Uncorked: Tangled Vines by Delta James
When Hunters strike at the wrong prey, Damian Steele will stop at nothing to claim the ultimate prize… his fated mate.
On the backroads of Italy, a fatal accident takes the lives of three of the four people in the car. The only survivor is an unconscious Kinzie Edwards, who is mistakenly identified as her twin sister. In a targeted act of violence, Kinzie loses her sister, Kayla, and her humanity.
Damian is the brooding Alpha of the Sonoma Pack and the head of the Luna de Lobo Vineyard on the California coast. When Hunters strike at his people, Damian rushes to Italy to care for the mate to his omega. Except it isn’t Kayla he brings home.
While Kinzie hovers between life and death, a powerful change within her DNA occurs and she wakes as a wolf. Kinzie knows nothing about wolf-shifters or fated mates, unlike her sister who had been a wolf-shifter.
Thirsting for answers and revenge, Kinzie leaves the safety of Damian’s embrace to confront those who murdered her sister. Can Damian reach her before the Hunters claim her as another trophy?
Targeted Age Group:: adult audiences
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 5 – NC-17
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I suppose in a way my dad. It wasn’t so much that he urged me to become an author, but more than he encouraged me to follow my dreams… and not just follow them, but to work towards making them a reality. I like to think that if he were still alive, he’d be enjoying the hell out of my success
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
Uncorked and the Tangled Vines series was written in response to readers who wanted to see more of the Wayward Mates world. While the storyline in that series had come to an end, I thought it might be interesting to revisit that world and create a new set of alphas and their mates. The series set in the vineyards that run all up and down the Pacific Coast and a threat from a group of humans known as Hunters. Uncorked introduces readers to Damian Steele, the brooding Alpha of Sonoma and the Luna de Lobo Vineyard. Faced with an unprovoked attack on two of his people on foreign soil, Damian comes face-to-face with his fated mate, a woman he had never considered.
“Honestly, I don’t give a shit. I’m out of here,” she said, trying to push past him.
He took hold of her arm and used her inertia to spin her back into the room. She growled in response. There it was again, that same noise she didn’t know she could make.
“You do not growl at me and you sure as hell don’t growl at Damian, but I’ll let it slide this time.”
“In our society, she-wolves do not growl at ranked members of the pack. As Damian’s beta, that means if you growl at me, I would be within my rights to ask that you be disciplined. Any chance you know anything about BDSM?” he asked.
“Only that I have no interest in it.”
“That’s a shame because it might have made the transition easier for you. No matter. Damian’s never shied away from a challenge and I always believed he’d be called to a fractious she-wolf with a temper and spirit to match his own.”
“I’m only going to say this once more.” Kinzie took a deep breath before slowly enunciating her next words. “Get out of my way.”
“No,” he said with a stupid smile on his face.
He seemed startled by a loud knock on the door, but he composed himself, turned and flicked the lock. Before he could open it fully, the hinges creaked and the door was shoved open. Three women entered, one of which was Stephanie, who she remembered from earlier.
“What do you three ladies think you’re doing?” he demanded.
“If you think we’re going to stand idly by and let Damian force Kayla into a pairing…” started the beautiful blonde with the killer figure.
Kinzie raised her hand to beside her head and waved. “Hello! Hot news flash for the newest members of our little group… I’m not Kayla.”
All of the color left the face of the girl standing in the middle of the threesome. “Kin… Kinzie?”
“Ding! Ding! Ding! The prize goes to the little lady with the strawberry blonde hair,” answered Kinzie.
Stephanie turned to a third woman. “I told you there was something off about her, Grace.”
The woman who had yet to speak, and was obviously named Grace, wrapped her arm around Stephanie’s shoulder.
“You told her?” Xander growled. “Want to explain to me why you didn’t share that little bit of information with me?”
“Xander, can’t you see Stephanie is upset? She’s just learned her best friend didn’t survive,” said Grace, kindly.
“Oh, my God, you mean this is Kayla’s human sister? Oh now, that is too funny for words,” said the striking blonde.
“It’s not at all humorous, Shasta,” Xander replied. “The three of you need to leave. Shasta you were already grounded. Apparently, the spanking you got earlier today wasn’t sufficient for you to behave for even twenty-four hours. Stephanie, you get up to our room. We’ll talk about it when I join you. And Grace, you act out while Linc is gone and he’ll ensure the next time he knots you, it’s on a welted bottom. You go back to your room as well and stay there until tomorrow morning.”
“Ladies?” said Kinzie. “I don’t know why you’re here at this freak show, but I’m leaving. You are all welcome to come with me.”
Once more, she tried to get around Xander. Again, he redirected her back to the center of the room.
“Try that again, little wolf, and mate to the Alpha or not, you’ll feel the sting of my hand on your backside,” he growled.
“You can’t order her around anymore than you can order me around,” Shasta said.
“You couldn’t be more wrong, Shasta,” he said as he grasped her by the waist and bent her over his knee before delivering three harsh swats to her rump.
“You bastard!” Kinzie yelled.
The anger and confusion swirled around her. She was caught up in a storm that had nothing to do with the weather. The air surrounding her was filled with electricity and something washed over her body as she dropped to the ground.
When she shook her head to clear it, she looked down to see a paw.
“Kinzie, run! There’s a dock in the bay. The keys to both powerboats are in them,” shouted Shasta as she tripped Xander to keep him from coming toward her.
Kinzie whirled on her haunches and ran toward the window, gathering her strength and leaping through it with the glass shattering all around her. When she landed, she felt one of the shards slice into her foot… paw… whatever but didn’t let it slow her pace. Her night vision had improved as had her senses of hearing and smell. She didn’t question it, just galloped in the direction of the water.
As she made her way through the courtyard and grounds of the winery, the sound of the ocean became more distinct just before a long, mournful howl split the quiet night. The sound wrapped around her, made her falter. She had an overwhelming urge to return to Damian. She wasn’t sure how she knew it was Damian, but she did and the need to return to him was compelling.
The sound of the surf brought her back to her mission and the salty tang of the ocean permeated her senses. Kinzie ran for all she was worth, not daring to look behind her. She didn’t need to; she could hear and feel him in pursuit. She made her way down the ridge and saw the dunes when she heard him howl again and felt a strong gust of wind hit her from behind. She tripped but didn’t fall, staggering but regaining her balance quickly. She hit the beach and thought that at least the sand would be kinder to her feet.
Another blast of air struck her, exponentially harder than the last, driving her to her knees, making her stumble and fall. She clamored to get back up but was flattened by a third powerful wave of energy, though it still felt like the wind. His presence was overwhelming as he caught up to her and stood towering over her. Kinzie refused to be intimidated and rounded on him growling and baring her teeth.
She sprang at him, hoping her abilities as a wolf could equalize the difference in their sizes. Damian side-stepped and pushed her off. Later, she would wonder if things might have been different if she’d tried to run from him. Instead of that option, she turned and leaped again. This time, he caught her by the scruff of the neck and shook her.
“Shift!” he roared.
Kinzie managed to turn back toward him and grabbed his bicep in her teeth, biting down hard and forcing him to release her. She saw him shimmer and then he, too, was wolf. She knew instantly that any leveling of the differences in their strength and abilities was negated, so she turned to run. She hadn’t made two good strides before he pounced on her, driving her into the ground. He stood over her, growling with the hackles all along his back raised. Kinzie rolled to her back, showing him her belly in supplication. He backed off and she leaped at him, biting him viciously before galloping away.
This time the howl was not mournful; it was filled with lust and rage. She knew he would not allow her to escape if he caught her a third time. She could hear his feet, pounding the sand behind her, gaining on her with every stride. Another howl and another wave of energy that not only knocked her down and knocked the wind out of her, but also made her wolf recede in the face of her mate’s fury. Kinzie would later wonder how she’d known that, but she had.
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