New Release: William

It’s here. The Valentines: William has been released.

Book two in The Valentines Series

Time is running out.

He promised to keep her safe, he promised to protect her. William Valentine failed. On the night his father was murdered, the same wolf took Katie from him. The one and only surviving witch…or is she?

Katie White is going to die. She can feel it. Her determination and thoughts of William are what is making her fight to stay alive. But time is running out.

An old foe from William’s past is determined to see Katie finished.

Will William make it in time?

The Valentines-the war has only just begun.

Reader Advisory: This book is the second in a series and contains scenes of kidnap and violence.

Excerpt From: William

Present day

The sound of glass smashing could be heard in every corner of the bar. The audience looked on at the spectacle in silence, each doubtless wondering if they would be the target of the vampire’s wrath.

“Where is she?” A fist was raised. Usually, bar fights were great sport, but in a predominantly vampire-filled bar there was no sport, just information gathering—and it wasn’t acquired over tea and biscuits. It always got bloody and it never ended well. A Valentine was on the prowl and no one was about to get in his way—even if the vampire William targeted was scared for his life.

The way the other customers saw it, the guy getting pummelled shouldn’t have earned a reputation for being a messenger to the wolves. A man supporting both sides of the war.

“I don’t know, man. No one has talked.” The guy covered his face, denying all knowledge. Adam stood and observed from the dark corner as he watched his older brother lose control. William was completely out of it.

Since another witch had been taken—Katie, the best friend of his brother Robert’s bonded mate—it was like he was losing his sense of reality. No one could reason with him.

“Tell me where they are,” William snarled in the young vampire’s face. Adam winced. He was here as a favour to Robert and he loved his brother, but this was too damn much. There was no thought, no consideration of the chaos he was causing. It had hit him worse even than losing Emma. It was like someone had carved out his heart and left him hurt and bleeding.

Katie White, the last remaining witch, was still alive, and that made it worse. At least Emma had been dead and he’d known there was nothing he could do to change that. But William knew that Katie was out there, and he was leaving a wave of destruction everywhere he went in his efforts to find her.

William wasn’t the same man. There was no mercy in this guy. Rage, anger and pain consumed him now. His was on a destructive path. No one—not even Robert—could stop him now.

Adam looked around at all the people observing the fight. Vampires, wolves…shit, even demons sat and watched William. Most of them looked terrified of the vampire who had clearly lost his mind.

Shaking his head, Adam turned back to watch his brother.

As much as he thought that this was wrong, he would never get in between his brother and what he felt he needed to do. The witch clearly meant something to him. No vampire went this crazy for a woman unless she was a bond mate.

Adam didn’t know much about her. He’d never met her. A few months ago, she had been taken by the wolf Alpha, James. The same night his own father—head of the vampire council and the most powerful vampire in all of Beyer West—had been killed. Murdered, actually. Taken from them by the same wolf.

Everything around them was going to shit and his brother was determined to go down the same path. At any time the other customers could jump them and finally be rid of the unstable Valentine boy. For decades, William had made himself a reputation for being the crazy brother, but now he was driving his ruthlessness to a whole new level.

Adam tensed as the barman approached his brother. The barman was a vampire and, from the look of it, one of the older generation. Adam moved closer. If it went the wrong way he would back his brother. Whether he believed what his brother was doing was right or not, family came first.

That was what made him a Valentine.

Adam watched as William raised his fist, ready to take another set of swipes at the guy he held. The barman stopped his raised fist easily, holding it in his, and span William around as if he were nothing more than a rag doll.

“Son, he said he didn’t know nothing. Leave him be,” the barman said.

William hissed and tried to hit the barman, a great insult amongst their community. Out of respect, no one attacked the older generation. Adam swore and moved forward.

The barman grabbed William and, using the full force of his upper body, threw him against the bar. The bottles rattled and the customers close by dispersed, not wanting to get involved in a fight that was clearly about to get worse.

Adam ran, going for the man who was holding his brother. The barman turned and sucker-punched him across the room before Adam could even land a blow. He crashed through the window, broken shards of glass spraying around him.

“Fuck,” Adam cursed. The only humans in the street were ones who had seen too much of this world and were pretty much crazy. Drunks, druggies and prostitutes who knew better than to talk about what they had seen. His fangs protruded as his anger rose.

Fuck protocol. Adam was pissed off and cruising for a fight.

He stormed back into the bar.

William was bloodied but he was getting in a few punches of his own.

“I’ve told you not to bring shit like this to my bar. I didn’t serve your fucking family to have you ruin my business,” the barman yelled as he pushed William away from him.

Buy Link: Total-E-Bound

Friday Teaser: Leslie Stockton

This week it’s going to be a little different. Leslie Stockton is sharing one of her wonderful Poems with us. Please leave a comment and enjoy.

Feel the Rush…

burn for me my darling

hold, please hold tight

breathe the words of passion

for only us to tonight

touch taste sweeter

body glistening wet

close, please closer

more, yes yes yes

oh yes, god my darling

close your eyes dark

spinning whirling passion

not enough more please start

barely breathe my darling

barely speak your name

thrust your love upon me

give me part of same

show me all your yearning

show me all your burning

eye intensity

sweat dripping slipping

heavan hold can’t meet

no more please darling

give me what I need

give me all your passion

give me tomorrows seed

yes, my love my darling

smile completion sate

only I only me heavan

yes me, my sweet turned draight

for I am your wanting

for I am your greed

touch wish another

me you see in steed

I am your dreamscape

I am each touch

close your eyes darling

come feel the rush…

This was inspired by this picture.

New Release: Contract of Shame

It’s here everyone. Contract of Shame which is Richard’s story.

Product Description

Unlikely Love, 2

Richard Shaw doesn’t believe in love. He does believe in getting what he wants, and Scarlet Hughes is next on his list. In his world, there is nothing he can’t have. All he needs to do is find her weakness.

Scarlet is a single mother trying to make ends meet. A nightmare from her past keeps her cut off from men and relationships, but a steaming kiss one afternoon in the office leads to her shame.

For one week, Scarlet will give Richard her body and in return he’ll give her the means of giving her son a good future.

But when her past comes back to haunt her, Scarlet can’t hide from her fear any longer, and Richard must risk everything to claim what is rightfully his.

Will Scarlet find it in her heart to forgive him?

Be Warned: forced seduction

Excerpt:

“You used your money and power over me to get me to do what you want,” she said.

“No matter how I got you, you’re still here, and I wouldn’t be anywhere else.” His words baffled her, and he silenced her with a kiss. She melted under his touch. His hands cupped her face and tilted her head back to give him better access. Scarlet moaned and wound her hands behind his neck. The shirt he wore created a rough touch against her pointed nipples.

As a hand moved back to grasp her neck, she gasped and opened her mouth. He plunged in, touching her tongue with his.

He tasted of warm whisky and masculinity. Richard swamped her in size and shape. She didn’t know who broke the kiss first. He moved down her face to her neck, nibbling along her exposed collarbone. Her eyes shut, and she moaned as he bit down. Her neck and ears were ultra sensitive.

Her nipples pointed out against the negligee. She took a breath as he eased a strap down off one of her shoulders.

“Open your eyes,” he said.

Scarlet opened her eyes and stared into his smoky depths. He didn’t look at what he was doing but continued to gaze into her eyes. The strap went down her arm slowly, and then he removed the other until the negligee pooled at her waist. Her breasts were exposed to the cool air. Still he didn’t look. His hand cupped one. Scarlet broke their gazes and stared down at where he touched her. His thumb stoked along the tip of one sensitive but firm and erect bud.

“They’re so big and full,” he said. Seconds later he buried his head against her chest. His tongue glided over the tip he had aroused with his fingers.

Scarlet was shocked as she stared down at her boss’s head and became even more aroused at seeing him tongue her.

****

She had fucking gorgeous tits, and he wanted to suck on them all night long. The large, red nipples filled his mouth. She truly was a full woman. The indent at her waist looked so tiny against the full, rounded hips. The red highlighted her figure perfectly, and he applauded his taste in clothes.

Never before had he picked out clothes for a woman, but with Scarlet he wanted to go that extra mile. He didn’t want faceless people dressing his woman. Richard wanted to see her in clothes he knew she’d look stunning in. Her complexion and figure really worked in the deep red.

When she walked out of the bedroom, his cock had sprung to full attention. Even now the tip was soaked in his pre-cum, his trousers unbearably tight. He wanted his clothes off and Scarlet on the floor with her legs wide open, so he could fuck her sweet cunt.

Richard couldn’t do it. He wanted the first time to be exquisite torture and to last as long as possible, to draw out the pleasure until they were both begging for release.

She stood before him waiting for his next command. Didn’t she know what to do? He didn’t care. He didn’t want to think about her other partners.

The thought of her other lovers had him fisting a hand in her hair and slamming his lips down on hers. He would wipe out any and all memories of her other men. The only person who counted was him.

By the end of this week he’d have her begging him to keep her.

Buy Links: Evernight Publishing/ Amazon (UK)/ Amazon (US)/ ARe Bookstrand/ SmashWords

The Valentines: William Available For Pre-Order

Blurb

Book two in The Valentines Series

Time is running out.

He promised to keep her safe, he promised to protect her. William Valentine failed. On the night his father was murdered, the same wolf took Katie from him. The one and only surviving witch…or is she?

Katie White is going to die. She can feel it. Her determination and thoughts of William are what is making her fight to stay alive. But time is running out.

An old foe from William’s past is determined to see Katie finished.

Will William make it in time?

The Valentines-the war has only just begun.

Reader Advisory: This book is the second in a series and contains scenes of kidnap and violence.

Excerpt

Present day

The sound of glass smashing could be heard in every corner of the bar. The audience looked on at the spectacle in silence, each doubtless wondering if they would be the target of the vampire’s wrath.

“Where is she?” A fist was raised. Usually, bar fights were great sport, but in a predominantly vampire-filled bar there was no sport, just information gathering—and it wasn’t acquired over tea and biscuits. It always got bloody and it never ended well. A Valentine was on the prowl and no one was about to get in his way—even if the vampire William targeted was scared for his life.

The way the other customers saw it, the guy getting pummelled shouldn’t have earned a reputation for being a messenger to the wolves. A man supporting both sides of the war.

“I don’t know, man. No one has talked.” The guy covered his face, denying all knowledge. Adam stood and observed from the dark corner as he watched his older brother lose control. William was completely out of it.

Since another witch had been taken—Katie, the best friend of his brother Robert’s bonded mate—it was like he was losing his sense of reality. No one could reason with him.

“Tell me where they are,” William snarled in the young vampire’s face. Adam winced. He was here as a favour to Robert and he loved his brother, but this was too damn much. There was no thought, no consideration of the chaos he was causing. It had hit him worse even than losing Emma. It was like someone had carved out his heart and left him hurt and bleeding.

Katie White, the last remaining witch, was still alive, and that made it worse. At least Emma had been dead and he’d known there was nothing he could do to change that. But William knew that Katie was out there, and he was leaving a wave of destruction everywhere he went in his efforts to find her.

William wasn’t the same man. There was no mercy in this guy. Rage, anger and pain consumed him now. His was on a destructive path. No one—not even Robert—could stop him now.

Adam looked around at all the people observing the fight. Vampires, wolves…shit, even demons sat and watched William. Most of them looked terrified of the vampire who had clearly lost his mind.

Shaking his head, Adam turned back to watch his brother.

As much as he thought that this was wrong, he would never get in between his brother and what he felt he needed to do. The witch clearly meant something to him. No vampire went this crazy for a woman unless she was a bond mate.

Adam didn’t know much about her. He’d never met her. A few months ago, she had been taken by the wolf Alpha, James. The same night his own father—head of the vampire council and the most powerful vampire in all of Beyer West—had been killed. Murdered, actually. Taken from them by the same wolf.

Everything around them was going to shit and his brother was determined to go down the same path. At any time the other customers could jump them and finally be rid of the unstable Valentine boy. For decades, William had made himself a reputation for being the crazy brother, but now he was driving his ruthlessness to a whole new level.

Adam tensed as the barman approached his brother. The barman was a vampire and, from the look of it, one of the older generation. Adam moved closer. If it went the wrong way he would back his brother. Whether he believed what his brother was doing was right or not, family came first.

That was what made him a Valentine.

Adam watched as William raised his fist, ready to take another set of swipes at the guy he held. The barman stopped his raised fist easily, holding it in his, and span William around as if he were nothing more than a rag doll.

“Son, he said he didn’t know nothing. Leave him be,” the barman said.

William hissed and tried to hit the barman, a great insult amongst their community. Out of respect, no one attacked the older generation. Adam swore and moved forward.

The barman grabbed William and, using the full force of his upper body, threw him against the bar. The bottles rattled and the customers close by dispersed, not wanting to get involved in a fight that was clearly about to get worse.

Adam ran, going for the man who was holding his brother. The barman turned and sucker-punched him across the room before Adam could even land a blow. He crashed through the window, broken shards of glass spraying around him.

“Fuck,” Adam cursed. The only humans in the street were ones who had seen too much of this world and were pretty much crazy. Drunks, druggies and prostitutes who knew better than to talk about what they had seen. His fangs protruded as his anger rose.

Fuck protocol. Adam was pissed off and cruising for a fight.

He stormed back into the bar.

William was bloodied but he was getting in a few punches of his own.

“I’ve told you not to bring shit like this to my bar. I didn’t serve your fucking family to have you ruin my business,” the barman yelled as he pushed William away from him.

You can Pre-Order your copy here

Friday Teaser: Empi Baryeh


THE WAY TO A MAN’S HEART

Hey, Sam. Thanks for inviting me over to your blog to celebrate the upcoming release of my second novel, Chancing Faith. I’m particularly excited about this story because, though it turned out not to be my debut novel, it is first in a lot of things – first romance novel I actually started, my first interracial romance, the first book I sold and my first book in print format!

 

So I’m going to do a first on this post and share with you a recipe! It’s a Ghanaian Dish that features in Chancing Faith. My hero, Thane Aleksander, who is very protective of his stomach decides to try a local dish (oh, the things we do for love) and he chooses what, in his opinion is safe – Jollof Rice (at least he knows what rice is, right?).

 

Jollof rice is considered a special meal in Ghana and is often prepared on Sundays. There are lots of recipes online, and so you can look for others, but I thought this one was simple enough. If you’re looking for something different this weekend, go ahead a try this.

 

Ingredients (supposed to serve 8)

 

· 1 tablespoon olive oil

· 1 large onion, sliced

· 2 (14.5 ounce) cans stewed tomatoes

· 1/2 (6 ounce) can tomato paste

· 1 teaspoon salt

· 1/4 teaspoon black pepper

· 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

· 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes

· 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce

· 1 teaspoon chopped fresh rosemary

· 2 cups water

· 1 (3 pound) whole chicken, cut into 8 pieces

· 1 cup uncooked white rice

· 1 cup diced carrots

· 1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed and snapped into 1 to 2 inch pieces

· 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

 

Preparation

 

1. Pour oil into large saucepan. Cook onion in oil over medium-low heat until translucent.

2. Stir in stewed tomatoes and tomato paste, and season with salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, red pepper flakes, Worcestershire sauce and rosemary. Cover, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat, stir in water, and add chicken pieces. Simmer for 30 minutes.

3. Stir in rice and season with nutmeg. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover, and simmer until the chicken is fork-tender, 15 to 20 minutes.

4. Stir in carrots, and green beans (other veggies of choice can also be added). Let simmer until veggies are done and the rice is cooked, about 10 minutes.

***
Now that I’ve got you all fed and good, why don’t you sit back relax and sample a little bit of Chancing Faith:

BLURB

He didn’t do short-term relationships…

 

American ad exec, Thane Aleksander, doesn’t date co-workers either—until business takes him to Ghana,West Africa, and he meets Naaki. Now he’s at risk of breaking all the rules. Can he stop this headlong fall before it’s too late?

 

Until he met her!

 

Naaki Tabika has a burning need to prove, to herself and others, that she’s more than wife and mother material. To do so, she’s prepared to give up everything for her job. Meeting Thane, however, makes her want to get personal. But falling for her boss could destroy her career. Will she be willing to risk it all for the one thing that can make her truly happy?

 

Two divergent cultures, two different races, two career-driven professionals, only one chance at true love—will they find the faith to take it, or will their hearts be sacrificed on the altar of financial success?

TEASER EXCERPT

Thane knew he was in for it now. He could hardly believe he’d really done it…

 

He’d kissed Naaki. Kissed her! What the hell was he thinking? Thane tossed his jacket aside and yanked off his tie. Of all the stupid—

 

Raking his fingers through his hair, he muttered a curse. The urge to hit something assaulted him with a force that should have surprised him. The perfect punching bag would have been his own body, since it was apparent that he needed to pound some sense into his skull. Right now, the only thing pounding was his heart as it threatened to burst out of his chest, throbbing partly out of anger but mostly from his pulsing desire.

 

Damned if he didn’t still want her in his arms. She made him feel like a teenager—and not in a good way. Vulnerable wasn’t a desired state of mind as far as he was concerned. He sat down with the adjoining door in full view, still unable to comprehend how he’d dropped his guard. How he seemed so willing to let down his defenses around her.

He’d panicked in the elevator, allowed himself to be captivated. He’d worried about her, touched her as if he cared. She’d kissed him back, moaned against his lips and his knees had gone weak. He could have made love to her right there in the lobby. He could care about her, and caring was the last thing he could afford to do.

 

Dammit. Naaki wasn’t a woman you got involved with on a whim. He needed, at all cost, to avoid her—the woman who’d so easily brought him to his knees, who’d caused his body to come alive and made him want—

Just want.

***
I hope you enjoyed that short excerpt enough to put Chancing Faith on your TBR list.
Buy links:
· Black Opal Books (pre-order from 17th March):
http://www.blackopalbooks.com/Chancing Faith comes out on 31st March, but if you’d like a taste of my writing before then, I invite you to sample Most Eligible Bachelor:
[Read a STEAMY excerpt here (http://empibaryeh.wordpress.com/2012/02/03/new-release-most-eligible-bachelor/). For a chance to win a free copy of Most Eligible Bachelor, check out my 100-Fan Book Give-Away contest here (http://empibaryeh.webs.com/contests.htm)].
I’d love to hear from you, so drop me a line on:
· My website:
Thanks for joining me here today. Don’t forget to leave a comment for a chance to win your choice of either of my books.
Empi

Friday Teaser: Lee Ann Sontheimer Murphy

Love Shadows blurb

Love Shadows, book four in my popular Love Covenant paranormal romance series from Evernight Publishing will be out later this week, following Love Tattoo, Love Scars, and Love Knots.

Cara couldn’t be happier now that her sexy vampire husband Will Brennan located his long lost brother Seamus. Her new found brother-in-law even has a theater where she can sing – until a vampire named Henri shows up in the audience. He covets Cara but not for a happy ending. The old vampire, far more powerful than Will or Seamus has a bad reputation among the undead.

Back in Memphis Henri demonstrates he can make them suffer at will. A cat and mouse game begins and takes them back to Missouri, then onto Texas for what they hope will be a happy family holiday.

A last minute grocery store run puts Cara in Henri’s hands and leaves Seamus near dead. When Henri takes Cara deep into the mysterious back waters of Caddo Lake, it’ll take more than just Will Brennan and his brother to save her – if they can.

Excerpt:

With eyes closed, his face reminded me of an angel or something from one of Michelangelo’s statues. His features were just that perfect, his nose well-shaped and the right size to fit his face. His solid neck attached to his torso just where it should and his broad shoulders exuded beautiful brawn. I lowered my eyes to appreciate his wide chest, his muscles defined without being grotesque and soft with just enough fine hair to be interesting. His pale nipples rested on that dark mat and his body sloped downward to a firm, flat belly and then the cleft between his legs where his manhood reigned supreme. I loved his cock, skilled and shaped well, but I also admired his sturdy, strong legs that tapered down to two of the most beautiful feet I’d ever seen on a man. Will’s feet are long and narrow, large but with a graceful shape. His big hands are the same. Unable to resist touching him, I trailed my fingers over his ribs and down his body.

Will opened his eyes, bluer than the October sky I’d glimpsed at dawn, deeper than any lake or ocean could ever be. As he became aware of my scrutiny and my touch, they lit up from within, like windows on a dark night and he stroked the curve of my cheek.

“You look much improved, mo anam cara,” he whispered in a voice smoother than the finest Irish whiskey, “Do you feel all right?”

“I do but there’s something I need to make me better,” I told him.

He cocked an eyebrow at me, “What is it?”

“This,” I said and kissed him. From the moment that our lips fused, energy erupted between us, powerful and potent. That force filled the air between us with such living strength that I could almost taste it on my tongue. I craved that might and wanted it to master me, ached for Will to claim me with rough hands and no restraint. I yearned for the same wildness that he exhibited driving far above the speed limit over the curving roads, flirting with danger and thumbing his nose at death. With the same zeal that I once had for drag racing on Friday nights down the back roads of Cherokee County in Texas, I coveted that old screw mortality feeling that made me higher than any booze or drug. I needed Will to turn me every which way but loose, pound me with his body so that I could forget the intrusion of that blonde vampire into my consciousness. I wanted to erase that feeling of violation, and then replace it with Will’s lasting love, unbreakable and stronger than death or Mr. Blonde.

Will had other ideas. I fancied brutal lovemaking, strong enough to wipe out anything else but he sought to give me tenderness. He cherished me, his mouth as soft upon mine as a sigh, sweeter than a spoon of homemade vanilla ice cream, and gentler than the brush of a butterfly’s wing. That mellow caress tamed my wild fire into a sweet simmer that flowed through my veins, heating me even as it leached away the memory of that blonde. As my body gentled down, harkening to Will’s hands, I let go of my anger and released my fear.

His placid passion sent it away, washed it from me like a sensual baptism. Instead of physical combat he immersed me in love, emotion so strong that it evoked delightful tremors throughout my body. That kiss led to more kisses, each one as fragile as a feather as he trailed down my throat, to my breasts, my bellybutton and beyond. Each of my five senses, the ones I learned to name back in Miss Gabriel’s kindergarten classroom, reeled with intoxication.

I saw Will bathed in such beauty because I loved him so. As he caressed me, I let my tongue slide over his naked flesh. I tasted the salt of his sweat, the flavor of his body and gloried in such intimacy. My ears rejoiced to hear his whispered endearments, mostly in Irish, the foreign phrases ringing like songs into my soul. His musk, a rich aroma of manhood and pure Will, permeated my nose until all the world smelled of him and his touch on my skin evoked ripples of pleasure, spasms of delight wherever it fell.

His tender devotion distracted me from giving back and I let him tempt me into such a selfish contentment that I lay beneath him, beside him, as docile as a just born kitten. His roaming hands made me shiver with his light caress and my anticipation for the cataclysmic end grew until I didn’t think I could wait.

With a slow hand, the easiest touch he’d ever used to love me, Will brought me to a fever pitch of desire. He fired my want until I thought I would die if he didn’t meet that need, fill my emptiness with his body. He maneuvered me onto my back and then he speared me, pierced me to the very heart of my being with his hard penis. Will plunged into me with the strength, the rough need that I so craved and after such tenderness, it sent shock waves of pure physical joy through me. I bucked beneath him, my body his to control, not mine, and when I came in a rush of tears, laughter, and a scream of animal delight, Will went with me.

Afterward, it took a few minutes to recover both breath and speech. He spoke first as I curled against his chest, sated and somnolent.

“’Doubt that the stars are fire, doubt that the sun doth move his aides, doubt truth to be a liar but never doubt I love,’”

“I know you do, honey,” I responded, “and I love you, Will Brennan more than the stars or sun or fire.”

“Gra go deo,”

My feeble Irish knowledge knew that meant love forever.

Buy links:

http://www.amazon.com/Love-Shadows-Covenant-ebook/dp/B00776T3M6

http://www.evernightpublishing.com/products/Love-Knots-by-Lee-Ann-Sontheimer-Murphy.html

http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/135420

http://www.allromanceebooks.com/product-loveshadows-679526-139.html

http://www.bookstrand.com/love-shadows

Friday Teaser: Lucy Felt House

Blurb

Living in her remote cottage in the woods, Heidi doesn’t get many visitors. So when she spots a fox in her garden, she’s delighted. However, her joy quickly turns to dismay when she thinks the beautiful creature may be injured. Heading out to see how she can help, Heidi is astounded when something happens that makes her question her eyesight – not to mention her sanity. Once she gets over her shock and discovers the reason behind the peculiar encounter, Heidi is mighty glad that the fox chose her garden to visit.

Excerpt

A movement in the garden caught Heidi’s attention immediately. She peered out into the dark, her hands still immersed in the washing up bowl as she tried to catch another glimpse of whatever was lurking in the darkness outside her kitchen window. She wasn’t frightened, merely curious. She lived so far out in the wilderness that it could only be an animal, and the last time she’d checked, they couldn’t open locked doors. So she was perfectly safe.

What made her nocturnal visitor so unusual was its proximity to the house. Animals were braver in the city, where they’d become used to humans. But out here, they were still timid and very wary of man. Heidi’s little cottage was practically screaming that it was occupied, with its smoking chimney and blazing lights and yet the creature – whatever it was – was almost outside the window. Heidi frowned. Something definitely wasn’t right.

Another flash of movement, and Heidi finally identified her visitor. The beautiful russet fur, big bushy tail with flecks of white – there was a fox in her garden.

Grinning, Heidi rushed to dry her hands on a tea towel and then moved across the room to flick off the light switch. She waited until her eyes became accustomed to the darkness, then made her way back to the window. She spied the fox immediately, crouched down beside the hedge surrounding her garden, as though it was hunting something. A life-long nature lover, Heidi smiled, truly appreciating the stunning beauty of the creature. But the longer Heidi watched the animal, the more confused she became.

The fox hadn’t moved for some time. If it was hunting, surely it would have pounced by now? A sinking feeling rolled through Heidi’s stomach. Perhaps it wasn’t stalking after all, but lying down because it was injured? She knew that out here, if the fox was hurt, it had been attacked by another predator, rather than had a run-in with a moving vehicle. After all, the only vehicle around these parts was hers, so unless her truck had gone all Christine, it certainly wasn’t that.

No, it had to be another animal. It was survival of the fittest, the food chain and all that. She knew how these things worked, but there was no way she could leave the poor creature suffering in her garden. Not if she could do something about it.

Heidi began to plan exactly what to do. She knew that if the fox was injured and couldn’t move, it could snap at her in self-defence, it having no idea that her intentions were good. She desperately wanted to help the vulnerable creature, but preferably without ending up needing stitches and a tetanus shot.

As Heidi gazed into the darkness, trying to work out a solution, she lost her mind. At least, that’s the conclusion she came to as her eyes relayed an image to her brain which couldn’t possibly be accurate.

http://lucyfelthouse.co.uk/published-works/the-cottage-in-the-woods/