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About the author:
Brogan lives in Ireland with her husband and their eleven furry children: five furry minions of darkness (aka the cats), four hellhounds (the dogs), and two traditional unicorns (fat, hairy Irish cobs).
In 2019 she decided to embrace her craziness by writing about the imaginary people that live in her head. Her first love is her number-one favourite furry child Bob the cob, then reading. When not reading or writing, she can be found knee-deep in horse poo and fur while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.
Here is a short sample from the book:
Head on my paws, I relax against the sun-dappled grass as the light filters through the trees above. The green light lays dancing patterns across me with the slight breeze. I love the sun on my fur. If I felt genuinely safe, I’m quite sure I would be lying on my back, legs akimbo, doing my best impression of a dead fly with the sun on my tummy.
Sad to say, I haven’t felt safe in what feels like forever, and being outside is the best I can achieve.
My name is Forrest. On the bad days, I repeat my name hundreds of times to remind myself that I was a girl once. A girl with green eyes and red hair.
Shit, I have been a wolf longer than I ever was a girl.
“Forrest”—did I imagine her? Some days I wish I had. It would be so much easier to let Forrest go, but I’m stubborn.
God, I hate my life. I bloody hate living with the constant fear of doing the wrong thing. No matter what they do to me, I can’t fight back. If I did, they would declare that I’m feral and use it as an excuse to kill me.
It’s fucked up.
I do a little stretch, my claws digging into the soft ground, my bum in the air, and then settle back to my noseying. The comforting smell of churned soil surrounds me.
It’s ridiculous that a bunch of shifters have the gall to treat me like a bad, unwanted dog. But what did I expect as someone stuck in wolf form?
I think maybe it’s a real deep-dark fear that they all have, knowing this could happen to them. One day, shifting into their furry form, and bam, not being able to turn back. Feral, wrong, and needing to be put out of their misery. I guess I can understand why I freak them out.
Why they hate me.
I’m sure they don’t realise that I’m me inside, hence the dog treatment. A feral shifter, the nightmare scenario where the animal takes over completely, is an uncommon phenomenon, and it’s not something I suffer from—I am not feral. I am the same person I’d be in my human skin. I’m in full control of myself—I am just stuck, and I don’t know how to transform back. No one knows how to change me back. My magic is defective, broken.
I huff out a breath. Not being able to communicate is bloody horrible and unbelievably frustrating. Isolation and growing up trapped as a wolf—especially a wolf treated like a literal dog— has been no easy task.
A ladybird lands on my paw. I sniff at it. Hello, little bug…I am so fucking lonely, but I would willingly embrace being an outcast if it would mean that they would just leave me alone. Sounds ridiculous, I know. I’ve learned over the years that my pack doesn’t have to like me—hell, I’ve given up trying. I only wish they didn’t take pleasure in hurting me.
The days keep coming, time keeps ticking, the world moves around me, and yet here I am, never changing.
I love this spot underneath the trees, where I remain unseen but can see everything. The Packhouse draws my gaze, the ostentatious monstrosity. Temple House—as it’s also called—with its five hundred acres, is located in Singleton, Lancashire. It is an extremely old house my mother built in the 14th century.
Mum was old as shit before she died. Shifters can live thousands of years, and my mum was a hard woman from a different time. She was tough on me and not one to coddle a child. Her focus was on teaching me things to help me survive. It always felt to me as if she raised me out of duty instead of love. Maybe if we had had more time…
Even so, I miss her. I miss my mum so much.
When I was little, my mum was concerned with my safety. Which looking back is ironic, as my mum unknowingly bought my current tormentors into our pack initially to protect us. Magic is commonplace, with all manner of people in our world: shifters, demons, witches, vampires, and an abundance of Fae. But there’s a divide among the races—creature versus creature, with pure humans struggling to survive.
As a shifter female, I was rare and coveted—our female birthrate is low. To keep me safe, my pack didn’t allow me to go to school. I was home-schooled—or home drilled, as it had felt at times. My mum had not enjoyed teaching me. Her subjects were varied and probably, thinking back, not suitable for a child. But my education was thorough, and by the time I was seven, I could speak several languages and skirmish like a proper demon.
It was kind of tragic that by the time I was nine, I would be unable to ever speak again. My mum was dead and I was stuck in my wolf form.
I hear the cars long before I see them. I lift my head and watch as two black vehicles wind their way up the tree-lined drive.
Oh, here they are, right on time. The Sunday lunch guests. Well, one guest, with her plethora of bodyguards to keep her safe. Not that I see anyone in their right mind trying to kidnap Liz. Ha, if they did, they would give her back pronto.
Liz Richardson. I curl my lip with my contempt. If you spent time with the cow, you’d understand. She’s a spoiled purebred wolf shifter with an attitude. Oh, she is all smiles and niceties when she wants something. But toward unimportant people—or in my case, animals—she definitely displays sociopathic tendencies.
Getting out of the car, Liz waves away her three hulking bodyguards as she answers her phone coming towards my hiding place with her mobile against her ear. Liz is dressed in a pretty pale blue summer dress today. The colour matches her eyes, and her brown hair is styled in a perfect bob.
Liz is, unfortunately, Harry’s girl. Harry is my stepbrother slash pack member. Can you call someone your stepbrother when both sets of your parents are dead? I give a mental shrug. Anyway, at a year older than me, he was sent away to boarding school when our parents died—perhaps to protect him from the feral wolf shifter at home, to make sure that what I had wasn’t catching.
I don’t know how many years passed—it is not like I have access to a calendar. But when Harry came back, my life improved massively with his input. Hugely. I owe a lot to Harry’s benevolence.
I think I was going insane before Harry came back home to live with the pack.
Shit, I don’t want to go back to those years—I would rather die. It still leaves me shaking when I recall them. For a long time, it was—
I shudder, close my eyes, and take an unsteady breath.
I will get to the point: they don’t hurt me as much with Harry around. He is my unintentional shield and their conscience.
I open my eyes. Liz is still on the phone, and she’s sauntering towards me. Shockingly I can hear a man on the other end. Ewww, gross—he is talking absolute filth to her. Oh, and spoiler alert, it isn’t Harry on the phone. This is a real problem, as today, from what I have overheard, is the day Harry and Liz are supposed to announce that they’re officially mating.
What is Liz doing…oh my God, is she cheating on Harry? Why on earth would she do that?
I scowl and wrinkle my snout with disgust as Liz finishes the call with a giggle. A little growl spills out without my permission, rumbling up from my chest. If I had hands, I would be slapping them against my muzzle about now to muffle that growl. What the heck was that! What was I thinking?
Liz freezes, and her eyes widen.
Her panicked gaze searches the garden and surrounding trees. She catches my eye, and I find myself trapped in her venomous blue glare.
Now would be a good time for the ground to swallow me up. I lower myself further down on my belly, trying desperately to make myself smaller. Liz’s expression changes to a confident, cocky sneer. She flashes her teeth at me in a warning.
“Oh, this is cute. Are you spying, dog?” Liz surreptitiously looks around again, and then she smooths her blue dress and picks imaginary lint off the skirt. I have no doubt she’s making sure we’re alone. “What are you doing out here? Shouldn’t you be in a cage somewhere?” She lets out an evil, over-the-top Cruella laugh and starts to strut toward where I’m huddling. “Bet you hate it, don’t you, dog? Are you jealous that I’m visiting my mate? That I’m having lunch with your pack? Hell, you’re not allowed to grace the floor in my presence. Does it upset you that I’m living my best life while you’re rotting away inside? How does it feel, dog, to know that when I join your pack, your days are numbered?” Liz narrows her eyes, stepping off the driveway and into the trees. She saunters closer to me, and the foliage rustles under her ridiculous high heels.
“What you heard just now is none of your business, not that you can do anything.” She sniffs and rolls her shoulders back. Crossing her arms underneath her breasts, she drops her voice to a whisper. “Between us, dog, the bitten shifter I’m fucking is far more fun than boring Harry.” Liz regards the house with a smirk. “To get this estate, I’d mate a troll. Everything that was yours is mine now, dog. So keep out of my way and I might ignore you.” She lets out another creepy laugh and glares at me again.
Huh. I tilt my head. I am sort of amazed at her impressive arsenal of nasty looks—Liz can contort her face into so many expressions.
“Fuck it, who am I kidding?” She suddenly screams as though someone’s torn off her arm.
I flinch in shock and flatten my ears at the shrill sound. I can barely hear the pounding of feet over her shrilling as the bodyguards come running.
I try my best not to panic. I wiggle back into the protection of the trees. Squirming like a worm, I inch slowly back on my belly. Nothing to see here, scary bodyguards. I’ve made a colossal mistake—why did I growl at her? I know better than to be seen, I know better than to react. I know better than to draw attention to myself, especially with this evil woman. Stupid.
As the bodyguards get closer, Liz flaps her arms about dramatically. She then holds her hands to her chest like she’s clutching a set of pearls. All the while, she is still screaming. Her three guards surround her protectively, and one of them literally picks her up and places her behind his bulk as he searches for the danger.
“It growled at me!” she whimpers feebly. If I weren’t so pissed, I’d be rolling my eyes. But my eyes are firmly focused on the bodyguards and the three swords pointed at me. Yes, swords! The three guards have silver swords. Fuckers.
It’s a little bit of overkill.
I tremble. I can smell the fear wafting off me. God, I hate being stabbed. I refuse to whine in terror. I’m still clinging desperately to my tattered pride and sanity.
“What is that doing out? I thought they killed it years ago,” one of them grumbles.
“Shame, what a waste, a broken female shifter. She could have been exceptional. Her mother was a beauty.”
The huge guy who’s blocking Liz from my imaginary threat and my previous fear-inducing growl huffs out a laugh and puts his sword away. He shakes his head. “You were chatting with her a minute ago. Don’t think I didn’t see you,” he reprimands, wagging his finger in Liz’s face. Liz grinds her teeth, and her eyes follow his finger as if she wants to bite it off. “You know she doesn’t understand what you’re saying. This little wolf is too far gone. But she’s not dangerous. Otherwise, there’s no way the council would allow you to visit.” He turns his back on me. “If she were dangerous, she would have done something when you played ‘football’ with her a few weeks ago.” He points the same meaty finger towards the house and propels Liz in that direction. “Get inside! This shit is getting old.”
Liz pulls a face and digs her heels into the ground, stopping her forward momentum. I guess she hasn’t finished with me yet.
“Football?” the grumbly one repeats incredulously. He too puts away his weapon, and he tilts his head to the side in question.
“Yeah, Liz thought she could kick the poor wolf like a ball.” All three of the guys turn and stare at Liz.
“That’s not very nice, Liz,” the grumbly one chides, shaking his head in disbelief. She shrugs, glaring, probably pissed that someone knows what she did.
The relief I feel at no longer being under their scrutiny is almost cathartic. I wiggle back a little more. Please ignore me, please ignore me, I chant with each wiggle.
“You need to kill it!” Liz swings back, pointing at me, a snarl on her face. I freeze. Uh-oh, oh shit. “Give me a sword. Give me a bloody sword. If you’re not going to kill it, I will!” The bodyguard closest to me still has his sword in his hand, and Liz attempts to grab it. She manages to get a good hold on his arm. She braces her feet and pulls the sword towards herself with an unladylike grunt.
“Whoa, what are you doing?” says the guard, his eyes wide with panic. They are probably matching my own.
Grabbing Liz not-so-gently by the shoulders, the huge guy turns her away from me again. Holding her elbows, he pins her arms to her sides. Liz struggles and snarls. “Are you nuts!” he shouts. “You could have cut yourself! What is wrong with you?” He shakes her a little. “A small nick and you’d be in a world of pain. You don’t mess about with silver!” He’s right—enough silver in the system of most creatures and it is fatal.
In shifters, silver stops the shift. As shifters, when we change forms, the magic repairs us at a cellular level. It’s the whole part-and-parcel of the magic and the entire reason we live so long. So a small amount of silver in a shifter’s system and we’re sitting ducks. If you can’t shift, you don’t heal—or, as I have found out over the years, you heal human-slow.
I use the distraction to slip away.
Shit, that was a close one. God, Liz is such a psycho. I shake off my fear as I run, dodging between the tightly packed trees. Pain shoots up my spine as my lame back legs protest the fast movement. I grit my teeth. The stiff limbs drag slightly behind me, not quite in sync. I follow the line of the driveway, and I slip around to the other side of the house.
Why is she so horrible?
If Liz thinks she can cheat on Harry with a bitten wolf and get away with it—well, she bloody well can’t!
What I can do, though, I have no idea—but Harry can’t mate with her. Liz will break his heart. Shifters mate for life—when you mate, you form a bond. It’s a beautiful, sacred thing. Better I fix this now rather than have Harry find out later.
I need a plan.
I need Liz’s phone.