Book Review – ShockWaves

ShockWavesShockWaves by Suzanna Williams

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

ShockWaves by Suzanna Williams is about Jack and Paige, two teenaged orphans who are linked telepathically. They can see what the other sees and feel what they feel through what they call shockwaves. The story picks up when Paige is kidnapped and Jack tries to save her. The action is well written and kept me turning the page.

Yet, the story is not without its flaws. No explanation is given as to why these complete strangers were mentally linked. I expected to read that they were twins separated at birth, or that they were together when a laboratory blew up and spewed a chemical cocktail into the air. But there was nothing.

There is a telepathic police officer in the story, but he wears glasses to block his special powers. You could remove his telepathy from his character and not change the story at all. Yes, he mentally tells Jack how to find a room he’s looking for, but Jack would have found it on his own.

The antagonist is a real nut job, but his reason for abducting Paige is flimsy. If he only wanted to vex the telepathic policeman, any girl would do. And yet he went out of his way to trap and keep Paige as if obsessed with her. I expected the policeman to dream of Paige when he took off his glasses at night, perhaps feeling her plight, but no such connection was made.

Despite its flaws, I enjoyed ShockWaves and recommend it to teen and pre-teen readers.

View all my reviews

Sample Sunday – The Bear, The Werewolf, and The Blogger

The Bear, The Werewolf, and The Blogger is the fifth book in my Amazing Wolf Boy series. Its predecessor had a lot of violence, as werewolf books sometimes do, so in this book, I decided to focus on non-violent issues. No werewolves were harmed in the making of this book.

The story takes place in 2008. It’s fun to look back and see all the changes we’ve been through. Today, blogs are commonplace. Not so much in 2008. Early bloggers were celebrities. So, I pitted Cody, my teen werewolf, against Storey Evans, a popular blogger who views herself as an investigative reporter.

When she was young, Storey witnessed her father being torn to shreds by a pack of werewolves. The horror of that night turned into a vendetta. She now runs a blog called Noneties—The Non-Human Entities Among Us. She is obsessed with exposing werewolves and other shapeshifters for the good of the public.

Now the blogger is after my werewolf, and he must outwit not only her but the multitude of monster hunters who follow in her wake. He does so with his usual bumbling humor.

If you read the previous books, you’ll remember that I like to use authentic Wiccan rituals in my stories. In The Bear, The Werewolf, and The Blogger, however, I detailed a Native American wedding instead. I hope you find it interesting.

And now, without further ado, here is an excerpt from The Bear, The Werewolf, and The Blogger.

BWB eCover



July 25, 2008, Loxahatchee, Florida

Brittany held my hand as she led me to the back porch. The stench of chlorinated water permeated the air. The filmy curtains stirred, letting in snatches of starlight. I slipped my arms around her. She pressed against me. Her lips found mine. Her kiss was grape-soda sweet. The wolf within me stirred, and it was all I could do to keep from transforming right there.

She pulled away, fumbling with her shirt. I stilled her fingers and undid the buttons. One button. Two buttons. She wore a bathing suit underneath. I slid my hands down the warm contours of her waist. With a little sigh, she pulled away and turned her back. I closed my eyes.

She gasped. “This feels so good.”

I unzipped my jeans and let them drop. I wore an old bathing suit. It was too small to begin with, but after Brittany’s kiss, it was noticeably snug. The only way to hide my bulging enthusiasm was to get into Aunt Lynette’s new hot tub. But as soon as my nethers hit the hot water, I was off like a rocket. My eyes crossed.

I said, “Uh.”

“Cody? Are you all right?”

I said, “Uh.”

“Don’t be such a baby. The water isn’t that hot.” She splashed me.

Behind us, a voice drawled, “That’s enough, you young’uns. This water’s for meditating, not splashing.”

I moaned and slipped sideways off the little plastic seat.

Aunt Lynette approached carrying a flickering candle. “Move your hairy legs, werewolf. This here tub’s supposed to hold six people.” She set the candle on the edge, climbed in opposite us, then dropped a muslin pouch into the water.

I sat gingerly beside Brittany. “What’s in the sack… er, the bag… er, what’s that?”

“Calming herbs,” she said. “We got to keep you under control, wolf boy.”

“I’m under control.” I glanced at Brittany. “Mostly.”

Just then a whiff of the stinking herbs hit me in the face. I sneezed. Brittany laughed and splashed me again.

Aunt Lynette leaned back. “This will be good for our rituals.”

“Better than that blow-up pool we had,” Brittany said. “Is Myra coming in?”

“She’s cleaning up supper.”

I stretched my arms over the top of the tub.

Brittany used my bicep as a pillow. “This is so relaxing.”

I felt like a teabag.

Aunt Lynette said, “I hear tell you’ll be moving soon.”

Not if I can help it.

“Actually, it’s been delayed,” I said. “There’s been some trouble at the construction site. Someone stole the kitchen sink.”

Brittany giggled as if incredulous. “The kitchen sink?”

“Yep. Still in the crate.”

Aunt Lynette said, “Where are you gonna be living again? In a barn?”

“An old stable. At the Richardson place.” I smiled at Brittany. “It’s supposed to have a hot tub, too. But only for two people.”

She gave an exaggerated pout. “I still don’t like the idea of you living so close to Ayanna. I’ve seen how she looks at you.”

Ayanna had had a crush on me since the day we met.

“She’s a member of my pack. And a friend,” I said. “But she knows it won’t go further than that.”

Brittany snuggled against me. “Better not. I’ll turn her into a toad. I’m a Witch Queen, you know.”

Aunt Lynette barked a raucous laugh. “Not yet you ain’t.”

Brittany cast her an angry glare. Aunt Lynette shot her one right back.

Uh-oh. Touchy subject.

Hurriedly, I said, “I thought Eileen was going to join us.”

“She was on the phone with a florist,” Brittany said. “Wedding stuff.”

“Ah.” I nodded. It was hard not to be excited about the wedding. William’s joy was contagious. What would it be like to have someone promise to stay with you forever? Even my own mother hadn’t managed that feat.

“In a Wiccan wedding, everyone would bring flowers to decorate the altar,” Aunt Lynette said. “Just go out to a field and pick ‘em.”

“Must be a beautiful ceremony,” Brittany said.

“We call it handfasting,” Lynette said, “and in the eyes of the goddess they would be one. But she insists on observing tribal ways.”

“They aren’t actually getting married, though, right?” Brittany said. “I mean it isn’t legal.”

“In the eyes of the American government, no, it ain’t legal.”

“It could be,” I blurted. “You can get married in Florida at sixteen.”

Aunt Lynette snorted. “Well, her aunt refused to sign off on her, and her poor mother ain’t here to tell her no.”

“They’re in love. Would you tell them no?”

“Durn tootin’ I would. They ain’t knowed each other but a matter of weeks. Takes longer than that to recognize love.”

“I disagree,” Brittany said. “I believe in love at first sight.”

I said, “I fell in love with you the first time I saw you crossing the parking lot at Video Stop.”

She smiled. “You never told me that.”

I kissed the top of her head.

“That’s smitten,” Aunt Lynette grumbled. “There’s a difference between being smitten and being in love.”

“Cody?” Myra called from the doorway. “Bob and Rita are here. They said they’d wait for you in the truck.”

I sat up straight. “They’re early. Or am I late?”

Brittany moved to stand up. “That was a short soak.”

“No, you stay. I can see myself out.”

“Okay. Remember, tomorrow’s Saturday. We’re going down to Tamiami with Eileen in the morning.”

“I’ll be ready.” I climbed out of the tub then leaned for a goodbye kiss. “Smitten you.”

“Smitten you, too.”

I balled up my clothes, picked up my shoes, and stepped out the back door. The night air felt cool on my overheated skin. Eileen and William’s impending wedding played in my head. Could there be such a marriage between Brittany and me? Every time I mention it, she just smiles. She says she loves me—but only after I say it first.

I circled the side of the house and passed the carport where Brittany’s lime green Beetle sat parked for the night. As I walked, I glanced around for Haff, Brittany’s dog. There was no sign of him. Probably out chasing rabbits. I approached my uncle’s truck.

“Hoo-whee, boy.” Uncle Bob waved a hand as if I stank. “What have you been doing?”

“Aw, they put some herbs in the hot tub,” I said. “I’ll shower when I get home.”

“We aren’t going home.” Rita turned her dazzling white smile on me. “The Richardsons invited us over for drinks and to see the latest improvements on the stone cottage.”

Oh crap. Was the thing finished?

“I’ll thank you to ride in the back,” Uncle Bob said.

As if I rode anywhere else. I climbed into the truck bed and settled in, still dripping, next to the toolbox. And just like that, we were off to see the Richardsons and the stable/cottage.

* * *

Dick, Chloe, and Ayanna Richardson lived on an old horse farm on the outskirts of the small town of Loxahatchee. No horses, of course. Horses weren’t fond of werewolves. Their house was Spanish style, as were so many others in the area—red-tiled roof, beige stucco walls, arched windows. It was a distance away from ours, which was one of the reasons Uncle Bob was so keen on moving into their backyard. By the time we reached the long, dusty slope of their driveway, I was dry, although still reeking of herbs. I squirmed to pull on my t-shirt and jeans without standing up.

Dressed in a colorful dashiki with a kufi cap, Dick Richardson stood in the yard admiring the row of spindly flowers lining the front porch. The weather-beaten plants looked more suitable for Africa than South Florida. Dick loved anything African. Behind the house, the silhouette of a huge baobab tree rose over the roof. The trunk was easily fifteen-feet wide. It was made of concrete and rebar, but it looked real.

Uncle Bob pulled his truck behind the Richardson’s mustard-yellow Winnebago, and Dick walked over to open the door for Rita.

“Halloo,” he rumbled. “Welcome, welcome.”

“Thank you, kind sir,” Rita said.

Chloe stepped out of the house. She was dressed as brightly as her husband. A turban tamed her thick hair. The two women hugged as if they hadn’t seen each other the day before.

“What’s that odd odor?” Dick asked.

“Cody,” Uncle Bob said.

All eyes turned to me. Like I was the puppy who had been rolling in it. Without another word, they traipsed around the house to the backyard, Rita and Chloe arm-in-arm and Dick and Uncle Bob side-by-side. I climbed down from the pickup and slunk after them.

The backyard was wide and flat. The only sound came from the splashing of the fake waterfall and the crickets around the koi pond. The only light was starlight. A shadow moved on the patio, and Ayanna glided silently toward me. She took my hand. We followed the adults to the dreaded stone cottage.

We’d started calling it the stone cottage because the walls were made of big round stones, probably excavated from the horse pastures. As homes went, it wasn’t bad. Low to the ground with small irregular windows. I wiped my feet as I stepped over the threshold. The living room smelled faintly of horses. There was no electricity and so no lights, but werewolves didn’t need light to see.

“What I wanted to show you is this,” Dick said with his booming voice.

Everyone crowded into the kitchen. The skylight above showed the starry sky.

“Well, what do you think?” Dick waved a hand as if performing a magic trick. “We have a kitchen sink. The workers cannot or will not say what happened to the original. But no matter. This is a nice upgrade.”

“It’s beautiful,” Rita cooed. She ran her hand over the tiled interior. It looked like a blue and gray mosaic.

“Imported from India by way of Home Depot,” Dick said. “I now declare this abode occupant ready.”

I groaned. Again, all eyes turned to me.

“I sense apprehension from you, young master,” Dick said.

Ayanna elbowed me and whispered, “Tell them.”

I cleared my throat. “It’s just that… Well, my father always says familiarity breeds contempt. We’re all friends now, but how friendly will we be when we start living together?”

“We’re more than friends,” Uncle Bob growled. “We’re packmates. And we’re moving in.”

He shot me a glare that struck me cold. His reprimand was not only in his eyes and words but in the link, the telepathic bond that connected the members of the pack. Uncle Bob was the pack master, but it didn’t seem to agree with him. The weight of command made him sullen and authoritarian. I nodded and took a half-step back, although I hated myself for doing it. Uncle Bob was my friend. What was happening between us?

“This calls for wine.” Chloe’s smile was as bright as her turban. “Come to the house. I believe Concepcion is ready for us.”

I led the way, fleeing the cottage as if it held my doom. We filed onto the patio of the main house.

The Richardson’s housekeeper, Concepcion, was lighting a pair of citronella candles she’d placed at either end of a platter of finger sandwiches. My favorite was her fairy bread. White bread heavily buttered and dunked in sprinkles.

I sat at the table and looked out at the silent yard. A few lightning bugs flitted around the flowers surrounding the koi pond.

Dick pulled out a wine bottle. “You won’t have tried this one. It is Ifrikia Rouge Reserve from Tunisia, produced in the foothills of the Atlas Mountains.” He poured a measure into four glasses. The wine had a deep maroon color.

Rita took a glass, sniffed, and sipped. “It’s delightful. Tangy aftertaste. Is that… raspberry?”

Dick laughed and sat. “You have a discerning tongue.”

Concepcion came out with a couple of root beers for Ayanna and me.

Chloe passed over empty wine glasses. “Don’t drink out of the can, Ayanna. It is unseemly for a young lady.”

“Which brings us to our next announcement,” Dick announced. “In one week, our little flower will turn fifteen.”

“It is a milestone birthday,” Chloe said. “In Africa, the celebration would draw a hundred people. Or more.”

“Here, it is only us. But our celebration will be no less heartfelt. I invite you to join us next Friday for our party.” Dick raised his glass. “To Ayanna.”

“To Ayanna,” we answered in unison and drank.

Ayanna looked both embarrassed and pleased.



Saturday morning, I was up at daybreak. Time to meet the fam. It was an hour drive to the Tamiami Trail Indian Reservation, and Brittany and Eileen wanted to get an early start. Technically, my presence wasn’t necessary since I wasn’t a member of the wedding party. I was Support Guy. I combed my hair and tied it into a tail and put on my white dress shirt and good shoes. The ones that squeaked when I walked. No tie. I wasn’t worried about impressing the tribal elders. I just wanted to make Brittany happy.

Uncle Bob and Rita were still asleep, their bedroom door closed. My father slept on the couch where he’d put down roots ever since he left my mom. He snuffled a soft snore. I tiptoed through the living room and out to the front porch. Even at sunrise, the air was hot and muggy. Birds squawked in the trees, and rabbits stirred the underbrush. We lived in a sub-division that backed into a forest. Loxahatchee was in the northern tip of the Everglades.

I closed my eyes and stretched out with my senses. Brittany and I had a sort of link, a bond that tied us together. I felt her across the distance, knew she was on her way. Her presence was as warm as a hug. A few minutes later, the girls drove up in Eileen’s woody station wagon.

I bounded down the stairs and leaned in through Brittany’s open window. “Good morning. You look nice.”

She did, too. Her spiky hair was tipped in blue, and her lips were blue to match. She wore a dark, sleeveless dress that showed off the creamy paleness of her skin.

Brittany smiled. “So do you.”

She slid over on the bench seat, and I slid in. From the driver’s seat, Eileen gave me a strained smile. Not her usual laid-back self. I wanted to ask why she was bothering to get married when the preparations made her so miserable. Then I thought about marrying Brittany. I would endure anything to be with her.

Eileen was a nudist, but the last few times I’d seen her, she’d worn clothes. Today it was a sundress with bright green flowers. She was changing. For William. I wondered if someday she would resent it.

She backed the car down the gravel driveway, and we headed out. Eileen’s car didn’t have air conditioning. Worse, it only had AM radio, and the only station it got in was an oldies station. Brittany and Eileen sang along with the tunes. I didn’t join in, although I recognized a few of the songs. They brought to mind riding in the old convertible with Mom when I was a kid. She loved the oldies. But Mom lived in Massachusetts and I lived down here, so there was that.

We took I95 south toward Miami. Rush hour hadn’t even started yet, and already traffic was a nightmare. But we made good time, and soon we were taking side streets to the Reservation. Tamiami was more city than a town. Crowded and bustling.

“Wow,” I blurted. “It looks like anywhere else.”

Brittany laughed. “What did you expect? Tepees?”

My cheeks turned warm. “Well, no. Of course not.” Only I guess I kind of had.

“You’re thinking of the traditionals,” Eileen said. “They live west down Tamiami Trail. Look there.” She pointed to a four-story building with an orange overhang and flags out front. The sign said Miccosukee Administration Building. “That’s where I had to go to get permission to have the wedding on tribal land.”

“But William is a member of the tribe,” I said.

“They have a matriarchal society. Everything goes through the mother, and my mother was mostly Norwegian.”

“You should have the ceremony at home. At our house.” Brittany shrugged. “We have a nice, big yard.”

“Will wants it on the reservation. He wants us to live here.”

“Ah.” I nodded. “For all the free benefits.”

Eileen clucked her tongue. “There are no free benefits. You can rent a house pretty cheap, and the healthcare is good. Will gets a dividend check each month from the casino, but that’s money earned by the tribe. It’s not free.”

Brittany chuckled. “You sound like you’re already a member.”

“I’m starting to realize that I’ll never be part of the tribe.” She sighed. “I just want a place to belong, you know. Somewhere I fit in. Since Mom died…”

“You fit in with us. You have a home. We don’t want you to leave.”

“There’s no place for me there. Not now that Myra’s back. Whoever heard of a coven with four people? No one, that’s who.” Her sigh became ragged. “I love Will. I figured we’d get married sooner or later. Why not sooner? But Lynette wants me to have a Wiccan ceremony. Will wants tribal customs on tribal land. Lynette insists we marry on the new moon or the Goddess won’t bless us. Will says we can’t be ready that soon. I feel torn in half.”

We pulled into a sub-division. The houses were small, the yards large, some well-kept, others not so much. Just like any other neighborhood.

“Is this where Will lives?” Brittany asked.

“His mother.” Eileen stared out the windshield, her hands white-knuckled on the steering wheel. “I haven’t met his uncle yet. A mother’s oldest brother has a very important role in the family. If he doesn’t like me, I’m afraid the whole thing will be off.”

As we pulled into a driveway, William stepped outside. He also wore a white dress shirt, but his shirt was stretched over bulging muscle. Fitting, since he could turn into a bear. But that was a secret. I don’t think even his mother knew. He opened the door for Eileen then took her in his arms and kissed her like we weren’t there. Brittany smiled at me, crinkling her nose in the way that I loved.

I got out of the car then held out my hand for her. Sunlight caught her dark dress, drawing hints of deepest purple. She wore her usual combat boots and carried a kid-sized My Little Pony backpack for a purse.

A woman stepped onto the porch. Chelsea Osceola, Story Keeper of the tribe and William’s mother. She had long, black hair and wore a red-and-yellow patchwork skirt.

I gave her a little bow. “Chehuntamo.”

Her dark eyes sparkled as if she were suppressing a laugh. “Chehuntamo. It’s good to see you both again. Brittany, I understand you will be Eileen’s maid of honor.”

“Yes, ma’am,” Brittany said.

“Please come inside. Many of the family are already here.”

We followed Chelsea into the house. The living room was crowded. As we entered, everyone stood. I felt like I was at an inspection.

Chelsea said, “This is Brittany. She stands with the bride. And this is Cody, her plus one.”

That’s me. Support Guy.

A shriveled old man squinted at us through wire-rimmed glasses. “I see your auras. Oh, yes.”

My smile froze, belying the alarm that shot through me. Howard, William’s father, could tell I was a werewolf by simply looking at my aura. Was that an Indian thing? I couldn’t afford to have anyone else know my secret.

William and Eileen entered. The screened door banged behind them.

“And this is Eileen,” Chelsea announced.

A tall man stepped forward. He had bronze skin, gray-streaked hair, and wore a crisp dress shirt, long-sleeved in spite of the growing heat.

William said, “This is Michael, my mother’s oldest brother.”

Eileen held out her hand. “How do you do, sir?”

The man took her hand in both of his. “Eileen. We have many questions for you.”

“And we have questions for all of you,” William said.

Michael frowned. “You do?”

“I want my father to preside over the ceremony.”

Even Eileen looked shocked. A pervasive mutter rose.

“Nokosi!” someone spat.

Michael’s face darkened. “Your father is banned from tribal land. You know this.”

“I ask that the ban be lifted.”

The voices fell to shocked silence. Howard had been shunned after he got drunk one night and turned into a bear while in a bar. No one was hurt except Joseph Achak, his intended target. Still, he made a lot of people nervous.

“No,” one man said. “That isn’t possible.”

“He is not welcome,” said another.

“My father is a Navajo medicine man,” William said. “He is qualified to preside.”

Michael motioned at the shriveled man. “Barney can—”

William’s voice rose. “I am within my rights.”

From the back of the room, an elderly man said, “The council has already ruled on the matter of Howard Shebala.”

“If my father is not allowed,” William said, “then I will leave. That will be to the tribe’s detriment. The census is already dangerously low. This marriage is as important to you as it is to me.”

This was apparently jaw-dropping news to everyone but Chelsea.

“Coffee?” she asked us.

“I’d love some.” Brittany smiled.

We followed Chelsea to the kitchen, leaving William and Eileen to hammer out the wedding details.

The kitchen smelled like hot grease and sugar. Two women danced around as if choreographed. One fished doughy disks out of a countertop deep fryer while the other dusted them with powdered sugar.

Chelsea said, “These are my sisters, Marjory and Susan.”

“Hello,” I murmured.

“Frybread,” the younger of the sisters said. “Have one.”

My mouth watered. I wrapped a napkin around a six-inch round of hot goodness. A depression in the center held a spoonful of berry jam. I sat at a table that was piled high with paper plates and cups. Brittany joined me with her cup of coffee. A steady breeze streamed through the open window, making the checkered curtain flap. I couldn’t tell if it was hotter outside or in the kitchen.

“How long have you known Willie?” the oldest woman asked.

“Just a few months,” I said.

“Harrumph. He speaks as if he’s known you his entire life.”

“I’ve known Eileen for years,” Brittany said.

Laughter came from the backyard.

The woman cocked her brow. “Perhaps you would be more comfortable outside with the other children.”

Do we look like children?

Chelsea blushed and gave a sheepish shrug. “It’s cooler out there.”

We stood obediently. I snagged another frybread as we went out.

The backyard was a wide expanse of green. No fences. Children ran everywhere. One group played an informal version of lacrosse. Another group took turns climbing a tree and jumping from the branches. Brittany and I sat together at a patio table. A wide overhang shaded the porch, and ceiling fans kept the breeze moving.

Brittany sipped her coffee. A short distance away, a group of twelve-year-old girls huddled together, grinning and glancing over their shoulders at us. When they noticed I was looking at them, they giggled.

I sighed and leaned toward Brittany. “Look, I have something to tell you, and I don’t think you’ll like it.”

“Oh, boy.” She set down her cup.

“Last night when my uncle picked me up—”

A girl appeared at the table. She wore a pink dress and had ribbons in her braids. Her dark eyes trained on Brittany. “Is it true you’re a witch?”

Brittany smiled. “I am. But not the Halloween kind. I use my powers for good.”

The girl nodded. I gave her an indulgent smile, and she returned to the knot of giggling girls.

“Anyway,” I said. “Last night, we went to the Richardson’s and… The stone cottage is ready for us to move in.”

“Oh.” She looked stunned. “Did you tell them you didn’t want to?”

“Yeah. I said it was a bad idea and that it would ruin our friendship and—”

“Oh my gosh, it’s true?” Two more girls appeared at the table. “Can you put spells on people?”

“I can,” Brittany said, “but that’s not what being Wiccan is all about. We want to understand nature and live in harmony with the world around us.”

“Ooh,” they crooned.

I smiled and nodded as they slipped away. “So, yeah, I told them I didn’t want to. Then my uncle gave me the look. I really don’t see how I’m going to—”

Three other girls approached. They hung on each other as if needing support. “Can you ride a broom?”

“What kind of question is that?” I bellowed. “Go on. Get out of here. All of you.”

They squealed and scurried away, laughing.

I realized I was halfway out of my chair and sat back down. “You can’t, right?”

She shrugged. “I don’t know. I never tried.”

The door creaked open, and William stepped out. He sat at the table with us. “Thank you both for coming. It means a lot.”

“No problem,” I said. “Did you get everything straightened out about your Dad?”

“I think I have them convinced.” He grinned.

“Excellent,” I said.

“Will you have the wedding here?” Brittany motioned to the swath of grass behind the houses. The lacrosse game was breaking up.

“There’s a nearby park,” William said. “The land must be consecrated, blessed every sunrise and sunset for seven days. The problem is, they play lacrosse there, too. We had to wait until after a scheduled game to start the blessings.”

“That’s why you couldn’t have the wedding this weekend.”

He nodded. “It’s the perfect place, though. Should be plenty of room. Eileen wants a maypole.”

I frowned. “Isn’t that supposed to be in the spring?”

William raised his eyebrows.

“Hey, you! Stop that!” Brittany leaped to her feet, glaring at a tall boy who was shoving around a smaller one.

The kid scowled at her then pushed his victim again. The boy fell. Like a shot, she was down the green slope and in his face. William and I hurried after her. Turned out, the tall kid wasn’t a kid after all—he was our age. He towered over Brittany.

She poked him in the chest. “Who do you think you are?”

“I don’t answer to the likes of you,” he growled.

“Is that right? You think you’re scarier than me because you’re Native American?”

His ruddy face darkened further. “I may be Native, but my people were here long before yours.”

One of the girls snickered. “Better watch out, Thomas. She’s a witch. Turn you into a toad.”

He took a half-step back. “A witch?”

“You hurt?” Brittany helped the younger boy to his feet.

“No, ma’am. Thank you, ma’am.” He stared wide-eyed for a moment then ran off. A group of lacrosse players ran with him.

William said, “On your way, cousin.”

Thomas snorted and trudged off. Three cronies trailed in his wake.

“You know him?” Brittany crooked her thumb.

“Aunt Marjory’s youngest.” William nodded. “He’s a bit of a bully.”

“I’ll say.” Brittany huffed out her breath.

“C’mere, fierce one.” I chuckled and kissed the top of her head.

The door slammed, and Eileen hurried toward us. “Y’all come in and get some brunch. Don’t you leave me in there all on my own.”

“Sorry.” Brittany hugged her.

William clapped me on the back. The four of us traipsed back to the house. I noticed Thomas and his cronies eyeing us from a distance.

Did that whet your appetite for more? I hope so. You can buy The Bear, The Werewolf, and The Blogger at your favorite eBook store or get it in paperback. And be sure to leave a short review. I’d love to hear what you think of it.

Book Review – The Wrath of the Revenant

The Wrath of the Revenant (The Adventures of Tremain & Christopher, #3)The Wrath of the Revenant by Terry Marchion

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Adventures of Tremain and Christopher are short, fast-paced books meant for young teenagers. I don’t fit within that demographic, but I still enjoy them. The Wrath of the Revenant is the third book in the series, but don’t let that keep you from picking it up. The author lays enough groundwork to keep the reader from being confused even if they haven’t read the first two.

In The Wrath of the Revenant, Tremain and Christopher encounter an ancient, all-powerful being who threatens the colony of New Earth. The storyline hearkens back to Saturday afternoon sci-fi, and as I read, I could see myself with a bucket of popcorn curled up in front of the television.

The story was engaging. The characters not so much. I was disappointed in how different they were from the first two books. I can see Christopher changing. He’s getting older and even has a new girlfriend. (That seems to be the theme of the book–Tremain has an unexpected girlfriend, too.) But Uncle Tremain was noticeably subdued. I missed his wacky antics, dry wit, and forgetfulness. I hope he’ll be back to his eccentric old self in the next book.

That said, I enjoyed The Wrath of the Revenant and recommend it to anyone who wants a quick, fanciful read, whether you’re a teenager or not.

View all my reviews

Free eBooks Now Through Cyber Monday

Middle-Grade kids read a lot in school, but that can seem a chore. They need to be able to read for fun.

If your child loves magic, I have two books on Kindle they will enjoy. FREE THIS WEEKEND. The Adventures of the Power Girls takes place on an island in the Florida Keys. There are magic stones, friendly dolphins, and a castle made of chocolate. But beneath all that, the books are about believing in yourself and standing up for what you believe is right.

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In KEEPERS OF MAGIC, Emma Rose is ten years old. She has four best friends and an older sister who loves to play pranks on her. She is as normal as a girl can be. Until the morning when she wakes up with blue streaks in her hair. At first, she thinks it is another of her sister’s pranks. But when she gets to school, she finds out that her friends have streaks in their hair, too. Red, green, purple, white. What’s worse, they all have magical powers. Emma has to get to the bottom of this. An old book leads her and her friends to a secret island in the Florida Keys. There they find a queen in a chocolate castle. The queen agrees to teach them about their new powers. Little do they know that this is just the beginning of the adventures of the power girls.

Get the eBook for free on Amazon.

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In ISLAND OF MAGIC, Emma Rose and her best friends are leaving for boarding school. This is no ordinary school, and Emma and her friends aren’t ordinary girls. They have magical powers. The Academy of Elemental Magic will teach them how to use their powers. It lies inside a sleeping volcano on the Island of Magic. But when Emma and her friends arrive, they find that the island is being poisoned. The magical fog that protects it from prying eyes is disappearing. Some of the students have gotten sick. Some have even lost their powers. Emma has to find out why. However, when her investigation uncovers a conspiracy among the students themselves, no one will believe her—not even her best friends. Emma is on her own. Her only hope is to heal the island. But the poor island’s weakening defenses has allowed enemies to reach its shores. Her powers are not strong enough to battle an evil sorceress who can control the weather. Can she foil the plot in time to save the Island and the girls who live there before more enemies appear?

Get the eBook for free on Amazon.

You might notice that the book covers look like they were drawn by a ten-year-old. That’s because they were. I wrote these books with the help of my two young granddaughters. They dictated. I typed.


If your child’s tastes run more toward puppies, I have an excellent read for them. VIOLET AND THE MISSING PUPPY is my most popular middle-grade book. It teaches the danger of judging people. When her friends lose their puppy after only one week, eleven-year-old Violet thinks they are irresponsible. But as time goes by, she realizes the puppy is in real trouble. She needs to put aside her feelings and solve the mystery or little Snowball might die. The book is also about family values. Violet never wants to include her little sister, but in the end, she must rely on her help to save the puppy.

Get the eBook for free on Amazon.

How to Format Your Novel

Also free this weekend is my popular tutorial, HOW TO FORMAT YOUR NOVEL FOR CREATESPACE. Formatting your novel for publication can be a maddening experience, but it’s not nearly as difficult or time-consuming as writing the book in the first place. Just follow these steps and before you know it, you will be a proud author. And you should be proud. You’ve accomplished something amazing. HOW TO FORMAT YOUR NOVEL FOR CREATESPACE is a writing tool to help you self-publish with Amazon. The step-by-step guide will take you from MS Word to published author—and you don’t have to be a Word power user to understand it. Note: This guide is written for CreateSpace, but it will help you format for other platforms as well. Also, while the tips cite MS Word, they work with most word processing programs.

Get the eBook for free on Amazon.

And don’t forget my science fiction trilogy for teens, COLONIAL SCOUTS, is on sale now through the end of November for only 99 cents each. The Colonial Scouts are an elite group of teenage explorers who seek out habitable planets for the Colonial Expansion Board. They travel through space via programmable wormholes.

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In ALIEN WORLDS, a brilliant girl with a dark past dreams of escaping the streets by becoming a Scout. Because she is homeless, she feels she must study twice as hard to get into the program. The day before her final exam, however, a transporter malfunction sends her jumping uncontrollably from planet to planet. Although the error could be corrected from inside the wormhole, the Board decides she is too young to understand that level of tech. Will she prove them wrong? Or will she die on an alien world?

ALIEN WORLDS is about trusting yourself and others.

Get the eBook for 99 cents on Amazon.

Alien Jungle Kindle Cover

In ALIEN JUNGLE, a new Scout wants desperately to prove himself to both the Board and to his girlfriend. But when he leads a rescue party to a failing colony, everything goes against him. His estranged father turns out to be the leader of the settlement. The colonists think he is inept because he is a teenager. And his disgruntled teammates think he was named team leader because of his dad. He can tell no one about his secret mission to save only fifteen of the seventy people. Will he follow orders, leaving the rest of the colonists to die? Or will he find a way to save them all?

ALIEN JUNGLE is about accepting yourself and others.

Get the eBook for 99 cents on Amazon.


In ALIEN SEAS, a girl who is drowning in siblings hopes that if she becomes a Scout she will rise above her brothers and sisters and shine. But when a man dies because of her mistake, she leaves the elite program and returns home a failure. Her homecoming is even worse than she imagined, however. Her twin brother is missing. Despite warnings from the authorities, she searches for him and embroils herself in a growing mystery with far-reaching consequences. Will she save her brother from himself? Or will he save her?

ALIEN SEAS is about forgiving yourself and others.

Get the eBook for 99 cents on Amazon.

These eBooks are on sale for a limited time, so don’t delay. I hope everyone has a wondrous holiday season. Keep on reading!

Book Excerpt – The Amazing Wolf Boy

What happens when a bumbling nerd becomes a werewolf and finds he has superpowers? Listen here and find out!

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That’s right! The Amazing Wolf Boy is now an audiobook at Audible. You can get it free with Audible’s 30-day trial membership.

Here’s the story: Cody Forester plans to become a doctor. Instead, he becomes a werewolf. The first time Cody shows fang and fur, his parents ship him off to live with his black sheep uncle. His revised career choice is social hermit. As the new kid, he makes more enemies than friends. His high school teachers label him a troublemaker. The whole town hates him.

Except Brittany. She’s beautiful, with her eyes painted black and her lips dark purple. When Brittany discovers his secret, she tries to cure him using crystals, candles, and magic potions. Cody falls head-over-tails in love, but he can never tell her. Girls like her aren’t for him. He’s the amazing wolf boy. Astound your family and mystify your friends.

While Cody moons over Brittany, a murderous pack of lycanthropes howl into town. They want Cody to join them. When he refuses, they kidnap Brittany and threaten to kill her at moonrise. Cody must master his untried superpowers or the girl he loves dies. Can he defeat the pack and save both their lives?

The Amazing Wolf Boy has been described as cute, sweet, and funny, certainly not your average werewolf story. Give it a try on Audible.

Or if you prefer print or eBook, you can find it on Amazon. Or look for it at these fine bookstores. Here’s an excerpt to get you started.




by Roxanne Smolen


I’ll never forget the night my life ended.

It was Christmas Eve, 2007, and I was in France with my parents at Maison Kammerzell, one of those fancy historic restaurants. The room glowed with plastic icicles. Ropes of apples and mistletoe hung from the ceiling. My tie felt like a noose and my suit coat a straitjacket.

We were dining on le Reveillon, a holiday feast of roast capon, which is a castrated chicken, and boudin blanc, which always tastes like vanilla pudding to me. My mother waved her hands as she described in detail the Christmas decorations at the Charity Ball she chaired. I love my mother, I really do, but give her a glass of wine and she can outtalk an auctioneer. My father listened with a rapt expression, letting her build up steam. I thought about my DS back in the hotel room. Out the window, beyond the reflection of red and gold holiday lights, I saw a full moon.

As if someone threw a switch inside my head, my senses came alive. The room rang with the clink of china and crystal. The string quartet, whose Christmas Carols had gone all but unheard in the hectic atmosphere, now played sharp and clear.

Scents rose from my table and mixed with those from surrounding tables. I put down my fork, staring at my plate. My nose told me that the poor, mutilated rooster I’d been eating was stuffed with rosemary. The bird reeked. I couldn’t believe I’d put that in my mouth. It made my skin crawl. For real. I could see the hair on the back of my hands stand up.

Hair on my hands? When did that happen?

Before I thought of a satisfactory explanation, agony gripped me. I clutched the sides of my head. It felt as if my skull cracked open as if someone pulled off my face. My teeth ached so bad I couldn’t close my lips. Drool dribbled down my chin. I covered my mouth with my hands and froze.

It didn’t feel like me. The nose was flat. The jaw protruded. I ran my tongue over my teeth. They were long and sharp. Like fangs. I leaped to my feet, almost knocking over my chair. While my mother prattled on about the ball, I rushed from the table.

My only thought was to hide. It might have made sense to yell for help, both my parents are doctors, but I didn’t want the other diners to see me. So I zigzagged through the tables with my napkin to my face, dodging curious stares. Panic churned the over-spiced food in my stomach.

I reached the lobby. A couple came in arm-in-arm through the door, and another couple greeted them. They laughed and shook hands, blocking the exit. A man stepped out of the men’s room, while two others went inside. Couldn’t hide there. Too busy. The smell of leather and fur radiated from the coatroom. When the distracted coat-check girl turned her back, I ducked inside.

Excruciating pain wracked my body. Every muscle clenched and twisted. I felt as if my bones shrank and elongated at the same time. Sweat poured from my skin. I tore off my suit coat and unbuttoned my shirt, gasping as cool air hit my chest. Trapped in a sort of mental haze, I climbed behind the mink and sable wraps.

My father’s voice snapped me to wakefulness. “I’m looking for my son, Cody.”

It sounded like he was at the front desk. I could walk that far. Still sweating, I got to my feet.

All four feet.

I yelped, and the sound that burst from my throat was not human. I stared at sleek silver paws. As I stumbled forward, my pants slid from my hindquarters.

“Cody? Are you in here?” my father called.

Before I saw him, I smelled him—from his shampoo to his shoe polish to the residue of dinner that clung to his pores. He stood in the doorway of the coatroom, his face unreadable. Then he said, “For crying out loud.”

Not knowing what else to do, I barreled past my father into the restaurant lobby. My paws clattered on the smooth floor, and my hind legs skittered sideways. I saw wood paneling and spiral staircases. People stood everywhere. Someone screamed. The maître d’ shouted something I couldn’t understand.

Then I caught a puff of chilled, fresh air. I scraped and skidded toward the door, trying to spread my weight over four legs, and accidentally slammed my shoulder into a man’s hip. He fell, and the impact bounced me into a twenty-foot Christmas tree. One of my hind feet snagged a strand of holiday lights; the tree swayed and tinkled.

I bounded out the open door, leaping for freedom, and hitting the pavement on all fours. Lights flashed and dazzled my eyes. The sound of traffic roared. The stench of motor oil and hot rubber rose in swells. Pedestrians came from all directions. They trampled me and cussed, or jumped back like I was rabid. I scrambled to get out of the way.

I scented water and remembered passing a fountain on the way to the restaurant. I headed toward the smell at a trot, thinking it would be quieter there, and caught my reflection in a storefront window.

I was a dog. A large, silver dog with a short yellow tail. How could it be true? It had to be a dream.

Keep to the sidewalk. Try to look inconspicuous. Just a big fluffy pet wearing a necktie. My tongue lolled to the side. I closed my mouth but it dropped open again as if my teeth were too large to contain.

The fountain was not as deserted as I hoped. It was a meeting place for lovers. Some of the girls squealed and pointed. Several couples hurried away. Maybe they thought I had rabies. I stood there, not knowing where to go or what to do. I felt scared and confused.

But also intrigued. I smelled fear on the people who stared at me, tasted their mingled scents on the breeze. I wanted to chase them just to see how fast they’d run.

What was wrong with me?

The wail of sirens rose over the street noise. Weird sirens, not normal ones like in Massachusetts. I never missed home more than at that moment. If I could just wake up, I knew I would find myself in my own bed. That thought held me, and I must have spaced. A moment later, two cars screeched to the curb. Several uniformed men hopped out. One held a lasso on a stick. They walked in my direction.

“I need help,” I shouted. “Something’s wrong.”

Only, that’s not what came out. I frowned, replaying the rough sounds that burst from my throat. The men surrounded me, holding their arms from their sides like they were fences. I decided to try talking again. Maybe if I said something in Dog it would come out as English.

“Woof,” I barked. “Woof, woof, woof.”

The nearest guy tried to loop his lasso over my head. I dodged. He swung again, and I backed into one of the men. He wasn’t a very good fencepost—he went down beneath my weight.

I spun about, intending to speed away, but my hind legs ran faster than my front. I skittered around the fountain like I was running on ice. The bystanders scattered. The men spread out, cornering me. A growl rose in my chest; my teeth bared themselves. Without thinking, I jumped. No, I soared. Right over their heads. Came down running and didn’t stop.

I heard shouts and the thud of heavy footsteps, but after a while, the sounds faded. I didn’t slow down. My nose led me to a brick-paved alley, and I tore through it, trying to catch up with myself. It was like if I could run fast enough, far enough, I might leave the nightmare behind.

After a time, pain overcame my horror, and I limped to a halt. My overexerted muscles screamed, and my paws felt raw and stone bruised. I was still in the labyrinth of byways, enmeshed in the rich odors of garbage. I saw recessed doors and bicycles leaning against walls.

Townhomes. Everyone asleep. Visions of sugarplums dancing in their heads.

My holiday dinner curdled in my stomach. I was thirsty. Someone left out a dog bowl, and the water was almost irresistible. I refused it. I would not drink like an animal.

With an almost drunken stagger, I continued to walk. The alley was bright. I looked up at the brilliant, full moon.

Tears burned my eyes. I wanted to cry. But I was sixteen years old. I hadn’t cried since I was a kid. Besides, if I started, it might sound like I was howling, and I couldn’t handle that.

In a doorway, I curled into a ball and put my paws over my muzzle.

* * *

I awoke to a frigid dawn. I was human. I was also naked. All I wore was my necktie from the previous night.

My body convulsed with shivers as I stumbled down the alleyway. I had to get to my parents before I died of exposure. There was no traffic so early in the morning. The street lamps were still lit. I stood in the shadows, searching for a signpost, a landmark, anything familiar. I didn’t know Strasbourg well, although I’d visited before.

While I considered how to get from point A to point B, a squad car pulled up the alley behind me. Some early riser must have seen me streak past their window.

I raised my arms over my head and shouted, “I’m an American,” as the police officer stepped toward me.

His eyes were amused. At least, he didn’t draw his gun. “You look cold,” he said in a thick French accent. His gaze settled on my shriveled shrinky dink.

I dropped my hands, covering myself. “I was…I am…” I wanted to tell him I was mugged and my clothes were stolen, but I was shivering so hard, I couldn’t get the words out.

He opened his trunk and removed a long, heavy coat. Perhaps he didn’t feel it was cold enough to wear such a garment. He tossed it to me, and I put it on. The coat was as icy as the air. If anything, I felt colder. He ushered me to the car and opened the door. I balked. I didn’t want to go to jail.

“My parents are staying at the Sofitel,” I managed to say.

Oui. Your family contacted us regarding your disappearance and your mental aberration.” He pushed me inside with a practiced hand atop my head and slammed the door.

The car was so small I had to slouch to fit. The backseat smelled like vomit. There was no heat. The officer got in front and spoke French into his radio. I hugged my arms and puzzled over his previous words.

Mental aberration? Is that what happened? Had I only thought I was a dog? That would explain my father’s annoyed reaction when he saw me in the coatroom. The idea comforted me as if being crazy was better.

By the time we reached the police station, I felt warm within the coat. The officer helped me out of the vehicle and up the stairs. Noise burst to greet us as he opened the door. The station was crowded despite it being dawn on Christmas morning. I walked at his side past the front desk, garnering more than a few stares. He led me down a corridor decorated with a line of threadbare tinsel taped to the wall. The floor was gritty and cold. We stopped at an office with Captain Jean-Luc Boudreaux stenciled on the window. Inside, I saw my parents get to their feet. My mother’s eyes were puffy as if she’d been crying.

“Mom.” I wanted to go to her and hug her, but the look she shot me was not inviting.

My father handed me a fleecy jogging suit. I slipped on the pants, and then passed the coat to the officer. He accepted with a nod.

A bald man I assumed was Captain Boudreaux stood from the desk. “So we find the little boy and all is well, no?”

Wincing at the words little boy, I sat to tie my shoes. I felt invisible. No one spoke to me. My father signed a pack of paperwork. I imagined it like a receipt, like he was pulling a wayward puppy out of the pound. And just like that, we were free to go. Before I knew it, we were back at the hotel.

I wanted to talk about the night before, wanted to figure out what had happened, but I was still getting the silent treatment. My mother paced the room, avoiding my eyes. I stood at the door, wondering how to broach the subject.

At last, I said, “Am I crazy?”

“Don’t ever think that,” said my father.

“I must be.” I took a step into the room and held out my hands. My palms were raw from a night of running on all fours. “I thought I turned into a dog.”

“A wolf,” my mother snapped. “You turned into a wolf.”

Her tone was both disgusted and accusing, as if it were my fault, as if I’d been playing around. I was so taken aback it took a moment for her words to sink in.

“Wolf?” I remembered the full moon. “As in werewolf?”

But aren’t werewolves vicious monsters?

She stopped to face me, straightening her shoulders. “Your father and I have talked it over, and we feel it would be better for everybody if you went to live with your uncle in Florida.”

“What?” I stood there, dumbfounded. “I can’t live with him. I only met him once.”

“It’s for your own good.”

“But what about my life? What about school?”

“They have schools in Loxahatchee,” she shouted.

Loxahatchee. As if there were such a place.

Tears filled my eyes for the second time in as many days. “I can’t believe it. I can’t believe you’d send me away.” I expected them to take me to a doctor, or even a psychiatrist. But this?

“We already have your ticket,” my father said. “We’ll arrange for a car to pick you up at the airport and take you to Bob’s house.”

Uncle Bob. The black sheep. The only thing I knew about him was that he sometimes hit my mother up for money.

“You aren’t coming?” I said, sounding like the little boy the captain had branded me.

My parents turned away.

So there you have it. My life was over. Not literally, of course. But as I stared out the window of the jumbo jet at the spreading void of Everglades below, I knew nothing was going like I planned.


I stood on my uncle’s porch, suitcase in hand, and pounded the door. No response. I felt like an idiot. Guess I wasn’t expected. Or maybe this wasn’t the right place.

My car and driver were gone. There were no other houses in sight. What looked like solid jungle bordered the yard. I walked along a wooden rail and peered through a curtainless window. The shadows inside were still.

With a groan, I sank onto a porch swing that hung by rusted chains. I was tired, and I hadn’t eaten since the capon the previous night. The jogging suit made me sweat in the Florida heat.

Miserable, I looked at an orange and purple sunset. It would be night soon. Would I change into a wolf again? I winced and pushed the thought from my brain. Where was my uncle, anyway? Probably at a party. It was hard to remember it was Christmas Day.

Maybe he hoped to avoid me. Maybe I wasn’t wanted.

Daunted by that thought, I walked around the side of the house. A window was open. Pale curtains fluttered like ghosts. I leaped for the frame and caught the sill, but couldn’t pull myself up. Grit stung my hands. I returned to the porch, stomped to the door, and knocked until it rattled. In desperation, I tried the knob. It was unlocked.

“Hello?” I stepped inside.

The house smelled like a dog. I wondered if my uncle had a pet. One look around the dim interior and I realized why he hadn’t locked the door. There was nothing to steal.

A battered recliner sat in the middle of the living room. Beside it was a metal TV table with a twelve-inch television on top. Probably black and white. I longed for the forty-two-inch plasma in my room at home.

On top of the TV, a large jawbone gripped a stack of newspapers. Like a freaking paperweight. I wondered to what animal it had belonged. Maybe an alligator. My shoulders sagged. I dropped my suitcase, closed the door, fumbled for a light switch and found one that turned on a chandelier in an empty dining room. Only two of the bulbs lit.

A note was stuck to the television screen. It was addressed to me.

Cody, I couldn’t wait any longer for you to arrive. I have somewhere to be tonight. I know you understand. Your room is to the right. Make yourself at home. We’ll talk in the morning. Glad to have you here, boy. — Uncle Bob

Relieved, I picked up my suitcase and went to my room. I hesitated at the door. There was a wrought iron bed. No sheets. No pillows. No blinds on the windows. I sat on the mattress. My mom said she would ship my things when she got back from vacation. I hoped she wouldn’t, hoped she would reconsider my banishment.

Besides, where would I keep anything?

With a sigh, I peeled off my soggy sweatshirt and put on a tee with Recycle America printed on the front. The closet had no hangers, so I hung the sweatshirt on the bedpost to dry and set off for the kitchen. It was easy to find—I just followed the draft. The window above the sink was open. Beyond it, the sky darkened. My stomach did a somersault, and I wasn’t sure I could eat.

I needn’t have worried. The cupboard held a couple of mugs and a large jar of instant coffee. There was a white Formica table in the corner. It had four chairs, two of them tucked against the wall. There were coffee-ring stains on top along with a chromed, old-style toaster. Maybe there was bread. I searched the cupboard again, and then turned to the refrigerator. It held three beers and a bottle of ketchup.

“Cripes!” I slammed the refrigerator and stormed into my room. I decided to call my mom, had the cell phone in my hand. I didn’t know whether I would beg her to take me back or tell her off for sending me to Podunk land.

A sudden sharpening of my senses stopped me. I froze. I heard crickets and birds, smelled dust and the rich damp earth. Muscles squirmed beneath my skin. It was happening again. Oh, God, I couldn’t stand it. Frantic, I yanked open the bedroom window, climbed outside, and sprinted for the line of palm trees. My legs felt like they shattered with each step. I dove for cover, and then writhed in agony. I thought it would never end.

Then it did. I looked at my silver paws, and then placed them over my eyes. I needed help. But there was no one. There was nothing I could do.

A breeze ruffled my fur. I smelled flowers, stagnant water, and rabbit spoor. I heard insects in the brush and opossums in the trees. A bird let out a screech that made me feel I was in Africa.

The wind invited me to run with it. I refused. I didn’t want to wake up naked and lost again. Drenched in sweat, I stood and stepped out of my shoes. My bulky jogging pants slipped off my narrow hindquarters. Then I realized I still wore my T-shirt. I tried to grab it with my teeth but only succeeded in spinning. I tried again and spun the other way.

A snarl twisted my muzzle. This was ridiculous. I threw myself onto my back, then wriggled and kicked, my hind legs digging my chest. The shirt would not come off.

I sat defeated in my Recycle America tee. The amazing wolf boy. No wonder no one wanted me.

The tears started. I couldn’t stop them. I cried like I hadn’t a friend in the world. It sounded like I bayed at the moon.

* * *

I awoke in the bushes, covered in dew. The sky was a soft gray. Birds sang in the trees.

My eyes burned, and I rubbed them as I looked toward the silent house. A blue pickup truck with an extended cab sat in the gravel driveway. I wondered if it belonged to my uncle. I had heard that my mother sent Bob money to buy a truck. I’d assumed it was a tricked-out show vehicle. This one looked like it was accustomed to hard work.

I dressed in a hurry, and then crossed the yard and climbed through my bedroom window. Noise came from the kitchen. My stomach fell. I was almost as apprehensive about seeing my uncle as I was about turning into a wolf.

I went to the kitchen. Uncle Bob stood at the sink making a cup of instant coffee with hot tap water. He had steel gray, over-the-collar hair and a thin build.

I cleared my throat. “Good morning.”

“Cody. Good to see you, boy.”

He held out his hand, and I shook it. His palms were heavily calloused. I wondered what he did for a living.

“Hey, you got tall,” he said with my mom’s smile.

I tried to smile back, but it felt like a grimace. Yeah, I got tall, seeing’s how the last time he saw me I was four years old.

“You have grass in your hair,” he said.

My hands jerked up, and I stammered, “Oh, I was, ah—”

“Want some coffee?”

“No, sir,” I said, and then blurted, “There’s nothing to eat.”

He slurped. “What, you didn’t eat last night?”

I frowned. Had he expected me to exist on airline food?

“I ate.” He patted his stomach. “Had me a nice rabbit dinner. Nothing better than fresh caught.”

“You like to hunt?”

“Sure. Don’t you?”

I’d never been hunting in my life. But I hoped to fit in, so I said, “I fish.” Although I hadn’t since I was ten.

“Fish?” He scrunched his face. “To each his own, I guess. Why don’t we go into town and get some breakfast.”

“Can I go like this?” I indicated my damp sweatpants and stretched out tee.

He shrugged. “This is South Florida. You can go in your skivvies if you want.”

We walked together into the gray morning. My nose twitched with flower-scented humidity.

“This will give me a chance to show you around.” Uncle Bob circled the cab of his truck.

I sat shotgun and buckled in. The first thing I noticed was the truck didn’t have a radio. The second was a baseball bat on the floor. I didn’t think it was there for sport. A knotted leather cord dangled from the rearview mirror. Feathers and animal fangs decorated its length.

“What’s that?” I motioned.

He winked. “Trophies.”

I nodded like it was normal to keep mementos of road kill. I saw why my parents considered him a black sheep.

We lurched along the rutted roads that led out of the neighborhood, and finally pulled onto asphalt where we picked up speed. Outside my window, the landscape turned alien. It wasn’t like I’d never been in Florida. I visited Miami Beach plenty of times—blue water, white sandy beaches, high-rises. This was nothing like that. One minute we’d be in a jungle so thick you couldn’t see past the trees. The next, we’d be in a flat expanse of scrub and sawgrass that stretched for miles.

As if he sensed my bewilderment, my uncle said, “This here’s the northernmost tip of the Everglades. We got our share of ’gators. They’re surprisingly fast on land so don’t antagonize them. We’re also getting a nasty population of Burmese pythons.”

“Snakes?” Was this a joke? “I thought they lived in the rainforest.”

“Well, people think they can dump any old thing.” His voice trailed.

“Like that urban myth,” I said. “Alligators in the sewers.”

“Except this ain’t no myth.” He grew quiet for a moment and then said, “It’s happening all over South Florida. People take things as pets and then tire of them. I heard they’re finding Japanese lionfish off shore. They’re that fish you usually see in home aquariums. If they don’t get them out of our waters, the buggers will ruin the reefs. They’re vicious predators.”

I added to the short list of things I knew about my uncle. He liked to hunt, he was an environmentalist, and he didn’t listen to music.

We passed a few crossroads. None had street signs.

Uncle Bob motioned toward one. “That way takes you to Belle Glade and the sugarcane fields. When they’re harvesting, it smells like burning syrup. If you go down that road, you’ll run into the back end of the safari park. It’s a four-mile preserve, sort of a drive-through zoo. All kinds of animals.”

“Do they ever get out?”

“I never heard of a lion getting loose, but you’ll see a runaway monkey from time to time. And their peacocks are everywhere. You probably heard them last night.”

I winced. I’d heard plenty of strange sounds last night, but I hadn’t been myself.

Bob pointed down another road. “That way leads to the Sunspot nudist camp.”

I sputtered. “As in no clothes?”

“They’re nice people. I don’t want you bothering them.”

I shook my head. “Never met a nudist before.”

“They’re like anybody else.” He grinned. “Only nekked.”

We stopped at a traffic light. There weren’t many other cars.

“This is Southern Boulevard,” Uncle Bob told me. “You’ll find most of what you need along here.”

I nodded and hoped I wouldn’t be around long enough to need anything. He was right, though. There were stores and chain restaurants I recognized. It was like a regular city, only in miniature.

We pulled into a parking lot for the Coffee Café. The pavement was cracked; foot-high grass sprouted through the fissures. There were only two other cars. One of them was a convertible with leather seats baking in the heat. The other had Sheriff stenciled on the side.

I hopped from the truck and circled around. If this was anything like home, cops usually knew the best places to eat. Uncle Bob seemed pensive as we approached the door.

Almost as if he’d waited for us, the sheriff came out of the diner. He had white hair and a mustache. “Morning, Robert. Who do we have here?”

“Hello, Brad,” my uncle said with no trace of a smile. “This is my nephew, Cody. He’ll be staying with me.”

“How do you do, sir?” I said.

He looked me up and down, ignoring my outstretched hand. “Well, young man. Let me know if you have any trouble settling in.”

“Thank you, sir.” I moved to step around him.

He blocked the door. “We like to think of Loxahatchee as the town that doesn’t ask too many questions. But that’s not to say anything goes. I like to keep things quiet, you know what I mean?”

“Yes, sir. I do,” I said.

“Excuse us, Brad,” my uncle said. “The boy here is mighty hungry.”

We stepped into the café. It smelled of coffee and pancake syrup. The room was dim compared to the bright morning.

I stood in the entryway and replayed the conversation with the sheriff. I had the impression Sheriff Brad didn’t much like my uncle—and by extension, me.

From across the room, a waitress called, “Bobby, nice to see you, hon. I have a table for you over here.”

We squeezed into the booth she indicated. It was by a window that overlooked the street. Stripes fell through the slats of the blinds, the light tinted pink by a transparent Santa Claus painted on the glass.

“How was your birthday? Good?” She poured my uncle a cup of coffee.

“Wonderful. My sister surprised me with the best gift ever.” He gave her a wide smile. “Anne, this is Cody. He’s staying with me. I want you to set him up with a tab, anything he wants, and I’ll tally up at the end of the month.”

They both looked at me as if I should gush with enthusiasm over my uncle’s generosity.

“Umm. I don’t really like coffee,” I managed to say.

Uncle Bob laughed. “Then get him chocolate milk. What kid doesn’t like chocolate milk?”

“One chocolate milk coming up,” Anne said over her shoulder as she hurried away.

They looked so pleased I didn’t have the heart to tell them I didn’t care for milk either. I rarely ate breakfast at home, just grabbed a Dew on the way to school.

When Anne brought my food, however, I was ravenous. I had eggs, sausage, pancakes, and a bowl of white soupy stuff my uncle called grits. It all tasted great. I couldn’t get it in my mouth fast enough.

My uncle chuckled as he snagged a piece of my toast. “I guess I forgot what it’s like to be a growing boy.”

I nodded and polished off my milk.

“After winter break, we’ll take you over to Seminole Bluffs and get you signed up for high school,” he said. “It won’t be like those prep schools you’re used to, but it has a good reputation.”

I set down my fork, suddenly losing my appetite. My prep school, as he called it, was going to get me into Harvard. I planned to become a doctor like my parents. How would that happen now? How could I go to a normal high school, act like a normal kid?

I sensed his eyes upon me and scrambled to hide my emotions. “Do they have extracurricular activities? I was president of the Science Club at home.”

“Sports.” He shrugged. “Home of the Hawks.”

My shoulders deflated. I liked sports, but I’d never be mistaken for an athlete. Too thin. And in spite of my dad’s assurances that I would grow to be taller than him, I was average height. Still waiting for that growth spurt. Uncle Bob stared at me, so I cast about for something else to say. “Will a bus pick me up?”

“Don’t think it comes out my way, now that you mention it.” He rubbed his chin. “Do you have a driver’s license?”

“I have a learner’s permit,” I told him.

“Good.” He stretched and draped his arm over the back of the booth. “I saw something the other day you might like. Hope it’s still for sale.”

I looked at him, my stomach doing a little flip. Was he buying me a car?

“Finished?” He motioned at my empty plate. “Let’s go have a look.”


We left the café and drove along a side street lined with pink and aqua houses. Icicle lights hung from the garages. Deflated plastic snowmen lay puddled on the driveways. A flock of wild parakeets flitted from tree to tree like a green cloud.

Uncle Bob pulled the truck up to a house with a yard sale out front. Rows of folding tables filled the lawn. Grass grew around their legs and gave the impression that the tables were permanent fixtures. They were piled with everything from clothing to dishes.

A man came out of the garage with yet another box of stuff to add to the disorder. He wore cut-off jeans and a Dolphins football jersey. His dark hair hung in a long ponytail down his back. I thought he looked Native American.

Uncle Bob got out of the truck and slammed the door. The man glanced over, and his broad face broke into a smile. He hugged my uncle like a brother. They slapped each other’s backs.

“Open for business the day after Christmas?” Uncle Bob said. “Aren’t you cutting the holidays a bit short?”

He shrugged. “Ah, well, it’s not my religion.” Then he looked at me. His eyes narrowed.

“Cody, my nephew,” Uncle Bob told him. “He’s down from Massachusetts.”

“He has your aura.” The man nodded as he circled me. “Yes, indeed.”

Uncle Bob draped his arm across my shoulders and dropped his voice. “Cody, Howard here is a friend. Best friend you can have. If you ever get in trouble, anything at all, he’s the man to see.”

“Day or night.” Howard raised his hand in a solemn promise.

I nodded and wondered how friendly either of them would be if they knew my secret. “Thank you, sir.”

“Welcome.” He glanced about as if he just noticed his yard. “I’d like to chat, but I have more junk to display.”

“Need a hand?” asked my uncle.

“No, I’ve got it. Why don’t you two look around?” Howard returned to his garage.

As if that were his cue, Uncle Bob set off through the cramped rows. It wasn’t easy to keep up. I couldn’t imagine why we were there. Howard labeled his wares junk, and he couldn’t have been more right. He must have an army of kids to accumulate so many cast-offs.

My uncle cocked his head as he peered beneath the tables. At last, he said, “Here it is. This is what I was telling you about.” He pulled out a rickety bicycle.

I took a step back. “It’s a bike.”

“Yeah. You’ll need something to get around on.”

“But it’s a bike. I don’t need a driver’s license to ride a bike.”

“You need identification. I don’t want you to pedal around without ID.” He rolled the bicycle back and forth. Both tires were flat. “Hey, Howard. How much?”

“Twenty-five dollars,” Howard called back.

“No, no, no. How much for me?”


Uncle Bob sat on the bike. It gave an ominous creak. “I’ll give you ten.”

Howard raised a hand in acceptance and disappeared once more into the depths of his garage.

With a wink and a grin, Uncle Bob handed me the bike and slapped me on the shoulder. “What else does he have around here? Do you need anything?”

I could have laughed. What could I possibly need? Here I was in South Florida with a suitcase full of winter clothes. “Hangers. For the closet.”

Bob slung a thick, red blanket over his shoulder. It looked hand woven. He peered into a box. “Ah, bed sheets. How about these?” He pulled out a set of mustard-yellow sheets printed with Scooby Doo.

I made a face. No way would I sleep on something like that.

“Come on.” He laughed. “What kid doesn’t like cartoons?”

We ended up with quite a haul. Besides the bike and bedding, we picked up some bowls and plates for the kitchen and some extra towels for the bath. I found a decent pair of jeans and a few T-shirts.

Howard claimed we owed eighty-eight dollars, but Uncle Bob talked him down to twenty-seven. We packed everything into the back of the pickup and said good-bye.

As I climbed into the truck, I felt dazed. Everything happened so fast. It was like if I bought those few things, I was agreeing to stay. Only I couldn’t stay. I wanted to go home.

“Just one more stop.” My uncle smiled as he drove back toward Southern.

I bit my tongue. My frustration erupted in an overwhelming anger at Uncle Bob. Deep down, I knew it wasn’t fair. He was trying to be nice. My exile probably messed up his life as much as mine. The people I should be mad at were my parents—but every time I tried to be, I saw my mother’s puffy, red eyes. I couldn’t blame them. I couldn’t blame anyone.

Uncle Bob pulled into the lot of a Walgreens Pharmacy. Red and green bells hung from the streetlights, and silver tinsel decorated the window. He backed into a spot, parked across the line, and took up two spaces. It didn’t matter. No one else was around.

“Coming in?” he asked as he hopped down from his seat.

I shook my head. “I’ll stay and keep an eye on the bike.”

He thumped the car door as if soothing a rhinoceros. “Won’t be but a minute.” He hurried into the store.

I unlatched my seatbelt and slouched. Sweat trickled down my back. It was hot and humid. The morning haze burned off and left the sky a brilliant blue. I glanced at my watch. It was still set for France. Six o’clock. My parents would be getting ready for dinner. I took out my cell phone. The screen said it was twelve noon.

Without really planning to, I dialed my mom’s number. It rang four times. When it went to voicemail, I said, “Mom, this is Cody.” Then my voice failed. I hung up without another word.

Tears burned my eyes, but I blinked hard and nurtured my anger. I leaned out the window toward the lazy flow of passing traffic and listened to other people’s music. I wished I’d put some tunes on my phone, wished I had my mp3 player. When I packed for France, my parents told me I could bring either my iPod or my DS. I chose the DS. Now I rued the day. Total ruage.

Down the street, a Volkswagen Beetle pulled into a shopping center. I noticed it because Beetles weren’t common anymore and because it was painted lime green. The car parked and a girl got out. She wore black and white striped tights, a purple miniskirt, and a black tee cut to reveal her midriff. Her hair was short and angular. She was the most interesting thing I’d seen in this backwoods town. She went into Video Stop, a store where you bought and traded used videos.

My uncle wrenched open the driver’s side door. It startled me. He flipped his seat forward and piled some bags into the backseat. I glimpsed a box of Cap’n Crunch cereal and a jug of chocolate milk.

He climbed in and started the truck. “Anywhere you want to go while we’re out?”

“No, sir,” I said, my thoughts still on the girl.

“Then we’ll head home.” He beamed at me like it was a special treat.

We took a different route back. This time, we passed through orange groves. Fruit filled the trees. Their branches drooped. It smelled phenomenal, like perpetual breakfast. Then we reached a patch with the trees picked clean. They appeared diminished somehow.

Uncle Bob slowed to get around a pair of horses. “We’ve got some nice stables here. That’s how the Council hopes to lure more residents. Like it isn’t crowded enough.”

I looked in the side-view mirror at the girls riding the horses. They wore shorts and tank tops in spite of it being winter.

There were worse places to be exiled. But none of the girls were for me. I was the amazing wolf boy. Astound your family and mystify your friends. I wasn’t the kind of kid anyone would date. I thought about Video Stop girl.

Minutes later, we pulled onto the gravel drive of my uncle’s house. Trees rustled in the breeze. Birdsong filled the air.

“Do you own this place?” I asked.

“No. I rent. You know how it is. I don’t want to be bogged down if I have to move on.” He pulled the bags from the back. “Get the door for me, will you?”

I skipped up the steps and opened the front door. Unlocked again. Bob carried the bags into the kitchen and set them on the table. He’d gotten other things to eat—Spaghetti-Os, bread, peanut butter. He also bought a dozen coat hangers and a couple of twenty-six-inch bicycle inner tubes.

“You’re probably used to a live-in housekeeper to cook and clean for you,” he said as he put the food into the cupboard.

“No,” I said. “Mom handled everything.” I didn’t add that we had a cleaning service come in three times a week.

“We don’t have anyone on staff here, either.” He looked at me. “We don’t even have a dishwasher. So here’s the thing. You clean up after yourself or you don’t. Whatever. But the rule is, you don’t complain about it. The place gets to be a mess, you don’t complain. You want something, you either get it or you don’t complain. You need help, you ask or—”

“Don’t complain,” I said. “Got it.”

“Good.” He clapped me on the back. “Let’s go get the rest of your stuff.”

We went to the truck where he loaded me up with clothes, towels, and bedding. The blanket made my nose itch, and I wondered if its last owner had been a horse. I carried everything inside. But as I reached my room, I stopped.

Evidence. That’s what I held in my arms. Physical proof that I lived there. If anyone saw this, I would be lost. I sat on the edge of the bed, afraid to set the stuff down, and thought about running away. My dad always gave me my allowance via a debit card. I had enough in the account for a bus ticket home. I could live in the bathhouse. My parents would never know I was there.

Until my friends came calling.

I groaned and thought about my friends, all of them enjoying holiday break with families who didn’t want to send them away, all of them looking forward to nighttime without worrying about what kind of monster they might become. This was a nightmare. How could anyone turn into a wolf? It was impossible.

I sat up straight. Yes, it was impossible. This couldn’t be real. And if I was stuck in some sort of dream, all I could do was keep moving forward until I woke up. In the spirit of my new resolution, I made my bed with the Scooby sheets and placed the thick, red horse blanket on top. I stared at it and hoped no one would ever come into my room. Then I went outside to look for my uncle.

I found him in the backyard by a tool shed. The bike was upside down. Uncle Bob knelt beside it. He grunted as he tightened the chain. He’d repaired the tires. I also noticed his shed was better stocked than shop class when I was a kid. There were three cabinets on wheels, each drawer labeled, and racks of wrenches on the walls.

I crouched at his side. “How’s it going?”

“Almost done,” he said.

I tried to picture myself wheeling up and down Southern Boulevard. “Maybe we should have bought a bicycle lock.”

He smiled. “No one’s going to steal this beauty.”

I thought he was probably right.

He set the bike erect and bounced it a couple times. “Want to take it for a spin?”

“Maybe later,” I said. “It’s not really my thing.” I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been on a bike.

He turned away with a sigh. I recognized the sound—I’d stretched his patience. I wasn’t being the appreciative guest.

Keep moving forward, I told myself.

He wiped his hands on a shop cloth and put away his tools. Then he locked the shed with a heavy padlock. It figured he would lock his tools but not the house.

“I keep the key here.” He showed me a notch in the roof. “In case you need anything.”

“I don’t know much about tools,” I said. “But I’d like to learn.”

“I’d like to teach you.” His face eased into a smile. “Are you hungry? I make a mean grilled peanut butter sandwich.”

I nodded. “Sounds good.”

We ate our sandwiches in front of the television as we watched women’s volleyball. I didn’t know they televised that sport. Despite the spectacle of bounding booties, however, I couldn’t keep my mind on the game.

I worried about the coming dark. Would I change again? I thought werewolves only changed during the full moon, but last night was the day after. Would I change every night for the rest of my life?

I needed more information. If I had my computer, I could surf the Web. But, no, I was out here in the Everglades with nothing and no one. I would have to do research the old-fashioned way. Tomorrow, I would look for a library.

First things first. I couldn’t risk shape changing with my uncle around. I had to either find an excuse to leave the house or get him out of the way.

So it was a relief when, later that afternoon, Uncle Bob said, “I’m going out tonight. Would you like to come along?”

“Ah, no. Thanks,” I said.

“Come on. It will be great. I’ll show you a good place to fish.”

“No, really,” I said. “I think I’ll hang out here and relax.”

“Another time, then.”

And just like that, he was in the truck and down the driveway—and I was alone, sitting before his flickering black-and-white TV as I awaited the night.

Do you like what you’ve read so far? The Amazing Wolf Boy is available in print and ebook at Amazon, or you can get the three book box set everywhere else. And don’t forget, if you prefer audiobooks, it’s on Audible for your listening enjoyment.

#Werewolf lovers-get this box set #IARTG


What happens when a bumbling nerd becomes a werewolf?

Cody Forester would like nothing better than to be a normal kid. Party with friends on the weekends. Maybe have a girlfriend. But those things aren’t meant for him. He’s a werewolf. And his powers are growing.

Join Cody’s journey with this three-book box set.

The Amazing Wolf Boy – Cody Forester plans to become a doctor. Instead, he becomes a werewolf. The first time Cody shows fang and fur, his parents ship him off to Loxahatchee, Florida, to live with his black sheep uncle. His revised career choice is social hermit. As the new kid, he makes more enemies than friends. His high school teachers label him a troublemaker. The whole town hates him. Except Brittany. She’s beautiful, with her eyes painted black and her lips dark purple. When Brittany discovers his secret, she tries to cure him using crystals, candles, and magic potions. Cody falls head-over-tails in love. But he can never tell her. Girls like her aren’t for him. He’s the amazing wolf boy. Astound your family and mystify your friends. While Cody moons over Brittany, a murderous pack of lycanthropes howls into town. They want Cody to join them. When he refuses, they kidnap Brittany and threaten to kill her at moonrise. Cody must master his untried superpowers or the girl he loves dies. Can he defeat the pack and save both their lives?

Werewolf Asylum – Sixteen-year-old Cody Forester is a werewolf. He lives in Loxahatchee, Florida, where his horrified parents banished him. He works hard at keeping his superpowers secret, yet the circle of people who know about him is expanding. Now a bona fide mad scientist is taking an interest in him. Cody learns that her posh werewolf retreat is actually a secret laboratory. Her inmates endure tests and torture to further her megalomaniac dream—while their unwitting families pay dearly in the hope of her finding a cure for lycanthropy. Cody doesn’t want to be her science experiment. Moreover, he doesn’t want to be taken away from Brittany, the most beautiful girl in the world. Brittany is the love of his life—even though she is no longer speaking to him. She wants a normal boyfriend. Desperate and alone, Cody faces the evil doctor. He has one chance of saving himself. Will his reckless ploy be enough to free him from her clutches? Or will he face certain death in the Werewolf Asylum?

Wolfsbane Brew – Cody Forester is a sixteen-year-old werewolf. He only found out six months ago, and already he is showing powers that Uncle Bob, his mentor, cannot match. His closest friends begin to think he is dangerous. Even Brittany, the girl he loves, says he is scary. Cody learns to keep his new abilities under wraps. Until another super-werewolf comes to South Florida. Vilk Bodark owns Georgia. He has a hand in a variety of illegal ventures: loan sharking, money laundering, gambling. He has police chiefs, judges, and even sorcerers in his employ. He conscripts werewolves by force—join or die. He wants to expand his operations to Florida—and he decides Brittany, a fledgling witch, would make a fine addition to his staff. Cody can’t defeat Bodark in a straight-up fight. He must take his new powers in a different direction—in ways that scare even him. If he doesn’t succeed, Brittany will be lost forever. Will his hidden superpowers be enough to save her?

Three complete books for less than the price of two!

The Wolf Boy Box Set is now available at kobo, iBooks, nook, and kindle.

Book Excerpt – Werewolf Asylum

Were Asylum New (Medium)


WEREWOLF ASYLUM is the second book of my Wolf Boy Series. I was originally going to title it “Problem Parents” because that is what the story is about–three teenagers and the problems they have with their parents. Of course, the teenagers in question are difficult as well–one is a werewolf, one can turn into a bear, and one is a fledgling witch. Add a mad scientist into the mix, and the story really takes off.

You can get WEREWOLF ASYLUM in print or ebook at your favorite bookstore. It’s also available at Audible. Did you know that exercisers who take an audiobook to the gym work out 51% more often than those who don’t? They can’t wait to get back to the story.

Listen to this!

WA ABcover


And here’s an excerpt from the book to whet your appetite.


by Roxanne Smolen



April 8, 2008, Loxahatchee, Florida

When I shifted into my wolf form that balmy April night, all I wanted was to escape the hassle of the day. You know, romp through the sawgrass, maybe chase a rabbit or two. I never expected to run into a bear. But there it was, up on its hind legs like it wanted to give me a big hug.

I froze, staring, my teeth bared in greeting. I knew there were black bears in Florida. I lived in the northernmost region of the Everglades. We had panthers, gators, pythons, and bears. But I’d never seen one before. All my fur stood on end, trying to make myself appear bigger, but the bear had me on weight alone.

It swatted me with one frying-pan-sized paw, catching my shoulder. I yelped and tumbled. At that point, any sane person would have run. Unfortunately, the wolf in me took offense. With a low-pitched growl, I leaped at it.

Here’s the difference between bears and wolves. Bears fight with their claws, and for good reason. They’re like a fist-full of daggers. Wolves fight with their teeth. I caught its forearm in my jaws and clamped down. The bear roared. It swung around, trying to shake me off. My backend swished through the air. Blood filled my mouth, hot and slick. I lost my grip and flew against a tree trunk.

Floridian forests aren’t like the forests up north. Back home in Massachusetts, I remember feathery grass, carpets of pine needles, and smooth-barked trees. Down here, we have porcupine palms and saw-palmetto. The ground is spiked with spiny cones. I struck an Australian pine, which isn’t a true pine tree at all, and slid down the trunk. The bark felt like concrete wrapped with razor wire. Tufts of fur scraped off as I fell—which only served to make me madder.

I launched myself at the bear, my jaws snapping at its throat. It batted me away with the strength of a major leaguer. I sprang again, this time spinning in mid-air and striking its chest with my hind legs—a move sure to impress any ninja warrior. My attack staggered it, and it came down on all fours. I climbed aboard, biting the back of its neck. My fangs penetrated the heavy fur. The bear rolled to knock me off, exposing its soft underbelly. I dodged its weight and went for its gut. My teeth caught something strange. I pulled back with some sort of belt in my mouth.

As if it were melting, the bear morphed into a kid. My jaw dropped, and the belt hit the ground. The boy scrambled to his feet. His expression went from shock to alarm and then to determination as he took a fighting stance before me.

My wolf chuckled at that, but my human side filled with questions. Who was he? How did he shift into a bear? I couldn’t wait to tell Brittany, the girl I secretly loved. I started the change back to human before I even made a decision to do it. My muzzle flattened painfully, sinking into my face. My fangs receded. With a liquid sensation, my ears slid down the sides of my head. My transformation was not as smooth as his, but moments later I got to my feet as a sixteen-year-old boy.

His eyes widened, and he took a step back. He looked like he feared me more as an unarmed kid. Then he squared his shoulders and lifted his chin. He was about my height with a weight lifter’s build. Probably had twenty pounds on me. He looked a bit older than I was. We faced each other, and it was weird because we were both naked, yet we weren’t in the shower room at PE or anything.

“Hi.” I tried to sound nonchalant. “I’m Cody Forester.”

“William.” The boy eyed me warily. “I never met a werewolf before. I thought your kind only changed on the full moon.”

I felt a twinge of panic. True, most werewolves only change with the moon. My ability to change at will made me an oddity. A super wolf, my Uncle Bob called it. And a super danger if it got out. Like gunslingers of the Old West, everyone would want a piece of me.

I shrugged, then motioned at the blood dripping down his arm. “Sorry I hurt you.”

Anger flared on the kid’s face. “You didn’t hurt me.”

“Well, you hurt me.” I rotated my shoulder, wincing at the score marks. With a grunt, I picked up the bear hide belt and sat on a nearby log. “So, what are you, like a were-bear?”

William gave an indignant snort and raised his chin even higher. “I am a medicine man, like my father before me. We are able to change into many animals.”

“With this?” I held out the belt.

His eyes flashed, but then he seemed to deflate. He took the belt and sat at the other end of the log.

After a few moments, I said, “Medicine man, eh? What tribe? Miccosukee?”

“I am half Navajo,” he said as if challenging me to deny it.

A creepy feeling crawled into my stomach. My uncle’s best friend was a Navajo medicine man. Without looking at him, I said, “Really? Who’s your father?”

“Howard Shebala.”

“Garage Sale Howard?” I blurted.

He jumped up, face dark and hands clenched. “My father is a great man.”

“Chill,” I said. “I just know him, that’s all. He’s my uncle’s best friend.”

“Then speak of him with respect.”

“Does he realize you’re out here turning into a bear?”

William shook his head and slumped back down on the log. “He was voted out of the tribe. An outcast. The tribal council says I cannot see him or make contact.”

“That stinks.” I knew all about being an outcast. My parents banished me to Loxahatchee the first time I showed fang and fur.

William said, “Now my mother has taken up with another.”

“Top knot guy.” I met Howard’s rival during a trip to the Miccosukee Indian Village in the Everglades.

“Joseph Achak,” William said with a scowl. “I hate him.”

“No doubt,” I said. “But why are you here?”

“I left. Wanted to be nearer my father. Sometimes I see him.”

“So you live here? In the woods?” I remembered news reports about bear sightings in the city. “Hate to see the media blitz if Child Services finds out.”

“Do I look like a child?”

“Okay,” I said, “so you get hungry and you turn into a bear to eat. I get it. But where do you sleep? You can’t be a bear all the time.”

“I found an old fishing cabin in the Glades,” he said, then looked sorry he told me. “That’s a secret. I don’t want anyone to come looking.”

I nodded. Now we both knew secrets about each other. “You could stay at my house. I live with my Uncle Bob. Howard stops by pretty often.”

“No.” He stood. “No contact.”

“So you’ll defy the tribal council enough to run away from home, but you won’t risk seeing your dad?” I rose to face him, royally ticked off. How could he act like that? I would do most anything to see my dad again.

“Don’t comment on what you don’t understand.” With a scowl, William stomped off into the trees.

All I could do was watch him go.


The next morning dawned blue and breezy. Since I was out late the night before, I overslept my alarm. I made a Cap’n Crunch sandwich to eat in the truck as Uncle Bob drove me to school.

Uncle Bob had steel gray, over-the-collar hair and a thin build. He was known as the Fix-It Guy, a handyman who did odd jobs around town. In his spare time, he was a werewolf, although not many people knew that. I’d lived with him for only four months, but I felt pretty comfortable. He didn’t try to replace my parents. He was more like a close friend looking out for me.

Seminole Bluffs High School seemed blindingly white under the bright sun. Its expansive concrete courtyard had small holes cut out for trees to grow through. The only grassy area was the football field. Home of the Hawks. As we pulled into the drop-off area, I noticed Maxwell and Lonnie hanging around. They looked decidedly nerdy in their button-down shirts. It made me smile. At my prep school back in Cambridge, all the kids looked nerdy. I wondered what they’d think if they saw me now in my garage-sale t-shirt and jeans.

I hopped out of the truck and circled around to pull my bicycle from the back. I’d have to bike it home. My uncle drove me to class most mornings, but he was rarely able to pick me up again. Usually I made plans with Brittany after school. We were study partners, but in my head, we were more. Since she had just gotten out of the hospital, however, she’d probably take off a few more days.

My wolf sense seemed to be on high; I could hear laughter and conversation as far away as the buses. The stench of car exhaust assaulted me, mingled with a miasma of hair gel, perfume, and cigarette smoke.

I bounced my bike onto the curb and raised a hand in farewell. Uncle Bob drove away as Maxwell and Lonnie approached.

“Hey, where you been, man?” Maxwell asked.

I was ready for that. I’d missed the past two days of school, and I’d concocted a story about having the stomach flu, complete with illustrations. But Maxwell didn’t give me time to get into it.

He said, “Is it true your girlfriend was kidnapped by a serial killer down by the old rock quarry?”

“B-Brittany?” I spluttered, not knowing how to answer. I couldn’t tell him the whole story, that the serial killer in question was actually a murderous werewolf, and Brittany was kidnapped to punish me for not joining the pack.

Lonnie said, “Don’t try to deny it, man. It was all over the news.”

“No,” I said, “I mean, she’s not my girlfriend.” Not officially, my thoughts added.

Maxwell blinked and gave his glasses a shove. “Really? I thought you were together.”

“I’d like to be, but—”

“Hi, Maxwell,” a female voice purred. Alitia Carpenter smiled over her shoulder as she walked by, her blonde curls ruffling in the breeze.

“Later, man,” Maxwell told me.

“Seeya,” said Lonnie.

I grinned, shaking my head. As I walked my bike to the rack, I thought about Brittany being my girlfriend. It would be too good to be true. She once told me that she loved me, but I couldn’t count that. We were running for our lives from the pack of werewolves at the time. However, when I visited her in the hospital on Monday, she kissed me. In front of her mother, no less.

Did that mean we were together?

I glanced at the student parking lot. Brittany’s lime-green Volkswagen Beetle wasn’t there. Her car was wrecked in the kidnapping. I felt as responsible for that as I did for her safety.

No. I wouldn’t tell anyone that she was my girl. I didn’t want to jinx it by blabbing it around school.

I left my ratty old bike unlocked, certain that no one would bother to steal it, and headed to Trig. As I had been absent for two days, I was a little behind and had to pay attention in class. It was torture. Mr. Varney had to be the most boring teacher in the world. But I was rewarded for my efforts when I got to World History an hour later and found Brittany there.

She was stunning. Her hair was black and streaked with purple today, and her lips were deep violet. Her dark tank top showed off her pale shoulders and long slim arms. Her miniskirt accented her perfect legs. My heart skipped in circles as I stood there watching her. She was surrounded by a group of chattering, giggling girls. Perhaps they thought she was cool for having her life threatened. She looked up, saw me, and rolled her eyes. I smiled and let her have her moment of fame.

I didn’t see her again until lunch. She sat at our table with her customary tray of yogurt and an apple. I felt so relieved to see her there. It was like everything was back to normal. I picked up a bag of chips and a couple of Dews.

“Hi,” I said as I reached her.

She motioned at the chips. “Is that all you’re having?”

“Hey, it’s potatoes. It counts as a vegetable.” I sat across from her, basking in her smile. Her long bangs trailed into her eyes, not completely hiding the Band-Aid over the stitches on her forehead.

“What?” She laughed, and I realized I’d been staring.

“I like your hair,” I said, “much better than the pink.”

“Oh, I only did that for my mother.”

“Your mother likes bubblegum hair?”

“No.” Brittany grinned. “She hates it.”

I opened my Dew. “I’m really glad to see you, but don’t you think you should have taken off a little more time?”

“I couldn’t stay at home with Grandpa Earle hovering over me. He means well, but…” She cut a slice of apple with a plastic knife and handed it to me.

Earle Meyer was old but a decent guy. He took in Brittany, her little brother Butt Crack, and their mother after a messy divorce.

“Anyway,” Brittany said, “I feel much better. Except my stitches are beginning to itch.”

“Hear anything about the car?” I remembered the panic I felt when I first saw Brittany’s Beetle at the bottom of the cliff at the old rock quarry. Double that when I realized she wasn’t inside.

“It’s not totaled or anything. The bumper is dented, and the trunk is dinged. One headlight is smashed.” She took a bite of apple, leaving purple kisses on the skin. “Because it’s a bug, they’ve had to special order everything. They’ve already got the windshield in. They tried to talk me into the tinted kind, but that didn’t suit Baby.”


“Yeah, as in come on Baby, you can do it.”

I chuckled. I never knew she named her car.

“The real problem is that the tie rod is broken, and it will take time to get the part in,” she said. “Mom got a loaner from the insurance company, but she won’t let me drive yet. She’s making Grandpa chauffeur me around like a little kid. Parents can be such pains.”

“Speaking of parents,” I said, “did you know Howard had a son?”

“He does?”

“I met him last night. I was—”

“Hi, Brittany,” a girl said.

Brittany looked up. “Oh, hi, Katie.”

“I couldn’t believe it when I heard about you on the news,” Katie said. “Are you okay?”

“I’m fine,” Brittany said. “Glad it’s over.”

I smiled and nodded as Katie walked away. “Anyhow, I was in the woods and I came across this bear. Only it wasn’t a bear, it was—”

“Brittany, I’m so glad you’re all right.”

Two more girls stopped at our table.

One of them asked, “Were you scared?”

Stupid question. I closed my eyes and rubbed my forehead.

“Maybe we can go to the mall after school today,” the other girl said.

“I’d better not,” Brittany told them. “I still get really tired.”

“Oh,” they both crooned and patted her back.

After they left, Brittany said, “So, you met a bear in the woods.”

“William the Bear,” I said.

“He talks?”

“No. He turned into a boy. He uses some sort of magic belt.”

She nodded. “A hide belt. Remember? We read about those when we were researching werewolves.”

“Ohmygod, Brittany, you were kidnapped?” a girl squealed as she led three more to our table. “Was he cute?”

“No, Amber. What are you thinking?”

“What kind of thing is that to ask,” I said, my voice rising. “Get out of here. Leave her alone.”

“Well, check out Mister Jealous,” Amber said, although she seemed more amused than miffed.

They walked away.

Brittany said, “Don’t look now, but you have an admirer.”

I glanced around and saw Efrem Higgins sitting at a nearby table. I hated Eff. He hated me, too. Enough to call his football-playing cronies together to play piñata with me. When Eff posted pictures of the beating on MySpace, his coach found out and turned him in. The courts saddled him with one-hundred and twenty hours of community service. And he was kicked off the school football team.

“Yeah,” I said, “he was hanging around in PE, too. All his friends seem to have abandoned him.”

Brittany muttered, “Serves him right, the psychopath.”

“It’s no fun being alone.”

“You’re too forgiving,” Brittany said. “Anyway, I didn’t know Howard had a son, and I think he would have told us. After all, he introduced us to his ex-wife. Maybe we should talk to him about it.”

“Yeah,” I said, and finished my Dew.

Lunch ended, and I reluctantly said goodbye. I kept Brittany in my thoughts the rest of the day—the crinkle of her nose when she smiled, the tilt of her head to keep her bangs out of her eyes. It was almost as good as having her with me.

My last hour was Shop. I dreaded taking the class at first, but I found that I liked working with wood. Besides, all you had to do was show up and you got a passing grade.

I joined Maxwell and Lonnie at their worktable. We’d finished making birdhouses and had progressed to decorative mail caddies, the kind you might set on the kitchen counter to hold the day’s bills.

“No, stupid,” Maxwell told Lonnie as I sat down. “The top is supposed to look like waves, not pumpkin teeth.”

“So,” Lonnie said, “my waves are just a little choppier than yours.”

Maxwell jostled him. “Let me fix it.”

“No.” Lonnie pushed back.

“What do you think, Cody?”

“Well,” I said, studying the misshapen box. “If you paint it yellow, it would look like the sun. You know, the way little kids draw it. Your mom would love that.”

“Yeah.” Lonnie smiled, his eyes lighting as if with fresh inspiration.

Just then, an annoying tone crackled from the intercom, and Vice Principal Overhill said, “May I have your attention, please.”

Maxwell gave Lonnie another shove. Lonnie hip-checked him, sending him staggering. They laughed in hissing whispers.

“Boys,” said Mr. Conklin, the Shop teacher.

“Due to recent tragic events,” said the intercom, “grief counselors will be available to all students for individual sessions from eleven until two. We encourage everyone to make an appointment.”

In an undertone, Lonnie said, “I’ll be grief stricken if it gets me out of class.”

“Right,” Maxwell said. “Our poor, dear friend Brittany. She might have been killed.”

I smirked. “You guys don’t even know Brittany.”

“We know she’s hot,” Maxwell said.

“Double hot,” said Lonnie.

“Besides, what do you care if we get to know her better? Seeing how you two aren’t together.”

“Yeah, man. Study partners. Lunch buddies. You better make your move.”

I nudged him with my shoulder. “I’m working on that.”

Eventually, class ended. I hung around in front of school, hoping to wave goodbye to Brittany, but in the crowd, I must’ve missed her. Disappointed, I hopped on my bike and pedaled down the street.

I didn’t feel like going home to an empty house, although you’d think I’d be used to it. I grew up that way. Both my parents are doctors, and they were never home when I lived with them. Now that I was older, I had choices, so I headed toward Howard’s house.

Howard Shebala lived on a street lined with pink and aqua houses. Between drought and water restrictions, the usually immaculate lawns looked brown, the flowerbeds sparse and wilted. In Howard’s front yard, the shaggy grass lay in worn out lanes between rows of tables. The Garage Sale sign was a permanent fixture.

As I pulled my bike up the driveway, I noticed only one shopper, a woman with a small boy. The kid kept reaching up on tiptoe to drag items off the tables. I leaned my bike against the garage door and walked to where Howard sat with his customary lemonade. He stood as I approached, his ponytail swinging onto his shoulder. He was short and stocky—and a Navajo medicine man.

“Howdy. Good to see you.” He shook my hand. “I’m sorry to hear of your recent trouble. Is Brit all right?”

“She’s amazing,” I told him. “So brave.”

“The rest of the pack got away?” He said it as if he thought they were a danger, but I knew they weren’t. They were followers. Sycophants. They wouldn’t be back.

“The sheriff has the leader,” I said. “He’ll never get out. Brittany plans to testify against him, but even if she doesn’t, they still have him on the other murders.”

Howard shook his head. “The wolf in him cannot be incarcerated. Come the full moon, who knows what will happen?”

My face grew warm. This was the first time Howard spoke openly to me about werewolves. It was a touchy subject, not only because he knew my secret but because I should have realized he knew. His pet name for me was Mai Coh, which meant shape shifter.

I said, “Between you and me, I don’t think that wolf will be coming out any time soon. You see, your wife, er, ex-wife, Chelsea, told Brittany and me about a potion to change a wolf back into a man. We used it on him.”

Howard stared at me. Then he threw back his head and laughed. Great resounding guffaws. I’d never seen anyone laugh so hard.

When he quieted, I said, “I didn’t tell my uncle that part.” I hoped Howard would take the hint and not mention it. I didn’t want to have to explain to Uncle Bob that I’d been trying to cure my own lycanthropy; he seemed quite content with his werewolfism.

Howard wiped his streaming eyes and slapped me on the shoulder. “A wise decision. So, young Mai Coh, what brings you to these parts?”

“Socks. I’m running low.”

He nodded and led me through tables of neatly folded Levis and stacks of t-shirts. He stopped at an open box. “I know I saw socks around here somewhere.” He pulled out belts by the handful and draped them over the table, trying to peer to the bottom of the box. “Nope. Not this one.”

As I watched him replace the belts, I said, “What would you do with all this stuff if it started to rain?”

“Not likely. Worse drought I’ve seen in many years.”

“Has it ever happened?”

“Certainly. But not often. Florida weather is predictable. It hardly rains in winter, and in summer it rains everyday like clockwork. I just set my alarm clock and clean up when it goes off.”

I shook my head, gazing over the many tables. “You need an assistant.”

Howard grunted and moved to another box. The lone shopper waved to him and, kid in hand, walked off without buying anything. They left a trail of fallen Tupperware and paperbacks on the grass.

Howard said, “She never picks up after him.”

“Do you have kids?” I said as if just thinking about it.

He buried his nose in the box. “Why do you ask?”

“The first time I saw all this stuff, I thought you must have a whole slew of kids to have so many castoffs.”

Howard grunted again. “EBay.”

“Excuse me?”

He looked up. “I’m running a business here. Most of my inventory comes from EBay. I stock the items I figure I can sell, up the price a bit for profit, and make a living.”

“No kids, then.”

Howard sighed. “I have a son.”

“Really? What’s he like?”


I blinked, not sure if I should apologize or call him on it. Before I could respond, he held up two white socks bundled with a thick rubber band.

“How many do you need?” he asked.

“Five or six pairs.”

He pulled more socks from the bottom of the box. Some had red or blue stripes on the tops and some were plain white. “Two dollars a pair.”

I grimaced. “But they’re used.”

“No, they aren’t,” he said. “My friend’s an amputee, gives me all his left-handed socks.”

I pulled a five-dollar bill out of my pocket. “This is all I have.”

“The magpie flies even in rain.” Howard muttered one of his indecipherable sayings and took the five. “Don’t tell anyone I gave you such a good deal. They’ll all want something.”

He walked back to his lemonade, pulled a plastic Publix grocery sack from under the lawn chair, and placed the socks inside.

“Thanks,” I said, accepting the bag. “See you later.”

“Tell Bob my Rummy cards are lonely.”

I slung the bag of socks over my handlebars and took off, feeling bemused. I didn’t really need socks, but I knew there was no getting information from Howard without buying something. Only I hadn’t gotten much information. All I knew was that either Howard or William were lying to me. Maybe both.

It was late when I got home. My uncle and I live in a small, two-bedroom house with almost no furniture. It’s set back from the road, surrounded by woods. The neighbors can’t see or be seen. It’s a perfect den for a couple of werewolves.

I dumped my bike in its usual spot on the grass. As I clomped up the wooden steps to the porch, Uncle Bob arrived. He parked his truck on the gravel drive and climbed out with several Publix bags of his own. His held groceries—chocolate milk, instant coffee, bread, and what smelled like a family-style fried chicken dinner.

I opened the door to the house and held it for him, and my stomach growled as he passed. It smelled great.

We didn’t often cook in my new home. Of course, my mother, the brain surgeon, rarely cooked either. Our housekeeper, on the other hand, could’ve been a Japanese chef. Lots of greens. Fresh seafood. I missed the comforts of my home. But I was pretty much a vegetarian then. I couldn’t go without meat now.

I followed my uncle into the kitchen, and we sat down to fried chicken, potato salad, and baked beans. A breeze blew through the open window, flapping the curtains. Uncle Bob insisted on keeping the window open regardless of the heat, a habit I was coming to appreciate.

“Heard you go out last night,” he said as if reading my thoughts.

“I just needed to unwind.”

“Have you heard from Brittany?”

“She was at school today. Looks great.”

“Good. Now you can stop worrying about her.” He poured me a tall glass of chocolate milk.

Glasses were a recent addition to the household. I guess Uncle Bob felt more domestic now that we both decided I would stay. The adjustment period was as difficult for him as it was for me. I hated Florida at first, but now I couldn’t imagine living anywhere else. I would never run away.

Which made me think of William.

“I stopped by Howard’s today,” I said, tossing chicken bones into the empty bag. “I asked him if he had any kids, you know, with all the junk he has around, and he said he had a son but he was dead.”

“Willie.” My uncle nodded. “I suppose he is dead, figuratively speaking. I don’t know if Howard told you this, but he’s a full-blooded Navajo. He lived among the Miccosukee for many years. When his wife divorced him, the tribal council banned him from their land.”

“They can do that?”

“Guess so. Willie was thirteen at the time. A tough age. A tough situation for both him and his father. He must be seventeen, now. Lives with his mother. Howard never talks about him.”

I took a long pull of milk. How could Howard neglect to mention he had a son? Was he happy to disown William, or was it too painful to think about him? I wondered if my dad ever spoke about me. Did he tell people I was dead? “What would happen to Howard if he defied the council and visited his son anyway?”

“Who knows? Maybe they’d excommunicate the entire family.” Uncle Bob got up to make a cup of instant coffee with hot tap water.

I watched him for a moment, then shook my head. “That’s brutal. What did Howard ever do to them?”

“There was an incident,” my uncle said, slurping his mug.

When he didn’t elaborate, I knew the subject was closed. I gathered the trash from dinner and carried it to the garbage can behind the shed. My unofficial chore. The sun was down, and the surrounding trees looked black against the pink sky. I listened to birds settling in for the night. Field mice scampered through fallen leaves. Farther off, I heard peacocks calling, making the place sound like the set of a movie.

For a moment, I wanted to slip out of my clothes and into the wolf, romp through the trees and swampland. But that was a dangerous habit to get into. Just because I could change into a wolf anytime I wanted didn’t mean I should. After all, I had a human side, too. I couldn’t be a wolf all the time.

I wondered about William living in the woods as a bear. Why would he refuse to see Howard when clearly he loved his dad? It wasn’t like he had parents like mine. My parents banished me to Florida without a clue. They never told me that lycanthropy ran in my family or what to do if I suddenly turned into a wolf, like I had in that restaurant in France. They were all about secrecy. From their neighbors, from society. From their only son. I would never forgive the way they abandoned me. Still, I wished I could see them, if only to tell them that.

When I went back to the house, I found Uncle Bob in his beat-up old recliner in front of our twelve-inch black-and-white television. Watching Jeopardy was one of his nightly rituals. We exchanged nods, and I hurried to my room to call Brittany. My nightly ritual.

She picked up on the second ring. “I wondered when you would call.”

I smiled as I always did when I heard her voice. “Did you miss me?”

“Always,” she said, “but that’s not it. I have to tell you that I won’t be at lunch for the next few days because I have appointments with the school grief counselors at that time.”

I winced as if she’d slapped me. “You’re still that upset?”

“Not me. It’s my mother. She thinks I’m repressing the horror of the ordeal and need to let it out. Her words.”

I groaned. “I feel so responsible.”

“That’s silly. You couldn’t know what would happen. Maybe you should talk to a counselor, too.”

“Yeah, I can see it now.”

“Don’t make fun. I wonder if they have werewolf therapists or werewolf doctors.”

“Why would they? There’s no such thing as werewolves, remember?”

“Or were-bears.”

“Now who’s poking fun?” I said. “I’m telling you, he’s out there. He said he’s living in an old fishing cabin.”

“I know where that is. At least, I might. There’s a fishing cabin in the Everglades out on State Road 80, kind of community property. Grandpa took Butt Crack and me there when we first moved down. The original owner must be long gone. Of course, you can’t really own anything in the Everglades.”

“Howard told me his son was dead. That really bothered me.”

“Because he lied to you?”

“Sounds kind of harsh, that’s all.”

“I can’t imagine how anyone can live by themselves in the woods,” Brittany said. “We should take some groceries to him.”

“Whoa,” I said. “I’m not sure that’s a good idea. I was supposed to keep the whole thing a secret.”

“It’s no big. I’ll just raid the pantry.”

“But—” My mind whirled, searching for a way to derail her. “You aren’t driving yet. How are we going to get there?”

“Maybe my friend, Eileen, can take us.”

I frowned. “Does she go to our school?”

“No, she’s homeschooled. Eileen Beamer. I’ve known her since I moved down. She lives at the Sunspot.”

“A fulltime nudie?” I blurted. The Sunspot Naturist Resort bordered Brittany’s house. I had a quick image of Brittany’s grandfather sitting with his pellet gun, shooting nudists who strayed from the nature trails into his yard. “I thought only tourists stayed at the Sunspot.”

“Not all the residents are tourists,” Brittany said. “Remember the fortuneteller we went to? She lives on the resort.”

“The grandmaster. How could I forget?” The grandmaster scared the life out of me by predicting that I would sacrifice Brittany for the greater good.

“Then it’s settled,” Brittany said. “Let’s plan a trip to the old fishing cabin on Saturday morning.”

I ran my hand over my face. William the Bear wouldn’t be happy.

Like what you’ve read so far? Werewolf Asylum, Book Two of The Amazing Wolf Boy, is available in print and ebook at Amazon. Kindle it today! Or pick up a copy at these other fine stores.