Hello all! Thank you for joining me on another stop of the Healing Hunter’s Heart Blog Tour! Today we have an exciting and heartfelt excerpt exclusive to It’s About the Book. Hunter and Ari face many challenges throughout the book from those trying to keep them apart, especially the heartless and barbaric Koschei who’s determined to take Ari from Hunter for good. But Hunter and Ari’s love for each other is fierce, and neither intends to give up without a fight, no matter how deadly the battle. Enjoy!
You’re going to pay for what you’ve done. Hunter’s gaze never left Koschei. The beast was foul. His fur was matted in several places and in a few spots even missing. There was no telling how old Koschei was. Hunter had been hearing rumors of the villain since he was a pup. Some said Koschei spent so much time in his feral form that he was slowly losing his humanity. Hunter didn’t doubt it. Though what a feral clan leader wanted with the money the Hagan Council was paying him was beyond Hunter. What was a small fortune to someone like Koschei?
They waited patiently for Koschei to make the first move, and when he lunged at Hunter, his brother and friends dispersed. Hunter rolled, avoided Koschei, who was larger than him, and sped for the trees with Koschei on his tail. Behind him he heard the feral growls, barks, and yowls of their clans fighting. Hunter left them to it, concentrating on the beast that hurt his Ari. If he could get Koschei away from his pack, he might have a shot at killing the foul creature, especially since Koschei had an injured paw.
Hunter sped deep into the woods in an attempt to put distance between Koschei and his pack. With one howl, they would abandon their fight to join their Alpha. Koschei lunged at Hunter who rolled out of the way. He jumped to his paws and bared his fangs, his fierce growls soon joined by Koschei’s. The slowly circled each other, each one assessing the other and their best course of action. Hunter was surprised by Koschei’s harsh laugh.
I may not have finished off your lover, but with the injuries he’s sustained, he won’t last very long. Shame. He’s such a sweet little morsel. For a degenerate.
Hunter refused to be baited. The only degenerate I see is the animal before me. Make no mistake. You’ll die by my teeth, Koschei. Maybe not tonight, but I promise you. I will kill you. They charged each other just as Hunter had hoped.
Koschei’s size only made it easier for Hunter, who was far more agile than his enemy. The air changed, and Hunter leaped, springing off a tree and soaring over Koschei to land on his paws behind him. His jaws clamped down on Koschei’s back leg, and Hunter took satisfaction in the pained howl the beast released. Hunter tasted blood on his tongue, his razor sharp fangs sunk deep into Koschei’s leg. He tugged and shook his head, only releasing Koschei when he snapped at him. Hunter jumped out of the way, and Koschei snarled.
You’ll pay for that, you miserable mutt!
Koschei let out a signal. His pack immediately appeared and formed a barrier around him as he limped away. Hunter would have gone after him if he weren’t so worried about Ari. He had been in terrible shape.
Bo, I’m heading back. I need to get to Ari.
They’re long gone by now anyway. Boone agreed.
They all ran into Vucari Woods in the opposite direction Koschei and his pack had gone. They were only about a half an hour away from Iarilo but managed to make it there in just over twenty minutes.
Hunter was speeding toward Trip’s house when a series of howls informed him Ari had been taken to Hunter’s place. His paws skidded against the dirt as he changed directions and headed out of Vucari Woods toward his front door.
Boone appeared beside him, pleading with him. Hunt, you need to take care of your injuries!
I’m fine. Hunter assured him. He knew once he shifted he would feel every throbbing ache and sharp sting, but his Enforcer body was already starting to heal itself. Shifting, he ignored the pain spreading through his human body and barged into the house. Right now he had more important matters to worry about.
“Where is he? Where’s Ari?”
Brook came running, her hands going to his chest to stop him. The tears in her eyes didn’t bode well. Worse were the bloodstains on her shirt. “Hunter, you need to calm down. He’s… he’s not in good shape. I’ve done everything I could.”
Hunter’s heart plummeted. Had it come from anyone else, he would’ve been able to brush the statement away, no matter how true it might be, but from Brook….
“Please, where is he?” he demanded softly, sniffing the air. The scent of his lover mixed with blood and something dark he refused to acknowledge squeezed at his heart.
“He’s in the dining room. I tried to give him something for the pain, but he refused. He said he wanted to have a clear head for when you came.” A tear rolled down her cheek, and she let out a shaky breath. “You should go to him.”
Hunter hurried into the dining room, where the long rustic table had been covered with sheets and blankets. They’d laid Ari on top, a pillow under his head to make him comfortable. For the first time in his life, Hunter hesitated. He told himself he was approaching with caution simply to keep from spooking his lover, but the truth was Ari already knew he was there. It was more to save himself the crushing heartache of seeing his precious rebel in such a state.
“Ari.” The word left his mouth in a whisper, his heart shattering at the sight of Ari covered in nasty bruises, scrapes, cuts, gashes, and open wounds. He felt sick to his stomach. What had they done to his beautiful Ari? Brook had cleaned Ari up and disinfected his wounds, but his body wasn’t healing quickly enough.
Their species were magical creatures, their power to change from human to animal unexplainable by human science, though the humans had certainly made the attempt back during the War of the Fallen. So many of their scriptures had been destroyed, the rest altered to benefit the Council’s ways. Hunter felt helpless. There had to be a way to help Ari. What good was all his strength and ferocity if he couldn’t save the man he loved? Ari’s tattered and bloodied clothes littering the floor were a stark reminder of the numerous injuries he’d sustained.
“That bastard is going to pay for this.”
Hunter gently took Ari’s hand in his. “I’m here, sweetheart.”
His bottom lip trembled as Ari looked up at him, tears in his big brown eyes. He looked past Hunter, as if he couldn’t see him standing there before him. Dear Goddess, no. This couldn’t be happening. Hunter had never been one to pray to the Goddess, the Great Mother of all who’d given them life in this strange world. He hadn’t had much faith since he was a pup. His mother’s faith never faltered, not even after losing their father, but from that day, Hunter’s faith wavered. Now, he was more uncertain than ever, yet he said a small prayer to the Goddess.
“Remember that night at the club? When you gave me your hoodie?”
Hunter’s gaze went to the floor and the black hoodie Ari had been wearing, now torn to shreds and stained with blood. “How could I forget?” He placed Ari’s hand to his lips for a sweet kiss. His life hadn’t been the same since that night. Since a sweet husky-shifter with big brown eyes and a mischievous smile had stolen his heart.
“I wasn’t completely honest with you.”
“You should rest.” Hunter tried his hardest not to let his pain reflect in his voice, but it was nearly impossible. He’d never been more terrified in his life.
“No, I want you to know.”
“Okay, sweetheart. Tell me.” He brushed Ari’s hair away from his brow and smiled down at him, aware of the tear running down the side of his nose. He quickly swiped it away.
Ari smiled shyly. “I was there for you.”
“I don’t understand.” It had been a coincidence that Ari had shown up at the same bar as him that night. Hadn’t it?
As if sensing his thoughts, Ari continued. “I knew you were going to be there that night. I’d kind of been following you a little. I’d followed you there twice but chickened out. I promised myself the third time would be it.”
Hunter didn’t know what to say to that. It was the sweetest thing he’d ever heard.
“I went hoping I could get your attention,” Ari added softly.
“You did. You got my attention and then some.” He leaned in to give Ari’s cheek a kiss, hearing his lover’s breath growing ragged.
“I love you so much.” A tear rolled down the corner of Ari’s eye.
“And I love you, more than anything.” Hunter did his best to remain calm as Ari closed his eyes, his chest barely rising as his breaths became less frequent. This couldn’t be happening.
Genre: M/M Fantasy, Shifters
Published: April/May, 2015
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Coming Soon
Ebook ISBN-13: 9781634760201
Paperback ISBN-13: 9781634762847
Months after being forced to leave his lover and mate Ari Jannsen behind, Hunter Devin settles into his role as Enforcer for the newly formed Deagan Clan under the rule of his new Alpha and best friend Tristan ‘Trip’ Hagan. Along with Hunter’s brother Boone, their nephews, sister, and mother, Hunter finally has the family he’s always wanted, but without his little rebel Ari, his heart is incomplete.
The Hagan Clan is unable to accept the Deagan Clan’s betrayal for walking away and taking the clan’s pups with them. War looms. As both clans plan their attack, a greater enemy plots against them. But Hunter is determined to get his Ari back. Bonds are put to the test and unexpected alliances are made as Hunter and his clan set out to protect their own and end the spreading heartache.
Charlie Cochet is an author by day and artist by night. Always quick to succumb to the whispers of her wayward muse, no star is out of reach when following her passion. From Historical to Fantasy, Contemporary to Science Fiction, there’s bound to be plenty of mischief for her heroes to find themselves in, and plenty of romance, too!
Currently residing in South Florida, Charlie looks forward to migrating to a land where the weather includes seasons other than hot, hotter, and boy, it’s hot! When she isn’t writing, she can usually be found reading, drawing, or watching movies. She runs on coffee, thrives on music, and loves to hear from readers.