Deadly Ever After

The Writing Adventures of The Undead Duo–Julie Hutchings and Kristen Strassel

DOE AND THE PRIDE IS HERE!

I never planned on writing a forth book in this series. I like threes.  Truth be told, I almost didn’t write Cougar and the Lion, either. Things move fast in the shifter world, and I worried that I’d waited too long to introduce everyone to Ari and Dylan. Thank God I ignored that little voice, because you guys really like Ari and Dylan!

When I reached the end of that story, Daphne was screaming at me. She’d been a big part of the plot of Cougar and the Lion, but we never got her opinion on what happened.  Immediately I wrote the first two lines:

One thing is for damn sure.
I’m not going to stay on this mountain with those bitches that tried to kill me. 

Doe and the Pride was born.  I needed to find Daphne and Leo a place they belonged.  We had questions that needed to be answered about Dylan and Leo’s relationship. And I needed to make sure everyone we’d met so far in Woodland Park got a happily ever after. Except for Linnea. I needed to put a boot in her ass.

This book wraps up all the loose ends with the Colorado Shifters, and I’m a little sad about that. This was a series I never expected to write, but I’m so glad I did. It brought a new dimension into my writing. Crafting a novella is completely different than writing a full length novel. I’ve met so many great people because of this series.  And I really love writing about shifters!  I love incorporating the animal traits into their human behavior. It really helped shape each character’s personalities.  My deer tend to be homebodies and very family centric, while my lions are loners that take a lot of risks.

DOE AND THE PRIDE is available now on Amazon and free in Kindle Unlimited! Here’s the blurb and an excerpt from:

One thing is for damn sure.
I’m not going to stay on this mountain with those bitches that tried to kill me. 


It doesn’t matter that Daphne and Leo love each other. Does and lions are not supposed to mate. Daphne’s herd won’t recognize their relationship, while Leo’s pride will stop at nothing to get their point across. They want Daphne dead.
Unsure if she can trust Leo’s twin brother Dylan, Daphne needs to rely on her instincts. Dylan has set his sights on Mount Deception to start a pride of his own. It’s an untamed place that might be the answer to Daphne and Leo’s problems. The mountain offers a prime opportunity to start over, but not everyone is happy about working with outsiders.
As a doe, Daphne can’t physically challenge the cougars that want her gone. But Leo is worth fighting for, and she’s determined to find a place they can call home.Traditions will be shattered, unlikely alliances will be formed, and true love is forever.
D&P_F

One thing is for damn sure.

“I’m not going to stay on this mountain with those bitches that tried to kill me!” I shrieked, pacing the living room. If I wasn’t beyond exhausted, there was a good chance I would have shifted back to doe. But the dried blood from the attack was still on my nose, and the bruises and welts all over my body throbbed. I didn’t have anything left to give tonight.

Leo sat on the couch, looking just as drained as I felt. His head hung as he balanced his elbows on his wide knees. “They aren’t going to get away with this. Calm down, Daphne. Let Ari sleep.”

He couldn’t be serious. I jerked my hand in the direction of our bedroom. We wouldn’t be sleeping in it tonight. “Calm down? Sorry, I can’t be calm right now. That woman is the only reason I’m standing here.”

I’d never met her before tonight. Now I owed her my life. Especially since one was lost while saving mine.

“That’s because Dylan held me back,” Leo growled. He hadn’t talked to his brother in years, but tonight Dylan showed up ready for a fight. The fight that gave the rest of the pride the opportunity to pounce on me.

I knew when I opened my eyes in the forest and saw Leo that my life was going to get complicated. It was our herd’s tradition to shift when we were ready to mate, then to venture into the forest on Halloween night and find him. No one ever expected me to find a lion. In human form, we were just like any other couple. But as animals, we had both Soldier Mountain and my hometown of Woodland Park in an absolute uproar.

“What are you going to do about that?” I stopped my pacing and braced myself for the answer. There was no good one. Dylan was here, spending the night in our bed with his mate, the woman who saved my life.

Leo shook his head. “He fucked things up. Bad.” He and Dylan had talked while I stayed with Ari. She’d been unconscious for hours, lost too much blood and a baby she didn’t even know she was carrying. Fucking things up was an understatement. How Leo could even reason with Dylan after all of that was beyond me. “He swears he didn’t think the girls would take it so far with you. And he had no idea Ari would fight.”

For me. Ever since I’d arrived on Soldier Mountain as Leo’s mate, the cougars of the pride had taken serious issue with me being here. Lions didn’t mate with does. End of story. And does couldn’t beat cougars in a fight. Their threats started off as passive aggressive, but the longer I stayed, the bolder they became. Even though they’d threatened to fight to my death on the full moon, which was last night, I never believed they’d have the guts to actually do it. But as Dylan challenged Leo, the girls saw their chance. One by one they turned cougar, surrounding me while I was still human. Fear always made my doe side rise, and there was no pushing this one down. I shifted.

They attacked, snarling and slashing me with their claws, biting through my fur, sinking their teeth into my flesh. The pain was enough to make me pass out, but I didn’t have that luxury. I have no claws, and my teeth weren’t made for meat. I screamed for Leo, but Dylan had him by the scruff. He couldn’t get to me. I tried to run but the cougars were everywhere. They multiplied when they shifted, I swear. They had me where they wanted me. If Ari hadn’t stepped in, I’m sure I’d be dead.

I collapsed on the couch, and Leo pulled me into him. It seemed like forever since he’d held me, even though it had just been this awful night. I never wanted to let him go. The night sky began to brighten outside our window. He took the blanket off the back of the couch, draped it over me and lay back. He stroked my hair and his body rumbled with a faint purr.

“Did he explain why he did it?” I asked softly. Like he possibly could. It was too much of a coincidence that Dylan showed up on the night of the challenge. Rumors swirled around the pride for weeks that the cougars would try to lay claim to Leo on the night of the full moon, loudly enough for me to catch wind of their plan. We’d known Dylan was in town, but we’d heard nothing from him until tonight. Last night, we tried to go talk to him, but that ended badly, too.

Not as badly as tonight, of course.

Leo sighed. “There’s a lot of old hurt. I’m not innocent in this either. I was a kid, and I did a lot of things I regret. Dylan couldn’t fight for himself, and when our pride fell apart, I didn’t help him.” He stared at the ceiling. “But that doesn’t excuse what he did tonight.”

“Dylan couldn’t fight for himself?” I picked up my head, wrinkling my nose. He was taller than Leo by a couple of inches, and solid muscle. “I find that hard to believe.”

“He was the runt.” Leo and Dylan were twins, and while they shared similar features, they were by no means identical. Leo was in amazing shape, basically a professional athlete, but he was leaner than Dylan. Leo’s shaggy blond hair was curly, and Dylan’s was darker, long and wavy. They both had the same hazel eyes. “He was small, skinny, and unsure of himself. I was ashamed of him. The cubs in the pride picked on him, and I made things worse. When the attacks started in our pride, our parents sent us away. He wanted to stay with me. I said no.” The last word broke.

“This isn’t your fault.” I couldn’t imagine Leo being a bully, even though that’s what he was claiming. He always treated everyone with kindness and respect. Well, except for those crazy cougar bitches. They got what they deserved. “He’s an adult now, and he shouldn’t have come up here with his claws out.”

“Right. He says he wants to make things better and be in my life, but after tonight’s stunt, I’m not sure what he really wants,” Leo said, his eyelids fluttering in a fight to stay open.

It made perfect sense for me to tell Leo to forget about his brother. But it wasn’t that easy. I had three little sisters. They were much younger than me so we never fought, but I couldn’t imagine turning my back on them for any reason. Leo had already done it to Dylan once. I couldn’t suggest he do it again.

Ari, Dylan’s mate, was the only cougar willing to fight for me. That meant more to me than I even had words for. I didn’t want to walk away from her. She wouldn’t be welcome on Soldier Mountain anymore, either.

And I meant what I said. I wasn’t staying on this mountain. Leo may have learned his lesson about loyalty late, but I was his claimed mate. He was coming with me.

Need to pick up the rest of the series?  They’re all in Kindle Unlimited, so you can borrow for free. You can download the Kindle app to any device for free. If you see me out in the wild and I’m staring at my phone, chances are I’m reading something dirty.
Lion and the Doe
Doe and the Hunter
Cougar and the Lion

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