Don't forget to pick up HOWLING SACRIFICES, out today from Ellora's Cave!
What happens to a young and naive Canadian woman traveling alone on a particularly evil night in the Scottish Highlands? She’ll get a lot more than she bargained for when she wishes for an adventure and finds herself part of a bloody pagan ritual…and inexorably linked to a wild and dangerous wolf.
“What brings you so far from home all by yerself, Lucy?”
Wary about revealing her destination to a stranger, Lucy hesitated. She was probably overreacting by imagining that she’d unwittingly climbed into a four-wheeled version of the boat of Charon with a serial killer, but she nevertheless felt intimidated by this man’s overwhelming dark presence. In fact, everything about this trip made her nervous, and even though she was no doubt perfectly safe, it was probably best that she didn’t tell him too much.
“Just visiting some friends.” She stared into the shadows, her voice turning sharp and guarded. “They’re expecting me tonight.”
Dougald chuckled, a deep bass rumbling from the darkness, raising goose bumps on her skin half from jitters and half out of an absurd compulsion to lean forward and search the shadows for the face that belonged to such a mysterious, powerful voice. She tried to ignore the impulse, torn between the contradiction of fear and temptation.
“Dinna worry, lass,” he said. “I have no intention of draggin’ ye from the carriage and out into the woods. Ye’ll reach yer friends safely.”
Lucy let out a long sigh and a breathy little laugh, embarrassed that she’d been so transparent about her misgivings. “Sorry. I know I’m overreacting. I think it’s the time of night.” She spared another quick glance out the window. The darkness was so complete she shivered.
“Witching hour of the winter solstice,” he murmured in a low voice.
She turned back to him. “That sounds ominous.”
“Many cultures believed that evil’s hold o’er the natural world was strongest during the solstice, which is why it was popular to make sacrifices to the gods on this night, to welcome back the light.”
His words only compounded Lucy’s feelings of foreboding. Cold slithered up her spine and settled over her heart as she gazed out the window once more. On one side of her, the narrow road they were traveling had been cut out of the mountain. It wound across the bumpy terrain in lazy S’s. On the other side of the carriage, craggy moors had given way some time ago to tall trees that hid even the brightest stars. There were no road lamps or markers to light the way. Anything could leap out into their path at any moment and they’d never see it coming.
It was all just a little too spooky for a girl who’d been living in Toronto for the past fifteen years, where no street went without a neon sign or two and there was never a time of day without some jarring noise ringing in the air to remind you that you were never truly alone.
“Every corner of Scotland seems to have some eerie ancient mythology attached to it. It’s a little unsettling,” she admitted sheepishly to Dougald.