QSFer Kim Fielding has a MM gay paranormal romance book rerelease: “Transformation.”
Orris Spencer is an abomination. At least that was what his father said in 1886 before banishing him from their Fifth Avenue mansion and sending him across the continent to Oregon.
Now Orris must try to find a place for himself on his brother’s farm. His studies did little to prepare him for pioneer living, and when he’s called on to help protect the livestock from a predator, he’s not at all certain he’s up to the task.
Then he meets Henry Bonn, a strange and intriguing man who lives in a cabin in the hills. Orris’s attraction to Henry may not be an abomination—but it may prove to be a greater danger than banishment.
“Who’s there?” Orris called, feeling more ridiculous than ever. At least his voice didn’t quaver.
He was answered by another bestial laugh, this one possibly closer.
He stooped and carefully set the lantern on the ground. The light was steadier that way, but it mostly illuminated the area around his feet, which wasn’t helpful. He drew the shotgun from under his arm and held it against his chest. He stood there, silent except for his harsh breathing and pounding heart.
For what seemed like a long time, nothing happened. He’d been accused of having an overactive imagination, and he was almost ready to believe he’d hallucinated the noises. But just as he was about to pick up the lantern, the animal chuffed at him again. There was no question that it was closer this time. Very close. In fact, if he lifted the lantern high and squinted, he might be able to see what was there.
He had no desire whatsoever to do so.
“It’s nothing,” he muttered. He’d seen enormous rats in New York, and probably this was something no more terrifying than that. He had no notion what sorts of creatures roamed this area at night, though. Coyotes, yes, but Samuel said they wouldn’t be dangerous to a grown man. Bears? Were there bears?
“Go away!” Orris said, but didn’t quite shout it. The creature answered him with another amused sound.
Perhaps he ought to fire the gun. But that would wake the entire household, and Orris didn’t want to face Samuel and Lucy’s scorn if he was panicking over nothing. Instead of being merely useless, he’d graduate to full-fledged nuisance.
In the darkness ahead of him, a footstep rustled on leaves. Orris realized he’d backed up against the fence and was in imminent danger of kicking over the lantern. His hands ached from clenching the gun.
Deliberately deepening his voice, he called out again. “Go away! Leave! You don’t belong here!”
The creature growled.
It was a low sound—Orris could almost feel the vibration through his feet—and it ignited every one of his atavistic reflexes. His lips pulled back from his clenched teeth, his spine tingled as the hair on his neck tried to rise, and his bowels felt watery and loose. He imagined the sharp stare of the unseen animal and pictured bloody fangs and tearing claws.
Never mind Samuel and Lucy’s potential contempt. He was going to fire the gun.
He willed his hands to unclench, and he brought the stock to his shoulder. But now his hands shook—his entire body shook—and his grip fumbled. He dropped the weapon, and it landed at his feet with a soft thud.
Not knowing whether to curse or pray, Orris bent to pick up the gun. He was still stooped and reaching when he saw the creature’s eyes. They were close and glinted green in the lantern light.
Orris’s legs gave out, and he sank to his knees. He stopped his desperate scrabbling for the gun and simply froze. Even his lungs stopped working.
The animal stepped closer, very slowly. Not as if it were frightened, but rather as if it enjoyed stalking him, the way Cook’s cat liked to play with mice in the pantry. Soon it was near enough that Orris could make out the dim outline of its body. It looked like a large dog, he thought. Heavy, with a thick ruff of fur at its neck. In one large leap, it could be on him.
But it didn’t leap—at least not yet. It stared at him and Orris stared back, and although he could sense little else of the animal, its eyes gave the impression of keen intelligence.
“Imagine when Daniel hears I’ve been eaten by a wild beast,” Orris whispered. “Won’t he be jealous. This beats a whole slew of handsome French garret-mates.”
The animal—was it a coyote?—cocked its head slightly, which brought a burst of hysterical laughter from Orris. “Are you having second thoughts? Maybe a sorry thing like me will give you indigestion. I suppose you’d rather have a nice supper of tender lamb.”
It came a step closer. Orris smelled it: wet fur, pine sap, and something else he couldn’t name. The scent of the wilderness, perhaps.
And then a strange thing happened. Well, stranger. While Orris’s heart still raced, he realized that the terror had fled, and what he was feeling now was… excitement. He was nearly giddy with it, actually, like the first time Daniel had interrupted their studies with a kiss and then dragged Orris willingly to his bedroom.
Why would a man feel excited when he was about to be killed?
Orris had no real answer for that. Maybe the animal could hypnotize its prey with its gaze, or maybe Orris had simply lost his sanity. In any case, he took a deep breath and tilted his head to the side.
“All right, then,” he said.
The animal’s muscles bunched. But just before it leapt, a strident bark burst from the darkness behind it. Orris startled, and the animal yelped with surprise before whirling around.
Good Lord. There were two of them.
The new one was snarling, but as it moved closer to the lantern, its attention seemed focused less on Orris than on the first beast. The new one growled, and the first yipped slightly before hunching its shoulders and dropping its gaze. Without another glance at Orris, the first animal trotted away. But the other one—the new one—it did not yet leave. It looked at Orris, but without menace. And there was something so compelling about it that Orris had to stop himself from crawling forward to meet it.
“You’re beautiful,” Orris rasped. He couldn’t see enough detail to support such an assertion, but there was something about those glowing eyes, the confident set of the large body, that suggested power and… majesty, even.
The animal blinked at him. It stretched its head forward, and Orris thought it would close the space between them. But then it snarled—fast and sharp—before spinning around and bounding away into the blackness.
Kim Fielding is the bestselling author of numerous m/m romance novels, novellas, and short stories. Like Kim herself, her work is eclectic, spanning genres such as contemporary, fantasy, paranormal, and historical. Her stories are set in alternate worlds, in 15th century Bosnia, in modern-day Oregon. Her heroes are hipster architect werewolves, housekeepers, maimed giants, and conflicted graduate students. They’re usually flawed, they often encounter terrible obstacles, but they always find love.
After having migrated back and forth across the western two-thirds of the United States, Kim calls California home. She lives there with her family and her day job as a university professor, but escapes as often as possible via car, train, plane, or boat. This may explain why her characters often seem to be in transit as well. She dreams of traveling and writing full-time.
Author Website: http://kfieldingwrites.com
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