Saturday, July 23, 2016


The cover for Shadow's Messenger is taking a little longer than I anticipated. I'd originally planned to preview it this weekend along with the book blurb and the first chapter. I'm still going back and forth with my graphic designer trying to get it to a place we both think is spectacular.

That being said, I wanted to offer a short teaser in the meantime. When the cover is finished, I'll post the rest, but for now happy reading on this lovely Saturday afternoon.

Late. And I fucking hated being late.
Even if this job hadn’t been reliant on me delivering the goods on time, I’d still be pissed about missing the deadline.
Damn the accident on Fifth. When would people learn texting and driving just don’t mix? The resulting fender bender backed everything up for miles. If I hadn’t been on my bike, there would have been no hope of me making the destination on time.
I leaned forward and pedaled harder. Three years in the military had reinforced the habits of a lifetime. Fifteen minutes early; you’re on time. You’re on time, you’re late. And if you’re late, well, you might as well just start pushing.
These days being late carried worse consequences than muscle failure. That’s why even with my thighs burning in protest and my chest heaving, I stood and pedaled faster.
A right and then a left and I’d be there. I could make it. No reason to tarnish a perfect record.
I veered around a stopped vehicle and narrowly missed an oncoming car before jumping the curb and making the last turn. I braked hard, hopping off at the same time. No doubt I left several drivers in my wake, cursing my existence.
No time to put a lock on the bike. Not my first choice when in the Short North. Though a trendy, upscale destination just outside the Columbus downtown, bikes were still a popular target for kids and vagrants looking to make a quick buck. In high school, my boyfriend and his friends used to come down here and egg cars. Why, was anybody’s guess.
I was rushed for time so I had to pray that my beat up old bike would escape attention. I yanked the seat off the bike. Hopefully, that would delay a would-be thief long enough for me to complete my business.
Adjusting my messenger bag, I checked the name of the store against the one in my notes. Right where I was supposed to be.
Located in an old brick building off High Street, the name ‘Elements’ was etched in silver lettering complete with one of those flourish things at the end. The shop window had an attractive display of a skeleton in a top hat, holding a glass titled ‘Potions’ while sitting on a funky patterned sofa.
The brief ding of a bell announced my arrival as I stepped into a maze of touristy candles, gothic necklaces and other paraphernalia I didn’t recognize. The small aisle was narrow and overgrown with items just waiting to be knocked over. I clasped my bag tightly. It would not be a good idea to break anything in this place.
A witch owned Elements. Getting on her bad side was something I’d prefer to avoid.
I made my way over to the woman next to a cash register. A skull candle sat next to the change tray. It was actually pretty cool. I wondered how it would look in my kitchen.
The girl wore all black and her face was coated in way too much makeup. Her blond hair was plastered to her head and pin-straight with a severe part in the middle. She didn’t look up as I stopped before her.
“Delivery for Miriam,” I said.
The girl flipped another page in her magazine, not acknowledging me. I didn’t have time for this. There was less than a minute to get the package into its owner’s hands.
As the girl turned the next page, my hand darted forward, stopping the page from completing its movement.
Slowly and precisely, I said, “Delivery for Miriam.”
A pair of washed out blue eyes, rimmed in bright blue eyeliner, lifted to mine. With the disdain only the young could summon, she nodded at a door hidden behind a purple curtain embroidered with black and silver beads.
I didn’t know why I bothered. The girl had already returned to her magazine.
I moved as quickly as I could, without running, through the store. I’d learned on my first job for Hermes Courier Service that running would not be tolerated. Appearing rushed was a good way to get fired. I needed this job a lot more than it needed me so I was stuck moving at a snail’s pace when every ounce of me screamed for speed.
The curtain led to a staff room complete with fridge, microwave and laminate table. Even with the time constraint I couldn’t help blinking dumbly at the blond seated at the table calmly flipping cards.
Not what I had expected of a store owned by someone belonging to the Coven.
It was even less expected to find the proprietor playing what looked to be Solitaire.
“I have a delivery for you.” I stepped forward and pulled my phone from my pocket.
With a swipe of my fingers, I pulled up the delivery verification app and held the device out to her. She rested her forefinger lightly on the screen until it beeped. Before sliding it back in my pocket, I glanced down to make sure it said confirmed. Even more important, the words still showed green. It meant I’d made it in under deadline. If I hadn’t, it would have turned red, and I’d have been screwed.
“You cut it close,” Miriam said, already turning back to her game.
Pausing in the act of pulling the package out of my bag, I grimaced. No kidding.
“Another minute and I could have solved my ingredient shortage,” Miriam said, eyeing my body with an appraising eye.
Oh. That would have been unfortunate. And probably painful.
I’d never had that as a consequence.
Hermes Courier Service was special. Its owner guaranteed satisfaction of service. Things like merchandise reaching its intended destination in one piece, and more importantly, on time. Failure resulted in a penalty clause kicking in, usually at the client’s discretion. This was normally something simple, like working as unpaid help for a predetermined length of time, but the penalty could be anything the employer wanted. The more expensive the job, the nastier the penalty.
I’d never been late so I hadn’t bothered to inquire about this job’s penalty clause. I may have also been more interested in the money.
“Right,” I eventually said, handing over the small package. It was no bigger than a deck of cards and wrapped in brown paper and tied with red twine.
As always, I had no idea what was in it.
The witch set down her cards and took the package from me. Dressed in jeans and a bright yellow shirt, Miriam was different in almost every way from the girl watching the front counter. Except the color of her hair. Miriam’s makeup was done with a light hand and flattered her large green eyes. If I met her at a bar one evening, I would have assumed she was a young professional only a couple of years out of college with a normal job, something like a graphic designer. Of the two, the girl out front seemed more likely to be a witch.

1 comment:

  1. Wow!This teaser was amazing!I'm even more excited for Shadow's Messenger now :D