Presenting… The Unbelievably Amazing Stephani Hecth!

Working on Three Degrees of Heat was a treat in every way. First, I got to live with Axe and Scotty – a couple who are much more complex than I ever would have guessed. Complex enough that they’ve got more story to tell. Just sayin’. Second, I got to know the fantastic folks at eXtasy Books. Love. Them. Seriously. I’ve been made to feel welcomed, valued, and just basically pretty darned awesome. Finally, and most overwhelmingly fabulously, I got to work with sister team Stephani Hecht and Jackie Nacht. Oh. My. God. They have to be two of the most wonderful women on the planet. They both have very different writing habits than I do, which was fun for me because it made me stretch myself and try new things. And, like I said, they’re just generally wonderful. Love. Them. So, at the end of it all, I had this amazing experience and this amazing book and I’m so proud to share it.

So, without further ado, here’s the blurb for the second story in our anthology, Omega Lost by Stephani Hecht.

Sometimes it takes getting lost to find out who you really are. Red_Fox_close-up

Foster has never felt like he was part of his birth Leash. Abused, mocked and humiliated because he can’t fulfill his duty as a Gamma, he is given one last chance to redeem himself by being sent off to college. Maybe with an education, he will be able to help out his Leash instead of being a burden. But soon, Foster admits that may not happen when he finds himself flunking out.

Desperate because he knows he can’t go back a failure, he looks for a way out. When he overhears his roommate talking about another Leash that has a new Alpha, Foster sees his way out. He packs his bags and makes a run for it.

The moment Benjamin sees the small, trembling fox on his doorstep, he knows he’s found a lost Omega. He just can’t understand why Foster keeps insisting that he’s a Gamma. Either way, the attraction between them proves to be electric, and they soon find themselves in bed together.

Will Benjamin be able to convince Foster the truth about himself, or will Foster continue to deny the fact that he is indeed an Omega lost?

And the excerpt:

Chapter One

 Even a guy like Foster who’d been raised by a bastard of a father and a bitch of a mother knew it was wrong to eavesdrop on somebody’s conversation. It was rude. An intrusion. A violation. What made it all the worse was he was doing it to Chase, the only true friend he’d ever had in his life. But then again, nobody had ever accused Foster of being perfect.

Yet he still couldn’t pull himself away from the closed door. Nor could he stop himself from listening in on the phone conversation Chase was having. It was a trait that most foxes had and, baby, did he ever carry that gene to the extreme. It’d gotten him into trouble more than once in his short twenty years of life, and he was certain it would get him in more in the future.

So far, Foster had been able to determine Chase was talking to his older brother, Benjamin. That was probably what made Foster pause to listen in. Never before had he heard two foxes have such an easy going, happy conversation. In his Leash, there was always distrust, name calling, and hatred. Nobody ever let their guard down long enough to just laugh and talk about normal everyday things. It was always you better watch your back and fuck yous. There were never ever any hi, how are yas or nice to see yous.

Letting out a small sigh, Foster wondered what it would be like to live in a Leash like that. One where he didn’t have to worry about being hit or punished for the slightest infraction. Or where he wasn’t constantly being told that he didn’t live up to expectations. It must be heaven. Or, at the very least, it had to be…well, normal. Other Leashes couldn’t be as bad as his, could they? If so, then what was the use of being a fox, only to live a miserable experience? That just didn’t seem right at all. There had to be better out there.

And if Foster went back to his Leash, he would be facing all kinds of punishment and then some, there was no question about that. He was failing all his classes. Not just by a little bit, either, but by a lot. If they gave out medals in failure, he’d easily get the gold. His Alpha had warned him that this was his last chance to redeem himself, too.

A shiver went through Foster, as he didn’t even want to think about what waited for him back home after the semester was over. If he was lucky, exile would be his punishment. Deep down, though, he had a feeling that they’d be doing something more drastic—culling him from the Leash.

While the practice was archaic and supposedly outlawed, his Alpha liked to play by his own rules, and Foster could easily see him thumbing his nose at the council. After all, it wasn’t like anybody would miss Foster, and his parents certainly wouldn’t file a complaint. They didn’t like him any more than the Alpha did. They often liked to tell Foster that they should have stopped at eight children, and, since he was the ninth child, that sent out a pretty strong message. Even he wasn’t that bad at math.

“No way! So, you’re the Alpha of the Leash now!” Chase’s voice cut into Foster’s thoughts.

There was a pause before Chase continued, “You know what this means, the Leash is finally going to be a safe place to be. There are going to be no more punishments, and everybody will be equals again.”

Foster pushed himself away from the door, his heart pounding with excitement. He knew all about Benjamin. Or, rather, he’d learned a lot about him second-hand from Chase. Benjamin was kind, and he was fair. Most important, he was very protective of those who were weaker and smaller than him. Chase was right, with him as Alpha, the Leash would be nothing short of a utopia. Okay, maybe calling it a utopia would be taking it too far, but it would be a shit ton better than his own childhood Leash. Hell, that HBO prison OZ would be better than his old home.

Just thinking of belonging to a Leash that was nice and welcoming made Foster’s chest ache with want. How he would like to be able to have a clean bed to sleep in at night. To know that he could make it through the day without having to face a verbal lashing or a beating. To not be told day after day how worthless of a Gamma he was. To be able to hold his head up with some sense of pride and belonging.

He once again thought about having to go back to his old home, and his body began to tremble. Call him a coward, but he didn’t think he could do it. Maybe that made him a bad fox, but he was past caring about that anymore. It wasn’t like they gave a damn about him anyways, so why should he give two squats about them?

So, that left him with one option—he had to run.

But where could he go? Lone foxes never lasted long. They needed the stability of a Leash to survive. Trying to mesh with human society had been known to drive foxes mad or worse. It wasn’t in the makeup of a fox not to be with their own kind.

Then he thought back to Chase’s conversation. Benjamin! Of course! It was such a simple solution. He could go there and ask for sanctuary. Going by what Chase had told him about the fox, Benjamin would surely say yes. Especially once Foster told him the entire story. Sure, it would be embarrassing to fess up all the embarrassing [BV1] details, but it sure as hell beat going back home to get beaten or culled. Maybe he would get lucky, and Benjamin would have a soft spot for clumsy, dumb, ugly foxes, and he would find a place in his Leash for Foster. He could make Foster their water boy or something.

Foster ran back to his room, grateful to find it was empty. While he would have loved to have said goodbye to Chase, the fewer who knew about his plans, the better. That way, if his childhood Leash came around and asked questions, nobody would be able to tell them anything.

Foster gathered only what he could carry in his small backpack, a few changes of clothes ,and his treasured iPhone that he’d saved up all summer to buy. Couldn’t live without his Grindr App. Just kidding! Okay, maybe not, but a guy had needs, right?

Then, before he had a chance to change his mind, he left the dorm.

Since his funds were low, which wasn’t new since the siblings born before him got much bigger allowances, Foster headed to the bus station. Luck was finally with him when he realized he had just enough money for the bus to take him to a town that stood smack in the center of five Leashes. While it meant he would have to walk twenty—yes, twenty—miles to Benjamin’s, it also meant that if his old Leash tracked him, maybe they wouldn’t know which of the five he’d gone to.

What kind of idiot are you? They know who your roommate is, so of course they’re going to know where you’ve gone.

“Ah, but, inner voice, since Chance was in the old Alpha’s pack, they may think I would avoid that Leash because of hard feelings,” Foster replied aloud.

When several humans gave him odd looks, Foster realized he’d been arguing with his inner voice again. He quickly ducked his head. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t the healthiest habit to have, but when his inner voice was the only one who would have a civil convo with him, sometimes it’d become a necessity. He wasn’t crazy…honest. Maybe a little bent, but he certainly wasn’t ready for a padded room, at least not yet. A few more years under his old Alpha, then that might be a different story.

He went up and paid for his ticket, glad to see that the bus was already loading up. The last thing he wanted was to hang out at the station. It would be kind of humiliating if his grand escape ended before it even began, with them finding him before his bus even left because he had to wait five hours for the next one.

Slinging his backpack over his shoulder, he went over to the bus and looked for an empty seat. When he spotted one next to an elderly lady, he decided to take it. She seemed harmless enough. She had her knitting out and looked to be making the ugliest blanket in the world, but Foster was willing to forgive that so long as she didn’t try to pick him up or stab him.

He grabbed a paperback out of his bag, then stored his luggage in the overhead before sitting down. When the older woman didn’t even look in his direction, Foster let out a sigh of relief. Maybe he could get some peace and quiet during the trip.

Then the bus lurched to a start, and his silence ended, as the woman turned to him, “So, why is a nice young man like you traveling so late?”

Foster plastered a fake smile on his face. “Going to see some friends.”

Or, at least, he hoped they were friendly and didn’t tear him to shreds for going onto their Leash lands uninvited. Foster knew he was taking a big risk by just showing up uninvited the way he was.

She smiled, showing off her set of dentures that were at least a size too large. They went well with her oversized puffy jacket and sweatshirt that had ten…yes, ten…kitties dancing on it. “I’m going to see my daughter. She just had a baby boy. It’s my twelfth grandson.”

Foster then spent the next two hours being entertained with tales about every single member of the lady’s family. He learned about Jim the doctor. She was just so proud of him. Then there was Teddy the meth head. She wasn’t quite as proud of that one. Then out came the pictures. Foster, ever the polite one, oohed and ahhed over each and every one of them, even though there had to be over fifty of them. How the lady managed to carry them all without toppling over was a mystery to him.

When the bus finally came to a stop, Foster almost stood and did the Snoopy Dance just out of sheer relief. He still stayed behind to help the elderly lady with her bags and made sure she made it safely off the bus and to a cab.

Now left alone, Foster took a deep breath. Time to get going on the long walk. Leave it to him not to plan ahead and time his escape for the daytime, either. Now, he was going to have to navigate his way through the dark. Sure, he had better vision than a human, but the roads were all dirt, and there were roots and vegetation sticking out all over the place.

You are so going to fall down and make an ass out of yourself.

“Why can’t you have any faith in me,” he muttered. “And stop talking to me. If I show up at the new Leash talking to myself, they’re going to throw me out before I even have a chance to make my case for sanctuary. The last thing any Leash wants is a nut case on their hands.”

Heaving in a deep sigh, Foster began walking. It wasn’t until he was a half hour into what was sure to be at least a five hour long walk that he remembered that he was terrified of the dark.

It wasn’t just a simple fear, either. It was so great that his fear was one of his former Alpha’s favorite forms of punishments to use against him. If Foster fucked up really, really bad, the Alpha would order Foster to be put into the box. In all actuality, it was more like a coffin. They would nail the lid shut and leave him in there, alone in the total pitch dark, for hours at a time. Foster would get so scared that he’d claw at the top until his fingers bled. He would try to hold back the screams, but every time, he would break and start yelling until he became hoarse. That still didn’t stop the laughter of the other foxes who were standing outside the box, listening in on his suffering.

He tripped over a large rock sticking out of the dirt road and went down hard. He put his hands out to stop himself, but was too late. His face hit the dirt, his cheek skittering on the ground, while several small rocks cut into his palms.

He let out a yelp of pain and felt a trickle of blood dribbling down his cheek. Great! Now he was going to make a wonderful first impression. He reached down to his knees and felt huge holes in his jeans. Well, damn. Those were his favorite pair, too. They’d been a gift from Chase. At the time, Chase had said they didn’t fit him anymore, but Foster had known better. Chase had taken pity on him because he’d seen Foster’s poor wardrobe.

Left with no other option, because he couldn’t just sit there and lick his wounds all night, Foster got up and began to walk…and walk…and walk.

After about five hours, just as the sun was beginning to rise, he heard some rustling in the bushes on either side of him. Several foxes came bounding out and surrounded him.

Shocked, and so scared that he worried he might have ruined his good pair of underwear, Foster froze. Then when the foxes made no move to attack, Foster said in his most respectful voice, “I need to speak to your Alpha. I promise that I mean no harm.”

When one of the foxes nodded his head, Foster took that to mean okay. He began to walk again, only this time he had his own version of the fox secret service with him. Rounding the corner, he let out a gasp when he saw the house. It was a beautiful, two story log cabin that managed to look both opulent yet rustic at the same time. It had a large circular drive and a porch that wrapped around the entire house. It sure as hell beat the heap of junk his old Alpha lived in. That was for sure.

One of the foxes gave him a nudge from behind, and Foster walked up the steps, his legs shaking more with each step. All he could think about was what if Benjamin didn’t take him? What if he was turned away? Worse, what if Benjamin called Foster’s old Leash and told them what he’d tried to do? Then Foster would be in it for sure.

Raising a trembling fist, Foster knocked on the door. It was instantly opened, showing that Benjamin was waiting for him. Foster gazed up at the tall man. With dark short hair, a chiseled chest that was made for nibbling on, and deep, brown eyes, he was a gift from the gods. He also looked pissed as hell. And all that fury was directed at Foster.

Foster was so terrified, all he could do was say the first thing that came to mind, “Oh, shit!”

And, of course, you can find the complete anthology HERE at eXtasy Books, and HERE at Amazon for Kindle.

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