Throw Me To The Wolves: Exclusive first look

We reveal the cover for Lindy Ryan and Christopher Brooks’ Throw Me To The Wolves PLUS we have an exclusive extract from the first chapter of the novel…

Throw Me To The Wolves

Witches, murder and werewolves anyone? Lindy Ryan and Christopher Brooks’ Throw Me To The Wolves has it all! We have to wait until next May to get our hands on the book but we’re giving you a first look by revealing the cover and publishing an exclusive extract right here.

First, here is the official synopsis for Throw Me To The Wolves…

Ten years ago a witch sacrificed Britta Orchid’s family and turned her into a werewolf. Selena Stone’s spell failed, and she was never seen again. Until now.

Officer Aaron Labaye has discovered Selena’s remains in the house where Britta’s family died, and dragged Britta back to Louisiana to aid the investigation, hoping her past will break the case. Britta has a hard time resisting the handsome rookie, especially when he shows her a new drawing by her murdered little brother: Britta in her wolf- form.

As an unseen hand sets events in motion, Britta has to help Labaye dig into the murders old and new. The bloodthirsty ghost of her brother, a jealous member from her pack, and a former friend with a serious prejudice against wolves all stand to stop Britta as she fights to finally get the truth about that night ten years ago. But, as she looks harder than ever into her own dark past, Britta will confront more than just her own demons as she fights for peace for herself and for her family. She can’t hide anymore, but must find her place in a world she’s avoided—and discover what it truly means to be a wolf.

Ready to dive into Britta’s world? Check out our exclusive sample from chapter one of the novel here…

CHAPTER ONE

If I blinked I might tear out his throat.

The silence hung, a threat in the air between us, while I stared daggers into the pretty brown eyes of Officer Shiny Badge. Little silver tassels waved from a vent up in the corner behind him—proof the AC worked, though just barely. It pushed the smell of mold at us, which just made me feel more pent up. Still, I inhaled long and deep until the suit jacket squeezed at my chest, and willed my pulse back down. Patience had never been one of my strongest virtues when I was alive, and I hadn’t developed any more of a taste for it since—kind of ironic, because now I literally had all the time in the world. Then again, what fun would immortality be if I had to waste it caged up in shitty interrogation rooms like this? Things that go bump in the night have little use for the niceties of the living.

“I am glad that the witch is dead,” I told him, without letting the smile part my lips, “but I did not kill her.”

The words bit the air with a satisfying crack, and Officer Shiny Badge shifted at the other side of the blond pine table, the legs of his chair scraping the beat-up tile floor. The confident smirk slipped, then fixed itself back in place. I wondered what his arms looked like under the crisp sleeves of his uniform, and watched as he resisted the urge to touch the gun on his hip. Only his eyes betrayed the good cop pretense he struggled to maintain, making a quick dash to the double-sided glass over my shoulder.

I think I’d spooked him.

Good.

I didn’t flinch when he reached across the table to shake my Coke can. The little bit of backwash barely made a sound, and he forced a smile. “Let me get you another.”

I scowled my consent, the best I could do to appear agreeable.

The cop rapped his knuckles against the door, and when he looked my way his eyes flicked to the two-way glass again. I turned and waved to whoever watched us as the door popped open, and Officer Shiny Badge slipped out.

Alone, I set my eyes on the silver tassels waving from the vent, locked in an interrogation room being questioned about a murder I didn’t commit. About a victim I wasn’t sorry to hear was dead. I had a right to be grumpy. Pissed, even. Besides, I hadn’t been waxing hyperbolic: the dead woman had been an actual witch.

I haven’t known many practitioners of magic, but I knew enough to tell the bad kind from the wicked. This one had been the worst of them all, and I had the scars to prove it.

The claws too, I thought.

I considered reaching across the table to see what I could learn from the papers stacked there since the start of this meeting. But I didn’t. I focused on those little waving tassels, so the men watching through the two-way glass only saw the unmoving back of my head—assuming they hadn’t all wandered off in boredom.

A squeal of hinges announced the rookie’s return and I snatched the Coke from his paw before he could set it down. If you watch enough cop shows you’d know he planned to fill my bladder ’til I couldn’t help but tell him something, anything, just to leave the room. He wanted to make me squirm.

I popped the tab, tipped the can, and guzzled the drink in one draft.

My hosts at the Calcasieu Parish Police Department might be surprised to see how long someone like me could hold her water—or her soda, for that matter.

Officer Shiny Badge cleared his throat. The sound thundered between us, faded into silence.

This was getting old. I’d tried to play nice, but my tête-à-tête with the Calcasieu PD had long since begun to tax the polished, non-threatening persona I’d worn for the occasion. This poor idiot had no idea he was in the presence of a wolf dressed in people’s clothing. That of the two of us at opposite sides of the interrogation table, Officer Shiny Badge may be the one wearing the gun, but if there was a big, bad anything in the room, it was most definitely me. Big, Bad Britta.

Officer Shiny Badge barely winced when I let out a loud, Coca-Cola-fueled belch. At least it burned away the stink of mold for a second.

Scarlett O’Hara I ain’t—sorry, Mom—even if the cop’s coif made him a reasonable facsimile of Rhett Butler, minus the ’stache.

I pressed thick heels down into the tiled floor, pounded a fist so hard the empty can hopped in place. “I think,” I leaned toward him so the worn edge of the table pressed into my chest, “that the only reason we’re sitting here so quietly is because your boss already asked me everything.”

Officer Shiny Badge’s brow knitted.

He leaned back, crossed his arms over his chest. “Devereaux?” He shook his head and chuckled. “Devereaux’s not my boss.”

After Devereaux, it had been more of the same for the next two hours—hostile public servants who smelled as poorly as they behaved, trying to be polite about what happened to my family while badgering me about the woman I’d always maintained had done it. One cop slipped and referred to it as the Hall Murder House, and quickly apologized. Another asked about the secret passages in the house, the sealed-off attic door, and it sounded like they’d figured out most of the house’s unusual features while looking for the murder weapon.

Truth is, they didn’t actually have a lot of questions, just hoped that by dragging me through it again I’d blurt out some new revelation, maybe confess to sneaking back into Vinton to off the witch myself. They’d ask me to confirm details from the original statement, then they each asked one question—the same question, worded virtually the same way each time, just filtered through different lips. I’d already wanted to claw my own eyes out when I walked in the door, and my mood hadn’t improved any since.

Then, Officer Shiny Badge had come in.

He’d cut straight to that one question, too: if I’d had any contact with the witch in the last ten years? After I’d told the new guy no, we’d faced off silently for the better half of an hour, each of us trying to sort out how to apply the right amount of pressure to make the other crack. Thus far, things were at a stalemate.

At least he smelled nice.

A little too nice, actually. I’d spent the afternoon scenting the police force of southwestern Louisiana, and they’d peaked at eau de beignet rassis­—stale donut—with hints of old cheeseburger. This guy wore the fragrance of freshly tilled earth—all pine needles and moonlight and wet soil—though he looked squeaky-clean. In fact, he looked as if he’d just walked off the cover of Northwoods Sporting Journal, put on a policeman’s blues, and strolled into the station. He wore the right costume for his character but didn’t quite pull it off.

Well, that made two of us. I twitched in my uncomfortable skirt suit, caught another whiff of the officer’s musky aroma, and glowered across the table. “Devereaux said you don’t need me to identify the body.”

Now it was Officer Shiny Badge’s turn to grimace like I’d just stepped in dogshit. “Ah, no, Miss Orchid. That’s not why you’re—”

“Then why the hell did your department insist I come in person?” I shrieked. “Especially,” I said, more measured, “if the plan was to stare me to death. It doesn’t work.” I leaned across the table. “Trust me. I’ve got a mirror. I’ve tried.”

His eyes flicked to the two-way glass behind me, but he stayed expressionless.

“This could have been handled on the phone. Hell, an email would’ve been more productive. But this—” I motioned around the room, smiling without showing teeth. “Well, this is a waste of my fucking time.”

Sorry, Mom, should’ve just said fiddle-dee-dee.

The cop clicked his teeth and reclined in his chair.

“Let me ask you something,” Officer Shiny Badge said, as though his last question hadn’t come almost thirty minutes ago. “You gave that statement the day after the murders of Ray, Joan, and Remi Hall.”

“That’s not a question,” I growled.

He flipped open my folder and scanned the statement for the hundredth time. Pretended to scan. “You hadn’t planned to tell the police the witchcraft story—had you?”

I grunted. “You mean if that EMT hadn’t told them first?”

“Right. You told the paramedic while he dressed your wounds.”

“It just came out.” Never trust a man in uniform, even the cute ones. “I knew the cops wouldn’t believe me.”

“The paramedic told Devereaux, who took your full statement at the hospital …” He waved a hand with yada yada yada boredom. “My question is this.” He closed the folder. “You weren’t a suspect. You were a grieving young adult with no local ties.” He interlaced his fingers again, now with the casual look of a guidance counselor rather than a startled avian. “But you didn’t leave town right away.”

Deep within, my wolf lifted her nose, scenting him. Curious. I glanced at the stack of papers he’d left me alone with when he fetched that second Coke. Perhaps I should have peeked.

“I didn’t have family anywhere else,” I hissed.

“You did leave three days later, though.” He glanced at the file. “The … morning after the full moon?”

“What?” Carbonation from the downed soda bubbled dangerously up my throat. I swallowed, struggled not to fidget in the too-tight suit jacket.

This guy wasn’t some unsuspecting rookie, tossed in the hole as a last resort. His brothers-in-blue had been appetizers. He was the main course.

Officer Shiny Badge—the thin, gold bar on his chest said his name was Labaye—attempted a smile as he combed long, tan fingers through his thick shock of shoe-polish black hair. He produced another good cop smile, and this time it reached his eyes, making them warm enough to melt into. My wolf stirred again, tail twitching with interest, but I pushed her down, looked at the tassels hanging limp now from the vent. Sure, Officer Labaye was somewhere on the gratuitous end of attractive, the perfect mix of tall, dark, and handsome that men born and bred near New Orleans often are: lean and broad-shouldered with dark hair, soulful eyes, a rugged jawline, and an accent thick enough to wrap itself around you. But he was also a uniform, and a human and that was a bad combo for someone like me.

“Ms. Orchid,” Officer Labaye started in that slow, slightly Southern but mostly Cajun drawl only heard on the Texas-Louisiana line. “We just have a few more questions, so if you’ll bear with—”

I didn’t kill her.” Frustration sharpened the edge of my sigh, made it sound more like a growl. Labaye’s smile wilted, and along with it, any preoccupation I’d had with his intoxicating aroma. I crossed my arms high across my chest and took a deep, steadying breath, trying in vain not to inhale the officer’s scent as my tenuous hold on patience frayed. “And as I’m sure you’re aware, I have a rock-solid alibi up the other end of the Atlantic coast. So, why am I still here?”

I had to grit my teeth on each of the last words to keep from screaming them.

Labaye blinked without responding. The fraying of my hypothalamus quickened.

My wolf grew restless under my skin. The stab of fingernails as they dug into the flesh of my wrists helped to hold back the anger rushing through my veins, but only a little. Managing normal emotions as a wolf was hard with everything—lust, fear, anger—amplified. It would be easy to get lost in emotions, for skin to turn to fur.

But that would be bad.

Good Cop still hadn’t said not one damn word. “Would you like to tell me,” I spat, “or would you find it easier to speak if I ripped your tongue out of your mouth and worked it for you?”

Manners, Britta. Shit. Normal human girls didn’t threaten to rip out a person’s tongue.

Labaye’s Adam’s apple thrust down his neck, then bobbed back up as he cleared his throat. His fingers twittered again, and he busied them shuffling the paperwork that had been lying mostly forgotten on the corner of the table. He no longer seemed so keen on eye contact.

His reaction tempered my anger, splashed serotonin, just enough for me to get the feelings back under control. I gave the cop time to recover while I used the few seconds of quiet and a couple of deep breaths to achieve something that could, in a pinch, pass for inner peace.

The last thing I needed was heat from these people. I wasn’t a suspect, had done nothing to warrant being detained. It needed to stay that way.

Forcing my lips into what I hoped was a passably friendly smile, I blinked a few times to wash the glare out of my eyes. “Why am I still here?”

Officer Labaye’s throat did its little diving routine again, something in there wanting out. With it, what was left of my patience slipped without saying goodbye, and I saw red, slapped both palms on the table hard enough that each finger left a shallow trench in the thin wood, and I almost didn’t care if anyone noticed.

Why, damn it!”

We stared at each other for a few heartbeats, and Labaye broke first, working hard to get his good cop face back on. “Ms. Orchid …” he started, taking his time with the words so that his smile carved dimples into his cheeks.

“Look, Labaye,” I cut in. “Rookie cops don’t get a break, and cute guys don’t get my attention.”

A dejected expression passed over his face. Either he was sad he’d gotten shut down, or his ego had taken a hit. Labaye looked like the kind of guy who’d be unaccustomed to his million-dollar smile not working on the ladies.

Play nice, Britta.

“Besides …” I sighed as I passed the olive branch, “you’re not enjoying this any more than I am, though you’re desperate to convince me otherwise.” I relaxed my hands so they stopped pressing into the tabletop, and drummed my fingers, nails clicking a little paradiddle. “You get a gold star for acting, but let’s get to the point, okay? We both know I had nothing to do with the witch’s murder, so what do you want from me?”

“Okay, Britta,” Labaye agreed, his voice less bullshit and more molasses. “I do have a few more questions …”

“So,” I hissed, “ask them.”

We were about to talk about her—the woman who’d started all this. The woman I owed this furry curse to. I’d run thousands of miles away to forget her, but I’d never be free of her memory.

We needed to talk about her after all these years because she was dead.

And I wasn’t the one who’d gotten to kill her.

I dug my nails into the edge of the table so hard I bit my tongue. The taste of blood filled my mouth.

“I know you didn’t murder Selena Stone,” Labaye said, “but I need your help figuring out who killed her.”

Just like that, we had her name. I closed my eyes, sucked in Labaye’s sweet, distracting scent, and tried to recall what poor, dead Mother had said about manners.

Throw Me to the Wolves is out 24 May, 2022 from Black Spot Books. Pre-order here.