Friday, September 25, 2020

Interview with Author S Peters-Davis



Tell us about your newest book.

SPD - Oblivious is the 4th book in the Kendra Spark Series. A bit about the characters: Kendra is a famous suspense-thriller author who can also communicate with ghosts. Her best friend, Jenna, went to the east coast after college and now works as a criminal analyst under her father at the FBI. And then there’s Derek Knight, Special Task Force FBI Agent, and who’s in an evolving relationship with Kendra.

Jenna is ghostified in the first book, but her spirit stays earthbound, and that’s also when Kendra gets wrapped up in helping on cases due to her ability to communicate with the murdered victims (if she’s lucky). Plus, Kendra now translates Jenna’s conversations to the others on the FBI task force team, including Jenna’s father. 

Derek, Jenna, Kendra, and several others have formed a close-knit, special task force for the supernatural occurrences going on in the world. 

In this book, they’re dealing with a Voodoo priestess, Sassy, who went rogue and turned evil witch of the dark arts. She set her sights on the FBI Special Task Force team, specifically those that took down the Queen B, Sassy’s cartel sister and head of the mob, even as a spirit.
Each book deals with evil spirits and people, dangerous situations, and terrifying possibilities.
And they are a blast to write;)

Writing isn’t easy. What was the most difficult thing you dealt with when writing your newest book?

SPD – A series of books carries threads of storylines throughout, but some get stitched up after each book. Holding all threads together through to the end proved difficult for me at first, and there are plenty of those snappy strings going off in different directions. Keeping them intact has been a bit of a chore for me, but I’m getting better at organizing and following them right away so I can track all of them.

Tell us a little bit about your writing career. 

SPD – I’ve always been enchanted with writing, early years on. But I didn’t become serious until about eighteen years ago. I took some online courses, went to writing conferences, joined writing organizations, had an English professor as a writing mentor, and was a member of several writing critique groups, along with reading a library of books on the craft of writing. I still read books on writing, take courses, and watch podcasts – there’s always something new to learn.

They say Hind-sight is 20/20. If you could give advice to the writer you were the first time you sat down to write, what would it be?

Don’t be hard on yourself for not figuring out a specific audience and genre to write – it takes time for that to surface sometimes. I started with writing children’s stories, went to young adults, which I stuck with for many years (and am now rewriting those books into New Adult novels). I tested out erotica and enjoyed it for several years, but I wanted more. So, I’ve been writing mainstream and New Adult paranormal suspense romance. 

Test out different genres until you “feel” the right fit…sometimes it takes a while to get there.

What was your most difficult scene to write?

My most challenging scene, as it took me the longest to get right, was a scene where Jenna gets captured and imprisoned in the dark plane. Kendra must rescue her from the dream plane, and a guardian angel can watch over but not assist as the angel might get trapped there. Derek ends up there to help – his first time in that paranormal state. Thank goodness he showed up because the spirits there can kill or possess humans. I worked on that scene for days, thinking of things I needed to add or eliminate.

Are themes a big part of your stories, or not so much?

There’s a theme for each story, but not because I put it there. I concentrate on plot, characters, and setting. Then the theme or the “why” of the story comes to light like magic.


Who is your favorite character from your own stories, and why?

Kendra Spark and also Bri Lancaster – I resonate with both of these women in different ways, but the major one is their ability to see ghosts. When I was around five or six, I saw a ghost several times. A scary woman was reaching for me. Later, I found out she was my deceased grandmother. Fear eliminated the ability to see ghosts, although, I sense when someone is near;)

Most writers were readers as children. What was your favorite book in grade school?

My grandparents had the Nancy Drew Mysteries and also several of the Hardy Boys Mysteries, and I binged on them:) I was drawn to supernatural, sci-fi, and mysteries and read lots of books, too many to remember.

What are your plans for future projects?

I’ve started writing another paranormal romance, Mystic UnRealized, scheduled to be released in November of this year. Another stand-alone novel for March 2021, A Kendra Spark Series Novel for June 2021, and another Ghost Guardian Series Novel November of 2021. Yes, I’m going to be a busy author, and it feels good.

Is there anything you would like to add before we finish?

Yes, stay safe and healthy, you know the rules for the COVID19 virus. Don’t be a target:)

Oblivious, A Kendra Spark Novel
Kendra Spark Series
Book Four
S. Peters-Davis

Genre: Paranormal, Suspense-Thriller, Romance
Publisher: BWL Publishing, Inc.
Date of Publication: May 16, 2020
Kindle 9780228614197
ISBN 9780228614234
Number of pages: 267
Word Count: 55,500
Cover Artist: Michelle Lee

Series Tagline: Kendra sees ghosts, and then her BFF, Jenna, becomes one. The two friends and FBI agent Derek Knight fight for justice to the victims of heinous crimes.

Book Tagline: Kendra, Jenna, and Derek, specialized FBI force of the supernatural, face-off with a Voodoo Priestess turned evil witch, carrying a vengeance…

Book Description:

Kendra communicates with ghosts. She’s gone from a best-selling suspense-mystery author to an FBI asset on a secret mission team.

Jenna, an FBI criminal analyst and Kendra’s best friend, died in a fatal accident, but she continues to work for the team with Kendra’s translations.

Derek Knight, an FBI Special Agent, leads the FBI-Violent Crimes Unit-Sensitive (better known as Supernatural) Investigations team to fight evil entities disrupting the Earth plane.

A Voodoo Priestess turned evil witch of the dark arts steps in with a vengeance…

The world changes for Derek now that he sees the dark spirits. But defeating them is no simple task, especially when one resides inside someone on his team.

Oblivious much?


Excerpt:

 

The twenty-minute drive took about twelve. When I pulled in, an old silver Chrysler LeBaron was parked outside the pole barn. I grabbed the Glock out of my glovebox, then got out to check the inside of the car. Sassy Blaze lay in the backseat, looking dazed. I opened the door to make sure she was alive. Her pulse registered slow, and shaking her didn’t awaken her.

“You’ve got bigger problems than Miss Witchy-Pants there.”

I cracked my head on the door frame of the car and a stream of vanilla scent invaded my olfactory. “Good Gods, Jenna. Give me a little warning.” I sneezed.

“Crazed Gun-Slinger Darla is inside, waving a gun at Kendra’s head. She wants to know where Bertellia and Estevez are.”

I ran to the back-porch door and quietly let myself inside. Female voices.

Jenna stood at the open doorway, leading into the great room. She waved me closer then placed a finger to her mouth for quiet.

I peeked inside. Darla. Her eyes crazed and hair wild, she reminded me of a psychopath.

“You’ll make quite the vessel, or you’ll end up dead weight. We’ll see how good your ability really is, Miss Kendra Spark. You’ve been a real sliver in my spine, and I will never forgive you for the annoyance you’ve been to Bertellia and Estevez. I can no longer reach them, so you’ll have to share what you’ve done to silence them. What sort of prison have you confined them in?” Darla’s voice came across shrill, heavy on the southern accent, I’d never heard her sound like that before.

I stepped inside the house. Kendra sat on the couch, staring toward the fireplace. Darla, eyes wide, stood behind her, pointing a gun at Kendra’s head, and then they both looked my way.

“Well, Mr. Knight, you’re finally here. Miss Kendra remains pretty much speechless, so I’m hoping you can answer my questions about where Bertellia and Estevez have gone.” Darla waved her gun at me, her arm jerky and wild, then she pointed it back at Kendra. Darla’s fingers squeezed Kendra’s shoulder. “Where are they?” A grimace of malice crossed Darla’s face, something else from her I’d never witnessed.

“What’s happened to you, Darla?” I shook my head, holding my weapon down at my side, out of view. “Did your aunt do something to influence this behavior? Why are you talking with an accent? That’s not you at all.”

“I’m going to shoot this woman if you don’t tell me what I want to know. For the last time, where’s Bertellia and Estevez?” Her eyes narrowed to slits, and her lips pinched into a snarl. Her grip tightened on the pistol held at Kendra’s temple.

Jenna screamed, “Her tells say she’s gonna do it, Derek.”

The house phone rang, startling Darla. Kendra dropped sideways onto the couch cushions. I took that moment to aim and shoot. I hit Darla’s shoulder. Her gun flew to the floor in front of the sofa, and she fell backward with a thud. I rushed the couch and vaulted over the top, landing next to her. She lay on the floor with her eyelids fluttering, the bullet entered on the right side just below her collar bone. I gently rolled her to see the backside. The wound looked like a through-and-through. I pressed my hands on both sides of her body to staunch the blood flow.

Suddenly, a dark shadow in the form of a blurry faceless mannequin emerged from Darla’s body and ran toward the open porch doorway. Darla passed out in my arms, and the shadow disappeared.

About the Author:

S. Peters-Davis writes multi-genre stories, but loves penning a good page-turning suspense-thriller, especially when it’s a ghost story and a romance. When she’s not writing, editing, or reading, she’s hiking, RV’ing, fishing, playing with grandchildren, or enjoying time with her favorite muse (her husband) in Southwest Michigan.




BWL Publishing Inc.: https://bookswelove.net/






Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Fearless Fated Mates Book 5 by Lilli Carlisle #PNR #shifters

 

A Place to Call Home

Fearless 
Fated Mates 
Book 5 
Lilli Carlisle 

A nameless slave is rescued from demons, hunters, and the worst of her own kind. 

Taken in by packs trying to survive in an underground city while on the earth’s surface a demonic apocalypse is proceeding at a phenomenal pace, she fears she left one cruel master to serve another. 

It’s hard to believe Joseph is the gentle, caring man he seems to be, but over time, she begins to trust him. 

Yet, even here, there are those who would see her dead, and when they make their move that’s when she learns the depth of her feeling for a wolf shifter with a heart of gold.
 




 #FatedMates #PNR #shifters #LilliCarlisle #paranormalromance #Fearless

Monday, September 21, 2020

Below Dark Waters by Katie Zaber


Below Dark Waters
Dalya Series
Book Two
Katie Zaber

Genre: Fantasy
Date of Publication: Sept 17th
ISBN: 9781005138066
ASIN:  B08GTX3MFP
Word Count: 85,997

Cover Artist: Agata Bukovero

Tagline: A wayward princess, a lethal woman, and a madam trained in espionage—all strangers to each other, but their fates are entwined. Each choice they make will impact the world of Dalya greater than any man’s decision.

Book Description:

Princess Megan, who never had a reason to assume she was anything but human, has been on the run, protected by her friends. With each step toward the city of Delmont, she hopes they will have time to regroup before setting sail to the Ka’Pamau Islands, their final destination.  Instead, her bad luck shadows her and chaos continues to ensue everywhere she goes—including a new part of the world that most air breathers have yet to explore. Confronted with another royal family and a smitten prince whose advances turn cold, she faces another life-altering decision with ramifications she can’t possibly begin to guess at.

Back on land, Lilly reveals more of her secrets, her story, and her goals. Monumental changes and challenges are headed her way as she embraces her new role in life.

On the sea, Aunt Carmia is stirring up trouble while continuing her hunt for the treasure she most desires. She experiences upheavals, but she is always prepared for the unknown.

As their stories unfold, they remain unaware how fate connects them in the world of Dalya.

Amazon     Smashwords     BN     Kobo
Excerpt:

Megan

There’s no point in me lying in bed all night. It’s not like I’m trapped in a Dalya dome. At least there’s a bar for me to sit at while I can’t sleep. Moving as quietly as possible, I change and sneak out of the room. Kilyn is fast asleep and Mana is either asleep or is pretending to be. The hallway is still. There are no voices coming from the other rooms, so I’m going to assume everyone else is asleep.
Downstairs, Meeka sits at a table, chatting with another white-haired man. Two other tables are occupied, but there are at least ten empty tables to choose from. By the fireplace, a low fire crackles and I decide that a seat by the fire is not what I want. It looks inviting but reminds me of too many dark things. I shudder and take a seat on a stool at the driftwood bar. There’s one other man at the far end of the bar, cloaked in shadow, not bothering to look up from his drink as I sit down.
Heda comes from the back of the kitchen with a mug in her hands. She takes a sip before setting it down on the counter. “Can’t sleep, dear?”
“No. Can’t remember when I did,” I say. “Got anything to help with that?”
She gives me a sly smile. “I think I can help.”
Heda slides bottles out from under the counter and starts pouring them into a glass. Most of them are clear, except two. She adds a drop of amber and green liquid. I can’t say if it’s alcohol or not. Last, she takes out a glass jar and takes out a pinch of ground orange powder.
I’m not sure if I should drink this otherworldly concoction.
“Here you go. You’ll sleep till sunrise and feel refreshed, guaranteed.”
I stare down at the eight-ounce glass of mystery. “What’s in it?”
“A bit of everything, plus a little something extra. I make it for Meeka when he can’t sleep.”
“Are you normally this busy at night?” I ask.
“Sometimes. Sometimes busier. The regulars are here, plus an unfamiliar face or two.” She scans the room, glancing over at the two I suspect are new.
The one man her eyes stop on has long, scraggly black hair past his chin and an unkempt beard. He is wearing a hat that reminds me of a witch; it even has a pointy top and wide brim. With his back to us, he faces the fireplace with his shoulders hunched. The other man is the one at the other end of the bar. Neither looks talkative. Good. I’m not in the mood for a conversation either.
The door swings open. A scowling human woman stands in the threshold wearing a brown buttoned-down blouse and pants tucked into calf-high boots. At her hip is a dagger, on her back is a quiver secured tightly to a harness, in her hand an unstrung shortbow. Strands of messy brown hair unravel from a semicontained braid that I’d guess hasn’t been paid attention to in at least a week. Her clothes also reveal that she hasn’t changed them, and the smell confirms she hasn’t bathed. She searches the bar and lands on me.
She dashes across the tavern and my heart pounds. This is it. My father sent her to kill me. I made it easier for her by coming down here all by myself. I have no clue if Mana can sense what’s happening or if I’m too far away from him. I’m not sure if he cares right now.
However, she steps past me and gawks at Heda, who is already mixing another drink. In the few seconds that passed, I didn’t realize that I had held my breath. I let out a lengthy sigh of relief and inhale fresh air that tastes slightly sweeter than before. Relief will do that, especially when moments ago, death seemed so imminent. To help calm myself, I decide to take a sip of the strange drink Heda made me. Surprisingly, it has a peach sangria flavor, like a fruity, potent wine, with maybe a shot or two of something stronger. I could get used to having a drink of this at night, if it helps me get some sleep.
Heda leans across the bar, passing the traveler a drink. “Rough journey?” she asks. “Where are you going?”
“Nowhere fast,” the woman replies. Her scowl melts away as she cracks open a smile and laughs full-heartedly, throwing her head back.

Carmia

I watch groups of gulls fly back out to sea among the masts, warbling above the crew. They float adrift on the breeze. Their wings don’t pound against the unforeseen air but glide on invisible currents, as my ship does on the waves. Smart birds know when to flap, when to spend their resources, and how to manipulate the world to make their journey easier. They can glide for hours without movement. I crave their knowledge.
To know when to use my strength and when to be weak. When to be bold or meek. When to strike or anticipate.
The birds know. We are so stupid. Driven by destructive emotional impulses and not natural instinct. Once you calm the voices, quiet the bitter arguments feuding from within, becoming deaf to all the voices internal and external, all that’s left is a sensation. A feeling. A truth buried deep inside. A spoken language no one can utter aloud. A forgotten language. One so primal, it is impossible to speak or interpret in any other capacity besides a sense. Born with us, but slowly forgotten when we learn to utter our first words. Almost as if when we learn the spoken tongue, we forfeit our instinctual one.
What makes us so different from the birds? How did our minds become cluttered with pointless information that nags us to change our minds or relinquish a thought?
Gods, I want to be a bird. Free my mind and body of stupidity. Let me base my life on instinct, not sentiment.

Lilly

I walk these city tunnels every day. It keeps me sane, besides healthy. Sometimes, I even run. I haven’t left Uamh, or Capo’s Secret, in decades. The last time I was above ground, not including my job, was well over thirty years ago. I long for the opportunity to run through the fields of flowers that flourish outside the town’s walls. But the woman who I portray to the citizens of Capo doesn’t do such things. Lilly would never frolic through the meadow and pick wildflowers to weave into her hair. She wouldn’t dance in the river, splashing the cool water over her naked body, and then let the sun’s heat dry the water off her skin. No, she wouldn’t behave in such childish ways.
Nirva would. She would run free in the woods barefoot. Feel Dalya breathe life back into her soul. Nirva would climb the tallest tree and gaze upon the town below, pretending she was a bird, soaring high above the forest. She’d hunt alongside the nunda and sleep in their den, her body and soul free to swim with the fish and river bears in the morning, and flutter on the breeze with the glow bugs at night.
Not now. No, she is locked up for safekeeping. There will be a time and place to bring Nirva back to the light of day. Until then, she must continue to be patient. Our job isn’t done. It’s only begun.


About the Author:

Katie Zaber knows the best way to decide who is cooking dinner is with a Nerf gun fight in the living room. Her boyfriend is an exceptional cook. When she isn’t baking, going to wine tastings, or reading, she’s busy planning her next trip to Six Flags Great Adventure or Long Beach Island, New Jersey. As a child, her mother would read stories about Atlantis and other fictional places that she dreamed of exploring, fueling her love of history, adventure, and fantasy. After spending her days working in a coffee shop, she moved up the ladder getting an office job where she unfortunately was involved in a filing accident. Unable to move, bored out of her mind, and desperate for entertainment, she turned to her imagination and began writing. These days, she finds herself captivated by her many projects and enjoys quiet nights at home.








a Rafflecopter giveaway

Poetry Corner - The Last Day of Summer by Laura Bickle #poetrycorner



“The Last Day of Summer”
By Laura Bickle

When the sun moves south in the sky
And the days grow short
Lengthening shadows
Persephone walks through forest and fields.
Like the sun.
As she passes beneath branches
The leaves redden.
Where she walks, grasses grow brittle beneath her feet.
The world knows that she, 
The force of life,
Is leaving
Like the sun.
She moves through a field of spent wildflowers,
Her fingers lingering on the asters
As the sun kisses the horizon
She opens a door in the earth.
She steps down, 
Down
Steps into the Underworld
Into darkness
Into the embrace of her beloved Hades
Setting like the sun.





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.





a Rafflecopter giveaway