There's no place like home...or is there?
When Stanzie is asked to investigate her birth pack- Mayflower--she isn't prepared for what she finds.
No one respects the Alphas and the newest adult member of the pack is being encouraged to leave. Why? To make matters worse, the men are dangerously intent on mating and shifting with her.
How far will the pack she thought she knew go to get what they want? Without her bond-mate, Liam, Stanzie must face this alone and, barely ahead of threat of violence, must solve the mysteries, and fast.
WARNING: Vulgar language, sexual situations, group sex, violence
A Lyrical Press Paranormal Romance
~~ Interview with Constance Newcastle ~~
Please tell us about you: job, hobbies, special talents, and anything else you would want to share.
Hi. My name is Constance Newcastle – Stanzie for short – and I’m an Advisor to Councilor Jason Allerton of the Great Council. The Pack has lots of Regional Councils and one Great Council to oversee everything. Jason is one of the most influential Councilors and I wake up every morning wondering how I ended up working for him. I always envisioned Advisors doing things like looking up records in the archives or arranging Councilors’ schedules. Bringing coffee, things like that. But really it’s way more involved – and sometimes dangerous – than that.
Jason sends me on investigations within packs that are having trouble like territory disputes or in my most recent case, something that didn’t seem quite right in the pack structure and they wanted an outsider to come in and see if they could get to the bottom of it. Of course, I wasn’t an outsider, precisely, since Mayflower was my birth pack, but I hadn’t seen anyone in the pack for ten years so I did have some perspective I guess.
I don’t know if you could call this a hobby, but I collect shoes. I wear them too! Well, most of them. I’ve lost count of how many pairs I own, but I have a walk-in closet in my condo and every wall is built up with shoe racks. When I go on investigations for Jason I end up hauling a separate suitcase just for shoes. I don’t think that’s weird, do you? Every situation has different shoe choices, right? I want to be prepared. There’s nothing I hate more than not having the right shoe for the right occasion. Plus, you know, shoes are so much fun. I can wear the same pair of jeans for a week, but I need a different pair of shoes daily.
I think the best talent I have is playing the harp. I haven’t played in three years though – since my bond mates Grey and Elena were killed. I miss playing but it reminds me of them so I’ve been avoiding it.
Where did you grow up?
In a small town called Willoughby in Massachusetts. Since I’m Pack, I didn’t socialize with any of the Others in town, just my own pack. My cousin Faith is five years younger than me and the next closest child in age to me, Mark, is five years older. I played with both of them and got bossed around by Rachel and Susan who were teens when I was little, but I really didn’t have playmates my age. Luckily, I had my mom, Lauren. She homeschooled me and she was the one who taught me to play the harp.
We lived really close to the Wendell State Park and I spent a lot of my childhood playing in the forest. Looking back it sounds lonely, but I loved it.
Tell us about the first time you met.
You must be talking about Liam Murphy, my bond mate. This question makes me a little uncomfortable because he recently left me to go back to his pack in Dublin and I’m not sure where we stand. Okay, I’m pretty sure we’re done as a couple but maybe we can work things out. I like to be positive, but I’m really mixed up about him right now.
The first time we met was at the Great Gathering in Paris. The Pack meets at Regionals at least once a year where local packs get together for a weekend, but Great Gatherings are open to everyone from all over the world. They are held yearly in different locations. Last’s year’s was in Paris and it was the first time I’d ever left America. I was alone because I didn’t have a pack after Riverglow kicked me out when Grey and Elena died and I was so scared.
Jason Allerton made me sit at Murphy’s table the first night and I remember thinking Murphy looked lonely – like me. And really handsome. I was all set to talk to him and see if maybe I could help him be a little less lonely, but he did not like me at first. He would barely look at me and he left the table as soon as he could. He stranded me there with a bunch of rude pack mates from England who I didn’t know. They snubbed me and I ended up sitting there in silence the entire meal.
Later Murphy and I met again when Jason brought us together for a private meeting where he suggested we might like to get to know each other and maybe even bond together. Murphy was horrified at the thought although I would have liked to have discussed it with him. Something in me responded to him from the start, but it wasn’t until I was in trouble with one of the other Great Councilors that Murphy did this about face and rescued me.
We ended up having to get bonded because of this bitchy Councilor and anyway, I’m way off topic aren’t I? I can talk about Murphy for hours if you let me. I love him, and I wish things would work out for us but I just don’t know.
What drew you to each other?
If he were here he’d tell you it was the red dress I was wearing that first night, but he’s full of Irish blarney. The truth is we were drawn together because we both had tragedies in our pasts. We both lost our bond mates to terrible accidents and we both withdrew from the Great Pack to lick our wounds in private. We were lonely. Later, after we bonded, we discovered we were good together. Or at least I thought so until recently. So much has happened to us in the year we’ve been together. It’s been hard to focus on us with everything that’s been going on.
What is your favorite part of him?
My favorite part of him is his patience with my wolf. She’s a little different than everyone else’s wolves and he and his wolf had such endless patience with her. When we’re in wolf form together, it’s just magical. I wish I could explain how it feels, but my wolf is a very tactile, sensory creature and words are not her strong suit.
Murphy takes care of people and cares about them. He makes me feel safe.
Favorite childhood memory.
Faith and I snuck into Grandmother Carolyn’s closet and put on some of her shoes. I was ten and Faith was five, so the shoes were enormous on us. I chose a pair of black patent leather pumps and Faith a white pair of sling backs. We were dressed up in two of my mother’s dresses, which were also huge on us, and there we were clumping around the bedroom pretending we were going shopping. We had our dolls in our arms and Faith kept tripping over the heels and the hem of Lauren’s dress until I tied up the skirt in a knot and she was so excited about this, she started running around and the next thing I knew, we were both in a heap on the floor because she fell out of the heels and knocked us both down. I’m smiling now to even think about this. I almost forget this ever happened!
Favorite vacation spot.
Paris. I loved that city. So many shoe stores! And museums! And sitting on a bench on the Eiffel Tower with Murphy drinking coffee and staring at the Seine was also pretty awesome.
Favorite eye color?
Care to share future plans?
I’m so not good with envisioning the future. I would like to find the guts to go to Dublin and work things out with Murphy. That would be my wish for the future, but I don’t have any definite plans.
~~ Excerpt ~~
Alan looked at me and panic flooded his silver blue eyes. “Stanzie.” My name was a horrified plea.
I could see the ghost of a wolf’s muzzle beneath his mouth. He held out a hand and recoiled when he saw the dark fur on his palm.
“Take off your clothes, Alan,” I urged, but he stood there, transfixed. I hastily unbuttoned his plaid shirt and pushed it off his shoulders. “Help me,” I cried as I tugged at his sleeve.
“I don’t know what’s happening to me,” he whispered. His body gave a bone crunching shudder and he stared at Faith and Scott’s wolves, terror etched across his face. The wolves waited together, shoulder to shoulder. It was a damn good thing I hadn’t shifted myself. Poor Alan was clueless.
I fumbled with the button on his fly and then the zipper. His throat rippled and he threw back his head and howled. The noise nearly scared the shit out of me, but I somehow managed to get his zipper down and then I pushed him onto his ass so I could pull his jeans off. He was no help at all, caught in the throes of the first emergence of his wolf. His body morphed in and out of focus. It was like trying to undress someone by strobe light and I had to shut my eyes so I wouldn’t lose my concentration. Alan whimpered and whined. Shifting was painful sometimes--especially when we fought it and he was. He didn’t know how to relax into the chaos and let it flow. He still struggled for control, for a way to reason out the process, and that was impossible. Shifting did not make sense. It just happened.
“Let go. Alan, just go with it,” I coached in a quiet voice as I sat as near as I could to him. He writhed on the pine needles and screamed as his bones shifted beneath his skin. “It hurts less if you just let go.”
“Stanzie!” My name turned into an anguished howl and just when I had begun to get scared, it happened. Alan blinked out of this plane and when he blinked back in, he was shifted.
His wolf was gorgeous. Dusky black with ice-blue eyes. A touch of gray at the tips of each paw. Big too. Bigger than Scott’s gray wolf. He rolled to his feet and sprawled onto his face when he tried to walk. Two legs to four was a bitch for some people. It had never fazed me, but Grey told me it had taken him half an hour to figure out how the hell to walk the first time he’d shifted. I grinned to remember the story and reached out to pat Alan’s wolf on the head. He whined at me.
“Get up and walk. Four legs are fun,” I told him. I was on my hands and knees now, so we could look eye to eye. If he got up, that is. Faith’s wolf pranced over and nudged him with her dainty muzzle. He whined again and she gave a coughing bark. In wolf speak she told him to get off his ass.
Scott’s wolf approached me and stared at me so hard I knew he tried to tell me something, but I couldn’t figure out what. Then it hit me. Duh. I was still in human form.
I stood up so I could strip off my jeans and t-shirt. Scott’s wolf waited impatiently. Alan’s wolf had gained his wobbly feet but seemed stuck in one position. When Faith’s wolf nudged his back end with her nose, he promptly fell over again and I snickered. Alan’s wolf gave me a reproachful look and I patted his head in apology. Scott’s wolf moved behind me and bumped the back of my knees so hard I fell over. Alan’s wolf wheezed with lupine laughter. “At least I can walk on all fours,” I muttered. Naked, I crawled away a few feet to give myself space for shifting. Only nothing happened.
~~ About the Author ~~
Amy Lee Burgess wrote her first ghost story at age ten. Born in New England, she has also lived in New Orleans and Houston, survived fires, floods, hurricanes, divorce and the premature cancellation of several of her favorite television shows. Turning her back on such shocking betrayals, she is now writing about ghosts, vampires, and other paranormal things and is much happier for it.
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