What does an immortal Native American shaman do when the grave he’s sworn to watch over for all eternity disappears under urban development?
Book 1 – Ashkewheteasu
The True Beginning
Ten years ago, a reporter for a small-town newspaper heard word of strange sightings of a wolf-like creature roaming the Wisconsin countryside. Authorities had determined what these eyewitnesses had actually seen was a lone wolf broken off from a pack from the north. However, the witnesses were adamant that what they’d seen had been no ordinary wolf. This wolf walked like a man. Similar sightings were mentioned in ancient Native American oral traditions. In those tales, dog men or witchy wolves looked after burial mounds in much the same way jackal-headed Anubis guarded the tombs of ancient Egypt. And early French explorers knew of them too. They’d called these wolf-men the loup-garou.
He spoke in his language again and she shook her head, not understanding. He smiled, picked up her hand and kissed her palm. Closing her fingers around the kiss as though it were a tangible thing, he told her, “You make me burn for you Livie, but this is not the place to love you as you deserve.”
Not knowing how to respond, she took a breath and let it out slowly. If not for the fact she barely knew him, she’d ask him to come home and finish what he’d started, inebriated or not. She was sorely tempted. But that wasn’t the kind of person she was. Fired up or not, desirous of Ash or not, knowing a guy a few accumulated hours meant it was too soon for that level of intimacy. But boy oh boy she was tempted.
“Where do you live?” she asked once more. Again she was met with another language.
Thinking him too tipsy to give directions, she said, “I’ll drive by the clinic and we’ll see if that sparks your memory.” She put the car in gear.
Ash smiled and nodded, then began to hum a repetitive and hypnotic tune.
She teased, “That’s lovely, but I think you’ll put me in a trance if you keep it up.”
Keep it up? Ash stopped abruptly. Looking at her, he shook his head and chuckled. The slur accented his words. “You confuse me, Livie.”
For the first time she noticed the tiniest inflection. Ash had an accent she couldn’t quite put her finger on, similar to John’s Aunt Mayweather but not quite. She gave him a sideways glance. “I confuse you?”
“I will learn. It may take time. But I will learn,” he said sincerely. He put his hand on top of hers, where it rested on the stick shift. Ash began speaking in that other language again. The breathy words rolled off his tongue and gave her goosebumps.
“Now you’re confusing me!” She laughed.
“Please stop your car. I need to go.”
She pulled over, expecting him to rush, either to pee or to vomit.
But Ash got out slowly, then to her surprise, came round to the driver’s window. She rolled the window down and he reached in to take her face in both hands. The kiss was so deep and sensual that she instinctively turned her body for more, and pressed the horn.
Startled, they broke away from each other, looked at one other with wide eyes, then laughed. His eyes twinkling with humor, he informed her, “I’m feeling very happy, Livie.
I’ll see you soon.” With that, he turned and jogged off into the night.
“Hey!” She laughingly called, then put the car in park in case he returned. Several long minutes passed. She got out and called into the night. When he didn’t return, she headed home. Touching a fingertip to her tingling lips, she realized that man made her feel things she’d never felt in her life. And she wanted him — badly.
Ash felt odd. The sensation was not unlike the altered mental state brought about by the ordeals of his training, when his mind ventured in another world while his body stayed in this one. His earlier jumble of thoughts returned. It is the beer. The beer is bringing this sensation. It was only a guess but the odd feeling was intensifying since the last two glasses. Watching Livie drive away, he slid his hand down the front of his jeans to grip himself. Kissing her had made him hard and now he ached.
Knowing he had to resume his wolf form at Livie’s home, he took a deep breath and shifted, but his inebriated mind was not concentrating and he ended up with a raven’s head atop his man’s body. He tried again. Forgetting that he still wore clothes, he found himself a small bird, pinned and struggling under the heavy garments that had fallen to the ground in a heap. He shifted into a feathered snake before taking the form of a mouse and working his way out of a sleeve.
The movement caught the attention of an owl on its nightly hunting foray. Just as it was about to swoop low on silent wings, intent on nabbing the large field mouse, a naked man with a mouse tail and whiskers appeared. The owl, clearly startled, flew off into the night. Laughing, Ash raised his arms and yelled after it, “This is not your night, my brotherrrr!”
Tail and whiskers absorbed into his changing form and once again bare skin grew feathers. He shifted into a raven — a six-foot-tall raven. Laughing at himself, he made his body small and flew fast to Livie’s home, albeit not in a straight line.
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