I thought I’d go back a bit, since we were talking about my Tales of the Were series a little while ago, and find the spot in Tales of the Were: ROCKY where we first meet Slade. I’m writing his book right now and hope to have it out shortly. Meanwhile, here’s a little excerpt to introduce you to him…
An Excerpt from Tales of the Were: ROCKY by Bianca D’Arc
(c) 2012 Bianca D’Arc. All Rights Reserved.
Rocky led the way, showing her paths she hadn’t really realized were there. They weren’t marked, but once she knew what to look for the pathways were a little easier to spot. The one he took her on first led from his house out a ways and down the side of the mountain a little.
“That’s the Lords’ house. Allie, Tim and Rafe live there,” Rocky pointed to a lovely building set in the woods farther down the trail.
A smaller trail branched off from the main one they were on, leading down into the Lords’ front yard, but Rocky didn’t take it. Instead, he led her onward toward a destination only he knew.
He stopped a few times to point out neighboring homes, but he stayed on the main trail that led around the side of the mountain and slightly downward. Finally, he took one of the smaller trails that branched off from the main and they entered a stunning forest glade. One minute they were in the cold sun, the next they were in a warm, shaded, almost magical spot that was filled with all the colors of green, from light to dark. Growing things defied the winter outside, prospering in this small, protected glade.
“Betina’s house is through there.” Rocky pointed to a small trail marked with bursts of color. On closer examination, Maggie realized they were red berries on holly bushes growing on either side of the trail.
“But what I wanted to show you is right through here.” Rocky lifted a trailing vine so Maggie could step under.
She stopped short. Beyond the sheltering vines, there was a pool of water fed by a trickling waterfall that sent cold water into what must have been a hot spring beneath. Steam rose from the pool, causing a mist to cover the ground. The warmth seemed to be held in by the surrounding greenery, which was much more lush than the winter world outside.
The warm steam that drifted out of the grotto made this protected spot comfortably warm in an otherwise cold, wintery world. For the moment, they’d left winter behind and found a pleasant space between seasons, beyond time. A space where they could be together in a stolen moment, away from their cares and worries.
“It’s like a little oasis of summer in the middle of a cold world,” Maggie whispered, feeling as if this place was sacred somehow.
“That’s a good description.” A new voice caused her to turn sharply. Rocky was right behind her, but the new man spoke from off to her left somewhere.
“Stop skulking, Slade. Come out and meet Maggie.” Rocky’s tone was friendly, even teasing, so she took her cue from him and relaxed a bit.
The man who stepped out of the leafy cover to their left was one of the most exotic beings she’d ever met. He was as tall as Rocky and just as muscular, though built on the leaner side. He looked sleeker somehow. And more deadly.
“Honey, this is Slade. He’s in charge of security on the mountain.”
“Pleased to meet you, ma’am.” Slade nodded and smiled slightly, but it didn’t help him look any less dangerous.
His black hair shone with health and vitality. His blue eyes seemed to dance in amusement when he realized she was struck speechless by his abrupt appearance.
“Don’t let him scare you, Mags. He’s on our side, thank the Goddess.”
“Oo-rah,” Slade commented quietly, and both men chuckled. “If there’s anything you need, you know where to find me, Rock.”
“Thanks, buddy. For now, I’m just giving Maggie the nickel tour. Tim and Rafe filled you in?”
“You know it,” was his cryptic answer. “We’re as ready as we can be.”
“Good. Thanks for helping with this.”
“It’s my honor.” The expression on Slade’s face went from humor to seriousness in the blink of an eye. He stepped forward and lifted Maggie’s hand. She’d apparently been struck dumb by the man’s presence. Why couldn’t she think of anything to say?
“Your cubs will be safe here, ma’am, if I have anything to say about it. They’re the future. Thank you for bringing them here.” Slade bowed over her hand and sniffed once, then kissed her knuckles lightly.
It was an odd gesture, but she figured it had to mean something among shifters. Maybe he was learning her scent for some reason? Maybe that would help him protect her babies? The idea intrigued her and she knew she’d have a bunch of questions for Rocky when they were alone again.
She nodded, still not speaking to the strange man. He confused her senses and made it hard to think of anything to say that wouldn’t sound rude. So she kept silent. He seemed amused again as he let go of her hand and turned to leave. Between one blink and
the next, he was gone.
What in the world was he?
Rocky was chuckling when she turned to look at him. She hit his shoulder.
He laughed even harder. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen you speechless before.”
“Well…” She didn’t know what to say to that. He was right. “There’s something odd about that guy.”
“You could say that.” Rocky’s chuckles subsided but the smile didn’t leave his face as he drew her into his arms. “Slade’s a tricky one. Ex-military, like a lot of our best warriors, but there’s something about him even spookier than most of the Special Ops guys.”
“You can say that again.”
“There are all kinds of rumors about his origins,” he went on conversationally, stroking her hair away from her face.
“What rumors?” She grew breathless as the look in his eyes mesmerized her.
“Do you really care?” He drew closer, lowering his head to tease her lips with his. “Slade isn’t the man for you.” He moved his mouth to her neck, making her shiver.
“I know.” She gasped as Rocky’s teeth teased the sensitive skin behind her ear.
“You are, Rock.”