Claiming Ana Triple Star Ranch Book 1
by Brynna Curry
Genre: Paranormal Romance
In the bible belt of the Deep South, small-town veterinarian Anastasia Brannon hides her magic from all but those closest to her for fear of ridicule. After a red-hot encounter with the new PI in town, it is impossible to deny their attraction. Throwing caution to the wind, she indulges her desires but keeps her secrets close.
A man with secrets of his own, Howl Raven uses his feral talents and tracking skills to make a living, doing his best to lay low and hide the curse that haunts him every month. So far, so good…until an uncontrollable shift outside the full moon leaves him the victim of a werewolf hunter.
When Ana finds him wounded in the woods near her cabin during a storm, she has no choice but to rely on her magic and out her secret to Howl. Racing against time, a werewolf hunter, and nature itself, Ana may be the only one who can banish the wolf from Howl’s blood, but at what cost?
Author's Note: This book is a previously released prequel which has been extensively revised to include bonus content and a preview of Tempting Taylor. While it does have a fast HEA for Howl and Ana, the arcing storyline of Sam Murphy’s murder is left unresolved to be continued in the remaining books.
“So I already know work brings you to Shady Creek. How is that going? Any leads?” She added ice to their glasses, took out a pitcher of sweet tea from the fridge, and filled them while Howl set their Styrofoam plates on the table.
“Nothing I can really discuss yet.”
“Ah, I see. The county cops are investigating, but it’s a slow process. Cade is supposed to keep his nose out of things, but I expected him to find a loophole around that. Sam Murphy was a good man. Tough, but attentive to his sons. I hope whatever you find won’t destroy their image of him. Their mama died when the boys were six and Sam raised them alone. Well he did have Bren’s help.”
“Yes, for all of them. I’m sure it was hard, but Sam never let it show. The Murphy boys were wild growing up, but I’d say they’ve settled down some now. Well, most of them anyway. Jace is still rough around the edges.”
The sound he made was perilously close to a growl. “Both men seem very protective of you.”
She couldn't resist rattling his cage a little. “You might say that.”
“Cade actually warned me off.”
“Well, we all grew up together. Jace and I dated during our senior year. I was co-head cheerleader. He was quarterback on the varsity football team. You know how the story goes.”
He nodded. “So what happened? No dreams of settling down at that age?”
“I knew Jace planned to either enlist or pursue a career in law enforcement. I didn’t want to be a military or cop’s wife. The thought of wondering where he was, when he would come home, would he be safe or dead when he did return. I just couldn’t handle it. I wanted to focus on my degree. So senior year ended and before we destroyed each other, we chose to be friends instead of lovers.”
“Seems like a wise choice.”
“We thought so. Still hurt as breakups do. He was my first love, but he’s not destined to be my last.”
“That’s an odd way of putting it.”
“I guess it is. Anyway, so Jace took off in search of danger, ended up CIA, before landing here again. Drew started his journey toward the FBI. And Cade, well everybody thought he would follow Taylor when she left for California, but he stayed and eventually joined the police force.”
“Who’s Taylor?” Howl closed his plate and sipped his tea. “Girlfriend?”
“Seriously? You’re telling me you have spent more than five minutes with Cade Murphy and he's never talked about her? No calls or texts from her interrupting your meetings?”
“No, but then the chief doesn’t seem like the type to interrupt work with a call from a girlfriend. Enlighten me.”
“Taylor’s parents were killed in a car accident when she was about eight years old. She had no other family, just her Aunt Bren, so she moved here to live with her.”
“Bren would be the housekeeper at the Triple Star?”
“Correct and she has lived in the guest house for as long as I can remember, so naturally Taylor was always around too. Cade took her under his wing. Thick as thieves. Neither distance nor fame has been able to shake their bond. It’s sweet, really.”
“She’s an actress. You know…Taylor Ross? Surely you’ve heard of her? Gorgeous, blonde, sexy action flick queen?”
“Wait that Taylor Ross? Cade has a thing going with a movie star?”
She glared at him. “No. He does not have a thing going with Taylor. She’s his best friend, not a girlfriend. I talked to her a couple of hours ago. Her horse foaled this morning. She probably loves that horse almost as much as she loves Cade.”
“I thought you said they didn’t have a thing.” Howl looked skeptical.
“If you say so.”
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Only that I disagree. I don’t think men and women can be friends. Not with that level of devotion and history. Someone is bound to cross the line.”
“Men and women can have strong emotions for each other and still just be friends, Howl.”
He frowned. “Not in my experience. I’ve seen it happen too many times. Half my cases are following ‘friends’ that took their relationship too far.”
“That’s a little sad.”
“Pays the bills.”
“I suppose it does. Still sad. Jace and I are friends. I have a lot of male friends actually. I never think of them that way.”
“Doesn’t mean they don’t see you on that level. You and Jace were lovers.” Howl growled.
“We were barely more than eighteen.”
“Doesn’t make any difference. I’d bet he still thinks about you like that.”
“Well he is a definite flirt, but I doubt he thinks of me that way. Don’t you think you and I could be friends? Chat on the phone, watch a movie. Go places together without wanting more. Couldn’t we?”
“No. I don’t think so.”
“Because every time I looked at you…never mind. This just proves my point.”
“I want to know, Howl.” Her voice turned husky, even to her own ears. She slid her hand across the glossy tabletop and linked her fingers in his. Uh oh. Warmth radiated through her fingertips, through her body. The magic in her blood swirled in reaction.
“I’d imagine what you’d taste like every second we were together. How would you feel underneath me, wrapped around me? What would it be like to sink into your warmth? Your scent would drug me. I would crave you like breath and there would be no hiding those feelings under the guise of friendship.” Howl pushed away from the table and pulled her out of the chair and against him. His hands were rough, warm, and she ached to have them slide over her skin.
“I would crave your touch, your kiss.”
Out of breath, she said, “Point taken.”
“Make no mistake. I don’t want to be your friend, Ana, or at least not only a friend. I want more. And I think you want that too. It’s clear we have some kind of chemistry here.”
“I can’t argue with that, but we barely know each other.” Her words were tinged with hesitation, but her body pressed into his. She linked her hands around his neck.
“Who the hell cares?”
“Nosy busybodies with too much time on their hands?”
He laughed. “Then let’s give them something to gossip about.”
“There are some things you should know about me.”
“Same here.” His mouth dipped close to hers. “But when it comes to this, they don’t mean a damn thing. There is a certain kind of freedom in giving in to what even if it might be bad for you.”
“And are you bad for me?”
“Or very good.”
“Let’s find out.”
Brynna Curry was born south of the Mason-Dixon Line in a small Alabama town. Growing up, books fueled her dreams and imagination, ultimately became her sanctuary during the hardest times in her life. After living all over the southern states, she finally landed back in north Alabama where she met her husband, Jackie. She spent a wonderful twenty-two years with her hero, raising their three children.
Now widowed, she spends her free time writing and tending her ‘army’ of feral cats and rescued strays. Her furry minions, Jace, Styxx, Beerus, and Asheron, are always willing to keep her company while she works. She insists love is the truest magic and with it, every day is an adventure.
Where were you born/grew up?
I was born in Russellville, Alabama, which is a fairly good-sized city. Russellville is in Franklin County in the northwestern part of the state, about thirty minutes south of Muscle Shoals (known as the Hit Recording Capital of the World) and about the same distance north of Haleyville (Home of the first 911 call.) My father was a band director, and due to his constant changes in employment, we moved about every two years (not fun) and mostly to places in Tennessee and Alabama. Now I am back close to my hometown of Haleyville. I live deep in the woods near the lake town of Bear Creek. It is quite isolated and I love it.
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
Hmm. I certainly wouldn’t spend it fretting over dying. My husband passed away five years ago this coming November and I have plenty of relatives to welcome me on the other side of the veil. I have often told family not to worry about me. Whether I am here or there, I’m with people who love me and I’ll be alright. I would spend time with my kids, try to contact everyone I cared for, and make sure nothing needed doing that would cause them pain. Then I’d just go home, tend my feral cats, and see to it someone else would do the same after I died. Then spend what time I had left surrounded by my house cats that I love like children and wait for Jackie to take my hand and walk me home.
Who is your hero and why?
I don’t really have a hero, because I just don’t idolize people in that way. Now if you wanted to know my favorite superhero? It would be Batman, of course.
What kind of world ruler would you be?
I like to think I would be a good queen, just and kind, firm but gracious to her subjects. The kind of queen who would stand at the front lines and fight alongside her people. A ruler should work hard for her people, not the other way around. I think our world leaders as a whole have forgotten this.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
When I’m not at work or writing, I hang out at home with my cats and watch anime. I have a simple life and it suits me.
Do you have a favorite movie?
Howl’s Moving Castle
Which of your novels can you imagine made into a movie?
Earth Enchanted (all five books please?) My only request would be Sam Heughan play Devin McLoch, my Scottish redheaded witch. They could have free reign with the rest of the casting. Just putting that out there movie folks.
As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
This one is simple. A cat. I’m a creature of habit. I like things where they are, to be home with familiar things surrounding me. Change is not my friend. I like schedules and structure, even if that structure is chaos and any deviation from the norm sends me into a panic.
What inspired you to write this book?
I have always had a love for dragon lore, time travel stories, and weaponry. When I saw the call for short stories for a charity anthology, I decided it was time to have fun with these elements and see what happened. Bringing my daughter into the project was fun too, and not something I would have considered with steamier works.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I have so many projects in the works. The Elemental Magic series has been revamped and released and headed to audio soon. I’m in the midst of writing Tempting Taylor (the next TSR), the first book in the new Shadows of Seven series, and another short read for the Shades of Pink anthology (benefits breast cancer research) entitled The Reunion, and the list goes on.
How did you come up with the title of your first novel?
My first publisher vetoed Blood Shield and told me to come up with something else more in line with that series. So I chose to follow the elemental path and choose Earth Enchanted, both elemental and magical. The other titles in that series are similar.
Who designed your book covers?
In the past, my publisher’s designers, but now that I’ve gone indie, I do all my design work, and I design for other authors too.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
No, I think I’m satisfied with the story Ana and Howl wanted to tell. We will see more from them as they interact with other characters in TSR.
What is your favorite part of this book and why?
When Howl wakes up on Ana’s kitchen floor and discovers he can hear her thoughts.
Do your characters seem to hijack the story or do you feel like you have the reigns of the story?
They always have the reigns, even if the structure is mine.
If your book had a candle, what scent would it be?
Candied caramel pecan or apple pie
What book do you think everyone should read?
Where The Red Fern Grows, so it can make you smile and break your heart all at the same time.
How long have you been writing?
Since I was a child, but professionally to seek a publisher, since 2002. And though I was published multiple times through a publishing house, I decided I like full control over the creative vision for my work and went indie.
Do the characters all come to you at the same time or do some of them come to you as you write?
A little of both. It depends on the story. Sometimes they show up before their book is even up in the series. Kail McKenna (cameo in Fire’s Ice) and Valeryan (his twin whose book is last in the new series) are examples. Val and Kail are very dark, tortured heroes and I do love that sort of character. Val is worse though, darkest of dark. I can’t wait to tell his story, but I will have to...for seven more books!
Do you read yourself and if so what is your favorite genre?
I read all the time. I like an eclectic mix of romance subgenres and cozy mysteries, really most fiction. My only qualification is that there is a happy ending.
Do you write one book at a time or do you have several going at a time?
Always several worlds as once.
My brain works that way, bouncing here and there. I don’t know if I could focus on only one project, it would feel too forced. Creatively, I can’t work that way.