If there is one thing I’ve learned in the past two, maybe three years of writing is that you’ll always be rewriting. And rewriting! This is where I’m at with Polar Shift. I had three chapters done, even posted them here. But rereading those chapters as a whole I find I’m not happy with them. I love them, just not for this book. They were angsty, way darker then I wanted, and just not the direction I wanted to take the story.
Santa Baby was lighter and I want to keep the series that way. So… I rewrote chapter one one day last week. I hauled my butt, my new tablet, and Polar Shift off to our new local Starbucks and knocked most of the rewrite in just under 3 hours. I’ve done some light editing and now I’m going to post the new and (I hope) improved chapter one!
Sig Olson sat at a small table in the corner of Rudy’s Diner, his back to the wall, nursing a large, frosted bottle. He idly scanned the door as people arrived and left. He noticed everything that was going on around him in the diner.
To anyone watching him, he’d just look like a guy having a beer on a wintry evening after work. They’d be mistaken. Sig’s position as commander of security for North Pole, Incorporated, and by extension the town of Mistletoe, North Pole, meant a part of him was constantly vigilant.
He needed to be. With everything that had happened over the last few weeks and now the man behind the violence never making it to the Paranormal Correctional compound in Alaska. The airplane that had retrieved the man responsible had disappeared in an epic snow storm on Christmas Eve. Sig had been notified via email to be exercise cation until a PCC team could locate the crash scene and report back.
Sig lifted the bottle into the air, catching the eye of the tall, buxom blond waitress making the rounds with a coffee pot. She nodded her head at him before filling the mugs on the table she was standing next to. A pair of tight jeans and soft gray t-shirt hugged every curve of her body as she headed to Sig’s table. She could turn the heads of every man in the room. No one watched her as she worked the tables, knowing that Rudy would hand any man his head on a platter if they came on to her in any manner.
“Hey, Sig.” Kandy stopped next to the table and sit the coffee pot on it. “Need another brew?” She nodded her head to the nearly empty bottle in his hand. “Or something to eat?”
“Kandy.” He lifted the bottle to his mouth and drained it before smiling at her. “How’s Rudy doing?” Kandy’s mate, Rudy, had been attacked and injured a few days before Christmas Eve by Jackson Frost. The psychopath’s family had carried a long festering resentment against the Kringle family over the generations. In an attempt lure Christian Kringle to a deserted toy shop to kill him, Frost had kidnapped Christian’s new mate. Kandy’s smile wavered as she remembered and he saw pain flash through her eyes.
Kandy was silent for a few moments. “He’s fine. We’re both fine.” Sig had his doubts they were both fine but he didn’t comment. Rudy was a tough as nails ex SEAL who happened to be a reindeer shifter. He seen and done a lot over the years, so Sig wasn’t surprised to hear he was doing OK. But Kandy, she was human and it was tougher for her to put Rudy’s nearly dying and her best friend’s kidnapping behind her. “So,” Kandy’s smile had returned, maybe not as bright as it been before. “What can I bring you, Sig?”
“Ribeye, rare.” Sig didn’t need to see the menu to know what he wanted. “Baked potato, butter and sour cream on the side, and a large salad, no dressing.” He waited as she wrote it on her pad. “And another ale, please.”
“Sure thing,” Kandy looked at him. “Another Alaskan Winter? Or are you feeling… adventurous… tonight, big guy?” She grinned at him. Sig’s eyes narrowed in mock suspicion.
“Are flirting with me, Kandy?” He asked. He leaned closer to her. “Just what kind of adventure did you have in mind?” His voice was low and amused. Kandy turned a nice shade of pale pink but before she could speak, a booming voice bellowed from the kitchen. Even through he kept his voice low, he knew Rudy could hear him. Shifter hearing was beyond excellent.
“No flirting with my woman, Sig!” Sig looked over to the pass through behind the bar. Rudy was glowering at him and Kandy, a huge metal spoon clutched in one hand. Sig grinned as he fisted one hand, his middle finger offering Rudy a one finger salute. The place had grown quit, watching and listening to the exchange.
Both Kandy and Sig spoke at the same time.
“Can’t help it if she’d rather have an adventure with me then with you, old man.”
“Oh my god! Will you two stop it!” She was laughing now and within moments both Sig and Rudy were grinning. Soon laughter and chuckles filled the diner as people returned to what they had been doing.
“So, I’ll ask again,” Kandy challenged, “Feeling adventurous?”
Sig leaned back in his chair again and nodded. “Sure, what do you have?”
“A brand new dark ale, brewed just for the diner.” She eyed Sig. “Tomas has been dabbling in home brewing and came up one just for us. He’s called it Rudy’s Mistletoe Ale.”
“What’s it taste like?” Tomas was one NPI’s List Keepers. He’d been attacked the week before Christmas while transferring the Naughty and Nice lists to digital. Both lists had been stolen in a try to derail Christmas. Like all the paranormals attacked that week, he made a rapid recovery. Sig hadn’t known he was into home brewing through.
“It’s nutty with hints of candy cane and sugar plum.” Sig grimaced, it sounded cavity inducing. “Don’t look like that, Sig” Kandy swatted his shoulder with her order pad. “It’s not so sweet you can’t drink it. Like I said, it’s more nutty than sweet.” She peered at him expectantly.
“OK, OK,” he responded. “I’ll try one. But only for you, sweetheart.” He winked at her when a growl rumbled from the kitchen.
Kandy rolled her eyes before she turned on her heel and walked to the kitchen pass through, slapping Sig’s order onto the counter between the kitchen and the bar. Rudy looked up from the grill and made kissing noises in her direction. She sighed softly and did the same to him. He offered her cocky grin as he reached out one long arm and plucked the order up.
“Love you, babe.” He mouthed and she melted. This huge man owned her heart and it sent shivers of fear through her at the memory of how close she’d come to losing him.
“Love you always.” She murmured back before pulling up a bottle of Rudy’s Mistletoe Ale from the cooler and taking it back to Sig.
Sig looked at the bottle of dark, reddish ale that Kandy sit it in front of him. There was a picture of the diner on the label, with a reindeer paw print stamp in one corner. With a sigh, he picked it up and took a small sip. His eyes widened in astonishment. A full but delicate nutty flavor burst over his tongue, accompanied by minor notes of peppermint and sugar plum. “Damn,” he murmured. “Shit’s good.” He tilted the bottle up again and took a deeper drink.
It seemed that in no time, Kandy returned with his meal. She placed a wooden platter in front of him with a sizzling plate on it. The aroma of perfectly seared steak wafted around his head and his mouth started to water. Next to it was a huge, steaming potato with butter and sour cream in small ceramic tubs and a big green salad. Being a big guy, and a polar bear, he could pack away enormous volumes of food. Tonight, he’d gone for a lighter dinner. Another bottle of ale appeared in front of him.
“Enjoy, Sig,” She smiled at him. “Let me know if you need anything else.” She strolled away and Sig picked up his knife and fork.
About half through his meal, the front door opened and a burst of freezing air swirled into the diner. He peered up from his plate and stiffened. The figure that entered pushed back the hood of her parka and dragged her ear muffs off, before removing her gloves. Sig’s eyes followed her hands as long, elegant fingers tugged her parka’s zipper down. So focused on the woman’s movements, his meal was forgotten. He stared as she slipped out of it up and hung it on a peg by the door before, with a smile, she waved at Kandy.
That smile had Sig’s inner polar bear roaring in his head, wanting out. Sig pushed hard at his bear, driving the animal back. He recognized what his bear wanted, he wanted the woman now walking toward the diner’s bar.
“Fuck,” He cursed under his breath. “Holly…” His bear grumbled when he said her name. She was the last person he needed to see right now.
Doctor Holly Rowen. Head of North Pole Inc. medical center and his mate. The mate that had his bear prowling and growling inside of him now.
The mate he’d left behind in the dry, gritty sands of Afghanistan.