Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Tuesday Teaser - Fangs and Fur



~Continued from Chapter Two


Alvin nodded weakly as he stared at the soda can, slowing turning it in his hands. “Yeah. Outside of you scaring several years off my life, I’m fine.” Alvin sipped more soda. “You, ah, alarmed me with how you acted at the door.” Now, that was an understatement if there ever was one.
Dylan sighed. “If I could kick my own ass, I would. I was pissed, yes. But that wasn’t aimed at you.”
Alvin tore his gaze away from his drink and glanced at Dylan. “I’d understand if you were.”
“And we will talk about that. But for right now, go pack enough clothes for a few days. We’re going to Alpha Hogan’s jamboree. The Shifter Council cleared it.”
“Is Hogan still Alpha there?”
“No.”
“Thank the goddess. I’m not going to lie. If I see him, I’m not sure I can control my cat. All I think about is killing him.” Alvin stood. His legs still felt like wet noodles, but other than that, he was pretty steady. Dylan hopped up too. Alvin walked back to his bedroom with Dylan hot on his heels.
“That’s not going to be a problem, trust me,” Dylan muttered from behind Alvin.
“If you say so. Just know I did warn you.” Alvin flipped on the light in his bedroom. “And fuck if I want to talk about that asshole anyway. Tell me about Bert, would you?”
Dylan leaned against the doorframe. “While you’re packing, I’ll explain.”
“Okay.” Alvin didn’t miss the gentle hint. He pulled a suitcase from his closet, tossed it on his bed, and opened it. “What’s going on?”
Dylan moved away from the doorframe and sat on the bed. “My information is still pretty sketchy. As you know, there was a complaint filed against Hogan. Two Council members, along with a couple of enforcers, were dispatched to speak to him.”
Alvin threw clothes in the suitcase, not really paying attention to what he grabbed. “And?”
“Not really sure how or why Enforcer Carrick stumbled across Bert, but he did. From what I can gather, council members were waiting to speak to Alpha Hogan, and Carrick apparently was having himself a little looksee around. Let’s just say he was highly disturbed at what he found. Shit got real, Hogan flipped the fuck out, and there was a fight.”
Alvin paused. He really didn’t give a fuck about Hogan. What he wanted to know was about Bert. “And Bert? Is… is he okay?”
“He was badly injured, and he needs you. He…. I’m sorry. They broke his leg.”
Alvin cringed as he tossed more clothes into the suitcase. “It was his kneecap, actually.” Alvin knew because he watched every soul-sucking, terrifying moment of them breaking it. And wept shamelessly… after he threw up.
Dylan frowned. “How do you… oh. That video. Right. I don’t want you reliving it, so moving along here. Hogan is dead.”
Alvin clutched the pair of jeans he held. “Good,” he said viciously. “I hope he died slowly. Painfully. Screaming in agony like Bert did. I fucking hope the pain he felt was half as bad as what he put my mate through.”
“I’m right there with you on that.” Dylan narrowed his eyes, studying Alvin.
Chills ran up Alvin’s back. “What?”
“There’s something else I need to tell you, and I need you to remain calm.”
Oh fuck, nothing ever good came from a sentence like that. Alvin dropped the jeans he held in the suitcase and braced himself. “What?”
“No easy way to say this, so here goes.” Dylan took a deep breath. “Bert shifted and ran off.”
Bert’s cat roared, the heartbreaking sound echoing across Bert’s mind. His skin prickled, and his muscles spasmed. Gasping, he swayed. Bert shifted? Before he received treatment? Oh goddess, if he had….
Dylan grabbed him. “Easy, easy. Don’t shift. I know your cat wants out, but now is not the time.”
He closed his eyes, fighting his cat. Want out? His cat didn’t just want out, he was demanding to be set free. The urge to shift and raced toward Hogan’s lands was almost more than he could fight off. Just how terrified and in pain had Bert been to do something like that?
“Alvin? Come on buddy, stay in control. Don’t do some stupid.”
Panting, Alvin rested his head against Dylan’s shoulder. Control. Yes, he had to remain in control. The goddess only knew he had done enough stupid stuff lately. He didn’t dare add to it. His cat screamed in anger, but Alvin managed to talk him down. The big cat was going to be needed soon enough, especially if they had to track Bert.
Gulping, Alvin opened his eyes and leaned back. “I’m okay. I’m under control.”
Dylan grasped Alvin by the shoulders and stared into Alvin’s eyes. “Are you sure?”
“I’m sure. My cat isn’t happy, but I made him understand he’s going to be needed soon enough.”
“Good. I’m sorry, Alvin.” Dylan squeezed Alvin’s shoulders then released him. “I know it seems like I’m throwing one bad thing after another at you, but this wasn’t something I wanted to tell you while we were on the road.”
“No, that would have been the worst idea ever.”
“Yeah, last thing I need is for a furious jaguar ripping the door off my vehicle.”
Alvin snorted, but it could’ve very well come down to that. Dylan was right in telling him now instead of in the vehicle. But shit, he couldn’t take one more bad thing.
“Are you ready? The sooner we get out of here—”
“The sooner I can get to Bert. Gotcha. Let me grab some stuff from the bathroom and—”
“Um, just a second.” Dylan stood and rested his hand on Alvin’s shoulder.
Oh sweet fuck, what now?
“We saw the video,” Dylan said.
Alvin swayed. How? It was sent to him.
“Hey! Hey, now. I’m not trying to mess you up by telling you that.”
“H-how?” Alvin wanted that damn video erased. He turned from Dylan and hunched into himself. No one should be allowed to see the pain and terror Bert endured.
“Enforcer Carrick found it.” Dylan ran his hand up and down Alvin’s back. “He wanted us to know… to know what Bert went through so we’d understand why you were driven to try and kidnap Cade.”
“That… that was private.” Alvin wanted to scream. Would the horror never fucking end? “Bert wouldn’t want anyone to see him so... so….” Broken. Shamed. Desperate. Hurting.
“He’s a brave man, Alvin. Don’t for a minute think we thought less of him because he broke under the pain. How could he not? He was a delta trying to defend himself against an Alpha and two betas. He didn’t stand a chance. I understand. We all do. I can honestly say if I’d been in your place, I don’t know what that would’ve driven me to do. We understand, Alvin.”
Alvin started shaking. Dylan reeled him in and hugged him tightly. “T-thank you,” Alvin croaked.
“We’ll get through this. That’s all the bad news, I promise. Now, go get whatever else you need, and let’s go.” Dylan stepped back. “I’ll be in the living area. Keep in mind it’s going to take us a of couple hours to get there.”

“Yeah. Okay. Yeah.” He ran a hand through his hair, desperately trying to calm himself again. Fucking never-ending nightmare. “I’ll be right back.” 


Friday, February 16, 2018

Finicky Friday - Slow-Cooker Garlic-Parmesan Chicken



Slow-Cooker Garlic-Parmesan Chicken







TOTAL TIME: 4:15
PREP: 0:
SERVES: 4



INGREDIENTS

4 tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 lb. bone-in chicken thighs

kosher salt

Freshly ground black pepper

1 lb. baby red potatoes, quartered

2 tbsp. butter

5 cloves Garlic, Chopped

2 tbsp. freshly chopped thyme

Freshly chopped parsley, for serving

2 tbsp. Freshly Chopped Parsley

2 tbsp. freshly grated Parmesan, plus more for serving



DIRECTIONS

In a large skillet over medium-high heat, heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add chicken, season with salt and pepper, and sear until golden, 3 to 4 minutes, then flip and sear 3 minutes more.

Meanwhile, in a 6-quart slow-cooker, toss potatoes with remaining 2 tablespoons oil, butter, garlic, parsley, thyme, and Parmesan and season generously with salt and pepper. Add chicken to slow cooker and toss gently, then cover and cook on high for 4 hours or low for 8 hours, until potatoes are tender and chicken is fully cooked. 

Garnish with Parmesan and parsley and serve.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Tuesday Teaser - Fangs and Fur



Okay, so the book is finished and being proofed. I'll be sending it to the editor in a few days. Sarah York is working on the cover too! Won't be long now!



Chapter Two
Alvin hurried home, shame dogging his every step. Several members smiled in his direction, but that wouldn’t last—not once word got out. He rushed up the steps to his cottage and let himself inside. Collapsing on the couch, he rubbed his hands over his face and heaved a deep breath.
What a fucking debacle, one that he brought all on himself. In retrospect, he wished he’d told his Alpha he was being blackmailed by Alpha Hogan. Leaning back, he stared at the ceiling, replaying Grady and Dylan’s words in his head.
“Dammit, man, you should’ve come to me. What have I done to make any of you think I wouldn’t back you?”
Dylan cleared his throat. “You’ve been pretty clear on the issue of mates.”
“In conjunction with me,” Grady snapped. “I made it clear what I wanted. I never said my feelings applied to anybody else! I sat right here not long ago and told you I’d asked Alpha Wayne for permission for my jamboree to visit his so my members could maybe find mates.”
“Yes, you told me. Did you tell the members?”
Alvin squeezed his eyes shut. The thing was, Grady hadn’t. Alvin honestly believed he wouldn’t receive help from Grady. And shame on him for thinking that of his Alpha. Never once had Grady failed his jamboree in any form. But the damn issues of mates—Grady had made it painfully clear he didn’t believe in love, that it was a fool’s pursuit.
If only he’d known Grady had changed his stance, then maybe… no. No excuses. Alvin was in the wrong. He’d committed an unpardonable sin by trying to kidnap Cade—the Alpha mate. That he hadn’t succeeded didn’t matter. He’d been desperate and would’ve done anything to stop the torture Bert was being put through. Even sacrifice honor.
And it was all for nothing. The Shifter Council showed up at Alpha Hogan’s jamboree investigating a complaint, took over, and now Grady couldn’t retrieve Alvin’s mate like he promised since the Council was involved.
A lone tear rolled down Alvin’s face. Was his mate okay? The driving need to know rode him hard. He should be there, be the one to comfort his mate. Instead he was stuck here being eaten alive with questions. Had Bert finally received the help he needed after being beaten so severely? Bert’s screams—Alvin shuddered. They’d haunt him for as long as he lived.
Maybe it was fitting he didn’t know Bert’s condition, even if it was killing him. He deserved so much worse. Grady had been well within his right to kill him. Or even banish him. Instead, all Grady did was strip Alvin of his title of delta. He’d gotten off easy. Or maybe he hadn’t. Their jamboree was a tight community that would probably turn on him. He’d become an outsider. Untrustworthy. Without honor. Deceitful.
And Bert. What was he going to do about his mate? Would Bert be accepted here? Fuck, would he be after word got out? Alvin knew beyond a shadow of a doubt he could never live in Bert’s jamboree.
Maybe it would be better for them to leave both jamborees, but the thought of going rogue was terrifying. He would lose his home, his business. True Jaguars might be solitary animals who preferred to live and hunt alone, but shifters were different. They needed social interaction and pack-like connection. Most did not do well alone.
But before he worried about where they would live, he had to first find out if Alpha Hogan would release Bert. Hell, was Hogan even still the Alpha? If Alvin ever got the chance, he’d kill Hogan, not only for what he did to his mate, but for forcing Alvin into a situation he couldn’t win.
There was so much still unknown and uncertain.
Restless, Alvin stood and wandered around his home. Should he call the Council and try to find out what was going on? Would they speak to him? Dylan was supposed to contact them, but Alvin couldn’t see Dylan getting in any rush.
Evening came and went, and he heard nothing. Giving up, he went to bed knowing he wouldn’t sleep well.
* * * *
Morning came, and yup, he’d slept like shit. Alvin stumbled into the kitchen and make himself a cup of coffee. The day stretched out in front of him endlessly. After he ate, he got another cup. Maybe he should check in with Grady, but the thought made him cringe.
Wandering the kitchen, he stopped by the windows, staring out at his garden at back. “I just need to know he’s—” Alvin jumped when someone started banging on his front door. “What now? And at this time of day. Dammit, it better not be someone here to give me shit.”
He deserved it, of course, but he was in no state of mind to deal with it. Bert occupied his every spare thought.
“Coming!” Alvin yelled to whoever was trying to beat his door down. He yanked it open, ready for anything. Or he thought he was. His mouth hit the ground when he saw who was his visitor. “Dylan? What—”
Dylan stood in the front door, frowning mightily. “Get your shit and let’s go.”
Alvin blinked in surprise, his heart pounding. Had Grady changed his mind about letting him stay? Was this it, then? “Go? Go where? Why? Did… did Grady…. Am I being kicked off the jamboree lands after all?”
“What?” Dylan reared back in surprise, wiping the frown off his face. “Oh shit, no! I didn’t mean… fuck. Sorry about that. No, Grady hasn’t changed his mind.”
“Um, okay….” Alvin scratched his head, still breathing hard from the fear Dylan’s words left behind. “Then why…. Where are we going?”
“Rhett Carrick called Grady. He’s an enforcer from the Shifter Council. He’s the one who found Bert, and we need to go. Bert is…. I’m sorry, Alvin. He’s—”
Coldness washed through Alvin. Oh fuck, oh fuck. Bert couldn’t be…. Surely he would’ve felt something if…. His stomach rolled ominously, and saliva flooded his mouth. Swinging away from the door, Alvin darted toward the half bath.
“Alvin!”
A rush of footsteps sounded behind him, but he ignored them as he skittered into the bathroom. He hunched over the commode, losing everything he’d eaten. Please, no. Please, no! His stomach cramped, his body shook, and tears flooded his eyes. This can’t be happening!
Dylan paused at the door. “Son of a… aw, dammit!”
Alvin gagged and then threw up again.
“Oh my fucking… I’m so sorry! Fuck me, I didn’t mean….” Dylan rested his hand on Alvin’s back. “Bert’s not dead or whatever the hell you’re thinking. Dammit, Alvin, are you listening to me?”
Bert wasn’t dead? Alvin gagged one last time as he fought his body’s horrifying response to what he thought Dylan had been telling him.
“I’m a fucking idiot. Major fucking idiot. Where are the….” Dylan cursed softly. “Oh, to hell with it.”
Alvin heard running water.
“Here!” Dylan stuck a wet cloth in front of Alvin’s face.
Shakily, he climbed to his feet and flushed the commode. Alvin barely glanced at what he held as he wiped his face. The coolness against his overheated skin helped settle his stomach, along with Dylan’s words. Trembling, he staggered to the sink and rinsed his mouth. Glancing in the mirror, he noticed the hand towel was gone. Alvin realized he was holding it.
“I couldn’t find any washcloths, so I just grabbed the first thing I saw.” Dylan backed out the bathroom. “Fuck man, I’m sorry. Do you want something to drink? Of course you do. Look, you sit down, and I’ll raid your kitchen. Be right back.” Dylan darted off.
Alvin left the bathroom and collapsed on the couch, leaning his head against the back. Scrubbing his hands across his face, he tried to stop his body from shaking so violently. Fucking hell. He’d honestly thought Dylan was going to tell him… yeah. Alvin’s life had tilted on its axis when he thought Bert was dead.
“Here you go.” Dylan stuck the open can of soda in front of Alvin. “Sip that.”
“Thank you.” Alvin sat up, took the can, and gratefully sipped.

Dylan collapsed next to Alvin. “Well, I guess if there’s any question of whether or not Bert is truly your mate, that answered it. I’m really sorry. Are you okay?”


Friday, February 2, 2018

Finicky Friday - Super Bowl Style

Warm Blue Cheese Dip with Garlic and Bacon
Even people that don't like blue cheese love this wonderful hot dip. It can be served with vegetables or French bread.





Prep 30 m
Cook 30 m
Ready In 1 h
1 h 14 servings 155 cals


Ingredients

7 slices bacon 

2 cloves garlic, peeled and minced

1 (8 ounce) package cream cheese, softened 

1/4 cup half-and-half 4 ounces blue cheese, crumbled 

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives 


Directions

Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Remove bacon from skillet, drain on paper towels and crumble.

Place garlic in hot bacon grease. Cook and stir until soft, about 1 minute. Remove from heat.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Place cream cheese and half-and-half in a medium bowl. Beat with an electric mixer until blended. Stir in bacon, garlic, blue cheese and chives. Transfer mixture to a medium baking dish.


Bake covered in the preheated oven 30 minutes, or until lightly browned.