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 Run with the Wolves (and you can check out my review here). She has also brought along a great tour wide giveaway. Please join me in giving Eli a big welcome!
CHAPTER 20 excerpt
He washed down the cake with a sip of coffee and sighed. He put down the cup and looked out the window. It was hard enough to confess without meeting Lance’s gaze too. “Um. You know how I never wanted someone as a mate. Well. I sort of do now. A lot. Only there’s no chance we can be together. So I feel…” He made a circling gesture in front of his chest and stomach, trying to make Lance understand the turmoil. “And here.” He patted his chest. “It aches.”
He put his elbows on the table and his head in his hands. “It sucks to want someone you can’t have. I don’t like it.”
Lance leaned forward to rub Zeus’s forearm. “Aw, buddy. That does suck.”
Zeus nodded. Talking about it made all the bad feelings surge up inside him. But Lance’s sympathy felt kind of nice. Zeus heaved a shuddering breath.
“So what makes you think it’s so bleak?” Lance asked. “Is it… is it Hitty? I noticed she and Simon….”
“No!” Zeus looked up in surprise. “No, it isn’t Hitty.”
Lance raised his eyebrows, waiting.
“You can’t tell anyone,” Zeus said adamantly. Because if Timo heard of this, Zeus would be humiliated.
“I swear to dog,” Lance said gravely, crossing his chest.
It was hard to say the words. Zeus had only just admitted it to himself. “It’s Timo.” His voice came out in a whisper. “I’m in love with Timo.”
Lance blinked twice, then leaned back and scratched his ear. “Okay. Gotta admit, I didn’t see that one coming. But now that I think about it, I should have.”
“Am I wrong to like him? Am I… broken?”
Lance huffed. “There’s no such thing as ‘wrong’ about who you love.” He took a sip of coffee, his expression thoughtful. “In fact…. Do you remember that time we went camping on the John Muir Trail? We were what, sixteen?”
That had been a fantastic trip. Miles and miles of walking, the quiet of the mountains, very few people passing by, the stunning scenery, just Zeus and his best friend. He remembered thinking that if life could only be like that all the time, it would be perfect.
“You’ve always been happiest out there, Zeus. Out in nature. Happiest with wild things. So I guess I can see why you’re fascinated by Timo.”
Zeus nodded. Yeah, Lance was right. Zeus thought about that day in the Qimmig camp, running with Timo and Cupun. It had been the most exhilarating thing he’d ever done in his life. But.
He looked at Lance helplessly. “But I’m not wild. I may love running with the wolves, but I don’t know if I could be happy living forever in the wilderness.” Zeus’s own words seemed to solidify the problem in his mind, define the edges. “I can’t pretend I’m a wolf. And I’m not happy living only in town either, not the way you are. Why am I so messed up?”
“Do you know what Timo’s people call us? They call us two-skins. And that’s what I am, Lance. I’m two-skinned and two-brained and two-hearted. And I hate it! I don’t belong anywhere.”
Lance glowered, lips pressed tight and a spark of anger in his eyes. He glanced around as if to make sure they were alone and spoke in a low voice. “Right. That’s enough of that, Zeus. Being two-skinned is a blessing. We get to do that. We get to be dogs and connect to nature like that. That’s something that I didn’t appreciate before—before I met Tim. But now I know how special it is. It’s amazing.”
“And I know,” Lance said, holding up a hand, “that you’ve always embraced it. More than any other quickened I’ve ever known. You are part of the wild. Even if it’s only half of you. And Timo, well, he’s got the man-side down. That’s the only way I’ve ever seen him. He eats at the diner, wears clothes, speaks well enough. So why do you feel you guys are so far apart, huh?”
It was a good point. Zeus thought about it. He’d really enjoyed having Timo in his house, even though he’d not allowed himself to enjoy it as much as he could have. The thought of Timo’s fascination with BBC’s Planet Earth and the Nat Geo channel made him smile. Heck, Timo liked TV more than Zeus did.
But Timo wasn’t staying in Mad Creek. And in Alaska…. “I guess it’s not just Timo. It’s his pack. Most of them never leave their mountain camp, Lance. They don’t interact with the outside world. And they have different rules. Their pack has an honest-to-God alpha. His name is Yuki, and he tells the others what they can and can’t do. Especially when it comes to… to mating. He would never allow this. Me and Timo.”
Zeus dropped his eyes and drew a finger through a chocolate crumb on the tabletop. “Heck, the first time I met Yuki, he wanted me to pick one of three females in their pack to mate with. Like, right away!”
Lance snorted a laugh. “Well that’s… a special kind of hospitality.”
Zeus nodded adamantly. “He felt my junk, Lance! Like he wanted to make sure I still had everything.”
Lance laughed harder. He seemed to find this hilarious.
“Shut up! It’s not funny. Honestly, Lance, they have a problem. With pregnancy and babies and stuff. So… it’s a big deal in their pack, who mates with who.”
Lance’s grin faded. “Well, that’s not good. I’m sorry to hear that. But how does Timo feel about it? Maybe he’d want to stay here in Mad Creek with you. Then it wouldn’t matter what this pack alpha thinks.”
If only it was that simple. “Timo would never leave Alaska forever. And anyway, he doesn’t like me that way. They don’t… I don’t think he would even think of mating unless I was female.” Zeus rubbed his chest where his heart gave another painful thump. “Nothing about it works. It’s hopeless. And life is the worst. Why did I have to fall in love when it’s hopeless?”
Lance reached across the table to pat Zeus’s arm. “Hey. Come on, sad sack. I promise you, it’s not as bad as you think. You know, there was a time when I thought being in love with Tim was hopeless.”
“There was?” Zeus was surprised.
Lance chuckled. “Ooooh yeah. A few minor details, like, he thought I was a dog—his dog. He didn’t know about the quickened. My mother practically bankrupted him, and he hated cops. So yeah, it was complicated.”
“How’d you make it work?”
Lance tilted his head thoughtfully. “I guess… love made it work. If that feeling is big enough on both sides, the will, the drive to be together… it’s a powerful force. It can overcome just about anything.”
Zeus thought about the feeling in his chest, the way his whole body ached with longing. “It’s big enough on my side. But I don’t think Timo wants it at all.”
“Maybe you should ask him and see.”
That sounded terrifying. Which must have shown on his face.
“Hey,” Lance said with a shrug. “What’s the worst that can happen? If he says no, then at least you know for sure, right? And maybe that’ll help with this.” He mimicked Zeus’s circular gesture over his own chest and stomach.
“No, I think it would just make me puke.”
Lance smiled. “Well, think about it. Okay?”
Nope. Zeus was not going to think about it.
Zeus loves his job on the Mad Creek Search & Rescue team, and his inner Saint Bernard is finally being used to his full potential. When he sees a mysterious and wild-looking quickened—a dog shifter—at an earthquake site in Alaska, Zeus is compelled to investigate. Zeus falls hard for the primal beauty of Timo and of Alaska itself. Both call to his deep canine soul. But the Qimmig pack’s laws are as harsh as the Alaskan winters, and Timo is out of his reach.
Having 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, and organic farmer, Eli has been a m/m romance author since 2013. She has over 30 books published.
Eli has loved romance since her teens and she particular admires writers who can combine literary merit, genuine 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, bulldogs, cows, a cat, and lots of groundhogs.
In romance, Eli is best known for her Christmas stories because she’s a total Christmas sap. These include “Blame it on the Mistletoe”, “Unwrapping Hank” and “Merry Christmas, Mr. Miggles”. Her “Howl at the Moon” series of paranormal romances featuring the town of Mad Creek and its dog shifters has been popular with readers. And her series of Amish-themed romances, Men of Lancaster County, has won genre awards.
Eli has brought a $25 gift card to give away to one lucky reader on her tour. Just follow the Rafflecopter below to enter.
- By entering the giveaway, you’re confirming that you are at least 18 years old.
- By entering you are agreeing to the Terms and Conditions set out by Rafflecopter for entries.
- Winners may be announced on the blog following the contest. By entering the contest you are agreeing to allow your name to be posted and promoted as the contest winner by Joyfully Jay.
- Prizes will be distributed following the giveaway either by Joyfully Jay or the person/organization donating the prize. In order to facilitate prize distribution, the winner name’s and email may be provided to a third party awarding the prize.
- By entering you are agreeing to hold Joyfully Jay harmless if the prize or giveaway in some way negatively impacts the winner.
- Void where prohibited by law.