When I tell people I’m a writer, they shake their heads and tell me they’d never be able to create a world with fictional characters and paint a story with words. Or less eloquently put, they ask how I get story ideas.
Hair of the Dog, for example, was inspired by my former job. Once upon a time I worked at a fraternal organization. You know—one of those men’s clubs named after a majestic animal. The kind with secret handshakes, rituals and salutations. Sometimes they wear goofy hats or colorful vests adorned with regalia and call each other Brother.
As a general rule, my mind does not operate paranormally, but I thought what if…what if the members of these benevolent societies were actually shifters of whatever fierce critter was their namesake? Wolves and Cougars and Bears, oh my. That’s a start, right? What’s next? Set the story in a sleepy little mountain town where shifters come to rejuvenate, relax and vacation. Throw in a magical hot spring in danger of drying up and an enchanted fairy prophesized to save the town and you’ve got the beginnings of a story. Sprinkle with romance, drizzle with sex and serve sizzling hot.
Great idea for a series? What kind of shifter do you like to read about?
When Grant, mayor of Mystic Springs, asks Ivy to run the Mystic Springs resort, she’s so thrilled, she accepts the job without so much as visiting the town first. Then she arrives and meets Grant—and her goals change. She got her dream job, and now she wants Grant…preferably at her mercy in the bedroom.
Grant’s inner animal is desperate to take Ivy. And he’s not joking about the “animal” part—Grant and most of the Mystic Springs residents are shifters. The spring is more than a landmark, it’s the touchstone that grounds their powers and keeps them on the human side of the shifter spectrum. But the spring is running dry…
The townspeople are convinced Ivy is the woman who was prophesied to rejuvenate the spring. Local legend is rife with rumors of sex rites that might help, and Grant’s only too happy to give them a go. He just has to convince Ivy that he’s the man—er, wolf?—for her.
“Ivy? Ivy Fontainebleau?” he inquired.
She raised her hand. “That’s me. I’m Ivy. All day long.” I’ll be whoever you want me to be. She pushed her glasses up the bridge of her nose. Not so much because they’d slipped. More out of habit.
“I’m Grant Grayson.” He smiled reassuringly, shook her hand and lifted her bags into his idling vehicle before his words registered in her brain as anything more than pleasant noise. Very pleasant noise indeed. “We spoke on the phone.”
“Mr. Grayson.” His name escaped her lips quietly like air leaking from a tire. Yes, she fondly recalled their verbal exchanges. His face exceeded the picture his words painted in her mind and his physique was nothing to complain about either.
“My friends call me Grant. I hope you will too.” He opened the passenger side door for her, his gaze scanning the surrounding area. “Sorry I kept you waiting.” His eyes flashed with awareness. His nostrils flared. “You know how it is.”
As if in a hypnotic trance, Ivy slid into the seat. She decided she’d slide into a flaming chariot from Hell if he opened the door and smiled in her direction, flaring nostrils and all. While he rounded the front of the car, she checked herself in the mirror. Sadly nothing had changed. On a scale of one to ten, he was a ten. She was a five on a good day. Not so much on a day like today after a seven-hour bus ride and an impromptu blackout on a roadside bench while critters closed in around her.
Her eyes had an unfortunate habit of playing off the colors around her. Hazel, some called it. Today they were probably a dull gray like the pavement and the darkening sky and the interior of his car. Why couldn’t he have violet upholstery? The poets would describe her hair in prose as mousy brown, which rhymes with blousy gown and lousy frown. Nothing about her stood out except her mediocrity and her inability to create sensible rhymes.
Grant took a seat behind the wheel and flashed her a slow-motion-instant-replay of his previous smile. His smile melted her insides to a warm, gooey liquid, but couldn’t melt the gold wedding band on his finger. Even without the band, his starched collar, matching socks and pressed button-up shirt gave away his domestic classification. Married. Like a cherished garden, he was well tended.
“Beautiful, beautiful countryside,” Ivy said. “Just breathtaking.”
“I’m glad you’re enjoying it,” he replied, easing his Jeep back onto the country road. “Wait until you see the spring.”
“I can’t wait.” Her entire face ached from smiling. Muscles she hadn’t exercised much in her twenty-nine years of life. Needing to fill the silence, she said, “Funny story—”
“Funny ha-ha or funny peculiar?” He checked his side mirror before his eyes cut to her for the answer.
Ivy tilted her head and crinkled her brow. “A little of both. Anyhow, when I graduated from high school—”
“Franklin High School in Arizona, class of—”
She held up her hand in protest. “Let’s not go there.” She didn’t need to be reminded that her life was not on the fast track to success for a woman her age. “As I was saying, I craved some adventure in my otherwise dull life, so I pinned a map on the wall—”
Glancing over at her, he asked playfully, “Did you throw a dart at a map?”
“Yes! How did you know? Oooh, look at that creek.” Ivy pointed out the passenger side window. “Pretty. So, so pretty. Where was I?”
He threaded the car effortlessly along the ribbon of road and said, “You threw a dart at a map.”
“Oh yes. You’ll never guess where it landed. Guess.” Am I babbling? Yes. Shut up, Ivy. “I’ll give you three guesses and three guesses only.”
“Mystic Springs?” he replied.
She smacked him in the arm, which probably didn’t happen much to him, being the mayor of Mystic Springs and all. “Yes! How did you know?”
He took one hand off the wheel and rubbed his arm. “It’s a better punch line than Paris, France.”
“Which is sort of where I wanted the dart to land,” she admitted with a regrettable laugh that took the unfortunate form of a snort. “No offense.”
“None taken,” he quickly said. “I’d say that sort of thing happens a lot. You know, random darts landing in unfortunate places. Did you give yourself a do-over?”
“Yes I did, but you’ll never believe what happened.” How boring am I? Someone stop me, please. There’s no shame in comfortable silence. “Never in a million years,” she babbled on. “Guess.”
“It landed in the same exact spot,” he guessed.
“Yes! You’re good at this.” Wish I was. I wish I could stop talking.
“I thought about guessing Paris, France,” he said, “but again, Mystic Springs is a much better ending to—”
“An otherwise boring story?” I know it’s rude to interrupt, but he did it to me—twice.
“Not at all.” He smiled. Again. Warm. Brilliant. Kind. “It’s a charming story.”
Buy it from Amazon
Buy it from B&N