It’s not bad enough that Naomi Witherspoon is second-guessing her relationship with her new boyfriend, Ute shapeshifter Joseph Curtis. Now she’s been attacked by a jaguar in downtown Denver. And somebody has built a hydraulic fracturing operation down the road from their friend Charlie’s ranch. An independent filmmaker named Jack Rivers has conveniently appeared, and is documenting Charlie’s problems with the fracking operation. Naomi thinks Jack might be the Investigator – the fourth member of the team a Lakota Indian goddess set up to help Naomi broker peace between Jehovah and the pagan pantheons – but Jack seems more interested in causing trouble among Naomi, Joseph, and her best friend Shannon, than in helping out their team.
When the operator of the fracking facility turns out to be an old acquaintance, Naomi begins to wonder how many Tricksters it takes to make a divine deal….
Exclusive excerpt from Fissured by Lynne Cantwell
Joseph turned to me. “Where are we going?”
“I’m taking you home.”
“I thought you were going to call Shannon tonight.”
“I probably will.”
He looked at me for a minute. “Shouldn’t the whole team be in on this?”
I sighed. “Look. I think I need some time alone. I know you’re anxious to get to the bottom of the jaguar sightings and everything, but I don’t want to do it tonight.”
“But you’re still going to call Shannon,” he said.
“About me?” I heard him swallow before he said it.
It felt like he was pulling a confession out of me, and I didn’t like it. “I don’t know,” I said shortly. “I might not call her. I’ve got a lot of work to do, too, you know.”
“Her guy might have run your bills for you,” he reminded me. “You should call her.”
“I’ll keep that in mind,” I said. I could certainly hear the irritation in my voice.
Another pause, as the frozen landscape rushed past us on either side. “What time should I come over?” he asked.
“Joseph, do not come over tonight,” I said. Without thinking, I put a push into my words. He reared back as if I’d struck him, and I felt like a jerk. “Look, I’m sorry,” I said. “I didn’t mean to do that. But I told you, I want some alone time. I do care for you,” I finished lamely.
By this time, we were at the trailer. I parked the Cube and turned to face him. It was my turn to sit back in shock; his eyes blazed amber.
“I’ll stay away tonight,” he said with a growl. “But you are mine, Naomi Witherspoon. And remember that I am sworn to protect you. No other man will have you without my leave.”
I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. What was this, the 18th century? Nobody owned me! “Let’s get one thing straight, Joseph Curtis,” I said, biting off each word. “I am not your property. And I will sleep with whoever I choose, whether you approve of him or not.”
We glared at each other for a moment. Then he grabbed my head with both hands and sealed my mouth with his. Our tongues dueled: his tried to claim every inch of my mouth, while mine fought to push his out. He broke the kiss suddenly, but still he held my head between his hands as he stared amber menace into my eyes. “Don’t ever push me again,” he said.
Then he was gone.
I sat back against the seat with a whoosh. I wasn’t sure what had just happened, but I didn’t like what it was doing to my gut.
I closed my eyes and stayed where I was for a few moments. Then I reached for the gearshift to back out of Joseph’s driveway. I glanced across the adjacent field and saw a pair of red lights in the middle of the field some distance away.
No, not lights. Eyes.
I got the hell out of there as fast as I could.