*Please refer to this post for Treasure Hunt Giveaway details.
Genres: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Format: Kindle (.mobi)
Number of Prizes Available: 1
When Supernatural Investigation Bureau agent Bluebell Kildare (a.k.a. Blue) arrives at the scene of the crime, it’s obvious the grotesquely damaged body of the deceased teenage boy was caused by far more than a simple hit and run; and she vows to catch the killer. Using her innate sixth sense, Blue uncovers a powerful magical artifact nearby. She soon discovers it acts as a key to an ancient Grimoire that was instrumental in the creation of the Vampire breed and still holds the power to unravel the boundaries between Earth and the Plane of Fire.
Blue and her clever wolf Varg follow a trail that starts at the Cock and Bull Tap and leads all through the town of Crimson Hollow. Between being sidelined by a stalker who sticks to the shadows and chasing a suspect who vanishes in thin air, the case is getting complicated. If that isn’t enough, Dark Vampire activity hits a record high, and hate crimes are increasing. However, it’s Blue’s growing feelings for Jack Tanner, her sexy Daylight Vampire boss, that just might undo her.
While Blue searches for clues to nail the perpetrator, it seems someone else is conducting a search of their own. Who will find whom first?
Danger lurks in every corner, and Blue needs all her focus in this increasingly dangerous game or she risks ending up the next victim.
The boy is stark naked, and dried blood streaks extend from the crushed area of his forehead down to the hollows of his eyes where it pools like small, bloody twin lakes. The lines of his ribs stick out so much I could climb them like a ladder. A stark white shaft of bone sticks out from his leg, gleaming against the bloody rupture on his thigh. A pattern of crimson, crossed lines decorates his crushed left hip. His skin is dirty and he stinks like crazy, but not from death. Not yet. More like a latrine.
Under his layer of grime is a layer of bruising, both fresh and old. His feet and toes are black. How he was able to stand on them, I can’t imagine, as it looks and smells as though they are rotting. Calluses surround his ankles and wrists. I think he must have been tied up. Another pool of blood spills from under his head, spreading wide on the asphalt road. He looks to be sixteen to eighteen years old with the slightest bits of young facial hair growing about his chin. His body sprawls out on the street with his limbs twisted at awkward angles around him.
I’m going to catch the person who did this. I want to tear his heart out with my bare hands and squeeze it into a bloody pulp.
My fantasy of mushy heart muscle squeezing through my fingers as blood drips to the ground is unsatisfactorily interrupted. Dr. Nathan Perlman leans over the boy’s hand with a pair of tweezers and carefully plucks out a piece of dark red thread snagged on a fingernail. It gets tucked away safely in a clear plastic evidence bag for future analysis. Realizing that my hands are still fisted from my little fantasy, I release them and try not to look like the vengeful murderer I momentarily wish I were.
Nathan looks up at me and says, “I’m ready to move the body. Can you step back?”
“Sure.” I remove myself from the body, giving room for the Medical Examiner and his assistant to hoist the body onto the gurney.
While the men are in mid-lift, I take the opportunity to examine the boy’s underside. With one hand squashing my hat to my head, I lean over until my hair drags on the asphalt. “Holy Plane of Fire!”
Nathan’s assistant stumbles at my exclamation and drops the boy’s leg.
Nathan’s fury overflows. “Holy shit, Patrick! Hasn’t this boy been through enough?”
Four hands jostle the body until they manage to get it on the gurney.
Nathan’s foul mood and abuse of Patrick is unusual. His typically jovial face is soured, and his smile lines twist in the wrong direction. My chest tightens at the pained look on Patrick’s face. My heart goes out to both of them, really. I can feel the anger and pain rolling off Nathan. Patrick is feeling empathy for the boy and anxiety at having made a mistake on the job. I try to push their pains aside as I have to focus on the matter at hand, and dealing with my own emotions is enough. Luckily I can’t feel everyone’s emotions all the time, just the stronger ones—unless I open up my sixth sense, that is. Then I can feel it all.
When the body is safely enshrouded in clean white linen, I turn to Nathan. “Did you see the lacerations on his back?”
Nathan grimaces. “I hate to see shit like this.”
I agree, and my heart squeezing fantasy transforms into daydreams of watching the perpetrator’s flesh slowly disintegrate in a vat of acid. Propping my hands on jean-clad hips, I observe Nathan and Patrick load the destroyed body into the hearse.
What piece of evidence does Dr. Nathan Perlman pluck from the boy’s fingernail?
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I’m currently forty-two, but that could differ depending on what year you read this. Unless some fundamental laws of nature change, I expect that number to only get higher. I am half Italian and half Irish. Well, the Irish side is sort of an Irish/German/English/French/Scottish mix, but since I believed I was truly half Irish until my mother’s foray into genealogy, I’m sticking to that story.I live amidst the Smoky Mountains and can sometimes see the shadows of clouds lying on the mountains from my front porch. I am not yet snobbish enough to call it a veranda, but time will tell. I’m a great believer in the proof being in the pudding. Sometimes my young adult daughter joins me on the veranda… err, porch to admire the view. Often my Australian Shepherd runs around the veranda looking for things to shepherd in the yard. Because we are decidedly lacking in livestock, he ends up dragging around large tree limbs instead.I started working full time while in high school and haven’t stopped since. My illustrious career began with a smattering of service experiences at various fast food and restaurant chains, went on to fine jewelry, slipped into property management for housing projects, morphed into corporate real estate, then ended up in mergers and acquisitions. Please don’t ask me how that happened . . .My home is a modestly sized ranch, recently purchased and still not completely unpacked. The walls are a boring light beige, but they make the perfect backdrop for my brightly colored Gustav Klimt canvas prints. Van Gogh hopes to join Klimt on my walls soon, but right now the brakes on my Cube need to be fixed, and the washer overflows if I place the water level on super-duper high. Priorities, priorities.
More importantly than all of the above, you absolutely must know that my favorite color is purple. Not Barney purple, no offense to Barney, but more of a medium eggplant purple. I like to think of it as a “mature” purple, but deep down I know it is really just purple.