31 Days of Halloween – Mary Merrill

Affinity – Blurb: The crows followed Talon around everywhere. When he graduated from high school, Talon moved to Sacramento to work with his Uncle, and the birds followed. He recognized the same straggly-tailed old crow that had followed him around since junior high. Iris Yorita lived in his old neighborhood in Modesto. Snakes were drawn to her as the big, black birds were drawn to him. She called their ability an AFFINITY and claimed it was a gift from God, and they should use it to help people. Talon thought she was out of her mind. How could a bunch of mangy crows or slimy snakes help anyone?

When a thief targeted the people in his uncle’s neighborhood, all fingers pointed at the new kid, Talon. He decided it was time to put this strange ability to the test. Find out who was robbing their neighbors and clear his name. As Talon learned to communicate with his crows, the thievery heated up. Something more sinister than mere robbery was going on, and it would take Talon, Iris, and their new found friends, to discover what really was going on in this up-scale neighborhood.
Affinity –  Bird in a
Gilded Cage – Excerpt
Talon took his usual seat on the
couch. The television was on but the sound muted. When his uncle returned, he held
an old, jacked-up photo album, the cover propped open by yellowed papers. He
stopped in front of Talon.
“Uncle Nate. Listen.” Talon stood
up and met his uncle’s blue gaze and braced himself to be made fun of, for his
uncle to laugh his ass off. “I can communicate with crows.” Okay. There. He had
said it. First time ever.
“I know.”
“What?” Talon dropped back onto
the couch, sinking into the cushion as he cradled Scraggy close to his chest.
“Well, I didn’t exactly know
you’ve been talking with them, but I’ve known you’ve got some kind of weird
relationship with them. I’ve been waiting for you to spill it, kid. I’ve seen
those black buzzards following you around like they was waiting for you to
croak or something.”
“Why didn’t you say anything?”
Talon felt…disappointed. As if everyone knew except him. Like he was a big
joke or something.
“Don’t get all butt-hurt. I
figured you’d tell me when you were ready.”
Uncle Nate plopped down next to
Talon like nothing bizarre was happening. “Look at this.” He put the photo
album on his knees, opened the worn cover and carefully put the papers and news
clippings on the end table. Sticky paper held old black and white photographs
in place as Uncle Nate flipped the pages.
“Do you know what our last name
means?” he asked.
When Talon didn’t answer, Uncle
Nate put the book on Talon’s legs, keeping far from the crow’s sharp beak and
pointed to an old picture. He tapped his finger on the man standing there.
Behind the man was a big, black bird perched on a fence.
“Our last name means crow or
raven. It’s the genus for large black birds.”
Talon swallowed and took back all
the crappy things he had just thought about his uncle.
“Your great-grandfather claimed he
could talk to these birds. Everyone thought he was nuts. Our grandmother, your
great-grandmother told us the family secret when we were in grade school. Your
father and I. Of course, we were warned if we ever said anything the crows
would come and peck our eyeballs right out of our heads.” He widened his eyes
at Talon, took on a spooky voice and waggled both his hands next to his head.
“Or you’d be driven crazy by the birds, oouuuuweee aaahhh.”
Scraggy cawed and struggled a
When Talon didn’t laugh or smile
at his joke, he continued, “Your father and I used to imagine what it was like
if we could control the birds,” he said in a soft voice.
“You don’t really control them.”
Talon ran his finger across the picture of his great-grandfather. “It’s more
like a connection with them.” He let his mind touch briefly with Scraggy,
sending comforting thoughts. The bird quieted down.
“Right on. When did it start?”
“In middle-school.” Talon turned
the page, looking for more pictures with a strange black bird.
“You won’t find anymore pictures
of the bird. Believe me. We searched through this many-a-time. But you might be
interested in this.” He handed Talon a small black leather-bound book. “Your
great-grandfather’s journal. It sounded like a lot of rambling to me, but maybe
you’d understand. With your ability and all.”

Mary E. Merrell  –  Bio

Mary E. Merrell lives in the Central Valley of California with her husband, two dogs and four cats. She has two grown sons, Everette Merrell and Richard Mickelson who is married to a great girl, Brooke. Mary has worked at various jobs, selling furniture, a meat company and a manufacturing company. It wasn’t until she started selling real estate that her Real Estate Paranormal Mystery Series came to life in that old, vacant home. She enjoys reading all types of genres and writes Paranormal Mysteries and YA Urban Fantasies. When she’s not writing, she’s working on her decorative planter business LivingCreations with her husband, gardening and playing soccer. Please visit her website to see what she’s working on next. www.maryemerrell.com, or contact her through Facebook and Twitter.