|Encountering werewolves can be deadly.
Trying to cure them? Murder.
I’m pleased to announce that the third Lycanthropy Files book Blood’s Shadow is on sale now through Friday, August 21 for 99 cents. Here are the buy links:
From Chapter Eight:
I checked through the peephole and saw the last person I expected: Selene.
I opened the door and pulled Selene inside. “Are you crazy? You don’t know who might be out there!”
“What is your problem?” She detached her arm from my grip and narrowed her eyes at the Scotch in my hand. “Are you drinking that straight from the bottle?”
“No, I’m drinking it from a glass like a gentleman,” I said and motioned for her to follow me into the kitchen, thinking it would be best to introduce her to David before he surprised us. But when I got in there, I saw he’d left through the side door. His empty glass sat on the counter beside the letter from my father, and the sound of his car’s engine started and moved away.
“What’s that?” she asked and reached for it.
“Official business,” I told her and picked it up. It barely had any weight to it, and I handled it carefully.
“From when, nineteen hundred?”
“Nineteen forty-three,” I murmured.
She shook her head. “Look, I’m sorry if I’m interrupting something,” she said. “I was driving by and…” She squeezed her eyes shut. “That’s a lie. I looked you up and found you.”
I bit my tongue so I wouldn’t ask if she’d consulted her scarfaced concussion-dealing friend before showing up for a visit. “What can I fix you to drink?”
She opened her eyes, and her open face betrayed her surprise. How had she gotten mixed up with that bloke at the pub? She reeked of innocence, but she was no dummy. “To drink?” she asked.
“The rules of hospitality dictate that if a guest shows up at one’s residence, one should offer some sort of refreshment. Thus, would you like a drink?”
She nodded. “Do you have any wine?”
I gestured to my dual zone wine fridge. “Red or white?”
Soon I had her settled with a glass of Chenin Blanc on the opposite end of the sofa. The similarity to David’s visit from earlier didn’t escape me, but she was nicer to look at.
“So what brings you to Shady Acres?” I asked. “I’m afraid it’s not the Scotland in coffee table books.”
“It’s fine,” she said. “It’s not so different from home except our historical houses are a couple, not several, hundred years old. As for what brings me…” She looked into her glass. “I wanted to know how the investigation into Otis’s death is going.”
“I had official business today, so I wasn’t able to do any investigating, but I will give it my full attention tomorrow. I’m hoping Garou will have his reports ready by then.”
“Are you going to question us? He already did.”
“That depends. Can you add to your statement?”
“Garou implied we were dating,” she said. “But we weren’t. But still, it’s my fault that Otis died.”
That drew my attention away from the curve of her neck and the way one button on her blouse seemed to hang on for dear life over her breasts. “Fill me in here. How does Garou’s implication cause you to be a murderer?”
She blinked, and two fat tears trailed down her cheeks. “Other people thought we were dating, or at least that we were more than friends. Because we were the same age and American, maybe. Lonna even hinted that it wouldn’t be a good idea to cross personal and professional relationships.” She snorted. “Like she’s not married to her co-director.”
“Right. Believe me, we did consider that, but we need both of them. Go on. I’m still not convinced LeConte’s death is your fault.”
“That morning after staffing, he asked me to walk with him to his office. He said he had something to ask me. I was afraid of what he’d say, he looked so hopeful and afraid all at the same time. I said no, I had things I needed to do before your visit. The next time I saw him, he was dead.”
“What do you think he was going to ask you?”
“To go out with him, I guess. I don’t know what else it could have been. But don’t you see? If I’d gone to his office with him, he might not have been killed or he would have had warning that something wasn’t right. You know we hear and smell better than humans do.”
“Or they might have gotten you too,” I reminded her. “Did you go to his office between his request to you that morning and when we found him?”
“I…” She looked down at her now empty wine glass. “I didn’t.”
I knew she was lying, but I didn’t want to confront her and spook my only link to the murder’s witness into running for the States. That she opened up to me even minimally gave me hope she would continue to do so as she came to trust me. “Do you remember anything else unusual about him or his behavior that day?”
“No, only that he was excited about getting the applications. He had a project on the side tracing the family records of known lycanthrope lines, and he was looking forward to putting it all together to see how the subjects’ lines intersected with the ones we know about and to isolate another genetic marker to maybe figure out why Chronic Lycanthropy Syndrome fully expresses in some people but not in others.” She shrugged. “That’s all I can remember.”
“I appreciate your coming to visit me today, but was it really necessary?”
“I needed to talk to you outside the Institute. I don’t feel comfortable there anymore.” She shuddered.
“It’s like I’m being watched.”
I thought about the letter in the kitchen. “I know the feeling.”
She stood, and I did as well. “Thank you for the wine,” she said and held out her glass to me.
“My pleasure.” Our fingertips brushed when she handed the crystal over, and again, I got the image of her as a wolf looking into a pool of water, not unlike where David and I had stopped and been shot at that afternoon.
She looked up at me with a smile she tucked away, and again, I wondered what she’d seen. It was unusual enough for such strong visual images to come through with scent, and for them to do so with touch puzzled me. Was it part of me coming into my full power?
“I should be going,” she said.
I followed her to the front door. “Be careful,” I told her. “You don’t know who or what is out there watching.”
With a quick nod, she walked to her car and went to the passenger side before sighing and going to the driver’s side. She must not have been in the country that long if she was still trying to drive from the wrong side of the car. I hoped she would remember what side of the road to use.
Don’t forget! Eros Element will be released on August 25. Stay tuned for blog tour schedule. If you’d like to join in the release day fun, I will be participating in a chat with Fresh Fiction at 11:30 CT (12:30 EDT) on Twitter. Here’s the link.
From 5:30 to 9:30, I’ll be doing a Facebook party with guest authors. RSVP to join the event here. There will be book giveaways and prizes!