It’s that time…Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Kristal Hollis’s Brice and Cassiefrom her Wahyas of Walker’s Run novel, Awakened by the Wolf.
Who’s been sleeping in the Alpha’s bed?
Exiled from his pack by his father, Brice Walker has secretly come home to visit his ailing grandmother only to discover a human and very desirable female sleeping in his bed. Their attraction is instant. But his new bed buddy seems determined to resist his Southern charm and Alpha allure.
For Brice, fiercely independent Cassie not only represents a chance to build a new life in Walker’s Run but is also his one true mate. Cassie’s reluctance dissolves when a rogue shifter kidnaps her, and now she and Brice must work together to save his pack. But once she witnesses the savagery of wolfan justice, can Cassie accept Brice as man, beast and her true love?
The second book, Rescued by the Wolf, comes out March 2017; so if A Day at the Beach with Brice and Cassie gets your interest, make sure you check out the first book, Awakened by the Wolf.
Brice and Cassie’s Black Friday
Brice Walker inhaled the strong aroma of double-loaded, straight black coffee, his fourth cup of the morning. The buzz of caffeine addicts whirled around him. Christmas carols streamed non-top like a merry-go around he could get off. Twinkling lights, fake pine branches and white powder that was supposed emulate snow decorated the floor to ceiling store front. To him, the white gunk made the window look dirty and obscured his view of frenzied shoppers rushing to the next Black Friday sale.
Whatever devil had possessed him to come to the mall today should’ve been strung-up, quartered, and shot for good measure. He eyed his father across the small bistro table they shared. “How much longer?” he wanted to say but didn’t. He’d already asked the same three times in the last—he checked his watch—ten minutes.
He grunted, stretching out his bad leg beginning to ache.
“Relax.” His father sipped a hot chocolate dolled up with whipped cream and cinnamon. “Appreciate the reprieve. Your mother is more adept at handling this madness than you or I ever will. Cassie is perfectly safe with her.”
“They’re late. Aren’t you worried?”
“Any other day, any other place, I would be.” Gavin Walker smiled, his blue eyes sharp, cunning and without the slightest trace of fear. “On Black Friday in a mall, I’m more afraid for me than your mother.”
“Cassie has never been to Black Friday.” Neither had he, for that matter. But, unlike his father Brice worried less about himself and more about his mate getting trampled in the stampede of shoppers crazed by ridiculous sales. “She isn’t used to all this chaos.”
“Your mother won’t let anything happen to Cassie.” Gavin chuckled. “I feel sorry for the people who get in the way of something she wants. Abby has grown quite protective of Cassie.”
All of Walker’s Run had and Brice was proud the pack had received her so well.
Of course, all were anxious about the next generation of Walkers. Even him. But, even though he and Cassie would soon celebrate two years of mateship, they’d only been trying to conceive for a few months.
Brice fished the cell phone from his pocket. With all the clatter and commotion, she might not pick up on his harried thoughts. Even when she did, Cassie generally didn’t appreciate his intrusion into her mind. Except when he traveled for work. She didn’t mind the mate-bond telepathy then.
He sent a text. Where the hell are you?
Then followed up the message with a heart icon and two big red lips emojis so she wouldn’t get too annoyed with him.
Minutes ticked. Cassie didn’t respond.
He gulped his coffee and tossed the cup into a nearby trash receptacle. “I’m going to find her.”
“Suit yourself.” Gavin continued to gazed out the glass window as mobs of people whirled passed. “Don’t be surprised if she isn’t as happy to see you as you are to see her. Women don’t like to be interrupted. Shopping is serious business.”
“Keep an eye on these.” Brice placed two shopping bags on the chair he’d vacated. “And no peeking.”
Gavin nodded. “Watch your leg,” he warned. “People won’t think twice about colliding into you.”
Brice exited the coffee shop and forced his way through a deluge people going the opposite direction of where he was headed. Nordstrom’s. Where his mother had informed them she and Cassie were dashing into before joining them.
“Mom?” He yelled above the throng making his way toward a tall, elegantly dressed woman with a few silver threads glittering in her black hair pulled back in a tight chignon.
“Brice?” Abigail Walker stopped.
People parted around them, folding in again once they passed.
“Where is Cassie?”
“She wanted to do a little shopping on her own.”
“You left her?” Alarm pounded Brice’s chest and screeched in his ears. He knew it was an over-reaction. Atlanta was the Peachtree pack’s territory and his uncle was the Alpha. His sentinels kept watch on everything and everyone, including holiday shoppers at the mall. Cassie was perfectly safe.
Except, they had all thought her safe at Walker’s Run, too. Until a vicious rogue had kidnapped her and Brice had nearly lost her forever.
“Honey. Cassie can take care of herself. She always has.” His mother patted his shoulder. “Besides, Adam was enough watchdogs here we can’t even turn a corner without one almost bumping into us.”
“Where is she?” Brice rocked on his feet. Cassie might not be as alert as she should. Lately, she had become preoccupied and slightly distant. He’d hoped the Thanksgiving getaway would ease whatever was on her mind, but her distraction had increased.
“We parted at Nordstrom’s. Cassie had one store she wanted to peek into alone.”
“She didn’t say.” His mother roped his arm. “Let her have some space. She’s fine.”
His anxiety level was too high. Something was wrong, he just knew it.
“Walk with me to the coffee shop.” His mother reached to smooth back a tumble of hair that always seemed to shag his eyes.
“I can’t.” He leaned away. “I need to find Cassie.”
His mother sighed. “Don’t let fear rob you of living. And don’t become too overbearing with Cassie. It won’t be good for either of you.”
It was a fine line, balancing his need to protect and Cassie’s stubborn independence.
“Dad is waiting for you. Cassie and I will be along later.” Brice headed to Nordstrom’s where he walked back and forth at the entrance until he detected faint traces of Cassie’s essence despite the myriad of scents.
He wound his way through the main fairway to a side corridor of specialty boutiques. Some of his tension eased when he glimpsed a mass of red curls through a storefront window. He veered into the store. Eyes-trained on her, a smile grew on his face. He bee-lined toward the bop of the curly red-head near the back.
Cassie felt the warmth of Brice’s presence long before he walked into the store. She hadn’t actually seen him come inside, but the mate-bond between them buzzed with increasing energy the closer he came. Either he didn’t read the text message she sent to him a few minutes ago or had completely ignored it.
“I asked for a few minutes alone,” Cassie said without turning around. “For future reference, that means a minimum of fifteen. Thirty is better, but even ten would be appreciated.”
“One hug and a sniff is all I need. Then, I’ll wait outside,” Brice said quietly.
Cassie didn’t dare turn to look at him. He had the most heart-wrenching, sad, puppy dog face she’d ever seen and he used it to his advantage whenever she was mad at him.
She shrugged nonchalantly and Brice snuggled his arms around her waist, pressing against her so that his heat warmed her body and his essence ignited her soul.
With crystal-clear clarity, Cassie remembered the day a rogue had taken her and how easily she could’ve been snuffed from his life. How could she blame Brice for his over-protectiveness when his very nature had once saved her?
Besides, she had been a little secretive lately. She should’ve known keeping something from him was nearly impossible.
“I wanted to surprise you.” Cassie’s stomach clenched in nervous excitement and a little dread. “Even if you do wait outside the store, the surprise is blown.”
“I don’t see how.” Brice dotted her neck with soft, little kisses that made her toes grip the insides of her boots. “I haven’t looked at whatever is in your hands.”
“It’s kinda obvious walking into the store,” she snorted.
“I only had eyes for you. Everything else was out of focus.” He sighed against her skin. “You’ve been distant, Cas. I know something’s wrong. Talk to me. I’ll fix it, I promise.”
“This isn’t something you can fix.”
A mechanical swish came from the air freshener fastened high on a nearby wall. At the sudden scent of baby powder, Brice sneezed.
He pulled back, his gaze darting around the store. He couldn’t miss the racks of tiny garments with lacey ruffles, tables full of miniature socks, one piece jumpers not much bigger than a baby doll.
“Cas, what are you doing in a baby store?” His wide-eyed gaze searched her face.
“Shopping,” she said slowly. “I thought we could give these to your parents for Christmas.”
Brice stared at her upheld hand, wiggling the two tiny pink booties hooked on her fingers.
Cassie’s heart pumped faster and she held her breath. Since the formation of the Walker’s Run pack, the Walker bloodline had been all males. Until now.
Brice’s brow furrowed and he swallowed hard. His silence seemed to eat up all the noise from the hustle and bustle around them.
Cassie put the booties into the basket on her arm and withdrew a black-and-white photo from her purse. “I planned to put this inside a silver frame and give it to you on our anniversary. It’s the sonogram Doc did for me last week.”
“You’re pregnant?” He sounded so stoic and distant she wasn’t sure he was happy with the news.
“Uh huh,” she said softly. “We’re having a girl.”
Cassie nodded, biting her lip. “Are you disappointed?”
“I couldn’t be more proud, Sunshine.” And there it was—something between a whoop, a holler, and a howl burst from his chest. He lifted Cassie off her feet, twirling in the air. Until she said she’d get sick unless he set her down.
“Gavin and Abby?”
“Will be absolutely thrilled.” Brice’s knuckles grazed her cheek as he tucked an errant curl behind her ear. “You were worried we’d be upset?”
A tingle spread across Cassie’s cheeks. Their child would inherit the Alphaship one day. “The pack has never been led by a woman.”
“Because the Alpha’s never had daughters. Not because the pack has a gender preference.”
Brice leaned down and gave her a tender kiss. The tightness locked in Cassie’s chest for the past week eased.
Unlike Cassie’s own upbringing, her little girl would have the love and support of a father, grandparents and an extended family—the entire Walker’s Run wolfan pack. She would never have to face the world alone, as Cassie had done.
After making their purchase, Cassie and Brice walked hand-in-hand out of the store. Brice’s phone beeped. He looked at the text message Cassie had sent earlier.
“You know,” he said stuffing the phone back into his pocket. “We’re mate bonded, so you’re never truly alone. I’m always with you.”
“I know.” And, for Cassie, that was the best gift of all.
Meet Kristal Hollis!
Southern born and bred, Kristal Hollis grew up amid cane fields and orange groves. Books fed her imagination, providing adventurous portals to ancient civilizations, medieval fiefdoms, alternate realities and futuristic worlds. Then, a friend gave her Johanna Lindsey’s FIRES OF WINTER, a historical romance which ignited a life-long love affair with romantic fiction. A 2015 Golden Heart® finalist, she sold her qualifying manuscript Howlin’ Hearts to Harlequin Nocturne. Retitled, Awakened by the Wolf, the book debuted June 2016.
Contact Info: Website | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Amazon | Pinterest | Instagram
Want to purchase Kristal’s novels?
The Wahyas of Walker’s Run
- Awakened by the Wolf
- Rescued by the Wolf (Mar 1, 2017)
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Hi Jackie! Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and a fabulous start to the holidays. Thanks so much for featuring Brice and Cassie’s Black Friday adventure.