Dear readers, tonight with me is a literature major who – together with her moccha latte – got a bite from a love-sick werewolf. She is here to tell us about hostile alpha pack leaders and stiff-necked vampire elders, about their uneasy coexistence, and how one woman makes an epic mess of the status quo.

Tell us a little about where you grew up. What was it like there?

I grew up and still live in Rancho Robles. It’s a medium-sized city near the Santa Cruz mountains in California. Not as big as San Francisco, but not a small town either. It’s large enough to host a community college — go Fighting Acorns! There are a lot of oak trees, which is how the city got its name. I didn’t think it would be big enough to host both a conclave of vampires and a pack of werewolves.

Did you have any favourite toys as a child?

I still have a stuffed unicorn with a purple mane and a gold horn. Its body is more a gray than white, and there’s a few spots where the fuzzy fabric has matted up. Mom and Dad were a bit embarrassed that I would bring it with me everywhere I went. It was a gift from my grandmother, and I loved it. When I moved out to go to college, and then into Montgomery’s apartment, Uni was the first thing I packed, almost before I grabbed any clothes.

What do you do now?

My official title is Famulus to Montgomery Cooper. A famulus (usually) is  a human servant to a vampire. Exact duties vary from vampire to vampire, but mostly we deal with the daylight errands that can’t be delayed until after sunset, providing blood if a vampire cannot, or chooses not to to hunt, and help maintain that connection to humanity that allows them hide in plain sight. Which for me is a little tricky since I’m learning how to be a werewolf.

What can you tell us about your latest adventure?

My life-plan didn’t include being bitten by a werewolf.  And it didn’t include being rescued by a vampire.  Now, I’m trying to figure out my place in this new world.

Did I mention that I accidentally insulted the leader of the Black Oak Pack? Because of that, Alpha Shane has declared that unless I can shapeshift at will before the next full moon, he’s going to kill me and my rescuer Montgomery.  Elder Marcus, the leader of the Conclave of Rancho Robles, and Montgomery’s sire, has strong feelings about that.  Not so much about me, but he’d rather not lose another child to a werewolf’s fangs. If I don’t get in touch with my animal side, I’m going to start a war.

Oh, and Rhys, the werewolf who bit me?  He didn’t think that I was a meal.  He’s under the delusion that I’m his mate, even though he didn’t consult me in the matter. He’s killing anyone who he thinks is keeping me from him.  I’ve already lost two old friends and I’m sure my new friends are next on his list.

What did you first think when Montgomery and Thorn revealed what happened to you?

To be honest, I thought it was some sort of poorly thought out prank.  I mean, it sounds like some sort of B-movie plot.  They were vampires living in the middle of the city? Werewolves stalking a college campus? I was sure that it was a bad joke, until Montgomery popped his fangs and hissed at me. After I woke up from a dead faint, I believed, even if I didn’t want a thing to do with them.

What was the scariest thing in your adventures?

Everyone expects me to say Rhys or Alpha Shane. Yeah, Rhys is scary, but he’s like something out of a monster movie. Alpha Shane is blustery and snarly and loses his temper all the time but you know where you stand with him. But have you met Elder Marcus? Montgomery’s sire has a great poker face and I can’t ever get a read whether he’s pleased or pissed. I’m more worried about what he will do if I cross him.

What is the worst thing about being a famulus?

Getting used to sleeping during the day and being awake at night.  It’s done a number on my sleep cycle.

And I also know that I’m not the average famulus, lycanthropy aside. Montgomery is ridiculously self-sufficient and doesn’t ask me to do some of the duties that other famulus are required to do.

What is the best thing about it?

There’s a quiet time just before dawn, when the stars are fading out and there is a hint of color coming over the mountains. It’s a moment that is quickly becoming one of my favorite times to sit and just be, not worry about Rhys, or Alpha Shane, or Elder Marcus, or even Montgomery and Thorn. At that time, I’m at peace.

Tell us a little about your friends.

There’s Montgomery Augustus Cooper.  He’s the vampire who scared off Rhys that night. He’s offered to help train me. Most of the time he’s serious but he does have a wicked sense of humor. There’s also a sense of overwhelming sadness around him, but I’m not sure why.

Thorn is one of his close friends.  Maybe more than Montgomery’s friend, but I might be reading deep long-term affection as romantic interest. He has absolutely no filter and is an incorrigible flirt. I find that annoying in most guys, but Thorn has a way of pulling it off. But if something were to happen to Montgomery or me, Thorn would be leading the charge to the rescue.  Or pointing and laughing, depending on how appropriate it is to the situation.

My friends aren’t only vampires.  Pamela Hendricksen of the Black Oak Pack reached out to me.  She’s the only member of the pack who seems interested in finding out about me. If she’s been ordered to lure me away from the conclave and forsake my family oath, she’s not as obvious about it as some of the others.

Any romantic involvement?

Calling my love life complicated is an understatement. And I’m not talking about the werewolf who is stalking me. Thorn is fun to be around, but there is something that is drawing me to Montgomery.  I should be concentrating on learning to shapeshift instead of wondering which of them I should sleep with.

Whom do you really hate?

Hate is a strong word to use about Rhys.  Or right now I’m just so afraid of him it drowns out any other feelings. He did stalk me, bite me, kill my friend and split me off from my best friend. He also attacked a famulus who looked like me.  Then there was what he did to Montgomery…

Okay, maybe hate isn’t a strong enough word.

What’s your favourite food?

There’s this stew of beef short ribs, carrots, onions and potatoes. I make in a crockpot so I set it when I go to bed and it’s ready when I wake up.  It’s my go to comfort food.  Making it always calms and centers me.  And yes, I’ve been making it a lot since I was bitten.

What does the future hold for you?

Right now I’m focused on learning to shapeshift so I can survive past the next full moon.  And figuring out what to do about Rhys.  If I live, I know I’m going to have to figure out how I’m going to mend bridges with the Black Oak Pack while still honoring the oath I took to be Montgomery’s famulus. If I manage that, who knows?  Maybe I’ll end up leading my own pack one day.

Can you share a secret with us, which you’ve never told anyone else?

The more time I spend around Thorn and Pamela, or see them interacting the more I’m convinced that there’s something going on with them.  Maybe they were once lovers. They bicker like the are exes, but something about that doesn’t feel right.  Eh, I’ll ask them about it eventually.

Sheryl R. Hayes can be found untangling plot threads or the yarn her cats have been playing with. In addition to writing, she is a cosplayer focusing on knit and crochet costumes and works full time at a Bay Area water company.

You can find Jordan on the pages of Chaos Wolf.

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