It’s shameless self-promotion day here on my blog! Wanna read a book? If you have already read it, maybe share this post with a friend who’d enjoy it? Or go leave a review if you haven’t already? And if you have already read it, I’d like to say Thank You! and celebrate the fact that this book has been around for six years now, and it’s still appealing to readers young and old. I’m so grateful for the fans of this and my other work.
An Excerpt from Vulcan’s Kittens, introducing both the kittens, and Vulcan himself.
When they pulled into the farmyard the chickens scattered from the truck and then gathered again as soon as the engine was off. Linn hopped out and reached in for her bags, but her grandfather waved her off.
“Got a surprise for you in the barn. See if you can find it.”
Linn started for his small barn. Grampa didn’t keep any large livestock, so the barn was big enough for a couple goats and their hay. As she go to the sliding doors she saw the cat sitting on the stump beside them. Sitting upright, tail curled around her toes, she was a very elegant tawny cat.
“Hello, pretty lady.” Linn held out her hand to be sniffed. The cat surveyed her for a moment, and then leaped off the stump to wait at the doors. Linn was surprised at the size of her, fully as tall as her knee. The softly weaving tail, tip hooked like a shepherds crook at the moment, reached up to her waist. Linn slid the door open and the cat walked into the dimness of the barn. Linn could smell the sweet hay in the loft. The cat turned back and said firmly “Mew.”
Linn chuckled. “I am coming, Cat.”
The cat ascended to the loft in two swift bounds, one to the top of the stall door and the other to the floor of the loft, easily ten feet above them. Linn was impressed, but stopped to rub the noses of Grandpa’s two Alpine does as they stood in the stall. Then the cat miaowed again, and Linn obediently climbed the ladder to the loft. The cat sat on a bale of hay looking down into a little cavity surrounded by four bales on the floor. Linn looked into it.
“KIttens! Oh, how precious!”
She knelt on the floor and reached over the bale toward them, then hesitated. “May I?” she asked the mother cat. This was a very dignified beast, and very different from the house cats Linn knew at home. The cat curled her paws under her chest and began to purr, eyes half lidded. Linn took this to mean yes, and stroked the top of the nearest kitten’s head.
“You are so soft.” She murmured, not wanting to disturb the sleepy kittens. There were four of them. One black, one calico, and two silvery gray with black spots. They bobbed blind little heads at her and opened little pink mouths in soundless mews, but Linn could see they would be even bigger than their mother, as they were already the size of her two fists put together, and they couldn’t be more than two weeks old.
Linn stroked each of the kittens for a few minutes, marveling at the soft fur and cute round tummies. She stopped when their mother flowed into the nest and wrapped herself around them. The kittens immediately nosed into her teats. Even blind they knew exactly where to go. Linn sighed. This was a very nice surprise.
She climbed down the ladder and washed up at the pump between the house and the smithy. Her grandfather had designed the pump and basin to overflow into a koi pond, and she trailed her fingers in it to feel the eager mouths nibble at her.
Dinner was a venison stew and rustic bread. Her grandfather was a good cook. She sighed a little, looking down at her half empty bowl. Her father had been a good cook, too.
After dinner her grandfather pointed to the loft. “Up you go! These old knees can’t do the ladder, but you’ll be sleeping up there this summer, unless you decide to sleep in the barn.”
“Could I?” Linn asked, picturing the kittens.
“Not tonight, but yes. Now bed. “
Linn fell asleep quickly, worn out with her long day of traveling. In the middle of the night she woke up with the familiar feeling of a crampy stomach. Her period had started. Yuck. She rolled over to get out of bed and then realized that there was someone in the cabin talking to Grampa Heff.
“You do realize you cannot stay out of this forever.” A heavy male voice, dripping with anger and a strange accent.
“We choose to treat Haephestus as a refuge.” A sibilant and melodius female voice. Linn thought she had a speech impediment.
Linn crawled out of bed, her belly cramps forgotten and slid to the edge of the loft where she could see into the sitting area below. Four figures stood down there in the dimly lit room. The two closest to the door were very big. If they walked under the loft they would have to duck. The one on the couch appeared to be huddled under Grampa’s afghan. Grampa Heff himself was straddling a kitchen chair he had turned backwards and was leaning his crossed arms on the back of it.
“Vulcan – ah, Haephestus, as you prefer. You choose to live unnaturally. We would rather not force you to return with us.”
“I chose to make myself happy, not your lot. And do you recall what happened last time I was forced?”