Born, Not Bitten (Part 1)

Or “Why I’m So Good You Should Buy My Novel”

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Hey, all! Maybe you found me by Twitter, maybe by Instagram, maybe Facebook, maybe my book on Amazon, or maybe just by accident searching the web. No matter how you got here, I’m glad you stopped by. Grab a glass of your favorite beverage, settle in, and enjoy what I have to offer.

For many of you, you’ve followed a series of links to a book pre-sale. never knowing what I actually have to offer or if I’m a writer who is worth a damn. And, honestly, I can’t blame your skepticism.

We live in a world which allows any author to self-publish which means works of all skill levels can and do appear on the various publishing sources. I know, because I have been a denizen of various sites. However, as you’re seeing now, I’m moving on up! And I would like to show case my work without giving away the plot of my current book. So, if you’re interested, below is the start to a serial I may (or may not) publish later.


“No, Auntie, I won’t be home then,” Summer grunted into the phone as she juggled a phone against her ear and a paper bag overflowing with groceries while opening the door to her townhouse. After a moment of fumbling, she wrenched it open with a bang, almost dropping both phone and groceries in the process.

“Sticky bastard,” she mumbled. “Not you, Auntie. I was talking to my door.” Summer gave the offending door a shove to close it and snapped the lock in place. She smoothly juggled the grocery bags to one hand while keeping the phone to her head. “No, I’m going to run alone again. Yes, I know Auntie Dittany and Uncle Cicuta are expecting me, but I won’t be there.”

Summer set the bag down gently, pushing the phone between her ear and shoulder. “No, Auntie, I don’t want to talk to Dittany. No, no!” She groaned quietly. “Oh, hello, Auntie Dittany. No, ma’am, I’m not coming home next Friday. Yes, work is eating up my time.” She sniffed the air in her townhouse, trying to discern the source of an odd smell and hoping it wasn’t last night’s takeout, still sitting in her garbage can.

Summer rolled her eyes as she listened to her Auntie Dittany chew her ear off about the dangers of too much indoor work and not enough natural sunshine. She wove through her small townhouse as she listened to the tirade, misting plants, and lighting scented candles as she went. By the time Auntie Dittany had wound down about the evils of computer screens, Summer was ready to settle in for the evening. “Thanks, Auntie, I’ll keep that in mind. No, maybe next month. Yes, I love you all too. Pass my love to the Aunties, Uncles, and pups.”

Summer gave a quick smile as she hung up for her very nature-loving family. She sniffed once and wrinkled her nose. The scent of her plants warred with the fake lavender and vanilla of her candles and… something else. She inhaled deeply, trying to catch the curious musky scent that her plants and the candles failed to cover. It eluded her, so she shrugged it off.

Chalking the odd scent up to “just another urban smell,” she went about microwaving her dinner and firing up her gaming computer. Laying a cold beer bottle and a warm Hungry Man meal next to a multi-thousand-dollar computer caused her mouth to twitch up into a smile at the dichotomy. Summer gave one last listen, hearing Ms. Next-Door-Neighbor settle in for yet another night of trash television while Mr. Next-Door-Neighbor warming up his acoustic guitar. Cocking her head slightly, she could hear her neighbor on the other side, definitely not married, starting in loudly and enthusiastically with another customer. She slipped a pair of high-end, noise-canceling headphones over her overly sensitive ears.

Summer sighed into the apparent silence, her shoulders relaxing, and her mouth momentarily going slack at the sudden lack of auditory input combined with the smell dampening candles. Being a werewolf in an urban environment was so hard. She cherished the modern comforts that allowed her to tune out humanity and it’s press upon her senses.

Which is how she was caught completely unaware when the man who had been masked by the smell of plants attacked.


There was thrashing. And a howl. There might have been blood somewhere in there. Summer wasn’t sure if it belonged to her or her attacker.

She cracked her eyelids open. First one. Then the other. Then, with supreme willpower, both opened a fraction together in a woozy haze.

Bars.

Silver.

Summer let her willpower ebb out of her like the tide from a beach. Her eyes closed again and she curled tighter into herself. Dusty grit pressed into her side now that she had regained enough mental control to register feeling. Her brain felt as if it has been stuffed with cotton. Or, she felt like she was waking to an egregious hangover without the pain, just nausea, dizziness, and a foggy head.

A memory tugged at her: Something had rustled the ferns that dotted her kitchen.

She squeezed her eyes shut and tried to block out the fragment of memory. I’m here, laying on a dirty, dusty concrete floor, she told herself.

A fragment of memory hit again: Summer had slumped as noise-canceling headphones blotted out the city’s cacophony, straightening quickly at the sharp pain in her well-muscled arm.

I’m laying on a concrete floor, I’m trapped in a silver cage, she told herself. There’s not use replaying how.

The memories hit her again, faster: The bottle falling to the kitchen floor, shattering on the tiles. Nausea had flared and Summer had felt a swooping dizziness hit her.

Replaying something I can’t change won’t help me, she told herself firmly as the next wave of memory hit. She curled tightly, not wanting an inch of herself singed by the bars.

She had sunk to her dining room floor, landing on the shattered bottle. Pain flared along her body, but a strange lassitude spread through her. She tried to scream, but it came out as a muffled moan. Her muscles went slack, her brain went to mush, and lethargy spread through her.

You’re fucking in for it now, she thought. Stay tight, stay off the bars, and wake the fuck up!

Anger helped to burn off more of the drug that ensnared her mind and body. Fear burned away the last of it when she realized she was well and truly caught. She was tucked inside a small cage, held by thumb thick vertical bars, coated in what she knew to be silver.

While clichéd and antiquated, silver to werewolves was as true as garlic to vampires: deadly.

Summer pushed herself up carefully. Despite the fear that made her hands shake, she was careful to keep her limbs away from the bars.

Despite a part of her, a wild and furry part, telling her to bolt, flee, and run for the woods, she moved slowly so as not to spook the man who held his gun trained on her. She sat on her rear end, knees drawn up to her chest, and arms wrapped around her legs. She had two feet of clearance from the bars to all sides and it was at least three feet over her head as she sat, but she didn’t want to take any chances.

She sat quietly, looking at her guard and taking in the background. He was a younger man, maybe no older than thirty. She gave his handsome, sculpted jawline one look before tuning him out to take in her surroundings. The familiar tang of salt on a cool breeze or her overly neutralized townhouse was replaced with the earthy scent of pine, clay, and mildew. Her nose twitched at the mélange of smells; they smelled so much like home and pack that it almost hurt to smell it when confined to a silver cage.

She looked to him again, watching his features in the dim light of several candles, waiting for him to speak. He watched her quietly, his gun still trained on her head but clearly waiting for her to make the first move.

Spotting a bottle, she gave a quiet cough. “Could I have some water, please?”

Summer wasn’t sure how she expected him to respond. Fly into a rage and start shooting? Start screaming that she was an unholy demon, surely “having congress with The Great Beast,” as she had heard before. What she did not expect is that he would give her one stolid look, grabbed the water bottle, and set it just outside the cage bars. Summer looked at him once, trying to read him. His face gave no hints as to what he was thinking. She uncurled and carefully put a single finger through the bars, tapping at the lid of the bottle until it fell towards her through the bars. She snagged it and opened it with the reassuring crack of a previously unopened top. She drank deeply.

“Why am I here?” she asked when she finished the bottle and he hadn’t attacked or shot her.

He didn’t answer, simply watched her.

Summer recapped the bottle, set it by the bars, and gently pushed it back through. Maybe if she survived the next hour, he would refill it. He watched her actions without a word or change in his facial expression. She scooted back to the center of the cage, studying him.

“So, are you going to shoot me?” she finally asked.

“Is that what you expect from me?” he answered after a considering pause.

“Yes?” She thought a moment. “Why else would you kidnap me?”

He laughed, actually laughed, flashing even white teeth. “It sure isn’t for ransom.”

Summer glared at him from her place on the cold concrete floor.

“Fine. It wasn’t ransom; it was a bounty. Did you know there’s a ten-thousand-dollar bounty for werewolves?”

Summer rocked back as if slapped. It wasn’t the easy manner with which he said the words, it was the tone that implied that she wasn’t human. That taking her life was worth ten thousand dollars and that he would clearly sleep comfortably with her in the ground.

“Why do you hate me?” she asked quietly.

“I don’t. You don’t hate a rabid dog. You recognize a threat and remove it.”

Summer blinked hard and stared at him. “And what about me has said I’m a threat?”

“Do you deny you’re a werewolf?” he asked, his hand tightening slightly on the gun.

Summer sat up straight and raised her chin slightly, “No. I am.”

“Then you’re a threat. While I admit you’re better behaved than I would have anticipated, you are a monster and in two weeks, when the moon is full, you will be unable to keep the monster in check.”

Summer glanced out the single window to the cloudless sky. “Two weeks? The full moon?”

He nodded.

“And what do you know of it?”

He quirked an eyebrow as if you say ‘you’re really making me tell you?’

Summer rolled her wrist, gesturing for him to say it.

“Werewolves, once bitten, become feral beasts. They are at the mercy of the full moon, unable to halt the shift to their wolf form. At that time, they run wild, ravaging livestock and any poor bastard who crosses their path.”

“And when the moon isn’t full?” Summer asked.

“Human. The beast within rages, but they stay human,” he said with a quiet kind of regret.

It was Summer’s turn to laugh. “Oh! ‘The beast within’? What crap,” she said with a hearty laugh. “What horrible online blog have you been reading? Oh, god, tell me you haven’t been searching Reddit for werewolf lore? Tumblr? Where do you all get this crap?”

“I–” he swallowed, clearly unsure of how to deal with his quarry laughing at him. “It wasn’t an online blog, it was my Grandfather’s books.”

Summer stopped laughing, “Oh, so killing innocent people is a family business then?”

He jerked straight upright. “No,” he said coldly.

“You have a lot to learn, boy.”

“Boy? Look, bitch–”

“Can it,” she cut him off harshly. “First lesson, learn the difference between a born werewolf and a bitten werewolf. You’re right, a bitten wolf goes feral in weeks.” She closed her eyes in regret. “When we hear about them, we’re usually able to put them down before they can cause problems or be ended by a Hunter’s bullet.”

He stared at her, mouth hanging open.

“Second lesson, and you’ll need to put your gun down for this one, if you’re born, not bitten, you can change any time.”

“Liar!” he shouted. His gun snapped up as he stood.

Summer, still sitting curled around herself on the floor, regarded the man who stood towering over her.

“You need a demonstration?” She looked out at the sliver of moon that still hung in the sky. “Fine. But put the gun down and sit your ass back in that chair. Besides, I’m in a silvered cage, what are you so afraid of?” she said in a mocking tone.

He ground his perfect teeth but sat back down, ostentatiously holstering his gun.

“And turn around, I don’t need you gawking at me while I’m naked.”

He raised one eyebrow again and crossed his arms.

“Suit yourself. Dick,” she muttered quietly.

Summer briskly removed her clothes, refusing to make eye contact as she did. She folded her the business clothes she hadn’t had time to change out of, making a neat pile at the corner of her cell. Summer crouched and closed her eyes. The air around her shimmered and she heard the creak of leather as her captor leaned forward in his chair.

Smells, sounds, and vision became sharper when she sat back down on her haunches. The small woman, trapped in a silver cage, had been replaced with a brown and gray wolf. She sat quietly on her haunches, front paws tucked neatly against her rear paws, tail wound around all four paws, not wanting a single coarse hair touching the silver bars.

Her captor’s eye bulged. “How? It’s a waning moon! I wouldn’t have gone after you if I knew you could change at mid-month!”

In answer, she let her mouth open and tongue loll out in a canine grin.


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One Comment on “Born, Not Bitten (Part 1)

  1. Pingback: The Hunt for Beta Readers – K R Paul

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