We’re only 2 weeks out from the release of The Medusa Coin! I’m sitting here looking over the latest proofs amazed how things have changed in the last year. Greystone was an inkling of a thought not that long ago and now book three is coming out! I really get in gear I thought a sneak peek would set the mood:
Below are the opening prologues for the novel. Two of them, just like in Signs, to focus on each of our main leads. If you remember from Signs of Portents, the novel ends with Soriya summoning the lightning to end a vampiric threat – just another day at the office.
Not so much…
The lightning struck.
Fast and free, splitting the sky, it shattered the windows of the apartment, careening for its target. The ravenous beast, lusting for innocent blood roared, its end reflected in the single bolt of electricity. Her victim raced for the door, trying to escape an unforgettable nightmare. The lightning was justice. Pure. Simple. Controlled.
The vampire shrieked, her final moment met with nothing more than terror. One instant present and the next vaporized in the aftermath of the directed storm. The perfect climax to Soriya Greystone’s first night back on the job. Life continued in the city of Portents with her protector back on the streets. Until the lightning struck.
Then everything changed.
There was no control in the blast. The lightning, once channeled to perfection through the rune cast on the Greystone’s face, hit with such terrible fury that the room exploded with the force of a thousand shockwaves. The creature of the night felt nothing in the instant of her death. Soriya, however, took the brunt of the aftermath, ejected from the room by the lightning.
She felt weightless. Wind whipped around her, the seconds lost in confusion and fear. The city blurred, the lights below blinding. Instinct took over. Seven floors up, there was little time for decision making. Even less time for her better judgment, not that it had a role in anything anymore.
For Soriya, only survival mattered. The ribbons of Kali shot out from her left arm, catching the railing on a fourth floor balcony across the street. Her body jerked, reeled in by the gift of the Hindu death goddess. The arc was steep, her momentum from both the blast and the change in direction too quick to maintain.
She landed hard in the street, her breath leaving her at once. The ribbons retracted, snapping back to her skin. Soriya rolled from the impact, skirting two lanes of highway.
Bright lights beamed through closed eyelids. Headlights bearing down on her. Horns blared. Shouts from aggressive drivers and delivery trucks worried about accident reports more than the life of the woman crumpled on the road. Soriya tucked down, rolling between vehicles, watching the rush of traffic speed over her compressed frame before she inched meticulously to the roadside.
Blood coated her knees and elbows. Standing was agony but Soriya found her footing with the help of the corner mailbox. Screams continued to ring out and she worried that more cars headed her way, that the danger had yet to pass.
She was only half right.
The screams echoed, not from the dizzying evening traffic, but from the apartment building across the street. Screams that melded into the blaring alarms. The symphony created by the fire consumed the southeast corner of the ten-story structure.
“No,” Soriya muttered. She fell to the sidewalk, the orange and red flames filling her wide eyes.
Sirens blared, flashing lights coming from all directions. Dozens of people flooded the street, onlookers curious about the destruction. Those who came from the building itself wore looks of worry and devastation. Their lives had changed in an instant.
Firefighters set to work immediately. Exits were opened on all ends, families escorted out with trails of smoke close behind. The flames already consumed three floors of the building, and were spreading mercilessly to the rest. If not the heat, then the smoke, filling every hall, clouding every window.
The victims, their homes destroyed, cried out from down the block. Their safety meant little to the losses suffered.
Because of a single act.
A few onlookers moved to help, lending a hand to those in need. Jackets offered due to the cool night air. A smile and a friend. Emergency crews did the rest, rushing into the devastation to help where they could while others contained the spreading flames.
Soriya Greystone did nothing but watch it all unfold. Her breath caught in her throat, her heart unable to calm. The stone rested in her palms, the light upon its surface long since gone.
What have I done?
The young woman settled into the shadows, the sorrow of the innocent ringing in her ears. Innocence the stone should have protected. That she should have kept safe. Their cries followed her fleeing steps, carrying her broken frame deeper into the night.
Loren quit drinking a year ago. Thirty-six years old now and he hadn’t tasted a drop of alcohol in the last twelve months. In fact, he had never cared for the stuff. It was the convenience of the product, the idea of its effectiveness in pulling one out of the doldrums, out of life itself and making the world more acceptable for a time.
Until nothing was acceptable. Not the drink. And not Loren. Drinking never brought out feelings of joy or created a distance between reality and fantasy. It simply made Loren angrier, a gift passed down from his father.
That much was fact from the moment of his first drink. Seventeen and his neighborhood friend, Cliff—he wanted to change his name to Logan like the hairy guy from X-Men—handed him his first beer. Swill was an understatement. The stuff was poison wrapped in aluminum and something Loren downed with four more of its brethren, not that he noticed the count after the second. All he remembered was blood on his fist and Cliff crying very un-Logan-like tears. Whatever the argument mattered little in the long haul, much like their future friendship (of which none existed after that night). Loren quit drinking after that, his first attempt of many over the years, but everything eventually circled around and it did the same for him.
When Beth fell. Only at the end of the day it was Loren that fell, lost in anger and mistakes.
Which made his entrance to McDuffie’s Pub that much more peculiar. He slipped inside the dive bar tucked in the shadow of Evans Tower, shifting between patrons celebrating the approaching summer season with drinks and smokes on the patio.
Damn, I miss smoking.
Loren slipped a stick of gum from his pocket then tucked it away. His latest nasty habit could wait. He needed to celebrate and McDuffie’s was the place he remembered. Not exactly the best of memories considering what followed—his brawl with Standish and subsequent suspension from the force.
Loren took a seat at the bar, fighting for comfort on the stool. Small glances flitted his way, but Loren ignored them. He reached into his pocket and removed the small metallic item behind the need for some celebration.
The meeting with Ruiz went very well, beyond his own expectations. His sister continued to avoid his calls, the “I told you so” mentality spanning the silence between them, though Loren knew this was the smart move. Portents never faded into the background as he had hoped with his departure. Those were the dreams of a man looking to run away and keep running. They were the words of a kid unable to control a situation. He was an adult and it was time to face the world rather than ignore it.
No matter the bridges burned and the pain endured.
Or the mysteries left open.
“I’ve seen that look before.” A shadow fell over the badge resting on the bar in front of Loren and a voice pulled him from his musings. The man behind the deep voice smiled, his teeth unnaturally white against his dark skin. He ran a rag over a pint glass. “Usually with someone a little younger. No offense. But definitely that look.”
“Which one is that?”
The bartender put the glass down and pointed to the badge. “Awestruck. Like finding a jewel at the bottom of the ocean by chance.”
Loren nodded. “That’s not far off, actually.”
“Reinstatement,” Loren said, clearing his throat. He picked up the badge and ran his thumb along the embossed shield at its center. “And a long story.”
“Any way you spin it, sounds like there should be some celebrating involved.” The bartender lifted the glass and tilted it to Loren, waiting for a reply.
Loren waved the glass down. “I don’t drink. Not anymore.”
“Strange place to plant yourself then.”
“Familiar ground,” Loren replied.
The bartender nodded, looking around. “Comforting.”
The man left and returned, Loren following his movements. There were a number of patrons waiting for refills but all deferred to the tall black man behind the bar. When the bartender came back, a glass settled on a coaster in front of the detective.
“Water for the man in blue,” he said with a smile. “Always on the house.”
Loren lifted the glass. “Water? How generous.”
“I am a kind-hearted soul.” Reaching beneath the bar, the man retrieved his own glass of water and held it up. “To new beginnings.”
“Cheers.” Loren took a long sip, every drop satisfying him.
“Can I get a table set for you?” the man asked, looking around for space. “How many are joining you?”
Loren hesitated, the satisfaction of the moment fleeting. He looked around at the strangers in the bar. Dozens of people he had never seen before tonight and would never see again. None were alone; all were with some companionship for the night. Laughing. Loving. Together.
“I’ll be fine.”
The bartender read his face, and knocked on the bar. “Congrats again.”
Loren held up the water. “And thanks again—”
“Dominic.” The man extended his hand. Loren took it and gave a hard shake. “Here every day.”
“Living the dream.”
Dominic smiled, heading to a group of waiting customers. “Aren’t we all?”
Loren stared at the badge on the bar. He certainly could not argue against the sentiment. As Dominic left for the far end of the bar, Loren sipped at his drink, thinking over the events leading to this night. Nathaniel Evans. The loss of Mentor. Soriya and the Greystone. The Night of the Lights.
Portents was changing.
More than he wanted to admit, it seemed. Watching Dominic pour a pitcher for the waiting customers, he realized the bartender wore an unseasonably thick sweater over a shirt with a high collar. Surrounded by young men in shorts and women in considerably less than socially accepted outfits, Dominic stood out as the odd man in the room.
Then he saw them. Tucked under the collar, pulled low by the man’s sweater, small slits ran up the bartender’s neck. After handing the pitcher to the group, Dominic downed his glass of water, then filled another before swiftly dispatching it without pause. The small slits flared along his neck, like tiny lips cooing with contentment.
Dominic caught the detective’s stare, finding the sunken point on the collar and fixing it expediently. He grinned to the man at the center of the bar, a finger to his lips. Loren nodded, half astonished.
Portents was changing and he sat right in the middle of it all now. Right where he asked to be. The hidden city out in plain sight. Everywhere around them.
Loren laughed, finishing his water.
Outside, sirens blared. Emergency vehicles including fire and ambulances rushed down Evans heading west. Trouble. But not his. Not tonight.
He was celebrating.
Loren peered around the room at the strangers among him. None glanced over. Not at the flashing lights or the city’s booming noise. And not at the lone man in the center of the room. They were lost in their own lives, content in the moment.
The city was changing but some things stayed the same.
Loren turned back to the bar, a fresh water in front of him. Alone. He lifted the glass, eyes on the badge. His fresh start. His new beginning.
Start your engines…
A brief glimpse into the worlds of Soriya and Loren to set the stage for what is to come. In the next sneak peek you’ll be introduced to the threat(s) and a crucial hint for what is to come in later installments…
Thanks for reading.