For adults please.
In case you didn't notice yesterday's post, there is an introductory excerpt available there to whet your appetite. Today's excerpt introduces the paranormal elements for the story.
Thanks again to Delilah Devlin for sharing this excerpt and blurb! My Goodreads review is at this link.
From popular author Delilah Devlin comes the unforgettable heroine, Caitlyn O’Connell—a psychic ex-cop who’s hell-bent on redemption.
Caitlyn O’Connell had it all: a career with the Memphis PD, a passionate marriage, and the satisfaction that her work made a difference in the world. But she also had a secret, a supernatural “gift” that cost her everything. Now she scrapes by as a private investigator, taking cases the cops won’t touch and counting down the minutes until happy hour.
But when Sam Pierce, her former partner and estranged ex-husband, comes to her for help with a bizarre murder case, Cait can’t say no. And not just because Sam is still as irresistibly sexy as he was on the day they met. Something sinister—and demonic—is terrorizing Memphis, leaving a bloody trail of bodies and clues only Cait can read. Together she and Sam will venture into a dark world of magic and unholy terror, hunting a killer who will lead them to the brink of reality as they know it—and back into the thrall of their stormy past. Steamy and suspenseful, Shattered Souls is the pulse-quickening new offering from fan favorite romance author Delilah Devlin.
Detective Sam Pierce discovers Cait’s hidden past and learns in an incontrovertible way that there’s magic in the air...
Sam set the mike back in its bracket in the dashboard of his car and turned to Cait. After a fifteen-minute drive, they’d parked outside a palm reader’s shop. The neon sign flashing above the door said “Psychic Inside.” He grimaced but was careful not to let Cait see. She was still grumbling over the fact he had become her shadow.
Cait didn’t work well with partners. Not when it came to the woo-woo shit, anyway.
She’d just have to tough the situation out because too much was riding on this for him, personally and professionally, to let her out of his sight. The moment he’d heard her voice when he’d played back the message on Henry’s voice mail his heart had stopped. More than just a detective’s need to follow a clue had him hotfooting it to her apartment to confront her. He’d been more frightened than he’d ever been in his life that she might have been caught up in the violence that occurred in that room.
Not until he’d stood over her still form as she slept, breathed in the odor of stale booze, checked her clothing for blood, her knuckles and skin for signs of a struggle, did his anger surpass the fear that first gripped him. He hadn’t wanted her to be involved, not as a witness, victim, or a possible suspect, but he’d dragged her into the investigation anyway.
Intellectually, the action made sense. Emotionally, he knew he was treading along a dangerous path. The attraction was still as strong as ever…at least on his side.
After he’d reassured himself she was safe, he’d hovered while she slept, drinking in the familiar landscape, pausing to stare at the slight curves of her breasts, the taut indentation of her narrow waist, and the fleshy swell of her lush hips—even though not touching just about killed him. Her legs, bared beneath the hem of her T-shirt, were still as trim, still as leanly muscled as he remembered. He could still feel their fierce grip, strong and feminine, around his waist.
He’d been rough with her, but he’d handled her that way out of self-preservation.
But shoving her under cold water had nearly done him in. Her nipples had spiked hard, the rust-colored areolae visible beneath the transparent material of her T-shirt. He’d been careful to keep his face free of expression. If she’d known how aroused he’d become, they might not have made it out the door.
Sex had never been an issue between them. The slightest encouragement would have caused their surly passions to explode like an arsonist’s match to an accelerant.
Ruthlessly, Sam pushed away the memories. He got out of the car, turning away to adjust himself because his groin felt heavy and throbbed uncomfortably. Then he circled the car to her door. She faced straight ahead, and he wondered if she’d nodded off during the drive. He knocked on the glass. “Come on.”
Her chest lifted and her cheeks billowed as she blew out a deep breath. But she opened the door and stepped out onto the curb. “Sure you don’t want to wait outside?”
Not willing to repeat himself, Sam gave her a steady stare. He’d play the asshole for now and hope the anger he displayed would sink deep and kill his arousal.
She sighed and trudged to the door of the shop. A bell tinkled as she pushed it open and entered the dim interior.
The smell of incense and candles permeated the air. The shop was deep but narrow. Shelves of New Age and voodoo kitsch lined the walls to the left. To the right stood a long counter with more shelves filled with apothecary bottles and jewelry—amulets, beaded bracelets, silver-wrapped crystals—sitting alongside displays of colorful voodoo dolls. Behind the counter was a doorway covered by strands of purple beads. A hand parted the beads, and a woman stepped through.
Sam nearly snorted. She was dressed in a caftan in an African print of red, gold, and black. Her long black hair hung in stiff curls past her shoulders. Large gold hoops dangled from her ears.
She wore her age well, only a few deep wrinkles creasing the corners of her large brown eyes as she smiled at Cait and swept around the counter to embrace her. “’Bout time you come see me, little girl,” she said in a deep, musical voice.
Her words were flavored with chicory and island patois. Sam guessed she’d followed the Mississippi northward from New Orleans.
Cait accepted the embrace but was slower to lift her arms and return it. “Good to see you, Tante Celeste,” she said in that gruff tone that meant she was moved more than she cared to admit.
Sam’s gaze sliced between both women. This was a long acquaintance. A nearly familial one. And his curiosity was piqued. Cait hadn’t shared a damn thing about her past other than infrequent mentions of her police officer father in all the time they’d spent together. Until this moment, he’d never met a single soul she’d known before she entered the force.
Celeste’s brown gaze rose above Cait’s shoulder. “You brought a friend, ma petite?”
Cait dropped her arms and moved back. “This is Sam,” she said, her green gaze sliding uneasily between Sam and Celeste. “He’s…working with me.”
A dark eyebrow arched. “Heard you weren’t a cop no more. But you bring one to my door.”
“Well, he’s still a cop. He asked for my help with something.”
“Somethin’ that requires you seek me out?” Celeste clucked. “Must be somethin’ dark.”
Sam watched the two women, but was especially fascinated with Cait’s expression. She looked uncertain, the pallor of her cheeks a stark contrast against her brilliant red hair. “I need to find Morin,” she said softly.
Celeste’s eyes widened, but her mouth stretched into a catlike smile. “Funny you should mention him. He left somethin’ for you. Said you’d be comin’.”
Cait’s chest rose. “I wasn’t sure he was still around these parts.”
“Morin never left. He waits for you. But you know, he’s gonna want somethin’ in ’change for his help.”
For a moment, Cait’s eyes closed.
Sam stiffened, sensing there was something deeply disturbing about this Morin and wondering what exactly his relationship was to his ex-wife.
Celeste walked around the counter and reached under the cash register. When she straightened, she held a small cloth bag tied with twine.
Cait’s lips compressed into a thin line, but she held out her hand, fingers curling tightly around the bag. “Did he leave you…words?”
“You don’t remember?”
“It’s been forever since I last saw him. I wanted to forget.”
“Ma chere, you must learn to forgive. Morin has always been here for you. Even after you abandoned him.”
“He should have moved on,” Cait said, her voice stronger now.
Sam narrowed his eyes, knowing he wasn’t going to like this Morin one damn bit.
“I’m only going to him now because I need his help. Not because I missed his sorry ass.”
Celeste’s curious stare flitted over to him. “Sam, are you sure you wanna meet Cait’s past?”
“I’m just along for the ride,” he growled and held up his hands in a fending-off gesture. “This is work. Nothing personal.”
Her deepening smile said she didn’t believe him. She lifted her chin to Cait. “Come see me. After. We’ll have much to talk about.”
Cait leaned toward her without answering. The women embraced.
When Cait turned, her eyebrows lowered into a fierce scowl as her gaze rested on him. “Outside.”
Sam was only too happy to leave behind the murky interior of the shop. Bright, glaring sunlight burned away the creeping unease he’d felt inside.
Cait halted in the middle of the sidewalk and then cast him a sideways glance. She ripped off the twine around the bag with her teeth and cupped it in her palm, raising it. “Get ready.”
For what? he was about to ask but was caught by Cait’s expression, which softened, taut energy calming beneath the surface of her pale skin.
Her eyes slid closed.
“Spirits who aided this seeker of past
Lead me to Morin by crows’ winged path.
If you should honor and grant my request—
I’ll follow your lead north, south, east, or west…”
Cait’s green eyes shot open, and she flung the bag upward, the gritty contents spilling from the black bag. The dark powder and sprigs of crushed herbs flew upward, then hung suspended in the air for a long moment. A sudden gust of wind caught the powder, and it blew apart. Then the wind twisted and the sediments rolled together, forming a tiny black funnel that rose above their heads.
Where the sky had been clear and blue a moment ago, thick dark clouds rolled in, too fast to be natural. City noise—the sound of traffic, horns honking, the slaps of footsteps—grew silent. People moving up and down the sidewalks slowed and then halted, frozen in place.
“What the fuck—?” The hair on the back of Sam’s neck rose.
Cait squatted suddenly, and Sam followed, not knowing what to expect, but the funnel tightened, thinned, then burst—exploding the black dust outward. He blinked, and in that moment, a murder of black crows rose swiftly above the street, turned inward to group into a noisy, frenetic swarm, and then flew away.
Cait caught his arm and took off running behind the crows. “No time to explain,” she shouted over her shoulder. “Just follow the damn birds.”
Sam stayed on her heels, trying not to think too hard about what he’d just seen—and not liking one little bit the sparkling excitement animating Cait’s beautiful face.
The Kindle version of this exciting read is on sale right now if you prefer e-books. Clicking on a copy of the cover above will take you to the Amazon page (and I will get a small fee if you do purchase anything on the site after using that link)