Title: Midnight Rodeo: Belonging (Midnight Rodeo #2)
Author Name & Publisher: Kiernan Kelly, Julia Talbot, and BA Tortuga (Turtlechat Creatives)
Publication Date & Length: January 29, 2016 – 60,000 Words
What happens when rodeos start to get too tough for humans to compete in? Midnight Rodeo, of course, where supernatural creatures like shifters and vampires work for the prize money, and for the awe of their audience.
Light a Rocket by Julia Talbot
Rocket is probably the worst rider in Darque and Knight rodeo troupe. This cheetah shifter is fast as the wind, but he only has so many lives in his cat body, and he spends more time injured than not. Raven Walkingman is the number one cowboy in the Midnight Rodeo, at the top of his game. The two seem an unlikely match, but Raven enjoys doing things no one expects him to, including Rocket.
Raven likes his relationships casual, though, and when Rocket starts talking mates as shifters are wont to do, Raven pulls up the stakes. He has his animal spirit guides, his good friends, and his fancy trailer. He doesn’t need a ragtag cheetah falling in love with him. His spirit guides know better. They adore Rocket and are more than happy to support him, and abandon Raven, until the stubborn fool does the right thing.
Tails and Whiskers by BA Tortuga
Tiger shifter Dmitri loves the rodeo. Darque and Knight has become his home, and he adores all of his new friends. Still, his past as a circus animal causes him to hate injustice, so when he meets a trick rider and fox shifter, Dmitri is appalled to find that the hot little kit isn’t allowed inside the rodeo ground except when he works. In fact, none of the entertainers are allowed in, all being contractors and thus bound to a different boss, who happens to be a greedy goblin.
As Dmitri and Isaac learn to love one another, they find growing dissatisfaction with the status quo, and they go to their friends for support in forcing a policy change. Too bad there’s a certain goblin who doesn’t want to give up control of his workers. Can Dmitri and Isaac find a way to be together, and to make a change for the better of everyone at D&K?
Freaked Out by Kiernan Kelly
Gargoyle-shifter Killian has spent his life living and working with all different sorts of supernatural folk, but because he had three forms instead of two like most other shapeshifters, he’s always felt like a freak. His habit of keeping to himself and minding his own business has been his shield against being hurt, and to aid in that endeavor, he’s adopted a stony personality.
When a troupe of sideshow performers are hired by Darque and Knight to augment the rodeo, he’s forced to redefine his ideas of what constitutes beauty and what defines a freak. Meanwhile, the hard, protective shell he’s erected around his heart threatens to crack wide open under the tender touch of Micah, the sideshow’s hideous Snake Man.
Someone was singing about having a tiger by the tail. Loudly.
Honestly, Dmitri loved to sing. He loved other people’s enthusiastic music. This morning, though, he was not so pleased. His head felt very large.
He blamed Brax. The head of the kitty cavalcade loved to get everyone full of green smoke.
Dmitri lifted his throbbing head that was, at least, five sizes bigger than it had been, and peered out of the window. Oh. His dear friend Denver was calling for him.
With fried sweet things.
For that he would crawl out of his happy bed, which still smelled like Denver since he’d bought his friend’s old trailer, and put on—shorts? Something.
“Open up, pussycat. I brought doughnuts.” Denver was a good friend, especially for a wolf. Blaine must have thrown him out this morning for being too perky. Denver’s little wolf partner was not a morning person.
Dmitri opened the door to his trailer. “Welcome, friend Denver.”
“Good morning, fuzzy.” Denver walked up and rubbed cheeks with him, sharing scent. The bullfighter knew the rules, knew how to be pride as well as pack. That made him more valuable than gold.
“What did you bring for breakfast?” Dmitri asked.
“Apple fritters. Fresh from the fryer.”
“I love apples!” His head began to clear pretty quickly. “Tell me what is the news.”
“We got a big crowd tonight. Seems tell people are revved. Bulls are spitting fire. That weird little group of trick riders are pulling the first break, to give Kurt a breather. He’s burning up.”
Yes, it was warm in Texas for a panda. Dmitri understood. His inner Siberian tiger longed for Colorado. Maybe Canada.
“There’s a lake close by. We should go, the bunch of us,” Denver suggested.
“Oh.” Swimming. His tiger surged, close the surface, wanting out of his human body. “Yes. Apple things first.”
“You bet. Come sit with me.”
Dmitri followed Denver out into the sun and sat at a picnic table. The heat pressed at him, but he did love the light.
Denver had an entire box of the pastries and they ate eagerly, wolfing the doughnuts at first, then ending with lazy nibbles. Oh. Better. So much better.
Sugar left his tiger cold, but his human side loved it, and the crispy-fried part? Perfect.
He bounced, rocking the table. “Swim now?”
“Let me grab the others. You’ll invite the pride?”
“I will.” He grabbed a trash can lid and a piece of wood and began banging. “Wake up, kitties! We are going to the lake!”
He got half cheers, half people throwing things at him. Blaine walked over with an apple fritter in hand, the other bullfighters Caul and Carter followed along with Potts. That only left one bullfighter and Terrance was notoriously slow.
Brax appeared, his naked, tanned form lean and pretty. “What are you caterwauling about?”
“Swimming! Friend Denver says there is a lake.”
Brax wrinkled his nose, stretched slowly, all golden skin and muscle. Yum. “I’ll pass.”
“Coward,” Denver teased. “You can come tan. Show off all that pretty skin. Maybe you’ll get laid.”
Dmitri wished he would have that, not Brax. No one wanted to be broken, Brax told him, afraid of Dmitri’s size and… enthusiasm.
“Yeah?” Brax came over, scented Denver and Blaine, then nodded. “Okay, sure. Let me grab some oil.”
“And some shorts,” Potts called. “A shame to damage yer pecker, eh?”
“Mine is so big I can cast my own shade.” Brax winked and headed off.
Potts growled, but the sound was more happy than ugly. Dmitri looked between them, then raised a brow at Denny.
Denver just shrugged, eyes twinkling. “What will be, will be, huh?”
“It will.” He was happy if his friends were happy.
“Lake. Water. Swimming.”
“Dog paddling,” Dmitri teased.
“You know it. Terry is a champion paddler.” Denver clapped Terrance on the back when he went by.
They clomped the half mile to the lake, the water glinting under the sun, the grass on the way green and thick. Dmitri whooped as soon as he saw the water, breaking into a run.
Blaine followed with him, the little wolf losing shirt and flip-flops with a happy howl.
He laughed, splashing in and leaving his clothes on the bank. He popped water at Blaine, roaring with delight.
Blaine tackled him, totally unafraid and eager to play.
Dmitri chortled, and soon he was surrounded, five puppies and kittens flying in all directions when he shrugged hard. Denver was floating on his back, watching with deceptively hooded eyes. Denny saw all.
Oh, Dmitri loved his life.