Friday, December 15, 2023

The Centaur Chase sneak peek

 The Centaur Chase is coming to kindle vella at the end of December 2023 and coming in full book format in the spring of 2025.

Sneak peek:

Bree wasn’t really alone. The scouting party had spread out over the hills, and Bree glimpsed several hunters in the distance. The only question was deciding which of them she should allow to escort her back to her father. 

A rustle nearby caught her attention. The hills dropped into a gentle valley, filled with brush. Someone must be riding down there, closer than the other hunters. Se nudged her horse toward the valley. Whether Papa or one of his friends, she’d be more comfortable near someone else.  

As she dropped into the brush, her visibility all but vanished. The wind rustling in the dry branches covered the distant voices. Still, she’d heard someone down here. 

“Hello?” Bree called. 

For a moment, she heard nothing. Then a figure appeared out of the brush ahead—a tall man she didn’t recognize, with huge dark eyes that immediately captured her attention. For several seconds, she could only stare. At last he looked away, scanning their surroundings, and she caught her breath. What about this stranger was so mesmerizing? 

The stranger returned his gaze to her. He inclined his head, but his expression remained impassive. “Are you lost?” he asked. His voice was rich and deep, and so quiet that she had to concentrate to pick out his words. 

“No, I don’t think so.” She glanced behind her, but saw nothing through the brush. “I was separated from the party, but they should be just over the slope.” 

“I see.” He turned his horse straight toward her. Bree suddenly realized that he wore no shirt. She averted her eyes. Could he be injured or needy, perhaps? Or... her maid liked to tell stories of wild men who roamed the wilderness between the estates. She made them sound exciting, but Bree hadn’t believed her. Who would want to live out of doors when they could work at an estate? 

“You’re not from Papa’s scouting party, then?” she asked. 

“No,” he said slowly. “I wasn’t aware that anyone lived here. I was scouting a bit myself.” 

Again he captured her gaze, studied her a moment, and turned away to examine his surroundings. Did he have something to fear? Did she? He didn’t sound dangerous. 

“You have beautiful hair.” His horse’s hooves thumped slowly on the ground as he neared her.  

“Thank you.” Her hair was long and thick, and she brushed it twice a day to make it glossy. And so few people even noticed! 

The stranger didn’t sound like a wild man. Perhaps men at the estate where he lived didn’t wear shirts? He clearly hadn’t expected to come across a young lady in the brush. She glanced up and found herself staring into his eyes, so brown they were almost black, with a mesmerizing depth she couldn’t describe. His black hair was shoulder length, sticking up in all directions and yet somehow never hiding those incredible eyes.  

She knew she was blushing but couldn’t look away.  He’d come nearer than she realized.  

“You shouldn’t be alone out here,” he said. “Why don’t you come home with me? You can meet my family.” 

Definitely not a wild man, if he had a family. “I can’t just leave my party,” she said. “Papa would worry.” 

“That’s very generous of you to consider his feelings.” The stranger edged nearer. “Although, he’s not keeping a very good eye on you, is he? You never know when you might meet a predator.” 

He turned away to study his surroundings. Perhaps he was serious about predators. He never seemed to look at her for more than a few seconds at a time. 

“I’m not afraid.” Maybe she should be. Only a few feet of brush still separated them.  

“Very brave of you.” 

“Do you compliment everyone this often?” 

Smile lines appeared around his eyes. “Only if they deserve it.”  

If Marc’s friend had complimented her instead of snatching at her hand, she might not have minded her brother’s plan. Did he want... She shook her head. She didn’t know the man.  

But she did want to get to know him. 

Bree picked up the reins and nudged her mare forward. Dilly left the bush she was grazing on with a grumpy snort. 

The stranger stared at Dilly. His eyes widened and he backed away. 

He couldn’t be afraid of horses, since he was riding too. “What’s wrong?” Bree asked. 

“Nothing. I must leave.” He eased away from her, into thicker brush. 

“Wait.” Bree scrambled to think of an excuse as she nudged Dilly forward.  

The brush opened up into a clearing. Bree gasped. The stranger was not a man. She was staring at a centaur. 

Bree had heard of such creatures but never seen one. Instead of legs, his torso melded into the body of a horse. His chest was too smooth, with not even a navel and muscle lines in the wrong places. The horse body wasn’t exactly right either. Smaller, for one thing, and the proportions were somehow off.  

The centaur had stopped trying to back away. Now, finally, his gaze fixed on her, his eyes wild. He shifted his weight from one foot to another, just like Dilly did when she was nervous, and his mahogany coat rippled as he shivered. 

 “Are you afraid of me?” she asked. 

She couldn’t read his expression, but he stopped shivering. “I should be,” he said.  

Bree supposed that she should be too, but he didn’t seem dangerous. He held no weapon, and mounted on Dilly, she was slightly taller. This could be an interesting opportunity to learn more about him, if only she could decide which questions to ask first. “My name is Bree,” she said. “What’s yours?” 

She expected hesitation, but he answered immediately. “Dale.” He picked his way closer. “You are brave, aren’t you?” 


Bree jumped at the unexpected voice. Papa crashed through the underbrush, heedless of the thorns ripping at him and his horse. She turned back to the centaur but he’d disappeared as though he’d never been. 

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