Book # in the Araneae Nation series
The strongest net is no match for destiny.
Daraja has grown up watching her brothers journey down the river on the traditional Deinopidae rite of passage. Each returned with riches from their travels, and lovers with whom to share their lives.
Now she has reached the age where she would strike out on her own to seek her fortune—if she were male. Instead, she is expected to sit patiently, weave her nets and wait for the river to bring a husband to her.
Patience, however, has never been her strong suit.
Brynmor haunts the forest surrounding the city of Cathis, his disembodied spirit inextricably bound to the wild canis roaming his lands. Until the day he stumbles across a brazen trespasser in his woods.
Compelled to step in when the canis suspect her of poaching one of their own, Brynmor fears he has lost a piece of his ragged soul to the feisty, adventure-seeking female. And when the canis confront the real poachers, he is forced to choose which life to sacrifice. Hers…or his own.
Warning: This book contains one heroine with a knack for weaving nets and one hero who relishes getting caught. Expect singing, some howling, ghostly shenanigans, and the start of a love that transcends death.
Father would grumble if he caught me alone by the river at this time of night. Mud up to my knees and silt squished between my toes. Let him huff and puff, I enjoyed the quiet, the coolness.
A low rustle of leaves brought my head up in time to spot a black canis, its teeth bared and fur bristled, step from the trees. The fat salmo in my hands squirmed free, and I released it to better focus on the predator doing his best to pen me at the sandy shore between himself and the river.
My night vision was keen, at least as sharp as his I bet, but that was my sole advantage.
Armed with only a net stuffed with struggling salmo, I was trapped by the material gathered at my feet. Either I dropped the net, or I risked becoming tangled in the mesh if the canis charged.
The decision—and my net—were ripped from my hands when the canis launched at me.
I dove aside, landed on my back on the riverbank and sank in the mud. Grunting, I shoved to my feet and whirled on the canis in time to dodge its second lunge. Where was my blasted spear?
A quick glance pinpointed it, leaned against the nearest tree along with the small pot holding my snack. Lovely. I held up my hands, palms out. Maybe he wanted what was in the pot. If food was on his mind, he could have mine. Bending down, I picked up a handful of smooth stones and hurled them at the pot, cracking the lid and collapsing the sides. The canis ignored the rocks once he was assured I didn’t intend to pelt him with them. He ignored the food too. Me, he growled at.
I should have known a hunter wouldn’t be content to scavenge dried salmo jerky.
“You’re a pretty boy,” I told him. It was the truth. He was sleek and his fur was black. Gold shone in his eyes, and his sharp teeth gleamed. I took a cautious step closer to the spear. When he snapped at me, I made my voice soft and sweet. “Bite me and I’ll skin your furry arse to make a blanket.”
The canis slicked his ears against his skull as if he understood me, then padded several steps to his left, until he stood between me and the spear. A grumble of annoyance rose in my throat. I tensed, prepared to lunge for the weapon and take my chances, but a terse voice hailed me from the forest’s edge.
“You’ll never make it.”
I registered movement from the corner of my eye. “Thank you for your encouragement.” The canis glared between us, then barked once. “I don’t suppose I could convince you to toss me my spear.” My request was met with silence. “No? All right. Do you have a quiver filled with arrows and possess a reasonable aim?”
Her desire to explore without leaving the comforts of home fueled her love of reading and writing. Whenever the itch for adventure strikes, Hailey can be found with her nose glued to her Kindle’s screen or squinting at her monitor as she writes her next happily-ever-after.
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