Thursday, 21 March 2013

Wolf In Shadow Snippet 2: Chapter 1 Saying Goodbye

Pic Source

The text is taken from the eARC of the American English Version.

Saying goodbye is the defining moment between ending an old life
and starting anew. Without that terminal farewell, shadows and regrets
of the past hang around like a bunch of distant relatives who have
learned of your lottery win. They tended to haunt Rhian no matter
how far she ran so she wanted to say goodbye.
She had never moved into the flat properly, just kept a spare
washbag and a change of clothes there. So it would always be James’ flat
in her head, not their flat.
Somehow the door looked shabbier than she remembered, the
paint peeling from around the wooden panels. She turned her key in
the Yale lock noting the scratches where tired and drunken tenants
had marked the paint. One gouge looked new suggesting that James
himself must have caused it—James or her.
She pushed the door and walked in, dropping her heavy shoulder
bag to the floor. The tiny flat was exactly the same even though
everything was different. James had gone and the life of the flat had
departed with him. It had always been a warm place, a welcoming
place, but now it smelled cold and stale. It had not taken long for the
damp to get a grip. Like her life, she thought. The decay mirrored her
The front door opened straight into a living room with a
kitchenette in the corner. She slipped her rucksack off and sat on the
arm of the old, stained sofa to catch her breath. An unwashed plate
encrusted with the dried remains of a meal was discarded carelessly on
the floor by a knocked-over coffee mug. She picked them up, putting
them on the side for washing. The mug had a picture of a superhero
on the side. James had been into comics. She had often scolded him
about his untidiness. How could she have wasted her time with him on
such trivia?
James’ computer was still where he always kept it, on a cheap selfassembly
office table against the wall. She used to sit just where she sat
now, watching while he worked. He was completely unaware of her
presence when he concentrated with that terrible male focus. Then
she felt that she saw into the real James and she liked what she
Rhian unzipped her coat, allowing the silver Celtic brooch hung
around her neck to swing free on its chain. The stylised wolf head on
the brooch glinted in the light from the window, catching her eye.
Worn letters picked out the word Morgana.
James had looked up the British goddess on the internet and read
off her list of attributes. To the English she was Morgan le Fay, Goddess
of fate and sister and sworn enemy to King Arthur. In the Welsh
tradition she was the goddess of death, the Moon, lakes and rivers.
James had been puzzled why the brooch was shaped like a wolf ’s head
when Morgana’s symbol was the raven, until he discovered she was the
queen of shape shifters.
Rhian could still hear James’ voice in the empty flat, could picture
him standing over her.
“Shapeshifters, you know, weres.” He growled and clawed his hand
at her. “Werewolves, Rhian. Haven’t you ever met a wolf?”
He had jumped on her theatrically and she had fallen over with a
shriek, his heavy body pinning her down.
“It’s getting late,” he said. I had better walk you back to your bed-sit.”
“I’ve some things in my bag. I could stay here tonight,” she replied.
“It’s a small flat. I only have one bed.”
“I know,” Rhian said, raising her lips to his.
She smiled, recalling what a bad girl she had been, and regretting
not a moment. Then the numbness came down like the curtain falling
for the last time on a cancelled play and Rhian went back into robotic
mode. She couldn’t bear to feel, to let herself hurt.
She slipped into the bathroom, retrieving her washbag from under
the sink. The area was surprisingly spacious with room for a full-sized
bath. It had probably served a much bigger living area before the
building had been subdivided into the largest possible number of
The bedroom, in contrast, was minute. Nevertheless, the landlord
had squeezed in a single bed, side table, and wardrobe. Rhian opened
the wardrobe, removing the few things that she kept there. All James’
clothes were still hung on hangers or crammed into carrier bags,
waiting to be washed. She pulled a shirt out of a bag and lifted it to her
face, smelling his scent.
She almost broke down then but she held it together. She had
promised herself she would not cry. She froze her feelings until she felt
hollow. Inside her head was a vacuum, a cold emptiness like the center
of a bronze-cast statue.
Rhian put the garment down and was businesslike again. She
gathered up everything—her clothes, her washbag—what else was
there? She wanted to leave no sign of her presence in the flat. She
opened the drawer under the side table. Inside was a bad photograph
of a girl sitting on James’ knee. She remembered the picture being
taken in the passport booth at Victoria Station. They were waiting for
a train to the coast for a day trip. It rained the whole day and she had
a wonderful time. She put the photo in her pocket.
Rhian looked into the bedroom mirror. The face that looked back
at her was near identical to the girl in the photo. Both girls had the
same short-cut dark hair, the same petite bone structure but the eyes
were different. The girl in the mirror had eyes that were a thousand
years older.
She put the photo carefully in her coat pocket and turned away.
She was about to leave when a thought struck her, so she reopened the
drawer and pulled it completely out. Feeling under the lid, she found
an envelope taped out of sight. She slipped open the flap to reveal a
slim stack of ten- and twenty-pound notes. She placed the envelope in
her coat pocket next to the photo.
She put her rucksack back on, loaded her bag upon her shoulder
and placed her key firmly down on the computer table. She would not
be coming back, ever. The door closed with a click of the Yale lock
when she let herself out. She went down the stairs and out of the front
door onto the street. Rhian walked along the pavement for a few
meters then stopped.
“I wonder,” she said, “where I should go?”


  1. That is a very well crafted introduction there John and it has left me wanting more

  2. There are white cliffs in Denmark:
    In the book, in the ARC, Jameson says the opposite