Darkness beneath light. Hidden romance beneath a stern exterior. And a young werewolf stuck in the middle.
Gwen Rogers finds her days mundane or terrifyingly dangerous. One of those mundane days turns into the other when she’s assigned to cross the pond atop Indigo Towers. The only catch is she doesn’t know how to swim. A failed attempt leads to the discovery of another mythical creature that resides in the dark depths, and to another fur-raising adventure as she battles the elements and her own growing feelings for her captor.
Sunset. It was the time for the moon and me to shine. This night, though, something new would bring a light into my life.
Only I didn’t know that yet. I slipped into one of my four pairs of clothes and sat side-saddle on the sill of one of my wide windows. The night was as clear as day, minus the sun.
I looked out past the castle grounds and was glad to see the city hadn’t been reduced to ruins by some fantastical creature while I slept. You’ll have to pardon my paranoia. It was only a week after the night where my friends and I had gone up against Fox’s homicidal witch sister.
I leaned my back against the stone window frame sill and studied the partially-filled moon. “I hope you’re doing okay, Lance,” I whispered.
A cloud passed over the moon and made the light flicker as though in reply. I smiled and slipped off my perch. It was breakfast time.
I stepped out into the hall and walked down the stairs.
That's where I met Emery dressed in his impeccable clothes and with his ever-present tablet in one hand.
He bowed his head to me. “Good evening.”
“Hey. What’s up?” I asked him.
“Mr. Fox has requested we resume your training,” he told me.
My face fell and my shoulders sagged. My stomach chimed in with a growl of hunger. “Right now?”
Emery smiled. “After breakfast.”
I followed him downstairs to the kitchen. On the island counter was a covered plate. Emery removed the lid to reveal a plate of fresh scrambled eggs and bacon. I took a seat on the stool in front of the plate and grabbed the fork, but I paused with my tongs hovered over the food. I glanced at Emery who stood just to my right.
“Aren’t you going to have some?” I asked him.
“I had my meal earlier,” he assured me.
I looked down at my plate and dug at the food. “You guys really make a girl feel welcome. . .”
“We do try our best,” he replied.
I paused in my torment of the food and my eyes flickered up to him. “Then you might start by telling me your schedules just in case I need to reach you. I don’t exactly have a cell phone on me.”
He pulled out his phone tablet and scrolled through a couple of screens. “Mr. Fox has an appointment with the board at seven, a meeting with his Asia partners at eight, a final meeting with the museum curators at ten, a-”
I held up my hand and finished my eating. “All right, I get your point. You don’t need to bore me to death.” I pushed my plate away and leaned back to frown at him. “You’re both too busy to have a foolish young woman interrupting your fun.”
Emery pocketed his device and glanced at my empty plate. “Something of the sort, but if you’re finished we will resume your training.”
I hopped off the stool and followed him into the hall. “More gym stuff?” I guessed.
“Not quite. Mr. Fox felt the gym was too confining for your unique abilities, and suggested we try some exercises near the pond,” he told me.
“Oh goody. . .” I murmured as we walked to the front door.
Emery led me outside and to the pond. I hadn’t been there since my helicopter escape to join Morgan. We stopped at the white-sand edge fifty feet from the bridge and Emery turned so we faced each other. The moon cast its soft reflection along the calm surface of the dark waters and created a glassy reflection of us.
Emery drew out the familiar hated bracelets and held them out to me. “If you would place these on your wrists we shall begin.”
I took a step back and narrowed my eyes. “What happened to Fox willing to take some risks?” I questioned him.
“They are not electrocution bracelets. They are merely to assess your physical abilities,” he assured me.
I crossed my arms and frowned. “And I can take them off whenever I want?”
“Whenever you wish once the training is over for the night,” he returned.
I pursed my lips, but held out my hand. “All right, hand ‘em over.” Emery passed the bracelets and I slipped them on and shut them with an ominous click. I gave my wrists a shake to settle the damn things and returned my attention to my companion. “Now what?”
He gestured to the pond. “Now we will test your strength in water.”
“I would like you to swim to the other side and back,” he rephrased.
I snorted. “There’s one problem with your request. I can’t swim.”
“There’s no time like the present to learn,” a voice spoke up behind us.
I turned to see Fox walking toward us. He was dressed in his impeccable suit with polished shoes. Fox couldn’t have been more out of place if he was attending a picnic social.
“The present is a little chilly, and my wardrobe isn’t exactly huge,” I pointed out.
“The point of the training is to test your limits, and I personally know you are amply provided with clothing,” he reminded me.
“I don’t think that should include how long I can hold my breath,” I quipped.
“You never know until you try. Unless, of course, you would like for Emery to activate those bracelets,” Fox suggested.
I held up one of my wrists, and my narrowed eyes flickered between the bracelet and Emery. “You said these weren’t electrified.”
“Not at the present,” the servant confirmed.
“Traitor. . .” I muttered.
“Come, come, Miss Rogers. Surely a little water doesn’t scare you,” Fox teased.
I crossed my arms over my chest and glared at him. “No, but drowning does.”
“Would it do any good to say you have my assurance that nothing will happen to you?” he asked me.
Fox’s eyes flickered down to the bracelets. “Then you leave me little choice but to activate your bracelets.”
I rolled my eyes. “It’s not like I’m going to go on a rampage and bite you guys.”
Fox nodded at the bright moon above us. “Can you guarantee that you have the power to control the beast during the full moon.”
I opened my mouth before I paused. I’d been through only one full moon since my change, and things hadn’t exactly gone according to my nature.
Fox sighed. “If you refuse to abide by your end of the deal and control your abilities, then I can’t keep my promise not to activate those bracelets.”
I shut my mouth with a clack and pursed my lips before I turned to the pond. “No wonder foxes and wolves don’t get along. . .” I muttered as I removed my shoes and socks.
I rolled up my pant legs and dipped a few toes into the water. The autumn hadn’t improved the temperature, so that it was somewhere between frigid and do-not-want.
I took a deep breath and waded to just below the cuffs of my pants about mid-calf. A shiver ran through me and I folded my arms against my chest. “I wonder what normal people are doing right now. . .”
“You must go deeper, Miss Rogers,” Emery called out to me.
I turned and glared at him. “How deep?”
“Mid-chest should do it,” Fox spoke up.
I frowned, but looked ahead and began the long, cold march. “Normal people are probably shopping and having fun. . .” I muttered to myself as I walked deeper into the pond.
I took a long step and my foot found a hole. The water rushed up to my chest and my foot floated off the clean, sandy bottom. I gasped and pushed off the ground and kicked my legs beneath me while my hands flailed around me. I must have looked like a drowning victim, but somehow I kept myself above water.
Unfortunately, I couldn’t keep myself from floating further into the pond. The water lapped around me and my feet ceased to reach the bottom. My luck ran out as I began to sink and my head dipped low in the water. My hands slapped the surface and my legs kicked uselessly beneath me. They had strength, but no discipline.
In my panic my survival, and werewolf, instincts arose. Fur broke out over my body. The hair soaked up the water like a sponge and I found myself sinking faster beneath the surface.
“Help!” I cried out.
Any further cries were silenced when my mouth filled with water. My head dipped beneath the surface and my vision was one of deep blackness and murky depths. I tried to kick, but something caught one of my ankles and pulled me away from the surface toward the deep, fathomless bottom of the pond. My lungs pleaded for air as my hands clawed uselessly at the water.
In a few moments I would be dead.