I guess that shouldn't really surprise me as much as it does, given that the hero and heroine are both involved with education. But it still does.
It's also a very spooky book. A lot of the action takes place at night or in the woods (or in the woods at night). Here's a brief excerpt.
For most people, night spreads a cloak of silence and mystery upon the natural world. If we dare to venture outside after dusk, we hear little and see less. At night, this world we think we own does not feel quite so much like home. We may sense that there is an abundance of life here, we may even feel ourselves drawn to it at times, but it is a life that is always slightly beyond our ken. We are alien to it.
With every minute we stay within the shadowed borders of the land of night, the uneasy conviction grows stronger. We are not alone. We are being watched. We are being...hunted.
To Chay Johnson, however, the night was no more mysterious or frightening than the day. And, like the day, it was filled with myriad sounds and signals. He was aware of everything around him. From the cautious scurry of a squirrel seeking its dinner amid the fallen cones at the base of the Douglas fir, to the fell swoop of the silent owl, that brought the rodent’s searching to an end.
Over the course of many years, Chay had learned how to blend into his environment. To make himself one with the forest, one with the night. To become invisible to all but the most alert. There were no other people in the woods tonight to observe him, but, if there had been, his passage would have been no more than a faint rustle on the edge of their hearing, a flicker of shadows, dark on dark, beneath the trees.
Chay was as much at home in the wilderness as he was anywhere else. And that, he thought, as he made his quiet way down from the foothills of Mt. Totawka, through the woodlands and parks that surrounded the small town of Oberon, was precisely the problem.
He was the product of too many cultures, too many traditions, too much training. His grandfather was a straight-up Bahamian Shaman; his grandmother had been Metista––half Mexican, half Apache, with a little Dine` thrown in for good measure. But it was his mother’s family, with its ties to the Comanche, Chumash and Lakota nations, that had really complicated the mix.
In his need to honor all his roots, Chay often wondered if he hadn’t taken too many steps down too many paths. And spent entirely too many years on his own in the process. He was comfortable and competent in a wide variety of environments––natural, and otherwise––but, he didn’t feel truly at home in any of them. Not even in the isolated little woodland cabin where he kept most of his things, and where he was currently spending most of his nights.
As he crossed Alder creek, and prepared to exit the park, his pace shifted automatically into the stealth walk he’d adopted many years ago for passing unseen, and unheard, within the more urban environment of the town itself; into the gait most useful for stalking humans.
Not that he was stalking anyone tonight, but old habits died hard. For years he’d walked these streets, following after his sister Chenoa and her friends, after his aunt Camille, after anyone his grandfather had designated as part of their tribe. It was an exercise that had served several purposes. First, of course, it helped insure their safety. Something his aunt, with her militant stance on any number of topics had occasionally needed even more than the girls. He’d trained himself to anticipate threats and move swiftly to neutralize them. He’d taken pride in his role as family warrior, even if it was, at times, a lonely one.
Secondly, it helped hone his skills. If he could successfully stalk those he knew, people with reason to suspect his presence, and yet remain undetected by them, he would be able to stalk anyone.
But, it was the third reason that most interested his grandfather. You can learn a lot through observation; by keeping your mouth closed and your eyes and ears open. You can gain all sorts of insight that way. And, over the course of the last ten years, there was a whole lot Chay had learned––about human nature in general, and his family in particular.
A wealth of personal information had been revealed to him. Secrets that the individual members of his tribe believed they alone were privy to, he had discovered. Some he had kept to himself, but most of what he learned he shared with his grandfather.
Not that his grandfather didn’t have his own methods of gathering information. Paco’s methods might have little to do with ordinary reality, but they were no less accurate for that. Chay had great respect for his grandfather’s ability to perceive things that existed beyond the physical realm. But, all the same, he was well aware that at least part of Paco’s reputation for uncanny perception was based on information that his grandson had provided him.
Things had changed in the last two years, however. Chay had moved out on his own, and no longer ran patrols on a regular basis. Many in their tribe had moved on or moved away or, in the case of Chenoa and some of her friends, they had grown up and gotten a little more sense. Not that Chay would ever tell Chen that, of course. His little sister didn’t need to be getting a swelled head.
Perhaps the biggest change that occurred, though, was that Chay no longer shared everything he learned with his grandfather. It was partly from a desire to keep his own counsel, to make his own path, his own decisions, without being influenced by his grandfather’s opinions. And it was partly from knowing his grandfather would not always approve the choices he made. Last but not least, it was partly the result of his work with Bobcat.
A little over a year ago, Chay had helped to reintroduce an injured bobcat to the wild. There is often more than one meaning to everything we experience, and, as Chay had long since learned to appreciate, whenever a particular animal appeared in his life it was significant. Bobcat had become an important totem for Chay over the past year. It had taught him many things. Bobcat medicine has to do with mystery, with the keeping of secrets, and the search for a mate.
It was the last which had brought him downtown tonight.
He was twenty-seven years old, long past the age when many people settle down, and he was alone. Again, it was partly the result of the choices he’d made. He wasn’t altogether certain that the path he’d chosen to walk was wide enough for two. The life of a shaman was often a solitary one. He had no one to come home to, and he might never have, because, as he’d already realized earlier tonight, he might never have a real home.
That thought kept him company as he made his way through the quiet streets of Oberon. But, when he reached his destination, he let it go. What did it matter? He wasn’t looking to find his life partner tonight. The restlessness that had brought him here was of a far more transitory nature.
Maybe, if he were already a shaman, if he were already a holy man whose life was dedicated to Spirit, he would be content to wait, to conserve his energy, to sublimate his sexual impulses until the proper time and place. Until the proper woman appeared. But, however worthy such a path might be, he couldn’t walk it. He guessed he just wasn’t that evolved yet.
Chay wasn’t looking for love everlasting tonight. He was simply looking to get laid.
Visions Before Midnight can be purchased on its own at Amazon or Barnes & Noble or as part of the Happily Ever After in Oberon boxed set.
Happily Ever After in Oberon: Boxed Set #3
Mystical forces are once again at work in Oberon, the quirky small town set amid the beaches, wineries and forests of California’s Central Coast. Evil has come home to roost, an evil that threatens everyone’s happy endings and that brings with it a darkness that only love can dispel.
The exciting Oberon series concludes in Happily Ever After in Oberon, a collection that contains books seven through nine. Once again these are full-length novels in whose pages you will re-visit many of the characters you’ve previously met. Unlike the first two collections, however, a familiarity with those earlier books is recommended.
Book Seven: Visions Before Midnight
When the veil between the worlds is at its thinnest, something wicked haunts the hills around Oberon.
Chay Johnson is a traditional man; and the educator, flute maker, apprentice shaman has a lot of traditions to uphold, especially when it comes to choosing a life mate. Erin Allridge is a modern woman, with modern ideas about relationships and a painful personal history she has no intention of repeating.
When terror and tragedy strike the small town of Oberon, Chay and Erin find themselves faced with painful choices. If they can’t put aside their personal differences and re-think their visions for the future, they could lose everything they hold dear.
Book Eight: Dream Under the Hill
The Spring Equinox falls in the month that nearly all Native Traditions recognize as being one of Big Winds—big changes. And big changes have certainly come to Oberon this spring, along with an ancient evil that must finally be laid to rest.
Cara Matthews is a girl with a troubled past and a very troubling present. The teenage girlfriend of Oberon's newest guru has always looked for love in all the worst places and it just doesn't get much worse than the Church of Truth, Light and Vision.
Former cop Liam McKnight could have told her that, but having finally infiltrated the cult in hopes of discovering some clue to the whereabouts of his missing family members, Liam’s not about to jeopardize his mission for anything—not even love.
In a month marked by birth, death and marriage, the inhabitants of Oberon must all come to terms with what's really important to each of them—important enough to die for. Only one thing is certain; when the winds of change finally stop blowing nothing, and no one, will be the same.
Book Nine: And Shadows Have Their Ending
The last two years have not been kind to Seth Cavanaugh. But Oberon’s former “golden boy” has suffered and grown and finally feels ready to put his troubled past behind him. So, doesn't it just figure that the girl who caused all the trouble in the first place should pick now to return?
Deirdre Delaney Shelton-Cooper has spent the past two years trying to forget the events that marked her first visit to Oberon, but can you ever really forget the memory of your first love, no matter how painful those memories are? It's just her luck the boy she put herself through hell for has turned out to be such a loser.
After a disastrous reunion, they'd both be content to have nothing more to do with each other. But when a murderer targets Deirdre, Seth’s the only one she can turn to for help. Now the pair must determine how much they’re willing to risk for a love they’d all but given up on.