I’m thrilled to announce that my new novel, Lost & Bound, the second in my light BDSM series, The Dream Dominant Collection, is launching on January 31. The cover reveal will be on New Year’s Day, and you will see it here first.
The story is set in the wilderness of northern Ontario, and features main characters Blake Walker and Shasta Pyke.
Today’s excerpt is the first chapter.
The full January moon reflected brilliantly off the crust of snow covering the frozen lake. The frosty topping crunched beneath each footfall but the lone man was the only soul around to hear it. The walk across the lake took him the better part of an hour. He could have driven the snowmobile but had opted against it. It wasn’t that he didn’t want to wake anyone. He simply appreciated the pre-dawn quiet.
Reaching the far shore, he headed up the hill in the direction of the trail he knew by heart, covered by snow or not. He wore a headlamp but the moonlight made it unnecessary. He didn’t stop until he reached a fork in the trail. He knew there was an old cabin at the end of the left fork, but he shifted the shotgun slung over his shoulder and followed the fork to the right.
He wasn’t a hunter. The gun was just a precaution. Most of the bears would be asleep in their dens until spring. But there might be moose or wolves. The shotgun would be shit protection in those cases. By the time he racked up a round, he’d probably be toast. Not that he cared. Not tonight.
The trail ended in a tree-lined circle, an enormous snow-dusted slab of granite surrounded by towering pines and shorter birches. While the pine bark absorbed the moonlight, the white-skinned birches glowed. The man stopped in the center of the circle and looked up. As he’d known they would, the stars shown brilliantly in spite of the full moon sliding lower in the west.
He slipped the shotgun from his shoulder and rested it on the ground, shrugging off the small backpack he’d carried. From the backpack he retrieved a folded blanket which he spread in the center of the circle and he proceeded to stretch out on top of it. Folding his hands across his stomach, he sighed deeply and gazed at the stars.
Though he went about his days happily enough, there were times when a deep melancholy settled over him, times when something took him back to that moment, that horrific moment, the one that all the ‘what ifs’ in the world couldn’t erase. Occasions like this night, when he marked an anniversary that nobody realized he honored.
The boy had been twenty. The man was now thirty. The cold air on his face reminded him of that January night all those years ago.
It’s cold as we come out of the movie theatre. We’ve seen a comedy and she’s laughing about some scene or other. I love when her blue eyes sparkle like that.
Faith. I remember the first time I saw her, sitting next to me in a literature class. She’s an English Lit major. I’m studying history, but I needed the class.
We’re walking to the car. Maybe we’ll stop for a coffee or something on our way back to campus. I open her door and she slides in, automatically buckling her belt. I lean in for a quick kiss but there’s a dull thud in my head. As I crumble to the sidewalk, I can’t understand why I’m seeing twinkling white dots. I hear Faith screaming my name.
I try to push myself up and something hits my stomach with enough force to knock me back down. A black leather boot.
“Stay down, asshole! You don’t want us to do something nasty to your girlfriend, do you?”
I’m gasping for air. Everything is sideways and I hear Faith scream again. Then car doors slam. I try again to push myself up as my car peels away from the curb. Now everything is in slow motion. I’m running down the street screaming Faith’s name. I swipe at my something stinging my left eye and realize I’m bleeding.
I hear squealing tires just before the sound of an enormous impact, steel tearing, glass shattering, followed by an eerie silence. Closer to the source of the noise, I can pick out the tick-tick-tick of the engine cooling in the January air, the hiss of steam from the radiator.
There’s no movement as I approach the mangled wreckage. Through the broken passenger window, I see Faith. She’s leaning back against her seat, her head cocked to the right. There’s a tiny streak of blood coming from her nose and her eyes are wide open, as if in surprise.
The coroner’s report stated that Faith’s neck had snapped instantly from the impact. It was little solace. As was the knowledge that the punks who’d robbed a liquor store and jacked his car with Faith in it would be in prison for the next forty years.
Blake stared at the stars hanging over his private wilderness cathedral. Maybe one of them was Faith, watching over him all these years. It was a dumb notion. Even if it was possible, which he doubted, she wouldn’t watch over him. He’d failed her, failed to protect the woman he’d loved.
Maybe loved was a strong word. Back then, they’d been just kids, really. He’d been all of twenty, and she, only nineteen. But he’d already envisioned their future together, sure that he wanted to build a life with her.
Following the funeral, he’d left school and moved back home, utterly lost. His family tried to be understanding, allowing him to sleep as much as he wanted, leaving him to his thoughts, and not asking him to help with the family business. But after three months, his father had put his foot down. “You have to do something, Blake. You have to move forward.”
So his father had sent him to an outdoors school that operated in the wilderness between their lodge home on the lake and the city of Toronto. That experience had set him on a new track. Even though most of the other clients had been minors who’d gotten into trouble with the law, he found that he was able to work through the trauma enough to regain his traction. After three months in the bush, Blake had returned to college with renewed purpose, taking a history minor while majoring in wilderness therapy, and tacking on a Master’s in the same field as well.
He’d worked with troubled kids for four years, side by side with some of the same counselors who’d helped him find his way. But when his sister’s husband had abandoned her and the kids two years ago, he’d packed up and moved back home to the lodge to help run the business.
Back in his hallowed place, Blake noticed the stars beginning to fade as the sky lightened to the east. Three thousand, six hundred fifty. That was how many sunrises he’d seen and Faith had missed. His heart clenched and an unwanted tear rolled down his cheek. “I’m so sorry, Faith. I’m so sorry I failed you.”
He stood and picked up the blanket, shaking it free of snow before stuffing it back into his backpack. He slung the shotgun over his shoulder and glanced back up at the fading stars.
“I just want you to know that I still remember. I won’t ever forget.” He kissed his fingertips and waved them at the sky before turning to head back down the trail.
Lost & Bound will be available for pre-order soon. In the meantime, the first book in The Dream Dominant Collection, Luke & Bella is on sale now.
Use this universal link to get your copy.