eBook Details

Fire Within

Series: Guardian Witch , Book 2.0
By: Ally Shields | Other books by Ally Shields
Published By: Etopia Press
Published: Mar 08, 2013
ISBN # 9781939194411
Word Count: 84,668
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Available in: Epub, HTML, Mobipocket (.mobi), Adobe Acrobat

Categories: Romance>Vampires Fantasy

Description
A hidden evil stalks the city…

Ari Calin refuses to believe her human friend Eddie murdered a vampire—in spite of his confession. Her human partner Ryan thinks the case is a slam dunk, even though there’s no weapon and no witnesses, but Ari’s not about to let her friend take the rap without finding out more.

When Ari attends a charity event on the arm of a handsome werewolf, she finds someone she never expected to see again—Andreas De Luca, the charismatic vampire she used to date. When their eyes meet across the room, memories come rushing back. His kiss, his touch, a savage death…and a terrifying magical bond. A reconnection is the last thing she wants. Only by staying away and forgetting Andreas can she hope to avoid the Legend of Ramora.

But when vampires keep dying, one thing becomes clear: Riverdale has a serial killer on its hands, and Andreas could be next. Ari begins to fear there’s more to it, though. Something truly evil is stalking the city, waiting to take control…
 
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Excerpt:

Chapter One



Eddie West, crime reporter for The Clarion, slumped in the hard plastic chair of the Olde Town jail’s visitor room. His round, human face, usually boyish and open, reflected exhaustion, even depression. And something else Ari couldn’t quite identify. His negative energy sent spider feet across the back of her neck, and she stifled an urge to rub the sensation away. To stop the distraction, she locked down part of her extra senses.

Ari studied the prisoner while she tried to think of what to say. Shouting and screaming wouldn’t help. Eddie’s freckles, usually an appealing feature which made him look much younger than his twenty-five years, popped out like chicken pox, and beads of sweat dotted his upper lip and forehead. Red-rimmed eyes looked everywhere but at her.

If it had been a normal interrogation, Ari would have relished his discomfort. Nervous suspects tended to give themselves away. But Eddie was a friend. A good friend. And a witch in her line of work didn’t have that many. Not everyone was willing to befriend a supernatural cop with powers that usually made humans twitchy. Ari turned her face away, waiting until she had control of her expression. Sympathy wasn’t what Eddie needed right now.

“I thought about this all the way over,” she began, shaking her head, “and I still don’t believe it. Murder?” She glared at him. “What the hell were you thinking? What kind of solution is that?”

Eddie’s gaze darted to her for an instant. His jaw set in a determined line. “You can’t fix this, Ari. It’s too late. Just leave me alone.”

She blinked in surprise. What was with his attitude?

Eddie wasn’t finished. “In fact, why the visit? I didn’t call you. Didn’t ask for help. Because I didn’t want to talk to anybody.” He hesitated and his Adam’s apple bobbed as he swallowed hard. “So, why are you here? Think you can make this go away with a little bit of magic?”

Ari snorted. For a guy who didn’t want to talk, he was rattling on about nothing. Nerves, maybe. He’d never been in jail before. She knew because she’d checked his rap sheet. Two old speeding tickets. She noted his copper hair was scruffy this morning; his jail clothes crumpled from tossing and turning in his sleep, if he’d slept at all. He’d spent the night in a cold, uncomfortable holding cell. In another person, that might explain the belligerent attitude, except this was Eddie—usually steady and easy going.

“It’ll take more than magic to get you out of this mess. You’re in serious trouble.” Ari sighed, crossed her legs, and pushed a strand of long blonde hair behind one ear. “You know why I’m here. You killed a vampire. That’s my territory, my jurisdiction. Did you think you wouldn’t have to face me?”

Eddie squirmed in his seat; one hand rubbed the knee of his ill-fitting blue jumpsuit. The hand trembled. Ari refused to concentrate on his obvious distress, ignoring her urge to offer support.

“There’s nothing for you to investigate,” he muttered. “I already told them what happened. Go home.”

“Oh. Well, fine. We’ll just let them lock you up for most of your life. Or worse. No reason to do my freaking job. Or worry about my friend. You’re being held for the first degree murder of a vampire. You know what happens if they find you guilty.”

Eddie flinched but said nothing. She took it as a good sign. Maybe he’d realized how bad this was. Under the 1990s amended version of the McFarland treaties—named after the first U.S. Senator who pushed for recognition—and the New Civil Rights Act, the vampires and other races with extended life spans had demanded control over the penalty phase of Otherworld murder cases. In exchange for immediate execution sentences for a number of crimes against humans by vampires, the vampires had received the sole right to determine the punishment for murdering a vampire. With a penalty that stiff, vampire hunting, once considered a safety precaution or even a sport, soon became nearly extinct.

Reactions to the treaties and legislation changes had been mixed—still were—but both sides had accepted that you couldn’t kill anyone without severe punishment.

Ari tilted her head in an effort to read Eddie’s face, maybe catch his gaze, but his focus remained glued to the table. “I heard you confessed. And they found you with Jules’s body. Do you have a lawyer?”

He shook his head. “Don’t need or want a lawyer. I can handle this.”

Ari gave an impatient flip of her hand. “Yeah, right. You’ve shown such good judgment up to now. Get yourself a lawyer.”

She was walking a fine line. As the investigator for the Magic Council, the governing body for the magical races, she needed to ask questions, get the facts. As Eddie’s friend, she didn’t want to push him into confessing again or giving her the damning details. If he did, she’d have to report his admissions to Lt. Ryan Foster, her human police partner on joint investigations. And Ari already had more than enough to report. She sighed, wishing Eddie had never confided to her about his troubles with the now-dead victim.

“What could a lawyer do? Maybe you should have helped me when I asked.”

She looked at him sharply. “So, you blame me for this?”

He kept his gaze averted, smoothing his jumpsuit again. “I tried to tell you.”

Ari leaned back in the chair and watched his discomfort. Eddie’s words explained his sour attitude. A month ago he’d come to her office seeking advice as a friend and complaining that the victim was dating his sister Lorraine. Eddie wanted the relationship to end. “I think she’s agreed to a vampire bond,” he’d shouted. Ari had been stunned by his vehemence, and she’d tried to reason with him. Consenting adults, the course of true love, all the arguments for Eddie not to interfere, but he’d been adamant that Jules was ruining his sister’s life.

“Are you suggesting you had no other choice? When I told you the bond was permanent and could only be broken when one of the two died, I didn’t expect you to go out and kill him.”

“She’s free now, isn’t she?”

Holy crap. Until today Ari had assumed Eddie had adjusted to the situation. Now the vampire was dead, and Eddie was under arrest. Ari wondered if she had inadvertently suggested the solution.

She drummed her nails gently on the cool top of the metal table, her bracelet of protective charms—silver cross, vial of holy water, amulets—jingling against the surface. When Eddie glanced at her hand, she stopped.

Ari allowed the silence in the cramped visitor’s room to lengthen. The black-and-white NO SMOKING sign bolted to the stark white wall seemed to be the only thing interested in making a statement. She crinkled her nose against the scrubbed, antiseptic smell and checked her watch. Not much time left in the fifteen-minute visit. Of course, she could extend it, but Eddie’s anger and evasiveness had her baffled. When she had arrived, she’d hoped he could convince her this was a mistake, that he had an alibi. Instead, he’d offered nothing at all.

“Fine, if that’s all you’ve got to say, you can deal with the PD. But don’t fool yourself that refusing to talk about last night will get you out of this. They have your confession and corroborating evidence. All they need is a strong motive, which we both know you had.” Ari shoved back her chair. “Maybe Lorraine can tell me what tipped the scales. Give me some reason that could lessen the charge or the punishment.”

Bringing up his sister’s name was a calculated risk.

Immediate anger flashed across Eddie’s face. “Leave her out of this! I’m warning you, don’t bother my sister. She doesn’t need any more grief.”

“You think I don’t know that? But you’re leaving me no alternative. The police will talk to her, too. And whose fault is that?” She studied his pinched face and tried again. “Let me help you. Make some sense out of this.”

She saw him hesitate, waver, then his chin rose. “Forget it. And stay away from my family.” He got to his feet, his back rigid, unyielding. “Where’s the guard? We’re done.” He pounded on the metal door until the guard came.

The grim-jawed jailor rapped his baton on the door and motioned for the prisoner to back away. “Finished, Ms. Calin?”

She shrugged. “I guess.”

They left, and Eddie didn’t look back.

Fire Within

By: Ally Shields
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