Okay, I’m cheating. Sort of. Usually I highlight other people’s books in this feature. But I have a new release today. And it still sort of counts because the new release is Claw, book three in the Gothika series, and it also contains novellas by Eli Easton and Jamie Fessenden.
So this volume has a shifter theme. My story is “Transformation,” and it takes places in Oregon in the 1880s. I’m calling the genre Pioneer Gothic. Here’s a little tease from my tale:
Orris’s legs gave out, and he sank to his knees. He stopped his desperate scrabbling for the gun and simply froze. Even his lungs stopped working.
The animal stepped closer, very slowly. Not as if it were frightened, but rather as if it enjoyed stalking him, the way Cook’s cat liked to play with mice in the pantry. Soon it was near enough that Orris could make out the dim outline of its body. It looked like a large dog, he thought. Heavy, with a thick ruff of fur at its neck. In one large leap, it could be on him.
But it didn’t leap—at least not yet. It stared at him and Orris stared back, and although he could sense little else of the animal, its eyes gave the impression of keen intelligence.
“Imagine when Daniel hears I’ve been eaten by a wild beast,” Orris whispered. “Won’t he be jealous. This beats a whole slew of handsome French garret-mates .”
The animal—was it a coyote?—cocked its head slightly, which brought a burst of hysterical laughter from Orris. “Are you having second thoughts? Maybe a sorry thing like me will give you indigestion. I suppose you’d rather have a nice supper of tender lamb.”
It came a step closer. Orris smelled it: wet fur, pine sap, and something else he couldn’t name. The scent of the wilderness, perhaps.
And then a strange thing happened. Well, stranger. While Orris’s heart still raced, he realized that the terror had fled, and what he was feeling now was… excitement. He was nearly giddy with it, actually, like the first time Daniel had interrupted their studies with a kiss and then dragged Orris willingly to his bedroom.
Why would a man feel excited when he was about to be killed?
Orris had no real answer for that. Maybe the animal could hypnotize its prey with its gaze, or maybe Orris had simply lost his sanity. In any case, he took a deep breath and tilted his head to the side.
“All right, then,” he said.
The animal’s muscles bunched. But just before it leapt, a strident bark burst from the darkness behind it. Orris startled, and the animal yelped with surprise before whirling around.
Good Lord. There were two of them.
The new one was snarling, but as it moved closer to the lantern, its attention seemed focused less on Orris than on the first beast. The new one growled, and the first yipped slightly before hunching its shoulders and dropping its gaze. Without another glance at Orris, the first animal trotted away. But the other one—the new one—it did not yet leave. It looked at Orris, but without menace. And there was something so compelling about it that Orris had to stop himself from crawling forward to meet it.
“You’re beautiful,” Orris rasped. He couldn’t see enough detail to support such an assertion, but there was something about those glowing eyes, the confident set of the large body, that suggested power and… majesty, even.
The animal blinked at him. It stretched its head forward, and Orris thought it would close the space between them. But then it snarled—fast and sharp—before spinning around and bounding away into the blackness.
So now you want to run out and buy the book, right? You won’t be sorry! You can get it at Dreamspinner, Amazon, ARe, or your favorite bookseller. And you can choose between the print version (look at that delicious cover!) or ebook.