STAND (Shift Series #4) is the final book in the Shift Series. It is due to be released on 3.31.2014. Keep reading for a sneak peek*, and keep checking back
*This sneak-peek is taken from my working manuscript. It has been lightly proofread and edited, but has not gone through the full proofread process a final draft would have. The final version may differ significantly from this excerpt.
I took off through the grass, toward the far edge of town where the weeds turned to wheat, chopped and broken in the cold, but where I could run for what seemed like ever before seeing civilization again.
My muscles, stretching and flexing, rejoiced for simply being used. The air, cold and crisp, whizzed through my fur, my eyes, and into my nose, delivering a hundred different smells, most of which were too inconsequential to decipher. The uneven, rocky ground pounded against the soft pads of my feet. The sound was the rhythm I ran to.
When I took this form, I did it for one of two reasons; either because it was convenient (like when I found myself needing to cover long distances on foot) or because I needed the simplicity, the black and white quietness that came with it. I needed the air on my face and the ground under my feet. I needed that stretch and pull of muscle. I needed to run until my altered lungs burned and my legs ached. I needed not to think for a while—or the opposite: sometimes I had too much to think about, and I needed the basic, simple kind of cognition that only this form could deliver. Sometimes I wasn’t trying to escape anything specific; other times it was very specific something I was avoiding.
Since turning seventeen—since becoming a shifter—a little more than 2 years ago, my Dad and I had only run together a couple of times. It wasn’t out of any lack of want that I hadn’t spent much quality father-son-animal-shifter time with him; it was because the majority of the time when I ran, he was busy. I ran to get away from the house. I ran to get away from their yelling, from their quiet, snide comments that they thought I couldn’t hear.
But Teresa and John’s house wasn’t like that. They didn’t fight—they never screamed at one another or traded barbs. They loved each other. When I thought of the definition of a successful, loving relationship, they were who I thought of. So I couldn’t believe what we’d just seen on that TV screen, what Le-Le and I had just heard. I couldn’t wrap my mind around it. I’d known Teresa forever—literally, for as long as I’d been alive, as long as I could remember, I’d known and loved Teresa. She and John and Collin, their house, had been a refuge—a home away from home, away from Tubac. Second only to Cecelia’s, their house was one of the few places I felt most comfortable.
The only answer I could come up with, the only thing that made sense—that could explain what we’d just seen—was that we were wrong. This wasn’t happening—what we’d just watched couldn’t have been what it seemed. It just couldn’t.
All at once, I became aware of a warmth just ahead. The sensation pulled me out of my thoughts, dropping me back into real time, where I was aware of the rhythm of my feet against the ground again, of the wind that pushed against me, of the searing cold that was starting to sting, even through my fur. Of the figure up ahead: another shifter.
My heart, pounding from exertion already, tripped behind my ribs.
When you run with someone close to you—someone in your family, for example—you develop a sort of connection with them, so that even when you can’t speak to one another with your voice, you can still communicate, however basically. The communication doesn’t happen with words—you don’t hear voices in your head—but even though the communication isn’t audible, the absence of the connection is distinctly silent when you happen across a stranger. That’s what struck me first: the silence. This shifter was a stranger to me.
I most frequently post to my Facebook and Twitter with random STAND updates. Anything seriously important I will post to all my outlets–here included–but for more frequent, fun kinds of updates, follow me on Facebook or Twitter.
And be sure to add STAND to your to-read list on Goodreads.com: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20432377-stand