Bear Naked 3: The Hunted is almost here, but there’s still time to pre-order and get the first two books free!
This week’s sneak peek includes a new character.
Set up: Uncle Darren is missing in Idaho, in Skinwalker territory. Connor’s Uncle Mitch is hurt. Connor and Amanda went with Connor’s dad to get him back and see if they can figure out what’s happened. The rest of the pack defies orders from the adults to join them. They have just arrived in Blackfoot, Idaho
This chapter is from Brianna’s point of view.
Brianna followed Amanda out of the parking lot. It was cold, and she pulled her coat closer. She felt . . . she paused, not sure what she felt or how to describe it. Maybe there wasn’t a human word for it. Her pack was part of her, part of her in a way you couldn’t describe to someone who wasn’t part of a pack. Her alphas, Connor and Amanda, were the center of the pack. To be apart from them had left her feeling like part of herself had gone missing. Now it was back, walking next to her.
That was the good part. Getting out of the station wagon after over twenty hours on the road was another good part. She had slept fitfully, curled up on Jonathan’s shoulder, but the drive had been long and wearing.
Aaron’s reaction, that was the not so good part. What had they expected? However sound their reasoning, they had defied pack order and defied his wife, Karen. Had they really expected him to be glad to see them? Even in her mind, she shrank from his disapproving stare.
Connor kept giving them guilty glances, like he wanted to stand up to his dad on their behalf, but he couldn’t. He hadn’t been the one to defy Aaron.
Aaron secured a second motel room for them. He lectured them as he did so. They weren’t rich, and they could never afford to forget about human responsibilities. He complained that the cost of housing and feeding them would stretch the household budget.
Amanda responded by telling him that she knew how to eat cheap on the road. She would use her money, money from Darren, to get groceries. They had already eaten more from restaurants than they should have.
Brianna, wanting to get out from under Aaron’s dark mood, agreed to go along with Amanda to do the shopping. Jay and Corey followed after them. Amanda found Darren’s emergency stash of cash in the pickup and took a couple of twenties before leading them on foot to a nearby grocery store.
“What about the Skinwalkers?” Connor asked from the doorway.
“I told you, the elder gave me leave,” Amanda answered sharply. “See that the pack gets settled. We’ll be back.”
He gave her a long, hard look before nodding. “Take care,” he said and turned back inside.
They walked to the first main crossroad from the motel and turned right. The grocery store was a small one, about four blocks down. The wind was bracing, but none of the others seemed bothered by the cold. The sun shone bright against the white snow.
Jay began to sing softly, a folk song about the land of the midnight sun. Corey knew it too and joined in on the chorus. The song fit the weather perfectly.
As they approached the grocery store, a group of young men dashed around the edge of the store, chasing a young woman. They shouted obscenities as they went. Brianna saw Amanda stiffen and then heard her mutter, “Oh, no.”
Amanda bolted toward the men. Brianna followed hard on her heels, feeling savage and proud. You didn’t chase or threaten people around her alpha.
They had the girl cornered by a dumpster when Brianna rounded the corner. She pulled up short, staring at the girl. She had pure-white hair. It was maybe six inches long, teased out from her head like a giant puffball. She was wearing a faded demin jacket, a short skirt, and tights. Her face and arms were white, not racial white, but brilliant white. She had one hand over her eyes and the other outstretched in front of her.
“Give ’em back. I need them,” she whined at the men.
There were a half dozen young men, boys really, ringing her in. They were white, dressed in winter coats and blue jeans. The leader, a burly-looking boy with a fat face, held a pair of sunglasses out. “What, these?” he said. He dropped the glasses. He waited until the girl leaned over and reached for them, then he stepped on them.
“Hey!” she protested.
“We’ve warned you,” one of the other boys spat out. “How many times have we warned you? If we ever caught you away from your little gang of friends, we’d teach you a real lesson. Guess what? That day has come.”
“Fuck off and leave her alone,” Amanda yelled. The boys startled and turned toward her.
“What did you just say?” the fat boy asked.
“You heard me,” Amanda snarled. “Leave the poor girl alone.”
The boy laughed, a crude sound. “That’s not a girl. He just wants to be a girl.”
“One of them,” another boy said, waving his arms and hips in a poor imitation of a woman’s walk.
“Shut up,” Jay snapped. “Why you gotta be like that, huh? What’s it to you if someone’s a little different?”
“Are you one too?” the boy sneered. “Or are you just a plain ole fag?”
Jay’s eyes narrowed, and he stepped nose to nose with the boy. “Go ahead. Say that again, I dare you.”
The fat boy, who appeared to the gang’s leader, spoke again. “Come on, there are six of us and three of you. Two girls and fag. Just move on. This don’t concern you anyway.”
Three? Where had Corey gotten off too? Brianna shook it off, she didn’t have time to look and she trusted Corey could take care of himself.
Amanda got right up in his face. “I can take all six of you. If you doubt it, try me. So why don’t you move along?”
Brianna’s eyes darted back and forth, trying to take in all six boys. Who should she rush to protect, Amanda or Jay? They could both hold their own, especially against humans. Then she caught one of the boys staring at her, his eyes filled with equal parts hatred and lust. I’ll go for him, she thought, make him think twice before looking at woman like that again.
“Please, I don’t want any trouble,” the girl said again. Brianna shifted her weight.
I’ll go for her, get by her side, and make sure none of them come at her. She’s the one we are here to protect.
She heard the sound of running feet. Moments later, it was loud enough for the boys to hear as well. Their eyes darted passed the three in front of them. Brianna spared a single glance behind her. Jonathan was first, as always, and booking. Corey, who had ran to get them wasn’t far behind with Tanner, Erica, and Connor hard on his heels.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck,” the fat boy was saying.
“Is there a problem?” Connor demanded as he came to halt at Amanda’s side.
“They had this poor girl cornered,” Amanda said.
“That’s not a girl, it’s a boy,” one of the boys put in, obviously thinking it would turn the tide for them.
“So?” Erica snapped. “We don’t hate on anyone, except bullies. You trying to bully her?”
“Yeah, being transgender is hard enough, without dipshits like you getting all up in her grill,” Tanner said.
“I think you should leave,” Connor said. “And in the future, I think you should leave her the fuck alone. Okay?”
The boys bolted and ran. “Cowards!” Tanner shouted at their retreating backs.
“Hey, are you okay?” Erica asked, sidling up to the girl, who had her hand over her eyes.
“Yeah, thanks, I’m okay. It’s just, they broke my glasses, and it’s really bright today, you know.”
Erica ducked down and glanced under the girl’s hand. “You’re albino?”
“Yeah, my eyes, they don’t got pigment. Light is hard on them. I really need sunglasses, especially days like today.”
Brianna thought a moment and then dug in her coat pocket. She came out with a pair of Ray-Bans and handed them to Erica.
“Here,” Erica said, holding out the glasses.
“You don’t have to. Grandma’s probably got a pair at home; I just got to get there.”
“It’s okay,” Erica insisted. “Take them.”
The girl took them but didn’t put them on. “I don’t have any money on me.”
“It’s okay,” Brianna said. “It’s a gift.”
“These are Ray-Bans; they’re expensive.”
“Don’t worry,” Erica said, “I’ll buy her a new pair. I promise. You take those.”
“She will,” Brianna joked, “I’ll make her.” Tanner chuckled.
“I’ll . . . I’ll pay you back, somehow, I promise.”
Erica waved a hand dismissively. “You don’t need to.”
“I will,” the girl insisted.
The sound of running feet snapped everyone to attention again. A group of four Native American youths came running around the corner. There were three boys and a girl. The girl and one of the boys were tall and lean, the other two were shorter, broad and stocky. Despite the cold, they wore jeans, t-shirts, and light jackets. They pulled up short, looking at them.
“Is there a problem?” the tallest of the boys demanded. He glanced at the white-haired girl. “Are you okay, Jazzy? Grandma Lightfoot called.” Brianna followed his glance to a rundown house across the street. A curtain rustled, and Brianna thought she saw an old woman’s face retreating away from the window.
“No, Tyee,” Jazzy said, “it wasn’t them. It was Jason and his crew. These guys chased them off.”
Tyee looked them over uncertainly. A breeze swirled between the two groups, and everyone’s eyes went wide, scent filling each nostril.
“Wolves,” Tyee and Connor said together.
“Leidulf,” Connor supplied.
“The injured one,” Tyee said.
“My uncle,” Connor confirmed. “This is my pack.”
Tyee stared at them a moment more, then nodded. “Okay.” He stood straight, relaxing. “I’m Tyee, and this my pack.” He quickly introduced the others. Connor did the same for his pack.
“Thank you for protecting my omega,” Tyee said after a short pause. “Jazzy, come on. Let’s get you home. Grandma will be worried.”
Jazzy had slid the Ray-Bans over her eyes and gave them a nod. “Thanks,” she said. She tapped the glasses and looked at Erica, “I will repay you somehow. I promise.”