Authors: SM Reine
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.
SIX MOON SUMMER
Copyright © 2011 by SM Reine
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce this book, or any portions thereof, in any form.
Email: [email protected]
Interior and cover design by SM Reine.
Stock imagery provided by:
Sean and Ashlie Nelson (ashensorrow.deviantart.com),
and Velourya Stock (atumbleweed.deviantart.com).
Modeled by Delphine (exquiseophrene.deviantart.com).
As with the completion any book, there are dozens of people to whom I owe thanks. These are the folks who have supported and tolerated my shenanigans over the years, assisted me with edits or promotion, inspired me to persist, and changed the baby’s diaper while I stayed on the couch with a laptop to write yet another blood-drenched scene.
Naming everyone would likely fill a book larger than this one, so in brief:
my mothers (both of them),
Erin and Kylie,
my grand aunt and great grandmother,
and the ever-helpful baby, who nursed, pinched, and squirmed on my lap while I wrote and slobbered all over the pages as I edited.
My so-called writing career would not be what it is today without any of you.
and for Lara:
You know what you did.
The moon rose high in the sky.
Rylie’s veins pulsed with its power. It pressed against her bones, strained against her muscles, and fought to erupt from her flesh.
A wolf’s howl broke the silence of the night. It called to her, telling her to change.
“No,” she whimpered through grit teeth, digging her fingernails into her shins hard enough to draw blood. “
Rylie burned. The fire was going to consume her.
The moon called for her, but it would be the end of her humanity if she obeyed it. She would never see her family again. She would never see her friends or graduate high school. Rylie might not die, but her life would be over.
Yet if she didn’t change, the boy she loved would die at the jaws of the one who changed her.
Rylie had to lose him or lose her entire life. But was love worth becoming a monster?
Three months earlier.
Empty buses idled in the parking lot at the bottom of Gray Mountain. Almost everyone had arrived for the first day of camp an hour ago, but one girl came in her own car.
“This is it,” announced Rylie’s dad. “Camp Silver Brook.” He tried to sound upbeat. Rylie could tell he was faking it.
She glared at the camp’s entrance. The footpath was marked by a tall sign carved out of a tree, but she couldn’t see any cabins from the parking lot. Dense trees prevented sunlight from reaching the ground even though the day was sunny, so the forest looked dreary and dark.
Three months of this: dirt, pine needles, and having to share a cabin with strangers.
“Thanks for the ride, Dad.” Rylie didn’t pretend to sound happy. Missing the bus hadn’t been an accident.
“Come on, it’s not that bad. Aren’t you excited? You can ride horses and go in a canoe and take lots of hikes.” Her dad got to the trunk before she could pick up her bag.
“Yeah. I’m thrilled. Can I have my backpack?”
“Let me walk you in,” he said.
Rylie grimaced. “
. I’m almost sixteen. I don’t need to be babysat.”
“Come on, humor your old man.”
She rolled her eyes but didn’t argue.
They walked up the trail together, backpack slung over his shoulder and her gaze fixed on her pristine leather hiking boots. Rylie’s mom said the shoes were a going away present for the summer, but she knew they were actually an apology for the divorce.
The buses pulled away by the time Rylie and her dad reached the top of the hill, leaving their car alone at the bottom.
After living in the city for so long, the forest seemed too quiet. Her feet shuffling against the dirt echoed against the slopes of the mountain and her breath was loud in her ears, although it might have been the asthma making her wheeze. Rylie touched her pocket to reassure herself that the inhaler was there. She was probably allergic to everything in the woods.
It was a long walk up the trail on Gray Mountain. Rylie’s dad wasn’t in good shape, and he was struggling within minutes. “Look, Rylie,” he panted, and she recognized the beginning of an apology. He had already told her he was sorry for the divorce a dozen times.
“Don’t worry about it,” she interrupted. “Really.”
He scrubbed a hand over his balding scalp, wiping the sweat away. “It will all be better by the time you come home in August. I promise.”
She didn’t reply. What was there to say? It wouldn’t be better in August. It would never be better again, unless she could go home to a house with her mom and her dad. A house where they didn’t yell all the time. A house where they didn’t get rid of their daughter so their lawyers could fight in peace.
They kept walking in silence.
Rylie heard voices before she saw the other campers: four large groups of girls, all around her age. They laughed and chatted, pushing each other around, meeting old friends and making new ones. Counselors with clipboards led them toward a fork in the path marked by a sign indicating “Silver Brook.” The other sign read “Golden Lake.”
“Excuse me,” said Rylie’s dad. “Excuse me!”