Book Excerpt: Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff

Book Excerpt: Silver Moon by Catherine Lundoff

As part of our effort to profile more authors within the LGBT community, we present Catherine Lundoff.

Catherine is the two-time Goldie Award-winning author of Night’s Kiss (Lethe Press, 2009) and Crave (Lethe Press, 2007) as well as A Day at the Inn, A Night at the Palace and Other Stories (Lethe Press, 2011) and Silver Moon: A Women of Wolf’s Point Novel (Lethe Press, 2012). She is the editor of Haunted Hearths and Sapphic Shades: Lesbian Ghost Stories (Lethe Press, 2008) and the co-editor, with JoSelle Vanderhooft, of Hellebore and Rue: Tales of Queer Women and Magic (Lethe Press, 2011). Get more information on Catherine from her website.

Catherine’s most recent work, Silver Moon: A Women of Wolf’s Point Novel is a coming out novel, with werewolves and other adventures involving the women at Wolf’s Point. Here is the summary:

Becca Thornton, divorced, middle-aged, and barely out of the closet, discovers that life can still hold some strange surprises, when she discovers that her body is changing; menopause turns her into a werewolf. Apparently she is not the only one, as a number of women in her town of Wolf's Point seem to have had the same experience. As the newest member of the pack, Becca learns her nights are not spent only protecting the town and running through the woods howling at the moon. There are werewolf hunters in town and they've got Becca in their sights.

Silver Moon: A Women of Wolf’s Point Novel was released in May 2012, published by Lethe Press and available for purchase from Amazon here

Read an excerpt below:

Sherriff Henderson said all the right things when Becca told him about the strangers down by the creek. “Sure thing, Miz Thornton. I’ll have Lizzie stop by and check it out.” He jerked his head at the deputy sitting behind him.

Deputy Lizzie Blackhawk was typing on a computer, her expression impassive. She glanced up at the sheriff’s comment and gave Becca a long unreadable stare. Then she raised one dark eyebrow and nodded before returning to the computer.

Oh well, Becca thought. I’ve done what I can. That didn’t make it any less disappointing. But since Lizzie was Shelly’s cousin, maybe Shelly could encourage her to follow up a bit sooner rather than later.

She kept telling herself that during her shift at the hardware store, but her nerves were on edge, fraying her concentration. She would have talked to Shelly about the strangers but Pete said her mom wasn’t doing well and Shelly was off helping out. Whatever it was, his tone made it sound serious and Becca was ashamed of her own petty fears. She fretted until her whole body felt like it was strummed to the breaking point, accompanied by the occasional hot flash.

By the time she left work, she was a wreck. She dashed home and took a shower and inhaled dinner. Then she stared into her closet for what felt like an hour. What did you wear to a mystery event attended by a woman you wanted to impress, even though you knew there was no good reason for you to feel that way? Her thoughts whirled and she wished she was out in the woods, running in the moonlight, letting the wind whistle through her hair. Now where had that come from?

Finally, she grabbed a matching dark blue top and slacks instead of her usual jeans. Nothing too fancy, but loose enough that she would be reasonably comfortable in it, hot flashes, nerves and all. She put her hair up in a clip and studied herself in the mirror, wondering if makeup would help. Her skin was breaking out again. Damn. It was like being a teenager all over again, and that hadn’t been that much fun the first time.

The doorbell interrupted her and she ran to let Erin in. “You ready?” Erin grinned down at her, a disturbing light in her gold-tinted eyes. “My, you look good enough to eat.”

Becca shivered all over and fumbled for a response. “Um...thanks. Guess we’d better get going,” was all that came to mind. She grabbed her purse and pushed past Erin in her rush to avoid making eye contact. Erin led the way to her car without further comment.

The whole drive out to the Wolf’s Point Women’s Club was like that, from Becca’s point of view. Erin chatted away about town gossip and projects she was doing around her house like nothing was wrong. Becca stared silently out the window.

It was as if something huge and important was hanging over them. Whatever it was felt like it was inside her too, running with her heartbeat until her skin felt like it was all that stood between her and some monstrous transformation. She rolled down the passenger window to get some air on her overheated face.

It didn’t help. Becca almost bolted from the car when they got there. The woods on either side of the little red brick building beckoned, the inviting darkness under the trees called and the moon—when had she become such a nature freak? Sure, walks in the woods were fine in their place but in the dark? Though, come to think of it, it wasn’t that dark even though the sun was down. She could see every twig in the darkness under the trees. Her fingers tightened on the car door as she struggled to keep herself from running into the woods.

“Later.” Erin’s voice came from way too close and Becca shuddered at the promise in it even as she turned and reluctantly followed her neighbor into the building.

She tried to analyze her feelings as she walked into the Women’s Club. Mostly, she just thought that she wasn’t ready to talk about menopause with a bunch of women she clearly didn’t know that well. That must be it. Night had just come on and she wanted its darkness to hide all these alien emotions. It was too weird to share and the words to ask Erin if it had been like this for her wouldn’t come, leaving her mute and quivering.

More on next page...

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(continued)

Once inside, things felt even worse. It was like she’d never seen the club before, though that was ridiculous. It was just that she’d never noticed the way the place smelled like pine or the little creaks and groans that the wooden walls made around them. Tonight there was something new and sinister about the shadows, the lit candles on the tables, the expressions on the faces of her own neighbors. Why weren’t the lights on? The candles gave the place a spooky look.

Even Shelly seemed mysterious and scary tonight. She gave Becca a long-toothed smile, predatory, though clearly intended to be welcoming.

As Erin had promised, there was a cake and a couple of pitchers of what looked like margaritas on the table, along with some soda, but Becca no longer felt like it was a simple celebration. The atmosphere was charged and while she was thinking about it, where was everyone else? Only Erin, Molly and Shelly were in the front room. Erin poured her a margarita and she gulped down half of it before she realized what she was doing.

Shelly sat on a padded bench and pulled her down to sit next to her. “Look, Becca, we weren’t sure about what was going to happen tonight until a little while ago. Sometimes the Change is really sudden and we don’t have a lot of time to prepare. It brings new feelings and…transformations, physical and emotional. I know you’re going through a tough time and I’m sorry that we haven’t talked about it. Between my mom’s illness and the Nest coming back here, I haven’t been paying as much attention and preparing you the way I should have.”

Becca wondered if she looked as puzzled as she felt. What was “the Nest”? Did Shelly mean the strangers from this morning? That would make sense, given her bad feelings about them. What didn’t make sense was why Shelly would care. Were they some kind of threat?

Before she could ask, the front door opened and other women began trickling in by twos and threes. Shelly sighed and patted Becca’s shoulder. “Don’t worry about a thing. We all went through it our first time too. It’ll be hard to get used to at first but we’ll help you.” She stood and walked away to greet the others, leaving Becca staring after her in complete bewilderment.

It looked like Shelly standing up was a signal. Molly ushered Becca into the other room and into a large cushioned chair surrounded by a circle of other chairs.

All the other women followed them in. Becca sat down nervously, the silence in the room making her twitchier by the minute. “So am I being initiated or something...” her voice trailed off. Erin gave her a reassuring smile that made her think of a wolf’s grin and it was all Becca could do not to run for the door.

She made herself look around as the others, all twenty or so of them, sat down. She recognized women she had seen around town, even though not all of them lived in Wolf’s Point proper. There was Mrs. Hui, whose family ran the Chinese restaurant and Carly Simpson, the Baptist pastor’s wife. Her neighbor from around the corner, Gladys Sherman, nodded from her seat. Adelía Rodríguez from the gas station on Central gave her a shy smile.

She didn’t know the others by name but all were women of a “certain age,” as those stupid magazines put it, none under forty-five or so but all hale and hearty. There was something else that they had in common, too, though she couldn’t quite put her finger on what it was.

Erin set up a large mirror across from her so she could watch her own frowning, searching face and stiff body. This senseless gesture annoyed her and she found herself snarling a little in response. There, just for a moment, was the face that had terrified her the other day in her bathroom mirror and she flinched away, shivering. She didn’t look like that all the time now, did she?

Despite her fears, she could feel that same wildness building in her. Something was clawing its way to the surface inside her, racing beneath her skin and preparing to break through. She wanted to run and hunt and feel the wind outside. The feeling made her feet and hands tap the floor and the chair in time to her pulse.

As if Becca’s mood was contagious, Shelly glanced outside, then cleared her throat and stood. She held a long red taper, the flame dancing on an air current as it crossed the room. Distracted from her troubled thoughts, Becca imagined that her boss looked like an old-time shaman in a painting, standing there with her long black hair flowing over her shoulders and her dark eyes looking out on forever. She had never seemed so beautiful or so much a complete stranger.

Shelly cleared her throat and said, “I think we’re ready to begin. The moon is starting to rise and we’ll need to be ready. Thank you all for coming to welcome our member Becca Thornton as she enters the Change that has taken each of us in our time. Let us help Becca embrace her own transformation and join with us to make the Pack stronger.” She waved the candle in a strange pattern and sprinkled something on the floor as she walked forward and circled Becca’s chair.

What the hell was this? What was “the Pack?” Becca’s thoughts were frantic now, her skin burning. She could feel the sweat trickling down her back and sides under her shirt, her heart racing so fast that she trembled with each beat. Her whole body felt odd, out of place, as if it belonged to someone else. Everything was too long, too short, too stretched. Too furry. Furry?

That put her over the edge. She closed her eyes against the sudden wrenching pain that shot through her, starting at her feet and working its way up. It was like being pulled in fifteen directions and unable to respond to any of them. Her hair was standing on end and she felt her hands tighten on the chair. From somewhere close by, there was the sound of tearing and rending, of wood snapping. Something very scary was going on.

The thought drove her to her feet, eyes open and body tensed to flee. Her movement showed in the mirror and she glanced at it, then froze. Her face was long, her eyes silvery. Her hair was working its way down her forehead. She was crouched over, huge and menacing. Her hands were far longer than they should have been, with fingers that ended in claws. They were also covered with brown fuzz. The arms of the chair she’d been sitting in were matchsticks now, the stuffing trickling down to mound on the floor.

Becca Thornton opened her mouth to scream, but what came out was more like a cross between a howl and a yelp. She jumped forward, trying to get away from the monster in the mirror and found herself bouncing back from the surrounding air as if she’d hit a wall. She spun around the chair searching for a way out, clawing at nothing with hands that were no longer hers.

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