Trent Jacek doesn't want too much-to live on the ranch his brother owns, a few puppies to keep him company in his trailer, maybe a good man if he can find one. First he has to catch a break long enough to try. Things just aren't slowing down on the Jacek ranch. They've got a barn to rebuild, and their plan to get a pack of shifter wolves off their back doesn't seem to be working.
Then there's the matter of the bones the police are looking for on the ranch. After a grayed, old femur was left on the porch, Trent and his brother Joe are forced to confront some things they'd never expected to. Is that solitary bone from their mother, who went missing over twenty years ago? If so, how did she end up there? If not, who is dumping people on the ranch?
Trent's been having the strangest dreams since he's seen that femur but can't imagine they're more than just dreams. He doesn't have a lot of time to worry about them between shifter attacks, a nosy biologist and neighbors coming by to snoop.
What Trent doesn't know is someone has put an assassin on his tail, but it's the assassin who will come to question everything he's been told once he meets the vibrant, sexy man he's been sent to kill.
|Publisher:||Totally Entwined Group Limited|
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.46(d)|
Read an Excerpt
Trent Jacek groaned as he opened his eyes. "Damn," he muttered. He was sore as hell after spending the prior day fighting werewolves, of all things. If he hadn't known of their existence for a few weeks now, he'd have thought he dreamed it all. And if he didn't ache all over.
"This is what I get for fighting the good fight?" he asked no one, seeing as how he was alone. If anyone found out how often he talked to himself, he'd likely be carted off to a psychiatrist. There was nothing wrong with talking to yourself, he figured. It beat the silence and made him feel less alone ... but more pathetic.
He got out of bed, griping and grumbling. A hot shower, some hotter coffee, and a few ibuprofen. That's what he needed then he might feel more like a human being than a punching bag.
He hadn't really taken any hits yesterday, but he was still sore. The running, ducking, and being tense as hell because he thought he or someone he cared about was going to get their throat ripped out — those things were why he ached.
In the shower, he washed quickly before leaning against the wall and letting the water pelt his back and shoulders. It wasn't anywhere near as good as a massage. Imagining hands on him only made him kind of horny. How long had it been since he'd gotten laid? Oh yeah. About a year.
"It's a miracle you haven't fallen off, buddy," he said as he began to stroke his dick. He had a flash of an image that was good until he realized he was picturing Diego's bare ass. Since Diego was his brother's boyfriend and a wolf shifter to boot, he was way, way off limits. "That's gross, too." Not Diego. He was a sexy little thing. Trent liked to irritate his brother Joe by flirting with Diego, but he didn't want to do Diego. He supposed he'd just imagined him because he'd seen Diego naked a few times lately while the guy shifted forms.
Trent concentrated on one of his favorite porn stars. Big, hairy, rough and kind of on the ugly side — really, the guy did it for Trent. He didn't like pretty men or even handsome ones. Give him rough and real any day.
"Yeah," he murmured, thinking of how good it'd feel to push that big man down and slide his cock into a tight, tight hole. Mouth or ass, either would be fantastic. Trent jacked himself faster, eyes closing, breath coming in pants. To shove in to the hilt, have his balls slap against another man's — that'd be heaven.
He moaned and held his cock tighter. "Come on. Come on," he urged, picturing it, him ramming in over and over, the man beneath him writhing, begging. Trent pinched his own nipple, and it added a spark that fed the fire of his need.
Another thrust, a twist of his wrist, and his arousal spiked into a giant burst of pleasure. Whether he cursed or shouted, he couldn't have said. He was shaking and weak, ready to go back to bed when his climax ended.
Bed wasn't a choice. Their barn had been burned down yesterday, thanks to the fucking werewolves that had come to try to take Diego back to his former pack. There was a lot of work needing to be done over the next several weeks. Building a new barn was one of those things.
He rinsed again and told himself to quit lollygagging around. Ten minutes later, he was dressed and out of the door, carrying his coffee in one hand and a shotgun in the other. Just because the werewolves they'd left alive had said they wouldn't come back, didn't mean they were telling the truth.
Trent drove over to his brother's place — his brother and Diego's place, he corrected. The family home Trent had grown up in now belonged to Joe and Diego. That might be a new relationship, but Trent had known from the first day he'd seen Diego jumping out of Joe's bedroom window — although not right at that instant — that those two would end up all happy forever. He'd be ribbing Joe about that every chance he got. Probably Diego, too, because the guy blushed so easily.
Yeah, he could be an asshole sometimes. Trent knew himself well.
The sun was just starting to rise when he let himself into the house. Joe and Diego weren't in the kitchen yet. They would be, soon. The coffee had brewed thanks to the automatic timer on the pot. The smell of it was possibly Trent's favorite aroma. Next to a sexy man. A little sweat, some of that musky —
"Trent? Is that you?"
"Nah, Joe, it's a murderer come sneaking in just to holler out a warning to you." Trent chuckled as his brother hollered back for him to fuck off.
"We got a barn to build," Trent reminded him. "No time for fucking if you haven't already got some." He opened the fridge and spied the makings for a good breakfast. "You two aren't in here by the time the bacon's fried, I'm eating it all. And drinking the coffee."
"Jackass," Joe said as he walked into the kitchen.
Trent turned with his hands full of foods to prepare and burst out laughing. "Jesus, bub. Your hair is standing up every which way. Must have been a fun night."
"And morning," Joe said smugly.
That shut Trent up for all of a minute. He got two skillets on the stove's burners then poured some oil into the one he'd use for eggs. "Well, well. Bragging is a sin, isn't it? So is lying."
"He's not lying."
Trent glanced over at Diego, who'd snuck right in on those silent feet. Trent would swear they had magic noise muffling abilities. Diego could sneak like no one else.
"Good morning, sunshine," Trent sang, winking at Diego. "You look like you were rode hard and ... rode hard some more."
Diego blushed and ran his hands over his hair, which was even more disheveled than Joe's. There was also a smattering of hickies down Diego's neck and on his chest.
Trent waggled his eyebrows at Joe. "You've been practicing your sucking skills. I coulda told you, you suck. Now poor Diego's all marked up."
Diego looked like he was torn between being angry and being confused.
Joe just rolled his eyes. "God damn, it's too early for your smart mouth, Trent."
"Can't help it. Got to entertain myself somehow," he said. He cracked a dozen eggs into the skillet after getting the bacon on to fry.
Joe and Diego got their coffee and Diego poured Trent some more.
"Thanks," Trent told him while stirring the eggs. "There are some biscuits in the freezer, and a container of gravy I stored from last week. Can you hand 'em to me, Joe?"
"Yeah. Need me to make more gravy?" Joe asked.
Trent turned to eye the plastic dish Joe held up. "Nah. Should be enough. That's why I made such a big batch last time."
The three of them chatted idly — well, Diego was quiet more often than not. Once Trent had breakfast on the table, the conversation ceased until they'd cleaned their plates.
"Good breakfast." Joe stood and took the dishes to the sink. "I'll —"
"Go get dressed and cleaned up because you've got dog breath —" Trent darted an apologetic glance Diego's way. "No offense."
Diego stuck his tongue out at Trent. "I'm not a dog. I'm a wolf and only when I shift. Totally different species."
Trent waved him off. "Yeah, yeah, yeah. Heard that before. I think the scientists are pulling our leg with that one. Wolf, dog, coyote." He twirled a finger around.
"You're just trying to make me mad, right?" Diego asked so earnestly, Trent couldn't help but be honest.
"Sure, or at least get a rise out of you. It's what I do." He added in his best Batman imitation, "Because it's not what I am underneath my Stetson, it's what I do that defines me."
Joe groaned. "God, stop fucking up the Batman quotes."
"Go get ready, both of you. I'll clean up in here." Trent was pleased with his poking and teasing. Even when he wasn't in the mood to play the annoying younger brother, he did it. Joe expected it of him, and it stopped Trent from thinking about things he didn't want to think about.
He had the dishwasher loaded and the kitchen surfaces cleaned off by the time Joe and Diego returned, both freshly showered and looking ready to face the day.
"I gotta call the insurance company," Joe said immediately. "Should have done so last night, but I was worn out."
Trent tipped his chin at Diego. "Yeah, I saw just how worn out you were, remember?"
Joe might have even blushed at that. He tugged on the brim of his hat. "You need to get laid."
"I keep saying that, and yet it hasn't happened. I can't seem to pull a boyfriend out of thin air like you did." Trent kept back the pressing jealousy he felt. He wanted Joe to be happy and have someone. It just hurt that Trent didn't. "And I can't go looking for a fuck any time soon, not with the barn needing rebuilding and the possibility of psychotic shifters popping up."
"After the barn's up again," Joe offered expectantly.
Trent cocked a hip and put a hand on it. "You trying to get rid of me, bub?"
Trent gave his best put-upon sigh. "Fine, fine. If I must, I'll go away for a few days and have fun. But I'm going under duress."
"You're so full of it," Diego muttered, a slight smile on his face.
Trent high-fived him. "Yay! You insulted me, sort of."
"Sort of?" Diego asked.
"It wasn't much of an insult, but you get points for trying." Trent patted his back.
"You gotta be meaner than that or Trent'll think you don't like him," Joe added.
Trent beamed at them both. "I am a glutton for punishment." Then he let himself be wicked, and added, "Not like a certain person in this room. You two are loud. Did I tell you that when I was staying here?" Since Joe looked like he was ready for a fight with him, Trent temporized his teasing. "To each his own, of course. I'm just saying ... I don't think I could go for someone spanking me. I'd try to kill him, so go, you two! Y'all are all kinky and perfect for each other."
"Trent, shut up," Joe growled.
Well, he had kind of overstepped there. "Too much coffee this morning. Speaking of which ..." He left them there while he strolled to the bathroom.
On his way, he saw the femur. The sight of it stopped him in his tracks. Small, thin, pitted, and grayed with age, the femur needed to be called in to Sheriff Kenzie. The shifters that had attacked them had lugged that bone up to the porch, and there was a good chance the rest of the skeleton was somewhere on the ranch.
Looking at the bone gave Trent a distinctly uncomfortable feeling. Diego had remarked that it probably had come from a female, and every time Trent even thought of the bone, he wondered if the bone belonged to his mother.
He heard footsteps and would have gone on to the bathroom, but knew he'd been caught gawking.
"We can call Kenzie today," Joe said. "Before the insurance company, if you want. I don't think it's from her, though."
Her being their mother, who'd disappeared on them over twenty-six years ago.
Trent shook his head. "Nah. Call the insurance agent first. Got to get the barn taken care of. Whoever this is, they've been dead a long time. Won't hurt to wait a little while longer before anything's done about it." With that, Trent forced himself to walk away.
In the bathroom, he relieved his bladder then flushed the toilet. At the sink, he looked himself over in the mirror. He'd always looked a lot like their mom, though not really in build. They had the same sandy blond hair, and were both on the short side. Five- seven wasn't super-short for a guy —
"Yeah right." Trent washed his hands and told himself to get his head where it needed to be. They had a long list of chores to do today and for every day in the near future.CHAPTER 2
Ruby Pilickis took the glass of tea he handed her. Trent watched her drink for a second before taking a glass to her brother, Eric.
"Thanks," Eric said. He drained the glass in three gulps. "Shit, it's hot."
"Yeah it is." Trent swiped at the sweat running down his neck. "I'll bring the pitcher out in a second. Thanks for coming over And helping us out."
Eric nodded. He wouldn't quite look Trent in the eye.
Well, Trent knew why. He'd like to assure Eric that he sure as hell wasn't going to tell anyone about them jacking off together a few times as kids, but knew even bringing it up would freak the guy out. It'd been half their lifetimes ago, and it seemed Eric was the one hung up on it. Trent hardly ever even gave those days a thought.
Trent repressed the urge to poke at Eric just to unsettle him. He wasn't that big a dick. He just liked to tease some people.
Definitely not Eric. Trent grabbed the pitcher and returned with it, having just enough tea left to refill Eric and Ruby's glasses, along with Diego's.
"Thanks," Diego said quietly. He moved closer to Trent when Eric looked their way.
Trent wondered what was up with that. So he asked. "What's up with you scooting closer all the sudden?"
Diego snuffled, like he was either about to sneeze or something. "Makes me nervous. And he looks at you when you aren't aware of it."
Trent gave an internal eye roll. Freakin' closet cases. He truly did believe the 'to each his or her own' thing but damn, he didn't like being a fantasy for someone who would never come out. Not that Eric was fantasizing about him. Trent wouldn't know. What he was aware of was the fact that Eric had never gone away to college, that he'd lived his whole life in and around Uvalde, Texas. So chances were good he'd never fucked around with a guy, not other than the jacking off they'd done together so long ago.
Okay, so maybe he was the star of some of Eric's fantasies. Now he just felt bad for the guy.
"Eh, he's harmless," Trent informed Diego. "You don't have to get too close to him."
"He asked me questions," Diego whispered, turning a worried gaze his way. "Where was I from, when did I get here, was I going to stay. I didn't want to talk to him."
Trent knew Diego was uncomfortable lying, and he couldn't exactly be honest about his past with anyone other than Joe or Trent. "Then don't talk to him. Just, say excuse me and leave. Find me or Joe. It's great that Eric and Ruby are helping us clear this shit out, but they aren't necessary. Insurance company can send someone instead of us having the neighbors over."
Before anything else was said, Sheriff Kenzie pulled down the dirt road leading from the paved road to the main house. Trent nudged Diego. "Go tell bub the sheriff's here."
In the two days since she'd come and taken the report about the bone, nothing much had been done. Partly because there'd been some a bad wreck that had claimed the lives of three townsfolk, and there'd been a fire and explosion thanks to a meth lab gone wrong — or more wrong. Trent liked to take a toke now and then, but meth and hard drugs ... Those were totally not in his realm of acceptable shit to do.
"Maybe she's going to tell us they've got a search planned now," Tony said to no one but himself.
Or so he thought. Eric stepped up to stand beside him. "She here about that bone?"
Trent swallowed back a sarcastic reply. "I'd imagine. Ain't done anything to get me arrested today. Now yesterday ..." He trailed off and slipped into a bit of a leer.
Eric blanched and moved away from him.
Trent ignored him after that. The guy had no sense of humor and was too scared of being called queer to take a joke anyway.
Sheriff Kenzie parked and Trent waved at her. She got out of her car.
"How you doing today?" he asked her. "Come to help clear out this burnt shit so we can get a barn put up?"
Sheriff Kenzie wasn't much older than him, but she looked like she could be his mom. The thought caused a twinge of pain in Trent's chest.
"If I had time to help, I would. Been a rough few days." She came over and stopped in front of him. "You don't have any idea where that bone came from?"
Trent had already been through this with her. So had Joe. And Diego. "No, ma'am. I told you. It was just on the porch."
"Hm." She waved at Joe and Diego as they strode over. "Hey there. Just following up about the bone."
"Don't know any more than we did when you came and got it, Sheriff," Joe drawled.
Sheriff Kenzie flapped a hand at him. "Cut it out, Joe. Call me Cheryl and stop being a jackass."
Joe smirked at her. "You know you like the title."
"The power," Kenzie corrected. "Because oh my God, I am just the queen of this here county."
"Sarcasm from our good sheriff?" Trent asked. "Why, I'd never have thought it."
"Because you don't know her like I do," Joe informed him.
And damned if Cheryl didn't blush. Diego looked very uncomfortable. Trent felt bad for the guy.
"Not cool," Trent muttered to Joe.
Joe's face went ruddy and he inhaled sharply. "Oh, no, I didn't mean —"(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Texas and Tarantulas"
Copyright © 2014 Bailey Bradford.
Excerpted by permission of Totally Entwined Group Limited.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
So I will give this warning with this book, if you are afraid of reading about Tarantulas, then this might not be the one for you. While, unfortunately, there are not tarantula shifters in this story (I was sooooooo holding out for that too!) they are mentioned quite a bit in here. Even to the point of having one as a pet! (Totally jealous!) This book is the sequel to Dark Nights and Headlights, and while I would say that you don’t *have* to read that book to understand what is going on because Ms. Bradford does a great job at summing up the details as to what happened, I would recommend it because it is a great addition to this story and it will clear up any questions you may have. I thought that Ms. Bradford did a great job with the characters in this book. I especially loved how it was completely off guard on who wanted what in the relationship; it really wasn’t what it seemed. I really believe that she also did an amazing job with the storyline as well. I was worried that it wouldn’t be as exciting as the first book was, but she sure proved me wrong! I thoroughly enjoyed the story and was left for wanting more! I really hope that there will be another book in this series because I just love how different they are from the *normal* paranormal shifter books out there right now. These ones are about finding someone who you are happy with, for who they are. And not because you are destined to be with them. They are also about the love of a family, and being there to support them without any questions, just because you want too. Reviewed by Crystal Marie for Crystal’s Many Reviewers *Copy provided for review*