Tempeh for Two is also a Christmas present (because I was writing it at Christmastime) for my good friend and partner-in-crime Paul. I didn't even know him at this time last year, but over the past several months he's gone from friend-of-a-friend to one of my best friends, cheerleader, and eager reader. This novel is dedicated to him, and he is also a character: Paul Drake, Arkhon of the Northwest Region.
The title was given to me by my fellow author Will Parkinson, to whom the book is also dedicated. Sorry, Will, this really is the last book of the series.
Here's the cover. As always, Winterheart Design has done an amazing job!
And the blurb and excerpt:
Tobias Rogan never wanted to rule anyone, but in the past several months has gone from quietly running the smallest pack in the U.S. to controlling the Northeast Region. And now, to save the werewolf world, he must challenge the Anax, ruler of all werewolves in the United States. But Tobias's mate, Kyle Slidell, is being held as blackmail, and Tobias must choose: Issue his challenge and risk Kyle's life, or allow the Anax to declare war.
By the time the meeting resumed, I would have some idea of who was allied with me, who was with the Anax, and who would remain neutral given a choice.
And having that knowledge, I would be able to issue my challenge. I would have waited until the following day, but the tone of the meeting before lunch had told me that would be a bad idea. The Anax had to be stopped before things deteriorated past the point of repair. Some of those attending the gathering opposed his ideas, and he wouldn’t be able to keep control of hundreds of wolves given how far he’d slipped into insanity.
I had to act. And I had to remember my promise to Kyle. I couldn’t leave him without breaking my word, and if the Anax won the challenge fight, I would die. Which would be leaving Kyle.
I had no choice but to win.
I found the Boston wolves in Zane’s room, a room three times the size of the one I’d been given. They were subdued, and Brianna was still shaky, though she smiled as I walked in. “How was the closed session?” she asked. “Zane isn’t telling us anything.”
“He can’t,” I said. “The sessions are closed for a reason.” I sat beside her on the floor, and her eyes widened. “How are you? I’ve been worried.”
“I’m better.” She looked away. “Carlos has been talking to me through our bond. It helps more than hearing his voice on the phone would have.”
“Donald’s been sent back to his pack,” I said. “Wayne didn’t want him harassing you again. And Wayne would like to talk to you, in front of Justin and me, if you’re willing.”
“I have to think about it,” she said softly. “I appreciate him dealing with Donald, but I don’t know if I’m ready to face him.”
“It’s entirely your choice, Brianna.” I held out my hand. “No one’s going to force you to do anything you don’t feel up to doing.”
I looked at the others. “I’m glad all of you came. I have a lot of friends in Boston, but I count you all at the top of the list.”
“You’ve been a great leader, Tobias,” Zane said. “For your pack, for our region. For those who were hurt, and for those who didn’t know how their lives would go on after they were changed.” He turned to Trey, who nodded. “Whatever comes next, you’ll be equally up to the task.”
“Thank you, friend.” I sighed. “You know what comes next.”
“I do,” he agreed.
“I need your word that I’ll have your support and silence.”
“You have my word as Alpha of Boston North Pack,” he said without hesitation.
“And my word,” Suzannah said. “For whatever it’s worth as healer of Boston North Pack.”
The power accompanying her words was nowhere near as strong as that which accompanied the words of alphas and arkhons, but it was still there.
“My word as head tracker of City Pack,” Dave said.
“And mine as a tracker of City Pack.” Ramon’s mouth quirked. “I feel like I’m doing something I shouldn’t be doing. It’s kind of cool.”
“My word as a member of Boston North Pack,” Trey said.
“My word as…” Brianna hesitated. “I’m not anyone to give a word on anything.”
“The rest of us aren’t either,” Suzannah said. “And yet you feel it, don’t you?”
“You’re one of the strongest wolves in this room, Brianna.” I touched her hand, and she let me take it. “Not dominant. I’m not talking about that kind of power. I’m talking inner strength, and with everything you’ve survived, you know damn well I’m right. You might think your word means nothing, but your strength and friendship mean a lot to me.”
She nodded, though she looked uncertain. “I don’t know how much of that I believe, but Carlos says the same kind of thing to me all the time, and he’d probably be pissed if I didn’t believe you. All right. You have my word as member of City Pack and mate of the City Pack Beta. He would give his word if he were here.”
“Thank you.” I didn’t object to her speaking for Carlos. If they’d been in touch throughout the day, he might very well have told her to offer his support to me.
“What’s going to happen, Tobias?” Suzannah asked.
“I can’t answer that.” I looked up at her. “You can’t be forced to talk about what you don’t know.”
“Don’t take too much on yourself, then.” She smiled. “I’ve known you a long time, and I know exactly how you are. You might be keeping your plans to yourself, but you aren’t alone no matter what happens. So please remember that. Let your friends be here for you.”
“I will. Thank you.” Leave it to Suzannah to be more worried about me than the fate of the country.