Warning: the following is polished but hasn't undergone line edits yet, so if there's a grammar error please be forgiving.
If you make it all of the way down to the bottom, there's a special giveaway for a Diamond Ring Candle. :-)
Logline: An Alpha werewolf negotiates with the notorious Hunter King while juggling a love/hate relationship with his son.
BOOK #3 IN THE LOKI'S WOLVES SERIES
What is a she-wolf to do when the Norse Fates are predicting that she will end the world to save her unborn child from an untimely death? Following months living on the run, Valkyrie Victoria Storm wants to get on with building a new life in Sierra Pines, California, but big things keep getting in the way. To make matters worse, an unwelcome attraction to a hunter complicates matters even further.
Sawyer Barrett has been trying to kill Victoria for so long, he doesn't know whether he loves her or hates her. Desperate to end the war he started, he's willing to take chances with everything except his heart, but the hunter harbors a deadly secret he's determined to keep.
Victoria agrees to attend peace talks with Sawyer's father, the notorious Hunter King, a man who believes she murdered his oldest son. Can the embittered rivals work through their differences to save a man's tortured soul and stop the ancient vampire plotting the destruction of wolves and hunters alike?
SPOILER/Excerpt behind the cut:
There stands an ash called Yggdrasil,
A mighty tree showered in white hail.
From there come the dews that fall in the valleys.
It stands evergreen above Urd’s Well.
From there come maidens, very wise,
Three from the lake that stands beneath the pole.
One is called Urðr, another Verðandi,
Skuld the third; they carve into the tree
The lives and destinies of children.
Völuspá or "The Insight of the Seeress", Poetic Edda
At Urd's Well...
The white wolf ran along the trunk of the great ash tree, her claws digging into the pale bark as she descended the root system at the base of the Nine Worlds. Upon reaching her destination, Victoria shifted to her human form and walked naked to join the Norns gathered about the muddy shore, filling crude wooden bowls with water from the lake. The three sisters personified the aspects of fate: past, present and future.
Thick gnarled roots radiated from the immense base of the World Tree, growing thinner as Victoria approached the Well of Urd. The dark water of the vast lake spread outward into eternity.
The youngest sister, the beautiful maiden Verðandi, smiled in greeting. "You visit us again, Victoria Storm."
"As you predicted I would." Victoria spoke with deference. She sought guidance from the Norns, and needed to curry their favor.
Without a word, wizened Urðr thrust a bowl gripped in bony fingers into Victoria's hands. The vessel had shallow sides and a broad flat bottom, hewn from weathered gray wood. Securing a firm hold, Victoria stepped into the lake, grimacing as the frigid cold bit into her flesh. She placed the lip of the bowl to the water, then filled the container to the brim.
Old Urðr spoke: "The man you loved has died."
Victoria winced. "Yes."
Verðandi's tone softened, brimming with pity. "His soul is tormented."
Victoria's foot snagged on a stone and she stumbled, almost falling. Water sloshed over the brim, dousing her hands. She lost half the contents of the container before she recovered her balance. Her throat worked in a convulsive swallow. "No, you're mistaken. I saw Daniel's soul cross over."
"I am not mistaken," Verðandi said with such genuine sorrow. The youngest Norn stepped away.
Mouth open, Victoria rushed after her, determined to demand the Present Fate provide her with a satisfactory explanation, but the old woman got in her way.
Urðr's lips pulled thin over cracked and yellowed teeth, an expression more grimace than grin. "Your mate has also died. As have so many others. You leave a trail of death in your wake."
"Also true." Grinding her teeth, Victoria followed the Norns to the base of the tree. She walked slowly, placing each step with precision, taking care not to spill another drop.
The three sisters each took a turn watering the roots of the tree. Verðandi acted first, followed by the silent Skuld, and finally Urðr. The eldest persisted in taunting Victoria. "Your love and your mate were not the same man."
Scowling, Victoria bent and poured water on a root until her bowl was empty. "The past is the past. There is nothing I can do to alter it," she said with determined pragmatism. "I've come to see you because I am pregnant."
Youthful Verðandi clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth. "You doubt yourself. You drown in sorrow and anger."
Ancient Urðr cackled.
"True enough." Victoria bobbed her head once in acknowledgement even as her temper roiled beneath the ironclad self-control she exerted. She had no patience for delays, no use for games. She wanted answers.
When Skuld spoke, her voice manifested upon the air, thick and oppressive, closing in from all sides. "Your daughter will not grow to adulthood in Midgard."
Victoria's heart slammed against her breastbone. Her breath expelled in a horrified gust. The bowl dropped from her hands, which flew to protect her abdomen. "What do you mean?"
"Your daughter will be taken from you on the eve of her third birthday," Skuld said. "The one you trust most, a member of your own pack, will give the child over to your greatest enemy."
A growl trembled in Victoria's throat, and her entire body shook under the dual assault of fear and rage. The suggestion of betrayal from within her own pack filled her with disbelief to the core of her being. It was unthinkable. Gritting her teeth, she sought a solution, refusing to dwell on it. "How am I to prevent this?"
"We speak of what will come to pass," Verðandi said in a sympathetic tone.
"Your predictions are not carved in stone." Stubborn determination settled over her like armor. Her mother had taught her there was no absolute fate, just as there was no absolute free will. Life consisted of a wide range of possibilities between the two extremes. She refused to allow her daughter to die at three years of age. She would move worlds, alter fate, slay gods. Whatever it took.
The old woman, Urðr, smiled with a frightening gleam in her black eyes. "Predictions carved into the trunk of the World Tree, carved into the spiritual fabric of the world."
"Do you wish to save your child?" Skuld asked.
Victoria answered without thought. "Yes. I'll do anything. Tell me. Please."
"The final days are upon us," Verðandi said.
Skuld took over speaking, "To save your daughter, you will side with Loki against the Aesir. You will use your enchanted dagger to cut the binding of the great wolf, Fenrir. You will be responsible for freeing the beast that kills Odin."
Victoria's stomach turned. Her head shook in automatic denial. "When the gods imprisoned Fenrir, my people pledged our fealty to the Aesir. We have served them loyally ever since. Even when we were driven from the homeland almost a millennium ago, we remained faithful. I will never cut Fenrir's bonds. To do so would end the world we live in and doom us all."
Skuld's gaze held steady. "You will."
Victoria snarled her denial. "No. I will never become the servant of the Trickster or willingly take part in bringing about Odin's death."
Skuld turned her head and pinned Victoria with one black eye, which rolled in the socket like a liquid marble. "To save your daughter, you will."