This week has been full of edits, work for Naked Reader Press and writing. Now I’m busy writing the third full length novel, and fourth title, in the Nocturnal Lives Series. To celebrate being able to get back to some of my favorite characters, Nocturnal Origins, the first book in the series, is currently free on Amazon. If you like urban fantasy or police procedurals, please go check it out.
* * *
Some things can never be forgotten, no matter how hard you try. The memory remains, forever imprinted on your soul. It colors your perceptions and expectations. It affects everything you say and do. It doesn’t matter if the memory is good or bad, full of life and love or pain and death. That memory remains until the day you die – if you’re lucky.
If not, the memory haunts you for all eternity.
Detective Sergeant Mackenzie Santos knew that bitter lesson all too well. The day she died changed her life and her perception of the world forever.
It didn’t matter that everyone, even her doctors, believed a miracle had occurred when she awoke in the hospital morgue. She knew better. She knew she had died.
It hadn’t been a miracle. At least not a holy one. Ask the poor attendant who’d run screaming from that cold, desolate room in the hospital basement, when Mac had suddenly sat up, gasping for breath and still covered with too much blood. He’d been convinced a demon from Hell had risen to come for him.
Mac couldn’t blame him. As far as she was concerned, that was the day the dogs of Hell had come for her.
Now, standing in the alley behind Gunn’s, one of the most fashionable restaurants in Dallas, Mac closed her eyes and prayed. She suspected what lay ahead. She could almost smell it – not quite, but enough to know what was there. Sweat trickled down her spine and plastered her thin cotton shirt to her back. Her stomach lurched rebelliously and she swallowed hard against the rising gorge. She had to keep control. At least for the next few hours.
Easy, Mackenzie. Just take it slow and easy.
She opened her eyes and drew a deep breath. She knew it was bad. Two uniformed officers, hands on knees, vomited into the gutter. There was no black humor, no conversation, nothing. In fact, other than the sounds of retching, the scene was eerily quiet; it felt almost like a dream. A nightmare.
She took a few more steps. The harsh, unmistakable stench assailed her nose, warning her what she’d find.
Unless the restaurant had dumped several hundred pounds of raw hamburger out to spoil in the summer heat, a dead body lay at the far end of the alley. That was bad enough. Then she felt as though she were enveloped in blood, and her stomach rolled over once again.
Jaw clenched, she stepped forward. Never before had it been so hard to approach a crime scene. Not even when she’d responded to her first dead-body call a lifetime ago. She hadn’t hesitated then, not like this.
But she was different now. She knew what sort of horror awaited her. She’d seen it before and it haunted her. Haunted her because it touched something in her very few suspected even existed, something she tried so desperately to hide. The beast within fought for dominance, called by the smell of blood, the sight of raw flesh.
She mustn’t lose control. Not here and certainly not now. She blew out a long breath and slammed her mind shut to the horribly enticing sights and smells. Even as she did, the nightmare that had become the core of her existence clawed against her all-too-fragile self-control as it fought for release.
Focus on the job, Mac. Just focus on the job.
Finally, satisfied she wouldn’t lose control – yet – she nodded once. It was time to get to work.
* * *
When Meg Finley’s parents died, the authorities classified it as a double suicide. Alone, hurting and suddenly the object of the clan’s alpha’s desire, her life was a nightmare. He didn’t care that she was grieving any more than he cared that she was only fifteen. So she’d run and she’d been running ever since. But now, years later, her luck’s run out. The alpha’s trackers have found her and they’re under orders to bring her back, no matter what.
Without warning, Meg finds herself in a game of cat and mouse with the trackers in a downtown Dallas parking garage. She’s learned a lot over the years but, without help, it might not be enough to escape a fate she knows will be worse than death. What she didn’t expect was that help would come from the local clan leader. But would he turn out to be her savior or something else, something much more dangerous?
In this short story by Jessica Schlenker, a beautiful and curious heirloom is entrusted to a new family line when Cassandra’s sister purchases a particularly well-chosen gift for her. Still, even daydreamers require time to adjust their notions of reality when confronted with a variation of their dearest desire
Both Hunted and All That is Gold are available through Amazon, Kobo, iTunes and the NRP webstore. Other outlets soon to come. Hunted can also be found on All Romance E-books.