Today I am so pleased to welcome Eli Easton to Joyfully Jay. Eli has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, How To Save A Life (Howl At The Moon #4), which I reviewed here and loved. She has also brought along a tour wide giveaway. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Rav arrived at the pound just before noon, driving the Hold My Paw van. He shook off his instinctual anger about the place—it would serve no good purpose today—and checked his face in the rearview mirror. There were no stray pieces of bagel in the brown beard or crusties in his long lashes. He grunted with satisfaction and got out of the truck. His heavy black boots hit the parking lot’s asphalt with intent. He knew he looked like a badass, intimidating even, with his extensive ink, beard, and black leather biker vest emblazoned with “Devil’s Own” and flames on the back. And that was the way he fucking liked it. He approached the front door with swagger.
It wasn’t his first time at this rodeo, and the pound knew him well. The director, Ms. Markham, stayed in her office when he appeared, not wanting another run-in. But Edith, a young shelter worker, was more than happy to lead him back to the kennels. She was always glad to see dogs make it out of there.
“How many today, Rav? Six?”
“Yeah,” Rav agreed gruffly, even though he shouldn’t take that many.
“Looking for anything specific?”
“Same as always. Dogs not likely to be adopted. Ones whose time is nearly up.” The words were more for himself than Edith. He didn’t trust her to make those kind of judgment calls. Hell, he didn’t even trust himself, but he did the best he could.
“We have plenty of those,” Edith said, in a resigned voice.
Rav walked down the long aisle between the kennels, occasionally pointing at a cage. Each kennel door had a name and date on it—ninety days from when the dog first arrived at the pound. If the dog was still there by the time that date rolled around, it became the date of their euthanasia. It was hard not to take them all, to let sympathy make him stupid. But some dogs still had lots of time and were young and cute enough to stand a good chance of being adopted from the pound. As Rav pointed, Edith and another aide followed along and got out the dogs he’d selected, most of them seniors, mixed breeds, pits, black-furred, or not particularly cute. He looked for kill dates that were too close for comfort.
A dog caught his eye—grabbed him at first glance. Rav stopped at the cage and stared. The date on the cage was only two days away, which was surprising because the dog was gorgeous. He was a perfect chocolate Labrador retriever with a sweet face and eyes that were big, golden, and unusually sweet and intelligent. This dog should have been adopted out right away. Everyone wanted retrievers and labs.
But the dog shrank back from Rav. He sat at the back of the cage, looking at the corner.
“What’s his story?” Rav asked as Edith came up with three selected dogs on leash.
“Oh, that’s Sammy. So sad. He has behavioral issues. He’s a sweetheart, but he’s terrified of men.”
As if proving her point, Sammy dared a sideways glance at Rav. His eyes pleaded—wanting, desperation, and fear in equal measure.
Rav squatted down onto his haunches, the silver chain on his belt chinking. He took off his sunglasses and looked at the dog, his gaze soft. The dog faced the corner but couldn’t help turning his head to sneak looks at Rav. And then, as if steeling himself, the dog got up and took a step closer. It was just one, but for all the tension in his body, it might have been a million miles. He sat again, facing Rav this time, and held his gaze, trembling.
Fuck. Those eyes took Rav’s breath away. There was so much wisdom in them. Knowing. Anguish. The dog knew he was about to be put down. Rav was sure of it. He was trying to interact, to ask for help, even though he was frightened. This dog had guts.
The internal armor Rav had put on before entering the clinic vanished from one heartbeat to the next. Dear God. He’d only seen eyes that haunting once before….
Memories of a black-and-white huskie came to mind. Jason. That whole episode last summer had been so strange. Four guys showed up at Hold My Paw looking for dogs who had a virus. One of the men had been a hunky but tight-assed doctor named Jason… Dr. Jason Kunik, Rav recalled. He sure as shit would never forget that visit. Jason had coal black hair and ice blue eyes. Then the next day, two of the other guys had shown up again with a husky named Jason—a husky with coal black hair and ice blue eyes who’d tried to communicate with them, insisting they take the Jeep out. He led them to Rav’s missing shelter dogs in the middle of the desert.
Jason had behaved like no dog Rav had ever seen. And for a while there, Rav had actually thought….
Well. It had been completely whack-a-doodle, that was all. Crazytown time. The equivalent of the Last Supper appearing on a piece of toast. Rav had put those ideas out of his mind, because that way lay madness. But there was something in Sammy’s golden eyes…. They were as… as human as the husky’s eyes had been.
A chill ran down Rav’s spine. He stood up slowly.
“That one.” He pointed to Sammy.
“He won’t like you,” Edith warned.
Rav snorted. “Neither does my family, but no one’s putting them down. Get him out of that fucking cage.”
Rav Miller looked into the terrified, intelligent eyes of the chocolate Labrador on death row, and knew he’d do anything to save him. When the dog, Sammy, escapes and heads to Mad Creek, Rav follows. Mad Creek. The town had become legendary in Rav’s mind after he’d meet that bizarre group last year. Rav dismissed his crazy suspicions back then, but when he arrives in Mad Creek he knows it’s true. Dog shifters exist, and apparently they all live in the California mountains. Holy mother of God. It’s enough to blow a bad boy’s mind.
Sammy has something in common with Rav—neither one of them trusts people. After Sammy’s abuse as a dog, he particularly dislikes tough-looking men like Rav. But when Sammy gets a chance to work with rescued dogs, his deep compulsion to help others overcomes his fear. Rav and Sammy bond over saving strays. If they can each find the courage to let someone else in, they might even find their way to love.
Sheriff Lance Beaufort doesn’t like humans moving into Mad Creek, especially not the tattoo’d and defiant Rav. When Rav starts a shelter for rescued dogs, the town thinks he’s wonderful! But Lance isn’t fooled. He doesn’t buy Rav’s innocent act for one second. How much does Rav know about the quickened? What is his game? And why did he have to show up now, when Lance and the other town leaders are overwhelmed by all the new quickened pouring in?
Rav knows how to save a life. But can he save an entire town? Can he rescue Mad Creek?
Eli Easton has been at various times and under different names a minister’s daughter, a computer programmer, a game designer, the author of paranormal mysteries, a fan fiction writer, an organic farmer, and a long-distance walker. She began writing m/m romance in 2013 and has published 27 books since then. She hopes to write many more.
As an avid reader of such, she is tickled pink when an author manages to combine literary merit, vast stores of humor, melting hotness, and eye-dabbing sweetness into one story. She promises to strive to achieve most of that most of the time. She currently lives on a farm in Pennsylvania with her husband, two bulldogs, several cows, and a cat. All of them (except for the husband) are female, hence explaining the naked men that have taken up residence in her latest fiction writing.
Eli has brought a tour wide giveaway. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
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