Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Author Lynsay Sands and The Immortal Who Loved Me

Hi all!

Please help me welcome Author Lynsay Sands to my blog today!

The Immortal Who Loved Me
An Argeneau Novel
Book 21
Lynsay Sands

On-sale: 2/24  

ISBN: 9780062316004

Book Description:

A few hours ago, Sherry Carne would have sworn that vampires didn’t exist. That’s before rogue immortals rampage through her store, leaving bloody chaos (literally) in their wake. The kicker comes when Sherry learns that one of the vamps on the bad guys’ trail may be her life mate. Her head says it’s impossible. The rest of her takes one look at Basileios Argeneau, and has much more interesting ideas.

Whatever Basil expected in a life mate, funny, outspoken Sherry isn’t it. But mind-blowing chemistry and instinct don’t lie. They tell him something else too-that Sherry’s connection to the immortal world goes deeper than she knows. And that she’s in the kind of danger only Basil can save her from-if she’ll just trust him, now and forever… 


Sherry was muttering to herself as she worked. She hated doing taxes. She hated paying them even more.
Snorting with disgust as she calculated the amount of money she'd have to pay this quarter, she saved the program and was about to shut off the computer when her office door burst open. Grumpy after her task, Sherry raised her head, ready to rip into the employee who had barged in without knocking. But, instead, the words caught in her throat and her eyes widened with surprise as she stared at the petite blond teenager who rushed in and slammed the door closed.
The kid didn't give her more than a passing glance as her gaze slid around the room to find the window overlooking the store. The office was eight steps up from the main floor, so it allowed for an eagle's view of everything. On spotting the window, the kid immediately dropped into a crouch, and then moved to it to poke her head up and peer anxiously out over the store floor.
Sherry's eyebrows rose at the action, and she announced, "It's a one-way mirror. No one in the store can see you."
The girl glanced around and frowned at her. "Shhh."
"Excuse me?" Sherry said with a half laugh of disbelief at the sheer gall of the girl. Expression turning serious, she said grimly, "This is my office, kiddo. I suggest you explain your reason for being here, or get out."
Rather than put the kid in her place, the words merely drew a full-on scowl from her as she turned and then concentrated a pair of the most amazing eyes on Sherry. They were a strange silver-green and seemed almost to glow with intensity.
Caught by those beautiful and unusual eyes, Sherry allowed her to stare briefly, mostly because she was staring back, but then she arched her eyebrows. "Well? Are you just going to crouch there and gawk at me or explain yourself?"
Instead of answering, the girl frowned and asked, "Why can't I read you?"
A short disbelieving laugh slipped from Sherry, but when the girl simply stared at her with bewilderment, she said reasonably, "Maybe because I'm not a book."
That got no reaction from the girl. She still continued to stare at her, looking almost vexed. Tired of thinking of her as "the girl," Sherry asked abruptly, "What's your name?"
"Stephanie," the girl replied almost absently, eyeing her now as if she were a bug under a microscope. That examination ended abruptly when a chime sounded from the speaker in the corner of Sherry's office. It announced that the front door of the store had been opened. Seeming to realize that, Stephanie whirled to peer out at the store again, and quickly dropped back to her haunches so that only the top of her head poked up over the bottom of the window ledge.
"I told you it's one-way," Sherry said with exasperation. "They can't see—"
"Shhh," Stephanie hissed without glancing around, simply raising a hand in her direction, palm up, demanding silence.
Despite herself, Sherry obeyed the silent order. There was just something about the girl, a sudden stillness and tension that had been present before, but now intensified. It made Sherry frown and glance past her to the store beyond the one-way mirror as four men walked into the shop.
Using the word "walked" was somewhat misleading. It was too normal, and had they just walked in she would have simply taken note of their entrance and then turned her attention back to the teenager in her office. But there was nothing normal about these men.
All four of the newcomers looked to be in their mid-twenties. They also all had longish, dirty blond hair. One wore it in a ponytail, another actually had it up in a bun, and a third man had gelled it into long pointy spokes that poked out of his head like a hedgehog. But the leader, or at least the man in the lead, had a full, matted mane that made her think of a lion.
Sensing trouble, Sherry watched the men. They each wore jeans that could have used a run through a washing machine. Their T-shirts weren't much better, and they didn't walk in so much as stalk in. There was just something predatory about them, an air that made her feel like a gazelle on the planes of the Serengeti and grateful they were on the other side of the mirror.
Unaware that she had stood and was slowly moving to the girl's side, Sherry watched with trepidation as the lead man raised his head and took a long, deep sniff of the air, scenting it like the predator he made her think of. He then nodded, lowered his head and glanced around to ask, "Where is the girl?"
Not surprisingly, the half a dozen customers in the store continued perusing the kitchenware they'd come in for, probably not even aware that he was addressing them or to what girl he was referring. Sherry doubted anyone but her employees had even noted the girl's entrance, and busy with customers as they were, even they may not have.
When nobody paid him any attention, the lead man scowled and cast a glance back toward his men. The last man, the one that resembled a hedgehog, still stood in the open store door. Now he entered fully and slammed it, sending the bells ringing madly. When the chimes fell silent, so was the shop. Every eye in the place was now on the foursome, and the air seemed charged with a sudden wariness that Sherry was not only aware of, but was experiencing herself.
"Thank you for your attention," the leader said pleasantly, moving forward again. After half a dozen steps, he paused again, this time in front of one of her employees who had been helping a young woman who had a little girl clutching at her skirt.
Sherry sucked in a breath when the man's hand suddenly shot out to the side and snatched the mother by the front of her sweater. He wasn't even looking at her as he grabbed and jerked her forward. Only then did he turn his head toward her, his nose almost brushing hers as he demanded, "Where is the—"
Sherry found herself tensing further when he paused suddenly mid-question. She bit her lip, the hairs on the back of her neck standing on end as he inhaled again, more deeply this time. Sherry didn't know why, but the action made her anxious for the woman, especially when he gave a pleasant little shiver as he released his breath at the end.
"You're pregnant," he announced, a smile growing on his lips. Dipping his head, he ran his nose along the woman's throat, inhaling deeply again. He then released a happy sounding little sigh and announced, "I love pregnant women almost as much as untreated diabetics. All those hormones pumping through the blood …" He pulled back to look her in the face as he said, "It's a powerful cocktail."
Sherry blinked and tore her gaze from the tableau below to glance to Stephanie, surprised to find she'd briefly forgotten about the girl.
"What?" Sherry asked, instinctively whispering this time. She didn't know who these people were, or what was going on, but all her inner alarm bells were ringing in warning now. Something very bad was happening and she knew instinctively that it was only going to get worse.
Stephanie bit her lip and then glanced around. "Is there a back exit in this place?"
"That door leads to the alley behind the shops," Sherry admitted quietly, gesturing to a door down another eight steps at the back of her office.
Sherry didn't blame the kid for wanting to run. She wanted to herself, but couldn't, not with her employees and customers out there at the mercy of the men presently filling her small shop. It was like four lions set among a pen full of lambs. Although she supposed that was the wrong analogy. Everyone knew the lioness did the hunting, not the lion. Wolves were probably a better descriptor for these men.
"You don't happen to have a car parked out in the alley, do you?" Stephanie asked hopefully.
Sherry merely stared for a moment. She had heard the question but hadn't seen the girl's lips move. What—?
"Do you?" the teenager hissed, her lips moving this time.
"No. I take the subway," Sherry admitted quietly. Most people did in the city, rather than pay exorbitant parking fees.
The girl sighed unhappily and then peered back to the drama taking place on the other side of the mirror.
Sherry followed her gaze. The leader now had the young mother pressed up against the checkout counter, her body bent back over it, but all he was doing at the moment was sniffing her neck like a dog. It was weird, and might even have been funny if Sherry hadn't noted the knife he now retrieved from his pocket and flicked open at his side.
"Oh crap," she breathed.
"Yeah," Stephanie muttered. "A car would have made this so much easier."
"Made what easier?" Sherry asked in a distracted voice as she watched the man run the side of the blade lightly up the apparently pregnant woman's stomach toward her throat. The woman wasn't reacting at all. Her expression was blank, as were the expressions on the faces of the others in the store. Even her child simply stood there, blank-faced and unconcerned. The only people in the store with any expression at all were the leader and his men. The leader was smiling a soft almost sweet smile, while the three men who could have been his brothers were all grinning widely with what she would have said was anticipation.
"You better start running," Stephanie said grimly, moving to lock the door leading into the store.
"I'm not running anywhere," Sherry said, her words sharp despite her effort to keep her tone soft. "I'm calling the police."
"The police can't help them," the girl said grimly, striding over to pick up the heavy filing cabinet in the corner and carry it down the stairs to set in front of the door that opened to the store floor.
Sherry was so startled by the action that she just stared. The filing cabinet was a tall, four-drawer legal cabinet stuffed full of paperwork and receipts. It weighed a ton. She doubted she could have pushed or dragged it across the floor, let alone lift it like it was an empty laundry basket as the girl had just done. She was trying to work out in her head how Stephanie had done that when movement below drew her attention back to the store floor. The leader had suddenly released the pregnant woman and stepped back.
Maybe he was going to leave. The vague hope had barely formed in her mind when he grabbed one of the mixing bowls off a nearby display and handed that and the knife to the pregnant woman and said pleasantly, "It's such a messy business and this is my favorite T-shirt. Why don't you do it? Bend forward over the counter, put the bowl on that stool there so it's under your throat, and slice your neck open so the blood flows into it."
"The crazy son of a—" Sherry began and then nearly bit her tongue off when the young mother, still with no expression on her face, did exactly as he'd suggested. She turned to bend over the counter, set the bowl on the clerk's stool behind it, positioned herself so her neck was over the bowl and slit her own throat.
"Damn," Sherry breathed with dismay, hardly able to believe the woman had just done that. "I'm calling the police."
"There's no time," Stephanie growled, catching her arm. "He's controlling those people. Can't you see that? Do you think that woman really wanted to slit her own throat?"
"But the police—"
"Even if they got here before Leonius is done, they'd just become part of the slaughter. The only way to save these people is to lead Leo and his boys away from here … and to do that I need to get their attention and then run like hell."
"Then we'll get their attention and we'll run like hell," Sherry said firmly as she hurried down the steps to unlock and open the back door. There was no way in hell she was letting the teenager handle the matter alone. She was just a kid, for heaven's sake. Sherry had just spotted the door stopper to keep the door open when a loud crash made her turn sharply around. She was just in time to see her desk chair sail through the one-way mirror and out of sight. Stephanie had pitched it through.
Sherry hurried back to the top of the steps to look out onto the store floor. The chair hadn't hit anyone, but the noise had definitely caught the attention of the men in the other room. No one else even glanced around, but all four men were now staring through the opening toward them.
Stephanie promptly flipped them the bird, then raced toward Sherry, shrieking, "Run!"
The shout had barely hit her ears when Stephanie was streaking past her, catching her arm in passing and nearly jerking her off her feet as she swung her around. In the next moment, she'd been dragged down the stairs and out the door. Stephanie must have kicked the stopper out of the way as they passed, because the door slammed closed behind them.
The girl was fast. Inhumanly fast. Sherry was moving like she'd never moved before in her life. Adrenaline gave her a boost and her feet barely seemed to touch the ground, but the teenager was still nearly dragging her off her feet with her own speed. It was a short alley, yet they'd barely traveled up half of it when a loud crash drew her gaze over her shoulder to see the men charging out after them.
Sherry's heart leapt at the sight. Like the girl, they were also fast. Too fast. She would never outrun them. And she was just holding Stephanie back.
"Go!" she shouted, shaking her arm in an effort to break the girl's hold. "I'm just slowing you down. Leave me and run!"
Stephanie glanced toward the men gaining on them, looked forward again, and then did just that. She released her hold on Sherry and charged for the mouth of the alley.
Sherry was glad she had. It was what she'd told her to do, and at the same time being suddenly on her own with those hyenas nipping at her heels was heart-stoppingly terrifying. Despite her fear, or more likely because of it, Sherry managed to put on a little more speed herself, but it was like trying to outrun a sports car. Impossible. Sherry's only hope was that they'd bypass her to chase after the girl.
The moment she had the thought, Sherry began to worry that they would do just that. She couldn't leave the girl to their less than tender mercies without at least trying to slow them down or stop them. That thought in mind, she glanced around for something to help with the effort. The only thing ahead of her in the narrow alley was a pair of garbage Dumpsters.
"Work with what you have," she breathed, and changed direction, angling toward the large blue metal bins. Would she have time to grab one to push toward the men? Would she be strong enough? Did garbage Dumpsters have locks on their wheels, and if they did, were the wheels locked on these Dumpsters?
Sherry never got the answer to those questions because that's when the gunshot rang out. She was sure she felt the bullet whiz past her ear, it was so close. At first she thought her pursuers were shooting either at her or the girl. It made her squint at the mouth of the alley some twenty feet ahead as she sought out the girl to see if she was all right. Her eyes widened incredulously when she spotted Stephanie in a shooter's stance, gun pointed her way while a police officer stood beside her seeming oblivious to what was happening.
Even as she saw that, several more gunshots sounded. This time, though, Sherry heard a grunt from close behind her. She glanced over her shoulder, shocked to see the leader only three or four steps away, his arm extended, hand reaching for her. His fingers actually brushed the cloth of her blouse even as he began to tumble toward the ground.
There were three holes in his chest, Sherry saw as he fell, and his followers were skidding to a halt to help him. With the hope that she might get out of this after all, Sherry turned and ran like crazy. All she was thinking was that if she got to Stephanie and the officer before one of the men gave chase again, she would be all right.
When Sherry reached Stephanie, the girl had lowered the weapon and was putting it back in the officer's holster, saying, "This never happened. You never saw us and you really should patrol farther up the road and stay away from here until the alley is empty."
Stephanie snapped the officer's holster closed on the gun as she finished speaking, and then the officer immediately turned and started up the road.
"What—?" Sherry began with amazement and then snapped her mouth closed as Stephanie grabbed her hand and began to run again, dragging her away from the alley mouth. Since Sherry was more than happy to get away from their pursuers, she went willingly, doing her best to keep up. But as soon as they reached the end of the street and had rounded the corner, she tugged at Stephanie's hand and gasped, "Wait … Stop … I can't … run any … more."
"We can't stop," Stephanie said firmly, dragging her up the road, though slowing to a jog at least. "Leo will be after us as soon as he recovers."
"That guy … you shot?" she gasped with amazement, still tugging on Stephanie's hand. Even a jog was too much for her labored lungs at the moment, and her words were breathless and choppy as she said, "He isn't … recovering … anytime soon. He has … three bullets … in his chest. His next stop … is the … hospital."
"He won't need a hospital," Stephanie assured her, not the least winded. She glanced around grimly as they reached the end of the short street, and then suddenly pulled Sherry across the road toward a small pizza place on the opposite corner.
"Kid … he'll need a … hospital," Sherry assured her wearily, but allowed Stephanie to usher her into the restaurant. She even followed docilely as the girl dragged her to the tables along the side between the counter and the windowless wall until they reached the last table, one not likely to be seen from the street.
"Can I use your iPhone?" Stephanie asked as Sherry dropped to sit in a booth with her back to the front of the shop.
Sherry grimaced and wheezed, "I don't have it. Or my purse either," she added with a frown.
"Just catch your breath. I'll get you a drink," Stephanie said, and as quickly as that was gone.
Sherry pushed her hair back from her sweaty face, then closed her eyes on a sigh. The last few moments played through her head like cut scenes from a film; that poor woman slitting her own throat, the chair crashing through the window, the leader of the small gang of hoodlums reaching for her even as he fell from his wounds … his eyes, glowing and alien.
Sherry shook her head and covered her own eyes briefly, pressing on them in an effort to blot out the images. She wondered where her nice boring safe life had gone … and why she was sitting in a pizzeria like a well-behaved child when she should be calling the police, going back to check on her people and customers, and—
Sherry raised her head and sat back abruptly as Stephanie set a soda and a slice of pizza on the table in front of her. Sherry's gaze slid from the two items to the identical items in front of Stephanie as the girl slid into the booth across from her.
"I didn't know what you like so I got you a deluxe slice and Coke," Stephanie explained, picking up her slice of pizza to chomp into the end of it.
Sherry gaped as she watched the girl chew and swallow with relish, and then asked with amazement, "How can you eat?"
"I'm hungry," the girl said simply. "You should eat too."
"I don't eat carbs … or drink them. Coke is nothing but syrupy water," Sherry said automatically, and then realizing how stupid those words were under the circumstances, she shook her head. "I don't understand how you can act like this is all just—"
"Sugar is energy," Stephanie interrupted. "And you need to keep up your energy in case we have to run again. So eat," she ordered, sounding remarkably like the adult here.
That fact made Sherry scowl. "We should be calling the police."
"Yeah, 'cause that cop at the mouth of the alley was so useful," Stephanie said with dry disinterest before taking another bite of her pizza.
Unable to argue with that, Sherry frowned and then asked, "Speaking of that, what happened there?"
Stephanie arched an eyebrow, but was silent for a moment as she finished chewing and swallowing. Then she sighed and said, "You obviously couldn't outrun them, and I couldn't leave you behind for them to catch, torture, and kill, so when I spotted the cop at the mouth of the alley, I ran ahead to grab his gun and shoot Leo to buy us some time. Fortunately, it worked."
Sherry didn't point out that she had been there and seen all that, instead she simply asked, "And the co—police officer, just let you take his gun?"
Stephanie shrugged. "I controlled him. He won't remember any of it."
"Which will really confuse him when he realizes his gun has been fired," Sherry muttered, but her mind was on the girl's claim that she'd controlled the cop. She wanted to laugh off the suggestion, but the man had looked as blank-faced as the woman who'd slit her own throat in the store. Stephanie had claimed Leo was controlling that woman too. So Leonius had controlled the woman, Stephanie had controlled the cop … How? That particular skill set was just not something Sherry knew humans to have.
"There they are."
Sherry glanced around sharply and spotted the four men moving swiftly past the restaurant's front window. She shrank down in her seat when one of them glanced through the window, but they didn't slow or stop, so she guessed she hadn't been seen. That wasn't a surprise to her, considering they were in the dark back corner. What was surprising was the fact that the leader, Leo, as Stephanie called him, was up and walking around as if nothing had happened.
"Damn," she breathed, staring at the man until the group moved out of sight.
"I told you being shot wouldn't stop him," Stephanie said solemnly.
"I know but … how?" she asked with bewilderment.
Stephanie was silent for a moment as she continued to eat her pizza, but after a couple of bites she set it down with resignation and reached for her pop. She took a pull on the drink, and then set that down too, to eye Sherry thoughtfully. After a moment she sighed. "I suppose I'm going to have to explain."
"That would be nice," Sherry said dryly.
Stephanie nodded. "Vampires exist. Although Leonius and his men are no-fangers, but they still survive on blood so I suppose they're still vampires. As am I, though I'm an Edentate."
Sherry blinked as the words raced through her mind. No-fangers? Edentate? She had no idea what either of those were, so focused on the word she did recognize.
"Vampires?" she asked, not bothering to hide her disbelief. "Sweetie, I hate to tell you this, but vampires do not exist. Besides, vampires bite people, they don't have them slit their own throats open and bleed into a bowl."
"Uh-huh," Stephanie didn't look upset by her words. "So how do you explain his controlling that woman to make her slit her own throat? Or my controlling the cop?"
Sherry considered the question briefly and then suggested, "Hypnosis?"
Stephanie rolled her eyes. "Come on, you don't seem like a stupid woman. Leo didn't have time to hypnotize her, and I certainly didn't have time to hypnotize the cop." She scowled and then asked, "What's your name?"
"Sherry Carne," she answered. "And fine, maybe this Leo didn't hypnotize the woman in my store, but he did something and it wasn't because he's a vampire. Vampires have fangs and bite people."
"A minute ago you said there were no such things as vampires, now you're saying there are, but they have to have fangs?" Stephanie asked with amusement.
"Well …" Sherry frowned. "If you're going with the whole vampire thing to cover the real story, then at least be consistent. Vampires are dead, soulless creatures who crawl out of their coffins and bite people."
"Yeah, that's what I thought too," Stephanie said, sounding weary and much older than her years. Shrugging, she straightened her shoulders and added, "Turns out we're both wrong. Vampires aren't dead and soulless, and while most do have fangs, Leo and his little Leos are an aberrant strain. Like I said, they're called no-fangers. They don't age and they do need blood to survive, but they don't have the fangs to get it, so they cut their victims. They're also usually crazy. But not normal crazy, nutso crazy."
Sherry tilted her head slightly and eyed the girl. There was something about the way she'd passed on the information … It had been a lecturing tone, but there was something under the words, some emotion almost like shame, that she didn't understand.
"You don't believe me," Stephanie said with a shrug. "That's okay, but just let me tell you what's going on. You can believe it or not as you like, but just remember it. It might save your life before we get out of this."
Sherry was silent for a minute, considering the girl, but then decided there was no harm in listening. Besides, it gave her a good excuse to just sit there while she tried to find her second wind, so she leaned back in her seat with a nod. "Go ahead."
Stephanie relaxed a little and even managed a small smile. "Right, just so we're clear, I am claiming that vampires exist. There are some with fangs, some without, but both can read and control mortals. Leo and his little Leos—Two, Three, and Four—are one of the variety without fangs."
"Two, Three, and Four?" Sherry asked.
Stephanie shrugged. "They probably aren't Leo Two, Leo Three, and Leo Four, but he names all his sons after himself so they're all Leos number something-or-other, so they just go by their number."
"His sons?" Sherry asked with disbelief. "There is no way those men are his children. They all looked to be the same age."
"Vampire, remember?" Stephanie said pointedly. "Vampires stop aging physically at around twenty-five."
Sherry let her breath out on an exasperated sigh, finding it hard to swallow all of this, but she'd agreed to listen, so waved for her to continue.
"I grew up as normal and ignorant of what's out there as you did, but Leo and some of his other sons kidnapped my sister and me from a grocery store parking lot when I was fourteen," Stephanie announced. Her mouth tightened and then she added, "We were eventually rescued, and Leo's sons were caught and executed by the Rogue Hunters but—"
"Rogue Hunters?" Sherry interrupted.
"Cops for immortals, or vampires, as you would call them. They keep the other immortals in line," she explained. "Anyway, I don't know if it's because of his sons getting killed or what, but for some reason, Leo became sort of obsessed with my sister and me. He wants to add us to his breeding stock."
Sherry stared at her, silently processing, and then she cleared her throat and asked, "What do you mean he wants to add you to his breeding stock? Not …?"
Stephanie nodded. "It's how he got all the junior Leos. I doubt many of the mothers were willing."
Sherry shook her head slightly. "You make it sound like he has a lot of them."
"One of the sons who helped him kidnap my sister and I was Leo the 21st. According to him, he was one of the older sons," Stephanie said with a shrug. "He claimed there were fifty or sixty of them, that there have been hundreds over the centuries, but some killed themselves, some were killed, and Leo killed several others when they refused to do what he wanted, or when they otherwise pissed him off."
Sherry didn't say anything. It was crazy, like a vampire soap opera or something. It couldn't be true … could it?
"Anyway," Stephanie continued, "like I say, Leo senior took a shine to my sister and me and said he'd come after us, so Dani—my sister," she added, "Dani and I have been hiding out and protected since."
"Until today," Sherry said.
Stephanie grimaced. "I was protected. I was with Drina and Katricia. They're Rogue Hunters."
"Vampire cops," Sherry muttered.
"Immortal cops really, or Enforcers, but vampire cop will do. Just don't use the term vampire in front of the other immortals. They can get testy about that," Stephanie informed her, and then continued. "Drina and Katricia are both getting married so we went wedding dress shopping. I …" She sighed and grimaced. "I forgot something in the car and just nipped out quickly to get it, but …" Stephanie shook her head. "It was just my luck to pick a moment when Leo and his boys decided to walk down that street."
She paused briefly and frowned before saying, "There haven't been any reported sightings of Leo and his boys in Toronto since Dani and I were rescued. They cleared out and have been hanging south of the border for a long time. They were last spotted somewhere in the southern states. I never would've gone out to the car if I'd known they were in the area. I just …" She heaved out a deep sigh and then said, "Anyway, I spotted them before they saw me. I nipped into your store hoping they wouldn't see me, but I guess they did."
When Stephanie took another bite of pizza and began to chew, Sherry was left to wonder if she believed anything the girl had just said. Oddly enough, while Sherry had started out not believing, she found she now did. She had no idea why. It was crazy. Vampires, mind control, reading thoughts, breeding stock …
Sherry pushed those thoughts away for now to switch to a subject that had been worrying her since leaving the store. "How long does the control last?"
Stephanie paused to peer at her briefly, and then understanding crossed her face and she assured her, "Not long. I mean, it can continue for a little bit after the vampire leaves their presence if they put a suggestion in their thoughts, but I'm sure Leo and the boys didn't get a chance to do that before chasing after us. The moment they left the building, your employees and customers probably snapped out of it and helped the woman who cut herself."
"If they could help her," Sherry said unhappily, picking up her slice of pizza and shifting it in her hands briefly before taking a bite. It was surprisingly good. Surprising because she wouldn't have expected anything to taste good at that point. She guessed the scare she'd just had, and surviving it, had awakened her taste buds or something. Whatever. It tasted good. Carbs or not.
"They could help her," Stephanie assured her. "She didn't cut deeply enough to hit the jugular. She's probably fine."
Sherry raised her eyebrows. "How do you know she didn't hit the jugular?"
"I gave her a mental nudge to stop her cutting too deep," Stephanie explained, and then grimaced and added, "Which Leo would have recognized right away. That's why we had to make our move when we did. He would have used the people in the store against us, tortured them to make me come out. So I had to make sure he saw me leave and knew I wasn't there. It was the only way to be certain he'd leave them alone."
Sherry wasn't surprised at the claim that she'd given the woman a mental nudge not to cut too deep. After all, the girl had said she'd controlled the cop too. What did surprise her was that the girl had thought of the people in the store at all. Stephanie was a nice kid. There was still a possibility that she was crazy as a loon. Sherry was finding herself almost believing her tale, but it was a lot to swallow. So either Stephanie was a brave, thoughtful kid who had risked getting caught to save the pregnant mother, or she was a nutcase. A nutcase who was a damned good shot, Sherry thought. Stephanie had hit a moving target around her. Nice.
"So where did you learn to shoot like that?" Sherry asked quietly.
"Victor and D.J. take me to a shooting range every other day," she said. The names meant nothing to Sherry, so she was glad when the girl added, "Victor is … well he's sort of my adopted dad I guess." She said it quietly, her voice thickening, and then she rushed on, saying, "And D.J. is like the young, pain in the butt uncle who ruffles your hair and embarrasses you in public."
Sherry smiled faintly at the description. "And your real dad?"
"Alive, well, and mortal," Stephanie said casually, too casually, and she was avoiding her gaze. Picking at what was left of her pizza, she added, "He and Mom think I'm dead." Before Sherry could respond, she added, "But Victor and Elvi took me in and look after me. Elvi lost her daughter so I'm a gift, she says, and they're great."
Great, but not her real parents, Sherry translated as the girl turned her head away and dashed quickly at her eyes. Deciding a change of topic might be good, she said, "So, the police can't help us here … but what about those Rogue Hunters of yours? We should find a phone and call them so they can hunt down this Leo and his men."
Sherry just couldn't call the man's followers his sons. It seemed impossible that they were his children. They all looked around the same age. Brothers would have been more believable. Realizing that Stephanie wasn't responding to the suggestion of calling in her Rogue Hunters, Sherry raised her eyebrows. "Don't you think?"
"What?" Stephanie asked. Her blank expression as she turned back to face her made it obvious she hadn't been listening.
Knowing the girl's thoughts had probably been with her birth parents, Sherry asked patiently, "Don't you think that we should call your Rogue Hunters?"
Stephanie shook her head and stared down at the pizza crust she'd been unconsciously tearing apart. The slump to her shoulders and defeated air about the girl were a bit alarming. Sherry had no idea what was going on exactly, but she did know this was no time for the girl to fall apart. Sitting back, she deliberately took on an annoyingly knowing air and said, "Oh, I get it."
Stephanie finally really looked at her, her attention caught. Eyebrows rising, she asked with interest, "What do you get?"
"You," Sherry said with a shrug. "I was a teenager once too."
Stephanie snorted. "Please. I don't know how many times I've heard that tired old line. Like you crusty old farts all think just because you were young back in ancient times that you know what life is like for me. You don't. You were young in … what? The sixties?"
"I wasn't even born in the sixties, thank you," Sherry said with amusement. "I'm only thirty-two."
"Whatever …" Stephanie waved that away. "You haven't got a clue about me."
"Hmmm. How about I tell you what I think and then you can tell me I'm wrong? If I am," Sherry added tauntingly.
Stephanie shrugged. "Whatever."
Sherry tilted her head and eyed her for a moment, and then said, "So, you were wedding dress shopping with this Drina and her friend?"
"Katricia," Stephanie supplied. "She's Drina's cousin, but also a Rogue Hunter. She's getting married too, to Teddy, who is the police chief in Port Henry where I live. We came to Toronto for a girls' weekend and dress shopping."
"Hmmm." Sherry considered that and then said, "And you say they let you go out to get something?"
Stephanie nodded, her gaze sliding away toward the front of the store and a frown flickering over her face.
Sherry suspected the girl was wondering where the two women were. She was too. Surely they'd noticed Stephanie was missing by now? And if they were in the area, the gunshots should have drawn them. She let that go for now, though, and simply said, "Well, I'm sure the bit about their letting you go out to get something is a lie."
Stephanie glanced back to her sharply. "What makes you think that?"
"Kiddo, if these girls are Rogue Hunters, or vampire cops, and this Leo is after you, like you say, I'd guess they keep a short leash on you to keep you safe. They would not have let you wander off on your own. So, Drina was probably in a dressing room trying on a wedding dress, and Katricia was in there helping her with all the convoluted nonsense involved in putting one of those things on, or trying on one herself. You were probably sitting in the waiting area outside the dressing room feeling bored and neglected. No doubt you reached for your iPhone to either listen to music or watch a movie while you waited, and realized you'd left it in the car." Tilting her head, she added, "It's probably hooked up to the sound system in the car, which is why you forgot to grab it, so you thought you'd just slip out, get it and be back before they noticed.
"Unfortunately," she added, "you didn't get to the car before you spotted Leonius and his buddies and had to duck into my store for cover."
Stephanie didn't hide her surprise. "How did you know all of that?"
Sherry shrugged and reminded her, "You asked to use my iPhone earlier."
"So?" Stephanie asked.
"So, you don't have yours on you, so couldn't have made it to the car."
"Maybe I don't have one and was getting something else," Stephanie suggested.
Sherry shook her head firmly. "There are few teenagers around who don't have cell phones nowadays. Besides, you specified iPhone rather than just saying cell phone, which suggests that's what you have."
"Okay, so how did you know I left my phone in the car, jacked into the USB?" she asked with interest.
"Because I'm always forgetting mine in the car for that reason," Sherry admitted wryly. "I plug it into the USB so I can listen to music I like and then forget it when I get out."
"Hmmm," Stephanie murmured, but she was looking at her with interest now. "Or maybe you have some psychic abilities and that's why I can't read or control you."
Sherry didn't comment. Her mind wanted to rebel at the possibility of anyone controlling her actions or thoughts, but she'd watched the pregnant mother slit her own throat. No one would do that under their own impetus. She did believe the customer must have been controlled … and if she could be controlled …
Pushing these disturbing thoughts away, Sherry said, "So, all of this being true, you don't want to call your Rogue Hunters because you're going to get hell for slipping away from your protectors and putting yourself at risk in the first place."
"Nah-ah," Stephanie said with a slow smile.
Sherry raised her eyebrows doubtfully. "You won't get in trouble?"
"Oh, yeah," Stephanie said dryly. "Once Drina, Katricia, Harper, Elvi, and Victor are done raking me over the coals, Lucian himself will probably show up to completely demoralize me," she admitted with unhappy resignation. "But that's not why I'm not calling."
"Okay," Sherry said slowly. "So why don't you want to call?"
"It's not that I don't want to call … I don't have to," she explained. "I already did. They're sending Bricker even as we speak." She tilted her head and then grinned and added, "And he's bringing you a surprise.

About the Author:

LYNSAY SANDS is the nationally bestselling author of the Argeneau/Rogue Hunter vampire series, as well as numerous historicals and anthologies. She’s been writing stories since grade school and considers herself incredibly lucky to be able to make a career out of it. Her hope is that readers can get away from their everyday stress through her stories, and if there’s occasional uncontrollable fits of laughter, that’s just a big bonus.

Visit her official website at www.lynsaysands.net 

Tour Giveaway

1 copy of each of the 21 books in the Argeneau Series for each day of the tour. Open to US shipping Only.


Please thank Lynsay for joining us today! Please check out her links, rafflecopter and books!

Keep Writing!
Jodie Pierce

Author Viola Grace & Under His Claw

Hi all!

Please help me welcome Author Viola Grace to my blog today!

Under His Claw
Viola Grace

Release Date: February 7, 2015

Genre: Erotic Romance, M/F, Vampire/Shifter

Publisher: ARe

Book Description:

Traded for a blood debt, in service to a vampire, and loaned to a shifter, Zora never thought to find pleasure…

Zora has always felt the stigma of being born to a family tainted by vampire blood. That family legacy becomes vividly real when her great-great grandfather tracks her down and trades her for a blood debt owed to the local vampire king. Zora finds a way to use her particular skill set in the vampire court and her first week goes well, until the vampire king decides she needs the comfort of a warm shifter next to her at night.

Dragon shifter Rigeck has come to see the woman his friend wants him to heat up. The shy miss surrounded by salivating potential suitors is just what he’s been looking for. Her blood will confirm if his instincts are correct. But first, he’ll taste the rest of her, for his own entertainment.

Will their one night together be enough to keep him from taking her to his lair, or will instinct win the day?

About the Author:

Viola Grace (aka Zenina Masters) is a Canadian sci-fi/paranormal romance writer with ambitions to keep writing for the rest of her life. She specializes in short stories because the thrill of discovery, of all those firsts, is what keeps her writing.

A writer who crafts a story that catches you up, whirls you around and sets you down with a smile on your face is all she endeavors to be. She prefers to leave the drama to those who are better suited to it, and always goes for the cheap laugh.
Listening to readers has gotten her this far, and with her 300th short story looming before the end of 2014, she will continue to listen in the future.

Please thank Viola for joining us today! Please check out her links and book!

Keep Writing!
Jodie Pierce

Monday, February 16, 2015

Author Rachael Stapletan & Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire

Hi all!

Please help me welcome Author Rachael Stapletan to my blog!

Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire
Temple of Indra Series
Book Two
Rachael Stapleton

Genre: Mystery, Adventure, Romance

Publisher: Solstice Publishing
Date of Publication: February 3rd, 2015

Cover Artist: Rebecca Boyd

Book Description:

As a librarian, Sophia Marcil loved reading, especially books about ancient curses and reincarnation, but she never imagined the legend of the Purple Delhi Sapphire was true until she inherited it and was transported back to a past life where she was murdered. Now she knows that not only is reincarnation real, but so is the devil’s magic locked inside the precious gem. Just as she’s about to tell her boyfriend Cullen about it, he proposes with an engagement ring made from a piece of the very sapphire that’s cursed her. Reeling from the shock and surrounded by his family, she allows him to place it on her ring finger. As soon as it touches her skin, she feels herself being wrenched back in time.

Before she knows it, she’s wandering the hallway of an old Victorian house in the body of her great aunt. Unfortunately, her nemesis has also reincarnated in 1920—as one of her family members. Sophia struggles to locate the Purple Delhi Sapphire in time to prevent the deaths of those she loves, but she fails and returns to her present-day life, to the precise moment she left, with a deep understanding that her killer’s soul is also tied to the sapphire and every life she has, he is resurrected as someone close to her.

Her stalker ex-boyfriend Nick seems like a prime candidate this time but she’s convinced she’s a step ahead of him, thanks to a tip from a medium, she knows that if she uses the magic of the stone correctly she can trap Nick’s soul in the sapphire and save herself. But when Nick is murdered, she finds evidence that has her questioning everything she thought she knew.

Is Cullen husband material or is history doomed to repeat itself?

Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire

Chapter One
Dublin, Ireland

Today I would tell Cullen the truth. I swirled the champagne in my glass in an agitated fashion. I would not allow myself to be distracted. I looked down in early defeat and noticed the dark limp waves cascading past my shoulders. Who was I kidding? I couldn’t even get ready for a dinner party without being distracted. All that work curling it, and then Cullen had walked in, glimpsing my lacy black bra, and poof, my hair was flat again. Twirling a strand around my index finger, I attempted to bring it back to life. If only the jewels could work their magic on my hair.
I spotted Cullen a couple of feet away, making his way over to me. He looked handsome in his sport jacket and tailored shirt. His hair, a coppery red with streaks of blond that looked almost golden in the sunlight, was slicked back so the ends curled at his neck.
I should be over-the-moon happy right now. I was sipping Dom Pérignon in an elegant restaurant surrounded by rustic stone walls, as a soft and whimsical Irish fiddle played in the background in honor of our one-year anniversary. It wasn’t technically our anniversary. He had playfully called it that when he’d invited me out to dinner with his family, but what he’d meant was that it had been one year since we’d met. Since that ill-fated day on the Lerins Island, half a mile off shore from Cannes, when I’d rejected the marriage proposal of that egotistical lunatic Nicholas Bexx and endured his wrath. Lucky for me, Cullen had been looking up from the deck of his family’s yacht and had seen Nick push me off the cliff. Cullen dove in and pulled me to safety, and subsequently into his life.
It was hard to believe that in a full year I couldn’t bring myself to tell him the truth: that the fall had sent me to another time and place and into the body of a nineteenth-century princess. But what sane person would believe what had been only seconds underwater to them had been another lifetime to me? I was the owner of the Purple Delhi Sapphire. I had time traveled into my past life and uncovered my destiny—had done so repeatedly—and was always reborn, only to be murdered by the same obsessed spirit, again and again.
“Sophia, ye all right?” Cullen asked, appearing suddenly at my elbow.
“No,” I said automatically and pushed away the bothersome thoughts.
“Gah. It’s the restaurant. It’s too fancy, isn’t it? I said so, but ye know Móraí.”
“What? I love this place.” The room buzzed with mixed conversation. “I just didn’t hear what you said.”
“Where the tongue slips, it speaks the truth. I asked if ye were all right and ye said no.”
“I’m fine. I’m just soaking in the atmosphere. It’s so romantic in here.”
That was the truth. The place was intimate. A combination of comfortable leather and floral high-backed chairs surrounded the long table, and almost all of them were now full with Cullen’s family.
“It is getting loud in here. I thought this was just dinner, but it looks like you rented out the whole restaurant. Will this place hold your entire family?”
“Like that’d matter. Loud-mouthed arses. Let’s skedaddle and we can celebrate alone.”
I laughed as Cullen pretended to boot one of his cousins in the rear.
His eyes met mine, and it was just like that first day in the hospital after I’d awoken from the fall. There was no denying the attraction and it wasn’t just pheromones. It was as if my soul recognized his, which was exactly why I needed to be honest about the curse. I was giving myself an ulcer and all for what? I knew he felt the same way. For heaven’s sake, I’d overheard him tell his brother of his dreams, and they sounded suspiciously familiar. There were other clues. He shared a birthmark with Graf Viktor Ferdinand of Württemberg, who’d rescued me on three separate occasions when I was the princess, and of course his ancestor had been the one to sell the Purple Delhi Sapphire to my family.
Cullen bent his head toward me, his lips brushing mine, but at the last moment I turned my cheek.
“Cullen, your grandmother has arrived with your parents and she’s staring at us. It’s probably this dress.”
“Well now, she can be after findin’ her own frock, can’t she? ’Cause ye look bloody deadly in that one.”
He playfully tugged at the clasp centered between my breasts. He’d been the one to choose this low-slung, emerald-green dress. He said it reminded him of a shamrock, but I knew he really liked it because it provided a pretty little peek-a-boo if I moved just the right way. Truthfully, it was a little racy for this evening, but you only lived once. Well, maybe some people did.

Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire

Chapter One (Part of the end)

The laughter faded as Cullen pushed his chair back and stood, pulling me gently to stand with him.
“Not sure how to follow that up, but how about: to passionate people, beautiful futures, and lovely lasses who fall from the heavens,” he said, knocking glasses with me. Clinks echoed all around, and I smiled as he set his flute down.
Then he lowered to one knee.
He grinned up at me—so charming and gorgeous. His green eyes, as always, were mesmerizing. They had flecks of gold in them that clung to the edges and danced in the center, like they were on fire. My heart beat so loudly in my ears that it almost drowned out the “awws” and “oohs.”
“Ye’re already mine, lass, in every way possible and I am yers, but I want the world to know,” he said, taking my free hand. Someone took the glass of champagne from the other one, as I was shaking so badly. The black velvet box squeaked open, and his aunts gasped in unison, as if on cue.
“Will ye make me the happiest man in Ireland, Aevil, and join our O’Kelley Clan?” He kissed my fingers as I stared down at him.
The marble-sized rock in the box swirled, and doubled in front of my eyes. Deep purple amethyst with a thin frame of diamonds, set in pink gold and accentuated with a slender shank and crescent details.
I looked past the ring, into his eyes, and found him still staring directly at me. He’d removed the ring from the box and was holding it out, ready to place it on my finger.
He cleared his throat. “It was my great-great-great-grandmother’s and I thought ye might appreciate it, since ye were so intrigued with her portrait.”
I nodded, trying to smile through the confusion, but my head swam with random bursts of chatter, the fiddle, and all the thoughts flooding me at once, mostly that Cullen had just proposed to me with the missing Purple Delhi Sapphire ring. A bead of sweat ran down the side of my cheek as the ring touched the tip of my finger.
Cullen’s face began to distort. A shimmery haze had fallen over the room as if the desert were closing in. The vibration from the ring traveled up my arm, and the room began to shift and blur at the edges. Another room, a darker room, was coming into focus. I could still hear Cullen’s aunt ordering someone to get me a glass of water.
There was something I should remember. Water. Rochus said water was necessary to ease the pain of time travel. Maybe this was what it felt like without. I tried to blink away the heat, tried to stop myself from going, but I couldn’t. The edges of the room were burning away fast now, like a Polaroid scorched by flames. I could hear the trickling of the fountain in the corner. I ran for it, or at least I intended to, but it was too late.

Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire

Fog descended, eerily beautiful despite the dingy residue it seemed to be composed of—producing an unwelcome metallic taste in my mouth. I lagged behind, pulling my scarf tight around my shoulders and taking in the outline of the buildings, which now looked even more Gothic and ghostly. They gave me a chill, or maybe it was just the weather. I had snowmobiled and skied on the frostiest of Canadian mornings and hardly ever felt the cold; I even slept with the windows open at times. But this cold was different from anything I had experienced. It cut to the core.
Of course I’d read about the smog of old London, when a million coal fires polluted the atmosphere, but the sound of the fog horn now blaring from the river made it real.
“Maggie,” Emily said with a cough. “We should duck into one of these places. We’ve got a pea-souper rolling in.”
Maggie’s soon-to-be mother-in-law gave a gasp. “A tavern is not a suitable place for a group of women and children.”
“Yes, I realize that but it’s bloody—sorry, it’s terribly bad weather out here—” Emily stopped. “It’s going to get worse and—”
“Mama, I’m cold,” Gigi whined. I gave her arms and shoulders a little rub to increase the circulation.
“What is this?” Marjorie asked through a muffled hand.
“Pollution from the—” I began and then clamped my hand over my mouth.
“No use chit-chatting. We should be there already. Let’s pick up our feet, shall we?”
Maggie, who was clearly uncomfortable, made a vague gesture with her hands and followed the formidable woman down the sidewalk.
As the ladies turned a corner, a man in a trench coat caught my eye. He’d been right behind us four blocks ago, and earlier in the day he’d loitered outside the dress shop. His fedora rode low over his eyes at all times and he looked to be about 5’11", coincidentally the same build as Eugene. I kept my eye on him for the next several blocks before he slipped behind a great stone church. I looked up and began to feel uneasy as I realized I’d now lost sight of the gang. In the growing fog, the iron fence surrounding it looked like rows of jagged black teeth. Don’t panic, I said to myself. Eventually I would catch up to them or come to a place I recognized and everything would be all right. I knew the name of the hotel we were staying in. The problem was that I was rapidly being swallowed up into the murk, and it was impossible to read the street signs which had now vanished into the fog above my head.
That’s when I noticed the slow, steady rhythm of footsteps behind me—keeping pace with mine. I turned but couldn’t see anyone. Probably just someone else out lost in this godforsaken weather, I told myself. Or the footsteps could only be a strange echo produced by the fog. I started walking again, stopped suddenly, and heard the footsteps continue another couple of beats before they too stopped. I had no choice but to keep going, so I increased my pace. Thankfully I glimpsed Marjorie’s skirt disappearing behind a building and took off on a terror in an effort to catch up, my mind conjuring the sort of thing that happened in the fog in some of Gigi’s old mystery novels. I rounded the corner onto a cobblestone side street and ran smack into something hard.
Palming my forehead, I realized the smog didn’t hang quite as low here, or maybe the cool breeze off the Thames River pushed it away. The bad news was, aside from the offending lamp post, the street lay empty. I looked up and noticed a sign that hung atop an old storefront, advertising rare books. Maggie must have reasoned with her mother-in-law and pulled the gang indoors. No better place than one filled with books.
Wandering into the shop through a brass-studded wooden door, I smiled to myself, taken in by the familiar smell of grass mixed with a hint of vanilla, my happy place. Books were a constant in my life, and this unmistakable smell always made me feel at home. The bell over the door jingled and a slender man of sixty with large brown eyes, a long nose, and a full gray mustache appeared, climbing down from the rolling ladder behind the counter.
He smiled at me as if he recognized a fellow bibliophile.
“Good afternoon, miss. May I help you?”
I looked around the quaint little shop. A polished table sat empty in the corner, offering up only a delicate brass lamp. Shelves lined the room and were packed with books at every turn but the store was also empty, unless Marjorie and the gang were hiding in an alcove. “Did a group of women come in here?”
“No, dear,” he replied and wrinkled his brow.
Turning to go back out the door, panic slammed into my chest. The man in the navy blue trench coat had followed me. He stood at the corner of the street, leaning against the wall, casually smoking and efficiently blocking my only way out. Half expecting him to turn around and spot me, my mouth went dry.
“Is everything all right, miss?”
Swiping a hand over my forehead, I brushed back a clump of sweaty hair. “I’m fine. I’m waiting for someone, that’s all.”
The shopkeeper stood still, watching me, his face creased with concern. Hastily I retreated, circling the room, studying the shelves and looking for a back door.
He followed me to where I stood browsing an older collection of Shakespeare. He pulled out a nineteenth-century edition of Twelfth Night and handed it to me. I flipped through the pages, to be polite, before handing it back.
“Something specific you fancy?”
“I’ll just take a look around on my own,” I said, then noticed for the first time the book in his possession.
“What’s that?” I asked, squinting; his hand covered the spine.
“Oh, this?”
I followed him and he laid the book open on the counter, turning it sideways so we could both look at it. The scent of dust and pages that time had long since begun to degrade drifted out of it. It was the smell of the book I’d found in the library in my own time and seen prior to that in the alchemist’s study.
“It’s a collection of spells I acquired at an estate sale in Prague a few years ago.” He flipped the thin pages until he came to a poem printed neatly in the center of the leaf. “It looks to me like a book of magic,” he added, grinning.
A familiar feeling twisted within me.
Could it be?

Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire

Chapter Seventeen

Lightning lit the sky, revealing the outline of tree limbs through the kitchen window. It was followed so closely by a crack of thunder, which shook the house, that I thought the storm must be directly overhead. Leslie cleaned off her plate and placed it in the dishwasher. “Wow, it’s getting bad out there.”
My stomach tightened. Another thunderclap rattled the house as if on cue and I shivered. “Was it supposed to rain?”
Leslie smiled. “This is Dublin—it always rains, although when I lived here there wasn’t a lot of thunder. Let’s go watch the movie. I’ll protect you.”
“Yeah, you’d put the fear of God into a burglar.” I laughed, draining my wineglass for emphasis while staring at her petite five-foot frame.
“Hey! I’m tough! Although I do plan to be pretty inebriated tonight, so scratch that. You’re on your own, sister.”
I rolled my eyes and grinned. “Why did I let you talk me into a supernatural thriller?”
“It’s not that scary. I promise.”
“Yeah, well, now with the storm, it will be.”
“It’s just a little rain.”
“I know—I’m just jumpy ’cause of the Betty thing.”
Leslie’s eyes were shining. “You mean the fact that the poor woman was killed by your ex who is now stalking you?”
“Honestly, Leslie, you’re not helping.”
“What? I’m just trying to make you laugh. Where’s your sense of humor tonight?”
“It’s gone…much like Betty.”
Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire
 “There you go,” she said, laughing.
I grabbed the bottle off the counter and double-checked the bolt on the door as I followed her into Cullen’s living room. A huge fireplace took up most of one wall. Cullen’s house was small but cozy. Once upon a time, it had been his family’s cottage. Most of the properties the O’Kelley family owned had been passed down through the generations.
My eyes focused on Leslie as she sat on the couch and pulled a book from her purse.
“If you don’t want to watch the movie, we could always use this?” She held it in front of her with both hands.
“Oh, you brought the book, that’s right. I need to put it in some sort of safe.”
“Why don’t you try using it—using the magic?”
“No way.”
“Come on, Sophia, it’s not like you to pass on a challenge. Throw yourself into it. Read through it at least, and see if there’s anything that can help you.”
“Last time I looked in it, I wound up with killer nightmares and I mean that quite literally. I dreamt about the crimes that my uncle Velte committed and, unfortunately, at times from his sick and twisted perspective. And I do not ever want to go back inside that pycho’s head.”
“That sucks. But what if there was a different spell that could help.” She gave me a look that oozed guilt. “Don’t be mad, but I had a look through it on my way here, and there’s a way to contact Rochus.”
“Leslie, what were you thinking?” I snapped, grabbing it out of her arms and setting it down.
Her face was guarded and careful. “What? Nothing happened.”
Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire
 “Lucky for you. Who knows what happens when that book is opened? You could have wound up cursed like me.”
“Why do you see this as a curse, Sophia?” she asked softly.
“I don’t know. Wouldn’t you?”
“No. You’re living every librarian’s dream. Experiencing the past when the rest of us can only read about it.”
“Yes, but as you so lovingly reminded me, Nick is trying to kill me.”
She reached out to touch the faded leather cover and I looked up, startled, frightened by her curiosity.
“No one can stop destiny. Maybe you were just meant to experience all of this and maybe, instead of fighting it, you should try embracing it. If he always finds you anyway, then hiding is only prolonging the inevitable, isn’t it? Why don’t you use the magic and call on Rochus for help?”
I took a deep breath. “You have a point,” I said, feeling torn. The adventurous, knowledge-seeking librarian half of me wanted to do it; it was the other rational half of me that was still afraid. I looked past Leslie, out the windows…toward the darkened sky. “I’ll think about it. But let’s just watch this movie for now.”
I shoved the book under the coffee table.
“Is that where you plan to keep it?”
“I don’t know. Where’s a good spot to keep explosives? Because that’s what this book is.”
She took the movie out of the case and smiled mischievously at me just as thunder exploded, rumbling and echoing off the walls.
The opening scene began with a man creeping through the woods, flashlight in hand.
Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire
I tugged the blanket off the back of the couch, hastily pulling it over me before I picked up my wine.
“Feeling the need for fortification?” Leslie smirked.
“This is already unnerving. I don’t like it.”
“It gets better,” Leslie assured, reaching out to pet Daphne who was now curled up beside her.
“Mmm-hmm. I have my doubts.”
Another thunderclap crashed and reverberated through the house and the room went dark and silent. Cursing, I got to my feet, chucking the blanket aside.
“Glad I lit that candle.” I strode to the other room to grab it. The lightning lit up the kitchen, and outside the wind blew the trees about wildly.
“It’ll blow over soon. We should light some more candles, though,” Les called from the living room.
Three drawers later I found some votives and a box of matches.
I set the cinnamon candles aglow on the coffee table and sat back down. “Sorry ’bout this.”
“What, like you knew the electricity would go out?” She laughed. “Or was this all part of your master plan to get out of watching a scary movie? Did Rochus give you a spell for just such an occasion?”
I snickered, but my eyes immediately shot down to the coffee table. There was a Kleenex box and remote. “No. No. That he did not.”
“What are you thinking about? The book?”
“No. Maybe. Yes.”
“Come on, Sophia. Let’s call on him for help.”
“I don’t know.”
“What—why not? You’re super-freaked out that Nick’s after you, and we can’t watch the movie anyway.”
“Yeah, well anything’s better than watching that stupid movie.”
Curse of the Purple Delhi Sapphire
I paused, then reached under the coffee table and pulled the book out, running my hands over the familiar design embossed on the spine and stamped in gold.
The room’s dim lighting made the faint shimmer that danced from within more prominent, as if to once again alert me to just the right spot.
“Quit stalling and open it.”
“Okay, okay. I’m just kind of nervous about playing with magic. It hasn’t exactly gone off without a hitch in the past, in case you hadn’t noticed.”
Thumbing through the pages, I searched for a spell. “Here’s one, but it says we need to create an incense portal for summoning ancestor spirits from the otherworld.”
Leslie peeked over my shoulder. “And we will need a picture, lavender, cinnamon, and wormwood.”
“Great. Like I just have all that stuff lying around.”
I flipped to the next page that was emanating a faint glow.
“What about that one—it’s a summoning spell, too, but you don’t need the picture and you do already have lavender and cinnamon candles burning.”
“I don’t know. It says it will take me ‘there.’ That sounds creepy. What if I get stuck in the nineteenth century again?”

About the Author:

Rachel Stapleton spent her youth cultivating a vivid imagination inside the book lined walls of an old Victorian library where she consumed everything from mystery to biography, creating magical worlds, hidden elevators, and secret spiral staircases. At sixteen, she penned a column for the local newspaper and in 2006, wrote her first book featuring an adventurous librarian.

She lives in a Second Empire Victorian with her husband and two children in Ontario and enjoys writing in the comforts of aged wood and arched dormers. She is the author of The Temple of Indra’s Jewel and is currently working on a third book in the Temple of Indra series.

Visit her website and follow her on social media or sign up at www.rachaelstapleton.com to receive email updates.


Tour giveaway

10 E-Copies of The Temple of Indra’s Jewel. (The first book in the series.)

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Please thank Rachael for joining us today! Check out her links and book!

Keep Writing!
Jodie Pierce