The Wayfare Hotel for Restless Spirits was every bit as spooky as he remembered.
MacMillian wedged his dark green Plymouth Fury into a spot alongside The Panhandle, and stared across the street at the vast old Victorian. Was it him, or had it expanded since he’d last been here? That was impossible, of course. Even so, he could have sworn several of the turrets were new.
Lena waited until he had hoisted himself from the car, then started across the street. MacMillian headed after her with a wince. He should have known better than to sit for so long. Now he was paying for it. Lena glanced behind her. He schooled his face to a neutral expression. Judging by the way her eyebrows drew together, she wasn’t fooled.
She didn’t mention it, merely metered her steps to match his as though it were the most natural thing in the world. They climbed the steep front steps together, crossed the stoop to the massive front door.
Lena turned to him. “Before we go inside, there’s something you should know.”
MacMillian shifted his weight to his cane. “All right.”
She twisted the strap of her purse. “You’re going to meet someone. He’s…not like anyone you’ve seen before.”
MacMillian snorted. “Since I’ve known you, I’ve met ghosts, a necromancer, a zombie, a knight, and a librarian for God. So unless you’re telling me vampires and werewolves are real too…” He trailed off at the look on her face. “They’re not. Are they?”
Lena shifted. “It’s a little more complicated than—”
He held up a hand. “Please. Yes or no.”
Lena continued hurriedly. “But technically, lycanthropy is a disease. Therians have complete control over their shifts, and are no danger to humans. Anyway, that’s not what this is about.”
MacMillian felt light-headed. “So, a vampire.”
At that moment, the door to the house swung inward. MacMillian jerked his eyes from Lena’s face. A tall, athletic-looking man with disheveled blond hair and a sardonic expression leaned against the door frame.
“I find ‘vampire’ rather a loaded word, don’t you?” The man crossed his arms over his broad chest. His black leather jacket creaked. “I personally prefer the term ‘sangretarian.’”
MacMillian looked to Lena.
She cleared her throat. “Jesper MacMillian, meet Seneca Lynch.”
MacMillian swallowed, then swallowed again. Vampires were real. He took a moment to wrap his head around that. He’d grown up hearing about them; Babko and some of the other elders of the kumpania told stories all the time. He’d thought that was all they were: stories. Outdated superstition left over from the old country.
What else could he have been wrong about?
He took a deep breath and turned back to the stranger. There didn’t seem to be anything overtly diabolical about him. He was pale, but not unnaturally so. A faint smattering of freckles dusted the skin under his sharp gray eyes.
Lynch took a step back. “So this is your mundane detective.” He jerked his chin at MacMillian’s cane. “What’s the matter? Couldn’t find one with all his parts in working order?”
MacMillian bristled. Lena laid a hand on his arm, and he glanced down at her. The scowl on her face surprised him. She glowered at Lynch. “Let’s get something straight. Cyrus might not mind you being a dick, but I do. You came to us, in case it’s slipped your mind. If this is how you’re going to behave, you’re on your own.”
Lynch’s eyebrows went up. He studied them without a word. MacMillian didn’t move. Lena still gripped his arm a little too tightly. Any looser, and he would have missed the fact she was trembling.
Lynch pursed his lips. Then he inclined his head. “Well, then. Please accept my sincere apologies, Mr. MacMillian.”
Something in his voice still rankled, but MacMillian put it out of his mind. He hadn’t come here for Seneca Lynch, after all. He gave Lena’s hand a brief, reassuring touch, waited until she let go before stepping over the threshold and into the reception hall. “Lena mentioned Cyrus would fill me in.”
“Big brother Cyrus is currently packing for a trip.” Lynch folded his hands in front of him. “I’m afraid you’ll have to make do with me.”
“Trip?” Lena’s forehead furrowed. “He didn’t tell me about any trip.”
“It just came up.”
They all turned. At the opposite end of the hall, Cyrus stood atop of the grand staircase. He started down, a battered duffel slung over his shoulder. He reached the bottom and strode across the marble floor, extended a hand and gripped MacMillian’s in a firm shake. “Thanks for coming. I know this probably screws up your social calendar.”
MacMillian shrugged. “What’s the saying? ‘Neither snow nor rain nor gloom of night…’?”
Cyrus smirked. “Something like that.” He turned to Lena. “Sorry I didn’t tell you sooner. Emil just gave me a call. He and Puzzle want me to meet them in New Orleans.”
Lena made a face. “Bad time for a party weekend.”
Cyrus shrugged. “All he said was they needed my help. It’s some kind of job, and they want someone with my experience.”
Lynch chuckled. “Experience. Right.”
MacMillian looked back and forth between the three of them. It seemed he was the only one not in on the joke.
Cyrus hefted the duffle a little higher on his shoulder. “Anyway, I can give you the jist of things, but then I have to bug out.” He blew out a breath. “Last night, there was an incident at a place called Hell Maus. It’s a goth club in SOMA.”
“Incident.” MacMillian narrowed his eyes. “What kind of incident?”
“Someone walked in and murdered everyone inside.”
MacMillian raised an eyebrow.
“Come now, Cyrus, give it to the man straight.” Lynch crossed his arms. “It wasn’t just ‘someone’. It was a Son.”
MacMillian turned to him. “A Son?”
Lynch groaned. “Forgive me, of course, you’re a mundane. A Son of Lazarus. It’s how those of my kind refer to ourselves. Maus is one of our clubs.”
MacMillian suppressed a frown. “Noted.”
Cyrus continued. “Anyway, you can guess how far the police are likely to get with this. Lynch asked Lena and I to look into it. He and I go way back, so I agreed. Trouble is, I’m no detective, and, well, this is the sort of job that needs a detective.”
MacMillian nodded slowly. “And I’m the only detective you know.”
“No.” Cyrus met his eyes. “You’re the only detective I trust.”
It’s November ya’ll and over here in the den of sexy (Too corny? Yes? No? Nah.) two of us shall be participating in National Novel Writing Month, or NaNoWriMo for short. We’ll be banging out 50,000 word story in 30 days (or in my case, trying to).
Laura, the fabulous badass that she is, will be working on The Devil’s Disease, the second book in her Shades Below trilogy which you should totally read if you haven’t already.
I, on the other hand, will be working on something new, half outlined, mostly pantsed. It’s YA dark fantasy, with demons, revenge and romance (duh). Wish me luck. I’m gonna need it.
Madhuri, won’t be participating this year. Mostly because SHE JUST LANDED AN AGENT and is busy editing the sexiness (aaaaaall, the sexiness) that is DUTCH ❤
Published October 2015
Having read several of LJK Oliva’s other works, I came to SEASON OF THE WITCH fully expecting strong writing, excellent character development, and stellar world-building – I’m happy to report she delivered in all three aspects. Oliva’s writing is only getting better, her characters are rich and layered, and her world is so damn interesting. Fans will not be disappointed.
SEASON centers around Georgia Clare, the lone survivor of her coven’s massacre, and private investigator Darius deCompostela. Sensing she’s being hunted, Georgia reaches out to Darius for his help and despite all signs telling him to stay away, he finds himself quickly sucked into Georgia’s life and her troubles.
San Francisco in Oliva’s mind becomes a dark, magical city, detailed and rich; it’s obvious she has done serious research into every aspect of the very complex existence of her witches and The League and other magical beings. It’s mind-blowing, impressive and interesting and pulls you right into the action. I cannot fathom the hours that went into the backstory of her story – Oliva is the queen of researching the fine details.
The plot of SEASON intrigues and the pace is perfect – fast, but not rushed. A reader is grabbed from the first, bloody scene in the Epilogue, then soon afterwards Oliva’s characters, Georgia and Darius, take over and handle the rest. Their energy with each other, the way they complement one another is a highlight of the novel but so, too, are Oliva’s lesser characters. A favorite of mine is the ghostly Madison, a young girl haunting Darius. I love their final scene together and how it captures both characters’ unique, yet intertwined, journeys.
One thing about Oliva – girlfriend knows her way around a sex scene and SEASON‘s are hot. Georgia and Darius are fire and watching them come together (pun intended) is freaking sexy. Even the briefest of moments, the most primal sex, with Oliva’s deft touch winds up also being quite tender, a testament to Oliva’s skill and the superb character development of Georgia and Darius, both as individuals and as a couple.
Finally, there’s the issue of race, particulary interracial love. And Oliva handles it perfectly – she doesn’t hit readers over the head with the fact that Georgia is white and Darius is black, but she lets it be known, it’s out there, she’s not hiding from it. While reading her characters and her story, you get the feeling Oliva is very comfortable both in her own skin and that of her characters, as it shows in the writing and her handling of interracial love: instead of treating it as other, she treats it as the norm.
We live in a diverse world and Oliva’s book, SEASON OF THE WITCH, captures this reality so damn well. I only wish more writers would follow suit.
Something about the floating club reminded him of Wonderland. Not Disney’s Wonderland, either, but Wonderland according to Lewis Carroll: dark, sumptuous. Treacherous. It was the sort of place where anything could happen…and probably did. He had a feeling if a deranged, bloodthirsty monarch suddenly swept in and started demanding people’s heads, no one would bat an eye.
Already, he could feel multiple pairs of eyes fixing on them. Darius kept his face carefully blank and leaned down to Bez’s ear. “Maybe we should get a drink.”
Bez nodded. Her face was blank too, but nervous energy rolled off her in great, uncontrolled swells. “I could definitely use a drink.”
This time, her arm tightened around his. She visibly steeled herself, then led the way deeper into the club.
The further they went, the more sinister the place felt. Music pulsed from speakers hidden in the dark, velvet-lined walls; an unsettling mashup that evoked both Rob Zombie and Thelonious Monk. The lighting was nearly nonexistent. An art deco chandelier gleamed overhead. Darius looked a little closer. It was illuminated purely by candlelight.
The tiny dancing flames were a lovely shade of purple.
“Neat trick, isn’t it?”
Darius jerked in spite of himself, remembered at the last minute to keep a grip on Bez’s arm. He turned. A man stood behind them. His couture suit was impeccably cut, his pale hair slicked back from the sharp lines of his face. He studied them with coolly assessing eyes.
Bez gulped audibly. “Kristof.”
“Bez.” He didn’t take his eyes off Darius. “Perhaps you would care to explain why you brought a mundane to my club.”
Bez coughed. “He’s not a…that is, Darius is a friend.” Her voice caught on the word. “I just thought—”
“Darius.” Kristof’s eyes widened slightly. “Darius deCompostela? Fuck me, is that you?”
Darius cringed, and Bez’s jaw slackened. She turned to him. “D? Is there something you’re not—”
The man snapped his fingers, and the room froze. Bez froze too, her mouth stuck around the not. Her eyes were an unnerving shade of white.
Darius blew out a breath. “Seriously?” He glowered at the other man. “What’s it been, fifteen years? I see your poker face hasn’t improved.”
Kristof met his glower with a sneer. “And I see you’re still turning up where you’re not wanted. Fucking busybody.”
“Two-bit stage magician.”
They glared at each other. Finally, Kristof’s lips twitched. “It’s been a long time, hasn’t it?”
He extended a hand. After a moment’s pause, Darius clasped it. “That it has.”
A World Apart (Shades Below, #1) is now live on Amazon!
Welcome to the last stop on A World Apart‘s Cover Reveal Blog Train!
I’m super-stoked to be closing this little tour out right here at Write Bitches (see what I did there?). Thanks Madhuri and Kayti for letting me hijack the blog for the day! You guys rock, and I owe you both drinks. Soon.
Now, without further ado…
“There are things that go bump in the night, Mr. MacMillian. It’s my job to bump back.”
Private investigator Jesper MacMillian was sure he’d seen it all. After all, in a city like San Francisco, strange is what’s for breakfast. Following a long recovery after a horrific accident, his life is finally the way he wants it- or at least, close enough. The only monsters on his radar are the ones that keep him awake at night.
All that changes the day he meets Lena Alan.
Before MacMillian has a chance to brace for impact, Lena drags him into a world where monsters aren’t just real, they’re hiding in plain sight. Suddenly, everything he knows is suspect, starting with his current case. For Lena, a psychic medium since childhood, it’s just another day at the office.
For MacMillian, it’s the beginning of the end of everything he thinks he knows.
“I should hex the IRS.”
Lena set down the receipt she was scrutinizing, and stared at the woman across the table from her. “You’re not serious.”
The woman blew a wisp of dark brown hair out of her face, tugged off her plastic-frame reading glasses, and stretched. The movement made her deep violet lowlights shimmer. “Why not? It might distract them for a while, and we could take a break from sifting through all this bullshit.”
Lena snorted. “Hey, I said you didn’t have to help me. My business, my-”
“Responsibility. Whatever.” The woman rolled her eyes. “We both know you’re shit with numbers. Hand me that calculator.”
Lena bit back a grin, and obediently passed it over. “Have I ever told you you’re like some kind of occult superhero? Georgia Clare: bookkeeper by day, badass biker witch by night. Seriously, you should put that on your business cards.”
Georgia scowled, but her sharp green eyes twinkled. “Well, as your bookkeeper, I’m hereby suggesting you set up a network for this place. Are you kidding me with all this paper? If I didn’t know your family, I’d swear you were Amish.”
Lena shrugged. “I’ll get to it.”
The bell above the door jingled, and a small posse of women trekked inside. Lena flashed them a smile. “Welcome! Take a seat anywhere. I’ll have someone right with you.” She set down the receipt she was holding and stood. “I need to go find Connie. Thanks again, Georgia.”
Georgia was already tapping away at the calculator. She waved without looking up.
Lena left their table in the corner, wove around the other tables and scooted behind the counter. The women were ogling the scones and tiny cakes in the pastry case. Lena nodded to them, pride warm in her chest. She pushed open the swinging doors and stuck her head into the kitchen. “Hey, Tiburcio! You seen Connie back here?”
Her head chef popped up from behind one of the stainless steel counters. “No, señora, not yet. Do you know when Jimmy is coming in? He was supposed to take a look at the stand mixer.”
Lena’s good mood immediately deflated. “I’m afraid we won’t be seeing Jimmy around anymore.”
Tiburcio’s eyebrows went up, and she prayed he wouldn’t press her for answers. Mercifully, he merely gave a single, short nod. “Qué pena. Nice guy.”
She swallowed hard. “Yeah. Yeah, he was.”
With Connie nowhere in sight, Lena backed out of the kitchen again, and turned to the group at the counter. This time, her smile felt tight. “Sorry about the wait, guys. Just pastries today?”
She forced herself through the motions, and heaved a sigh of relief when they finally headed out the door, already picking bits of scone from their crisp white paper bags. Lena allowed her gaze to wander to the park across the street. Maybe she’d head over there for lunch. For some reason, the shop felt smaller than usual. Some fresh air would be nice.
Maybe it would help dislodge the painful knot from her throat.
She was still staring into the park when a dark green, classic-looking car rolled up to the curb. The throaty engine rattled the shop’s windows, then shut off. A tall, dark-haired man climbed out. He paused, turned, and looked directly at her. The bottom plummeted out of her stomach. Lena shook herself. Of course he wasn’t looking at her.
He was looking at the shop.
Sure enough, he squinted at the sign, slammed the car door and started across the street. He walked with a barely noticeable swagger, his well-built body encased in a dark gray suit. She looked closer. No, not quite a suit: instead of a blazer, he wore some sort of belted military jacket.
She braced herself. The bell above the door chafed her already strained nerves. The man filled the narrow doorway. Lena swallowed hard.
She knew a wolf when she saw one, and this man was definitely a wolf. He loomed in the doorway for a moment, then started towards the counter. His gait swayed, and she realized what she’d thought was a swagger was actually an injury. An old injury, judging by the practiced grace with which he wielded his curved black cane.
Lena relaxed slightly. A wolf was bad news, but a wounded wolf? That, maybe, she could deal with.
He reached the counter, and leaned against the glass. Lena frowned. “Can I help you?”
His eyes took a quick tour of her body, then he straightened. “Maybe. I’m looking for the owner of this place.”
“You found her. I’m Powonia Alan.” Lena crossed her arms. “If you’re looking for a job, I’m afraid we’re not hiring at the moment.”
The man blinked. “I’m not here for a job. I’m looking for a friend of mine. His parents told me he’d been working here.”
Something started to ache in the pit of her stomach. “Is that so?”
The man arched an eyebrow. “Jimmy Vaspurkan. You know him?”
She didn’t know what made her open her mouth. Maybe it was the man’s eyes, too heavy on her face. Maybe it was the way his voice reached deep into her gut and made her insides quake. Maybe she just needed to talk to someone.
Whatever the reason, she was answering before she could stop herself. “You’re a little late. He’s dead.”
Release Date: March 21, 2015
Miss a few stops along the way?
Each of these fabulous bloggers has volunteered to host a different excerpt from A World Apart on their blog. Stop by, give them some love, and check out the excerpts in order!
1st Stop: L.J.K. Oliva Books
2nd Stop: Madhuri Blaylock Writes
3rd Stop: Home of A.L. Kessler
4th Stop: In A Pursuit of Publishness
5th Stop: Mia Bishop- Author, Artist, Dreamer
6th Stop: The Self-Publishing Experiment
7th Stop: The Darker Side
8th Stop: Write Bitches <<You Are Here
Hit all the stops to read A World Apart up through Chapter 2!
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