Jim Winter stepped in and caught a flying punch in his big fist before it landed on its intended victim.
“Sorry, Jim.” The cowboy’s sheepish grin let Jim know the barroom brawl wasn’t serious.
“No harm done.” Jim understood it was just rowdy high-spirits, but on principle he stared down the wrangler who’d thrown the blow. He turned his attention to the two other cowboys who rolled on the floor, slugging it out at his feet, and pulled them up by their collars. The fight went out of them as soon as they saw who’d stepped in.
“Boys, I think you’ve had about enough fun tonight.” Jim passed them off to his ranch foreman Daniel Hunt. “Take these boys outside and dump some cold water on ‘em and get them a ride home.”
Jim strolled back to his spot against the long, polished bar. With a beer in his hand, he casually acknowledged friends and neighbors as they moved past him, but his eyes swept the big, open room. It was a typical Friday night, loud and crowded.
One end of the barroom had long picnic style tables filled with noisy groups who celebrated just because it was the weekend. A smile chased across his face when he noticed a few quiet couples who had paired up to share a romantic moment, oblivious to the chaotic atmosphere. At the other end of the room, a band banged out a mix of country and rock tunes for the enthusiastic dancers. If trouble erupted, it would come from that end of the room. The pounding rhythm and close press of bodies created a perfect storm of hormonal aggression that could quickly turn violent, especially considering the circumstances.
Jim felt the moon’s pull in his bones and on his skin. It set him on edge, but he’d learned to ride it out. As Alpha of the Laramie Pack, he had a lot of control, and a lot of responsibility. Some of his pack, younger Werewolves, were in the bar, and he was there to keep an eye on them. He didn’t always shepherd them this closely, but it was the night before the full moon.
Alcohol wasn’t the problem. Weres metabolized alcohol so fast they could only get drunk if they were really trying. The problem was hormones. It was only normal for shifters to feel prickly and irritable as the full moon approached. It was like being over-caffeinated and having the hives at the same time, and it wouldn’t get better until they could shift and run off their aggression in a hunt.
Fights between pack members were inevitable, so Jim was there to referee and see that they didn’t get out of hand or spill over into the human population. Tomorrow night’s run would ease a lot of tension. Then they’d all settle down for another month, but they had to get through tonight first.
Jim’s senses sparked and his muscles tensed as he turned to watch two of his pack enter the bar. Randi Harris led the way in a skintight dress and stilettos. Not really appropriate for this venue, but Randi could pull it off. It was the one who came next that had him holding his breath, Sissy Hunt, Daniel’s daughter.
Sissy was tall for a female at just under six feet, and Jim took in every inch. Her body was lean and trim and she moved with a fluid grace. Unlike Randi, who was decked out in one of her Friday night “Make ‘em drool” outfits, Sissy was dressed like most of the men in the room, in dark jeans and boots. But there was nothing masculine about Sissy. The clinging fit of her jeans cupped her very feminine behind, and the burgundy western cut shirt hugged her compact breasts. Her sun-streaked blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail the way she usually wore it, and her hazel eyes glinted in the low light with luminous streaks of brown, gold, and green.
Jim’s roving gaze settled on her pouty rose-colored lips that seemed to be permanently drawn into a scowl whenever he was around.
Daniel joined Jim at the bar in time to greet the women. “Good evening, ladies.”
“Hi, Daddy,” She rose up on her tiptoes to give Daniel’s cheek a quick kiss. She acknowledged her Alpha with a curt “Jim” and a nod.
I hope you enjoyed the excerpt. If you'd like to leave a comment, go to the contact page. I'd love to hear from you.
Alpha werewolf Jim Winter has it all – a pack that respects him, a successful ranch, and his choice of willing females – but he only woman he wants is the one he can’t have. A guilty secret and a promise keep him from claiming Sissy as his mate.
Sissy Hunt has always loved Jim, but she’s tired of being the only 25 year old virgin werewolf in Wyoming. Frustrated and ready to get on with her life, she gladly accepts an invitation to join a neighboring pack, but she runs from heartbreak straight into the arms of danger.
Jim and Sissy will have to face the specters of their past if they want to survive and have a future together.
Cowboys and Werewolves
Every paranormal novel has to create a believable world for its inhabitants. Even within an established genre like the werewolf novel, there is a wide latitude for differences.
Here are some of the main points of werewolf culture in Laramie Moon (LM):
Out to the Public or Hidden?
The general public knows that werewolves (and various other were animals) exist in LM, but the news has only been out for about 20 years, so there is a lot of discrimination, and werewolves are not properly protected by law. Some werewolves are out to the public, and a few are even celebrities, but most still keep a low profile, especially in the West. Ranchers and wolves have a long history of distrust. Even though regular wolves are protected by federal law, the custom is to "shoot, shovel, and shut up." Jim provides the Winter Pack with a safe, private place to run and hunt, and he tries to keep their presence quiet in the community.
Born or Bitten?
In LM, werewolves are only born, not created by being bitten or attacked. When werewolves mate, generally for life, their children will become werewolves. Werewolves can also have children with human mates with unpredictable results. The deliveries are harder on non-were mothers, who often don't survive the childbirth; deliveries are easier on werewolf mothers and human fathers. Mixed breeding may produce a child with the dominance ranking up to level of their were parent, but rarely alphas. Some mixed offspring cannot shift while others can.
In LM, when the werewolves shift, they shift completely into a full wolf form. The only difference from real wolves is that they are bigger and stronger and they have a greater variance in color. Only a few werewolves have the ability to fully or partially shift at will. They stay upright, pack on more muscle, and their upper torso makes the biggest change. They sprout sharp claws and their faces elongate into muzzles with sharp teeth.
The higher ranked wolves usually have an easier time shifting. Only high-ranking alphas can shift at will. All others shift only on the full moon. The young usually turn for the first time late in puberty in an extremely painful and frightening transformation. An important function of the pack is to protect the young werewolves during their first few turns. In the Winter Pack, they have a special holding cell where they can contain and protect newly turning werewolves. Elderly werewolves gradually become more and more immune to the moon's pull and can choose not to shift anymore.
While real wolf packs are generally small and contain only 1 male and 1 female alpha, in LM, the packs are larger and contain members from all rankings. The alphas are the smallest group, but there can be more than 2 alphas in a pack although there is only one "top dog." Most groups have a "second," the dominant alpha's assistant, and there can be other alphas who have acknowledged the dominance of the pack leader. The majority of the pack are betas. They are not naturally leaders, but they are loyal followers. The omegas are the lowest ranking, and they are extremely subserviant. Many packs see omegas as servants and treat them badly. They usually catch the brunt of pack violence, but Jim protects all of his pack.
In LM, packs can vary widely in their philosophy. Jim is particularly modern and open-minded in his outlook on the wolf pack. He is highly protective of all members of his pack and doesn't discriminate against members because of their rank ranking. He is trying to integrate a more democratic form of governance into his pack in the form of a pack council, but most packs are run with a strict hierarchy established through dominance and fear. In many packs, control and punishment can be extremely brutal, with fights, bullying, challenges, and even rapes. Jim won't tolerate that behaviour in his pack, and most members of his pack are grateful, but others see his reforms as a sign of weakness.
Nope. In LM, silver doesn't have any more effect than any other metal. Bullets still hurt, and werewolves can be killed, but they are generally tough, and they heal very quickly, so it is hard to kill them unless they have major blood loss or severe trauma to major organs or they are beheaded, burned, or otherwise physically destroyed. Werewolves' average life span is between 120 and 150 years.
Laramie, Wyoming is a beautiful town, located in the southeast of Wyoming, near Cheyenne and Denver, Colorado. Downtown Laramie has great historic buildings. It is home to both the University of Wyoming (Go Cowboys) and WyoTech, one of the top automotive training schools in the country. The land around Laramie is beautiful, and I couldn't think of a better place to put Jim's ranch.
I did a lot of research on real wolf behavior. I used the standard pack rankings, so in LM, packs contain alphas, betas, and omegas, and even halfs. Most real wolf packs have less than 20 members and have only 2 alphas, the dominant mating pair.
Wolves are classified as threatened or endangered in the United States where they were hunted almost to extinction. Studies show their numbers are increasing in some areas.
There are many good websites dedicated to wolf information. Here are a couple:
Jim and his best friend Lucas were members of the elite special operations regiment known as the Night Stalkers. They piloted Black Hawk helicopters as part of the Army's premiere night fighting aviation force. In Jim's world, The military had known about weres even before the scientists made them public. Weres, especially wolves and large cats, were valued for their superior senses, strength, and speed. They often were recruited for special ops units, and the military had made provisions for their monthly “special needs." Lucas was thinking about becoming a Ranger, but Jim saw the night attack helicopters, and he was sold. They volunteered for the special operations airborne regiment. They were called the Night Stalkers for their ability to strike undetected in the dark. “Just like wolves,” Jim grinned. The Night Stalkers were pioneering the use of night vision equipment in combat, but Jim and Lucas saw as well in the dark as they did during the day. It was a perfect fit for them. They entered the training and soon they were piloting Black Hawks on combat missions.
You can read more about these amazing soldiers at 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne) and at