It's an odd thing, looking back at this book now. I was such a novice writer, and I see that in these pages. But at the same time, I adore it, both for what it is and for all it represents.
I wrote this book at a time when I'd all but lost my voice. I was a full-time mom in a bad marriage, with no income, few creative outlets, and a distinct lack of self-esteem. But I wrote this book. I wrote it for me, because I needed to find my voice again. I wrote it because I had a burning desire to make something and reconnect with the creative part of me that almost went extinct when I let "mother" and "wife" totally define me.
Below is the prologue and a scene from Feral. I very rarely look inside this book now, maybe because it's so wrapped up with a part of my life that no longer exists. I will always be a mother first and foremost. But after I published this book, the bad marriage ended, and I learned I could not only survive but thrive on my own. Feral played a significant role in my journey, and it'll always be a part of me.
He was watching me.
I sensed his presence weeks before I saw him. Day after day, I peered out into the woods beside the lake house, unable to shake the feeling that someone was out there. But I never caught a glimpse of him. Eventually, I convinced myself it had to be my imagination, that spending so much time by myself was starting to mess with my mind.
I was so wrong.
Against all odds, apparently I’d actually managed to fall asleep for a while. I sat up on the hard kitchen floor and looked at the clock on the stove, which read 2:13 a.m. I hadn’t managed to sleep the whole night away, but the fact that I’d slept at all was pretty remarkable.
My head was pounding. I got up only as far as my knees and reached for a bottle of aspirin, then used my hand as a cup and scooped tap water into my mouth to wash down a couple pills. I started to lay back down on the floor, but my back and shoulders were so stiff from sleeping there that I forced myself to my feet and pointed myself at the couch. I turned off all the lights on the way into the living room, the complete darkness far more soothing to my throbbing headache.
I curled up in a ball on the couch and shut my eyes. And the skin on the back of my neck prickled. I opened my eyes again and lay perfectly still, my subconscious warning me not to move so I’d remain hidden, because it sensed some kind of danger.
Something caught my eye then. Movement. Something out in the night. I remained motionless, scanning the darkness beyond the windows as fear trickled like ice water down my spine. It was probably nothing, I told myself. A deer maybe. Or a raccoon. Something harmless.
Movement again, barely visible in the faint light from the sliver of moon. Something out past the deck. Out at the water’s edge. Something big.
I couldn’t tell if it was human. Or Nikolai. It shouldn’t be. He should be many, many miles away right now.
My throat had gone dry and it was difficult to swallow, the sound unbearably loud in the perfect quiet. I still didn’t move, even though I knew that was pointless. If it was a vampire – mine, or perhaps another one – then it could see me perfectly right now in the darkness. It knew I was here. It knew I was defenseless.
What was it waiting for?
My heart was beating so hard that I wondered if whatever was out there could hear it. I sat up slowly, my hands sweating as I braced them against the couch. I wondered if I’d locked the front door, then almost rolled my eyes at my stupidity. The house was glass. If whatever was out there wanted in, it only had to smash a window. A lock wasn’t going to stop it.
The thing in the dark stepped up onto the deck.
It was backlit and human in form, a bit hunched, broad shoulders outlined in moonlight, powerful arms ending in big hands that were contorted somehow. Curled like claws.
I had no idea if it was Nikolai.
It seemed to be breathing hard, its body expanding and contracting as it drew air into its lungs.
And then it crouched slightly. Ready to pounce.
I vaulted over the back of the couch, fear a sharp taste in my mouth as I took the stairs three at a time. I had to get away. Now. I hurled myself across the dark bedroom, heading for the bathroom and the only solid walls in the house.
I didn’t make it.
A hand closed around my ankle, and I slammed face down onto the wood floor. I hadn’t heard glass shattering, I didn’t know how it had reached me so quickly. But it had me now.
A heavy body leapt on top of me and I cried out as the air was forced from my lungs. Hands were tearing at my clothes, stripping me. I was brutally flipped over, and a mouth pressed against my own. It tasted of blood and salt. And it tasted of Nikolai.