Wild and Free

By: Kristen Ashley

Author’s Note

The US of A is gloriously vibrant with color and culture and for those of you who read my novels you know I like to reflect that in my work.

With Wild and Free, when Abel came to me, he had a Chinese (which became a Chinese-American) family.

As I don’t know how to speak any Chinese dialect, because of Abel’s family, I got to go on a voyage of discovery. As a wordsmith, it was an exciting one. But in trying to find Mandarin words for the expressions I needed, doing this flying blind, it ended as a frustrating one.

You see, with Mandarin (as with all languages so it shouldn’t have been a surprise) there isn’t exactly an agreement on what name is a name for a boy, or a girl, or a surname, or a first name. There also isn’t agreement as to what endearments are appropriate say, between friends, family or lovers.

In researching this (and researching it and then some and more), I knew I would not find the answers on the Internet. I had to find a real-life source. I asked for that source on my Facebook page and got the usual swift and generous offers of assistance. We polled several folks who offered to help about the Chinese names and Mandarin endearments I used in this book and—get this—not a single person agreed with how I’d used the endearments!

I love this. I love how dynamic and pliable language is. I also love that it proved I wasn’t entirely an idiot while doing my research (since I found the same on my own). Not to mention, it isn’t like I haven’t seen this before (for instance, those who did not get my hero calling his heroine “buddy” in At Peace and the same with “mama” in Lady Luck).

So I decided to let the endearments stay as they are. For those in the know, they might not agree with how I’ve used them. I just rest in the knowledge that others will.

And for those who don’t know any Mandarin and thus may not understand the words, I’ll give you my decidedly inexpert translations here:

Qīn ài de: dear/my dear

Tian xin: good and beautiful

Bao bei: treasured/precious (used in English terms of the endearment “baby”)

A big thank you to the folks who offered to help and gave their assistance.

Now I hope you go forth and enjoy Abel, his brothers Xun, Wei and Chen, his daughter/sister/mother, Jian-Li and the rest of the humans, vampires and werewolves in Wild and Free.




Oh my God, they were hunting me.

Hunting me!

I ran, my breath ragged, a stitch cutting agony through my side as I heard them getting closer. Closer.


Too fast.

I was a girl and maybe not Jackie Joyner-Kersee, but I wasn’t out of shape. They’d gain but not that fast.

No way.

That didn’t mean they weren’t gaining that fast.

They were.

And I was terrified.

I turned into an alley, hoping in the darkness to lose them, and ran with everything I had left.

Straight to a dead end.

“Shit,” I breathed, panting, turning, feeling them closing in on me.

Then there they were, on me as in on me. In the blink of an eye I was on my back, one of them pinning my body down with his on mine, one holding my arms down over my head, one holding my legs at my ankles while, I stared to the side in disbelief, two humongous, terrifying dogs circled, snarling and snapping their sharp, alarming teeth in my direction.

“Rip her throat out and have done with it,” a voice coming from over my head bit out, and my attention went back to the enormous man who was lying full on top of me, pressing the breath out of me, and staring down at me in a way I did…not…like.

I tried to struggle, but the hands at my wrists and ankles held so strong, it was preternatural how strong they were. I wasn’t pinned. I was completely immobilized.

“In a minute,” he grunted, his eyes not leaving mine. “Christ, smell her. Divine. Fuck me, absolutely fucking divine.” His face changed to a look I liked even less and he finished, “First I’m going to feed.”

He was going to feed?

Oh man. What did that mean?

I didn’t know. What I knew was, it was not good.

“Are you insane?” a voice coming from my feet asked like he thought the dude holding me was, indeed, insane. In fact, very insane. At the same time, ugly-scary growls came from both of the dogs.

It seemed to me these were warnings, but the guy on top of me was apparently insane because he ignored the warnings of the huge, vicious, snarling dogs. His head dipped toward me, slanted, then his mouth was at my neck.

Oh shit. Oh shit!

This was definitely not good.

I belatedly opened my mouth to scream.

Not that first sound came out because suddenly I wasn’t immobilized. Nothing was on me, nothing holding me down.

I still didn’t move.

This was because something I couldn’t see, and not only because it was dark, but because it was happening so…damned…fast, was whirling around me.

I would know what that was when sickening, warm gushes of blood spurted across my chest and neck about a half a second before I saw a canine head (with no body, mind) roll across the asphalt in front of me. More blood splashed the pavement beside me in a hideous surge and I heard the heinous noises of body after lifeless body thudding to the ground.

Then I was up, my own body swinging like it was flying through the air, but I felt hands on me. A breeze was blowing through my hair, I was moving so fast, and then my back slammed against the brick wall of the building at the side of the alley.

I blinked, not feeling the wall at my back but the intense hard-muscled warmth of a body pressed to my front and before my eyes. A man.

A shock of black hair.

An intriguingly tilted set of eyes, the hue I couldn’t make out in the dark, but shockingly, I could see one was a color that was light, the other a color that was definitely dark.

Strong jutting jaw, sharp cheekbones, heavy brow.

The slash of an angry scar that went across his forehead, through his left eyebrow, disconnected then rejoined on his cheekbone to slide all the way down his face, curling around his jaw and disappearing.

I panted in his blood-stained face.

He stared, intense and frightening, into mine, his gaze, honest to God, like a touch.

I stopped panting because I stopped breathing.

His face came closer and my stomach clenched, my muscles tensed near to snapping, my chest burned, but his head veered and he touched his temple to mine, slid it back, rubbing it through my hair.

I sucked in breath only to hold it again when his hands left my armpits. One traveled down my side and then curved to become an arm around my back, holding me so strong, I was plastered to his front. The other went up, over my shoulder and in to curl tight and freakishly warm around the side of my neck.

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