It’s a dreary Sunday morning here. We had storms overnight and now the humidity ranks somewhere around 1000%. But I will take that over the triple digit temps parts of the country have been suffering the last few weeks. Of course, my temper this morning makes up for the lack of heat–thanks, Amazon, for proving yet again that your customer service isn’t what it used to be.
Specifically, I’ve been trying to get them to set the price for Nocturnal Origins to free since taking the book wide. No problem with the other storefronts doing so. But Amazon? Nope. They price match for the book for a day, maybe less, and then revert back to $0.99. In the grand scheme of things, that might not seem like much to worry about but from a writer’s perspective, it’s huge.
To start, it means I can’t take advantage of certain promo sites that will promote perma or temporarily free titles. Thanks, Amazon. For another, it means I am technically in violation of the ‘Zon’s terms of service because the book is listed for less on other sites. I’ve been going round and round with them and hoped this morning the situation would be settled when I got yet another email saying they’d lowered the price. Except, more than an hour and a half after receiving the email, I see the price is still not free. So here’s the thing. If you haven’t read Nocturnal Origins and are interested in doing so, you can pick it up for free on Kobo, BN, Apple and other sites. If you don’t mind paying 99 cents, go to Amazon. Here are the respective links:
That’s the grrrr from the post title. Here’s the “wut?”. Myrtle the Evil Muse hit me the last couple of days. Here’s just part of what I had to get down–part of just shy of 20k words. It doesn’t even qualify as a rough draft as there is very little dialog, mainly just flow of consciousness from the main character. And I am so not going to finish this anytime soon. There’s too much to write before this. But here’s the opening to Panther Dawn. I never post anything this rough, but I wanted you to see what I have to deal with when Myrtle decides to hit me with a story.
(Not that this is a new idea. She hit me with it several months ago. I thought I got her to shut up by making some notes and drafting a cover–which will have to change since I used elements of it for one of the Nocturnal Lives covers. Unfortunately for me, Myrtle wanted more of my attention and dropped this into my lap. I had to put it down in more detail or she wasn’t going to leave me alone.)
Certain things are drilled into you when you’re the daughter of a cop. That’s especially true when that cop is also one of the most well-known shapeshifters in the state, if not the country. Add to that the fact she is also a member of the Tribunal, the ruling body for paranormals in the United States and, well, you get the idea. Responsibility isn’t something you ignore, even if it comes in the form of a text message long before dawn on the first full day of a much delayed and even more needed vacation.
When that text message reads simply “9-1-1”, you don’t roll back over and go back to bed, not even if there is an exceedingly sexy man sleeping next to you.
What you do, at least if you’re me, is carefully climb out of bed and pad out of the room, ignoring the fact you’re naked. Only then can you give vent to your frustration before letting just a hint of fear creep in.
That frustration turned into a string of curses as another and then another text came in, all from different numbers and all with the same message: “9-1-1”.
Heart thudding in my chest, I moved through the beach house I’d rented. In the kitchen, I hit the on button for the coffee maker. Then, spotting Mike’s shirt tossed over the back of one of the kitchen chairs, I reached for it. Probably not the best thing to start returning calls in the buff, not when at least one of them would probably demand video.
I pulled up the first text and hit the call button. Then I waited, wondering what happened and praying it wasn’t as bad as my imagination feared.
Learning it wasn’t Aunt Jael but Chelsea on the other end did nothing to ease my now growing fears. Chelsea quickly apologized, saying she hadn’t realized what phone she had. All she knew was she needed to call me. She needed to warn me.
All thought of coffee or of going back to bed vanished when she answered. Someone attacked the pride meeting last night. We had people hurt, maybe dead. Not just shifters but humans and witches as well. Her mother was one of those injured. The doctors hadn’t said much yet, only that Jael was in surgery and would be there for some time. That didn’t sound promising.
Back in the bedroom, I started dragging clothes out of the closet and tossing them onto the bed. Mike grumbled in ill-temper and buried his head in the pillow. Then, as I promised Chelsea I’d get home just as quickly as I could, he rolled onto his back and opened his eyes. I was dialing the second number that texted me by the time he sat up, his expression worried. Before he could ask, I motioned for him to stay silent as my younger brother answered.
Relief filled me. At least Xander was all right. Hopefully, that meant he hadn’t been hurt. Unfortunately, he didn’t have much more to tell me. He was doing his best to get all the details. Yes, he contacted the Tribunal. Yes, he called our cousin Mateo. No, he didn’t know anything more. When was I coming home?
I was throwing clothes into my backpack when my phone beeped, signaling an incoming call. I glanced at the readout and fought back a sob of relief. Telling Xan I’d talk to him soon, I picked up the new call. Mom. God, I didn’t know until that moment how much I needed to hear her voice.
No, she hadn’t been at the meeting. She and Dad were still in Chicago meeting with the other members of the Tribunal. I said a silent prayer of thanks that this time the Tribunal met away from town. If they had been in Dallas, they would have been at the pride meeting. God, that would have been a disaster.
She and Dad were safe. So were Grandma and Gran. They were still in Spain, visiting some of Gran’s cousins there. Mom had already issued instructions for them to stay there until we knew what was going on. She planned on returning to Dallas as soon as she could but she needed to meet with the rest of the Tribunal and make sure no other members, no prides or pards, no packs or covens had been targeted.
But she wanted me back to Dallas now. No arguments, not that I planned on giving her any. I needed to see for myself that our friends and the members of our pride were safe. Then I asked about Aunt Pat. I’d been afraid to, not wanting to be the one to have to tell Mike something happened to his mother. Fortunately, Aunt Pat had been on-duty, unable to get away for the meeting because of a complicated case that was getting more than its fair share of media coverage.
When I promised to get on the first plane out I could, Mom told me not to bother booking a flight. She’d already arranged for one of the Tribunal’s jets to take us home. It would be waiting for Mike and me at the airport when we got there. I swallowed hard but didn’t say anything. How the fuck did she know Mike was here with me?
Who am I fooling? How the hell did she always know what was going on with me? That motherly sixth sense of hers had been the bane of my teenaged years and it looks like being an adult wasn’t going to change that.
I promised we’d be at the airport within the hour and started to ring off but she stopped me. When we arrived in Dallas, we’d be met by Lolo. She’d have a team with her. We were to do whatever they said and go where they said. Lolo would brief us on what happened and what they knew. But we were to take no chances.
Before I could argue, Dad came onto the line. There was a murmur of voices as he said something to Mom and I had a feeling he was telling her to give him a minute. When he finally said something, I knew how worried he was. His voice was soft, strained. This was the pride alpha who hadn’t been there to protect his family, those shifters and others who looked to him for leadership and so much more. This was the father worried about what sort of danger his children might be in or might be about to step into the middle of.
Understanding, wishing I could do something to ease his worry and guilt, I promised to touch base as soon as Mike and I reached Dallas. He told me to be careful and keep my eyes and ears open. The attack had been a complete surprise—and it had apparently circumvented the security at the ranch where pride meetings were held.
No wonder he was worried. I told him to take his own advice and be careful—and to keep an eye on Mom. We both knew her. She wouldn’t sit still and let whoever attacked our people get away with it. Especially not if any of them died. Hell, who was I kidding? If Aunt Jael was anything but all right by the time they arrived home, Mom would go on the warpath.
Not that I blamed her. I was pretty much ready to do the same thing.
Mom came back on the line. Now she was the cop, the Marine and the member of the Tribunal, not the worried mother—although that was there as well. I wasn’t to take any chances. Until she and Dad got back to Dallas, I was the ranking alpha—and thank God our pride was blessed (although I wasn’t sure I always thought that) with more than one alpha. Everyone, whether they were members of the pride, shifters who looked to us for friendship and protection, or the local witches who worked with us and formed part of our paranormal family, needed a steady hand leading the pride right now. I was to keep my head, do whatever I could to keep things in hand and listen to Pat and Lolo. They were in charge of security and they were the badges, I wasn’t.
Since I had no problem with that, I didn’t argue. Of course, the big problem was going to be Xander. I knew my little brother. He would want blood. Not that I blamed him. I pretty much wanted to go hunting—and not in my human form—for the bastards responsible for hurting our people.
Of course, even though I was more than willing to obey my mother’s orders, the third text I received might cause problems there. But I’m a smart girl. My parents raised me to be one. I knew there was a way to run interference where Brigadier General Mateo Santos, my mother’s cousin, was concerned. Tell her. From everything I’d gathered over the years—not to mention what I’d seen first-hand—she would happily try to pound him to sand if he tried pulling me back to duty. She loved him dearly, much like I loved Xander, and they still reverted to being overgrown kids from time to time.
And I was right. Mom had more than a few choice words when I told her I’d received a text from him. Of course he knew what happened. He might be stationed in DC, but the Tribunal had him on speed dial. His command dealt specifically with paranormals, both with how we can help the country and with keeping us protected. For years, Mom had been the Marine commander of the regiment assigned to the southern US. Mateo was her immediate commander with Gen. Gerald Flynn commanding the division. When Mom stepped down several years ago, Col. [name] took over her command. But Mateo was still the regimental commander and he never hesitated to call in family members, at least those who were Marines, whenever he felt the need.
And, like our mother, both Xander and I had signed up as soon as we were old enough. Also like her, we served our one hitch and then returned to civilian life. The one concession we made was that we agreed to stay in the Reserves. But because of the special regs concerning the division, we didn’t become weekend warriors, etc. Now, however, I had a feeling Mateo wanted me back in uniform and that wasn’t going to happen.
Which was basically what Mom said. I didn’t need to worry about talking to her cousin. She’d take care of him—and I had a pretty good idea what she meant. All I needed to do was get my ass on the charter flight asap. Mike was to go with me. And, yes, we’d be discussing him when she and dad got home. I rolled my eyes, not looking forward to that discussion either. But I once again assured her we’d be on the flight and would touch base with her once we landed in Dallas.
By the time I ended the call, Mike had finished packing for us. He’d heard enough to know it was bad and we needed to leave. When I assured him his mother was all right, he visibly relaxed. I understood. Until I talked with Xander face-to-face, I wasn’t going to relax. Telling Mike to shower and dress, I once again called my younger brother, wanting to know his take on what happened before we left the hotel.
Now I need to focus on one of the at least six books that I have on the planning board ahead of this one.