My latest book is live at Smashwords. If you have noticed the free sample that is currently out, you may now want to read the complete book 1. I’m so excited that over 500 people have downloaded the sample so I hope you’ll check out the full book 1.
What is Book 1 About?
The Civil War took Sonja Brooks’ husband and left her alone. Unprotected and scared, she runs headlong into a life changing event when she’s attacked by a pack of wolves. Her fate as a werewolf is sealed. When she stumbles upon Ty Loflin, a Rebel solider dying of his wounds, she nurses him back to health. He’s the perfect mate, but will he want her once he knows the truth?
You can download my book one here.
He appeared in the shadows, preventing Sonja from viewing nothing more than his dark outline. Since she’d lived alone after her husband, Robert’s death, she carried a small Derringer in her skirt pocket at all times. With a hand on the gun, she hailed the person.
How rude, she’d mused. Perhaps he didn’t hear her. “Hello, stranger. May I help you?”
Still no reply.
“You’re trespassing on private land. State your business.” Glancing behind her, she started to speak again and lost her voice when suddenly, a hand gripped her. Her snap peas spilled to the ground before the basket followed. Sonja screamed as the stranger grabbed her arms pinning them to her sides. The small gun clattered to the ground. The vermin laughed coarsely in her ear and his breath smelled hideous. His ragged nails tore at her flesh. Frantically, she struggled to get away.
“Be still, girly. Nobody’s going to hear you anyway,” he hissed.
She didn’t intend to obey the stranger. Darkness had fallen suddenly. His eyes glowed red from behind his mask. Sonja fought to see more but to no avail. “Show yourself, you bastard.” She spit at him.
He laughed again, this time the sound was vulgar and callous. “Don’t fret, girly. I’ll make it quick.”
Pain seared her senses as he slapped her across the cheek. Sonja’s breath came in pants. He laid his grimy fingers over her mouth. She gulped down the bile that threatened to spill at his decaying carcass body odor. Swearing she’d never forget the scent, she struggled with more force, but the man’s grip held like iron. His breath tickled her skin. The pain that came next made the world go black.
When she woke, she lay in a pool of blood. The trees above her swayed as if they’d come alive. She raised a hand to shield her eyes from the sunlight before crying out with the pain shooting through her shoulder. Gingerly testing the area, the flesh didn’t hold over her collarbone. Exposed to the open air, the hard marrow didn’t appear damaged. She whimpered though, when her fingers came back with her own skin mingled with clots of dark, crimson blood. Panicked, Sonja jumped up, running blindly.
She woke with a jerk. A sharp pain shot through her whole body, making her cry out. An old woman sat beside her on a cot. With a gnarled but gentle hand, the woman brushed the damp hair from Sonja’s face. Flinching despite herself, Sonja yanked away. The pain sang through her neck and shoulder again.
“There, there, my child. Lie still. The healing will be accomplished if you remain quiet,” the old woman soothed. “My name is Hortence. I’m a witch.” Simply stated, the woman’s words were without inflection.
Sonja’s mouth had gapped before she clamped her lips shut. “You admit to being a witch?”
“Yes, I was born a witch, or rather, born with the gift. As I grew, I learned and developed my skills.” She waved her arms upward and fire leapt from her fingertips. “My craft is real.”
Sonja inched backward. A fleeting glance around and she realized she didn’t recognize her surroundings. “Where am I?” Her voice sounded strange, almost garbled. Sonja searched the old woman’s face. Watching the old hag as she crooned, Sonja tried her best to understand where she was. Small snatches of horrible pain jabbed at her conscious mind. Sonja shut her eyes, wincing as the pain reminded her she’d been injured badly.
“Lie still now,” the old woman said.
Sonja opened her eyes cautiously.
Hortence crooked her head to the side, before peering at Sonja out of one eye. Sonja couldn’t tell if the other eye had been sewn shut or the old woman had a permanent squint.
“Shush, my child. Lie still. Your wounds are many.”
Sonja stared. Who was this old hag with the straggly, gray hair? “Where am I?” she asked again.
“You’re safe, my child. Now, you need to rest.” Gently laying a hand over Sonja’s eyes, the old woman murmured soft soothing words. “Rest, my child, rest.”
Despite her better intentions, Sonja couldn’t hold her eyes open any longer before falling back into sleep with the woman’s simple urging.
When she awoke, the room held darkness. A dreary cold gripped her. Sonja reached up rubbing at her arms. She’d already moved before she remembered her neck. No pain — how amazing, she mused. Perhaps the pain had really been only a dream.
Roughly cut, the rafters above her head hung heavy with cobwebs. Rolling her head to the side, she spied the old woman bent over a pot at the fireplace stirring something that smelled like stew. Sonya’s hunger was acute. She silently hoped the old woman would share. Bending her arms, she took solace in the fact the earlier pain had disappeared. “How did I get here?”
The old woman turned at the question, giving Sonja a broken toothed smile. “I brought you here, my child.” At Sonja’s blank stare, the old woman continued, “Don’t worry, you’re safe. There’s a protection spell around the cabin.” Settling her hands on her hips, the old woman glared at Sonja. “Do you remember anything?”
Sonja rubbed at her temple. “Some,” she mumbled. Everything blurred when she tried to recall the attack. “I wasn’t dreaming? I was really attacked?” She wished for some of the soup in the pot over the fire.
“Oh, to be sure. You are very fortunate that I happened along.” The old woman bent again over the pot to stir. Glancing back, she gave Sonja her broken toothed grin once more. “Don’t fret. I’ll get you something to eat. First, I wanted to hear about the scoundrels who attacked you.” She peered quizzically at Sonja with pursed lips. “Tell me everything you remember.”
Frowning, Sonja tried to sit up. The room spun. She caught her head in her hand before scanning the small space.
The room afforded all the comforts of a modest home. A small kitchen area nestled near the fire while the other side boasted a small seating area. On the opposite wall, the bed anchored the chilly stone expanse. A bench provided enough room for one person. Glancing up, Sonja noted the small window that allowed a sliver of light into the room.
She managed to right herself enough to sit in the middle of the cot and cross her legs. “There’s really not much to tell. Everything’s so blurry.”
The old woman sat across the room at the small table. The old woman ate as she listened. “Go on.”
“Uh, I remember seeing someone in front of me on the path. I’d been down by the creek gathering peas from my garden.”
Eyeing the bowl contemplatively, Sonja pursed her lips. Her stomach growled. Insulted by the old woman’s rude behavior, Sonja shifted on the cot. Her unease heightened when flashbacks of the stranger appeared in her mind’s eye. She reached up to touch the wound at her throat.
“Stop that.” The old woman wagged her spoon at Sonja. “I’ve already told you to leave the healing alone. The process will go faster if you don’t pick at the wound. Now, continue.” She scooped up another spoon full of stew.
Sonja couldn’t help but glower at the old hag. Irritated at the woman’s behavior, but desiring to remember more about the attack, Sonja pushed on. “Let’s see. I remember seeing this man standing in the path, but the shadows prevented me from telling anything about his identity. Darkness fell almost immediately.” Sonja paused. “That seems peculiar, because enough light remained for me to get back to the cottage before he appeared. Strange…” Her forehead wrinkled in bemusement as she considered why the light had left so quickly.
“You’re doing fine. Continue…” The old woman’s tone had softened.
Sonja couldn’t stop the pangs of hunger from coloring her opinion of the old woman’s manners. She’d offered her nothing of substance so far. “I called out, but the stranger wouldn’t answer me. Again, I called out. I smelled something before a set of hands pinned me.”
“Yes, what did you smell?” The old woman’s interest had peaked. She dropped the spoon before placing both hands on her knees. Peering at Sonja from the one eye, she asked, “What did you smell? Think, my child.”
Perplexed at the strangeness of the question, Sonja glanced at the old woman before dropping her eyes to her hands in her lap. Conscious of the woman starring at her, she shifted. All right! She would try. Straining, she tried her best to bring the scene back into her mind. “Yes, I remember a smell…” She wrinkled her nose. “Decay – like rotting meat.” Glancing back at the old woman, she searched her face, which remained blank.
With a heavy sigh, Sonja relayed the rest of the story to the old woman. Finally gaining a bowl of the stew for her trouble, she ate every bite.
“What do you think it all means?” Sonja desperately wanted answers. Instead of answering, the old woman hummed as she merely stirred the pot. Perhaps Sonja should get up and go. Her house remained empty and she had animals to tend. But when she stood, everything spun and she reached back for the cot to anchor her.
Turning, the old woman stared hard at her, making her feel like a child who’d misbehaved. “Didn’t I tell you to rest? Don’t move, do you hear me? Not until that bite is healed.”
“Bite!” Sonja couldn’t help her voice raising an octave. “I was bitten?”
The old woman shot her a one-eyed glare before cackling like a loon. “Bitten? Of course, you’ve been bitten. The damn demons tried to kill you.” She stepped to the bed, shoving gently at Sonja’s shoulders, settling her on the bed once more. “My child, you were bitten by a werewolf.” She shook her head slightly. “The likes of which I didn’t realize existed here. Now you carry the mark of the beast on your palm.” Pointing to Sonja’s hand, she lifted her fingers before turning her hand palm up. “See?”
Looking down, Sonja scowled at the inverted pentagram she found imprinted in her flesh. Without thinking, she rubbed at the mark. Where had the mark come from? She scrubbed at the skin. Surely, the woman was mistaken.
“The mark of the beast can’t be erased,” the old woman said quietly. “Soon you will start to feel the effects of the change.”
Sonja’s eyes grew wide. “Change?”
“Yes, as the earth turns the moon grows closer. During this phase of the cycle, you’ll experience changes.” She patted Sonja’s shoulder.
“What sort of changes?” Sonja asked out of a strangled voice. Aggravated, she shoved the woman’s hand away.
The stew she’d wanted so badly didn’t seem like such a good idea, as she only had time to lean over the edge of the cot before retching. A slow wash of perspiration engulfed her. Moaning, she lay back against the pillow. “Sorry,” she whispered.
The witch clucked her tongue. “Don’t worry, my child.” Waving her hand in the air, the old woman mumbled something. To Sonja’s surprise, the stench evaporated. When Sonja rose up enough to look, the mess had disappeared as well. Slowly her eyes tracked from the floor back to the woman standing in the middle of the small room. Hortence continued to smile.
“What do you want from me?” Sonja asked with a quiver in her voice.
“Nothing, my child. The question is what do you want of your life?”
When Sonja didn’t answer, the old woman sighed and picked up Sonja’s half-eaten bowl of stew before hobbling back to the small kitchen area. “As the moon grows fuller, you will begin to evolve into a creature with great power. Your teeth will grow sharp and your nails will grow long.”
With a shake of her head, Sonja tried to reject the words the woman said. “I don’t believe you. You’re crazy!” Gripping the bed, Sonja swallowed the sickness that threatened once more. She cut a glare at Hortence. “Get away from me, you old hag. I don’t believe in such things. You’re mad!” Turning for the door, she yanked the handle. The light of day greeted her as she raced out. The nausea followed.
Sunshine flitted through a heavy cloak of trees. Maybe she’d reacted too hastily. Glancing over her shoulder, she wished she had a clue as to her whereabouts. The old woman’s cabin sat nestled in the midst of an oak thicket, one unfamiliar to Sonja.
“How do I get home?” Baring her teeth with her fists clinched tightly at her sides, Sonja glared into the watery eye of the old woman standing in the doorway.
Suddenly, the old woman stood right behind her as if she’d materialized. “When you come to the fork in the road, take the path to the right which will lead you home.” With a sweep of her hand she touched Sonja’s cheek. “You carry the gift.” Her brief statement gave Sonja the impression the old woman expected her to understand.
“Yes, you will be the one who leads the Guardian’s followers into the new millennium.”
“You’ve got to be kidding!” With wide eyes full of shock, Sonja stared after the woman. She might be imagining the whole thing. Surely, the woman hadn’t said she would lead anyone anywhere! She had trouble leading the goat out of the barn. “Why are you babbling on about a Guardian and me leading his pack? I don’t understand. Trying for polite, she offered, “Perhaps you’re mistaken. I’m a widow with a small farm I tend myself. I have no plans to change.” Her exasperation showed by the time she finished. “I’m going home now that I’m feeling much better.”
Hortence scanned her face. “You are changed forever, my child. The place you call home cannot hold you anymore.” She smiled with sympathy. “With time, you will learn the ways of the wanderer. His name is Guardian. He brought you to me for training.” When Sonja only blinked in response, Hortence added, “To lead his pack.”
Sonja couldn’t control the laughter. The sound began as amusement but quickly evolved into hysteria. The woman was mad, as mad as the hatter in Alice’s Wonderland. Perhaps the whole thing was as simple as a dream, like Alice’s. She was dreaming so when she awoke, she’d have a lively tale to tell her sister, Brianda. Sonja fisted her hands while pondering what to do. The need to leave made anxiety clog her throat. To panic wouldn’t help the situation, but she wanted to run wildly down the path screaming out her frustrations.
Wrinkling her brow, Sonja cut a dubious look the old woman’s way. “You seem as cool as a cucumber. Why?”
The old witch cocked a gray brow.
Still, she had to admit, something made her feel strange. Her nerve endings were tingling. Her sense of smell seemed heightened. She could even hear the mouse nibbling on a crumb in the opposite corner of the cottage near the fireplace. Trembling set in and she tamped down the urge to simply bolt.
Hortence continued to smile but said nothing.
Irritation mingled with the concern of where she found herself stirred in her gut.
“You will come again.” The smile widened across Hortence’s face before she turned, disappeared, and then reappeared on the threshold of the small hovel. The shutting of the cottage door left Sonja blinking as she stood alone in the dead leaves covering the forest floor.
Sonja swallowed. Gratitude mingled with relief rose up and almost swamped her. Glancing down at the bandage on her upper arm, she blinked. The wrapping was neat, clean, and smelled of disinfectant. Hortence had taken good care of her. “Thank you,” Sonja whispered. Glancing around, she jumped when Hortence’s voice came to her.
“No thanks are necessary. Your visit was an honor for me.” The old woman’s voice came to Sonja, startling her.