The Lycanthropy Files, Book Two
This time, being true to myself could be a deadly mistake.
I like to solve problems. The hard kind. A social worker by day, P.I. in my “spare time,” I’ve even figured out how to handle my little “werewolf problem.” After a dose of wolfsbane, my physical body stays safe in bed while my wolf goes spirit walking. If only she didn’t have a mind of her own…
After I overhear my sleazy boss plotting to turn my office into a trap, my instincts tell me to run. But not only do my problems stick like a bur in my fur, I find a whole new set.
Deep in the Appalachians, I learn a family secret that means I’m unique, even among werewolves, and I’m stuck on the dangerous border of a century-long war. Now I’m pursued by a rogue sorcerer with poisonous intentions, other wizards who’d like to throw me in a gilded prison, and a band of ghostly wolves thirsting for my blood.
Worse, there’s only one man who can protect me, and even he demands a price: my heart. Even though his own may be forever beyond my reach.
Warning: If you’re a carbophobe, detailed descriptions of Italian delicacies may wreck your will power. Also contains sexy situations, adult language, and brimming glasses of wine.
(second in a series but written to be read as a standalone, too)
Praise for Long Shadows (click on source for full review):
“Long Shadows is a very complex story, which very cleverly fills the gaps for anyone who has not read the previous book. Ceclila Dominic’s ability to weave such intricacy without confusion adds layers of depth to the characters and the world. The Lycanthropy Files is a series to add to your auto-buy and pre-order lists.” – Coffee Time Romance
“It has its elements of fantasy but beyond the mere werewolf corner, there’s ghostly beings and wizards, and it seems to work them all together surprisingly well without appearing like trying to cram too much into one tale. It has a fast-placed plot with enough intricacies to keep you hooked, it’s got a real wit about it and manages to maintain a strong romantic element without taking away from the main plot…The Lycanthropy Files feels like a great series, regardless of what stop you jumped on. Fun fantasy, and a fun little read.” – Heather Writes book blog
“The summary of this book alone had me hooked. But I’ll admit that after years of vampires and wizards and other supernatural creatures permeating the entertainment industry, I always feel a little hesitant to go back down that road. I’m kind of a snob about it since Harry Potter, The Chronicles of Narnia, and The Sookie Stackhouse Novels by Charlaine Harris (the books upon which True Blood is based) are some of my absolute favorite stories. But the truth is not every supernatural story has to be the same and what I loved about Long Shadows is that, most of all, it’s humorous. It plays on the popularity of these kind of narratives without demeaning its own place among them. There’s some self-deprecation there and whether or not was purposeful on the part of Dominic, it works in Long Shadows‘ favor…” – Wendi Nunnery‘s book blog
“Long Shadows will keep you on your toes with the suspense, deep friendships renewed and hot passion.” – Joyfully Reviewed
“A satisfying paranormal with just the right mix of supernatural, romance and fast-paced action scenes. What takes this book above the average is the quality writing and always engaging voice.” – Five Star Amazon review
Where you can find signed paperback copies (click on bookstore name to go to their website, and please do support your local bookstores):
Eagle Eye Books, Decatur, GA
The Book House, Mabelton, GA
Where you can find ebooks:
Not sure if you’ve already read Long Shadows? Here’s the original cover:
I hadn’t physically changed since the first time six months before. Then, in a trance, I had opened the front door to my apartment, taken off my clothes, and changed into a wolf with the world watching. Okay, not quite the world. It was pretty late, and my apartment complex was quiet. Since then, I had spirit-walked with the aid of the aconite, which caused me to create an astral projection of my wolf self rather than physically change. Somehow I could still eat what I hunted, and I hoped that wouldn’t translate into bad blood work. Who knew how much wild critters would raise one’s cholesterol? A stupid concern, I know, considering everything else. It’s funny what the mind latches on to.
Now I sat in the living room at Joanie’s and Leo’s house with them, all of us wrapped in sheets, as we waited for the moon to rise and for its light to sing in our blood. We could change without it, but it was easier in its light, which compelled us when it was full. I suppressed the urge to giggle at the sight, like we were at the most boring toga party ever. Joanie caught my eye, and her lips twitched like she thought the same.
The moon rose, its light spilling through the bank of windows.
“It’s time,” Joanie murmured.
My inner wolf stretched and yawned, unfurling to her full spiritual presence.
“We can change?” she asked. “Really change?”
“Yes, just be gentle with me.” Again I stuffed the urge to laugh. I hadn’t said those words in a really long time.
I gasped when my human spirit shrank. The sensation was that of hurtling down a long hallway, then
landing in a warm pool and expanding within it to fill a new shape. The inner wolf and I became one.
I heard tendons snapping and bones cracking in new arrangements and suspected I would be sore the next day.
A light nip to my shoulder brought me back to myself, and I shifted my weight so I stood evenly on all four paws. Leo, a black wolf, sat and looked at me, his tongue lolling in amusement. Joanie, a petite brown wolf who could probably pass for one of the Arkansas red wolves, had nipped me.
“You were quivering like you were ready to explode with the sensations of it all,” she said telepathically.
“It’s different from when we spirit-walk,” I responded. “I feel heavier but more powerful.”
“Do you remember anything of the first time? When Iain and I chased after you?”
“Only that I wanted to get away and be free. And Gabriel…”
A low growl from Leo halted that line of conversation. Not that I blamed him. Gabriel had tried to claim Joanie first.
“Moonlight’s wasting, girls,” he said but waited for Joanie to lead us out of the house through a—oh, the shame!—doggie door in the mud room.
“It was the easiest solution,” Joanie told me once we were through. I heard the wry smile in her voice.
Once we were fully in the moonlight, the dry brown grass under my paws, I didn’t care that we’d been relegated to the status of mere canis domesticus or whatever the hell regular dogs were. I chased after her, nipping at her flank, and she mock-growled at me. We tumbled and tussled before I drew back.
“When do we hunt?” It came out as a vocal whine.
“When Matthew arrives.” Leo looked around, his ears perked. “He should have been here by now.”
“Maybe he got delayed by something? Too much traffic on the road, perhaps, or the cubs wanting to come with him?” The image of the playful pups didn’t dispel the concern in Joanie’s mental voice, and I remembered Matthew saying they never hunted alone anymore.
Leo paced back and forth on the lawn. “He said he’d be on time.”
A gunshot rang out, and all of us sat up, ears swiveling back and forth.
“What the hell was that?” I asked. “Okay, I know what it was, but what was it?” Human logical processes weren’t exactly working well, but they knew what I meant.
“Danger!” Joanie yelled in her mental voice, and we scrambled for the house, but another gunshot and a puff of wet dirt and grass in front of Leo, who had the lead, sent us toward the woods.
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.
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