The Last Rancher is Nearly Here!

For WipItUp Wednesday, here’s another excerpt from The Last Rancher. This one is darker than the one I shared last week, but I hope it’s a good taste for the side of this story that’s not all cow-milking and sexytimes (you HAVE been warned lol):

 

Ember:

“Ember, do you think it’s just the Brotherhood that are involved in this?” His question surprised me.

“Regular people don’t have an interest in crap like that, they’re far too busy with football player exchanges or the latest music.” It was inconceivable that regular people would be involved in this.

All regular people?”

“Sure, I mean… that stuff’s pretty all-consuming. Even my companion-doll used to think sports were important.” I remembered her voice fondly. She had been my best friend growing up. My parents even used her as a babysitter regularly.

“Companion doll?” Hadley looked baffled. I realized he probably never got one out here.

“When I was a kid, I was sent a little talking doll. Every child got one when they turned three. I called mine Sherry. She had a touchscreen in her stomach, and she taught me to read and write, how to do a bit of math, and every day, she reminded me at the right time to do dance-along with the big purple cartoon dinosaur on the TV. Sherry would do the exercise with me so I was never lonely.” At my words, the expression on Hadley’s face grew darker. “When I got older, she used to find other robot dolls nearby to wirelessly connect to. She would always seem to connect to robots with owners who shared my exact interests. That’s how I met three of the girls on the skating team, before I joined. Sherry even had a camera in her eyes so I could make videos of my day.”

Hadley sighed. “Novara just gets more fucked up every time you open your mouth.”

“Hey! She was my best friend growing up. I guess those dolls were everyone’s best friend until they were old enough to go and meet people. I shared everything with her.” I was eager to defend her. Sherry had left me with nothing but good memories.

“Why?” His question irked me.

“She wanted to know. She asked me questions about my day, what my parents had been up to, that sort of thing.” It had been nice. She had been the only thing in my life that had ever taken an interest in how I was doing.

“Holy fuck.” He ran his hands through his hair; a sure sign he was stressing.

“What?” I didn’t understand his reaction.

“You had a talking doll that spied on you and trained you to do exercise and vetted your friends before you ever met them.”

Now it was my turn to stare at him. Bile rose in my throat and the ground seemed to sway beneath me. I shook my head. “No. That’s not fair. Not Sherry. You can’t take Sherry away from me. She was my friend!” I began to cry because I realized what he said was true.

He put his arm around me and reassured me. I just wanted one thing to be real from my whole life before I met Hadley.

“It’s going to be okay, Ember. I’m going to fix this, I promise. I’m sorry I asked. If they controlled everyone that much, I don’t think they trusted them enough to let anyone else in on what they were doing to people.”

“Hadley?” I was still sniffling. I felt so despondent.

“Yeah?”

“How can we fight a secretive boys’ club who can do that to twelve million people? There’s only two of us!” It seemed like such an impossibly huge undertaking, and we weren’t anything special. We were both honest and hardworking, neither of us were especially smart, and we didn’t fully understand everything about our opponents. They, on the other hand, were smart enough to enslave a whole city, they understood everything about both of us, they knew exactly how everything in the city worked, and they didn’t play fair.

“I don’t know, babe, but we’ll think of something.” He kissed me on the forehead and his determination warmed me a little. “I promise you, we’ll think of something.”

* * *

That’s all for this week’s, but The Last Rancher is out on Saturday, and I am fizzing with excitement to share it with everyone!! In the meantime, I made this:

Do you like this picture I made?

Lots of love,
Katie xxxx

A First Look At The Last Rancher…

Hi Guys it feels like forever since I last participated in WipItUp Wednesday, the blog hop for sharing works in progress!

This week I want to give everyone a little teaser for my upcoming futuristic dystopian western erotic romance, The Last Rancher. If you’d like to get your hands on a bigger excerpt, sign up for my newsletter here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/e/1FAIpQLScdDyIOpXzv9tEghSG8wE1euaaZINdxlEsRF03lomIlGV2MNg/viewform

Spoiler alert… there’s a longer, steamier preview going out in my very first newsletter on Friday 15th September, and it’s exclusive for newsletter subscribers, so don’t miss out!

I do not own this image, I found it on Pinterest.

This story is dark. I’ve been joking a lot on Facebook that the heroine is the only person in this book with a higher body count than the hero by the end of the first chapter. But it also has its less dark moments. Here’s one of them. After nearly being killed, Ember is trying to get back to her city to warn everyone that the city’s leaders are kidnapping women and hunting them for sport on live TV (everyone thinks the contestants for this “game show” are picked at random and just leave the city after). Hadley, however, wants to keep her safe because she’s badly injured and the city is 200 miles away, and there’s no roads any more because no-one ever leaves the city:

Ember:

The moment Hadley left the house, I went to the window and watched him. He sauntered toward a big shed, then emerged with a large bucket of something. It looked like he’d be gone for some time. I decided to seize my chance and, knotting the sheet above my breasts, I stepped outside.

Blinking in the sunlight, I looked in every direction. There was a little patch of trees opposite the porch, and beside it, there was a big wooden shed. The cowshed beside it was even larger, and there was also a huge, rusty vehicle with eight-feet-high wheels. The deflated tires were cracked and covered in green moss. Further down, I saw the first field, with a neat wooden fence and an open metal gate. Beyond, there was green grass and those stout black and white animals like the one I’d seen in the forest. In the opposite direction from where I stood, the forest pressed in on the clearing where the house was.

Everything was so big out here, and yet, the surroundings were all so short and flat. I wasn’t sure I’d ever seen so much sky; it seemed to cover the entire world like a big dome, with flat-bottomed clouds floating between the sky and the fields. When I breathed the air, it seemed softer, and filled my lungs more than I’d ever experienced before. I never expected the countryside to be so nice. On the TV, they always showed it as a vast wilderness where only the few remaining species of wild animals lived. It was beautiful, and I wished I could stay here and take my fill of the natural beauty. Would I ever tire of it?

It smelled so strongly of things, too. I only had to walk a few steps to sniff something different. There was the food scent from the kitchen, the horrible bathroom-like stink coming from one of the sheds, a creamy scent from another shed, the smell of petrol from the enormous rusty vehicle, and a sort of woody odor from the forest. I couldn’t even recognize some of the other things my nose had discovered.

It would be amazing to run through the open fields, toward the distant blue mountains. Before today, I’d only seen such things on the TV. If there wasn’t such an important reason to get home quickly, this would be a tranquil place to be. Unless I warned everyone about what The Brotherhood were doing, though, they would hunt someone else down soon. They ruled the city, maybe even the continent, and they weren’t worthy of that.

I remembered my cousin with another stab of fury. No-one else should have to go through what she and I went through, and no-one else should have to die like that. Those men were so evil. I was still more than a little horrified by the fact I’d killed them, but there had been no-other choice, and part of me was disturbed by the fact I didn’t feel as bad as I ought to about what I’d done.

All over, my body ached, and pain seared across my wounds. Tuning out the soreness and the anguish, I watched Hadley walk across the field with his bucket. When I turned to go in the opposite direction, I realized I wasn’t sure which way the city was. Ploughing on anyway, I shakily climbed the fence toward the forest and tried to run, but my limbs wouldn’t do what I wanted them to. My legs were still too stiff to take my weight at that speed. When my left knee buckled, I stumbled, crashing loudly onto a fallen tree branch which cracked with an ominous snapping sound.

Not to be deterred, I scrambled to my feet and continued moving. I traveled about two hundred yards from the house before something wrapped around my arms, between my elbows and, on one side, the gauze covering a bullet graze. Constricting my body, it tightened around me; at first, I thought it was a snake, as I’d seen plenty of movies where snakes did this to people.

Looking down, I saw a rope. I tried to struggle out of it, but some pressure was steadily pulling me backwards. Glancing over my shoulder, I saw Hadley holding the other end of the rope. Patiently but firmly, he reeled me in.

“Never lassoed a lady before,” he told me with a twinkle in his eye. I didn’t know why he looked so amused, there was nothing funny about this. I glared at him and tried again to free myself.

“Get the fuck off me! I have to get back. Don’t you understand? I have to!”

“Nope.” He stood his ground.

Heaving on the rope with all my might, all I succeeded in doing was unbalancing myself. I landed unceremoniously on my bottom and felt my face getting hot. It was mortifying.

Hadley held out a hand for me to take. I shook my head and got up by myself.

“Such a gentleman,” I grumbled sarcastically.

“Suit yourself. You’re still coming with me. Will you walk, or do I have to carry you?”

“Go and fuck yourself,” I growled, wanting him to understand that he was getting in the way of me doing something really important. The lasso had been humiliating, and I was now in a thoroughly bad mood and ready to go thermonuclear on his ass.

“I’d much rather fuck a pretty young lady such as yourself, but what’s that got to do with getting your pert butt back to my ranch?” He was acting like I hadn’t explained this problem enough already, or maybe he just didn’t care.

He was still so unflustered, it was infuriating. I growled and tried to get out of the rope again. He tutted and shook his head. When he stepped forward, I lashed out at him with my semi-restrained arms. I had been so close to escaping that the disappointment burned at the back of my throat as he hoisted me in a fireman’s lift, still lassoed. He wrapped the spare rope around his left shoulder and ambled back to the ranch as if he wasn’t carrying a one-hundred-twenty-pound woman in his right arm.

My legs would barely obey me, but still I kicked them, fighting against him with everything I had. It was pathetic that I lacked the energy or strength to fight him off, and every time I tried, pain surged through my wounds and stiff muscles. He swatted my ass several times, hard, filling my body with a searing fire. It was similar to the incredibly delicious sensation that made my muscles tingle when I got a second wind after I thought I had run as hard as I could. My sore glutes gave up and I accepted that he was in control for the time being.

* * *

 Now, what might a strong rancher do with a naughty city girl who won’t listen to old-fashioned good sense? Hmm… I wonder… Actually, I know exactly what comes next and it took a lot of self-control not to post the next 2000 words or so here, because OMG I’m just itching to share this story with you all!!

Lots of love,
Katie xxxx