Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Carina Press
Date of Publication: October 28, 2013
Word Count: 76,000
An estranged mate, a mangled body and a powerful demon who calls her by name…
As a Realm Walker for the Agency, Juliana Norris tracks deadly paranormal quarry using her unique ability to see magical signatures. She excels at her job, but her friends worry about her mysterious habit of dying in the line of duty without staying dead. That’s only the first of her secrets.
Most people don’t know Juliana became the mate of master vampire Thomas Kendrick before he abandoned her seven years ago. Most people don’t know the horrors she endured at the hands of the vampire he left in command. Most people don’t know her true parentage, or why a demon on a world-threatening rampage has taken a personal interest in her…
Even as Juliana pursues the demon, it goes after all she holds dear—including Thomas, who is back to claim her for his own. But if she can’t reconcile her past and learn to trust herself again, she will lose him forever.
The troll picked her up with nothing more than his teeth in her shoulder and shook her like a hellhound with a chew toy. She clenched her jaw in pain and let out a terrible keening groan as muscle and tendon ripped. She fought her base instinct to struggle, to squirm away from the source of the pain. If she did, she’d only injure herself further. Blood poured from the wound, staining the ground a horrible, vibrant crimson.
A growl tore through the clearing seconds before a brown blur flew through the air and landed on the troll’s back. Nathaniel. They all rocked forward with the impact and fresh pain lanced through her shoulder. The troll roared in anger, releasing Juliana’s shoulder by default and she dropped to the ground. She backed away, eyeing the two of them warily. The troll reached over his back, trying to grab Nathaniel who still had his teeth and claws dug deep into the beast. The wolf snarled, growled and shook his head as the troll danced around the clearing trying to get a grip on his attacker.
Juliana’s arm hung limp and worthless by her side. Pain burned through the wound and nausea rose in waves. Her head swam. She swallowed the acid down, sucked in crisp, cool air. She used her right hand to wrap her left arm around her waist in an effort to keep the shoulder from moving any more than necessary.
“Nathaniel,” she yelled as the troll ran backward into the trees.
He slammed his back with Nathaniel still attached into the trunk of a large oak tree once, twice, three times. The blows stunned Nathaniel enough that the troll was finally able to snatch the wolf and hurl him across the clearing. Her friend lay unmoving on the ground.
The troll locked crimson eyes on her and stalked across the clearing. She fought every impulse inside of her that told her to run and waited for him to come. One taloned hand wrapped around her throat and picked her up. Pulling her close, the troll roared in fury once they were almost nose to nose. She wrapped her legs around his waist to take the pressure off her throat. Juliana raised the Taser and jammed it into his ear. Not caring anymore if she fried his brain, she squeezed and held the trigger. His roar changed to one of agony.
He released her throat and raised both hands to his head. He stumbled backward in an effort to get away from her but her legs stayed clamped around his waist. She continued to pour electricity into him until he dropped to his knees. Only then did she put her feet on the ground and back away.
Her opponent stayed on all fours, shaking his head, trying to clear it. The air hung heavy with the scent of burnt fur and troll. As he rose to a kneeling position, she adjusted her grip on the weapon. From the corner of her eye she saw Nathaniel stagger to his feet.
The troll held up his hands in a gesture of surrender. “No more, Walker. I will go where you ask. Wherever you ask.”
Relief eased the tightness in her chest. She wasn’t sure she was up for another round of Taze the Troll. She ran her thumb along the side of her ring preparing to use it to call the portal tied to it. Then the troll began to laugh. A low sound at first, it quickly grew to a volume that made her ears ache. Great. She had fried his brain and now she had a crazy troll to deal with.
After putting more distance between them, she put her Taser away and drew her sword. It left the sheath with a ring of steel. She adjusted her hand on the grip. Nathaniel came to stand beside her, leaning his weight into her leg to let her know he was near. “You okay there, Mr. Troll?”
He opened his blazing red eyes and looked at her. “I’ve had your blood, Juliana Norris. It tells me things.” Apparently it told him her name, because she’d never given it.
Genre: urban fantasy, paranormal romance
Publisher: Carina press
Word Count: 68,000
Juliana Norris, Realm Walker with the Agency, is an Altered. A fact that she runs up against every time she’s forced to work with human police officers, and their species-ist commissioner, on cases they can’t solve themselves. Which happens more than they would like to admit.
Her gift—the quality that makes her the best Realm Walker in the business, without boast—is the ability to read magical signatures. Whether the gift came from her father, the dark fae god of death, or the mage mother she can’t remember, is anyone’s guess. And when Altered children start going missing with only wild magical signatures as clues, her heritage is the last thing on her mind.
She can’t afford such distractions, and she definitely can’t afford to worry about the fact that her mate, master vampire Thomas Kendrick, hasn’t spoken to her since she saved him from a demon—maybe it’s because she had to stab him to do so. Because whoever is kidnapping these children must be very powerful to wield wild magic. Very powerful, and very dangerous indeed.
In the warm afternoon light, a lone swing rocked back and forth in a steady rhythm, its chains groaning a mournful dirge despite the fact no one sat upon it. It hadn’t faltered once in the hour since the child vanished. The fifth to disappear in three weeks. Each one taken in front of at least a dozen witnesses who couldn’t recall a single thing later—no details of when they’d last seen the child, nothing about any strangers hanging around. They didn’t even recollect hearing a scream of protest. In this case, every student and teacher on the playground had been distracted at the same exact moment, but no one could remember by what when asked.
Police and technicians swarmed the steps of New Hope Elementary and the courtyard in front. All of them instinctively avoided the playground and the magic at work there. All except the figure that stood in the far corner by the rusty swing set, hands in her pockets as the late-October wind whipped around her, snatching at her clothes and carrying the scent of burning leaves. Her hair was short but still long enough for her to catch an occasional glimpse of the royal-blue streaks among the black as it blew into her face. She tucked an errant strand behind one ear, but doubted it would stay put for long.
A Realm Walker, an officer for the Agency, Juliana Norris was here because the first policeman on the scene had called her directly. This wasn’t the Agency’s investigation. Not yet, anyway. Her involvement was strictly advisory until the commissioner climbed down from his shiny pedestal long enough to admit local law enforcement wasn’t up to doing the job on their own. While the victims thus far had been Altered, the perp hadn’t been identified. Since it was possible a human was behind this, Commissioner Phipps claimed jurisdiction. No one high enough at the Agency cared enough to contradict him. Yet.
Her phone vibrated at her hip. She glanced at the screen as she pulled it out—Ben Nichols, her boss. The initial kidnappings had garnered so much attention in the Altered community he’d been forced to cut her suspension short by a week—an action he hadn’t been happy to take at all. A fact he reminded her of every day.
“Norris,” she answered and braced herself for another reprimand.
“You haven’t filed a report. What’s your status?”
The clipped tone of his voice exhausted her. She was tired of the daily conflict. “I haven’t filed a report because there is nothing to report. We know nothing further than we did before.”
“I took you off suspension to get results, Norris. So far I’m not impressed.”
“No, you took me off suspension because you didn’t want to get shredded by the press for keeping the Walker with the best record out of the game while the Thief does his hunting. You know I’m the most likely to find him.”
There was a stretch of silence. “I know you are. That doesn’t mean I have to like it.”
He hung up and she slipped her phone back into her pocket. Her insistence she was the best Walker for the job had nothing to do with arrogance and everything to do with her particular blend of talents.
She possessed a gift that enabled her to see the unique signature of any living being. A signature was a spectrum of colors that told her exactly what type of creature an individual was, no matter how artfully they might try to hide it. She could also see the signature of a spell cast on anyone, or anything, other than herself. Whether the gift came from her father, the dark fae god of death, or the mage mother she couldn’t remember, was anyone’s guess.
Activating her gift made her eyes glow several shades brighter than their normal emerald, so she kept them hidden behind a pair of dark glasses. She studied the muddy brown of the stasis spell used on the swing. This particular shade of brown marked it wild magic. Dangerous magic. It also meant that whatever cast the spell wasn’t using his own power. Wild magic belonged to no one; it simply existed. And its signature was strong enough she hadn’t been able to get a read yet on what was doing the casting. It could be a mage, a fae, a god or anything else with any kind of magic ability. Which narrowed the suspect list down to about nine-tenths of the Altered community.
What she did know was the magic took great power or skill to wield. While it was better for everyone if they did, power and skill didn’t necessarily go hand in hand. Maybe luck would be with them for once and one of the bastard’s spells would backfire and fry him.
Genre: urban fantasy, dark fantasy
Date of Publication: August 30, 2014
Number of pages: 20
Keep your distance. Don’t look him in the eye. Feed him and leave.
Michael D’Augustino is a priest in the time of the Inquisition. Marked as weak for his refusal to torture those charged with sorcery, heresy, devil worship or worse, he’s given another task. Feed the prisoner in the cell in the darkest corner of the dungeon. With the edict comes a set of instructions.
Ever obedient, Michael does exactly as he is told. Until the night his charge doesn’t eat and Michael has to enter the cell to find out why. Instead of the beast he believes to be imprisoned there, he finds a man. A broken, tormented man who asks for help.
But all is not as it seems and, before the night is through, Michael will be changed forever.
An unlit torch hung on the wall beside the cell and Michael took the flint from the table beneath it. His hands shook as he tried in vain to light the torch. Finally, it sparked and flared to life. With trembling fingers, he pulled it from the wall and reopened the door. Stepping quickly inside, he shut the door behind him and pressed his back to it. He could not risk anything escaping, animal or otherwise.
Darkness recoiled from the flickering flame and receded before him. There along the back wall a huddled form. Michael’s pulse raced and his palms grew slick with moisture. He adjusted his grip on the torch. He both anticipated and feared the moment the creature revealed itself.
“I can smell you, priest,” it said, without lifting its head. When Michael didn’t respond, it looked up, squinting its eyes against the light. Michael was careful not to meet its gaze directly. His father told him the creature could ensnare with a look.
He was struck by how normal the man—the vampyr, he corrected himself—looked. Emaciated from his captivity perhaps, but otherwise his blond hair and dark eyes could have belonged to anyone. Any human. This was not the beast Michael had been led to believe was imprisoned here. Was this another innocent falsely accused? No, Michael had heard it kill and eat the animals he brought to it. Whatever it was, it was not purely human. He needed to remember that.
“You’re the timid one. If they sent you, they must intend for me to live another day yet,” its abused voice croaked.
The creature’s words had an echo of the bishop in them. Pointing out Michael’s flaws, his inability to hurt another as if it was something to be ashamed of. “Why do you say that?”
“You feed me, heal me. You have never injured me.” The voice sounded so pained, Michael cringed in sympathy. The creature detected it, though it misinterpreted the cause. “You have no reason to fear me. You have done me no wrong.”
“I am uncertain of that,” Michael said. “If I were a merciful man, I would not continue to bring you food.”
The vampyr’s dark eyes studied him, the flickering flame of the torch reflected in their depths. “Why do you say that?”
“They only heal you so they can torture you afresh on the morrow. If I did not feed you, you would not heal and perhaps they would leave you be. For a day at least.”
“Do you honestly believe that?”
Michael shook his head. If it didn’t heal, the bishop would only torture it further to find out why. “Abomination you may be, but no one deserves an existence of endless torture.”
The vampyr chuckled, a low sound, halting as if he’d forgotten how to laugh. “Don’t be so sure of that, timid one. I can think of many who deserve the punishment I have been given, even if I am not one of them.”
Can she find a killer in a town where the basest desires are allowed to run free?
There are zombies in the Dead Zone and Juliana Norris is sent to take care of the problem. And for there to be zombies, there had to be bodies. When vampires are found to be the culprits, Juliana is sent undercover in the red light district of Kansas City. Lying to her mate, Thomas Kendrick, isn’t something she wants to do, but she’s in another vampire’s territory and Thomas would not be pleased. Besides, she’s more than capable of doing the job and she needs to prove it to everyone. Most of all herself.
Charles Morgan is in control of the Kansas City area, making a rich living off his various enterprises. Juliana goes undercover at the strip club Lust and gets sucked into his dark, decadent world. More victims turn up and the Agency is positive they’ve got their man, but Juliana is not so sure. When the Agency refuses to listen, she reluctantly turns to Thomas for help. He intervenes but finds Juliana unaware of the danger she is in and discovers she may just be too deep for him to save.
Juliana pulled her coat tighter around her body as a cold wind whipped in a frenzy sending a chill through her. She hated the weather in this city, constantly changing without even a weather mage to blame. Maybe she should try to convince Morgan to bring one in just to regulate things. At least until she left town. Scanning the area again, she shook her head. How was she supposed to find a killer in the midst of so much depravation?
The scene around her seemed as if it was pulled straight from a public service announcement about the dangers of prostitution. Hookers and blood slaves staked out their territory, chasing off those that dared encroach. Flyers littered the fronts of buildings, and loose ones skittered along the pavement as they raced to freedom. While several of the men and women plying their trade made eye contact with her, it was evident that she was poor and not a vampire. Their interest quickly waned and moved on to the next target. The unclean taint in the air was familiar from the time she’d spent in Devil’s End in New Hope. Desperation had the same stink no matter where you were.
Juliana had opted to walk to work, hoping that immersing herself in the city would help her find a clue, a suspect. So far it wasn’t working. But it wasn’t as if she thought someone was go-ing to hop up and down in front of her screaming, “I did it!” It would be lovely if that was the way things worked, but nothing ever happened the easy way.
Walking through a neighborhood like this without her sword or her gun was not high on her list of experiences she cared to ever repeat. Even though she knew Nathaniel was following dis-cretely not far behind, it did little to ease her nerves. She trusted the wolf more than most, but a lot could happen in the time it would take him to get to her.
Kathleen Collins lives and works in Missouri. By day, she labors in the local prosecutor’s office. At night she writes while surrounded by her husband, two boys and two loveable mutts. She is constantly thinking of her next project and loves to connect with her readers. You can find her most often on Facebook or on her website.