Well, as final as it can be, considering I’m forever tinkering with my covers. After more than ten tries, here is the one image I chose to describe The Lonely Wolf’s story.
To celebrate this glorious day, I will post a longer excerpt from my upcoming paranormal title, The Lonely Wolf, the sixth in The Immortals series, and a love story between a werewolf, the mighty alpha Quintilius, and the new-elected archangel, Ludwig. Lovers for more than two thousand years, but separated by racism and politics, Quin and Ludwig will fight for their right to be together…
From The Lonely Wolf—Quin and Ludwig meets for the first time:
Quintilius hated Tuesdays with the same intensity the rest of the world hated Mondays. Since he didn’t care about Sundays, the beginning of the week wasn’t a hardship to him. But the day after, he usually was in such a state his employees had learned to give him a wide berth.
His aversion for Tuesdays wasn’t new. In fact, it had started in the long lost imperial times of Rome when he owned a taberna in Testaccio neighborhood. The eatery was closed on Mondays, and he used the day to restock the cellars. One luminous spring morning, he was buying wine from Laurentius in the Trajan Market and his wolf suddenly went into a frenzy, forcing him to stop his dealings with the merchant at once.
Never before had he lost control over his wolf. It was unheard for an alpha and something he wanted to keep to himself, so he walked away from the Roman Forum and sought some privacy. The wolf wouldn’t give him respite. The more he moved away from the market, the more his beast opposed his will. A few shifters strolling through the stalls turned his way, and Quintilius decided that it would be safer to let his wolf dictate where to go if it calmed him.
Taking his wolf’s mood swings as a compass, Quintilius circled the Forum twice before his beast gave him clear indication he wanted Quintilius to stop before the Public Baths. He had heard of the true soul mate calling, but had never experienced any of the symptoms described by the werewolves in his clan and thought he would have rather avoided the whole thing.
Taking a long breath, he entered the Baths and paid a sesterx for his admission while he admonished his wolf to behave. Still following his wolf’s whims, he doffed his toga and donned a large towel around his waist, then moved to the tepidarium, the pool with the warm water. As he stepped into the scented pool, presently deserted besides one other patron, his heart started beating so fast, he was scared at first.
Then he realized his wolf was deliriously happy, and the feeling became his as well when he set eyes on the large shape of the man sitting at the other end of the pool. The warm fog shrouding the tepidarium in eucalyptus vapors dissipated, and the man’s features came into focus.
Deep gray eyes locked with Quintilius’s, and the most incredible emotion took root in Quintilius’s heart that had now stilled. Belonging. His feet moved on their own accord, and he entered the water, wading through as if a magnet pulled him toward the man staring at him with those stormy eyes.
Finally, he stopped before the stranger. “Vale,” he greeted the man as in his mind his wolf rolled on his back, showing his tummy.
“Vale,” the stranger replied, and Quintilius could see in the man’s countenance he was equally disconcerted.
“May I sit there?” Quintilius pointed at the spot beside the man.
“Of course,” the man answered as if it was the most natural thing to crowd that corner when spots were aplenty.
Quintilius felt lightheaded as he slowly lowered himself to the marble seat. He risked a brief glance to the side and took in the man’s chiseled body and strong features. An attraction that bordered on insanity flared through Quintilius, and he had to control his primal instincts, least he would sink his teeth into the man’s shoulder.
“What are you?” Quintilius could see the man’s aura illuminating him like a halo, and he had his answer before the man spoke.
“I’m an angel, wolf.” The man smiled, and his eyes’ radiance blinded Quintilius for a moment.
Worried he would voice one of the many thoughts swimming in his addled brain, Quintilius stilled his hand on his thigh, squeezing his flesh to snap out of the lustful haze. All the while, his wolf didn’t give him respite, asking to taste the angel’s skin, to lick the salt perspiring in the hollow of his throat, to stroke him slowly with his tongue.
“Care to fly somewhere else?”
The angel’s question took Quintilius by surprise, and he didn’t answer because he didn’t want to hear his trembling voice say, “Anywhere with you.”
The angel stood then, revealing what the vapors had hidden. Massive, the representation of male perfection, the beauty of his body left Quintilius panting. Rivulets of water cascaded along the angel’s pectorals and pooled in the springy red-blond curls at the junction of his muscular legs. The man didn’t go for the towel sitting folded at the edge of the pool, but kept still, goading Quintilius’s eyes to linger where the white cloth would have rested.
Ashamed of his reaction, Quintilius averted his treacherous eyes that couldn’t seem to have enough of the sight. Nudity wasn’t the issue. Not everyone covered themselves in the baths. Men often displayed their bodies, strolled around naked, and even ate and conversed without wearing much. But never before had Quintilius ogled another patron with such hunger. His wolf nudged at him with renewed insistence, demanding with a low growl to be let out.
Sometimes to be a full-fledged alpha wasn’t helpful. In general, werewolves had to contend with their beasts once a month. Betas and even omegas managed them quite easily. But once alphas came into power, they had to keep their wolves on check constantly. Even among alphas, Quintilius, who had blossomed in his early twenties, was different because his wolf was stronger and more independent-thinking than most.
The angel regarded him with a knowing smile, then turned and stepped onto the pool’s edge. “Are you coming or not?”
Fascinated by the sculpted lines of his equally breathtaking backside, Quintilius said, “Yes,” raising from the pool. On shaky legs, he climbed up onto the marble landing, then walked toward the man but stopped before closing the distance between them. His wolf didn’t agree with his decision, but Quintilius’s resolve was stronger, albeit short.
The angel grabbed his arm and pulled Quintilius close to him. “Are you afraid of heights?”
“No. I am not.” Then something possessed him, and Quintilius stepped even closer to the angel, tilted his chin up and whispered to his lips, “Are you afraid of wolves?”
The angel’s mouth descended on his fast. Before Quintilius could think of the consequences, he opened his lips, accepting the urgent strokes of the angel’s tongue and reciprocating in earnest. Voices from the antechamber intruded in their private haven, and the angel leaned away, interrupting the kiss.
“Does that answer your question, wolf?”
“Loud and clear, angel.”