So here’s the deal. I write for fun. I write because I love it. And I really love variety. I’ve written dark romance, crazy ott romantic comedy, rom com with a dose of all the feels too, paranormal romance, Science Fiction romance, contemporary romance with some heart-strings plucking, and all those were so much fun to write.
Then I went to read some books, and I wanted an easy read without insta-love. I also wanted something in the wild. Something with crazy characters. Finally, I decided to write my own easy read, set in the wilderness, with crazy people who just entertain the hell out of me.
If you’re looking for something just to make you smile, this will hopefully be that series. <3
The plan is to start releasing these as soon as I have covers. I have one completed, and one that only likes a couple of chapters to be completed. Here’s chapter one of Becoming A Vincent, if you’re interested in checking out the new series.
Wild Ones Tip #189
You only have two legs. Animals with sharp claws and teeth have four. Never get caught in the woods without your gun.
“You big bastard! Get away from the tree, and no one has to die,” I shout at the hostile cougar that is debating whether or not she wants to climb up after me.
I even wiggle a puny stick at her like it’s Excalibur or something.
How did I end up in a tree, wielding a stick like a mythical sword, while a cougar decides if I’m worth the trouble of mauling to death or not? Two reasons: Hale and Killian Vincent.
Those are my brothers.
I’m one third of a set of fraternal triplets. My theory is that all the oxygen in the womb was cut off from the two jackasses who are responsible for my current predicament, and I’m the only one who escaped with functioning brain cells.
Sometimes they act like geniuses, other times…they leave me in the woods with a freaking cougar! And not the kind of cougar who has a hankering for a younger guy. Nope. I’d like that cougar.
I’m talking about a cougar with sharp claws, sharper teeth, and a lot of power that could destroy me.
The cougar groans or growls or both. I’m not really sure.
I don’t speak cougar, but I think that was a sound of frustration, and fortunately, she decides not to shimmy up the tree after me.
I blow out a breath of relief as the cougar slinks off into the thick woods, a kitten cougar joining her at her side, and they slowly disappear from sight. Obviously I don’t get in any sort of hurry to climb down, just in case that momma cougar is tricky and is playing me.
Fun fact: most animals are faster than humans. Much faster. Like, you can’t possibly outrun most four-legged creatures no matter what the movies try to tell you.
Shotguns sound in the distance, and I glare in their direction.
Those assholes are going to end up with me shooting them with buckshot in the asses. Again.
This time it will be on purpose.
Slowly, warily, and all too shakily, I start the treacherous climb down, stepping on a few questionable branches that creak and quiver as I do.
More shotgun blasts continue, at least staying in the opposite direction of my cougar stalker so that I don’t have to worry about it being driven right back at me.
As soon as my feet hit the ground, I sprint. In my head, I’m an Olympic runner right now, and nothing can catch me as I put on a gold medal performance.
My heartbeat thumps in my ears as I run harder and faster than I ever have, leaping over fallen trees or bushes like they’re intentional hurdles. And I run for a solid mile or more, right to my aunt’s cabin where people are everywhere.
I collapse as soon as I’m surrounded by gun-wielding, bearded men.
“Lilah! Why are you so sweaty?”
I’m wheezing for air, barely able to lift an arm to signal that I’m alive, haphazardly sprawled on the ground, and my aunt is furiously inquiring about my sweatiness.
“You okay?” I hear someone ask.
Benson. That’s Benson. I think. My ears are still letting me hear my heartbeat too loudly to be sure. Please let it be Benson. He’ll save me.
“Lilah?” the guy asks again, but I just wheeze out an unintelligible sound, struggling to catch a breath.
Despite what my mind thought during that muscle-burning sprint for my life, I’m not actually an Olympic runner. I’m a run-to-survive-only kind of girl. I’m always suspicious of those people who say they run for fun.
Personally, if you’re running regularly, I assume you’re hiding something nefarious and practicing your getaway for whatever is coming after you. And I don’t want to be your friend, because I hate running.
Someone scoops me up, and my eyes roll around lazily, taking in the bearded face of my lifter.
Benson. I knew it.
I groan a sound that is supposed to be appreciation, and he cradles me closer.
More gunshots from farther out have me narrowing my eyes again.
“What are those jackass brothers of yours shooting at when we’re having a party?” my aunt demands.
Words still aren’t working out so well for me, so I just continue to stare and wheeze.
Did I mention I hate running?
They’re shooting to “guide” me out of the woods, as though I don’t know which direction to go. Pricks.
The gunshots grow silent, while Benson continues to hold me. His beard is annoying me at the moment, causing me to fidget. Really, who needs a beard that long? It’s tickling my stomach on the sliver of skin that is showing where my shirt has risen up.
I hate beards. And I’m constantly surrounded by them.
“Lilah, I’m going to ask you one more time—”
“Cougar,” I manage to say, interrupting my aunt.
Her eyes grow wide.
“Kai Wilder’s cougar?” she asks, unconcerned.
“Wild momma cougar,” I say, my pants growing shallower as my breaths come easier.
“You sure?” she asks, putting her hands on her hips.
“Pretty fucking sure.”
Benson snorts, and my aunt turns about ten shades of red.
“Go get cleaned up. Use the soap on your mouth. Your date is coming to meet you in…well, shit. He should already be here.”
My date. How did I forget the date?
My aunt has been trying to marry me off since I turned eighteen. That was six years ago.
She’s old school. If it was up to her, I’d have been married by sixteen and popping out babies by eighteen, like my mother. But it wasn’t up to her. Still isn’t.
Women cook. Men bring home the bacon. Yada yada yada.
I’m self-sufficient as far as finances go, so no thank you to the husband’s paycheck.
“Right,” I say, knowing appeasing her is easier than arguing with her.
Benson lowers me to my feet, making sure I’m steady before he releases me, and I thank him, patting him on the chest and ignoring his beard that tickles my hand.
I head in, wash up, check to make sure I’m not a solid shade of red from all that exertion, and reemerge just in time to see…Mr. Fucking Gorgeous.
The guy is so pretty that my eyes hurt.
Where the hell did she find him? Not that I want to date him. The guy is too pretty to be anything less than suspicious, but still…
“Oh! Lilah, this is Liam. Liam, my niece—Lilah.”
Liam. Nope. Two L names would just cause confusion.
I still drink in the sight of him, because Liam is pretty, and I like looking at him. It’s been a while since I saw someone past puberty without a beard.
He thrusts his hand out, and I note it’s tan and a little calloused, meaning he possibly spends time outside and working with his hands. Or he jacks off outside a lot. One of the two.
His blond hair looks incredibly touchable. His smooth jaw is definitely a refreshing sight next to all the overgrown beards in this place.
This place being Tomahawk, Washington, a small lake community in the middle of no-damn-where, and a hop, skip and jump away from the Canadian border…which is also right in the middle of no-damn-where.
I’m always leery of newcomers, because…back to that running thing.
If you didn’t grow up in Tomahawk, then the only reason you’d be here is to run from something somewhere else.
“Nice to meet you,” I say, smiling.
His grin is immediate, but I can tell he’s no more interested in me than I am in him. He looks distracted, if I’m being honest. In fact, I think he’s searching for someone as he looks around.
My poor aunt is going to have to wait on all those babies she wants me to pop out. She probably dragged him out here.
“What brings you to Tomahawk?” I ask conversationally.
Population? Three hundred.
“Just moved here.”
Correction, three hundred and one.
“Why?” I ask reflexively.
“Lilah!” my aunt scolds.
“It’s a reasonable question. Ninety-five percent of the country doesn’t even know we exist. The other five percent like to pretend we don’t.”
Liam laughs under his breath, glancing down at his feet for a minute. “Long story. Your aunt tells me you do some online graphic designing.”
I just nod, deciding not to go down that boring road of what we each do for a living.
“Have a seat, Liam. Lilah, you sit next to him,” my aunt says without an ounce of subtlety
“It’s less painful if you just roll with it and let her think she winning.”
“I can hear you,” Aunt Penny grumbles.
Liam’s grin only grows as I say, “I know. We can hear you too.”
Per the usual, I take a seat by Benson on the forever long picnic table, and he elbows me gently. “What about that cougar?” he asks as Liam sits down on my other side.
“Cougar?” Liam asks, intrigued.
I shrug, not looking at either of them as we start passing plates around. The food is in the center of the table, and you scoop something out of the bowl in front of you and pass it to the next person.
Liam catches onto this pretty quickly, even though it’s his first time.
“Big momma cougar with a nasty temper,” I finally say.
Cougars aren’t that uncommon around here, but it’s rare they chase you down…unless there’s a damn cub involved.
“What were you doing out in the woods without a gun?” Benson asks, a little bit of an edge to his tone.
I cast him a sidelong glance, but he’s practically glaring at me. All you can see on his face are his eyes, most of his nose and a little of his forehead, because…black beard. A lot of black beard.
“I was in the woods with my brothers, who both had a gun.”
“Brothers?” Liam asks, and Benson grunts like he’s irritated with the interruption.
I face Pretty Boy. “I have two brothers. We’re triplets. I’m the only one who survived the womb with a sense of self-preservation and common sense. Or maybe it’s because I was the only one of the three who was blessed with a vagina.”
To this, the entire table laughs, except for my aunt, who is groaning and covering her face, shaking her head as though she’s embarrassed.
“Are they here?” he asks so innocently, bypassing the whole vagina remark.
Idly, I wonder if he’s embarrassed to talk about the female anatomy, and grin to myself, filing away that information for future use.
When no one answers him, he asks the question again. “Seriously, are they here?” He looks around the table like he’s searching them out.
More laughter ensues, but not from Aunt Penny. “Those heathens aren’t allowed over here anymore when I entertain,” she tells him, passing a plate along. “Not for a long while. Hopefully they’ll grow up.”
Aunt Penny will lift the ban soon. She always does. My brothers will be back over here in no time and she knows it. She can’t help herself, because she loves them.
I scoop out more of the yams and pass the plate along to Liam.
“We went into the woods looking for the right tree. Those jerks broke my bed—”
“Broke your bed?” Liam interrupts, arching an eyebrow.
I really don’t like what he’s insinuating, but since he’s doing it with a playful smirk that I can see because there’s no beard on his pretty face, I let it pass.
“They were standing on my bed to try and steal my ceiling fan after they broke theirs. Our cabins are side by side. They break in. All the time. No boundaries, those two. So, the bed broke under their combined weight, and I planned to make them build me a new one with a tree or two of my choosing.”
He blinks at me. But Benson is the one to chuckle, drawing my attention back to him.
“Your bed wasn’t strong enough to support two people?” the bearded man asks me, eyes twinkling with humor.
I narrow my eyes on him. “Do you think any guy would make it to the bedroom with my brothers next door?”
He cocks his head like he’s thinking about it. “Good point,” he concedes.
“I have to travel when I want to get mine.”
The humor leaves his eyes, and I grin while tugging his beard a little. He grunts, and I turn back to see Liam smiling broadly at me. Oh, yeah. I probably shouldn’t be talking so openly in front of him.
Plates finally stop being passed, and I start eating mine, leaning a little on Benson since I don’t know Liam and don’t like brushing up against strangers over and over. Plus, I’m really tired. And Benson never minds being leaned on.
Liam’s eyes flick between us, probably getting the wrong idea, but I don’t really care. I have no desire to pop out little Liam babies.
He glances around at all the beards—literally. Then he reaches up and touches the side of his baby smooth face. I’ll be honest, I am tempted to do that too. I can’t remember the last time I saw a smooth face on a full grown man.
Well, I can. Three years ago, which was the last time I had sex. The guy was passing through, and I decided to pass through his cabin rental. He didn’t mind. It was a really great night.
If I had known it’d be three years’ worth of drought after that, it would have been even more fun.
“So, how’d you end up with the cougar if your brothers were out there?” Benson asks, even as Liam continues to glance around, probably wondering if they’re in a bearded cult.
“Those pricks left me out there before I realized it. Next thing I know, there was a cub, and a likely momma cougar, and gunshots, and I climbed the nearest tree.”
Benson tenses, but the rest of the table snickers. Well, not Aunt Penny.
“I’ve told you to stop going out into the woods with those two!” she snaps.
They wouldn’t have left me alone if they’d known there was a cougar, but I sure as hell don’t defend them. They were just trying to get out of sawing a tree down for me.
The chainsaw is messed up, so it was going to have to be done the hard way. No one in this town is stupid enough to lend the anything of theirs, so borrowing a chainsaw was out of the question.
“I’ll come build your bed,” Benson offers.
He usually ends up fixing whatever they’ve broken, since they tend to do a shitty job at fixing it themselves. Not that they can’t fix it, it’s just the fact they love to annoy me to the fullest extent.
I grin while leaning against him a little more. He always smells so good. “Thanks, but I’m going to make them do it. They broke it, after all.”
He narrows his eyes at me, and I mimic the motion. He rolls those eyes before looking back down at his plate, and I push my food aside as I finish eating.
“I notice I have a distinct lack of facial hair,” Liam says, eyeing the fifteen or so other men. Yes, it’s me, Aunt Penny, one baby-smooth skin Liam, and fifteen-ish beards.
“Get used to it,” I grumble. “I was fifteen when this started,” I add, gesturing to everyone, and once again tugging on Benson’s beard, ignoring the sting when he reaches back and pinches my side in punishment. “That was nine years ago.”
“When what started?” Liam asks curiously.
“The beards. All the fucking beards,” I groan. “It’s a town-wide challenge. The first one to cut their beard has to swim naked across the lake during the summer. That lake stays cold. Like really, really cold. Even in the summer.” I gesture around like I’m pointing to the current season we’re in. “So they all look like mountain men.”
Benson chuckles, and I roll my eyes.
“You all grew those for a challenge?” Liam asks, pointing at some of the hideous bushes they wear with pride.
“A true Tomahawk man never backs down from a licensed challenge,” my uncle says with an affirmative nod.
A few grunts follow that, also sounding affirmative.
I half expect the men around the table to start beating their chests like gorillas at any moment.
No one answers that, because, well, Liam is an outsider, after all.
“They’d rather their faces look too similar to Sasquatch than worry about bothersome things such as ever getting laid again.”
“I get laid,” Tim pipes up.
“You’re married,” I deadpan. “And God bless your wife.”
They all chuckle.
“So I have to grow a beard?” Liam asks, his lips twitching.
“No. It doesn’t apply to anyone who comes in now. Not that it matters. Only one person comes to live here every ten years or so. But it seems like it doesn’t matter to the now corrupted young ones either. A guy hits puberty, and he joins in on the challenge, even though it’s years’ old.”
I glare at my uncle, the douche nozzle who instated the challenge and put it to a vote with the committee. He flashes a toothy grin at me through his beard.
“Did I mention I hate beards?” I add.
Benson bristles beside me.
“Your pretty, smooth face will be very much sought after,” I tell Liam.
Again, Benson bristles.
Liam smirks before shrugging. He’s cute, but neither of us is interested in the other, and there’s zero chemistry between us. I’m cool with that, even though it’s terribly tragic to pass up such a perfectly smooth face that would feel good rub all over.
I burrow into Benson a little better as I try to pinpoint what’s not working for me with Liam.
My girly parts haven’t perked up and paid attention to him, so it’s their own fault they’re being deprived such a beautiful specimen.
“All the smart girls love beards,” Trip says across from us. We went to school together, yet he looks like he’s ten years older—because of the unkempt beard.
“Ha! Yeah. I’m sure that’s why all the single women—myself included—don’t touch the scraggly beards here. You guys don’t even trim them. You can barely see your eyes. It’s not enticing.”
“No trimming allowed,” my uncle goes on. “Not until someone loses.”
“To be fair,” Trip inserts, “no one thought the challenge would last this long. I was fifteen when it started. I’m twenty-four now.”
I look to Liam, while still leaning against Benson, who is now a little stiffer than usual. Maybe he’s mad about me insulting the beards.
Despite what they say, they’ve all gotten attached to the unruly wiry hair on their faces.
“I can remember my fifteen-year-old brothers standing in front of the mirror and willing their beards to grow. It was just patchy stubble for the first few years for them, but they were in it to win it.”
“So you’re telling me the women—”
“All twenty of us who aren’t married and under the age of fifty,” I butt in.
“—are so shallow as to not like us because of the beards?” Joey—a guy two years older than me—asks as he strokes that long, blond beard.
“We’re not shallow for expecting normal grooming habits,” I point out. “You can’t see anything but a lot of beard. We don’t even know what half of you look like.”
“That’s shallow,” Trip pipes in.
“No. It’s not. It’s not unreasonable to ask you to trim the damn thing. Would you want to touch a girl who had hairy legs she showed off with pride? Legs so hairy that you could hide popcorn in them?”
They all give a full body shudder, including Benson.
Benson has grown unusually quiet. Well, not unusually. He’s always quiet unless it’s just the two of us, but he’s also staring down at his food.
“Duck Dynasty guys have hot wives,” Trip declares like he’s starting a debate, holding his fork toward me, and deliberately not answering the hairy legs question.
Double standard, if you ask me. I have to shave my legs daily during the summer. No one sees them in the winter, so the shaving becomes more sporadic then. But you still can’t lose popcorn in them, damn it.
“They were married before the beards, and their wives loved them. It’d be shallow to leave because of a beard.” I tap my chin. “What about a girl with hairy armpits? The hair would be long enough to braid. Could you find her attractive?”
No one answers, but again, they all shudder in disgust.
That’s what I thought.
“The point is, you expect women to groom our freaking limbs, yet you think we’re all supposed to overlook the fact your face is a complete mystery, because it’s heavily guarded by that brush pile you all call beards. Who wants to grind on a face like that?”
They all look to my uncle just as Aunt Penny tugs his beard. “I love the beard,” she coos. “And I grind all over it all the time.”
“She was married pre-beard too,” I say just as a bunch of accusing beards swing my way. “And in love prior to the beard. He could grow a gnarly hunch on his chest, and she’d pet it, thinking it was adorable.”
It’s true. They’re still sickeningly in love.
My uncle grins at her and tugs her closer. At least I think he’s grinning. Always hard to tell because…beard.
A few mumblings go on after that, and I sink against Benson’s side, growing increasingly tired now that the adrenaline from the cougar episode is wearing off.
“So how long have you two known each other?” Liam asks, gesturing toward me and Benson as I fight to keep my eyes open.
Benson, who’s been quiet until now, shifts his arm and turns his body so that I can lean against his chest and get more comfortable. His arm comes around my waist, tugging me closer when I start to sag.
“Since I was twenty-one,” he says gruffly.
“Which was how long ago?” Liam lets the question trail off.
“He inherited his family’s vacation cabin across the lake that they rented out but never stayed in but on occasion,” my aunt supplies. “When he was eighteen, that is. But he kept to himself for the first year or two. I think…how old were you when you met Benson?” she asks, looking over at me.
I force my eyes to open wider. “Eighteen. Like he said, he was twenty-one. He was already bearded. The challenge had been going on for three years,” I say around a yawn.
“I didn’t know she existed before then,” Benson says with a shrug.
“I spent a year in Seattle,” I explain. “Learning graphic design. I graduated from school early—at seventeen—and lived with a friend of my mother’s for a year until I turned eighteen and came back home. But we didn’t become real friends until three years ago.”
Liam nods and looks to Benson. “And what do you do?”
Everyone looks at Benson. Even I tilt my head back, looking up at him with a grin. He grunts and looks down at me before looking away, squeezing me to him a little more.
“No one knows,” I say with a smile, returning my gaze to Liam. “At least, no one knows what he does for money.”
“What do you do?” Benson volleys, glancing over at Liam.
Liam’s lips twitch. “I should get going. I still have to unpack. Thank you, Penny, for the invite. It was nice to meet my neighbors.”
“Where are you staying?” I ask, feeling Benson tense again.
What’s with him?
His arm tightens around my waist, and I study Liam beside us.
“I bought the Morris cabin.”
My jaw falls open. The Morris cabin is just as big, if not bigger, than the ridiculously huge cabin Benson owns. Both are like cabin wet dreams.
Sometimes I spend the night in Benson’s cabin just to be spending the night in Benson’s cabin. Because I love it. It’s awesome.
“That’s about a mile from me,” I note. “Same side of the lake.”
He grins, Benson mutters something, and Liam stands, bidding everyone farewell.
“Come on,” Benson says, lifting me with him as he stands.
My feet hit the ground, and I glance back as all the men start covering the leftovers and cleaning up for Aunt Penny.
“I’ll get you home,” Benson informs me with that no-nonsense tone of his. “And I’ll have a talk with your brothers.”
“You gonna club them over the head with your beard? Because I’d watch that. Might even change my stance on beards.”
He shakes his head, his arm going around my shoulders, and we leave the partiers behind as he tosses his rifle over his back, the strap coming across his shoulder.
Benson is a big guy. Not in the chubby way. Even in the summer he wears jeans, and he always has on a loose shirt. His arms are solid, but not overly muscular.
I really like his arms. They’re totally arm porn material.
He’s tall. Like 6’3 or so. That’s what I mean by big.
I glance back, seeing Liam board his fancy bass boat, and note he’s about the same height.
“You into him?” Benson asks, noticing my line of view.
“Nah. Too pretty.”
He snorts derisively.
“So beards are too ugly, but smooth faces are too pretty. In other words, you can’t be satisfied.”
I elbow him in the ribs, and he tugs me closer.
“He’s model pretty,” I go on. “Saw plenty of the like in Seattle. Didn’t do anything for me then either. Guys like that are fun for a minute, but they never settle down.”
“Thought you didn’t want to settle down. That’s what you keep telling Penny.”
Yeah. I totally just stepped into that shit pile, didn’t I? Must’ve been something in that food.
“I don’t. But I also don’t want to be used and treated with the same respect a blowup doll gets either.”
He looks down at me like he’s studying me, then shakes his head and focuses back on the trail. The bass boat blares by us, and I offer a wave to Liam as he passes us.
“Why didn’t you just drive me over on your boat?” I ask Benson.
“Because your dock needs to be fixed before I dock there again. I’ll come work on it next week.”
“You don’t have to. I can get those dicks to do something. It’s their dock too.”
“They’re the reason it needs to be fixed,” he says, sounding a little angry.
“They’ll fix it. They always do,” I say around another yawn.
“And then I always re-fix it. Might as well cut out the middle man.”
I don’t bother arguing.
Right as we get to the cabin, I decide I’m really going to kill my brothers. All my underwear is hanging from my porch, on tiny little nails, and dangling.
Benson practically turns to stone.
“What the hell?” he asks.
“They’re dead,” I bite out.
“Why would they—”
“Because I burned all theirs after they wrecked my bed.”
“But why would they—”
I turn to face him. “Because bugs, Benson. Bugs. I’ll be too freaked out to ever wear those again, because…bugs.”
I shudder dramatically, and he arches an eyebrow. Do you have any idea how many places bugs can hide? Or how small they are so as not to be noticed?
My vagina is sacred!
“Guess I won’t be wearing panties for a while,” I say on a sigh.
For some reason, Benson drops his rifle.