I plan to publish this one during the first week of August, but this is what the cover will likely look like. Feel free to drop your thoughts in the comments, I always appreciate feedback.
Detective Amaya Lombard is a witch hunter and a damn good one. Hated by the magical because she works with cops, feared by cops because she works with magic, she walks a fine line between malice and murder. When an entire family dies in magic and blood, only Amaya can find the truth that lies behind the seemingly senseless mayhem…because even the dead deserve answers.
There was a snowflake on her eyeball. It sparkled a little as I bent over her, close, but not too close, lest I should thaw it with the warmth of my breath. I could imagine what it would look like, the liquid giving her flat gaze a mockery of life, focusing on me, accusing. How could I have let this happen to her? I straightened up, expanding my focus, away from her, to the rest of the scene. There were no visible marks on her tiny body, on the footie pyjamas she wore, or the bright, almost fluorescent, pink jacket with the puffy quilting. Perfect, just like she was. I bent back down and touched her cheek, gently, with my left hand. The one that couldn’t feel. Her skin was rigid, as unyielding as my own fingers.
I turned away then and headed toward the house she had come from. She would remain at her rest as she had been for hours, now. I walked slowly, reluctant to face what I knew lay inside, my breaths coming in visible puffs of white. Maybe if I blew out hard enough it would expand into a blinding fog and wipe it all out, a blank white surface to write a new story on. One with a happy ending for the little pink girl, with cocoa and marshmallows in.
I stepped through the open door, exchanging silent nods with the uniformed policeman who was standing there. He’d worked with me often enough to know not to speak until he was spoken to. And I knew him well enough to know that this place would have silenced him, anyway.
It was as cold inside as it was out, perhaps even colder. I made my way to the stair, ignoring the open arch to a living room, at a guess, and the swinging doors which would lead to a kitchen, perhaps. I had been briefed, briefly. My lips twisted in what might have been amusement, under other circumstances. Looking up the stairs, I knew that the next scene would not be as peaceful as the one outside. The splashes and arcs of blood, bright droplets frozen onto the eggshell paint…
I turned my head and spoke, not looking all the way around at him, my body still facing the path I must take. “Get images done of this right away, while it is still frozen. I don’t know how long it will last.”
Now I could hear him speaking, into his radio, but I wasn’t listening to his voice, letting it fade into the background buzz. The death curse that lay over this place wouldn’t hurt me, or my people. It wasn’t directed at us. No more than it had been directed at the little tyke outside, who had been caught on the backlash by virtue of her blood, and trapped, no matter how well someone with half-sense had bundled her and told her to run, just run.
I stepped onto the stair. The magic was a scream inside my head, but I focused carefully and took another step. This was my job to do, and I would do it. The curse was a strong one, which alone told me that it would fade quickly. Magic must come at a price, to the surprise of the perpetually physics-bound. Just like their human laws, it had bounds which held it. Kept it from taking over the world, really, like some comic-book villainess. Not that magic was limited to women. Just that this was a feminine voice in my head, howling for vengeance.
I followed her voice until it reached a crescendo in my head, moving carefully to keep out of the blood. It led, the blood and the unending scream, to their bedroom. I stopped on the threshold, looking with my eyes, and then other senses. I didn’t try to go in. She’d been strong enough to set this curse; there might still be security measures in place. Not that they had helped in the end, but no point in stepping into the bear trap to see if I were stronger than it. Besides, I could see enough from here. The forensic techs, blind and deaf to the magic, would record the physical details. It was my job, as a Sensitive, to capture the more subtle, unseen clues.
They were both here. Mother and father. The voice would be here, and didn’t she have a set of lungs on her, I thought ruefully. Speaking magically, anyway. The physical ones were shredded. Cause of death was fairly easy to determine: shotgun blast, at close range. The man? Something bladed, large. It was his blood on the stairs. He’d been caught downstairs, his family upstairs, and he was trying to reach them… And had only made it this far. Pure speculation on my part, but it felt right. Her scream was growing ragged in my ears now. The waves of sound beat at me, almost physical, like the wings of a large angry bird.
I turned my attention to the third body, the one who had triggered this whole mess. He was the epicenter on the radiating cold, standing incongruously at my shoulder. I knew it was a shotgun, because he still had it in his hands, half lowered from when he had shot her and released the death curse. It had rippled out from her, possibly faster than the speed of light, which my physics friends kept insisting was impossible. Magic, though, they hadn’t thought it was possible, either, until it was no longer possible to ignore it. This man had certainly believed it, if his brain had time to process. I know the theory that a decapitated brain can think and feel for seconds after, but a man flash-frozen? Who knew. Certainly not me. He was a silent lump of meat to me. Not a trace of power there.
I retreated, looking in other rooms as I went. I could feel the cold seeping into me, and the mental scream was spawning a very real headache. I didn’t have long to do this, but it needed doing. Not for my bosses, but for the little pink girl who had died in confusion and a blast of unearthly cold. There were no other bodies, no other obvious magic signs. I fully retreated, picking my way down the stairs around his blood, which was still perfectly frozen, and headed for the outside.
“Aren’t you going to look…”
“Nope.” I swept past Officer James Starkey and out the door, knowing he was following me. The house was the province of the crime scene people now. I’d done my thing. This was what they paid me for. I pinched the bridge of my nose to stem the tide of pain, now that I was away from that eldritch wail. Out here, there was just the low background buzz, like a hive of bees, and I stopped on the walkway. I looked at the green lawn, the little body lying far too still, and the flowers dying in the garden. “It’ll get warmer soon.”
“Ya think?” He was standing next to me, his eyes on the same things. “This is freaky, Amaya. I mean, even for you, this one is weird.”
I’ll post a link when this goes live on Amazon!