Slow & Steady – The Velveteen Tortoise – Chapter Twenty-One Available

Chapter Twenty-One of The Velveteen Tortoise is now available.

Luna the Baby Bunny

“Fire,” Pyx heaves.

“What! No!” I say frantically. “That’s not a safe wor—”

Wait a second.

I look over my shoulder and—dangit.

I can’t see my hands. They’re tied behind my back because Pyx really gets off when he has an unobstructed view of my baby bump.

I shuffle on my knees, turning myself around. “I can’t see. Am I on fire…?”

Read Chapter Twenty-One…

Slow & Steady – The Velveteen Tortoise – Chapter Twenty Available

Chapter Twenty of The Velveteen Tortoise is now available.

Luna the Baby Bunny

“Pyx,” I say. “I’m scared that I’ll mess everything up.”

Now he’s looking at me like what I’ve said is ludicrous—which is as sexy as it is flattering, however…

“Really, Pyx. I need to work on things. Lots of things.” I step closer to him and reach up to touch him.

I cup his cheek, and you know what?

The guy didn’t flinch at all.

Hell. I love the crap outta Pyx.

I brush my thumb over his cheek. “I need your help. When I forget to tell you what I want or need, could you remind me?” I shrug. “Problem solved.”

His brow wrinkles. “That’s feels…”

“Too easy?” I nod. “Kinda feels like we’re cheating, right? But we’re not.”

“Feels like things can still go wrong.” He’s looking at his hands. “What if I get it wrong.”
“Then we’ll try again.”

Pyx has got a wary look on his face.

“And again, and again,” I say encouragingly. “Until we get it right.”

But he still doesn’t look convinced.

Okay, Luna. Now or never.

I go with my signature move and pull my dress up and over my head.

Yay! I only got tangled up, like, three times.

But I flick my gaze to Pyx to gauge how much of an idiot I am.

The heat in his eyes and tension in his body is telling. I’m at a Zero Idiocy rating.

All right! This is gonna be great…

Read Chapter Twenty…

Slow & Steady – The Velveteen Tortoise – Chapter Nineteen Available

Chapter Nineteen of The Velveteen Tortoise is now available.

Luna the Baby Bunny

Howie’s looking at me and his mouth twists, like he’s tasting something off-putting and can’t pinpoint the ickyness. “You listenin’ to other folks’ ideas?”

I nod. “Yeah. Didn’t I always…”

I’m look from Jo to Howie. They both are glaring at me.

“Fine.” I huff. “I’ve grown as a person and I’m listening now. Whaddya got for me, Howie?”

“That candy of yours’s too sweet.”

“Too sweet?” I echo back like an idiot.

Because I never, ever thought Howie could be a nice kid and—

“Kinda gross sweet,” he says as he makes a gagging noise. “You know, it tastes like that crap the communal mess cooks use to cover up whatever rank food we still gotta eat.”

“Ah. Noted. Less sweet. Thank you for telling me what you want.”

Howie shrugs and walks off. “Yah never bothered asking.”

“Got it.” Feeling like a fool, I turn back to Jo and point my thumb over my shoulder. “That’s Howie saying ‘you’re welcome.’”

Jo narrows her eyes at me. “Right. He’s just spewing gratitude.”

I nod. “He’s a good kid.”

But not a nice kid. Definitely not nice.

And I kinda adore him…

Read Chapter Nineteen…

Slow & Steady – The Velveteen Tortoise – Chapter Eighteen Available

Chapter Eighteen of The Velveteen Tortoise is now available.

Luna the Baby Bunny

A flash of yellow streaks overhead. I look up, whipping my head around so that I can track the yellow dart as it shoots out over the Chaparral.


I blink. Was that a War-nary?

The undergrowth around us explodes with charging War-wolves. Gary rushes forward, pushing Howie, Bianca, and I toward a tree. This close to the Chaparral, the trunk is not as massive as the ones deep in the forest. But as a makeshift shelter, it’ll do.

“Luna?” Howie cries.

All I can do is shake my head as I watch about two dozen War-wolves sprint past us, shaking the ground with their pounding strides. They streak out into the Chaparral, traveling the same direction as the War-nary.

I look at Gary. He looks at me. And we’re totally on the same page.

Something bigger and badder than a mega-sized pack of War-wolves is coming.

A low, deep growl—more menacing than the War-wolves’—rumbles all around us…

Read Chapter Eighteen…

Slow & Steady – The Velveteen Tortoise – Chapter Seventeen Available

Chapter Seventeen of The Velveteen Tortoise is now available.

Luna the Baby Bunny

Pyx looks over his shoulder. “Gary can’t go to the Bale.”

“Yeah.” I gaze in the same direction as Pyx—outta Two-Four-Kay. “There’re still our boltholes in the forest.”

Pyx looks down at me. “Luna.”

Yeah, yeah. Seems Pyx has newly mastered Jo and Rez’s ‘you know better’ tone when he says my name.

“Fine.” I huff, like it’s no big deal. “There’s your cabin—”

“Your cabin.”

“Yours. You built it.”

“For you to use.”

“Right.” But I still don’t believe that.

It’s too freaking perfect a place for a disaster like me.

“Take Gary there,” Pyx says.

“Yeah. Sure.” Really, it’s our only option. “Come on, Gary. You’re with us.”

The whole time Gary has been standing by, being as silent as the War-naries used to be when in the mine. “Okay.”

Gary said that way too easily.

“Like, permanently with us.” I say, gauging his reaction. “So—” Crap! “I mean, you don’t wanna stay in the settlement anymore, do you? I didn’t even ask—”

“Yeah. Yep.” Gary rushes to say, nodding adamantly. “Wanna go.”

“Oh. Good.” Because if he’d said no, I probably would’ve had Pyx haul him out anyway. “I really shoulda asked first.”

“But ya are askin’.”

“Eh,” I roll my eyes, “kinda after the fact, but sure. Do you need to get anything?”

Gary shrugs. “Got nothing to get.”

Aw, my heart. I swear, I’ve only met one other person in my life who needed a hug as badly as Poor Gary, here. Which is Pyx. Who’s also here.

But I don’t hug Gary, because then that means I gotta hug Pyx. And I can’t hug Pyx right now, because my head still hurts. I’m tried. And my stomach is doing funky stuff.

And even though I’m so dang mad at Pyx right now, if I hug him, I’ll squeeze him for hours. And we gotta go.

I clap my hands. “Awesome.” Crap. “I mean, ‘awesome’ that we’re good to go.”

I have no clue how to recover from that, so I turn and start walking.

And we’re off. Outta the hostile human settlement and through the predator-filled forest, to Pyx’s cabin we go…

Read Chapter Seventeen…

Slow & Steady – The Velveteen Tortoise – Chapter Sixteen Available

Chapter Sixteen of The Velveteen Tortoise is now available.

Luna the Baby Bunny

“Luna.” Emys snags my attention with her ‘make-better-choices’ tone. “If you are unharmed, stand.”

Right. We can’t have Pyx zipping over here at his natural speed to see if I’m okay. You know, because secrets gotta stay secrets and all that.

I do a quick self-check. My face is flushed—hot with embarrassment and the first tingles of arousal—and my hands are heating up.

So, I toss out a crappy reply to buy me some time. “Just my backside and pride are kinda bruised.”

Emys—who’s still crouching—leans closer to me. “Do you need either to repair the drill?”

“Nah.” I wave off her concern. “Those only get in the way anyways.”

“Pride often does.”


“As for backsides…” Emys tilts her head, as if examining me from a different angle. “I have no advice for you in that regard.”

“How about ‘Next time, land on your feet, Luna’?”

“That goes without saying.”

“Says the woman who enters like a legendary badass.”

Emys pushes up to standing while still looking down at me. “I always enter like a warrior.”

Which of course means that I’d entered like, well, me. Luna the Tragically Uncoordinated…

Read Chapter Sixteen…

Slow & Steady – The Velveteen Tortoise – Chapter Fifteen Available

Chapter Fifteen of The Velveteen Tortoise is now available.

Luna the Baby Bunny

We’re all standing outside of the bolthole and Rez is running her hand over my shoulder, doing her best to soothe me. “Luna, stop moping and listen to me.”

I ignore her. Crossing my arms over my chest, I direct my glare at the still-smoking hole-in-the-ground.

I’m not moping. I’m fuming because I just set a fireproof canister on freaking fire, and Jo and Rez are still treating me like a temper tantrumming toddler.

“You’re wasting your breath, Rez.” Jo waves her hand at me. “Baby Bunny never listens. You gotta show her.”

Really? We’re regressing to Show-and-Tell tactics?

Jo arches her brow at me. “You’re the one actin’ like a toddler.”

“Unless you have something to say that actually fixes problems,” I point at her, giving my finger a good, hard jab, “then keep your all-knowing bullshit to yourself, Joia.”

“Bullshit,” Jo chuckles dryly. “You know, there’s an old Earth saying about monkeys.”

“Yeah.” I scoff. “I know.”

“Nah, ya don’t know.” Jo taps a finger on her brow, directly over her right eye. “It’s monkey see some obvious shit before its own damn eyes; monkey do something about it.”

“That…” I comb through my memory. “Yeah. That doesn’t sound right.”

“Well, it ain’t monkey listen to some heart-to-heart bullshit; monkey make the world all better.”

“That also doesn’t sound right.”

I mean, where’s the bit about infinite monkeys using infinite time to solve any problem…

Read Chapter Fifteen…

Slow & Steady – The Velveteen Tortoise – Chapter Fourteen Available

Chapter Fourteen of The Velveteen Tortoise is now available.

Luna the Baby Bunny

I’ve slowed my pace. I even stop and look over my shoulder.

There’s nothing behind me. There’s just the War-bugs and War-birds who’re hiding in the undergrowth and making clicking and shrilling noises.

Nothing to worry about.

Yet something made me turn around—a shiver that I’m being followed. Only, the disappointment squeezing my chest confirms how big of an idiot that I am.

I know there are no animals in the area. Pyx personally removed them all. And only runners, like Rez, or patrollers, like Gary and Benny, come this far into Briarwood.

So, I’d thought…

…well, I’d hoped…

…that the shivering of my spine would turn into something heated and thrilling because Pyxis had followed me.

Because I’d truly fixed that hurt and confused look on his face when I’d told him that I what I’d said—fix him—isn’t what I’d meant to say.

But no unbelievably hot and amazing alien warrior is prowling through the forest with his focus targeted solely on me.

And that’s fine. Because everything’s so freaking fine…

Read Chapter Fourteen…

Slow & Steady – The Velveteen Tortoise – Chapter Thirteen Available

Chapter Thirteen of The Velveteen Tortoise is now available.

Pyxis The Restrained

“What I meant,” the human medic snarls at me, “is that it would be better if you went outside because you don’t belong here.”

Gary gasps. “Hey now, Doc!”

I just shrug. “Of course I don’t.”

“Then leave.” The medic points her finger. “Just go.”

“Do you mean leave the medical modular—”

“Medical clinic,” she snaps at me.

I keep going. “Or…”


That’s the sound of my helmet scraping across the low ceiling as I visually track where she’s pointing. Which is up and not toward the modular’s main doors.

Does she mean go off-world?

Because if that’s what she’s saying, she’s totally implying it. Which completely contradicts what she said earlier about implications.

I flick my attention from the low ceiling to the huffing medic. Screech.

However, she’s cringing and slapping her hands over her ears, and those human reactions aren’t really giving me any indication about exactly where she wants me to go.

I tilt my head back toward the ceiling. Screech. “You mean off-world?”

Because my answer to that is an abso-fucking-lutely hard no. I’m not leaving Warren’s. Warren’s is where my mate is.

I snap my attention back to the medic. Screee—

The ceiling falls on my head.

Well. Not the whole ceiling. Just a sliced through sheet of it.


And now that sheet has dropped onto the floor.

“Shit!” Gary cries out.

I turn—twisting just my torso—to look at Gary. He’s sitting up, looking all gaping and startled and befuddled. You know what? He kinda looks like regular old, not-sick-at-all, Gary.

Which is a relief.

He runs his stunned gaze over me. “Ya okay, P?”

“I’m okay.”

Whatever ‘okay’ means. It’s a human word. But I’m totally confident that it completely applies to me…

Read Chapter Thirteen…

Slow & Steady – The Velveteen Tortoise – Chapter Twelve Available

Chapter Twelve of The Velveteen Tortoise is now available.

I don’t like this.

Jo’s just ended my honeymoon with Pyx.

“I don’t like it, either.” Pyx shrugs as he releases me and goes to the door. He starts ripping away the crushed metal edges of the door and jab that have served as a decent, low-tech lock for us. “If I could, I’d stay here rather than patrol.” He glances over at me and his eyes brighten with excitement. “Later, we could work on the drill together!”

We could, but I’ve lived with Jo for the past decade. I know her.

She’s up to something.

Grumbling, I shoo Pyx away from the now-irreparable door. “Step back, Pyx. You don’t want Gary to see you like this.”

Check that.

I don’t want Gary, or anyone else, to see my mate like this.

Pyx is dressed in his ‘When Hidden Within The Bale’ flow-y pants that ride so deliciously low on his hips…

Seriously. The waistband clings to that perfect spot. You know, it’s that place where his lower abs meet his hipbones and form one hell of an Akuparian Adonis belt.  His appearance is so casually comfortable yet unintentionally revealing that it’s achingly intimate.

And, apparently, my primal she-alpha-bits have pounced ahead a stage or two of our relationship—er, mateship with Pyx. We’re now at the stage where we’re so comfortable and familiar with one another that he can lounge around, half dressed with his ripped and drool-worthy torso exposed…

…While my feral, foaming-at-the-mouth she-alpha-bits prowl around him, snarling MINE. MINE. MINE.

So yeah. You better look elsewhere, Gary! This magnificent view is for my eyes only—

“Oh,” I yank the door open and there’s Gary. Blindfold on and everything…

Read Chapter Twelve…