Melora: Hi and thanks for having us here today. I’ve brought along Matthew Scott Blake, ornithologist and . . . Matt? (looks around) Where are you?
Matt: I’m right here.
Melora: Oh, is that the chameleon thing kicking in again?
Matt: I’m really not comfortable talking about this in a public setting. I think it’s better if I remain off the record.
Melora: Well, we’re among friends here.
Matt: (dryly) I highly doubt that.
Melora: Don’t you think it would be better to have the public aware of the dangers present around us and have them help in the fight against, well, whatever it is you’re battling.
Matt: Civilians would just endanger us and themselves.
Melora: Well, ignorant and untrained civilians, but surely –
Matt: I don’t have time to train people to bring them into the fray, plus they don’t have the skills we do.
Melora: I understand that, but don’t you think that if more people are aware and keeping an eye out for –
Matt: No. We’ll know long before they’re aware.
Melora: (waves her hands) Okay, let’s try a different topic. You and Ally, huh?
Matt: (face reddening)
Melora: How’s that working out?
Melora: Have the two of you worked out any little differences in comfort levels with intimacy?
Matt: (stiffly) That would be on a need to know basis. Ally and I are the only ones who need to know.
Melora: Okay, okay. What about Zyriel? Are you okay with he and Ally being friends now?
Matt: (just glowers)
Melora: O-kay. How about work? Have you found something in New Hampshire?
Matt: There are several promising possibilities.
Melora: Good, good. Okay, ah, well. Is there anything you’d like to talk about?
Melora: Okay, then. Maybe we could take some questions from the audience?
Melora: But . . . .
Matt: I’m leaving now.
Melora: Okay. Well, thanks for having us here today, and rest assured, none of the other characters are this . . . taciturn.
“Doctor Reynolds,” a male voice called out from across the room, pulling me back to the present. It sounded somewhat familiar.
I looked up, shielding my eyes from the afternoon sun shining in the front window as a male figure strode toward me, blond hair haloed by the light. He stopped in front of me.
Startled, I rose to my feet and looked into a chiseled face, his eyes the indeterminate blue green of sea glass like I’d collected along the shoreline once as a teenager. His dark golden blond hair was short and spiky, his lopsided grin pure perfection. He was gorgeous.
In my experience, gorgeous men were not to be trusted. Well, no men really were. Oh, all right, no one was, period.
“Doctor Allyson Reynolds? I’m Doctor Matthew Scott Blake. I’m honored to have you join us. I’ve read your articles in the Raptor Rehab Newsletter.”
He held out a hand, but when I put out mine to shake it, he simply captured mine in his and placed his other hand over it. His eyes flashed green with golden flecks in the sunlight.
“I’m glad to be here,” I said, not at all sure I was anymore, as my pulse sped up. “Please, call me Ally.”
“All right, Ally it is.”
I want to climb him like a tree. I swallowed, aghast at my own thoughts. I’d only known him a few minutes.
His hands were so warm. My mother’s voice played in my head, Gorgeous men are dangerous, arrogant, and being involved with them will lead to no good. I frowned.
“It’s so good to see you…” he said. At my expression, he faltered and cleared his throat. The wattage of his smile dimmed significantly. “I mean, to meet you. I’ve been following your work since I arrived in the States, in the newsletter.”
He turned, drawing my hand through his arm. “Please, let me show you around the facilities here.”
“Uh, thank you,” I murmured, wondering how to tactfully withdraw my arm.
Her healing touch could start a fire.
Ally Reynolds is a veterinarian specializing in raptor rehabilitation in New Hampshire. Other than one horrific incident in her childhood and a little extra “spark” for healing in her hands, both of which she has kept secret from even her best friend, her life has been singularly boring. It has also been extremely lonely. Ally longs for someone to share her life with, but how can she trust anyone with her secret?
Matthew Blake, an ornithologist at Cornell University, calls Ally, asking for her help with an injured raptor. Matthew grew up in New Zealand and has lived around the world. He has read about Ally’s high success rates in raptor rehabilitation and suspects there is more to it than is generally known.
Matthew has some secrets of his own; he is a demon hunter. He suspects Ally’s healing powers could benefit him. He wants her to join him and thinks they’d make a great team.
Can Ally trust him or is he just using her? Matthew definitely has more secrets, and some of them are about Ally.
Melora Johnson is a poet and novelist living in Upstate New York with her husband, daughter, a black cat, and quite a few chickens. Her most recent published work includes A Sanctuary Built of Words: Poems of Peace, Grief, and Passion, and publication in The Sexuality Poems from Foothills Publishing. She also runs a large and thriving writer’s group for adults. Of course, into every life a little rain must fall as well as the occasional tornado, but you’ll find that amply covered in her writing. Find out more about Melora and her writing –