...some people will do anything for revenge.
A tough PI struggles to track down a vengeful serial killer only to discover that the murderer holds the key to her secret magical heritage.
Book One in the YA13 paranormal/mystery series Dangerous Magic by Judy Teel. "Expect action, on-the-edge-of-your-seat suspense, and the perfect touch of romance."
Nobody tried to stop me as I ducked under the bright yellow crime scene tape and crossed into the damp half-light of the space between the buildings. The narrow alley was just like every other in the city; dirty, pungent with sour rotting smells, and lined with several beat-up, rusty trash dumpsters. Until I got to the last dumpster at the end of the alley, that is. Then things got interesting.
A thick, steel rod had been wedged under its lid. What looked like a naked male mummy hung upside down and impaled through the stomach on the rod. The familiar buzz cut black hair and shriveled tattoos covering its arms, chest and neck were the only clues that the thing had been my biter.
I rubbed my left shoulder, remembering the burning sting as his fangs had sunk into me. Even though the wound had nearly healed thanks to the med pack, the memory would linger on. Getting attacked by things that wanted to eat you tended to do that.
I heard the light shuffle of footsteps at the mouth of the alley and wasn’t surprised when Cooper stopped next to me a second later. The initial loud movement was a courtesy a lot of Weres employed when out in the professional world. Nothing got you a bad review like gliding up on your coworkers and giving them heart failure.
He didn’t need to bother. I always seemed to know when he was within twenty feet of me—a secret I kept to myself.
He nodded toward the body. “What do you think?”
Cooper gave a bark of laughter. “That’s an understatement.”
I bent down to examine the body and the area around it more closely. “Looks like there was an incantation circle, but someone scrubbed it out. What’s that smaller circle of white powder next to the dumpster?”
“No idea. We’re taking some back to analyze.”
“His donor live in the fancy apartments?”
“She claims he stopped in for a feeding plus benefits about midnight last night. Records show he left just before 11:30.”
“The Church isn’t going to like it that one of them got himself killed in an alley.”
“That’s one of the reasons I requested you on the case.”
“Likely isn’t the donor. She wouldn’t be strong enough. Blood around the steel bar and staining the skin indicates that he wasn’t dead when the murderer hung him up. That wouldn’t have killed him anyway. Neither would the slit throat. I don’t understand why he didn’t fight back.”
“I don’t understand why he’s naked,” Cooper said.
I peered at the tattoo on his neck. It looked like a coat of arms—possibly a dragon holding a spear. Hard to tell with the skin so emaciated. “I can’t believe you thought I could have done this.”
“I’m required to pursue all avenues. Plus you’re surprisingly innovative for a human.”
“Normally I’d be flattered, but this….” I noted a few more things as my gaze continued to roam over the body. “This is just gross.”
I straightened up and took a step back, not wanting to be near the remains any longer than I had to be. I’d seen a few bodies in my time. Anyone living on the streets during the attacks had, but not enough to get immune to the unpleasantness.
“I’ve never encountered any single creature strong enough to immobilize a freshly fed vampire,” I commented. “That’s bad enough, but he’s also been completely drained of his blood with no sign of it around the body. He could have been killed somewhere else, drained and brought here,“ I speculated.
“We searched a five mile radius. Nothing turned up.”
If a team of Weres plus a few talented practitioners couldn’t find the remnants of several pints of paranormal blood, it didn’t exist. “Then he must have been killed here and the blood consumed or taken.” A cold chill ran across my neck. “I don’t know who, or what, could have done that.”
“But you have a theory.”
“Two. And they’re scary.”
He waited patiently while I gathered together the unpleasant thoughts rolling around in my brain. “One possibility is a group of vampires have lost their minds and are eating their own kind,” I said.
“Unlikely, since the Church would be on something like that faster than you could say ‘damage control’.”
“The other possibility is an outlaw group of practitioners.”
Cooper tensed, his attention sharpening. “Explain.”
“Paranormal blood is a powerful boost to certain types of magic. The darker the magic, the darker the blood needed and vampire blood is about as tainted as you can get. Because of the type of extra DNA in it, the blood also doesn’t break down as quickly as other types and works well for long, elaborate spells.”
“Tell me how you know this,” he said in a steady, quiet tone that implied he’d just realized he was standing next to a ticking nuclear bomb.
I gave him a disgusted look. The FBI probably had a required test so they could hire the most suspicious minds on the planet. “One of my foster mothers was a practitioner, and not the ‘do no harm’ kind. I found her stash of black magic grimoires, picked the lock on her spell room and reported her.”
His expression cleared as if this information unexpectedly explained a lot. “Don’t tell me, let me guess. She laid a smart ass curse on you when she found out who blew the whistle.”
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Author Bio and Links:
I live in North Carolina with my boisterous family–husband, three kids, a dog and a geriatric bunny–and yup, I’m Southern so occasionally I let a “y’all” slip out. Maybe more than occasionally.
I love my job and dedicate as much of my time to writing as I can. When I’m not doing the weaving of the adventurous and romantic tales, I’m running errands, driving people around (or crazy depending on your perspective), and generally pretending I’m a grownup.
When I was fifteen, I knew I wanted to be a novelist–wanted to write for Harlequin actually. But the calling to tell stories came a lot earlier than that, I just didn’t know what it meant.
I had a lot of growing up to do before I could manage it, though many would claim the growing up part didn’t take--you know who you are--but I finally have my dream job.
Life rocks—so should the books you read!
Buy Links for Shifty Magic:
Buy Links for Undercover Magic, Book 2 in the series:Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Smashwords