Book excerpt 3 from Wolf in the Headlights

Welcome back to the sneak peekage into my newest novel, Wolf in the Headlights (Alice the Wolf 4), and this time I’m posting short cuts from two chapters, 29 and 30. (Quite a jump ahead from the first two samples.) Neither of these are complete chapters, but they help show how Alice is having a bad night out while trying to help one of her newer packmates out of their shell.

Half an hour passes in this sweltering crowd, and my throat soon feels dry and raw. I look for Mona and Jesse, and I find them not far away. Mona wears a huge grin despite being covered in a shiny layer of sweat.

Jasmine leans closer to shout. “She’s doing fine. How about we go and get a drink?”

I nod and shout, “Jesse!” He looks around. “We’re going to the bar!”

Jesse nods and waves, and I grab Jasmine’s arm and let her lead a path through the crowd. Just getting to the bar takes five minutes, and the whole way, I’m running across teens who could use a rinse job. Maybe their deodorant ran out, or they skipped it. Either way, they’re pretty funky.

It takes another five minutes to reach the bartender, and he smiles at Jasmine and says, “What up, dog?”

He’s similar in appearance to the bouncers, and I think the whole coven is the same race. Which is probably normal, though I don’t know that for a fact. Most of my experience with vampires comes from my contacts in the FBI, where they’re all different races mixed together.

Jasmine grins at the lame joke. “Funny. Four cokes, lots of ice, please.” When the bartender turns around to fill the order, Jasmine turns her head to give me a wilting look. “Of all the clubs you could have picked, why did you have to pick a vampire hideout?”

“I didn’t know!” I shout back. “I ran a search for clubs that would let in teens, and this was near the top of the list.”

“Damn, chick, you know how to pick ‘em.”

The bartender sets the drinks down and I try to pass him a twenty when he grabs my hand and pulls it up to his nose and snarls. I pull my hand back, and he shouts, “How did you sneak in here?”

Jasmine speaks before I can. “We didn’t sneak in! We came in together, and the bouncers let us in!” She glares to match the bartender’s look of disdain. “Are you going to let my friend pay for the drinks or not?”

The bartender holds out his hand, and I pass him the twenty and shout, “Keep the change!” I’m not being generous. I just want to get away from him as soon as possible.

“I don’t take tips from your kind,” the bartender shouts.

He walks away, and I grab two cups while Jasmine get the other pair. We turn around, and Jesse is half a foot away, fists tensed like he’s ready to brawl.

I look to either side of him, and he’s missing his dance partner. “Where’s Mona?”

“She said she wanted to dance by herself!” Jesse looks over me. “What’s the deal with sourpuss?”

“Leave it alone,” I snap, handing him the drinks and stepping around him to look for Mona. When I find her, my jaw clenches, and I shout, “Way to go, Jesse!”

“What?” He looks around and groans, “Shit.”

Mona’s dancing with a guy, only she doesn’t look the least bit happy about it. He’s pulled her in close, and she’s got her hands on his chest, her head turned toward us with a pleading expression.

I growl deep in my throat and push through the crowd forcefully, making my way to Mona by shoving people out of my way to reach the dance floor, and I grab the shoulder of the guy humping Mona’s hip.

“Back off, Romeo. She’s not interested in you.”

The guy sneers at me and snorts, blowing enough of his breath on my face to alert me to the vodka he’s been drinking. “She can make up her own mind.”

“She already did! Now back off!”

“Up yours, cunt!”

He raises his hand to sling a backhand slap at me. I catch his wrist, his hand inches from my face, and my jaw tenses. “Big mistake,” I growl, squeezing his wrist and sending him to his knees.

A second later a hand grabs my arm, and I spin around ready to knock out whoever just touched me. I drop my fist when I see the two bouncers.
One of the men hooks his thumb over his shoulder. “Out! Both of you!”

I think to argue that we didn’t start the trouble, but I swallow my objection. “Relax, we’re leaving!”

I grab Mona’s hand and pull her with me, the whole time growling to vent my temper. We get to the exit, and one of the bouncers says, “And don’t come back!”

Mona loses it completely right as we’re passing the same convenience store we went into earlier. She’s sobbing and apologizing like the whole thing is her fault. By then, I’m calmer, and I know there’s plenty of blame to go around.

I have her sit on the curb, and I crouch in front of her. “Will you stop apologizing already? Nothing about what happened is your fault.”

Jesse plops down beside Mona and says, “It’s my fault for leaving her.”

I blow out a long breath. “All right, that one is all yours, but I’m the dumb ass who picked the club without checking it out. Since we’re playing the blame game, I’m the one who got us kicked out. About the only person who can’t be blamed is Jasmine.”

“Damn right,” Jasmine says, sitting down on Mona’s other side. “Hey, calm down already. You’re melting your mascara with all those tears.”

“I’m sorry,” Mona cries.

I stand up and take a step back. “I’ll go to the store and get something to clean you up. Do you want anything to drink?”

“Just water, please,” Mona says.

Her makeup is running with her tears, and she looks terrible now. Like I needed another reason to regret this trip.

I cross the street and push open the door, and the clerk asks, “How was the club?”

“It was a disaster, but thanks for asking.”

The clerk’s smile falls. “What happened?”

I wander to the drink coolers in the back while I talk. “Some drunk jerk started harassing my friend, and when I told him to back off, he tried to slap me. I broke his wrist, and we all got kicked out like we started the fight.”

“Oh, I’m sorry.”

“Aren’t we all?” I pull a pair of water bottles from the rack and shut the cooler door, pausing to look around. “I need some tissues and wet wipes if you’ve got them.”

“They’re on the last aisle,” the clerk says, pointing. “Look on the bottom shelf.”

“Thanks.” I walk across the store and around the corner, tucking the bottles to my chest with one arm while I grab a pack of facial tissues. Three fifty for this little pack? And he wants four fifty for the wet wipes. Good grief, can this night get any worse?

Someone answers my rhetorical question when they slam the front door open and shout, “Hands in the air, now!”

Hugo says, Oh you’ve got to be kidding me.

My sentiments exactly.

Ducked down like this, I don’t see who came in or the clerk, who speaks in a shaking voice. “Take it easy.”

A gun cocks, a revolver, I think. The gun owner says, “I want all the money in the register and from the drop safe.”

I look up, finding a big round reflective mirror in the corner. Under it is a barrel shaped security camera aimed down on me. Oh, this is great. The perfect end to a wonderful night in Pittsburgh.

The guy holding the gun spins around to check out the store, and his eyes lock on mine in the reflection of the security mirror. “What the fuck?” He starts walking toward me, and when I turn my head, he’s already at the top of the aisle with a snub-nosed revolver aimed at me.

So, there’s the second to last preview, and because you may be asking “Wait, who is Hugo?” he’s the wolf who lives in Alice’s head. In this version of lycanthropy, every person infected must at some point find and slay their soul-matched wolf and tan their pelt, binding wolf to host for life. Alice’s wolf is male, and after they first bonded, Alice chose to name him Hugo T. Wolf. (T is short for The. Alice tends to be like that sometimes.)

Wolf in the Headlights is available for $4.99 at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, and my blog bookstore. If you review books on your blog, you can request a free review copy by emailing me at zoe_whitten (at) yahoo (dot) com, and if you haven’t read the first three books in the series and want to review them, you can also request them. (I forgot this lat time, but in your request email, be sure to post a link to your review page.)

Thanks very much for reading these excerpts, and I hope you’ll give the book and the full series a shot. And if you’re worried that I’ll leave you hanging without concluding the story, the fifth and final book is already written. I just need to edit a few more times to catch a few more typos. (Though I’ll have something else coming out this winter before Alice’s last book is released, a little set of sci-fi novellas intended to close the story on another series I started several years ago.)

That all for now, and again, thanks very much for reading my stuff.