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A New Chapter...

Hello all,


Last week I received word that I would be returning to work on Monday. I returned Monday and resumed my job. Tuesday around lunchtime I was told they were laying off 80% of personnel across the board. Unfortunately, that included my position.


I packed up my office and went home. The contents of my office are still in my car as I haven't had the heart to unpack it all or review my separation packet. I allowed myself the rest of the day to feel sorry for myself. I've never been fired from a job before and I know that this was only because of the COVID-19, but it still sucks and has been a huge hit to my self-esteem.


Today, I updated my resume and started job searching for the first time in nearly a decade.


The plus side to all this is that I have plenty of time to write. I'll try to keep the short stories coming, but they may not be once a week, maybe once every couple of weeks or so.


In other news, the 1 year anniversary of "The Calling" is a week from Friday. May 1st to be exact. I'm going to do a promotion and make the ebook price for $1.99 on May 1st if you've been waiting to buy a copy, or if you want to purchase it for a friend.


But in the meantime, here's a new story. Ever wonder what happened when Darcy met Tamsin's family?


COMRADERY


“Absolutely not!” Tamsin crossed her arms and blocked the door so her brothers couldn’t leave.


“Relax, Tam,” The oldest, Robert, said. “We’re just going for a bit of fun.”


Despite being nearly a foot taller than her, Tamsin stood her ground and pointed a finger in his face. “I know what ‘a bit of fun’ means to the lot of you. You’re all just going to take her out to one of the open fields to drink and shoot those bloody guns. How did you all convince your wives to let you out, anyway?”


“We told them that we had to meet our baby sister’s new lass,” David spoke up. “Make sure she’s good enough for the Cromwell clan.”


Tamsin narrowed her eyes at them, unconvinced.


“She agreed to go with us, Tamsy,” Charlie said.


“Don’t call me that,” Tamsin said, rolling her eyes.


“Poor Tam Tam,” Edmund teased, “So sad that she wasn’t invited to the party.”


“No, I’m worried you idiots are going to get pissed as a bunch of yaks and shoot my girlfriend.”

Susan Cromwell entered the house, surprised to see her children having a standoff in the entryway. “What’s happened?”


“Nothing, Ma,” The brothers answered in unison.


“Tamsin?”


“They want to take Darcy out to shoot.”


“That sounds nice, boys,” Susan said with a smile.


Tamsin looked at her mother, shocked, “How could you encourage this?”


“The boys always go out for a bit of target practice,” Susan explained. “I think it’s nice they’re including Darcy.”


“And does their target practice always include whiskey?” Tamsin asked.


“Oh, Tamsin, leave them be,” Susan said, “They do this all the time.”


Tamsin opened her mouth to argue, but Darcy came down the steps, “Alright, fellas,” she said as she pushed her hair back and set her black field hat on top of her head. “Are we ready?”


“Let’s do it!” Edmund said, giving his brothers a smirk that Darcy missed. “Be good Tam Tam.”


Tamsin huffed as he kissed her on the head and left the house. Each of her brothers did the same thing, each one earning a scoff or a look of disapproval as they left the house.


David was the last to leave. Tamsin locked eyes with him and said: “If any of you donkeys so much as look at her wrong, I swear I’ll-”


“Tamsin,” David said, placing his hands on his sister’s shoulders. “She’ll be fine. I promise.”

Tamsin relaxed a bit, of all her brothers, she was always closest to David. He gave her a small smile and a quick wink before kissing her on the cheek and walking out the door. “Coming Darcy?”


“I’ll be right out,” The alpha said, before turning her full attention on her mate. “Are you okay with this?”


“I guess,” Tamsin said with a sigh. “Just don’t let them intimidate you.”


“Never,” Darcy gave her a wolfish grin before leaning over to give the redhead a kiss goodbye.


Their lips had only brushed together when they heard, “Oy! Quit snogging all over our sister and get your arse out here, Collins!”


“Shut up, Eddy,” Tamsin yelled, then grabbed Darcy’s face and pulled her down for a sloppy kiss.


Darcy hadn’t expected Tamsin’s reaction and even though she loved the attention from her mate, she wasn’t a big fan of public displays of affection. Especially in front of all her older brothers, who probably wanted to fill the werewolf’s ass with birdshot right about now.


“Come off it, Tam,” Charlie yelled.


“That’s what I’m trying to do,” Tamsin gave her brothers a smug look as she gave Darcy, who’s face had gone beet red, a slap on the ass. “Have fun, baby.”


*****


Darcy had never developed a taste for whiskey. She always preferred vodka. She would even settle for tequila if she and Mel were out.

The Cromwell boys seemed to love the stuff. They passed around a bottle and Darcy took a sip to be polite. The brown liquor burned down her throat and left an unpleasant taste in her mouth. She must have made a face because all the Cromwells started laughing.


“What’s wrong, Collins?” Edmund asked in a mocking tone. “I thought you Canucks loved whiskey.”


“I told you we should have gotten her the maple-flavored stuff,” Charlie added.


“I’m only half Canadian,” Darcy said, her voice a little hoarse from the alcohol.


“What’s the other half?” Robert asked as he aimed his rifle at a bottle in the clearing.


Darcy waited until he took his shot, the glass shattered in the distance, before answering, “British, technically.”


Robert turned and gave her a curious look.


“My mother was born in England, but her parents moved around quite a bit. She was raised all over Europe and the UK.”


Charlie and Edmund were the next to shoot. Charlie had nicked the bottle, but it didn’t break. Edmund had aimed a little too low and knocked over the makeshift bottle stand they were using.


“Damn it all, Ed,” David said. “Go out there and fix it.”


“I’m not going all the way out there,” Edmund whined, “Let’s just shoot skeet.”


“Darcy hasn’t had a turn to shoot the bottles yet,” Robert said, giving the younger man a hard look. Robert was the tallest of the brothers. He was well over six feet tall with broad shoulders. He had their father’s strawberry blonde hair and brown eyes.


Charlie and Edmund both had their mother’s brown hair and green eyes. They were about the same height, just under six feet with very thin and wiry bodies. If Darcy didn’t know there was a year between the two of them, she would have sworn they were twins. She didn’t care much for the two of them. They were both approaching forty and acted like twelve-year-olds.


David, the youngest brother, was the most like Tamsin. He was six feet even, with a medium build and shared the same hazel eyes and red hair that Tamsin had. He was also a doctor, though he chose veterinary medicine to practice. He reminded Darcy of a ginger James Herriot. She had liked him instantly.


Edmund had just finished setting up the bottles again when Charlie asked, “You ever shot a gun?”


Darcy nodded, “I prefer to fence.”


“Like sword fighting?”


Darcy nodded again.


Charlie snorted, “How are you going to protect our sister with one of those measly little swords?”


Darcy felt her hair bristle. Her wolf didn’t like being challenged, especially by a drunken idiot. “I don’t need a weapon to keep Tamsin safe.”


“Oooh,” Edmund said, “I think you hit a nerve, Charlie.”


“Shut up, boys,” David seemed as irritated with his brothers as Darcy was.


“It’s nothing personal, Collins,” Charlie said.


“Yeah,” Edmund added, “We just have to keep an eye out for our baby sister. I’m sure you understand.”


David handed Darcy his gun, a pump-action rifle, so she could have a turn. She checked the gun to make sure it was loaded and found a full magazine. She looked down at the clearing and saw four bottles waiting.


“Remember,” Edmund said, “Take a deep breath before you pull the trigger.”


Darcy pumped the gun, took aim, and fired. The first bottle exploded. She pumped the next round, aimed, and fired again with the same effect. She repeated the process twice more leaving nothing but an empty stand and shattered glass.


Darcy lowered the gun and turned to face the brothers. Robert and David were clearly impressed, while Edmund and Charlie stood slack-jawed.


Darcy couldn’t help the cocky grin that spread across her face. “You never shoot with full lungs, boys.”


*****


Tamsin was starting to worry.


Her brothers had taken Darcy out hours ago and dusk was fast approaching. Every now and again, she heard the sound of a gun being fired, but they were few and far between.


She jumped when she felt a hand on her shoulder. She turned, ready to curse each and every one of her brothers, but was surprised to see her father.


“Hey, Dad,” she said, giving him a small smile.


Phillip Cromwell held up her coat, “Let’s go find them.”


Finding them had been easy, as they had picked a field not too far from the main house to shoot. Tamsin and her father approached the group, making sure to make plenty of noise so they didn’t surprise any of them.

“Oh!” Charlie spoke up, “Look out everyone, the fun police are here.”


“Shut it, Charles,” Their father warned.


“We’re just having a bit of fun, Dad,” Edmund whined.


“Where’s Darcy?” Tamsin asked.


“It was her turn to launch the pigeons,” Robert explained. “She should be back in a minute.”


As if on cue, Darcy ran up to the group. When she saw Tamsin she smiled. “Hey, gorgeous.”

Tamsin felt a bit relieved to see her mate unharmed. She was thankful David had kept his word. “How’s it going?”


Darcy gave her that cocky grin, “You’re just in time to watch my turn.”


“How come ya didn’ tell us your girlfrien’ was a bloody sharpshooter?” Edmund whined.

Tamsin was just about to ask what he meant when she heard David yell that he was ready to launch. Darcy pumped the rifle and wiggled her eyebrows, “Want to call ‘em, babe?”


Okay, this is a new level of cockiness that I’ve never seen, Tamsin thought, I’m not sure I like it.


“Pull!” Tamsin shouted, confident that there was no way Darcy was ready.


In a flash, the werewolf watched the clay pigeon launch, lifted the rifle, and fired causing the target to explode into several chunks.


Phillip let out a low whistle, “Well done.”


Tamsin hated to admit it, but it was rather impressive. She kept her face neutral, Darcy didn’t need to know that.


Darcy wasn’t able to get a read on her mate. Tamsin was making great progress on keeping control of her side of their bond. Since the redhead didn’t look too impressed with Darcy’s shooting skills, she worried that Tamsin might be a little upset with her.


“Want to try?” Darcy asked.


Tamsin gave her a surprised look, “Me?”


Darcy nodded, “It’s not hard. I can show you if you’d like.”


Charlie snorted, “She doesn’t-”


“I thought Dad told you to shut it,” Tamsin said, taking the gun from Darcy. She checked the rifle to make sure it was loaded.


“Want me to show you?” Darcy asked.


“Let me take a crack at it first,” Tamsin said, “Then you can let me know what I’m doing wrong.”


“Just be careful,” Darcy said, “It’s got-”


“PULL!” Tamsin yelled before Darcy could finish her sentence.


The clay pigeon launched, Tamsin pumped the gun and fired. A small chunk of the target fell to the ground while the rest turned to dust. The redhead pumped the gun again and called for the next launch.


The next pigeon was obliterated as was the next. Tamsin lowered the gun and turned around to find the werewolf standing gobsmacked.


“Well?” She asked, a proud smile on her face.


“Well done, Ginge,” Phillip told his daughter, patting Darcy on the shoulder.


Tamsin shrugged, “That first shot was a bit off.”


“Just had to brush off the rust,” Her father said.


“Tamsin smiled and gave Darcy a coy look, “What do you think, Darcy?”


“I-I didn’t know,” She said, her cheeks flushed with embarrassment. “I didn’t mean to-”


Her babbling was cut off at the sound of Tamsin’s brothers laughing. David ran up to the rest of them, “That’s all the targets. Good shots, Tamsin.”


“That first one, not so much.”


David shrugged as Tamsin handed his rifle back over, “You made it up with the last two. You alright, Darcy?”


“I-I didn’t know she was a crack shot.”


“She’s the best shot of all us Cromwells,” David chuckled. “And she only got better after she went off to Cambridge.”


Darcy cocked an eyebrow, “You were a member of the Cambridge Gun Club?”


“Half those trophies are from shooting competitions,” Phillip said, beaming at his daughter.

“Need a ride, boys?”


The brothers all muttered a yes and left with their father, making their way back up to the house. Leaving Darcy and Tamsin alone. The redhead smiled and lifted her hand to Darcy’s chin, closing her gaping jaw. “You okay, baby?”


“That was sexy as hell,” Darcy said with a smile. “And terrifying at the same time.”


Tamsin returned the smile and stood on her tiptoes to place a kiss on Darcy’s lips. “Remember that,” She smiled against the alpha’s mouth, “The next time you piss me off.”



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