I finished Embrace. Oh my goodness, I’ve been living some heavy-duty emotions the last few days. Now I’m going to walk away for a few days and then finish the editing. I think I need a bit of a break. But Sophie is a hard one to walk away from to be sure.
To celebrate, I’m posting the prologue. 30 September will be here soon but I hope this helps get you excited!
Prologue – Daniel
I heard the light crunch of ice just outside the house a moment before I heard his knock on the door.
My sister Jessa’s ears perked up at the sound which signaled someone other than family at our door. The oddly polite rapping of knuckles was something neither of us had heard in several years. Not since someone took a wrong turn down Chamin du lac Rond and ended up on our intentionally hidden driveway. It had been as much a shock for us as for them since so few people actually lived so far from the main road, let alone an hour’s drive outside of Saint Laurence.
Tentatively, I walked to the door and opened it just a few inches. Tristan’s face, grave and uncertain, peered back at me through the narrow space.
“I was asked to find you.” He said.
“Qui est celui?” Jessa called out behind me. I waved her off.
“What for?” I asked as I stepped outside, closing the door behind me. I scanned the small spans of snow-laden yard, looking for footprints that signaled he wasn’t alone. A sniff of air lead me to believe the woods surrounding my pack’s home were empty of anyone else. I really didn’t want to fight anyone from Sophie’s family – Tristan, her twin, most especially.
“Sophie wanted me to give this to you.”
His outstretched hand held a folded piece of paper.
“What’s this about?” I took the battered sheet in my hands and studied it for a moment.
“I don’t know. I didn’t read it.” Tristan gave me a hard look and crossed his arms.
I quickly unfolded the paper. She must have written the letter hastily because her handwriting was shaky and agitated.
Daniel, if what you said was true then come home. If not, never return for even a moment. I will protect my pack above all else. Remember, our futures are our own. Which path will you take?
My heart drummed in my chest as I read then reread the letter.
“When did she give this to you?”
“About three weeks ago. I was told to track you and when I found you, give you the letter. I wasn’t sure which way you were headed when you left. It took me a while to find your house.” His tone was anything but apologetic.
We both stood in silence for several minutes, studying each other. Could this be a trick? I carefully weighed what I knew of Sophie and her family with what I had witnessed the day my cousin Jason and his pack attacked the Matthews pack. Sophie wouldn’t lure me back on a false pretense, would she?
“And you didn’t read this?” I asked, breaking the harsh silence.
“No.” He said flatly.
“She said I can come back with you, if I choose.”
The utter shock and anger that flashed in his eyes told me truly hadn’t read it. Faster than I could react, Tristan had me by the collar and pushed me against the front of my house, knocking the wind from my lungs.
“You are never coming back, murderer!”
Fury erupted from inside me and I pushed Tristan back with all my might, sending him flying backwards several feet.
“I’m not a murderer!”
I bared my teeth and sprang toward him. We were on the ground then, wrestling one over the other a furry of fists and snarls. His iron knuckles met my jaw with enough force that my canines punctured my lower lip.
“You killed Gavin and Ethan!” Tristan roared as my head snapped around. My mouth bubbled with blood and guilty anger. Growling through the pinching pain, I shoved him off though he landed in a low, patient crouch.
Panting, I wiped the blood from my chin. “I didn’t know what Jason was capable of! I never wanted anyone to die!”
“Liar!” Tristan growled a heavy, noxious growl and sprang toward me.
My fingers caught his coat’s collar. I evaded a swipe destined again for my chin and gripped his fist in mine. Tristan, about four inches shorter than me, used my weight against me in a feint that knocked me onto my side. I rolled away just before his boot could catch my stomach. Mid-strike, I swept his leg and pounced as he landed belly-up. He was slighter than me though I was faster. With a knee upon his chest and both of his hands pinned, his ears finally twitched and a small whine of defeat escaped his throat.
“Listen to me!” I heaved, near breathless. “I never wanted them dead! I have to live forever with my guilt, Tristan. Believe that.” I stood up and spat out fresh blood from my mouth in a large crimson spray onto the blanket of white in my yard.
Tristan didn’t say a word as he shook snow from his blood-streaked jacket.
“I’ll go pack my things. We’ll leave immediately.” I said, purposely turning my back on my attacker, knowing he wouldn’t come at me a second time.
“Ou te-vas?” Jessa appeared in the doorway to my room as I finished packing my bags.
“Back to America. Pennsylvania, to be exact.” I mumbled through an irritatingly painful swollen lip.
“Why? She said she’d kill you if you came back.” Jessa cried. “Pourquoi voudrez-tu risquer d’aller là-bas?! You’re stupid for even thinking about it!”
A growl built in my throat as her piercing words hit my ears. I really didn’t want to fight with her too so I swallowed down the volcanic hurt. Emotions running on high voltage and low self-restraint were rampant our genes. It was for this reason that Jessa didn’t blink an eye when I came in the house with blood dripping from my lip. Fist fights were a staple of our existence. But that didn’t mean I wanted to fight with my twin. Not now, not today.
“Jessa, she sent her brother to find me.”
“So that’s who was at the door? J’aurais dû le savoir.” Her lips pursed in disgust. “Yeah, I should have known. Should have known that you’d go running back to that bitch as soon as you could.”
I slammed my fist against the wall, sending a shockwave that rattled the door and windows. “L’arretez maintenant! I mean it, Jessa. Just stop it. She has given me the chance to go back and I’m taking it.”
“Pour quoi? There are others, Daniel. She’s not the only female Loups Anciens left!”
“J’ai besoin d’aller parce que je l’aime!” I bellowed.
Jessa’s lips curled back in a contemptuous snarl. “You…love…her?”
So I’d admitted that I love Sophie. Out loud. To the one person on this earth who hated her without ever having met her.
“You left a good life in St. John’s Bay to move to America. Then when your plans fell spectacularly to pieces, you tucked your tail between your legs and came home to your pack. And now, you leave again because she called for you? Like a lap dog?”
“You don’t have to like my decision but I am leaving. I need to. I care about her too much to not go.”
Gritting my teeth, I turned away from her glaring teeth and fevered eyes. I slung one duffle bag over one arm and snatched the other from my bed.
With that, I left for Pennsylvania for the second time in a year. This time, I knew I wouldn’t be back.