Friday, October 16, 2015
Blood Slave by Kathleen Collins
Realm Walker Series
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.
They pulled up in front of a non-descript low, white building. Visible Ink, the name of the tattoo parlor was painted in blue and gold on both of the large front windows. A crack crawled across one of them and chips of flaking paint decorated the sidewalk in front. Juliana climbed out of James’s car in disbelief. Proudly displayed in one corner of the front window was a sign pro-claiming ‘Buy one, get one half off’.
“Really, James?” She’d tried not to say anything but she couldn’t help herself. She had never questioned her friend’s judgement before but she had serious doubts about this place.
“What?” he asked. His tone told her that he knew exactly what she was thinking and he found it funny.
“There are some things in life you don’t want a discount on. Surgical procedures, for exam-ple. Or, I don’t know, tattoos, maybe.”
“Just trust me.”
She snorted but said nothing. If she didn’t trust him she would have already been back in the car. The man wore a lot of ink, most of it beautiful. He had to have some insight as to the best place for her to get her tattoo. He held the door open and she stepped inside. A large man rose from a chair in the back and came to meet them. He wore a neatly trimmed beard and tattoos covered every inch of visible skin from the neck down. His gaze moved over her from head to toe and it was obvious he was sizing her up. It was just as obvious when he dismissed her. “Pip-er,” he said, nodding in greeting. “What can I do you for?”
James put a hand on the small of her back and pushed her forward. Clearing her throat as she pulled a piece of paper from her pocket, she unfolded it and laid it on the counter between them. It looked like a Japanese kanji but was in fact a combination of Thomas’s initials which formed his personal symbol. The tattooist looked between her and the drawing several times before pushing it back across the counter with one finger. “Unless your name’s Norris, that ain’t getting anywhere near you.”
About the Author:
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 fine her most often on Facebook or on her website.