Okay, so I didn’t completely vanish off the face of the blogosphere again – we just went on vacation to visit my in-laws in Maine for a couple weeks, something I failed to mention ahead of time. I’ve also been sick a lot lately, so I’m still recovering from that plus vacation. I DO promise to get back to something resembling regular blogging soon. In the meantime, as I prepare to push through to the end of Black-Hearted Betrayal, Shades of Fury 3, over the next few weeks, I wanted to go ahead and share a snippet of the opening for those interested.
Next week will be about choosing those contest winners not yet chosen, getting books out to contest winners, making a lot of progress on BHB, and working while son is at home since he doesn’t start kindergarten (and HOW is my baby starting THAT already?!?) until the 17th. For now, the snippet! (Keep in mind it’s in unedited draft form and may not be the final opening, blah, blah, blah. 😉 )
With as many people as had tried to kill me over the years, you’d think I would get used to it. Then again, the fact I hadn’t completely gotten used to it was the reason nobody had yet managed to do me in. Not permanently anyway. Temporary death—there’d been a few of those; nothing I’d like to repeat any time soon—especially considering how much I’d pissed off the jackal-faced god that last time…Of course, to be fair to myself, most death threats came because I was two times a cop. One: Chief Magical Investigator for the Boston Police Department. Two: Member of the Sisterhood of Furies; a once-mortal demigoddess serving as the arcane world’s version of law enforcement.
Two times a cop. Two times the psychos out for my blood.
Currently, however, it was being a Fury that had my fat in the fire. Now if only I could get that very real fact through my 15-year-old niece’s head.
“Aunt Riss, I just don’t understand wh—”
I turned from the subway entrance and narrowed my eyes at my soon-to-be apprentice. “What part of be quiet did you not understand, apprentice?” She flushed when I used title rather than name and had the good sense to actually shut her trap. Stubborn she might be (hmm, wonder where she got that from?), but she learned quickly; a quality that would serve her well during her training. Assuming I could keep her alive long enough to swear her oaths to the Sisterhood.
A flash of red teased my peripheral vision and I whirled, instinctively placing my body in front of Cori’s. Normally the red leather uniform of a Fury meant safety and support, but not so much these days; not with a potential civil war brewing among the three classes of Furies: Alecto, Megaera, and—my personal favorite—Tisiphone.
The flash of red did prove to be a Fury’s uniform, but no threat to Cori or me. My mother swept out of the subway station’s door, flanked by two sisters who supported her bid for the vacant Tisiphone seat on the Sisterhood’s ruling council. It was that campaign to join the Lesser Consensus of the Conclave of Fury Elders that now had my family on red alert. The Megaera’s senior sister, known as the Prime Megaera, had decided to oppose Mom’s power play. And by oppose I mean stop at any costs, even if that meant taking out a loved one to emotionally debilitate her. Stupid bitch.
Who, me, bitter?
Mom zeroed in on us straightaway. She nodded to each of her informal bodyguards, who took up post at the side of the doorway while Mom jogged the last few feet separating us. We exchanged smiles but she focused most of her attention on Cori, drawing her into a bear hug and murmuring praise into her ear. Cori alternately grinned and flushed, torn between adolescent pride and embarrassment over the “big deal” Mom was making over her. No surprise she made such a fuss; it was the first time she’d seen Cori since the teen Fledged into her Fury powers a few days ago. We’d both hoped Cori would follow in our footsteps, but that had been no sure thing: both her parents were magical Skips.
After one last grandmotherly squeeze, Mom pulled back to look at me. “Any trouble at last night’s reception?”
I shook my head. “A good time was had by all—well, except for the hate-mongers who walked out after we revealed our little trick. Harper and Penn are happily hitched and partying hearty in Hawaii now.”
She smiled. “Good, they deserve it, after all they’ve been through.” Her expression sobered. “And how are you, considering…” Her voice trailed away when she remembered the little ears beside her.
Considering who the killer turned out to be…
I’d just closed a nasty murder case involving Boston’s first arcane serial killer, who wound up being the last person anyone would have expected; even Harper Cruz, the bride whose exes had been killed one after another. Fortunately we stopped the killer’s body count before it could rise higher than four, but neither she nor I would ever get over who he had turned out to be: Victor Esteban, one of Harper’s exes himself and (until two days ago) her most trusted friend. He’d also been, during my time undercover as wedding planner Sierra Nieves, “my” love interest. Finding out the slimeball had also been manipulating me with a magical date rape drug had been just the icing on the cake.
“Holding up. It helps knowing that Scott’s safe now.” Or as safe as Boston’s numero uno supernatural mercenary could ever be. “And now I have time to devote to my Fury duties. Like getting this one sworn in ASAP. She’s gonna be way more than just a handful.”
Cori stuck her tongue out at me but managed to assume an angelic face before Mom looked back at her. Not that anyone could pull the wool over my mother’s eyes; which she proved by arching a brow in that quintessentially mom style. “While your aunt and I are proud of you, Concordia Joy, you’ll also find we expect a great deal from you. To start with, you must remember to treat us always as elder Furies first, your aunt and grandmother second.”
She let out a huff of air. “Now you sound like her.”
Another arch of the brow. “Where do you think she got it from, darling?”
I laughed outright. “Oh so true, I’m afraid. Stacia may have been my official mentor, but Mom taught me a lot about being a Fury before she disappeared.”
Mom and I exchanged a grim glance. That was another of those shared griefs that would never fully go away. Mom had been held captive by a rogue group of mortals intent on unlocking the secret to arcane immortality, not to mention developing their own magical army. Worst of all, however, the group had been funded and controlled by one of our own Fury sisters—my not-so-dearly-departed mentor, Stacia. Good thing for her she was already dead.
The hair on the back of my neck stirred softly and my body tensed in response to a sudden surge of adrenaline. Trusting survival instincts honed over the past two decades, I nodded toward the door. “We should get a move on.”
Mom placed a protective arm along Cori’s shoulder and nudged her forward. “Of course. Laurell will serve as our rearguard while Patricia clears our forward path.” The second-named Tisiphone nodded before vanishing in the direction from which they had appeared. Laurell waited until we followed at a more sedate pace and fell in behind us.