What the Cat Dragged In
A Sanctuary Novel
Don’t people know that cats and dogs don’t mix?
Connor Ragbone finds things. Sometimes it’s gold, sometimes jewels, sometimes people. Set in his hippie ways, he never thought he’d find a pack, but with Sam and Gus and their goofy shifter family, he fits right in. Then he finds Brock.
Shifter Brock Herman is undercover alone, working to break up a poaching ring. The last thing he needs is for Connor to wreck his sting. And now the crazy bobcat just won’t go away!
The poachers lead Brock and Connor on a merry chase all over Western Colorado, looking for shifter bears, but it’s a lost pup who brings them back to Nevada and the pack Sam and Gus are building. That’s when Brock has to decide whether he still travels alone or if Connor and his crazy family are where his heart belongs.
This follow-up to Just Like Cats and Dogs is a feel-good shifter romance novel where cats and dogs prove they can be way more than the enemies nature has made them.
Brock sat in the low crotch of a tree, his night vision sharp enough to see and photograph what Joe was up to.
Supposedly bears had a hundred times the sense of smell that a wolf like him had. If that was true, no bear would ever be caught in one of Joe’s traps. The guy smelled like beer, BO, and piss. He was reckless, arrogant, and pretty stupid.
Still, the bastard was making money, so something had to be going his way, right? Brock was sound asleep in his little tent, as far as Joe was concerned, though, so he could keep an eye out, make sure no bears got trapped.
It was a guaranteed trip, supposedly, so Brock worried. What did this bastard have up his sleeve?
Brock started when something utterly unexpected caught his eye. What in Sam hell was that?
He blinked. There was a bizarre, kinda Rasta hippie-looking guy standing at the edge of the trees. Stocky but short. Long dreadlocks. He had a pair of binocs, and he was watching Joe.
Okay, this was problematic. Had Tom hired two investigators? Surely not. Brock was damned good at what he did, and he had a solid reputation for results. He slithered down out of the tree and circled the clearing, staying just inside the tree line.
He headed toward the guy, trying hard to not make a sound, his nose working overtime to pick up the man’s scent.
Brock frowned. Shifter? Really? What the ever-loving fuck? Thankfully, he was downwind.
Tom had to have hired backup. Had to have. Still, Brock worked solo. He didn’t need some silly interloper messing up his job….
Where the fuck did the guy go?
Brock turned in a full circle, opening up his wolf senses to find the guy. Shit and Shinola.
He was not insane. He knew this. So if Shifter Braids disappeared, then he either was fast or….
He lifted his chin, coming eye to eye with a smiling face halfway up the tree. The guy waved, mouthed, “Howdy.”
Are you shitting me? Brock stared, then motioned. He hoped the “get your ass down here” was plain.
To his utter shock, the guy shook his head, pointing deeper into the woods. Oh no. This was his job. He was not leaving it to some… amateur. Look at that hair. No one who was serious about poachers looked like that.
No one who was serious, full stop, looked like that.
Honestly, it was like a Forest Hippie Fairy Godfather. All the little fucker needed was a wand to wave to make the bad guys magically disappear.
Brock jerked his head toward the forest, then pointed to his chest and the other guy’s. Time for a confab.
He’d be goddamned if the bastard didn’t blow him a kiss.
From Riding the Circuit by Julia Talbot
Out June 7 2017 from Dreamspinner Press
Series: Riding Cowboy Flats Book 3
Rodeo cowboy Frost Barton spends most of his time on tour, and that’s the way he likes it. But when his dad dies suddenly, Frost returns to southern New Mexico to attend the funeral and help his mom decide what to do with their small family ranch. Frost is already considering retiring from bull riding and planting his itchy feet in the ground. Meeting horse trainer Matt Morales just adds another pull in that direction, though Frost still isn’t sure he’s ready to give up the circuit—even if Matt makes settling down look mighty tempting.
Matt is old enough to know better, but he falls for Frost anyway. They only have so much time to spend together before Frost goes back on tour, but Matt believes they might have something special. He keeps the home fires burning while Frost earns his living, but Matt hopes he can convince Frost to come home—to stay.
“Fucking rodeo cowboys. I hate those assholes. I don’t care how much goddamned money they make.” The old man spat on the ground, then turned a rheumy blue eye on Frost, who hunched his shoulders up around his ears.
He knew old Gus Lucero was talking about him. He was the only one at this funeral who rode the circuit full-time, and he was sure enough the only one who made any frickin’ money in this crowd.
“You figure he’ll go again after the funeral?” Gus’s companion asked. Junior Carran was a long, tall drink of water who still stood pretty upright for someone who had to be in his eighties.
“Yeah.” Gus warmed to his subject. “He’s rodeo trash. He don’t know no better. It’s an addiction.”
He wanted to snap “He’s right here,” but he didn’t bother. No one was changing Gus at this point in his life, and Frost knew better than to argue with that.
Frost Barton looked at the coffin on the stand next to the fresh grave. His father had been the same way. No telling that old man nothin’. Now no one was telling Frost’s pop anything anymore, and their last words had been angry.
He blinked, blocking out whatever the old men had to say. Nothing they could do could hurt him worse than knowing he would never have the chance to make up with his pop.
The preacher stopped droning on and on, finally inviting them all to come up and pay their final respects. His momma stepped up first, placing a small bottle of tequila on the casket. That made Frost smile because his pop had sure embraced his new native land when him and Momma had moved to New Mexico the year before Frost was born.
He stepped up next because he deserved the honor, even if no one but Momma believed it. Frost carried a tiny chile ristra, because Pop loved his ranchero sauce.
The nieces and nephews came next, all in from San Angelo. Pop’s sister Estelle had come to the funeral at the church but had skipped the graveside to go cook. She wanted to make a sheet cake, she said, and chicken spaghetti. Frost reckoned the locals would be horrified. They wouldn’t get it at all. Maybe she would make chili or King Ranch casserole too.
Maybe Frost would stop at Rudy’s and pick up some brisket. He heard they’d opened one now.
He stepped aside, craving a cigarette, knowing he couldn’t let himself have one. Thirty was old in the bull riding game, and he had a collapsed lung two years ago. Smoking was no longer an option.
Someone stepped up beside him, the smell of Old Spice making him glance up, thinking his pop was back from the dead.
“You look like you need a beer, buddy.”
The cowboy standing beside him was Tate, who was kinda halfway between him and his pop, age-wise. Maybe forty, he had a towhead and blue eyes and had been around as long as Frost could remember. He had a bitty ranch out in Jackass Flats, where Frost’s family’s place was out in Doña Ana.
“I could use one, for sure. You coming to the feed?”
“I am. I got—well, my friend Dave. Can he come?”
Something about Tate’s tone made him raise a brow. It reminded him of when Tucker Jones and Barnaby Rollins said they was just riding partners and good friends, not nothin’ gay.
“You got yourself a feller, Tate?” He’d been away more than he’d been home, but he thought he remembered his momma saying something about Tate getting a roommate years ago now. How had Frost never met the man?
“Yep.” Tate’s cheeks went pink, but he grinned. “I cain’t believe you’d never met him. We been shacked up since the year you went out on the circuit. You just ain’t been home.”
“You gonna start on that rodeo trash shit too?” He raised his other eyebrow so boh was up near his hairline.
“Nope.” Tate glanced back at Gus and Junior, a scowl crossing his face. “Busy old beavers.”
Hey y'all! My newest release is actually under my YA alter ego, Dakota Chase. It's a paranormal thriller, a rerelease of the first book in a new series (the second book, Hammer of the Witch is now under contract with Harmony Ink!) called Repeating History. If you like GLBT YA, magic, and time travel, then check it out!
Repeating History: Book One
Eye of Ra
by Dakota Chase
Buy link: https://www.dreamspinnerpress.com/books/the-eye-of-ra-by-dakota-chase-8337-b4
Both Aston and Grant have a talent for finding trouble—it’s what landed them at the Stanton School for Boys—but this time, their mischief might send them to a completely different world.
When they accidentally destroy their teacher’s priceless archaeological artifacts, he demands they replace them. And since the teacher in question is Merlin, refusing isn’t an option for the two boys. Thanks to Merlin’s magic, they’re about to become time travelers.
The first piece on their list is the Eye of Ra, a mystical amulet belonging to the young King Tut. Ancient Egypt is nothing like Aston and Grant expected, with its war, disease, and lack of modern technology. To survive, they must befriend King Tut and learn to trust him—and each other. In a primitive world, where death and danger wait around every corner, one thing is clear: revisiting history could cost someone their life.
THE SOUND of the gavel rolled through the courtroom like a thunderbolt as the judge called the court to order. I flinched and glanced up at the ceiling, half expecting to see black storm clouds boiling up under the recessed lighting.
I shifted uncomfortably in my seat. The courtroom was crowded with juvenile offenders, and it would be a good, long while before my name was called. I was at the far end of the alphabet, under the Ws, at least when going by last names. First names are another story, but hardly anybody lists people by first names.
Aston Walsh. That’s me.
I supposed I should’ve been used to it all by now. After all, I was a seasoned professional. It was my third trip before the Honorable James Fredrick of Eastman County, an old man who looked like somebody’s grandfather, and probably was, but who had a sneer perpetually plastered on his doughy face. Twice before I’d been arrested and charged with vandalism of school property, ending up in his courtroom. My third offense, taking a car that didn’t belong to me out for a ride, was a lot more serious than the previous two.
Spraying graffiti on the walls of Roosevelt High had seemed like a good idea at the time, but I’d been caught red-handed both times with the paint still wet on my fingers. I can’t even remember why I did it, aside from sheer boredom, but then I’d never really needed a good, solid reason to do anything, stupid or otherwise. I was always a sort of a spur-of-the-moment kind of guy.
My first offense got me a slap on the wrist and a warning from the judge. The second time earned me a summer doing community service by picking up trash five days a week in Danhart Lake Park. My court-appointed lawyer told me I was lucky to have gotten off so easily.
Lucky? Yeah, right. Being sentenced to nine weeks chiseling old chewing gum off park benches, picking up trash, and hosing smelly slime out of garbage cans was just as good as winning a trip to Disney World, right? Lucky, lucky me.
Still, I had to admit—at least to myself, since I’d rather cut off my right arm than admit any adult might be right where I was concerned, particularly a pasty-faced worm like my court-appointed lawyer—it could’ve been worse. I might have drawn a “Go directly to jail, do not pass Go, do not collect two hundred dollars” card. The judge could’ve sent me to juvenile hall, or worse, I could’ve been tried as an adult and sent to prison. Neither was somewhere that scored highly on my list of places I most wanted to visit, so in that regard, yeah, I was lucky.
You see, I have a thing about being confined. Claustrophobia is what they call it. Lock me in a small place where I’m unable to get out quickly, and I fall to pieces. Trust me, it isn’t pretty. My heart starts hammering, I break out into a cold sweat, and I start shaking. The experience usually ends with me puking up last week’s breakfast.
Told you it wasn’t pretty.
My father sat next to me on the wooden bench. He worked in construction, and it showed in his big, rough hands. They were scarred and callused, and the skin on the back of his neck was always sunburned. My dad was a big man, beefy, and looked ridiculously uncomfortable in his rumpled dress shirt and black tie. The only other times I could remember my dad wearing a tie was at my mother’s funeral, and when he married my stepmom. Neither was an occasion I liked to think about.
My dad wouldn’t look at me. He was staring straight at the wall at the front of the courtroom, and his expression was stony. Every so often, he muttered something under his breath that I couldn’t quite hear.
I had no problem imagining what he was saying, though.
“Thank God your mother didn’t live to see you now… a common criminal… what a disappointment.”
The words, real or imagined, cut through me like a knife. My father wasn’t talking about Alice, my stepmother. No, my dad was talking about my real mother. She’d died several years ago, when I was just ten years old, and nothing had been the same since, especially since my dad remarried.
I don’t like to think about my real mom if I can help it. It hurts too much.
Alice, dad’s second wife, refused to come to court at all, although I didn’t see that as a big loss. She rarely noticed me anyway, except to complain about something I’d done or hadn’t done. She just didn’t like me, never had, and the feeling was more than mutual. I didn’t miss having her there, but my real mom? That was another story.
My eyes began to burn, and I swallowed a lump in my throat. My stomach churned with the anger that always seemed to boil up when I thought about my mom. I really, really missed her, especially at times like these. I loved her more than I could say, and I hated her at the same time for leaving me.
Stupid, right? I mean, I know people can’t help dying. It happens to everybody sooner or later, but knowing it didn’t make a difference. I still blamed her and felt like she deserted me.
Thinking about my mom was painful and didn’t help my mood one bit. My hands curled into fists, squeezing until my nails bit sharply into my palms. Keep it up, Aston, and you’ll have a full-blown panic attack right here and now. The last thing I wanted to do in a courtroom full of possible cellmates was show them how frightened I was. I forced my attention to the others in the room with me, trying to distract myself from my screaming nerves.
Teenagers filled the benches around me, most sitting next to adults; some looked scared, others angry, and a few bored. I spotted two who were crying, and another who looked as if he were about to hurl.
A few kids appeared to have their own lawyers, like the dark-haired kid dressed in a sharp blue suit in the front row. Money talks, I thought snidely. I didn’t have a private lawyer. My attorney was representing fifty kids that day. He barely knew my name. I got the feeling I was just a case number to him, a paycheck, and that sucked because I was sure I wouldn’t get much in the way of a defense. Not that I had any—I’d done the deed, and once again, had been caught—but it would’ve been nice to have somebody who didn’t think I was a total loser.
I nervously chewed on my bottom lip and drummed my fingers against my thigh to a beat inside my head as I watched a kid represented by the same attorney as me sentenced to six months at the Havenwood Juvenile Detention Facility. I felt a cold shiver, wondering if I would be sitting next to him in the van heading to Havenwood that afternoon.
According to what I’d heard, Havenwood was a labor farm. Kids went in and got put to work hoeing fields and digging holes and stuff.
Six months’ hard labor for a first offense? The judge was in a foul mood today. His bushy white eyebrows knit together, looking like a single, white fuzzy caterpillar stretching across his forehead. As I watched, he remanded no less than ten kids into the custody of the state, all to Havenwood, and for crimes a lot less serious than mine.
That was the very moment that killed whatever hope I might’ve had. Things were going to be bad for me this time, and I might—just might—be seriously screwed.
Okay, definitely screwed, and big time.
Like it’d been with the graffiti, stealing the car had seemed like a good idea at the time, but looking back, I couldn’t figure out why. After all, I had no plans to keep it or sell it, only to drive it around for a while. It seemed ridiculous to me now, sitting in court waiting for my turn, that I’d risked my freedom for a fifteen-minute joyride in a shiny, black BMW.
Of course, I’d never considered the fact that I might be caught either. I never did.
Which is why this was my third trip before the Honorable James Frederick. Three strikes and you’re out, I thought, watching another boy step up before the judge. He was the dark-haired kid in the blue suit, the one who had his own lawyer.
Grant Reginald William Vaughn was the kid’s name. No wonder he has his own lawyer, I thought. If he can afford four names, he can afford his own attorney. That’s just perfect. Rich boy will get probation, and I’ll probably get the chair.
A man I assumed was his father sat next to him and his lawyer. The pretty young girl on his other side must’ve been his sister or girlfriend. She looked like she could’ve been a model—skinny, perfect, and blonde.
Didn’t it figure?
Vaughn didn’t get probation, but he also wasn’t sent to juvie either. He was found guilty of breaking and entering, and sentenced to a year at the Stanton School for Boys, a place I’d never heard of before.
Still has to beat going to juvie, I thought. I can smell my own bacon sizzling already. The last time I was in here, the judge said if he saw me in his courtroom one more time, I was done for. I’ll be wearing a freaking orange jumpsuit by dinnertime.
I blinked, startled to hear my own name, even though I’d been sitting there, anticipating it. It was my turn at the bench. In an instant, I forgot all about Grant Reginald William Vaughn with his four names, blue suit, and fancy lawyer, and was consumed by fear for my own future. Would I be going home tonight with my dad or riding in the white county van to juvenile hall? My feet dragged as I stood up and followed my dad to the head of the room, standing next to the balding, bored, court-appointed attorney.
“According to my records, this is your third arrest, young man. What do you have to say for yourself?” From across the bench, the judge glared at me with his diamond-hard blue eyes. He no longer looked like somebody’s grandfather. He looked like a man who could chew up and spit out a kid like me without thinking twice about it.
“I’m really sorry. I won’t do it again.” That sounded weak, even to me, but I actually meant it this time. Please God, get me out of this, and I swear I’ll never break the law again. I won’t even jaywalk. I’ll be a model citizen. I’ll obey traffic signals, and help little old ladies cross the street.
“Grand theft auto is a serious offense. You’re lucky you haven’t been charged as an adult. You’d be facing a possible sentence of up to ten years in the penitentiary. If it were in my power, I’d send you there anyway.”
I gulped, feeling a sharp stab of fear lace through me, icy cold. Penitentiary! That was serious business. I doubted I could survive juvie, never mind the pen. I felt the hot burn of tears at the back of my eyes. Don’t cry, don’t cry, I thought frantically, resisting the urge to swipe at my eyes and nose with my sleeve.
“However, you’ve been charged as a juvenile, and that limits my choices. I have several letters from your teachers attesting to your character, regardless of your lapse of common sense. Your grades are excellent, and despite your previous obsession with spray painting obscenities on school property, you’ve attended class regularly. Therefore, I’m sentencing you to one year at the Stanton School for Boys. It’s a private school outside of the city. You will report there at 8:00 a.m. Monday morning.”
He pointed his gavel at me, frowning. “Don’t think you’re getting off lightly, because you’re not. Stanton is barely one-step up from juvenile hall. The only difference is the uniform and the academic excellence. The school has been more than generous in contracting to take in boys who would otherwise end up in the penal system. I’m giving you one last chance. Screw up, find yourself standing in front of me again, and I assure you that your next address will be a cell in Havenwood Penitentiary.”
The judge banged the gavel again, sounding even more like thunder than before, but I actually felt relieved.
Stanton School for Boys. It was just another high school, sort of like a summer sleep-away camp, right? I could handle this.
How bad could it be?
My excerpt if from The Dom's Way. It's currently available for pre-order at Dreamspinner and it follows Neal and Way from The Closet Boy as they explore how BDSM might work for them.
As they learn what works best for them both, Way has trouble obeying some of the rules Neal imposes. Like the no touching himself rule. Neal wants Way to learn control, but Way, after so long holding back, has trouble not indulging. The two men must work together to find the balance that brings them each the most satisfaction and happiness.
Neal had spent the afternoon making love with Way. Now he was cooking a special supper while Way napped. He’d exhausted his boy.
Grinning, he flipped the steaks.
Way wanted to learn to be his sub. Way wanted to learn the lifestyle.
He wanted to howl with excitement.
How had he gotten so lucky?
He whistled softly as he moved the steaks into the oven. He was in love. His boy wanted to learn. It was totally time to do a little dance.
He heard Way shifting on the sofa, stretching out tall.
He filled a champagne glass with ginger ale and brought it out to Way, leaving it on the coffee table.
His boy was waking up, beginning to search for him, look for him. He loved that, how Way naturally turned to him, even in sleep.
Sitting on the edge of the couch, he watched Way’s face as sleep slowly chased itself off.
“Neal.” Way slid his hand over his leg, petting him. “Something smells amazing.”
“Steak. Fries. Broccoli.” Simple but yummy.
“Yum. Do you need help?”
“Nope. It’s all taken care of.” He took the champagne glass and offered it over. “Ginger ale.”
“Fancy!” Way smiled at him, obviously tickled. “Thank you.”
“I thought it would be nice to really dress things up. I feel like we’re celebrating.” The beginning of the rest of their lives. He’d known for a while that Way was it for him, but to know he wasn’t going to have to give up this side of himself, that Way was going to share it with him, was definitely cause for celebration.
“That’s neat. I’ve never celebrated naked.”
“No?” He tried to think of a time he’d done something like this. “I don’t think I have either, but I think we should consider it a regular thing.”
“Me too!” Way’s laughter rang out. “Do you have a glass too, so we can cheers together?”
He grabbed the other glass off the table and held it up. “Cheers to us.”
Neal took a sip, then wrapped one hand in Way’s heavy mass of dark hair, drawing his boy in for a kiss. It might have been fun to do it with actual champagne, but he wanted them to be sober as they began their journey together.
Groaning, he broke their lips apart and rubbed their noses together. “Did you have a good nap?”
“I did. I never nap, but you wore me out.”
He chuckled and petted Way’s chest. “I plan to wear you out a lot.”
Way pinked and blushed, head ducking.
He hugged his boy and had another sip. “So, did you want to talk about anything you’ve learned or are curious about?” Neal wanted Way and his innate curiosity to lead their relationship.
“I don’t know. I mean, I’ve seen lots.” Yes, Neal imagined so. The upper floors of the gym were devoted to physicality—sexual and otherwise.
“You have. You’re in a unique position, having access to seeing things like that. Plus you already have some friends in the lifestyle. I bet that gives you a good idea of what types of things turn you on, what you want to learn more of.”
Way looked worried, then shook his head. “I don’t know if I want to learn about those things yet.”
“We’re going to take it as slow as you need to. Don’t forget about your safeword. That’s one of the most important things.” And he wasn’t all-seeing, even if most Doms would like to pretend they were.
“Asparagus. I remember.”
“Yeah, I do too.” He grinned as the oven timer dinged. “That’s our dinner. I hope you’re hungry.” He got up and headed toward the kitchen, humming happily.
“I’ll get dressed real quick, okay?”
Neal turned back. “You don’t have to do that. And if you do get dressed, just put on jeans, okay? I like your sexy body and want to see as much of it as I can.”
If you have any questions you'd like us to answer, or a theme for us to riff off of, please let us know!
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smut fixes everything