Shiver Story Description:
A year ago Corey Abbott’s life entered the realm of the bizarre when he discovered the things that go bump in the night are real. But working for the local vampire council didn’t prepare him for were-deer shifters.
Nine months ago Dare Buckley’s herd abandoned him. Now, he’s slowly going mad from Lyme disease...something that doesn’t hurt normal deer, but for were-deer is fatal.
On one snowy, sleet-filled night, the two collided...literally.
This Christmas two men find love in the most unexpected place...a lonely, desolate highway.
It’s definitely not your typical meet-cute, but it’s a twist of fate that would even make Santa happy.
Dare Buckley shuddered as he looked left at the wall of barren mesquite trees and right at a dead, grey field grass. Nothing looked familiar. He scented the air, but besides the bitter tang of the icy sleet, he couldn’t sense anything, anyone in the dark.
It was finally happening. He was succumbing to the disease. Confusion and panic wracked him as he searched the desolate, wintery countryside for something...anything...that might look familiar.
He tore through the bare mesquite bushes, their branches rustling against his fur in his wake. His cloven hooves pounded across the frozen ground, echoing in the dark of the night. Breath huffed out his snout in tiny puffs of white fog as he shifted his weight, his path turning more and more erratic during the panicked flight.
Where the hell was he? He needed to find...something. His heart rate pounded through his chest, echoing in his ears. He needed to calm down, but his brain wasn’t getting that signal as he became more and more confused.
Finally, he burst through the thicket. Freedom.
But a blast of white light burned his retina before something hot and piercing slammed into him. Hard, earthshattering, blinding pain rattled him as his body flew through the air.
Then the world went black.
“Fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!” Corey Abbott slammed his hand on the top of his steering wheel as he skidded to a stop. The sound of the sleet hitting the windshield and his wipers on the glass were the only sounds as he peered into the dark of night. “Merry Christmas to me,” he muttered. “Fuck!” He didn’t need an expensive repair bill on his truck right now. “Fucking deer.”
But even as he said it, he shook his head. It was his own damn fault. He’d been thinking about Damien and not paying that close of attention. He knew better. Out here in West Texas, there were more deer than jack-rabbits.
He grabbed his flashlight out of the console between the front seats and flipped on his hazards in case anyone else happened to be on the road. But that wasn’t likely to happen. He hadn’t seen a soul the whole ride home from work in San Angelo.
The sleet that had moved in about an hour ago kept most West Texans home. They only got weather like this a couple of times a year. None of the locals could drive on it, so the place simply shut down rather than try to deal with it.
He clicked on the flashlight and shrugged on his heavy, brown, canvas Carhartt coat to fight off the frigid cold before he climbed out of his truck. From the wonky light ahead, one of his headlights had been smashed in, but as he rounded the front bumper of his truck, he wasn’t prepared for what he saw.
A huge antler had gotten tangled with his hood and hung off the grill as a macabre reminder of the animal he hit. The animal no longer attached to the appendage. “Shit. He was huge, wasn’t he?” That massive antler was one side of the biggest rack Corey had ever seen. It had to have at least a dozen points on it. How big had that deer been?
Corey swung his flashlight around, looking for the deer. There in the ditch lay the buck’s hindquarters. Corey approached it slowly, not sure if it was dead or just wounded. He had his handgun under his seat if he needed it. He would never leave a wounded animal to suffer. Although it was probably stupid to come close to the injured animal without it right now.
Corey passed the light over the completely still carcass and squinted in disbelief. West Texas had become a hunter’s mecca with ranches importing foreign, exotic deer. This one looked like a normal whitetail, which was native, but it was at least twice as big as the regular deer. No, this boy was at least the size of a full-grown elk with the antler rack to match.
A section of his scalp had been ripped away with the antler, and now, blood covered his head—a gruesome macabre mess. Definitely dead.
This majestic buck had probably been beautiful, standing tall and proud, but now with half his rack gone and the rest of him in the ditch, dead and bloody...
Corey shook his head and blew out a sigh to control the remorse and guilt trying to rise up his throat. Ever since Damien had died in front of him last year, it had been harder to deal with death...of any sort. This type—totally needless—was the worst kind.
“I’m sorry, man,” he said to the deer. “Fucking waste. I should have done better and been on the lookout for you.”
Deer roamed the fields, grazed, and bedded down here in the evenings. Corey usually did a better job of paying attention to them. But he couldn’t do anything about it now.
He turned back to the damage to the truck. He had a huge steel brush guard, but it hadn’t done much to prevent the damage and would need to be replaced or rebuilt. The hood, front bumper, and the front fender on the passenger’s side were completely trashed. Fuck.
He ducked his head and examined the wheel well, but it looked like the integrity had held there. He hoped so. His house was still a good five miles away. In this cold with his insufficient clothing layers, that walk would be worse than miserable. And he just happened to be in the dead zone where there wasn’t any cell service on this road, so he was shit out of luck for calling for help.
He rounded to the cab of the truck to climb in when he caught sight of the buck again. Again, remorse flooded him. Such a waste.
He stilled, considering. It was December twenty-third, two days before Christmas. The downturn in oil prices had affected so many people in this area who were barely scraping by right now. The meat from that buck could do some good for someone who didn’t have meat for Christmas dinner.
It wasn’t entirely legal to tag road kill. Special permission had to come from a game warden to do so, but since he planned to claim this one to donate to the local food pantry, maybe he’d be forgiven. And the odds were no one would ever realize what he’d done anyway. It’s not like a game warden would be out here tonight. He just had to figure out how to get the mammoth beast loaded into the bed of his truck.
Fifteen minutes later, with a tarp and a fuck-ton of muscling, Corey had the buck dragged up into the bed of his truck, a hunting game tag tied onto his remaining antler. And because of the impromptu workout, he didn’t have to worry about being cold anymore. He had sweat dripping down his spine.
He went around to the front of the truck, pried the damaged antler out of the metal brush guard, and threw it into the back with the dead deer. No one would believe this story if he didn’t keep the evidence. Then he climbed into the truck, turned the heat up, and restarted toward home. Again.
It was going to be a long night since he still had to dress out the dead animal before he could relax again.
Thirty minutes later, Corey had the garage prepped for butchering the massive buck with tarps and buckets. He was exhausted and tempted to leave the carcass for the night, but then the beast would freeze and make everything more difficult. So he sucked it up and headed out into the cold to where he’d backed his truck up to the garage door.
He glanced into the bed as he opened the tailgate and froze. “What the fuck?”
Instead of a dead and bloody deer...a bloody, naked man lay there.
For the rest of what happens with Dare & Corey, go buy the book for only $1.99...