It’s been quite some time since I brought Natural Selection to Tuesday Tales. Actually, it’s been some time since I actually worked on it (since March of this year – the last time it was in Tuesday Tales). I decided to dust it off and turn it into a full novel so I could submit it before the end of the year.
For those that have forgotten (or weren’t here) – this is my historical paranormal with werewolves. Leilyn is the heroine and she washed up on shore where Dell (the hero) found her on their packs lands. Long story short, it turns out she is actually part of their pack-stolen when she was just over a year old after a vicious attack on her home pack.
Jasper, Dell’s father and the pack alpha, knew immediately who she was because of her unique eyes. After she had a freakout (having your world turned on its head will do that to a girl), he has decided to help her find her own instinctual sense of home by taking her to the home she was born in. He’s just revealed her mother and father’s names and that her father was an Indian with his own unique magic. Now he tries to get her to go inside:
Unfamiliar emotions swept through her soul. From belonging, to protection, she shook her head against them. She was used to feeling like an alien among her kind. To her, that was normal. “So everything I have ever known is wrong.”
“No, not everything. You know about pack politics, right?”
“Not really. I was kept out of it.” She shrank away from his growl. “All I know is my uncle—no, I guess he wasn’t my uncle. He was the alpha.”
“You could shrug off his power?”
“Most of the time. Unless Tess was with him.”
She chewed her lip, not wanting to expose too many details about the pack she’d known her whole life. When she opened her mouth to say more hot fire burned into her ankle again. The heat coursed through her and she gasped, dropping to grab the focus of the pain.
“Leilyn.” Jasper set a hand on his shoulder as he bent beside her. “You’re all right.”
His reassurance soothed the ache running through her until it remained only on her ankle. She tried to hold her hand in place, but Jasper brushed it aside. The birthmark she’d had her whole life had turned an ugly red like someone had placed a brand over the spot.
Jasper ran his hand over the mark and it faded back to almost nothing. Once again it was little more than a mark barely distinguishable from her tanned flesh. “Better?”
Suspicion crawled through her gut and she glared at him. “What did you do?”
“That wasn’t me. Now come.” He helped her back to her feet. “Come inside. You were very young when you were taken, but something might be familiar to you.”
“Tell me what happened.”
“I will.” He paused in the doorway. “I promise. Right now you have far too much weighing on your mind and heart. You need something that will help you cling to your true instincts.”
With no hint of malice or force of alpha power behind his stance, her curiosity won out over her lingering suspicion. She slipped into the dark cabin. The musty scent of neglect drew a sneeze from her sensitive nose. “Why is it still abandoned?”
“Remember I said your father had magic?” Light flickered through the cabin after a scratch of a match. The light grew brighter as Jasper approached with a lantern in his hand.
“Yes.” She had her flaws, but a dull mind was not one of them.
“He protected his home from any outsiders. Others could move in here, but they would never be comfortable. We chose to leave it as a testament to those we lost. Olive used to come in and clean once a week, but after ten years she backed off. Now she only comes in a few times a year, Dell and Byron have kept up with repairs to ensure it doesn’t collapse. Otherwise, everything is how your parents left it that day.”
She nodded, but found herself unable to move from her spot. If she found something familiar, what would that mean? How many times could her world get turned on its head?
“It’s your home, should you choose to keep it. If you do, Olive can clean it up and make it livable again for you.”
“I can clean my own home.” Once she realized what she’d said out of pure reaction, she backtracked. “No matter where that is.”
A knowing smile flickered across the alpha’s features, but he didn’t correct her. He glanced around the room. “Do you feel comfortable here?”
“Yes.” She couldn’t deny that truth, and didn’t bother to. “Don’t you?”
“I do, but Edith and John were my best friends.”
“He took an English first name. You were born as Mohegan Black Bear.”
She lifted the lantern to scan the room. Simple furniture sat near the fireplace to her left. Two chairs that appeared handmade, one of which rocked were centered in by a modest sofa. A desk lay against the wall to her right, with what appeared to be an unfinished letter on top.
The kitchen was open, a cabinet on the wall and a table with two chairs and a highchair pulled up to it as if waiting for the family to join in a warm meal.
The rest of the house hid behind the door on the farthest wall. Still, she couldn’t move from her spot. A part of her wanted to run back to find the people that were supposed to be there. The people, she realized, that could well be her parents. Two people that wouldn’t return home.
“Go ahead and explore,” Jasper urged her in a quiet tone. “This visit is for you, not me. I’ll remain here to take you back when you’re ready to leave.”
Somehow she forced her feet to move while the two halves of her warred. One part wanted to turn around and run from the house and this past she couldn’t remember. The other wanted to stay and learn all she could about who she might have been.
She made her way through the kitchen into the back where the bedroom. A trundle bed sat alongside a large handcrafted bed. Above the trundle hung a dreamcatcher which she couldn’t resist reaching for. Before she touched it, the familiarity of the action made her pause.
Rather than risk following the instinct, she rose and crossed the room. A glimmer on the dresser drew her eye and she moved closer. She touched the gold locket gently. Her heart clenched and she picked it up. “Mama.”
The truthfulness of Jasper’s earlier comment that her natural instinct would lead her hit home. She put down the lamp so she could put on the locket. Every doubt flew away as she played with the gold piece between her fingers.
“Jasper,” she spoke in a whisper knowing his sharp ears would hear. “How long are Werewolves memories?”
“I think you know the answer to that,” his reply came just as quiet. “But it seems that Weres have longer memories than humans. We have some pack members that can remember as early as their first month of life. Often in small capsules of moments, but they are there.”
She swiped at her cheek to rid herself of a betraying tear. Memories much like he’d described, brief moments in time emerged from wherever they’d been hidden. “Why couldn’t I remember before?”
“I’m not sure. We’ll make sure we find out.”
Once she was certain all signs of her upset were gone, she grabbed the lantern and returned to the living room. “I want to learn all I can about Werewolves. Everything I wasn’t taught.”
“Of course. I will assign Byron to the task. I think you’re more comfortable with him than an alpha while you’re struggling.”
She wrinkled her nose against the half-truth she sensed in the statement, but nodded. “I am comfortable with Byron. He makes me laugh.”
“He has that effect on many people.”
“I want to start first thing tomorrow.”
“No.” He held up his hand to stop her protest. “First thing tomorrow I will take you on a hunt. You need it, and until you’re more settled I don’t care for you hunting alone in unfamiliar territory. I don’t think you wish to be shot for crossing a line you don’t know is there.”
A hunt sounded too good to pass up, so she nodded. “Fine. Right after, then.”
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