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The Death Witch Series, Book 3
Days after she’s asked to read a murdered corpse pulled from the river, Detective and Death Witch Mallory Mors is visited by its waterlogged ghost. The specter begs her to stop them, but doesn’t give her any clues. Pulled by earth magic to the scene of the crime Mallory finds a second victim, a politician stabbed through the heart. Her magic keeps him alive, but makes her a target for the coven behind the attacks. As the clues dry up, Mallory is attacked with magic even in her dreams. If she can’t sort through the lies to close the case, she’ll never be safe again.
Page Count: 358
Word Count: 94530
The bike swerved, it jagged left and I hoped he was showing off. I raised my head to see, but through the visor of the helmet I realized with dread he wasn’t. The very trees around us were reaching out for the bike, limbs bending to go in front of him.
He rode through the gauntlet, swerving, working against the forest. I had no idea how to move; I could only cling to him, desperate not to be thrown off.
I looked down and saw, too late to warn him, the trees were only half of the attack. Deep into the park, surrounded by trees with no way to dodge, the ground rose up against us. Like a wave of water, the soil and the plants on top of it swelled.
Before I could say anything, we were airborne, the bike launched as if it had gone over a ramp. I expected him to stay with the bike, to try to land gracefully, but instead he let it go and grabbed me. Holding me tight, we fell, plowing into the earth, his back to the ground. The fall happened in slow motion but took only seconds. We stopped, and I shook, scared and covered in dirt. There was a mound of earth in front of us, piled up by his back as we skidded across the forest floor.
I took a deep breath, starting to say something when he tossed me aside. I rolled, hitting the ground without any force, and came up to look at him. My vision was blocked by the now-cracked visor, and I fumbled with the straps to get the helmet off. When I did he was standing up, shaking off the impact. His back was raw with dirt sticking to pearly white bone and blood.
“Your back! And your jacket, it’s…I mean it looks…”
“Better than I would if Jakob knew I let you get hurt.” He offered me a hand and pulled me roughly to my feet. I appreciated the hand, I appreciated even more that I wasn’t looking at the shredded leather and flesh. “Now be quiet; I’d like them to believe their trick worked.”
“Yeah, them, about seven people, eight if you count the girl but I don’t.” He started walking and I stumbled after him, a bundle of bruises making me awkward. I ran into branches, nearly tripped over twigs, and generally moved without a hint of grace or silence.
“Quiet,” he hissed. When I reached him, he was sitting behind a fallen tree trunk, staring ahead. Brushed clear of all the usual pine needles and stones was a perfect circle. On the edges a group of people stood, naked, backs to us, and in the center, on a stone altar, was Phoebe.
“What the hell?” I whispered. Her green eyes were wide with terror but she looked unhurt. Bound with scratchy tan rope and gagged with a white cloth she half sat, half-lay on the wide white stone, fear turning her into a statue.
“She’s the sacrifice,” he told me. The large man, George, held a knife I guessed was petrified palm wood, a knife that would leave behind the smells of earth when it cut. I’d felt those cuts on a dog. I didn’t want to feel them on Phoebe.
“Get her out of there,” I demanded.
“I can’t. The circle is too strong.” I followed his gesture and saw it, a rough circle carved into the earth. Had they carved it with the stone knife? The thought made me shiver.
“Okay then we shoot them.” I reached for my gun.
“No!” He pushed my hand down. “Bullets don’t work right in sacred circles; they deflect, don’t fly straight. We need something stronger, something magical.”
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