Arley Dufrey is a scent hound and a shifting female Cwn Annwn. Being a shifting female is rare enough, but her abilities make her even more so. She is a powerful hound. A force of nature with a gentle upbringing, and a bad mouth. She likes BBQ and bourbon, her step dads Charger, and knows how to throw a punch.
Scent Hound is about half finished. Hopefully within the next month it will be done. What I like the most about this book is her ability, and being able to tell a story from a shifters perspective. She isn't on the outside looking in like Pacey, she isn't even finally aware of what she is like Lo. Arley has been raised around hounds and bites. Her world is a huge leap inside the inner workings of the Otherside creatures.
As a nice little treat I decided I'd share a bit more of Scent Hound, here's the first few pages of chapter one.
By Ashley Jeffery
A Wild Hunt Novella
Ever wish that your ex would just drop dead? I know I’m not the only girl that’s had that fantasy. Over the years, I’ve seen plenty of failed relationships result in deathful thinking. They say if only they’d known, or if only they’d pressed down the pillow, or shoved them down the stairs…
I don’t believe in murder, but that doesn’t stop me from wishing for a freak accident or two. A piano falling on top of his too attractive head or a car crash caused by a banana peel, cartoonish in nature but I always take it back in the end. I send too many souls of the dead to The Otherside to wish that on anyone.
I’ve never been to the Otherside, but I wonder, as I sing their souls away, as I howl for the dead’s release from the mortal side of the world. What’s it really like to die? Is the Otherside the paradise the descendants of the Cwn Annwn believe, or is it hell, a prison cell you’re stuck in forever?
Death aside, I can’t help but wish that my ex would disappear. Most girls end a relationship and never have to see the lousy son of a bitch again. The city swallows them up and like that, a snap of the fingers, they’re gone.
As I stare into his familiar pale brown eyes, I can’t help but wish that I were that lucky. He’s the reason I no longer date fellow hounds, because even in a city the size of Montgomery, hounds are few and far between. Every pack meeting, night run, and soul singing makes anonymity impossible.
“Hey Arles.” Raylan’s deep southern voice drawls.
I ignore the tingling that settles in my stomach. We haven’t been together for years and he still affects me. My heart and brain know he’s my ex, but my body still betrays me. His touch is burned into the memory of my skin cells. It doesn’t help that he’s damned good looking. Corded arms and lean muscles, he has one of those bodies meant for water. Despite all the pretty trimmings, he’s still an asshole, a cheating asshole to be specific.
“Lanie.” I say in my most contemptuous voice.
He reddens but slips beside me, his hand inches from the slight curve where my back meets my butt. He can’t help but lead me forward across the wooden floor, unable to suppress those southern manners even when it’s not necessary.
Too bad those manners didn’t help him keep his pants on. The truth is I could grab that hand and flip him onto his back in no time at all. Being a licensed P.I. requires more than just a piece of paper. I shoot once a week at the local range, and practice self-defense and boxing as often as possible.
“How’s the business?” He asks.
I swallow down my annoyance. He outbid me on my last job, taking him from a regular annoying ex to competitor and job stealer.
“Great.” I lie, the truth is that job was the first bid I had all month. I needed the work badly and he knows it.
“You know.” He says shifting closer so he can whisper. “I could always use your nose around here; The Firm is always looking for new trainees.” Trainee is a nice way of saying bitch.
I swallow down my sigh and ignore him. I can smell his anxiety. Yes, he’s gloating, and fishing for a reaction, but underneath that conceit and ass-holery, is the rosy sweet smell of desperation. I’m not sure if it’s my nose he misses or me. If I’m being honest with myself, it’s probably a combination, but Raylan cheated, end of story.
“I’m good.” I say.
He nods and opens the darkly stained wooden door. I can hear the laughter die down as they see me approaching. Eleven pairs of eyes swing my way. I’m the only female in my pack of thirteen. The only shifting female in three states actually, shifting female Cwn Annwn are rare. A daughter born to two hounds is nine times out of ten only human. She can birth hound males if she breeds with another hound, but for some reason, actually shifting, or having gifts is a rarity.
That makes me a hot commodity, it also makes them hate me. Especially one male in particular, Doyle Thomas is over twice my age but half as intelligent. He can smell lies like bites, and the occasional emotion. But my ability is something he and every man in the room would kill to have.
Hounds are behind the times when it comes to sexual equality; their pack mentality makes it even worse. Women are to be protected, and cherished. They are to breed more pups and wash dishes. My place in the pack is far beneath that of an omega. I am the unwanted, the unneeded, and the mutual wish that I’d get the hell out of here.
A sour lemony scent assaults my nose. I push down the urge to gag and step forward, conscious of the whispers, and the warm hand that never once moves forward to make contact with my body. Every one of my skin cells is concentrating on that almost touch. Part of me wants to stop dead just to feel the warm impact of his hand through my shirt. Would it feel the same, my body sings, or is the heat and sizzle just a twisted memory?
“Arley, it’s good to see you again.” Peter says the words but his pale green eyes are on Raylan. The smell of his lie is so strong I can taste its coppery flavor on my tongue.
“Peter.” I say with a nod.
The seven men including my ex ignore me and take their seats around the room. Peter moves forward towards the podium. His tall body towers over us, thick shoulders meet a slender waist. He’s always in a business suit, silk ties, and a platinum Rolex, my mother would say he smells like old money. She doesn’t know how right she is, old money, has a particular smell, just like everything else.
I settle in a leather wing backed chair. The room is overtly masculine; maps of the city and state cover one wall. A dry erase board lists the rogues in the area, the ones under close watch. A different more permanent list is attached to a black board.
Besides each name are pictures and addresses, including lists of employment and other information. At the top of the black board is the word mutt, it’s a derogatory term for another type of shifter most commonly called bites. They are more like the werewolves of modern folklore than we are.
Infected by bite or blood, hence the name, a human transforms into a monster. They aren't swayable by the moon, but change whenever they want, or whenever they are emotionally unstable. This makes them a risk to creatures of my kind. They are our enemies by nature, but I have a few I call family and friends, and this puts an even larger distance between the pack and me.
“Some of you have heard that a new othersider is among us. I am here to put those rumors to rest. This morning I got a call from one of the western pack betas. Some of you no doubt remember Sutter, some of you.” Peter stalls to meet my eyes. “Are even related.” I roll my own. Sutter is my half-brother; we share the same deadbeat father. He’s not the only one out there either. My lovely dad has a dozen fatherless children all across the South.
If Sutter were any other hound, he might have ended up in my mom’s home for wayward cousins. My mom has taken in quite a few cousins over the years. Cousin is just her easy way of explaining away random troubled children. Almost all of them are hounds suffering from broken homes or problems. My step dad, a bite, helps them learn to control themselves. Our house is a sort of halfway home for the second natured.