Saturday, October 31, 2015

Halloween at the Northridges


Here's a free read I wrote for the Black Hills Wolves newsletter, which came out yesterday. It features Brick Northridge and Summer McCoy, hero and heroine of WOLF'S SONG, their kids; Brick's brother, Chance Northridge, and Chance's squeeze, Julie Pembroke.  You'll be able to read Chance and Julie's story in ANOTHER CHANCE, releasing in February!
Halloween at the Northridges
Brick Northridge surveyed with satisfaction the lawn of the cabin--really more of a luxury lodge these days--that he'd rebuilt and renovated during his ten year banishment from Los Lobos. About halfway between Wolf territory and the big cat town of Shady Heart, South Dakota, the log and stone structure now housed his young family.
A fire pit, surrounded by a circular mound of cut rocks, crackled merrily in front of the wraparound porch. The flames spread warmth to the darkest corners of the property, as his little twins, a wolf pup named Clay and a kitten cub named Autumn, frolicked nearby under his mate’s watchful eyes. Summer toasted hot dogs and melted s’mores for them until they were coated in chocolate and bouncing from their sugar highs.

An enormous Harvest moon glowed golden and low in the sky. Gossamer spider webs and fluttery ghosts dripped from the trees ringing the dense forest and pumpkin-headed scarecrows already dotted the grass where his little ones rolled, an irony his mate enjoyed.

“Do I look terrified to you?” Summer inquired, her head tilted with amusement, as she brought him another armful of pumpkins and set them out on the picnic table where he worked, careful to keep the tools of his trade away from his inquisitive kids.

 Born half-cougar and half skinwalker and able to assume various animal forms, Summer still preferred her guise as a raven. The winged form allowed her to soar above him when he ran as a wolf, or to check out that all remained well in Los Lobos below.  His mate had proven her fearlessness. It’d take more than a few straw-stuffed dummies to ever scare her away.

He and Summer loved this time of year. In fact, they’d named their baby girl, a kitten cub who looked just like her gorgeous, green-eyed mother, for the season.

An artisan and master carver gaining reknown for his exquisitely detailed signature figurines, sold by commission, as well as from an online website and in Summer’s friend’s boutique in Shady Heart, Brick set aside one week a year to work his knife skills exclusively on the orange vegetables, which he and Summer distributed throughout Los Lobos. Twinkling jack-o-lanterns were gracing almost every porch or windowsill in town, including the bar and tables at Gee’s place, The Den, as well as the desk in the office of their Alpha, Drew Tao.

Much to the younger Wolves great delight, Brick’s artistry turned Los Lobos into a twinkling Halloween central this time of year.  He loved that the littlest cubs came by with their parents or older siblings to drop off small orange globes they’d picked in the pumpkin patch in the Community Garden behind the schoolhouse.

Most of the time, they were content to let him surprise them. But some of the more ambitious—clearly young dominants in the making—brought him rudimentary sketches and gave him instructions about what they wanted—which tickled him to no end. More than a few demanded the pack Enforcer: “Ryker, with his scariest ‘you’re going to be grounded for that’ face.”  Or “Gee, when he’s growling over a pot of honey.” Or, from the bravest of them, “Bad Magnum.”

Growing up, his own family had been decimated by the machinations of the evil former Alpha, Magnum Tao.  Having just been reunited with his older brother, Chance, and his twin siblings, Amber and Garnet, it gave Brick a special feeling of community and family to do this for the pack to which he and his kin once again belonged.

Still shy around people, Amber and Garnet sat rocking on the main porch, which was strewn with festive holiday lights, twinkling bats and glowing ghoul lanterns for the carving party. Chance arrived with Julie Pembroke, whose tray of delectable mini-cupcakes distracted Clay and Amber from their hot dog and chocolate-marshmallow-graham cracker feasting or periodic study of their dad’s work.

Summer brought out a giant tub filled with cider and apples, in case any youngsters happened by with an urge to bob. The tub proved an attraction too tantalizing to Autumn’s cat curiosity.  After watching Uncle Chance demonstrate how to bob and come up with a ripe one stuck in his mouth, Autumn hissed, shifting into a pint-sized furball. With mischief brewing in her green eyes, she stuck out a paw and speared an apple for herself.

The adults—even Amber and Garnet—convulsed with laughter as the little kitten basked in the praise and applause then trotted around the lawn with her prize.

Clay watched her for awhile and then, not to be outdone by his twin sister, he shifted into his pup form, let out a squeaky howl and sprang onto the picnic table where Brick worked. Although he managed to whisk his sharp tools away from his small tyke in the nick of time, he wasn’t quite quick enough for Clay.

Small claws jutting from his little paws, he advanced on the biggest pumpkin on the table and slashed at it. With a howl of satisfaction, he jumped off the table and took a victory lap, his fuzzy tail waving triumphantly in the air.

“Sweet Luna,” said Uncle Chance. He whistled long and low, as he turned the jack-o-lantern for the other’s to see. A small but perfect wolf, howling at the moon above. “Beginner’s luck?”

“No way,” said Summer, sweeping up her twins and cuddling each of them in an arm. “Like father, like son.”

Brick’s chest swelled with pride as he gazed at his family. He took his own victory lap.


(c) 2015, Taryn Kincaid
Read Brick and Summer's story in WOLF'S SONG
Available from Amazon: US | Canada UK | Australia  | Barnes and Noble 
And watch for ANOTHER CHANCE, coming soon!

No comments:

Post a Comment