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A HUNTER’S MOON
Winged Guardians Book Two
BY LEXIE CRAIG
Cherry Belmont is an investigative reporter with a nose for trouble. Normally, her ability to sniff out a story is a good thing, check the awards on her shelf. This time though, instead of hunting down a story, the story came to her in the form of her being kidnapped for reasons she’s yet to figure out. She found herself in a cage, locked down with other shifter women; it becomes clear they were taken more because of their animal than because of who they are as humans.
The who and the why concerning the string of missing women are anyone’s guess, and Cherry is just grateful she is able to escape. Her only concern is the unspoken vow she made to return and rescue the others. Too bad once she’s free, no one believes her. No one except for the one man who broke her heart into a dozen pieces just as many years ago; the man who Cherry swore she never wanted to see again.
Commander of the Royal Guard, Vasily Brețcu’s life was complicated, to put it mildly. He’s coming off a gunshot wound he and his owl had sustained while protecting the Prince of Therantia from an assassination attempt. But he plans to make full use of the light duty he’d been assigned to. Vasi has a mystery of his own to solve, was the King of Therantia killed on his watch? Then Cherry called and his whole life got turned upside down.
He would do anything at all for his wolverine and unwilling mate Cherry, including flying across the country to help her find the missing women. The mystery deepens however when both cases appear to be connected. Will Vasily and Cherry be able to overcome their quick decisions in their past to help them survive for a future together?
A HUNTER’S MOON
Winged Guardians Book Two
BY LEXIE CRAIG
Editorial Note: Edited for some language.
Maybe it was petulant, but she didn’t speak the whole way back to the cabin, including the brief stop at the closest liquor store to make up for the beer they didn’t buy earlier, and another stop at the grocery to retrieve her Jeep. Continuing her perfectly reasonable grumbling, she kicked off her boots at the door and threw herself onto the comfy couch to stare at the vaulted ceiling. They were so close and he just…pulled back. It was enraging, and to add insult to injury, he seemed perfectly content as he stowed the groceries away and cracked open a beer. Before her stewing could really get started, though, a wine glass appeared in front of her. She growled, making no attempts to hide her fangs, even as she accepted the delicate glassware from him.
“Consider it a peace offering.” He folded his long frame into the corner of the couch opposite her as she sat up. He’d ditched his coat in favor of a black t-shirt and a blue plaid flannel shirt with the sleeves rolled up to show off his forearms. Which were not sexy in their definition at all, she reminded herself.
“Which wouldn’t be necessary if we were out there actually pursuing our one good lead.” She pushed the baggy sleeves on her oversized sweater up to her elbows as she increased her comfiness and nestling.
His insouciant shoulder roll only served to raise her hackles further. “Perhaps.” Sharp silvery blue eyes pinned her down as he sipped his beer. “What happens when you get them?”
“The girls. You set them free, and then what?”
Cherry gave herself a couple swallows of wine to parse out what his real question was, though he wasn’t making much sense. “What do you mean, ‘and then what’? Expose these assholes, force this malignancy into the light of day. Take the festering rot and debride it.”
“Online. In the papers.” She nodded, unclear where he was headed with this line of questioning. “I see.” He drained his beer in a few swallows before setting the empty carcass on the table on a coaster she hadn’t noticed before, steel gray eyes pinning her down as he smoothed his bangs behind his ears. “Then why am I here?”
It was a question posed without rancor or malice. Hell, he was even smiling as he asked, like he had some grand secret to impart.
“You said no one believed you, but you know you don’t need their validation.”
The people who were supposed to protect them, save them from predators like these men, weren’t inclined, and so she would. With or without help at this point. “What I need, what those women need, is for them to do their jobs. That’s not too much to ask.” The full weight of the offense and rage she felt burbled beneath the words, still so fresh in her mind and heart.
The smile never left his lips, though in some imperceptible way, it was sharper now, harder than she ever remembered seeing it. “You don’t just want to expose the people in charge, though. You want retribution. You want someone to pay for what they’ve done.”
Hearing her innermost desire spoken so plainly rendered her mute but for blinking.
“I mean, it makes sense,” he continued with a conciliatory hand up, though she hadn’t moved or made a sound to argue the point. “I’m not mad. Believe me when I tell you that those who wronged you, who hurt you, they will suffer for it. I’ll make sure of it. But let’s be real here. High and mighty ideals of justice and whatever don’t really have a place here. This is vengeance, and vengeance requires planning. Haste leads to f**k-ups. F**k-ups lead to jail.”
He rose from the couch then, snagging his bottle as he made his way back to the kitchen. “Now, did you want me to make your pelmeni or did you want to do it yourself?”
The soft flickers of memory layered against the hard-edged man in front of her were a jarring juxtaposition but not unwelcome. Head full of ghosts, Cherry watched Vasily flit around the kitchen, handily sorting dinner, letting her mind wind its way around a long-ago memory of a tiny apartment with terrible wallpaper and Concrete Blonde playing on a small tape player on the windowsill above the sink. It was surprisingly easy to let her mind pick through these images, ones ruthlessly curated to keep from the light of day. Fragile, ephemeral, only now allowed out in the fresh air and only in the company of the one who shared them.
In her mind, he was still twenty-six, with short hair and a quick grin. A man of infinite gentleness and affection as well as honor and duty. Walking a tightrope of contradictions. There were shadows of that boy in the man in front of her, the one who moved with confidence and promise. It was becoming increasingly difficult to remember why she was pissed at him to begin with.
“I forgot you spoke Russian.” It was kind of a conversational ceasefire, if she squinted and maybe cocked her head to the side. She sidled up to the breakfast bar to watch him work, shamelessly ogling his broad shoulders and strong back beautifully displayed in the soft-looking flannel of a clearly well-loved shirt.
A quirked eyebrow, a smirk over his shoulder as he manipulated the frying pan at the stove with a dish towel thrown over his shoulder. “That’s what does it for you, huh?”
To be fair, everything about Vasily did it for her. From the soft, teasing lilt in his tone down to the lips she wanted to test drive again and bright blue eyes that missed nothing ever, from long hair to steel-toed boots and every perfectly sculpted t-shirt and denim-clad inch in between, he was her definition of Mr. Right. No one else could hope to compare.
“Eto khorosho znat’, moya vishnya vlyublena.”
“Which means…?” She crossed her arms as she eyed him skeptically.
“I’ll keep that in mind.” He winked and whipped the towel off his shoulder, plating up the food and setting it in front of her at the breakfast bar. “Sour cream?”
Alexis (Lexie) is an award-winning writer with a day job for the last twenty years servicing her community and its everyday heroes.
Born in Tucson her heart still remains there, but she lives, works, and writes in Indy. Her desire to see the whole country is almost complete (seven states left) and as much of the world as she can (7 countries down, 188 to go!
She collects fountain pens, perfume bottles,, rescue animals, and dirty curse words in as many languages as she can. Her list of hobbies is longer than her arms and legs combined (even though she is on the petite side so that isn’t hard) including knitting, crocheting, painting, graphic design, and learning to play the piano.
In addition to ‘writer’, her life has many roles including wife, dog mom, fun aunt, and ghost hunter.
Lexie’s goal is to cram as much living into one life as possible and write about it along the way.
Recipient of the 2020 Golden Quill Award for Paranormal Romance by Desert Rose RWA
Links to Lexie’s website, blog, books, etc.
**Special Giveaway** Lexie is giving away a signed copy of A HUNTER’S MOON and some cool author swag (a magnet, a very cool winged guardian enamel pin, and a bookmark) to one lucky reader who comments on her Karen’s Killer Book Bench blog. Happy Reading!
Thanks, Lexie, for sharing your book with us!
Don’t miss the chance to read this book!