Tag Archives: MD Grimm

MD Grimm on *Ruby: Lost and Found* and the hotness of love and devotion

Click the cover image for the buy link at Torguere Books
(Stones of Power – Book 1)

Morgorth is a mage on the planet Karishian. There is little else he hates more than the Stones of Power – gemstones which were infused with magick by the first seven mages ever born. So when a sorcerer gets ahold of a major stone – a ruby – Morgorth has no other choice but to go after him. But, to his irritation, he is not alone. Aishe is a dialen whose tribe was massacred by the sorcerer and now he is on a mission of vengeance. The attraction is instant between them but Morgorth keeps his distance. Because of a traumatic childhood and a deadly destiny, he has no desire for emotional complications. But Aishe’s very presence challenges Morgorth’s resolve.

Not only does Morgorth begin to admire Aishe’s strength and mind, but he begins to see him as a friend. As their hunt continues and their time together lengthens, their bond deepens as does Morgorth’s fear. If he becomes the monster that destiny claims he will, would he hurt Aishe? Would he harm the one person who saw right through him? Who accepted him wholeheartedly? Determined to not let that happen, Morgorth keeps Aishe at a distance but when Aishe is kidnapped by the sorcerer, what will Morgorth do to get him back?

M.D. Grimm lives in the wet state of Oregon, and when Grimm is not reading, writing, or watching movies, Grimm dreams of owning a pet dragon. Grimm wanted to become an author since second grade and feels that those dreams are finally coming true. Grimm was fortunate to have supporting parents who never said “get your head out of the clouds.” While not liking to write in only one set genre, Grimm feels romance is at the core of most of their stories. Grimm earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Oregon and hopes to put that degree to good use in the literature world as well as the “real” world.

I’m at Facebook, Goodreads, and Livejournal. (no website yet)

The Interview

Q: How important are character names, to you, and how do you go about naming them? What about titles?
A: Character names are VERY important to me. For me, names must tell something about the personality of the character. Either by the way the name sounds, what the name means, or both. Sometimes the names just come with the character when I create them, but other times I have to pull out my baby book of 35,000 names and look up what would fit the character best.

Titles are probably my favorite and most headache-inducing part of creating a story. Sometimes, I know the title before I even write the book, other times I have a tentative title and I can only finalize it after I’ve finished the story. I like creating titles that either play on words or connect wittily with what’s in my story. My Shifter series with Dreamspinner Press is one such example. My most recent release of that series was Blind Devotion. One of the main characters is blind but I also use that title to describe followers of a sect that desire the eradication of shifters. Titles are very important. If they’re clever, they capture readers’ attention and you potentially make a sale! And a new fan.

Q: In what locale is your most recent book set? How compelling was it to set a story there? Do you choose location the same way every time? How?
A: I had two releases in August, so I will talk a little bit about both. Blind Devotion is set in Montana. Ruby: Lost and Found with Torquere Press, is set on another planet, but it is a fantasy, not a sci-fi. Both settings were compelling and offered up their own challenges. With Blind Devotion, I let the criteria of the story help me determine where the story would be placed. I needed an isolated place where a small town of shifters could live in relative peace and secrecy. Montana fit the bill because it was far north and covered with national forests – a perfect places for shifters to run around on four legs. I had to do a lot of research on Montana, however, before I could start writing. I think that’s what makes me choose settings in places I have never been – so I can discover and travel, if only in my mind. It lets me learn and I love to learn.

Ruby: Lost and Found is, as I said, a fantasy, so that meant I was starting from scratch. I had to create flora/fauna, geology, continents, etc. I really had to create everything but, since it is the first book of a series as well, I have time to gradually evolve the world and present it to readers. This series doesn’t allow me to take anything for granted – the reader would know nothing of my world as they would most places on Earth. I want to make it as real to them as it is to me.

Q: How much power do you give your characters in steering the story line?
A:I’m a big fan of allowing the character to steer the story, instead of just reacting to what happens to them. But I do try to keep a good balance between outside events influencing my characters’ actions and my characters’ actions influencing the events. I do try to have an overall plot that is a guide for the character, but I make sure they have agency.

Q: What is the most satisfying element for you in writing gay relationships, and why?
A: I like to think love conquers all. Naïve, perhaps, but reality is a bitter pill sometimes, and I read and write to take me out of that reality and into a world where, despite everything, you do end up with your soul mate (or soul mates). Unfortunately in our society, there is a sort of “built-in” conflict with gay relationships and that makes me even more devoted into making sure, at least in my stories, the men (or women) end up together.

Q: Are readers involved in making your fiction—do they suggest stories or say what they’d like to read?
A: I haven’t had that situation yet. I’m still pretty new at publishing and I’m still building my fan base.

Q: Describe the ideal relationship between author and readers.
A: Respect. For the author to respect the readers, and for the readers to respect the author. For the author: they need to respect the fact that readers might not like all their stories, or how they write, and that’s okay. You can’t please everyone. You shouldn’t try. For the reader: they need to respect the author and their craft. If they don’t like the story, okay, fine, but there is no need to attack or disrespect the author or their story. They need to remember that others might enjoy that story, and that their opinion is just that: an opinion. A preference. They have a right to that preference, but also a responsibility to give it respectfully.

I am a reader and an author, so I see both sides. If I don’t like a story, I don’t see a need to attack the author, or the story. It’s not my preference. There have been certain popular stories coming out recently (I’m sure you could guess what they are) that I have no interest it. But others love and adore those stories. Okay, fine. To each their own.

As an author, I love my readers. I really do. And it does hurt when a negative/hateful review comes out. But it would hurt less if it was respectful. I’ve read several of those reviews that don’t tear down the story or me but inform other readers why they didn’t like the story. I almost want to thank them for that review – even if it was negative – because I didn’t feel attacked.

Q: What do you find useful about reviews?
A: Well… it’s nice to see when my book is positively accepted. And sometimes it can help if the review is more critique then attack. I can see where the reviewer thought the story had issues and if I agree, I can make sure not to do it again. I don’t depend on them to tell me how to write – I write because I want to and because I need to. I don’t allow reviews to affect my confidence in my writing.

Q: I’m well known for demanding to know an author’s opinion about which of their characters is the sexiest, and I’m making no exception for this group. Who, how, and why?
A: Oh goddess!! Now all my characters are glaring at me – daring me to choose favorites!

To make things easier, I will only choose from those stories that have been published (I have several written but not ready for publishing yet). Right now I’m partial to Morgorth, the protagonist in my Stones of Power series with Torquere Press, of which Ruby: Lost and Found is the first book. He might not be gorgeous or traditionally handsome but he’s a mage which means he can use magick like most warriors use swords. He’s sexy because he doesn’t think he is – he’s grumpy, angry, and often broods. I think he’s sexy because of how he changes during the course of the series and his growth as a character – mostly due to his relationship with Aishe, his mate. Sometimes the sexiest characters are those who aren’t traditionally sexy.

Q: What are the fifty hottest words (approximate the word count) you’ve ever written, in your opinion. (Be sure to include citation).
A: Now that is a hard one – I have too many, but I’ll choose some that I’ve written very recently. (50 words really cramps my style…) This little sample comes from Ruby: Lost and Found, published by Torquere Press:

“I love you,” [Aishe] said in a pained whisper that slammed me […]. I believed him […]

“We were meant for each other,” he continued […]”I’m staying with you; […] You don’t have to be alone anymore. I trust you, Morgorth. […] “You don’t think much of yourself, but I think the world of you. You’re beautiful.”

(Yes, I cheated with the […]) And why didn’t I use a sex scene? Well, this precludes a sex scene AND all of my sex scenes were certainly more than 50 words and… well, what is hotter than a declaration of love and devotion?)

Q: What are you doing now, what do you plan to write next?
A:Right now I’m working on the second and third book of my Stones of Power series as well as finishing book five and six of my Shifters series. I’m also working on outlines of a couple of other books that have nothing to do with these stories. I’m always keeping myself busy.

An Excerpt from Ruby: Lost and Found

Someone roared and the weight lifted. The stars before my eyes faded and I looked over to see Aishe actually straddling the revenai’s wrist, stabbing it with a short sword, causing black viscous blood to gush. I sucked in a breath and struggled to my feet just as Aishe leapt off of the revenai. Another hand came to grab him. He ducked away and rolled and I kept on the opposite side of him, trying to divide the demon’s attention. Five heads were enough to deal with.

Aishe and I couldn’t keep this up and I tore through my brain, trying to find a way that would end this conflict as fast and as bloodless as possible.
Before I’d found a satisfying idea, the demon got a hold of Aishe and proceeded to squeeze the life from his body. Fury so intense I wondered why I didn’t explode whirled through me and I created a blade of pure force and flung it at the revenai’s arm, cutting it cleanly in half. The monster roared, Aishe fell, and more blood gushed.

The dialen didn’t move.

“Hey! Demon shit!” I bellowed, my magick amplifying my voice. The revenai turned to me, the lust for death in its eyes.

“Follow me if you have the guts!” I ran deeper into the forest, hearing the lumbering beast close behind me. Fury gave me power and focus and I used it. I gasped for breath, my muscles burning, as I emerged at the river where only minutes before I had seen Aishe naked. I ran along the bank, the revenai emerging seconds later, lumbering awkwardly, ripping up trees as it went. I swung around and churned the water, lifting it into the air and flinging it at the charging revenai. I continued to lash the monster with water and it swung its hands around uselessly, becoming more enraged. When I had enough water whirling around the revenai, I took a deep breath and blew it out, causing the water to freeze.

The revenai’s thrashing ceased and the drool froze on its lips. I knew it wouldn’t hold but maybe it would contain the thing long enough for me to find out what to do with it. And to find out if Aishe was even still alive. I ran around the large frozen demon and nearly collided with the dialen as he emerged, whole, from the trashed forest.

I skidded to a halt and my heart was drumming in my chest, relief making me dizzy.

“Thank the Mother,” I gasped and before I could think better of it, I flung my arms around the dialen and hugged him hard. It lasted for about a second before I jerked back as if electrocuted. I grimaced and Aishe looked shocked.
I took several steps back. “Sorry, I… you all right?”

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MD Grimm’s *Psychic Moon* (Dreamspinner Press)

MD Grimm is featured author this week! Scroll down for an interview and excerpts. Click the cover image for a a link to Psychic Moon at the Dreamspinner Press store. To contact the author, email her at Facebook: mdgrimm29(at)facebook(dot)com, or mdgrimm29(at)yahoo(dot)com.

Psychic Moon by MD Grimm art Reese Dante

Humane Officer Derek Wiliams has been toying with the idea of asking out Brian O’Donogue since the veterinarian started working at the Pet Rescue Center two years ago. So why hasn’t he made his move? It’s complicated… but it has something to do with the fact that Derek occasionally likes to run around on four legs instead of two.

Recovering from an abusive relationship and hiding supernatural abilities of his own, Brian takes a chance and agrees to go on a date with Derek. The ensuing relationship is better than either of them could have hoped—until a rogue wolf shifter attacks Brian while he’s walking his dogs. The abrupt attack forces Derek to confront his feelings, but the danger isn’t over. The rogue shifter is out there, and he’s hunting them.

M.D. Grimm lives in the wet state of Oregon, and when she’s not reading, writing, or watching movies, she dreams of owning a pet dragon. She’s wanted to become an author since second grade and feels that her dreams are finally coming true. She was fortunate to have supporting parents who never told her to “get her head out of the clouds.” While she doesn’t like to write in only one set genre, she feels romance is at the core of most of her stories. M.D. earned a Bachelor of Arts in English at the University of Oregon and hopes to put that degree to good use in the literature world as well as the “real” world.

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The Author Interview: MD Grimm on Whirlwinds and Wolves

Hello MD, and thanks for allowing me to feature you on sylvre.com. I’m looking forward to sharing some excerpts from your work, but first I’d like to ask a few questions about you, your ideas, and how you turn them into great fiction.

Thanks for having me and I’m also looking forward to sharing myself with potential readers. (sharing my ideas anyway, ;))

Q: You live in Oregon, now, according to your bio. Is that where you were raised? You said the “wet” state of Oregon, so I assume you live west of the Cascades. With the mountains on one side and the Pacific on the other, it’s a region with a lot of character, I think. Has the landscape influenced your writing? If so, how? You set Psychic Moon in Seattle. Have you spent much time there? Why did you choose to set the story there, and how big a part does locale play in the way your story plays out?
A: Yes, I was raised in Oregon. I live in the Willamette Valley. I suppose the landscape has influenced me in that I’m used to seeing trees and lots of them. Trees, mountains especially and just a lot of green. It’s hard for me to imagine living in a place which is flat and desert-like, which means I should probably stay away from Arizona and New Mexico. Most of the places I set my stories are usually forest-like or small towns, like the one I grew up in. As for Seattle, no I haven’t actually been to Washington, but I wanted a wet forest state with a humane center and Washington has a lot of forest parks, which allowed my characters to play in the woods.

Q: You’ve wanted to be an author since second grade, so I’m sure you’ve been writing right along. What or who has inspired you to keep your eyes on your goal along the road?
A: Amazingly, my entire family, close and extended, have inspired and supported me. Also, my favorite authors, just by reading their books, have influenced and inspired me, making me think that I could one day write as good (or close) as them.

Q: Was Psychic Moon your first published work? Of course, the publisher’s acceptance is the bona fide stamp of approval, but was there a point in writing the novel when you knew you had it—knew that this story was a winner and worthy of publication and would surely make it? If so, can you tell us a bit about that?
A: No, I have another story published by Torquere Press called “A Giant’s Friend”. It was my first work and I’ll admit, it needs some revision. Despite its flaws, I cherish it because it really made me believe I could become a published author and it opened up an entirely new world for me with resources I didn’t even known I needed (like Beta readers ). Psychic Moon is essentially based around an animal humane center because I watched several “Animal Cops” shows and was so touched and horrified by the abuse inflicted on animals meant to give humans comfort. I started to wonder what would happen if a shifter was involved and what he/she would do about it. Psychic Moon is that result and I was so passionate about this story, I was going to submit it to any and all publishers until one came back with a contract. I knew this story was worth telling and since most people have pets or had pets, I knew others would feel the same.

Q: Stories about (shape) shifters are quite popular right now, both in the M/M romance genre and elsewhere in genre fiction. Why do you think that’s true? What prompted you to write a shifter novel? How do you see your story—or your characters—as different from other novels about shifters? In this story, did your characters come first and drive the story, or did the plot create the need for characters like those you’ve created?
A: Shifters have certain (pardon the pun) animal magnetism to them. They are the “other” that challenges “normal” people and yet they can disguise themselves as one of us. I think they have a similar appeal as the vampire does—the primal, dominate, slightly savage nature that has no morals when they are in animal form. They are an escapist fantasy for people tired of human society, morals, and structure. For myself, all of that is true. That is why I love shifters, and I love coming up with different animals for shifters to be and matching their personalities to that animal. I haven’t read many other shifter stories (shame on me, I know) so I can’t say if my stories or characters are “different” but I like to think I have a unique take on them. The shifter stories I have read seem to present their shifters in a vacuum, sort of speak. The shifters just are with no real explanation why. I’m a big fan of why. I have a tendency to go back to the Beginning and create a story of why. Psychic Moon is only the first book in my shifters series and I have about twenty planned (for now). I delve more into the shifters’ past and the why of their existence. Another thing that’s “different” is that I have the Agency, a secret non-government, privately funded organization whose sole purpose is to keep shifters a secret to the general public and the act as the “policing” force against rogue shifters. As the series goes on, I get into the why of them as well. I have a whole bushel of stories and several-book storylines that are just nagging me to get out.

As for this story, and which came first, the plot or the characters, I’d have to say character. I do have a tendency to come up with both at the same time, however. This time, I thought of a shifter humane officer and a human vet and then the rogue shifter and Agency came after. The plot formed and solidified after that.

Q: MD, I ask this question of every author I interview. Some enjoy answering, some seem to squirm (although it’s hard to be sure just by the look of the words on the page). Regardless, none escape, and now it’s your turn. Who is sexiest, Derek or Brian? You can fudge (waffle a little), but you cannot cheat. (“Both” is not an answer.) You can’t choose a name and move on to the next question. Explanation is required. Think of it as a brief essay question. 😉
A: Derek. I love Brian, don’t get me wrong. He’s sweet, funny, loving and kind but Derek is the bad boy. They are both working to save animals from human cruelty and they are so cute together and Brian is sexy in his own right but I lean towards Derek. Maybe because I made him the alpha…

Q: The cover Reese Dante created for Psychic Moon is another example of her very fine work. How much influence did you have in determining what the cover would look like in general? Do you feel the men on the cover portray your characters in a generally accurate way?
A: I love that cover. When I first saw it, I stared at it for several seconds before squealing. I had a lot of influence on the cover, I described what I wanted and how I wanted the men positioned and the cover was even better than what I imagined. The men were even better than what was in my mind. I looked at the cover and I thought, “those are my guys.”

Q: I understand you have a couple more works coming up for publication based on these characters. Without giving away more than you’d like about any of your pieces, can you tell us a little more about what’s coming up? Can you share perhaps a little “teaser” excerpt? MD, if you don’t want to do that fine. If you do, go ahead and insert it as part of your answer.
A: I’d love to share that with you! I have a Christmas short coming up in December that involves Derek and Brian, titled Celtic Warrior and Wolf Spirit. I am very proud of it and it involves Brian’s very ex-boyfriend Kyle (the abusive one). He shows up and well… Derek doesn’t like that too much… It is Derek and Brian’s first Christmas together and Brian is determined to make it perfect, and of course, his plans get wrecked but something good comes out of it.
I also have book 2 of my shifter series coming out sometime in February or March, entitled Love is a Whirlwind. I introduce two new characters in this one, a human named Caleb and a bull shifter named Ryan (aka Whirlwind). Agent Poe, who first shows up in Psychic Moon, comes back in this one after Ryan is kidnapped. To find out who and why, I encourage you to read it!

Here is a Chapter 1 excerpt of Love is a Whirlwind:

*********
The bull flew out of the chute, bucking like a demon and the bull rider didn’t stand a chance. Whirlwind twisted like a tornado and kicked up dirt, making it hard for the bull rider to keep up. It wasn’t three seconds before the bull rider flew off and planted his face in the dirt.

The crowd ate it up, but the bull wasn’t done. Whirlwind ran after the rider even as the rodeo clowns descended on him, trying to keep the rider safe. Whirlwind seemed to be satisfied with running those jokers off and let the bull rider gain his feet. The cowboy high-tailed it out of the ring while Whirlwind flung his head around in triumph. He strutted for the crowd, the flank strap and bull rope falling to the ground.

Caleb grinned wide, his face actually hurting. He cheered and hollered with the rest of the crowd. That was his bull out there. His friend. With a coat of rich brown, deep brown eyes and the strength of an elephant, Whirlwind was a prize many stock contractors wanted. Numerous offers had been made but he and his mother would never sell Whirlwind, not for all the money in the world.

Whirlwind strutted into the out-gate, head high. He snickered. Whirlwind was so full of it. Arrogant prick. But he was Caleb’s arrogant prick. It was over. They had won. He knew without a doubt or looking at the points that Whirlwind had won. They would have some more money to take home and more prestige than they ever had before. He wished his dad was still alive. Wouldn’t his mother be ecstatic?

Of course, good ol’ Mandy O’Connell wasn’t one to get ecstatic. She would just nod, “humph” and say “good work”. But that was the equivalent of how other people would jump for joy and do a victory dance. For himself, he would do the victory dance. But it was too crowded in the arena to get a good one in at that moment.

The celebration wore one, the bull riding champion was named, pictures were taken and Caleb, along with his crew, were given the winner’s check and were nearly made blind by all the flashes of the cameras. The crowds slowly filed out, the media left and the cleanup crew came in. Caleb, by now sweating and probably smelling like a dumpster, made his way to the truck where Whirlwind was kept. The other bulls and the rest of his crew were already on their way home but he took care of Whirlwind personally. He drove the truck that housed the star bull and he set his own schedule when he started home. He always started a couple of days after everyone else.

“Hey Caleb!”

Annoyed, he turned around to see one of the rodeo clowns jogging towards him. He didn’t know his name but stopped and planned to give him only five minutes of his time.

“Hey,” he said lamely, “You were good out there.”

“Me,” the man laughed and slapped his shoulder. “What about you and that bull? Whirlwind’s amazing. Never seen a bull so quick and smart. Sort of eerie right, the way he knows just how to turn and when the buck and how high. Intelligent.”

Caleb shrugged, unease making his stomach cramp. “As far as bulls go, I guess he’s intelligent. You could also say he’s well trained. There were other bulls that were just as impressive.”

The rodeo clown still had his makeup and suit on and Caleb didn’t recognize him. They were about the same height and the clown was maybe a bit thicker around the chest and waist.

“Come on,” the clown said, nudging him. “Just between you and me, what’s the secret, huh? You have to admit, he almost has human intelligence, it just blazes in his eyes. Yet he’s a bull. Strange, right?”

His palms were sweating and he rubbed them on his jeans. “Yeah, right, listen, I have to go. Nice talking to you. Good show this week.”

He left as quickly as he could, never looking back. He rubbed his stomach and forced himself to put it aside. That wasn’t the first time he’d been asked about a “secret” when it came to Whirlwind, but there had been a strange gleam, almost manic, in the rodeo clown’s eyes and he hadn’t liked it. At all.

The bull was sleeping in his pen in the truck but instantly opened his eyes when Caleb approached. A large brown eye captured his own eyes and he stood in front of Whirlwind with a huge smile. The encounter with the rodeo clown drifted to the back of his mind and was buried. This wasn’t the day for worries, it was the day for celebration.

“We did it, buddy. Another notch on our belt and all that money. Maybe we should go commercial, huh? Have you sell a few products?”

Before his eyes, like many times before though it never lost its awe, Whirlwind shifted into Ryan, his best friend. The same rich brown eyes that had belonged to the bull now belonged to a thick, naked man kneeling inside the truck.

He had broad shoulders, a broad chest, thick waist, thighs and arms. He resembled a bull even in human form. But that wasn’t surprising when considering that Ryan’s mother had been an actual cow and his father had been in bull form during his conception. It was incredibly rare, nearly impossible, for offspring to be born from an animal and a shifter. Ryan was certainly one of a kind.

Caleb learned a lot about the real world from Ryan. Like the fact that there was a shifter community, a community filled with extraordinary creatures who could live as animal or as human.

Ryan raised an eyebrow. “We’re in Vegas. I’d rather go drinking.”
*********

Q: What can your readers expect from you in the next couple of years, in addition to what you’ve already shared? Are you writing in genres other than M/M? Anything else you’d like us to know?
A: Well, certainly more shifter stories and I’m working on another series, a fantasy one, which involves a mage who thinks he’s a villain, magic gemstones, dragons, elves, and a world resembling Earth but without the technology. I’m taking my time with these, considering they are unashamedly very fantasy and I want to make them as “realistic” as possible (beta readers are priceless!).

Thank you again, MD. It’s been a pleasure getting to know you a bit. I hope you will visit again.

It’s been great fun! I really enjoyed your questions and I hope I’ve gotten readers excited or at least curious about my future (and present) works. This really is my passion and it’s the readers who will keep me going.

(Bull Riding photo above by C. Szmurlo)

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An excerpt from MD Grimm’s Psychic Moon

Chapter One

IT WAS only halfway through his workday and his blood was already close to boiling. Derek hated humans. He hated the whole lot of them. What they did to animals was utterly disgraceful. Maybe he had lived a sheltered life with his pack, and maybe he hadn’t known what the world was about when he left home at age eighteen. Maybe he hadn’t been as fully prepared for the grief life could throw at him as he thought he had been.

Maybe.

But that was no fucking excuse for abuse and neglect of an animal that was bred to serve and love its owners.
Derek glowered as he drove his official humane officer car through the streets of Seattle, Washington. He had been horribly naïve when he had taken this job. He thought he would not only be helping animals but also helping humans understand how they could properly take care of the animals in their lives.

He had been wrong. This job had become a slow torment. Derek never would have imagined just how horrible humans could be to their pets and farmyard animals. He had grown up quickly and hadn’t been allowed much time to be a rookie.
His very first call on the job had been for a dog near death. Complete neglect and carelessness had led the animal to become a bag of bones, and dehydration had begun to take its toll. And the Washington weather didn’t help matters. The dog had been shaking with cold when Derek had pulled his vehicle up to the curb.

He had tried everything he could, and still it hadn’t been enough. The dog had died.

Derek’s dark brown eyes flashed with rage that hadn’t dimmed in the passing years. The rage, in fact, only seemed to build more and more each day as he saw the results of careless humans.

Right now, Derek had a cat in the cage in the back of his car that looked to be pregnant and close to birth. She looked dehydrated and malnourished, and the fur around her neck was gone. But in the skin he could see markings that might have been caused by a collar once upon a time.

Looked like she got pregnant, and the owners decided to abandon her instead of seeing her through the pregnancy.
A wolf-like growl issued from Derek’s throat, and the muscles under his skin rippled with anticipation. He shook his head once, hard. Not here. Not now. Shifting would not help the cat.

She was skittish enough as it was.

He couldn’t blame her; he was a wolf shifter after all. Cats and wolves didn’t have the best relationship. But that didn’t matter. He would have saved a cat from a flash flood without blinking. It was his job.

It was who he was.

Derek pulled up to the Pet Rescue center and got out of the car, slamming the door harder than he needed to. He walked around to the back and opened the door. The cat hissed, but Derek knew she had to be in pain, and her terror wasn’t helping.
“Easy there, girl. I’m only doing what’s best for you. Easy.” Derek continued to talk to her as he grabbed a small portable carrier and opened the cage door. He set the carrier on the floor and threw a cat treat into it. The cat, despite her terror, wanted food. Her nose lifted in the air and sniffed before her body heaved itself off the floor and waddled to the carrier.
Derek closed the small door and gently lifted her. She was much too light for a cat carrying a litter of kittens.

Shutting all the doors and locking the car, Derek walked quickly to the main doors of the Seattle Pet Rescue. The clinic was in the back, and he hurried past the waiting room and behind the counter through a door that read “Employees Only.”
Derek had been with the Pet Rescue for about four years now, beginning right after he finished several years at a community college. This was the only job he had ever wanted to do. The rest of his family was into saving the environment, wildlife preserves, and PETA. He had wanted to do something different, something that would help pets, not wild animals.
It was his opinion that pets were often the most in danger of human cruelty.

His anger flared up once more, and Derek growled.

“I agree,” said a voice behind him. Derek had just passed the clinic doors without knowing it.

Derek turned around, and his bad mood vanished almost instantly.

Here, Derek thought. Here is the one exception to the human species. Here is the one human who could restore the honor of the entire human species with a single gesture.

Brian O’Donogue was the best veterinarian the world had ever seen. At least, in Derek’s opinion. Brian had joined the Pet Rescue only two years before, and his presence had made a marked improvement in how many animals survived when brought in. He had a gift; it was that simple. The staff had also dubbed him “the animal shrink” because in the two years he had been with them, they hadn’t put an animal down for bad temperament.

He was somehow able to get into their heads and knew how to heal them, mind and body.

“What have we got here?” Brian came over and took the carrier from Derek’s hand.

“Female cat. Pregnant. Abandoned.”

Brian clucked his tongue and gestured for Derek to follow him into the clinic. They walked back to Brian’s workstation, and the vet put the carrier on the long operating table in the center of the room.

Brian bent down until he was eye-level with the opening of the cage door. A hiss could be heard.

“Poor thing,” Brian said, so many emotions riding on those two words.

Derek watched, leaning against the wall, as Brian tried to coax the cat out of the carrier once he had opened the door.
Brian was older than Derek, but he didn’t know by how much. He was blond with long hair that came down to the middle of his back. He always wore it either in a braid or a ponytail. He had a thin beard that didn’t do much to detract from his boyish face. Derek figured that was why he grew it. His eyes were a startling green that always caused a newcomer to look twice.
He was fit, and the long white coat didn’t detract much from his rather impressive figure. Derek also couldn’t help noticing how perky his butt looked in those blue jeans.

For two years, he had debated whether to ask Brian out, but had held back. It wasn’t because he was afraid Brian was straight, oh no. Brian was a flamer from the top of his blond head to the bottom of his red sneakers. He didn’t have the lisp or the limp wrist, but he had that feminine air about him and timidity that most straight men didn’t have. He also liked ABBA and would play Celine Dion as often as he could.

Enough said.

No, it wasn’t fear of rejection that kept Derek from asking. It was the fact that he was a wolf shifter, and what he wanted with Brian was more than just a night of pleasure. He wanted a relationship, which meant he would have to make the fateful decision whether to reveal himself or to keep it forever a secret. Two years and he still hadn’t made up his mind.
Brian finally got the cat out of the carrier and gently checked her over.

“Well?” Derek asked, pushing away from the wall.

“She’ll be due soon. We need to get some food and water down her. Not much, though. Too much will make her sick.”

“Right.”

“That pup you brought in this morning is looking well.”

Derek blinked. He had completely forgotten about the Labrador puppy that he had found in a storm drain.

“Shit, I feel like crap now. He’s going to live?”

Brian grinned and patted his arm. “I guarantee it. Other than fear and a bumped head, he’s doing fine. The staff’s already fallen in love with him.”

Derek took a deep breath of relief. “Good. Good.”

Brian looked at him a moment before speaking. “You were in a mood when you came back. Wanna talk about it?”

Not only was Brian the animal shrink, he was also the staff’s shrink. If anyone had any problems, he would be the one they went to. His quiet and nonjudgmental nature made people want to open up to him.

“I hate people,” Derek blurted.

“I know,” Brian said, nodding. He rubbed his hand up and down Derek’s back. It sent shivers of pleasure shooting to his groin.

It is amazing, Derek thought. This is the only person who can get me out of my bad mood just by looking at me. No one has ever done that.

He looked at Brian, and the vet removed his hand. Derek regretted the loss of contact.

“You should get back out there. I’ll take care of her now.”

“I know you will.”

“Don’t hate all humans, Derek. You only see them at their worst. They have a best. Remember that.”

Derek nodded mutely and walked out of the room.


*

BRIAN took a deep breath and looked down at the cat. “He’s a complicated one, I know.”

He and the cat stared at each other a moment longer before he snorted. “What do you mean he smells funny? How else is a human supposed to smell? He doesn’t wear cologne.”

Brian’s smile widened, and he continued to send calming thoughts to the cat. He imagined a warm and soft bed with fresh water and some tuna.

He couldn’t “talk” to animals, nor could they “talk” to him. But he could communicate on a level other humans couldn’t. He could give and receive images and that was how he could be an animal’s “shrink.” No one knew about his gift, not even his family. Whenever he had mentioned it, they would only think he was kidding, and when he got older, they told him to grow up. So he had grown silent.

The cat meowed in pleasure at the thought of the comfort coming, and when he put his arms around her to pick her up, she didn’t resist him. He carried the tawny beauty to the animal holding area and nodded to the staff as he passed.

People called him the animal shrink. He didn’t mind that. He was, in a way. His gift had always been used to help and soothe animals. He had also learned how to transfer his gift to humans. He couldn’t project calming images to them, nor could he read their minds, but he had good experience on how to soothe.

None of his techniques on humans worked better than on Derek. He was still puzzled by that. When he had been hired on, he had been warned about the humane officers and their territorial natures. The vet he had replaced, an old woman in her sixties named Lisa, had specifically taken him aside and told him about Derek.

The man was like a wolf, she explained to him. He was territorial, persistent, and loyal to a fault. He was dedicated to the job and took it very personally. The cruelty inflicted on animals was, to him, a personal insult. No one knew exactly why he took it so personally, but there it was.

Brian had listened to all Lisa had to say and had tried to prepare himself for the battle to come. Of all the officers he was to work with, he had been terrified of meeting Derek.

But when the meeting had come, it had been… uneventful. Derek had simply come into the clinic on his first day, introduced himself, and after giving Brian the once over, told him he could expect that day to be busy because of all the rain.

Only after that day did Brian loosen up. He still kept an eye on Derek, and realized that what Lisa had said had been the truth. Derek was utterly passionate, close to obsessive, about his job and the animals he rescued. He wanted punishment toward cruel and neglectful humans and was never satisfied with the fines most got slapped with.

Brian gently set the cat in a small kennel and gave her food and water. She thanked him with deep-throated purrs, and he smiled. He gave her head a thoughtful scratch before closing the kennel door.

He stood up, and, because today was slow, he figured he would get a lunch break for the first time that week.

But as he walked back to his workstation he began to puzzle over what the cat had “told” him. She had thought that Derek had smelled weird for a human, and it had put her on edge.

Why?

She couldn’t tell him what she had smelled or what it meant. Derek was definitely one of a kind, but why would his smell put a feline on edge?

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Another excerpt (it gets sexy—adult content)

Derek pulled into his driveway a few minutes later and both men got out of the jeep instantly. Brian was right on Derek’s heels as he pulled out his keys and tried to unlock his front door.

“Hurry,” Brian murmured, his hands gripping Derek’s butt.

“Come on,” Derek gasped, pleading with the door. Finally, it unlocked and they stumbled inside. Derek kicked the door close and swept Brian up in his arms. Brian wrapped his legs around Derek’s waist and his arms around Derek’s neck. Derek thanked the heavens that his house was only one floor as he stumbled to his bedroom. But the moment he entered the room, his ears were met by the sound of barking.

Brian jerked and his lips left Derek’s mouth. Derek groaned.

Brian looked over his shoulder and Derek saw the softening of those sensual green eyes and the quick grin that accompanied that look. Brian set his feet on the floor and pulled out of the circle of Derek’s arms. The dogs sniffed him curiously and he scratched their heads.

“They’re beautiful, Derek. What are their names?”

Derek figured the sooner he answered the normal pet questions, the sooner he could get into those pants and get a look at that ass.

“The mastiff is Goliath, the Lab is Betty Boop and the hound is Henry.”

“Henry?”
Derek shrugged. “Found him in a pound about a year ago. He’d been brought there when his owner couldn’t take care of him anymore. He’d already had that name.”

Brian smiled at the dogs’ enthusiasm but Derek couldn’t hold out much longer.

“Okay, guys,” Derek ushered the dogs out. “Not tonight. No fair chewing on things,”

He shut the door. Brian chuckled.

“No little dogs.”

“There is no such thing. There is little and there are dogs.”

Brian narrowed his eyes and crossed his arms over his chest. “Are you a smallist?”

Derek blinked. “A what?”

“A smallist. It’s like a racist but your bias to size.”

Derek laughed and hugged Brian to him. “Yes, I am.”

“I like little dogs. Maybe we aren’t right for each other.”

Derek knew the words were a joke by the look in Brian’s eyes.

“Come here,” Derek said before he crushed his mouth to Brian’s.

They yanked at each other’s clothes and soon were able to press their naked flesh together. Derek made himself take a step back just so he could take a fulfilling gaze of Brian’s body. He wasn’t disappointed. He was lean with firm muscles under smooth skin. A light sprinkling of golden hair covered his chest and slowly darkened as it descended until it was a dark gold around his hard shaft. At his center, Derek took pause. Brian’s shaft was long and thin and he grabbed it, unable to stop himself.

Brian gasped and gripped his arms, pressing his body once more to Derek’s.

Derek’s hand burned as it stroked Brian’s length and he wanted to devour the treat before him. At that moment he felt like the luckiest bastard in the entire world. He also, for just that moment, felt like just a man. Not a shifter, not an animal cop.

But a man.

Brian’s man.

Possessed, Derek grabbed and kneaded Brian’s butt before shoving him down on the bed. Derek pushed Brian further into the mattress with his body and kissed Brian soundly. Derek felt his own head spin as he swept his tongue everywhere inside Brian’s mouth.

He had the thought of taking it slow, however torturous that would be. He didn’t want to scare Brian or make him nervous. He wasn’t sure how long Brian had been without sex but he would do anything to put him at ease.

But when he pulled back to take a breath, Brian suddenly reversed their positions. Derek was shocked by the man’s sudden show of strength. Feeling oddly weak, Derek tried to capture Brian’s mouth again but that mouth was currently busy kissing and scraping his skin in a downward descent. Derek heard groans and realized that they were his own.

His hands tangled in Brian’s soft blonde hair as that soft mouth finally reached its goal. Brian slid his tongue up Derek’s shaft and the shifter gasped and tightened his grip. His muscles flexed under his skin as Brian slid him in and out of that wet mouth. Derek could actual feel his brain cells fizzle and short out. But he didn’t want to come yet. Not yet.
Unable to stand Brian’s warm mouth any longer, Derek gripped the man’s shoulders and hauled him up and onto the bed. His body was straining for release but he had yet to sample all the pleasure he knew Brian’s body could give him.

Derek held Brian down by holding his arms to the bed with his hands and his mouth roamed at will. He nibbled at Brian’s neck before drifting his tongue over his collarbone. Brian moaned and lifted his hips, rubbing their sensitive groins together.

Derek shivered but didn’t give in. His mouth drifted over one of Brian’s pink nipples and he dragged his tongue over it before sucking it into his mouth.

Brian was struggling against Derek’s hands and becoming more urgent.

“Jesus, Derek,” he finally managed to gasp. “I’m going to come soon,”

Derek grinned and kissed him once more before rolling him over. Brian made a sound of relief and lifted his posterior in anticipation. But before Derek could give them both release, he had to satisfy a curiosity he’d had since meeting Brian.
He gripped Brian’s butt cheeks in both hands and pried them apart. He took a deep breath and it was filled with Brian’s scent. He nearly came right there but managed to reign himself back under control after several shallow breaths. He never wanted to smell anything other than Brian’s arousal and the scent of musk that now surrounded him.

His mouth lowered and he tormented Brian for several minutes with his tongue and teeth. His tongue found its way inside Brian’s body and the man bucked underneath him, cursing.

Derek chuckled but knew neither of them would last much longer.Male symbol hearts on beach

He finally straightened and leaned over to open the drawer of a small stand beside his bed. He pulled out lube and a condom and applied them quickly. Brian gasped when the cold liquid hit his skin and Derek quickly slid on the condom.
Derek covered Brian and nuzzled his neck a moment before he gripped his hair and pulled his head back.

“Ready?” he whispered in Brian’s ear.
Brian’s eyes were bright with lust as he answered. “Fuck yes.”

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