Wednesday, February 28, 2018

Sacrificed - Chapter 5

Sorry I'm a little late posting. Despite my concerted efforts to stay healthy the last two months, I managed to wake up sick as a dog this morning.

This will be the last chapter posted for Sacrificed before it's release next month. Watch this space for the pre-order notice!

In March, I'll start posting chapters for my next release, Hero De Facto.


I chased everyone out of Max and Tiffany’s house. For the first time, I truly understood why Duncan, and now Alex, got cranked about crime scene contamination. I was going to have to sort out everyone’s DNA to find what I needed for this tracking spell.

I ignored the huge scarlet stain that was my brother’s blood. I had to trust Bebe would find a way to save him. For all my new powers, I couldn’t. At least, not without killing him first. And then, there was no guarantee I could resurrect him like I accidentally did with my three baby zombies.

I’d been practicing my powers, but animals and demons were one thing. I wasn’t about to try with another human being. Especially not my big brother.

Even with my new abilities, separating DNA took time, and I wasn’t the most patient person before the damn nanites rewrote my genetic code. These days, I made Ares of the Short Fuse look like a Normal on a weed binge.

The soft gray, amorphous head of Flopsy poked out from under my long, black coat. She wheaked a question in rabbit language.

“No, I’ve got this,” I said. “I just need you two to stay out of the way for a bit.” I could feel the ghost bunny curled up with her partner in my pocket again.

I’d been training my ghosts on intelligence gathering. We’d started by playing hide-and-seek with Ellie and progressed from there. However, I wasn’t about to put Flopsy and Peter’s little bunny souls at risk with a demon in play.

And having two dead souls in our penthouse was just one more issue between me and my husband, even if they were rabbits. I was still learning my skills and my limits, so I hadn’t yet built the paradise I’d promised Flopsy and Peter in return for their sacrifice in dealing with the dino demons in Montana.

But one problem at a time. First, I needed to find my niece before Marcus Giovanni and his demon friends did anything stupid. Or permanent. Because I wasn’t going to practice my death powers on my niece.

Not unless I absolutely had to.

Standing in the middle of the living room, I sucked in a deep breath. I tasted the sweet familiarity of Max, Tiffany, and Ellie in the dust. My efforts focused on them first.

Ebony energy swirled through the ranch house, drawing a cloud of debris to the living room. It surrounded me, a mini gray tornado. I never realized how much crap humans sloughed off in their lives. Skin flakes, strands of hair, dried saliva, fingernail and toenail chips.

Max and Ellie’s fragments were easy since we shared the same base code. I was a little surprised how much of my own modified DNA remained in the Howell-Stephens dwelling. From examining Ellie’s DNA, I could separate out Tiffany and Duncan’s genetic material. Five piles collected on the floor.

As my sister-in-law pointed out, Ares’s snowflakes glowed, little red beacons of power compared to my black diamond ones. Phil’s weren’t quite as bright since her mom was an air nymph, but still an obvious neon compared to the other samples.

I shoved Siobhan and the rest of the were-stamped DNA into another pile. There was more than I would have thought until I remembered Tiffany and Siobhan were instrumental in hammering out the truce between the fae and the vampires. Their own homes would have been preferable for the two moms’ meetings since both of their houses were already childproofed. Business had turned into friendship since their kids were close in age, and voila! A hell of a lot of wolf hair.

Also, were kind hadn’t been involved in any of the dino demon business over the last four years unless I counted the poor, unwilling females kidnapped, raped, and impregnated by the demons. I’d give the weres a pass for now and ignored that pile of detritus.

That left Normals, non-Duncan vamps, and—BINGO! I grinned. The dino demons really shouldn’t have interbred with us. The mixture of saurian and homo sapien stood out among the rest. Just microscopic fragments of scales and claws, not enough to fill the hand of the proverbial angel dancing on the head of a pin, but I had the little bastard. Dropping out the remaining DNA, I built a tracking spell around Tiffany’s little visitor and launched it. Unlike the fae and the witches, I could track someone even if they were dead. One second went by. Two.

A black sparkling ribbon flared to life. Shit. I was too late. I’d have to resurrect the little bastard to question it. That was going to be fun.


I frowned and double-checked the termination point. La Brea Tar Pits.

The location’s counterpart in Otherwhere had been the site of my initiation as a death deity, though Baron Samedi had tried to turn it into a trial. Here in mortal reality, the park surrounding the prehistoric animal grave had been the meeting site for the were-brokered truce between the vampires and the fae. Morrigan had promised me she’d keep her people in check as long as I did the same with the vampires.

The difference was the fae were her people’s descendants, and their courts regarded her as the goddess she was. The Vampire Nation tolerated me as a necessary evil.

And they feared rather than respected me.

So why was the demon’s body at La Brea? A twisted message from Giovanni since his grandmother’s hand in the creation of nanites ignited the cold war between the fae and the vampires into a hot mess?

“Sam? You done?” Alex called from the front door.

“Not yet,” I yelled. “Give me a couple of minutes.”

I wanted to know how stupid Giovanni decided to be. Rebelling against his uncle Caesar was one thing. Selling out the entire planet was another.

It took me a few seconds to filter the Normal/vampire pile. Longer to separate out the three particles of Giovanni’s bio material. The bastard had been careful, but not careful enough for someone like me. I cast the tracking spell.

A blood red energy ribbon snapped into place. It also terminated at La Brea. I wasn’t cocky enough to ignore the obvious trap.

I strode out of Max and Tiffany’s house. “The lizard’s dead.” I grinned at Alex. “But Giovanni’s alive, and both are waiting for us at La Brea. Wanna spring his trap?”

The chief enforcer’s return grin was absolutely feral. He liked Giovanni even less than I did and had for a hell of a lot longer. “Try and stop me.”

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Sacrificied - Chapter 4


“That doesn’t make sense,” Alex said once I laid out my reasoning.

I jammed my hands on my hips. “Why?”.

“Ellie is nearly four years old. Not an innocent fetus in utero. All the other women they’ve abducted were pregnant, or they were impregnated by a full dino demon. And she’s definitely not a god.”

“You’re right. She’s not any of those things.” Sam actually looked worried, which fed the fear in my gut. “What she has is my DNA.”

Phil stepped closer to me and wrapped an arm around my shoulders even as she stared at my sister-in-law. “But Bebe said the nanites were rewriting your DNA.”

“No.” I shook my head. “It’s more like expanding it.” Everyone stared at me. For all their various talents, no one, not even Alex, who had a year of medical school back in the 1800’s, really understood Bebe’s explanation of non-human genetics.

I rolled my eyes. “You all understand the basic double-helix, right?”

Everyone gave me dirty looks, except Siobhan who laughed and said, “The twisted ladder, right? It’s the same regardless of whether we’re Norm, were or witch.”

“Yeah.” I didn’t want to admit how reassuring Phil’s hug was. “Vamps, too. In their case, the V-virus replaces sections of the ladder. It doesn’t change the basic shape. Because of the changes the nanites are making, Sam’s DNA resembles a snowflake just like Grandpa Ares’s.”

My sister-in-law scowled and crossed her arms. “My precious little snowflakes don’t change the fact that Ellie’s my blood relative.”

“No, it doesn’t.” The hard lump in my belly grew. “Like I said, it’s also the fact that she’s an innocent.” Alex snorted. “Innocent my ass. Not the way she took me in poker tonight—”

“Poker?” I glared at him. My fingers twitched next to the pocket where I kept sharpened number two pencils. Dammit, I told Max dinner only. The guys’ poker nights often went into the wee hours, far too late for my daughter to be staying up. Ellie would be cranky and impossible in the morning—

The tightening of my throat threatened to choke me as I realized I may never see her again.

“Tiffany’s right. They need a virgin,” Siobhan said. “And Ellie would be the only one within Sam’s lineage.”

“Why would a dinosaur god get hung up on virginity? Wouldn’t her relationship to me be enough?” Sam interrupted. She saved Alex from a staking and Siobhan from a shooting. And me from charging off half-cocked.

“Because our society is hung up on a woman’s lack of sexual experience.” I hugged myself again. “The dino demon has to play by our rules, magickally speaking.”

Phil leaned back to face me. “Are you trying to replace Bebe as our resident magick expert?”

I knew she was trying to lighten the mood by teasing, but I was too worried for it to do any good. “I’ve been studying everything I could get my hands on since we found out what Sam was becoming.”

“So what do you expect me to do?” My sister-in-law didn’t look very happy. “I can’t conjure Ellie out of thin air if I can’t find her.”

“Odds are they’re only hiding Ellie from you and Grandpa Ares,” I pointed out.

“That doesn’t help us...” Ares’s expression shifted from irritation to confusion as Sam’s shit-ass grin grew to match mine.

“Marcus is one stupid son of a bitch,” she said.

“You can do it, right?” I didn’t like doubting Sam. It had nothing to do with her smiting me, and everything to do with my fear I was grasping at straws.

Her smile darkened. “Oh, I can do the tracking spell. I just can’t guarantee the results.”

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

A Modicum of Truth Is Out!

Yep, the longest book I've ever written is now available. Just, please, PLEASE don't ask me when A Matter of Death will be out. I may have to lash you with a wet noodle if you do.

P.S. I'll add links on the Justice page as other retailers go live.

P.P.S. All of my books are now available on Google Play!

Wednesday, February 7, 2018

Sacrificed - Chapter 3


Standing in my own living room, I glared at Alex Stanton. Yeah, technically he was my boss, but I couldn’t believe what he’d done. “My daughter is missing, my husband had the shit beat out of him, and you called my mommy on me?”

He crossed his arms. “No, but you’re are making me wish I had.”

I glanced over at my foster mom, Phillippa Mann-Stanton, who stood at the entryway to the rest of our house. She spoke in low tones with Siobhan Sifuentes, the beta of the Lannigan werewolves, probably comparing scents or some other supernatural bullshit. I did my best to ignore the gigantic bloodstain amidst the scattered toys on my beige carpet.

Max’s blood.

I tried to shove the memory of finding the nearly unrecognizable body of my husband on the living room floor into a deep, dark hole in the back of my brain. If I thought about it too much, if I thought about what some stranger may be doing to my precious little girl…

Work the problem, Tiffany!

Somehow, Max managed to text 9-1-1 to me when I was driving home from my quantum theory class. I’d been running late because I stayed to ask the professor a couple of questions. Max could have been trying to dial emergency services for all I knew. And I wouldn’t know until he woke up.

If he woke up. I didn’t need a medical degree to understand how bad his injuries were. And if I thought about the broken body of the man I loved too much, I would be useless to Ellie.

Stop it!

I took a deep breath. I had to focus on what I could control—the search for my missing daughter. So far, we hadn’t found any evidence that my baby had been hurt. But that didn’t mean—

From the expression on Alex’s face, he’d seen that awful thought in my head.

“You’re implying I can’t do my job,” I said through gritted teeth.

He lowered his voice. “You’re too close, and we both know it. Go be with your husband. We’ve got this. You know we will do everything we can to find her. Between Phil, Siobhan, and your grandfather, we have this covered.”

“Duncan and my in-laws are at the hospital,” I ground out. “Duncan will let me know when Max is awake. And if I have to listen to that bitch tell me how this is my fault one more time, so help me, I will stake her.”

“I’ll hold her for you,” said a familiar feminine voice behind us.

Alex and I both jumped and whirled to find my sister-in-law dressed in her goddess clothes. In other words, she resembled Neo if Keanu Reeves had a blond ponytail and boobs.

“How many times have I told you to cut the creepy crap, Sam?” I holstered my gun. A little part of me was pleased Alex had to do the same. Someone catching a Normal like me off guard was one thing. A goddess of death getting the jump on any vampire, especially him as the Augustine chief enforcer, had to be embarrassing as shit.

“I’ve already been to the hospital.” she shrugged. “There’s nothing I can do there. I figured you could use my help.” She closed her eyes, but they quickly popped open. “What the fuck! I can’t sense Ellie.”

“Try expanding your search outside of my neighborhood,” I snapped. And the gods only knew what the neighbors thought with the extra vehicles parked in front of our house. Hopefully, they thought the werewolves were police dogs. I sure as hell couldn’t contact Normal police in the assault on my husband and the disappearance of my daughter.

Sam glared at me. “I searched the whole solar system. Unless you’re suggesting she was taken by Klingons.”

Ice formed in my stomach. As much as I ragged on Sam about the deity stuff, I figured between her and Phil’s dad being Ares, the Greek god of war, Ellie would be home within a couple of hours. The only other time I’d been this scared, the psycho bitch who had killed my parents had me by the short and curlies.

But her grandson was still running around causing trouble—

Rage roared through as I realized what my boss had been hiding, the real reason he didn’t want me inside my own home. I whirled and jabbed a finger in Alex’s chest. “Marcus Giovanni was here. You knew, and you didn’t tell me!”

My fist clenched of its own accord and launched itself at Alex’s face. Phil’s tight grip stopped the blow millimeters from his nose. I glared at her.

Her expression held the same fierceness it had when I was twelve and had nearly gotten myself killed by rogue vampires when I skipped school. The one that said she wasn’t tolerating any more of my bullshit. It didn’t matter that we all knew hitting Alex would hurt me far more than it would him.

Which was probably why he was going to let himself be my punching bag. Better I take it out on him than some innocent Normal.

Well, if my foster mom wanted in the middle of this, I could turn my impotent wrath on her. “I promise not to try to deck Stepdaddy anymore—tonight.”

Phil released me and turned to Sam. “I’m glad you’re here. There’s something Father and I want your opinion on.”

“If you mean the lizard people scent, I picked it up the moment I ‘ported in here.” Sam had none her usual snarkalicious attitude which scared me more than I wanted to admit. In fact, she was as all icy seriousness as Phil. I folded my arms over my chest. “Is this the first sign you’ve had since the Las Vegas incident?”

“Yes.” She drew the word out, like how dare I question her.

“Then maybe we need to pool our resources.”

“I don’t need your help.”

Maybe Ellie’s terrible twos had taught me some patience. When my sister-in-law and I first met, we snapped at each other like rabid dogs before settling down and getting the job done. But now...

“What’s the problem? You afraid I have more skills than your new buddies?” Okay, maybe I did snap after all. Sam’s eyes started to glow. Not blue neon like they should if she were a vampire, but the reflective silver of liquid mercury.

And her pissy attitude just made me tired. I shook my head. “That intimidation shit isn’t going to fly with me. I was raised by vampires and a demigoddess. Either be part of the team and help me find my daughter, or get the fuck out of my house.”

Both Alex and Phil held their breath, but I calmly returned Sam’s gaze. Hell, if she smote me, Duncan would know for sure she was a danger to the human race and the sidhe.

After a long, tense moment, Sam’s eyes slowly faded to their normal, human blue. “Sorry,” she muttered. “I can’t always control it sometimes.” Her attention flicked to someone behind me. “Don’t fucking say it.”

I turned to find Grandpa Ares standing next to Siobhan in the entryway to the rest of the house, looking like a male supermodel as usual in his jeans, t-shirt, and boots. He ignored Sam’s temper tantrum, and Sam herself. “I discovered how the lizard got in, Cherry Blossom. In turn, it opened the door for Giovanni and the rest.”

Grandpa Ares’s nickname for me should have made me feel all warm and gushy. Instead, my fingers clenched with the need for my favorite vampire weapon. “Bastard didn’t learn anything from his previous experience with you, did he?”

“Apparently not, Cherry Blossom.” He grinned, but it was one that would have scared the piss out of most people. Especially with the literal flames in his eye sockets. It reassured me knowing if anything happened to my daughter, he’d hold the fuckers down while I peeled the skin off their bodies.

Like any other Normal Family, Max and I took precautions against not-so-friendly supernaturals. But how do you protect your loved ones against what were basically sentient velociraptors?

I wasn’t dumb enough to cry “Why me?” either. I knew damn well why they’d invaded my home. They wanted to take down Sam before their boss tore into our dimension since she was the only one who could supposedly stop him. My family was simply the most convenient bait.

And I would be dead or in the hospital too if I hadn’t had a night class this term. Thinking about how long Max would have been lying on the carpet bleeding if I’d gone out for coffee with some classmates instead coming straight home— “It’s not your fault.” Alex rested a hand on my shoulder.

“I know that,” I growled.

He didn’t reprimand me for my lack of respect. He just squeezed my shoulder briefly before we followed Ares back toward the bathroom.

I squeezed in beside the god. Our bathroom was too small for everyone, so they settled for watching from the doorway. My foster grandfather pointed beneath the sink, and I crouched down to look. The access panel to the plumbing was loose. Three-toed scratches marred the Lovely Lavender paint Max had so carefully applied to the walls around the metal panel.

I held up my hand and compared the scratches against my spread fingers. “These are awfully small for even a lizard bred through a supernatural.”

“It would have to be small to get through the crawl space beneath the house and gain the entry to the pipe conduit,” Ares said.

Sam ripped through more than George Carlin’s seven words, though I noticed she left out anything referring to a deity. “The bastard’s set up another nest.”

“Let it go, Sam,” Phil said. “If the baby got in here, it’s already too late for the mother.”

I’d seen the crime scene photos from Seattle, Tuttle Creek in Montana, and Las Vegas. The Normals in Washington never had a chance. As far as we knew, only one of the supernaturals survived the breeding attempt in Montana last year, and that was because Alyson’s alpha Logan had been there to save her ass and call in the cavalry. Marcus and his rogues had dumped the body of a part-fae woman after she’d died during delivery somewhere they knew the Vegas werecoyotes ran during the full moon.

Something else bothered me though. “So they’re immune to silver and garlic. It doesn’t explain how the baby lizard didn’t trip off the motion sensors.”

“Because you don’t have them in here, and they don’t point at the ceiling in the rest of the house, Cherry Blossom,” Ares said.

I followed his index finger. Tiny pin-pricks marred the wall paint from the panel under the sink with a detour around the hamper before reaching the top of the door frame. You couldn’t see it unless you knew what you were looking for. The damn thing could have been clinging to the ceiling while I was showering this morning for all I knew.

“Shit.” I ducked back into the hallway and followed the pinpricks along the wall near the ceiling. They ended by diving straight down to the security pad. I popped the cover. Sure enough, the circuitry had been bypassed.

Alex was right. I made a rookie mistake because I was too involved. I had assumed my husband had turned off the alarm when he got home.

“You think you can keep it together when you get the ransom call?” Alex asked.

Calls. I needed to call Jessie and let her know Ellie and I wouldn’t make tomorrow’s play date. My cousin Jessie. A doomsday cult called the Sunshine Believers had kidnapped her five years ago, intending to sacrifice her unborn son to the Old Ones, the ancient gods of the dinosaurs. Just like they’d tried to sacrifice Grandpa Ares four years ago. Not to mention, Siobhan’s husband Jorge, a Normal detective with the Los Angeles Sheriff’s Office, had discovered Jessie wasn’t the first woman connected to the Augustine Vampire Coven those assholes had kidnapped with the intent to kill.

I couldn’t suppress the sick feeling in my gut any longer as everything clicked into place. “We’re not going to get a ransom call. They plan on sacrificing Ellie to summon an Old One.”