To read an interview with Kristen Collins, see the August 2017 edition of Uncaged Book Reviews!
Ash was just your average Alpha, his pack was loyal and they had not been visited by trouble in years.
Life was good.
Life was simple.
That is until fate decided to mess around and not only place his mate in the picture but also a dying Angel that fell from the sky with her baby. In a single moment his life was forever changed. Protect the hybrid child to serve good and keep her out of the Lucifer’s hands. If evil was to get a hold of her she would be the world’s undoing.
Life for Mia hasn’t went well since leaving Ouray and everything she had ever known. Then by chance she meets Ash Stormcloud and his adoptive daughter, Tibby. Tibby is a beautiful child and Ash is alluring, pulling her in a way that other men never have done before. Things take a turn for the better until Damon, Tibby’s father, and Alpha of the HellHound pack decides to come searching for Tibby. In a fight of good versus evil, who will win?
“So, are you a nurse? I noticed you’re wearing scrubs,” I asked curiously.
“Yeah, I just moved from Colorado; the year-round winter-like weather just wasn’t for me. My family had a shop there for generations. I don’t know how to explain it other than I needed a change of scenery. I guess I just felt the mountains of New Mexico were calling my name for too long, so I decided to settle down here. I love my job, though; helping others is just my passion in life,” Mia said nonchalantly while sipping her Dr. Pepper.
“Sounds like you live an interesting life,” I said, impressed by her and her words.
“Enough about me; what about you? What do you do besides taking in children and giving them a wonderful life?” she said, still grinning from ear to ear. My rough hands itched to touch her soft, porcelain skin.
“I’m a forest ranger actually; ya know, Smokey the Bear?” In my best voice impression, I looked at Tibby, saying, “Only you can prevent forest fires.” Tibby giggled, reaching for me, so I scooped her up, cradling her to me. “Making sure the forest is safe and the people traveling in and out of it are part of my job, too.”
“You know, for someone who just got that baby there, y’all sure are cozy. You, Ash Stormcloud, must be some kind of child whisperer or something. She absolutely adores you, and rarely takes her eyes away from you.”
“We had a talk; she means everything this world to me now, above all else.” And it was true, I thought to myself. Tibby might as well have been born to me, instead of whatever she was born into.
Tibby started fussing, and threw her bottle of juice across the table. “Tibby, what’s wrong?” My inner wolf stirred, a feeling of possessiveness threatening to come to the surface.
Strange feelings came over me out of nowhere, and the smell of sulfur tinged the air. The hairs on the back of my neck rose, along with goosebumps on my arms. Subtly, I sniffed the air; the sulfur smell lingered, mixed with an unknown wolf scent. Someone was in my territory without my permission.
“Mia, could you excuse me for a minute? I need to run to the bathroom for a second.”
“Yeah, go ahead! I’ll get Tibby and me some ice cream. Would you like some chocolate ice cream, sweetie?” Mia said playfully.
I nodded, hustling to the bathroom and locking the door behind me. Quickly I dialed Pete; as always, he picked up on the first ring.
“Hey, Hoss, what’s up?” he said, extra chipper.
“Hey, Pete, have we had any shifter visitors check in today?” My nerves were starting to feel shot, and I’d only had Tibby fewer than twenty-four hours.
“Umm…” I could hear papers rustling in the background. “No, we haven’t had any visitors since the Bear Claw Alpha visited a few weeks ago. Everything all right? Is Tibby okay?” I could hear the concern in his voice.
“Yeah, she’s fine. We’re at Mad Jack’s and I smelled a wolf—he smelled different, strange…like sulfur. I didn’t see who it was but I want you to call Tessa and Jason up here to track the scent ASAP. I gotta get Tibby out of here and home, where she’s safe.”
“We’d better call the elders together and decide on a battle plan in case of an attack. I’ll get started on that; meet in thirty?”
“Yeah, we’re packing up now. See you there.” I needed to get Tibby out of here now.
As I made my way back to the table I noticed that Mia and Tibby were gone, and so was the bag. Instantly I was alarmed, and looked around the restaurant. Panic and anger clouded my vision; my wolf was ready under the surface, claws out.
“There he is! I told you he would be right back, honey.” Mia’s voice sounded sweetly behind me.
“Tibby! Thank God; Mia, where did you go?” I said harshly.
Mia was taken aback by my sternness. “I’m sorry, Ash, I didn’t think. She was dirty and needed changing, so I took her to the bathroom and cleaned her up.”
“Dirty?” I said, confused.
“Yes, Ash; she had a dirty diaper, and food covering her from head to toe. Where did you think I took her?” Mia said accusingly.
We were getting stares from everybody around us, so I dropped a few bills on the table to cover our check and tip the waitress. I then grabbed Mia’s arms and guided her, with Tibby, outside to my pickup.
“Mia, look, I’m sorry; that was really rude of me in there. All I saw when I came back was that you and Tibby were gone, and I lost it,” I said regretfully. Man, not only was I getting paranoid but I might have just blown it with this beautiful lady standing in front of me.
“Oh God, Ash! I would never hurt a child, especially this beautiful little angel. I never thought of it; I’m such an idiot! Okay, well, I’m gonna go before I embarrass myself anymore today.” The doubt I felt quickly faded to panic. I couldn’t just let her go after making an ass of myself, when she’d done nothing wrong. Talk about an open mouth and insert foot moment.
“No, I’d like to leave with some grace while I still have it.” Guilt was written across her face, and I wanted to bang my head against a wall a few times for acting so stupid.
“Just wait a minute, please, Mia. You did nothing wrong. I should have never assumed you just took off with Tibby; I’m a total jerk.” I buckled Tibby into her carseat and gave her some toys to play with.
I turned around and took Mia’s hand. “Look, I’d like to make it up to you…” She would barely look me in the eyes. “Please, Mia? I swear I’m usually not such a jerk. What do you say?”
“I’ll think about it,” she said, a mischievous glint in her eyes. The tension between us had passed for the time being. Her scent wafted through the air, filling my nose and imprinting itself in my brain.
“Well, how about you text me every time you’re thinking about it, and we can discuss the pros and cons about everything.” I couldn’t help but smile back at her as her smile spread from cheek to cheek.
“I’ll think about that, too…but it really was nice to meet you, both of you. May I tell her goodbye?” she asked sincerely.
Mia climbed into the backseat and gave Tibby a gentle kiss on the forehead. “Okay, big girl. Make sure you keep him out of trouble, and make sure he gives you some extra chocolate pudding, too. If not, then keep him up all night long to teach him a lesson.”
Tibby let out a squeal of laughter, and cooed and ga-ga’d baby talk back to Mia. I felt pleased that she really liked Tibby; for just meeting her, I really liked her as well. Mia rubbed her thumb across Tibby’s forehead in a strange way, almost like she was drawing an invisible symbol on her. I shrugged it off as nothing.
Mia jumped down from the pickup before I could assist her, and turned back to me. Slowly she backed away to her Jeep, as if daring me to chase her. Little did she know that my inner wolf wanted to chase her like prey and take her as his own. She was a temptress, whether she meant to be or not, and she was playing a dangerous game with me. Mia was Little Red Riding Hood and I was the Big Bad Wolf, and I wanted to devour her from head to toe.
“’Bye, Ash Stormcloud. See you around…”
“Oh, you will—I’m looking forward to it,” I said, a smug smile on my face.
“Maybe, maybe not…” she said with a quick wink as she took off down the road. I watch the taillights of that red Jeep disappear around the corner, but her scent of cucumber lingered.
A classic tale of good vs. evil, in the very literal sense, with Angel and Demon involvement but an interesting twist. A child is born, part Angel, part shifter – a forbidden union. When the shifter Damon, makes a deal with Lucifer, after the birth of his daughter Tiba with the Angel Allita, she knows she needs to get Tiba somewhere safe and hidden from Damon – so he doesn’t corrupt their daughter. Wounded – she manages to make it to shifter lands that promise to protect the child.
This is a short story so I won’t get into details, but it’s nicely written and even though a lot of it felt a bit rushed to me, the author does a nice job with the room she has. There is a character overlap in this book from Grimm Love – and still remains in that world. Reviewed by Cyrene