It’s that time again!
Season Of The Witch officially has a face, and man, what a sexy face it is. Thank you, Amy Mateyka, for working your cover magic yet again!
Before we do this thing, however, allow me to introduce Georgia and Darius…
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Something wicked this way comes…well, more wicked than usual.
Georgia Clare needs help, and fast. As the lone survivor of—and witness to—her coven’s brutal massacre, she’s sensed their killer hunting her. There’s just one problem: the rest of San Francisco’s witching community wants nothing to do with her, and the one man she can turn to doesn’t do witches.
Darius deCompostela has done his best to steer clear of subversive affairs. A private investigator and reluctant medium, the last thing he wants is to advertise his existence to the things that go bump in the night. But then Georgia knocks on his door, and try as he might, he can’t turn her away.
It’s just one case, after all. It’s not like it’s going to change his life…
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Aaaaannnddd drumroll, please…
I KNOW, RIGHT?!
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Because a cover reveal just wouldn’t be complete without an excerpt, please pardon me while I shove one at your eyeballs. Behold Chapter One, posted here in its entirety for the first time! Keep in mind, this is a pre-edited version, so please be kind in your comments.
What the hell was she even doing here?
Georgia Clare twisted the strap of her purse and stared at the sign on the door in front of her.
MACMILLIAN & DECOMPOSTELA, LLC.
Missing Persons, Document Recovery, and Discreet Inquiries
Georgia glanced around. She had never been in The Procyon Building before. Most tall buildings were bigger inside than they looked from the street. By contrast, The Procyon was elbow-tuckingly narrow. The MacMillian and deCompostela detective agency took up the entire third floor.
A fresh wave of doubt flooded over her. She wasn’t the type of person to hire a private detective. Private detectives were for insecure housewives, parents of troubled teens, bent old ladies who had forgotten where they’d parked. She was none of the above. She was a stable, sane, capable adult. Yet here she was.
Desperate times, and all that.
It had been nearly a week since her coven’s New Moon Esbat. Nearly a week since she’d stumbled onto the set of a live-action horror movie. She’d tried like hell to put it out of her mind. Easier said than done, as it turned out. Every time she closed her eyes, she saw bodies. Every time she took a breath, she tasted blood.
Her hand was shaking. Georgia bit back a curse and flexed her fingers. For a moment, she considered doing an about-face and just heading back to the elevator. It wasn’t like anyone knew she was here. No one would know she’d chickened out.
Remember why you came.
Her knock sounded hyper-loud in the cramped hallway. She cringed, then rocked back on her heels and stared at the door. Seconds stretched into minutes. Minutes stretched into eternity.
Georgia blew out a breath she didn’t remember holding. “Seriously?” She raised her fist to knock again.
The door opened. Georgia gulped as the entire doorway suddenly filled with a man she didn’t recognize. She’d been expecting Jesper MacMillian.
This was definitely not Jesper MacMillian.
This man had a rich black complexion. His head was bald- whether by nature or design, she couldn’t be sure. Tiny studs flashed in his ears. He wore a beautiful black suit, painstakingly tailored to fit his massive shoulders. Dark tattoos curled just above his pressed white collar, and down below the edges of his cuffs.
His face was neither kind nor unkind. He studied her with vague disinterest, his eyes quiet and guarded beneath solid brows.
Georgia cleared her throat. “I’m, ah, here to see MacMillian.”
The man didn’t move. “He’s out of town.”
“Oh.” Shit. She shifted. “Do you know when he’ll be back? I have a… problem. I’d like to hire his services.”
“I’m his partner. What kind of problem?”
So this was the “deCompostela” in the sign. Georgia hesitated. She’d been reluctant enough to come here when it was MacMillian she’d expected to see. She didn’t want to bring a stranger into all this. And what if deCompostela was a mundane?
She had just made up her mind to leave when deCompostela folded his arms across his chest. His eyes made a slow sweep of her body, ending with her face. His expression was all too easy to read: this should be good.
Georgia stiffened. MacMillian’s partner thought he had her pegged, did he? A streak of stubborn pride she had never been able to control reared its head. She lifted her chin. “Someone’s been following me.”
His expression didn’t change. “Come inside.”
Georgia ground her teeth as he retreated into the office. Damn her big mouth.
She followed grudgingly, and glanced around. They were in what looked like a reception area, but she’d seen doctor’s offices that were more welcoming. The walls were bare and the couch against the far wall sagged, the silk ficus in the corner coated with dust. There weren’t even any magazines to read.
There was another door, presumably one that led to the actual offices. MacMillian’s partner planted himself in front of it and crossed his arms again. “So. You think you’re being followed.”
The way he said it, she already sounded crazy. Georgia scowled. “I don’t ‘think’ I’m being followed. I’m being followed.”
“Okay.” Still, his expression didn’t change. “Why don’t you start at the beginning?”
Georgia twisted. The beginning? What a conversation that would be. Sure thing, Mr. deCompostela. It all began last week when I walked in on an outtake of Saw and found my entire coven murdered. Then I was attacked by something. I think it might have been a werewolf. After that—gee, where did those men in white coats come from?
Jesus. She might as well start picking out curtains for her padded cell.
DeCompostela was still waiting. Georgia cleared her throat. “Right. Um, the beginning…”
DeCompostela didn’t roll his eyes, but she got the distinct impression he wanted to. “Okay, let’s try this. Is there anyone in your life who might want to follow you?”
Georgia blinked. “What do you mean? Like who?”
He leaned back against the door. “Anyone who might be holding a grudge. Former co-workers, jealous ex-boyfriends…” He paused, looked her up and down. “Jealous ex-girlfriends.”
“What? No!” Georgia rubbed her face. “Look, I’m not being stalked, okay? I’m being—” She broke off. She didn’t want to say the word out loud, but it blared in her mind nonetheless. Hunted. She shivered before she could stop herself.
Something that looked like genuine concern flickered over deCompostela’s face. “Maybe you should sit down.”
“I’m fine.” She was too agitated to sit. She started to pace. “This isn’t a work problem, and it isn’t some domestic dispute.” She gnawed on her lower lip. “It’s more like I, well, witnessed something.”
No answer. Georgia sneaked a glance at deCompostela. His brows were knotted. “What kind of something?”
Georgia looked away again. Why had she ever thought this was a good idea? Of course she couldn’t tell him. To date, she was pretty sure no one knew she’d been at the Esbat that night.
At least, no one besides the creature.
An image forced its way into her head: huge, razorblade teeth, glistening with a dark substance she didn’t want to think about. It was the same image she’d been falling asleep to all week.
Rather, the same image she’d been staying awake to all week.
Georgia wet her lips. “I really can’t say.”
She didn’t look to see his reaction, but she could feel deCompostela’s gaze heavy on the side of her head. She tried to appear nonchalant.
After a few seconds, he let out a heavy sigh. “Look, miss…”
Georgia winced inwardly. “Clare. Georgia Clare.”
“Ms. Clare.” He hesitated. “You’re not giving me much to go on. I’m not sure what you think I can do for you.”
His voice had gone unexpectedly gentle, but the message behind his words came through loud and clear: I can’t help you. Georgia swallowed the sudden tightness in her throat. She was on her own. Not like that was anything new, but still, she’d sort of hoped…
Georgia swallowed again and nodded. “I understand. You’re right. Sorry for wasting your time.” Her voice sounded dull, even to her. Time to get out before she really embarrassed herself.
The word was uttered with such authority it left her no other option. Georgia shifted as deCompostela peeled himself away from the door. From the corner of her eye, she saw him fish something from his pocket. He handed it to her.
A cell phone.
“Put your address in there.”
Georgia’s eyes jerked to his face. She lifted her eyebrows.
DeCompostela shrugged. “Got a few things to take care of first, but I can stop by when I’m done, check in on you. If you are being followed, whoever it is might back off if they see you’re not alone.”
The way he put it almost managed not to sound insulting. Georgia took the phone without a word and did as he asked. Even looking down at the small screen, she could feel his gaze roaming her face.
She had the sudden, distinct feeling he was reading her. Unnerved, she tapped out the last few letters of her street and shoved the phone back at him. She barely waited for him to take it. Then she bolted out the door.
She didn’t even try to pretend she wasn’t fleeing.
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It wasn’t every day a witch came to see him.
Darius deCompostela gave up on the paperwork he’d been trying to fill out and leaned back in his chair. Technically, Georgia Clare hadn’t come to see him. She’d come to see MacMillian. Usually that would have chafed, but not this time. For one thing, her reluctance to speak with him didn’t seem to have anything to do with, well, him.
For another thing, he didn’t do witches.
Darius leaned forward again and picked up his pen. Outside, the sun hung low in the sky. The surrounding buildings cast jagged shadows on his office floor. Ray Charles’ version of Sinner’s Prayer crooned from the music dock on his desk, but Darius scarcely noticed. He squinted down at the form in front of him.
He almost managed to concentrate, but then an unusual, sweetly earthy scent teased his nostrils. He bit back a curse. It was the same scent that witch had been wearing. She hadn’t set foot in his office. It must have followed him in.
He doubled down his focus and tried to ignore it. No use. The words on the paper started to swim.
Damn. Darius threw his pen down and rubbed his face with both hands. Let it go, super-sleuth. Just let it go.
The last thing he needed at this point in his life was to be getting mixed up in the subversive community. MacMillian was testament enough to what would happen. Take on one subversive client, and next he knew, there would be a whole line of them beating down his door. Darius pressed his lips together. Not if he could help it. He wasn’t involved in that world. Not even a little. Not at all.
His eye wandered to the small piles of salt in each of the room’s four corners. He winced. Okay, so maybe that wasn’t entirely true.
But it didn’t matter. A few piles of salt didn’t change anything. Besides, they were for protection only. Insurance against things that went bump in the night. No, whatever Georgia Clare had gotten herself into, she would just have to deal with it on her own.
Her aura, though.
Darius shook himself again, but the image that now filled his thoughts wouldn’t be dislodged so easily. He’d never seen an aura like hers before. It had nearly blinded him when he first opened the agency’s door, had flooded the reception room with color when she’d stepped inside. He’d read her magic in it easily; showers of sparks flowing throughout the auric halo. The various colors had shifted as she spoke, slipping between pale blues and purples, and the occasional vibrant orange.
He’d kept his face carefully blank, lest she realize what he was doing. What he was seeing. If he was smart, he would have made it obvious, then held the door for her when she turned tail and ran.
But he wasn’t smart. Instead, he’d blurted out the first thing that popped into his head.
What kind of something?
The change in her aura had been instantaneous and shocking. Muddy brown. Wispy streaks of black. Bright, clear red.
It had been all he could do to maintain his coolly-detached expression. He’d been around enough fakers and head-cases that he could read their auras a mile away. There’d been no sign of mental instability in this woman’s aura. No deception. Everything she had told him had been the truth. And whatever it was, it had terrified her.
From outward appearances, at least, Georgia Clare looked about as tough as they came. All brass and black leather, with a heavy pair of spit-shiny shitkicker boots to complete the don’t-fuck-with-me vibe. What the hell would put a woman like that off her game?
He had no idea.
Darius glanced at the clock on his desk. It was earlier than he normally left, but he doubted he’d be getting any more work done today. In any case, the witch was expecting him. He’d initially intended his offer to stop by only as a comforting platitude, but the more he thought about it, the gladder he was he’d made it.
Darius pushed away from the desk and stood, checked his pockets and grabbed his suit jacket from the back of the chair. He swept a quick glance around the room, then headed out, locking the door behind him.
MacMillian’s office was oddly still. Darius shrugged into his jacket as he strode through, paused once to glance at the empty desk. Normally on his way out, he would lob his partner a pithy comment. MacMillian would retaliate, they would banter for a few minutes, then he would leave.
But MacMillian was out of town—”family business”, whatever that meant. He’d already been gone a week, had just called that morning to say he’d been gone a week more, at least.
Darius squared his shoulders and continued into the reception room. MacMillian could stay away as long as he wanted. It wasn’t like they were married. Besides, if not for him, that witch and her subversive problems would never have landed on his desk.
Darius reached the front door and stopped. The invisible wards he’d sketched around the exit were humming, a low but unmistakable frequency that crackled over his skin and made the hairs on his arms raise. He muttered a curse. Activity like this only ever meant one thing.
Painted in saltwater, his wards at least kept the offices clear. The hall outside was a different case entirely. No matter what he did, they kept coming back. Some days were worse than others. Judging by the irritated buzz the wards were making, today was definitely one of the “worse” days.
Darius ground his teeth. The witch. His spirit tails must have picked up on her magic, and flocked to it like moths to flame. He sighed. No helping it now. Might as well get the inevitable over with. He took a deep breath and opened the door.
Throbbing pain instantly shot through his forehead. Blinding light filled the hall outside, like he was looking at pure auric energy. Darius mentally backtracked. Pure auric energy was exactly what he was looking at, more densely packed than he had ever seen before.
He shoved his hands into his pockets, put his head down and waded through the odd mish-mash of noncorporeal bodies. Miners, businessmen, housewives, saloon girls. Black, white, native, Asian. They all blended together in a single etheric mass. Wispy hands reached for his, brushed fruitlessly against his wrists. Darius ignored them.
The noise was harder to avoid. The spirits all seemed to be talking at once, with voices he didn’t so much hear as feel deep in his gut. Rolling nausea surged in addition to the pounding in his head. A woman in a fifties housedress with horrendous burns on her face jostled for a position at his side, quickly lost it to a man in an Edwardian-style sack suit and bowler hat babbling about a jewel.
Darius ignored them both and quickened his pace. Finally, he reached the elevator. Agitated, the spirit horde tried to follow him into the car.
Time to break out the artillery. Darius closed his fingers around the small bottle in his pocket, pulled it out and opened the cap. An earthy, exotic aroma wafted out. The spirits nearest him dimmed.
Darius shook a few drops of the oil onto his finger and set to work. In short order he had traced the entire interior of the elevator. Just for extra insurance, he shook out a last drop and pressed the pad of his finger to his forehead. He peered at where the spirits had been.
Darius hit the button for the lobby, and watched the elevator doors slide shut on the empty hallway.
In case you couldn’t tell, I’m really excited to share this book with you! Huge thanks to everyone who has been waiting for it- you guys are what keep me going when the doldrums hit. You can expect to see Season Of The Witch in online bookstores within the next couple months (actual release date pending).
In the meantime, make a gal happy and add it to your Goodreads reading list!