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Friday, August 13, 2010

Dog Days of Summer

Yep, this is the "puppy!"
I don’t know what it is about the middle of August, but everyone in my house is bored and restless. Maybe it’s just that it’s too hot to be outside and we didn’t put up the pool this year. (Due to construction that is now over a month late in starting, but that’s a whole other story.) Maybe it’s that it’s been too many years since our last real vacation, but there’s certainly no money for another. Maybe it’s just the dog days of summer.

Yep, even the dogs don’t like it. The puppy—who’s now a whole year old—wants to play, but can’t stand the heat. The geriatric grump-asaurus doesn’t even try. Outside, business done, back in ASAP.

Well, come Monday, I’ll have a little something for you to brighten a few minutes of your summer doldrums, and it’s even vaguely canine-related. Sporting Wood, a werewolf/dryad story loosely set in my Immortal Cravings world, will be released from Ellora’s Cave. Absolutely FREE. Yep. Free. So here’s a little sample, just for fun.

Sporting Wood
By Cindy Spencer Pape
An Ellora’s Cave Naughty Nooner free read
Available Monday, August 16, 2010
click here for more information

Blurb: What happens when a werewolf and a dryad meet in the forest at night? For Cooper and Kyla, the result is smoldering hot passion beyond anything they’ve ever known. Even though there’s no real future for a botany professor and a nymph who lives in a tree, Coop keeps returning, night after night, for the steamiest sex of his life. When their fiery passion turns to love, it seems hopeless, unless a determined Kyla can find a way to keep her man.

Excerpt: (PG-13)

Coop trotted along in wolf form through the wooded grove. To a human, this area deep in the heart of the Olympic Peninsula’s temperate rain forest would seem impenetrably dark, but to his senses it was awash in the silvery light of the full moon. He’d never ventured this far into the forest before, but he knew he’d be back. There was something elementally soothing about this grove—as if it had never been touched by the hand of man. All the tension of his day slipped away, even more so than it always did when he was able to shift and run through the moonlight. Here in the forest, he wasn’t Professor Marceski, constantly worried about maintaining his grant funding or getting that next paper published, and he wasn’t even Cooper, the werewolf. He just was.

He paused beside a particularly stunning red alder tree and lifted his leg.

“Don’t even think about it, Fido.”

That gave Cooper pause. He stood there, leg cocked, and studied the tree. Had it actually spoken to him, or was he more stressed-out than he’d realized after just finishing up his tenure approval?

“You heard me. Shoo. Go piss on somebody else.”

He yipped softly back, tipping his head from side to side.

“I know what you are. If you want to talk to me, fine, just project your thoughts, dummy. But first, go over in the bushes and relieve yourself. Don’t get any of that nasty stuff on my bark.”

The voice was decidedly feminine, if a little bit on the snarky side. Now that he thought about it, he could tell it was inside his head, not something he was hearing through his ears. Huh. Trees that could talk? While his scientific brain was processing the possibilities, he walked over to some huckleberry shrubs and took care of business. Then he went back and sat down in front of the alder tree.

What are you? Trees couldn’t talk. He was a botanist, damn it. He knew that.

A tree, you moron. You are a little slow, aren’t you?

The scruff of Coop’s neck stood up. He was considered a genius in scientific circles. He’d almost perfected a vaccine against Dutch elm disease, a breakthrough that could save thousands if not millions of trees a year. He was not a moron.

Really? Then why are you sitting on your butt, talking to a tree?

The tree had a point, but Cooper shrugged it off. Do you have a name?

You don’t know an alder when you see it?

Another voice, also female, but a little—older? sharper?—chimed in. This one is a bright one, isn’t he? Why are you talking to him? Cooper looked around and placed this voice into a Douglass fir off to the left that had to be over two hundred feet tall. The alder, at maybe sixty feet, was positively dwarfed by her—its—neighbor.

Sorry, ladies. I meant individual names, since clearly, each of you is unique.

The fir laughed—at least Cooper could have sworn it did. How could a tree laugh? He’s a charmer, even if he isn’t too smart. I’m Xera.

Kyla, said the alder, her psychic voice sweeter and more musical than the fir’s, even though she’d been kind of snotty at first. What’s yours?

Cooper Marceski. He dipped his head in greeting to each tree.

Cooper? Does that mean you make barrels? The alder—Kyla—sounded unimpressed.

Cooper chuffed a laugh out his snout. No. It’s just the first name my parents gave me. I’m a teacher and scientist.

Oh really? He could hear the skepticism in the voice of the fir. Scientist.

Yes, Xera. I know you think I’m a little dim, but in human form, I’m a professor of botany. Which was probably why his mental breakdown took the form of talking to trees. The irony was by no means lost on him, even if he had cracked.

You’re not crazy. Kyla’s tone was actually kind for a moment. If you believe in werewolves, why not talking trees?


Katalina Leon said...

I loved this excerpt! This story sounds like a lot of fun and I'm looking forward to reading the entire story. I hope "Sporting Wood" brings you many new readers and loyal fans.

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Thanks, Kat! I really was just aiming for fun with this one.

Paris said...

LOL! What a great concept and I love the excerpt:-) Just the thing to perk up the dog days of August:-)

Julia Rachel Barrett said...

Sporting Wood - the title alone brings a smile to my face!

Jean Hart Stewart said...

Gotta see the rest of it... when do we get it? Jean

Cindy Spencer Pape said...

Thanks, Paris & Julia. It makes me giggle too. Jean, it's free to download Monday morning.

Tina Donahue said...

Sporting Wood - LOVE the title and cover and the excerpt - well, it's vintage Cindy, totally yummy. Hope you sell tons, sweetie. :)

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