A Christmas Moon (MF)
[BookStrand Paranormal Romance, werewolves, witches, HEA]
It is nearing Christmas, 1901, and Evie Price knows that her family will never move on until her brother Phelan is found. He left home with the wolf men, leaving her mother and father grief stricken and Evie’s life on hold. Evie engages the services of Professor Raphael, a man labelled a charlatan. When Raphael tries to leave her behind, she disguises herself as a young man and takes her pistol and six silver bullets, travelling into deeper and darker territory. With Raphael, she faces dangers and peoples she never knew existed.
Raphael has his own secrets, and, having saved her life twice, is determined Evie will not get into any more danger. But the curse of an old witch is too strong to resist. Raphael and Evie are inextricably drawn together, travelling towards a moonlight meeting that could bring an end to everything, including their growing love for each other.
A BookStrand Mainstream Romance
Where would that mystery and excitement lead? Straight to the gates of hell, an inner voice whispered. Half-remembered gossip from Polly filled her head. That wolf men were damned for eternity, unless they redeemed themselves somehow. More than anything, she had to save Phelan from his own recklessness. She would reason with him and beg him to come home. Her father’s austere teachings had instilled in her the fear of the fires of hell, both for herself and for her loved ones. She could not bear to think of her brother being damned for all eternity.
“Phelan…” she whispered, quickening her step again.
She reached the same clearing in the woods and saw the same group of men sitting on logs and drinking spirits from pewter jugs. It was not just that the men were the same. They had not changed at all. They should have looked ten years older, but they did not. Even Dolph still looked like a man in his midtwenties when Evie was sure that he should be in his thirties by now.
“I want to join you,” she heard a voice say. It was her brother.
“Well, look at who is all grown up,” said Dolph, grinning and drinking from his pewter jug. “Are you sure you’re ready for this, little wolf?”
“I’ve been ready forever.”
“So you’re ready to be chased out of every town you enter. You’re ready to have people spit at you in the street. Are you ready to be damned for all eternity?”
“I only exist as I am now,” said Phelan. “I want to be alive. To feel the things you do. To experience the things you do. I’m twenty-one years old. I’m old enough to make the choice now.”
“Very well…” Dolph put down his flagon of ale and stood up, stretching his arms to the moonlight.
Evie wanted to cry out, but terror gripped her throat as Dolph growled and moved toward Phelan. “No! Phelan!” she managed to croak out in a tiny voice. Dolph should not have heard her, but he did. As his mouth moved toward Phelan’s neck, but in such a way Evie could not see the actual bite, his head turned and his eyes locked on hers. Her brother fell to the floor with a wide smile on his face. He had got what he wanted, but Dolph was no longer interested in Phelan. He was moving with immense speed toward Evie.
She turned and began to run, and just as she had eleven years before, she felt herself lifted from the ground. The man holding her spun around—was he a man? Or was he a wolf like Dolph? She did not know, but she felt the animal in him come to life and the veins pulsating in his arms. “Not her…” he said to Dolph. “Leave her alone.”
Dolph faltered a little. How could he be afraid of the man holding her? He was a monster, and the man was…what exactly? She felt that she had become an intrinsic part of something she did not understand. The man and the wolf man glared at each other in the night, and she could hear laboured breath coming from them both. “You know what happens if you take me on,” said the man holding Evie. “I don’t think you want that. I’m willing to take it to the final conclusion, Dolph. Are you?”
She did not know if she imagined it, but the wolf, Dolph, seemed to laugh then turn back. “No, I didn’t think so,” the man muttered. He ran through the trees, still with Evie in his arms.
“I think I can walk now,” she said. “Excuse me?”
“Be quiet. I’m not putting you down until I know you’re safe.”
Once again he took her to the gate of the vicarage, deftly lifting her over it before dropping her on the ground. “If you take my advice,” he said, “you’ll never leave this garden. You’re safe here, little girl. Stay that way.” She still could not make out his face to see if he was man or wolf. He always stood with his back to the moon, casting himself in shadow.
“What about my brother? What will happen to him? We must save him.”
“Phelan is never coming home. He’s lost to you and all that is good and pure in the world.” The man started to walk away, and then he turned back. “When the events of this night eat you up inside, remember that your brother chose his path. Some don’t get to choose.”