Wolf in the Shadows
Author: Maria Vale
Publisher: Sourcebooks Casablanca
Release Date: July 26, 2022
Series: Legend of All Wolves #5
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Setting: As Julia settles in to the Great North, she finds herself wanting to spend less time with her Shifter fiancé, Cassius and more time with Arthur.
At the back, Julia’s hand shoots out, stopping me.
“I don’t want to see him right now,” she whispers, flattening herself against the wall opposite the medical station. Looking down the length of the long hall, I see “him,” Cassius, leaning back in his chair, craning his head toward the front door.
I nod to the kitchen and we slip in, dodging around kitchen wolves busy bringing things out and putting things away. It feels like being a pup again, steering clear of the adults’ legs while stealing food.
In the end, we have a towel filled with odds and ends. Olives. Bread. Pears. A container of fresh cheese with walnuts. We wait until more wolves carrying more dishes block the hall to slip back out the back way.
Julia giggles when we reach the tree line, then puts her finger to her lips and says, “Shhhhh,” even though I wasn’t the one who laughed.
Near the broken farmhouse, we spread the cloth over a stone and lean against it with our sandwiches of grain bread and homemade cheese and walnuts with Offland pears.
“So tell me, what do werewolves do for fun around here?” she asks, licking pear juice from the back of her wrist.
“You mean wolves or pack, not werewolves.”
“Fine. Yes, what do wolves do for fun.”
“Mostly, we run. Hunt. Eat.”
She holds up the pear core. “What should I do with this?”
“Throw it. Something will eat it, or if it’s strong enough, it will grow.”
She throws it, then wipes her hand on the towel. “Are there as many words for fun in the old language as there are for sadness?”
I think for a bit under the lilac-scented breezes while swallows fly overhead. “Not really. There’s taking joy in the land. Joy in being among one’s own. Joy in eating.”
“Not quite the same thing as fun though.”
I shrug. “Well, what would you do for fun if you were home?”
She stretches out her legs. “After work, I’d probably hit the treadmill for a while, then go out to dinner with friends.”
“In other words, run and eat.”
“You know sometimes I almost suspect you might, just might, have a sense of humor.”
Julia looks distractedly at the moon-glazed leaves that ripple against the sky like waves in summer water.
“Do you miss it?” I ask. “The fun Offland.”
She stands, brushing off crumbs from her jeans. “Not really. I missed it long before I came here. When Cassius and I got serious, I dropped a lot of things.” She twirls around, slipping past me. “I used to dance. I liked dancing.”
Now she throws her head back, her step wolf-sure and wolf-light under the waning moon.
“You move like a samara.”
“What’s a samara?”
Kneeling gingerly, I run my hand across the ground. They’re always here, except now when I’m looking for one, it takes me forever to find it. Finally, I struggle up, the samara high in my left hand. “They dance to escape the shadows. Or that’s what wolves say.”
When I let it go, it swirls in a gust, landing in front of her foot.
“We call them whirligigs,” she says, picking it up, “though samara’s a prettier name.”
Then she tosses it and watches the dry maple seed twirl gracefully away, landing on some bit of earth that may be hospitable or may not. With a mischievous smile, she scoops up my hand, placing it on her hip. She puts one hand on my shoulder and takes my free hand with her other.
“What are you doing?”
“Dancing. Don’t worry, this isn’t hard. All you have to do is pay attention, do what I do. And try not to step on my feet.”
She’s right, it isn’t hard. Or the movements aren’t hard in any case. Following her is like hunting. It’s being aware of the tilt of her head, the flex of her muscle under my hand, the movement of eyes. All the little signals that let wolves move together, fluidly, silently, fatally.
I use all of that to move with Julia, until her steps become smaller and smaller and the space between us is so tight that not even a samara could fit between us.
And then even that disappears and Julia’s hand leaves mine, slipping instead around my lower back, and we are hand to back, hand to shoulder, breast to chest, hips to hips. Her eyes unfocused, Julia sways, each movement a flint striking at the tinder of my body. A cloud rolls away from the moon, its brightness reflecting in the curve of her eye as she turns, catching the glinting of the stones on her finger resting on top of my shoulder.
She pulls her hand away. Head bowed, shoulders hunched, she twists her rings around and around as though there is something she can do to make them comfortable.
About the Book:
Shifter Julia Martel has been spoiled and pampered by all the alpha males around her whose urge to protect her have left her uninformed and vulnerable. Now the Great North Pack has relegated Julia to the care of the wolf at the very bottom of the Pack hierarchy, Arthur Graysson. Julia wants nothing to do with the Pack, except to escape back to her life of luxury and idleness, but the more time she spends with Arthur, the more she learns about the Pack, the dark secrets Arthur carries with him, and the fierceness within herself that could save them all…
About the Author:
Maria Vale is the author of The Last Wolf (An Amazon & Library Journal Best Book & double Rita finalist, 2018), A Wolf Apart (A Publishers Weekly Best Book, 2018), Forever Wolf, (an ALA Booklist & Kirkus Best Book, 2019) and Season of the Wolf (a Kirkus & BookPage Best Book, 2020). Her latest, Wolf in the Shadows, will be published 7/26/22.
Trained as a medievalist, she persists in trying to shoehorn the language of Beowulf into things that don’t really need it. She lives in New York City with her husband and two kids. To find out more go to https://www.mariavale.com/