Guest Post: Shadow of the Past by JC Hay

Today I’m welcoming to the blog another one of my fellow writers from Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3. I’m really proud to be a part of the Pets in Space anthology series because a portion of the proceeds from the first month of sales of Embrace the Passion: Pets in Space 3 will be donated to, a charity which helps place specially trained dogs with veterans.

Now, here’s JC Hay to talk about his story from the anthology, Shadows of the Past

Puppies and Wolves and Healing… oh my

Puppies exist in a weird limbo in my mind. They have a sense of weaponized cuteness that makes them irresistible to most anyone with a still-beating heart. At the same time, the first year of raising one is a tremendous amount of work. Especially if they haven’t much been socialized with other dogs, or people.

My eldest dog was a runt, pushed out of his litter early and hand fed by the breeder before we adopted him. We took a week off when we first brought him home, giving him time to get to know us, learn his new environment, and allow all of us to settle into our new shared life. It wasn’t always sunshine and roses – some of us cried in the middle of the night, or didn’t want to be apart (okay, that was mostly me. The dog handled it better than I did.) All this is to say, having a newborn dog in your life takes work. This is doubly true when the canine in question is an umbra wolf.

Nafisi, the veterinarian heroine at the core of Shadows of the Past has taken in a wolf pup in spite of those difficulties. She’s spent the best years of her life on a lightless backwater moon, helping breed and train umbra wolves for the JTF Rangers. There’s been sorrow and loss in her past, and too many dead for her to allow an unwanted runt to get kicked aside.

The pup, JJ, helps both her and the hero move past some of the wounds they bear in their hearts, and gives them both something to bond over. At the beginning of the story, though, he’s just another responsibility that she carries with her – literally.

Shadows of the Past – Excerpt

Nafisi Sultana scooped the tiny wolf off the floor and carried him in her arms to the old wooden rocking chair that stood in the corner by the fireplace. When she’d inherited the chair from her grandmother, there’d been an expectation that she and Gener would be nursing their children in it, and that she’d one day pass it down to grandchildren of her own. Five years without Gener and memories still dug their talons between her ribs like ravenous vultures.

There’d be no grandkids to take up the tradition, but at least part of her grandmother’s hopes had come to pass. She took the bottle from the warmer on the table next to the fireplace and splashed a small amount on the back of her hand. Satisfied that it wasn’t too hot, she tucked the nipple into the wolf’s mouth so it could feed.

The puppy was still tiny, only three weeks old and barely bigger than her forearm. His teeth hadn’t come in yet, but he took to the bottle all the same. Nafisi smiled down at the bundle in her arms. “You keep eating like that, and you won’t be the runt for very long.”

Gener had always told her that the runts got pushed out of the den for a reason, and not to bother trying to save them. He’d humored her when he’d been alive. Now? There’d been too much damn death already. She wouldn’t contribute to more of it.

Besides, if you gave a runt a little love, they could go on to do great things. She was proof of that.

JC Hay loves his spouse, dogs, and writing happy endings– but not always in that order.

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September 22, 2018

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