I've been working on the next book in the Lycan Legacy series. This will be book four in the adventures of Luna and Mason. My tentative title is “Lycan Legacy – Princess”. You can see that I have an alliteration thing going on with the titles. My planned publication date is late July or early August.
I've learned so much from writing the books in this series. I love the first book, but I can now see some sections could have been improved. I'm bringing all of those lessons into this new book.
Once again, the book starts in the middle of the action and the rest of the story is explained in dialog and flashbacks.
Here's a sample for your pleasure. It's a rough draft of the first chapter. I say rough draft because I might make several changes to the book before publication. Enjoy!
The sand under my bare feet was burning hot, seeping through my calluses. Even though the sky was permanently overcast, here in the stadium it was hotter than the hottest summer.
Sweat oozed from my pores, wending between my breasts and dripping to the sand from my naked form. A stray drop entered my eye and caused a blink. I suppressed the urge to shift or use magic. Using either of those talents now would cause disaster.
Luna, what’s a nice werewolf girl like you doing in a stadium full of killer fairies?
I brushed the thought aside, thinking about that would only interfere with my reaction time.
I stood in the center of an array of wooden posts, each about six inches in diameter and pounded into the sand. Each post was slightly more than six-feet high, with the tops of the posts sawed off flat.
I moved around the posts, trying to get a view of my opponents. An audience of fairies filled the seats of the stadium, tittering at my evasive actions. From their higher vantage they could see my enemies. A curtain of air kept the audience section cool while overheating the stadium floor.
The array of posts appeared random, with no straight path to the edge of the stadium. No straight path for a woman, but there was enough clearance for an arrow. The burning sensation on my right shoulder blade gave me an instant’s warning and I spun away. The arrow thunked solidly into the post in front of me. The ceramic head of the arrow was deeply embedded into the wood.
I grabbed the shaft of the arrow and pulled it from the post. The force I used tilted the post. In moments, I had a weapon in my hand. The rules might state I couldn’t start the contest with any weapons, but there was no rule about picking up the crap they threw at me. I examined the arrow. The point was that stronger-than-steel ceramic they used here, supernaturally sharp. The shaft was made from the wood of a tree not found on earth, scented like cedar, but harder than oak. The feathers from an extinct bird. Well, extinct everywhere but here.
Two burning spots at once forced a drop to the burning sand. My descent was so quick that my ponytail fluttered in the air above me as I landed. Two arrows sliced through my ponytail, cutting tufts of hair. The fairies were using multiple archers.
I hated bastards who ruined my hair styling. I tossed the arrow away, it was useless without a bow unless I could get very close to my enemies.
A deep breath, and I was up and tugging on the post I had already loosened. In less than a second, I had a six foot long weapon in my right hand. I smiled at seeing the pointed end that had been pounded into the ground, and hefted it to my shoulder. It weighed about twenty pounds.
Much too heavy to be used as a spear. By a human.
I turned an ear to track the sounds of my opponents. Even over the sounds of the crowd I could hear their soft footfalls as they stalked outside the perimeter.
One step, two steps, and I heaved the post. It arced high, flying silently through the air. The thunk as it impaled the archer was followed by a short scream.
The sweet scent of fairy blood wafted through the stadium. The crowd was stunned into silence.
“Three-pointer!” I shouted, loudly enough for even the cheap seats to hear. The confusion on the audiences faces showed that they were not basketball fans.
I reached over to grab another post and felt the aim of three archers on my chest. “Next one to aim at me gets a three-pointer,” I growled. The points moved away, then the arrows flew past, far enough to miss but close enough that I could hear the whisper of their passage. Even without ESPN, they were learning about three-pointers.
A sharp command from Princess Ruby and the aim points moved back to my chest and back. I reached out and wrapped my hand around the nearest post.
Before I could pull the post out of the ground, the sand under my feet loosened up and I sank about six inches. I prepared to pull myself out using the pole in my hand only to find the sand had solidified like cement.
“Cheating bitch,” I muttered. She wasn't supposed to use magic during this contest.
I tugged on the pole and found out that all of the sand around me had solidified. Not only was I stuck, my weapons were locked into the ground.
“Ready,” intoned Ruby, followed by the sound of bows flexing. The bitch was making a show of this.
“Aim,” she said, and I felt the burning sensation of multiple arrows aimed at me.
Ruby had made a mistake. Instead of commanding the archers to fire immediately, she stretched out the tension. Never give a werewolf time to escape. Never give Luna time.
Being unable to shift my entire body didn’t mean I couldn’t do some tricks. With a thought my feet shifted to paws, leaving ample room to pull free. Tightening my grip on the pole, I pulled my body up into the air. Like a pole-vaulter, I soared above the field of pillars.
“Fire!” She shouted at my first movement, but it was too late for the archers to correct their aim. The arrows flashed through the space I had just occupied.
I somersaulted in the air and landed with one foot on a pole. This would not have worked before, but the cement trick had made the poles stable. Even so, the poles flexed with my movements. Years of gymnastics and werewolf strength made it possible to balance on the poles.
Standing in a crane pose, perfectly balanced on one foot, I looked across the stadium and targeted Princess Ruby.
I made a V with fore-and-middle fingers, pointed at my eyes and pointed at Ruby. “I’m coming for you, Princess Ruby.”
Her calm fairy princess visage crumbled for a second, then she composed herself. She gestured to her fighters and they raced to put themselves between me and their Princess.
I smiled a smile just a little too full of teeth, the smile that had cowed monsters.
Between me and Ruby were dozens of posts, followed by an open area. Then the twelve-foot high wall before the seating started.
Ruby’s men were racing toward the open area.
The pattern of the posts reminded me of something, something from my past. Then I had it. Soon after my change, my pack and I had played in the woods where loggers had recently completed their work. They had left hundreds of stumps randomly placed around the grove. We had improvised a game of hop-scotch that required leaping from one stump to the next in an attempt to cross the grove in the least time.
Even against full-grown werewolves, I had won. I hadn’t been as strong as the adults, but I was fast and agile.
The random placing of the posts helped me as I jumped from perch to perch. Instead of traveling in a straight line, my path was a high-speed zig-zag that made it impossible for the archers to get a lead on me.
Several of the arrows loosed in my direction ended up finding targets in the audience. The gratifying sound of screams washed over the stadium. I love it when an enemy shoots themselves.
As I neared the Royal box, the archers stopped shooting, fearful of hitting the Princesses.
I made it across the stadium in seconds and dropped to the sandy area in front of Ruby. I kept my back against a post, in case one of the bastards tried to shoot me in the back.
Only one of her men, her Champion, had made it in time to interpose himself between us.
He lifted a sword made of that weird ceramic, holding it like a sword fighting expert. He wore ceramic armor in Ruby’s color, scintillating red that glistened like blood.
“Yield or die!” he shouted.
“Funny,” I said, “I was going to say the same to you.”
He looked me up and down. I was naked, covered in sweat, with sand sticking to the sweat, and hair in disarray. He puffed up his chest, protected by magical armor, and swished his sword through the air, making a deadly sound.
He held up his free hand and the other men stopped approaching.
“You want the honor of fighting me yourself?” I asked. I reached behind me and wrapped my hand around the post. I set my feet shoulder-width apart. “You know I’m unarmed, right?”
“There’s no honor involved in putting down a cur,” shouted Ruby. “Armed or not, you will die.”
So this contest for dominance had changed mid-fight. Now I wasn’t fighting for dominance, but survival.
“Ooh,” I said in a low voice, “poor Princess Ruby. she misinformed you. Don’t you know that I’m never unarmed?”
With a deep breath, I pulled at the post with all of my human-form strength, hoping to break off the wood to give me something to counter his sword.
Instead, the concrete cracked around the pole, leaving a ten-pound ring of stone around the end of my post.
I hefted the pole to my shoulder, with both hands wrapped around the pole like a huge baseball bat. Pillar and concrete made a thirty-pound cudgel.
“Look,” I said. “I found my Louisville Slugger.”
“What the hell’s a Louisville Slugger?” asked the Champion. Those were his last words.
Faster than humanly possible, I raced toward my target. In less than a second, I was close enough to put him in my strike zone.
I swung for the bleachers, the post whistling through the air with the speed of my movement. Muscles in my back, arms, and torso tore at the effort involved. If this didn’t work, I would be in bad shape.
He was well trained, too well trained. Instead of trying to pierce me with his blade, his reflexes took over and he tried to parry the post.
It was like trying to stop a wrecking ball with a plastic knife. The sword shattered, sending shards in every direction. One shard sliced my cheek, just missing my eye. The wound healed in seconds, leaving only a drop of blood.
The wrecking-ball Louisville Slugger continued on, impacting his armor with the force of a semi-truck. Magical sigils flared to protect him from the force, flared and extinguished as they tried to absorb more energy than a jousting tournament. Still, most of the force was dissipated by his armor.
Most of the force.
What got through was more than sufficient for my purposes. My planted feet left two deep furrows in the sand as I was pushed backwards by the backlash.
His armor was magic, but the man inside was mush. Like a tomato can hit with a tank round, red spatters of gore splashed everywhere. Now I had fairy blood on top of my sweat and sand covered body. My hands were coated in gore.
The other men started toward me, intent on overpowering me with quantity now that quality had proved insufficient.
I looked the lead man in the eyes, brought a Champion coated finger to my mouth and licked off the blood. Damn, he tasted good.
I hefted the bat again and the fighters halted in a tumble. An archer brought his bow up, then froze at my glare.
I looked up at Ruby. Her face was red as a tomato and her lips trembled. Did she regret sending her Champion against an unstoppable killer? I thought fairy women considered men expendable. Could this pointy-eared bitch have real feelings?
Ruby was shaking her head involuntarily, still unwilling to submit.
The sand under my feet tingled with magic, she was trying to do something else. Cheating bitch. The momentary sympathy I had for her was washed away by anger.
The bat in my hands was too short for a pole vault, but it was all I had. I could have made the twelve-foot jump unassisted, but not with the weight of the bat in my hands.
Well, maybe I could make the jump with the bludgeon. It would be impressive as hell, but might reveal just how strong I was. With the trials ahead, I didn’t want to reveal all of my secrets yet.
So I improvised with the Louisville Slugger, racing toward the wall, pivoting and planting the pole and using it to jump over the wall.
I landed five feet in front of Ruby. No guards or Champions between us now.
Once again, I made the eyes-to-eyes gesture. “Just me and you, Ruby,” I said. The first time I hadn’t used her title in addressing her.
Fear flashed across her face, then resignation. She slid from her throne, ending up on her knees in front of me. The crowd of nearly a thousand fairies gasped in unison.
“I submit,” she whispered. “Give me your hand so that I may acknowledge your win.”
“I don’t think so,” I said. “I prefer the second option. I think there should be consequences for cheating.”
The scent of fear that wafted from her was sweeter than her Champion’s blood. “What’s the second option?” Her voice trembled with fear.
“Death,” I said, then waited a long moment. “Or.”
“Submission in the manner of werewolves.”
“On my back like a whipped dog? No, never!”
She looked at her mother, Princess Perla, beseeching her to intercede. The tiniest head shake dashed her hopes.
“Never it is,” I said as I stepped closer to Ruby.
The stone-cold fairy princess, who had sent hundreds of men to their deaths, crumbled. A tear leaked from her closed eyes.
She slumped to the floor in a feint, face-down. But her breathing pattern showed she was faking.
“I have no problem killing a lying, cheating, fake-feinting bitch,” I said.
Ruby jerked and spun over, presenting her throat, trembling with rage. I pressed my bare right foot to her throat, resisting the urge to stomp and end her.
“Say the words,” I crooned. “It’ll be over soon.”
Mouth pursed like she had just swallowed acid, she said, “I, Princess Ruby, acknowledge Luna, of Luna Pack as my alpha.”
Her body shook with tremors of hate and rage, tears leaked from her eyes.
I pulled my foot from her throat and held out my hand to help her up.
She took my hand and rose to her feet, eyes downcast, unable to meet my gaze.
I pulled her close and said, “Welcome to Luna Pack, Ruby. Now give your sister-in-law a hug.”