Her voice is enchanting; his soul is black…
Madison Carter has been terrified of Scott Lee since the night he saved her from an evil sorcerer – then melted into a man-eating monster before her eyes. The werewolf is a slave to the moon, but Madison’s nightmares are not.
Despite her fears, when Madison’s brother, Clinton, is bitten by a werewolf, she knows there is only one man who can help. A man who frightens her all the more because even in her nightmares, he also thrills her.
Together for the first time since that terrible night, Scott and Madison drive to Clinton’s home only to discover that he’s vanished. Frantic now, Madison must overcome her fears and uncover hidden strengths if she hopes to save him. And she’s not the only one fighting inner demons. Scott’s are literal, and they have him convinced that he will never deserve the woman he loves.
*Stand-alone companion to the Cassie Scot series
The Cassie Scot Series
Cassie Scot: ParaNormal Detective (Cassie Scot #1)
- Barnes and Noble
- Secrets and Lies (Cassie Scot #2)
About the Author
her down or get in the way of her dreams. In addition to writing, Christine teaches workshops on writing at Savvy Authors. She also does some freelance editing work. Christine currently lives in the Kansas City area with her husband, Austin, who has been her biggest fan and the key to her success. They have two beautiful children. Social Media Links:
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Excerpt (includes profanity)
And then, another problem came along, this one far more immediate: Someone outside was rattling the doorknob.
She froze, straining her senses, but it couldn’t be Scott. It was too soon and besides, she didn’t hear the scraping of a key in the lock. No, someone else was out there, but who? If she looked out the curtained front window she could find out, but whoever it was would see her as well.
The next second, the decision was taken out of her hands. She let out a tiny squeal when someone – or something – slammed against the door and it splintered. Two more thuds and the
door flew open, ripping the useless chain free as it slammed hard against the opposite wall.
Two men stood framed in the entryway, both young, probably around twenty. They were of average height, lean and fit, as if they worked out. They wore jeans and t-shirts, one black, one green, and she knew – just knew – they were both werewolves.
Her pulse raced, and she began to sweat. It wasn’t the full moon, but these two were dangerous. They had just proved it by making mincemeat of the door.
She scrambled for the phone, but one of them saw her intention and intercepted her, twisting her wrist painfully until the phone fell from her fingers.
“Well, well. What have we here?” asked the man who was not holding her wrist. Green Shirt, she called him in her mind, since he otherwise looked enough like his friend that they could have
been twins. Or at least brothers. He smiled the wolf’s smile. She could practically see his canines. “Scott didn’t say anything about bringing along a snack.”
Madison tried to twist her arm away, but the second man, the one wearing the black shirt, didn’t let go.
“Think I should call Isaac?” Green Shirt asked.
“Oh, I don’t know,” Black Shirt replied, his eyes roaming freely over Madison’s body. “Maybe we could play with her first.”
Play with her? Madison redoubled her efforts to free herself, even knowing how useless the gesture would be. Think, Madison, think. Don’t let the fear take over.
“I dunno,” Green Shirt said. “What if she belongs to the alpha? He might get pretty pissed off.”
“Isaac can take him,” Black Shirt replied. He grabbed Madison’s other wrist, then adjusted his grip so that he held both of her wrists in one large hand. Yanking them over her head, he used his free hand to fondle her breasts through her shirt.
Madison reeled, kicking out with both feet, one thought clear in her mind: This can’t happen. It didn’t matter that the man holding her wasn’t really a man at all, but a werewolf. It didn’t matter that he could probably overwhelm her physically even without his supernatural strength. This can’t happen.
The resolve outweighed her fear. The fear didn’t die or even diminish, but it didn’t rule her.
When Black Shirt tried to touch her again, she leaned forward, found a bit of skin just above his
elbow, and sank her teeth in – hard. She didn’t hold back and didn’t let go, not even when she tasted blood.
“Bitch!” Black Shirt yelped. He had to let go of her hands to free himself, and she used the opportunity to twist away, heading for the open motel room door.
Green Shirt intercepted her, imprisoning her within the iron bands of his arms. His partner stood, snarling at Madison, then approached, his eyes full of all the terrible things he wanted to do to her.
To her surprise, Green Shirt pulled her away from his partner in crime. “No way, man. Isaac may be able to take that other alpha, but you can’t take either one of them, and you may have to if you mess her up without Isaac’s say so.”
“She bit me!”
“I bet you taste awful, too,” Green Shirt replied.
“You gonna call Isaac or am I?” Green Shirt asked, ignoring the insult.
“I’ll do it. If I get my hands on the little mouse, I may have to kill her.”
“Only if she doesn’t kill you first.”
“Oh, you’re on. You. Me. Next full moon.”
The two young men stared at one another for a long minute, but though Green Shirt kept his attention on his packmate, he didn’t loosen his hold on Madison in the slightest. She struggled, feebly, but under the circumstances she thought that if these two weren’t going to kill or rape her now, then she might have a better opportunity for escape later. The more harmless they thought she was until then, the better.
It would have been a brilliant plan, she thought, if she really wasn’t quite so harmless. Even the mark she’d put on Black Shirt’s arm had begun its rapid healing, and now looked more like an angry bruise than anything else.
When the two men stopped staring at each other, Black Shirt got on his cell and called the aforementioned Isaac. She could only hear one side of the conversation, but it didn’t sound good
for her. In the end, when he hung up the phone, he looked at his partner and said the two words that sealed her fate: “Bring her.”
LONG EXERPTS (about 1500 words)
Madison clutched her cell phone as, for the dozenth time in less than a week, her call went to voicemail. Her younger brother’s too-cheerful voice started to ask her to leave a message, but she hit “end” before it finished.
“Where are you, Clinton?” Madison wondered out loud. It had been a month. An entire month
since the last time they’d spoken on the phone. Sure, he was in college, young and having fun, but he had never been irresponsible. He had never gone this long without at least sending her an e-mail. And while he wasn’t a Facebook regular, he would normally have posted something about the end of finals. That, more than anything, had led to the frantic flurry of phone calls this week.
The school year was over for Madison as well. She had brought her fifth graders to tears when she had sung them a final good-bye that afternoon. There hadn’t been a dry eye in the room, not even on the stonier faces of the tough boys. She hadn’t meant to do it. She was normally very conscious of the power her songbird voice had to evoke emotions in those who heard it, but she had been distracted. Not thinking clearly. The prospect of a lonely summer loomed ahead, her fifth graders would move on to middle school where she would never teach them again, and worst of all, her anxiety over Clinton grew stronger as each new day passed without a word.
Clinton was, after all, the only family she had left. The only one who had never hurt or betrayed her. If anything happened to him …
Her mind started sorting through possibilities once again, but nothing made sense. She was Clinton’s “in case of emergency” contact at school, at work, and on his phone. If he had gotten into an accident, she would know. Which left what, exactly? That a straight-A student had suddenly dropped out of school and joined a rock band?
It was probably nothing. He had probably been busy. They didn’t hang out in the same circles, she wasn’t his mother, and for all she knew he could have dropped his phone in a toilet. Weeks had passed between calls before – rarely.
But she had nightmares. These days, she almost always had nightmares. Madison knew better than most what sorts of dangers lurked in the night, but Clinton had always been separate from
all of that. On the outside. He, unlike her, was the product of two normal people having a normal child.
She dialed again, this time calling Clinton’s housemate, who had always struck her as being irresponsible. She wasn’t surprised when he didn’t answer her call, nor that he hadn’t responded to the three messages she had left for him. She did not leave another.
Now what? The sun had set, but the moon had not yet risen. It wouldn’t be full tonight, but it was close enough to make her shudder with remembered fear.
There was one final call she could make, one she had been putting off making for days. She had not spoken to her adoptive father, Phillip Carter, since the day he had betrayed her – selling the identity of her biological father to that man’s enemies for the bargain-basement price of $10,000. In the end, that was how much she’d meant to him.
But she and Phillip (she sometimes still thought of him as Dad, but she was getting better) had one thing left in common: Clinton.
She did not have Phillip’s number programmed into her phone, but she dialed it from memory, her fingers automatically jumping from digit to digit. Those fingers stayed curiously still and calm as she waited through four rings. Then she heard the familiar gravelly voice for the first time in over a year.
“What?” he demanded without preamble.
Her breath caught, something got lodged in her throat, and it was a moment before she managed a “Hi.” Stupid girl. Why do you still care?
“What do you want, Madison?” Phillip asked in the clipped, distant tone he’d always used when she misbehaved.
“I haven’t heard from Clinton in almost a month. I was wondering if you have.”
“No.” There was a pause. “I’m worried.” He probably was. Clinton, he cared about. Clinton was really his son. Clinton had never even accidentally brushed up against the world of sorcery.
Madison might have felt jealous, but Phillip didn’t know how to show affection to anyone, not even his son. Which was why Clinton often agreed with Madison that they were all the family each other had.
“I’m going to drive to Springfield tomorrow to look for him.” She hadn’t made the decision until she’d said it, but now she knew it was her only choice. Maybe she was overreacting, but if that
was the case then so be it.
“Have him call me when you find him.” That was it. Phillip didn’t want to hear from her, only from his real son. Otherwise, she could turn right back around and go to the devil, where she’d been heading.
Well, what had she expected? A sudden change of heart? A declaration of love?
“I will. Bye, Da–” Madison just stopped herself. Old habits. “Bye.”
Phillip ended the call without saying another word.
Madison tried to push thoughts of Phillip from her mind as she prepared for bed. She called Clinton one last time, not because she thought he would suddenly pick up the phone but because
she wanted to leave one last voicemail telling him she’d be making the two-hour drive from Eagle Rock, Missouri to Springfield in the morning. Then she set her phone on the nightstand and started humming to herself.
The tune was a familiar one, a song she’d been working on for years. She had the melody right, but she still had not found the words to go with it. The song needed words full of hope and love, but nothing in her life had inspired that kind of poetry lately.
Not for the first time, Madison wished her songbird gift would work on herself – that she could sing a joyful song and draw that song’s happiness into herself. But that was not how it worked. In fact, she didn’t make people feel the song’s emotions as much as she made them feel her own. The melody and lyrics helped set a tone she could embrace, but she had once managed to make someone cry singing, “If You’re Happy and You Know It.”
Today was that kind of day. Music was her refuge, but tonight worry followed her within its sheltering embrace. She gave up by nine o’clock, thinking she should at least try to get a good night’s sleep before setting off in the morning. She only prayed that her nightmares would give her respite.
“You do realize that I’m a werewolf, not a vampire,” Scott said after a time. He sounded agitated.
Madison glanced down. Her fingers, she realized, had been toying with the crucifix she wore tucked beneath her shirt. She had bought the necklace after a series of local vampire attacks and had been wearing it ever since. Now, toying with the pendant was just another in a long line of
nervous habits she couldn’t seem to break. Or if she did, another bad habit would take its place. She had spent a year learning not to bite her nails, only to discover she had nearly chewed her bottom lip off in the process. She stopped doing that, and started twisting her hair, breaking the once beautiful strands. She’d cut her hair short and now she was back to chewing her nails, figuring they were at least a less prominent feature than her hair and lips.
“Sorry.” Madison dropped the pendant, then had to talk herself down from chewing on a nail. This was going to be a long trip.
“It wasn’t an accusation. I was trying to start a conversation.”
“Oh,” Madison said. Well, she’d wanted to start a conversation, too. She should follow his lead, but all she could think to say was, “Sorry.”
“Stop apologizing for everything. It’s annoying.”
“Sorry.” Oh God, had she really just said that? If she were Cassie, she would have played it off like a joke. That sounded like a good idea, so she forced a small smile.
Scott smiled back. “Cheeky.”
It had worked. Madison’s smile grew wider. “Sorry.”
This time, he laughed. He looked so much more human when he laughed. Had she ever seen him do that before?
“It is made of silver,” Madison said. “Doesn’t that count for something?”
“Only if you melt it into a bullet.”
“Telling me your weaknesses? Isn’t that risky?”
“No. Because first of all, it isn’t true, and second of all, you won’t tell anyone it isn’t.”
“What makes you so sure I won’t tell anyone?”
His smile disappeared, replaced by his usual brooding expression. His green eyes grew dark and impenetrable, reminding her of how little she knew about this man. “You wouldn’t do anything to hurt Clinton, would you?”
“No. Of course not.” Madison looked away. So much for her attempt at levity. She shivered, and returned her gaze to the window.
“You know, I’m actually trying to help you. I didn’t have to take you along. Do you think you could try not to be afraid of me, at least until moon-rise?”
Madison’s head snapped back around. “It bothers you that I’m afraid of you?”
“Yes, it bothers me. I-it bothers me.”
Madison stared at Scott’s profile for a long minute, trying to figure out what to make of him. She had tried to see things from his point of view before. Countless times, as a matter of fact. Intellectually she knew he had done nothing to her that hadn’t directly led to his saving her life and even her soul. Emotionally, on the other hand…
There remained so many unanswered questions about that night. She couldn’t bring herself to ask
them, but they floated through her mind nonetheless: How had he even known she needed help? Why was he so far from his usual forest so close to the full moon? And why had he stayed away from her afterward? She wanted to understand that most of all, because there were moments when she swore she thought he wanted her. She could be wrong – she had little experience with men and she wasn’t exactly a leggy bombshell like that woman he’d been with earlier in the night – but the way he often looked at her… She didn’t want him to look at her like that; it terrified her, but he had saved her life. And sometimes, she was almost afraid to admit to herself, she liked the way he looked at her.
“Why does it bother you that I’m afraid?” Madison asked instead.
“Why does it-?” Scott turned his head slightly, scowling at her. “What kind of question is that?”
Madison pushed away her instinctive reaction to his scowl. He wasn’t going to hurt her. The wolf
inside him wasn’t Scott, he’d said so himself minutes before she’d seen the truth for herself in the beast’s eyes. And Evan had assured her that wolves could only shift at the full moon. It was the only assurance he had ever given her about Scott; mostly, Evan liked to unnecessarily reinforce her fears.
“You’re scowling,” Madison said.
Scott’s lips straightened and he turned back to the road. “I was?”
“You do that a lot.”
“I didn’t realize that.” He frowned. “Maybe I’ve gotten hard. I didn’t used to be that way, but dealing with a pack of werewolves all the time… I guess it’s my turn to apologize.”
“No, it’s not.” Scott sighed. “And no, I never wanted you afraid. I just didn’t think there was any other choice.” He paused before adding, “Is there?”
“Yesterday, I’d have said no.”
Madison hesitated. “Today, there’s a werewolf out there who I love and need to find a way to support no matter what.”
“Okay,” Scott said slowly. Then
“Maybe we could get to know each other a little better.”
“Okay,” he said again. “Why are you wearing the cross?”
Madison looked down at the cross, which she was once again twisting between her fingers. “I bought it after the vampire attacks a while back, but I like wearing it anyway. I am Catholic.”
“Go to mass every Sunday. Sing in the choir.”
“Huh. I wouldn’t have expected that from Evan’s sister.”
“Half sister,” Madison corrected. “As in long lost and not raised together. My parents were both again, “Okay.”
Catholic. I mean, my mom and my adoptive dad.”
“I’d just think being Catholic would make you think magic was evil or something.”
Madison shuddered. It wasn’t the religion at all, it was entirely Phillip Carter. Father Owen had even said that her voice was a gift from God. Of course her gift wasn’t exactly magic, but Father Owen didn’t know that. Madison still had trouble grasping the difference some days.
“You do have a problem with it,” Scott said. “Is that why you and Evan have been having problems?”
“We’re not having problems, exactly, and no, it’s not the reason.” Madison had never thought of magic as being evil in other people, only in herself. When she thought about the logic there – or lack thereof – it made her head hurt, but didn’t change her feelings.
“Interesting,” Scott said, as if she’d just told him a lot more than she had.
“This is getting awfully personal,” Madison said. “If you’re going to ask me about all this, you should tell me something personal about yourself.”
“Oh, I don’t know.” Madison cast about for a subject that wasn’t related to his monthly transformations. She wasn’t ready for that yet, though she knew she would have to be soon. Unfortunately, the only other subject she could think of was almost as difficult to bring up. “Tell me about that woman who was with you tonight. Jessica?”
Scott’s jaw tightened, but he kept his eyes on the road ahead of him. “She’s a bitch.”
“A werewolf, you mean?”
Madison almost laughed. Almost. But she saw from the fixed expression on his face that he was absolutely serious. “You really don’t like her?”
“She’s one of the most selfish women I’ve ever known. She’s not attracted to me, she’s attracted to power. She’s constantly asking me to work magic for her, and she’s in love with my position as alpha. In the few months we’ve been together, she’s already lorded it over the other females in the pack. I’ve had to intercede a couple of times.”
Madison looked straight ahead into the sunrise, trying to figure out why someone like Scott
would be with a woman like that if he hated her. It must be the legs. Men went crazy for long, thin legs.
“She’s pretty,” Madison said after a long pause.
Scott snorted. “Not my type.”
“What’s your type?”
He glanced at her, his eyes raking her face and torso, settling for a few extra seconds on her chest before returning to the road. “I like curves.”
Madison’s cheeks went red. Before she could stop herself, she had glanced down at her own chest, which she’d always thought was too big, much like the rest of her body. But Scott couldn’t
mean it. He’d only said that to unsettle her. And it was working.
“Anything else you want to know?” Scott asked.
“Why are you with her if she’s not a nice person?”
“I’m not a nice person.” He paused then added, quietly. “I’m not even a person.”
“Oh, Scott.” And for the first time in his presence, Madison didn’t feel afraid. She felt something else entirely.
REALLY LONG EXCERPT
Prologue + Chapter 1:
Meet Madison Carter
Hi, I’m Christine Amsden, author of the new paranormal romance novel, Madison’s Song. I’m pleased to be here with Madison Carter at the beginning of her adventure. (So no spoilers!)
A few things you should know about Madison: She doesn’t know that her life is about to get turned upside down. She’s a bit on the shy side, so if she seems nervous during the interview, that’s why. But she’s creative, talented, and fiercely loyal. I’m not sure that she would describe herself that way, but as the author, I get the final say. 🙂
And now, without further ado, here’s Madison!
Me: Hi, Madison, thanks for being here today.
Madison: No problem. I’m not sure why I’m here, though. Are you sure you didn’t want to talk to my best friend, Cassie?
Me: I’m sure. Cassie’s story is over, but people are still very curious about you.
Me: For a lot of reasons. But let’s start with the obvious: Were you or were you not nearly killed two years ago?
Madison (shudders): Do we have to talk about that?
Me: No, but I don’t feel like we ever got the full story there. I know Scott saved you, but now you keep your distance from him. Why?
Madison: He’s a werewolf.
Me: I see.
Madison: He nearly killed me, after he saved me.
Me: Ah. Well, werewolves aren’t exactly overgrown puppies, are they?
Madison: No. I burned a couple of werewolf romance novels after that night. Can we talk about something else? Anything else?
Me: Okay, I understand that a year ago you lost your fiance and your unborn baby on the same night.
Madison: Okay, maybe not anything else. (Bites her lip.)
Me: You do that a lot, don’t you? Bite your lip?
Madison (blushes): Only when I’m nervous.
Me: Why did your fiance leave you?
Madison: Because he found out that I was Victor Blackwood’s biological daughter and he was at war with the Blackwoods at the time. He thought I knew, that I was some kind of spy! But that’s not what really hurt.
Me: What really hurt?
Madison: My dad, the man who raised me, sold the information for $10,000. That’s how much I was worth to him, in the end.
Me: Were you really in love with Nicolas?
Madison: Maybe not. It probably would have hurt more if I had been. Can we talk about something else? Again?
Me: Okay. Let’s talk about your life right now, is that okay?
Madison: Sure. What do you want to know?
Me: What are you up to? What are your hopes and dreams?
Madison: I’m a music teacher at Eagle Rock Elementary. I love my kids; this is the best job. I know many people who major in music want to perform, but not me. I’m happy just sharing music with my kids. This is what I want to do. What I want to be.
Me: So you’re happy?
Me: What’s wrong?
Madison: Nothing, probably. I haven’t heard from my brother, Clinton, in a few weeks. I’m getting worried.
Me: Are you two close?
Madison: As close as we can be. Out mother died when we were young and our father … well, he claims to love his “real” child but he was never that great a dad. Mostly, all we had growing up was each other.
Me: That sounds lonely.
Me: What do you want, Madison? What do you want more than anything else?
Madison: A family. It’s hard to trust, though, when you’ve been betrayed so many times.
Me: I can imagine.
Madison: Can I ask a question now?
Madison: Does this interview mean that something bad is going to happen to me? I mean, nobody wants to read the exciting adventures of a grade school music teacher.
Me: Maybe not, but we’d probably want to listen if we could hear you sing. Your voice is enchanting.
Madison: It’s not my fault. It just happens. I mean, when I sing, whatever I feel, other people feel it too.
Me: It’s a gift.
Madison: My dad didn’t think so.
Me: And your dad isn’t getting a happily ever after.
Madison: Am I?
Me: We’ll have to read the book to find out. Thanks so much for being here, and good luck!
When Characters Outgrow Their Roles …
Some characters arrive on a blaze of inspiration. They bowl you over, shout their secrets into your mind, and won’t shut up until you’ve written their story. Such was the case with Cassie Scot, the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers who became the heroine in her story. Such was the case with Cassie Scot, the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers who became the heroine in her story. Such was the case with Cassie Scot, the ungifted daughter of powerful sorcerers who became the heroine in her
Other characters sneak up on you, perhaps whispering their secrets, perhaps trying to grab your attention when it’s spent somewhere else. Such was the case with Madison Carter,
Cassie’s shy, plump friend who outgrew her role in the Cassie Scot series.