Out of smoke and ashes, p.1
Out of Smoke and Ashes, page 1
Triple Trouble 5
Out of Smoke and Ashes
Elain Pardie’s wedding is interrupted when her matron of honor, Lina, goes into labor. Unfortunately, events spiral downhill from there for the Lyalls and their kin when an old foe refuses to roll over and play dead. As everyone suspected, Rodolfo Abernathy won’t give up.
What Abernathy doesn’t know is he’s become more prey than predator. Shifters with grudges of their own enter the fight with their sights set on Abernathy’s downfall.
When the fur hits the fan, it won’t be pretty.
While Elain and Lina struggle to cope with their new roles, various shifter Clans band together to fight their common enemies. Devastating heartaches are finally laid to rest as new love blossoms.
And Baba Yaga isn’t even done with them yet. Elain, Ain, Brodey, and Cail, along with their ever-growing band of friends and adopted family, must still confront those who’d gladly destroy all they love as evil and vengeance once again return from Out of Smoke and Ashes.
Note: There is no sexual relationship or touching for titillation between or among siblings.
Genre: Ménage a Trois/Quatre, Paranormal Shape-shifter
Length: 77,195 words
OUT OF SMOKE AND ASHES
Triple Trouble 5
Siren Publishing, Inc.
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A SIREN PUBLISHING BOOK
IMPRINT: Ménage Everlasting
OUT OF SMOKE AND ASHES
Copyright © 2013 by Tymber Dalton
E-book ISBN: 978-1-62740-066-4
First E-book Publication: May 2013
Cover design by Les Byerley
All art and logo copyright © 2013 by Siren Publishing, Inc.
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED: This literary work may not be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, including electronic or photographic reproduction, in whole or in part, without express written permission.
All characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any resemblance to actual persons living or dead is strictly coincidental.
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Thanks to all my readers who keep coming back for more and who make this all possible. You have no idea how grateful I am.
I fully admit I cannot control where “the voices” lead me, which is why what started out as two separate and standalone stories (Boiling Point and Trouble Comes in Threes) ended up merging into one whopper of a series with no signs of stopping any time soon. Just when I think I’ve excavated the bulk of the story’s bones, I turn around and find a pit I haven’t even explored yet.
I think the characters actually start laughing at me behind my back when that happens.
The events of this book pick up exactly where book four (and technically the seventh book of the series) Triple Dog Dare leaves off, with Lina’s water breaking as she catches the bouquet at Elain’s wedding.
I promise I didn’t write cliff-hangers in some of the earlier books on purpose. It frustrates me just as much as it frustrates you, because when the characters go quiet, I can’t force their story. I have to wait until they sort it out and get back to me with the next installment. And no I won’t give any spoilers, but yes, some interesting bombshells dropped on me in the midst of writing this.
At least this time the characters gave me two books at once instead of just one. (Keep an eye out for book six, coming soon.)
If you haven’t read the previous books, including all of the prequels, it’s highly recommended you do before reading this one or else some of the events and backstory in this book might not make sense. The suggested reading order of the entire series, if you haven’t already started from the very beginning with the Alexandr dragon brothers, is:
Boiling Point — Tasty Treats, Vol. 3 (Triple Trouble Prequel)
Steam (Triple Trouble Prequel)
Fire and Ice (Triple Trouble Prequel)
Trouble Comes in Threes (Triple Trouble 1)
Storm Warning (Triple Trouble 2)
Three Dog Night (Triple Trouble 3)
Triple Dog Dare (Triple Trouble 4)
Out of Smoke and Ashes (Triple Trouble 5)
Ryan Ausar, who insisted on showing up in this book and refused to go away no matter how hard I tried to write around him, appears in my Good Will Ghost Hunting series, also available from Siren-BookStrand.
Damn demons anyway.
OUT OF SMOKE AND ASHES
Triple Trouble 5
Copyright © 2013
The afternoon couldn’t have been more perfect for Elain Pardie’s dream wedding. The fickle late-summer afternoon weather cooperated as if custom-ordered. With a blue sky above, a light, cool breeze to take the edge off the heat, and no risk of thunderstorms, she’d publicly exchanged vows with Ain Lyall in front of their friends and family on the Lyalls’ cattle ranch in Arcadia, Florida.
Privately, she’d already married Ain, Brodey, and Cail Lyall inside their house with only family and their closest friends looking on. Just a formality, since she’d been mated to the triplet Alpha shape-shifters for months, and the only legal marriage the state would recognize was the one to Ain.
Together, they’d shared cake and danced and enjoyed the afternoon inside the reception tent. When it came time to throw the bouquet, the ominous feeling Elain carried deep in her gut all day had mostly faded. Then her enormously pregnant best friend, Goddess, dragon flagyer Seer, and matron of honor, Lina, caught the bouquet.
That was w
“What do you mean your water just broke?” Rick and Jan frantically screamed at their mate.
Lina cocked her head at them. “Really? Really?” She held out her hands, one still clutching Elain’s bouquet. She indicated her huge, twin-swollen belly, swathed in a bridesmaid gown. “Look at me. I’m a friggin’ Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade float. Are you guys seriously that dense?”
Rick, a normally self-assured dragon shifter, looked flummoxed. “But…I mean…it’s just…you’re not due for a few weeks yet.”
She pointed at her belly. “Again, dude. Look. At. Me.”
Elain spoke up. “We need to get you to the hospital.”
Lina handed the bouquet off to Mai, who was also pregnant. “I need to change. I don’t want to go dressed like this.” She waddled off to the house, her men hurrying in her wake.
Elain wasn’t about to miss the birth of her best friend’s twins. She went over to the DJ and borrowed his microphone. “Um, hi, everyone. My matron of honor is about to pop. Literally. We’re going to go with her to the hospital, but we want all of you to feel free to stay and eat and dance. Thank you!” She stepped away from the microphone to a resounding round of cheers and applause for the new parents to be.
Ain caught her hand as she headed out of the tent. “How about Cail and I stay here and hold down the fort? You and Brodey go with them.”
He pulled her to him and placed a killer kiss on her mouth that threatened to melt her knees out from under her. “Yes, really. You and Brodey are far closer to them than we are. We’ll finish up here, make sure everything’s cleaned up, and we’ll be along later. There’s only so much room in a delivery room, I’m sure. She’s already made it perfectly clear she wants you, Brodey, Mai, Mom, and Lacey in there with her and her guys. It’ll be crowded enough as it is.”
She let out a laugh. “True. I’ll go change.” She hugged him. “Thank you!” She grabbed Brodey and together they hurried to the house to change.
* * * *
Ken and Trent, disguised as a reporter and photographer, stood in the far corner of the tent as they watched the events unfold. “Dammit,” Ken softly said. “This screws our plans.”
“I don’t think there’s any way we can grab either of them now,” Trent agreed.
Their boss, Rodolfo Abernathy, had ordered them to kidnap Elain, and Mai, too, if possible. They were each armed with three syringes of M99, a powerful animal tranquilizer. If those weren’t enough to take down a powerful Alpha wolf shifter like Elain Pardie, they’d both be screwed.
Now it looked like they wouldn’t have a chance in hell of using them anyway.
Ken glanced around. “Let’s scope out the house again. Maybe we’ll get lucky.”
“Doubtful, but we need to try.” They threaded their way through other guests who’d come to see Prime Alpha wolf Aindreas Lyall wed his mate, Elain Lyall.
It didn’t help their situation that her other two mates were Ain’s brothers Brodey and Cailean Lyall, completing the Alpha triplets.
Despite that imposing obstacle, Rodolfo Abernathy refused to give up his claim to Elain. Abernathy also didn’t care that Elain had won the fight against his great-grandson, Paul. Or that her Clan Council had ruled that the ancient blood oath pledging Elain to his Clan centuries earlier was void as a result of her win.
And Ken and Trent didn’t relish the idea of returning empty-handed to their boss.
* * * *
Mai hurried to her room to change out of her bridesmaid dress and into something comfy. Everyone else had Lina well under control. Micah and Jim would stay behind to help Ain and Cail with the cleanup once all the guests left.
As she walked to the closet, she thought she spotted a shadow cross past their bedroom window. When she looked up, no one was there.
Shrugging it off, she finished changing into a sundress and was heading into the bathroom when a funky scent hit her nostrils, stopping her in her tracks.
A wolf, more than one.
And both covered in the familiar Abernathy stink. The old man preferred using a distinctive aftershave in copious amounts that most other wolves couldn’t tolerate wearing. Anyone who spent more than a few minutes around him ended up with hints of it on their clothes.
Paul Abernathy, her ex and the biological father of her baby, had almost always carried echoes of it on his clothes.
Survival instinct kicked in. She whirled around and bolted for the bedroom door while struggling to rein in her growing panic. She started down the hallway toward Lina’s room when the scent hit her again, far stronger than before and coming from the living room. She raced back to the bedroom she shared with Micah and Jim and slammed the door shut behind her, locking it and knowing that wouldn’t stop anyone for long.
Especially not a wolf working for Abernathy.
Creeping over to the bedroom window, she didn’t sense anyone in the immediate vicinity. She opened the window, popped the screen out, and lithely climbed through it despite her own baby belly. Her plan had been to go around to the back of the house and find Micah, or any of the Lyalls, or any of the other friendly shifters there at the wedding. But as she rounded the northeast corner of the house, she spotted one of Abernathy’s henchmen on the lanai, sneaking around from the other direction.
When he spotted her, he started toward her. Knowing she couldn’t overpower an Alpha wolf, and not knowing how many others he had working with him, she did the only thing she could think to do. She shifted, her clothes falling to the ground around her as she bolted for the woods just behind the house.
* * * *
“Shit!” Ken spotted the coyote at the same time she spotted him. Before he could react, she shifted and ran, quickly streaking into the thick woods behind the house. “Dammit!”
He caught up with Trent coming out the front door. “I found her,” Ken said, “but she shifted and took off.”
“Toward the woods.”
“What do we do now?”
Ken nervously looked around. The last thing he wanted was a bunch of pissed-off Alpha wolves and their family coming after them. “Fuck, I don’t know. We can’t shift and carry the tranquilizers, and I don’t know how long we’ve got until she sounds the alarm.”
* * * *
Mai thought of nothing else but running, something she’d excelled in, unfortunately, after she refused Paul Abernathy’s demands that she abort her baby.
She couldn’t take the time to focus behind her, to see how close her pursuers were, because it could cause her to slow down and possibly put her within their grasp. She might not be able to overpower an Alpha wolf, but she could damn sure outrun one.
For a while, at least.
As silently as she could she raced through the woods, emerging a few minutes later in a pasture.
With barely a glance behind her, she sprinted across the pasture, desperate to make it to the next wooded stand approximately a hundred yards away. If she could reach the barn area she could find a hiding place, maybe lock herself in the office, and wait for Micah and Jim or the Lyalls to rescue her. After making the next wooded patch she stopped and turned to catch her breath.
Behind her, she spotted no sign of her pursuers. She wasn’t, however, naive enough to believe they gave up that easily. Not after everything she’d been through.
That Abernathy had the bodacious balls to send his men to the wedding in the first place spoke to his insane level of crazy stick-to-it-ness.
She took off running again.
Upon emerging from that wooded section, she found a thick cluster of cattle grazing a few yards away. She shifted back into human form, staying hunched down despite not seeing any humans around. She worried her coyote form, with a different look and smell than the Lyall wolves, might spook the cattle and reveal her presence.
If Abernathy’s wolves tracked her, she’d be screwed.<
Keeping low, she worked her way through the docile cattle. About two hundred yards away she spotted the roof of one of the larger barns just past some more trees.
Behind her, no one, wolf or human, appeared.
She winced when her bare foot sunk into a fresh, warm, squishy cow patty.
Then she smiled.
Gross, but it might work. She’d rolled in far worse during her time on the run to help throw trackers off her scent.
She grabbed handfuls of the fresh cow manure and rubbed it all over herself as she wove her way through the dozens of cattle, stopping periodically to rub against one and get its scent on her body, back and forth, confusing her trail as much as possible. Then she worked her way to the edge of the cattle in a different direction than the barns, shifted back to four legs, and rolled in another fresh cow patty.
Before the cows could spook, she skirted the edge of the group and ran for the barns.
* * * *
“Where’s Mai?” Lina asked as they finally got her moving toward the front door. “And Callie?”
Elain didn’t know. She was more concerned about getting Lina into Jan and Rick’s minivan and headed to Tampa to the hospital. They had nearly two hours’ drive, at least, and had already called the doctor to let her know they were on their way.
“We’ll find them and load them in the next car,” Elain assured her.
by Tymber Dalton / Romance / Mystery & Thrillers / Science Fiction & Fantasy have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes