xmlns:og='http://ogp.me/ns#' Kryssie Fortune: April 2016

Thursday, 28 April 2016

Fish,Demons, Dragons and Myths #Filey #Dragon #demon #legend

I recently discovered a wonderful legend about Filey, a small town just a few miles from my coastal home.
According to Wikipedia, Filey is a seaside resort, historically part of the East Riding of Yorkshire, between Scarborough and Bridlington on the North Sea coast .
According to me, it’s a beautiful seaside traditional seaside town perfect for family holidays. 

Filey Brigg – photograph by Photograph by Peter Church

See that arm of rock sticking out into the sea like half of a giant hug? That’s Filey Brigg – the backbone of my legends.

The first myth is the tale of the devil hammering out this ridge. Careless, as all legendary demons and giants seem to be, he dropped his hammer into the sea. When he reached into the water to retrieve it, he caught hold of a fish instead.
“Hey dick,” he cried.
Let’s face it, he could have said far worse.
Yorkshire folk corrupted his words to "Haddock."
The devil's giant hand left two dark marks on the fish’s shoulders. To this day, every haddock bears these marks.

Thanks to Freshwater and Marine Image Bank for the use of their picture.

Mmm, love them battered and served with chips.

The second legend is my favorite—mostly because I’m a sucker for dragons. Even stupid ones. And everyone one knows dragons love to eat. When a dragon terrorized Filey, the canny locals baked sticky Parkin—a kind of Yorkshire gingerbread. You can find the recipe here http://www.bbcgoodfood.com/recipes/1751649/yorkshire-parkin

Unable to resist the sweet treat, the dragon stole it, but the sticky cake stuck to its teeth. It swooped down to the sea to wash out its mouth. The locals ambushed it and drowned it. The story goes that the Brigg is the fossilized remains of the dragon.

Dragons pop up in my books too.
This summer, Luminosity Publishing release my book, Dominated by the Dragon. Flynn’s a dragon shifter with a demon melded into his soul, but more about him nearer the time.   

Lipstick in my Scattered Sibling’s werewolf series is the cutest, naughtiest dragon out there, and he’s always hungry. Although not a shifter, he’s not dim enough to fall for an ambush though. If you want to know more about him, he first shows up in my book Curse of the Fae King – a stand alone romance.


Leonidas’s nightmare: when he inherited the Fae throne, he inherited the curse a witch cast on his bloodline. No wonder he hates witches. His dirty secret: if he doesn’t bed a different woman every month he’ll turn feral – and he’s bored to death with mindless sex. 

When he hunts down his escaped war dragon, his enemies trap him on earth and strip his powers. His month’s almost up and if he doesn’t bed someone soon, his beast will rise. 

Meena’s dream: to be good at something. Anything. Even sticking to a diet. Her secret: she’s a failed witch masquerading as human. She accidentally bonds with Leonidas’s escaped dragon. Sparks fly when he wants it back.

Plunged into a world of stuck-up Fae, evil elves, and high-adventure they must solve a twenty-two year-old mystery. Along the way, they tumble into bed, and lust leads, unexpectedly, to love. When Leonidas’s curse kicks in again, he’ll have to abandon Meena and bed another. Is their love strong enough to survive their secrets and break the ancient curse?

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“That’s my bloody dragon!” The Fae stalked across the cliff top, his emerald shirt billowing beneath his black leather waistcoat. “And I will be having him back.” 

Meena’s curls tumbled over her shoulders, an ebony waterfall streaked with rainbow colors. She’d come up to the abbey ruins for solitude and peace, and as usual, she’d found it. Unless you counted the little lost dragonet at her feet. A large dog would have dwarfed him, but he was definitely the cutest otherworld creature she’d ever seen. And now his owner wanted him back. 

She glanced back toward the main entrance to see who’d provoked the Fae’s fury. There wasn’t another soul to be seen, which meant... 

Sweet Hekate. He’s yelling at me. 

Okay, her life was... Well, it wasn’t good, but no one snarled at her like that. Meena clenched her fists and squared her shoulders while the dragonet rested his head on his paws and took another bite of her sandwich. 

The Fae’s arrogance chafed, but she refused to take her anger out on the dragonet. The way he mewled and flopped down at feet made her smile. 

Meena removed her gloves and fondled his pointy ears. “Cheer up, Lipstick. Daddy’s finally come to take you home. What a pity he didn’t take better care of you in the first place.” 

“Lipstick?” Leonidas thundered. "You named a powerful war dragon Lipstick. He should bear a noble name like Dreadnought or Valiant.” 

With his uptight expression, corded muscle, and stiff spine, he had to be Fae royalty. That didn’t bode well for an outcast like her. 

Meena smiled her professional customer-service smile--the one that had let her down earlier. “But he's the same color as my new lipstick. Scarlet Kisses, see?” 

She brandished it like a talisman. She expected smoke to come out of this overbearing Fae’s ears. How satisfying was that? Whenever Fae passed through Whitby, they dissed her completely--but that wasn’t always a bad thing. Eight years ago when her powers didn’t manifest at puberty, the Witch Council put a price on her head. Her mother moved them to the mundane world, but it had taken Meena forever to adjust to life in Whitby. A life without magic. 

Despite his bad temper, the Fae’s sculptured cheekbones and kissable lips made a dangerous combination--one she struggled to resist. His voice flowed over her like melted chocolate. She loved how he’d braided his hair back in a neat queue at the nape of his neck, and now he stood like a Spanish hidalgo--all uptilted chin, disdainful pride, and gleaming white fangs. Only how dare he look down his nose at her? Carved of granite and steel, he radiated menace. Definitely not as cute as his dragon. More mouthwateringly masculine, but otherworld creatures usually dissed a reject like her. 

She stared at the bullwhip coiled Indiana Jones-style at his narrow waist, then at the black-handled dagger sheathed on his right hip. An obsidian rapier--Fae-forged and unbreakable--almost merged with one of the taped seams that ran down the sides of his pants. He even wore a dagger gunslinger-style at his hip. Dear Goddess, the man was a walking arsenal, but he was sexy as hell. 

This Fae warrior was battle honed and ready. When the wind whipped his shirtsleeves against his biceps, Meena barely stopped herself from licking her lips or, better yet, his. When she imagined his arm curled around her waist--dominant, possessive yet protective--her pussy clenched with desire. 

Otherworld species--the Witches, Vampires, Lykae, and Fae--used Whitby the way aircraft passengers do a transport hub. Sometimes she wanted to scream, “I’m here. Talk to me.” Deep down, she knew better than to draw attention to an outcast like herself. Humans never noticed their comings and goings, but she saw every one of them, silent reminders of everything she’d lost. Life without her Witch friends or her magic was hard. Living in Whitby was difficult enough, then just a couple of hours ago, life kicked her in the pants again. 

The abbey ruins dominated the picturesque harbor town, and ever since she’d arrived in the mundane world, she’d found peace among its ancient stones. Until today. Damn it, she wouldn’t let some high and mighty Fae spoil her refuge, no matter how loud he shouted. 

His lips narrowed into a stern, kissable line, and his voice dripped deadly menace. “Woman, you will give me back my dragon.” 

“Okay, jackass, enough. I’m having a really bad day here,” Meena snapped. “And to top it off, your dragonet just polished off my lunch.” 

“You bloody fed him? Elves’ blood, don’t you know they bond with whoever first feeds them? You’ve poached my damn dragon.” He seethed with fury and frustration along with the sort of take-charge sexiness that could make a girl weak. Make her crave all the things her exile denied her--and that definitely included sex. 

Fangs bared, he marched toward her. His don’t-fuck-with-me confidence made her mouth water, but provoking him might prove...fatal. 

Meena’s courage almost deserted her, but she stood her ground. “Someone had to take care of him, especially since you didn’t. And don’t you dare glower at me like that. Hello? Already stressed out here, so why don’t you flash off back to Fairyland?” 

He went quiet and still, so mean and moody he made her heart race. “No one”--he took the arrogant bad-boy vibe up a gear--“speaks to me with such disrespect. I am Leonidas, and that is my dragon.” 

“Get over yourself, and go annoy someone else.” She smirked in his face. 

His expression frozen in haughty grandeur, he rested his hand on his rapier’s hilt. His curled lip and narrow-eyed glower said he’d happily run her through with his blade. Then when he truly looked at her, his eyes glinted like emerald stars, and magic swirled around him in waves. Tiny lightning flashes zigzagged around him in a full-body halo that even a witchy reject like her could see. 

His voice turned deep and sensual--an earthy rumble that made her pussy pulse with need. “A man would die for speaking to me like that, but it would be a shame to rob the world of a beauty like yours.” 

What do you know? The warrior’s a poet. That was the prettiest compliment she’d ever received. Come to think of it, it was the only compliment she’d received since she’d fled the otherworld. That’s it, rub it in that I’m lonely. He oozed Latino charm just like Antonio Banderas when he played Zorro. Indiana Jones? Zorro? What is this? Hollywood’s Sexiest Men? 

Thunderbolts rumbled around him, and the lightning flashes turned electric blue. He was danger and fury, a mountain of sensual hunger--as proven by the tempting bulge in his tight leather pants. Then he closed his eyes, shuddered, and extinguished the storm cloud of desire he’d just invoked. Tight leather trousers weren’t designed to hide a hard-on, especially not one that size. Only what’s with the light show? Come on, Fairy king, give me a clue. 

Without sparing her another glance, he reached into his belt pouch and tossed the dragonet a slice of raw meat. “Eat up, boy; then I’ll take you home.” 

Full from Meena’s cheese sandwich, the dragonet growled softly and turned away. Leonidas’s clenched jaw and raised eyebrow made Meena smirk again. His face was too harsh to be handsome--all angular planes and aquiline nose--but despite his atrocious manners, she didn’t want him to leave. Her cheeks heated when his green-eyed gaze swept over her, and again his lip curled. “You’re not human. You’re too slender in places and too curvy in others. What species are you?” 

Too thin? Too curvy? Come on, jackass, make up your mind. 

So much for the compliments--and did he just call her overweight? She wasn’t skinny, just sort of middling and normal, unless she gorged herself on chocolate. Okay, she watched her figure, but then what woman didn’t? Maybe she packed a few extra pounds, not that she’d admit it to this aren’t-I-just-perfect Fae. 

Determined to give as good as she got, she smirked again. “Perhaps I’d be fatter if Lipstick here hadn’t scoffed my lunch. And for your information, I’m Goth.” 

He raised a questioning eyebrow. 

How insular could one Fae be? Meena rolled her eyes and smiled just wide enough to show her tiny fangs. “You’re standing in the Mecca of British Gothdom. Whitby Abbey? The place that inspired Bram Stoker? Spiritual home of Dracula? I’m a Vampire wannabe, supposedly. The New Age shop that just fired me wanted me to dress the part, so here I am, all swirling woolen cape, bloodred lips, and dark brows.” 

“Vampires thrive on war and bloodshed, and with every year their king is missing, their bloodlust gets worse. They are the deadliest, most despised of species, and you are soft and curvy in all the right places, but you look like you’d break in battle. And who is this Bram Stoker? Is he the one who spoiled your day?” 

Wow! Was that another compliment buried beneath all that disdain? I could definitely get used to this. 

She shot him a quick, puzzled glance, then grinned and shook her head. “Stoker’s the man who invented Dracula. And I messed up when I told some idiot teenager she didn’t need to be sky-clad to work her spells. She told me her so-called coven, mostly her gullible school friends, meets up on the North Yorkshire Moors. I mean, it’s bleak up there even on midsummer’s eve, and spell-craft doesn’t need gale-force winds and goose bumps to work. How was I supposed to know she’d take the hump? Or that her uncle was the head of the town council? Anyway, my boss’s planning application comes up next week, and she needs him on her side. She kind of lost it when little Miss I Know More About Witchcraft Than You kicked up a fuss. In fact, my boss called me stupid and fired me on the spot.” 

Leonidas frowned. “We do not speak the same language, even though the words are the same. No wonder the Fae hate this world. Return my dragonet, and I’ll leave.” 

Lipstick mewled, coiled his tail around Meena’s leg, and rummaged in her bag with his snout. 

“Greedy guts.” She laughed. “Sorry, sweetie, I’m all out of cheese sandwiches. Time you went home. Besides, if any tourists spotted the pair of you, they’d freak.” 

Fae usually looked as if they were sucking ice cubes, but she’d have sworn Sexy and Gorgeous over there just rolled his eyes at her. 

“Human eyes can perceive neither me nor my dragon, but you do. Again, what are you?” His tone was long-suffering, so cold she shivered beneath her thick woolen cloak. 

“Peeved, fed up, and angry,” Meena answered. She turned her back and wrapped her arms around the dragon’s neck. “So long, Lipstick. Be good for Daddy. And you. Feed your beast when you get home.” 

She gave the dragon’s ears a final scratch, and when he uncoiled his tail, it dropped so low it brushed the ground. With a rueful smile, she stepped back--straight into the Fae warrior’s arms. 

“You dare attack me?” he teased, more sexual predator than lethal warrior. 

There he went with the lightning-storm thing again. Up close, she could feel his magic tingle over her skin, and she basked in a taste of everything her life lacked. Everything the Witch Council had stripped from her. Her heart fluttered, and her lips parted. Her breasts perked up, and her cunt ached with need. Truthfully, if she only knew whether she was immortal, she’d have taken a lover or two by now, but she didn’t dare risk falling for a man she’d outlive by centuries. 

“Love me,” he demanded. “Open your legs for me, and let me make recompense for my previous angry words.” 

Where the hell had that come from? One minute he stared at her with murder in his eyes, and the next he wanted to screw her senseless. She should shove him off and tell him to get stuffed, but the beauty running though his voice enthralled her. Her nipples pearled, and she’d have given anything to feel his mouth on her breasts or his fingers on her clit. 

His arm locked like a steel band around her waist. Was that his cock pressing against her back? He must be one well-endowed male if she could feel it through her cloak. When he ran a trail of kisses down her neck, spikes of pleasure tingled through her spine. She moaned and moved in closer, and even that small surrender made her pussy clench and demand more. What in the name of the Goddess was she doing? Getting close to a Fae was madness--even one who made her ache with wicked, wanton desires. 

Pushing him away was the hardest thing she’d ever done, but she refused to be some passing Fae’s easy lay. “Get your hands off me, jackass. I’d never willingly touch you, especially not after you’ve just handled fresh meat. Besides, you’re the one who crowded against me.” 

“Aggressive argumentative female.” He stepped closer and nibbled at her earlobe. “You definitely attacked me, and I demand a forfeit.” 

Thursday, 21 April 2016

Soapmaking 101 #soap #lavender #craft #romance

Ever wondered about soap? Where does it come from and how is it made?

Soap making uses a chemical reaction between alkaline Lye and acid fats to form solids.
Yeah, I hate the chemistry too. Let’s go back to basics rather than study chemical equations.

Viola, the heroine in To Seduce an Omega, makes her living from the herbs she grows. Her lavender soap is popular with everyone, but it takes her weeks to produce.
First, she needs Lye. (We call it Caustic soda and use it to unblock drains, but it can eat through fabrics and burn flesh)

In a world where science has given way to magic, Viola makes her own Lye.

She collects the ashes from her fire, and once she has enough she sieves them and keeps only the finest. Next, she covers them with water and forgets about them for a couple of weeks. Finally, she sieves the ashes again, but this time she keeps the liquid and loses the ashes. This liquid is slightly soapy. That’s her Lye.

While her lye’s brewing, Viola turns her attention to her lavender. She gathers her lavender flowers and hangs them somewhere out of the sun to dry. Once she has enough dried flowers she pounds them in her pestle and mortar then stores them in a clean pot. She tops it up with animal fat, covers it, and leaves it in a sunny place. The perfume develops slowly and can take up to six weeks. Next she melts the fat and strains it, discarding the crushed flowers.

The next bit is where the chemistry happens.
Very carefully, Viola adds the lye to the perfumed fat. Once the mixture’s stopped bubbling she pours it into molds and leaves it to set for several weeks.
Then she limps into Prowlerville and sells her soap to the general store.

Soap making’s a long drawn out process, but a she-wolf needs to eat. Since Viola can’t turn wolf and hunt for food, she needs to buy her meat pre-butchered. That or turn vegetarian. The way her cash flow’s going, meatless is looking like her best option.

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The Rock Prowler alpha condemns Viola for her inability to shift. Forced into poverty and isolation, she ekes out a meager existence as a healer. As the pack omega with a crippled knee, she’s forbidden to mate. Her first heat beckons, but no wolf will dare to bed her.

Titus, a wolf rejected by his true mate, overflows with violence and anger. The Lykae King sends him to take over the Rock Prowler pack. He condemns Viola for wanting payment before she treats her patients and threatens to bring in a new pack healer. With her crippled knee and no other income, she’d starve.

She-wolves from families who disagree with the alpha have vanished. When Titus investigates, the alpha’s allies imprison both him and Viola. To escape, he must seduce Viola—the she-wolf he insulted and reviled. If that’s not bad enough, she despises him for his seeming allegiance to the alpha. As he gets to know her, she steals his heart, but after all that’s happened, how can she accept him when even his fated mate refused him? 


“Heal her.” The stranger scowled and thrust the injured woman at Viola. 

She blinked and stepped back so quickly she almost overbalanced. After taking a moment to stand up as straight as her crippled leg allowed, she donned her professional healer persona. “For a price. Cash. Up front.” 

Viola lied, of course. Leaving anyone in pain was beyond her, but the man with the broad chest and gold-flecked eyes didn’t need to know that. Besides, unless she got hold of some cash soon, she might never eat meat again. 

The low growl that rumbled from his throat and the way his eyes narrowed made her wish she’d stayed silent. He bared his fangs, and although she wanted to retreat, she stubbornly held her ground. 

His lip curled. “Do it. I’m good for your fees. Just get a move on.” 

His deep, angry rumble made her think of a volcano ready to erupt. And damn, when she stared up him, he looked as tall as the mountains that trapped her in Rock Prowler territory. Out here in the midst of the forest, miles from the nearest settlement, she should be wary. This stranger emanated strength, protection, and…flat-out fury. At her. 

His jaw clamped as he shoved past her into the hut. She followed, mentally triaging her patient. Tansy’s clothes hung off her in tatters, and an arrow stuck out of her leg. Deep scratches, the sort only a murder thorn could inflict, covered her torso. The woman’s breathing came in fast, shallow pants. Her skin looked as though it had been touched with frost, and rivers of dried blood stained her leg. 

Absently, Viola wondered what the other woman been up to that involved tangling with a bush renowned for shredding skin. Not running from Mr. Fix-It here, I hope. Ignoring her concerns and her attraction to a newcomer with the short hair and bad attitude, she reached out to stroke Tansy’s hair. Rather than gather her supplies, Viola hardened her heart and met the stranger’s gaze. 

With his torn ear and bent nose, Mr. Fix-It looked ready to tear out her throat. Her stomach clenched as though he’d punched her, and his disgusted look promised a reckoning once she’d tended Tansy’s wounds. Viola’s tender heart went out to the woman in his arms. Despite her bold words, she’d never let Tansy suffer, but she needed to bargain to survive.

As the pack’s omega wolf, she expected nothing from anyone—except insults, of course. Chin high, spine stiff, she kept her hands at her side. “Perhaps you shouldn’t have chased her into a murder thorn in the first place. Of course, I’ll help her once we’ve agreed on a price.” 

The stranger’s furious growl cut to her heart, but unless she demanded her cash in advance, she’d starve. 

Rather than pass the woman into Viola’s arms, he stared around the two-room hunter’s den she’d moved into when her home burned to the ground. “And you call yourself a healer. Just for the record, I heard her whimper from the middle of a thorn thicket, and unlike you I couldn’t leave her to suffer. You care more about money than your calling, but once the woman’s back on her feet, I’ll pay your price.” 

This man didn’t fit any classically handsome mold, but he oozed charisma and power. If circumstances had been different, she’d have welcomed him with refreshments and maybe her body. Recently the need to screw someone—anyone—stirred her blood, but no self-respecting wolf would screw the pack’s omega. 

Even if one approached her, the alpha would kill them. Despite their shared blood, the alpha hated her. No way would he let an omega wolf reproduce and dilute the pack’s gene pool. Deep down, she hated being so alone. 

Mr. Fix-It’s presence fired up her body in a lightning strike of sensual heat, but with his bad-boy attitude and take-charge nature, women probably threw themselves at him. She sighed over another broken dream and coolly met his gaze. 

She couldn’t shift and hunt prey, so she needed to scrape together what coins she could just to buy meat. Unlike most Lykae, she couldn’t turn wolf to heal her injuries. Her heart told her to run through the forest and let off steam, but her twisted knee prevented her enjoying such a simple thing. Thanks to the beating that killed her inner wolves, that was another pleasure Zebadiah had stolen from her. 

Lately, she’d been teaching herself to shoot with a bow and arrow, but archery didn’t come easy to her. What spare time she had, she spent tending her vegetables and herbs, but all that bending made her knee feel like someone hit it with a hammer—again. 

She persevered because she needed fresh food to survive. The herbal remedies and potions she’d crafted from her surplus and traded for fresh meat were an unexpected bonus. After all, a wolf couldn’t live by vegetables alone. 

The stranger’s eyes darkened until his gaze felt like copper blades cutting through her composure and condemning her poverty-stricken surroundings. His disgust curdled something inside her, but his narrow-eyed look and curled top lip were all too familiar. The pack had looked at her that way for years. 

Her fleeting attraction for Tansy’s rescuer shriveled beneath his I’ll-wipe-you-off-the-planet gaze. With his huge muscles, short-cropped hair, and inbuilt arrogance, he looked more a brawler than a hero. She should shove him out the door, not that her flimsy wattle and daub hut would protect her. Then, despite everything, her stupid hormones flared with desire—for him. 

The bend in his nose, as if he’d broken it and it hadn’t healed right, puzzled her. Most Lykae healed when they shifted, but not him. When he wasn’t looking daggers at her, pained shadows filled his eyes. 

Her antagonism melted when she thought of how he’d rescued Tansy from the murder thorn. Viola wanted to curl her body around his and taste every inch of him. Why was it that the only wolf her stupid oversexed body wanted in her bed had already condemned her. 

He glanced down at Tansy, then turned his death stare back on Viola. “Bustle about, or I’ll find the Rock Prowler pack a new healer. Anyone with an ounce of compassion would be better than you.” 

She blocked the bedroom doorway. “You will pay me?” 

He hurled three gold coins onto the floor of her hut. “There. Take your blood money. The drayman who pointed out your home said you were a hard-hearted bitch. Stupidly, I dismissed his opinion. Biggest mistake I ever made. I should have flashed that poor woman to someone who knew what they were doing, not depended on an unskilled hedgewitch like you.” 

How dare he! Viola’s hands shook, and her cheeks flushed. She opened and closed her mouth, then clenched and unclenched her fists. She’d never wanted to hit anyone so badly. At least he’d paid her, so she’d ignore him and help Tansy—just as she’d intended all along. 

This stranger watched her intently, and under his scrutiny her hands shook. What sort of man could walk in and announce he’d replace her? Someone important, that was for sure. If he voiced his misgivings to the alpha, Zebadiah would have the perfect excuse to cast her out completely. He’d wanted to do it for years. If she knew of any safe haven, she’d have already left. Not that any of the other packs would adopt a damaged wolf like her. 

All she could do was stay put and take life one day at a time. 

Pack members could take their woes to Zebadiah, the pack alpha, and on a good day he might even listen, but an omega wolf was a different story. He’d just laugh Viola and her troubles out of the great hall. Besides, she’d already suffered enough at his hands. She should warn Mr. Fix-It about the alpha’s murderous tendencies. Strangers who strolled into Rock Prowler territory didn’t usually stroll out. 

Even though he condemned her, this stranger oozed so much masculinity that her mouth watered. Not that she would ever act on the deliciously sexual feelings he kick-started in her womb. Omega wolf, remember? 

Looking at him rekindled her dreams of love and romance, the ones the alpha’s thugs had beaten out of her. This newcomer woke something wild inside her, but Viola had long since resigned herself to a solitary existence. No mate. No cubs. No decent home. Little fresh meat and rarely a kind word. She was sick of being isolated and alone. When the alpha had declared her the pack’s omega wolf, he hadn’t expected her to last long, but her stubborn streak had kept her strong. 

Zebadiah’s harsh rule crushed the Rock Prowler pack, and even the cockiest of the Lykae males didn’t dare defy him. Too many sisters and mated she-wolves had vanished from the families that protested his rule. 

Viola poured distilled wine over her hands and winced when some ran into a cut in her finger. “Who are you? And do you have the alpha’s permission to cross Rock Prowler lands?” 

He shoved past her and carried the unconscious woman into the back room of her hut. “I’m Titus, and I’m here by your alpha’s invitation. He wants me to marry his daughter.” 

Any attraction Viola felt toward him withered. She had no respect for any friends of Zebadiah Lightfoot—the man she refused to call father ever again. Even if she didn’t despise Titus, she didn’t own a chair she could offer him. Then again, since he’d come here at her father’s behest, she should ram her hands against his chest and shove him out the door. Not that she could move a man-mountain like him. 

She wanted nothing to do with one of Zebadiah’s brought-in bullies. The quicker this strange attraction she felt toward Titus faded the better. Her hut with her makeshift dresser—more rough pieces of wood propped on stones and her pallet of moss—shouted poverty and defeat. She leaned against one of the hut’s uprights and flexed her leg, glad to take her weight off her knee. Much as she wanted Mr. Fix-It’s hand on her breasts and his lips against hers, she hated the unexpected jolt of mating heat. Her throat constricted as her libido went wild. 

His presence overwhelmed her, and his sheer size made her hut seem crowded. The look on his face, as though he struggled not to gag at a bad smell, hurt more than she’d expected. Though he seemed unconcerned about Tansy’s blood dripping on his expensive clothes, Viola knew the shabbiness of her home disgusted him. 

He had a good heart to tangle with a murder thorn and rescue Tansy despite his allegiance to the alpha. Just knowing he planned to join Zebadiah’s squad of mercenaries sucker punched Viola. Titus was muscle for hire, a wolf paid by Zebadiah to grind the pack into submission. She knew about the alpha’s bullyboys firsthand. 

After a quick assessment of Tansy’s injuries, Viola grabbed a knife and a packet of herbs from her dresser. “What happened to her?” 

Titus’s expression softened as he stared at the injured woman. “I don’t have a clue. I heard a whimper from a thicket of murder thorns, and the poor woman was lying unconscious in the center. Elves’ blood, you’ve got your gold. Get a move on. Can’t you see she’s lost so much blood she’s going into shock?” 

The arrow topped Viola’s priorities. Once she’d pulled a threadbare apron over her head, she poured alcohol over Tansy’s wound. If the archer had barbed the head, pulling the arrow out would tear the flesh from Tansy’s thigh. Given that this looked like a deliberate shooting, Viola prayed the bowman hadn’t poisoned the arrowhead. 

Titus laid Tansy on the moss and sweet-herb pallet, his touch so gentle Viola wondered how it would feel if he laid her down with such care. Just once, she wanted someone to be gentle with her. That or teach her about orgasms and sex. I should be concentrating on Tansy, not drooling over Titus’s ass. 

She swallowed hard and settled on the floor beside her patient, her bad leg extended in front of her. Getting up again would be hell, but Viola would manage somehow. She always did, but on bad days her knee ballooned to twice its normal size. Her gaze strayed back to Titus’s ass. She pictured herself running her hands over it or stroking it or rubbing up against him and breathing in his musky vanilla essence. 

Her nipples ached, and she felt as though flames licked at her cunt—all that for one of Zebadiah’s personal army. Despite his gentle treatment of Tansy, Viola couldn’t trust Titus an inch. This stupid urge to wrap her body around his and run her fingers through his short-cropped hair would fade soon. It had to. Nothing good could come of her having a fling with a stranger, no matter how much he made her heart race. 

Tansy moaned when Viola cut the remnants of her skirt and probed her wound. 

Titus’s eyes narrowed, and his jaw clenched. “Do you enjoy hurting the helpless?” 

Her? Hurt the helpless. Viola would have laughed if he didn’t make her so fluttery and hot. She stood on quicksand, and the only way to stay safe was to cling to Titus. Yeah, like he’d ever offer his hand. 

Her chin rose. “I’m a healer. Only an idiot would think I meant to hurt Tansy. I needed to know if the arrow had struck bone. Fortunately, the head’s embedded in her thigh muscle, but we still need to push it through rather than just yank it out. Once I’ve poulticed the entry and exit wounds, I’ll clean up her scratches.” 

“Then get a move on.” Titus’s fingernails turned into claws, and he bared his fangs. At her. She should be scared or even screaming. Instead, she almost came when she pictured those fangs sinking into her flesh as she orgasmed around his cock. No. Not feeling anything for him…really. Besides, who the hell does he think he is? Judging me as though he’s the Rock Prowler alpha. 

Viola did her best with limited materials. The alpha refused to let her leave Rock Prowlers’ territory to train further even though that left the pack without a qualified healer. She’d lost her books in the fire that had destroyed her home, and she hated when she didn’t know enough to help. 

If Elspeth hadn’t taken Viola in when her mother vanished and her father banished her from her home, she wouldn’t have survived. Twenty-two years later, survival was still a struggle. 

Healing was all she had left. She understood difficult childbirths and kept a stock of herbal remedies for the rare occasions a wolf couldn’t heal himself by shifting. Sadly, nothing would fix her knee. Without her inner wolves, Viola would never be whole again. 

She stole a quick glance at Titus, and her heart rate sped up again. His confidence and strength along with the way he took charge of a bad situation made her envy his mate—assuming he had one. 

The bonded couples in town never left each other’s sides unless they had to, which made her wonder what Tansy had been doing out here alone. Jealousy hit Viola like a fiery arrow. The thought of Titus bonding with another woman turned her stomach sour. Not that she’d ever have children or a mate, but a she-wolf could dream. 

Copyright © Kryssie Fortune