Hi all: Today it’s Friday and that means, guest author. I’m very pleased to introduce Nicole D. Fergusson who’s come to tell us a bit about her Young Adult novel Gothic. She’s kindly agreed to leave us not only the description and the great cover, but also a fragment of the novel that will leave you wanting more. And here she is:
Dahlia is starting a new life. New university, new home, new friends. This time, she’s not going to be surrounded by werewolf packs and vampires. She has fought against a life filled with supernaturals since she was eight years old. Does it matter when she’s more attracted to the vampire in her class than the normal university boyfriend she picks up? Or when her werewolf kin start gradually start to go missing? Of course not. A normal life is what she wants. What she’s always wanted. A normal life. This is exactly what she’s been waiting for.
And now an excerpt from the novel:
“That’s… strange,” Elliott paused.
“What?” But then Dahlia caught on. Though she didn’t have a werewolf’s sense of smell, she did have a human’s sense of hearing. And a low growl was coming from somewhere in front of them.
“Hello?” she started, inching forward. Elliott grabbed her arm and pulled her behind him. “Whaa?” Dahlia began.
The aggressive sound had doubled. Dahlia realised, with shock, that Elliott was not growling so much as hissing, or snarling. She was glad for Elliott’s walking her back to her dorm. Usually there were people milling around the university colleges but, right then, there was a distinct lack of anyone.
Elliott had dropped to a fighting crouch, like he expected violence.
Dahlia watched keenly for whatever it was from her vantage point behind Elliott, glancing over her shoulder a couple of times just in case attackers came from behind. There was someone targeting werewolves, and she had grown up with a whole bunch of them.
Her heart dropped to her stomach when she saw a honey-blonde wolf pull out of the bushes and start stalking towards them. She would have recognised him anywhere, but that didn’t incline her to feel kindly disposed towards him. She did not appreciate the panic he’d just put her through.
“Luca! What the hell are you doing?” This in a harsh whisper, before Dahlia looked behind her again, this time to make sure there were no hapless students about to walk up and find themselves face to face with a werewolf. Luca was much larger than any domestic dog she could think of, and he wasn’t on a lead, which meant that Dahlia would be in trouble either way if another student happened upon them. “You know better than this!”
Elliott didn’t relax his position, didn’t allow Dahlia to push past him in her attempts to chastise the ’wolf, which didn’t defuse the situation at all. It just made Luca growl louder.
Looking between the two men, Dahlia’s jaw dropped as she realised what this was about.
“Oh, for fuck’s sake! Really?”
Dahlia righteously slapped Elliott’s arm down and strode past him. Standing directly in between Elliott and Luca, Dahlia stared them both down, daring either of them to make another territorial move.
Elliott looked from her to the ’wolf, until eventually his gaze settled on her. Luca eventually stopped growling, relaxing the ridges on his nose, but not at all looking contrite. Dahlia just stared at them both in disgust.
“You,” she informed Luca, her tone offering no room for refusal. “Find somewhere private to change and get to my room.” She bared her teeth. He wouldn’t instinctively accede to her words, but the snarl would make an impression.
Luca stared back at her for a while, trying to assert dominance, but Dahlia was too incensed to play into werewolf games. After a moment, he emitted a wuffle sound, turning tail and disappearing back into the bushes.
Dahlia didn’t give Elliott time to make something of any of this. She just grabbed his sleeve, dragging him to her dorm, and thus guaranteeing that Luca would not be dallying about his change before rushing to her room.
There was silence for a minute, then Elliott said, “So, why don’t you ever give me the, ‘Bad boy! Go to my room’ spiel?’”
She almost stopped when he said that, but instead settled for dragging him towards the dorm, nearly overbalancing him in the process. “Are you really going to try that on me now, Elliot, considering that display of testosterone fuelled idiocy? I’ve a mind to send you both to the naughty corner.”
Elliot sobered a little at that, and instead said quietly, “I’d heard you had werewolves in your family…” as they strode through the hall.
“Oh?” Dahlia asked. “Then what was that back there?”
Elliott frowned. “I thought you were in danger.”
“I’m not in danger from my own foster brother,” Dahlia snarled.
Elliott smiled grimly. “He didn’t exactly come with a sign proclaiming that.” He stopped at her doorway and. For a second, Dahlia thought he was doing it as just another thing to piss her off, before she realised that he needed an invitation.
That recognition took some of the wind out of her sails. Both Annabelle and Meredith had impressed it upon her not to ever utter the words, “Come in,” when a hand gesture or assumption would do, unless it was daylight. Hand gestures and assumptions weren’t strong enough invitations to let a vampire into a new residence.
But this was Elliott and, even though she was pissed at him, Dahlia intellectually knew that he would never do anything to harm her. He hadn’t when she’d been at his private residence, and that was almost like inviting a vampire to drink from you.
“Elliott, would you please come in?” she said, and at the same time heard the sound of Luca thundering through the double doors that marked the entrance to her building.
Luca reappeared, and in human form no less, just in time to watch Elliott take the step over the threshold to Dahlia’s room. He threw himself into the room with a growl, and grabbed Elliott by the throat. Elliott was taken off guard by the sudden attack, but his reflexes worked faster than Luca moved and, before the ‘wolf could take advantage of his hold on Elliott, he was propelled into the opposite wall by the vampire’s shove, jolting the couple of wall hangings she had nearby.
“I am not a danger to Dahlia,” Elliott informed him in quiet, well retained, words that virtually mimicked Dahlia’s assurances of Luca just before.
“Luca, Elliott, don’t,” Dahlia echoed, which was when Elliott stepped back from Luca, having made his point.
Luca stayed by the wall for a second longer, catching his breath and glaring at Elliott. His gaze turned to Dahlia.
“How could you invite him into your room? You know the rules!”
“You don’t know Elliott,” Dahlia informed him flatly. “If you did, you’d know he was about as likely to hurt me as Annabelle.”
The two foster siblings stared each other down for a long time. Elliott stood to the side but, after a time, stepped back and settled himself on her bed content to wait them out. Luca saw this and scoffed.
“He looks fairly comfortable in here.”
“And that might be a problem, if you hadn’t just seen me invite him in.” Dahlia crossed her arms, shaking her head. “Seriously, Luca. I’m not sixteen anymore. You and the pack have no control over who I do or don’t invite into my room.”
Luca’s teeth were gritted. He wasn’t letting this go. “Someone is killing werewolves.”
“And I’m not a werewolf,” Dahlia said blithely, completely ignoring the fact that she herself had been worried about confusion due to her connections to the pack just a few minutes before.
Elliott, in a moment of self-preservation, chose not to bring that either.
“And I thought I would come here and surprise you, since I didn’t get to see you last night.” Luca’s teeth were still gritted, but now he looked sad as well. That sadness deprived Dahlia of the ability to offer some sort of snark regarding how much of a surprise it had been to come back and see a wolf around her building. He continued, as though almost reading her thoughts. “It surprised me when I could smell a vampire coming my way. I can do more damage as a ’wolf than as a man.”
Elliott nodded his head in an acknowledgement.
Luca saw it, even if Dahlia didn’t. Looking at Elliott now, Luca asked grudgingly, “So, who is he?”
Dahlia sighed. Older brother types were supposed to be annoying, weren’t they? Hadn’t she heard as much from at least a dozen girls during high school? At least she got along with hers the majority of the time. “This is Elliott. He’s a friend. One of mine—and Annabelle’s—friends,” she said, making it clear how Dahlia had gotten to know him. Luca knew his Auntie Annabelle didn’t suffer fools and had never been a cruel woman, for all that she was a vampire.
Luca flicked another glance in Elliott’s direction. “Okay then.”
Dahlia turned to Elliott. “Elliott, this is Luca. His father was basically a father to me after mine… ran off.” There was still that lump in her throat whenever she mentioned him. She went on quickly. “Luca pretty much adopted me as a little sister.”
Elliott inclined his head. “And you’ve been looking out for her ever since. Very commendable.”
Luca narrowed his eyes at Elliott, trying to judge if there had been anything facetious in the compliment. Elliott just looked back at him. Eventually Luca offered him a stiff nod. “Thanks,” he murmured.
Dahlia heaved a relieved sigh. Her relief was short lived, however.
“As entertaining as this unexpected gathering is…” was all Dahlia had time to say, before her phone went off.
Both boys jumped. Elliot hissed, Luca snarled, as both immediately went to their fighting stances.
“Oh Jesus. Right, nobody move. I don’t want either of you to kill my phone!”
Both boys copped a look of, ‘Can I take my attention off you for two minutes without coming back to a fight?’ to which they each had the good grace to look somewhat ashamed. She wasn’t sure whether that was because of their boorish behaviour or the realization that they nearly ended up going in to a boxing match with something that could only be considered a lethal weapon in the hands of Russell Crowe.
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Thanks Nicole for sharing your work with us and thanks all for reading!