For Tristan and Ushna, nothing comes easy and with each passing day the challenges grow and the dangers multiply. The safe home they are building for their family and tribe is threatened from all sides, and the peace they seek is being torn apart by enemies and internal strife. Tristan dares not reveal his condition to any but those closest to him, all the while he’s plagued by dreams he cannot remember upon waking…
And over all of it hangs the knowledge that his time with Ushna is running out. Because Ushna already has a Flame awaiting rebirth, and though Tristan would die to protect that bond, he constantly struggles against his beast who demands they bind Ushna to their side.
I asked Lexi to talk with Tristan about what a typical day is like. She managed to track him down and share with us what she learned. Definitely worth a look! Read and enjoy!
“Hey everybody, Lexi Ander here. I’m trying to track down Tristan to see if he’ll share with us what his typical day is like.” Looking around the ranch’s yard, I tried to spot Tristan, but I kept getting sidetracked by all the huge Lycans. Tight jeans. Belt buckles. Wasn’t it a little hot out here?
“Ma’am, can I help you?”
I looked up into huge hazel eyes and obvious Latino features. I swallowed hard and he smiled as if he read my thoughts. I admit, they were naughty. Wait, I was on a mission. “Uhm, I’m looking for Tristan.”
He scowled at me. “You mean you’re looking for the Xenres.”
Yikes! “Yes, sorry, yes. I’m looking for Xenres Tristan. He’s expecting me.”
The warrior narrowed his eyes at me, and I gave him my most innocent lamb expression. He leaned forward and sniffed at me. Did I stink? All’s fair, I sniffed him, too. Oh, nice cologne.
He grunted. “Come this way.”
The warrior turned on his heel and walked toward one of the out buildings. It looked like a barn, and I wasn’t disappointed when we stepped inside. There were stalls on both the left and right of the long, wide walkway. The smell of hay was strong, and I sneezed twice. Neither of them were very lady like. Many of the horses gave me indignant looks before they ignored me.
Tristan had a mare tethered in the middle of the walkway. As he ran a brush over the glossy coat, he glanced up. I grinned and waved, laughing at his look of annoyance.
“Should I escort her off the property?”
Even as the warrior spoke, I pulled a bag of cheese puffs out of my tote, raising my eyebrows—waiting.
“You’re stooping to bribery now,” he groused, but grinned wide.
I gasped in mock shock and placed a hand over my heart. “Ouch, that hurt. That you would think such a thing—”
He snorted. “Bullshit. Give me my cheese puffs.” He waved the warrior away and I grinned in triumph. “I told you I didn’t want to give an interview.”
“It’s not an interview. You’re only supposed to give us an idea of what your day is like. Everyone’s curious. What does a Xenres do? Slay minotaurs? Chase down rogues?”
Tristan led the horse back into her stall and waved me over to bale of hay. I sat next to him and handed over the bag, which he tore open and immediately dug in. Soon orange cheese powder coated the bottom portion of his face and his fingertips. He was adorable, but I knew he hated it when someone said so. A thick band glinted on his right hand, the ring Gregori made so that outsiders couldn’t see his growing belly.
His eyes squinted at me as he chewed and swallowed. “Whatever you’re thinking, stop. Who wants to know what I do every day? It’s fucking boring.”
“There’s gotta be an upside,” I pressed.
“Sure there is, I don’t have to muck the stalls every morning.” He grinned at me when I wrinkled my nose. “Seriously, most of the day to day stuff for the ranch is overseen and handled by Randy. We still breed bulls and broncos for the rodeo, although I’ve had to build an alternate entrance where people can pick up their animals. I can’t have them come up to the ranch house anymore. There’s too much that I don’t want to explain.”
“Huh, I thought you’d give that up once, you know, you donned the mantle of king.”
Tristan shook his head. “Why should Ushna and I give up what we love just because something new comes along? This place is our home. We worked hard to learn how to run a ranch, and honestly, I love it here. I may not be able to work like I used to because I have more responsibilities, but when I need the respite, this place will always be here for me, for us.”
“Talking about your new responsibilities…”
He shrugged, his gaze moving toward the huge open door and the view of fence lines and tall grasses. “It’s harder and easier than I thought. So far, most of our time is eaten up by meetings. From how much we want to expand the ranch, to the poverty I see in some of the tribes. After I claim the Wolf Throne we need strategies for what will come next, but there are so many ways in which everything can tank. How do we plan for all of them?
“It’s funny. For the last several years, I’ve only been concerned with mine and Ushna’s wellbeing. Now I’m tasked with the welfare of hundreds of thousands of people. I worry the decisions I make will be wrong. The burden is heavy and without Ushna, and his quiet strength, I don’t know if I would’ve been able to handle everything this far without cracking a little bit. People are requesting to be a part of my tribe, and I wonder why. What is it about me or this place that draws them? Ushna says my strength, how I protect what I claim as mine is spreading by word of mouth. And it makes me wonder about the tribal alphas. Aren’t doing the same? I want my family safe. I want my people safe. Everything I do is with those two goals in mind.”
I bump his shoulder with mine.
“What? I told you it was boring. What did you think I would say? Did you really think I’d confess to how many times Ushna and I have hidden in the pantry to get a couple of minutes to ourselves? You pervert.”
Sputtering. “I said no such thing!”
“Ha! You forget I know you.” He gave me a playful shove.
“I just figured since you were the big bru-ha-ha now—”
I glared at him. “That you’d be kissing babies and making men tremble in their boots.” I gave a put upon sigh. “Now my picture of you is shattered. All you do is sit in a conference room and dream about cheese puffs.”
“And coffee. I definitely dream about coffee.”
“Tristan.” Ushna stood in the far doorway, Stetson pulled low over his eyes.
I glanced to Tristan. “Did you just whimper?”
He sneered at me. “Puppies whimper, I make delicious, sexy sounds.”
“Ugh! Who’s the pervert now?” He cackled and I pushed him towards Ushna. “Go get him Mr. Big Bad Wolf.”
He gave me a quick peck on the cheek before quickly crossing to Ushna who put a proprietary arm around him.
Well, that didn’t go as expected. I guess being a prince isn’t all about the glam and quests and battles. I think I would go stir crazy if I had to sit behind a conference room table or desk all day.
Thank you for stopping by Molly Lolly! I hope you enjoyed the impromptu interview. Good luck with the giveaway!
Ushna’s Lupe, the third form of half-man and half-wolf that all Lycan warriors used for battle, pushed forward as his need to protect took over. Short, fine, black hair burst through his skin under my hands as his chest and arms thickened, his face elongated, and his mouth filled with jagged teeth. Even with fingers tipped with razor-sharp claws, he was careful as he delicately held me in his protective arms. He growled loud and long in warning.
The light switched on, flooding the room with blinding white light. I heard Gregori in the background yelling in anger, followed by a hollow thumping noise, and wounded yells. I scented who’d invaded our bedroom before I gazed over Ushna’s shoulder.
Several weeks ago, Elder Koller had made a call to pull childhood friends of ours, Stanley Kendall and Jory Swaine, from California. The suggestion had been made after the Magi Triad had tried to kidnap both Gregori and Ushna, and the elder knew these two were men I trusted. We had been expecting them at any time, and I would’ve laughed at their antics if I wasn’t worried Ushna would eviscerate our friends.
Gregori, his red hair wild, clad only in blue sleep pants, had a fistful of Stan’s dark hair and a foot planted in the middle of his back, bowing Stan over backward. Gregori wielded a shoe like it was a Sumerian sword and beat Jory with it. Jory tried to defend himself against the onslaught of the shoe and fight off the two guards who were attempting to subdue him.
“You stupid idiots!” Gregori yelled at the top of his lungs. “You could’ve hurt him, you oversized oafs! What’s wrong with knocking?!”
Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.
“Ushna is going to eat you and I should let him! It would remind you to respect your alpha!”
Thwack. Thwack. Thwack.
“Senseless overgrown children!”
Half a dozen guards filed into the room, taking charge of Stan and Jory, relieving a bedraggled Gregori. Scowling furiously at our friends, Gregori gradually crawled onto the bed, talking soothingly to Ushna, who hadn’t stopped growling. I ran my hands down his fur-covered back to soothe him.
“Everything is okay, Ushna,” Gregori cooed.
I cupped my hands around his face, gazing into his ruby red eyes. “I’m okay,” I whispered to him. “Come back to me.”
He released the Lupe, and Ushna the man emerged, the harsh and horrific features melting away. His body shuddered, muscles clenched and convulsed as his control returned.
It’d been years since I’d seen our two friends. Where Stan was dark, Jory was light. Stanley Kendall had wavy dark brown hair that roughly covered his brow, but didn’t quite touch his collar. His eyes were so brown they were virtually black. He sported a couple days of growth on his chin and cheeks. The stubble looked good against his bronzed skin.
Jory Swaine, on the other hand, had short blond hair, was clean shaven with bright turquoise eyes and golden skin. Stan was broader through the chest with his athletic build while Jory was leaner. Both wore leathers; Jory’s pants where loose, hanging low on his hips and revealing the waistband of his boxers, while Stan looked like he was poured into his.
Ushna turned a furious gaze on Stan and Jory, who were standing in the farthest corner, appearing chastised and contrite. “What in the hell were you thinking!” He roared at them. Gregori and I made shushing noises, but Ushna continued to rumble.
“Ah… surprise?” Stan offered weakly, slightly confused.
“Ushna, it’s okay; they didn’t know,” I said.
Ushna snapped his human teeth at our friends. I swear if we’d been alone, I would’ve jumped and taken him right there.
“Xenres, are you injured?” Corey Bahar was the first to swear a blood oath to me. He’d been Captain until this unexpected growth of the tribe and now he was the newly appointed Arms Master of the Royal Guard. In private, he was most adamant in the use of my title, Xenres, which meant prince in our language. Corey didn’t take his sable gaze off Stan and Jory as he approached me. The man looked like he’d been up for hours with his braided blond hair gleaming, clothes pressed and tucked. Did he ever sleep?
Jory chortled at Corey’s words, which caused Gregori to throw a shoe and bean Jory in the head.
A string of curse words exploded from Jory. “Dammit, Gregori! What the hell was that for?” He rubbed the sore spot.
Gregori didn’t answer. Corey’s question was all it took to make Ushna start snarling again as he ran his hands over me, checking for obvious injury. Gregori rubbed small circles on Ushna’s back. I grabbed his hands and craned my head around to get him to look me in the eye, to see me.
“Hey, hey! I’m okay. I’m not hurt.” I kissed his hands.
“I want Nathan to look at you.” Ushna’s worried gaze continued to study me. Nathan Janick, my brother and the resident doctor, had meticulously cared for me during my pregnancy so far.
“All right.” I knew nothing less would appease him.
Stan watched our exchange. The longer he listened, the more confused he appeared. “What’s the big deal?” He crossed his arms, scowling hard. He and Jory had acted as they normally would around us, with carefree roughhousing.
I grabbed Ushna’s attention before he could bark back a reply. We’d purposely kept my pregnancy within my inner circle. I hadn’t left the Clearwater area, which was my territory. When I needed to go to town, I wore a ring Gregori had made for me, a ring of illusion that had hid my swollen stomach. I didn’t meet with outsiders without it.
We hadn’t told Stan and Jory. All communication had gone through Elder Janus Koller, who’d recruited them to work for the Elder Council in the Enforcement Division. Neither Ushna nor I had spoken to these two before now. Needless to say, we hadn’t anticipated their surprise.
“Master Corey,” I calmly said, “we’re all right. I’m sorry we woke you.” I needed privacy for the talk we were going to have with our old friends.
Corey gave a slight bow. The expression on his face let me know we would be revisiting the issue of posting guards outside the bedroom. I had been successful at convincing Corey that the small group of warriors staying in the house was enough security. We didn’t need someone standing on sentry duty in the hallway. To appease Corey, I had even agreed to allow an armed detail to shadow me around the ranch when I left the house. This stunt of Stan’s and Jory’s would make Cory feel vindicated in his original assessment. I would have to talk quick at the next security meeting to keep the arrangements the way they were now.
“It was no bother, Xenres.” Corey shot Jory a hard look when my friend snorted a laugh. He appeared to be gauging whether Jory was being disrespectful to me or making fun of him. “I won’t be far if you need me,” he said before closing the door behind him.
Jory tried to hide his smirk by rubbing a hand over his face. I knew what was coming before he opened his mouth. “Damn, Tristan. You’ve got people bowing and scraping to you. What’ve you been doing?”
Lexi has always been an avid reader, and at a young age started reading (secretly) her mother’s romances (the ones she was told not to touch). She was the only teenager she knew of who would be grounded from reading. Later, with a pencil and a note book, she wrote her own stories and shared them with friends because she loved to see their reactions. A Texas transplant, Lexi now kicks her boots up in the Midwest with her Yankee husband and her eighty-pound puppies named after vacuum cleaners.
Where To Buy:
Less Than Three Press: http://www.lessthanthreepress.com/books/index.php?main_page=product_bookx_info&cPath=116&products_id=876
27-Apr: Joyfully Jay, Emotion in Motion
28-Apr: Prism Book Alliance, Hearts on Fire
29-Apr: Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words, Love Bytes, Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My
30-Apr: The Novel Approach, Decadent Delights
1-May: BFD Book Blog, Divine Magazine
4-May: Molly Lolly, MM Good Book Reviews
5-May: My Fiction Nook, Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves
6-May: Inked Rainbow Reads, Chris McHart
7-May: Amanda C. Stone, Cate Ashwood
8-May: Boy Meets Boy Reviews, Rainbow Gold Reviews
a Rafflecopter giveaway