Sometimes I think I connect too deeply with characters in the books I read. Their lives become my life. I have a visual scrapbook of each encounter, able to flip through it any time I want to visit their world. It may be insane, but that’s me.
Most of the characters I relate to are…different. They’re difficult, living on the fringe, definitely not the boy/girl next door. Hell, most of the time they aren’t even human.
Clay and Elena from Kelley Armstrong’s Women of the Otherworld series are two of my favorites to visit. They were one of the first couples I read about in the paranormal world. Elena wanted to be normal more than anything, but it simply wasn’t her. She was strong, self-assured, and a werewolf, but the last part was the least important. Sure, she turned furry and hunted animals, but her true power was in her mind and her heart. And in her heart was Clay.
I found Clay and Elena late in the game. Five books had already been released in the series, giving me an opportunity to learn about them quickly without that horrible waiting period. I searched for any tidbits I could find online, and was ecstatic to discover “Beginnings”, a short story Kelley wrote and published online. It told the story of how they met, something mentioned in the books but never fully delved into.
If I hadn’t been hooked before, I would have after reading the story. Told from both their perspectives, I saw Elena as a young student falling in love with a strong, commanding man. I saw Clay, losing himself in a woman for the first–and last–time. There would never be another woman for him no matter what. He made it clear to the reader and Elena. So his methods weren’t always noble. In fact, at times they were down-right reprehensible. But they were done because he knew, in his heart and soul, they were meant to be together.
A while ago, Kelley took most of her short stories off the Internet. She decided to publish them and give the proceeds to charity. I’ve gone almost two years without reliving Elena and Clay’s first moments.
My wait is finally over.
On Tuesday, I raced to the bookstore and snatched Tales of the Otherworld, a compilation of short stories, including “Beginnings”. I have a house to clean. A book to revise. Reviews to post. But I don’t care. One page in and I’m hooked all over again. The discovery, the love, the betrayal, it’s as addictive as any drug and twice as potent.