In case you haven’t heard, Cardeno C. and Mary Calmes have teamed up and written a book together. Control will be available at Dreamspinner Press on April 18, 2014, but in the meantime, we’ve got Vy and Robert here to answer a few questions, offer an excerpt from the book, and give one lucky reader the chance to win an e-copy!
Read on then leave a comment right here by Midnight Pacific time on Tuesday, April 15, 2014, and you’re entered for the drawing. One winner will be selected at random on Wednesday, the 16th, and notified via email for prize delivery.
TNA: Hey, guys, it’s awfully kind of you to agree to be here with us today. I know your story’s not out until April 18th, so I’m going to try not to ask questions that are too spoilery.
Robert: We appreciate that. Thanks for having us.
Vy: Yes, thank you.
TNA: Why don’t we start with a semi-easy one? What’s the first thing about each other you fell madly in love with, and when did you realize it was love?
Robert: The first thing I fell in love with was Vy’s fiery spirit and his big, sometimes guarded heart. He’s not bad to look at either.
Vy: Please, you just don’t want to say that the first thing you fell in love with was my ass and the second was probably my house. Me as a person, that took more time.
Robert: No. You as a person, as a man, always has been and always will be everything. And your house is eclectic and warm and home. Like you.
Vy: Stop, just stop. For me, I fell in lust at first sight with my mate and then in love soon after. That’s how it happens when you’re mates.
Robert: And how it happens when two people fit well together physically and emotionally.
TNA: What’s the one thing you wish you could get a do-over on, with regards to the way you met and the things that happened to get you where you are today?
Robert: Everything happens for a reason. We grow and evolve by living and seeing, succeeding and failing. Life doesn’t grant do-overs, but as long as we’re breathing, we have the opportunity to better ourselves and our world.
Vy: I think I’m gonna barf. What I should have done originally was get rope and a giant bear cage to—
Robert: They haven’t made a cage yet that can hold me in my bear skin. Besides, aren’t the strongest cages the ones we create for ourselves?
Vy: —put him in so we wouldn’t have to discuss mates, he would simply have to react to me. Sometimes you just have to act.
Robert: You see that spirit, Lisa? That flame? That right there is what I fell in love with.
Vy: And cages we make for ourselves? Are you kidding?
TNA: Robert, you were skeptical of the idea of a fated soul mate. How’re you feeling about that now? And how does it feel to finally have a someplace and a someone to come home to at the end of the day?
Robert: I feel what I feel. The whys of it don’t matter. Making Vy happy and secure matter. Taking care of him matters. Making sure he knows deep in his big heart and in his sharp brain that he’s mine matter. And coming home to a warm den and a warmer man is … everything.
TNA: Vy, with Robert as a mate, what would you say is the most significant way the ket has changed for the better?
Vy: Sorry I have something in my eye. Okay, uhm, two things. One, obviously we’re hawks so when we fight, it’s in human form for the most part unless it’s with other hawks and then that’s aerial. So from purely a position of strength, having Robert with us strengthens us. No one in their right mind would mess with a bear. Second, and most important, is that for the health and well-being of a ket, the leader needs to be grounded. Before I had Robert with me, I was all over the place. He nurtures me, loves me, and that strengthens me as a man, a hawk and a leader.
TNA: Guys, I have to ask this: is there any downside you can think of to being a shifter? What’s the one thing you love most/least about it?
Robert: Aw, little bird, that was so sweet. Come here. Excuse me, Lisa.
Vy: She’s asking you a question, answer the—Robert!
Robert: I’m sorry, Lisa, you were asking about shifting. After a lot of years in this body, I’ve learned not to focus on what I can’t change and to make the best of what I can. I’m a man and I’m a bear. I work toward being the best version of each of one. Someday I might even get there.
Vy: Don’t let him kid you, he’s perfect now. But for me, I’m a hawk so when I shift, I fly. It’s a gift and I love it. The only downside is that if you don’t wind up at either your house or somewhere you stashed clothes, when you shift back, you’re naked. It’s been inconvenient a couple of times in my life. On the other hand, I once flew to Robert’s new office in the middle of the day and—mmph!
Robert: Ehm, sorry, Lisa. Again. But that memory always makes me want to kiss him. I actually have lots of memories like that now.
TNA: If you could be any other shifter than the one you are, what would you most want to be, and why?
Robert: If someone made me that offer today, I’d turn them down. That’s not an answer I’m sure I could have given you for most of my life. But now … I’m at peace with who I am.
Vy: I have no desire to be anything but a hawk. Really, there’s no beating the flying.
TNA: Vy, Rhys Ford wants to know, what’s the kinkiest sex thing you and Robert have ever done? (She’s so bad! :-D )
Vy: Kinkiest…he attacked me while I was doing yoga once? I think he planned it. Just recently he’s got this honey fetish that we have to do outside now because the sheets get all—Robert!
Robert: Sorry, Lisa. But can you blame me? He says things like that––I need to kiss him. And, actually, to do more than that. Are we almost done here?
TNA: Final question before I ask you if you’ll give us a little excerpt from Control. It’s a big one: do you see kids in your future? If I were to ask you each to list a few things about the other, what would you say would make him an amazing father?
Robert: I have seen kids in our future almost since the beginning. Vy has a wonderful father, and I know he’d follow that example with our family. Plus, being leader of his ket is like being a father in a lot of ways and Vy is amazing with the little ones.
Vy: Robert with children would be amazing. He’s so gentle and loving; I could see him guiding them and talking to them, giving them such good counsel. I fly off the handle and lose my temper but he doesn’t, not unless there’s imminent danger. Robert would be a treasure for any child.
Vy Aleknos is the leader of a hawk shifter flock. Openly gay since he was a teen, Vy is proud and self-assured on the outside, while secretly worrying he’ll be forced to spend his life alone because two males can’t be mates. When bear shifter Robert Cimino appears in Vy’s small town, Vy realizes his concerns were unfounded — he has a male mate, and a sexy, dominant one to boot.
Robert is a bear shifter who refuses to shift. Immediately attracted to Vy, he deviates from his normal pattern and seeks more than a one off with the powerful, bristly hawk. But Robert’s affections are rooted in his human form, and when Vy discovers Robert doesn’t recognize him as his mate, he pulls away. If Robert wants to stay with Vy, he must convince a man deeply ruled by his animal instincts to give their relationship as humans a chance.
AS I rounded the corner, Robert turned and saw me. He immediately moved the skillet off the burner and darted over to me. Stopping just inches away, I saw how warm his eyes were and how happy he looked.
“Your house is small and cozy.”
He nodded. “I opened the windows, and I can smell the wildflowers and hear the crickets.”
From how soft his voice was, I figured this was a good thing.
“And when I went outside on the porch—all I could see was stars.”
I watched the muscles in his jaw clench with emotion. He was really struck by everything he was telling me. “So it seems like the fact that you can go outside and be part of nature but still be safe and warm inside… that appeals to you.”
He wasn’t ready to speak. I watched him working to hold himself together. My mate was a man whose control was absolute, but maybe being around me was loosening it up just a little.
“You were so great tonight,” I said, changing the subject to give him time to calm down. “Is it okay if I hug you?”
He bent and grabbed me, nuzzling his face in my hair, inhaling deeply. I was held tight but not bruising, and his sigh was very sweet.
Here was a weakness—the man liked to cuddle. And so instead of doing what I’d planned and seducing him, I went about exploiting what I knew.
“Whatever you made smells great.”
He was off me, bustling around my kitchen, telling me to sit down while he filled two bowls and stacked a thick earthenware plate full of perfectly grilled cheese sandwiches. They were golden brown.
“You could have put ham in the sandwiches if you wanted.”
He grimaced. “I’m a vegetarian.”
“You are not,” I said, chuckling.
“I am. I even eat bee-free honey.”
“You’re screwing with me.”
His grin made his eyes glint. “No.”
“Huh. Okay, then. Does that mean when I eat a cheeseburger you’re gonna hurl?”
“No,” he assured me, leaning across the table to brush my hair out of my eyes. “I promise. I’m sorry I didn’t add any ham to yours, though.”
“No, it’s perfect, I was just thinking of you. I promise to try and not make any more assumptions where you’re concerned.”
He seemed pleased. We ate and talked about the night, and I was surprised he didn’t ask about any of the things that had my brain working: the kids, the pack of werewolves, and whatever they had been up to. I had to find out, but everything, all of it, paled in comparison to watching my mate enjoy his food, seeing his shining eyes, and listening to the deep rich baritone of his voice.
“You should lie down on the couch while I do the dishes.”
“You don’t have to do that. You cooked, so I should clean.”
“You’re hurt, I’m not,” he said, reaching out to put a hand on my cheek. “Let me take care of you.”
“Okay,” I agreed. I got up, limped across to the living room, and flopped down on my couch. I put my leg up on the ottoman and stretched out. I was dozing by the time he was finally hovering over me.
“I should put you in bed and let you get some rest.”
I patted the couch beside me. “Come sit for a minute before you go home.”
Something flickered across his face, and I hoped I knew what it was. I had purposely said home knowing there was no way, even if he was glamping out there the woods, that it was as nice as my little house.
“Could you put one of the pillows under my foot?”
He went to take a step.
“Oh, hey, could you take your shoes off before you walk over by the fire? I don’t wanna track dirt through there.”
Doing as I asked, on a mission to get me the overstuffed pillows, he tugged off his boots and stepped across the rug.
I knew bliss when I saw it, and it was easy to see on Robert’s face. The man was very tactile, so the feel of the soft rug with the extra-heavy padding underneath it must have felt like heaven. The colors of the room, the deep rich browns—sepia, sable, chestnut, and mahogany—as well as the chenille throw pillow he couldn’t help but caress, all played on his senses as he returned to me.
“You still owe me a massage,” I reminded him.
He sagged down onto the couch beside me.
“But I think I’d rather have you sit with me if that would be okay.”
His posture mirrored mine, slouching. He pushed me forward for a minute before he wriggled sideways, so I ended up leaning back against him.
“You have beautiful hands,” I told him, taking his right in both of mine and turning it over. “I love all these gorgeous veins.”
I felt the tremble run through him as I lifted my chin and kissed under his jaw.
“I… I should… go.”
“Sure.” I yawned, nuzzling into the side of his neck, pressing back against him and letting him feel my weight. “Just five more minutes, okay?”
His sigh was long, but he still tried to leave another ten minutes later.
“Vy, I should—”
“You know, in the winter it’s really nice out here.” I yawned again, ignoring him, still talking. “I make a fire sometimes and sleep right on the couch with all these pillows.”
He stayed quiet, and I could tell he was listening.
“Sometimes I bring in a down comforter too.”
“But not everyone likes to be all wrapped up and—”
“I do,” he said quickly.
I closed my eyes when he nuzzled his face into my hair. No doubt about it: snuggling up next to him, talking, would catch me a bear.