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Excerpt from Psychic Wanted (Un)Dead or Alive.

I’m working to get the 4th SDF book out for Halloween, and it’s going to be tight, but for now, here’s a little taste of Ariana’s latest adventure.

*Ariana is forced to deal with her own past when a ghostly curse starts killing men on Halloween.*

#

By the time I cleared the stairs, the guys were already in the bedroom.

“Shit!” came out and Carvi blew backwards out of the room like something way bigger than him kicked him square in the chest.

He slammed into the wall across the hall, smashing a giant picture frame with lots of little pictures collage style in it, and fell to the ground, glass raining down around him before the wooden frame bonked him on the head.

“You okay?” I asked as I jumped over his legs.

He growled.

I’d take that as a yes.

I ran into the room.

And slammed to a stop.

The dresser across from the bed had a large three-way mirror over it.

And inside all of them, naked and obviously not ashamed.

Was me.

Three of me stood in the mirror, staring out at the guys, hands on hips and back straight to make my chest stand out.

The me in the mirror smirked and raised a hand, like she was waving at me.

But her eyes were glued to Grant.

He stood right in front of the mirror, face blank and eyes glazed.

Heather was slumped in the corner in between the nightstand and backwall, head bleeding from a gash over her left eye.

Where was Quil?

“You won’t stop me,” she said, voice twisted with rage but obviously mine. “You think you can do that? You think you can just use me and get away with it? You think there aren’t consequences? You’re wrong. And you know it. You’re a terrible person. You know you deserve this. It’s karma. For all the pain you caused. For ripping through life without regard for anyone else. For anyone’s feelings! Don’t you know? The worst spot in Hell is reserved for those who betray!”

She flicked her wrist as she screamed the last word and disappeared, leaving only Grant’s reflection.

Was that it?

Was it over?

Grant whirled and marched towards the bathroom.

“No,” I whispered.

My legs wouldn’t move.

“Carvi!” I screamed. “I can’t move!”

“Working on it,” he said, voice strained. “I’m having the same problem.”

“It’s got Grant!”

He growled and scraping said he was makin’ progress. He inched up to me, arms clawing the air to pull him forward like he was dragging himself through drying cement.

Glass shattered in the bathroom.

“He doesn’t deserve this!” I screamed. “Please, please don’t hurt him!”

“A man who takes away a girl’s innocence like that is no man. He’s a predator. And he deserves to be punished,” my own voice said from all around like it was on surround sound.

“But Grant didn’t do that! It wasn’t him!”

Carvi pulled himself forward, inch by painfully slow inch.

Why wasn’t I hearing anything?

I jerked my arms and tried to lurch like Carvi was, and nothing would move.

A scrapping and the heavy steps of big boots on hard porcelain made my heart stall.

And I knew. I knew what it was going to make Grant do.

The exact same thing the man this morning did.

Slit his wrists.

“No!” I screamed. “The boy who did that to me wasn’t Grant. I’m mad at him, and I’m hurt, but if jerks who took virginity is what you’re going after, it wasn’t him! Please, leave him. You want to punish someone, punish me, take me. I’m just as responsible as the boy eight years ago, trust me!”

Scraping, delicate and barely audible met my ears.

And I fell forward, stumbling and pinwheeling as the air let me go.

Carvi shot forward and half slammed into the bedpost, ricocheting off it and into the bathroom.

I ran in.

Quil was lurching up from the ground near the toilet as Carvi shot by him and into the large walk-in closet, grabbing a handful of towels.

I smelled it before my eyes registered what I was seeing.

The tang of copper on the air.

Metallic.

Grant lay in the tub, one arm stretched in front of him, the other loose, with a razor half laying out of it on his thigh.

Three long red lines ran up his arm, deep and pouring blood, the flow obviously already slowing.

I hit my knees.

Not Grant.

No.

Not because of me.

The world needed him.

The world stopped.

For a moment I saw my fast as ninjas vampires suspended, both half lunging towards the tub.

Tryin’ to save him.

“Please,” I whispered, “please God save him. He doesn’t deserve this. I don’t care if I just fixated on him and I’m not actually in love with him. Take me, punish me, but save him. He doesn’t deserve this. Even the boy I lost it to wouldn’t deserve this. Please. Grant’s a good man. And the world is a better place with him in it.”

The vampires suddenly moved. They pulled Grant outta the tub.

“Ariana, move!” Quil said.

I jumped up and backed away.

Quil grabbed Grant’s head, slicing his own wrist so fast against his fangs I barely saw it. He put his wrist to Grant’s lips as Carvi grabbed Grant’s left arm and started licking the wounds.

But Grant was already dead.

Wasn’t he?

Would the ghost let us go if he weren’t?

Carvi pulled back and the wounds closed and Quil adjusted Grant’s head, trying to hold it up and get the blood spilling into my boss’s mouth to go down.

“Carvi?” Quil said.

“I know,” Carvi said, moving behind Grant and holding the bigger man against his chest.

Carvi started muttering under his breath as Quil re-positioned himself in front of them, holding his wrist to Grant’s lips and stroking Grant’s neck with his free hand.

Tryin’ to get him to swallow?

I watched.

And waited.

And repeated my prayers.

Grant wasn’t even all human. Could this thing really kill him so easily?

“There!” Carvi said, making me jerk.

Relief washed through me and I slumped against the counter, sinking to my bottom.

Quil shook his head as he backed up and stood.

Wait, what?

Why was he shaking his head?

Quil turned around and met my eyes, pity shining from his.

“No,” I said. “But, he just said there. Like something had happened. No.”

“Lea,” Carvi said, sliding back and laying Grant on the ground.

“No!” I said.

“Lea, we’ve preserved his body, he could live.”

I sobbed, covering my mouth with my hands.

“But his spirit isn’t in there,” Carvi said. “If we go back into limbo, I’m guessing it’ll be there.”

I shook my head like that’d make it go away. Make all this a dream.

Carvi nodded. “Trapped. Like the others.”

#

And if you haven’t checked out the SDF series yet, first book’s here: Psychic Undercover (with the Undead).

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