A story stuck with me from childhood, Hans Christian Andersen’s The Little Mermaid. I remember watching it and being so sad at the end because the prince married someone other than the little mermaid who had saved him. She couldn’t kill him to get back her fins and her life in the ocean with her family. Instead, she threw herself into the ocean, and died. The gods brought her back as sea foam.
As a writer, I decided to revisit that tale, and give MY little mermaid a happily-ever-after. Maybe not with a shallow prince, but with the big, bad wolf himself. In Wolf’s Red, you’ll find references to Cinderella, Little Red Riding Hood, Sirens and Poseidon, and my own spin of how Sirens came to be. Let’s just say the ocean and the river god fell in love. Wolf’s Red will be released May 20th on Amazon, and should be available at other retailers soon. Here’s an excerpt.
Axel caught Red in his arms before she could crumple into a heap on his doorstep. He hoisted her over his shoulder, closed the door with a push from his foot, and made his way to the lone bedroom.
Since stealing Red’s heart almost two hours ago, he’d been patiently looking forward to seeing her stomp her way through the forest and to his place. They had a reckoning that needed to happen.
Sure sneaking into her place and taking her heart was a low-ball move. However, he’d warned her several times to not mess with him, hadn’t he? She hadn’t listened. Red continued to trespass on his property to hunt and forage for her food. Unacceptable.
He wasn’t labeled Mad Dog Axel and ostracized to the White Forest without good reason.
Moonlight shone in through the window. The beams sliced through the darkness, past the gaps between the tall trees, illuminating the room. He set her on his bed and peered at her through hooded eyes. He didn’t need the light. A wolf could see in the dark.
She was small and thin. Had she been upright, the top of her head would graze the notch of his sternum. With a grip from one hand, he could break her bones. Yep, Red Little wasn’t a danger to him or any creature. At least while she was on land.
He gave her chest a fleeting glance. She barely breathed. Soon, he’d have to give her back her heart. But he wasn’t ready. Not yet. Red needed to be taught a lesson. Don’t trespass on his property again. Ever.
Smirking at the lessons he was prepared to impart on the misbehaving woman, Axel grabbed a chair from the corner, set it next to the bed and watched her sleep.
As he perused her from head to toe and back to her face again, her eyes opened. She looked at him in confusion before her lips thinned into a fine line.
“My heart, Axel. Give it back.”
He hadn’t expected his heart to pump something fierce at having those green eyes directed at him with ire in their depths.
Ready to give her the reckoning she deserved, he yanked his shirt over his head, baring his chest to her. Her eyes widened and crimson dotted her cheeks. Her attention shifted from one tat to another that stretched along his sides before her eyes lingered on the strip of hair disappearing into the waistband of his pants.
“Like what you see, Red?”
“Oh, go screw yourself.”
He chuckled as the flush on her cheeks spread to the elegant column of her neck. She might not admit it but he understood when a woman was turned on, and Red was definitely aroused by the sight of him, half-naked. Soon, she’d get the full view of how much he wanted her.
“My heart,” she reminded him.
“I’ll give you back your heart if you give me something in exchange.”
“What do I have that you want?” She tipped her chin at him. “I have no money and no title.”
He reached down and untied the ties of her cloak, eliciting a sharp intake of breath from her.
“I can and I will.” He unbuttoned the front of her dress down to her waist but didn’t push aside the fabric’s edges. In due time, he’d expose her body to the hunger swelling inside him.
“Was a coward, undeserving of you.” He traced his fingers from the notch of her collar bone to her navel. She trembled beneath his caress. Axel held back his wolfish grin and took a seat on the chair next to the bed.
“You told him I had nothing to offer him, no money or skills worth paying for. Lies. I have both.”
“But not enough of either for him to stick around. How long did his feelings for you last, a good month or two?”
“A month,” she murmured as she turned from him to stare at the wall.
His inner wolf growled low at the hurt he’d glimpsed on her face. Someone other than Hunter had broken Red’s heart.
The wolf in him longed to comfort her while the man would punish her, slowly, for what she’d done to him—withholding a truth that could’ve saved him from being stripped of his title as Alpha of the Far East Wolf pack.
When she spoke again, her voice shook. “I thought he was different, that he’d see past the rags I call my clothes and recognize me for what I believed I had on the inside. But he couldn’t see past the rags and the worn down cottage to get to me.”
To get to me. After what had happened between them at sea, and what he’d observed during her time on land, Axel understood who “me” was.
Red Little had the strength and courage to save a drowning dog. And she had the determination to make a life for herself along the edge of the White Forest, far from the closest village of Grimm.
He reached out and smoothed his hand over her hair. The wolf’s instinct to comfort overshadowed the man’s need for revenge.
“Pathetic, isn’t it? That I ignored your warning and was willing to stay with a cheater because I was scared to be alone?” She glanced away from the wall and looked him directly in the eye.
She possessed the strength and courage to face up to the man who could easily tell her, “I told you so,” but he wouldn’t throw her admission back in her face. He wasn’t that type of man.
Hunter was a bastard for letting a jewel like Red go. Red Little just needed a little more polishing to bring out the winning shine in her. Hunter’s loss but Axel’s gain.