The Hunters—a group dedicated to tracking the creatures—are hot on their trail and they won’t stop until every last one is dead. But are they all as evil as foretold? Seb, alpha of the Taylor, Arizona reservation pack, begins to question the acts of their kind. But he’s broken a rule and must choose between killing the girl he loves or risking everything to save her.
The Native American Navajo tribe has stories of a monster so wicked, so blood-thirsty, that they are to be hunted down and slaughtered. But are they just legends? Or is something sinister lurking in the shadows? The Yee Naaldlooshi—skinwalkers—have the ability to transform themselves. And they can be anyone. Anything.
The Hunters—a group dedicated to tracking the creatures—are hot on their trail and they won’t stop until every last one is dead. But are they all as evil as foretold? Seb, alpha of the Taylor, Arizona reservation pack, begins to question the acts of their kind. But he’s broken a rule and must choose between killing the girl he loves or risking everything to save her. Cassie must fight for her survival. The pack is after her. And they’re no joke. Cass is about to find out how sadistic they can be.
I remember the day my mother died. It was cool, the middle of an Aeston, Arizona winter. Dad had soup heating on the stove. Our tabby cat, Lizzy, was curled on her stomach, purring softly. And I was by Mom’s bed—painfully aware of her last breaths, the rattle of her airways, the blue tint to her lips—as she beckoned me closer.
I climbed onto the mattress and clasped her cold, frail hand in mine. “Mommy?”
“Cass,” she said, barely a whisper. “Promise me, you’ll look after your dad.” Her chest heaved as she coughed. Crimson spluttered onto her lips.
I reached for a handkerchief from the side table.
“Cassie.” Her eyes slipped out of focus.
“I promise,” I said. Tears crashed down my six-year-old cheeks as I wiped her mouth.
The monitor’s beeping halted. As the daughter of a doctor, I knew too well what this meant.
I screamed, “Mommy!” Hoping she’d hear my desperate cries and come back to me. She didn’t. I squeezed her hand until my knuckles grew white. “Mommy!” Salt water dribbled over my cheeks.
Dad sprinted into the room. Someone dragged me away from her. Uncle Scott. I caved, let my hand drop from hers—how could I fight someone four times my size? He lifted me into his arms and carried me out. Lizzy scampered behind us.
I would’ve promised her anything, sold my soul even, if it meant she would drift off peacefully. She was my mother. And though she’d been sick for months, at six it was hard to grasp that she was gone and what this meant for my future.
Never again would the kitchen smell of her gingerbread cookies at Christmas or fresh bread on weekends. Never again could I hug her. Hold her. She wouldn’t see me grow up.
Eleven years later, I wrap my arms around myself, hoping she’s there in spirit. Is she watching over me? Is that one of the prestigious, theological questions no one can answer?
One of the many mysteries of life, I guess.
I hear the front door click shut, and then clomping down the hall. Dad’s home. Is it six-thirty already?
His head pokes into the living room, where my homework is migrating over the coffee table. “Hey, kid.” He bends to press his lips to my head.
“How was work?” I concentrate on a math problem.
He blows a sigh as he collapses onto the couch. I can see the weight of the world settle around him.
“Big accident on the highway,” he says. As usual, he spares me the details.
Trying to protect me, I figure. But I always push the boundaries. “Any casualties?”
His chocolate-brown eyes dart to me for a nanosecond, and then back to the mute TV. “Four.”
I gaze at my father, scruffy and beyond exhaustion, already slipping into slumber. Sometimes, I feel sorry for him. Losing his wife to cancer. A high-stress job. And only a boldly curious daughter and an elderly cat to come home to. Other times, I feel as if we’re just roomies. Cordial and distant. Opposites.
The night has begun to creep in. Spooky shadows and hooting owls. A chill shimmers up my spine. Humans have long locked themselves away in their houses. The rez isn’t a place you want to be out in after dark.
Good thing I’m not human.
I sprint into the forest, deep enough so no one can see me strip. When I reach the third fallen log, I stop. Kicking off my shoes, I crumple my shirt and jeans, stuffing them into the backpack and tugging the zipper closed. I cram it in a log.
The prickling of my skin intensifies as my hunger for flesh and blood grows, twisting and churning my stomach. Tugging at my muscles. I leap into the air. Hands and feet turn to paws, fingers and toes to claws. Fur spreads over my whole body, gray with circles of black on my back.
I raise my muzzle into the air and suck in a deep breath. Rust, salt, and sinew fill my nostrils. East. The lake. I pad towards it, silent and starving. Then it hits me. Like a brick wall shooting up, keeping me in my place. Staggering back as the scent of roses and coffee floods my airways, I shake my head to rid myself of the stench. Where’s it coming from? I must find out. I need to. It’s too mouthwatering to resist. I spin, sampling the air around me. West. I charge through the forest, paws crashing against leaves and bracken. I’m making too much noise. I’ve forgotten to care. Lost all rational thoughts.
I pass the invisible border dividing Aeston and Taylor.
A house appears at the edge of the trees, its exterior brown and gray. A blonde girl sits on the porch, candlelight sparking across her face. I freeze, claws digging into soil. She’s reading. The light breeze brings her scent to me. Coffee and roses. Such a sweet, decadent aroma. My mouth waters. She can’t be more than seventeen. I creep as close as I dare, curious. Her hazel eyes dart across the page. What’s she reading?
She doesn’t see me. I slink closer, leaning out of the trees.
A male voice cuts through the air. “Dinner’s ready.”
Her head snaps up. “Coming, Dad!” She marks her page, snuffs the candle flame, and then disappears inside.
I wait. Minutes or hours pass. A light in an upstairs room illuminates. The curtains close. Moments later, the curtains open and the light is extinguished.
I must see more.
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About the author:
Renée Shearer writes young adult fiction under the name of C.J. Hart. Renée is a full-time writer who lives in Sydney, Australia, with a crazy pooch named Abbey and a boisterous, somersaulting rescue budgie named Kaleb.
Her days are spent living in her fictional worlds and consuming way too much caffeine. She has an (unhealthy?) obsession with all things cupcake- and coffee-related plus Kerouac and YA dystopia/fantasy books.
Renée can often be found surrounded by books, marathoning crime shows and munching on vegan goodies, on Twitter, Pinterest, or dancing in a rainstorm.
Renée hopes to one day visit Rio and is currently learning Brazilian Portuguese.
Clean Teen Publishing
I've seen this cover probably 10 times now, and I *just* noticed that there's a road behind the wolf. Wonder why a road and not something natural... Story is interesting. I feel like I've read a lot of the "two people love each other, but one is torn over whether or not to stick with their associates" thing, but I can't think of any off the top of my head. Hmm. Wonder how much it gets into the legends - I really love learning about myths and legends from other cultures :D
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