Explosions, body parts, and black magic are all part of Abby Collins’ typical day. As the top Paranormal Investigation Bureau agent, she only gets the best cases, but when the Cult of Ra comes to play she might in be over her head. Finding a murderer while up against a hex, an overprotective coven, and a stubborn werewolf reminds her that nothing in the paranormal world is easy. As the death toll rises and a decades old crime, linked to Abby, is uncovered, disturbing information is brought to light. Abby must unlock an ancient language steeped in black magic to uncover the truth before the murderer comes for her.
Excerpt (from the ARC):
I pulled up to the crime scene, a farm property in the middle of nowhere, and parked my SUV next to a State Trooper’s cruiser.
The one thing I loved about crime scenes is the amount of people who gather around them. We’ll feign terror and true desire to know what happened, but in reality we are curious as to what kind of creature or person would commit such a crime. Human curiosity was disgusting. This scene lacked that. How odd.
A tall man started towards the yellow crime scene. His hair was cropped close to his head giving no hint to the color. His black jacket had his detective shield attached to it.
“Bout’ time you got here Abigail.” He’s blue eyes met my gaze. “I was starting to think you were going to chicken out.”
“Yeah, not an option.” I shrugged and ducked under the crime scene tape. “Where are the gawkers?”
“No idea. Just the lady whose dog found the body. Corpse’s been out here for a couple days at least.”
Great. That meant it was going to smell. “And the markings you want me to take a look at?”
“Are all over the barn walls. That’s all I’m going to tell you.” He started walking towards a barn in the distance. My long legs were great for treading through the tall unkempt weeds that had taken over the area. The uneven ground made it a struggle to keep balanced, but there was no way I’d let myself fall. I already caught enough flack out on the field, being a witch and a woman.
I grumbled as we got to the barn and scrunched up my nose. “Oh God.” The smell churned my stomach and it was times like this I wish that I had a spell or something to mask it.
An officer at the door handed me a facemask and then motioned for me to go in. I walked in and looked around. A tarp covered a lump that I imagined was the body, dried blood coated the packed dirt floor and it looked like whatever it was had exploded. Well, that explained the arm.
I tried to focus as my gaze crawled up the wall. Symbols were scattered over the wall drawn in something black and I could see the faint glowing of whatever magic it held.
I frowned and pulled out my phone taking pictures of them. “They’re still active.”
“How do you know that?”
“Because I’m trained in magic. I can see the power behind the marks.” I took a few more pictures.
“You can’t take pictures, Abby.”
“I don’t know them on sight, I’m going to have to do some research.” Hopefully the camera could capture the symbols without going haywire. A chill went down my spine and I cursed at the feeling of malevolent magic being activated.
“Get out, get out!” I shoved at Detective Mason and ran out after him. I felt the magic trail after me and I cursed. Grabbing Mason and the uniform at the door, I held on to their wrists and muttered a protection spell under my breath. In my mind I envisioned a purple circle and threw my energy into that vision to make it manifest.
The barn exploded the moment my circle went up. Shrapnel flew around us and the blast was hot enough to feel through the purple haze of my magic. Had I not managed to get my circle up, we’d be crispy humans. Holy shit. When the smoke cleared all that was left was a smoking pile of wood and the smell of burnt flesh in the air. I let the circle down when I felt the magic in the air fade.
“What the hell was that?” Mason snapped spinning me around to face him.
“Magic. Strong, terrifying magic.” I took a deep shuttering breath and pulled my own magic back into me.
Character Interview (thank you to my Beta team who helped with questions):
Q. Do you have a nickname?
A. Depends on who I’m talking to. Sometimes it’s Abby other times it’s Agent A.
Q. Do you have any siblings?
A. Nope, only child here. I don’t know what Levi would have done if he had to adopt two children. I’m pretty sure one was enough for him.
Q. What’s the most embarrassing thing that’s ever happened to you?
A. I brought a date home with all intentions of sex, I was a grown adult, and I was living in the guest house. Apparently, Levi did not appreciate it and decided then was going to be the best time to tell me about my new assignment. Needless to say my long term relationship ended then. That was also about the time I decided I needed to move.
Q. Did you date in high school?
A. A little bit, but a lot of people were scared of me. They knew I was a witch and that my guardian was one of the most powerful vampires in the area. That tends to make dating rough.
Q. Why won’t you date Simon?
A. People I love and get attached to die way too often for me to consider dating him. Even if that’s what Levi wants I can’t date Simon, not right now.
Q. What’s the one place you always feel at home?
A. My chamber, Levi had it constructed especially for me. I can let my magic go and practice there. Most of the time people leave me alone while I’m in there and the whole room just brings peace to me.
Q. What are you most afraid of?
A. Becoming a psychopath. You laugh, but there are rumors that people in my family have gone insane with the amount of power they hold. I’ve also seen it happen, I’ve track down serial killers who have lost control of their magic and their mind. I’m not okay with becoming that and it scares the living shit out of me.
Q. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done?
A. I’ve killed someone…okay a few people, always in self-defense and always as a last resort, but the guilt still eats at me.
Q. Would you ever consider getting a familiar?
A. Normally a familiar choses you, they offer you companionship and you accept. The closest I’ve gotten is considering getting a cat, but mostly so I have something to come home to. If the right creature comes a long and choses me, then I’d be okay with adopting a familiar.
Q. How do you think your life would be different if your parents hadn’t died?
A. I think I would have grown up with more control over my magic than I have now. So many things in the past wouldn’t have been hidden from me. I might have been a linguist like my father or maybe a healer like my mother, not a Paranormal Investigation agent. It’s hard to say what else would have changed and who would or would not be in my life at this point.
Q. Did you ever have a crush on Levi growing up?
A. No, not really. Since he took me in when I was for I’ve only seen him as a parent figure and he’s always made sure he stayed as such. Nothing weird going on here, despite what the supernatural tabloids say!
Twenty-four year old Abigail Collins is the best of her age and the top Paranormal Investigation agent. Raised by the vampire of the local territory, she didn’t grow up with a normal childhood. Levi did the best he could when it came to her magical education. She prefers to work alone and doesn’t always do things by the book. She’ll charm you with her humor and burn you with her sarcasm. If you have a paranormal baddy to catch, Abby’s your girl. She always gets her man. When she’s not chasing bad guys, solving murders or learning her abilities, she can be found enjoying a glass of wine and junk TV. Don’t get on her bad side, she’s got abilities that go far beyond other witches her age and she knows how to hide a body.
About the Author
A.L. Kessler is a paranormal romance, urban fantasy and steampunk author residing in Colorado Springs. Since she was a teenager she's loved weaving stories and spinning tales. When she's not at the beck-and-call of the Lord and Lady of the House, two black cats by the names of Jynx and Sophie, training a playful puppy named Zelda, playing with her daughter, or killing creepers and mining all the things with her husband, she's either reading, participating in NaNoWriMo, or writing in her Blog Writing Rambles.