When Decadent Publishing announced the Beyond Fairytales open call, I was super excited. I love fairytales! Old ones, twisted ones, new ones – I love them all. I’m one of those people who can quote The Princess Bride, line for line.
I was assigned the Grimm tale The Skillful Huntsman. While not familiar with this particular tale, I found it on-line and was quickly inspired to write my own version. The story features a huntsman who has a gun that never misses. I transformed the huntsman into Hunter, a wolf shifter and master assassin. While street wise, he’s not an everyday thug. Hunterfollows two rules. He doesn’t kill innocents and he doesn’t kill shifters. These rules come into play when Hunter gets his latest assignment.
“The princess” in my story is a Casey Smith, a wolf shifter who was raised by his adopted human mother. Grief from her death triggered him to shift in a public place. When his identity is exposed to a dangerous enemy, Casey’s life is on the line.
I had a blast writing Hunter and Casey as well as the supporting characters Priss (Casey’s dog) and Rex, Hunter’s handler and smartass best friend. It was very cool to have free rein on this story, which weaves in a number of symbolic components of the original tale yet making all my own.
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Artist Casey Smith lives a quiet life, under the radar of his enemies, until one fateful night he loses control and the astonishing image of a wolf racing down a suburban street splashes all over social media.
Hunter’s bullet never misses its target. The assassin seeks out and kills his prey with a clear conscience by following two simple rules: 1) Don’t kill innocents 2) Don’t kill shifters.
Realizing his latest assignment violates those rules, the hunter activates Princess Protocol and the assassin becomes the protector. Red hot attraction flares between the hit man and his former target. Can Hunter resist the sweet shifter in his care?
He stepped closer to Casey’s stall but stumbled over something small and furry. The toe of one Birkenstock caught on a clump of grass as he attempted not to trample the little beast, and he ass-planted with said beast jumping onto his chest to give him a broad doggie smile.
His buddy laughed piss-your-pants-hard in his ear. Fuck a duck.
The target he’d worked so hard to observe remotely sank to the ground between his sprawled-out legs, peeling the tiny hairball off his chest and setting it on the ground.
“I’m so sorry! Are you okay?”
Big blue eyes fringed with long, pale lashes scanned his body while strong yet gentle hands moved over his ankles and legs, searching for an injury. Oh, a toucher. His wolf basked in the tactile attention. His breath hitched as those hands glided past his knees and skimmed his thighs.
Damn, he needed to get laid after this assignment.
“Oh, my, what a li’l sweetie. Look at those freckles! I wonder if he’s got them everywhere. I’d like to lick them,” Rex crowed in his ear.
The other man chortled. “Possessive, much?”
He inhaled deeply, only to be slammed with the force of a Mack truck. Strawberries on a warm summer’s day and fresh-cut grass—shit, his target smelled delicious. He took another breath, and his brain reeled. He’s a wolf shifter, too? Fuck.
Casey’s brows furrowed. “Where are you hurt?”
He forced a smile. “I’m fine. No worries.”
Casey returned the smile, his wide and high beam combined with sparkling eyes. Hunter stared as warmth wrapped around him like a blanket. He had no ammo against such a happy, open expression. The guy freaking glowed.