Master of Honor by Angela Knight #urbanfantasy #vampires @AngelaKnight

Master of Honor (Merlin's Legacy 5)

Cover Art by Angela Knight

A month ago, Cheryl Parker thought she was an ordinary woman — a nurse, a mother, a woman whose lover had walked out. Now she’s gained incredible power thanks to an alien spirit who has made her immortal. She looks twenty again. And her ex is back.

It’s not unusual to discover an old lover kept secrets, but some are harder to believe than others. Ulf’s secret is that he’s an immortal vampire Knight of the Round Table. The good news is, he still loves Cheryl. The bad news is, he thinks the creature inhabiting her is a potential threat to humanity. The worst news is, there is a threat — and it could well kill them all.

Ulf wants nothing more than to be with Cheryl again. The problem is her magic resembles that of a dragon who tried to set a small town ablaze. And she knows more about the creature than she’s saying.

Even as passion rekindles between them, Cheryl and Ulf must overcome years of lies and mistrust. Otherwise they’re doomed — and so is everyone else. Because the creature stalking them is something worse than a dragon. Much, much worse.

Get it at Changeling Press

Use code TGIF03-27-2020 for 15% off your entire order!

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Angela Knight

Brandon Sanders was five years old. The odds were high he’d never see six.

Cheryl Parker stood at the foot of his hospital bed, watching the machines tracking his heartbeat, respiration, and blood oxygen. Eyelashes as thick and black as crow feathers stood out against his bloodless cheeks beneath the thick bandaging encircling his head. The tube of a ventilator distorted his mouth, the machine hissing as it breathed for him. She wondered whether his eyes were his mom’s soft brown or the blue-gray of his dad’s.

Jenny Sanders had said her son had played Hulk to his brother’s Iron Man all morning, running around the house, laughing and giggling. Until he’d raced out the front door into the yard, his brother hot on his heels…

Right into the path of his father’s practice tee shot. The golf ball slammed into Brandon’s temple in precisely the wrong spot, fracturing the thin bone and embedding fragments in his brain.

One frantic ambulance trip to Mecklenburg Memorial later, a neurosurgeon had removed a chunk of the boy’s skull to allow room for the swelling that would otherwise damage his brain. The doctor had tucked the square of bone beneath the skin of Brandon’s abdomen until it could be reattached once the danger was past. He’d cleaned out the skull fragments and closed, and the prayers had begun.

So far, they’d gone unanswered.

The ventricles of the child’s brain were filling with blood, a sign of encroaching brain death. More surgery was needed to repair the bleed, but it was too deep in the brain. Dr. Deepak Anand feared he couldn’t even get to the blood vessel without killing the child. Anand had spent all afternoon calling hospitals around the country, trying to find a neurosurgeon with the skill to risk operating. After one look at Brandon’s CT scans, they’d all turned him down.

The neurologist had scheduled a proof-of-life electroencephalogram for later tonight to see if Brandon was brain dead. If so, his parents would have to decide whether to take him off life support. Based on his declining vitals, nobody thought he had a prayer of passing the EEG.

Brandon had one chance, and one chance only. Cheryl.

She wasn’t a doctor, much less a neurosurgeon. Yes, she’d been a nurse for almost forty years, fifteen of them as a nursing supervisor. She’d treated thousands of sick and dying people, and she’d fought like hell for every one of them. Too often, there’d been nothing she could do. She’d been only human.

Cheryl wasn’t sure what she’d become last month, but “only human” no longer applied. Otherwise, she wouldn’t have to cast spells to make her twenties-looking face appear its true fifty-nine. Mirrors were still freaking her out. She’d glimpse herself and think, Who is that kid and what is she doing in my house?

So yeah, she had power. But this was brain damage that scared neurosurgeons who thought they were gods. Can I pull this off?

The answering silence in her head seemed to tick.

At last Gaia’s voice whispered through her mind like the sigh of leaves in a cold wind, inhuman and distant. If we do nothing, the Sight tells me his parents will be planning his funeral tomorrow.

Shit. She remembered the look on his father’s face. That stunned I’ve-killed-my-boy expression had made her worry Stephen Sanders would try to self-medicate with a bullet. Where would that leave his wife and eldest child?

Cheryl had never faced anything like this with her son Adam, but she could imagine how she’d feel. Paul would have been devastated…

Not Paul, she reminded herself. His name is Ulf. He lied about that like he lied about everything else. Despite the bitterness in that thought, there was longing in the next. Will he show up again tonight?

After twenty-eight years without a word, Ulf had dropped by half a dozen times in the last month. Probably making sure she hadn’t gone evil and started eating the neighbors.

Who the hell cares? she told herself impatiently. Healing this kid is what matters.

Besides, she’d violated her own code of magical ethics to create the opportunity. First she’d had to put a spell on Brandon’s parents to send them down to the cafeteria for dinner. Otherwise they wouldn’t have left for more than a few minutes. They’d be gone for the next hour. Then she’d compelled the medical staff to ignore anything odd going on in Brandon’s room. She’d laid a third spell on the equipment, making sure everything would maintain the same readings the machines were recording now. Otherwise, changes to Brandon’s heartbeat and respiration might raise questions later she wouldn’t want to answer.

Damn, she hated using her power to fuck with people’s heads. This was the same kind of shit witches had done to her. Guess I’ll just have to live with being a hypocrite. Gaia, can we pull this off in the time we have?

About Angela Knight

New York Times best-selling author Angela Knight’s first book was written in pencil and illustrated in crayon; she was nine years old at the time. A few years later, she read The Wolf and the Dove and fell in love with romance. In addition to her fiction work, Angela’s publishing career includes a stint as a comic book writer and ten years as a newspaper reporter. Several of her stories have won South Carolina Press Association awards. Angela lives in South Carolina with her husband, Michael, a detective with the Spartanburg PD.

Angela at Changeling Press | Website

 

 

Release Blitz: Thicker Than Water by Becca Seymour #urbanfantasy #LGBTQ

Title: Thicker Than Water

Author: Becca Seymour

Publisher: Rainbow Tree Publishing

Release Date: March 14th 2020

Heat Level: 3 – Some Sex

Pairing: Male/Male

Length: 65000

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, urban fantasy romance, shifter romance

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Outcast operative in the Supernatural Investigation & Crime Bureau (SICB) Callen Blackheath finds himself doing what he does best: defying orders and giving his boss a headache in the thick of an operation he shouldn’t be in. And there’s no way he’s walking away, not when the investigation has become deadly personal.

Needing to protect the only family member he has left, this wolf shifter will do whatever it takes to stop the blood farms and destroy the dangerous drugs the vampires will kill for. But he doesn’t expect Liam “Thatch” Thatcher, the head of a special task force team, to receive a bite that pulls him into the centre of Callen’s world.

Bonded by memories and blood, together they navigate the operation that has wider reaches than they could ever imagine. And when it comes to matters of the heart, Callen knows in order to win, he needs to risk it all.

Excerpt

Heat rippled over my skin. The singed scent of hair clogged my ability to track the way out, leaving me momentarily cursing my stubbornness for going this alone. My boss would never let me live it down if I got myself charred to a crisp or killed. At least the latter would mean I wouldn’t have to listen to his pompous spiel about following protocol. The dick had it out for me. He had since I’d joined this team three years ago, and despite my success rate on missions, he hadn’t taken kindly to the son of the Blackheath alpha joining the Supernatural Investigation & Crime Bureau.

Creaking beams followed by the crash of timber had me blinking hard against the blackening smoke. There had to be a way out. While Brent, my division leader, thought I was foolhardy—or perhaps simply a fool—I had studied the schematics of the lab prior to entering. What I hadn’t planned for was Jonas Cartwright to set the damn thing on fire with me in it.

Focussed on pushing my senses beyond the sound of the licking fire and groaning foundations, I closed my eyes, hoping for a ripple, something, anything that would get me out of this situation. Two beats, three, four… but nothing. I could either stay planted, hoping a miracle would happen, or I could act. Neither seemed like a smart move but staying put and being roasted was not an option. The raw heat travelling up my arms, removing my hairs along the way, cried out for my retreat.

Action it was.

In barely a split second, my eyes shifted. While the heightened sight wouldn’t help with the smoke, the electricity had been tripped by the fire, and I needed all the help I could get.

I cursed up a storm in my head as I raced the way I’d come. With a leap over a toppled cabinet, a swerve away from the licks of fire trailing along workstation dividers, I swore the whole time I would find Cartwright and put him to ground once and for all. The way ahead was blocked, and no barrelling through would solve that. I screeched to a stop. “Shit.” I looked left and right, thinking hard about the drawings I’d glanced at ten seconds before entering the lab. Screw Brent and his demands for being well-prepared. I had no doubt my name, Callen, was already a regular curse from him. This would simply give him more ammunition. It was better than him seething my surname, Blackheath, I supposed, but still, ten seconds of my eyes roaming over the layout was as good as studying in my world.

Before I could figure out my next move, a small scrape of metal to my left had me turning in that direction. I seriously hoped I wasn’t racing towards more flames, but the sound was distinctive, controlled.

On reaching a hallway I didn’t recognise, I stumbled. “What the hell?” At the end of the darkened hallway was a glass door. While smoke spiralled through the space, it wasn’t as black, the fire not yet having reached the area. I crouched low to avoid the white smoke, my eyes focussed on the hand scratching against the glass door. Blood smeared with every gentle swipe, the movement slowing down.

No one was supposed to be here. Ignoring the fact that Cartwright had blown my half-arsed recon out of the window and taken me by surprise, there seriously shouldn’t have been anyone else on site. An unfamiliar edge of panic flared to life in my chest. This was not good.

I charged towards the glass, stopping short of barrelling into it to try the handle. It wouldn’t have been the first time I’d broken down a door unnecessarily. I didn’t want to crash through a glass door unless I had to. While I healed quickly, shards of glass cutting through my skin still hurt something fierce.

Testing the handle with one hand, I hit the glass lower down, trying to get the attention of the person attempting to get out. Their bloody hand peeking out a white lab coat twitched at the loud thud. “Shit,” I grumbled. The door was locked. “Hey.” I beat against the glass panel harder. It was partially misted for privacy, and visibility was unclear. Unable to tell who was on the other side or whether the smoke had breached the room from another direction, for once, I considered my options.

“Hey.” I tried again, my hand smacking the glass harder, not yet intending to break through. “Can you hear me?” Steadying my breath took concentration, but I needed to listen carefully.

“Code.” The voice was gravelly. “P-Panel.”

I searched quickly and found a panel off to my right. “I need the code.” Each word came out calm and clear. Panicking now could possibly get us both killed.

“Five.” A cough wracked through him, loud and sounding painful. I squinted, wondering what the hell this guy had been through. “Two. Seven. Seven. Four. Nine.”

I hit the numbers as he said them.

“Hash,” he finished, and the door clicked, swinging open when the guy fell against it. He landed on the floor.

Unconscious at my feet, the man was sprawled on his front. I tugged him to the side. With no idea where we were, I couldn’t simply throw the guy over my shoulder and start charging around, hitting dead ends and burning doors wherever we went. Decision made, I cast a quick glance at the man. Wet blood covered his rich black skin, but his moving chest indicated he was breathing. Barely. Christ, I hoped he didn’t die on me. After a final glance, I rushed into the unlocked room. Just because it had been sealed from the inside didn’t mean I wouldn’t be able to get through another exit.

A door on the opposite side of the room was my target. I headed straight there, spotting vials and another room off to my right. Before I reached the exit, the scent hit me. Blood, and it wasn’t from the unconscious lab tech in the hallway. I took a tentative step in the direction the scent came from, bile already churning in my gut.

No. It couldn’t be.

Another step forward, and I held my breath, not wanting to believe it could be true.

Wide-eyed, I gasped for breath, then regretted the action immediately. Metallic, familiar, and dead. The combination of the three threatened to buckle my knees. Unable to look away, I stared hard, hating every second. But I had to do this. Flesh, torn muscle, mutilated claws; the image seared itself into my mind. Once there, a shockwave of pain ripped through me.

No.

This time I let my knees go and landed on the floor, my knee finding the blood the same shade of my own. It was her. Hazel. My baby sister.

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Meet the Author

Becca Seymour lives and breathes all things book related. Usually with at least three books being read and two WiPs being written at the same time, life is merrily hectic. She tends to do nothing by halves so happily seeks the craziness and busyness life offers.

Living on her small property in Queensland with her human family as well as her animal family of cows, chooks, and dogs, Becca appreciates the beauty of the world around her and is a believer that love truly is love.

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Slave School Dropout (All Wrapped Up) by Dakota Cassidy #paranormalromance

Slave School Dropout (All Wrapped Up Multi-Author 2)

Cover Art by Angela Knight

 

Nyla is a cat. So is Lucas. Nyla is an Egyptian descendant of Bast. Lucas isn’t.

In fact, he’s so far off the scale of high falutin’ lineages, he’s precariously tipped them. That’s because he’s a tomcat.

Nyla and Lucas have been friends for over a year since they met at a shifters’ meet and greet. Until one day, Nyla smells what Lucas has smelled all along. Her lifemate.

What does any good pair of lifemates do when they have to seal the deal? A little bump and grind, but who knew the bump and grind meant floggers and spankings and a host of kinky stuff Nyla had no clue Lucas liked.

Nyla is vanilla. Lucas is not. Lucas is a Dominant who enjoys just a smidge of rocky road with his bedroom pleasures.

Nyla never considered herself submissive. No one is the boss of her. However, these lifemates are about to embark on a journey that will take them both to places they’d never considered.

Oh, and it never hurts to mention that Nyla’s family is a snobbish, upper crust bunch of shifters who will probably want nothing more than to see to it that Lucas and Nyla’s newly acquired lifemate status is revoked by the lifemate council.

It’s High Society meets the ASPCA with a decided twist…

Publisher’s note: This title is available in print. Visit our Books in Print page for more information.

 

Get it at Changeling Press

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Dakota Cassidy

“I’m so — so…” Well, she didn’t know what she was. She’d been on a mission to find the scent that made her nose feel like it’d exploded off her face and she was so enamored with the “scent’s” ass she tripped on a stupid toy mouse and fell into him. As opposed to sauntering up to him like she was all va-va-voom or something.

That was how she’d planned it in her mind, anyway. She would follow the smell of this Utopia in a pair of faded jeans and saunter up to him like she was the Queen of Sheba.

Sometimes the road to hell and all that rigmarole…

So instead of sashaying like a supermodel on a runway, Nyla Jane Selim fell into yon hottie with not an ounce of sashay and a whole lot of Pee Wee Herman.

“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to — I think I tripped –” Her nose was overwhelmed with the masculine scent of him. It made her heart skip and do a running vault over the parallel bars.

Strong arms held her for the briefest of moments before helping her to regain her footing and a deep voice, raspy and reassuring, interrupted her apology. “Tripped on a mouse,” he finished her sentence. “Somebody needs to clean this place up.”

Ohhhhhh, oooh, oh. A shiver of delight rippled along Nyla’s spine and she arched into him, keeping her palms on his muscled forearms for a moment more. What a set of lungs… Nyla didn’t know if she should silently curse or thank Amos personally for not cleaning up the kitty condo aisle. “It’s been a bit crazy here and we’re understaffed,” she offered as she squinted, studying his face, angular and rugged.

Her eyebrows rose. No fucking way! Lucas? How could this be? Lucas never smelled like this before. Nyla struggled to find her glasses in the white coat she wore at the pet store. Slipping them on, she peered into her friend’s face as if she were seeing it for the first time, not the like hundredth in a year.

He held a studded collar in his hand, rhinestones and black leather. It twinkled under the bright fluorescent lights of the store. His thumb ran over the studs, giving Nyla another carnal thought that had absolutely nothing to do with a collar and everything to do with slappin’ this face jock down on the floor and slamming him one for Old Glory. Oh, my God! Had she really just thought that?

“I see that,” Lucas commented, his tone rather blasé as he looked over the top of her head and gave a scathing scan of the store overall. “You talk about this place all the time. I thought I’d come check it out. You definitely could use one or two of those plastic Tupperware bins,” he joked.

Nyla stuck her tongue out at him playfully. Okay, so it wasn’t the most efficiently run place, but it had its advantages and a great volunteer program for adopting a pet, which Nyla ran. “Lucas, what the hell are you doing here? You need help with something in particular?”

His smile was cocky and glib, and his dark green eyes hinted that Nyla, for all of her ineptitude, couldn’t possibly help him. “No. No. I don’t need help at all, Nyla. I just thought I’d stop by and see if you wanted to catch a movie. You know that thing we do every Friday night? Me relegated to your fun date pile and all?”

At this particular nanosecond, despite the sharp stab of her nipples poking at her bra like a Dewalt drill bit, Nyla was tweaked. What the hell was going on? They’d been on two dates before she’d determined that they should just be friends. She and Lucas were so alike, ruining it with sex was something Nyla wasn’t willing to do. Lucas was the only person in the world who understood her right down to her Prada heels, and she wasn’t going to risk becoming his squeeze so he could dump her somewhere down the road. They were friends for life — period.

And so now what? He was all of a sudden hot? She and Lucas had shared more than a dozen movies and he’d never smelled like this before. Fuck him for smelling better than tuna. Gathering her best disinterested attitude around her knees, Nyla gave him a narrowed glance before dismissing her moment of insanity and said, “Yeah, let’s do a movie.” While I’m at it, could I do you too?

Oh! Where had that come from?

“Nyla? You okay?” Lucas looked down at her from what seemed like way far up there all of a sudden… was he always this tall? Tall and luscious to boot?

“Yeah, I’m great. You?”

“I’m fine. So, the movie? Wanna go?”

Nyla’s nose twitched again. Oh, my hell, he smelled soooo good. Nyla involuntarily sniffed his shoulder. “Are you wearing new cologne?”

“That’s all me, baby. Nothing new,” he teased. “You were the one who didn’t want to sample it, remember?”

Oh, she remembered all right. As clearly as she now smelled him in a whole different way. “If I’ve told you once, I’ve told you a thousand times. We’re friends and I won’t risk having to dump your ass and take all of your toilet paper with me when I do, just so we can have sex. I can have that with anyone, but nobody does a good romantic comedy like you.”

Lucas brushed a kiss over her suddenly heated forehead. “I know, I know. I’m the sexless friend.” As he stood closer to her, Nyla fought the urge to lean into his hard frame and the bonfire that was him.

Lucas stiffened and backed away. “So, a movie? Popcorn, soda and your favorite ‘no sex this lifetime’ buddy — friend.”

Nyla cleared her throat. Yeah, no sex. She’d said that a dozen times or so too… what had she been thinking? Nyla put a hand on Lucas’ chest. A chest that now, all of a sudden, out of the clear blue, felt… good.

With that, Nyla turned on her heel and stalked off toward the back room where she fully intended to cleanse her nostrils with sandpaper.

 

About Dakota Cassidy

USA Today Bestselling author Dakota Cassidy lives for a good laugh in life and in her writing. In fact, she almost loves a good giggle as much as she loves hair products and that’s saying something.

Her goals in life are simple, (like really simple): banish the color yellow forever, create world peace via hot rollers and Aqua Net; and finally, nab every tiara in the land by competing in the Miss USA, Miss Universe, and Miss World pageants, then sweeping them in a stunning trifecta of much duct tape and Vaseline usage, all in just under one week. Oh, and write really fun books!

Dakota lives in Oregon with her dogs and has a husband who puts the heroes in her books to shame.

Dakota at Changeling Press| Website

 

 

Amelia and Orion (Wild Witches of Beaver Bay) by Kate Hill #urbanfantasy

Amelia and Orion (Wild Witches of Beaver Bay 4)

Cover Art by Bryan Keller

 

Demon. Vampire. Human. Orion is all three. From the moment he met Amelia Wild, his heart has belonged to her, but a hybrid like him doesn’t have the luxury of falling in love.

Amelia Wild sometimes regrets not sharing her family’s magical gifts, but she has one of her own — a genius level IQ that she uses to uncover scientific ways to fight supernatural creatures. For years she has loved her business partner, Orion, but he has made it clear they will never be romantically involved.

When Orion’s emotional restraint becomes too much, Amelia heads to her family’s ancestral land to get in touch with her magical roots. Lost without her, Orion follows Amelia to the Wild family cabin. Will this irritable half-demon and a brilliant witch finally surrender to the powerful attraction between them?

 

Get it at Changeling Press

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Kate Hill

Orion’s booted feet rhythmically thumped the forest ground. The scent of damp earth filled his every breath. Misty wind snapped against his face. His inhumanly sharp senses heightened during the chase. The others — at least the ones who were still in the game — closed in. He smelled and heard them.

He stopped to climb a nearby tree and pulled himself onto a thick branch where he crouched, watching, his heart pounding. It didn’t take long for his harsh breathing to slow to almost normal — the result of good conditioning and superior genetics.

He wouldn’t be safe here forever. They were near.

He had taken down most of the demon hunters chasing him, but two new recruits had joined their hunt today and they weren’t experienced, but distressingly talented.

Orion tensed and shifted his position just before a rock nearly struck his head.

Orion shifted his gaze to Joel Connor — the newest member of the “family.” Like Orion, he was around average height, whipcord lean, and an accomplished athlete — however, today’s competition was for higher stakes. No prize or title. Just survival.

Orion smirked. “You’re a talented monkey, but you missed.”

“First, that was just to wake you up. Second, if I’m the monkey, then why are you the one sitting in a tree?”

Orion chuckled. “You’re amusing, Joel.”

And crafty. If Joel wished, he could climb after Orion in a blink, but he wasn’t working alone.

Inhaling a bit deeper, Orion grinned. Not that he needed to catch Jeff’s scent to know he was coming. Jeff was rather heavy-handed with everything he did. Stalking the woods in silence wasn’t a skill he’d mastered yet, even with the help of his feline spirit twin. Of course a saber tooth cat hadn’t been the smoothest predator in its day, but powerful, as Orion’s close friend, Starr, had reminded him when they’d prepared for the hunt.

“You’ll have your work cut out for you,” Starr said.

“I know. It’s always good competition, but Jeff is one of the strongest spirit twins the family has seen in years. If he catches me, he’ll knock me into tomorrow.”

Starr met his gaze. By now, neither mentioned the power Orion repressed. If he used it, their battle game would be to the death. The hunters would have no other choice. Without that boost, however, the hunters could do him serious harm. These games were to keep each other sharp — injuries were normal, but there was a line they couldn’t cross.

“Remember, Jeff is strong, smart, and he’s used to working with a team. That’s a great combo for us and bad news for a target.”

“Me.”

“This time.” Starr smiled and amiably punched Orion’s shoulder.

He and Starr had known each other since they were fifteen. Starr was like a brother, and these demon hunters the closest thing to a real family Orion had ever known. Except for —

“Ah. He approaches.” Orion snapped back to the moment. He tightened his grip on his chain whip — a formidable weapon when wielded properly, and Orion was an expert.

Joel didn’t speak, but jabbed his palm toward Orion. An unseen force struck him in the chest and he nearly fell out of the tree.

When had Joel developed this particular power? Though inexperienced, the witch warrior was full of surprises.

Joel must have hit him harder than he thought because the tree seemed to shake.

Oh. Because Jeff had leapt onto it and hauled his six-foot-three-inch half human, half saber tooth cat body toward Orion’s branch.

Great.

Orion dropped lightly to the ground, where Joel attacked. For several seconds they traded kicks and strikes before Jeff leaped out of the tree, no doubt aiming for Orion, but landing on Joel instead.

Orion backed away, smirking again. “Such precision, Jeff. Thank you for your assistance.”

Growling, Jeff sprang at Orion just as Starr shouted, “Time!”

Jeff knocked Orion flat on his back. Pain jabbed behind Orion’s left ear. Jeff loomed above Orion. His dark eyes blazed and his giant fangs hovered inches from Orion’s face.

They glared at each other, and a twinge of apprehension shot through Orion. He didn’t want to use his full demonic powers on any member of the family, but he didn’t know Jeff well yet, and he would do whatever necessary to defend himself.

Then Jeff rose to his feet, dragging Orion with him.

Jeff’s fangs shrank and the shaggy coat covering him from head to toe receded, leaving him with a relatively human appearance. “I got a little carried away.”

“Slightly. For a moment I thought you might try to eat me.”

Jeff snorted. “Fuck no.”

Laughing, Starr said, “Yeah, Orion, everyone knows you’re a bitter man.”

Orion narrowed his eyes at Starr.

“I don’t know about you all, but that was a great workout,” said Amber, Starr’s mom. The tall redhead strode toward them.

Despite her rough edges, Orion liked her. For over fifteen years, Amber had been more of a mother to him than his own ever had. Once Starr had brought him home, she had given Orion the same tough love as every other member of the family until he finally believed he was part of them after all.

“Yeah, Amber, that was something,” Jeff admitted. “It’s amazing that we can practice on an actual demon without the danger.”

“Hmm.” Orion leveled his gaze at Jeff. “Maybe I’m not doing it right, then.”

“Trust me, there’s plenty of danger, and speaking of that, is anyone besides Orion hurt?” Amber asked.

“I’m fine,” Orion said.

“No, man, you’re bleeding.” Starr motioned behind Orion’s ear.

Orion absently swiped at moisture trickling down his neck and glanced at his hand to see it streaked with blood. He’d thought it was just sweat. “A scratch.”

“Sorry about that,” Jeff said. “Must have been when I knocked you down.”

Orion waved off his apology. “It’s how the game is played. Enemies don’t show mercy.”

“We’re not enemies.” Joel stared at him. No doubt he was contemplating whether it was true. Like any new family member, once they learned Orion’s heritage, they automatically mistrusted him. Being a three-way hybrid made him an object of suspicion.

“I get it,” Jeff said. “We need to be hard on each other because the enemy will be worse.”

 

About Kate Hill

(Also writing as Saloni Quinby)

Always a fan of romance and the paranormal, I started writing over twenty years ago. My first story was accepted for publication in 1996. Since then I’ve written over one hundred short stories, novellas and novels. I love to blend genres. I also love horror and a happily ever after, so if you’re looking for romance with witches, aliens, vampires, angels, demons, shapeshifters and more, there’s a good chance you’ll find something to your taste here.

When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading, watching horror and action movies, working out and spending time with my family and pets.  I love hearing from readers, so feel free to leave a comment at my blog or connect with me on Twitter.

Kate at Changeling Press |Website |Twitter

 

 

 

Teaser Tuesday: Death in Her Eyes by Erin Bedford #urbanfantasy #preorder

Title: Death In Her Eyes
Series: Children of the Fallen Book 1
Author: Erin Bedford
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Release Date: March 31, 2020
Cover Design: Gene Mollica Studios

 

Ellie Richmond has never been a particularly happy person. When her first vision of death happened at the age of four it was hard not to be jaded.

 

After Ellie’s mom dies and her out of the picture dad shows up at her funeral claiming she’s in grave danger, things are going to go to a whole other level of weird. Even for for someone with Ellie’s abilities.
Thrust into the world of angels and demons, Ellie will find herself in the midst the war to end all other wars and she’s the meat the dogs are fighting over.
No one could have ever seen this coming, not even Ellie.

 

 

 

Erin Bedford is an otaku, recovering coffee addict, and Legend of Zelda fanatic. Her brain is so full of stories that need to be told that she must get them out or explode into a million screaming chibis. Obsessed with fairy tales and bad boys, she hasn’t found a story she can’t twist to match her deviant mind full of innuendos, snarky humor, and dream guys.
On the outside, she’s a work from home mom and bookbinger. One the inside, she’s a thirteen-year-old boy screaming to get out and tell you the pervy joke they found online. As an ex-computer programmer, she dreams of one day combining her love for writing and college credits to make the ultimate video game!
Until then, when she’s not writing, Erin is devouring as many books as possible on her quest to have the biggest book gut of all time. She’s written over thirty books, ranging from paranormal romance, urban fantasy, and even scifi romance.
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The Case of the Deadly Game – Part 1 by Stephanie Burke #darkfantasy #murdermystery @FlashyCat

The Case of the Deadly Game Part 1 (Mai-Fly Mysteries 4)

Cover Artist: Bryan Keller

 

Mai’s Epic Journey is almost to an end, but a rest break in Lightwater, England proves to be more trouble than it’s worth. Now there’s a dead body, a hell hound, a Fire Goblin, and once again Mai is at the center of it all.

When you’re playing a Deadly game, someone always gets hurt.

 

Get it TODAY at Changeling Press

Use Discount Code TGIF02-28-2020 for 15% off your entire order!

 

EXCERPT

All rights reserved.
Copyright ©2020 Stephanie Burke

“Changeling, are you?”

The woman stared up at Mai, her dark eyes intent as she gripped Mai’s hand hard.

On either side of her desk, the duly appointed and armed guardians of the gate tightened their hands on the handles of their batons made with blessed iron, their badges setting off a faint warning pulse that only those of the Fae blood could feel.

“Human, huh?” Mai returned as the woman’s hand tightened on her wrist, staring into the woman’s eyes, daring her to do or say something.

Mai was not in the mood. After a seven and a half hour nonstop flight from Baltimore to Gatwick in the UK, even traveling first class grated on her nerves.

She had already received confirmation that Ry’s body had arrived in Cardiff and was going directly into the hands of his clan for safekeeping though her Court could not pass back into Fae lands without her, as a new Queen, being there as an escort. Even in death, he was still a member of another Queen’s Court and by Fae law, he couldn’t even travel into the grieving hands of his mother unless Mai was there to allow it. But in order to get there, Mai had to first obtain permission from the British authorities, those who guarded the gate into Fae, and she had to clear this fucking customs gate.

At least his body didn’t have to go through the comprehensive background and magical checks at the gates of Gatwick Airport with what could be a deranged human whose name was… Mai paused in her musings to stare at the nametag of the once cheery and bubbly… Karen. Her whole attitude had changed when it came to Mai, compared to everyone who had come before.

“First time?” The woman was sitting behind a tall desk that stretched across the front length of the exit gate. It was the last obstacle blocking a barred exit that led to the outside. Mai had looked around at the warded area, saw a magic meter nearly as tall as she was off in the corner, what had to be a dozen of those security guys standing around and looking menacing, the tall cold iron bars that blocked the only door to the outside, and then back to the cheery smiling woman who had chirped at all the others until her. The shock of it all had been almost enough to leave her speechless.

“Well, yeah,” Mai had shaken herself mentally and got her mind back on business, ignoring the insanely dangerous vibes she got from those security agents. “First time here.”

“Papers, please.”

Before Mai could move, Ptris who had been placing a formal looking envelope on the desk, returned the woman’s smile with a blank stare that didn’t affect her aura of happiness at all. It was really too early for that crap and there wasn’t enough coffee in Mai’s body to deal with the fake giddiness that the woman was throwing off, or at least not deal with it with anything approaching grace.

“Oh, how exciting!” The woman had all but bounced in her seat. “A new court is forming, and from The Americas no less. You don’t see that every day.”

When silence was her only answer, the woman had just giggled to herself and began to go through the paperwork. It was their passports, their travel visas, their itinerary, and the paperwork declaring who and what they were.

“Entranced human?” she asked, looking up at Austin to match his photo to his passport and he proudly waved his hand. “You don’t see that every day. You don’t have a birth certificate…”

“I was born before the department of vital statistics was created.” He chuckled. “But my papers should have my bloodwork, my clan name and affiliation as well as my date of birth and time of the willing entrancement…”

“I see,” she mused, staring at Austin to the point where Lu-Lu reached out and grabbed his hand, glaring at the woman. “Sorry, love.” Karen shook her head and turned back to the papers spread out on her desk. “I’ve never come across a human so old, though to be fair, most entrancements stopped long before the last war.”

Austin nodded in understanding. “I am unique in that regard.”

“Scotsman, are you?” she asked and he grinned. “Welcome home, then.”

She turned to Ptris, blinked twice and just stamped his papers. No one fucked with Ptris.

She stamped Lu-Lu’s well-worn paperwork — the elf traveled a lot — and then turned her gaze to Mai.

Her head tilted to the side as she stared at her and of course Mai stared back. After a few moments of this standoff, Mai realized they were in a stalemate.

About Stephanie Burke

Stephanie is a USA Today Best Selling, multi published, multi award-winning author, Master Costumer, handicapped, wife and mother of two.

From sex-shifting, shape-shifting dragons to undersea worlds, sexually confused elemental Fey and homo-erotic mysteries, all the way to pastel-challenged urban sprites, Stephanie has done it all, and hopes to do more.

Stephanie is an orator on her favorite subjects of writing and world-building, a sometime teacher when you feed her enough tea and donuts, an anime nut, a costumer, and a frequent guest of various sci-fi and writing cons where she can be found leading panel discussions or researching varied legends and theories to improve her writing skills.

Stephanie is known for her love of the outrageous, strong female characters, believable worlds, male characters filled with depth, and multi-cultural stories that make the reader sit up and take notice.

Blog | Stephanie at Changeling Press | Facebook

 

 

Raven, Red by Connie Suttle #UrbanFantasy #shifters

Cormac Flynn, a raven shapeshifter, is ancient, Celtic, and cursed.

Arianne Leone, a mountain lion shapeshifter, owns an art gallery in Deep Ellum, a popular tourist attraction and haven for musicians for decades.

Together, they are charged with guarding the one who bears the Hermit’s Stone, an ancient artifact that has held worlds together—and kept them separate—for eons.

Possession of the stone falls to Ari’s friend and art student, nineteen-year-old Nico Garcia. When Nico’s parents are killed in an attempt to destroy him, Ari and Mac must set aside their differences and work together, protecting Nico at all costs…

 

About the Book

Raven, Red
by Connie Suttle

Series
Lion and Raven

Genre
Adult
Urban Fantasy

Publisher
Independent

Publication Date
October 26, 2019

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RAVEN, RED EXCERPT

A Lion and Raven Novel

© 2019 Connie Suttle

 

CHAPTER ONE

 

September

Costa de la Muerte

Northern Spain

 

Fierce winds screamed across the sand, blowing spray off the Atlantic and drenching anyone foolish enough to tread the beaches during such a storm.

Locals blamed the winds for nightmares and other unnatural occurrences, while oscillating stones in the area rocked and rumbled, giving life to ancient tales.

Had anyone from the nearby village of Mordomo ventured out, perhaps they would recall their encounter with the et Inpaenitens, thinking they’d met the Santa Compaña instead.

Perhaps not.

This night, these spirits were especially agitated.

It is gone.

Those words passed silently from one to another, as they found themselves able to break formation.

Then our chance to destroy it has come, whispered throughout the company.

First, we must find it. Belhar, eldest, strongest, and the one who’d enthralled his companions, insisted. No matter where it travels. It holds us only while it is here.

Might we travel then, to find it?

Only the strongest among us, Belhar admonished. I will choose who may go, and who must stay. Remember, your duty is to open the gate, should the opportunity arise.

The winds whipped into a higher-pitched scream as the et Inpaenitens resolved to act accordingly and free themselves forever.

Dispersing completely for the first time in centuries, they left no footprints behind for the winds to erase.

May, the Following Year

Deep Ellum

Dallas, Texas

Arianne Leone looked up from her painting when the bell over her art gallery door jangled, announcing a visitor. She’d bent low to paint the red and yellow colors of the Indian Blanket wildflowers found in Palo Duro Canyon.

Paintings of the canyon were some of her best sellers, so she straightened her spine and stepped back to survey her work. The focus of the painting was a well-known rock formation, called the Lighthouse.

“Ari, it’s me,” Nico Garcia called from the front of the gallery.

“I’m back here,” she replied.

“Oh, that’s really good,” Nico breathed a sigh as he caught sight of her latest work. “I wish my final project was half as good.”

“It was great—you’ll get an A.”

“Thanks for letting me work on it here—that made a lot of difference. Too many distractions at home,” he admitted. “College is harder than I thought.”

“At least the semester’s over—when will your grades be out?”

“Maybe next week,” Nico shrugged. He was worried, Ari could tell.

“You’ll do fine,” she reassured him. “I just know it.”

“The raven came back again yesterday,” Nico said.

“Because you’re feeding him,” Ari teased. “Did you ever figure out what the red patch is under his beak?”

“I still can’t tell, and I can’t really ask him, can I? He does like tamales, though.”

“You working the night shift?” Ari asked.

Nico’s parents owned Blue Taco, the Mexican restaurant across the street from Ari’s gallery. It was a popular restaurant for standard Tex-Mex as well as authentic regional Mexican dishes offered as daily specials.

“Yeah. Gotta go in at six,” Nico answered Ari’s question. “Thought I’d come early and see you, first.”

“Want to use the studio during the summer?”

“Yes.” By the breathless tone of his voice and the way his dark eyes lit up, Ari understood Nico’s true purpose in paying her a visit.

“You’re welcome to use it anytime. I’ll get you a key so you can come and go.”

“All right,” Nico’s enthusiasm spread with his grin.

“I may come to the restaurant for dinner tonight—all this talk of tamales is making me hungry.”

“We can go together—you know Papa will not let you pay.”

“He needs to let me pay,” she said. “He has to cover his bills, just like everybody else.”

“The restaurant is doing really well,” Nico argued. “Besides, you let me paint here.”

“I’m still paying for my dinner. I’m just letting a friend paint in my studio—there are no strings attached. I remember art school, and how much it would have helped me to have an artist’s space to do my work. Instead, I had two roommates who couldn’t stop talking about guys and getting drunk.”

“Mama keeps asking me about a girlfriend. I have girl friends, but those are two separate words for now.”

“I hear that.” Ari and Nico bumped fists. “Want a soda or some water?”

“Water. It’s hot outside.” Nico followed Ari to the small fridge she kept in her workspace. “Something weird happened last night, though. Papa thought it was a burglar outside. The police came, but they didn’t find anything.”

“They may have been scared off. Don’t let your guard down,” Ari warned. “People seem to get crazier during the summer heat.”

“Gonna paint some more after dinner?”

“I think I’ll go home. This is almost finished, and I have a crick in my back from bending down to do the flowers.”

“Is it already sold?”

“Yeah. Somebody in Virginia wants it.”

“Cha-ching,” Nico laughed.

“Hey, that’s rent,” Ari poked his shoulder. “Do not diss the rent.”

Ari found herself flinging her arms around Nico as a deafening explosion sent them flying across her studio. Time slowed as she reflexively covered him as well as she could before their bodies hit the concrete floor.

Across the street, fire and screams erupted; Blue Taco had been reduced to little more than rubble. The bomb that leveled the restaurant had shaken the gallery and blown out its plate glass windows.

Ari came to her senses first, lifting her head—and her weight off Nico. Her back felt as if it were on fire. “Nico?” she whispered desperately. His eyes were closed and his hair was covered in dust and debris that continued to fall around them.

She’d covered the rest of him, so his clothing was relatively clean. “Nico?” Ari stretched out a shaking hand; temporarily deaf, she couldn’t hear his breaths or his heartbeat, and she didn’t trust her eyes to tell her whether Nico was alive. Touch was the only sense she had left.

There—a pulse. Ari found herself wiping tears away. Reaching for her cell phone in a back pocket, Ari groaned in pain. Her back felt as if a thousand needles were stabbing her relentlessly.

“Nine-one-one, what’s your emergency?” the voice on the other end of her call answered.

“Explosion. Injury. Seven-nine-nine Durrance Street in Deep Ellum.”

“We have several units on the way to that area. Stay on the phone; someone will arrive soon.”

Nico escaped with minor injuries. A paramedic was forced to pick glass and splinters from Ari’s back once the dust settled and first responders arrived.

Everyone inside the restaurant perished.

“He’s nineteen and his parents just died,” Ari hissed at Detective Norm Little, who’d arrived to ask questions. She’d disliked him on sight, and when he asked if Nico were in the country legally, she almost slapped him.

Another detective joined the first; Ari wanted to snarl at him before he opened his mouth. “Norm,” Lance Elliott frowned at Detective Little, “I think you’re needed outside.”

“But,” Little began to argue.

“Out. Side.” Detective Elliott jerked his head toward the open space that used to be a door into Ari’s gallery.

Ari studied Detective Elliott with a critical eye. Forties, a little bit of gray, no paunch, single or divorced, she decided. Elliott didn’t budge when it looked as if Detective Little wanted to argue again. She watched with satisfaction as Little turned and walked stiffly toward the entrance.

Once Little left the scene, Lance visibly relaxed. “Sorry about that,” he apologized to Ari. “I’ll take it from here. I don’t suppose you have a security camera outside?”

“Yeah. I can send you whatever it captured—before things blew up.”

“Can we do that now? How’s the kid?” Lance’s voice had gone soft when he asked about Nico, causing Ari to lift an eyebrow.

Bad cop, good cop, she thought to herself, before leading Lance to the back, where Nico shivered on Ari’s sofa.

Shock, Ari pulled in a weary breath. “Nico, I have a blanket. I’ll get it for you.” Detective Elliott could wait—Nico was more important.

“The back of your shirt is bloody,” Lance Elliott called after her.

“Damn. And I just changed shirts,” she cursed.

Lance hated this part of his job. “I’m sorry, Nico,” he handed Nico’s driver’s license back to him. “But we have to find out who did this. Right now, you’re the best source of information we’ve got.”

“Nothing is different,” Nico stuttered his reply. Ari had draped a blanket over Nico’s shoulders, but the kid was still shivering.

“I have a note here that says your father called Plano PD last night,” he said, trying to keep his voice even.

“We thought it was a burglar—Mama heard somebody running beside the house, so Papa called the police. They didn’t find anything. I’m not sure they looked very hard.”

“He told me the same thing earlier—that they had to call the police,” Ari spoke up.

“I’ll send somebody out to check again.” Pulling his phone from a pocket, Lance excused himself and walked toward the gallery door to place a call.

“I’ll call Plano PD,” Captain Belwether told Lance over the phone. “Can’t hurt to check. Now, what’s this beef between you and Norm?”

Lance forced himself not to curse. “The kid just lost both parents,” he growled a reply. “Norm decided to air his racism and asked if the kid was here legally.”

“Of course he did,” Belwether sounded grim. “I’ll expect you to file a report on the incident when you get back to the station.”

“I’m sure Norm already has his complaint written about me overstepping my authority,” Lance grumbled.

“I’ll talk to him when he gets back. We don’t need this blowing up on the news—that we’re this cold-hearted.”

“Except Norm is exactly that.”

“I’ll pretend I didn’t hear that. He’s close to retirement. He and I will have a talk and he’ll choose his words more wisely next time.”

“Right. I may have camera footage from a security camera across the street. I’ll let you know if there’s anything useful.”

“Body count is at twenty-nine and expected to go higher,” Belwether said.

“Damn. Look, I need to go. I don’t know how long the kid can hold up, and I still have questions to ask.” After ending the call, Lance walked back to the studio behind the gallery. His phone rang again before he reached his destination.

“House in Plano just destroyed,” Belwether barked. “Homes on both sides damaged. We have to get the kid someplace safe. Somebody’s after the whole family.”

“I’ll bring him to the station. We can go from there,” Lance studied Ari and Nico, who were now huddled together on the sofa. Ari’s arms were around Nico, as if she knew something else had gone wrong already.

Ari followed the detective to his car; Nico walked beside her, still wrapped in the blanket she’d given him. At first, Lance intended to take Nico to the police station, but Nico refused to go without Ari, as if she were his only remaining lifeline in a world gone off the rails.

“We’ll get through this, Nico,” she spoke softly to him as Lance opened the back door of his vehicle. Ari stifled a scream when a raven, bearing a small patch of red feathers at his throat, landed on top of the car with a concerned kraw!

“Don’t,” Nico begged as Lance waved an arm to shoo the bird away. “He’s my friend.”

“We can’t take him with us,” Lance began.

“Come. With. Nico,” the bird croaked, sending a shiver through Lance. Ari gasped softly but didn’t say anything.

“He said my name,” Nico turned to Ari, his eyes wide. “He’s my friend,” he turned back to Lance.

“Right. Get in the car. Bird, if you’re coming, get in and don’t make a mess.” Lance only said what he did for Nico’s benefit—no way would that bird get in the car.

Except he did, lifting off the car’s roof and flapping to Nico’s shoulder.

“Damn,” Ari breathed. “Nico, get in the car. We should go.”

“Go now,” the bird insisted.

“Right,” Lance repeated and slid into the driver’s seat.

“I’ve hauled a lot of things in my car, but I don’t think I’ve ever driven a raven across town,” Detective Elliott shook his head as he stopped the car at a red light. Ari sat up front with him; Nico and the unnamed raven were in the backseat.

“I’ve never seen a raven with red feathers under his chin,” Ari sighed. “No idea about this one, or why he showed up now. Nico’s been feeding him tamales behind the restaurant, but I’ve never seen a wild bird settle for riding in a car, even if it is with the guy who keeps him in Mexican food.”

“I can’t figure that out, either, but then nothing about this case makes sense. Why not include a raven who likes tamales and can talk?”

“Most people would freak out,” Ari pointed out. “About a talking raven.”

“I think I’m past that now.” Lance moved the car forward when the light turned green. “I can’t wait to see what happens when we take the bird into the station.”

“I-umm right heere,” the Raven squawked, making both jerk in their seats.

Ari and Nico were led to Lance’s office, where Lance offered them drinks and a place to sit. Ari watched as Lance considered his questions carefully.

“Nico, I know this is hard, but can you tell me whether your parents have acted different lately—anything out of the ordinary?” Lance asked.

Nico was seated on Lance’s desk chair while the raven clung to its high back, hovering above Nico’s right shoulder. The detective leaned casually against the desk to ask his questions, attempting to put Nico at ease while they talked.

“No. Everything was the same,” Nico denied. “School ended last Friday, so I was scheduled to work full evening shifts since then. I usually work weekends when I’m in school unless I have a project to finish and need the time.”

One of Nico’s feet bounced beneath him, making his entire leg shake—a sign of anxiety. He was doing his best to hold it together, when he’d become an orphan in the time it took to blink. Ari understood his fear and confusion.

Too well.

“Have they taken any unusual trips? Been somewhere they wouldn’t normally go?”

“They took a trip to Spain last September. Ever since Mama had us take a family DNA test and she found out she had connections to Garcias in Spain, well, she wanted to go. Papa took her.”

“What part of Spain?” Lance scribbled on his yellow notepad.

“Well, they went to Madrid, of course. Went to see lots of things. Ended up at Santiago de Compostela, before going back to Madrid and flying home. Mama had pictures on her phone. She sent me some of them.”

“Actual connections—as in relatives?” Lance lifted an eyebrow. He was following a trail Ari hadn’t yet considered.

“Distant cousins,” Nico’s shaking leg ramped up a notch. “They didn’t meet any of them—Mama only wanted to see where our Spanish ancestors came from.”

“You’re saying it was just a tourist trip, then?”

“Yes. They had fun. Came back tired and full of stories.” Nico choked on his words. Ari jerked her purse open to dig for tissues—she had some, somewhere. Nico drew his sleeve across his face, eliminating the need. The raven croaked softly and began preening Nico’s hair.

Nico sniffled and then chuckled at the attention he was getting.

“Was there anything they brought home besides pictures? Did they have an itinerary—anything on a computer?” Lance asked as the raven inspected his work, then preened more hair, giving Nico a nice lift to his bangs.

“If they did, it’s on Papa’s computer at home. Mama uses her phone. She hates the computer.”

“Nico, we can’t get to that computer,” Lance said.

“Why not?” Nico raised reddened eyes to the detective.

“I didn’t want to break the news like this, but your house was destroyed not long ago. Looks like that call to the police last night should have been investigated better. Do you have anything we can use on your phone? By the way, you shouldn’t answer it if anyone calls. We think someone may be looking for you, too.”

“Here’s my phone,” Nico pulled it from his pocket. “Why would anybody want to kill us? We didn’t do anything.”

“That’s what we’re trying to find out. Is there anything on here that you don’t want us to see? I’ll have somebody look through those pictures your mother sent.”

“No.” Nico shrugged helplessly. “I’ll give you my password so you won’t have to break into it.”

“Lance, a word?” Ari’s head jerked around as someone appeared in the doorway.

“I’ll be right back,” Lance said, straightening and walking swiftly from the office.

“Norm’s dead.” Belwether didn’t waste any time giving Lance the bad news. “Went to ask questions at a business across the alley from the restaurant. He was killed inside, along with both store employees. Their security system was ripped out and stolen. I’ve got uniforms all over the place, and forensics checking for evidence.”

“We need to look at the recordings Ari Leone sent to my phone,” Lance growled. “Damn. Norm wasn’t a friend by any stretch, but this really pisses me off.”

“We’ve blocked off half the street, and that won’t go well with tourists and visitors in Deep Ellum tonight.”

“Maybe it’s for the best—we don’t need a crowd getting killed if these assholes are still around.”

“I was hoping they’d died in the restaurant. Unless there are two teams, they hit the house after the restaurant.”

“Yeah, or maybe they planted those bombs at the house last night and detonated remotely.”

“I think the Plano cops are getting questioned about their visit to the house last night,” Belwether grimaced. “If there were any evidence to find, it’s probably obliterated by now. Bomb squad is investigating. I asked for cooperation from the Plano PD. They couldn’t say yes fast enough. Get Mona on those security recordings ASAP,” Belwether added. “I want to know who or what went into that restaurant and killed thirty-four people.”

“How high will the death toll climb?” Lance asked, after wincing at the updated number.

“Restaurant had a max capacity of ninety-five, plus staff and owners. I doubt it was full, but it could be close.”

“I think I want to have a conversation with the Plano officers who went to Nico’s house last night.”

“So do I. We can have a sit-down later. How’s the kid?”

“Not the best. Still in shock, but that could crack any minute. He doesn’t have any family in the States and doesn’t want to go anywhere without Ms. Leone.”

“Is she willing to stay with him—at least temporarily?”

“That’s the feeling I get. There’s something else, too.”

“What’s that?”

“A talking raven, who refuses to leave the kid’s side.”

“This isn’t the time for jokes, Lance.”

“I’m not joking. Didn’t you notice the bird on the back of my chair when you pulled me away?”

“Wasn’t looking for one. Damn, must be slipping,” Belwether mumbled.

“Come back with me. See for yourself.”

“I think I will.”

Belwether followed Lance back to his office. Just as he’d said, the raven perched on the back of Lance’s chair while Nico, arms crossed tightly over his chest and head down, studied his shoes.

Work shoes, Lance realized. Black leather athletic shoes, suitable for employment in a restaurant. The rest of Nico’s clothing was black, too, with the Blue Taco emblem on the left shoulder of his black polo.

Everything else the kid owned had been blown apart. All he had was his phone and a backpack he’d carried to the gallery before going to work.

“I’ll be damned,” Belwether whispered, jerking Lance away from his thoughts. Belwether was looking at the bird instead of the kid. “Does he have a name?” Belwether stepped into Lance’s office to ask Nico. Lance, wearing a frown, followed him in.

“I don’t know.” Nico’s arms tightened around himself.

“Mac,” the raven croaked.

“Your name is Mac?” Belwether sounded incredulous.

“Cor-mac. Flynn. Call. Me. Mac.” There was a frown in the raven’s croak, since his beak couldn’t transform to convey the message.

“Fucking hell,” Belwether swore softly.

“I think you should ask your questions later,” Ari stood abruptly. “Nico’s had enough for the day.”

“What. She. Said,” the raven agreed.

“We can put Nico in a safe house with guards,” Lance suggested.

“He can come home with me, Detective.” Lance understood that Ari didn’t like Belwether’s intrusion nor his words. She was right, though. Nico looked as if he were barely hanging on.

“Take them to her place,” Belwether snapped at Lance. “Ms. Leone, don’t leave town. I’ll have a unit outside for your protection tonight. Tomorrow, Detective Elliott will call and set up another interview.”

“Thanks for all the warmth and hospitality,” Ari’s eyes and voice had gone so cold Lance wanted to shiver. “We’ll be fine.”

Nico was up and out of the chair fast. Mac flapped to his shoulder and held on. Ari swept out of the office first, followed by Nico.

“What. She. Said,” the raven repeated on the way out.

Ari fumed while Lance drove her and Nico to her house in North Dallas. She knew Lance kept looking her way, hoping to find a way to apologize for the Captain’s gaffe, but she refused to allow an opening.

Besides, it didn’t take a genius—just someone with sensitive hearing—to know Nico was holding back tears while he stroked Mac’s feathers in the back seat. The occasional sniff let her know exactly how things were.

“I’ll call tomorrow,” Lance said as he saw them to Ari’s back door. He waited while she unlocked it and turned off the alarm.

“Thank you, Detective,” Ari said before shutting the door in his face. She was grateful to be stronger than she looked as Nico fell into her arms and sobbed. Mac hopped to a nearby kitchen counter and spoke soft mumblings only a raven might understand.

 

Tour Wide Giveaway

To celebrate the tour for RAVEN RED by Connie Suttle, we’re giving away a paperback copy of the book to one lucky winner!

GIVEAWAY TERMS & CONDITIONS:  Open to US shipping addresses only. One winner will receive a paperback copy of Raven Red by Connie Suttle. This giveaway is administered by Pure Textuality PR on behalf of Connie Suttle.  Giveaway ends 3/31/2020 @ 11:59pm EST.  CLICK HERE TO ENTER!

 

 

About the Author

CONNIE SUTTLE is the author of the Blood Destiny series, the Legend of the Ir’Indicti series, the High Demon Series, the God Wars series and the Saa Thalarr series. Other titles are scheduled for release very soon.

Connie earned her MFA from the University of Oklahoma and has taught courses at the university level. Reading (and writing) have been a constant throughout her life.

The author lives in Oklahoma with her patient, long-suffering husband and three cats. Obviously, the cats are not so long-suffering and are certainly not patient.

Website  |  Facebook  |  Twitter  |  Goodreads  |  BookBub  |  Amazon

 

 

 

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