I’m so happy to announce that All Hallow’s Moon is now available…again 😉 It’s been a long time in coming, with the closing of Loose Id and my hiatus from writing, but I’m finally getting back into the swing of things. This is the first release of the Moon series but it will not be the last. I plan on getting the entire series out by the end of this year and I hope to add at least one more story to finish out the series. After that? It’s on to newer stuff! I’ve got several stories I’ve been wanting to write for years and I am now finally getting the chance to do so. I’m so excited and I hope you will join me on this new venture! Keep reading for an excerpt.
All Hallows’ Moon
Jill Parker glanced down at the dashboard clock. Fantastic! She was on a little country dirt road, alone, lost, and late. To make matters worse, she couldn’t call Alex, because she’d forgotten to charge her phone and she’d left the charging cable at home. Was that thunder rumbling in the distance? She hated being late, even for a silly Halloween party. Why had she even agreed to come? Parties were not her thing and never had been.She looked for an indication of where she was. The route she’d traveled seemed to go on forever. If she could just get out of this maze of winding roads, maybe she could backtrack and find her way to the party. Unfortunately, not only was the road not paved but it didn’t have any signs either, and there were trees on both sides, making it impossible to find any sort of landmark. Not that those would help her, as she wouldn’t recognize them anyway. Why hadn’t she taken Alex up on his offer to travel with him to the party? It wasn’t like the laundry she’d stayed to finish wouldn’t have been there tomorrow. Better yet, why hadn’t she just stayed home and watched some Halloween specials?Lightning lit up the sky, and the first big drops of rain splattered onto her windshield. The wind seemed to pick up suddenly, making a whistling sound. The trees swayed, throwing leaves around as they moved. Jill shuddered and turned up the radio.
She finally came to a crossroad. Stopping, she reached for the map Alex had drawn her. Turning on the dome light, she tried to decipher the map. She was supposed to pass straight through two crossroads and turn right onto the third. Well, she hadn’t seen any other crossroads until now — did this mean she was on the right track? She turned off the light, tossed the map onto the passenger seat, and continued driving. She should’ve asked for an address to put into her phone and used GPS, assuming she’d charged her phone of course. The rain was really coming down, blowing horizontal in her headlights.
Her visibility was limited, so she slowed to a crawl. Something darted out in front of her. She slammed on the brakes, trying to stop. The car slid. A…dog? It looked up and seemed to make eye contact just as her car hit him and came to an abrupt stop. Shit! Jill took a deep breath and tried to calm down. The car had almost been stopped when she’d struck the animal, but she hadn’t seen it run off again. Fortunately, she hadn’t felt it under her tires, either. She couldn’t stand the thought of killing someone’s beloved pet.
Jill opened the car door and scrambled out, immediately becoming drenched. She cautiously walked around the front of the car. Who knew how the wounded animal would react — assuming it was still there, of course.
As she drew around the hood, she heard a soft whimper. On the ground in front of her car lay a huge black… dog? The snout was long and the ears pointed, like a husky, but boy was it big. Maybe it was a wolf. Jill stepped back then groaned at herself for silly; there were no wolves in Texas.
It whimpered and stared into her eyes; it didn’t look vicious or wild.
Jill took a cautious step toward it, then crouched down and held her hand up. When the animal didn’t growl or look away, she got braver and moved her hand closer. “Hi there, fella. Are you nice? Are you going to try and bite my hand off if I look you over?”
The dog cocked his head and stretched his head toward her hand. It’s long pink tongue snaked out and brushed her knuckles. She drew closer and he began bathing her hand in kisses.
“Ahh, you are someone’s pet, aren’t you?” She brushed her hands over his fur, checking for any injuries, and all the while he covered her in kisses — on her hands, her face, anywhere he could reach.
She pressed gently on his stomach — yep, he was a boy dog — to see if he would protest. He didn’t seem to, so she moved to his legs. When she examined his left hind leg, he pulled it toward his body with a whimper, trying to keep it away from her.
“Oh, I’m so sorry. Poor baby, let’s get you out of this rain and see if we can get you into the car, big fella. We’re getting soaked, and we look like a couple of drowned rats.”
As if he understood her, he slowly got to his feet, then limped to her car door, avoiding any weight on his injured leg.
Jill stood there her mouth hanging open, astonished. This was one smart dog!
A rumbling bark spurred her into action. They were soaked, and the wind was making it especially chilly. She opened the back door for him, then slid into the front. She cranked the heater up and looked around for something to dry herself with. She found a towel she used in the summer to keep her leather seats from sticking to her legs and burning her. As she was drying her hair, it started raining inside the car. What the —?
Jill turned in time to see the dog finish shaking the last of the water from his body. “Oh! Bad boy! No! Stop that!”
He stopped, lay down on the back seat and she could have sworn he smiled at her. She sighed and dried off the rest of herself and the now drenched car. Great! Now everything smelled like wet dog! Jill shook her head and put the car in drive. “You know, I had a towel. You could have waited and I’d have dried you off.”
“Yeah, well, I was trying to save what was left of my costume, but I’d have gotten to you eventually. You didn’t need to saturate everything.”
Jill drove for what seemed an eternity without finding another crossroad. The rain seemed to be getting worse, if that was even possible, and she was pretty sure she saw small pieces of hail in her headlights. Her tires weren’t getting much traction, and began to spin on the muddy lane. If she didn’t get off this road soon, she was going to get stuck. She needed to get to the party. Alex might know whom the dog belonged to, and maybe together they could patch him up. His injuries didn’t look serious, but she hadn’t been able to check very thoroughly in all the rain and wind. “Damn! I’m never going to find this stupid party!”
A sound like a cross between a bark and a howl came from the backseat.
Jill screamed and swerved, but she quickly regained control of the car. Her heart was pounding in her chest at the scare his deep bark had given her.
The dog jumped into the front seat, whining when he landed on his hind leg.
“Damn it! Bad boy! Do that again, and you can walk home without my help.”
He pressed his nose to the passenger window and grumbled again.
She jumped, and her still-hammering heart beat faster. “Stop it! I’ve got to get us off this damned road. We need to get to Alex’s party. If we get there, he can help me take a look at you, and maybe he can help me get you back to your family.”
Again he made that barking sound, but remained otherwise still. She glanced in the direction he was staring. There seemed to be a building. Was that where the party was? There weren’t any lights. She slowed down. “What is it, boy? What are you trying to tell me?”
Bang, bang, bang! Large chunks of hail bounced off her car. Jill started. The small hail had suddenly turned into a barrage of large pieces.
He glanced at her then back toward the structure with an intensity most dogs saved for food.
“All right, you win, boy. We need to get out of this weather.” She turned the car onto the dirt drive, hoping and praying that she wouldn’t get stuck in the mud. Pulling in front of the little building, she stopped and looked at her new companion. “Well, what now?”
He pawed at the door.
Maybe he lived here. The place looked unoccupied, but it also looked well kept. It was obvious that someone had been there recently.
How were they going to get in there? More to the point, what if they did get in? They’d be trespassing. Well, she would; she kind of doubted they’d charge a dog with breaking and entering. She sighed. Well, hell!
She grabbed her purse and opened the door, then stepped out into the rain. The dog limped across the front seat and out the driver’s side. She locked up the car and raced up to the small porch as the dog limped along behind her. Jill reached for the door and tried the knob, but it was locked. The dog looked up at her and barked again. He put his head against the door and pushed. A section of door opened up. Of course. A doggy door. Maybe he really did live here.
Once he was inside, he stuck his head out and barked at Jill once more, then pulled his head inside again. Jill took a deep breath and blew it out. Lightning struck nearby and thunder boomed. She tossed her purse through the doggy door and scrambled in.
As soon as she cleared the door, she got licked in the face. “Blech! Would you stop that?”
She stood up and looked around, trying to find a light switch in the dark. Lightning lit up the room long enough for her to find it. After a minute, her eyes adjusted and she saw that the place was well kept, even if it was small and unoccupied. There was a bed, a couch, a little kitchenette with a small refrigerator, and an oven and a sink. There were two doors, presumably a closet and a bathroom. Jill looked at her new friend. He’d lain down with his head resting on his front paws and was watching her every move. “Well, now what?”
He cocked his head.
She chuckled and picked her purse up, then set it down on the couch. The cabin was cold, and she was soaked to the bone. She decided that exploring the place was her first order of business and went to the first of the two doors to find it was an empty closet. She moved on to the next door — the bathroom, just as she’d suspected. Finding a towel, she returned to the main room and dried her hair and her body as best as she could. For the moment, there was nothing she could do about her wet clothes.
She was freezing and there were logs in the fireplace, so she decided to light a fire. She’d deal with the consequences of getting caught later. On the mantel were fireplace matches and on the hearth were newspapers, so she built her fire while the dog watched. As she stirred up the flames and got them going, she wondered what she was going to do if someone caught her here. It was pretty clear that the small cabin was some sort of hunting cabin or other type of weekend retreat, so the odds of someone coming were not very high. But how had the dog ended up here? Obviously, he was someone’s pet, and he knew about the little cabin and even the doggy door. Had he gotten left behind from their last hunting expedition, or were his owners somewhere nearby?
Sitting down in front of the fire with the dog, she tried to get warm. “Well, pal, how are you doing? Can I look at your leg now?”
She touched his leg and began to examine it. This time he didn’t cry out or try to pull away. That was odd; he didn’t act like it was bothering him any longer. He licked her hand as she let go of him. She grinned; he certainly was a sweet dog. She loved animals and had had several growing up, but there was no time for them now while she was going through medical school. She’d get a dog or maybe a cat after she graduated and finished her residency. After that she should have some semblance of a normal life. Maybe then she’d get married, too.
Watching the fire, she listened to the storm outside and petted her new friend. Her stomach grumbled, reminding her that she hadn’t eaten. No way was she going to steal food as well as trespass; she’d have to make do with a pack of peanut butter crackers from her purse. Good thing she always carried snacks! Medical school and rotations were so hectic that she had to snag a bite to eat whenever and wherever she could.
Jill got her purse and brought it over in front of the fire. “Well, boy, let’s see what we have here.” She pulled out a package of peanut butter crackers, shortbread cookies, and some beef jerky. “What do you think? Peanut butter crackers first? Yeah, that’s what I think, too.” She tore open the wrapper and offered him a cracker, then took one for herself. They finished off those and started on the beef jerky, then finally devoured the cookies.
Jill was lying by the fire, listening to the hail hit the roof, when the dog started to convulse. “Oh, no! What’s wrong, boy?” She sat up quickly and looked him over; she had no idea what to do for him. Her heart sank. Had she caused this by hitting him with the car? Were the spices in the beef jerky poison to his system or something? No, canines were very closely related to humans; they had very similar physiologies. There was no garlic or onion in there. It couldn’t be the food.
His fur was shrinking.
Jill’s eyes widened in horror. His fur wasn’t the only thing disappearing — his snout was, too, and so was his tail.
She backed up, unable to keep from staring as his limbs lengthened. She blinked several times and shook her head to clear it. She couldn’t be seeing what she was seeing.
His body continued to contort until there was a man in his place.