Touching the Moon
Lisa M. Airey
Genre: Romantic Suspense with a Paranormal Twist
Publisher: Aakenbaaken & Kent, NY
Number of pages: 272
Word Count: 89K
Cover Artist: www.reese-winslow.com
A gifted healer with a genetic secret and a haunted past, Julie Hastings takes her new veterinary degree to South Dakota hoping to bury memories of a physically abusive stepfather and unprotective mother.
Although intending to lead a quiet life, she finds herself relentlessly pursued by two unwelcome suitors: the Chief of Police and a powerful member of the Sioux Indian Nation.
The man she chooses shatters her world-view.
Her stepfather taught her that not all monsters run on four legs. Now Julie must face another truth—some beasts are good.
Book Trailer: http://youtu.be/-4drhhDLcSU
Julie saw the wolf out of the corner of her eye. It trotted into the zoo enclosure with the pure unadulterated confidence of the consummate alpha male. His fur was a beautiful black-tipped gray and he moved on feet the size of horse’s hooves. From the ankle down he could have been a Clydesdale with claws.
The zoo community had affectionately named him “Big Foot” in tribute to the size of his paws, but the zookeepers were more mindful of his teeth. The animal had a mouthful of lethal incisors and he loved to curl his lips back to expose them.
The rest of the pack loped playfully behind him, nipping at each other’s flanks or herding one another into the retaining wall that separated their living quarters from zoo patrons. They hopped over each other’s backs like dolphins in the surf. They yelped and grunted and barked with delight. They had been removed for medical examinations earlier in the morning and were happy to be back into the “man-made wild”.
She saw the lead wolf catch her scent just as she heard a small child point her out.
“Mommy, there’s a lady down there with the wolves.”
The pack had not been scheduled to return to the enclosure until 3 p.m. She glanced down at her watch. It read 1:35 p.m. She swallowed hard. It had read 1:35 p.m. last time she had checked too.
Safety protocol demanded an enclosure check before animals were returned to their habitat. There had been no safety check.
There were anxious voices above her, but the cacophony paled to the exploding pulse she heard in her ears. She stood rooted to the spot, her eyes wide as the lead wolf pivoted his head in her direction, nostrils flared.
Her eyes locked upon the hungry fire that burned within his dark pupils. There was silent communion between them. He was hunter. She was prey. Both of them acknowledged that she was dead meat.
The animal cut in her direction without so much as breaking stride, the rest of the pack in tow. His lips curled back as he approached her--a low, menacing growl rising from deep within his chest like the first portentous rumblings of an active volcano. The pack fanned to the left and right, flanking him, encircling her.
She didn’t want to die like this. She didn’t want to be ripped to shreds in front of an audience of pre-schoolers and soccer moms.
Big Foot stretched his neck out toward her, sniffing loudly, sniffing deeply. The other wolves did the same. In an instant, little tremors wracked her petite frame. She was doing her very best to remain immobile, but she was shaking visibly now.
The alpha wolf watched her intently, then did something totally unexpected. His lips rounded into a perfect ‘O’ and he howled softly and sadly into the circle.
There was a moment of complete silence when he finished. Even the shrieking children had quieted.
Above her, she heard truck doors slamming and the quick scuffing of heavy feet across concrete.
“Tranquilizer darts,” someone commanded.
She heard a rifle load. Two. Three.
Big Foot howled again. Then, one by one, the other wolves joined the lament. She dropped her sampling tools and hugged herself as a series of small popping sounds were followed by surprised yelps.
Three animals sank to their haunches. More popping sounds, then another three sank slowly to the ground, their voices silenced mid-howl. Big Foot bolted forward, stopped a few feet in front of her, then ambled slowly in her direction.
He turned toward his right hindquarters when the tranquilizer dart struck, but he whipped his head back around immediately, his eyes on Julie.
She heard a pistol click. Real bullets now.
She heard a pistol click. Real bullets now.
“Don’t hurt him,” she shouted as a cold nose touched the back of her hand. The animal whined softly, his breath hot and moist upon her. He wrapped a pink tongue around her thumb then released it.
Several zookeepers were in the enclosure now, racing toward her, their pistols armed and at the ready.
Slowly, the animal collapsed at her feet. Slowly, Julie sank to her knees. Everything was going dark.
She looked up. The sun was like a full moon in the night sky. She drew a shallow breath, then plummeted to the earth like a meteor.
About the Author:
Lisa has worked in the wine industry for 20 years, the most recent eight in education with the Society of Wine Educators and the French Wine Society. In these roles, she has authored and/or edited wine study manuals and developed or expanded certification programs for the wine trade.
In her free-time, she writes fiction...naturally, with a glass of wine at the elbow.
She is a Maryland Master Gardener and puts that training into practice in her sizable vegetable garden. To assist her, she has recruited the services of a very helpful staff: two Chinese geese, two mini-Rex rabbits and 2,000 red wigglers (worms)…all of which are “master composters”. An adopted feral cat guards the perimeters and keeps the groundhogs at bay. She resides in Monkton, Maryland.
Guest Post: Animal Speak in Bone and Stone
Lisa M. Airey, Author, “Touching the Moon”
Animal fetishes are small amulets that bring the power, skills, strength, abilities and wisdom of the animal depicted to the wearer or keeper. Most are carved from stone or bone.
It is not uncommon for Native Americans to possess a “spirit” animal (represented as a fetish) for meditation and guidance. In fact, an individual’s search for the proper guiding/protecting spirit animal itself is often a quest in and of itself.
But a simple animal carving, even though Native American in design and in craft, will not function as a true fetish unless it is carved in ritual and with purpose and intent.
According to Alex Nunnally of New Mexico Bead and Fetish in Albuquerque, the artist will look at their raw material and “see” an animal in the stone or bone and then carve to their vision. Most artists work outside so that they are close to nature (even in winter). And they sing and speak to the material as they work with it. In turn, the fetish grows in power as it is carved, but it must be blessed by a shaman to fully empower it.
In my novel, “Touching the Moon”, protagonist Julie Hastings is abducted and put on a forced march through the Black Hills of South Dakota. She has learned the fetishes and their meanings though the careful coaching of her Sioux love interest. This helps her through her painful trial.
Hayden woke her by bathing her face in ice-cold stream water. When she regained her senses, she showed him her right wrist. The wound still bled. Hayden appraised the gash and lifted his eyes to meet hers.
“I will need to cauterize this.”
Julie knew what that meant and could scarcely draw a breath…just short, little ones. She was hyperventilating. Fish symbolize the ability to hide emotion, she thought, rolling through the fetishes and their meanings. Fox are adept at camouflage, they walk unnoticed. Frogs bring rain, abundance. They symbolize fertility.
Hayden built a small fire and she watched as he heated a knife until it was red-hot and glowing. Moles are protectors of growing crops. They rule the underworld. Moose are headstrong and unstoppable. Mountain lions are resourceful. Mice are masters of detail.
As you may have figured out from the cover, my novel focuses on wolves, one in particular.
In fetish-speak, the wolf is a teacher. He shares knowledge and leads people through the forest…the forest being allegorical for whatever difficulties surround the wearer at the moment.
During the past year, I’ve had many book signings and attended many book festivals. Whenever someone tells me, “Oh, I just love wolves,” I ask… “Are you a teacher?” Almost unanimously they have said “yes”. The lone “no” was from a female sheriff…who, in her protectorate role “leads people through difficulties”!
Are you pulled to an animal (native to North America)? Let me know! I’d be happy to tell you what it symbolizes!