QSFer Layla Dorine has a new MM paranormal book out: Ta Weezo’s Blues.
Sabre never had any intentions of becoming the teacher’s pet. In fact, most of his school years have been spent trying to avoid attention. The scar that mars his cheek has made him wary of strangers, their questions and prying eyes leave him feeling exposed in ways he’s uncomfortable with. Accustomed to blending in, he lurks around the shadows in the back of classrooms, turning in exemplary work but rarely taking part in discussions.
Professor Locklear’s Native lit class is different though. Sabre’s interest in the subject matter, coupled with a dedicated scholar’s need to turn in the best work possible, leads him to seek out a more advanced reading list, much to the delight of Professor Locklear. When he comes across Sabre reading material beyond even the advanced list, Professor Locklear invites on a fieldtrip to a nearby village. Along the way he learns more than just the knowledge contained in the books. He learns about trust and discovers that there are others out there just like him— shapeshifters.
What he believed was an individual anomaly turns out to be something beyond legend and lore, a whole different culture he’d never known existed. The only way he can move forward is to let his shields down long enough to trust the man whose conversations he’s come to enjoy, but to do that, he’ll have to stop distancing himself from everyone.
The circle broke up not long after Grace was finished speaking. It was easy to see why her tale had been left for last. Who would want to follow that? Sabre shook his head and reached for his hoodie, fingers stilling on the cloth midway through the act of pulling it up over his head. Her story echoed through his mind, and as others headed for the refreshment table, Sabre looked around for Grace. Spotting her long white hair flowing loose as she moved through the crowd, he followed her.
He didn’t have to go far. She paused and nimbly climbed onto a large bolder away from the fire’s glow, the moonlight shimmering off the granite surface, making her appear almost ethereal. For a moment, he paused to drink in the sight, another memory to add to the collection of memories he’d amassed over the course of the day. His thumb and forefinger itched for the feel of a pen sliding between them as he recorded them all.
“Professor Windtalker, that was an amazing story.”
“Thank you, and it’s Grace. Out here, there’s no need for formalities.”
“Do you mind if I join you?”
“Thanks,” Sabre remarked before scrambling up onto the rock across from her. “So, was that really a legend of the Lenape tribe, or was it fiction?”
“All fiction is rooted in truth.”
“So how much was truth, and how much was made up?”
She quirked an eyebrow at him and cocked her head to the side. “That is a question you’ll have to ask yourself. In the end, it all comes down to beliefs. What do you believe is possible? Do you think a woman could ever turn into a bobcat or any animal for that matter? If the answer is yes, then you should assume the story is real. If the answer is no, then you accept it as fiction.”
Sabre opened his mouth, then snapped it shut, studying her for several long moments.
“This world is full of mysteries. Some know this but are willing to deny it in order to fit into what they believe is ‘proper’ society. Others refuse to believe it, even when the evidence is right in front of their faces, while there are those for whom the mysterious is a normal part of life, and they embrace it,” she remarked. “The question is, which are you?”
“A believer,” he said, keeping his voice soft and low.
“Then do not hide it, celebrate it,” she told him.
He paused a moment, chewing his lower lip before finally deciding to plunge right in with the question he’d truly wished to ask. “So, do you believe a person can turn into an animal?”
Fixing him with a stern look, she nodded. “I don’t just believe it, I know it to be fact, and so do you.”
His mouth dropped open again, and all he could do was swallow several times as he stumbled over words. “Wh…how… I-I…you… I don’t…”
“Please don’t insult either of us by attempting to lie. Like calls to like; I sensed what you were the moment Ben introduced us. No doubt he sensed it too.”
“Do you find it so difficult to believe there are others like you?”
“I—yeah actually I do. I’ve never met anyone else who could shift. Can… Is Professor Locklear a shifter too?”
“Drax is not, no, though he knows of us and what we can do, as do many others who are here today. Trust that this is a safe place for our kind. Now tell me, how is it that no one told you of your heritage and how many varieties of shifters there are?”
Sabre felt his cheeks heat up beneath her scrutiny. Her piercing gaze made him feel as if she were trying to peer into his soul.
“What are you?” he blurted, then slapped a hand over his mouth. “I’m sorry, that was rude of me.”
“No, it wasn’t. It was honest. I am a silver fox. And in case you’re wondering, Ben is a brown bear. And you are?”
Shrugging, he ducked his head a bit. “A ferret.”
“Ahh, well now, that explains the elusiveness, and your extreme focus too. Drax has spoken quite highly of the papers you’ve submitted in his class, and I must say, after having the opportunity to read your latest piece on the Culture of Death in Native Literature, I’m duly impressed. The hours of research that went into it and the materials utilized went above and beyond what we expect to see in an entry-level class.”
“I guess you could say I’ve always been an overachiever,” Sabre muttered.
“Which is nothing to be ashamed of,” she admonished. “You should be holding your head up with pride, not ducking it and trying to melt into the bolder.”
He flushed with shame and met her eyes. “It’s just that I’ve never had anyone talk to me about shape-shifting before.”
“Did your folks not know about the traits you inherited?” she asked.
“I don’t know. They passed away when I was three. I was raised in foster care.”
Nodding, she seemed to be appraising him thoroughly while Sabre fought not to squirm. “If you wish to learn more, you’re welcome to come back here. I’ll answer any questions I can, and if I don’t find the answer, we’ll find you someone who does.”
This time, it only took him a second to make up his mind about what he wanted. “Thank you. I’d like that.”
LAYLA DORINE lives among the sprawling prairies of Midwestern America, in a house with more cats than people. She loves hiking, fishing, swimming, martial arts, camping out, photography, cooking, and dabbling with several artistic mediums. In addition, she loves to travel and visit museums, historic, and haunted places.
Layla got hooked on writing as a child, starting with poetry and then branching out, and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Hard times, troubled times, the lives of her characters are never easy, but then what life is? The story is in the struggle, the journey, the triumphs and the falls. She writes about artists, musicians, loners, drifters, dreamers, hippies, bikers, truckers, hunters and all the other folks that she’s met and fallen in love with over the years. Sometimes she writes urban romance and sometimes its aliens crash landing near a roadside bar. When she isn’t writing, or wandering somewhere outdoors, she can often be found curled up with a good book and a kitty on her lap.
Author Website: http://layladorine13.wixsite.com/layladorineauthor
Author Twitter: @Layladorine
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