mag reporter Sera Benenati knows a thing or two about unearthing secrets…and
burying them. As an unregistered supernatural, her freedom depends on keeping
her fire-wielding abilities contained. Yet, the threat of a little flame isn’t enough to snuff out her
journalistic pursuits. She’s
determined to claw her way to the top and land a spot with a real paper. When she tracks a lead on a string of gruesome paranormal murders to the small
town of Buckhorn, Arizona, she
she’s landed the perfect scoop. But,
as the crime scene reveals victims with bite marks, torn flesh, and battered
bodies, Sera may have smoked out more than she can burn. As the investigation
grows hot and Sera winds up in the crosshairs, she’ll need the help of a sexy
shifter, special agent Talon Rede, to unmask the murderers before she becomes
the next victim.
2015 Tina Moss
RESIDENCE, PHOENIX, ARIZONA
stared at her fingernails, picking at the chipped red paint and wondering how
in the hell to interview a murder victim’s sister.
“How do I get myself into these
things?” She flicked the cherry apple
flecks at the dashboard and leaned her skull back against the headrest.
Remembering exactly how she ended up in this suburban neighborhood,
procrastinating in the morning sun shifted her thoughts to seven days earlier.
And a conversation she couldn’t forget.
think people deserve the truth?” That line
had gotten her into this mess in the first place. One week ago, she’d won a huge bet with her
favorite poker buddy, who also happened to be the county medical examiner. When
he couldn’t cover
his bet, he gave her a prize of equal value—the
unlisted office number of Special Agent Talon Rede, team leader for the
Paranormal Crimes Division in the district. She’d been
after an inside connection to the PCD for months. He knew the weakness and
played his hand well. Information proved the ultimate jackpot, far more than
any dollar amount. The journalistic philosophy accounted for her not big enough
to be called a studio apartment and the meager double digits in her savings.
The phone number almost made up for her severe lack of closet space.
fingers couldn’t whip
over the touchscreen fast enough.
these ridiculous tidbits of information is fair to the public.” The accusation had flown a few
seconds past the initial greeting of, “Hello. I’m Sera Benenati. A reporter. Don’t hang up.” The collar of her button down
blouse irritated her neck. When he’d stayed
on the line, she dug in. “The more
the people know about these crimes, the safer they’ll be.”
silence dragged on, and then, he growled. “Well now,
this should be interesting.”
strong velvety voice did something to her insides. Donning her most
professional tone like armor, she said, “What’s interesting is the way the PCD
dodges every reporter’s
questions about the Rodriguez case.”
anything you like.” His
pause spoke louder than his words. “But, if I
think for a second my answer will put more people, the public, the same
citizens this office protects in danger, you’re damn
right the only phrase you’ll hear
is ‘no comment’.”
honesty and boldness impressed the hell
her. “You always this straight forward?”
grin over the line, picturing it in her mind and imagining the man behind the
doubt you give up easily.” Another
heavy pause. “Am I
after, each striking and dodging in turn. She never did get more from him on
the case, but it ended up her poker pal had the scoop. Another game, three days
later, and she had the details she needed. Only now, she couldn’t get the special agent out of
guy!” Yet, it didn’t seem to matter. Her cheeks
heated whenever she thought about their one phone call—a conversation she replayed over
in her head far too many times. It’d been
forever since a man had captured her attention so much. Hell, had any man ever
fascinated her like Agent Rede? But, when the conversation had ended, he didn’t ask for her number and she hadn’t called him back. Better to keep
the fantasy than be disappointed with reality.
sighed and flipped down the visor to check her makeup. The foundation she’d spent way too much on flaked in
the heat and the simple lipstick she’d chosen
to look “professional” clashed with her hair. Worse,
the nail polish she’d been
picking at as she killed time in the car made her fingers look like bloody
she flicked off the dried red polish and hopped down from her Jeep 4×4. With
the victim’s file
clutched to her chest, she hurried to the house. Her heels clicked over the
endless cement driveway. She’d read
the medical examiner’s report—the latest aforementioned poker
prize—six times. Details of the crime
remained hidden away from the press, but with this, she’d been able to uncover the crucial
facts. She flipped through her notes for the seventh time as she walked.
Juan and Margaret Rodriquez, aged 32 and 29 respectively and registered as
humans, were found dead in their home. Bite marks and bruises on the victims’ arms and legs show signs of a
struggle, but no foreign DNA fibers could be identified. Reports of similar
blood and tissue loss from attacks by unregistered SUBs are on file, but no
suspect type can be recorded without further analysis. See appendix on
supernatural or undead beings for possibilities.
started to sweat. “This is
what you wanted, remember?” She
tucked the file under her arm and wiped her palms on the hem of her pencil
skirt. “A chance to prove yourself, to be
a real reporter. No more gossip mags or d-bag bosses.”
little voice in the back of her mind started screaming, the bastard echoing her
fears. You should be nervous, pet. After all “Man gives
Birth to Two-Headed Alien” and “Tractor Comes to Life Killing
Farmer” don’t exactly put you up for a Pulitzer.
Rubbing her temple, she mouthed a silent, “Shut up.” Over the last eight years, she’d fought to tune out the annoying
monster, the secret she’d had to
keep from everyone. It was part of— okay,
maybe more than part of—the
reason she hadn’t contacted
the special agent again.
she have a relationship with anyone when she had this thing in her head?
was the big problem—it was
literally all in her head. Her mind to be exact. The neurons in her brain fired
on two different planes of thought. One was hers and the other belonged to
another, an entity. Sera could manage to get his side quiet most of the time,
but every now and again, he surfaced at just the right—or rather wrong—moment.
tormenter, “I swear I’ll zone out on sleeping pills for
the next three days.”
Whatsamatta? Big bad reporter got a bug up her—
thought he might be some type of supernatural creature or a part of her own
mixed heritage. Her human father refused to discuss Sera’s otherworldly side, and her
mother, who as an unregistered supernatural had no legal protection or paper
trail, died giving birth to Sera. Thus, the sole keys to unlocking the mystery
of her inhuman DNA remained buried. Whether Guy was some type of freak or just
a part of her damaged psyche didn’t make
much difference in the end. He still remained a major pain in the ass.
field masquerading as a driveway to the front door, blocking out all other
thoughts than the task at hand. A tentative knock on the brass handle had her
fiddling with her bun and smoothing the wrinkles from her tan suit jacket. As
she waited, she shifted her feet, the high heels pinching her toes something
inside, but the front door remained closed. She leaned to the right, trying to
catch a glimpse through the window. An overgrown myrtle bush blocked her view
and tickled her nose with its allspice scent. The sun reflected off the glass
in harsh streaks. She shielded her eyes with the back of her hand and tried to
keep the desperation from her voice. “Please, I
just want to ask some questions.”
shuffling preceded a scraping sound as the door opened mere inches. “Another reporter, huh. What’d you want now?” A pair of red-ringed eyes
narrowed on Sera.
to bother you, Ma’am.” Grabbing a pen in one hand, she
tightened her grip on her file with the other. She flipped through her notepad
and looked down at the list of questions. Nerves poked at her concentration.
The letters blurred together like a Rorschach inkblot. She chewed the pen cap.
The urge to rip the paper into tiny shreds made it impossible to focus. “This won’t take long. I have a few
questions about your sister’s
murd…about what happened to your sister.”
everything I know.” She
clipped each word as if struggling to get them out through her clenched jaw.
began to close those precious inches. Cursing her stupidity at wearing heels,
Sera wedged her foot in the thin space.
widened. “How dare
me?” Ms. Brown shook her head and
bitch. The only way you can help me is if you bring my sister back from the
pulled open wide and an umbrella’s metal
tip poked Sera in the chest. She stumbled backward. “Ms. Brown, I want to find the
rattled as the lock slid into place.
is an award-winning author of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, romantic
suspense, and New Adult novels. She lives in NYC with a supportive husband and
two alpha corgis, though all the males hog the bed and refuse to share the
covers. When not writing, she enjoys reading, watching cheesy horror flicks,
traveling, and karate. As a 5’1″ Shotokan black belt, she firmly believes
that fierce things come in small packages.