Call Forth the Waves
READ CHAPTER 1:
I dreamed I was on The Show’s train. I don’t know if I actually heard a sound while I slept or if it was pure, fearful imagination and regret, but I felt the uneven glide of wheels along the track and heard the steady rhythm of the rail mechanism as it laid new planks down and picked the old ones up. My father, Magnus Roma, had designed our circus’s train so that it could roll anywhere, even through my mind in the middle of the night.
I was mute and invisible, and when I tried to warn the people I loved that they needed to run, they couldn’t hear me. I watched, screaming silently, as Wardens Nye and Arcineaux laid waste to them all and left the train a smoking heap of slag. There were no survivors— human, metal, or Klok, who was a little bit of both. He died at my feet, glassy eyes frozen open so that I couldn’t get away from them. It was exactly how I’d watched the mechanical re-creation of my mother fall, but my father had built Klok with my eyes, which made it worse. A piece of me died with him.
My father had created her to protect me, and now she was trying to kill me.
I ran, and the train pursued over water and air and land. There was no escape, so I did the only thing I could: I turned around, stood my ground, and called destruction down to save myself. I unleashed the full power of the Celestine without restraint, until the train and my mother were battered to dust and stopped trying to come back.
“I’m sorry,” I sobbed, but the words stuck in my throat, held there by a paste of tears and ash while the remains sifted through my fingers. “I’m sorry!”
I screamed so loud and hard the words could have cut themselves free from my throat, but they never made it to my mouth. My hands began to glow, and I felt the impossible heat of a fire that had never before burned me.
Hotter and brighter. Hotter and brighter, until my skin flaked off in twinkling bits.
I was a star swirling to life in the ruins of a universe beyond my control. Uncontainable energy that had been held in check for too long.
I became heaven’s fire. And in the final moment of my mortal existence, I screamed again. Unheard again. One last, horrible second of incineration before I woke up, still screaming, but far from silent.
Doors slammed up and down the halls inside the Hollow, the sup- posed haven my father had promised would protect us all, and I knew what came next. The monsters. That’s what I’d called the sounds as a child, before I knew the monsters were me. Bad dreams always caused my abilities—my touch—to flare. Groaning metal and creaking and shrieking from power lines. The chiming of chimes and the straining of gears. Every square inch of the Hollow was rushing to my defense, ripping itself apart to do so. The room’s rug caught fire. Pipes burst from the walls, flooding what had once been my nursery and dousing the flames. Next came a sour wind blowing havoc through the room. I never should have slept there, but I was obsessed with the nursery and everything in it, just for the hope that I could force a real memory of it to surface.
In my old life, when the train wasn’t a nightmare, this was where my father would have appeared in my door. But I’d lost him, too. Now silencing the chaos was up to me. I had to get control over myself before the call I hadn’t intended to send out reached the stars and brought them down, the same way I had called to them the night I was born— when I murdered my twin brother.
I threw my hands over my ears to stop the sounds, but all that did was dredge up walls of rock from under the Hollow’s foundation. They blocked me in on all sides, creating a cell that would isolate me from everyone else.
Alone and in the dark, I was able to get a handle on myself. I couldn’t hear the monsters anymore. I laid my palms flat to the cool slate, inhaled the earthy scent of soil with all its microscopic life, and my panic calmed. It would have been easy to leave the walls up, or even to command them to crush me so I couldn’t be a danger to anyone ever again. The wardens wouldn’t chase my friends without me. But that was the kind of stray thought a half-sleeping mind considers. I’d never really do it; I still had three sisters left to save.
My stone prison began to crack, letting fresh air and light through. Anise. She was terrakinetic, someone who could move earth by will alone, and she had a lot more practice at it than I did. She and my other sisters had been on display as part of our circus, but I’d had to hide myself, claiming the identity of my dead brother. I’d been a hunter wearing the pelt of her kill for a disguise so I could walk among the flock of so-called normal humans undetected.
“Are you coming out, or should I get the bear?” Anise asked through the crack in my defenses.
Each of my sisters had a particular skill for creating creatures from the element they wielded, the same way my father made golems out of metal and gears. Anise’s took the form of a Kodiak bear. Like a grizzly, only bigger and more aggressive.
“I’m fine,” I said. “Just give me a minute.” The stone cracked wider—that was a “no.” Not only was Anise in the room, but Jermay was there, looking
“I said I was fine,” I snapped, climbing out of the cell. If Birdie was there, she was hiding, making her the only one with any sense.
Once I’d threaded my arms through the gap, Jermay took my hands and pulled. My sister had made me an exit, but not a wide one. I had to work for it.
The room was a wreck of broken furniture and sloshing water. Anise dismantled my hiding spot, bidding the stones return to the ground, but she couldn’t do anything about the rest. Baby clothes that had once sat neatly stacked on shelves were now a muddy mess. The water was quickly soaking a wooden crate of books in the corner so that the pages turned translucent and stuck together. One book floated past, with a yellow duckling peeking out from the warped body of a brown dog.
“I’ll fix it,” I told her.
“Fixing things isn’t enough. You’ve got to stop breaking them in the first place. You’re getting stronger, Chey-chey. You’ve got to get control of yourself.”
This was humiliating. She was scolding me like a child, and the others were all watching.
“What if Jermay had been in here with you?”
Ever since our escape from Warden Nye and his Center in the sky, sleeping had been a problem. We all had our nightmares and our shared fear that the dream would overtake reality to prove we were all still prisoners. At some point in the night, there was an inevitable migration. I’d wake up to find Jermay had snuck in and was now sleeping beside me, or I’d wake up alone and creep down the hall to the room that was his. Winnie and Birch did the same thing, and on the occasions that we passed each other in the halls, no one said anything. No one looked anyone else in the eye. Our fears came with an unacknowledged shame, especially on the night everyone but Klok had ended up on the floor of Anise’s room, just close enough to touch so no one could get lost.
“What if Birdie had curled up to sleep in your chair instead of mine tonight?” Anise asked. “You could have hurt her, or worse!”
Didn’t she understand? It wasn’t me—it was the Hollow. Every inch was a reminder of why our house had never been my home. There wasn’t a single room I could use as a refuge from the guilt I carried for what I’d cost her and everyone else. She’d tried to convince me that my brother’s death wasn’t my fault, but that had been a fleeting comfort. I knew the truth. I’d lived it for sixteen years, and now it was choking the life out of me in retribution.
Absolute truth was so terrifying an idea that I still hadn’t found the nerve to access the memory chip my father left me for my birthday. I knew it had to be important, but I wasn’t ready for my world to twist again. I kept the chip with me always, tucked into a pants pocket when I was awake or a shirt pocket when I slept, but I absolutely could not open it. I hadn’t even told anyone else it existed for fear that whatever secrets it held would be worse than those shared by the walls around me.
“I have to get out of here,” I said. It felt like an admission of weakness, me begging for my big sister to protect me from the unseen things that gathered in the dark to scare me. “How long until Klok has the golems ready to go?”
My father’s metal son was the only one with enough foresight to leave me alone. He’d been in Magnus’s basement workshop for days, putting the final touches on repairs to Xerxes and Bijou so we could use them as transportation to reach whatever secret place Winnie knew. Not safe, she said, but free of the Commission, and that was free enough to let me breathe. Klok had been working nonstop, but I still wished he was faster. I had been ready to leave the day we arrived.
“Any time now,” Anise said. She seemed to notice the edge in her own voice, because she softened it to ask: “Honestly this time—are you okay?”
“Am I ever?”
The rocks were gone and the fire doused, but we were still ankle- deep in rising water. I placed my left hand against an exposed pipe and held the right out toward my floor. The leak stopped and reversed, flowing back into the pipe with everything that had drenched my room.
Once the rug was dry, I covered the break in the pipe with my palm and willed the metal to melt into a new seam.
“See?” I said to Anise. “It’s under control.”
“For now.” She scowled at me. “I’m making breakfast, if you want any. Do not leave this house.” Then she let me be. Winnie and Birch left my door, so only Jermay and I remained. I could almost hear Birdie’s ghostly steps running away unseen.
Or it could have been my mind playing another trick on me.
“So what was it this time?” Jermay asked me. “The Center falling out of the sky? Accidentally summoning an army of Medusae golems that dragged you into space?”
Nightmares were so common that we knew each other’s by name.
I shook my head and said, “The train,” so quietly I almost didn’t hear it myself.
“Mine was a man-eating clock tracking me through a poisonous jungle.” He grinned, so I couldn’t tell if he was telling the truth or not. One of his more frustrating traits.
“I left her,” I said. “Who?” “Iva. She was shot, and she died, and all I did was step over her body and save myself.” “You mean the robot?” “Don’t say it like that. You wouldn’t talk about Klok like that.” “Klok’s different,” Jermay said. “Why?” “He just is.” Jermay gave me the lopsided grin that used to be my greatest weakness, but he was trying old tricks on a new girl. I wasn’t that Penn any- more, and I wasn’t really Penelope, either. I was something new, hard and sharp because my edges hadn’t worn down yet. No matter what I said or did, I cut him.
“You didn’t know her,” I told him bluntly.
I wondered if I could have saved her. I had rewired Warden Nye’s mechanical hands without a manual or tools, using a few stern words and stubborn looks. That had been years’ worth of damage. Maybe even decades. Iva’s wound was fresh. Her systems were mostly intact. Surely I could have routed the rest around the burnouts. I could have done something—anything. But I left her there, and I didn’t think about try- ing to fix her until we were out of reach.
I forgot her, and now I knew what it was like to watch my mother die.
“Iva fulfilled her purpose,” Jermay said. “She helped save us. If it’s possible for a machine to feel satisfaction, then she died happy.”
“But she still died.” I started picking up the mess, one infant-sized toy at a time. Jermay sat down on the end of the bed I’d begged Klok to move in here for me. He surveyed the room.
“What d’ya say I snap my fingers and clean this place up my way?” His way meaning magic. Illusion. Deception. I’d blink my eyes, and he’d have everything hidden in the closet and under the bed before I opened them again. “That’s okay. I’ve got it.” I needed to ground myself in reality. Using my hands felt normal, and I’d nearly forgotten what that word meant. Sleight of hand wouldn’t help me remember.
“I’m sorry I can’t make it better,” he said. “So am I.” He flinched as if I meant that I blamed him for not being able to fix things, but I was only returning his apology. I was sorry, too. I wanted to make things better for him, but didn’t know how.
We were both orphans, most likely. I couldn’t say for certain that my father was dead, but he wasn’t there, and every new day withered my hope of finding him a little more. And yet, I still had that scrap of hope—Jermay didn’t. His father’s grave was right outside the door to the Hollow, and he was the one trying to make me feel better, when I should have been showing him the same compassion.
What was wrong with me?
“Anise is right. You are getting stronger,” he said when I sat down beside him on the bed.
“Not strong enough, and I can’t stay cooped up like this. I need air.”
The Show’s train had never stayed in one place longer than a week; we were always on the go. What I hadn’t realized was that we couldn’t afford to stop. The only time I’d ever been still longer than that was inside the Center. It took me a while to figure out the timeline, but between fleeing with Jermay and the others, being unconscious after we lost the train, and the days I spent imprisoned with Birch in the clouds, I lost six weeks. It felt like six lifetimes—one each for me, my sisters, and my missing father. Being inside the Hollow felt like six times more than that. There weren’t even any windows.
“I need to see the sky,” I said.
Something else Anise should have understood. She’d been weakened by having her access to the ground cut off inside the Center. I needed to see the sun and moon and stars, not have them reduced to the tingling agony of a ghost limb I could feel but not see or touch.
Time had lost all meaning in the Hollow. We slept because we were always exhausted and unable to relax enough to rest. No one knew if it was day or night outside. We didn’t even know how long we’d been there.
“You can’t go out,” Jermay told me. “Anise said—” “I don’t care!” A small tremor shook the room. “Sorry,” I said. “But that’s going to keep happening unless I get out of here.” “They’re looking for you.” “Nye was looking for me. The rest of them are licking their wounds.
We’re under a tree. What are the chances that someone from the Commission will wander through these woods at the exact moment I step outside?”
“About the same chance as you being possible,” Jermay said, more serious. “If you have a flare out in the open, someone could see it.”
“Fine—compromise. I won’t go out, but I’m opening the door before I suffocate. If I don’t, I’m liable to literally blow the roof off of this place, and that would be a lot easier to see from a distance than one girl in a random stretch of trees.”
“I don’t know, Penn . . .” “I’m going.” I was already getting up to leave. An alarm sounded. My room was suddenly awash in lights and noise. “Wha—” Jermay started to ask, but I shrugged. Unless Anise had wired me with motion sensors in my sleep, the alert had nothing to do with us.
We hurried into the hall. Anise ran past us toward the main room and the entrance we’d used to access the Hollow when we first arrived.
“Did either of you touch the outer door?” she asked. “Why?” “Did you touch the door?” she shouted. I’d never seen Anise lose her temper or composure. She was the one who kept the rest of us grounded. Whatever this was, it wasn’t good. “We didn’t touch anything,” Jermay said as Birch and Winnie joined us from the back. Klok stomped up the stairs from my father’s workroom. The trapdoor slammed open against the hall rug. “Check the sensors,” Anise ordered him. “Code Blackout. Turn everything off in case they’re skimming for energy signatures.” With entire cities going dark at night out of fear that the Medusae or another otherworldly race might see us, the Commission had devel- oped ways to scan for illegal tech in areas where it was forbidden. All of my father’s work was cutting edge, specifically because it was made for the Commission to buy freedom for our family. Their equipment could pick it up, easy.
Klok nodded and disappeared back into the floor. Two seconds later, the room dimmed to a candlelit glow.
“What is it?” I asked. “What’s wrong?” “The alert on the outer door. Someone’s coming in.” I reached for Jermay’s arm at the same time he reached for mine.
We twined them together with our pinkies interlocked for luck. Maybe some of the old Penn was still in there, after all.
A tiny invisible mass latched onto my other side so hard that I almost toppled over.
“Birdie!” Anise shouted. “I need to see you, baby.” “I think I’ve got her,” I said. Birdie slipped her hand into mine, slowly bleeding into view without a sound. Her eyes were wide and staring, her whole body shaking. She was barefoot and in a pair of red-checkered pajamas she’d rummaged from one of my sisters’ closets.
“Into the basement with Klok,” Anise ordered her. Birdie sprinted for the trapdoor, disappearing again as she went. Someone pounded on the outer door. The tunnel lights went out completely, robbing us of our view, and I backed up with Jermay, farther into the main room. There was only the one exit. We ran into Winnie and Birch so that the four of us formed a line. Standing together had given us an advantage before. Hopefully, there was still safety in numbers.
“What if it’s someone from The Show?” Jermay asked. “It could be . . . couldn’t it?”
The look Anise gave him over her shoulder wasn’t promising.
“Whoever it is, I’ll tell them to leave and forget how they got here,” Winnie offered. She was The Show’s siren in more than appearance, and if she told someone to do something, they did it.
“I doubt they’re alone,” Anise said. “They’re not going to give you the chance to speak to each one of them. All of you get into the workroom.”
“But—” She wouldn’t let me argue. “Do it, Penn!” she commanded. “If I don’t know the person on the other side of that door, I’m collapsing the tunnel, and then I’m bringing the rest of this place down behind me. You’ll have to make them a new way out.”
“I’m not leaving you!”
That was how I lost my sisters the first time. They guarded our escape from the train, and in return, they were taken by the Commission.
Anise growled, but she didn’t waste time arguing with me.
“Winnie, Birch, grab whatever’s worth taking downstairs and tell Klok to be ready to run. We can’t wait for perfection anymore.”
“Got it,” Winnie said.
She and Birch descended the workroom stairs as the seal on the main door broke with a creak. A new light appeared at the mouth of the tunnel. Something moving. As it came closer, it behaved strangely like a living thing, but it was definitely on fire. It ran the last several yards on padded feet.
“Samson!” I cried, relieved. There was no mistaking my sister Evie’s flame-dog once he was close enough to have a shape. I’d seen her summon him nightly for The Show for as long as I could remember. “Evie’s made it! She escaped!”
“Penn, wait!” Jermay pulled on my arm, though I could see Evie in the tunnel now. “Look at him.”
I turned my attention back to Samson. The usually playful pup stood with his legs braced, twisting his neck against an unseen leash, being forced to go where he didn’t want to be led.
“Evie?” Anise called. She kept her hands down, but I could feel her power rooting itself into the ground beneath our feet. She was preparing for an attack. Provoked, she could have a rampaging Kodiak between us and the door in a heartbeat. “If that’s you, say something.”
“This is wrong,” Jermay said, shaking his head. “We should—”
He lost his voice as Evie stepped into the main room with a hound’s collar around her throat and manacles on her wrists and ankles. She’d lost the glow that had always made her seem to shine.
“Run!” she said. Then the ball of flame in her hand leapt from her fingers.
About the Book
Author: Dannielle Wicks
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Ashlee Reynolds couldn’t be more ordinary…
While most college freshmen are partying and going on wild adventures, nineteen-year-old Ashlee just goes to classes, works, and hangs out with friends. It’d be nice to have some excitement in her life—or even better, a little romance. When her wish comes true, a midnight rendezvous lands her in the hospital…
There was this boy. Isn’t that how every spiralling downhill story begins? It’s a little strange he wants to meet her on the edge of the woods at night, but she did want to spice things up, and an unconventional date is the perfect ingredient. But when he stands her up, leaving her alone in the dark, she’s attacked by a wild animal. The next day, Ashlee wakes up in the hospital, dazed, confused, and convinced she’s gone crazy.
When strange things begin to happen, she meets Jayden Ross, who brings crazy to a whole new level…
After her seemingly random attack, other beasts of the feline and canine variety are drawn to her—and we’re not talking housecats and lapdogs. When Ashlee bumps into Jayden on campus, her immediate attraction tempts her to get closer, but he wants nothing to do with her—until he realizes she’s had an encounter with one of the others.
Ashlee learns Jayden isn’t entirely human, and nothing is what is seems.
On the run and fighting for their lives, Ashlee and Jayden weave their way through a world of powerful corporations and their secret experiments, all of which revolve around Jayden’s past—and possibly, their future.
Dannielle lives in Kingaroy, Australia, with her fiance, 3 dogs and a bird named Torak. Since deciding never to become an adult, she has engrossed herself in the amazing world of young adult fiction and an unusual amount of TV. She adores Disney movies and cant get enough of classic fairy tales. When she’s not busy writing, she can be found sneaking a chocolate from the fridge.
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Title: Superstitious Feelings
Series: Soul Scavengers #3
By: LJ Winters
Publication Date: April 8, 2016
Genre: Ghost Hunters/RomanceSullivan Wilde finds himself alone and wondering just what happened. Olivia Emerson finds herself on the other side of the country without the Ghost Man, facing down her greatest personal demon in the flesh. When Sullivan gets a video clip of the Soul Scavengers team's latest investigation, he's stunned. Tracking Olivia down, he rushes to make it to her side before the Devil Himself can swoop in and destroy everything Sullivan holds precious. What was supposed to be a thrilling paranormal investigation at an archaeological dig site inside the spooky Superstition Mountains, turns into the team's worst nightmare. This time, it isn't the dead that threaten Sullivan and Olivia. Lost gold, a doomsday cult, and an old enemy all plot against them as they fight to stay alive.
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Soul Scavengers #1
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Soul Scavengers #2
Amazon US - http://goo.gl/C3jPCG
“Twin flame?” he asked, and placing the pictures on the nightstand he turned to face her.
“It’s another way of saying, your soul mate. You’re my soul mate Sullivan, and I’m yours.” She nestled closer to him on the bed, her hand resting on his knee. “It’s said that Twin Flames meet lifetime after lifetime, sometimes as lovers, sometimes in other family incarnations. I truly believe we’ve been married to each other’s souls for a millennium or more.”
“How? Like husband and wife?”
“Not exactly. I could have been your father, you could have been my brother or sister. You could have been my wife and me your husband sometimes. The common belief is that it varies. However, a few times in our earthly incarnations when we were lucky, we got to be lovers. Like we are today.”
“Fascinating.” His slow, sexy drawl created an uncontrolled tailspin inside her belly, and Olivia found her carnal-self needing him in the worst possible way.
“Yes. It really is. You and I are old souls, Sullivan. Children of the stars,” she told him, ghosting her hand down his arm. “You just had to wait a few years for me to catch up to you in this life. I’m just sorry for taking so long.”
Lisagh J. Winters is an emotional writer who loves pitting determined women up against hard, difficult to love men. Her stories read much like watching your favorite TV drama, where POV can sometimes head hop here and there, but you're always sure where you stand. Intriguing, strong-willed characters, their push-me-pull-you relationships and an uphill battle of wills are what drives Lisagh's emotionally rich tales. Angst is her middle name. When not glued to her laptop, she enjoys life with her husband, three dogs and seven cats. She also loves interacting with her readers on Goodreads and Twitter!
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Genre: urban fantasy/paranormal romance
Publisher: Fairhill Publishing LLC
Date of Publication: March 20, 2016
Number of pages: 303 in ePub
Word Count: 117,259
Cover Artist: Damonza
In loving her, he breaks laws that have existed for millennia. In loving him, she overcomes her pain, but to discover his true identity would shred her reality.
He is Barakiel. Warrior. Exile. Hopeless romantic. Barakiel is Covalent, a race of ancient beings who use their great power to keep the elemental forces of Creation and Destruction in Balance. The Covalent Council exiled Barakiel to the Earthly Realm as the price of the treachery of his father, Lucifer, who wages perpetual war against it. Lucifer also relentlessly pursues his son. The Council thinks Lucifer views his sonâs power as a threat, but Barakiel knows his father seeks to destroy even the memory of love.
She is Alexandra âZanâ O'Gara. FBI Agent. Army veteran. Recovering drunk. Zanâs troubled past left her with little interest in men, but she had never encountered anyone like the stunning Rainer Barakiel. Zan believes Rainer is a wealthy businessman with expertise in edged weapons who can help her with a case. From the moment she meets him she wants him more than sheâs ever wanted anything, but her intense attraction is as frightening as it is thrilling.
This is their love story. As Zanâs deepening feelings for Rainer lead her to confront her emotional damage, he struggles to meet the demands of his home world so he will be free to love her, and to reveal his true nature. Through the gruesome crime that first brought Zan to his door, Barakiel learns that his presence in the Earthly Realm has placed some of its most vulnerable citizens in danger. Compelled to protect them, he undertakes a series of duties he may not survive, even as Zan rescues him from centuries of a deadened heart.
Book Trailer https://youtu.be/HGeVs2XgQjo
Excerpt from part one, Vernal Equinox, Chapter 1
The front of the main building had a set of massive wooden double doors and a smaller heavy wooden door to the side with the bell. She rang, and when the door opened she forgot she was supposed to speak. He was gigantic, at least six foot eight, with broad shoulders and a lithe, athletic build. A few strands of his unruly, mid-length blond hair fell over eyes that seemed to be several shades of blue at once. They drew her in with more than their beauty, as if something primeval was hidden in their depths, just barely restrained. He faintly smiled. She knew her face was getting red.
What the hell. Donât be such a fool.
âUm, hello, Iâm Special Agent Alexandra OâGara of the FBI.â She stuck out her hand. âMy office made an appointment.â
âYes. Iâm Rainer Barakiel. A pleasure to meet you.â His voice was rich and deep and he spoke with a slight accent. When he shook her hand, she held it too long. She still felt flushed.
âI, um, I appreciate you taking the time for this, Mr. Barakiel.â
âIâm happy to help.â
God, so lame. He must have to deal with swooning women all the time, but I doubt he expected it from an FBI agent.
Turning gracefully, he showed her through the door. Zan tried not to stare at the way his jeans fit his hips, or the contours of his muscles beneath his gray cashmere sweater. Gripped by a strong urge to run her hands all over him, she was lucky his place was filled with fascinating things to distract her. Antiques and art were arranged tastefully in the open space, among brown leather couches and chairs and colorful woven rugs. Pale sun from high skylights glinted off a sunburst mosaic above the mantle of a huge concrete fireplace. Zan tried to concentrate on her surroundings, at least until her pulse slowed down.
âWhat a fantastic place.â
âThank you.â He dipped his head toward her in an old-fashioned display of manners that she found charming.
âThis whole property is great. What was it used for, before you lived here?â
âThis land was part of the old Rohm and Haas Chemical plant you can still see as you enter. The facility was shut down in 2010.â
âI wish more people would reclaim these abandoned places by the river. Most of it just goes to waste, and meanwhile theyâre developing Chester County farmland.â
âYes.â He looked at her intensely. âI felt good about redeveloping a brownfield. I had to do a lot of remediation, but now itâs an excellent place to live.â
âAll you need now is for the city to buy the front parcel and turn it into a park.â Zan gave him her best sunny smile, with an openness she knew made people trust her.
âThat would be ideal,â he replied, âbut Iâm not holding my breath.â He returned her smile.
My god, youâre beautiful. How are you that beautiful? Why am I here? The knives.
âUm, in the interest of not taking up any more of your time than necessary, these are the knives in question.â Zan held up the case. âDaggers, I think. Did Professor Carson explain where we found them?â
âWell, someone conducted some kind of ritual in Independence National Historical Park. We wouldnât be that concerned with weird people doing weird things at night, but we found a human spleen. We tested the DNA and ran it through the database and discovered that the spleen came from a body found this past winter by the Philadelphia police. All its internal organs had been removed. The police called us because they thought it might involve organ trafficking, but we never found any evidence of it, so we werenât much help. No one ever filed a missing persons report on this man, and Philly PD was never able to identify the corpse, let alone solve the crime.â
âDisturbing,â he said.
âVery. We thought if you could tell us something about the knives it might give us some insight into what this whole thing was about, maybe generate some sort of lead. They look old, and Professor Carson said you are an expert in antique bladed weapons.â
âYes. I collect them. Iâve learned a lot over the years.â
âLetâs take a look,â Zan said. He led her to a massive carved table to the left near the kitchen area. She opened the case and laid the daggers out on a cloth. After he leaned down to scrutinize them, he said they were ceremonial daggers and asked if he could pick them up. Zan told him that because they were evidence, he would need to wear latex gloves. She handed him a pair. He tried to put one on for a minute, then frowned at her.
âIâm sorry. Itâs too small.â
Zan stared at his hands. They were huge, but not meaty. They looked like they could crush a manâs skull, but also assemble a fine Swiss watch.
Or maybe gently touch me.
She felt the heat rise to her face again. He raised an eyebrow.
âYou can use the glove like a handkerchief and just pick it up that way,â she said, fixing her gaze on the floor.
Picking up a dagger, he held it level with his eyes. When he had done the same to all four and they were back in the case, he motioned Zan closer and directed her to lean down. He showed her the intricate motifs and the manner in which the blades were joined to the hilts. He explained that from these features, he could determine that the blades were ceremonial, made in France in the late 19th century. She struggled to listen to what he was saying. That impossible face was so close, and she could smell him. He smelled like a pristine forest in the spring.
âWhat kind of ritual was it?â he asked. âThese daggers would have been used for ceremonies, like the opening or closing of a formal meeting. They are valuable as antiques but they are not real weapons.â
âWe havenât really explored the evidence in terms of the ritual yet, because weâve been concentrating on the spleen.â Zan shook her head. âThat sounds odd, doesnât it?â
âItâs an odd situation.â
âIf I showed you some crime scene photos, do you think you would have any insight?â
He rubbed his chin. âI might be able to say whether the daggers were related to the ritual.â
âThat could be helpful. May I bring them by?â Zan asked, failing to disguise her pleasure at the idea.
âIâm leaving town for a few days tomorrow. Can you come back this evening?â
âYes, I think so.â She paused to consider for a moment. âI need to remind you that you canât discuss anything about this with anyone. Did you read the agreement?â
âYes. I understand that Iâve agreed to keep all this confidential.â
âGood. I should be able to come back around 7:00.â
âIâll be here. In the meantime, if I may take some photos of these daggers, I can send a few emails. My contacts may be able to discover their provenance.â
âThat would be extremely helpful. Just donât reveal that they were involved in a crime.â He nodded and began to snap pictures of the knives with his phone.
âI have to say, Professor Carson was right,â Zan said. âIâm amazed you were able to identify a time period and a use for those in just a few minutes. I would love to have that kind of expertise. I know a lot about guns because it comes with the job, but I love edged weapons. Theyâre so elegant.â
âYes.â He looked at her intensely again. âWould you like to see my collection?â
âIâd love to.â
Just great, OâGara. One handsome face and you toss your professionalism right out the window.
They moved to the left, behind the open kitchen, to an ultra-modern staircase of black and silver and honey-toned wood leading to a mezzanine lined with bookshelves. Zan enjoyed following him up the stairs.
Look at that ass. That ass is perfect.
They walked along the mezzanine to a huge sunny room at the back. Zan stood gaping when they entered. Save for several large windows, every square foot of the stucco walls was hung with bladed weapons: axes, pikes, halberds, and swords, mostly swords, in more styles and sizes than Zan knew existed. Wood and glass cases filled with daggers and other small blades sat at the far ends, with an island of leather couches and chairs at the center, rimmed around a thick Persian rug in velvety red.
âThis is the coolest room I have ever seen,â she said. He chuckled and thanked her.
That was adorable. God. Get ahold of yourself.
âSo, um, Mr. Barakiel, what kind of time span do these weapons represent?â she asked.
âPlease, call me Rainer.â Zan flushed and looked up at him. He still had that adorable look on his face, like a little boy showing someone his secret clubhouse. Before she gave a thought to what she was doing, she had asked him to call her Zan.
About the Author:
Libby Doyle is the pen name of an attorney and former journalist who took a walk around the corporate world and didnât like it. Considering sheâs written an extravagant yarn filled with sex and violence, she thought a pen name would be prudent. She also thinks itâs kind of fun.
Libby grew up on the East Coast of the United States. She attended college in the 1980s and became immersed in the underground music scene. She met talented people and troubled people. She met people who taught her what it means to be your own person. In the 1990s, she went back to school to get a master's degree in journalism. Before beginning work in her chosen field, an attack of wanderlust set her traveling. For all that Libby loves books, she believes nothing compares to the education of travel.
After her wanderings, she returned to her career. For more than a decade, Libby worked as a journalist, until her interests led her to law school. She kept her full-time job while attending law school at night, the most brutal experience sheâs ever had. She cursed her own stupidity countless times as her body and mind became sick with exhaustion, but sheâs glad she did it.
Libby knows sheâs a lucky woman. Sheâs had countless adventures, memories that feed her imagination. She stood atop a hill in Connemara in a cold wind, watching sunlight sparkle off the pristine sea below. She crested a trail after a grueling hike to find the glory of the Continental Divide spread before her. She was followed by a howler monkey in a Mexican jungle, shared the midday meal with Buddhist monks in Korea, and got pummeled by an opponent in a martial arts test in Japan. She trekked for days among the Himalayas, mountains so high and timeless they made her feel completely insignificant.
Sheâs married to a man who is funny and kind and patient enough to listen to her chatter on about her characters. They're not even real, but she feels like they're her friends. Sheâs confident they'll keep you entertained. Through her fanciful tale, she hopes they speak to you.
About the Book
Author: E.B. Black
Genre: Fantasy Romance
Bright wishes he wasn’t the god of the suns.
Every day is the same: he makes the suns rise and then they set. He looks down at humanity’s corruption. He watches wars, people starving, and thieves stealing.
He can’t help. Every time he tries, the humans take something from him. They’ve destroyed his family and he has no doubt that they’d like to destroy him, too.
Adonya is a raven-haired witch with powers that make her as close to a goddess as a human can be. He’s wondered what it was like to be with a woman, but all the goddesses are dead.
He can feel it when he touches her–she’s as dangerous as all the rest of the humans. Can the power of love join their races together? Or will one of them wind up dead in the end?
E.B. Black is the annoying author who lives in the head of a nerdy housewife named Elizabeth. Elizabeth tries to live out her days by walking her dog, spending time with her husband, doing housework, and watching television, but E.B. Black makes her drop everything to type out weird fantasy stories. Elizabeth is asking anyone who read this to please send help.
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Under My Skin
The Witchling Apprentice
by B. Kristin McMichael
Genre: YA Paranormal
Release Date: March 15th 2016
Lexia Press, LLC
Summary from Goodreads:
Witches, potions, and magical spellsâthat all made sense, but men turning into animal-like monsters in the middle of the night? That had to be fiction, right? Wrong. Cassandra Booth thought her world of witches would be complete when she joined her coven. Fate didnât plan to let that be the case for her. Joining the coven brings new knowledge, like mates and men as animals, all things Cassie would rather not know. As her plans unravel she must find a way to join the coven without committing her life to a guy she once was friends with and now hates.
I'm a Texas gal with a wonderful husband, an amazing six year old son, and an adorable newborn baby boy!
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