On the Wisdom of Fearing Them’s That Can Eat You
I was watching an episode of Shark Week today, a repeat starring Craig Ferguson. He was in the Bahamas to feed the beasties.
The divers took him down for an introductory look around. This was his first encounter with sharks and, once back on the boat, he wasn’t in a hurry to return with food. He’d seen them up close and he didn’t seem to get why anyone would want to a) go face-to-face with sharks and b) do it while holding stuff the sharks like to eat.
I don’t get it, either. It’s not like sharks need the help.
During the episode they cut away to an interview with a guy who had gotten his calf chomped off by a shark while filming. (The whole thing was caught on camera, and all I can say is…erp.) This guy said the moment he realized a shark was snacking on his leg, he knew his life had changed forever. Also, because the shark chomped through an artery, he had a real short time to get to the hospital. He seemed kind of bemused by the whole ordeal.
And I’m thinking, “Dude, why are you bemused? You were hanging out with sharks. The shark did what sharks do, which is bite stuff.” Yeah, I know—humans aren’t a regular feature on the shark menu. That’s not the point. The point is that sometimes a shark decides a human looks tasty.
So Ferguson eventually did go back down and feed the sharks by hand. He was wearing chain mail under his dive suit. This type of chain mail is very effective protection against shark teeth, but still, and again—why exactly do humans need to be feeding sharks?
When he emerged from the underwater feeding circle, Ferguson was ecstatic. The experience, apparently, was exhilarating. The sharks were awesome, amazing creatures. They hadn’t attacked him; they hadn’t so much as looked at him funny. He petted them and he fed them and they swam away. So now, he thought, he and the sharks were buds.
“They were just so nice!”
No, Craig, they’re not nice. They’re sharks.
Words like “nice” and “mean” apply to humans and, maybe, higher mammals who interact a lot with humans, like apes and dogs and dolphins. (Okay, fine, cats too.)
Sharks are highly evolved, intelligent predators. They’re fascinating and magnificent, but they’re not good or bad, or nice or mean. They are creatures of instinct. Whether they decide to bite you or not can depend on a lot of factors, many of which have nothing to do with your conscious behavior.
Most of the time a shark won’t eat you. But it can eat you, anytime it wants. And it’s just not smart to get too enamored of things that can eat you. I’m not saying you should kill them. I just think you should keep your distance.
So that got me to thinking about vampires (and I promise, this train of thought is pulling into the station). If you’ve ever read my blog, or my stuff at Heroes and Heartbreakers, then you already know my vamps-vs-shifters preoccupation. In which case, I apologize—this is just more of the same.
I’m not a big fan of traditional vampires, not even traditional romantic vamps—i.e., ice cold, undead, super strong, super fast, blood-sucking creatures of the night whose sole source of sustenance is humanity. (NOTE: I’m excluding living, breathing vamps like JR Ward’s or Lynn Viehl’s or PG Forte’s—who are, not coincidentally, the only vamps I read.)
Humans are vampires’ livestock. Their sheep, their pigs, their deer or goats or catfish, take your pick. Point is, you don’t see humans’ favorite sources of protein hanging out and trying to have sex with us. That’s because they know that falling in love with creatures who think you taste good is stupid, Sookie. Bella. Buffy. Anita.
Why, and when, did we decide these things were sexy? They’re not sexy. They’re dead, and deadly.
You know who’s sexy? Werewolves. Werewolves are sexy.
They’re part-time humans. They’re thick and furry and can keep you warm, big and strong and can keep you safe. You can take them to the beach. They can cook you breakfast.
They have beating hearts and circulating blood. Dead guys, on the other hand, have no blood flow. So how do they have sex, huh? Answer me that. Whence the boners, folks? Whence the boners?
Sure, a werewolf could tear you limb from limb with little to no effort and yes, that’s a sobering thought. But he’s not gonna mistake you for a hamburger. He won’t ever be tempted to invite his buddies over and serve you for drinks. At least, my werewolves wouldn’t.
What’s that? Why, yes. Yes, I write werewolves.
An excerpt? Oh, you don’t have…really? You really do? Well, okay, if you insist:
Sometimes a girl’s gotta save herself.
Ready to Run
© 2011 Kinsey W. Holley
A Werewolves in Love story.
Sara Hedges had planned to escape the backwater, bigoted town of Luxor, Texas on the wings of a college degree—not on the back of a Harley, riding for her life.
Just a couple months shy of loading up her Miata, however, betrayal bares its ugly fangs. Her scumbag uncle has sold her to a pack of werewolves willing to pay any price for her special bloodline and it looks like there’s no way out. She never expected the new-in-town, sex-on-a-stick loner to come riding to her rescue. Or to discover he’s a werewolf, too. A good one…with one too many secrets.
Bryan Keeton waited two months deep undercover for the chance to get his hands on one of the gangster Eurowolves wreaking havoc across the South. After calling in the FBI to blow the lid off Luxor, he’d planned to leave town before he did something he might regret—like get involved with the suspect’s niece.
But Sara makes him stupid. And now they’re on the run from the Feds, who aren’t interested in her innocence, and from the wolves who want her for their own personal squeaky toy…
Warning: This story includes an undercover alpha with a sexy Texan drawl, a heroine with a dangerous secret, a ring of wolves willing to pay just about anything to own her, and a small town that needs to learn a little something about tolerance.
Enjoy the following excerpt for Ready to Run:
“You’re really not like everybody else around here, are you?”
She never could seem to look him in the eye. There was something about him that intimidated her, but in a very “God, I hope he backs me up against a wall” way, not a “God, I hope he doesn’t kill me” way. So she stared at his mouth instead, and the gooey feeling got worse. “No, I’m not.” It gave her a huge, dangerous thrill to sit here and admit something like that. “You’d be surprised how different I really am.”
His eyes searched her face for a long moment. They were sitting there, next to each other but not touching, and just before she became unbearably itchy (and gooey) beneath his scrutiny, he said gently, “I think I have a pretty good idea. And I’m glad you didn’t say anything, angel.”
“Yeah. I’m not from around here, and I’m not going to be here for much longer. I don’t have to care what people think. This is your home. You’re gonna have to see these folks for the rest of your life, so—”
“The hell I am.” Her throat constricted at his casual mention of leaving town soon. Well, she would be leaving town soon too. If she hadn’t already been so good at hiding her feelings, the urge to cry, or maybe throw up, would’ve been hard to resist. But a long-term relationship with Nash had never been in her future.
Why did she have to keep reminding herself about that?
He looked surprised. “You’re not going to come home for holidays or anything?”
“Hell, no. When I’m gone, I’m gone. There’s no one here for me but Wendy, and she can visit me in Marshall, or wherever I end up.”
In fact, she planned on dragging Wendy out of Luxor at some point. But she had to rescue herself first.
“Staying away might be harder than you think, Sara. No matter how much you don’t like this place, it’s your home.”
“It won’t be, not once I’m out of here. I hate this town! I swear to God, I do. I hate every person in it except for Wendy and maybe three other people.”
“What about the rest of your family?”
“Especially the rest of my family.”
The force of it overwhelmed her, leaving her shaking all over. “I hate this backwards-ass, narrow-minded, locked-in-a-fucking-time-warp piece-of-crap dump.”
“Hey. Hey, come here. It’s all right.” Nash took the beer from her hand, setting both hers and his on the coffee table. Then he wrapped one strong, warm arm around her shoulders and pulled her in tight against him. She inhaled deeply, savoring the scent of him, shivering as he gathered her hair at the back of her neck and laid a kiss atop her head. “You’re getting out.”
“December isn’t soon enough,” she said against his chest. “Tomorrow wouldn’t be soon enough.”
He laughed into her hair. “Well, I’m glad it’s not tomorrow. I need more time.”
“To get to know you better. Every time I turn around, you’re surprising me. I keep thinking I’ve got you figured out and then it’s like, hey, here’s something new.”
She shrugged, even as his words set her heart to pounding inside her rib cage. “There’s a lot of stuff I don’t know about you too.”
Her face was still pressed against his chest, and she liked it there, but he’d stopped stroking her hair. Something in his body, some subtle tensing, made her look up.
He wasn’t smiling. His brows knit together as he stared at her with an unreadable gaze. She got a sudden, sick feeling in the pit of her stomach—a feeling nothing like the excitement and arousal of two hours earlier, or the warm comfort of one second ago.
“What? Please don’t tell me you’ve got a wife stashed away somewhere. Or a girlfriend or a murder conviction or something like that.”
He mouth quirked in an embarrassed kind of smile. “No. No wife, no girlfriend, no felony convictions. Come here.”
He put his free hand under her knees and scooped her into his lap. Now both his arms, with those chiseled, bronzed biceps, were wrapped around her. One hand rested on her thigh—between her legs, scorching her right through her blue jeans—while the other one warmed her back through her cotton shirt. Lord, he smelled good. Whatever cologne he was wearing, she wished she could spray it on her sheets and roll around naked.
“What’d you do that for?” she asked in a shaky voice.
“Trying to get comfortable, so we could talk.” His smile said he knew he was turning her on. Somehow the hand on her back had slipped inside her shirt, where it now traced tiny patterns of fire across her skin.
She twisted a little, trying to get comfortable on his legs.
“Hmm. That’s good,” he said. “I like that.”
“The way you’re wriggling in my lap.” He ran his hand up to her stomach. She gasped as heat flared through her body, her legs going limp and tingly. Instinctively she covered his hand with hers, pressing it harder against her. If he moved it the teeniest bit downward, she’d start ripping her clothes off. It had been so long since—
“I didn’t know you didn’t like your family.”
“Huh?” Hadn’t he been about to kiss her?
“Your family. I didn’t know you didn’t like them.”
“Oh. Um, yeah. We’re not close.”
“Your grandmother raised you, right?”
Why were they talking about this? Why didn’t he kiss her?
“Yes. But I moved out when I seventeen.”
“Why? Why didn’t you stay there ’til you graduated and then go to college?”
“Because…it’s a long story. It just— It wasn’t a good place for me. I needed to get out.”
“Okay.” He reached up to pull a strand of hair out of her face. “What about your uncles? Are you close to them?”
“I don’t—no. No, not at all.”
“That’s a long story too. Why are you—wait.” She froze as she realized where this was heading. “Wait. Did someone tell you about my family? Is that why you’re asking?”
“Huh? No, I— Wait a minute, where you going?” She was wiggling again, only this time it was to get off his lap. He tightened his arms around her. “Wait. Wait a minute, stop. I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to— Okay, yeah, I was prying. I’m sorry. I’m just trying to figure you out.”
“Figure me out how? What’s there to figure out? I don’t like my family. I didn’t have a happy childhood, and now I avoid them, even though it’s kind of hard to do in a town this size.”
“So that’s why you’re moving to Marshall?”
“It’s one reason, okay? If you want to know about my family, ask the guys at JP’s, but it’s not really something people talk about around here.” He’d either understand what she meant or he wouldn’t.
“No, that’s okay. I’m interested in you, not them. What about the werewolves?”
“The werewolves. You knew something about them. I don’t think most people around here know about werewolf culture, and if they do, they sure as hell don’t talk about it.”
“I wasn’t really thinking. It slipped out.”
“But it means you’ve read about werewolves, right? You’re interested in them?”
He still wouldn’t let her off his lap, but she put her hands on his chest to push him back. “Nash, why are you asking me these questions? Why do you—?”
“Look, I’m sorry, I—damn. I sound like a freak, don’t I?”
“No. Well, yeah, kind of.”
“Okay. Let’s start over.” He finally loosened his hold and she scooted back, her legs still in his lap. She tried to smother her moan when he started rubbing her foot, but she couldn’t help it. So, smiling, he went to work with both hands while he talked.
“It’s just that you’re nothing like I thought you’d be, you know?”
“No. What are you talking about?”
He let out a frustrated sigh, as if having trouble finding the words. She didn’t mind waiting, because what he was doing to her feet was almost—almost—as good as sex.
“All those times I sat in your section and talked to you, I had no idea, and even after I first asked you out, I assumed you were like everyone else around here.”
“Oh. And I’m not?”
That made him laugh out loud. “No! And don’t act like you don’t know that! I figured you were some sweet, backwards Apocalyptic babe who was working in the diner ’til you found someone to marry and have babies with. And then you’d spend the rest of your life in Luxor, hiding from the big bad world.”
That was exactly how she thought of everyone else in this town, even Wendy, and exactly what she didn’t want to be. But for a second, she was tempted to defend Luxor. Even if she hated it, even if she wanted out more than anything, it stung to hear an outsider talk that way about the people she’d grown up with.
“Well, if you thought I was so backwards and everything, what the hell did you ask me out for?”
That grin again. “Because you were so hot. And I was lonely.” His strong, supple fingers were massaging the balls and arches of her feet, and she decided that this was, in fact, better than sex. “And then I find out you’re taking college classes and you don’t want to birth a bunch of babies and grow old in Luxor. And that was cool, that was interesting. Then, tonight, I find out you don’t like your family—” now his grin turned evil “—and you have a thing for werewolves!”
“Hey!” Embarrassed, she slapped feebly at his arm, but she was too blissed out and enervated by the foot rub to sit up and really hit him. “I do not have a thing for werewolves.”
He reached under her to pinch her butt. “Maybe you do and you just don’t know it.”
“I don’t!” God, it was like he read her mind sometimes. Was he hacking her Internet account? How could he know about her fascination with shifters, or her desperate dream to meet someone, anyone, with fae blood? “I think they’re interesting, all right? I don’t think they’re evil. Just because they’re not human doesn’t mean they’re not, like, you know…”
“People,” he said quietly.
Kinsey blogs way too infrequently at www.kinseyholley.com and twice a month or so at www.ninenaughtynovelists.blogspot.com. On the other hand, she practically lives on Twitter, and she’d be a lot more productive if she didn’t.