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And then they were gone. They vanished like smoke into the timber that flanked my property. I have never felt such a wild yearning in my life. A wish that they would come back? A wish that I might go with them? I didn’t know. I still don’t.
Since that life-changing experience, I’ve run with the wolves on paper. And one of the results has been my Changeling series.
The Peace River region of northern Canada is a unique place where raw wilderness exists side by side with farmers’ fields. And in the quiet rural community of Dunvegan, human beings unknowingly exist side by side with those who are something more than human. They call themselves Changelings, and they have the ability to become wolves at will.
Changelings live as humans – they have jobs and pay bills, go to school and mow the grass. They view their wolfen side as a wonderful gift but it also complicates their lives, sometimes dangerously so. Especially when it comes to relationships...
|2012 RITA Award finalist|
The wolf wanted out.
Heavy clouds obscured the moon and washed the night with icy rain. The cold, damp air brought a myriad of intriguing scents. The man slunk along the sidewalk, his limbs tingling as his body instinctively drew energy from the earth.
The wolf wanted out now.
Full of hunger and rage, the wolf writhed under the man’s skin in anticipation as he turned into a familiar alley behind the town hall. It was dark here, overgrown with trees and bushes, flanked with leaning fences, sagging garages, and numberless garbage cans. There was a spot where no light reached, a perfect spot to—
The wolf snarled its impatience and he cursed back. He was trying to hurry, dammit, but his body refused to cooperate. To human eyes, he was just an old drunk, sixty going on eighty. In reality, he was far older than even those like him could guess. When his wolf wanted out, he could no longer keep it leashed for long. And truth be told, he didn’t want to. Because once he took on his lupine form, all his aches and pains would disappear and he’d be strong and powerful again.
The wolf within whispered: Tonight we will hunt. And become even stronger.
The truck glittered strangely as she approached and her heart sank. Thick glass-like sheets of ice coated every surface, sealing the doors. Near-frozen herself, she pounded on the lock with the side of her fist until the ice broke away and she could get her key in. “Come on, dammit, come on!”
Of course, the key refused to turn, while the cold both numbed and hurt her gloveless fingers. She tried the passenger door lock without success then walked gingerly around to the rear cargo door. No luck there either. She’d have to call up a tow –
Except that her cell phone was on the front seat of her truck.
Certain that things couldn’t get any worse, she tested each door again. Maybe one of the locks would loosen up if she kept trying. If not, she’d probably have to walk all the way home, and wasn’t that a cheery prospect?
Suddenly a furtive movement teased at her peripheral vision. Zoey straightened slowly and studied her surroundings. There wasn’t much to see. The streetlights were very far apart, just glowing pools of pale gold that punctuated the darkness rather than alleviating it. Few downtown businesses bothered to leave lights on overnight. The whispery hiss of the freezing rain was all that she could hear.
A normal person would simply chalk it up to imagination – but she’d been forced to toss normal out the window at an early age. Her mother, aunts and grandmother were all powerful psychics – and the gene had been passed down to Zoey. Or at least a watered-down version of it. The talent was reliable enough when it worked, but it seemed to come and go as it pleased. Like right now. Zoey tried hard to focus yet sensed absolutely nothing. It was her own fault perhaps for trying to rid herself of the inconvenient ability.
No extrasensory power was needed, however, to see something large and black glide silently from one shadow to another near the building she’d just left. What the hell was that? There was nowhere to go for help. Only the two bars would still be open but they were several blocks away, as was the RCMP detachment. There was a rundown trailer park a block and a half from the far side of the arena, but Zoey knew there were no streetlights anywhere along that route.
A dog? Maybe it’s just a big dog, she thought. A really big dog or a runaway cow. After all, this was a rural community. And a northern rural community at that, so maybe it was just a local moose, ha, ha…. She struggled to keep her fear at bay and redoubled her efforts on the door locks, all the while straining to listen over the sound of her own harsh breathing.
The rear door lock was just beginning to show promise when a low, rumbling growl caused her to drop her keys. She spun to see a monstrous shape emerge from the shadows, stiff-legged and head lowered. A wolf? It was bigger than any damn wolf had a right to be. Jesus. Some primal instinct warned her not to run and not to scream, that the animal would be on her instantly if she did so.
She backed away slowly, trying not to slip, trying to put the truck between herself and the creature. Its eyes glowed green like something out of a horror flick, but this was no movie. Snarling black lips were pulled back to expose gleaming ivory teeth. The grizzled gray fur around its neck was bristling. Zoey was minutely aware that the hair on the back of her own neck was standing on end. Her breath came in short shuddering gasps as she blindly felt for the truck behind her with her hands, sliding her feet carefully without lifting them from the pavement.
She made it around the corner of the Bronco. As soon as she was out of the wolf’s line of sight, she turned and half skated, half ran for the front of the truck as fast as the glassy pavement would allow. Don’t fall, don’t fall! It was a litany in her brain as she scrambled up the slippery front bumper onto the icy hood. With no hope of outrunning the creature and no safe place in sight, the roof of the truck seemed like her best bet – if she could make it. Don’t fall, don’t fall! Flailing for a handhold, she seized an ice-crusted windshield wiper, only to have the metal frame snap off in her hand.
She screamed as she slid back a few inches.
Published by Kensington Books, New York, Changeling Moon is available on Amazon (USA), Amazon (Canada), and Amazon (UK). You can also find it on Barnes and Noble, Indigo, and Book Depository