In two days (Friday) the revised edition of Second Nature will be available from amazon and Smashwords. Bella Books, Rainbow eBooks and other platforms will follow soon.
To tease you all a little bit, we decided to share one of the revised scenes.
Griffin Westmore prowled across the manicured lawn of the cemetery. Golden fall sunlight danced around her, but she couldn’t enjoy it. At least the sun gave her an excuse to hide her eyes behind her sunglasses. She stopped under a sprawling oak tree, behind the last row of mourners. More than a hundred people had congregated around the freshly dug grave. A chill settled over her. So many lives touched…
The scent of grief swirled around her, making her dizzy. For a moment, she thought about leaving, but she forced herself to stay. Attending the funeral was the least she could do to pay respect to the man she had killed.
A gray-haired woman with red-rimmed eyes stood on the opposite side of the grave to deliver the eulogy. “My son Michael was always quick with a joke or a helping hand. He still had so many plans—taking Katie to Disneyland, buying the corvette he always wanted, and most of all seeing his second child being born.” She pressed a hand to her mouth and paused as sobs shook her.
Griffin stared at the gleaming mahogany casket next to the open grave. During her mission, it had been easy to think of him as a target, but he had been a person with dreams and a family. She swallowed as she took in the swollen belly of Michael Wiley’s young wife. Shit, she’s pregnant.
“His life was full of laughter and love, and his death…” His mother blew her nose. “Being killed by a burglar when there were just a few dollars in the house…so senseless.”
Griffin lowered her head. Senseless? No. Killing him had been necessary. He had seen two careless Wrasa teenagers shift shape. Thankfully, the police officer he had reported it to had been a shape-shifter too, but Michael Wiley hadn’t given up. He’d started hanging around the kids’ neighborhood with a camera. Only a matter of time before he captured something on video or he could convince his wife that he wasn’t just imagining things because he was stressed. You did what you had to. She had killed a human twice before, and she would probably have to do it again, but it wasn’t getting any easier. Quite the opposite. She hadn’t been able to sleep since she had killed Michael Wiley.
“I will always love you, Mikey.” Wiley’s mother touched the coffin one last time and returned to the rest of her family.
Pulleys creaked as the casket was lowered, the scent of damp earth mingling with the sickeningly sweet smell of death.
Crying openly, Michael Wiley’s wife guided a blond little girl toward the open grave. The girl pressed a kiss to the head of a stuffed bear and then dropped it on top of the coffin. Her sobs sounded unbearably loud to Griffin’s sensitive ears.
Her jacket seemed to tighten around Griffin’s chest. She sucked air into her lungs. Killing him saved many other children from having to go through this. If humans found out about their existence, they would think nothing about killing Wrasa like the animals they could turn into.
Someone tugged on her sleeve.
Griffin whirled around and nearly lunged at the elderly man next to her. She forced her instincts back under control.
“My condolences for your loss.” The elderly man nodded toward the grave. “Did you know him well?”
“No, not long at all.” Two seconds of startled eye contact when he had looked up and found a stranger in his home, then it had been over already. One jerk of her powerful arms and his spine had snapped like a dry branch. He hung limply in her grip, and she stared down at him for a moment before she sprang into action to hide all traces of her presence before the family came home. “But it was a very intense acquaintance.”
The old man reached out to pat her hand, then apparently thought better of it and just gave her a pained smile.
Automatically, Griffin smiled back, but it felt more like a baring of teeth. Still hiding behind her sunglasses, she turned and walked toward her car, which she had parked next to the cemetery.
A man leaned against her car, his back to Griffin.
A snarl rose up Griffin’s chest. Mine. She bounded up to the man, intent on getting him to take his paws off her car.
The man turned. The wind blew his thick, white hair, streaked with wheat-colored strands, into his lean face.
Griffin frowned but gave up her aggressive stance. What was her commanding officer doing here?
“I knew I’d find you here,” Cedric Jennings said. “Still haven’t given up this strange ritual of going to the funerals?” He clasped his hands behind his back in a gesture that lifted his head up high, straightened his back, and made his shoulders look broader.
Griffin grinned. His posturing was wasted on her. In a fair fight, a liger could make an appetizer out of a wolf. While she respected him as the commander of her Saru unit, she could outsmart and outfight him anytime. Just his ambition surpassed her own. “We each have our own way to wrap up missions.”
“No time to dwell on this mission. We already have a new one.”
“Did one of our cubs get careless again?” Since Griffin was a forest ranger, the Saru often called her to make deer cadavers disappear before someone else could find them and realize they had been killed by something far more dangerous than one of the national forest’s bobcats.
“No. We’re needed for something much more important.” Jennings fanned out two plane tickets and pressed one of them into her hands.
Griffin pulled off the sunglasses and squinted down at the plane ticket. Her feline eyes needed a second to decipher the small print. “Boise, Idaho?” That could mean only one thing: the council wanted to see her. Her lips pulled back in a silent snarl. “Do you know what they want?”
“They just told me to take the next plane, so it must be something important.” The glow of hunting fever already shimmered in Jennings’s eyes. For Cedric Jennings, offspring of a long line of high-ranking Saru, the upcoming mission was just another opportunity to further his career.
Griffin, however, wasn’t so eager to be sent out again. She had hoped to have a few weeks to herself to wander through the forest in her liger form so she could forget the guilt weighing down her human form. Having Jennings accompany her when she was used to going on solo missions wasn’t helping to improve her mood either.
“Let’s go,” Jennings said and strode toward his car.
* * *
Right, there you are. The e-book will be available from Friday on and the paperback will follow soon.
On Sunday (14th July) we’ll be doing a book give away. Three e-book copies of Second Nature will be looking for a new home.
The Ylva team