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Thursday, July 20, 2017

Penalty Play by Jami Davenport Cover Reveal

★✯ COVER REVEAL! ✯★

Ahhhh! We love this cover of Penalty Play by Jami Davenport! 
Coming soon on November 16, 2017!

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Single dad and star defenseman Matt LaRue lives for his kids and hockey. He's had one failed marriage and doesn't have any interest in going through that hell again. As conservative as they come, he can't explain his unexplainable attraction to a free spirited female who changes hair color more often than his boys create new excuses not to do their homework. Violet Strider is fleeing the past. She has a new start, new identity, and is hiding a big secret. Matt and Vi are a classic case of opposites attract, but neither expects the attraction to extend beyond a few hot trysts, especially Vi. Only her heart isn't listening, and her head is following her heart down a path of no return. As Vi grows closer to Matt and his boys, she fears her secret could rip them apart. Relationships are built on trust, and Vi's house of cards is about to take a tumble. Can Vi confront her past and finally put it behind her, while earning Matt's forgiveness? START THE SERIES TODAY FOR FREE! The Seattle Sockeyes Hockey Boxed Set by Jami Davenport is FREE!

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About the Author: 

 USA Today Bestselling Author Jami Davenport writes sexy contemporary and sports romances, including her two new indie endeavors: the Game On in Seattle Series and the Madrona Island Series. Jami’s new releases consistently rank in the top fifty on the sports romance and sports genre lists on Amazon, and she has hit the Amazon top hundred authors list in both contemporary romance and genre fiction multiple times. Jami ranked Number Seven on Kobo’s Top Ten Most Completed Authors, an honor bestowed on the year’s “most engaging” authors based on an average page completion rate by their readers. Jami lives on a small farm near Puget Sound with her Green Beret-turned-plumber husband, a Newfoundland cross with a tennis ball fetish, a prince disguised as an orange tabby cat, and an opinionated Hanoverian mare. Jami works in IT for her day job and is a former high school business teacher. She’s a lifetime Seahawks and Mariners fan and is waiting for the day professional hockey comes to Seattle. An avid boater, Jami has spent countless hours in the San Juan Islands, a common setting in her books. In her opinion, it’s the most beautiful place on earth. 

  Connect with Jami! Subscribe to my newsletter to receive a free novel and be notified of new releases, special sales, and contests: http://eepurl.com/LpfaL 

 Website Address: http://www.jamidavenport.com Twitter Address: @jamidavenport Facebook Address: http://www.facebook.com/jamidavenport Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/jamidavenport/ Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1637218.Jami_Davenport



Wednesday, July 19, 2017

Abbie Roads Sale Blitz: Giveaway



We’re so thrilled to share this sale with you! All three books; Race the Darkness, Hunt the Dawn, and Saving Mercy are on sale for 99¢ (reg $6.15).

 

RACE THE DARKNESS

Series: Fatal Dreams Series, Book 1 Genre: Dark Romantic Thriller

Cursed with a terrible gift...
Criminal investigator Xander Stone doesn't have to question you-he can hear your thoughts. Scarred by lightning, burdened with a power that gives him no peace, Xander struggles to maintain his sanity against the voice that haunts him day and night-the voice of a woman begging him to save her.
A gift that threatens to engulf them
Isleen Walker has long since given up hope of escape from the nightmare of captivity and torture that is draining her life, her mind, and her soul. Except...there is the man in her feverish dreams, the strangely beautiful man who beckons her to freedom and wholeness. And when he comes, if he comes, it will take all their combined fury and faith to overcome a madman bent on fulfilling a deadly prophecy.
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Excerpt

Her gaze locked with his—locked so hard the entire world vanished and all that existed were her and him and his hand feeling the steady beat of her heart. Whatever the fuck she was about to say, he was gonna believe her. She could tell him he was a two-headed, purple squirrel, and he’d go out, find a nut, and climb a tree. “Xander. I vow to protect you from pain. I vow never to leave you unless you want me to leave. I vow never to hurt you the way Gran hurt your father. Because hurting you would be hurting myself. Your pain is my pain. And my pain is yours. But together we are strong and invincible. Don’t you feel it when we touch? It’s all I can feel. All I want to feel. You and me. Us. Together.” Her words did more than enter his ears; they melded into him as bone-deep truth. He’d never do anything to hurt her and—damn—he trusted that she wouldn’t hurt him. As sick as it sounded, maybe his faith in her was born from the suffering she’d endured. She understood pain. Understood the depth and damage pain caused in a way few others ever would. That kind of knowledge made her incapable of wounding anyone else. “Say something. You’re looking at me funny.” Her voice trembled just a bit. He could practically hear her doubting whether she should’ve spoken the words of her heart. “What you said… Those words…” Christ. He didn’t have experience talking about his feelings. “Everything.” She cocked her head to the side, questions wrinkling her forehead. He was screwing this up. “Your words mean everything to me.” He could show her easier than he could tell her. He slid his hands up her neck, framing her face, staring at her, absorbing every detail. “You’re my…” Fearless. He caught himself before he said the word. To base how he felt on a story wasn’t real. She was real. And the emotions warming him were real. “Everything.” He lowered his mouth to hers. She tasted sweet, of cinnamon and sugar, and for some reason, his heart ached with a fullness of feeling it had never experienced before. He scooped her up in his arms, cradling her to his chest, his mind flashing back to the day he found her—and to holding her this same way. God, she had weighed so little, had seemed so fragile, but she was strong. Stronger than he’d ever be. Knowing what she’s gone through, what she’d survived—yeah. Strong was too weak a word to describe her. He carried her up the stairs to his bedroom, his mouth never leaving hers. With a gentleness born of reverence, he settled her on the bed. He broke the kiss to stare at her once more. Her eyes were closed, her face relaxed, her lips deliciously puffy and pink from a good kissing. He fucking loved pink.  

HUNT THE DAWN

Series: Fatal Dreams Series, Book 2 (stand alone) 

Genre: Dark Romantic Thriller

Out of darkness and danger… You can't hide your secrets from Lathan Montgomery-he can read your darkest memories. And while his special abilities are invaluable in the FBI's hunt for a serial killer, he has no way to avoid the pain that brings him. Until he is drawn to courageous, down-on-her-luck Evanee Brown and finds himself able to offer her something he's never offered another human being: himself. Dawns a unique and powerful love Nightmares are nothing new to Evanee Brown. But once she meets Lathan, they plummet into the realm of the macabre. Murder victims are reaching from beyond the grave to give Evanee evidence that could help Lathan bring a terrifying killer to justice. Together, they could forge an indomitable partnership to thwart violence, abuse, and death-if they survive the forces that seek to tear them apart.              
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Excerpt

While he hauled his motorcycle onto the road, he didn’t look away from her. She stood bereft in the middle of the pavement, staring out over the pasture. Emotions infused the air around her. Shame. Hate. Embarrassment. Sadness. Fear. Desperation. He recognized that tangled combination of scents. Knew them intimately. Knew the feeling of being hurt and vulnerable and powerless to stop the pain. Knew how memories, like the one he witnessed, had left wounds on her soul and Junior had just ripped off all the scabs. She was raw, bleeding emotionally in front of him and yet holding it together by a spider’s thread. He could see the effort in the way she stood straight and stiff. Fury simmered low in his gut. After he got her squared away, maybe he’d pay a visit to Junior. Show the asshole what it felt like to be the victim. He walked the bike to her. After he straddled the seat, he held out his hand to her. She grabbed him, her grip hungry. “Climb on up.” She tossed her leg over the seat, using his hand to balance her weight. He sat at the same time she did, her body settling against his back. Holy Jesus. He couldn’t activate the ability to think—his brain short-circuited from her nearness. Everything disappeared but the feeling of her open thighs wrapped around his ass with nothing but a tiny pair of black shorts and his jeans between them. Her sweet musky scent, almost like honey, but better—way better—folded around him like a celestial pair of wings. The scent of her entered his nose, flowed into his lungs, then out to his extremities, spreading a cooling wave of solace that he wanted to savor, but couldn’t. Not with her perched behind him, waiting for him to drive down the road. He placed her hand against his stomach, pressed it tightly to him. His abdominal muscles twitched under her touch. “Hold on.” He let go of her hand and she slid her other arm around his waist. She pressed her front to his back, holding as tightly to his body as she’d held his hand. She was a clingy little thing. Not that he minded. Her touch felt like—what was the word he wanted to use—kismet. Exactly as he’d always imagined a lover’s touch. Two pieces fitting perfectly together. He kicked the machine in gear, trying to ease it forward instead of his normal burst of speed. She rested her head on his spine, nestling her cheek across the fabric of his shirt before settling. His heart grew, straining against his chest wall, threatening to come up his throat in a shout of absolute ecstasy.  

SAVING MERCY

Series: Fatal Truth Series, Book 1 Genre: Dark Romantic Thriller


He’s found her at last… Cain Killion knows himself to be a damaged man. His only redeeming quality? The extrasensory connection to blood that he uses to catch killers. His latest case takes a macabre turn when he discovers a familiar and haunting symbol linking the crime to his horrific past—and the one woman who might understand what it means. Only to lose her to a nightmare Mercy Ledger is brave, resilient, beautiful—and in terrible danger. The moment Cain finds her the line between good and evil blurs and the only thing clear to them is that they belong together. Love is the antidote for blood—but is their bond strong enough to overcome the madness that stalks them?              

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Excerpt



The rain came down gray and thick as a shroud, blurring his vision of the world. He flipped on the wipers and pulled out of the hospital parking lot onto the road. Fat blobs of smacked the windshield loud as marbles being tossed against the glass. Was that hail? As if it mattered. His car was trashed. Cain had covered the passenger seat and all Mac’s blood with a blanket he kept in the trunk. Even though his view of all that crimson was blocked, his mind knew it was there and his eyes kept wandering to the blanket, calling up the image of the dark stickiness coating the seat and the floor. All that blood was playing touchy-feely with his sanity. And he wasn’t in the mood for games. He drove past a gas station, a fast food restaurant, a person walking alongside the road. His foot hit the brake before his brain had a chance to talk him out of it. Mercy. Her hair was slicked to her skull, her clothes—his clothes—were sucked to her body, doing a shitty job of hiding her curves. At least the T-shirt she wore was black, not white. He pulled over to the berm and watched her in the rearview mirror. She stopped walking, stared at the car—knew it was him—but didn’t move. Could he blame her for not wanting to be around him after what he’d said to her? Not really. And yet, he couldn’t leave her alone and walking in the rain with Payne still out there. Not to mention that she didn’t have anyone or anywhere to go.  She still hadn’t moved from her spot. He left the car running, opened his door and got out. The rain slapped him—frigid, bordering on icy, soaking his clothes and dripping in his eyes. The pressure of it hitting the wounds in his bicep and shoulder made him wince. But that was all the attention he’d give to the pain. “Get in the car.” The words came out harsher than he’d intended. She crossed her arms in front of her chest, lifted her head, and somehow managed to stare down her nose at him even though she was almost a foot shorter. “No.” She said the word as if it didn’t matter that they were standing in the middle of a downpour. “Get in the goddamned car.” This time the words came out loud and angry sounding. Like that was going to win her over. What was his problem? “Fuck you.” She looked miserable—all wet and shivery and yet feisty and taking none of his crap. He should soften his tone. He should try to be nicer. He should, but his inner asshole seemed attracted to her inner bitch. “Where are you going? No where. You don’t have anywhere to go. You don’t have any money. You don’t have friends.” His voice softened and filled with some emotion he couldn’t name. “You don’t have anyone looking out for you, caring for you, able to help you in a pinch. You got no one.” He sucked in a breath and when he spoke next his voice was soft and pleading. “Except me.” The moment he finished speaking he wanted to retract every goddamned one of those words he’d spoken. “I’m…Shit…” He ran a hand through his soaking hair. “Goddamn it. I’m a dick. Okay?” He softened his tone. “Now will you please get in the car?” Her shoulders straightened, her chin lifted, and she walked forward without looking at him. He expecting her to stomp past the car, but she yanked open the passenger door and got in. Seconds passed where he just stood here, getting even more wet, and staring at the back of her head poking above the headrest. “Now what?” He asked himself. Just what was he going to do with her? Drop her on Dolan? Yes. No. Yes. No. No. No. The last time he tried dropping her on someone she’d almost gotten hurt. If Mac hadn’t been able to keep her safe, he sure as shit wasn’t going to trust Dolan with her. He got back in car. Every inch of him soaked. He brushed his hair back off his face and wiped the water from his eyes. She stared out the passenger window, refusing to look at him. He reached over and touched her shoulder. Underneath his hand, her body tensed, then trembled. Shit. Was he scaring her? He wrenched his hand off her and wanted to use the damned thing to slap himself around a little. Maybe then he’d get it through his stupid brain that she was fucking frightened of him. Too many words flooded his mind and he didn’t know which ones to say. The I’m-sorry ones. The I-won’t-hurt-you ones. The I’m-an-asshole ones. The I-don’t-know-what-to-do ones. She turned to him. Rain slicked her cheeks. Or was that tears? Her beautiful eyes were the color of tropical waters—deep and fathomless. He held up his hands in a show of surrender and she flew across the console at him. He closed his eyes, braced for the blows, but none came. Instead, slender arms wrapped around him, her hair, cold and wet dripped against his chest, but her cheek over his heart was warm—so warm. Maybe he’d had a stroke or something because this felt like she was hugging him. And that couldn’t be. Could it? He opened his eyes and looked down at her. Yep. She was wound tight around the front of him. And suddenly his brain let him feel the total sensation of it. Of being held tight as if he mattered to her. He let his arms fall around her and squeezed, pressing her tighter to him. Damn, this felt good. She felt good. It was oddly comforting to have her clinging on to him so tight. He closed his eyes and memorized the pressure of her arms around him and the way her hands pressed into his back. The way she felt in his arms, the subtle ripple of her spine and ribs underneath his fingers, the way her skin felt warm against his when every other part of him was cold. If he’d been given a Stop Time button. This was the moment he would’ve used it. Here, holding her—the gentle lullaby of rain playing in the background—was the only perfect moment of his entire life.



About Abbie Roads

Abbie Roads is a mental health counselor known for her blunt, honest style of therapy. By night she writes dark, emotional novels always giving her characters the happy ending she wishes for all her clients. SAVING MERCY is the first book in her new Fatal Truth Series of dark, gritty, romantic suspense with a psychological twist.


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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Withhold by Andrea Pearson






Withhold
Mosaic Chronicles
Book Nine
Andrea Pearson

Genre: Fantasy

Publisher: Andrea Pearson

Date of Publication: July 18, 2017

ASIN: B072BFQ1QX

Word Count: 50,000

Cover Artist: Andrea Pearson

Book Description:

With the lives of everyone she holds dear at stake, will Nicole be able to do what it takes to stop the evil surrounding her?

In the ultimate battle between good and evil, Nicole is in a race to stop Keitus before he achieves his plans. If he succeeds, he will crush everyone who has opposed him and enslave Earth and countless other planets. Unfortunately, he is only minutes away from his goal.

With so much at stake, Nicole and her friends must approach Helen, a volatile and dangerous spirit who will probably destroy them regardless of whether she gives them what they want. And the chances of her helping them are slim.

Fast-paced and epic magical fights, exciting plot twists, and non-stop action and adventure await. So sit down, buckle up, and hold on for the explosive, much-anticipated conclusion to the award-winning and bestselling Mosaic Chronicles.

Tagline: With the lives of everyone she holds dear at stake, will Nicole be able to do what it takes to stop the evil surrounding her?

Amazon      Nook       iBooks      Kobo      Goodreads

About the Author:

Andrea Pearson is an avid reader and outdoor enthusiast who plays several instruments, not including the banjo. She is the author of many full-length novels and novellas. Writing is the chocolate of her life – it is, in fact, the only thing she ever craves. Being with her family is where she's happiest, and she loves thunderstorms, the ocean, hiking, public speaking, painting, and traveling.









Tour Giveaway/Bonus

Readers-  To receive your download bonuses, forward your proof of download (a confirmation email or a screenshot) to withholdbonuses@gmail.com

Bonuses include:

Discern and Praxis (first two books in the series)

Hope(less) and (Mis)fortune by Melissa Haag
Nemesis by KJ Pike
A fantasy book by Bryan Cohen (title forthcoming)
Bachelor of science degree from Katon University (the university characters attend to learn magic)
Coloring pages
Word search
Fantasy illustration by Andrea's husband (James E. Curwen, professional illustrator)

Maps illustrated by Andrea and her husband

Monday, July 17, 2017

Sin Eater by Alesha Escobar and Samantha Lafantasie: Giveaway


Sin Eater
The Aria Knight Chronicles Book 1
By Alesha Escobar and Samantha Lafantasie
Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal


Aria Knight has an unusual set of skills: she will hold back the hounds of Hell so you can fly toward the Pearly Gates, and she will wipe your slate clean so that you don't become karma's bitch...for a price.




A Sin Eater has to make a living in today's world somehow.

But when she's called in the dead of night to perform her rite for a recluse billionaire, she stumbles upon a murder scene, and the evidence points to her.

In an attempt to clear her name and uncover the true culprit, Aria is forced to team up with a private investigator who's possessed by three spirits, and a handsome wizard who would rather see all Sin Eaters like Aria go extinct.

Aria knows her job is never easy, but now it's become downright deadly.

SIN EATER is the first book of the Aria Knight Chronicles by USA Today bestselling author Samantha LaFantasie and Alesha Escobar, author of the bestselling Gray Tower Trilogy.



**.99 on Amazon!!**
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Excerpt

EXCLUSIVE INSTAFREEBIE PREVIEW

Chapters 1 and 2


Chapter 1

Aria



Aria would die tonight.
If Hessa didn’t unlock her damn door and let her in, that would certainly be the case. Aria’s back stiffened when she heard the faint but distinctive howls from the Hounds of Hell. Their shrieks always struck her as a cross between wolves wailing at the moon and jackals whining into the night.
Hessa finally opened the door and stood at the threshold, sizing her up and taking a long drag from her cigarette. A tear, mingled with ruined mascara, trailed down her cheek. “Thanks for coming, Aria. This was the last thing Mom asked for, so…”
“I understand. May I come in?” Aria nearly knocked her over trying to slip inside. The howling grew louder. They were down the street, and Aria’s time was running out.
“Yeah.” Hessa rolled her eyes at Aria’s terse attitude, but she’d do the same if she could hear what came their way.
“You should place a ward around the house.” Aria speed-walked down the hall.
“Okay…” Hessa’s voice trailed off.
She wished she had been called sooner. If the hellhounds made it to the dead woman before she did, then she’d have to watch them tear the old woman’s soul to shreds before dragging her off to the abyss.
Aria wrinkled her nose at the smell of wet fur and garbage. A small dog somewhere in the house barked a few times. As if drawn like a magnet to metal, she guided herself to the last room, toward the deceased. A short, white-haired woman in a long-sleeved gown lay in repose on a bed. Her arms were crossed just below her chest, with her hands meeting in a clasp.
Aria’s lips pressed into a thin line. She didn’t have time for this. She had told Hessa over the phone not to move or position the body. She quickly took the dead woman’s right hand and extended it, placing it to her right side. She did the same for the left hand, so that nothing sat on or near the deceased’s chest. She felt the moment Hessa cast her warding spell around the house. It felt like a stab of tension in her chest, the same type people felt when walking downstairs and missing a step.
“What was her name?” Aria asked, when Hessa joined her in the back room. She needed to know this in case she needed to grab the spirit’s attention.
“Lora.”
“Beautiful name. Do you have the bread?” Aria grabbed a rickety stool from the left corner of the room and brought it over. She sat down next to the bed. The hellhounds circled the house, probably salivating over their prey. Aria could hear their gleeful snarls at the prospect of devouring another soul. If she weren’t careful, they would tear into her as well. It wasn’t unheard of for them to go after sin eaters.
Hessa jabbed her cigarette into an ashtray on the nightstand and then unraveled a fresh-baked loaf of bread. Steam rose from the bread, and Hessa used the towel that was covering the small loaf to protect her hands as she transferred it to her mother’s chest.
As a sign of respect, and also as a way to mark the beginning of the Final Rite, Aria inclined her head in a slight bow, mentally offering up an ancient prayer of blessing. She was the very last call, the end of the line for many. Probably in some ancient desert Monastery or buried in the Vatican archives, there was a dusty old manuscript with a footnote, speaking of the loophole offered by sin eaters. Most would ask for her if they couldn’t reach a priest, or as extra “insurance” after receiving Anointing of the Sick.
Aria raised her right hand, palm facing forward, revealing the birthmark that identified her as a sin eater. She lowered her hand, but kept it suspended in mid-air just above the bread. She already felt the pulsating power of the S-shaped mark on her hand that begged to let the flame emerge. It happened whenever she began a sin eating ritual, and the first time her birthmark erupted into a large flame, she fell on her ass and tried to smother it with a handkerchief. Not exactly a move that would instill confidence in a client entrusting their loved one’s soul to her.
The flame meant there were sins that needed to be ripped away from a penitent Lora and passed on to Aria instead. Lora’s soul would be free to throw off any shackles burdening her and find peace, and Aria would know that she helped guide someone to paradise. There were also the perks of increased longevity for Aria, youthful appearance, and extra cash. Witching families paid well for this gig.
“Once I begin,” Aria said, watching the flame on her palm subside, “don’t interrupt the process.” She decided not to mention that hellhounds would make their way in within the next few minutes, seeking Lora’s soul.
Aria turned her attention toward the bread resting on Lora’s chest. She reached over with her right hand and took the small loaf, biting off a large piece and chewing it. The bread was plain and slightly salty, but what really made an impression on Aria was the rush of mystical energy that filled her from head to toe. All of her physical senses were amplified in that moment. The lights in the room looked brighter, the color of Hessa’s green dress and auburn hair were more vibrant, and the scent of wet fur and garbage returned with a vengeance.
And so did the howls of the hellhounds.
Aria almost felt buzzed by the sensations, but she had been sin eating for a long time, so she knew when to shove them aside and get to work. She motioned toward the nightstand. “The wine, or beer, please.”
Hessa blinked a few times in astonishment, probably wondering if her mother’s final request was some elaborate practical joke. With a little hesitance, she leaned over and grabbed a cup. She handed it to Aria and backed away, conveniently close enough to the door just in case she didn’t like what would happen.
Aria held the cup with a steady hand just above Lora’s chest. Inclining her head in a gesture of respect once more, she brought the rim of the cup to her lips and drank.
The beer traveled down her throat; it was cool and spritzy, with a surprising richness in body and a malty flavor. Now Aria’s spiritual senses were heightened. A burst of light temporarily blinded her, and when her view came back into focus, she saw Lora’s soul standing next to Hessa. Silver speckles of light adorned the elderly woman’s white hair, and her face appeared thirty years younger than that of her corpse. Aria grinned when she saw that Lora chose to wear a yellow evening gown reminiscent of the starlets of Old Hollywood.
Lora made a sweeping gesture with her hand, showing off her lean frame. “If I have to go, why not in style?”
“Agreed.” Aria took a final swig from the cup and placed it aside.
Hessa raised an eyebrow, and her gaze went from Aria and then across from her, where from her perspective, she was talking to an invisible person. “Aria? Is it working?”
“Shhh.” Aria kept her gaze on Lora. The entire room quivered as the hellhounds broke through Hessa’s protective ward, but only Aria felt it.
Barking erupted in the hallway, but this wasn’t the yapping of the little dogs in the house. Hessa couldn’t hear it, but Lora and Aria did. Lora’s expression fell, and she floated across the room, through her bed and body, and stood next to Aria.
“I’ll make it, won’t I? I know I’ve done some things terribly wrong in my life, but I’m a believer. Would’ve told Hessa to fetch the Padre, if my lungs hadn’t given out on me, but she knew that I also wanted her to call for one of you when it was my time to go.”
Aria stood and placed her hand on Lora’s shoulder. After imbibing beer or wine in her ritual, she could see, hear, and touch souls. “Of course. I won’t let anything bad happen to you.”
“Shit.” Hessa chuckled as she slipped another cigarette into her mouth and lit it with a snap of her finger. “If I’m forking over five hundred big ones for a dramatic act, I’m gonna be pissed.”
A gray portal that looked like a whirlpool of storm clouds appeared right behind Hessa. Lora stepped behind Aria, grasping her shoulders with trembling hands.
“Please, don’t let them get me!”
Aria cleared her throat. “Hessa, you might want to step aside.”
The other woman turned around, and upon seeing nothing out of the ordinary behind her, faced Aria and shrugged. “Okay, are you for real?”
“Too late.” Aria raised her right hand, letting her birthmark bring forth the flame that had ignited earlier.
In an instant, two hellhounds burst through the portal and passed straight through Hessa. She went rigid and let out a shriek. The cigarette fell out of her mouth and onto the floor.
“Oh my God! What was that? What just happened?” Hessa frantically patted her chest and torso. When smoke began rising from the floor, she screamed again and grabbed a nearby towel which she used to smother the flames from the carpet where the cigarette fell.
Aria ignored Hessa’s plea to stop the ritual. She wouldn’t, and she couldn’t. Besides the fact that she promised to help Lora, she now had to deal with two large, black, salivating hellhounds bent on dragging Lora’s soul away.
Their red eyes glowed with malice as they circled Aria and Lora. They had come for souls many times, and most of those times, sin eaters like Aria had repelled them. She swore to herself that tonight would be another victory.
As if reading her thoughts, the hounds unleashed deafening barks that echoed throughout the room. Hessa couldn’t hear them, but she did gag at the pungent odor that filled the bedroom. Aria wanted to vomit in response to the smell, but she quelled the unease in her stomach and swept her flaming right hand in an arc. A fiery circle enclosed itself around Aria and Lora.
“This penitent is under my protection,” Aria said in a clear voice. “She will pass on to the light, and I will bear the darkness.”
One of the hellhounds blew an ice-cold breeze toward the fiery circle, while the other opened its mouth and made a sucking motion. Lora squealed when an invisible force lifted her and started pulling her toward the hellhound.
Aria grabbed hold of Lora. “Uh, I don’t want to rush your spiritual enlightenment, but now’s a good time to let go of those vices.” She doubted Lora wanted to be swept away because she kept the flaws that had entrenched themselves in the depths of her being.
Lora gritted her teeth. The icy wind whipped her white hair in different directions. “I…don’t know if I can!”
No shit. This wasn’t like giving up ice cream or chocolate for Lent. If Lora couldn’t, or rather wouldn’t, peel away the slivers of corruption that still clung to her, then the hellhounds would claim their right to her and clamp down with their hungry mouths and drag her away.
“Lora, whatever’s in there trying to stick around, don’t give in to the idea that you can’t defeat it. We’re weak, yes, but you know what’s stronger?”
Lora looked over at Hessa, her daughter, and her expression of fear softened. The old woman’s grey-blue eyes shined, and a sense of confidence took hold of her. She turned and met Aria’s gaze. “Love. True Love’s light.”
Aria used her flaming hand to brand the “S” symbol, the same as her birthmark, onto Lora’s forehead. In that moment, they were bound together, and small black specks, the remaining sins and darkness in Lora, floated out of her and went straight into Aria. The old woman had finally let go of what held her down.
The hellhounds let out disappointed howls. They backed away with indignant whines. With a few threatening snarls, they turned and jumped back into the gray portal and disappeared. Once the portal faded, Aria released Lora from her grasp. The elderly woman slowly faded, but she wore a grateful smile. She was finally moving on to her next journey--sans the hellhounds.
“Thank you, my dear,” Lora said right before she completely disappeared.
Aria nodded in response. Her throat was on fire and her hands felt numb.
“Can I come in now?” Hessa’s voice carried from just outside the room.
Aria rolled her eyes and sighed. “Yes. It’s done.”
Hessa stumbled back into the room, trying to hide her shaking hands by smoothing her green dress, which had now lost its vibrancy. She placed her hand over her heart and eyed her mother’s body. “Whatever passed through me,” she said, taking in a deep breath, “it was horrible. But I felt Mom’s presence, and I just knew she was here.”
“She was, and now she’s moved on. She’s fine now.”
Seeing Hessa’s affection for her mother ignited a twinge of jealousy in Aria. She wished she had something like that with her mother, but the woman gave her up when she was just a baby. She had been told that her father, whoever he was, had passed away before she was born. She had always wondered if her mother, a witch named Clare, didn’t want her because she was born with the mark of the sin eater, or, if there was more to the story.
Hessa shook her head, still in disbelief at what she just experienced. She reached into her ample cleavage and pulled out a wad of cash. “I felt Mom right next to me, I swear it. I guess you earned this, honey.”
Ew. Sweaty boob cash. Aria pinched the roll of money and slipped it into her leather jacket pocket. “Thanks. You can call and have the body picked up now.”
She nodded. “Will you do me when I die?”
“Yes, good night, Hessa.” She acquired most of her clients through word of mouth or by them sitting through a sin eating ritual as a witness. Most of the world had forgotten that her kind even existed.
She left the room and headed down the hallway, but paused when the other woman called out to her. “Does it hurt when you do that?”
Aria turned and shook her head, her long, dark, wavy hair moving back and forth. “Does it hurt when you do your type of magic?”
Hessa’s eyebrows rose together in an expression that told Aria that she understood. “But, how come there aren’t more like you?”
Aria shrugged and gave a confused look, though in truth, she’d known the answer for over sixty years. Most of her kind had decided that they would rather die than go on absorbing the sins of a mankind that thought throwing innocent people into death camps was a good idea, or slaughtering innocents by the millions was acceptable. There were a few hundred sin eaters in the world, and only a handful left in the United States. She was the only one she knew of in Miracle Falls, California.
“Goodnight,” she said again with a little more agitation in her voice. The Final Rite had exhausted her, and the last thing she wanted to do was recall memories of the 1940’s.
As she went down the steps of the front porch and headed toward her car, she slipped her hands into her leather jacket pocket. A biting chill hung in the November air, but what caused a tremor in her fingers and her body to shudder was the effect of the ritual. It tired her out, making her feel like an athlete who had just passed her peak and was about to head downhill. She knew of only one solution to that.
She shoved those thoughts aside and concentrated on what she could attain immediately. She wanted a big ass glass of wine. She needed her nice, warm bed. And then, she needed to magically be prepared in the morning to serve as nanny to a mind-reading ten year old, and her awkward older brother who probably knew more about human history and magic than most scholars in the world.
Joy.




Chapter 2

Harry


Curses were a funny thing.
They were like a chronic disease that just kept agitating you, breaking you down until it finally destroyed you. Truth be told, Harry would’ve preferred a quick death that night when he fought the wizard, Warren Bright. Instead of snapping his neck, the twisted bastard blasted him with an eerie force that seeped into his clothes, skin, and mind. Imperare, was what it’s called. To Harry, it was sheer hell.
Harry’s hands twitched as he let go of his steering wheel. He pulled his key out of the ignition and threw on his jacket. His stomach churned as he felt the familiar throb in his ears and as his eyesight blurred.
Not yet, he thought. I’m already here.
He got out and locked the door to his black ’77 Maverick. He didn’t like being out so late at night in this part of the city, but when the choice was between running into a few gang members and the occasional wino, versus loosing his damn mind and going on a killing spree, he’d gladly take his chances with the thugs. If he was lucky, maybe they’d put a bullet through his head.
He intentionally parked under the only available lamp light in the parking lot. He briskly made his way past the few cars occupying spaces, finding an odd solace in the gravel crunching beneath his feet. It made him feel like he was still in control of his body and mind, that he still had a physical connection to this world.
“You got an extra dollar, Harry?” Chad sat against the side of the building the parking lot was attached to. He probably hung out on this side instead of near the front because Mayra threatened to cure his alcoholism with an alchemical potion.
Harry’s hands trembled. Shit. He didn’t have time for this. “Not now, Chad. I’ve gotta see Mayra before she closes the shop.”
Chad flipped him off, his scraggly beard reeked of liquor and un-brushed teeth. “Harry…it’s only a buck! Come on!”
“Shut up, Chad.” He turned the corner and stepped onto the sidewalk, ignoring Chad’s insult that he was a selfish bastard.
He approached the front door of Gaia’s Apothecary and hammered on the door with a tight fist. The throbbing in his ears drowned out the sound of traffic from passing cars and the barking of a few dogs. He prayed Mayra had his potion ready. His nerves calmed a little when he saw the petite blonde woman approach and unlock the door. She flashed him a half-smile and ushered him in.
“I’ve got it ready for you, Harry. Don’t worry.”
He sighed. Good old Mayra. He could always count on her. Maybe if he found Warren, the wizard who cursed him, and forced him to undo it, he’d ask her out for coffee.
Mmmm…coffee sounds nice, a feminine voice purred in his head.
“Mayra, I can hear them! Give me the potion, now!” If he let it progress past this stage, the three spirits who swooped in and possessed him would overtake his will and assume command.
Coffee always gave me jitters and kept me up at night, a nerdy ass male voice commented.
Mayra nearly tripped as she scrambled to her counter and grabbed a small amber bottle with “Harry Storm” written on its white label.
“Stop talking, you hear me? All of you!” He snatched the bottle from Mayra.
You know what I want to do? a third voice, darker and deeper than the other two, asked.
“No!” Harry poured the contents of the bottle down his throat as if it were the elixir of life. He shut his eyes and gripped the bottle so tightly that his knuckles turned white. His entire body grew rigid, tensing up as if expecting a devastating blow.
Instead, the soft hand and lavender scent of Mayra’s perfume made contact with him and ignited his senses. His senses. He was still in control. The spirits did not overtake him.
“It’s okay,” she said. “I made you an extra bottle, in case of an emergency.”
Harry regained his composure, nodding slowly. “Thanks.”
She went back over behind her counter and grabbed an extra amber bottle from what must have been over a hundred filled potions. They were neatly organized on shelves by bottle color and size. She slipped the extra bottle into a paper bag, folded the top, and handed it to Harry with a worried expression.
“You should’ve come yesterday, Harry. If you push it this far again…”
He took out a wad of cash and offered it to her. Her touch lingered just a few seconds longer than usual as she took the money. She slipped it into her pocket.
“I’ll be okay, Mayra. Some snob hired me to keep tabs on the mayor’s chief of staff.”
“And?” She raised an eyebrow. When she wanted to, she could be intimidating. All five feet of her.
He shrugged. “I’ll follow the guy around, take some pictures, probably catch him with a whore…look, the point is, I’ll make enough money to buy some information. The right information I need to find Warren Bright.”
“Just be careful, Harry. And please, be here next Wednesday. Not Thursday.”
“I will. I have no choice.” He gave her a slight nod before turning on his heel and heading toward the exit. He breathed in the lavender scent of her perfume and glanced around the shop one last time, wondering if any of the medicines or potions could help lift the curse for good, and not just stave off its effects for a week.
He headed back outside to the parking lot, finally pausing to give Chad his weekly dollar. He knew the man would probably go buy wine, or something worse, if that was what he was into. He liked to think Chad maybe took it sometimes and got something off the dollar menu at a fast food joint. He bet it pissed these guys off that people didn’t think of giving a few extra cents to cover tax.
As he jumped into his Ford Maverick and started the engine, all he could think about was starting his new assignment. Make the money. Buy the information I want. Find Warren Bright. Rain hell down on him until he lifts the curse.
He’d work out the kinks and details as they came along, but it was as good a plan as any.
***

Thank you for reading this excerpt of Sin Eater!







I’m a caffeine addict and chocoholic who enjoys reading and writing engaging stories, loveable (and not-so loveable) characters, and expressing my creativity daily. I write fantasy with intriguing characters, action-packed scenes, and always throw in a good dash of humor and romance.

Science Fiction and Fantasy are my favorite genres, but I also adore the classics (Shakespeare, Dante Alighieri, etc.) and I have a soft spot in my heart for Victorian poetry. You can geek out with me all-day every day over these

Some of my favorite contemporary fantasy authors are George R.R. Martin, Robert Jordan (rest in peace), J.K. Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Jim Butcher (Dresden Files made me love Urban Fantasy), and Ilona Andrews among others. I enjoy movies and shows like Sleepy Hollow, Supernatural, Arrow, The Flash, The Avengers…there are too many to name!

I want to read more comics and graphic novels, please shoot a recommendation or two my way (I LOVE the Hellblazer comics, by the way).
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