FOR FIFTEEN-YEAR-OLD Teavan Laurent and his older sister Suzanne, Santa Isadora seemed like a sleepy and idyllic California town to finish high school after their unexpected move west from New York City.
As he struggles to make friends in a town shrouded in secrets, Teavan soon finds himself the target of an irrational tormentor and rumored-to-be werewolf. The revenge-obsessed psycho vows to wipe out Teavan and his small family due to past wrongs beyond Teavan’s control or knowledge. The twisted legacy left to him by his late grandfather brings Teavan at odds with everything he knows to be true—or at least everything he thought to be true.
The impossible truth of the tale begins to gain traction at his first wolf sighting, and Teavan and Suzanne soon find themselves in the crosshairs of the dark and secretive lycan world of Santa Isadora.
Stalked by a legend that shouldn’t exist, Teavan must decide how far he is willing to go to save those that he loves and come to terms with what lurks from within.
Age Suitability: 11-16
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|Publisher:||R. A. Watt|
|Product dimensions:||5.25(w) x 8.00(h) x 0.70(d)|
|Age Range:||13 - 18 Years|
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Calais, France 1773
The hulking figure of Thibault Lalaing stood motionless at the edge of the warehouse roof. He scanned the wharves for any movement as the rain pounded incessantly on his hat, the wide brim shielding his eyes from the onslaught. The air had a cold, penetrating dampness that chilled to the bone, but he was oblivious to its effects in his quest to find the traitor.
The younger and much smaller Sabine Martin stood silently beside him. She was fierce, and had killed before. But this would be different. This was one of her own kind.
She trembled as she contemplated the plan she was committed to. There was only one outcome possible tonight: her death or his.
Sabine looked up at Thibault. "Are you confident this is the correct dock?"
He nodded. "Yes, he bought passage on that boat." He pointed to a weathered trading vessel tethered to the docks. "It leaves in the morning, but I'm told he will attempt to board before dawn."
Sabine squinted in the darkness but saw no movement, save for the odd scurrying wharf rat. As they surveyed for activity that didn't belong, the deluge continued.
Thibault scowled. "Let us find this wretched traitor, dispose of him, and be gone of this filthy place. I wish to be home with my family before noon on the morrow."
The port city of Calais was a major trading hub with England, and the gateway to the English settlements and beyond. Leaving France was unthinkable for their people, and those who chose to were dealt with severely. Even fatally.
Thibault was a powerful man, unlikely to need assistance from Sabine. But she needed to learn and move up in the ranks, and so she had volunteered to assist him on this mission. This hunt. She glanced at his thick, corded neck as it pulsed in the moonlight with each beat of his heart.
This would be no easy task.
Dawn was approaching and time was running out. Sabine shifted uneasily.
He peered down at her. "Quit squirming. Your movement will alert him of our presence."
She shrugged. "My apologies ... I need to urinate."
He shook his head in frustration. "Go then. Over there. Be quick."
Sabine crept as quietly as she could on the graveled rooftop to the exhaust stacks, crouching down behind them for privacy as she pulled out her short sword and laid it beside her. She could see Thibault between the stacks, completely still as he kept watch on the docks. As usual, he seemed dismayed at her weakness.
But that attitude was his weakness.
Sabine disrobed hastily and stood naked in the near-freezing rain.
She brought forth the familiar, painful tingling from the center of her being, forcing it to the outer limbs of her body. Her fingers extended and the joints expanded as coarse black hair grew out from each digit — each arm. Her nails lengthened and grew sharp as the pain she fought to keep quiet overtook her whole body.
Awkwardly — on her hind legs — she now stood a foot taller in her humanoid wolf state — her lycan form. Her surroundings were now highly defined to her
lupine eyes, and her sense of smell incalculably improved. Adrenaline coursed through her veins; the power of ten men at her will. In this half-transformed state, she grasped the short sword as best she could in her claws. Her thinking and motives were less clear now, and she had to focus. She had to move forward and ignore the hunger that chewed at her.
Thibault stood guard, facing away, still searching for the traitor they'd come for.
If he turned before she made her move, it would be her end. His considerable frame gave no hint as to the speed and viciousness it was capable of.
The pads on her feet made less noise than her shoes, and she crept up behind him, holding the sword in her claws.
His perceptive ears heard her approach, and he hissed without turning. "Stop moving so much, you —"
Thibault never finished as the deadly sharp blade lopped off his head in one fell swoop of Sabine's powerful lycan arm. As a human, she hadn't the strength to cut so cleanly in one swing, so it had to be as a lycan. It would have been a painful, traitor's death for her had she failed.
His lifeless body slumped to the roof gracelessly.
The instinct to fully transform and hunt was almost overwhelming, but she willed herself to return to human form.
The cold rain was refreshing on her naked body. The heat produced by the transformation was immense, and she welcomed the frigid water on her steaming skin.
She leaned over Thibault's body and rummaged through his pockets for any bits of gold or silver she could find, then returned to the stacks where her clothing lay. Before she dressed, Sabine gently rubbed the newly-formed bump on her stomach. "Not to worry, we will be safe in England," she said, more to herself than the budding life inside. "They won't stop us."
She waited at the dock for the ship's captain and crew to arrive, eager to ascertain who had given her travel plans away before their journey to England was complete.
At least Thibault hadn't been told whether the lycan traitor was male or female.
It was his loss to assume.
As she stood steadfast, Sabine gazed up and was transfixed by the almost-full moon. It called to her, like it always did. The urge was there, buried deep ... but there. She longed to transform — all the way — and simply run.CHAPTER 2
Santa Isadora, California Present Day
Though I didn't realize it at the time, the trajectory of my life was drastically altered that Friday in early March. Well, arguably it was the move to Santa Isadora that changed it.
My first week in ninth grade at Redwood High School passed almost without incident, which seemed like a win. Until Friday afternoon. It was March ninth, and we had just moved to California. My new math teacher asked me to stay after class for a few minutes, as he wanted to give me some worksheets for the weekend to assess how much I knew of their curriculum. Usually, that would ruin a weekend, but math came easily to me. And honestly, I had nothing else to do.
I exchanged books in my locker and hobbled outside to find a small crowd around the racks where my bike was locked up.
Everyone was gathered around two kids. I couldn't see who they were, but one was insulting the other. My bike was locked up in the middle so I couldn't leave.
I whispered to an Asian guy I recognized from my class. "What's going on?"
Warily, he eyed me up and down. "Bruno Vincent and his buddies from Baker are here. Luckily it ain't me he's picking on. But sucks for Jermaine." He motioned to the black kid that I could now see was getting pushed. "As long as Jermaine doesn't lip off, Bruno won't do much. He wants guys to fight back."
The bigger kid, Bruno, looked a year older than me and wore a dirty white shirt and jeans. He had spiky blond hair and his pock-marked face had the look of a permanent scowl.
Though athletic in his own right, Jermaine was a little shorter and looked to be shaking.
"Come on, Wilkins, ain't you gonna say something? Anything? I insult your mom, and you don't care? Don't you have any family honor?" Bruno shouted as he cornered Jermaine up against the bikes in the rack.
I recognized Jermaine; he was also in my class. He was arched backward over the seat of a mountain bike. "B-Bruno, I don't want any trouble," he stammered. "You know that."
Bruno paced back and forth with a hateful grin, surveying the kids in the front row of the expectant crowd. "Now, Jerk-Off — I mean, Jermaine — you sure seemed pretty cocky at our last soccer game when you scored against us. I think you need to back it up now. Don't you worry these kids will think less of you if you don't stand up for your mother's honor? Doesn't that bother you?"
Jermaine shook his head.
"You look worried. Are you going to cry? Surely you won't cry in front of so many kids?"
The crowd closed the circle, hungry for a fight.
My temperature rose, muscles tensed. Where were the teachers?
Bruno leaned closer and faked a punch. Jermaine flinched and covered his face. When Jermaine's hands came down, his eyes were glassy.
"Oh, oh, there's my Pansy-Boy. Right on cue. See, I figured maybe by this point in life I couldn't make you cry without actually hurting you. But look at that, tears from Jerk-Off!"
Jermaine swallowed hard and wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt, still bent backward awkwardly over the bikes.
Rage boiled up inside me. I looked at Kevin. "Why don't you help him? Isn't he your buddy?"
"No point, bro. If I step in, I'll accomplish nothing except getting a beating. Bruno's two goons are waiting for someone to be a hero. Best if nothing happens."
I considered saying something, but Bruno was big and menacing and I was skinny and weak. Not to mention I was the new kid and pathetic at fighting. Keep quiet and blend in. That was always my motto. So I just I stood there, shaking, adrenaline rushing through my veins, hoping for someone to help him.
"Come on, Pansy, do something. Push me. Hit me. Anything." Bruno kept leaning his face in close to Jermaine's.
Jermaine tried to look brave, but he was trembling. I couldn't take it and stepped forward.
"Hey!" I yelled. "Jermaine is plainly scared of you. I think you've proved that to everyone here. Why not just leave him alone?"
Bruno turned and his eyes lit up to hear someone call him out. He looked at me and squinted. "Huh?"
Everyone was staring at me. "I'm just saying, clearly you're way stronger and he doesn't want to fight. Let's just say you win, okay?"
He gave me a funny look. "Are you new here? Is this a joke?"
"Yeah, I'm new. I'm just saying ..." I limped over to the center of the crowd.
Bruno started fake laughing. "Wait. So you want to take his place. That's what you're saying? You want me to break your other leg?" he asked, referring to my limp. I'd been born with LLD, a leg-length discrepancy. My left leg was an inch shorter than my right, so it was almost impossible to walk without a limp.
I shook my head. "No, not at all. Just saying you win. Jermaine gives up. I give up. Everyone hears it, loud and clear."
Bruno eyed me. "Where you from? What's your name?"
"Does it matter?"
"It does if you don't want a fist in your mouth," he said.
Not that I cared; my history was public. "My name is Teavan and I just moved here from New York. Are we good now?"
Bruno smiled an unfriendly smile. "New York? Oh, all fancy-like, aren't ya?" He circled me. "What's your last name?"
I figured if I could get him talking I could chat my way out of this. "Laurent."
Bruno's eyes went wide, a look of surprise on his face, and he stopped pacing to stare at me.
He shook his head, whistling. "Holy shit. Please tell me you're related to Hub Laurent?"
I sensed we were making progress. Maybe our families were friends.
"Yeah, that was my grandfather. We just moved into his place."
Bruno smiled. An ear-to-ear, genuine smile this time. "You have seriously just made my day. My week. My month."CHAPTER 3
It was my turn to smile. Things were looking better. I noticed Jermaine had used the opportunity to quietly leave the scene.
"So, we're cool?" I asked.
Bruno came over, still grinning, holding his hand out like he wanted to shake mine. Only as I stretched out my hand, his other arm swung under and his fist rammed into my gut, knocking all the air from my lungs.
Bruno laughed. "I didn't say we were cool, City Boy. I said you made my month. You don't know how happy I am to know you live here."
Gasping for air, I doubled over, trying to catch my breath. From behind me, I heard, "Come on, Bruno, end this guy. Just do it. He needs a lesson. Hit him!"
The crowd was getting restless. Bruno Vincent and the new guy who couldn't even breathe. I held my hands up in defeat, and oxygen finally fed my hungry lungs. "I give up."
He lunged and pushed me. I stumbled but didn't fall.
"Oooohhhh," the crowd said at the same time, backing up to make more room.
"Bruno," I coughed. "I don't want to fight, I concede defeat," I said. Why would he want to fight me because my last name was Laurent?
"Oh, you 'concede'? You think you're a smart city boy?" he asked, circling me as I just stood there. He slowly reached forward to put his palm on my chest, but I slapped it away out of instinct.
"Oooohhhh," went the crowd again.
"So you do have some feistiness, City Boy. Come on, kid, let's do this," he said. "This is something I have dreamed of."
Dreamed of? "You don't even know me."
"Oh, but I do," he said, grinning.
He slowly went to lay his hand on my chest again, but this time I gently grabbed his wrist to remove it. Except at that moment, his right palm came out of nowhere and slapped me hard on the cheek.
A sudden sting spread through my face. I could feel the burn and heat on my cheek as everyone stared.
"Fight, fight, fight!" the crowd chanted.
I felt like I was going to wet my pants, and my cheek stung.
How did I get myself in this position?
Life had been sweet in New York just six months earlier. Well, maybe not great, but relatively good compared to Santa Isadora.
I had a couple decent friends, and that seemed like enough. My older sister, Suzanne, didn't talk to me much, but I assumed that was normal.
My dad started to drink a little too often in the last few years as the publishing house that had once described him as an 'up-and-coming thriller author' was no longer purchasing his books. I wasn't sure if his drinking was ruining his writing or the other way around. Either way, he didn't pay us too much attention since he was usually lost in his writing or his research.
But our once-stable world flipped upside down last November when we got word that Grandpa Hub (short for Hubert) had passed away. His lawyer in Santa Isadora, California had called and informed Dad that Grandpa died of a heart attack. He and my dad had never seemed close; something happened before my time that had put a riff between them.
The lawyer informed us Grandpa wanted his ashes dumped in the forests around his acreage, and there was to be no funeral. Made things easy for us, I guess.
Until he explained the will.
Grandpa left the house and two hundred acres to Dad, on the condition that he couldn't sell or rent it out for at least ten years. My dad cursed and shook his fist, at first thinking Grandpa had gotten in the last laugh. But later he reconsidered and wondered if it was a blessing. A blessing for his writing career, anyway; not for Suzanne and me, that was for sure.
Despite our protests and threats to live on the street, Dad sold the old apartment. The three of us were California-bound by March of the following spring.
"Relax, you guys," he had said. "Maybe I can write a couple bestsellers and get enough money to move back to New York, whether we can sell Grandpa's place or not. Look on the bright side — there's no traffic or pollution in a small town."
Yeah. Or anything else, for that matter.
It took me all of a week at my new school to find myself cornered and about to be beat up.
My normally non-existent temper flared. I felt cornered.
There was no way out.
My inner hostilities from the last six months, the forced move from New York, and the humiliation of being slapped boiled up to the surface. I charged Bruno, gritting my teeth, ready to knock him back. Hoping for him to stumble and go down.
It didn't quite work.
Instead, he expertly stepped away, grabbed my head, and threw me in the dirt. There was lots of chanting now. I felt tears welling up that needed to be held back; I couldn't let him or the other kids see.
"Is that seriously all you got?" he asked and laughed. "Tough Laurent kid from New York, and that's it? I slapped you because I was getting the feeling it might be like fighting a little girl. So far I was right."
The crowd started laughing uneasily. I was still on my hands and knees, staring at the dirt and blinking my eyes as quickly as I could to hold back the tears that were squirming to escape.
Bruno leaned over and picked something up from the ground. He examined it from the corner of his eye. "These your keys, kid?"
I looked over. My keychain must have fallen out of my pocket when he threw me.
I nodded. "Give them back."
"Make me," he said as he slid them into his pocket.
He grinned, nodding. "Maybe you do have some honor, kid. But this time, it's gonna hurt."
My fists rose up, ready for whatever was coming.
"Stop!" a girl yelled, stepping out from the circle with her hands out. She had long, espresso-colored hair, pushed back with a hair band, perfectly in order and silky smooth. Her eyes were round and green, and her skin was an olive tone. She was beautiful.
"Bruno, come on," she continued, looking back and forth between him and me. "Give him his keys and go home. Please. Do the right thing, you've proved your point."(Continues…)
Excerpted from "As Silver Is to the Moon"
Copyright © 2019 R. A. Watt.
Excerpted by permission of TER Publishing.
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