Today I am so pleased to welcome Charlie Adhara to Joyfully Jay. Charlie has come to share an exclusive excerpt from her latest release, Cry Wolf. Please join me in giving her a big welcome!
Thanks for having me here on Joyfully Jay! Cry Wolf is the fifth in my Big Bad Wolf series and the first time snarky human agent Cooper Dayton and his werewolf partner Oliver Park are solving a mystery on their own home turf. Their shared home turf, I should say, as the guys have finally settled into a house together. But domestic bliss takes a back seat when Park’s ex Eli shows up needing help, what’s supposed to be a casual trip to the zoo quickly turns up a dead body in the sea lion pool and suddenly this investigation is a little too close to home.
In this excerpt, the guys have returned to the zoo to question former actress and current conservation philanthropist (and suspect) Genevieve Crane. While they wait for her to finish filming with a rather ornery titi monkey, Cooper discovers Park is familiar with her work. I love this exchange because you can see how relaxed and happy the guys are. For now, anyway. They might have a feeling that “this is going to be a very good day” but a little monkey told me Park’s taste in tv isn’t the only shocker on the horizon…
“I was thinking we could get lunch in town after this,” Park said, interrupting his thoughts. “Since we didn’t get to go last night. That Cajun place you like is nearby. Maybe we could walk there. Talk.”
“Mmm, sure. That sounds good,” Cooper said, then narrowed his eyes suspiciously at Park. “Why are you so determined to eat out all of a sudden? I said I’d go shopping if you made me a list.”
Park appeared very focused on the various people still trying to tempt the monkey back into the spotlight. “I will. I just missed you this week. I want to spend time with you.”
Cooper raised an eyebrow.
“I want to spend some non-naked, non-working time with you as well.”
“All right, lunch out it is. But straight back to naked work after.”
“If you wish,” Park said, still watching the crowd, but he looked unaccountably pleased. A small, satisfied smile curling the corners of his lips as he rocked onto the balls of his feet and bounced a little.
Speaking of work. “We should talk to the Cranes separately, don’t you think?” Cooper asked.
“Yes. That’s Genevieve Crane,” Park said, drawing Cooper’s attention to the woman standing beside Neil, studying a piece of paper.
She was white, anywhere from twenty-five to forty-five, nearly as tall as Cooper, and very pretty, though he couldn’t quite point to why exactly. She had flat brown hair and flat brown eyes and she didn’t appear to be wearing any makeup, though that perception was definitely just due to his own ignorance, because a second woman with buzzed, peroxide-blond hair and an enormous fanny pack could clearly be seen dabbing at Genevieve’s face with various-size brushes. Both of them looked vaguely familiar, but he couldn’t really place why.
“Are you sure?” Cooper asked. “Is she…” He trailed off suggestively, curious to know if she was a werewolf, but not wanting to risk being overheard.
Park huffed a laugh. “I can’t tell yet if she’s…” he teased. “There’s definitely traces of a wolf in here, but there’s too many people and unfamiliar animal scents to track who it belongs to or how fresh it is.”
“Then how do you know?”
Park shrugged. “I recognize her from Labyrinth of Love.”
“You’ve seen her show?” Cooper asked, surprised.
“Oh, yeah. More than once. Years ago. She had a minor role. The little town of Crete had to deal with a new monster every week. They never did werewolves, which was disappointing, but there was a siren named Sebastian on season five that, ooof.” Park blew out a long breath. “Let’s just say he could wreck my ship any day.”
Cooper laughed, astonished. “Oliver Park, I’m literally speechless.”
Park shrugged. “It was a very fun show.” He hesitated. “I was a bit…at a loss when I first left teaching and joined the Trust. I went from a large pack to being alone. From colleagues who were interested in the work I was doing, to… Well, you see how it is. Cola has been good to me, but it’s not likely I’m ever going to be close with anyone else there, is it? Not with my past.”
Cooper felt a surge of defensive anger. He shifted to stand closer and subtly press his shoulder to Park’s.
“It’s not a big deal,” Park said quickly, though he did lean back into Cooper. “And it’s all worked out for the best now, of course. But there was a time in the beginning there, when the dramatics of Mikey the Minotaur and his best friends at Crete High were very…comforting.”
“Just when I think I’ve plumbed the last of your hidden depths, you reveal something like this.”
“Ask nicely and I’ll let you plumb my depths tonight, while we watch season five of Labyrinth.”
“You’re in a good mood,” Cooper noted.
Park cocked his head. “I am. I have a feeling this is going to be a very good day. I had an excellent night and an excellent part two this morning,” he added, looking pointedly at Cooper, who felt himself flush. “I have a couple possible promising avenues of investigation on this case, lunch plans this afternoon with the love of my life, and if I’m very, very lucky later”—he subtly dragged his finger up the back of Cooper’s thigh—“I might just get Genevieve Crane to give me that siren’s number.”
Cooper cut off a burst of laughter as Hirano approached, and he and Park took casual steps away from each other.
Agent Cooper Dayton never thought anything could be harder than solving murders. Until he had to plan a wedding.
After taking down an old adversary, Agent Cooper Dayton of the Bureau of Special Investigations has earned a break. Not that planning a wedding to his sexy shifter partner, Oliver Park, is necessarily stress free, but it’s better than worrying about the ominous warning, delivered months ago, that Cooper’s life is in danger.
When he’s dragged to an event by his family, Cooper braces for an awkward evening, but instead finds himself in the middle of an ugly feud between Park’s ex and a rebel pack leader. What was supposed to be a quick outing turns into a full-blown murder investigation after the pack leader ends up dead, Park’s ex goes missing, and Cooper and Park are sent a series of disturbing wedding gifts that are somehow connected to it all.
The list of potential suspects is long, and with the bodies piling up, Cooper must turn to the one person he trusts the least: the villain he’s already put behind bars once and who has nothing to lose by lying and everything to gain if Cooper is out of the picture—for good.
Charlie Adhara writes contemporary, mystery, paranormal, queer romance. Or some assortment of that, anyway. Whatever the genre, her stories feature imperfect people stumbling around, tripping over trouble and falling in love. Charlie has done a fair amount of stumbling around herself, but tends to find her way back to the northeast US. When she’s not writing, Charlie is reading, hiking, exploring flea markets and acting as an amateur cobbler for her collection of weird shoes.
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