Book Two in the Shamans and Shifters series, Shaman’s Bane, will now be available on May 6th!
Title: Shaman’s Bane
Author: Katlyn Conrad
Publisher: Ellora’s Cave
Book Length: Novella
Suppressing a shiver, Katherine pocketed the Bible. This was the first funeral she’d presided over. She was neither a minister nor particularly religious and felt inadequate, a fraud. Who was she to help the werewolf pack through their leader’s death? Their new shaman, that’s who.
Her stomach wormed. What had she gotten herself into?
She touched the leather-bound book in her pocket. The Bible had surprised her, but according to his son, pack leader Shaw had requested a Christian service. His coffin lay on brass rails above a cut in the earth. The mourners stood on a hillock around it. Droplets of fog leaked down the brass, dampened Katherine’s black pea coat, her blond hair, her low-heeled shoes.
Her gaze slid to the widow Lucinda, pale and drawn in a tight black dress. Coils of blond flowed down her shoulders. She sat in a metal folding chair in a place of honor beneath a cypress tree. A good twenty years younger than her dead husband, Lucinda was already getting sniffs of interest from the younger weres in the pack. It seemed disrespectful, grotesque so soon after her husband’s death. But werewolves were different, and Katherine would have to adjust to that as long as she remained their shaman.
But she didn’t want to get used to it, didn’t want to be an honorary member of the pack. It came with too many strings attached. She felt a sudden flush of shame. This wasn’t the time to think about herself. Toughen up. I’m here for him. Her gaze moved to the man standing beside the widow, the pack leader’s son, Dean Shaw.
Dean’s dark hair curled at the point where his dress shirt met his corded neck. He shrugged, looking uncomfortable in his black suit, his muscles shifting against the fabric. His rugged face was impassive but occasionally one of his muscles twitched, as if he were struggling for control. Katherine’s heart lurched.
She knew what it meant to lose a parent. Katherine’s throat tightened at Dean’s pain, even as his movement quickened her pulse.
Heat blossoming in her cheeks again, she looked down the hill where the Pacific lay submerged in fog. Ogling your boss at his father’s funeral? That’s a new low, Kate.
Had three short weeks in a were pack affected her reactions? She shook her head. It would be easy to blame the wolves but the reaction was all hers. She’d been drawn to Dean the moment she’d walked into his father’s bar. It had really pissed her off.
As much as she wanted to be the kind of woman who could love’em and leave’em, she wasn’t. Dean was trouble, because she suspected he wasn’t that kind of guy either. Since her plan was to stay with the pack only until her head was clear and she could leave with dignity, her longing wasn’t fair to either of them.
In the weeks she’d worked at his father’s bar, Dean had been fair, even-keeled, contrary to everything she’d expected a werewolf-bar manager to be. But the pack was surprising her in all sorts of ways. She turned back to the mourners. The funeral seemed so…normal.
Relaxing her gaze, Katherine saw the human bodies fade into the background and their wolf spirits leapt to the fore, fur and teeth and claws shifting and snarling. Not normal. She couldn’t allow herself to forget what they were. Forgetting could be deadly.
The funeral was over, but no one moved. Was there something she’d forgotten?
A howl broke her reverie. Katherine jerked, her head swiveling toward the sound.
Dean’s head was thrown back, his cry sending an electric quiver across her skin. Other weres joined him, their howls echoing through the forested hills. They fell silent as one, and in that sudden void Katherine heard the trickle of water, the whisper of wind in the trees. And a growl.
“Back off!” A leather-jacketed male werewolf shoved a young, bearded were named Rheinholdt.
Rheinholdt stumbled against the coffin. It jolted sideways, slithering off the brass rails, one corner thudding to the soft earth. With a snarl, Rheinholdt leapt forward, grasping his attacker around the collar.
Katherine gaped, horrified. At a funeral? A fight at a funeral?
The mourners scattered backwards except for Lucinda, who sat frozen, blue eyes wide.
Dean swore. “Can’t you keep your hormones in check for a damn funeral?” Growling, he strode forward, his brows lowered in a dark slash.
Rheinholdt shoved his attacker away, sent him spinning into Dean.
The bar manager staggered into the now-deserted folding chairs. They crashed to the wet grass. Rheinholdt leapt on the first were, sprawled on the ground. Dean kicked out, the folding chair around his ankle tangling Rheinholdt’s legs, and the were fell flat on his face. Rheinholdt leapt up, snarling.
Lucinda went white, then red.
Sympathy for the widow throbbed in Katherine’s chest. Freaking werewolves! Forget understanding them, forget adapting to their ways. This was disgusting. “Enough,” the shaman said, voice low.
Rheinholdt fell back, panting, glancing sideways at the shaman.
“This is a funeral, not a cage match,” she said. “Show some respect for the family if you can’t remember to respect the dead.” She walked to Lucinda and took her hand. “You have my deepest sympathies on your loss.”
She turned to Dean, struggling to free himself from a folding chair which had collapsed around his ankle.
His eyes burned, his swarthy face a mask of fury. Fury at her.
She took an involuntary step back. “My condolences…” Swallowing, she fled down the grassy hill to the parking lot, where her battered Toyota waited.
The shaman fumbled for her keys, dropped them, picked them up. Unlocking the door, she sat inside.
The mourners drifted off, wraiths in the fog.
Bringing a shaky hand to her forehead, she released a shuddering breath.
What did I get myself into?
Katherine had resisted becoming a pack shaman, preferring her independence. But the late pack leader had made her an offer she’d thought she couldn’t refuse. She gripped the steering wheel, staring into the swirling fog. Now, she wondered if she should have.
She wondered if Dean, the pack leader’s son, would honor the deal she’d made with his father two months ago. She wondered if she’d undercut Dean by stopping the fight when he’d failed. And she wondered how she was going to work in his bar that night and face that rage.
About the Novella
All Katherine Mika wants is to keep her head down. As the new shaman for a local werewolf clan, she may finally be able to achieve a stable life with a new job in the pack master’s family bar and a group of weres dedicated to keeping her safe. But when the pack leader dies in a car accident, the clan’s alpha males vie for his spot and put the new shaman in the hot seat.
Dean Shaw is the dead pack leader’s son. Assigned by his father to take care of the new shaman, he was forced to give her a job in his bar. He’s got no interest in pack politics or the job of pack leader. But when his father’s car accident looks like murder, he realizes he needs the shaman to uncover the truth.
As the pack’s alphas become more aggressive, and Katherine’s shamanic visions grow more turbulent, Katherine is forced to choose sides. Sparks flying, she and Dean must catch a killer, before it’s too late.
Shaman’s Bane is novella #2 in the Shaman’s and Shifters Series. Check out the first novella in the series, Spirit on Fire.