The SPI Files is an urban fantasy mystery series that I really enjoy; it's a lot of fun and a different take on many of the standard creatures. I'm excited to share an excerpt today and later I'll have a review of the book.
Lisa Shearin currently works as the editor at an advertising agency. She has been a magazine editor and writer of corporate marketing materials of every description. Lisa enjoys singing, reading, writing novels, and fencing. She lives in North Carolina with her husband, two cats, two spoiled-rotten retired racing greyhounds, and a Jack Russell terrier who rules them all. Visit her online at www.lisashearin.com.
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I wasn’t sure this qualified as a first date.
Yes, I was having lunch with one of the richest and most eligible bachelors not only of Manhattan, but also another dimension. We were in a trendy new restaurant in Tribeca, with a celebrity chef in the kitchen. Two nights ago, I’d played a big part—along with said inter-dimensional bachelor—in saving the lives of the supernatural citizens of the tristate area.
That was three causes for celebration: hot guy, great food, still alive. Yay, me.
The fly in my fancy soup du jour, so to speak, was twofold.
First, on the other side of the restaurant, and unfortunately with a clear view of our table, was my partner, Ian Byrne. My name is Makenna Fraser. Ian and I work together at a worldwide organization fighting the forces of supernatural evil. Ian thought that my date, Rake Danescu, deserved a spot near the top of our most wanted list.
Second, I was still considered a newbie and my partner was the protective type. Actually, that was part of his job. Protecting me, that is. Right now, those protective urges were getting on my last nerve. I’d had more than one near-death experience during the last few days, and was way overdue for some R&R. Having Ian only taking his eyes off of me long enough to stare crosshairs onto Rake’s forehead was taking the rest right out of my relaxation. We’d recently decided that a healthy mentor/mentee relationship shouldn’t also be a romantic relationship. I had to admit that took a lot of the tension—sexual and otherwise—out of our workday, which was good for focusing on the bad guys and not my partner’s mighty fine backside. But right now, Ian was putting plenty of tension right back in. I don’t think he was jealous—at least I didn’t think he was. I think he was being protective over his still relatively new partner.
“I knew you were reluctant to accept my invitation,” Rake murmured, “but I assure you a bodyguard wasn’t necessary.”
I sighed. “I didn’t tell him.” It was a coincidence that we were all here at the same time. A really unpleasant and awkward coincidence.
Rake smiled slowly. “You didn’t tell him? Oh, I like this devious side of you.”
“I’m not being devious. My personal life isn’t anyone’s business but my own.”
“I don’t think he agrees with you.”
“Doesn’t appear that way, does it?”
Rake peered around a waiter to see who my partner was having lunch with, and to provoke Ian even more, he made a leisurely show of appreciating the view. I thought I heard Ian growl all the way from our table. Kylie gave Rake a smile and finger wave.
They knew each other.
Of course they did. They were both breathtakingly beautiful supernaturals.
Rake Danescu was a goblin. Kylie O’Hara was a dryad.
Kylie was a friend and coworker. Different department, same secret organization.
Interspecies dating wasn’t frowned on by most supernaturals. Heck, dryads didn’t have much of a choice. All dryads were female, and they all came from trees, so their intraspecies dating pool was more of a puddle. Unless they were lesbians or had a thing for botanicals, dryads had to hunt elsewhere when looking for love. Kylie had dark hair, green eyes, was five foot nothing, and like her sisters down through history, could probably get any man she wanted with the crook of one dainty digit.
Ian had had a crush on Kylie since she started at SPI. Though “crush” sounded like something out of high school. Let’s say he admired her from afar, because getting close would violate one of the personal rules my stoic partner wouldn’t allow himself to break—no workplace romance. I’d told him numerous times to just ask her out already. But in the end, it wasn’t my doing that resulted in them being here together, it was the same near-death experience that had gotten me here with Rake. When Death does heavy breathing on the back of your neck, you reexamine your life. My partner decided that life was too uncertain to throw away potential happiness.
I smiled. The rule of “no workplace romance” was presently being bent until it squealed in Café Mina’s corner booth. I wondered which of his “thou shalt nots” my partner would take out for a reexamining look-see next.
“Kylie O’Hara, a lovely girl,” Rake said. “Though I always thought she had more discerning taste.”
I gave him a look.
“What?” The goblin was all innocence, which was no mean feat for any goblin, let alone Rake.
“You know very well what. Ian doesn’t trust you as far as he can throw you.” I stopped and thought a moment. “Actually less than that. Night before last, the two of you were at each other’s throats, and now here you are having lunch with his partner and making goo-goo eyes at his date.”
“Goo-goo? That must be a droll, human term that I’m unfamiliar with. But if its meaning bears any resemblance to how it sounds, I assure you I have never made ‘goo-goo eyes’ in my life.”
“It sounded better than undressing her with your eyes.”
Rake lowered his voice to a soft rumble. “Do I detect a hint of jealousy?”
“In your dreams.”
“You and Miss O’Hara battling, with me as the prize for the winner . . .” His dark eyes turned from teasing to full smolder. “That would be a dream worth remembering. I assure you, dearest Makenna, you are the only woman I am interested in undressing.”
I took my napkin out of my lap and calmly placed it on the table.
“Are you required to check in with Agent Byrne every hour?” Rake asked, as I scooted my chair back to stand.
I didn’t even need to glance at him to know he was smiling and enjoying himself immensely. But I did need to look at him to make sure he completely understood what I was about to say.
“You know I don’t. Now wipe that grin off your face.”
He actually batted his eyelashes at me. “What grin?”
“The grin that’s telling Ian, ‘I’m up to no good with your partner, and there’s nothing you can do about it.’ ’Cause I can guarantee you he will do something about it. Then I’ll have to do something about the two of you, and no one here wants to see that.”
“On the contrary, everyone here would love to see that, myself included. And now you’ve piqued my curiosity. We goblins are rather like your domestic cats in that regard. Once aroused, our curiosity must be satisfied.” The gleam in his dark eyes said that satisfying his arousal in regard to me had nothing to do with curiosity.
That was Ian’s problem.
Tall, dark, sleek, and seemingly made for sex, goblins had a reputation for . . . let’s just say they had a reputation. A well-deserved one. Add to that Rake being the owner of Bacchanalia, Manhattan’s most exclusive sex club, and Ian’s concerns were justified, as Rake hadn’t even tried to hide his interest in me. In fact, I think Rake had turned teasing me and antagonizing Ian about teasing me into his newest hobby.
I pushed my chair back and stood. Rake, playing at being the perfect gentleman, stood with me.
Ian needed to understand that I was a big girl and as such was totally aware of who Rake was and what he wanted. And he wasn’t getting any of it until when—or if—I decided I wanted it, too. Not that it was any of Ian’s business, which was another thing he needed to get through his head.
“I’ll be back in a minute.”
Rake smiled fully as he took his seat. Anyone watching saw an unwholesomely handsome man giving his date a dazzling smile. I saw all of that plus a pair of fangs. I was a seer. It was a rare ability that enabled me to see through wards, spells, shields, and glamours that supernaturals used to disguise themselves from the humans around them. Only about half the people in Café Mina were human; the rest were a mix of supernatural races.
So I knew exactly what Rake Danescu was, in more ways than one.
“I shall eagerly await your return,” Rake all but purred.
I sighed. “Yeah.”
I started across the restaurant, to the accompaniment of Rake’s low chuckle.
Ian’s date glanced up from her menu with a quick grin that, in the language of girlfriends everywhere, said: “I’m so happy for you!” Or if expressed in a single sound—“Squee!”
Ian was not happy—for me or anyone else—and he most certainly was not fighting back an urge to squee. The only urges Ian was fighting were violent ones, and he didn’t appear to be fighting very hard.
“Stop it,” I told him.
Two words. One directive. I didn’t believe in beating around the bush.
“I haven’t done anything,” he said. The “yet” was unspoken.
“Neither has Rake.”
“He wants to.”
I resisted rolling my eyes. “So does every other red-blooded man with any woman they’re attracted to.” I left “yourself included” unsaid. I paused. Goblins had red blood, didn’t they? For the sake of my argument I’d go with yes.
“Every other red-blooded man hasn’t enthralled you,” Ian noted.
Kylie did a combo groan and face palm.
“Enthralled? I’d ask you to please tell me you’re kidding, but I know you’re not.”
“Rake Danescu is a dark mage, one of the best.”
“And I’m a hick from the North Carolina mountains ripe for the pickin’.”
“I did not say that.”
“Oh yes, you did.”
My first night on the job, Rake had magicked himself a look inside my mind. It hadn’t been personal, merely business. Okay, maybe it had been a little personal. From what I understood, it’d be easier the next time. I’d been with SPI for well over a year now, and Rake hadn’t tried it again.
The combativeness went out of Ian. “Mac, I’m simply worried that—”
A man screamed.
An immaculately groomed guy in a really nice suit who’d just come back from the men’s room was staring in total and complete horror at his waiter. The guy was human; his waiter was not.
I could see that. The man shouldn’t have been able to.
The two other suit-clad men across the table from him were staring at this guy like he’d lost his mind. They looked like a trio out for a business lunch. The screaming guy had a tablet next to him on the table. Yep, business lunch. If those were his clients, the screamer wasn’t making a good impression.
Everyone else in the restaurant saw the waiter as what he wanted them to see—a hot-beyond-belief, twentysomething, out-of-work actor waiting tables to pay the rent. I saw what he really was—an incubus.
Somehow the businessman, who’d now progressed from screaming to babbling, saw what I was seeing.
The incubus’s features were vaguely humanoid, but more closely resembled a creature out of a bad 1950s horror movie with translucent skin and a slit suction cup for lips.
The man stood so quickly his thighs hit the table, nearly knocking it over on the two men with him, who scooted back to keep from taking soup in the lap. One guy wasn’t so lucky with his drink, shouting a word people generally tried not to say at a polite business lunch as he grabbed a napkin and blotted the front of his pants.
The hysterically babbling man didn’t notice.
I noticed his right hand was clenching a steak knife.
“He can see them,” I whispered quickly to Ian.
Ian didn’t answer. He didn’t need to. He knew what I meant.
The agents of Supernatural Protection & Investigations (SPI) know that fighting evil is a full-time job, especially when a new designer drug—with mind-blowing side effects—hits the streets...
It’s called Brimstone. And after the first few hits, you’ll see every supernatural beast sharing the sidewalk, train, or office with you. After that, you’ll start seeing the really scary stuff.
I’m Makenna Fraser, seer for the SPI. And the collateral damage caused by Brimstone is something I’d like to unsee: dead drug dealers missing their hearts—and souls. Because your local pusher doesn’t stand a chance against the new cartel muscling its way into New York. And since the drug can only be produced with magic and molten brimstone fresh from Hell, that means a rift to the underworld is open somewhere in the city.
And when—not if—the cartel loses control of it, well...
It’s going to be Hell on earth.
Series: The SPI Files #3
Release Date: January 26, 2016
Formats: paperback, ebook
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