Residual Magic by Suzanne M Sabol


Residual Magic
Blood and Bone Legacy
Book Two
Suzanne M Sabol

Genre: Urban Fantasy, New Adult
Publisher: Soul Mate Publishing
Date of Publication: 10/21/2020
ISBN: 978-1-64716-143-9
ASIN: 
Number of pages: 357
Word Count: 104,215
Cover Artist: Rae Monet

Tagline: To save Ev and Tag, Brittany must master the powerful magic of a goddess to stop a sorcerer from raising the Goddess of Carnage from manifesting through the cauldron.

Book Description: 

Brittany is a long way from the scared witch who watched a necromancer murder her mother. She’s grown and more powerful than even she realized as the sorceress she truly is. But all the magic in the world doesn’t mean anything if her best friend and werewolf, Everett Cooper, rejects her again. How many times can a person’s heart break? Brittany isn’t willing to find out. So, when another werewolf asks her out on an actual date, she jumps at the invitation.

Caught between two werewolves, Brittany will need all her friends when one of the pack goes missing. But nothing is ever easy, and magic has a cost that they may not be willing to pay. A trail of disappearances follow in Brittany’s wake, as someone tracks her every magical movement. But to what purpose? To what end?

Brittany has been powerful. 

Brittany has been patient.

Now, will Brittany be enough to save her friends . . . and the world?


Excerpt:

Chapter 1

Caught by Surprise

“I’m sorry, what did you just say?” I mumbled, as Tag’s question tumbled around in my head. My brain hitched, unable to follow. The kitchen island was a hard edge at my back as I clutched the sweating glass of soda tight in my hand. Huh, the refrigerator door was open. Did I leave that open? That’s such a waste of energy. Why was I worrying about the electric bill and the energy? God, Brittany, pull it together. Focus!

“I asked if you would like to go to dinner with me,” the werewolf asked . . . again. “On a date,” he clarified as if I hadn’t understood the first time. In all honesty, I hadn’t. I was staring at him with my mouth gaping open wide enough to catch flies but I couldn’t seem to snap myself out of a stupefied shock. His lips turned up in a teasing smirk that made my gut tighten and my brow crinkle in confusion.

“A date?” I asked, my voice uneven and hesitant as I considered. As many times as I’d dreamed of being asked that question by a werewolf—and I had, many many MANY times—the werewolf in my daydreams had never been Tag.

Stewart Taggar was long and lean, towering over my five foot six inches. I wasn’t a giant but I wasn’t tiny either. His red hair was more carrot than auburn but it seemed to shimmer when set against his bronzed skin. He was muscled but not bulky like a lot of the werewolves in the pack. He gazed down at me now in a way that was new or maybe it wasn’t and I just hadn’t noticed. He’d always treated me—I’d thought—like a little sister. Honestly, most of the pack did. Yes, I was only twenty-two and decades or centuries younger than most of the wolves and vampires but that didn’t mean I was a child. Tag wasn’t looking at me like I was a kid, that’s for sure. And I wasn’t sure how I felt about that development.

“Aren’t you a little old for her?” a gruff, clipped voice called from the kitchen doorway. Without my knowledge or permission, my body reacted to that voice in ways that made heat creep into my cheeks. Everett Cooper was three or four inches taller than me at most; lean and muscular. He seemed to be gaining bulk every day and it looked good on him. His sandy blond hair was styled away from his face, exposing the deep navy-blue of his eyes. His gaze fell on me like a weight, not crushing or overwhelming but comforting and all too familiar.

“That’s for her to decide, pup,” Tag responded, with an edge of condescension in his last word that surprised me.

Tag and Ev were friends, or at least had been, I’d thought. I wasn’t sure what was going on between them lately, but something was definitely up. Standing between them, I was ridiculously uncomfortable. Tension boiled in the kitchen until it was a physical heat against my skin as the two werewolves faced off. Sweat beaded on my upper lip. I was waiting for one of them to pee on me and mark their territory or something dumb like that. To be honest, I only wanted one of them to pee on me. Oh God, that didn’t sound right.

“She’s not going anywhere with you, old man,” Ev growled, squaring his shoulders. I perked up at that statement. I may be desperately in-love with Everett Cooper in a shameful and embarrassing sort of way, I wasn’t fool enough to lie to myself anymore about that fact. I was head-over-heels in-love with the idiot. That didn’t mean he could order me around like a piece of property. Because he couldn’t. I did not belong to him.

“Whoa whoa whoa!” I huffed out, throwing my shoulders back in irritation and raising my chin in defiance. I was a strong independent woman, darn it, and even if Ev was the man of my dreams, I wasn’t going to let him talk about me like a piece of meat.

Yes, Ev had kissed me a couple of weeks ago. Yes, it had been a-maz-ing. And yes, I’d said I would wait for him to figure his stupid, insecure, man-baby crap out. But it had been more weeks than I’d like to admit since our kiss and I was tired of waiting for this grown man to figure out what he was going to do with me. If anything. Maybe a little fire under his rear end would move his addled brain along. Or maybe he’d decide I wasn’t worth the effort and let me go. Either way, it was good to know . . . wasn’t it? That’s what I told myself, anyway.

Both men turned, meeting my heavy—okay, angry—stare. I was too young and too cute for heavy. I just didn’t have the menace behind any stare to classify as heavy. Feisty anger though, I could do.

“First,” I started, meeting Ev’s deep, dark, and penetrating gaze. Ugh, he was so cute. Shake it off, Britt. Pull yourself together. “You’re not the boss of me,” I hissed. Tag snorted in laughter and I turned on him, “Second, don’t provoke him.” Tag had the good sense to drop the grin on his face and appear suitably apologetic. “Third,” I said with a bright and cheerful smile that was actually true, and my smiles hadn’t been true for a very long time. “Tag, I would love to go to dinner with you.”

“What?” Ev erupted, wide-eyed surprise clear on his face as he took an aggressive step in my direction.

Ignoring Ev’s apparent surprise, Tag stepped in front of me with his back to Ev, blocking my view of the angry werewolf. “I’ll pick you up tonight at seven.” Clutching my hand in his, Tag squeezed reassuringly and smiled down at me in a way that made me feel like I was his whole world. Something about that expression made my insides flutter and I couldn’t help but grin back at him. I hadn’t expected that look in his eyes or my reaction to his attention. Did that make me an attention-starved idiot? Ugh, maybe it did.

“I’ll be ready,” I said, feeling giddy at the prospect of just being wanted. Yep, attention-starved idiot right here. He squeezed my hand again and strode by Ev, his head just a little bit higher.

“My shift starts soon, so I’ve gotta go but dress up tonight,” he said over his shoulder. “We’re going someplace upscale.”

“We don’t have to,” I said, suddenly feeling awkward at the thought of Tag spending money on me. Somehow, I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea of a fancy date. I could clean up, for sure, but I wasn’t very comfortable—like it wasn’t me but a bizzaro-world version of me.

Tag stopped, maybe hearing the uncertainty in my voice or wanting to drive the knife into Ev a little deeper, I don’t know. He turned to me and said, “You deserve the best, Brittany,” meeting my uncertain gaze with a self-confident grin. I blinked hard at him, seeing the man instead of my friend. It was the first time since we’d met—that I could remember, anyway— that he’d called me anything but “G”. He liked to refer to me as Glenda the Good Witch of the North because, by his own words, I had been all pink-fluffy-witchy-goodness when he’d first met me.

Tag continued, “You deserve so much more than anyone can or has ever given you.” With that last parting jibe, he left to go to work at the coroner’s office.

The front door closed behind Tag and silence descended on the kitchen. Uncomfortable and now, suddenly anxious, I turned and made my way around the overly large island toward the stairs. I took the long way around the island, clutching my soda close to my chest and letting the condensation soak into my shirt in an effort to keep as much space between me and Ev as I could.

“You said you’d give me time,” he whispered, sounding pained, or maybe that was anger. I couldn’t tell. Living in a house full of werewolves and vampires meant that nothing was really private unless you worked really hard to keep it that way. At that moment, I couldn’t decipher if he was protecting my privacy or his own.

“I did,” I agreed, turning to meet his now sea-foam green eyes. His wolf was close to the surface, magic flooded his irises with his wolf’s power. That show of power would have worried most people. But not me. I knew in my gut that neither Ev, nor his wolf, would ever hurt me. “I also told you not to wait too long or you might miss your chance.” I was so proud of myself, managing to get the words out without my voice shaking too much. I made my way around him with my shoulders back and my head high, looking to escape as quickly as my two feet would carry me.

“Brit,” he sighed, reaching for me, he caught my hip with the tips of his fingers. I froze at the touch as heat pooled in my center. My breath hitched in my throat and my fingers tightened around the glass. He made me stop and meet his questioning gaze instead of retreating up to my room like I desperately wanted. Ev and I lived in the same house with the vampire colony liege, the werewolf pack alpha, and their significant other—The Blushing Death. It’s a long and complicated story. Our living arrangement had made the last few weeks . . . awkward at best. “Brit, I—” he started but didn’t seem to know how to finish.

“Ev,” I said, wanting very much to ditch this mostly embarrassing and gruesomely uncomfortable conversation. “I’m not your mate. We both know it,” I said, the words sticking in my throat a bit. Werewolves had a mystical fated mate. Some werewolves found that mate over the course of their lifetime and some didn’t. Kurt, the pack Beta, had described it as a string tugging in his chest that linked directly to his mate’s heart.

Voicing the unequivocal fact that I was not Ev’s mate, made my heart break a little bit more each time I said it. Actually, a lot. It crushed me to my very soul. I cannot overstate this fact. Knowing I wasn’t his mate broke me on a foundational level. But the reality was, werewolves had fated mates and I wasn’t Ev’s.

He closed his eyes and breathed deep.

“It’s not fair to me to keep beating around this bush when nothing will ever come of it,” I said around the defeat lodged in my throat.

“You’re not Tag’s mate,” he growled as if that solved everything.

“No, you’re right about that,” I said, very proud of myself for not bursting into tears. “But I don’t love him,” I whispered, wishing desperately that I could suck those words back in. But I couldn’t. I’d said them out loud and to his face. There was no going back now.

His gaze narrowed on me in question and what I thought might be pity. I don’t think I could stand it if he pitied me. Before I could let that thought sink in, he asked, “Then why?”

“Because HE can’t crush me,” I answered succinctly. Blinking back the hot tears now flooding my eyes, I shifted my hip out from under his soft touch and made my way up to my room. Carefully, I closed the door behind me and finally released the tears I’d managed not to shed in front of Everett Cooper.

“Crying again?” a distant voice teased from my desk.

“Stay out of it, Cerridwyn!” I hissed, not wanting either of our voices to be heard by anyone. Everyone pretty much thought the succubus-witch that had killed ten people across Columbus and almost destroyed our house was dead. I hadn’t had the guts or the stomach to kill her. But I had managed to drag her soul out of her body and shove it into an amber amulet. Thinking back on it now, I’m not entirely sure I chose the kinder option. Maybe this was why the preternatural community thought sorceri were evil. Wynne certainly didn’t like being confined to the amulet. I was working up to telling everyone that I’d messed up on that one. Actually, I was trying to find a way to banish her so I wouldn’t have to confess my mistake to anyone. That seemed like a better idea. It was just taking longer than I’d thought. Especially if I didn’t want to destroy her soul in the process which I didn’t.

“So young and stupid,” she muttered loudly, clearly wanting me to hear her.

“I don’t need your two cents, Wynne,” I snapped. I’d come to my room for quiet but had forgotten about the nagging succubus currently residing in the amulet on my desk. How had I ever forgotten? The woman took every opportunity to gripe, badger, harass, or simply voice her opinions. I’d tried silencing her with my magic but it hadn’t worked. Sometimes my magic just did what I wanted with a single thought. Other times, I couldn’t do the simplest parlor tricks. My whole life, all I’d ever been told was how powerful I was. But since my mother’s murder, I haven’t been able to get anything to work right. It was either all or nothing at all. Unless, that is, I was cornered. Then everything seemed to work just fine.

“What two cents? I have no money,” Wynne replied, confused.

I smiled to myself at her confusion. Having been stuck in a vast wasteland of desert and mirrors the succubus-witch had dubbed the In-Between for more than a millennium, sometimes Wynne’s understanding of colloquialisms wasn’t up to scratch. I don’t know why I thought it was funny, but I did.

“Either way, it doesn’t change the fact that you are young and stupid. How many times have you cried over that boy? Too many to count by my opinion.” She huffed at me as if I was wasting her time. All she had was time. Plus, I was pretty sure she secretly loved it. I’d come to understand that Wynne liked to be needed. Who didn’t though? That was the point, wasn’t it? I wanted to be wanted and needed and it didn’t seem like Ev wanted or needed me at all. But maybe Tag did.

“Well, you’ll be glad to know that I have a date tonight,” I said, my chin high. I couldn’t keep the pleased grin from my face, even through the tears. When she stared at me, the words clearly not registering in her mind I added, “I’m going to be spending time with someone tonight in a romantic way . . . a man.”

“The boy finally became a man,” she grumbled and this time I wasn’t so sure she’d intended for me to hear her.

“Ev?” I asked, confused but continued on, “No, Tag. I’m going to dinner with Tag.”

“The soul stealer?” she asked, and I could hear the surprise and disgust in her voice. She almost spat to ward off evil spirits. I could almost see her bright blue eyes the size of saucers in astonishment from the small amulet.

“Wynne,” I said. “Redheads don’t steal souls. They just don’t.” I sighed. “But you know who does?” I asked and she was quiet for a moment, waiting. “Succubi. Succubi steal souls and that’s you.” When she didn’t respond—because I had her on that one—I said, “Tag is a nice guy. He’s steady. And he wants me.”

“Ahh,” she responded in a way that made my blood boil, as if she saw everything and I saw nothing.

“Ahh? What does ahhh mean?” I hissed, angry now. It felt good to be angry and show it. Turns out, I’d been angry for a while and keeping it pent up wasn’t doing me any favors. For some reason though, I felt completely comfortable showing anger to Wynne.

“Nothing,” she clipped, pleased with herself. “Just . . . ahh. Have fun on your . . . date,” she said with a snide lilt. And in the blink of an eye, she was gone, retreating back into her amulet to let me stew. I hated when she did that. She put just enough doubt in my head to make me second-guess everything. Wynne was just mean.

“I will!” I snapped at her, knowing full well she wasn’t listening. I plopped down on my bed and sighed. I would have a good time with Tag. I always had a good time with Tag. We were friends and I wouldn’t let Wynne’s nagging doubts cast a shadow on our date. This wouldn’t be weird at all.


About the Author: 

Suzanne M Sabol is the author of Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. She is a graduate of The Ohio State University and has two Bachelor of Arts degrees with majors in Criminology, International Studies, Russian, and Political Science. She has a Master’s degree from The Ohio State University’s John Glenn School of Public Affairs. She is married with one child and lives in Columbus Ohio.

The Blushing Death Series and the Blood and Bone Legacy are published through Soul Mate Publishing. Editor, Debby Gilbert, can be contacted through their website at www.soulmatepublishing.com












 

 



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Morrigan’s Blood by Laura Bickle



Morrigan’s Blood
Crow’s Curse
Book One
Laura Bickle

Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Syrenka Publishing LLC
Date of Publication: Sept. 25, 2020
ASIN: B08B9TJ4V9
Number of pages: 188
Word Count: 57000

Cover Artist: Danielle Fine

Tagline: Garnet has the blood of the legendary Morrigan – and legions of vampires and witches will go to war to possess that power.

Book Description:

Garnet has the blood of the legendary Morrigan – and legions of vampires and witches will go to war to possess that power.

As a trauma surgeon, Garnet Conners has seen more than her fair share of blood. But when one of her patients walks off the operating table and disappears into the night, she finds herself caught in a war between legions of vampires and witches in her city.

Garnet has dreamed of bloody battlefields for years – and a mysterious lover who controls a kingdom. In her waking life, Garnet is shocked to meet that man in a club. Merrel knows her from another life, a life in which she was the legendary Morrigan, goddess of death and war.

Garnet rejects the notion of magical incarnations altogether. But she falls in with Sorin, a handsome warlock who’s determined to protect the former bootlegger city of Riverpointe from a secret society of vampires. Haunted by crows and faced with undeniable proof of magic, Garnet scrambles to protect her career and loved ones from magical violence.

Abducted by vampires who seek to turn her into a vampire against her will, can Garnet seize the power of the legendary Morrigan to forge her own path in her embattled city? Or will she be forced to serve as a fearsome weapon in a deadly nocturnal war?



Excerpt:

          “What have you got for me tonight, folks?” I asked.
            I backed through the doors of the operating theater, butt-first, gloved hands lifted before me to keep them clean. I took small steps, mindful not to lose traction. Those thin booties were slick, and I’d fallen on my ass on more than one occasion when I made sudden moves. Tonight, I was determined to get through surgery in an upright position and not have to scrub in twice.
            One of the nurses read from notes on a computer terminal. “This guy was found in the parking lot of a closed bowling alley. Speculation is that he took a trip or two through the pin setting machine and got badly torn up.”
            “Well, that’s a first.” I turned toward the operating room table. The light was so bright that hardly any shadows were cast in the room. They focused on the unholy mess on the middle of my table.
            This. I’m supposed to fix this.
            A man lay, unconscious, on the table. His chest was torn open, flaps of skin oozing onto wads of gauze and a paper sheet. His face was a mass of blood, now being daubed at with sponges. The anesthesiologist had found his mouth to thread a tube down, and someone had managed to get an IV started in one of his scraped-up arms.
            My nose wrinkled under my mask. “What do the X-rays show? How deep does the damage go? Did he get a CT?”
            A nurse clicked on a flatscreen monitor that displayed a carousel of CT images. I  squinted at them, muttering dark oaths.
            “Radiologist says it looks like a lacerated pancreas, punctured lung, and two rib fractures,” the nurse said. The image switched to the head, and he said: “Also the bonus of a fractured orbital bone.”
            I stared at the CTs. “Let’s start with that lung. We leave the pancreas, and call plastic surgery on that orbital bone. This guy’s going to need all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to put him back together again.”
            “Will do.”
            I gazed down at the poor suffering bastard. I liked seeing the imaging, but I preferred to get a good visual with my own eyes on my patients. Sometimes X-rays and CTs didn’t tell me everything I needed to know about what to start sewing where. Something about seeing where the blood moved and pooled in an injured person gave me an idea of where to begin. The blood always led me to where I needed to direct my attention. Where it spurted required my immediate expertise. Where it clotted or moved lazily, I could wait a bit. When blood drained out of a limb and had left it white, I needed to add more. I noted with approval that he was already receiving a transfusion. As long as blood was moving, there was a chance for him
            I frowned at his chest and touched the edges of the rends in his flesh with gloved fingers. Those were ragged and would have to be cut clean before I sewed him back up. I could see the edge of one of those protruding ribs, sticking up like a finger. I glanced over his limbs, counting the usual four. Hey, it pays to count. Count twice, cut once. I mentally cataloged bruises and scrapes, nothing that needed my immediate attention, though I flagged the palms of his hands to get a few stitches from the surgical resident. Looked like defensive wounds, like the guy had tried to fight the pin machine, but lost.
            My eyes moved up to his face. One blackened eye was swollen shut. My fingers and gaze wandered over his scalp, checking for major wounds, when I spied a laceration at his throat.
            I gently probed it with gloved hands. Some kind of puncture…the machine must have caught him near a seeping vein. It had nearly dried up, smelling rusty and not like the bright, coppery blood of his more critical wounds. It could still take a few extra stitches.
            I stared down at the unfortunate guy’s oozing chest. Peeling back a flap of skin, I felt around for the collapsed lung. My finger quickly squished around and found the hole, and I extended my free hand for a scalpel. Time to get this party started…
            …when the patient sat bolt upright on the table. His good eye was open, rolling.
            I yanked my hands back and yelped at the anesthesiologist, “Curt, what the actual hell?”
            The OR erupted in a flurry of activity. The anesthesiologist arrived at the patient’s side with a syringe, while nurses tried to push the patient back down.
            But he was flailing, windmilling with his arms like a pro wrestler in the ring. The IV ripped out of his arm, and the line slashed back at the anesthesiologist, whipping across his face. The patient reached up and ripped the tube out of his throat. His foot caught an instrument tray, sending scalpels flying. His blood line yanked away, spewing crimson all over the floor.
            I held my hands out, using my most calming voice. Not that I had a particularly calming voice; I was a surgeon. We don’t talk to patients. But I tried: “You’re safe. I’m your doctor, Dr. Conners. If you just lie back, we’ll make you comfortable and—”
            The guy shrieked and launched himself off the table. The paper sheet tangled around his legs, and he grasped it around his waist as he put his shoulder down and aimed for the door. His shoulder hit me in the arm, and I slipped on my booties, landing on my ass on the tile floor. The patient launched through the swinging doors and disappeared down the hall.
            I swore and ripped my booties off my sneakered feet. I clambered to my feet and punched the intercom at the door with my elbow. “Security, code orange at OR 6.” I couldn’t say: I’ve got a runner taking off down the hall. Please send somebody to stop him, because anyone listening to that would freak the hell out, and I would get a talking-to from HR.
            I straight-armed the door and took off after the guy. I had no idea how the hell this man was still walking around. Those injuries should have flattened him, and he’d been anesthetized. I had graduated med school with Curt a few years ago, and knew him not to be a careless anesthesiologist who played on his phone in the OR.
            The patient skidded down the hallway, landing at a dead end, where a window overlooked the parking lot. The sun had just set, and the sky was the violet color of a fresh bruise. I approached him slowly, like I was herding a feral cat. I tugged my mask down to try and give him a human face to look at.
            “Hey, it’s okay. It’s gonna be okay,” I murmured soothingly. I wanted to keep him here until security arrived. If he got even further loose and hurt himself, that would be one obnoxiously long incident report. And an even more involved surgery after that.
            “No, no,” he said, shaking his head. “It’s not gonna be okay. The bloodsuckers found me…and the Lusine couldn’t protect me.”
            “I don’t know who that is,” I said, thinking that the guy had probably run afoul of some loan sharks. Maybe the mob? “But you’re safe here. We can protect you.”
            “No,” he gasped, his face twisted in agony. “No one can protect me. And no one can protect Emily.”
            He turned toward the window, backed up a few steps.
            “No, wait…” I could see what he was trying to do, and I was helpless to stop it.
            He rushed the window, aiming for it with his shoulder. All the latches on the hospital windows on patient floors were welded shut, but this wasn’t an area where conscious patients had access, and the window was not secured against suicide attempts. The glass buckled under his shoulder, the window crumpled away, and he pitched through in a hail of glass into the falling darkness.
            I rushed to the window and stared down at the parking lot in horror. Three stories down, the patient sprawled on the parking lot blacktop, flattened like a bug under a shoe.
            Curt had come up behind me. “Oh, my god, Garnet…did he…”
            “He jumped,” I said, my heart in my mouth. I turned and ran to the stairwell, barking at him. “Get a gurney and the ER team.”
            I burst into the stairwell, taking the steps two at a time. As I rounded the third curve, my path was blocked by a tall, dark-haired man in a brown velvet blazer and jeans. He was the type of guy that I might have liked to meet in my off-time—he had a kind of scholarly intensity in his hazel gaze and a bit of roguishness in the stubble that covered his sharp jaw.
            “Stand aside,” I blurted. “Emergency!” As if my bloody gloves and surgical gown weren’t warning enough.
            But he blocked my path, one hand on either stair rail, his long arms spanning the length of the stairwell. “That man is dangerous,” he growled softly.
            “That man is under my care,” I announced, lifting my chin. I walked into the man, figuring that he would give way to my outstretched bloody gloves. Like a normal person would.
.           But he didn’t. My sticky gloves nearly mashed into the velvet of his jacket, and he didn’t flinch. This close, he smelled like old books and moss.
            “You can’t go down there,” he said. His voice was soft, but insistent. 
            My eyes narrowed. “You don’t get to tell me where to go,” I chirped petulantly. I ducked under his arm, darting out of his reach, and barreled down the steps the remaining way to ground level.
            I rushed out into the parking lot and stopped short.
            “What the actual hell—”
            The patient peeled himself off the ground and crawled to his feet. He reminded me of a half-dead insect when he did so, shaking and rickety and dripping blood.
            That’s impossible, I thought. There was no way that a human being could do that. I took two steps toward him…
            …and a dozen people flitted out of the darkness, from the shadows beneath cars and behind shrubs. The overhead parking lot lights, haloed by moths, illuminated their long shadows on the pavement.
            I breathed a sigh of relief. The squad was here and would get him stable, get him back to my OR.
            But…my brow wrinkled. That wasn’t the squad. Nobody was in uniform. They converged on him as he turned, screaming.
            “Stop!” I shouted.
            Heads turned toward me. Their faces were moon-pale and glistening in the lamplight.
            The man in the velvet jacket grabbed my arm, dragging me back. “You want no part of this.”
            “Don’t tell me what I want,” I growled. I stomped on his instep and twisted my arm to break his grip at the weakest part, the thumb. I whirled and ran toward the fracas.
            The shadowy people had plucked my patient off the pavement, clotting around him.
            I yelled at them, the way I might yell at pigeons in the park who were eating my dropped French fries.
            Overhead, the parking lot lights shattered, one by one, in a series of pops. Someone had a gun. I flinched back, shielding my face from flying shards of plastic with my hands, as I was suddenly plunged into darkness. I heard fighting, yelling, as if a gang war had broken out in front of me, roiling in the dark where no one could see.
            Or at least, as dark as things could get in Riverpointe. Riverpointe was a decently sized city, and ambient light filtered back quickly from the freeway, headlights on the access road to the hospital, and the hospital’s helipad above.
            As my vision adjusted, I realized I was alone. The people who were trying to abduct my patient, my patient…even that fascinating-smelling velvet guy…all were gone. 
            Ambulance lights flashed at the end of the parking lot, approaching me. Behind me, I heard the hammering of footsteps on the stairwell. Security spilled out behind me, along with a few cops who’d been hanging out in the nurse’s lounge. The EMTs pulled up to the curb, and there were all of a sudden a couple dozen people churning in a uniformed cloud around me.
            “Where’d the guy go?” a security guard asked me.
            A moth that had once orbited the parking lot lights flitted down and smacked my face. I batted at it, grimacing.
            “I don’t know,” I whispered, stunned. “He was just…taken.”
            The moth landed on the ground on its back, wiggling.
            With bloody fingers, I picked it up and placed it gently in a nearby shrub. Lights, voices, and radios crackled around me. Questions rose and fell, directed at me in a tide of inquiries I couldn’t answer. But I stared at the bloody moth, stained by my touch, as it sought a safe place among the churning shadows and light.

About the Author:

Laura Bickle grew up in rural Ohio, reading entirely too many comic books out loud to her favorite Wonder Woman doll. She now dreams up stories about the monsters under the stairs and sometimes reads them to her cats. Her books have earned starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Kirkus. Laura’s work has also been included in the ALA’s Amelia Bloomer Project 2013 reading list and the State Library of Ohio’s Choose to Read Ohio reading list for 2015-2016. The latest updates on her work can be found at authorlaurabickle.com.





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Witch’s Tail by Melanie Snow #paranormal #cozymystery



Witch’s Tail
The Spellwood Witches
Book One
Melanie Snow

Genre: Paranormal Cozy Mystery
Publisher: Spirit Paw Press, LLC
Date of Publication: September 8, 2020
ISBN: 978-1-7324375-6-2
Number of pages: 220
Word Count: 46,311
Cover Artist: Molly Burton

Tagline: Her mentor died fighting to save an enchanted forest. Can she solve his murder before she’s bewitched?

Book Description:

Can she awaken her dormant powers and stop a desperate killer destroying the forest?

Sarah Spellwood feels she’s hit bottom. Divorced and jobless, she relocates to the enchanting village of Witchland intent on solving the murder of her late mentor. But as she pursues clues buried in the man’s fight to save the endangered forest-dwelling lynx, she makes an enemy of a ruthless land developer.

Encountering fairies in the woods, Sarah discovers she’s been repressing unique gifts passed down from her ancestor and founding witch, Lativia Spellwood. But though she can now hear her deceased friend’s dog speak, she isn’t sure her abilities are enough to expose the greed and corruption covering a killer’s lies.

Can Sarah work with the magical beings to bring a murderer to justice?

Witch’s Tail is the charming first book in the light-hearted The Spellwood Witches cozy mystery series. If you like paranormal puzzles, delightful canine companions, and environmental enlightenment, then you’ll love Melaine Snow’s wagging-ly fun whodunit.

Buy Witch’s Tail to set a snare for an assassin today!



Prologue
Lativia Spellwood sat on her ghostly throne of branches on the summit of Mount Katribus, with many other ghosts swarming around her reminiscing about life and drinking wine.
The ghosts of Witchland residents always came to this clearing after they died to stay near Lativia for guidance and to wait until they were ready to pass on to the afterlife. Lativia had been dead for hundreds of years but had still not passed on, for her work overlooking Witchland and its forest was not yet done. One day, it would be, and she was beginning to welcome that time, for she was growing very tired.
A tiny troop of Leekin faeries moved about the arms and legs of Lativia’s throne, placing flowers into the holes between the woven boughs. They did that every day, as a way to honor her as Queen of the Forest.
Lativia sipped from a goblet of ghost wine, enjoying the blue fire as it spread down her throat, engulfing her in tingly warmth. Being a ghost was always cold; the magic wine was one of the few momentary sources of warmth that she could cherish.
“What else do you need, my queen?” chirped one of the Leekins, buzzing on tiny brown wings before her nose.
Lativia smiled. “I think it’s time I checked on Sarah, don’t you agree?”
The Leekin nodded excitedly and flew off into the woods. A huge bunch of Leekins soon returned, flying in formation to carry the weight of a glowing crystal ball. They lowered it to Lativia’s lap, where it sank through the spectral outlines of her legs. Lativia could pass through things, and things could pass through her, for her physical body was long gone and all that remained was her powerful soul
Lativia smiled even more broadly and began to draw her transparent ghostly hands over the ball, summoning the blood bond she shared with her descendent, Sarah Spellwood.
Gradually, the fog inside the ball began to clear and an image of Sarah’s frizzy explosion of red curls filled it. Lativia drew back a few feet with her mind and saw Sarah was at a coffee shop ordering a vegan sandwich. Sarah’s love and respect for animals always made Lativia proud. She noticed there was a conspicuous pale and indented band of skin on Sarah’s ring finger where her huge diamond wedding ring had once been. “That no-good husband of hers is finally gone!” Lativia crowed with delight. But then she noticed that there were bags under Sarah’s eyes, the bags of someone who had been up all night crying. Sarah must be heartbroken, Lativia thought with a heavy heart.
           
The barista serving Sarah froze when she saw Sarah’s last name on the credit card receipt. “Um, are you related to . . . ?”
Sarah drearily raised her hand. “Yep, I’m descended from Lativa Spellwood.”
“That’s amazing! I mean, have you ever been to Witchland and looked at the Lativia memorabilia?” The barista’s pigtails wiggled with her excited body language, and Lativia felt a swell of pride that people still remembered and even revered her. It had been four centuries and she was still honored as the greatest witch of New England, the one who had turned into a wolf and fought her way free of her captors at the Salem Witch Trials!
“Yep,” Sarah said, her voice full of annoyance. It was clear she was ready to dash out of the coffee shop.
As good of a lawyer as Sarah was, Lativia noticed how awkward she was around most people, and how little she liked to disclose personal details, especially of her magical ancestry.
Sarah was a woman of facts and logic, which is why she fought the magical powers pulsing through her like a current, trying to pull her back to her destiny. Her resistance to her true self and her stubborn adherence to logical facts made her unpopular with many people. Lativia yearned to watch Sarah blossom into her beautiful potential.
“Don’t you see?” Lativia cried. “You are not meant to be in New York! You should be here, following your calling, completing my work as a witch! You’re not happy there!” But Sarah couldn’t hear these words.
“Yes, yes,” several Leekins agreed. A ghost who was standing near Lativia also nodded his head.
Sarah trudged out of the coffee shop, carrying her drink and the sandwich in a paper bag. A man in a trench coat bumped into her, and she hastily checked her pockets to ensure he had not pickpocketed anything. Then she continued on to her office, a massive steel gray prison with spikes in the window ledges to repel pigeons. There was no sign of life anywhere but for the scraggly maple planted out front of the building and a few waxy tropical plants blooming inside the lobby. Lativia groaned, feeling the despair and coldness of the place.
“It’s time for you to come here, to your destined home,” Lativia declared. “My Leekins have told me about the Hunter tracking lynx and the land surveyors, and I sense that there is about to be trouble in the forest.”
At the mention of the Hunter, the Leekins gathered around her throne began to turn blue and tremble in terror.
“I am not strong enough to fight these battles much longer, so I need you to come home, to come into your true self. Your marriage fell apart of its own accord, and I sense your job is about to unravel on its own, too. You can’t fight destiny,” Lativia said, giving the group of hovering Leekins their crystal ball back and shutting her eyes. “I could use magic to bring you to your destiny sooner, but it is evil to interfere with one’s life that way. I can only hope you don’t take much longer.”
She opened her eyes as the Leekins cried, “We need her!”

About the Author:

Melanie Snow is the pen name for Wendy Van de Poll, a bestselling author, pet loss grief coach, and animal medium. She is the author of The Spellwood Witches, a paranormal cozy mystery series.


Her books weave together positive magic, snarky forest faeries, and insightful animals with fun and eclectic humor. True life adventures and intuition are woven into her stories laced with unbridled imagination.

She has been followed by wild wolves in minus 60 degrees, hissed at by a mama bobcat, and played ball with a wild owl—among other animal encounters.

Find out more about her work:






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