Summer howls and yowls, shapeshifter lovers.
So, with the hellephant down for the peanut-allergy count, here's a change of pace. This is the first *unedited* chapter of a shapeshifter paranormal erotic romance I've penned under the name of Stevie Klark. Later on, I'll explain why. Right now, I'm polishing said manuscript for submission.
Anyhoo, if my buddy authors would like to suggest improvements, please, I'm all ears. As well, any comment that offers a way to improve this first chapter, again, thanks for the help. I found this difficult to write, and it could certainly be awkward in spots.
Ride the Roan Stud
Badlands, the Four Corners
Late Spring 2013
Not so much despair, Ghost Walker thought. A seed of desperation clawed at him, yes. No, it was a profound sadness eating at him like winter's starving wolf.
He'd failed. Once again.
The medicine man, Bear Feather, had taken every care with his lessons, teaching him the shamanic way. Even so, on this third, this last chance to complete his vision quest, Ghost had been unable to withstand the challenges Earth Mother placed in his path.
With his mouth parched, and his skin burning as if he'd been set on fire, shade from the sun's relentless heat beckoned Ghost Walker. Struggling, he hopped on one foot from boulder to sun-baked boulder.
Hours ago, his physical strength had been sucked away by the trials of surviving in the badlands. Now he dragged his broken ankle along the gritty cracked floor of the red desert.
Ghost Walker didn't need his sacred gift from the Great Spirit–foreseeing the future while walking the shadow spirit realm–to know his final fate.
Death walked with his shadow.
Ghost felt the skeletal hand cling to him as he continued hopping toward the patch of shade beneath giant layers of rock. Should the Great Guy in the Sky, as Bear Feather grinned and spoke, granted a miracle–if Ghost was rescued, belonging to the tribe would not be denied to him.
Yet, he'd remain on the fringe–only tolerated like a pathetic stray. Worse, Ghost Walker had no family.
As a young child he'd been adopted by the Olaloxie tribe. His single mother had lost her battle against injuries suffered when she'd fallen from a cliff ledge. There'd been no relatives to claim him, and with his odd ghostly coloring no one else stepped forward offering to care for him.
After several months of grief and loneliness as his only companions, a representative from the mysterious Olaloxie arrived, and claimed kinship. However, as Ghost soon learned, rather than blood lineage, the tribe had been formed by the medicine men and women from many tribes–during the time when the white man advanced westward.
From Canada to Mexico, the wise ancestors had gathered in the Colorado regions of the Four Corners–having failed to persuade their tribes to negotiate alliances with each other. As westward expansion grew, the Olaloxie realized destiny wheel-turned against their survival.
After days of smoke ceremonies, the Olaloxie shamans and their followers journeyed to the badlands. Upon arrival, they made their home inside the ancient abandoned caverns of the Far Sky People. To this day, the tribe hid themselves, careful to remain undiscovered by the outside world.
Using the last of his strength, Ghost Walker willed himself to keep moving. He'd find some relief if he could get to the jagged tower of rock, a desert formation he'd never seen before.
He struggled closer, his vital spirit lessening with each step. Hours ago, the stabbing pain of his ankle had deserted him. Only numbness remained.
Ghost silently mocked himself with laughter, the madness brought on by the blazing heat and his pitiful circumstance. Yet the voice of life called to him.
Despite the searing heat of the large boulder, Ghost grabbed hold, pulling himself forward. He gasped for breath now.
Pausing, he gazed at the car-sized slabs of rock, and the inviting patch of shade. Struck by the sight of an odd dark slit between a monolithic stone, he stared even as he collapsed, held up only by the boulder.
If his bleary gaze wasn't deceiving him, the shadow–not thirty feet away–appeared to be an artificially constructed opening.
Ghost blinked rapidly, and prayed to the Great Spirit to know the truth. His answer arrived as the slant of the sun's rays strongly illumined the rod like cut between two monolithic slabs of rock. Intrigued despite his near-death condition, Ghost pushed himself up enough to fall on his bloody abraded knees.
His palms stung painfully as he crawled through the narrow passage to the opening. Using the juts in the boulder as handholds, Ghost pulled and shoved himself to a standing position. Stiff as a zombie, he moved toward the unnaturally dark opening.
Ghost realized the Great Force was at work as a rush of cool air struck his face–as the darkness faded and a golden illumination took its place. Astonished, dumbfounded, he simply stared.
A fanciful mirage? Had his mind leapt over the edge of sanity and into the chasm of wishful thinking?
Ghost tried blinking several times. Only the Great Spirit knew why his fevered brain conjured a scene out of a Steampunk novel–like the ones read by some of the older children he tutored.
Because he'd never been drawn to those stories, Ghost had to ask himself, were the Victorian-age steam machines filling the enormous cavern somehow real? His jaw slackened and his mouth hung open.
A sleek yet full-bodied vessel hovered above the cave's floor. Grand in structure, the airship dominated.
If this was real–and not his delirious imagination–how?
Perhaps, a fold in the weave time, as Bear Feather might have explained it. Ghost snapped his mouth shut. What if...?
Shock coursed through him chilling his blood as if he'd dived into an icy stream. However, a medicine warrior stood his ground when shone the wonders of the Great Universe. He learned whatever his senses, his spirit could tell him.
Ghost focused, studying the phantasmagorical scene beneath the air ship. He had no frame of reference, given most things mechanical remained a mystery to him–even his uncooperative car. Glistening brass wheels within ever-larger wheels obviously powered various devices, which ranged from the size of a toaster to the size of an old VW Beetle.
Overhead, several different types of aircraft hung from the ceiling in a manner Ghost didn't understand. Fascinated by the smaller plane with bat like wings, he committed the beautiful flight craft to memory.
What captivated Ghost the most though was the river steamboat at the far end of the cavern. Without thought, wanting a closer look, he hopped a step inward.
Instantly, an unseen force slammed into him. Like a plate glass window had been blasted into him, Ghost thought. The sensation of being hurled through the air was the last thing he remembered before darkness stole his mind.
Regaining consciousness, Ghost tasted the grit and sand of the desert floor. The afternoon heat baked his back, and Ghost hazily wondered if he was now as red as a cooked lobster.
When he tried to roll over, a moan escaped him. Agony rushed through the length of his body like an angry river. Still, he forced his bruised body to obey. Turning over, Ghost collapsed on his back, relieved when there was no flare of pain.
The strength of Father Sun's light blinded him for an instant. At least, he knew there'd been little passage of time, given the sun's position.
Silence, the soul drumming inside. In that moment, Ghost Walker realized he no longer heard the call of his spiritual path.
But where was death?
Ghost shuddered inside, a freakish nightmare of sensations assailing him. He could not fathom why he remained almost lifeless upon the parched skin of the Mother.
Somehow life clung to him, holding him hostage.
Wishing you love and passion on the wild side ...
Savanna Kougar ~ Run on the Wild Side of Romance