November is a month to be thankful and I am thankful for soooooooo many things. I am thankful for my family. I have wonderful parents and brothers. I have cool sister in laws and nieces and nephews. I have a husband that I adore and kids that I’d step in front of a train for. I have more animals than you could shake a stick at and I have room in my heart (if not my house) for more.
I am a very lucky girl.
I am also thankful that at forty-blahblahblah that I have a new and amazeballs career. Writing was a dream of mine and now it’s my reality. If I can re-invent myself on the dark side of my forties (49 to be exact) so can anyone!!!!
So in the spirit of being thankful, I’d like to share the first chapter of READY TO WERE!!!! This book was released in the Three Southern Beaches anthology last July. The NEW and IMPROVED and LONGER version will be coming out November 25! However, it’s available for pre order NOW! YAYAYAYAYAYAYAYAY.
I hope you enjoy reading this sucker as much as I enjoyed writing it. It’s the first book in the SHIFT HAPPENS series.
“No, actually I’m not,” my boss said and slapped the folder into my hands. “You leave tomorrow morning and I don’t want to see your hairy ass till this is solved.”
I looked wildly around her office for something to lob at her head. It occurred to me that might not be the best of ideas, but desperate times led to stupid measures. She could not do this to me. I’d worked too hard and I wasn’t going back. Ever.
“First of all, my ass is not hairy except on a full moon and you’re smoking crack if you think I’m going back to Georgia.”
Angela crossed her arms over her ample chest and narrowed her eyes at me. “Am I your boss?” she asked.
“Is this a trick question?”
She huffed out an exasperated sigh and ran her hands through her spiked ‘do making her look like she’d been electrocuted. “Essie, I am cognizant of how you feel about Hung Island, Georgia, but there’s a disaster of major proportions on the horizon and I have no choice.”
“Where are you sending Clark and Jones?” I demanded.
“New York and Miami.”
“Oh my god,” I shrieked. “Who did I screw over in a former life that those douches get to go to cool cities and I have to go home to an island called Hung?”
“Those douches do have hairy asses and not just on a full moon. You’re the only female agent I have that looks like a model so you’re going to Georgia. Period.”
“Fine. I’ll quit. I’ll open a bakery.”
Angela smiled and an icky feeling skittered down my spine. “Excellent, I’ll let you tell the Council that all the money they invested in your training is going to be flushed down the toilet because you want to bake cookies.”
The Council consisted of supernaturals from all sorts of species. The branch that currently had me by the metaphorical balls was WTF—Werewolf Treaty Federation. They were the worst as far as stringent rules and consequences went. The Vampyres were loosey goosey, the Witches were nuts and the freakin’ Fairies were downright pushovers, but not the Weres. Nope, if you enlisted you were in for life. It had sounded so good when the insanely sexy recruiting officer had come to our local Care For Your Inner Were meeting.
Training with the best of the best. Great salary with benefits. Apartment and company car. But the kicker for me was that it was fifteen hours away from the hell I grew up in. No longer was I Essie from Hung Island, Georgia—and who in their right mind would name an island Hung—I was Agent Essie McGee of the Chicago WTF. The irony of the initials was a source of pain to most Werewolves, but went right over the Council’s heads due to the simple fact that they were older than dirt and oblivious to pop culture.
Yes, I’d been disciplined occasionally for mouthing off to superiors and using the company credit card for shoes, but other than that I was a damn good agent. I'd graduated at the top of my class and was the go-to girl for messy and dangerous assignments that no one in their right mind would take... I’d singlehandedly brought down three rogue Weres who were selling secrets to the Dragons—another supernatural species. The Dragons shunned the Council, had their own little club and a psychotic desire to rule the world. Several times they’d come close due to the fact that they were loaded and Weres from the New Jersey Pack were easily bribed. Not to mention the fire-breathing thing…
I was an independent woman living in the Windy City. I had a gym membership, season tickets to the Cubs and a gay Vampyre best friend named Dwayne. What more did a girl need?
Well, possibly sex, but the bastard had ruined me for other men…
Hank “The Tank” Wilson was the main reason I’d rather chew my own paw off than go back to Hung Island, Georgia. Six foot three of obnoxious, egotistical, perfect-assed, alpha male Werewolf. As the alpha of my local Pack he had decided it was high time I got mated…to him. I, on the other hand, had plans—big ones and they didn’t include being barefoot and pregnant at the beck and call of a player.
So I did what any sane, rational woman would do. I left in the middle of the night with a suitcase, a flyer from the hot recruiter and enough money for a one-way bus ticket to freedom. Of course, nothing ever turns out as planned… The apartment was the size of a shoe box, the car was used and smelled like French fries and the benefits didn’t kick in till I turned one hundred and twenty five. We Werewolves had long lives.
“Angela, you really can’t do this to me.” Should I get down on my knees? I was so desperate I wasn’t above begging.
“Why? What happened there, Essie? Were you in some kind of trouble I should know about?” Her eyes narrowed, but she wasn’t yelling.
I think she liked me…kind of. The way a mother would like an annoying spastic two year old who belonged to someone else.
“No, not exactly,” I hedged. “It’s just that…”
“Weres are disappearing and presumed dead. Considering no one knows of our existence besides other supernaturals, we have a problem. Furthermore, it seems like humans might be involved.”
My stomach lurched and I grabbed Angela’s office chair for balance. “Locals are missing?” I choked out. My grandma Bobby Sue was still there, but I’d heard from her last night. She’d harangued me about getting my belly button pierced. Why I’d put that on Instagram was beyond me. I was gonna hear about that one for the next eighty years or so.
“Not just missing—more than likely dead. Check the folder,” Angela said and poured me a shot of whiskey.
With trembling hands I opened the folder. This had to be a joke. I felt ill. I’d gone to high school with Frankie Mac and Jenny Packer. Jenny was as cute as a button and was the cashier at the Piggly Wiggly. Frankie Mac had been the head cheerleader and cheated on every test since the fourth grade. Oh my god, Debbie Swink? Debbie Swink had been voted most likely to succeed and could do a double backwards flip off the high dive. She’d busted her head open countless times before she’d perfected it. Her mom was sure she’d go to the Olympics.
“I know these girls,” I whispered.
“Knew. You knew them. They all were taking classes at the modeling agency.”
“What modeling agency? There’s no modeling agency on Hung Island.” I sifted through the rest of the folder with a knot the size of a cantaloupe in my stomach. More names and faces I recognized. Sandy Moongie? Wait a minute.
“Um, not to speak ill of the dead, but Sandy Moongie was the size of a barn…she was modeling?”
“Worked the reception desk.” Angela shook her head and dropped down on the couch.
“This doesn’t seem that complicated. It’s fairly black and white. Whoever is running the modeling agency is the perp.”
“The modeling agency is Council sponsored.”
I digested that nugget in silence for a moment.
“And the Council is running a modeling agency, why?”
“Word is that we’re heading toward revealing ourselves to the humans and they’re trying to find the most attractive representatives to do so.”
“That’s a joke, right?” What kind of dumb ass plan was that?
“I wish it was.” Angela picked up my drink and downed it. “I’m getting too old for this shit,” she muttered as she refilled the shot glass, thought better of it and just swigged from the bottle.
“Is the Council aware that I’m going in?”
“What do you think?”
“I think they’re old and stupid and that they send in dispensable agents like me to clean up their shitshows,” I grumbled.
“Who else knows about this? Clark? Jones?”
“They know,” she said wearily. “They’re checking out agencies in New York and Miami.”
“Isn’t it conflict of interest to send me where I know everyone?”
“It is, but you’ll be able to infiltrate and get in faster that way. Besides, no one has disappeared from the other agencies yet.”
There was one piece I still didn’t understand. “How are humans involved?”
She sighed and her head dropped back onto her broad shoulders. “Humans are running the agency.”
It took a lot to render me silent, like learning my grandma had been a stripper in her youth, and that all male Werewolves were hung like horses… but this was horrific.
“Who in the hell thought that was a good idea? My god, half the female Weres I know sprout tails when flash bulbs go off. We won’t have to come out, they can just run billboards of hot girls with hairy appendages coming out of their asses.”
“It’s all part of the Grand Plan. If the humans see how wonderful and attractive we are, the issue of knowingly living alongside of us will be moot.”
“When are Council elections?” It was time to vote some of those turd knockers out.
“Essie.” Angela rolled her eyes and took another swig. “There are no elections. They’re appointed and serve for life.”
“I knew that,” I mumbled. Skipping Were History class was coming back to bite me in the butt.
“I’ll go.” There was no way I couldn’t. Even though my knowledge of the hierarchy of my race was fuzzy, my skills were top notch and trouble seemed to find me. In any other job that would suck, but in mine, it was an asset.
“Good. You’ll be working with the local Pack alpha. He’s also the sheriff there. Name’s Hank Wilson. You know him?”
“Yep.” Biblically. I knew the son of a bitch biblically.
“You’re gonna bang him.”
“I am not gonna bang him.”
“You are so gonna bang him.”
“Dwayne, if I hear you say that I’m gonna bang him one more time, I will not let you borrow my black Mary Jane pumps. Ever again.”
Dwayne made the international “zip the lip and throw away the key” sign while silently mouthing that I was going to bang Hank.
“I think you should bang him if he’s a hot as you said.” Dwayne made himself comfortable on my couch and turned on the TV.
“When did I ever say he was hot?” I demanded as I took the remote out of his hands. I was not watching any more Dance Moms. “I never said he was hot.”
“Paaaaleese,” Dwayne flicked his pale hand over his shoulder and rolled his eyes.
“What was that?”
“What was what?” he asked, confused.
“That shoulder thing you just did.”
“Oh, I was flicking my hair over my shoulder in a girlfriend move.”
“Okay, don’t do that. It doesn’t work. You’re as bald as a cue ball.”
“But it’s the new move,” he whined.
Oh my god, Vampyres were such high maintenance. “According to who?” I yanked my suitcase out from under my bed and started throwing stuff in.
I refused to dignify that with so much as a look.
“Fine,” he huffed. “But if you say one word about my skinny jeans I am so out of here.”
I considered it, but I knew he was serious. As crazy as he drove me, I adored him. He was my only real friend in Chicago and I had no intention of losing him.
“I know he’s hot,” Dwayne said. “Look at you—you’re so gorge it’s redonkulous. You’re all legs and boobs and hair and lips—you’re far too beautiful to be hung up on a goober.”
“Are you calling me shallow?” I snapped as I ransacked my tiny apartment for clean clothes. Damn it, tomorrow was laundry day. I was going to have to pack dirty clothes.
“So he’s ugly and puny and wears bikini panties?”
“No! He’s hotter than Satan’s underpants and he wears boxer briefs,” I shouted. “You happy?”
“He’s actually a nice guy.”
“You’ve met Hank?” I was so confused I was this close to making fun of his skinny jeans just so he would leave.
“Satan. He’s not as bad as everyone thinks.”
How was it that everyone I came in contact with today stole my ability to speak? Thankfully, I was interrupted by a knock at my door.
“You expecting someone?” Dwayne asked as he pilfered the remote back and found Dance Moms.
I peeked through the peephole. Nobody came to my place except Dwayne and the occasional pizza delivery guy or Chinese food take out guy or Indian food take out guy. Wait. What the hell was my boss doing here?
“You going to let me in?”
“Open the damn door.”
Angela tromped into my shoebox and made herself at home. Her hair was truly spectacular. It looked like she might have even pulled out a clump on the left side. “You want to tell me why the sheriff and alpha of Hung Island, Georgia says he won’t work with you?”
“He said he had a hard time believing someone as flaky and irresponsible as you had become an agent for the Council and he wants someone else.” Angela narrowed her eyes at me and took the remote form Dwayne. “Spill it, Essie.”
I figured the best way to handle this was to lie—hugely. However, gay Vampyre boyfriends had a way of interrupting and screwing up all your plans.
“Well, you see…”
“He’s her mate and he dipped his stick in several other…actually many other oil tanks. So she dumped his furry player ass, snuck away in the middle of the night and hadn’t really planned on ever going back there again.” Dwayne sucked in a huge breath, which was ridiculous because Vampyres didn’t breathe.
It took everything I had not to scream and go all Wolfy. “Dwayne, clearly you want me to go medieval on your lily white ass because I can’t imagine why you would utter such bullshit to my boss.”
“Doesn’t sound like bullshit to me,” Angela said as she channel surfed and landed happily on an old episode of Cagney and Lacey. “We might have a problem here.”
“Are you replacing me?” Hank Wilson had screwed me over once when I was his. He was not going to do it again when I wasn’t.
“Your call,” she said. Dwayne, who was an outstanding shoplifter, covertly took back the remote and flipped over to the Food Channel. Angela glanced up at the tube and gave Dwayne the evil eye.
“I refuse to watch lesbians fight crime in the eighties. I’ll get hives,” he explained, tilted his head to the right and gave Angela a smile. He was so pretty it was silly—piercing blue eyes and body to die for. Even my boss had a hard time resisting his charm.
“Fine,” she grumbled.
“Excuse me,” I yelled. “This conversation is about me, not testosterone ridden women cops with bad hair, hives or food. It’s my life we’re talking about here—me, me, me!” My voice had risen to decibels meant to attract stray animals within a ten-mile radius, evidenced by the wincing and ear covering.
“Essie, are you done?” Dwayne asked fearfully.
“Possibly. What did you tell him?” I asked Angela.
“I told him the Council has the last word in all matters. Always. And if he had a problem with it, he could take it up with the elders next month when they stay awake long enough to listen to the petitions of their people.”
“Oh my god, that’s awesome,” I squealed. “What did he say?”
“That if we send you down, he’ll give you bus money so you can hightail your sorry cowardly butt right back out of town.”
Was she grinning at me, and was that little shit Dwayne jotting the conversation down in the notes section on his phone?
“Let me tell you something,” I ground out between clenched teeth as I confiscated Dwayne’s phone and pocketed it. “I am going to Hung Island, Georgia tomorrow and I will kick his ass. I will find the killer first and then I will castrate the alpha of the Georgia Pack…with a dull butter knife.”
Angela laughed and Dwayne jackknifed over on the couch in a visceral reaction to my plan. I stomped into my bathroom and slammed the door to make my point, then pressed my ear to the rickety wood to hear them talk behind my back.
“I’ll bet you five hundred dollars she’s gonna bang him,” Dwayne told Angela.
“I’ll bet you a thousand that you’re right,” she shot back.
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