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.

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THE AMAZING WOLF BOY

by Roxanne Smolen

CHAPTER ONE

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.

CHAPTER TWO

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.”

CHAPTER THREE

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?”

“Thirty.”

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.

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#Werewolf lovers-get this box set #IARTG

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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 Apocalypse

When a villainous lycan takes a young witch as a thrall, a headstrong teenage werewolf comes to her rescue and inadvertently leads his pack into the fight of their lives.

Cody Forester is an average sixteen-year-old boy. All he wants is to sleep late, listen to his tunes, and go out with his girlfriend, Brittany. However, he’s also a werewolf with burgeoning supernatural powers that make even other werewolves uneasy. To his dismay, he has been named pack leader of a misfit group of six werewolves, three witches, and a pair of Native American shamans who can turn into bears.

His nemesis, Vilk Bodark, is a powerful werewolf with both hands in the criminal underworld. When Bodark expands his territory into the Blue Ridge Mountains, taking over small towns along the way, Cody vows to stop him.

But when Cody and his pack arrive at McCaysville, Georgia, they find a vast network of werewolves and enslaved thralls. His pack wants to flee, but headstrong Cody leads them deeper into danger. Will his rash decisions leave them enthralled to Bodark’s will? How can they survive a werewolf apocalypse?

Werewolf Apocalypse is the fourth book in The Amazing Werewolf series, the story of a teen werewolf growing up in South Florida. I hope you enjoy this excerpt.

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ONE

 

June 27, 2008 Loxahatchee, Florida

 

I ran through the sawgrass, my sleek, silver paws eating the miles. Ayanna stayed on my flank. Perhaps she thought I planned to ditch her in unfamiliar territory. True, alpha werewolves tended to kill other alphas, but I wasn’t going to harm Ayanna.

I was her pack master. Even thinking the words made my stomach ache. I didn’t want to be responsible for anyone. I didn’t want to boss anyone around. I couldn’t imagine why the pack would want to follow me anyway. I was just a sixteen-year-old kid. All I wanted was to listen to my tunes and spend time with my girlfriend, Brittany. I wished things could go back to the way they were.

But I was pack master. A kind of mental web connected me to the others: five werewolves, three witches, and two medicine men who could turn into bears. I felt their presence in the back of my mind. Always there.

And just like that, something twanged in my head, and I knew William was nearby. I pulled up short, bristling. It was the middle of the night in the middle of the Everglades. What was my apprentice medicine man up to? I turned in the direction of the link, Ayanna trotting at my side.

We came out of the trees into an area of scorched land. I recognized where we were. I remembered this place as a sea of sawgrass—until a brushfire destroyed it. Acres of sweeping yellow-tipped grass became clumps of misshapen charcoal. Ash made me sneeze. As I stepped, puffs of black dust rose around my feet. Ayanna hesitated. I nuzzled her to keep moving. My responsibility.

Ahead, I saw the charred remains of a fishing cabin. William’s campfire flickered. We crossed the basin of a dry pond, the mud scarred and cracked. William’s voice drifted on the breeze, some sort of incantation. Then the breeze intensified.

Crap. I knew what he was doing.

The unnatural wind rose to a whirlwind of soot. Ayanna huddled against my side in the screaming air.

William’s voice bellowed, “To me.”

The wind dropped, ash bouncing down. William stood with his arms raised. Three golden panthers stood outside his conjuring circle. They snarled. William’s eyes widened as they attacked.

With a maddened roar, I leaped onto the panthers. They were quick, but I was bigger. And I had Ayanna, the she-devil. She fell upon them, all fangs and claws. We pulled them off William and chased them away. Ayanna wanted to pursue, but I called her back.

William was bloodied. He staggered to his feet. As he did, I shifted into my human form. That used to be a painful, drawn-out process, but now I could transform with barely a grunt. I stormed toward him. I don’t think I ever felt so angry.

“What did you think you were doing?” I yelled. I’d seen him conjure before, but smaller animals—like bunnies.

William’s eyes flashed. “I had it under control.”

“They would have killed you. Are you an idiot?”

“I was summoning,” he shouted. “I’m trying to learn.”

“Yeah, well, maybe you should ask your dad for help instead of winging it alone out here in the middle of nowhere.”

Howard Shebala, William’s father, was a Navajo medicine man. I knew he wouldn’t approve of what William was doing.

“His talents lean in a different direction,” William said. “He has no interest in controlling nature.”

“Maybe you should listen to him. Just because you can do something doesn’t mean you should.”

“And who are you all of a sudden, my second father?” he yelled. “Cody Forester, our great pack master. You think you can lord over me, tell me what to do?”

“I’m trying to help.” You’re my responsibility. I sighed and rubbed my face. “Look. Next time, wear your hide belt so you can transform into a bear if you get into trouble.”

He looked like he wanted to argue. Then he dropped his head. “Yeah.”

I put my hand on his shoulder. “What do you say you go home now?”

“Perhaps you should go home as well. And put on some pants.”

My stomach sank with dawning realization. I was naked. I looked over at Ayanna. She gave me a doggy grin. Crap. Why did everything happen to me?

It hurts to become a werewolf. Your bones shift, your joints pop. A tail grows out of your spine. Because of that, I learned to transform quickly. Much faster, in fact, than any of the other werewolves I knew. It still hurt, but then it was over.

Without looking at Ayanna, I changed into my wolf form. I didn’t want her to know how embarrassed I was that she’d seen me naked—but she probably knew. The link again—the pack could sense my emotions. I shook myself from snout to rump, then glanced over my shoulder. William climbed onto his dirt bike. I heard the whine of its motor and smelled a gust of exhaust.

I trotted across the charred land into charred forest. The trees were black and broken. There were no raccoons, no armadillo. No wildlife at all. It struck me how far those panthers had to travel to answer William’s call. No wonder they were testy.

Even amid so much destruction, however, there were sprouts of green. Mother Nature was reclaiming what was hers.

Abruptly the forest became lush again, as if a line had been drawn. I nipped Ayanna’s ear and loped ahead. I would have loved to play tag, but it was getting late. I had to get her home.

By the time we reached our clothes, the sun was rising. All it meant to us was that we might be seen. Ayanna and I were both alphas. We could shift our forms even without a full moon. Ayanna’s father, Dick Richardson, crowed in delight at her abilities. In contrast, I think my uncle was a little leery of mine.

Ayanna stepped behind some bushes. She coughed and gagged as she shifted back into a girl. I quickly transformed and put on my pants. I’d hung my shirt on a branch as a sort of marker. I pulled it down and popped my head through. Ayanna stepped out of the bushes fully dressed as I was tying my shoes.

“That was exhilarating.” She grinned. “I never met a bloody cat like that.”

“Florida panthers,” I said. “Big ones, too. I don’t know what William was thinking, summoning them all by himself.”

“I think it’s brilliant he can do it at all.”

I nodded. It was kind of amazing. Maybe I should tell him that the next time I saw him. “Let’s go home. Your mother worries.”

“That stroppy cow. I’ll not have her squashing my fun.” But she followed me through the woods anyhow.

Her parent’s ranch wasn’t far away. It was only a ranch in the technical sense—there were no horses. They planned to renovate the vacant stable into a home for Uncle Bob, Rita, and me. I hoped they wouldn’t go through with it—I didn’t want to live within shouting distance of the Richardsons.

But as we stepped from the trees onto the wide expanse of yard, I saw a large dump truck pulled onto the grass and workers buzzing around the structure. My shoulders slumped.

Ayanna laced her fingers with mine. “It will be okay.”

We walked together past empty corrals and the fake baobab tree her father had made to mimic the ones at Animal Kingdom. Water danced in the waterfall my uncle and I built—but I couldn’t hear it over all the pounding coming from the stable.

Ayanna’s father stepped around the corner. Tall and dark, dressed in a bright African dashiki, Dick Richardson looked as out of place as his baobab tree. “Haloo,” he called to us. “Back from your midnight run?”

“You’re up early,” I said.

He rubbed his hands together. “First day of construction. I thought it best if I supervise.”

“I’m sure they appreciate that.” I winced at the noise. A worker came out the wide door carrying a load of wooden planks that he tossed into the dump truck. I shook my head. “I hate to see good wood go to waste.”

“Bah. It reeks of horses.”

“Maybe you can have them build a deck in the back. Rita would like that.”

Dick bowed. “As you wish, young sir.”

“Please don’t call me that,” I muttered, but he was already striding away into the stable.

Ayanna said, “Will you come in and break your fast? I’m sure Concepcion can fix us something.”

Concepcion was a great cook, and I was starving. But I didn’t want to watch the dreaded renovation. “I have to get home.” I led her to where I’d left my bicycle propped against the waterfall. “You did good today. Thanks for the help with those panthers.”

“My pleasure. Shall we go out again tonight then?”

I hid a grimace. I was responsible for her training, but I didn’t want to spend every night with her. “I’ll let you know.” I climbed on my bike.

As I pedaled across the grass, Dick called after me, “We shall have to get you a motorized bike. It is unseemly that our illustrious leader should pedal in such a manner.”

I raised a hand to let him know that I heard, and continued riding down their long private road.

When I got home, I was drenched in sweat—even seven o’clock in the morning was hot in South Florida. I dumped my bike in its appointed spot and skipped up the porch steps. My uncle and I rented a two-bedroom house that was set back from the street. It was similar to a shotgun house because the front door and the back door were in a straight line—you could shoot a shotgun through and not hit anything. I figured that was a Southern thing. We didn’t have houses like that in my old home in Massachusetts.

As usual, the door was unlocked. But I was surprised to find it was cool inside. Uncle Bob had turned on the air conditioner. I wondered if he would have done that if Rita hadn’t started living with us.

They were both still asleep, so I went into the kitchen and poured a tall glass of chocolate milk. Haff came around the corner, nails clicking on the tile. Haff was Brittany’s dog, but he was staying with us while he recovered from a beating from a nasty werewolf named Bodark. I patted his head, then filled his bowl. I sat at the table, drinking my milk and eating a red Pop-Tart.

Someone knocked at the door.

“Who could that be so early?” I asked Haff, who perked his ears and wagged his tail.

I walked to the front room and caught a whiff of a familiar scent a moment before I opened the door. “Dad?”

“Hello, son.” My father smiled sheepishly. “Your mother and I have separated.”

 

TWO

 

Brittany huffed out a breath. “Dad? My dad?”

“And your ma,” Lynette told her.

“But why would they come to dinner today? It’s Saturday.” She sighed. “Will Butt Crack be with them?”

“’Fraid not. He’s found himself a little playmate and he’s spending the afternoon on a real live fishing boat.”

Brittany sank onto the bench behind the kitchen table. It had been little more than a week since her mother and brother moved to West Palm Beach to live with her father. Brittany missed her little brother terribly and worried about him all the time. Who would have thought? He was always such a butt crack. “What are we going to eat?”

“I plan to have us some country ham and hushpuppies.”

She perked up. “Grandma’s hushpuppies?”

“The very same.”

“That ought to put Dad in a good mood.” Although she wasn’t certain he had a good mood. “I suppose I’ll have to tell them I quit my summer job.”

“That will be a problem. We can’t very well tell them we decided your time was better spent studying to be a witch.”

Brittany smiled, then fell silent at the sound of footsteps coming down the stairs.

Eileen came in, mussed and naked. “Good morning.”

Eileen was a nudist and a member of their witch’s coven. She was also Brittany’s best friend—but being friends and living together were two different things.

Without looking at her, Brittany said, “You’ll have to put on clothes today. My parents are coming for dinner.”

“Oh. Okay.” Eileen poured herself some orange juice.

Just then, Lynette’s cell phone rang.

“Who could that be so early?” Lynette said. “Hello? Blessed be. Myra? Here, let me put you on speaker.” She set the phone on the table. “It’s Myra.” Myra was Lynette’s ex-girlfriend and a member of Lynette’s old coven.

“Hi, Myra.” Brittany grinned. “How are you?”

“Hi, Myra. It’s Eileen. Remember me?”

“Of course, I remember,” Myra said. “It’s so good to hear everyone’s voices. All together.”

“This here’s the beginning of my new coven.” Lynette nodded at them.

“Oh.” Myra sounded surprised.

“I miss you,” Brittany said.

“We all do,” Lynette told her.

“Oh, Lynnie, I miss you, too. It’s so beautiful in the mountains this time of year. Remember how we used to hike? And the mornings would be all misty? And that time we found a field of wildflowers? And remember the deer?”

“How’s the candle shop?” Lynette asked.

“Fine. About as well as can be expected. Of course, without you here to keep us in line—”

“Glad to hear it.”

There was a pause, then Myra said, “So tell me, what’s happening with that werewolf problem you have down there?”

“All resolved,” Lynette said. “There are no more hostiles about.”

“Really?”

“Yes’m. Brittany’s beau really came through.” Lynette smiled at her. Brittany smiled back.

“Oh.” Myra sounded perplexed again.

Brittany laughed. “Don’t sound so surprised.”

“It’s not that, it’s just… There were rumors, but…” She sounded like she was starting to cry.

“Myra,” Lynette said, “what’s wrong?”

“Werewolves are in McCaysville,” Myra blurted.

Eileen gasped and covered her mouth.

Brittany’s eyes widened.

Lynette said, “But that’s why we moved the coven there. To get away from them.”

“I never thought they’d come this far up the mountain.” Myra sniffled. “The scuttlebutt is that the head werewolf, Bodark, is no longer making a move on Florida. He plans to go north into Tennessee.”

“And McCaysville is smack dab in the middle.”

“They’re here, bold as you please, hanging out on street corners, hassling our customers. I don’t know what to do.” Her voice rose to a squeak. “There are reports of people gone missing, and I just know it’s them taking thralls.”

“That’s horrible.” Brittany remembered her encounter with thralls—they were Night of the Living Dead-ish.

Lynette stiffened. She folded her arms.

Myra cried, “Please, Lynnie. Please come home. We need your help.”

“I can’t,” Lynette said. “I have responsibilities in Florida. But you can come here if you like. We’d love to have you.”

“Sure,” Brittany said. “You’ll be safer with us.”

“No.” Myra took a shuddering breath. “This is home. I can’t leave my sisters.”

“The offer stands if you change your mind,” Lynette told her. There was a lengthy pause. “Myra?”

“Lynnie, please,” she whispered. “I’m so afraid.”

“Talk to the others about everyone coming down.”

“All right.” Myra hung up the phone.

Lynette returned her cell to her pocket.

Into the silence, Brittany said, “I feel responsible. If we hadn’t booted Bodark out of Florida—”

“Don’t think that way,” Lynette said. “He must’ve been planning to go north all along, or he wouldn’t have gotten his men in place so quickly.”

Eileen said, “Maybe it was Plan B.”

“We couldn’t have let him stay here in any event,” said Lynette.

“But what do we do, now?” asked Brittany. “We can’t just leave Myra to—”

“She left me,” Lynette said. “I just hope she has the sense to come back.”

 

 

THREE

 

I gawked at my dad. “You’re back?”

He raised his eyebrows. “May I come in?”

“Oh, yeah.” I opened the door wider. “Come in.”

As he stepped into the house, Haff circled him, sniffing his shoes and smiling in welcome.

“You have a dog,” Dad said.

“That’s Haff,” I told him, not wanting to get into the particulars. “He seems to like you.”

Dad set a suitcase and a computer case inside the door then embraced me. “It’s good to see you.”

I relaxed into his warm arms in spite of myself. “What’s this about Mom?”

He pulled away, looking chagrined. “We’ve separated. Actually, things have been a bit rocky between us ever since you moved down here. I didn’t agree with the way she treated you.”

I groaned. Great. Something else I was responsible for.

A bedroom door clicked, and Uncle Bob strode down the hallway. He was dressed, but his gray hair stood up at all angles. He did a double take. “David. This is a surprise.”

They shook hands.

“Didn’t mean to barge in on you so early,” said my dad.

“Nonsense. Come into the living room. Have a seat.”

We stepped out of the doorway and into the house. As usual, Haff stretched out in front of the television.

My dad sat on the red couch. “The old place is looking like a home.”

I winced. He’d sent a bunch of furniture down after he lost the custody battle. Uncle Bob didn’t approve, although he never said so. I knew he liked to live light in case he had to get out fast.

“What brings you to sunny Florida?” my uncle asked.

“I was just telling Cody that Marie and I have separated.”

Uncle Bob blinked. “I’m sorry to hear that.”

The bedroom door opened again, and Rita came down the hall. “I thought I heard voices.”

“Oh.” My father stood. “I didn’t know anyone else was living here.”

“Yeah, this is Rita,” I said. “She’s great. And this is my father, Dr. Forester.”

“David.” He stretched out his hand.

She flashed him one of her dazzling smiles. “It’s a pleasure to meet you, David. I was just going to make some coffee. Would you like a cup?”

“I would. Thank you.” He sat back down.

“So, where are you staying?” Uncle Bob asked.

“Nowhere, yet,” he said. “I don’t want your sister to track me down. I was hoping you could give me the name of a local bed and bath. Just until I get on my feet.”

Uncle Bob stroked his stubble. “I can ask around.”

“You can stay here,” I blurted. “Take my room. I’ll sleep on the couch.”

“I wouldn’t want to put you out.”

From the kitchen, Rita called, “David, don’t be silly. We’d love to have you.”

Uncle Bob gave a strained smile. “Until you get back on your feet.”

Or until we have to go live in the horse barn.

“All right,” Dad said. “But I take the couch.”

“We wouldn’t hear of it,” Rita called.

“I insist.” He thumped the cushion. “Me and this couch go way back. I’ve spent many a night on it.”

That was news to me.

Rita brought in a tray with three cups of coffee and a refill of my chocolate milk. “So, which one are you, David? The heart specialist or the brain surgeon?”

“I’m the heart specialist.”

“You must have built up quite a practice. What are you going to do with it if you move down here?”

“I sold it to a colleague.”

She snuggled next to my uncle in his big old recliner. “That must have been a tidy sum.”

Oh-oh. I could see where this was heading. I shot Rita a disgruntled look then cleared my throat. “Ah, Dad, what happened to my support payments?”

“What do you mean?” He set down his coffee and looked around at us.

Uncle Bob said, “I haven’t received a cent.”

“That’s impossible. I know they’ve gone out.” He retrieved his computer case from beside the door.

We sat in silence as the laptop booted up. My cheeks heated. I shifted in my seat. I hated bringing up the subject of child support so soon after he arrived. Hated having to bring it up at all. But I knew Rita was about to say something. It was a sore spot with her. Then Uncle Bob might have gotten mad at her, and my dad might have gotten mad at everyone, and—

“Here.” He showed me the computer screen. “Right on time.”

I goggled at the numbers on his bank statement.

“Wait a minute,” he murmured. “It appears they’re being diverted.”

Uncle Bob gave a mocking laugh. “My wonderful sister.”

“I’m sorry, Bob. I had no idea.” He tapped the keyboard. “Yes, here they are. She set up a trust fund for Cody. Everything’s going in there. I suggest we just let that ride. Make a nice nest egg for you, right son?”

I frowned. Didn’t he understand? “We need the money now.”

“And you’ll get it. Bob, if you’ll give me your bank account number, I’ll set up the payments from my personal account.”

Rita leaped up. “I’ll get the checkbook.”

“And of course, I’ll pay you for the use of your couch.”

“David, no.” My uncle looked embarrassed. “Really. Just bring in a little food now and again.”

My father smiled. “That’s a deal.”

“Here you go.” Rita came around the corner and handed him the checkbook.

He leaned over the laptop. “First I’ll transfer the funds you are owed. It might take a couple days to settle.” His fingers tapped loudly in the falling silence.

“Um, Dad? While we’re on the subject of money, I had to buy a new phone a little while ago, and there was still cash on my debit card.”

“Of course.” He kept working on his computer. “We never stopped your allowance. You’ve accrued a nice balance.”

“I wouldn’t know. I don’t see the statements.”

He looked at me. “Then we should fix that. Do you still use the same email account? I’ll have them copy you in.”

I grinned. “That would be great.”

“I think I’ll make some pancakes. Is everybody hungry?” Rita bustled from the room.

Dad said, “Done and done. The full amount has been credited to your account and new payments will start on the first.”

Uncle Bob sighed and spread his hands. “I don’t know how to thank you.”

“No thanks are necessary. I’m just sorry it took so long to straighten out. Marie can be…”

“Domineering?” my uncle offered. “Aggressive? Reactionary?”

“Sometimes I wonder if she has a bit of the wolf in her.”

“She’d tack it up to PMS.”

Both my father and my uncle laughed, but I was alarmed. I’d heard of people who weren’t full-fledged werewolves. They never transformed, just got achy and grouchy with the full moon. Did my mother wish she were a true werewolf? Was that why she hated me so much?

 

This ends the excerpt of Werewolf Apocalypse. If you liked this excerpt, you’ll love the book! Buy it now on Amazon.

Sample Sunday – About Your Book Title

 

 

 

 

 

About Your Book Title

 

Where’d You Get That Title?

by Roxanne Smolen

Titles are what make a reader pick up your book. But that’s what the cover graphics are for, you say? True. But what if the reader doesn’t have access to the book cover? What if all they have is a list? In that case, the title must be descriptive enough to let the potential reader know what it’s generally about. And it must be eye-catching enough to draw their attention in the first place.

Take my latest book, Wolfsbane Brew, for instance. I initially titled it The Witch from Blue Ridge. I thought that had a nice ring. But it was misleading. The book isn’t about a witch. Certainly, the witch from Blue Ridge is one of the characters. But the book is about a werewolf. It needed wolf in the title. I chose Wolfsbane Brew, a play on witches brew, trying to give the impression that there are both witches and werewolves involved. Now the person who can’t see the wolf on the book’s cover will still have an idea of what the book is about.

It’s important to keep genre in mind when you title your book. If you write romance, consider using words like love or kiss. A mystery might use words like clue or murder. If your book is about vampires, consider blood or fang. In the case of a werewolf book, wolf or pack are good choices.

My family members, friends, and acquaintances know the titles of my books and can go right to them on Amazon. But imagine a potential reader who doesn’t know me and never heard of my books. Imagine they are werewolf fans and that they simply type werewolf or wolf into Amazon’s search engine when they look for a good read. Because my books have wolf in both the title and the keywords, my books have a better chance of reaching that reader.

 

Read this and seven other essays in About Your Book Title, Writing Advice from Authors to Authors. Only 99 cents at the Kindle Store.

Book Excerpt – Wolfsbane Brew

WolfsbaneNew

 

WOLFSBANE BREW
by Roxanne Smolen

 

ONE

May 20, 2008 Loxahatchee, Florida

The scent of blood lay thick in my nose. I shouldn’t be here. It was too dangerous. I should run.

No. I had to find Brittany. Had to be with my mate during this time of death. But she hadn’t passed this way. I couldn’t smell her.

There was only blood.

My control slipped. My vision flashed red. A ball of panic exploded in my chest. I staggered into a wall.

I was not a wolf. Not only a wolf. I couldn’t shift in this place. But the moon called to me, tantalizing.

“Sir?” came a voice. “Sir, are you all right?”

I made a show of wiping my eyes, putting on my best distraught expression. “I’m trying to get to ICU.”

“You’re headed in the right direction,” the nurse said. “Just follow the gold line. The waiting room is on the left.”

“Thank you.” I nodded, looking down at the floor.

There were several lines painted on the white vinyl floor tiles, a different color for different destinations—Admitting, Out Patient, Cafeteria. The same as in many hospitals, I supposed. I remembered following colored lines when I was back in Massachusetts. Looking for my mother. The exalted brain surgeon. She was never home. Never had time for me.

When I turned out to be a werewolf, Mom banished me to South Florida to live with Uncle Bob. I’d hoped never to see the inside of a hospital again. Now, here I was. I shrugged, trying to focus. This wasn’t about me. I had to find Brittany. My mate. Only she mattered.

I forced my thoughts back to the lines on the floor. My wolf sight picked them out like in a 3D video game, hovering in mid-air. But they were all tinged with red. I couldn’t tell gold from green.

I continued forward. Straight ahead. Waiting room on the left. The smell of blood was strong, tainted by the stench of antiseptics and dying flowers. My stomach churned. I shouldn’t be here.

My thoughts drifted to Uncle Bob. He would be a wolf this night, running through the woods. His mate, Rita, was in town, and I was sure they’d be together. A glorious reunion. Running.

Running.

A whiff of coffee stirred the conditioned air. My heart quickened, and I stepped faster. The room I entered was dim compared to the hallway. I stood in the entry, breathing deeply, allowing her scent to fill me.

“Cody,” Brittany said. Her hair was purple, her eyes pink with crying. Mascara smeared her pale, perfect cheeks.

I pulled her close, and suddenly it no longer mattered that there was a full moon or that my inner wolf scrabbled at my gut. I was the amazing wolf boy, but for the moment, I was like any other kid holding the girl he loved.

“Hey.” Butt Crack, Brittany’s younger brother, stepped beside us. He was short and scrawny with a mop of black hair dangling over his eyes.

I shifted my hold on Brittany and held out my hand. “Hey, man. How’s your grandpa?”

He shook with me, his grip firm. “Everything’s failing at once, you know? First his lungs, now his heart.”

“He’s going to make it,” Brittany said, her voice muffled by my shirt.

I tugged her gently. “Let’s sit down.”

I led them to a beige couch in the middle of the beige room. Their parents, Dean and Dalia Meyer, stood at the window, talking quietly. I was surprised to see them together. He was an abusive man, and it had been an unforgiving divorce.

Grandpa Earle was Dean’s father. I gathered the two of them had had a falling out, and until recently, Dean lived in Georgia. Now, he seemed forever underfoot, like he could worm his way back into the family. Knowing the kind of man he was, it was hard to believe Dean cared about his father. Yet he looked haggard. He kept glancing toward the door as if he expected to see the grim reaper standing there.

“I can’t believe this is happening,” Brittany murmured.

I kissed the top of her head. “It will be all right.”

Butt Crack lowered his voice. “Mom says there’s a will. The house goes to his daughter.”

“Aunt Lynette.” Brittany sighed. “That’s better than leaving it to Dad. We’d never get rid of him then.”

“It doesn’t matter who gets it. If Grandpa dies, we’re on the street.”

My heart gave an uncomfortable lurch. I hadn’t thought about that. Would Brittany lose her home? Would she move away?

“He’ll make it,” Brittany said. “He’s not that old.”

“He’ll be seventy in July,” Butt Crack said as if he didn’t think a person could get much older.

Brittany shot him an angry glare.

Just then a doctor appeared. We jumped to our feet.

“Doctor Jordan,” said Brittany’s mother, “were you able to stabilize him?”

“I’m sorry. Mrs. Meyer.” Dr. Jordon shook his head. “We did everything we could.”

Brittany wept into my shoulder.

TWO

“You didn’t shift the entire night?” Uncle Bob asked as he drove me to school in his pickup truck.

Uncle Bob had steel gray hair that curled over his collar. When he was a wolf, he was the same color gray. He worked as the local handyman. He knew everyone, and everyone loved him. If he ran for mayor, he’d win, no question.

I shrugged. “Brittany needed me. What else could I do?”

He blew out his breath. “You aren’t like any werewolf I know.”

I chuckled. “You mean that in a good way, right?”

“I just never heard of one of us being able to choose not to shift during a full moon. Either you’re the strongest wolf I ever met or…”

“Or, what?”

“Or you’re not full blooded.”

“You mean I’m not a real wolf?”

“Maybe.” He took a left onto Southern Blvd. “Some werewolves hit puberty but only shift sporadically. The rest of the time, they just feel like crap during the moon.”

I nodded, remembering my mysterious fevers and unexpected flus. “So they’re sick for the rest of their lives?”

Uncle Bob glanced at me. “As they get older, the impulses fade.”

“It wears off?” I thought about not being a werewolf. There were many times I wished I could be a regular sixteen-year-old boy. But in the end, my wolf was part of me. I wouldn’t be complete without it. To have it fade away… A shudder shot through me. “Let’s talk about something more cheerful. Did Rita show up?” Rita was a werewolf and my uncle’s girlfriend. They’d been together for almost fifteen years, yet oddly, they didn’t live together.

A slow smile creased his face. “Yeah. She was sorry she missed you.”

“Me, too. But it was probably just as well. You two deserve time alone.”

“On that note, Rita plans to spend a few weeks here in South Florida. She asked if she could stay at the house. I didn’t want to say yes without checking with you first.”

“Oh.” My cheeks became warm, and I turned to gaze out the window so he wouldn’t see me blush. It was nice of him to ask for my permission—it made me feel important. And I liked Rita. On the other hand, the thought of him and Rita in the next room…

“Of course, she can stay,” I said. “She’s your mate. I don’t know why she doesn’t live with you fulltime.”

“You sure?”

“Just keep the noise down.”

Uncle Bob laughed as if I were joking.

We pulled into the drop-off in front of school.

I hopped down from the truck. “Thanks for the ride.”

“Do you need a pick up?”

“No. I’ll walk to Brittany’s house after school.”

“Give her my sympathies. Earle Meyer was a good man. He’ll be missed.”

“Definitely.”

“Let’s go out tonight. Just you, Rita, and me. Get us a nice rabbit dinner.”

“Sounds good.” I thumped the side of the truck in farewell and walked away.

Seminole Bluffs High School looked completely different from my school up north. The building was peach-colored and had a red tiled roof. Instead of a rolling green lawn, it had a cement courtyard with holes cut out to let trees grow here and there.

Inside, it was the same as any school, though—noise and a crush of people. I pushed through the teeming halls, thinking about Brittany, missing her already. Was there a chance that she might lose her home? What would happen then?

The morning dragged. By lunchtime, I had a headache and felt a little feverish. It made me worry that I wasn’t a full-blooded werewolf after all. I wondered if my super powers were fading as well, but nope—the cafeteria still stank like the bottom of a trashcan, and I could still hear conversations from across the room.

I grabbed a bottle of water and a cheese sandwich and headed for my regular table. Efrem Higgins sat there. Eff was an ex-football star, and he still ate like he had to maintain his bulk. His tray was piled with sandwiches, fruit, and milk. Since being kicked off the team, he started working on the school newspaper. It turned out he had a dry sense of humor. I enjoyed his articles.

He looked up as I approached. “Where’s Brit?”

“Bereavement.” I sat across from him. “Her grandfather died last night.”

Eff’s face fell. “You’re joking. Grandpa Earle? Poor old guy.”

“You knew him?”

“Probably every kid in town knew Grandpa Earle. He organized the Kids Parade. Every year for as long as I can remember, he got all the children to march down Southern on the Fourth of July. Even babies in strollers. I guess he was some sort of war hero. He had a chest full of medals. But he always wore a skunk fur hat.” Eff chuckled. “What a character. I should do a memorial for the paper.”

“Brittany would like that.”

“When’s the funeral?”

“Not sure. I’m going to her house after school to see if there’s anything I can do.”

“I’ll drive you over.”

“What?” I cried. “Your dad got you another truck after you totaled the last one?”

“Hot off the lot.” He took a big bite of a turkey sandwich. “Insurance company really came through.”

So that’s how I found myself in Eff’s brand new silver Ford Ranger compact truck. Except for the color, it was identical to the old one. I liked to rib him about being a rich kid, but actually, his parents were paupers compared to mine. If I hadn’t turned into a wolf that night in France, I’d probably have my own BMW by now.

Loxahatchee, Florida, was a small town. Grandpa Earle had lived there since the beginning. Eff was right—everyone knew the old guy, and everyone wanted to pay their respects.

As we drove up the dirt road that led to Brittany’s house, my mouth dropped open. The front yard was a parking lot. Children and dogs chased among the cars. A line of people waited to get through the front door. They carried casserole dishes and pies.

Eff parked beside an overgrown orange tree. “Maybe I can get some interviews for my memorial.” He hopped out of his truck and hurried toward the house without seeing if I followed.

I lagged behind, taking it all in. Along with the kids in the yard, there was a group of men standing outside the kitchen door, smoking. Another group sat in the wicker furniture on the porch. There were so many people either going inside or leaving that someone had propped open the front door.

Brittany’s dog, Haff, disappeared along with the other canines in the yard. Animals tended to hide when I showed up.

I climbed the steps and entered bedlam. The living room was filled to capacity. Somehow, Brittany’s mother spotted me.

“Cody, I’m so glad you’re here.” She thrust a tuna casserole into my hands. “I need you on food duty. If it’s hot, it goes on the table. Try to fit everything else in the fridge. And make sure we don’t run out of cold sweet tea.”

I carried the dish into the kitchen. The bright yellow curtains I once found so cheerful now looked out of place. The counters were stacked with two-liter bottles of Coke and jugs of sweet tea from Publix. Bags of ice filled the sink. Around the corner, the dining room table was set up as a buffet.

Eff interviewed people as they circled the food, using his cell phone as a recorder. “What one word would you use to describe Earle Meyer?”

“Loving.”

“Funny.”

“Cantankerous.”

“Hey,” Butt Crack said behind me. “Crazy, eh?”

“Hey, man. How are you holding up?”

“Don’t know, yet. I’m kind of numb, you know?”

I didn’t know. I never had anyone close to me die. Maybe it was like losing my mother in the custody fight—but no, that was by choice.

I motioned with the casserole dish. “What should I do with this?”

“Ugh. Tuna. We have three more just like it.”

“In that case, I’ll take it to the garage. Anything else that should go?”

Butt Crack loaded me up with dishes of lasagna, chicken and dumplings, and fried tomatoes. I juggled them out the door to the garage.

Grandpa Earle’s garage was an oversized storage unit. No cars allowed. It was deeply shadowed and had a wet dog smell that always made me crinkle my nose. Among the crates and boxes was a freezer big enough to hold two deer. It was nearly empty, now; he used to joke that he needed the room in case he shot a yeti. A pang cramped my heart as I realized I would never again hear his stories. I put the extra food inside.

I turned to find Brittany standing behind me. She looked haunted—dark circles beneath her eyes, lips pale. I wasn’t used to seeing her without makeup, didn’t like to see her without a smile.

I wrapped her in my arms. “Hiding?” I felt her nod. “Come on. I’ll take care of you.”

With one hand on her back, I guided her into the house. The kitchen table had bench seating on two sides, chairs on the other two. I helped her sit on a bench then slid in next her, holding her close. She felt fragile in my arms.

Her brother spun a chair backward, sitting at the head of the table. “Aunt Lynette’s coming.”

“Aunt Lynette?” I said. “Have I met her?”

“No one’s met her,” Brittany blurted. “I never even heard of her before now. Apparently, she lives in a commune somewhere in the Blue Ridge Mountains.”

Butt Crack nodded. “The black sheep of the family.”

“I thought your father was the black sheep.”

Brittany sighed. “They both are.”

I held back a chuckle. I’d never heard of a family where both children were considered misfits. In my mother’s family, Uncle Bob was the black sheep, while my mother, being a brain surgeon, was the good child. I wondered what people said of me. Could you be a black sheep when you were an only child?

“She’ll probably sell the house,” Brittany whispered.

“Maybe she’ll sell it to Mom,” her brother said.

“Get real,” she snapped. “We don’t have money.”

I said, “Maybe whoever buys it will rent it to you and your mom. Don’t give up hope yet.”

Butt Crack nodded, but Brittany’s eyes filled with tears.

“I don’t know where we’ll go,” she said. “And the really worst part is this whole thing has brought Mom and Dad closer together. What if she goes back to him?”

I got it then. She was afraid Aunt Lynette would sell the house to her father just to get rid of it, and her mother would agree to anything just to have a place for her children to live.

I wrapped my arms around her and kissed the top of her head. My wolf sense told me that her father was a broken man, no threat to anyone. But Brittany remembered him from before. She remembered his drinking, his beatings, lying to her teachers about the bruises all over her body. I couldn’t let her go back to such a life.

“Cody, please,” her mother called from the kitchen doorway. She looked drawn and frazzled. She held a casserole dish in one hand and a pie plate in the other.

I took them from her. Suddenly a parade of new visitors filled my arms with dishes. The onslaught of mixed aromas made me want to sneeze. I added the hot food to the buffet on the dining room table and cleared away a few empty dishes. Then I took the cold casseroles to the freezer in the garage. When I got back, Eff was talking to Brittany and Butt Crack.

“I’m sorry for your loss,” he said. “Grandpa Earle was a great guy. He’ll be missed.”

“Thank you.” Brittany nodded.

Eff turned to me. “I’m heading out. You want a ride home?”

“I think I’ll hang around a while longer,” I said. “Did you get what you need for your memorial?”

He brightened. “Got some funny stories. People have good memories of him.”

“Okay, then. See you tomorrow.”

“See you.” He nodded his goodbyes then left the room.

Brittany looked like she wanted to cry again. “He’s writing a memorial?”

“Yeah.”

I got her a tall glass of ice tea. Then I fielded a few more casseroles and put a load of dishes into the dishwasher.

As the afternoon waned, so did the number of well-wishers. The background roar of voices diminished. I peered around the ruffled, yellow curtains to see a bright orange sunset. My stomach squirmed as if something alive were fighting to get out.

“I have to go,” I said. “You understand, right?”

Brittany paused. “It’s okay. I’ll just go to my room.” She got to her feet, moving as if she were balancing the world on top of her head.

I wiped my hands on a bit of paper towel, glancing about the kitchen to be sure I hadn’t forgotten to do anything. “Get some rest, man,” I told Butt Crack.

He nodded. “Seeya.”

I guided Brittany out of the kitchen. Muffled conversation came from the living room.

Two women stood in the hallway. They wore what I considered church dresses—buttoned to the neck and hemmed below the knee. They both smiled at us, and one opened her mouth as if to speak. But she looked at Brittany’s face and got out of our way instead.

We reached the bottom of the stairs. We were in view of the living room, so I didn’t want to make a big, groping scene.

I hugged Brittany and kissed her forehead. “I’ll call you in the morning.”

She didn’t meet my eyes. “Have a nice night.”

I watched her climb the stairs, wishing I could stay with her, wishing I could wrap her in my arms and protect her from the hurts of the world. She plodded to her room without looking back. Her door clicked shut.

I’d failed her. I knew I had, although I didn’t know what I could have done differently. With my hands in my pockets, I entered the living room.

It was crowded, but not overflowing like before. Several deputies stood behind the couch where Sheriff Brad sat. The sheriff was Grandpa Earle’s best friend.

Brittany’s father sat in Grandpa Earle’s chair, the one where he used to take his afternoon naps. Dean looked haggard, and I wondered again if he truly regretted his father’s death or if it was all an act.

Whether it was or not, Brittany’s mother was obviously taken in by it. She flitted about like an exhausted butterfly, refilling drinks from a jug of sweet tea on the coffee table. Yet she never moved more than three paces from Dean. Her gaze kept going back to him. Perhaps Brittany was right in worrying that her parents might get back together.

I stepped forward. “Missus Meyer, I have to go. There’s more tea in the refrigerator, and I put some of the extra casseroles in the yeti freezer.”

She patted my cheek, her eyes sunken, her gaze distracted. “Such a good boy. Do you need a ride home?”

“He doesn’t drive?” Dean snapped.

“Stop,” Mrs. Meyer said in a placating voice. “He’s only sixteen.”

Within my pockets, my fists clenched. His tone irked me, but no more than hers did. I didn’t need Brittany’s mother to defend me.

I smiled, showing my teeth. “That’s all right, ma’am. The walk will do me good.”

“I’ll take him.” Sheriff Brad stood, pockets jingling.

I blinked, my mouth dropping open to argue. But, no. You don’t argue with Sheriff Brad.

We crossed the parking lot that was once Brittany’s lawn. I got into the front seat of his green-and-white cruiser. We drove slowly down the dirt road that ran alongside the house, then pulled into traffic on the long stretch of asphalt that led to my house.

The sheriff said, “It’s good that Earle had a chance to reconcile with his son before he went.”

“Now I wish the man would go back to where he came from,” I blurted, then winced. I expected to get an earful about speaking ill of a man who had just lost his father.

Instead, Sheriff Brad said, “Yep.”

I glanced at him. Did Sheriff Brad have suspicions about Dean Meyer, too? “Do you know anything about Grandpa Earle’s daughter?”

“Met her once or twice. She’s an upstanding citizen. Owns a little shop in McCaysville, Georgia, up by Blue Ridge. Sells candles, of all things. Makes them herself.”

Candles? Brittany liked candles. “Grandpa Earle never talked about her.”

“She used to call on Sundays, but after the mother died, she stopped. Didn’t even come to the funeral. Nothing against Earle. It just hit her hard. He understood that she needed a little space.”

He switched on his turn signal and took a left into my neighborhood. The houses were small but well maintained. The setting sun tinted their windows pink.

Before long, we turned onto my driveway. Gravel crackled and popped beneath the cruiser’s tires. The house I shared with my uncle was set back from the road, hidden by trees and bushes—the perfect place for a couple of werewolves to hide in plain sight.

As we pulled to the house, I recognized Rita’s old white van. It might have been shiny once, but now it was dull and spotted, as if the sun had faded even its white paint.

“Thanks for the ride, sir,” I said as I opened the car door.

The sheriff grunted. To my dismay, he put on his hat and got out of the car.

Rita burst through the front door, red hair flying like curls of flame. She stood on the porch, wiping her hands on a dishtowel.

The sheriff said, “Back again?”

“For a bit,” Rita told him.

“Where’s Robert?”

“He’s working late. Is there a problem with Cody?”

“Just giving the boy a ride home.”

She nodded. “I’m sorry to hear about Earle Meyer. I understand he was a friend of yours.”

“That he was.” He tipped his hat. “I’ll be seeing you.”

I skipped up the wooden steps and then stood next to Rita, watching the sheriff drive away. “He doesn’t seem to like you.”

“He doesn’t like any newcomers. We upset the status quo.” She turned to me, smiling. Rita wasn’t a pretty woman, but she had a wide, white smile that showed even her back teeth, making her dazzling. “Let me have a look at you. Getting enough to eat?”

“Of course.” My stomach growled, and I grinned.

She scoffed. “If I know Bob, it’s Chinese takeout. Come on. I’ll dish you up some stew.”

She draped an arm about my shoulders, and we stepped into the house. It smelled like dinner. My mouth watered, and I realized I hadn’t eaten since lunch.

In the kitchen, I noticed a few subtle differences. To one side of the sink, clean plates drip-dried in a dish rack that hadn’t been there before. On the other side, a new slow-cooker emitted an enticing aroma. The table sported three wicker placemats and a napkin holder in the shape of a cow. Ah, a woman’s touch.

“Have a seat.” She lifted the lid off the cooker. Steam puffed toward the ceiling. With a ladle, she filled a soup bowl with her chunky concoction.

Rita’s stew was mostly meat—beef, chicken, and pieces of rabbit that I assumed came from their romp in the woods the previous night. I found only a few slices of potatoes and carrots. I groaned in appreciation as I ate, sopping up the gravy with a slice of brown bread.

She watched me, cocking her brow. Then her cell rang, and she smiled brightly. “Hi. Yes, he’s here. Really? Okay, then. No, it’s fine.” She glanced at the cooker. “The longer it simmers, the better it gets. See you in a few.” She put the phone in her pocket. “Bob’s running late. He says to meet him at Tony’s Mound. Do you know where that is?”

I nodded. “I can get us there.”

She poured a cup of apple juice into the stew, gave it a stir, and replaced the lid. “Finish up, then, and we’ll go.”

I wolfed down the remains of my bowl.

Rita’s van was so old it had a cassette player built into the dashboard. The last time I rode with her, she played Carole King’s Greatest Hits. It reminded me disturbingly of my mother as she cruised around in her convertible, singing away—good times long past. This time, Rita played someone called Donovan. I knew she couldn’t get recent tunes on a cassette, but his music sounded really old.

Tony’s Mound was an Indian burial ground out on County Road 835. It was about sixteen feet high. The land around it was flat, and I could see it even from a mile away. A trail ran up its side like a scar. I found that disrespectful. Jogging on top of graves.

But the area was so popular with hikers, it warranted its own small parking lot. We pulled next to Uncle Bob’s pickup and got out of the van. The air was heavy with humidity and the fetid smell of muck. It hummed with old magic from the mound, setting my teeth on edge. I doubted the average human would notice it, but my wolf hearing picked it up clearly.

Uncle Bob walked over, ignoring me. “Hi,” he said huskily, taking Rita into his arms and kissing her.

I rolled my eyes and moved to the front of the van. Heat rose from the engine.

Rita said, “It’s almost time. Should we leave our clothes in back?”

“Good thinking.” He gave me a lopsided grin. “See you in a moment.”

They climbed into the back of the van. They weren’t like me—they couldn’t shift whenever they wanted to. They had to wait until the moon actually rose.

I moved to the passenger side, stripped, and pitched my shoes and clothing through the window. Then I reached with my senses toward Mother Moon.

The change hit immediately. My ears slid upward with a liquid sensation. My teeth ached so bad I couldn’t close my mouth. My muzzle grew, feeling like it was pulling off my face. Millions of electric pinpricks swept my body as fur erupted all over my skin.

I fell to my knees, stifling a howl. I heard the familiar pop-click of my joints repositioning. My muscles burned, making me want to run, to work off the pain. I looked down at silver paws.

I was a wolf. Power on four legs. Not a mere human who relied on their wits to live. It made me wonder why I ever changed back. I should remain a wolf. I could do it.

Then an image of Brittany came to me, her green eyes sparkling, a mischievous smile on her lips. I could never leave her.

Still…

I shook myself from head to tail, sloughing off the last of my humanity. Behind me, the van’s back door opened and closed. I smelled two humans. Two naked humans. No way did I want to see that. I stepped forward into the scrub. There was no game here. Nothing lived near the Mound. Its pulsing heartbeat sent ripples down my spine. That was why Uncle Bob chose this spot—so we could find our way back. But did I really want to find my way back?

The moon rose, and its light bathed my soul in a soft caress. I closed my eyes and lifted my nose. A breeze ruffled my fur. It smelled of sawgrass and the rich, dark earth. Faraway, I heard a peacock call.

Gagging sounds came from the direction of Rita’s van. Then two wolves came around the side—one gray, one ruddy. Uncle Bob and Rita. They greeted me with nips and yips. I nuzzled them affectionately—but the reunion needed to wait. I had to get away from the Mound. I led them deeper into the Everglades.

Uncle Bob, the environmentalist, complains a lot about the changes in the Everglades. He hates that housing developments and golf courses encroach upon it on all sides. In addition, he blames the runoff from surrounding farms for introducing fertilizer to the swampland. He says it kills off indigenous plants and allows others to thrive.

Since I am new in town, I don’t remember way-back-when. But I do know that, along with deer, gators, panthers, and black bear, the Everglades has acquired a nasty population of python. I thank pet owners for that; some people think you can leave any old thing in the Glades. You never want to tangle with a python. The only way to kill it is to take off its head—and that’s where it keeps its fangs.

One animal you don’t find in South Florida is a wolf. So imagine my surprise when I entered a thicket and found myself muzzle-to-muzzle with a she-wolf. She was sleek and brown and had golden eyes.

With an alarmed yip, she ran. I barked for the others to follow and tore off after her. She was smaller than I was, but she was faster than the wind. I had trouble matching her pace. I kept her scent in my nose as we crossed a sea of sawgrass. Its blades swished at my head like serrated swords.

Who was this intruder? I knew she was a werewolf—I glimpsed her short, yellow tail as she sped before me. Why was she here? Poaching? Scouting the competition? How dare she enter my territory without permission?

My human-side chuckled at that. Who did I think I was? The King of South Florida? I was chasing her because I was interested in meeting another werewolf, right? Not because I wanted to scare her away.

I dismissed the thought. With my ears flat, I ran faster. My back paws dug into the soft muck, sending clumps flying behind me.

That was when I realized that neither Uncle Bob nor Rita were following. Couldn’t they keep up? I sighed. Old people.

The she-wolf veered into the forest. Was that where her pack hid? Would they jump me as soon as I entered the trees? Anger tinged my eyesight red. How dare they threaten me?

A low growl frothed my jaws as I raced into the tree line. No one jumped me. I startled a family of rabbits, and they bounded in all directions.

I let them go, focusing on the she-wolf. She was slowing, zigzagging through the trees. After a few minutes, I realized she was running in a pattern: three tree trunks, turn, five more, and turn again. Like she was playing a game.

My ruff tingled at the back of my neck, standing up in annoyance. I calculated where the pattern would take her then leaped, bowling her over. With a heavy paw, I held her down. My jaws tightened around her throat.

Again, my human flared into being. What was I going to do, kill her for playing hide-and-seek?

A moment of indecision plagued me. I released her and bounded away.

Immediately, the she-wolf scrambled up and gave chase. It was a game. I darted through the foliage, keeping her close but not too close. She was faster in the stretches, but even though I was larger, I cornered better. I dodged out of her way, then doubled back as she sped past.

Once I lost her completely. I stopped running and boosted my ears. Where could she have gone?

Coming from nowhere, she sailed through the air and hit me with all fours. “Grrruff,” she said happily. Tag! You’re it!

Grinning, I raced after her. It was fun. I forgot all about her being a mysterious intruder. I played as if she were a toy—a chew toy that bit back.

A while later, the howl of a wolf brought me up short. I froze, listening. Another wolf? Did the she-wolf belong to a pack after all?

She looked at me, gave an apologetic whimper, and headed in the direction of the howl. I trotted beside her. Each step took me further to the dark side. These wolves were uninvited. I’d marked this land as mine. By the time I was close enough to scent them, I was stoked for a fight.

The she-wolf and I stepped into a clearing. Uncle Bob and Rita stood on one side. Two other wolves stood opposite. The male was black with red eyes. The female was small and brown. All four of them had their fur on end, trying to appear larger. But bristled as they were, none were as large as me.

I stepped into the center of the clearing, staring down the newcomers. The male met my gaze without flinching. I would take him first, show him how I feel about poachers.

As if oblivious to the tension, the she-wolf walked over, nipped my ear, and nuzzled my neck. Then she crossed the clearing to stand with her… parents. Yes, now I could smell it. They were a family, not a dangerous pack.

I dismissed them with a woof and turned my back. My ears perked, alert for movement behind me. None came. I nudged my uncle, demanding his attention. The moon was setting. I needed to get him back to his truck.

Relief washed through me when Rita and Uncle Bob allowed themselves to be herded from the clearing. Better yet, the three strangers didn’t follow. I didn’t want to be known as the bully who beat up a family for passing through.

I kept my group moving until I could no longer hear or smell the newcomers. Only then did I slow to a relaxed trot. Soon I sensed the magical drone of Tony’s Mound like the hum of power lines in the back of my skull.

We reached the vehicles as the moon set. Rita hopped into her van to turn back into a human in private. My uncle stayed with me. I watched him shift—his face flattening, his spine straightening. It looked painful.

When it was over, he sat naked in the dirt, looking at me. “Your turn.”

I gave him my best doggy grin, my tongue lolling.

“I’m not kidding, now,” he said. “You have school in the morning. Shift back.”

I sneezed loudly, hoping to convey that I had other things to do.

Rita rounded the back of the van. She wore jeans and a frilly blouse. My uncle’s clothes were folded over one arm. “What’s going on? Why is he still a wolf?”

Uncle Bob winced. “I told you he was—”

“You said he was unusual, but I didn’t think…” Her voice went up an octave. “The moon is gone.”

I snorted at that. The moon was never gone. Even when it was on the other side of the planet, I could sense its presence.

“He shifts at will,” my uncle said. “But now is not the time.”

Now was the perfect time. I spun about and hightailed it out of there. I had to hurry or I would miss them. I picked up the scents of the three wolves at the clearing and followed them to a narrow dirt road that wound through the forest. They stood near a charcoal-gray Lexus, all of them human once more.

The father’s skin was as black as his wolf’s fur had been. He wore brightly colored pajama bottoms, and he was pulling a matching tunic over his head.

The mother wore a long, shapeless dress that split to her knees. Her dark, shoulder-length hair stood out like a frizzy halo, making her head appear two sizes too big.

The girl was not yet clothed. Her smooth body reminded me of a chocolate Easter bunny. She pulled on a pair of tattered cut-offs and a faded blue shirt that had The Doctor Is In on the front. She looked younger than my human, perhaps fourteen years old.

“You bloody well do know what I’m talking about,” the father said in a deep voice. “Those wolves might have been dangerous.”

“Yes, it’s all my fault, isn’t it.” The girl put her hands on her hips. “I’m in charge. I was the one who should have surveyed the ruddy area instead of assuming we were alone.”

“Not to worry,” said the mother. “I’m sure they were just passing through.”

The father sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. He looked at the girl. “Ayanna, you are not to leave my side again, do you hear me?”

“Yes, Daddy.” Ayanna sighed, rolling her eyes.

Turning, she looked directly at me. I was downwind and hidden in the brush. She couldn’t know I was there—and yet… She stood unnaturally still, her eyes glinting gold in the half-light. She looked wild and completely alien.

Then her father called her name, breaking the spell. They got into the car and drove away.

 

Did you like this sample? Read more about Cody and Brittany at Amazon. Kindle it today!

Book Giveaway – Wolfsbane Brew

New Book Giveaway at Goodreads!

Be the first to read Wolfsbane Brew. It’s book three of The Amazing Wolf Boy series. But don’t let that stop you. Each book stands alone–you don’t need to read the previous two to enjoy book three.

In 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. Wolfsbane BrewHis 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?

Wolfsbane Brew will have you laughing, groaning, and cheering. Edge-of-your-seat fun! Sign up to win at Goodreads today! Good luck!

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Wolfsbane Brew by Roxanne Smolen

Wolfsbane Brew

by Roxanne Smolen

Giveaway ends July 15, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

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.

WEREWOLF ASYLUM

by Roxanne Smolen

 

ONE

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.

TWO

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.”

“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?”

“Dead.”

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.

 

Book Giveaway – Werewolf Asylum

Enter to win a copy of Werewolf Asylum, the second installment in the Amazing Wolf Boy series. Werewolf Asylum is a humorous paranormal romance.

Goodreads Giveaway

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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?

The first book of the series, The Amazing Wolf Boy, has been called fun and endearing. Will Werewolf Asylum keep up the name? Be the first to read this exciting sequel. Enter now!

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

Werewolf Asylum by Roxanne Smolen

Werewolf Asylum

by Roxanne Smolen

Giveaway ends June 01, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

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Book Giveaway – The Amazing Wolf Boy

Enter to win an advanced review copy of The Amazing Wolf Boy, the first book in my new Wolf Boy series. The contest runs from now until May 1st. You will be transfixed by this nerd who becomes a werewolf. Laugh at his ridiculous attempts to cook a Valentine’s dinner. Thrill with his death-defying antics. Just click enter.

 

Goodreads Book Giveaway

The Amazing Wolf Boy by Roxanne Smolen

The Amazing Wolf Boy

by Roxanne Smolen

Giveaway ends May 01, 2014.

See the giveaway details
at Goodreads.

Enter to win

 

How To Be a Werewolf

Werebeasts and shapeshifters are mentioned so often in history, they gotta be real. Right? Kind of like Santa Claus. I mean, just look at this:

Those in Argentina call their werejaguars runa-uturungu.

Brazil has a weredolphin called Boto.

Canada has the famous wendigo.

France has the Loup-garou, also famous if you read Harry Dresden.

Scandinavia has the varulf which prefers to drink beer rather than blood.

Then we get to America. Native Americans have an assortment of skin walkers too numerous to list. They can’t all be wrong.

Or so I fully believed as a child. Werewolves fascinated me, and I read every book and watched every movie about them that I could. My favorite was Abbott and Costello Meet Frankenstein . I had a secret crush on Lon Chaney, Jr. His Wolfman character was pathetic and powerful at the same time. But even as a kid, I didn’t think his movie transformation was the way it really happened.

To me, morphing into a different creature would be painful and exhausting work; popping your joints out of their sockets and rearranging your bones doesn’t sound like fun. It wouldn’t be the cute and cuddly way Dee Wallace transformed on The Howling or Jack Nicholson’s enjoyable romps in Wolf . I also doubt that a human could shift into a wolf in mid-leap as they do in Twilight’s New Moon, although I admit it is a beautiful effect.

When I wrote The Amazing Wolf Boy, I tried to incorporate three elements into Cody’s transformation: pain, fear, and embarrassment. I wanted him to walk the line between pathetic and powerful, not so whiny as the Wolfman yet not as aggressive as the Wolf. Most of all, I wanted to keep him human, because despite his strength and enhanced senses he’s still just a kid trying to get along. The result is a bumbling, likable teenager with a secret. I hope you enjoy the story.