Tag Archives: shifters

Accessing Your Inner Beast

Identifying with Shifters #fur #reading #shifterromance #escape

Last week I talked about camouflage, and how there is an inner beast prowling inside some of us that we won’t let out. For various reasons, and all of them personal. And visceral. But, I’m getting sidetracked already, thinking about guts. Because that’s leading to…See? Sidetracked.

What I want to talk about this week is how when that inner beast gets poked at its damned hard to keep her passive.
So, please forgive me as I stand here as Captain Obvious and announce: We read paranormal romance novels for the pleasure of it. What, you want to know, does reading books you love have to do with our own hidden animals?
Because when it comes to reading the subgenre of Shifter Romance, I think we read it for the escape. From un-reality, my friends. The world most would call normal…isn’t. For those of us who don’t fit into it, the “un-real” world is a confining and confusing space. With waaay too many rules many of us just can’t understand. Or tolerate.
So, we escape to places that do make sense. Sure, some call them fictional. Let them. By now, those of us who claw at the steel of our invisible cages are used to being patronized. Being accustomed to something doesn’t mean we like it, though. We’re baring our fangs, lifting our hackles. But being the awesome, adaptable creatures we are, we camouflage it.
But, man oh man! Wouldn’t it be AWESOME to really show your teeth?
Being the author of my…I’m gonna call them get-aways, I get to create scenes that let me vent. You know, like something happened with some humans, and I so, so wanted to clutch their throats in my jaws. Thrash ‘em around a bit, make them see sense.
Instead of acting on my instincts, I hide my true nature, and retreat to my keyboard. Here’s a scene from my book Kenrickey to show you what I mean:

I shuffled to Hersey’s office at his request when class was over.
“God, Ken, you look like hell.”
I stared at him.
“Er,” Hersey cleared his throat. “Well, then.” He rubbed his hands together like he was cold, or nervous. “The reason I wanted to see you–”
“Stay the fuck away from my house.”
He shut up, his guilt blooming on his cheeks.
The rush of blood to his face stirred me, awakened the predator within and I crept forward, my muscles shivering tensely, aching to hurt him. I stopped when our toes nearly touched, then followed my nose toward his neck, where his fear puffed in whiffs from his quickening pulse. I leaned back to lock his eyes with mine. “Come near my property again, I will personally cut your legs off and throw them in the river.”
“I didn’t-I wasn’t—”
I arched an eyebrow at his stuttering lies.
“Ken?”
I raised my hand to point at his chest and the pussy flinched. “Don’t ever beckon me to your office again, Mark. I’ll come when I think it’s necessary, and not before.”
I turned my back on the pathetic crumb, and left the building without waiting for his reply. ~Kenrickey: Book Three of the Luna Chronicle

See? Of course, there is a ton of pre-story to this scene. Ken is being sucked into the world of wolf shifters with some strange and fearsome side effects. But I think the scene shows the gist of what I’m talking about. Sometimes, you just want to show a liiiitle of that beast inside you. Let just enough shimmer to the surface so the one you’re confronting feels your intensity.
I think of scenes like this in all my books when my hackles are up and I want to shred someone a new a**hole. Don’t you? When you find yourself in these situations, do you remember a shifter character you’ve read about, and picture yourself in their stead? Or imagine yourself adopting their can’t-give-two-shits attitudes when it’s going to kill you to roll over one goddamned more time?
Me, too. It’s why I love to read shifter romance, and love to write it even more. When problems surface, I find myself thinking what would Kenrickey do? 
How about you? Is there a favorite character you fall back on to get you out of crappy situations?

Thanks for getting what I’m talking about. There’s nothing scholarly, or particularly rational about this post. I’m just sharing. And, hopefully, letting you know you’re not alone in there.
Enjoy your day. Shake your fur. It needs fluffing.

~S.C. Dane is a paranormal romance novelist with four books to her credit, and two in the works.

Lover in Stone, Installment No. 4

Installment No. 4
#gargoyles #shifter #romance #MFRWauthorscdane
Oh, man, this is so not good. Angelia stepped into the room, yet no one acknowledged her presence. Not a good sign at all considering the occupants of the room were hypersensitive Vampires. They continued arguing as if she wasn’t there at all.
Aro, her boss, paced. His violet eyes snapping, his fangs barely sheathed.
Upon the dais abutting the far wall of the gallery sat two of the Vampyres of the Triumvirate, Godrick and Kristov, who watched him march, bemused expressions clapped onto their faces.
The third Vampyre of the Triumvirate, her dear father Anton, remained on Aro’s level, leaning against the wall, his blonde head resting on his arm. The lesser Vampire ignored Anton, preferring to address the Vampyres on the raised platform instead.
“She is a sworn member to the Literati, do not forget,” Aro fumed, barely veiling his threat to the ancient members of the Triumvirate. He shook with his insubordination, yet couldn’t seem to help himself. “She has pledged her oath,” he seethed, his fangs lengthening.
“She is merely human!” Anton raged, slicing across the room with his claws unsheathed. The Vampyre veered from his assault at the last second, swirling back to his original post along the wall, his control tamped. “She will never survive this mission,” Anton hissed, his demeanor deflating as if his body wasn’t like iron.
Angelia barely tracked her father’s averted assault on her boss it happened so fast.
“She is my daughter,” he groaned, not caring to shield the torment of his dilemma from the others in the room. Or from Angelia, whose heart strangled in her breast to see him so defeated.
To heck with tradition and protocol. Angelia clapped her jaw shut and went straight to her father to comfort him.
She couldn’t not. He was extremely upset. She could see it in his silver eyes, the centuries weighing heavy in them when usually they sparkled bright.
The sight of them turned her blood to freezing slush.
This meeting was about her and her blunder with the Scriptum. They were convening to decide an appropriate punishment. So, what mission were they talking about?
Anton’s fingers curled around her hand, and for an instant, Angelia didn’t know if she felt trapped or comforted. But she held her ground. Whatever retribution was due her, she’d face it. Even if she was glad her stomach was empty so she wouldn’t vomit. Much.
Puking wasn’t exactly a hallmark of bravery, so she took the tight smile her father gave her, and let him lead her to a wooden chair situated a little off-center of the room.
To sit? Oh, heck, no. She wanted to bolt.
But that would make her a coward, and she already had a long list of inadequacies chalked up against her. Angelia took the seat her father offered.
Then watched him trudge to the dais like a man heading for the gallows. She gulped past the knot gripping her throat.
Okay, she could do this. She had signed on with the Literati knowing full well what was expected of her. Of course, her father had been beyond livid when she’d done it. He’d threatened to kill Aro as soon as he’d found out she’d daubed her blood to the contract. He’d accused the Vampire of treachery and deceit. Even went so far as to say the only reason Aro would want his daughter was because she was human.
A lovely revelation that stung like a mother. Yet, she’d refused to cry over it. So what if that was the only reason Aro and the Literati wanted her. For once in her life, being human had some merit. And Anton’s fears that she’d be traipsing all over the world, going into places where only her kind could go? Remained unfounded.
Angelia hadn’t left her desk for ten years. No Indiana Jones adventures for her. Nope. Since her debacle with the Recovery Team, she got the drudgery, the research where the only excitement came from getting off her stool to stretch her back.
The Scriptum had been the first and only thing she’d ever been assigned to because she was human, and that was because Aro and the other Literati couldn’t pry their greedy little fingers under its cover.
And I’ve bumbled my one chance to prove my worth.
Her shame and guilt overrode her fear like a three hundred pound jockey.
“Aro, sit.” Godrick commanded quietly. But then, his authority wasn’t to be breached, so he didn’t have to raise his voice. The chairman of the Literati plunked his butt at the long table, his alabaster fingers drumming on his briefcase.
Angelia cringed inwardly. Inside that briefcase would be her contract, with her stamp of blood on it.
“Angelia Delacroix.” This time the voice that spoke carried a soft undertone, and it did wonders to soothe her. Which would be the intention, of course. Kristov had always been kind to her.
“Yes?” She sat up straighter, facing the Triumvirate. Her poor father had paled beyond pale, throwing wide the door to her fear so it crept back in subtle as an elephant.
“We are sorry for having kept you in the dark while we weighed our decision.”
Angelia decided to study her boots rather than watch Anton suffer. If she was going to face her punishment with any dignity, she couldn’t look at him. Not if she wanted to keep her backbone, spindly as it was.
Because he was her Papa. She’d cave like the weak little girl she was, and he would happily bundle her up in his arms to comfort the both of them.
She knew that. Anton adored her.
Even after his son had been born, Angelia still resided in the same cherished place of his heart.
“Is there anything you can tell us about the disappearance of the Scriptum, Miss Delacroix?”
Huh? Angelia dragged her gaze off her shit-kickers to gawp up at the Triumvirate. The disappearance of the Scriptum?
“She doesn’t know a blasted thing,” Aro griped from behind her.
Angelia turned to her boss, still too stupefied to play catch up.
“She was completely unconscious. And we did a mind sweep.” Aro swept his hand out, indicating the two Literati Ghouls who sat like well-preserved, sagacious corpses at the long table with him. “She knows nothing of the theft.”
“The theft?” Angelia’s jaw finally worked just enough for her to say something, but it fell back open as she stared at her boss. This meeting wasn’t about her punishment? She felt the one-two punch of relief and panic. “The Scriptum has been stolen?”
She didn’t need a verbal answer. Anton’s distress hadn’t been about the punishment she was going to receive, it was about this mission. And—ding, ding, ding—her brain finally grasped what was taking place.
She was being assigned to retrieve the Scriptum. Hence, the mission Anton had referred to. Angelia swung around to look at her father, her worry for him beaming out of her eyes now that her cowardly butt was no longer on the line.
“Miss Delacroix, it is our understanding you are the only one capable of retrieving this artifact. Is this so?”
Angelia turned her attention to Kristov. The only one? “Yeah, I guess. I mean, I’m the only one who can read it.”
Which didn’t exactly mean she was the only one who could retrieve it. Did it? Excitement revved in her belly, tingling her skin.
Was this finally it? Was this her chance to prove her worth, to show everyone she wasn’t entirely useless and clumsy? She’d waited a decade for her Indiana Jones crusade, and now it seemed as if it was finally going to happen.
She bowed her head so no one would see the flush of anticipation coloring her cheeks.
“You will not be expected to endure this treacherous journey alone, Miss Delacroix, if you should accept the terms of your contract.”
Blah, blah, blah…treacherous journey?
Okay. She needed to get focused here. Indiana Jones and his stunts were fictional—she was about to embark on the real deal.
“You will be escorted through Hell by Merrick the Chimera, the Guardian to Hell’s Archway. Is that acceptable to you?”
Angelia didn’t know whether to collapse into her chair from fright or shriek like a teenager at a rock concert.
A Chimera.
Taking her straight to Hell. The real Hell. Not the figurative one.
The information rendered her dumb. She didn’t know how to respond. Her emotions hovered, immobilized by the colliding of two climactic moments in her drear life.
It was a few moments before her situation finally melted over her, and she sucked in a fortifying breath.
Okay. Right. She could do this. She had been waiting ten years for such a chance, and had always known that the places she could pass where Aro and the rest of the Literati wouldn’t be pleasant.
Hell as a destination had traipsed across her imagination more than once.
But a Chimera to guide her? She’d be safer than a glass of holy water at a Literati Convention.
But wait. Kristov had asked her something. She glanced up, not hiding her confusion, or her embarrassment.
“I’m sorry. Could you repeat the question?”
“We asked whether your escort would be acceptable to you,” Godrick repeated, his patience a trifle thin. She couldn’t blame him. As much as he respected Anton, he had always wondered how the Vampyre could be so smitten with a dull-witted human.
“Ah, yes. Yes, it’s acceptable to me. I mean, yes. He is acceptable.”
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 5 coming Tuesday, February 10, 2015.

Lover in Stone, Installment No. 3

Installment No. 3
#gargoyle #shifter #MFRWauthorscdane #romance

Like a gift, the Scriptum lay open upon the table above the unconscious woman. A single lamp spilled warm, buttery light on both, leaving the rest of the narrow room in shadow.
Where the intruder lurked a few moments longer, waiting. Watching, despite the fact most of his attention was on the book. Which looked like any other relic he’d stolen during his base life.
Old. Valuable not because it was made of anything precious, but because its worth lay in what he was going to get out of it.
Power. Unlike anything he’d ever experienced.
In exchange for this book—if he could get it into the right hands.
But the man understood greed as a supreme motivator, and he would deliver the Scriptum into the right hands.
Come hell or high water.
The soulless man let his lips twist into a smile he felt nowhere within himself; an odd reflex to something sublime he couldn’t emotionally fathom.
Yes. Hell would come, if he handled this right, but not the high water.
He nudged the unconscious woman’s wrist with the toe of his soft, leather moccasin.
She was not beautiful.
Plain.
Definitely not Vampire, or Fae.
Which explained why it was she he was stealing this book from in the first place.
The man suspected enough about the Scriptum to know that few would most likely be able to touch it, let alone decipher its mystery.
But this brown paper bag of a female?
Indecent.
If he didn’t have this matter of stealing the book pressing upon him, the power coming to him in lieu of cash payment, he would do her justice.
The man uncurled his fingers from the bowie blade riding his hip.
He would not cut her as he so desired to do. Yet, how remarkable she would be if only he could slide his sharp knife from one cheek bone to the other. Give her a puppet smile that would permanently grace her unexceptional face.
Only the anticipation of the payment awaiting him stayed his hand, and he stepped off from his inborn urge to carve beauty where it was lacking. He turned his attentions to the relic, to the object that, should he succeed at delivering it into the guts of Hell, would gift him an eternity of joyful sculpting.
He bothered not with wondering why the woman had been studying blank pages. That wasn’t where his interest lay. The soulless man stepped over the woman to reach her work table, and closed his gloved hands over the Scriptum.
He was surprised by its heft.
For such a small, unassuming object, it seemed as though it was weighted with the things not written upon its blank pages.
The man yanked and lifted the tome, then slid it into a silk bag, which he then placed inside his backpack.
As he stepped back over the unconscious woman, his hand once again drifted to his hip, to his bowie knife.
Just one quick sweep of his blade.
And yet.
He would not. He could not.
During his lifetime, he had gambled only so far, had never taken unnecessary risks. Besides, he had far too much to gain if he won this game. His hand reluctantly slid from the cool steel of his blade.
With a stealthy tweak of the doorknob, the man slid into the dimly lit hallway, skulked along the rows upon rows of dusty manuscripts, and made his way to one of the many dark recesses of the vaulted library where his ropes hung as quiet and unnoticed as jungle snakes.
With practiced ease, the soulless man pulled himself upward toward the vent at the height of the thirty foot wall, and disappeared into it as silently as he had emerged, like a spider born from one of the hundreds of billowing webs stretching like banners across the ceiling.
Bound for Hell, with the Scriptum riding safe upon his back.
*****
Sometimes it’s a blessing to remain unconscious. At least, to Angelia’s way of thinking anyway. Once she’d come to after having fainted like a wuss, she’d had to endure Aro’s wrath. Which came in the form of silence. Not a good sign at all. He had picked her off the floor with a grip shying just short of breaking her arm, and had her escorted to a “room” at the Triumvirate’s holdings.
For her safety.
Bah!
She knew exactly why Aro had sent her here. She was to await her punishment for ruining the Scriptum. She sat on a stool in the middle of a ten foot square cell, thinking the only thing missing from this interrogation scene was the bare bulb overhead.
Running her palms up and down her arms did nothing for her shivering as she remembered her last botched job. The details of which dug their sharp nails into her fragile ego.
She’d been in a similar predicament before, when she’d first joined the Literati.
Well, okay, it was similar only in the sense she’d effed that job up, too.
The Recovery Team wasn’t even out the door before Angelia inadvertently bungled the protection magic painstakingly conjured by the Mage to keep them safe. To this day, she didn’t know how she’d done it. But she could remember the faces glaring at her. Each one was covered in soot, like the spell had blown up, turning the faces of her teammates into cartoon characters.
Which was kind of funny. Except no one laughed with her.
Aro had yanked her off the team faster than she could say whoops.
And figuratively chained her to a desk for the next ten years.
Until the Scriptum had been unearthed, and remained stubbornly shut for six months, even for the Demon Decipherer.
Angelia had again proven how inept she was when she’d gone into the room to ask Aro and the Decipherer a question. Somehow, she’d managed to trip on the flat stone floor and brush her fingers along the Scriptum’s sealed cover as she’d thrown her hand out to catch herself.
Aro and the Demon Decipherer had watched in helpless horror as the great tome teetered precariously upon its binding.
The Vampire had a flaming curse on his lips when the impenetrable Scriptum split wide open to finally reveal its secrets.
Well, not quite.
The text on the immaculate vellum promptly disappeared the moment Aro ordered Angelia’s clumsy ass out of the room. Which was the only reason she had been assigned to translate it.
Because the writing didn’t remain for any eyes but hers.
And now those pristine pages were forever marred with a blotch of her pathetic human blood.
Angelia’s insecurities assailed her as she sat on the stool in the cell. As if their weight was too much to bear, she turned in on herself, curling her body around the growing hole of humiliation, the shame that had taken up permanent residence in her gut years ago.
God, Aro was going to fry her for this.
The clank of the heavy steel door had her hopping to her feet, like she was going to kick butt. Or run. A more likely outcome given the current strength of her spine.
The same Vampire who had escorted her here came into the cell. “They are ready for you, Miss Delacroix.” He bowed his blonde head as if he felt bad about her situation, offering his arm like an usher at a formal wedding.
Angelia took it, even if it was just to hold onto something to keep her hands from shaking. She felt hard muscle under the shirt sleeve, and shut her eyes as she sucked up a little comfort from the solidity of it.
“Where are we going?” She peered up at a strong, tight jaw.
Her escort kept his eyes straight ahead. “The Triumvirate wishes to see you.”
The Triumvirate?
Holy Moses, she was in bigger trouble than she thought. Was Aro demanding they give permission for him to release her from the contract?
Her father would be flipping cartwheels while he sang Yes! So, Aro would get at least one vote in the affirmative. Angelia gripped a little tighter to the young Vampire leading her down the stone paneled corridor, her stomach churning as her feet turned to slippery clay.
She would be stripped of her duties. Severed from the one thing making her feel a little special in this world of super beings. Cold, familiar fingers of inadequacy clamped around her guts, just as her escort halted in front of a thick wooden door. He leaned forward to open it, revealing the stone gallery where the Triumvirate conducted their interviews.
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 4 coming Saturday, February 7, 2015.

Lover in Stone, Installment No.2

Installment No. 2
#gargoyle #shifter #authorscdane
Merrick craned his neck to get a better look at the path beneath him, and felt the pull of his thick shoulder muscles run the length of his spine. The screech of stone assaulted his ears as his claws scored the wall. His talons, formidable weapons that they were, bit perfectly into the holes already etched into the granite—from his centuries of crouching exactly where he was now—perched on the Archway to Hell.
Condemned to killing its trespassers.
Thank you, God, you lousy son of a bitch.
Rage swelled inside him like the flooding waters behind a crumbling levee. Another soul, burdened with guilt, plodded beneath him. Resigned to its fate in Hell, where the doomed bastard would remain. Because Merrick knew no souls discovered redemption. Instead, they forever perpetuated their crimes, twisting ceaselessly within their self-designed tortures.
Like a twitching whip, Merrick’s rope-like tail slashed his fury as he tracked the sinner’s route.
Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.
Dante might have mistranslated the words carved into the Archway’s keystone, but he hadn’t mistaken the circular levels.
Not the misery. Nor the horror.
Merrick knew every shitty bit of it—he’d been forced to witness every doomed soul since the creation of this infernal cauldron. And he’d had enough. His guts were swimming in the filth of the madness, the terror. His skin grew thick, rough as stone—the telltale sign of what he and his Kynd were fated to become.
Grotesques.
Condemned by God to this unholy patch of sunshine, he was inevitably turning to stone, just as thousands of his brethren already had. And he couldn’t stand it, had to circle on his paws to relieve the twitching of his skin, the compulsion of his muscles to act. To do something to alleviate his furious despair.
The archangel Lucifer had been right: God was a heartless bastard who turned his back to the cruelty He Himself created. Was it no wonder the souls consigned to Hell were so full of hopeless misery?
Just like the one entering Hell beneath him.
Shrieking assailed Merrick’s ears, and he roared his anguish while his heart weighed heavy as the rock it was fast becoming.

*****
The pose didn’t suit her. Although far be it from Angelia to notice she formed the perfect imitation of a long-legged grasshopper. Not with her attention riveted to the skin-bound book spread open in front of her.
She felt like a member of the bomb squad holding the wire snips. Kept her breath locked in her lungs. And not because the pages of the book were fragile, either. Given its age, the darn thing had defied the ravages of time.
What worried her, and kept her from breathing, was the aura of magic surrounding the thing.
The relic sitting in front of her was volatile as a real bomb. All it would take would be one wrong move, one offensive stumble from her, and the book could do anything.
So, she couldn’t screw up.
As it was, the only reason she sat in the same room with it was because she was the only being it allowed to read its pages.
Like the Scriptum had an inkling of its own.
And that made it one scary so and so.
Because, let’s face it, she wasn’t anyone special. Not in this world of Fae, Vampire, Demon, and Ghoul.
And Grotesques.
How could she forget to add the Gargoyles and Chimeras to her list of supernatural wonders. When she was younger, she used to fantasize about the Grotesques, spending countless nights conjuring histories for them, fabricating stories of derring-do for her Gargoyle heroes.
Which was fine when you were a little kid. Playing make-believe was as normal as snot hanging out of your nose. Even as a teenager, she could be excused when she’d gripped tight to her fascination, practically wallpapering her bedroom with pictures of Chimeras.
She’d never outgrown her fascination.
Which made her a loser on all counts. A human living in a realm populated by creatures with innate talents that left her wanting.
And feeling pathetically inadequate.
Ugh. Yeah. She’d polish that nugget of loveliness later. Right then, she was preoccupied with sliding her silver reading blade along the pages she was translating. She had come to the running end of an unfinished sentence about her favorite subject: Gargoyles and Chimera.
So to her, the Scriptum read like a New York Times best-selling novel: a real page turner. Hastening to devour more, she flicked the blade to roll the page. Only to slice her finger on the vellum—even though she’d been using her knife.
“Ooh, crap!” She jabbed her bleeding finger into her mouth, her eyes dancing like frantic maids to find something, anything, to dab the blood off the ancient page.
“Oh, God, oh God, how could I be so stupid?” Mortified, she jumped to her feet, tipping her stool so it clattered to the floor behind her.
The droplet of her blood spread in a widening circle into the page. Like an atomic cloud.
And just as flipping devastating.
She’d marred the ancient Scriptum. With her stupid, human ineptitude she’d scarred a relic which had remained in near pristine condition for centuries.
Faltering back, she couldn’t peel her helpless stare from her blunder.
Oh, man. She would have to confess it.
Fear snatched her breath. Droplets of sweat stung her armpits, prickled the small of her back. Aro, her Vampire boss would be…catatonic with rage.
See? Pathetic. Aro would never lay a fang on her. Not when her father was Vampyre, one of the ruling Triumvirate.
Okay, so he wasn’t her real father. But she’d been raised since infancy as Anton’s own, and it was no secret to the Vampire realm. Inept human she might be, but Angelia moved within her father’s world freely.
No Vampire in their right mind dared touch her.
Including Aro.
Right. Taking a deep breath to calm her panic, she bent to put her stool back onto its three feet. Then bolted upright, her hand clutched to her heart like a clichéd heroine wrapped tight in her corset and long skirts.
Singing expanded inside her head.
“Holy rum raisin ice cream.” The Scriptum hummed. The voices stuck to her pulse, pulling and twisting along her veins as they sang. They magnified inside the amphitheater of her skull, to the point she thought the bone would fissure and sound would blast forth like footlights—to illuminate the ceiling over her head.
Her knees buckled, as if she knelt in supplication to the concerto. Tears tumbled down her cheeks. Trembling, she reached forth, as though Jesus himself stood in glowing magnificence in front of her, and she wanted nothing more than to touch his modest robes.
The voices flew ever higher, and Angelia’s heart strained to devour every truth, every glorious exultation…until the pounding lump of muscle stuttered, fluttered, and fibrillated.
As her vision tunneled, the Scriptum shrunk into a tiny pinprick before disappearing, just like scenes in old movies ended.
Last thought? Darkness. Angelia cashed out like an empty register, her body folding to the flagstone floor.

~S.C. Dane
~Next Installment (no. 3) coming: Tuesday, February 3, 2015.