His deep brown eyes held hers. Her chest fluttered with the unfamiliarity of being trapped.
Then he let go, and without the support of his strong arms she stumbled on the cement. Clutching her purse, she stood on shaky legs and mustered her voice. “Thanks for the ride.”
“No problem.” He backed up and bowed. “At your service, princess.”
Her already hot skin burned. She put her nose in the air and walked as fast as she could on her unfamiliar heels across the sidewalk and into the bank, putting Zeke and the past behind her. Right where he had to stay.
Upon entering the bank Goldi abandoned all pretenses and ran for the ladies’ room. Inside, she plopped her purse down and gripped the rigid sides of the grey Formica counter, panting and struggling for air. She turned on the taps, ran cold water over her wrists, and practiced slow, even breaths to calm her racing pulse.
Of all the days to run into Zeke, why did it have to be today?
It had nearly shattered her to break up with him, but she’d had to. She could still remember that last time, leaving Zeke in the sunny meadow and running home, ecstatic and happy. And then, her mother died and her world crashed down.
Goldi shuddered and turned off the taps. The whirring of the fan in the ceiling and the slow drip of water were the only sounds in the bathroom, but what she heard were the howls and recriminations her father would scream at her if he even had an idea that she still loved Zeke Beresford.
She dried off her hands and stared at her strained face in the mirror. Her heart had slowed down to merely fast. She could face Jonas MacGee now. But the one person she hoped she never had to face again was Zeke Beresford.
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