To celebrate the release of the latest collaboration between Nancy & Debbie, the first book in the Wolf Spring Chronicles, Unleashed, I’m very happy to welcome the girls on the blog and kick-start the Christmas event! They choose to write a short Christmas story, featuring the main characters of Unleashed!
Mordecai McBride sat in front of his dying fire, listening to the sounds of the night in the dark outside his cabin. He shifted uneasily in his chair, the creak loud to his ears. He winced as the pain from the deep scratches that covered his back knifed through him.
He glanced at the empty chair beside him and felt the hole in his heart. “Merry Christmas, Evie, I miss you,” he whispered. His wife had died a few months before and he knew he would never get over the loss.
He had been going to spend Christmas with his son and his son’s new wife in Los Angeles, but the storms had dropped so much snow on the ground that the roads were shut down along with the airport. So he was alone in his cabin on Christmas Eve. Outside a wolf howled and he gritted his teeth, trying to ignore the wounds on his back.
Then he heard something else, a muffled sound, distant. He swiveled his head, listening closely. It sounded like a shout.
He stood up, grabbed his rifle, and headed for the door. If someone was out there, they were in danger. He flipped on the porch lights and eased himself outside.
The world was blanketed with snow and there was more falling, softer now than it had been before.
“Hello!” he shouted.
A moment later a response came. Someone was shouting for help. He stepped off the porch, sinking thigh deep into the treacherous snow. He struggled to keep his balance as he pushed forward.
“Help us, please!”
The voice was closer, but sounded weaker.
“Come toward me!” Mordecai shouted as he kept plowing through the snow. A minute later he made out the image of two figures huddled together struggling to move. He reached them and saw that it was a young couple, clinging to each other, covered in snow.
The woman fell, collapsing into the snow and sinking into it. The man sobbed with exhaustion as he reached down, trying to help her up. “Please, she’s pregnant,” he said.
Mordecai moved forward and then the wolf howled again, much closer this time. He froze for a moment and then lunged forward. He thrust the rifle into the man’s hands and reached down and picked up the woman.
He turned and began to fight his way back toward his cabin, the lights only a dim glow in the darkness and snow. The wolf howled again, closer, and fear prickled down his spine. Beside him the young man swore in what sounded like Russian.
His legs were shaking with the exertion of pushing through the snow and Mordecai tightened his grip on the woman in his arms. She moaned in pain and began to cry.
He made it to the porch and crashed down on the bottom step on his knees. He heard a growling sound behind him and the Russian fired off a shot. Mordecai struggled back to his feet, staggered up the stairs, and threw himself inside the cabin.
The man came behind and slammed the door. Moments later something hit the door hard. Mordecai set the woman on her feet and threw the bolt. Through the door he could hear panting.
“The wolf, it’s been following us,” the man said, voice shaken.
“What does it want?” the woman asked.
“To kill you,” Mordecai said grimly.
“Oh no!” the woman gasped.
“Don’t worry,” he assured her. “He can’t get in here.”
He turned and went into the kitchen and started a pot of coffee. Then he went upstairs and brought down towels and clean, dry clothes for them both. When he reached the bottom of the stairs the woman let out a scream and slid down the wall to a sitting position, clutching her abdomen.
“Her water broke about an hour ago,” her husband said.
“She’s in labor?” Mordecai asked, stunned.
Another anguished scream confirmed it.
“What were you doing out in the middle of the forest with your wife in labor?” Mordecai demanded.
“We were trying to make it to Wolf Springs. We had been visiting friends, but we got lost and the car ran out of gas.” He took a shaky breath. “My name is Nicolai Sokolov. This is my wife Katya.”
“Mordecai McBride. Pleased to meet you. Now let’s get this baby delivered.”
An hour later Mordecai was holding a baby boy in his arms. He dried him off and then wrapped him in a warm towel before handing him to his mother. He went into the kitchen and cleaned up. Then he took a long swallow of coffee, giving the couple a few minutes alone with their new baby.
Finally he returned to the living room. Katya was sitting up, cradling the child in her arms and her husband sat beside her a look of adoration and wonder on his face. Outside the snow had stopped and everything was silent.
The clock struck midnight.
It was Christmas.
Mordecai blinked back unexpected tears. It was Christmas and almost two thousand years after the first Christmas a couple of weary travelers had once again sought refuge with a stranger and found a place to have a child. He couldn’t help but marvel and wish Evie had been there with him.
“Merry Christmas to all,” he said softly.
“Come,” Nicolai waved him over enthusiastically. “You must be his godfather.”
Mordecai couldn’t contain his surprise. “That’s a big responsibility, and an honor you bestow. You must know someone else who would be better suited.”
“You have already saved his life, what more could anyone ask?”
Katya handed the baby to Mordecai.
“What’s his name?” he asked as he stared down at the tiny fellow.
“Vladimir Mordecai Sokolov. Vladimir for my father and Mordecai for you,” Nikolai said.
“Heck of a name to give a kid.”
And the baby looked up at him and closed one eye, as though he was winking at him.
“Well, look at you,” Mordecai said, smiling down at the baby. “That’s some trick.”
What a great story ladies!
If it got you curious, here’s a bit more about Unleashed
Katelyn McBride’s life changed in an instant when her mother died. Uprooted from her California home, Katelyn was shipped to the middle of nowhere, Arkansas, to her only living relative, her grandfather. And now she has to start over in Wolf Springs, a tiny village in the Ozark Mountains. Like any small town, Wolf Springs has secrets. But the secrets hidden here are more sinister than Katelyn could ever imagine. It’s a town with a history that reaches back centuries, spans continents, and conceals terrifying truths. And Katelyn McBride is about to change everything.
Broken families, ageless grudges, forced alliances, and love that blooms in the darkest night—welcome to Wolf Springs.
Random House would like to offer 3 copies of Unleashed to three (3) lucky winners!
Open to US Only.
Giveaway Ends January 4th, 2012.
All you have to do is fill the Rafflecopter form below.
The only mandatory entry is to provide your name and email addy =)
Nancy Holder is a multiple award-winning, New York Times bestselling author (the Wicked Series). Her two new dark young adult dark fantasy series are Crusade and Wolf Springs Chronicles. She has won four Bram Stoker Awards from the Horror Writers Association, as well as a Scribe Award for Best Novel (Saving Grace: Tough Love.) Nancy has sold over eighty novels one hundred short stories, many of them based on such shows as Highlander, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and others. She lives in San Diego with her daughter, Belle, two corgis, and three cats.
You can visit Nancy online at www.nancyholder.com
Debbie Viguié is the New York Times Bestselling author of over a dozen novels including the Wicked series and the new Crusadeseries co-authored with Nancy Holder. Much of Debbie’s writing has a dark edge to it, including her retold fairy tales, her latest beingViolet Eyes, a retelling of The Princess and the Pea. In addition to her epic dark fantasy work Debbie also writes thrillers including The Psalm 23 Mysteries and the upcoming Kiss trilogy. When Debbie isn’t busy writing she enjoys spending time with her husband, Scott, visiting theme parks. They live in Florida with their cat, Shrödinger.
You can visit Debbie online at http://debbieviguie.com.
Nancy & Debbie’s books: