This week my guest to share a first meeting excerpt is Margay Leah Justice sharing her paranormal romance Sloane Wolf.
Shiloh Beck grew up in a facility for gifted people only known as the Institute; she hasn’t been beyond its walls for several years and so is rather socially awkward. Then one day, out of the blue, her mentor, Jon Haines, takes her out in the middle of the night to go perform a task with him. That task brings her to Destiny Falls and her first order of business is to go into a little country store to get supplies for a hiking trip and attain a guide for the trip. Micah Sloane and his brother Cam were out in the yard when she arrived and slip in the back door of the store to spy on her, where they are joined by their younger brother, Grayson. Of course, when she mentions her need of a guide, they step up to the plate.
“Is there anything else I can help you with?”
Shiloh fidgeted with a miniature dream catcher on a rack beside the register. Here it was; the reason for her coming in here – the real reason. She had to find the right words; she couldn’t screw this up. Jon would be so mad if she messed this up. What did he tell her? What was she supposed to say?
“Uh, yeah,” she hedged as her mind went blank. Time to improvise. “My friend
and I – we were interested in hiking out here, but we, uh…”
“Need a guide” Raven provided.
“Yeah.” Shiloh smiled in relief when Raven found the words she couldn’t. What was wrong
with her? It was hiking – he’d promised. So why did it feel like she was doing something wrong? Shut it off, Shiloh, she cautioned herself as her special senses kicked in. Just shut it down now. “Do you have any? Guides, I mean.”
“Can I take her?” Ava asked, bouncing in place at the prospect.
“No!” four voices answered at once as three men emerged from an aisle to Shiloh’s left, their voices blending in protest with Raven‘s.
All coherent thoughts fled Shiloh’s mind when she glanced in the direction of the other voices – and her gaze collided with that of a man who was the perfect male counterpart to Raven. The main difference between them was his extra height – he had at least a foot on her – and the raw masculinity that rippled off him like a heat wave.
Did any man have the right to be so attractive? And why did he look at her like she was the main course at a gourmet restaurant – and he hadn’t eaten in days? The thought set her back a pace, literally. She bumped into a wooden barrel filled with super balls. As she reached out to grasp it, whether to balance it or herself she wasn’t certain, her gaze followed her action, snapping the strange link between them. Well, maybe not snapping, she mentally rectified. She continued to feel his magnetic pull, this time through her heart. So more like an interruption
. Who was
he? And why did he have this effect on her?
Was it exclusive to her or did he have this effect on the others? A glance at their faces provided the answer. They were all staring at her
of them. Each with varying degrees of expectancy on their faces. But of what
Good lord, what had she walked into
She returned her gaze to him
, even as she tried to mentally shake away her awareness of him. And failed. It was a living thing, writhing in an exotic dance between them, twisting about their bodies to link them with an invisible cord. It even had a heartbeat – or was it hers, its rhythm heightened by her elevated awareness?
Oh, lord, she felt sick. She clutched her stomach as if to press the sensation back into the deepest pits of her stomach. Not now, she thought, this can’t happen now. This is the worst time ever for those
senses to kick in. The absolute worst time. She didn’t want to feel
awareness. No. She wouldn’t. Period. Oh, no…
“Well, speak of the devil!” Raven said. A little too brightly, Shiloh thought, as if attempting to ease some tension. “These are my brothers. Micah in front, Cam to the right, and Grayson on the left, but everyone calls him Gray. Nobody knows the terrain around here like they do. You couldn’t ask for a better set of guides.”
Focusing her gaze on Raven – get it together, Shy, she cautioned herself – Shiloh asked, “Will I need all three?” Damn, was that wispy voice hers? Might as well shout to the world, I’m in lust with you!
She flinched, startled, when he
answered the question before his sister could. “We travel in packs here,” he said in a voice as musical as his sister’s. But where hers was akin to a low soprano, his was more like a baritone. Deep, but not overly so – enough to beat an answering rhythm in her soul like a drum. “It’s always better to travel in numbers out there. If anything happens, there’s more of us to help.”
“Oh.” She nodded her acquiescence. How could she argue, after all? She’d never gone hiking, so she didn’t know the rules. In fact, she still didn’t know what she was doing out here. She came because Jon insisted. He had yet to tell her why. She pushed away the sour sensation the thought boiled in her stomach. Jon had been acting real strange for the past four months. This was one more example of his erratic behavior. Leaving in the middle of the night, not telling anyone where they were going, not allowing her to call anyone once they were out on the road. Yeah, real strange.
“Okay with you?” he – Micah – asked, piercing her with a look that reached too deep into her soul.
No, not again
. I won’t allow you to invade my senses
. Shiloh let her eyes flutter shut for a moment. Just take a deep breath and relax. There, that’s it.
Composed, she opened her eyes and forced a smile onto uncooperative lips. “Ah, yeah. Sure. That makes sense.”
“Not much of a hiker, are you?” Raven asked in a sympathetic tone, drawing Shiloh’s attention away from her brother.
Reaching across the counter to give Shiloh’s hand a pat, Raven said, “Well, don’t you worry. My brothers’ll take good care of you. If they don’t, they’ll have to deal with me, and nobody wants that.”
With her first genuine smile since he
entered the room, Shiloh murmured, “Thank you, for everything.”
“Not a problem. I packed everything for you in the backpack as I rang it up, so you don’t have to worry about it.” Even as she spoke, Raven lifted the camping backpack over the counter, surprise flickering over her face when Micah took it from her before Shiloh could. She recovered quickly, saying, “Okay, have fun. And if you don’t
, you come back and tell me and I’ll take care of these bozos for you.”
Before Shiloh could do much more than smile, Micah held his hand out to her. To shake
. Good Lord, did she have to touch
him? You can do this, Shiloh
. She surreptitiously wiped her hand on her shirt before offering it to him. She had to rethink that assertion when the touch of his palm against hers near brought her to her knees. And although she recovered quickly, her folly didn’t escape his notice; it was there, in the flicker of something
in his eyes and in the extra pressure he applied to her hand despite the little blue spark that flared between them when their skin first touched. He knows
“My sister didn’t finish the introductions,” Micah said, still clasping her hand. “You are?”
With an odd half-smile – what was he thinking
, she wondered – he released her hand after giving it a quick squeeze. “Well, then, Shiloh Beck. Shall we go?” Gesturing toward the parking lot, he said, “Your friend looks a little anxious.”
END OF EXCERPT
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