Last year, I had an idea for a fantasy romance mashed up with a regency, monster hunting and werewolves about a ton of other stuff that makes me happy.
The plan was for me dictate as much as possible on the long drive to Simply Romance this summer and share it over the summer as something fun. Plans changed but I still wanted to write the monster mash-up. So I did.
I’ll be sharing a chapter of Hunted by Moonlight once a week. Maybe more if the words are easy, but the schedule is once a week.
You’ll be getting my alpha draft. What does this mean? Well, typos for one. A finished book usually gets two rounds of editing plus proofreading before you get a hold of it, so Hunted by Moonlight will be rough. The final version will not resemble what I post. Scenes get moved around. Details change and get added. Just yesterday I realized that a servant character kept showing up and he deserved a name, so poor Travers doesn’t have a name in the chapter one. I also have a nasty habit of repetition and being a bit long winded. All that gets tidied up in revisions.
I’m excited! Writing what is essentially Jane Austen + werewolves has been a delight for me. I hope you enjoy Aleksandar and Solenne.
Anyway, enjoy the blurb.
A cursed wolf stalks the valley.
Solenne’s family has protected their village from evil for generations but when her father is gravely injured, she is forced to call upon the one man who knows what’s at stake if they lose. The same man who broke her heart.
A cursed man.
Aleksandar has a secret. Bitten by the very monsters Solenne’s family has sworn to destroy, he is no longer in control as he shifts into a horrible creature. Determined to protect the woman he loves, he will do anything, even if it means breaking her heart. Again.As the full moon approaches, however, Aleksandar may not have a choice. The beast wants a mate, and it has a taste for Solenne.
Chapter One – Solenne
“Grab your kit!”
A cold wind swept through the house as Luis carried in the bleeding form of their father, Godwin Marechal. Servants hurriedly opened doors, clearing the way into the warmth of the kitchen. Hastily, the worktable had been cleared just as Luis laid down his burden.
In the light from the kitchen fireplace, Solenne carefully inspected her father. A gash sliced across his face and left eye. Blood matted in his hair and soaked through the layers of his coat and tunic.
“Was he wearing any armor at all?” Solenne hissed. Godwin’s abdomen had been viciously slashed in an unmistakable pattern. Claws.
“The material failed,” Luis said.
Solenne bit her tongue to hold her snarking comeback; obviously, the armor failed. Useless old things.
“Hold him down,” she ordered. Her brother placed his hands on Godwin’s shoulders. The elder hissed as silver shears cut through cloth.
“Are they deep?” Luis stood near, barely breathing.
“I need hot water and a paste of honey and onion,” Solenne said. She wouldn’t know the severity of the wounds until she cleaned away the blood. At least the bleeding had slowed. The eye injury concerned her the most. They needed to call the doctor, but none would venture out during the full moon.
“Don’t worry about me,” Godwin hissed. “The beast is out there with my blood on his muzzle and we’ve hours left before dawn.”
Solenne shared a look with Luis. Their father needed immediate attention but if the estate was under attack, she could deal with her father while Luis hunted the monster.
“I hit it with my pistol. It’d be mad to come back,” her brother said. He looked exhausted, covered in dirt, blood, and gunpowder. The sleeve of his jacket had been slashed, exposing the matte black material of his armor suit underneath.
“Did it get you? Did your armor hold?”
“No and yes. This time.” Luis ran a filthy hand through his hair. “Father shoved me out of the way. He saved me. I shouldn’t have—”
“None of that,” Godwin moaned. Solenne wished she had a sleeping draught already made to put him to sleep.
“Wash your hands and bring me the bottle of wolfsbane,” Solenne said, pointing to the scullery. “You might as well get the whiskey, too.”
The kitchen maid brought a bowl and a pitcher of hot water. Carefully, she removed debris and washed the wounds clean. The cook supplied freshly diced onions and ground them into a mixture with honey under Solenne’s instruction. Luis poured Godwin a generous measure of whiskey and encouraged his father to drink.
Solenne indicated that he should drink half a glass of the wolfsbane tonic. No one in their family had ever suffered the curse of the wolf’s bite but there was no sense in testing fate.
“Hold him down. This will hurt.” Solenne held up a bottle and Luis nodded, leaning forward to use all his weight to keep Godwin pinned in place.
“I’m sorry, Papa,” she whispered as she uncorked the bottle of eyewash and poured it carefully over her father’s injured eye.
The older man thrashed and cursed enough to turn the air blue. The lights flickered briefly before fading entirely. Godwin, thankfully, had passed out from the pain.
Small favors, perhaps. That seemed to be all the universe doled out to the Marechal family.
“Fucking batteries,” Luis complained. “They won’t hold a charge in the cold.”
“They don’t power properly on cloudy days. We can use a lantern,” Solenne said. At least the lanterns held a charge, decently.
By the soft light of the ancient lanterns, Solenne tended to her father. Luis ran down the events of the evening. He and Godwin had not even had to track the bestial wolf. It waited for them beyond the estate’s gates, which showed a disturbing intelligence, in Solenne’s opinion.
She hated the full moon. Monsters crossed the Veil with the power of the moon. Everyone knew that. The Marechal family had hunted those monsters for generations. Their ancestors had been granted land near a nexus point, where the Veil was thin, specifically to protect the neighboring farms and village.
Monster hunting, however, was not lucrative and equipment—all silver-tipped and -plated—had to be replaced frequently. Their estate was marginal land at best and the floods from last year ruined their modest harvest. Thankfully, being close to the nexus point meant their land held unique plants and herbs. The tonics and remedies she made supplemented their income and she feared that it would be the entirety of their income if the next harvest failed.
The Marechal name still commanded respect, for what that was worth.
Solenne applied the last of the bandages. She sagged into a chair with exhaustion and gratefully accepted a mug of hot tea. “There. We’ll need to clean it again in the morning and apply more paste.”
“He will survive,” Luis said.
“If we avoid infection, yes. I won’t be happy if he spends less than a week in bed.”
“Which he won’t allow.”
“Probably not, but his two children will nag him until he relents,” she said. “It’s his eye that’s the problem.”
Luis nodded. The siblings did not need to say that a monster hunter with one eye was as good as dead. No depth perception meant he could not fight or, at least, not win a fight.
“We’ll send for Doctor Webb in the morning.” She’d worry about how to pay for the doctor tomorrow. Perhaps the doctor would accept a trade of a tonic of poultice. If not, the house was large and full of useless decorations. She’d rather have her father alive and possibly blinded than silver-plated candelabras.
“Scarring is in a bad place. He’ll be stiff,” Luis observed. They both knew what that meant.
Godwin could not be injured. Farmer by day and monster hunter by night, no one else could pick up the mantle. Luis, while large for his age, was too young and not yet fully trained. Tonight’s mishaps proved that. Solenne had wanted to train in the family’s profession, but her father forbade it. Claimed a girl had no place wielding a sword.
He probably felt different when the wolf nearly gutted him; another set of eyes, another blade or bow, could have prevented this.
A howl sounded in the distance. A dish shattered on the floor.
“Oh, my nerves,” Cook said, bending to retrieve the fragment.
“It’s my fault,” Luis said.
“No, it’s that wolf’s fault.” She looked down at her father’s unconscious face. “We have a month to prepare. We need help.”
The doctor arrived shortly after dawn. The news was not good but not as bad as Solenne and Luis feared.
Godwin would live but he would lose the use of his eye. They had to wait until the next full moon to determine if he suffered the effects of the wolf’s bite. Until then, Solenne would pour a wolfsbane tonic down her father’s throat. He’d drown in the stuff.
Heartened by the doctor’s prognosis, she pressed two silver coins into the man’s hands.
He pushed them back. “I will not accept your coin. Godwin Marechal has given more to this village than we can ever hope to repay.”
It remained unspoken that her father gave his sight. So many Marechal ancestors gave their blood to protect others and Godwin could add his name to their ranks.
She lifted her chin, stubborn to her very core. “You deserve compensation. Goodwill and smiles do not put food on the table.”
“Indeed. I will gladly accept a tin of your rosehip tea.”
Solenne nodded, her pride assuaged.
Copyright 2020 Nancey Cummings