Thursday, April 2, 2015
Desert Blood (The Wolves of Twin Moon Ranch Book 2) by Anna Lowe
Heather Luth knows nothing about the paranormal world until one awful night changes everything. Now she’s on the run―straight into the arms of forbidden love. Her mind knows better than to fall for Cody Hawthorne’s sunny smile and mesmerizing voice, but her heart―and destiny―have other ideas.
On the surface, Cody is warm, witty, and fun, but beneath his carefree facade, Heather sees a real man struggling to break free. Day by day, Heather and Cody grow closer and closer, unable to resist their simmering passion―while day by day, a serial murderer closes in on his prey. Duty fights desire; fear wrestles trust as the human world clashes with the paranormal in a tale of forbidden love.
There’s more than meets the eye on Twin Moon Ranch, home to a pack of shapeshifting wolves willing to battle for life and love.
Cody’s gaze flicked to the fireflies in the bush, and she swore his eyes danced in the same way. “We used to count them when we were little,” he chuckled. “Well, we tried.”
Heather tried it, just to silence the voice inside. One, two. Three. Four? Hard to tell, the way they disappeared from one place and reappeared in another. She noticed Cody slipping closer then noticed something else. That Cody was the only man who could do that without setting off a galloping fear. Ever since she’d been attacked, a man stepping into line at the grocery store behind her was enough to make her flinch. But Cody…the closer, the better.
Get away! Just keep him in your dreams. Nice dreams. Intimate dreams, where he’ll always be gentle and kind. Don’t let him close!
But he was close. Closer now. Power glinted off him like the sun off the ocean—power and something more. Not greed, not lust. Just…a yearning. That was it.
Heather searched for something, anything to say. “Guess I better go.” She spoke the words, but her limbs refused to move. Not when he stood so near.
“What’s the rush? Got a date?” With his fair hair backlit by party lights, he looked like the son of Apollo and not a mere mortal.
Heather shook her head. “No rush.” Definitely no date. But didn’t he have one—the dark-haired beauty? “You’re a good dancer,” she blurted as the image swung through her mind.
“Only with my sister. With anyone else, I’ve got two left feet.”
His sister? Heather’s mind pulled up the image of the woman. “That’s your sister?”
“My half sister, Tina.” Cody cracked a smile. “Doesn’t mean she’s only half bossy to her poor, innocent little brother.”
“Innocent?” Little? Sweet, sensual, yes. But not innocent. And nowhere near little.
The golden smile of a guilty man flashed. “Absolutely innocent.”
“Why do I doubt that?” she managed.
“I don’t know. Why?”
“Oh, just because.” Because I see the laughter in your eyes. Because of the way you hide behind your smile. Because that nick in your ear tells a different story.
She’d been watching him the past few days. At first, she fell for that happy-go-lucky cowboy persona. But every so often, she’d catch his mask slipping, as it had when he watched his brother dance. Underneath, Cody’s eyes flashed with fierce determination—to do what, she couldn’t tell. Then he’d catch himself and paste the smile back on. How often had she seen that in her students? Once a child assumed a role—class clown, science nerd, beauty queen, whatever—it was hard to let it go.
Cody. Little boy, lost and lonely, or grown man, tough and unassailable? He hadn’t quite found his balance between the two.
Right now, the mask was firmly in place. “I was a very good boy!” He winked. “If you leave out the time with the skunk and the glue on the chair...”
She knew the type exactly. And how hard it was to break out that self-imposed persona. She turned to the car. “I really should get moving.”
Heather shrugged. Not invited. She was an outsider here, just as she’d been everywhere else.
“What’s the hurry?”
“They said I shouldn’t stay after dark.”
His voice dropped, face earnest. “One dance before you go?”
She tilted her head at him. “I thought you had two left feet.”
A grin, small but sincere. She wanted to reach out and grab hold of him—the real Cody, now. “Let me prove it.” The way the words hit the air made Heather wonder what else he had to prove.
He put his hand out, and the gesture brought her to a different place, a different night. The night she nearly died. For a moment, all her muscles threatened to shut down. Heather swallowed the scream, blinking the panic away.
His eyes narrowed on hers, and she caught her breath. Unlike the eyes of that terrifying night, these were brown, tinged with gold. Safe eyes. “Everything okay?” His voice was soft, coaxing her back from the edge of a cliff. Heather nodded robotically. She could do this.
“I’m fine.” Right. Now she was the one wearing a mask.
Slowly, carefully, like a man handling a spooked filly, Cody led her to the small space between her front bumper and a hitching post. His hands were callused and strong. Comforting, even.
The spinster’s voice was back in Heather’s head. Not so close! But only her ears got the message; the rest of her was melting fast.
Cody stepped into a slow dance. Not too close, not too tight, just…nice. They fit together just right, her chin just over his shoulder, his arm around the curve of her waist.
Get away! Get home!
Home? Home felt like right here.
Heather promised herself she wouldn’t get carried away. She’d head home soon. She’d—
Snuggle her cheek against his? The salty scent of the sea was there, so crisp and fresh she knew it wasn’t just cologne. Music drifted past, maybe on the same magical ether that made her feet so light. Her head felt light, too. The man who had turned down all of those women wanted to dance with her.
Her skin was tingling. “You definitely don’t have two left feet,” she murmured. He kept his nose to her hair. God, that felt good.
Then he stopped dancing and his eyes were on her lips, and it was impossible to heed anything but the call to meet him halfway. He leaned in just as she rocked forward on her toes, holding her breath as they kissed.
It was a meltdown kiss, long and light. So perfect that she had to close her eyes to take it all in.
His lips were soft. Silky. Innocent. Maybe the man hadn’t been bullshitting her, after all.
About the Author
Anna Lowe loves putting the "hero" back into heroine and letting location ignite a passionate romance. She likes a heroine who is independent, intelligent, and imperfect — a woman who's doing just fine on her own. But give the heroine a good man (not to mention a chance to overcome her own inhibitions) and she'll never turn down the chance for adventure, nor shy away from danger.
Anna is a middle school teacher who divides her time between coastal Maine and a village in view of the Austrian Alps. She loves dogs, sports, and travel — and letting those inspire her fiction.
Once upon a time, she was a long-distance triathlete and soccer player. Nowadays, she finds her balance with yoga, writing, and family time with her husband and young children. On any given weekend, you might find her hiking in the mountains or hunched over her laptop, working on her latest story. Either way, the day will end with a chunk of dark chocolate and a good read.