Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Samhain Publishing
Date of Publication: 11/25/2014
Number of pages: 214
Word Count: 84,000
Cover Artist: Kanaxa
Encountering werewolves can be deadly. Trying to cure them? Murder.
As the Investigator for the Lycanthrope Council, Gabriel McCord encountered his share of sticky situations in order to keep werewolf kind under the radar of discovery. Now, as the Council’s liaison to the Institute for Lycanthropic Reversal, he advocates for those who were turned werewolf against their will.
Everyone seems to be on board with the Institute’s controversial experimental process—until one of its geneticists is found lying on his desk in a pool of blood.
Gabriel races to single out a killer from a long list of suspects. Purists, who believe lycanthropy is a gift that shouldn’t be returned. Young Bloods, who want the cure for born lycanthropes as well as made. The Institute’s own very attractive psychologist, whose most precious possession has fallen into the hands of an ancient secret society bent on the destruction of werewolves.
Failure means he’ll lose his place on the Council and endanger the tenuous truce between wizard and lycanthrope. Even if he wins, he could lose his heart to a woman with deadly secrets of her own.
Excerpt: from Chapter Eleven
“To what do we owe the pleasure of your visit?” I asked once we were alone.
Reine snapped her fingers, and the overhead light came on. Refrigerated cabinets stood along the walls. Most of them held empty metal racks behind intact glass doors. The racks in the cabinets to the left lay at awkward angles, and shards of glass from the shattered doors sparkled under the light. The dried blood made the white doors and metal counter look rusted, and she stood about an inch off the floor so her white slippers wouldn’t touch the flaky black mess. Again, my stomach turned, and I told it to still, but the black and white photograph of my father’s body blown to bits forced its way into my memory. As a child, my imagination had colored it in even better than the lurid brightness Technicolor had brought to the movies.
“When you build something to look like a castle, you can expect unpleasant things to happen in the dungeon,” Reine said. She floated out of the lab and stood beside me, her feet on the ground. “And the resemblance to Wolfsheim’s castle is uncanny. I had no trouble finding my way around.”
“Wolfsheim?” I asked. “I’ve heard that name. Was his castle in Germany or Austria?”
“No,” she said. “It was just a few miles from here. The ruins are still out in the countryside.”
“Why was there a—you know what, never mind. What is the purpose of your visit?” I knew that her kind would reveal their motives in their own time, but with Morena wandering around—and I had no doubt she would bully Selene into taking her places she didn’t need to go—our time was limited.
“Tell me what you notice, and then I’ll reveal what I see,” she said.
I forced myself to study the scene objectively and not with the sense that the blood inside had belonged to two people who were now dead and possibly to many more who were still alive but likely in danger now.
“The door is interesting because although there are splashes of blood, there are no drips, like they landed there and dried instantly. Also the color. The blood should have darkened by now in this humidity.”
“Ah, very good, Wolf-man. What else?”
“It’s difficult to tell without the bodies, but it seems the vials to the left exploded with enough force to take the doors with them, but I would need to see the pattern of wounds to confirm the direction the glass shattered. I don’t recall seeing scratches or other marks on the guards’ skin.”
“Good, so you’re not assuming the blood in the cabinets exploded, broke the glass, and killed the guards.”
“No, although I feel that might be a likely scenario. What could make the blood do that?”
“Magic,” she said, as though it was obvious.
“Magic,” I repeated. “Tell me what you see.”
“Like you, I noticed the lack of drips on the door, like there was something that congealed and preserved the blood right away.” She gestured to the cabinets. “The blood is a chorus, each person’s sings with its own tone and melody that says where it came from and what it is.”
“It sounds like you’re hearing the DNA.”
“Whatever you want to call it. The blood from the two guards—a double bass line, boringly human, but faint like it was stifled before it was spilled. As for what’s in the cabinets, it is theirs as well.” She looked at me. “There are no others. Once your detective Garou does his analysis, he will find that the blood exploded outward from the guards in a directed manner, destroying the empty vials in the cabinet.”
“What can make a man’s body explode, especially in only one direction from the throat?”
She looked up at me with an expression of pity. “There are more things in Heaven and on Earth, Horatio…”
“A Fey who quotes Shakespeare. Be still my heart.”
She laughed her wind-chime laugh. “It’s more interesting than saying you don’t want to know.”
“But I do want to know.”
She gestured to the mess. “Max could have told you. Blood magic has many forms. Some can use it to control. Others to destroy. And as for the quote, William was a dear.”
“So you’re older than you look.”
“As are you. And we both have our secrets. You just don’t know as many of yours. Now leave me. I will seal the blood so that it won’t hurt poor Maximilian again, and I’ll do the same upstairs.”
“Could you wait until our detective finishes what he needs to do?”
“No, it is necessary now. Sealing the blood will allow it to rest, which will allow the spirits attached to it to be at peace if nothing else stands in their way. Plus, I need to remove the contamination from Max’s wards around the building and land—his using blood magic, even in small amounts, damaged the spells and allowed the intruders to get in. Nothing I do will interfere with the detective’s work.”
“I trust you,” I said, realizing I did.
“Oh, do you?” She flashed me a wicked grin, and before I realized her intention, she pulled my head to hers and kissed me on the lips. She tasted of honeysuckle and sweet wine, and the passion she ignited flowed through me in golden waves. The static came back, and I pulled her to me to quell the tingling that became a burning need.
I barely heard Selene’s “Gabriel, oh!” before Reine pushed me away with a mischievous laugh.
“That’ll teach you,” she said. “Remember, my kind is never to be trusted. Nor are most others.” With a chuckle that lingered in the air, she disappeared, and I turned to face Selene.
Cecilia Dominic wrote her first story when she was two years old and has always had a much more interesting life inside her head than outside of it. She became a clinical psychologist because she’s fascinated by people and their stories, but she couldn’t stop writing fiction.
The first draft of her dissertation, while not fiction, was still criticized by her major professor for being written in too entertaining a style.
She made it through graduate school and got her PhD, started her own practice, and by day, she helps people cure their insomnia without using medication. By night, she blogs about wine and writes fiction she hopes will keep her readers turning the pages all night. Yes, she recognizes the conflict of interest between her two careers, so she writes and blogs under a pen name. She lives in Atlanta, Georgia with one husband and two cats, which, she’s been told, is a good number of each.
Web page: http://www.ceciliadominic.com
Wine blog: http://www.randomoenophile.com