Being unique isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be.
The Lycanthropy Files, Book 2
By day, Lonna Marconi’s busy career keeps her mind off the fact she was turned werewolf against her will. By night, a dose of wolfsbane lets her inner wolf out to play while her physical body stays safe at home.
When an overheard phone call at work warns her a trap is about to be sprung, she turns from hunter to hunted in the blink of an eye.
She finds refuge with the Ozarks pack she never claimed as her own. Upon discovering a family secret that explains why she’s unique among her own kind, Lonna finds heat in the arms of Max, who’s the one thing she cannot trust—a wizard.
Another kidnapping attempt sends her navigating the treacherous metaphysical borders of a centuries-old war, pursued by rogue sorcerers, a band of ghostly wolves, and repressed memories that prevent her from reclaiming her heritage. All the while, trusting her back to a wizard who demands the price of her heart…and who may not have the luxury of giving his in return.
Warning: Some sexy scenes, adult language, and alcohol consumption. Also descriptions of Italian food that might offend carbophobes.
Spoiler alert: if you haven’t read The Mountain’s Shadow, the content below contains spoilers.
The sounds of the night chorused in my ears, and I panicked, sure I’d lost it. Then I smelled a fire and heard human breathing. I snuck closer until flickering light cast strange shadows in the trees and on me.
It stopped and made a campfire? This didn’t compute with either the wolf or the human parts of my brain.
“It did,” an unfamiliar voice said in my brain.
I growled, then, careful to keep any thoughts of my two companions out of my mind, but I was too late.
“They’re safe. They’re not after them, only you.”
“Your pronouns confuse me, sir. Who are they? Who are you?”
“And who are you?” The mental tone held amusement. “Come here in the circle of my fire and change so you’re out of their reach.”
“I’ll be naked.”
“I have clothes for you.”
I slunk closer until I could see the speaker. It was a man who sat close to a fire. The flames gleamed in the blond highlights in his reddish brown hair, and I recognized him from the doctor’s office. Now he wore slightly tinted lenses, and I could barely see his eyes behind their smoky panes.
He stood and bowed in my direction. “Maximilian Fortuna at your service. Call me Max.”
“Son of a bitch… Sorry.”
He laughed, the lines around his sea-blue eyes crinkling. “Not to worry, milady. I’ll forgive your harsh language due to my having surprised you so rudely. Won’t you come have a bite?” He gestured to two rabbits on the ground. “I can roast them if you’d prefer.”
“No!” my inner wolf cried as my human side said, “Yes.”
“You seem to have some conflict,” he observed, speaking out loud but quietly. His lilting accent came into his physical voice more than his mental one. “You seem to not know who or what you are.”
At that point, my nose was twitching from the scent of the blood on the ground. He took one of the rabbits, skinned it with expert motions, and placed it over the fire on a simple spit made of three sticks. The fat sizzled as it hit the coals. He put the other rabbit, skin still on, beside the fire and stepped back. I lunged for it, but I pulled back just before biting it, my jaws snapping at air.
“Food, food, FOOD!” my inner wolf wailed, then piteously, “I’m hungry.”
“Down,” I commanded her. Wary of weapons, I watched him. He fanned the smoke from the cooking rabbit toward me, and I inhaled, my mouth watering. Everything smelled more intensely when I was in wolf form. A whine escaped my throat.
“You are still very much of two minds,” he observed. “Very interesting.” His eyes flashed yellow in the firelight, and I drew back, growling. Then I remembered something important: I was in the form of one of the most powerful predators on the planet, and he was unarmed and human, as far as I could tell. I snarled and stepped closer.
“Why are you playing with me? Why did you follow me?”
He held his hands in front of him. “I am unarmed. Do no harm to me, and none shall come to you.”
“Answer my questions.” I stopped my advance but continued to growl low in my throat.
“Stop making all that noise. Do you want us to be discovered?”
“Says the guy who built a fire in the middle of the freaking woods.” I forced my throat to stay silent, but I kept my teeth bared. “I’m giving you one more chance to answer my questions, or I’m giving my wolf self full permission to rip your head off.”
“There is no danger of discovery from the light in this circle, which was here long before your Crystal Pines subdivision and even before the little village known as Piney Mountain,” he said so quietly I doubt I would have been able to hear him if I’d been human. “I can harness the power of the woods without losing too much of my own, but sound is not my realm, so I am unable to manipulate it.”
Indeed, he seemed to gather the firelight around him, and the trees around the circle were invisible even to my wolf’s sharp eyes. I remembered how the lights had popped and sparked with him—or was it him?—near. The rabbit on the spit sent sizzling drippings into the fire again, and I jumped.
“Look, I have a robe if you would like to change. I promise I won’t peek.”
“Why would I give up my only advantage?”
“Trust me, Ms. Marconi, that’s not your only advantage.” He gave me a look that said he was aware of my human form and its assets.
“That doesn’t make me feel better. Again answers or throat ripping and evisceration. I’m keeping it simple for you.”
“I’ve been assigned to watch you because you’re in danger.” He sat cross-legged so we were eye to eye, a very vulnerable position for him since he wouldn’t be able to get up quickly and run, and I was in easy lunging distance of his assets. “You can trust me because I’m trying to protect you.”
I snorted, but my instincts told me he spoke the truth. However, I wasn’t sure how much I could trust myself. “Why should I believe you? We were shot at!”
“Yes, I’m aware of that. It’s why I decided to show myself to you. My orders were to follow at a distance and observe.”
If I’d been in human form, I would have asked more questions, but as a wolf, I sat back to consider his words. This close to him with the flames flickering over the planes of his face and his glasses, I couldn’t help but notice again he was a good-looking guy. I also smelled the meaty, bloody aroma of the two rabbits, one raw and the other cooking. Part of me wanted to change to human so I could enjoy it and maybe him as well, although my wolf side wouldn’t turn cooked food down.
“Focus, Lonna,” I told myself. There were too many distractions for my wolf’s brain to handle, but I was reluctant to change into my human form.
Another gunshot split the night’s silence, and Max jumped to his feet with startling agility. The fire extinguished itself, and my eyes adjusted to the darkness and the trees…
Max seemed to wrap the darkness around him. I would say it was like a cloak, but it was more like he blended in as a part of the scenery, more camouflage than cover, which was impressive considering his skin—although tanned—was still paler than the background of the rest of the woods. We listened for others, but there was nothing, not even the soft footfalls over wet leaves one would expect of humans.
Cecilia Dominic wrote her first story when she was two years old and has always had a much more interesting life inside her head than outside of it. She became a clinical psychologist because she’s fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn’t stop writing fiction. The first draft of her dissertation, while not fiction, was still criticized by her major professor for being written in too entertaining a style. She made it through graduate school and got her PhD, started her own practice, and by day, she helps people cure their insomnia without using medication. By night, she blogs about wine and writes fiction she hopes will keep her readers turning the pages all night. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, so she writes and blogs under a pen name. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats, which, she’s been told, is a good number of each.
You can find her at:
- Web page: www.ceciliadominic.com
- Wine blog: www.randomoenophile.com
- Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/CeciliaDominicAuthor
- Twitter: @RandomOenophile
- Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/ceciliadominic/
- Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/author/cecilia_dominic
- From Samhain Publishing (all ebook formats available): http://store.samhainpublishing.com/long-shadows-p-73287.html
- From Amazon: http://amzn.to/1ht14Tf
- From Barnes & Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/long-shadows-cecilia-dominic/1117685729?ean=9781619220140
Also available anywhere else ebooks are sold.
To read the first chapter, visit: http://www.ceciliadominic.blogspot.com/2014/02/long-shadows-excerpt.html