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Excerpt From Hunter’s Moon:
The tang of old pennies hung in the air. Kitty was smart enough to know she hadn’t stumbled on some stash of long-buried loot. No self-respecting pirate would be caught dead in the middle of the Michigan woods.
That coppery smell was blood.
Maddie had the scent too. The golden retriever pressed forward, nose scuffling through the mulch. Her fluffy tail hung inactive. A wiggly rear end might divert too much energy from her nose.
Somewhere high above, a cloud ghosted over the sun, and the forest light grew dark green and cool. Kitty moved forward slowly. It would be just perfect to step into the middle of something completely nasty. Her shoes still looked mostly decent after a winter indoors. A big smear of muck across the toes would really round out her look.
Maddie suddenly growled, stopping dead. One paw hung suspended in the air and her body tensed.
“Maddie? What’s the problem?”
The retriever lowered her head to the ground, slowly pacing a circle. Kitty leaned over the spot that had thrown the dog off. Maybe it was a coyote. Maddie hated them.
A paw had indented the soft ground right where the aging dog had spooked. Kitty nodded—positive it was a coyote—and crouched down next to it to get a better look. Maddie circled around her, chest rumbling. Kitty knew a little about prints. Her dad had been pointing them out to her since she could walk. Deer and rabbit marks were everywhere, but this didn’t belong to one of the gentle guys. It had the four toes and pads of a predator, and it was big. Laying her hand over top of it, she could spread her fingers and barely cover it. Deep claw marks dug into the leaf mold ahead of the pads. Cats sheathed their claws when they walked; this was some sort of huge canine.
If this was a coyote, it was mutant. What sort of a thing made a print like that?
Kitty moved forward into the deep shadows under the trees. Something dead was in there. Flies buzzed and whirled under the trees. Maddie stayed where she was, guarding the print.
The carcass lay half-hidden under some ferns at the base of a broad oak. It was a deer, or what was left of one anyway. Its soft tan hide lay torn; its white stomach stained brown with dried blood. Great gashes ran the length of it, shoulder to haunches. Kitty’s stomach churned. This was about killing to kill; not one bite was missing. Sickened, she turned to leave, halting at the sight of the head. She had assumed it was at the end of the neck tucked away unseen under the bracken. She was wrong.
Completely detached, it lay under the next tree.
Whatever had done this was no dog.