I’ve always been an animal person with a special love for cats. Despite being allergic to them as a child and my parents not letting me bring in the young cat I found outside my back door, I fed it and gave it water and lots of petting any time I could. Away at school, I got my first cat that could come inside. Currently, I share my home and computer with Blitzen and George, cats 14 and 15. But my love for cats goes beyond house pets.
When I first volunteered at Lincoln Park Zoo, every week I visited the big cats in their outdoor enclosures. I would whistle softly to entice them. Usually I got an ear twitch, but one of the cougars responded by moving closer every time, usually rubbing against the fence. I wondered what it would be like if I could talk to the animals and they could understand and respond. Yes, I wanted to be a cat whisperer, and I gave my Animal Instincts heroine Skye Cross that ability. Skye is an animal rescuer, something I’ve done in a minor way myself, so I guess she represents me as I wish I could be.
Rather than setting my stories in a paranormal world, I like using what everyone considers a normal human world with a paranormal underground. It’s the human vs. “something else” conflict that interests me.
Even though he is half-human,hero Luc Lazare is part of that underground. He’s a conflicted black panther shifter. Raised by his human mother in the human world, he also spent time with his Kindred father and half-siblings. Torn in two directions, he fought a war in which he assumed his conflict would be settled for him and he wouldn’t have to make a decision that would hurt one of his parents. Instead, his panther found its true power and he did things to the enemy that he wants to forget.
I got the idea for the Kindred Souls world from researching demons. Demons led to the Nephilim, children of fallen angels and human women. The Nephilim corrupted humans and Biblical history says that God sent the flood to destroy them, which meant Noah’s Ark had to play a part in Kindred history. Now The Ark, Chicago’s first casino boat, is run by the Lazare family. Kindred are corrupting humanity as did their Nephilim ancestors. I hope you enjoy this entry into their world…
The predators moved in on me. Trying not to show the anxiety that threatened to consume me, I curled my hands into fists and edged backward. They continued to advance on me. My heart was pounding, my blood racing. Knowing they could sense my fear, I tried to control it. Futile. No escape.
The hyena broke from the pack and rushed me. If I turned my back on it, I was dead for sure. I kept putting one foot behind the other and the wolf and the lion picked up their pursuit. The hyena’s muscles bunched and it flew through the air at me. I threw up my hands to protect myself, but it never reached me. Instead, it was as if an invisible wall stopped it cold. It shrieked and fell to the ground in a heap.
What do you think you’re doing? Go!
The predators stopped and I sensed their sudden fear.
Now! the voice in my head thundered.
The animals fled and quickly disappeared into the night.
I flipped around. At first I didn’t see him. Then I caught a movement to my right and nailed him where he stood. Dark hair whipped around features so rugged they could have been cut from granite. High cheekbones. Broad forehead. Square chin. His eyes appeared silver in the moonlight, and they glowed at me, tightening my stomach and making it hard to breathe.
Trembling, I gasped. “What just happened?”
“You got into something that doesn’t concern you.” Forget about it.
I started. He hadn’t said the last bit out loud. There was something about him so powerful I almost agreed.
I fought the desire to give in. “I’m not forgetting about anything. Who are you?”
I felt as if he were trying to push the command into my mind.
Glaring at him, I pushed back.
“What are you?” he asked.
“Someone who protects animals.”
His silence told me that wasn’t exactly the explanation he was looking for. My pulse threaded as he stepped closer. I sensed both threat and something less tangible, something that made my stomach knot and my throat tighten.