The next best dark fantasy book release is nearly here! Are you excited yet? Did you read the previous free excerpt? Was it the best dark fantasy release you’d clapped eyes on this year?
I hope so!
If you haven’t read it yet then you really should, because this post is another freebie. That’s right! I’m not limiting you to just the prologue and the first chapter of Calling The Wolf for free. Nope! I’m giving you a second free chapter, too!
So, if you haven’t read the first free chapter yet, then you really ought to. This chapter picks up where we left off, with Logan getting himself in more trouble with werewolves it would be unwise to cross!
Calling The Wolf
2. Having A Bite
By the time I’d finished changing back to human form, a process that was still a mental challenge to me, and getting dressed, the shadow of the wolves had disappeared from the hatch.
I rolled my shoulders, feeling tightened muscles loosen. They still bunched after every transformation, undoing all the pleasant relaxation that running as a wolf had to offer. Jenna had told me that it was probably a symptom of being a bitten werewolf instead of a born one that it was taking me longer to get used to changing.
Not to mention that the urge to do so was a little bit more enthusiastic than it should be, sometimes causing my body to try to convulse when I wasn’t quite ready.
Maybe it would be a good idea to have a long, hot shower when I got home. At least Violet couldn’t moan at me about that, especially when she wasn’t there. Unbolting my cubicle, I headed out through the aisles of lockers. There were a lot of people around to say it was half one in the morning. Wolf scents mingled all over the place, especially potent from the half dressed guys trading ab secrets as they showed off on the benches.
I headed past them, ignoring everyone until the vaguest notion of familiarity washed my nostrils. The angry, young wolf from before was somewhere nearby. In human form it would be harder to track him, but the centre had a policy about changing in the corridors. So, instead, I tried to sniff him without being too obvious about it, trailing his scent near to the food area.
The cafeteria was crammed with werewolves devouring post run feasts. Changing was hungry work. My belly growled, too, much to my dismay.
The scent of the hot headed cub hit me again and this time I looked up to find a straggly youth glaring at me from beneath his khaki jacket. He’d launched himself across at me before I could register who he was with or anything else for that matter. My focus narrowed the snarl of his hands into the shoulders of my jumper, blurring out anything else. Teeth bared, he grit, “Where did she go?”
This close to him I could see a thin scattering of freckles just below his eyes and the pulse of his nostrils as he drank in my scent. I felt like I was back in the woods, my hackles rising as I stared him down. One eyebrow lifted lazily with my glare.
“I can smell you. I can smell her on you. Where’d she go?”
The noise in the room had dimmed. Other werewolves were watching, their excitement for a fight simmering in the air. Three blokes moved into view over the kid’s shoulders. One was about my age, but the other two were much older. All it took was the eldest man to put his hand on the angry lad’s arm and speak lowly and quietly. “What are you doing, Phelan?” he murmured.
The kid let go, slowly, like a dog with something he’d already been warned not to pick up. His chest was heaving, but he took a step back. The old man’s hand loosened its grip with all four of its digits. I tried not to stare at the place where his little finger was clearly missing, wondering how on earth that had happened. It was well renowned that werewolves had a faster healing rate than most and could grow pretty much anything back, just like vampires.
“It’s this one,” the kid, Phelan, said, still glaring at me as I straightened out my jumper. “I can smell him. He stinks.”
I raised another eyebrow. This boy needed teaching a lesson, but not right now. Not in front of a guy who was clearly much further up the werewolf hierarchy than I was. Still, those same instincts that warned me not to beat up the old man demanded that I, at least, release some verbal lesson on the younger wolf.
“Oh, I get it.” I stopped adjusting my jumper and looked Phelan straight in the eyes. His nose curled as if he was about to snarl. “You’re the little hot head from the clearing. What the hell do you want now?”
The kid moved to harangue again but the old man and his friend grabbed him to hold him back. I tried not to smirk. That was when an instinctive blip told me that the old guy wasn’t just holding onto the kid, he was warning him telepathically, too. I glanced at the fourth member of their group, the one who looked closer to my age, and realised he seemed bored by the whole scenario. Clearly Phelan got a bit too feisty for his own good far more often than he ought to.
With the kid steadied, though, the older guy released him, turning, instead, to address me. “We just wondered if you’d like to join us in the cafeteria for some supper.” My eyes narrowed slightly, fight or flight starting to kick in. The whole room was still watching, straining their ears to catch everything. “You’ve got to be hungry after your change, right?”
The old guy smiled like an animal tamer. He had to be an alpha. I’d heard that they could communicate easily with their pack almost telepathically like I thought I’d just witnessed. There was still a lot to learn about this werewolf malarkey.
“I suppose,” I muttered, sensing it would be stupid to turn him down in a room full of other werewolves.
Eyes began to peel themselves away from the disappointing confrontation, but the slightest noise would undoubtedly bring us to the fore again. I allowed the men to escort me over to the counter. They all got something substantial like sausages and mash swimming in gravy, watching carefully when I selected a meagre sandwich, despite the protests from my stomach. It would be much safer to eat something more when I got home. Violet’s wrath compared to the wrath of a werewolf pack was pretty insignificant.
I reached over to pay the guy at the till, but the older werewolf stepped in front of me, handing money over instead. Which was great, really great. Or it would have been for any other jobless were. Nevertheless, it didn’t really thrill me that somebody chasing my girlfriend had just paid for my meal. It seemed like a great plan to be in this werewolf’s debt.
The pack shuffled me off to a table with them, another scenario I could live happily without. When I’d considered finding out if they were anything to do with the nekojins disappearances earlier, it had only been a vague plan to follow them. There’d been nothing in my head about eating supper with the wretches.
The old guy smiled at me. He had pale eyes and a wrinkled face that could have passed as friendly had I not known that a wolf lurked beneath. And the grey of his hair didn’t fool me either. Plenty of old werewolves, like Graeme, were still just as spritely as ever. “Now, son,” he started in a rich, earthy tone, “we just wanted to talk to you about what happened out there.”
“What you saw,” prompted his friend. He had dark brown hair and looked like a much older, broader version of the angry wolf kid, except for the moustache and cooler temper. Maybe this was the beta of the group.
“Do you mean that cat thing? It was real?” I asked, playing it as dumb as I could.
Phelan rolled his stupid little eyes, shuffling in his oversized coat. They were all dressed similarly as if they’d rolled off the back of a lorry from a farmers’ convention. I wet my lips, chiding myself for the thought. It probably wouldn’t be a good idea to ask about their fashion sense when they were already on edge. I just had to keep the dumb mutt act going.
“Is this some kind of test? Who are you guys?”
The beta fella’s eyebrows knit together and he murmured to his alpha. “I think this kid is a bitten, Lyle. He’s going to be useless.”
“I knew I didn’t like you,” snapped Phelan, almost spitting at me. “Your scent is so off.”
“Well yours is pretty shit, mate, so I’m not too worried,” I replied, watching the anger rise in his eyes as he puffed up his skinny shoulders. He was much more impressive as a wolf than he was as a human. Maybe that was his problem.
The younger werewolf, who hadn’t spoken yet, chuckled. The alpha’s eyes were laughing, too, but he simply said, “Ignore him, son. Now, what did you say your name was?”
“I didn’t,” I replied, keeping a resilient frown on my face.
The old guy, Lyle, smiled some more. “Fiesty, son. Quick, too. Not bad for a bitten.” Of course, they’d mark that against me. I wasn’t a true werewolf in their eyes. I was just an outsider. “You were bitten, right?”
I scowled like the young werewolf I was supposed to be. “Maybe.”
“I don’t like bittens,” Phelan snapped, stabbing his fork viciously into the meat on his plate. Juices spilled from the flesh into his gravy. I was beginning to learn that most werewolves preferred their meat rare or just plain raw.
Lyle, the alpha, cleared his throat, readjusting himself in his seat. “That’s only because bittens had to prove they were physically worthy enough to be a wolf unlike some ungrateful cubs that are born into the life, and that makes you feel threatened.”
Phelan growled into his mouthful of meat, but didn’t dare to raise his eyes to Lyle. Was it just his alpha status, though, that made this old man scary or was it something else? The thought led me back to that unexplained missing finger on one of his hands. It would be better to get out of there as soon as I could.
“Look, son, we might have gotten off on the wrong foot. My name is Lyle and this is Fen,” he said, gesturing to the older man with the brown hair, “and his son, Phelan. And that quiet one over there is my grandson, Lowell.”
The kid with the calm brown eyes gave me a nod, his whole demeanour a hell of a lot warmer than his companions. If Lyle hadn’t told me that this was his grandson, I would have been wondering what he was doing hanging around with a group of werewolves that seemed to have personalities that clashed with his clearly quiet nature.
“Logan,” I muttered begrudgingly.
“Nice to meet you, Logan,” Fen replied crisply whilst his son grunted into his food, more pig than wolf. Lowell quietly shook my hand.
“So, I take it you guys are all friends then, or…?”
A short smile cupped Lyle’s lip as his grandson sat back in his chair. Those old eyes pierced my skin. “If what you’re asking is ‘are we a pack’ then the answer is yes. You haven’t met any real werewolves properly before, have you?”
“Not counting the one that bit me, not really,” I replied.
Violet had once said that the easiest way to believable undercover work was to be as truthful as possible and then you wouldn’t have too many lies to remember. Right now, that was the best advice I could ask for without calling and making her mad at me. These guys seemed to like the dumb bitten werewolf routine, though, so it might help if I stuck to that. They might even let something slip if I made myself seem like I was looking for a pack to join.
“I have a family friend, but he pretty much hates people, including other werewolves, and is always as grumpy as hell.”
Lyle laughed, his old eyes crinkling. Even Fen smiled, but the alpha’s quiet grandson remained expressionless and Phelan just shovelled some more food into his gob as if that would keep him from lurching across the table to bite me.
“I like you, son,” the old man muttered. Phelan glared from above his stuffed mouth. “You’re not afraid to say what you mean. But that isn’t why we invited you over to eat with us. I want to talk to you about that cat you saw. Can you tell me more about it?”
I shrugged, pretending that they’d finally set me at ease. My acting was superb. Violet really ought to let me go out on more of her cases. These guys were lapping up everything I said. “I just caught the scent really. It’s like nothing I’ve ever smelled before.”
The low, cool voice took me by surprise. Eyes whipped onto Lowell and then hastily returned to my face. But Lowell was watching me, the peace and quiet in his eyes suddenly a bit disturbing.
“He means really delicious,” Fen corrected, clearing his throat. “Get on with your story.”
I swallowed, keeping my gaze away from Lowell. “Well, it made me curious so I followed it a little way and then that thing sprang at me before I could even get a proper look. It must have heard me somehow, but I swear I was quiet. Only, it was like lightning anyway so I don’t suppose it matters how quiet I was. And then it disappeared maybe a couple of seconds before you guys showed up.”
“Where did it go?” Lyle asked, all friendliness and jokes forgotten and replaced by an intense expression.
“No idea,” I lied, shrugging again. “Could have gone down a hole or up a tree. I really didn’t get a chance to see.” My glance strayed to Phelan, openly accusing him of blocking the ‘cat’s’ escape from my sight. His eyes narrowed and he chewed harder.
Fen and Lyle exchanged a glance, too, but theirs seemed to trade something more substantial. What were they saying to each other and why couldn’t I interpret it?
“Okay, son,” Lyle said, finally turning back to me. It was like dining with a mob boss. “But if you see it again, you’ll let us know, right?”
Hesitation nearly caught me. The hair on the back of my neck prickled. “Why would I see it again?”
“Because you stink of it,” Phelan snapped through a mouthful of mashed potato. A hand on his arm cowed him and he returned to his meal.
Lyle looked back at me. “What he means is that the creature seems to have scented you pretty heavily so it must have liked you.”
Shit. That hadn’t even occurred to me. Did that mean they’d figured out that the ‘cat’ and I were a little bit more than new acquaintances? How hadn’t I realised this before? I swallowed, opening my mouth to respond when my iCom began to ring.
Please don’t let it be Jenna…
If that wasn’t the best dark fantasy excerpt to get your mouth watering for the next installation, then I don’t know what is! There will be one final free chapter before release day so why not preorder your copy?
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