Sneak Peek Wednesday: Outfoxed by R.J. Blain (Giveaway)

(The Fox Witch #1)
by R.J. Blain
Publisher: Pen & Page Publishing
Publication date: Nov. 3, 2020
Genre: Urban Fantasy

Death is a way of life outside of the safety of Inner Tulsa, and Jade means to keep flipping Mother Nature off until old age claims her. With one eye always on the sky, the last thing she needs is a pack of bounty hunters out for her living head. With no idea of why anyone would want her, her wits might keep her free, assuming she can resist the charming lures of Sandro, one of the men out to claim her as his own.

Left with the choice of being the evening snack of a tornado or taking shelter with the bounty hunter, she does what she does best: she lives on the edge.

Striking a bargain with the handsome bounty hunter buys her another day of life, but it also dumps her into the heart of a sinister plot, one meant to enslave the residents of the storm-tossed city—and the others brave and foolish enough to call the Alley home.



Sneak Peek

Friday, May 1, 2043.
Tulsa, Oklahoma.
The Alley.
I’d been in the Alley long enough to understand only one thing mattered when faced with yet another twister: survival. The swarm
of them headed for Tulsa roared, warning all of their impending arrival. The incessant crash of thunder accompanied the lightning,
which struck with such frequency the dark clouds glowed white. I decided to stopped counting after five funnels; one, five, ten—it
didn’t matter how many of them snaked down from the sky. If one of them got a hold of me, I’d just be another corpse strewn over
the Alley. A day didn’t go by when I didn’t cross a new skeleton in the outskirts.
Death was a way of life outside of the safety of Inner Tulsa.
Another twister joined the party, bringing a cascade of hail with it.
Great. Just great. What was one more? Hadn’t Mother Nature figured out she didn’t need to fling everything she had at Tulsa? A
single tornado would’ve done the job just fine.
A few minutes too late to do me any good, the lightning-lit clouds turned a putrid shade of green, a promise that Mother Nature
wasn’t screwing around this time. Green meant go, and if I’d had any sense in my head at all, I wouldn’t have left shelter at sunrise; I
would’ve stayed in hiding until right before work. Everything would’ve been different if I’d just slept in rather than explore the ruins
of Tulsa’s outskirts for salvage.
If I hadn’t been looking for salvage, I wouldn’t have been spotted by the tall, dark, and handsome hot on my heels and determined
to ruin my day if he caught up with me.
The swarm would cause me enough problems, but if the bounty hunter caught me, I’d be in worse shape.
Some choices in life were tough, and I hated myself for even contemplating taking my chances with the bounty hunter. Losing my
freedom for profit could be reversed. Nothing could reverse death.
I flattened my ears, and I lashed my tail back and forth, the rain whipping off it. While I was part fox, I’d adopted more feline
tendencies than canine ones. And I, according the tail and ears I couldn’t banish with any amount of magic, I was definitely a cat
trapped in a partly canine body.
I could shift into a full fox, a secret I held close to my chest. The instant anyone learned the truth, I’d go from a common
annoyance to a desirable. Nobody cared about powerless hybrids.
Everybody wanted full shapeshifters in their bloodlines, and I had trouble enough as it was.
Since six twisters wasn’t enough, the churning clouds spawned two more, and with unerring accuracy, they surged towards the city
in a wall of churning wind, rain, and hail.
Tornado season had come, and it looked like it was going to open with a bang.
I skidded around a corner of a former house, a victim of a twister a few months back when the sky had opted to give us a break for
a change. Shacks had sprouted like persistent little weeds, but I expected none of them would survive the storm. I worried for their
inhabitants, but if they had half a brain, they’d take shelter in a cellar.
If they didn’t, they’d add to the bodies littering the dying suburban streets.
While I had the advantage of knowledge, the bounty hunter had me beat everywhere else, and he snagged the back of my shirt,
yanked hard enough to cut off my breath, and slammed me into the broken brick of the trashed house. “Are you insane?” he
screamed over the wind. “You’re not supposed to run towards tornadoes, you little idiot!”
I blinked, checked where I’d been running, and sure enough, Mother Nature had truly had enough of my shit, opting to dump
another handful of twisters directly into my path. When the twisters converged, probably where we were standing, it’d puree the
neighborhood and leave matchsticks in their wake.
Stuck between a rock, a hard place, and a bounty hunter, I had few options if I wanted to keep my head long enough to figure out
if death beat being picked up by a bounty hunter. Fortunately, the sensible had left the area anticipating the weather to sour, leaving
their storm cellars open for my use—our use, as I wouldn’t leave him behind despite wishing I could ditch him without losing my
Sometimes, I really questioned why I tried to meet society’s standards of being a good person. Being a good person was a pain in
the ass.
As Mother Nature was a bitch on a mission of destruction, the twisters barreled our way. I cursed myself, cursed the hunk of a
bounty hunter making a mess of my morning, and cursed my choice of moving to the Alley in the first place. “There’s a cellar
nearby.” I pointed down the street in the general direction of my favorite bolt hole, which I’d have to abandon once I shared it with
the man out to profit from my head—living head, at least.
The bounty hunters wanting my living head in their possession was looking to be the bright part of my morning.
and the second one:
Yep, the bounty hunter knew exactly who I was, although I would’ve preferred if he’d addressed me as Jade. What sort of bounty
hunter addressed their victim so formally, anyway? If I had to share a cellar with someone out for my head, living or otherwise, I was
of the opinion we needed to be on a first-name basis. “Got a name, or am I going to have to give you one?”
“More leading, less talking,” he ordered. He cast a glance over his shoulder up at the entry for the cellar, which would be a bitch to
escape from after we rode out the storm. “They’re coming.”
I could tell; the ground shook, the wind screamed, and the hail graduated to chunks of ice capable of slamming through someone’s
skull with terrifying ease. I shouldered open the door, grimacing at the creaking wood; I gave it another storm or two before it gave up
the ghost, too.Fortunately for me, the slope on the other side made it hard for water to penetrate the cellar, and the third door was crafted of
good steel. I scrambled up the incline, waiting long enough for the bounty hunter to follow me through. “Close it,” I ordered.
He did as told, and the tunnel fell into darkness. The wood did little to buffer us from the sounds of the storm tearing through the
neighborhood above. I made my way to the crest of the incline by feel, patting until I located the top concrete step. “There’s a set of
concrete steps at the top. If you’re not careful, you’ll crack your forehead in the ceiling and fall. It’s a long way down.”
I already regretted my decision to be a good person, as it would lose me access to the best storm cellar I’d found in Tulsa. I’d have
to search for a new hiding place and hope it was half as secure and safe from the weather.
Then again, I had to get away from my new unwanted friend first, which would be a challenge considering we’d have to share
space until the storm ended.
It could take minutes, hours, or days.
I’d only stashed enough food and water for one person for one week, so if it took days, we’d be in trouble.
The bounty hunter joined me, and I eased down the steps once certain he wouldn’t take a lethal tumble to the steel door below. At
the bottom, I felt around for the hatch wheel, grabbed hold, and turned until the door popped open.
Light spilled into the staircase from the luminescent moss I’d cultivated on the walls, barely bright enough to guide my way to the
crank-powered lamp. I sat on the concrete floor and went to work charging the device. It’d only last for a few hours before I’d have
to charge it again, but it would give me a chance to set up my home away from home.
The bounty hunter entered, closed the steel door, and whistled at my shelter. “I definitely stand corrected. Your file didn’t mention
you have a good cellar. You’re listed as a vagrant.”
I scowled; unless rich, wealthy, or a hell of a lot braver than I was, everyone in the Alley counted as a vagrant. We went where the
storms were least likely to strike, although there were few places left safe from the weather’s fury.
If I’d been thinking, I would’ve taken him an extra block down the road to a shallower cellar, although I had no idea if it’d survive
through an entire swarm of twisters. Sighing, I kept cranking on the lamp. “Who isn’t a vagrant here?” I finally asked, aware of him
waiting for an answer.
“Those who live in Asylum.”
Asylum. The rich, the famous, and the powerful received invitations from its lord and master, Benedict Mansfield. He’d bought the
land rights beneath Tulsa’s city center, digging deep and converting the sandstone and the underlying limestone into habitable space.
I’d given up figuring out how people could live underground long ago; they did, and everyone with a grain of sense and a desire to
survive wanted to live in Asylum.
Hell would freeze over before average folks like me were welcomed down there.



Meet R.J. Blain

RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
When she isn’t playing pretend, she likes to think she’s a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband, and obeys the commands of Tsu Dhi, the great warrior fish.

In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.

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3 Thoughts on “Sneak Peek Wednesday: Outfoxed by R.J. Blain (Giveaway)

  1. hmmm. . . a tornado or a bounty hunter….sounds like she’s in for a wild ride either way. lol
    sherry @ fundinmental

  2. I haven’t read it but it sounds good. I like the cover for this one too.

  3. I’m not going to lie, I looked at the cover of this and had a, ” WTF am I looking at?” moment… I do love my UF but I think I’m on the fence about this one!

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