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Black raven on the skull. Halloween scene

 

Follow the Raven

 

 

A raven sat on a branch and watched as the lost souls shuffled down the dirt road headed towards a bleak horizon. Each one perfectly in tune with the soul in front and behind him. A soul spotted the raven perched and staring as if he, waiting to be asked a question.

The soul asked, “What are you doing there, bird?”

The raven answered, “I’ve seen where you are headed. It is a bleak and mundane existence filled with bad men who do bad things and good men who do worse but disguise it as for the greater good. That is not a life you want. I am the Raven, follow me.

The soul stopped and stepped out of the mindless shuffle. Robbing the soul behind him of his perfect step and caused a chain reaction down the line behind him. The souls turned to the raven and stared in confusion and wonder.

“That line is filled with rules from men on thrones, injustice and deceit, and mediocrity. It’s filled with men tricking you into thinking they are good and just, and you are nothing. I am the Raven, follow me and you will know freedom.”

The souls stepped closer.

“Follow me to the sea and let the waves kiss your feet and rock you to sleep. In this, you will know true peace. Where the rules are your own and your life is what you make it. Follow me and that thing inside of you yearning for destruction and mayhem can be set free. And your enemies will fall before you and whisper your name through bloodstained lips. Follow me to riches so immensely beautiful and ripe for the taking.”

The souls gathered around the tree the housed the bird.

“For I am the Raven, ferryman to the lost and the damned. Friend to the outcast, who shun complacency and conformity. So bring me your thirst for blood and adventure. Your lust for riches and freedom and follow me to the sea.

For I am the Raven and your freedom lies within me.”

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Fallen Queen on Crystal Lake

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Fallen Queen on Crystal Lake is live on Amazon!!! Free with Kindle Unlimited! It’s a shorter novella with two bonus stories at the end. And Restless Bones on Crystal Lake the second novella in the Moon Investigations Series is free today and tomorrow! You can find it here.

Hazel is drawn into a dark family tradition. The Mason Family were cursed hundreds of years ago. In order to stop the curse from activating a child must be sacrificed every fifty years.

When the mother of Sarah Mason comes to Moon Investigations, Hazel will do everything she can to help her even though it goes against Syn’s and Lola’s wishes. While Hazel understands them wanting to keep her safe she refuses to let Sarh Mason die. The case to break the curse becomes a missing person’s case when Sarah disappears somewhere on the Mason property. Now Hazel is in a race to not only find Sarah but to stop the curse so no one is sacrificed all while dodging angry ghost who attack her in her sleep.

As if Hazel didn’t have enough to deal with, a queen descends onto Crystal Lake with one thing on her mind. Hazel’s blood. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B07H7SXH3F

If you enjoy the book please leave a review. I would greatly appreciate it!

 

Restless Bones on Crystal Lake

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A revised version of Restless Bones on Crystal Lake is now on Amazon. If you liked the ebook please leave a review. I would really appreciate it.

A soggy decrepit ghost visits Hazel. And with her new ghostly admirer comes a new case and a new hidden danger.
Lola is wanted for the murder of Royce Habernath, a pirate treasure hunter whom she has fought with many times over a treasure map. In their search for the truth, Hazel, Syn and Blossom struggle with the realization, Lola is the mistress of secrets and killing someone is definitely within her wheelhouse. But when it becomes clear that Lola was framed it becomes a race to find the real murderer before Lola is sent to a prison most don’t return from. At least not whole.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Hazel may have a hidden power a queen is searching for. Whether Hazel truly has it or not the Blood Queen and her minions now know she is on Crystal Lake. And if they find Hazel, her death is certain.

Witch Hunt on Crystal Lake

 

 

The paperback version of Witch Hunt on Crystal Lake is now available on Amazon. https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0784RDXDK

If you are a magical or mythical creature in your human form or other and need help the police can’t or won’t provide, come on down to Moon Investigations. Where help may be only a spell away.
On the island of Crystal Lake where technology and magic are intertwined, magical gangs will rob and or curse you and dragons strut their stuff down the street, anything can happen.
Private Investigator Hazel Moondance tries her best to help those in need. Family members of the missing, forgotten and runaways are her main clients. So, when a mother comes to her looking for her daughter Rose Stone, Hazel is determined to find her. With the help of a bounty hunter and a seasoned witch, Hazel must sort through the life and secrets of Rose. She finds a secret that leads to other unsolved cases and a ritual that could destroy the island.
Now Hazel and her helpers must find Rose, the other missing girls and the person who took them before the night of the Emerald Stars or it will be too late.

I want to thank everyone that bought a copy of the ebook and left a review. I really appreciate it!

Fallen Queen Free Chapter

Chapter 1

And now back to our Local Programming

 

 

Stupid!

Stupid!

The sky darkened as the shadow man transformed before us. The large shadow twisted and stretched until it resembled a man in a dark cloak. The dark hood covered everything except his thin pink lips and his pale hairless chin. Kiki coiled her tail tighter around me.

“Haaazellll. Dear take the bracelet off.” His voice soft and calm.

How does he know my name?

When Blossom and Syn first thought that I could have been the phoenix the Blood Queen was looking for, Blossom made me a bracelet. She warned me to never take it off, and it would protect me from dark magic. If I took it off, he would be able to take me and then kill me.

“Sorry, can’t do that.”

I glanced at Kiki. The water dragon’s furrowed brow and quick glances around the perimeter told me she was worried. I glanced around the lake. We were alone. At the arrival of the hooded man, the lake’s inhabitants disappeared. The birds stopped chirping, nymphs stopped frolicking around the trees. And there wasn’t a ripple nor a splash coming from the lake. We were on our own.

“How did you even find me?”

He chuckled. “It wasn’t that difficult. We found you before the spell around your building was activated.”

“That fast?”

The man shrugged. “After that, we just had to follow you. It’s that simple really. We did our research and learned you were the only one in that building that could use fire magic, so it had to be you. Then we just had someone following you at all times.”

Was it that easy for them to follow me?

 Who was watching me?

 What kind of private investigator am I when I didn’t even notice someone following me all this time?

“Come now”—a wicked smile crept across his face— “don’t make this difficult. It doesn’t have to be. Just take off the bracelet and come with me. My queen is eager to meet you.”

“Come with you so she can kill me? That would be stupid.”

“You’ve already done something stupid today. What’s one more thing?” His smiled widened.

I opened my mouth to say something but decided against it. After all, he was right, I had done something stupid. I came here all by myself and didn’t tell anyone where I was going.

Had I told my professor?

With my heart pounding in my ears I couldn’t remember if I had told him the whole story or not. I had to so he knew where to send me. One person knew where I was, but what could he do about it. The man was right, I had done something stupid, and now I was going to get Kiki killed for trying to protect me. How could I have gotten so comfortable and forgotten I was in danger?

Kiki wrapped her tail tighter around me. “He works for her.”

“Yeah I know. How did he look like my friend?”

The man coughed and then cleared his throat. “Well, that ghastly skeleton was following you too. So was the soldier. I just created a spell to stop them from contacting you. Again, quite simple.”

The nonchalant way he talked about finding me was both scary and irritating. If it was so easy for them to get to me, why did they wait until now? Why this moment?

You’re alone dummy!

“Well, I’m glad you didn’t have to break a sweat in your efforts to get me alone and kill me.”

“I do appreciate it.” He gave a short bow. “Some targets can be so bothersome.” He took a step closer.

“Why now? Why did you wait?”

“While my queen is very dedicated to her mission, she feels there was no need for more casualties than necessary. Everyone shouldn’t have to die.”

Well wasn’t that thoughtful of her. Why kill more people than you must? Yeah, that makes sense. Kiki coiled her tail tighter around me. Her head darted towards him. Fangs ready to take a bite out of his flesh. The man laughed.

I stared at her. Someone I didn’t know was willing to protect me so fiercely. I appreciated it, but I couldn’t let her do it. If she died because of me, I would never be able to forgive myself.

I took a deep breath to steady my nerves. Kiki’s light blue scales were cool and wet as I climbed onto her back and then down to the ground.

“What are you doing?”

“I can’t let you die because of me.”

I spun around and headed back down the path I came from. My slow jog turned into an I need to get away from here run when I heard Kiki yell, “Don’t Hazel! I know what she does to people!”

I had to get away. As far from Kiki as possible. The clearing, my Intermediate Magic class and I landed the first time I came here, was dark and empty. I ran through it as quick as I could. Trees clipped my face and arms as I ran into the wooded area on the other side of the clearing. I could transport myself home if I could just see it in my mind. If I could visualize my office or my apartment or even just the building I could get there.

An orchid colored tree branch smacked me in the face knocking the mental picture out of my head. I kept running as I tried to visualize my apartment. The picture came to me, but it wasn’t right. It was dark and distorted. The place in my head was like my apartment, but it wasn’t mine. The furniture was different. The walls were red. The carpet black. It looked so familiar, but I couldn’t place it. Stacks of books littered a wooden table by the door. On one stack rested a slip of paper with my name on it. There was a darkness to the room. Like a dark cloud hovered over the space. With the curtains drawn, I could see the sun outside, but I could not feel it in the room. There was no warmth. No happiness. Just darkness.

“That’s quite enough of that.”

The voice surrounded me, and yet I couldn’t see where it was coming from. My shoe slid over a fallen branch, and I fell to my knees. My legs ached, my feet throbbed. The more air I sucked in the more my lungs burned. I looked up at the sky. The moon had ducked behind a cloud. I tried to picture home again. But again, it was a distorted image of an apartment.

“You’ve had your fun. Now come back.”

The trees in front of me bent to the side as if they were being broken. A crack appeared in the sky above the trees and everything else faded away. The scene around me dissolved, and he was standing in front of me. And I was where I had been before. By the lake standing next to Kiki. Only now Kiki was on the ground in her human form, blood seeping into the ground beneath her.

Had it all been a trick? I had never gone anywhere. My efforts to save Kiki were all in vain. How did he do that?

“Come, come now, I told you just take off the bracelet.” He grinned.

A gurgling noise came from Kiki as more blood crept out of her mouth. I wasn’t going to let her die. Not because of me.

What I’m working on

I just wanted to give an update on what I’ve been working on lately.

I took the books down to re-edit them. The first one has been done and is back up on Amazon. The paperback edition will hopefully be released next week if everything goes well.

I’m waiting on the proof copy of Restless Bones so I can review it. I’m re-editing that one as well and will put it back up on Amazon when I’m finished.

I’m almost done with Fallen Queen, so that will be out soon.

I’m also working on two other projects one fantasy and one murder mystery. Hopefully, the first drafts will be done within the next few months.

Fallen Queen Prologue

Prologue

 

 

 

“You worthless bast—”

Victor Mason grabbed a handful of Mercy Blackstone’s moss colored hair, kicked open the screen door and flung her into the night air. His blue claws scraping her neck as he let go. Mercy skidded down the porch steps, a cloud of dirt whirled around her as she landed on the ground.

“Now, now” —Victor stepped down to the bottom step of the porch— “don’t be so un-lady like. You lost fair and square. And a deal is a deal.”

“You cheated!” Mercy spat.

A chorus of crickets and frogs led the background melody as she picked herself off the ground and dusted off her skirts.

Victor shrugged. “What kind of man cheats a lady at cards?”

“The kind of man you are.”

“Prove it.”

The other card players emerged from the house and stood behind Victor just as distant howling joined in the chorus. Mercy eyed them carefully. They were his friends, and while she didn’t know them well, she knew they wouldn’t back up her story. Victor cheated. He used magic in a no magic card game. That was the only reason she lost. Her reluctance to participate in Victor’s weekly card game melted away after she won her first three hands. She had never been invited before. In fact, although Victor had been her neighbor for years, she didn’t have much interaction with him.

“This was a trick. You just wanted my land.”

“You signed it over Mercy. A deal is a deal.” Lee Hart’s voice was as calm and cool as always. He moved next to Victor and held up the deed to Mercy’s property.

“You know he cheated!”

“You can’t prove that.” Lee stepped down from the porch into the dirt. His hooves clicking against the wood with each step. “Mercy let it go. Go home and—”

“Take one last look around because you need to be out by the end of the week,” finished Victor.

“You—” Mercy lunged at him. Just as she reached out to grab him by the collar, Lee darted in front of her and pushed her back.

“Come on Mercy. Just go home.” Lee stood between them.

“Yeah go home. While you still can,” teased Victor.

Mercy shoved Lee. “You’ll pay for this. You all will.”

 

Blackstone Manor sat on twelve acres of land next to Victor Mason’s six acres. He had coveted her father’s land for as long as she could remember.

Stupid.

What made her think she could beat him at poker? How could she have been so stupid?

It was all her fault. She had been playing Victor and his friends all night and won every hand until the last one. That was his plan all along. Make her comfortable and sure of herself so when he suggested the bet, Mercy would say yes because she was on a winning streak.

Where will I go?

Mercy was the sole caretaker of the manor. Everyone else had either died or moved away. What would she do with her belongings? Her family heirlooms. There weren’t many, just a dining room table that had been in her family for generations, some antique glasses and a painting of her great-great-grandmother. A house full of things and nowhere to put them.

As she closed the front door behind her, she took a deep breath to steady her nerves. She lit the candle that sat on a gilded table by the door. As she looked around, her sadness was replaced by anger. Mercy sat in a red velvet chair by the window in the parlor. Victor knew everyone in town. Everyone important. Even if she tried to fight him for the deed, none of the men that were a part of the game would admit Victor cheated. Lee Hart, Wilson Gallows, Henry Lovetts, and Levi Long were all a part of the game, and they would all pay.

Mercy stared at the fireplace. She wanted to remember it. Every smell, every room. How three of the floorboards in the foyer always creaked under her feet. Sitting in the sunroom and watching the sun rise and set. Or smelling flowers from her garden through the length of the house when the windows were open.

If she had to leave she would, but Victor Mason wouldn’t get off so easily. She packed a small bag with the essentials, some books, and a knife. She was on her way out the room when something caught her eye. Mercy turned around and saw the music box on her dresser shimmering in the candlelight.  The box, silver with three rubies on the lid, was a gift from her mother on her birthday. She wished she could take it with her, but she had no need for it.

Mercy opened it. The whimsical tune brought back memories of lavender, jasmine, the laughter of her sister, the slowed breaths of her mother, and the sobs of her father. Her mother had been sick for months and had been confined to her bed for three weeks. What started as a fever turned into her mother’s inability to breathe properly and then at all. It was a rare disease not yet named as it only affected a small percentage of firebirds. Although her mother was only half firebird, she still contracted the highly contagious disease. Mercy and her sister were forced to stay as far from her mother as possible. Except for her birthday. When Mercy turned ten, she was allowed in the room but only for a few minutes. It was then her mother gave her the music box.

When her mother struggled to take her last breath, the music box played. When her father screamed and sobbed as he watched the life leave her mother’s eyes, the music box played. Months later when her sister was the first one to laugh again and the heaviness that shrouded the house was lifted, the music box played.

And when Mercy Blackstone plotted her revenge and walked through her childhood home one last time, the music box played.

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Victor Mason saw a shadow emerge from the woods. The closer it got the more it took shape. A woman’s shape. He watched it saunter across his property until he recognized the shape coming towards him.

“A deal is a deal, Mercy.”

There was something strange about her. No one had seen her for weeks. Not since the night of their poker game, and he won her land. Truthfully, Victor expected more of a fight from her. More of a struggle. A battle of wits or a battle of lawyers. She was so angry that night, and yet now as she stood in front of him, she smiled. A thin weird smile.

“Mercy, what do you want?”

The whites of her eyes turned black. Victor backed into the screen door as the wind whipped around him. Deeply rooted trees shook, branches slammed into the side of the house. Victor crouched to the floor as branches and rocks flew above him. He glanced in the direction he had last seen Mercy, but she was gone. Rocks crashed into the front windows raining glass all around him. Being half minotaur, Victor had no magic. His wife did, and had she not gone to visit her mother, none of this would have been happening.

Victor was lifted into the air and slammed into one of the posts on the porch. As he slumped to the ground gasping for air, she came in to view. A flash of lightning illuminated her face. Black eyes fixed on him.

“I hope you enjoy my family’s land, but you won’t be there long. I just came here to tell you that there are only two ways to get back what I’ve already taken from you. Leave or a sacrifice.”

“Sacrifice?” Victor’s voice was barely above a whisper.

“Yes. And only one of your children will do.” Mercy turned to walk away. “And it will only last for fifty years.”

“What did you take?”

“You’ll see.”

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Lee Hart

 

“Death of one or all? You choose.”

“Listen Mercy—”

Mercy stood under the large tree in Lee Hart’s front yard. “Death of one or all. You die or your entire family dies. Your line will end in your lifetime. So, death of one or all?”

Lee could barely make out her face. There seemed to be a dark cloud over her. Distorting her before his very eyes. But her voice was the same.

“I’m sorry Victor stole your land but move on Mercy. If you—”

Mercy disappeared. Lee opened the screen door and peered out into the yard. She was gone. He inched further out on to the porch, looking from right to left. Nothing.

“What was that about?” he said to himself. “What happened to her?”

The hairs on the back of his neck stood up. He spun around. Mercy stood behind him. Her black eyes staring through him. Lee stepped back, lost his footing and stumbled down the porch steps. Landing in the dirt with a hard thud.

“Death of one or all? You die or your family. Pick.”

“I’m not picking anything. You’re crazy! Get off my land!”

“You will choose.”

Mercy disappeared in a cloud of black smoke. Lee sat in the dirt trying to catch his breath. He knew Mercy was going to be angry when Victor suggested his plan for taking her land, but it seemed to him she had gone past angry. She had become delusional. No one had seen her in so long maybe she had driven herself crazy.

 

A piercing scream jolted Lee awake the next morning. He sprang up, jumped out of bed, and ran to the source. Down the hall, to the room, his daughter Nora shared with her husband.

“What is going on?”

Nora was in bed writhing in agony as her mother, sister, and husband crowded around her.

Lee grabbed her husband by the arm and pulled him away from the bed. “Jesse go get the doctor!” He turned the man towards the door and pushed him out of the room. “What is happening?”

“I’m not sure. She just started screaming. I think it’s something with the baby,” his wife Mariel answered.

“Labor?”

“It’s too soon,” answered Mariel. She took a white cloth and dabbed Nora’s forehead.

“What do we do?” Nina, his second daughter, sat on the bed next to her sister holding her hand.

“We wait for the doctor,” answered Lee.

“Oh no,” whispered Mariel.

Blood oozed from between Nora’s legs down the white sheets; like a snake crawling in the grass. A scream erupted from Nora as more blood snaked down the bed.

By the time the doctor arrived, Nora was pale and quiet.

“I’m sorry.” Doctor Peters kept his fingers on Nora’s neck. “She has no pulse. I’m afraid she’s gone.”

“What happened?” asked Lee as he took his daughter’s hand. It was cold and pale and so small compared to his own.

“Might have been a hemorrhage that caused the loss of the baby, and she couldn’t stop bleeding. I’m not sure.”

Mariel let out a sob that turned into a scream seconds later. She doubled over clutching her belly. Blood trickling down her legs.

“Mariel?”

“Help me get her to a bed!”

Lee swept his wife off the floor and into his arms. He ran to their bedroom and laid her gently on the bed.

“What’s wrong with her?”

“I’m not sure.”

When the doctor tried to listen to her heart, Mariel’s body began to shake uncontrollably.

“What’s happening?”

As suddenly as she started shaking, she stopped. The doctor listened to her heart.

“I’m so sorry, Lee. She’s gone.”

“What? No!” Lee climbed on to the bed and shook her violently. “Wake Mar! Wake up!”

“She’s gone,” said Dr. Peters as he placed a hand on Lee’s shoulder.

Lee shook him off. Another scream turned his attention towards the door.

“Oh, what now?” Dr. Peters dashed out of the door ahead of Lee.

They ran down the hall and out the front door. Nina stood next to Jesse who was lying on the ground. The doctor felt for a pulse. He looked up at Lee and shook his head. Nina clasped a hand over her mouth and muffled a sob.

“What is happening here Lee?” The doctor stood up and shook his head.

Before Lee could answer, he spotted something in the woods. A dark figure in a dress stood between the trees. Even in the daylight, he struggled to make it out. As he strained his eyes to see what they wouldn’t, he heard it.

“Death of one or all.”

Mercy’s voice whirled around him.

She did this.

 He looked at his daughter. Nina sat on the porch stairs sobbing into her hands. He looked back at the forest, but the figure was gone. He searched the woods in front of his house, but the figure was not there.

“Lee?”

“Yes?” Lee blinked at the doctor.

“Maybe this was poison? What have you been eating lately?”

Death of one or all.

Lee looked from the doctor back to his daughter. And there she was. Mercy dressed in all black stood in front of Nina. Lee looked from the doctor back to Nina.

How is he not seeing her?

Mercy pointed at Nina.

Death of one or all.

“I’ll come back. In the meantime, don’t eat anything. I’ll send someone for the bodies.”

Lee blinked, and Mercy was gone. He nodded at the doctor as he searched for a clue as to where the woman would appear next.

Dr. Peters started to leave but stopped when he got to the bottom step of the porch. “Oh, did you hear about Mercy?”

Lee’s eyes darted towards the doctor. “What about her?”

“She hung herself. A while ago. They found her hanging from a tree at the edge of her property. She had been there for weeks. Shame, she was such a nice woman.” Dr. Peters sighed. “I’ll send someone right away.”

The doctor slung the strap of his medical bag around his shoulder and galloped away.

Lee walked up to his daughter and patted her on the head. “Nina go to your grandmother.”

“I can’t leave you here alone with—” Nina bit her lip as she stared at the screen door.

“I have to wait for someone to get them. You needn’t be here for that. Go to your grandmother’s and tell her what happened. She should know.”

Nina stood up, and Lee kissed her softly on the forehead.

“Are you sure?” her voice was weak and shaky.

“Of course. I’ll be there shortly. Go ahead.”

Nina nodded. Lee listened to the click of her heels as she trotted in the direction of his mother’s house. He sighed as he stared into the woods. He knew what needed to be done. To save his daughter. His mother. His uncle. Whatever Mercy had done to his family, he knew what he had to do to save the rest of them. He didn’t have the magic to break the darkness Mercy had cast over them.

Who would have that power? he thought as he grabbed some rope from the shed. He would do anything for his family. With the help of a ladder, he tied the rope to the strongest looking branch of the biggest tree in the front yard. Lee looped it around his neck. His hooves kicked away the ladder.

Mercy smiled from the porch.

One down three to go.