As promised, a blog about where the writing is going.
And holy hannah! It has taken a turn that has surprised even me. I think there’s going to be a book four!
Look what happened:
Half an hour later, the Alphas, Beta and Gamma all gathered in the study, which had been left untouched by the fire. Covering Liam’s large desk was a second map of Glasgow. On the map on the wall they were building a list of allies. Pushpins were beginning to dot the city as calls came in.
Elsie appeared at Anna’s elbow, scaring half the life out of the Hybrid. “Ye need ta eat, girl.”
Anna cleared her throat and blushed faintly, embarrassed by the short scream that had escaped her. “I’m not hungry.”
“When is the last time ye did eat?” Elsie put her hands on her hips and stared up at Anna. When it was apparent that Anna had no clue Elsie nodded. “That settles it then. I’ll set the Wolves ta cookin’. And ye will eat Lassie!”
Anna glared at the others when they chuckled. The chuckles turned into coughs and she smiled at Elsie. “We have quite a bit of work to do here, Elsie. I’ll eat when there’s time.”
A low rumble came from Liam’s chest. “She’s right, I don’t know when you ate last and I’ve been with you for two days. You’ll eat when the food is ready.”
“We’ll all eat. Thank you Elsie. I thought you’d gone to visit your family but I am glad you’re here to remind me to look after my Mate.” Liam gave Elsie a soft smile.
“Yer welcome. Yer a bit of an amandan like my dear husband but I like you.” Elsie smiled sweetly at him and vanished as Anna giggled.
“I think I like that word – amandan.” She grinned, trying for innocent and failing, as Liam mock growled.
Liam swatted her ass and turned back to the map. “The Taiyou Clan and the Kita Tribe have both pledged their allegiance to our side of this cause. We haven’t heard from the Bloedbad Coterie but I’m sure we will.” He looked at the door just before it opened. “Yes?”
“Alpha, there is …someone… here to see you.” The young Wolf said. His eyes were wide and nostrils flared.
Liam frowned. “Who is it?”
“He says his name is…” the Wolf hesitated then spoke carefully, “Sen-TWAH-lee.”
Anna looked curious. “That’s an interesting name. And he came to the door? That means he got through the wards.” She tipped her head up and smiled at Liam. “We should speak with him.”
Liam nodded. “Send him in, Jack.”
“Yes, my Alpha.”
A moment later the largest black man, the largest man period, any of them had ever seen walked through the door of the study. Anna barely remembered to snap her mouth shut as Liam controlled his reaction and stepped forward. “Welcome to my home…” He left it open for the man to fill in his name. Liam didn’t quite trust Jack’s interpretation of the name.
“I am Sentwali.” The man bowed slightly as he spoke his name, exactly the way Jack had pronounced it.
Liam smiled. “Welcome to my home, Sentwali. How may we help you?”
“I am the Alpha of the Nishati Jamboree and we have just come to Glasgow. We seek your help and your permission to reside in your territory.” The man was closer to seven feet tall than six and his shoulders filled the doorway. His skin was a bitter chocolate and his eyes were almost as dark.
Anna was more open in her curiousity than the others. Chelle and Marcus hung back as Anna stepped forward. Her nostrils flared as she took in his scent. Anna moved closer and circled him. Sentwali stood passive as Liam stepped back. He spread his hands wide, palms up, at his sides.
She took a deep breath, inhaling the scent of the wild. She smelled wet earth and greenery. She smelled exotic flowers and unknown animals. Anna’s eyes closed in pleasure and she lifted a hand to test the energy around him, laying it on his chest as she stopped in front of him. She looked way up and smiled. “What are you?”
Liam gasped. “Anna!”
Sentwali held up a hand in Liam’s direction. “It is fine. I expected such. I am a Jaguar, Lady Hybrid.”
All four of them gasped. “A Jaguar! Wonderful! I am delighted to meet you, Sentwali. I am Sadira but known as Anna.”
The large man smiled down at the pretty woman who made his Jaguar purr. He wondered at that reaction. “All in my family know who you are, Lady Anna. It is a pleasure to meet you.” He took her hand and bowed over it with a flourish.
Anna grinned. “It is a pleasure.”
“Indeed.” Liam shoved down his Wolf as it rose in agitation over Anna’s reaction to the big Cat. He moved to Anna’s side and offered his hand. “I am Liam Taggart, Alpha of the Four Claw Pack.”
Sentwali shook the hand. “I am honoured to meet you. We are in need of your help. You are the only two we can trust.” His gaze moved to the Beta and Gamma. “We will trust those you trust.”
Liam stepped aside, drawing Anna with him, a move that did not go unnoticed. “Come in, sit down. We will talk.”
“Would you like a drink or anything?” Anna followed the large Were as he moved through the room. Every creature within her wanted to touch and sniff and explore the Jaguar so, when he refused her offer, she sat on her hands. And did her best to ignore the need.
Liam knew her well enough to know that she was excited. And almost everyone could smell it. He watched as Sentwali’s nostrils flared and his eyes darkened. He watched as the reaction was controlled and the Jaguar looked to him. Liam settled in a nearby chair, ignoring Anna’s miniscule movement towards the visitor. “How may we help you?”
Anna moved closer again. Inexplicably, the Jaguar shrank away from her. The movement almost went unnoticed but Anna saw it and froze. She took an iron grip on her urges and got up to sit on the edge of Liam’s chair. He pulled her into his lap and clamped an iron grip around one hip.
Once Sentwali relaxed Liam asked again. “How may we help you?”
“We have left our home, our beloved jungles, because of an Nganga.” The Were’s deep, heavily accented voice rumbled through the room. “The evil of that one is spreading through the jungle and we had to flee.”
Chelle spoke before she could stop herself. “What’s an Nganga?” She tried to pronounce it just has he did: gahngah.
“It’s a witch doctor. In this case a Dark one.” Anna frowned as she answered, her attraction to the Jaguar momentarily forgotten. “How does a jamboree as obviously powerful as yours become afraid of a single shaman?
Sentwali growled softly. “She is no simple shaman. She has somehow figured out how to lure and capture us. She has learned how to keep us in our animal form until she is done with us.”
“Done with you?” Anna’s eyes were turning darker as her growing fury called forth the new Demon. Her hair was starting to float and small fires were sparking along the tips, like electrical arcs from one wire to another. “What does that mean?”
The big Jaguar watched the fires in her hair with fascination while he spoke. “It means she is trapping us and has somehow found a way to siphon off that which makes us Jaguars.”
Everyone in the room stared at Sentwali in shock for several long moments. Marcus broke the stunned silence. “But that’s a genetic thing.”
“It is also a magic thing, Beta.” He turned dark eyes on Marcus. “And this Nganga discovered how to separate us from our magic.”
“That’s absolutely tragic.”
Elsie popped in just in time to hear Anna say that. “What’s tragic, Dearie?”
Sentwali visible started then smiled at the ghost. “Hello. I did not know that this Alpha had ghosts in his house.”
With a sunny smile Elsie curtsied. “Just the one. I didna know there was another…wait…” She peered closely at him. “Yer nae a Wolf.”
Sentwali looked puzzled for a moment then his expression cleared. “No, I am not a Wolf. I am a-“
“Wait!” Elsie interrupted him. “Let me guess, please.”
The big man nodded. “Certainly.”
Elsie studied him for some time then smiled. “You are a cat!”
He grinned broadly, white teeth flashing against the dark skin. “Oui, I am. I am a Jaguar from the Congo.”
“Well, I never!” Elsie looked thoroughly delighted.
Anna cleared her throat to interrupt the love fest getting underway. “Elsie?”
The little woman gave a small jump. “Oh! Oh dear, yes. Your food is ready. I’m sure we have enough for the large cat as well, if he wishes.”
Sentwali looked from the ghost to the Alphas and back again. “I would be most grateful for your hospitality.” As if on cue a rumble erupted from his stomach. He looked embarrassed. “I have not eaten since the flight.”
Liam nodded and Elsie clapped her hands together briskly, though the movement made no sound. “Off to the dining room with you then. The Lords and Ladies of the house should always dine with company in the best room.” She popped out.
Chelle sighed. “I bet she’s gone to change it.”
Anna giggled as Liam chuckled. “Probably,” he said. “Come, as our new friend you are welcome at our table.” He opened the door and gestured to Sentwali.
“Thank you, my new friend.”
As they walked through the house Wolves stopped what they were doing and stared. Sentwali smiled good-naturedly at them all. Once he was seated with the Alphas, Beta and Gamma, he stared at the food on the table. There was a lot of meat, some vegetables and some flaky pies.
The Wolves waited for a moment then Anna asked gently, “Is there something wrong?”
Sentwali’s laughed thundered around the room. “No, no! Nothing is wrong. I am just trying not to pounce upon the food, so hungry am I.” He chuckled again, looking a bit sheepish.
“Then let’s eat!” Liam picked up the platter of steak and offered it to their guest, who was seated on his left. Once Sentwali had accepted, the others dug in. They ate silently for half an hour then Liam was compelled to ask, “How do you think we can help you, Sentwali?”
The man swallowed then looked at Anna and Liam. “I am hoping you can help me stop her and save my family.” He watched as the two Alphas looked at each other and a silent communication passed between them. He almost didn’t see it.
Liam covered Anna’s hand and smiled at her before turning back to the Jaguar. “We cannot promise anything but Anna will look into the problem and see if anything can be done. She does have a prior commitment to help Elsie’s family.”
Sentwali nodded. “The last Cat was taken three days ago. She will keep the kitten for six weeks.” His accent was thicker with grief as he spoke. “Merde! I do not mean to put a time line on you, it is that I will need to find help if we are to save her and stop the evil witch.”
Anna gasped. “A child? She stole a child?”
“Nicia is but thirteen and elle est entrée dans la puberté…“ Sentwali waved his hand around. “How do you say it? She just began her monthly flow.”
“And therefore her Animal also reared its furry head.” Chelle nodded.
“So the Nganga likes to take the magic while it is still young.” Anna looked thoughtful, speaking as she continued to eat the food Liam piled on her plate.
“She has tried to take them younger but we always found the corpses within a few days. She would toss them angrily in our hunting paths, destroyed beyond all hope. Then we noticed she was stealing our children older and older. Then only the young teenagers started disappearing.”
Liam frowned. “How long has this been going on?”
“Trois, peut-être quatre ans maintenant. Ah, sorry, I forget to speak English when I am upset and I am growing angrier speaking of these things.” He looked embarrassed. “Three maybe four years now. She started by taking adults. We had people disappear every few months at first. It wasn’t until a twenty-two year old vanished and came back as an old woman and mostly dead that we knew what was going on. She lived long enough to tell us a frightening tale of magic and a woman who seemed human but was able to turn into a Cat towards the end of the time she spent there.”
Anna leaned forward, her food forgotten. Liam moved her plate just in time to avoid her putting her forearms in it. “She is a form of skin-walker it sounds like. Fascinating.”
Anna looked surprised. “I didn’t mean that it wasn’t bad. I have just never heard of this, in all the centuries of my existence.”
“Non, it is a new magic. I am hoping we can stop it with her, before others learn of it and start taking others in other clans.”
Again Anna and Liam looked at one another and a silent communication passed between them. Liam turned his attention to Sentwali as Anna settled against the back of her chair. “We have to first deal with a political matter here then Anna will look into your problem. We will decide from there.”
“We must help Elsie’s family before we can go anywhere,” Anna said firmly.
The big Jaguar spread his hands, palms up. “Of course you must take care of your business first. I only ask that you consider the matter.”
“And we shall. When my Alphas say they will look into it, they will.” Chelle’s voice was hard.
“Michelle.” The word carried the weight of a long-winded reprimand and Chelle looked at Anna.
“Yes my Alpha.” She turned to Sentwali. “My apologies for my outburst.”
“Accepted, young Wolf, do not worry that you offended me. I understand one’s devotion to their Alpha.” Sentwali resumed eating with gusto and everyone else did to. Then he paused. “How will you look into the matter from here?”
“Astral travel and I will speak with my father about contacting some of the Vampires in your region to see if they might have any ideas of where I should start.” Anna smiled.
“Ahhh, oui, your ability to travel without your body as well as most people travel within theirs is quite famous. May I watch when the time comes?” To him it was a mere curiousity.
To Anna it was like being asked to be viewed while masturbating and she blushed. She wasn’t sure why it was so personal but it was. “If my Alpha wishes to allow it, then you may. I am quite vulnerable when travelling.”
“And we protect her body fiercely.” Liam rested his hand on her forearm.
Sentwali rumbled in appreciation. It sounded like a short purr and the Wolves blinked in surprise. “It is heartening to see such devotion and love. The rumours were true.”
“Rumours?” Marcus looked curious.
“Oui, yes, rumours of their love and her power. She glows with both.” Sentwali smiled and pushed his plate away. “This was a wonderful meal. Merci. I must return to my family. How may I contact you?”
Liam rattled off the numbers for his cell phone and the house landline. Then he realized that perhaps writing things down was a good idea. Chelle went for paper and pen and Sentwali left with their promise to look into the problem and consider lending aid.
When Sentwali (pronounced sehn TWAH lee) showed up I knew I was in trouble. And as more of his story that came to light, especially when he told Anna that the Nganga is stealing children it almost sealed the deal. I believe they will decide to help. AFTER Anna helps Elsie, which is book three. Elsie did try to usurp book three and stick Sentwali’s story in its place. I firmly vetoed that. I want to tell Elsie’s family’s story and so I will.
Her story is based on the Glen Coe Massacre of the MacDonalds in the Highlands. It happened in 1692 and the family has been restless and seeking revenge for their wrongful deaths. Needless to say that while I will be basing it on actual events, I will be twisting actual events enough to make the story happen. It does require extensive research, which I will be starting once I finish Demon Plague and get Witch Hitlist up and running.
I just have to get the balls to finish writing the investment proposal and send it to people. I loathe asking for money, no matter what it’s for. I feel like I should be able to do everything I want to do myself but at this point it’s impossible. Just need someone who believes in me enough to do this with a very slow return in their investment.
Well, I’m off to do housework and maybe make cookies. I’ve been craving the wee round pieces of delectableness for some time now. Too bad I can’t make peanut butter ones. Yum.
Oh! I should add the following note:
Taiyou Clan – a Russian clan of WereBears
Kita Tribe – an Indian Tribe of Naga (snake people)
Bloedbad Coterie – a group of WereBirds, Harpy Eagles specifically.
The three groups of Lycans (and I prefer to use the term Lycan to describe all Weres, though I know there are those who would argue) have been in Scotland for 15 generations (the Bears), 7 generations (the Naga) and 3 generations (the Eagles). “Taiyou” means sun. “Kita” means war. And “bloedbad” means carnage.