Excerpt: The Sheriff’s Magic Summer Jail Break
Rowena Grayhide shrugged off her t-shirt and threw it aside.
The crowd in the parking lot hooted approval. There were about forty or fifty Shifters here tonight, some from her pack, some other local arcanes, some out-of-towners. Some of them held sparklers, others set off small, noisy “poppers.” In the distance, fireworks from the town’s official display blossomed in the sky. But the Shifters were celebrating Independence Day in their own way.
Rowena wore a sports bra. The summer night was warm and her body already glistened with sweat. Her feet were bare on the cold gravel of the parking lot, but she ignored the gravel, broken grass, and cigarette butts as if they weren’t there.
She felt it though, she felt every pebble. On nights like this, when the full moon rose over the mountains, her blood ran hot, her wolf close to the surface, she felt every sensation tenfold.
The crowd gathered in a rough circle around her and the other Shifter woman who were preparing to fight.
Next, she shimmied out of her jeans. She was down to her bra and panties, both black Lycra. The crowd howled their appreciation again, especially the males. Proud of her toned, muscular body, she raised her fists in the air, screaming, “Yeah! That’s right!”
The other woman wasn’t a local, but Rowena knew she was a Bear Shifter, knew her name was Dezzie. Rowena didn’t know Dezzie’s last name, didn’t care.
Dezzie sneered, “Stop playing around, puppy!” as she stripped naked. She was a huge woman, even in human form. She roared, even in human form, like a grizzly.
Rowena smirked, unimpressed.
She stripped off her bra and panties, tossed them with her other clothes.
“Don’t steal my undies, Max,” she warned the Weasel Shifter, who was already edging toward the clothes, “Or I will bite off one of your fingers.”
The weasel jerked back and skittered away.
Rowena had already focused on Dezzie. Both women now stood facing each other, naked, in the circle of men and women who were shouting, making bets on the fight, calling out offers to mate with the winner.
Both women shifted to their animals and attacked.
Wolf versus Bear.
Rowena surrendered to her wolf. No pesky human thoughts worried her during a fight. Her animal responded to the grizzly attack at an atavistic level.
Fur. Blood. Bone. Bite. Roar…!
Sirens. Lights. Screams…
No, wait, what?
Rowan, her brother, and Julia, her cousin, were shouting at her, “Change back, change back! Rowena, you have to shift! The cops are here!”
The words made no sense to her wolf.
It made no sense to the bear either. She didn’t shift, she attacked again. Wolf demanded that Rowena leap to meet the aggressor.
Wolf versus Bear.
The fight was all that mattered. In the back of Rowena’s wolf body, the human woke up. Human worries muscled into the brain. The sirens, the red and blue lights… But that wasn’t enough to distract the wolf from her rival. This couldn’t stop until one of them won and one surrendered—or died.
They kept fighting until the wolf took down her enemy. The bear fell unconscious to the ground. Dezzie lost consciousness and shifted back to human.
That surrender allowed Rowena to finally shift back as well. Triumph surged through her, and she fist-pumped the air. “Hell yeah!”
No one echoed her cry of triumph. Nobody in the crowd cheered. In fact, it was eerily silent. The parking lot was empty.
All the Shifters had scattered because the cops had arrived..
Footsteps on the gravel approached.
A man cleared his throat.
Rowena looked up into the eyes of Spencer Lawson standing above her.
She was naked, splattered in blood, some from an enormous bear bite on her upper arm but most from the bear. Rowena’s mouth was scarlet like a blood-guzzling monster. She knelt over the body of another naked woman who was bleeding from five different places Rowena had bit her.
“Would you care to explain yourself, Ms Grayhide?” Spencer Lawson asked.
He raised his eyebrow.
Suddenly she imagined herself as he must see her. She wouldn’t have cared if it had been any other cop but him. But she had known him since back in high school, when he was the most gorgeous senior in the school, and she was a dreamy-eyed freshman.
Her cheeks burned scarlet with humiliation.
His eyes slid past her and landed on Dezzie.
The speck of amusement in his eyes vanished, replaced by real disapproval and concern.
“We are taking you in Miss Grayhide,” he said sternly.
Everything was all business after that. While his companion checked the pulse on Dizzy, Sheriff Lawson read off her Miranda rights.
The other cop, Jarvis, whom she had never liked, cemented in her mind what a big jerk he was. He wanted to handcuff Rowena just as she was, and make her walk naked through the police bullpen. But Spencer allowed her to put her clothes back on over her blood splattered body, although he watched her keenly the entire time.
“Are you enjoying the peep show, Sheriff?” she asked bitterly.
In fact, he wasn’t leering at her, and she knew it. It was the disappointment and disgust radiating off of him that made her lash out.
“There are more important things in this world than your tits, Grayhide,” he retorted. “You may have killed this woman.”
Rowena could have told him that Dezzie was as strong as a grizzly bear, and magic besides. She could’ve taken five slugs of lead to the chest and still been walking by the end of the week. Sure, Rowena had won the fight, but Dezzie was in no danger of dying from a few wolf bites.
But Rowena wasn’t going to bother telling that to a human. And no matter how hot he was, Spencer was only human.
“Was it self-defense?” he asked. He was playing Good Cop now. “Is that why you did it?”
He invited her to respond, but when she only gave him the middle finger, his face hardened again.
“Or was it for kicks and cash?” Deep disgust etched his friend. He gestured to the empty parking lot. “I know about the fights you guys hold up here. It’s got to stop, Rowena. Do you really want to live your life like this? You’re a smart girl. You could do so much more with your life.”
“You don’t know jack about me, Sheriff,” Rowena scoffed.
“I know you’re gonna spend the night in jail,” he said. ”And if you’re not careful, the rest of your life in prison.”