For this fortnight's A Bite Of... we have the wonderful Mel Teshco and an excerpt from her novel, IDENTITY SHIFT.
Can you, in less than five words describe your story IDENTITY SHIFT?
Action, danger, shape-shifting panther, secrecy
What inspired you to write it?
An article on television about the existence of big black cats in Australia.
And here's the excerpt! Enjoy!
Over a small rise, open paddocks stretched before them, eerie in their desolate, half-lit world. Down below on one side of the track, a huge, gnarled old fig tree spread shadowy branches out wide. A large farmhouse framed the distant sky, and further along, she could just make out a white-railed picket fence that surrounded a barn.
Blake trundled the small distance to the fig tree and parked the Ducati behind its trunk and overhanging branches. She slid off before he alighted with a ragged, barely repressed groan.
“You’ll bleed to death if we stay here,” she stated, hating that her voice trembled with emotion.
“The barn is safe enough,” he croaked.
“And you know this, how?”
At the wry humor in his voice, she couldn’t help but mutter, “On the run a lot, are you?”
He didn’t answer, but she followed him regardless, trusting him in this, despite the odd heaviness in her belly. Something didn’t sit right. He was hiding something from her. And that hurt after all the truths she’d told him.
Horses took on shape out of the shadows as she and Blake approached the barn. As they climbed through the railed fence, a couple of the horses whinnied, even more snorting and stamping their feet, tossing their manes and necks extended.
“Easy,” Blake soothed as one—clearly the stallion—galloped toward them, squealing at the intruders. The horse snorted, his nostrils flaring. He quivered as he seemingly picked up the scent of blood. Blake used his good arm to run a hand over his dark coat, settling him. “Steady boy.”
The mares, curious now with their leader’s acceptance, milled around them. And though Alexia was a relatively experienced horsewoman, she stayed close behind Blake as he pushed through the horse flesh and motioned at her to sidle through a gate he cracked open. They entered the open side of the barn and she asked, “How did you do that? How did you calm the stallion?”
“I simply let him understand my intent.”
“Right. Of course,” she said drily.
“There’s the loft,” Blake announced, and this time there was no hiding the weariness all too evident in his voice.
She looked up at the long ladder, the moonlight glinting through a glass window high above them. “Can you climb?”
She made out his nod. He was worse than he let on, she realized. A fact emphasized when the twenty second climb took him long minutes. Under the moonlight, she could see the sweat beading on his brow, the fresh blood inking his shirt.
He was swaying and silent once they’d climbed onto the loft. She swallowed back fear, keeping herself busy and making short work of a couple of bales of hay by spreading them apart over the wooden floor. He let out a pained moan as she helped him lie on the soft floor.
She felt his brow. Shit. He was burning up.
“Damn it, Blake! You’re hot as hell.” She carefully took off his flannel shirt. His t-shirt was no longer white, though she imagined her face was as she ripped the material from his chest and torso.
“We need to see how bad this wound is.” It was bad. But at least the bullet had gone clean through sinew and bone. Her eyes lingered for one moment on his beautifully defined body, before she forced her attention to the far more important matter at hand. “I’ll bind it as good as I can with your shirt. But then you’ll have to see a doctor.”
“No. No doctor,” he snarled. His face contorted, his eyes glinting eerily red in the moonlight.
The uneasiness of before surged back into life. She scuttled back, chest tight, breath hissing. “Who are you?” She shook her head. “What are you?”
He gritted his teeth, another spasm taking hold before he said hoarsely, “You know what I am...you’ve always known.”
“What? That’s insane! I’ve never even met you before.” She shook her head even as her face went clammy and hot.
He sucked in a breath, his pain stark. “I’m the proof your father never had. I’m...an Illawatti shifter.”
If you want to read more of Mel's work here are some places to find her!
BUY LINK : Identity Shift
Thanks for sharing Mel!