I finished the first draft of Dark Moon Rising last year, but due to life and and Hilda’s Inn, I haven’t finished editing. Silly me, I am re-editing She Called It, Wolf because I noticed that my writing has gotten better by writing. Who knew?
Plus I made a mistake as a new writer. I started a series and only wrote one book. I am hoping to correct that error. In my mind there are three books about the Felony Flats werewolf pack.
Tucked around the novels, I have written some short books in that world–Billy the Kid, Urban Werewolf, and Diamond Butterfly. Hidden in the Sierras is short fiction in the same world, but of a werebear sleuth.
So without further ado, here is an excerpt of Dark Moon Rising:
What the wind blew in
British Columbia, Canada
The pine trees swayed around the cabin as the rushing wind heralded the end of summer. Even in the forests, the heat had beat down on the trees. It had been so dry, that the pine needles crackled underfoot. The usual smell of mold was undercut by the dust that covered everything. They had been lucky this year that there had been no huge fires.
I leaned against the frame of the open door, sipping the bitter coffee in my cup. Sweetness was for others. I liked mine strong and black. When I left Felony Flats a few years ago, I came to this small town surrounded by trees that hadn’t been cut for over a hundred years. I had a small car, a small amount of cash, and an aching heart.
I sipped my coffee, rolling the black taste across her tongue, as the light brightened around the cabin for a moment and then vanished in the clouds. It may rain today.
In my head I listed the things I needed to do today. First I would have to finish picking the last tomatoes. The small amount of corn I had grown had been pilfered by raccoons.
But, I could trade the tomatoes for corn. Someone in the small town would have grown enough corn to feed the entire town for the winter. I’d wait to harvest the last of the potatoes after the first good chill. My small garden would keep me well-fed over the winter.
There were very few jobs in this area that didn’t center on hunting and fishing trips for rich tourists. Some of the locals had gotten inventive and started camera tours. Even though a lot of their customers were the tree-huggers, the guides always took guns with them. You never knew when you would run into a grizzly or some other wild creature that was hungry. During mating season the moose would hump anything. I smiled at the image. Some tree-huggers had learned that the hard way.
I drained my coffee, tasting the last of the bitter dregs. As I tasted the bitterness slid across my tongue, my precog kicked in and I froze. It had been a long time since I had been bothered by the buzzing across my nerves. When I ran to the woods, I did it deliberately. I wanted limited contact with people. The more contact I had, the more murmurings I heard in my head. Sometimes they would develop to full-blown epileptic fits caused by visions. Of course, I had run. Ran from the sounds and visions and the people would would use me to see into the future.
I stumbled to the small couch before I fell as the room swayed around me. I dropped my coffee mug. The sound of breaking ceramic almost jerked me out of the vision as I collapsed on the couch and not the floor.
It started like a migraine. Colors burst and bubbled around my vision and pain of constricting and then contracting veins blasted the top of my head. I heard whimpering coming from my own mouth because the pain was so great.
Then my vision narrowed until I saw a long tunnel. At the very end of the tunnel, she saw a man walking towards her. His body was blurred, but she could see the face clearly. There was no sound with this vision. The man, she didn’t want to put name to that face, said something. He was saying her name over and over.
The vision released me as suddenly as it had started. I was too weak to drag myself to the bathroom, even though I wanted to vomit the coffee that had soured in my stomach. I could hear his voice in the wind as it rustled the trees. The leaves called out to me.
My voice cracked, “He’s coming. Heaven help me. He’s coming.”
I wanted to run to the closet, fill my suitcase with clothes, and leave. I had to be gone before he found me. But my body wouldn’t move.
Little by little, I lifted my head, and slowly moved one arm after another. When I could feel my body again, I stood on my feet. My stomach rumbled. In a daze, I swept the coffee mug into a dustpan, and dropped the broken pieces in the trash. I could try to escape, but she I knew in my gut that he had already found me.
“Too late,” the wind whispered.
“Too late,” my heart echoed.
There was a loud knock on the door. For a moment, I stood frozen. This time, a loud yoo-hoo unlocked my brain. It was the neighbor two miles down the road. He wasn’t here, yet.
I threw open the door and saw Susan was standing on the stoop with a child in her arms. She handed the little one to me. “Mari, could you watch the baby while I go for groceries in Vancouver?” Susan chattered about having a baby and the price of diapers and formula.
“Greg said that if you would take care of her today, we can go to the big store and get the stuff much cheaper. Please?”
I couldn’t say no to Susan. Susan was the neighbor who had helped me find this cabin, taught me how to grow a garden to supplement my food, and even how to survive in the backwoods. This woman, short and bouncy, taught me how to survive bears and elk and other creatures. Plus she had showed me what berries to eat and what not to eat.Susan was the closest thing I had to a friend.
Susan’s hazel eyes pleaded. She didn’t get to have much time alone with Greg since the baby was born. I sighed and bounced the child in my arms. The wind rustled and laughed. “No escape.”
I was too late to leave. If I wanted to leave I should have left in the beginning of summer when I had had that small warning. I had seen a fire in my dreams. But, when nothing happened I decided to stay. I had found my nest—my place. I didn’t want to leave.
“Okay,” I said to Susan. She was all business-like as she showed me the milk and the diapers. Like a new mother she gave me instructions on how to care for the baby even though I had done this before.
Then she was in the truck with Greg and they were gone. The wind had quit whistling and blew lightly. I closed the door. The little girl whimpered once and then fell asleep.
I settled into the small rocking chair on the front stoop. I could smell curdled milk and lotion. My heart slowed down. I rocked the baby until my thoughts were quiet.
Once Greg and Susan were back, there would be time to say goodbye to the woods and the cabin. He was coming and I knew deep in my bones that I was not coming back.
I looked out across the dirt road leading through the woods; the baby snuggled in my arms. As the day progressed the light held more shadows. It was fall. I would miss the change from late fall to early winter and snow. This year I had made enough money to buy a snowmobile so that I could get out after the worst snowstorms. Sometimes the lights of the bar and the small town were a welcome sight after being snowed in for days. I wouldn’t buy a snowmobile now.
I was already missing my cabin and my forest. It was so unlike the desert I had played in as a child. At first when I moved here, I would see people in the periphery of my eyes. When I looked straight at them, I only saw trees. I was used to having the landscape stretch before me, unbroken by trees. Now I felt comforted by the trees as they towered over me.
Some of the trees around my cabin were over four feet in diameter and some were even larger. This summer I had been entranced by the squirrels that floated from tree to tree.
Feeding the squirrels could be hazardous. Some of the smaller mammals got rabies. It was better that I didn’t get the animals familiar with this cabin as a feeding ground. So I watched the squirrels and birds, and I stopped the impulse to feed them.
When the baby started to grumble a little, I stood up and took her into the house. I pulled out a bottle of milk from the fridge, warmed it, and feed the little one. The baby grabbed onto the bottle’s nipple with her mouth and sucked hard until the milk was gone. Then I put the baby over my shoulder. I patted her until she burped. It burst out of her.
“I see you have new skills, Mari,” a male voice said from the screen door on my porch. I knew that voice. He had found me.