Wolf Shield

Wolf Shield

Maria Isabel Pita

Eternal Blood

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A failed relationship encourages Audrey Goodrich to forgo London’s big city stimulations and return to the more profound pleasures of her family’s eighty acre estate in Mashbury, where she grew up alone with her father, a renowned historian. She was only eight-years-old when her mother, Wilona disappeared one night without a trace. Engaged in some serious soul-searching, Audrey finds herself distractingly attracted to her closest neighbor—Jonathan Ackart, just returned home from a long tour of duty in Afghanistan. Whatever emotional scars he might have suffered remain a daunting mystery, as does the wolf-like dog she begins catching glimpses of in the woods surrounding her home.

Then a letter miraculously arrives from Wilona asking for a chance to explain why she abandoned her family more than two decades ago, and commanding her daughter not tell anyone where she’s going. Audrey hates lying to her father but she can’t resist the desire to learn the truth, or the intensely charismatic man who delivered her mother’s message. What she doesn’t know is that a battle is being fought for her heart by two eternal forces at war with each other, one entrusted to guard her and the other determined to possess her, body and soul.

 
PUBLISHED BY: Maria Isabel Pita
ISBN: 9781452485843
PUBLICATION DATE: 2010
WORD COUNT: 27000
SEXUAL CONTENT RATING: 2 2
EBOOK READER RATING:
CATEGORIES: Paranormal, Contemporary, Fantasy, Romantic Fiction, Romantic Suspense, Shape-shifter, Vampires / Werewolves
KEYWORDS: paranormal romance, paranormal, vampires, werewolves, wolves, shape-shifters, erotic, erotica, romance, fantasy
 

EBOOKS BY Maria Isabel Pita

EBOOKS BY Maria Isabel Pita

 
EXCERPT
COPYRIGHT Maria Isabel Pita/2010

Audrey Goodrich arranged for a licensed Private Hire vehicle to take her safely home to Mashbury from a wine bar in Chelmsford. The rosy fog in her head blending with potential fog on the roads could prove deadly. If she hit a deer she would be extremely upset. If she hit a human being, well, her own life would be over; she didn’t know how she could ever recover mentally or emotionally, much less atone for her supreme carelessness. Her young driver didn’t try to make conversation. A tall black man, he had gracefully unfolded himself from the Mini Cooper to open the back door for her. She sat in the dark gratefully absorbing the intense silence between them. Inevitably, she began wondering what his life was like, whether he was happy or if driving countless people around to their chosen destinations was interfering with his own dreams even while, hopefully, helping him financially achieve at least some of his goals.
 

The engine purring doggedly along, the vast night stretching all around them offered no answers to her questions. Her handsome driver remained an intriguing enigma, unlike the old school friends she had left behind in a Duke Street bar. They had just ordered a fourth bottle of wine when she excused herself. She could only drink so much before a switch went off in her palate and the fruit of the vine began tasting bitter. Street lamps, and the glow on the horizon which was London, made it difficult to see any stars; only her own ghostly face was visible in the window, flying effortlessly above the tree line through the pollution-veiled sky. The illusion was oddly empowering and she smiled. In those moments, turning thirty felt right and good, like crossing an important threshold.
 

She asked the driver to stop the car at the beginning of the long driveway leading up to the house, concealed even in February behind centuries-old trees. She handed him some money and quickly let herself out. “Thanks, miss” she heard him murmur in response to her generous tip.
As always, the cold came as an invigorating shock. Still wrapped in a warm buzz from vintages younger than she was, Audrey enjoyed the sound of her high-heeled boots clicking confidently up the stone drive. The impenetrable darkness always made her body instinctively nervous but she had long ago memorized every twist and turn in the path and she knew she was safe because she was home. Very soon she would glimpse the flickering of the two gas lamps Darlene and Edward conspired to keep burning night and day, as though they had never heard of global warming or any other such nonsense. After that, only a heartbeat or two would pass before she saw the golden glow emanating from her father’s study. He often stayed up until past three or four in the morning reading or writing or both, as if after the witching hour of midnight it was easier for him to travel back in time. Stuart Goodrich was a historian and a highly respected scholar who, every five years or so, published another ponderous tome dedicated exclusively to one arcane facet of a long dead civilization. But, as he had informed her more than once, nothing ever truly died it was simply recycled into the hearts and minds of future generations whether they chose to realize it or not. When she was a little girl she hadn’t understood what he meant—obviously she was herself and no one else—but as she grew older it secretly began thrilling her to know that the elegant ancient Roman lady she had once seen illustrated in a book—with her foamy white dress and coiling black ringlets spilling from a golden diadem—lived on in the infinitely tiny world of the blood cells she had just learned about in science class. And this elegant matron (who might have slit her wrist in a marble bath after the man she loved was killed in some battle or other) was joined on the mysterious river of her blood by numerous other figures who had all lived and died in unimaginably distant times and places. Each exotic personality smiled with enigmatic sensuality on the wood-and-paper barks of the countless books she had consumed and continued devouring. Recently, however, she had transferred the ever growing crowd to the sleek spaceship of her e-book reader.
 

She spotted the gas lights pulsing steadily on either side of the large front door as she wondered for the thousandth time what really had happened to her mother. Audrey was only eight-years-old when the woman into whose womb she magically dove from another dimension beyond time and space—where she floated contentedly for nine months while preparing for her new life—had simply disappeared one evening, leaving her purse, her papers, absolutely all her worldly possessions behind. The police had searched for weeks that stretched into months but Wilona and her abductor, if there even had been one, left not a single clue behind her husband and daughter could hope on.
 

Audrey quickened her pace as her legs, exposed by thin black stockings beneath a short skirt, abruptly felt the chill, no longer warmed as they had been at the wine bar by admiring glances. A dense ground fog was rolling in, threading its silver threads between the trees, and the moisture wafting around her ankles gave more teeth to the cold. It seldom dropped below freezing in Mashbury but for the past several years it had snowed more than once in the winter. Earthquakes, tsunamis, hurricanes, blizzards… BBC Essex was filled with reports of record-breaking destructive weather she had fervently told her friends just a few hours ago was a clear indication of climate change. They had, more or less, agreed with her but quickly changed the subject to the much more important topic of men and how pathetic they generally were, unfaithful liars or boring selfish mama’s boys, etc. etc. They seemed to fail to realize that conversations about the environment and about relationships were one and the same if you really thought about it, as Audrey tended to do about everything. She was fond of her old school chums but more and more (and maybe it had something to do with turning thirty) she felt a pressing need to move on, although not literally. She had tried the living in a flat in London with a boyfriend thing and had no desire to repeat the experience. When she left her beloved father and her home again she wanted to be married to the right man.
 

She paused on the path as she heard the wail of a siren in the distance. She wondered if there been some kind of accident in the village but then the way her heart began racing told her the sound was not mechanical, it was alive and issuing from the throat of an animal. Perhaps a distant neighbors dog upset at being left outside on such a cold night? She began walking again at a deliberately sedate pace because in truth she was somewhat unnerved by the mournfully undulating howls. A line from an old seventy’s comedy popped into her mind, “Children of the night, shut-up!” but there was nothing funny about the fact that another irreplaceable species went extinct almost every time she blinked. England’s rich forests were only tattered remnants of themselves while (selfishly many people would say) she clung to her family’s eighty acres, all that remained of a once grand estate.
 

She was disappointed to see that her Da had apparently gone to bed. No warm welcoming light greeted her from the wing where his study was located. Darlene, Don, Edward and Consuelo all lived in the back of the house. Her childish disappointment was replaced an instant later by a rush of adrenalin that set her heart pounding and her feet moving without her even thinking about waiting to find out what those two pale gleams were she abruptly discerned amidst the trees. There was something in the woods watching her, something too close to the ground to be a deer and with eyes too large, too silvery, too intent to belong to a fox…
 

By the time she reached the front door her lungs were burning; she hadn’t run so fast in years. Only then did she dare to glance behind her even as she thrust her key into the lock with a trembling hand. She could no longer see the eyes she had felt watching her, and yet as she quickly closed the heavy door behind her, all her nerve ends told her she had brushed up against a real danger on the very doorstep of her home which until then had always felt perfectly safe. But she had turned thirty-years-old today and before the clock struck midnight the Powers-That-Be had given her a warning as a gift—no place on earth is ever completely safe and she would be wise to remember that.
 

 
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