When the moon is full, Sussie Sironen struggles with a wild impulse
to dash out and dance naked under its silvery rays. When, unexpectedly,
something out there calls to her to join him in dancing, her fear drives her to enact a Finnish rite with a cedar cat that temporarily kills the desire. What waits in the moonlight? And what will happen if her yearning grows too strong to resist?
Sussie Sironen shut the blinds against an early July full moon and eased into a rocker, propping her bare feet on a stool. With Grandma gone, these nights were getting harder and harder to get through alone. Even though the cottage was far from the village, now and then a few tomcats trekked here and caterwauled outside. She couldn't understand why they persisted now that the female Siamese her grandmother left her had been spayed. Cleo's ears laid back as she listened, no longer thrilled by the calls of her feline suitors. But still the toms came courting at times—always during the full moon.
In contrast to Cleo who had suitors she didn't want or need, Sussie had none. Zero. A strawberry blond and decent-looking, she had no trouble meeting guys, but after the first date she never heard from them again. A few had kissed her, but not one had made a serious attempt to get into her bed. She wouldn't have allowed it on the first date, but that was beside the point. Grandma had insisted it was not her fault, that she was a sweet girl and not guilty of being anything but herself. If true, she figured "herself" must be damned unlikable, not to mention having no sex appeal at all.
Her sigh caused Cleo to glance at her, and she stared into the beautiful blue eyes of the Siamese. Eyes the same color as hers, though Cleo's ancestors came from the hot sands of Egypt and hers from Finland's frozen northland. The cat looked at her intently, as she often did, as though trying to communicate. Sussie shook her head?a fanciful notion.
Too restless to sit, she got up and paced. If only she could understand why she had this urge to fling off her clothes and run out into the moon-drenched night. It hadn't happened when her grandmother was alive. Grandma Metsa had always found tasks for her to do when the full moon was high, or told stories of ancient times in Finland, when Vainomoinen and Ihlimarinen walked the land. And then there were stories about Louhi, the witch who ruled the dark and dismal north.
"You are like the third daughter of Louhi," her grandma often said. "The first two were so beautiful all men lusted after them. But the third, it's told, was a foster daughter Louhi found as a wee child in the snow one night. No one knew the girl's origins. Her eyes were a deep, strange blue like yours, and her hair reddish instead of pale like the Finns or the black hair of the Lapps. It's said men feared her."