When I started writing “The Wolf Masters” series I was fascinated by the hot springs and all the potential for romantic scenes around natural hot water pools. Nothing is prettier than sitting naked in hot water outdoors, surrounded by snow, and accompanied by a couple of delicious men.
But for some unknown reason, Nevis refused to stay on the mountain. She was interested in one of the men there, but decided it was time for her to return to the world again.
Of course when the very man she’d been interested in invited her to go to Pine Corner with him and the person he’d agreed to share a woman with, things started to fall into place and the second book of the “Wolf Masters” series was born.
When it came time to think of a third book in the series, I was mentally back in the mountains, envisioning those hot springs.
But no. Nevis had made friends with a local sculptor in Pine Corner, and Anne’s story needed to be told.
The characters make all the decisions around here. Some days I just take dictation!
“Seduced by Her Two Masters”
Anne Wade is a sculptor who lives at Pine Corner. She hires the Hot Springs Transportation company to deliver her valuable bronze sculptures to a New York gallery. Cody Winton, a driver, and Carson Mellor, the Hot Springs attorney, who are both werewolf shape-shifters, go along with her in the big rig to guard the sculptures—and her.
Carson hates the city, that’s why he moved to Pine Corner, but he can’t bear to be away from Anne. Cody’s just new and still learning the job. Anne is a sculptor first and foremost, and her entire future rests on the safety and success of these bronzes.
But bronze is ninety percent copper, and robbers can easily melt such artworks down and make a lot of money from it. How can two men keep Anne and her sculptures safe on such a hazardous journey?
Anne Wade looked around her studio with a sense of mingled joy and frustration. For almost two years a big New York gallery had been begging her to send them some large sculptures, promising her they’d make them into a special exhibition if she did. With the arrival of the Hot Springs Transportation Company in her home town, Pine Corner, she’d dusted off the illustrations she’d designed, and was working flat out to sculpt the pieces.
Bronx Montaine, the manager of the transportation company, had promised her that he’d clear a full week in his schedule to deliver her pieces to the gallery. The date they’d penciled in for the road trip was at the end of the month. More than three weeks away. She’d need two or even three full days to crate up her pieces, wrapping them carefully for the journey, and another day to fill in all the paperwork.
Which left her a little over two weeks to finish the sculptures.
Four of the pieces were finished, standing in her studio, and looking magnificent. Well, she thought they were magnificent. Who knew what the art critics would think?
The fifth piece was almost finished. It was at the stage where she liked to leave a work for a week or so and then look at it again critically before making any final changes to it.
The sixth was—hmm. Was what? Begun? In process? Stalled?
And now, after she finally had her big chance to make a name for herself and earn serious money, the gallery had asked her to bring her work in at least a week ahead of time. Not because they were altering the dates of the exhibition, or to give her more publicity, but simply because their staff were going to be “very busy” the following week.
Well the staff should have been busy the following week. Busy with her exhibition. Now she had to wonder if her work was going to get sidelined and overlooked because of the gallery’s busyness.
Well shit. And she had this unfinished piece as well and no idea which direction she needed to take with it.
Although she worked in bronze, the copper was so expensive she cast the piece first in plaster and only poured the bronze after a buyer had chosen the piece. Well, usually. In this case the expense was all hers. The New York gallery wasn’t interested in a bunch of plaster models. They only wanted the bronze statues. Which was fine, except this one just didn’t want to come to life. And her time to think and let it develop in her head had been cut short.
Anne walked around her studio, running her hands over the finished sculptures. They were her best work. If the critics didn’t like them, well, too bad. She knew she couldn’t have done any better with them.
But damn, it was a hell of a lot of money to be riding on a single exhibition, even if it was in a top New York gallery.
Anne sat at her drawing desk. For the sixth sculpture she’d started with a man bending over a stream, but the man was turning into a tree. Parts of him were human, like his head, and parts of him weren’t. His legs had become the tree trunk and his feet the roots. On paper it worked. In plaster, not so much. Now she couldn’t decide whether he was a man or a tree. Her charcoal sketches looked really good. He was neither one nor the other, yet both. But how to turn her idea into a three-dimensional physical sculpture eluded her.
“Er, excuse me. Ma’am?”
Anne jumped up, turning swiftly as a voice spoke from the doorway behind her.
He was youngish, her age probably, with curly brown hair and hazel eyes. She narrowed her own eyes at him and assessed his build. He’d be perfect for her troublesome bronze. The local teenagers she hired to help her lift her pieces and do other odd jobs were much too young and gangling for her imagination, but someone older, with some hardened muscles and broader shoulders, would be ideal.
“Take off your shirt.”
“What?” His voice came out as a squeak just as if he had been one of the Pine Corner teenagers. But she knew he wasn’t a local. She had no idea what he was doing here in Pine Corner or at her studio but maybe, just maybe, his body was what she needed to finish this piece.
“Take your shirt off. Now. Please.”
He gave her rather a deer-in-the-headlamps look, but did as she said, remaining in the doorway of her studio and removing his T-shirt.
She waggled her fingers at him saying, “Come in. I won’t bite. I need to look at your muscles, the line of your back. She picked up one of her charcoal sketches and held it out to him. “Stand like that.”
He stared at her, then at the picture, before shaking his head, which made his curls bounce. And then, finally he put a hand on his hip and leaned forward, as she’d drawn her man-tree.
Anne snatched up her sketchpad and a stick of charcoal, walking around the stranger, sketching the line of his back, the tilt of his hip, the way his hand bent as he rested it. When she put it beside her original sketch she laughed. “That’s the problem. Right there. The arch goes out, not in.”
“Huh?” Her unwitting model looked up at her then stepped over to see the pictures.
She didn’t know whether he understood the difference or not, but to her it was clear. Now she could finish her plaster model and cast her bronze. Hopefully still in time to meet her new, sooner deadline.
“I’m Anne Wade. Were you looking for me?”
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