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Many thanks to Jan Gordon who acted as my editor and tirelessly read, reread, advised, poked, and prodded until this project was complete. Also, thank you to Ermintrude for her invaluable advice on locations and journalism. Finally, thanks to all of the ‘Gutter Girls and my readers at FictionPress who have offered their feedback, encouragement and allowed me to practise my writing skills on them.





This book is a sequel to The Mating, my first werewolf story. Many people became enamoured with the characters in that book and kept asking what happened to them. Ryne especially seemed to capture readers’ imaginations and so, in response to those many requests, this tale was written. I hope you enjoy the story as much as I enjoyed writing it.





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THE KEEPING





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Prologue

Chicago, Illinois, U.S.A.

The room was silent, except for the ticking of the grandfather clock that stood majestically near the doorway and the faint sounds of the old man’s breathing. To look at him, one might wonder if he was alive or only a wax figure; his eyes were unblinking and the rise and fall of his chest were barely perceptible. His gnarled hands rested lightly on the arms of the chair in which he sat, their occasional tightening the only real sign of the emotion he was feeling.

Pale winter sunlight, so typical of early January, was valiantly trying to brighten the large, cluttered room. Its weak rays crept past the heavy velvet curtains and cast a beam across the floor, creating a bright swatch in the otherwise gloomy interior. Small specks of dust drifted lazily on the faint air currents before settling on the laden surfaces of the tables and shelves.

Sculptures, figurines, and books, covered every flat inch of the room. Similarly, artwork filled the dark panelled walls, yet the gentleman in the chair still deemed his collection to be paltry and inadequate. Or, at least he’d felt that way until now. Years of searching and gathering everything related to his favourite theme had finally paid off.

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