(The Shifter Chronicles 14, Blood Book Two)
Raphael is no ordinary wolf shifter.
Raphael knows he must be possessed by a demon. What else could explain the aggression, the physical, beastly transformations? To protect himself and others, his father locks him away. But when Raphael is nineteen, the demon gains full control and breaks free. Now Raphael is scared and desperate on the streets of El Paso, Texas, convinced he’s cursed. Then a stray cat enters his life and everything changes.
Ahmes is a cat shifter and knows there’s something off about the young shifter he’s encountered. It soon becomes apparent that the young man doesn’t know what he is, and Ahmes is determined to help and care for him. But gaining the trust of not only the fearsome wolf but the scared young man will take all his persistence.
Friendship, and the potential for more, grows between them as they travel to Haven, Montana—a town founded by shifters, for shifters, and home to a specialized counseling center, one that can help Raphael understand and accept who and what he truly is.
If that wasn’t enough, on their trail is the last person either expected—Gregor Whitefield, the commander of the Knights of the Dawn, which is an organization bent on the eradication of shapeshifters. Gregor enjoys the thrill of the hunt, determined to collect the unique blood that is crucial to Arcas’s great plan.
Targeted Age Group:: Adult Audiences Only
Heat/Violence Level: Heat Level 3 – PG-13
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
I want The Shifter Chronicles to include diverse and varied folks from all walks of life. Introducing an "unusual" wolf shifter was simply part of that. Also, the love interest, Ahmes is ace. Watching their friendship blossom into romance was a treat.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
The origin of Raphael and Ahmes started with an earlier werewolf series that never got off the ground. They were much different characters at that time, and I couldn't be more pleased with their evolution.
Raphael didn’t know what to make of the desire to remain in Ahmes’s arms. He never wanted to leave. He felt safe. It wasn’t something he’d ever thought he’d feel again. Ahmes was strong, soft, and smelled great. Plus, the beast liked him. Though Raphael couldn’t quite determine if that was a good thing or a bad thing. And yet Ahmes’s words rang true and, perhaps, God had finally answered Raphael’s prayers by sending this strange, kind man to his rescue.
Shifter. Cat shifter.
Despite never wanting the hug to end, Raphael leaned back, and Ahmes’s dropped his arms. The beast huffed in disappointment but didn’t do anything else. For perhaps the first time in his life, Raphael searched inward, imagining a wolf, truly wondering at the beast’s appearance. He got the impression that the beast was sniffing at him, cautious yet hopeful. And he swore he could also sense a wagging tail and perked ears. Was this really happening?
Ahmes’s gentle voice coaxed him into the present. He met Ahmes’s gaze again.
“I don’t know you. You’re a stranger and yet….”
Ahmes smiled and it beautified his face to a degree that was just unfair. Raphael swallowed and the beast—the wolf—whined in excitement.
“I know what you mean.” Ahmes rubbed Raphael’s arm lightly. “I would like for us to be friends. You can ask me anything, and I will answer truthfully. But I think we should get on the road and put some distance between us and this place.”
Raphael grimaced and rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah. I’ve made a mess of things.”
“Then let us work together to fix what we can.”
“I killed—he killed—people are dead!”
That smile winked out and serious lines dug into Ahmes’s mature face. “I know.”
“There’s no forgiveness for that. I’m going to Hell.”
Raphael flinched in shock at the vehemence behind the word, the near shout.
Ahmes’s eyes glowed faintly and now Raphael knew it was an inner light, and had nothing to do with the sun. Ahmes cleared his throat and gentled his voice again. “I apologize. But please don’t say that again. They were accidents. And the best way to make amends is to make sure it doesn’t happen again. You need to communicate with your ba. I mean, your primal spirit.”
Rather ashamed at his outburst, Raphael nodded.
“And, pardon me, but if your god truly loves you and knows everything, then He or She knows the sorrow and grief in your heart. They know you had no malicious intent. Would They be so petty as to condemn you for something out of your control?”
Raphael let out a small, bitter laugh. “I’m Catholic. We’re nothing but sinners.”
And yet even as he said that, he knew it wasn’t the whole truth. His father was the most loving, forgiving, and compassionate person he knew. He was charitable and humble and the epitome of a faithful man. Raphael wanted to be like him. But with the wolf inside him, how could he? Nothing in the Bible could’ve prepared him for the idea of shapeshifters. What was their place in Creation?
The ping of a text coming in had Raphael blinking out of his dark thoughts. Ahmes peeked at his phone and nodded.
“What?” Raphael asked, anxious to know who he was talking to.
“My sister just sent me some information I needed.”
He put the phone away and then held both of Raphael’s hands in his own. His skin was smooth and warm. Raphael now sensed that the wolf inside him was wagging his tail a bit faster. He couldn’t deny that his heart rate had picked up.
Ahmes held his gaze. “Can you continue to have an open mind? As a favor to me?”
“I-I can try.”
He nodded. “I admit that I don’t know exactly how best to help you communicate with your wolf. However, there is a place in Montana—a counseling center of sorts—that specializes in shifter maladies.”
“How is that possible?”
“It is located in a town founded by shifters, for shifters. We call it Haven. Shifters are just like regular people in a lot of ways. We suffer from illness, anxiety, depression, and the like. We need therapy and surgeries, and everything in between. We’re not so different from humans or animals.”
Fascination soon bumped against fear, and Raphael leaned forward, wanting to learn more.
“The counseling center was founded by a wolf shifter and his mate. His human mate. I think that is the best place to take you. I’ve heard that the wolf shifter has had his own past difficulties with communicating with his ba. I mean, his primal spirit. So, you would be understood there.”
Raphael let out a shaky breath and pulled his hands away. Ahmes let him, though he stayed crouched and continued to hold Raphael’s gaze.
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