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Tilly Wallace

Souls to Heal

Souls to Heal

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Can an injured wolf and a broken witch heal each other…?

Alice Sheffield tore her soul into pieces and hid them to escape a soul-eating demon. Free at last, she longs to rebuild herself as something new and stronger, but she doesn’t know how. Then a catalyst for change enters her life.

Ewan Shaw was shot with an ensorcelled silver bullet that has tainted his blood and bound his wolf beyond his reach. He retreats to his friend’s rural farm to lick his wounds and contemplate his lack of prospects. Renowned for his cold detachment, he is fascinated by broken Alice and the heat she stirs within him.

Then fate presents an opportunity. In bringing an old foe to justice. Ewan might find a path for his life and Alice could confront her demons. But to do that, two broken people must heal each other, or shattered pieces will be lost forever.

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Vitoria, Spain. June 1813

Most horses would flee if a predator landed on their backs, but not the equines ridden by the Highland Wolves. Their horses stood patiently beneath their lycanthrope riders while the mounts of other troops whinnied and jigged, unable to settle with the Unnatural creatures so close.
Captain Ewan Shaw held his reins in loose fingers, hands crossed over the pommel of his saddle as he watched a horse farther down the line rear and unseat its rider. Ewan experienced a moment of envy as the rider stood and brushed dirt from his uniform. He ached to shift position and relieve tired muscles, but he resisted the urge. Fellow soldiers admired his sang-froid, and he wasn’t going to put his reputation in jeopardy by squirming like a new recruit. He would endure numb buttocks while the same bored look graced his features.
In 1812, after two years of keeping the Highland Wolves a military secret, the army finally decided to let their hounds off the tight leash. For more than a year they had struck fear into the enemy. They rode hard towards the French as men, then stood on the saddle and shifted mid-jump so that enormous wolves flew over their horses’ ears.
Covert missions under the blanket of darkness were replaced with frontal assaults in full daylight. The Highland Wolves were dotted among the regular cavalry so the French had no way of knowing where the Unnatural assailants would appear.
While the French had their own monsters, their counter efforts were hampered by the sunlight aversion of their vampyres. The older ones were only weakened by bright light, but the youngsters smoked like wet, green wood on a fire.
Some days Ewan though he might die of boredom waiting for something to happen. Their secret missions were quick and decisive. Regular battles with the other troops involved an inordinate amount of sitting around and staring at your fingernails. At times, battles required more orchestration than the most lavish of balls. Just as matrons spent hours pondering seating layouts, the generals undertook a similar exercise in their tents, except markers denoted troops rather than bachelors and debutantes.
Ewan had been in the saddle since before dawn, watching the sun flicker over the horizon as they mustered. Distant cannon droned constantly like fat bees in summer. It was past noon, and the generals still hadn’t emerged from their tents. Dare he look at his pocket watch, or would that betray his boredom? It was hard work maintaining an air of ennui and indifference.
They were arranged in neat parade rows, but the fellow cavalrymen around him shifted, wriggled, and muttered. Whispers of wolf swirled around him. The wolves were dubbed savage beasts by the rest of the army, much to Ewan’s chagrin. His wolf was lethal and efficient; there was nothing savage about it. He also bathed on a regular basis which, judging by the smell wafting off the other soldiers, could not be said of them.
It was difficult to maintain a civilised reputation when your unit contained rough brutes like Alick Ferguson, who sat his horse virtually naked. Only the strip of plaid around his waist and tossed over his shoulder provided scant modesty. It was pointless trying to force him into a uniform that would be torn apart and scattered on the battlefield. But the generals wanted the dramatic impact of riders transforming, and that came with a hefty cost—a new uniform for each man every time they had to shift mid-gallop without the opportunity to remove their clothing first.
The bloody reputation of the Highland Wolves had other benefits. Their captain rose to major and behind him, Ewan stepped from lieutenant to captain. More unexpected was the sheer number of men wanting to join their ranks.
Bloody fools, Ewan thought. To be a wolf was to be reviled by most of society who thought you would shed on their furnishings. To spend your existence chained to a beast that would enact your deepest and darkest fears should it ever break loose.
The major instituted a probationary period for any soldier wishing to become one of the Highland Wolves. New recruits were assessed for their suitability to life as an Unnatural creature. While parliament gave them the same rights as any other Englishman, it could not make men treat them as equals. Better that new prospects see the naked underbelly of their lives and turn tail than change men who would daily regret their choice.
It took a special type of man to survive the bite. He had to hold himself still while the lycanthrope took his throat in its massive jaws. The wolf would bite down, tearing through skin and tendon and ripping open veins. The beast worried at the wound until blood poured forth. Then the creature would bite its own tongue and drool blood and saliva into the open wound, transferring the lycanthrope sickness to a new body.
And that was only the beginning of the excruciating pain awaiting the new recruit.
Some never survived their first transformation. The process of bones breaking and reforming, and skin tearing itself inside out turned a few into insane beasts. They had to be put out of their misery lest they go on unstoppable rampages. Major Logan hoped the probation period would weed out those unsuitable to be lycanthropes. The major took responsibility for turning the recruits himself. No longer did they use the wild beast from the Highlands that had been captured by a mage, and who had made the foundation members of the wolves' regiment.
Ewan’s fingers curled on the reins, the only outward sign of his inner restlessness. He glanced around him, spotting the wolves interspersed with the regular cavalry. They didn’t need the distinctive tartan strip on their trousers—the stillness of their mounts showed the horses were used to carrying unusual riders.

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