In an English town budding with the new religion at Christmastime, an old god still shows up in the darkest of places. One such ancient setting is the Darkwood Forest just outside the meadow near Levinia’s home. After her husband is lost in a hunting accident, she must come to terms with his death. The day after Christmas, she calls upon the cast out god, Jul, by burning the Yule log and wishing for the one thing Jul is known for, allowing the spirits of the dead to mingle with the living.Available now for only $1.99 at Forbidden Publications
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An Authorized Excerpt:
A howl broke the silence outside. This time she was sure of what it was. She closed the door and slid the bar down to keep it in place, not that a wolf could push open a door, could it? Fingering the handle of the bow, she breathed in deeper the underlying scent of hay. The first time they’d made love it had been in this barn amongst the fresh straw. The feel of his lips against her neck lingered in her memory, the heat of his skin touching hers, the thrill of being alone, finally able to give herself to him after waiting for so long.
She leaned her head against the door and closed her eyes. It began as a playful game of teasing and tickling, hands knotting and testing limits. She’d leaned up and brushed her lips over his. Borys balked, but smiled his sideways grin, his brown eyes glistening with mischief and a familiar hint of desire. He’d pushed her down into the itchy hay and kissed her into submission.
Something ran across the snow, its paws crunching just outside the door. She wondered if loud noises would frighten it away. Levinia had never seen a wolf before. She’d only shot her husband’s bow a few times, and she wasn’t good at it. She backed away into the dwindling light. Claws scratched against wood. It whimpered.
“Go away!” she shouted, startling the sheep. They flinched and skittered backward. Small bleats echoed in the barn.
The animal outside whined.
Levinia stared at the bow, and wondered if she could do it, if she could kill a wolf, much less anything at all. She clenched her teeth and swallowed her fear. Taking a step forward, she decided she must confront what had taken away her happiness. One hand shot out, no longer shaking. The wooden bar slid up and away. It was dark outside, so no shadow of legs cast itself beneath the door. She knew the wolf was there though. She knew it had to be the one that killed her husband. Now it had arrived to take her as well.
“But I won’t go,” she vowed.
She kicked the barn door with the toe of her boot. It creaked on its hinges. The cold air rushed in, carrying snowflakes. Among the snow her adversary stood, a mangy creature with gray hair and golden eyes. Its muzzle bore dried blood. The wolf took a step forth on long legs.
Levinia lowered her bow, aiming at the animal’s head.
Ears flattened. A bushy, gray tail lowered. The wolf snarled, revealing yellowed teeth. A line of spittle fell in a string to the snow.
From the forest, another wolf cried. Its call was long and painful, so much so that Levinia hesitated, her finger frozen on the trigger. She shot a glance past the beast before her. A pale creature came limping from the woods. It walked slow, but with purpose. A sudden movement drew her attention back to the animal in front of her. Its head lowered and it lunged. Levinia squeezed. The crossbow fired, its shaft whizzing through the air. It thunked, hitting its mark.
The wolf yelped in midair.
She backed up, dropping the empty weapon in the hay. Fur and the stench of death gagged her. She screamed as the beast knocked into her. Falling seemed to take forever. Her head smacked against something hard, sending a strike of agony through her body. She blinked and flailed, desperate to escape.
Teeth snapped and caught. Pain lanced her forearm. She brought her knee up in a swift kick, gouging the animal’s belly. Then the darkness took her.