Sunday, January 18, 2015

Portrait of a Lone Wolf


A mixed-blood Native American wolf-shifter, abandoned by a teenage mother and ignored by an absentee father, Rio Waya has never fit in or felt worthy of love. But when he comes home to the Black Hills, he realizes he wants a mate of his own. 

Recovering from a cheating ex who started a new family behind her back, Sela López seeks escape to pull her life back together. As a documentary filmmaker and wildlife photographer, she rents a cabin in the Black Hills with plans to film the beleaguered wolf population. But she’s so busy looking through a camera lens she doesn’t see trouble coming. 

Sparks fly as mutual fears and vulnerabilities surface when Sela and Rio meet. She can’t figure out why the mysterious Mr. Waya is so anxious about having a documentary made of the Black Hills Wolves. But when his secret is exposed, all hell breaks loose. Can Rio win Sela’s trust and soothe her fears about allowing a hunky wolf-shifter into her heart? 


Excerpt# 1 (Wc 516)


Following her nose through the front door, she was thrust into a honky-tonk time warp. Bars like this one didn’t exist in Los Angeles. The Den was cozy enough but appeared to have been decorated by a taxidermist in the late seventies and zealously preserved since. The shaggy heads of several unfortunate buffalo dominated the far wall. At the front door, two stuffed raccoons offered a mock greeting with outstretched paws. The chairs, booths, and even a few of the tables were covered in forest green vinyl. No doubt a sticky misery to come in contact with on a hot day.

Movement caught her eye. A burly man with an inscrutable expression rose from behind a counter as if he was part of a magic act. He was tall with a barrel chest. A nappy brown sweater coupled with hunched posture lent him a distinctly bearlike appearance.

The dour gentleman focused on Sela with a frown. “Where did you come from?”

Steppenwolf’s “Born To Be Wild” was cranked to eleven. She had to shout to be heard, “Can I order some food to go?”

The saggy-faced Papa bear behind the counter appeared perturbed. “Fair warning, miss. The kitchen’s closed. Pretty sure we don’t have what you want.”

The explosive clack of a pool cue making hard contact with a ball nearly drowned her out. “Except for you, everything’s closed in this town!”

A few customers cast her a brief glance then looked away. The lucky bastards sat in front of pitchers of cold beer, towering hamburgers, paired with heaps of french fries or onion rings. Her stomach growled embarrassingly loud, but she doubted anyone could hear above the blaring music. “Something smells heavenly. Could I at least order onion rings to go?”

Bear man shook his head. “Sorry. No can do. Fryer’s turned off.”

“Really?” Digging through her purse, she wondered if this place would accept a credit card. “I’m willing to pay a little extra for the trouble.”

With a sullen pout, he rubbed a limp rag across the countertop. “After hours The Den ain’t open to the general public. Guess what? It’s after hours.”

“Oh, come on!” She sounded desperate.

A man in a red plaid shirt, who appeared to be in his mid-thirties, sat at the counter. He shot her a smoldering look filled with mixed emotions. Perhaps he was angry or lost in thought. She couldn’t tell. The flash of fire in his eyes beneath brooding black brows was impossible to decipher. When he opened his mouth, the tough gravel voice of a drill sergeant rumbled out. “Gee, don’t be a hard ass. Get the lady some onion rings.”

The lumbering hairy thing behind the counter, presumably named Gee, thrust out his bottom lip and lifted his hands into the air in mock surrender. “Why not? It’s not like my house rules ever get any respect anyway.”

From the corner of her eye, Sela glimpsed a huge silver-furred canine dart from under a table, push a swinging door open with its muzzle, and disappear.

“Did I just see a wolf?” Sela gasped.


Excerpt # 2 (Wc 435)

From the corner of her eye, Sela glimpsed a huge silver-furred canine dart from under a table, push a swinging door open with its muzzle, and disappear.

“Did I just see a wolf?” Sela gasped.
A rude sputter surged past Gee lips. “A wolf?”
She pointed toward the swinging door. “A large animal ran in there.”
Gee appeared unfazed by her claim. “I hope not. That’s our kitchen.”
Sela sat at the bar. “I think I’ve got wolves on the brain. May I please order

some food? I’ll take anything.” She glanced with suspicion at a cylindrical, vaguely obscene-looking item set on a plate. “I’ll probably be sorry I asked, but what is that?”

“Fried pickle.” Gee grunted. “House specialty. Not too sure what we’ve got left. If you’re hungry for something else, you’d do better going down the street.”

“The ice-cream stand? It looked like they were closing for the night.” Sela’s gaze drifted toward Mr. Hard-To-Read. On second glance, she noticed how attractive he was in a rugged, swarthy sort of way. A fringe of thick lashes softened his commanding dark eyes, which might have appeared intimidating to some. The detail added a touch of beauty to an otherwise tough guy face. He was busy tapping his palm against an inverted bottle of ketchup. Crimson sauce dripped over a glistening patty three fingers thick. To add to the torment, he swirled a golden fry into the luscious puddle.

She turned toward Gee. “Any chance of getting a burger?”

Gee crossed his heavy arms in front of his chest. “I’m pretty sure the grill’s shut down for the night. Plaid shirt got the last one.” He offered the plate on the countertop. “How about a cold fried pickle instead?”

Her heart sank. “Is there a grocery store near?”

“Yes,” Gee answered with a snort. “Won’t do you no good. They don’t open until eight a.m.”

The dark-eyed man slid his plate toward her. His gaze simmered. “You can have this one.”

Shocked by his gesture and almost salivating at the same time, she shook her head. “I couldn’t take your meal. What about you?”

The swinging kitchen doors burst open. A man with a rumpled head of silver hair stormed toward the counter while tying an apron around his waist. “Last call for food!” He sounded breathless. “Who needs something from the grill?” He pointed at Sela. “How about you? What can I get you?”

Gee looked appalled. “Damn you, Clive. I almost had her talked into the pickle.”

“Don’t be a grouch,” Clive muttered. “The sooner the lady’s served the sooner she can be on her way.”


Excerpt #3 (WC 278)

“Medium rare.” Gee set a steaming hamburger buried beneath heaps of fries and onion rings in front of Sela.

Everything on the plate looked delicious. “Thank you. I thought I ordered this to go?”

“Stay awhile. Enjoy your food.” Gee gave Rio a sickly sweet little grin. “L.A. stood up to you. I like her.”

The crease between his brows deepened. “Gee, no one asked your opinion.”

She gingerly picked up a fistful of scorching hot fries and ferried them over to Rio’s plate.

He appeared puzzled. “Why?”

“Peace offering.” She wondered what he looked like when he smiled. “I’m sure yours are cold by now.”

Rio picked up one of the token offerings, lifting the hot french fry to his lips. He didn’t even care he was about to get burned big time. In fact, he wanted the pain. Better to take the punishment now than suffer a shitload of hurt after he did something stupid like make a play for Sela López, which absolutely, positively could not happen. To his eyes, she was knockout gorgeous with killer curves. She had plenty of sass, too. She hadn’t backed down a bit from his most withering I- just-put-you-in-your-place look.

Something else caught him off-guard—her scent. One whiff of her subtle female aroma had brought his blood to a boil.

Holy crap, what had he gotten himself into? By the tone of her e-mail inquiries about the cabin, he’d come to the false conclusion Miss López was a dried-up academic collecting data about the Los Lobos wolf population. Instead, a Latina temptress with an ass that made him want to bite his fist and whimper had shown up.


Excerpt #4 (WC 567)

Outside, the crunch of tires on dirt drew closer. She glanced up in time to see the Los Lobos Park Ranger truck roll around a bend in the road.

Rio was behind the wheel. Just as she was ready to dart inside the cabin and pretend she’d not seen him, he honked.

The truck pulled beside the cabin to park. He got out with a plastic box and steel thermos in his hands. His damp black hair reflected sunbeams, giving him a fresh-from-the-shower vibe. “Good morning! I’m surprised to see you awake.”

She nodded, at a complete loss of anything to say.

He walked toward the porch with an easy gait. Goddamn the man, he looked even better in daylight. His eyes sparkled, root beer brown. “I don’t mean to bother you, but I have to drive past anyway.” He handed her the box and thermos. “I was going to set these on the porch and call later.”

The containers were warm in her hands. “What is this?”

“Coffee and fry bread. I made it this morning. There’s some honey in the kitchen cabinet that will make it taste even better.”

It sounded heavenly. “Thank you.”

“Enjoy your day.” Rio returned to the truck, providing a prime view of his muscular ass flexing in tight jeans. The sight was starting to sink in when he made an abrupt turn to face her. “I almost forgot. Are you planning to film wolves today?”

She shrugged. “I don’t expect to do any filming. I’ll have to find the wolves first. Set up a blind. I was going to take a hike this morning to get acquainted with the area.”

“You won’t have to go far.”
“What do you mean?”
He pointed toward a trail that ran along a dense thicket and disappeared into a

ravine. “Follow the path about a half mile to the river. The grade is steep. You’ll have to do a little rock hopping. Find a comfortable place to set up a blind, wait, and he’s sure to come by.”


“A lone male wolf with black fur. This part of Gray Paw Mountain is his territory. Bring your camera because, at this time of year, a sighting is almost a sure thing.”

“A black coat? That’s interesting. This lone wolf that shows up on schedule like a city bus wouldn’t be someone’s pet by any chance?”

Rio laughed, exposing a breathtaking flash of white teeth. “It’s a wild wolf. I swear.”

“Does this wolf have a name? What do you call him?”

The smile lingered softening his gaze. “Feel free to give him a name.” He opened the truck door. “I have to go.”

“Wait!” She stepped off the porch. “Why are you helping me? Last night you made your disapproval of my filming the wolves perfectly clear. Now, you’re pointing me straight toward them. What changed?”

He stared at his boots. “I thought about what you said, and the realization hit.” He spoke with deliberation. “Someone is going to come here someday to film the wolves. Exposure is inevitable. Might as well be you. You seem to care. I hope you’ll treat the situation with sensitivity.”

“Mr. Waya—”
“Rio,” he was quick to correct with a gentle tone.
“This means a lot. I appreciate your help.”
Beaming, he raised a palm in salute. Without a word, he got into his truck. In a

dusty rumble of diesel, he drove away.





Excerpt #5

“López, my name’s Sela López. I’ll be a resident of Los Lobos County this summer. I’ve rented a cabin on Gray Paw Mountain.” Everyone perked up in a weird way. They looked a bit too interested in what she’d said. The response was unsettling.

Gee glowered. “You’re the one renting the cabin?”

She realized this was probably a good time to change the subject. “I would like my patty medium rare.”

Damn. Why the hell had she announced to a bunch of strange men in a bar she was going to living alone in a remote cabin on the edge of a national park? Not smart.

“López?” Gee guffawed He appeared amused as if he were privy to the funniest private joke in the world. “López means ‘wolf’! You gotta love the irony.” He gave Plaid Shirt a nudge. “Rio, did you know her name was López?”

Rio lifted his chin. “I knew.”

“What’s going on?” Sela’s temper flared. “Am I missing something? What’s so funny about my name? López is a common Hispanic surname.”

Rio offered her his hand. “Miss López, my name is Rio Waya. You rented the cabin on Gray Paw Mountain from me. You’re hours late. I was expecting you to arrive before sunset.”

She gulped. “I’m sorry. I badly miscalculated the distances out here. I thought I would call when I got to town. I hoped perhaps you could give me directions over the phone and talk me in?”

Rio shook his head. “You’d never find the cabin by yourself in the dark. This isn’t Los Angeles. There are no street signs. The cabin’s hidden beyond miles of timber, gravel, and unmarked dirt road. You’ll have to follow me. I’ll lead us in.”

“Wait a moment!” Panic rose in her voice. This guy, attractive as he was, was still a man. She certainly didn’t need one of those, especially during her summer of soul-healing. “I was told I’d have privacy at the cabin. I don’t want a roommate or a landlord crowding me.”

“I won’t be crowding you.” Rio’s expressive brows sank. Obviously, he’d taken offense. “The only thing we’ll be sharing is a mountain. I’ll be living five miles away at the Los Lobos ranger station. Will that satisfy your need for privacy?”


His lip curled with a hint of sarcasm. “At least the first matter is settled. One thing at a time.”

“Pardon me. Is there a problem I’m unaware of?”

“Last night’s e-mail mentioned your desire to do a documentary on Los Lobo’s growing wolf population. Filming here is not a good idea. If I had known this was your intention, I would have refused you use of my cabin.”

She was stunned. “I drove eleven-hundred miles to get here. The documentary is the entire purpose of my trip. All I’ll do is film and photograph wolves outside the national park. Who will I hurt?”

Rio’s gaze hardened. “The wolves.”

“How so? I’ll treat this subject with respect. This isn’t amateur wildlife photography, like you might be thinking. I plan to win the wolves over, gain their trust, and take portraits of each one as an individual. The presentation will be like a family album.”

“Sounds sweet, but has it occurred to you publishing photographs of individual wolves and showing their exact location outside the protection of the park puts them at grave risk?”

“From who?”

“Pissed-off ranchers, poachers, and any number of psychos who get their kicks owning the pelt of an animal everybody else has fawned over. Do you have any idea how many creeps out there would love to say they shot ol’ White Socks and her pups or whatever you christen the wolves? A lot. The sad part is they’ll never be prosecuted. If they claim they felt threatened, they’ll be within their rights to shoot. The wolves aren’t protected on private land.”

“I disagree. I plan to bring positive attention to Los Lobos wolf population. In the long run, the more people aware of the problem, the safer the wolves will be.”

His hands clenched to fists. “No offense, Miss López, but you just drove in from Los Angeles. You can’t fully grasp how complicated our situation is.”

“I have a Jeep parked in back, loaded with film equipment. I spent the last eight months of my life doing extensive wolf research and nearly all my savings on this project. I need this to work, so please don’t insult me by saying I haven’t given this serious thought.”

Rio stood, revealing a powerful build. He stepped closer until she was forced to tip her chin up. “I could choose to give your deposit back. I don’t have to rent the cabin to you.”

“You could, but I won’t be stopped. I’ll figure out something else.” She stared at Rio. He returned the stiletto gaze in the most provoking way with nostrils flared. She sensed this was a crucial challenge and held her ground, willing herself not to blink. He loomed so close she felt his warm breath on her cheek.

Finally, he broke the death-stare and looked away. “I’ll give you credit for being determined. Miss López, will you accept some helpful advice?”

The brief but intense mini-standoff left her rattled. “Sure.”

“My advice to you is—accept helpful advice…”


Bio: Katalina Leon


Katalina Leon is an artist and author who can’t commit to a single genre. Her favorite playgrounds are historical, Sci-fi, contemporary, and most of all paranormal realms. Katalina brings a sense of adventure and a touch of the mystical to erotic romance. She believes there's a daring heroine inside every woman who wants to take a wild ride with a strong worthy hero.



Black Hills Wolves, “Portrait of a Lone Wolf” book 7, Katalina Leon

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  1. Katalina! Thanks for stopping by and sharing yummy excerpts!! Love the cover!!