I don’t really have much Alex news to share, because all you guys know stuff way before I do. I wanted to post something so I decided to just share this. It’s a short excerpt from my Alex-inspired novel, The Howling Heart. I wonder if some of my readers will know who Riley was penned after? This scene makes it pretty obvious though. My editor is actually still reviewing my manuscript, so the excerpt is unedited but it won’t be removed.
If Riley were a dog, his ears would’ve perked. He suddenly looked more alert. “Why are you having second thoughts?”
“I think there’s a wolf tracking me. It’s not safe for me here so I have to go home.”
His head jerked as if taken back. “A wolf?”
“Yes,” I nodded. “It came into my cabin and it was here last night lying right where you are.” Riley didn’t react and I wondered if he sided with his family. “You believe me, don’t you?” My voice sounded desperate. I needed someone on my side.
“Yes, I believe you.” I smiled in relief. “But you’re in no condition to travel.”
“When you pulled me from the wreck, why didn’t you take me to the hospital?”
“Because I wanted you here.”
I gaped at him. His answer shocked the hell out of me. “Why?”
A strange intensity swirled in Riley’s eyes, and his gaze pierced through me as if he tried to speak without words. The moment was brief, because his expression lightened after a few seconds.
“Feeling peckish?” I wasn’t expecting him to change the subject.
My faced scrunched in confusion. “What’s peckish?” Immediately after my question, I heard my stomach growl.
Riley chuckled and his lips twitched. “Are you hungry?”
“Yes, I’m starving.”
“Say no more.” He rose from the floor and dashed out of the room.
I heard noises coming from the kitchen like cabinet doors opening and closing, and dishes moving around. Moments later, he reappeared in the room with a bowl and a spoon or fork. With a wide grin, he handed me a bowl of cereal that looked like Fruit Loops. I thanked him and ate it graciously.
He sat on the bed next to me. “I was wondering if you’d stay here with us.” He watched me intently, waiting for me to respond.
I decided to take a page from his book when I changed the subject. “Is this your room?”
“Yeah, Quinn and I share it.”
I looked around the room again and then back at the man taking care of me. He had a hopeful look on his face, but I noticed he fidgeted his hands anxiously.
“Where are you sleeping?”
“On the sofa.”
“So, Quinn will be sleeping in here with me?”
This time he hesitated. “Um, no. See, she figured you’d want the room to yourself for privacy, so she’s sleeping on the loveseat.”
I gave him a perplexed look. “But there’s another bed in here. I wouldn’t mind sleeping in the room with her.” Riley just looked at me. “I don’t want to put you guys out.” I set the bowl on the nightstand. “That’s why I should leave.”
The moment I tried to pull the blankets off, Riley’s hand shot out to stop me. “No! Don’t go!” My body froze and I stared at him. “You’re not well. You need to rest,” he said as he tucked the blankets around me.
He was so close, and I noticed for the first time he had a clean woodsy scent like the forest after a rainstorm. His hair was within close reach and my fingers itched with the desire to comb through it. I wondered if it felt as nice as it looked.
“I don’t care about sleeping on the sofa. Trust me. I’ve slept in worse places.”
I frowned at that last comment. We didn’t speak while I ate the rest of my cereal. Riley sat on the floor again, his arm resting casually on the bed. I glanced at it and noticed the tattoo on his shoulder. I couldn’t read the words when I saw it in Bobby’s store, but now I could read it clearly: What goes around comes around.
“You believe in karma?”
Riley looked at his tattoo. He grinned. “Yeah, do you?”
“Sure, and I hope my ex-boyfriend gets what’s coming to him.” I put a spoonful of colorful hoops in my mouth and hoped the sweet cereal overpowered my bitter words.
He turned toward me with an amused smile. “Ooooh, what did he do?”
“I caught him cheating on me in front of my apartment building.”
“We don’t do that,” he said cryptically. I gave him a confused look. “Cheat, I mean. Once we’re bonded to someone, we’re loyal until death.”
“Everyone in this community.”
This new information was strange but comforting. It pleased me to know some people still believed in fidelity and commitment. Regardless, I still wanted to go back to New York. I had enough of Black River’s weirdness.
“The wolf you mentioned before…did it attack you?”
He echoed his father’s question, and once again, my hand froze with the spoon to my mouth. “Uh, no…but—”
“Then why are you afraid? Why do you want to leave?”
I thought the answer was obvious. I scoffed, “Because it’s a wolf—a dangerous wild animal. As I said, it came into my cabin while I slept. It came into your house, too and slept right where you’re sitting.”
The Gray family’s carefree attitude about my situation baffled me. I couldn’t understand why they weren’t concerned.