Welcome to A Midsummer Night's Blog Hop! Today I have a treat for you, dear readers. Not only do you get to meet several wonderful authors and their main characters, but you get a bonus scene from Queen Bitch of the Callowwood Pack and a giveaway.
Even better, you get to meet Kellyn O'Brien, the heroine from Louann Carroll's upcoming July 2nd release, A Shadow of Time.
I'm offering a signed cover of Queen Bitch of the Callowwood Pack to one lucky commentator stopping by on the hop. The giveaway is open internationally (please void where prohibited) and I will announce the winner here on the blog on Monday, June 25th 2012. All you have to do is leave a valid email address or Twitter handle so I can let you know you won. :)
So let's get on with the bonus scene. This happened during the training Julianna Morris experiences as she learns to be a true leader of the Callowwood Pack.
Julianna sat on one of the bar stools at the coffee shop and tried to let the tension slide out with her sigh. It had been a long day with Sebrina, trying to learn the intricacies of pack hierarchy, and she still hadn’t seen Jeff Lightfoot at all.
“What can I get for you, honey?” The waitress had the same careworn look as the coffee shop’s décor, but her smile was friendly.
“Do you serve Chai?” Not all the coffee places in BFE Nowhere did.
“Sure thing, honey. Comin’ right up.”
A steaming mug slid across the bar into her waiting hands and Julianna inhaled the delightfully spicy scent. She closed her eyes and strove for the calm she knew she had to show the world. The Luna of the pack has to be unflappable, ready for anything, and willing to help those in need. Goddess, she just wished someone could help her.
Julianna’s thoughts splintered as an old bent and battered car pulled into the gravel lot outside, disgorging a young woman and a little boy. The woman’s motions suggested she had a lot on her mind, but she helped the boy into the coffee shop with protective gentleness.
Julianna scented the woman’s fear and contrasting relief as soon as she stepped in the door, but she kept her attention on the Chai in her hands. To her great surprise, the woman sat down beside her at the bar as if she needed the company of others to soothe some of her worries. She smiled as the waitress approached.
“What can I get you, honey?”
“Same thing she has.” The woman pointed at Julianna’s Chai. “Is it good?” She turned to Julianna.
“It’s my favorite.” Julianna eyed the frazzled woman, scenting fear, frustration, and desperation. What could have set her off so badly? She offered an encouraging smile. "My name’s Julianna. This is Chai.” She raised the mug. “Do you like cardamom?"
“What’s that? Some kind of spice?” The woman looked dubious. “Oh, and I’m Kellyn.”
“Nice to meet you.” Julianna grinned. “The cardamom gives the tea a smoky flavor. Some folks find it a little bitter, though.” She proffered the cup. “You're welcome to try a little of mine before you order, if you like.”
“Ah, no thanks.” Kellyn glanced at the waitress. “Some coffee? Black please – no sugar or cream. And make that decaf.” She turned toward Julianna. “I'm pregnant.”
“Congratulations.” Jullianna scented a mixture of pride and despair on the woman, and tried to change the subject. “Is this your son? He’s a good looking kid.”
She relaxed her shoulders and wrapped both hands around her mug to appear non-threatening. Good thing the woman had no idea of the difference in species between them. A very good thing considering the moon is full outside. Her Sister self prowled close to the surface tonight.
“This is Scott.” The boy yawned. “I know it’s late, but I had to leave home in a hurry.”
A warning skittered down Julianna's spine and she straightened. “Oh? I'm sorry to hear that. Not to be too much of a busy-body, but are you in some kind of trouble?”
Kellyn tipped her head and studied Julianna with brown eyes as dark as her own. Though she had a slight build, almost thin, she seemed to have a core of strength that belied her fragile appearance. Kellyn took her time as if weighing some hidden options Julianna didn’t know.
“My house is haunted.” She waited for Julianna’s response as if expecting laughter in ridicule.
“Haunted? As in ghosts or, um, something else?” Julianna decided if she could be part of a whole town made of werewolves, a supernatural critter infesting a house wasn’t too much of a stretch.
“I dunno. Some say it's a portal guardian, others some kind of djinn. Whatever it is it can influence time. And I'm having these nightmares.” Kellyn appeared surprised at Julianna's acceptance. “Do you believe me?”
Julianna cocked her head and inhaled slowly, taking in the scents of residual fear and honesty. Then she nodded. “Yes. I think I do. Or I believe you believe what you're telling me.” She bit her bottom lip in consideration. “What kind of nightmares are you having?”
“Well, in one I'm an Aleut. We've crossed the Bering Strait looking for the land without snow. I know it sounds crazy, but sometimes I think I lived before. This coming from Catholic girl is a bit much.” When Julianna frowned in confusion, Kellyn backpedaled a little. “I’m taking up too much of your time.”
“No, not at all. Are you in a hurry?”
Scott squirmed on her lap. “My son is getting restless. Are you running away, too? Sometimes I get these feelings...”
Julianna laughed, but her worries over the tests and at the new aspects of werewolf life crashed over her again. “Not running away, per se. More like trying to find a quiet spot to sort everything out. It helps to be distracted with someone else’s worries. My dad just died and I'm trying to adjust to being back in my hometown again.”
Plus being a werewolf and figuring out how to be a werewolf. Ugh.
She waved her hand to brush away her frustration. “I’m still processing all the changes. I won’t keep you, but you should find someone to talk to who can help you with your nightmares. Maybe they’re clues to things that have happened to you before or help you deal with things to come.” She winked. “That sounds pretty ‘Sarah Conner from Terminator’, doesn’t it?”
Kellyn laughed. “Yeah, it does. Oh, I'm not in a hurry if you need to talk.” She sipped her coffee. “I’m a pretty good listener.” Waving at the waitress, she said, “Do you have any cookies?”
Scott beamed. “Any chocolate?”
“Coming right up.”
“You look a little frazzled yourself. I'm sorry to hear about your dad,” she said to Julianna.
“Thanks.” Julianna grimaced. “I didn’t get to come home until just before he died. And then the whole town wanted to know what had gone on in my life since I’d been gone. You know how small towns are.”
“I sure do. I moved up here from San Jose and what a change. I mean everyone knows you.”
Julianna sniffed at Kellyn. Her scent had changed to frustration and annoyance of the busybodies found in little towns. Julianna wrinkled her nose at her own frustration with the gossips in Callowwood.
“Do you have a cold?”
Kellyn’s question stopped Julianna cold. Oh Goddess, have I been so obvious? Fear surged, but she grimaced to hide it. “Oh, um, no. Allergies. The weather changes always mess up my nose.”
Dammit, I have to be more careful! A growl escaped before she could stop it and she glanced furtively around the coffee shop to make sure no one else heard. There were no other werewolves in the coffee shop and her tension dissipated.
“Sorry to hear that.” The waitress arrived with Scott's cookie. He grabbed the treat and wolfed it down. Julianna hid a grin. “I suppose I should get going.” Kellyn glanced out the window, the gibbous moon shined golden. “I just wish I had somewhere to go.”
Julianna’s gut tightened. This was not a night for a woman and child to be out and about. “You don't have a place to stay? There’s a little motel just up the road in the next town that’s not very expensive and clean.” She swallowed the last of her Chai and set the mug down. “Plus the proprietors are nice folks. Not too...”
The scent of someone familiar and full of excitement cut her off. Julianna turned her head toward the windows of the shop, listening to the ringing footsteps of a woman approaching across the gravel. She scented the werewolf and the rising call of the Lady Moon in the intruder’s advance. Julianna clenched her jaw and waited.
“Is everything okay?” Kellyn’s apprehension returned to her scent.
Before Julianna could answer another woman stepped into the coffee shop. Tall, statuesque, with tawny blonde hair and wild gold eyes, she looked more like a fashion model than a real woman. Go, Tawny. I wish I could pull of that image.
“Mistress Julianna. You're needed back in Callowwood.” Tawny’s face held muted excitement. She must have run here in her Sister form.
A short growl erupted from Julianna’s throat, but she tightened her lips around the sound and offered Kellyn a quick smile. Good job, just scare the crap out her. Grabbing a pen, she scribbled an address and phone number on a napkin and handed it to Kellyn.
“This is the motel’s address and number. I'm sure they'll have space for you. Just tell them Julianna Morris sent you. They should give you a discount.”
Kellyn took the note. “Thanks, I appreciate it. Maybe we’ll meet again sometime.”
“I hope so. If you're ever in Callowwood, look me up.” She winked, squeezed Kellyn's elbow gently, and strode out of the coffee shop with a controlled bound.
Once outside in the safety of the warm, velvet darkness, Julianna focused her gaze on Tawny. “What’s going on?”
The evening air erupted with howls of the pack and Julianna shivered with the urge to throw back her head and howl with the rest. Patience, Sister. We’ll have our chance.
“I came to get you and take you away from the pack while the tests are going on.” Tawny’s attention remained on the howls in the distance. Julianna knew Tawny wanted to join them as much as she did.
Julianna growled and Tawny jerked her attention back to her. “Fine. Let’s go then. Any particular destination you had in mind? Reno perhaps?”
Tawny laughed. “How about Battle Mountain? There’s a great greasy spoon there that serves breakfast late.”
“Sounds good.” Julianna launched into a run, shifting into her Sister form after three strides. A tawny golden wolf joined her as they headed north.
As they loped out of sight of the coffee shop, Julianna fervently hoped the Kellyn and her son would go to the motel she’d recommended. It was never good to be out the night of the full moon, especially in the home range of the Callowwood Pack.
I hope you enjoyed the scene between Julianna Morris and Kellyn O'Brien. Don't forget to visit the other blogs on the Hop where you can meet several other characters willing to tell their stories.
Thanks again for stopping by, good luck on the hop, and happy reading! :)