Hot & Spicy on Saturday; Paranormal on Sunday
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Today we're spotlighting two of AJ Locke's paranormals!
A deadly curse, a deadly assassin, and one shot to save everyone she loves…
Malachi Erami can’t fall in love. After she’s caught with Knave, the witch Queen’s favorite lover, she’s cursed to savagely butcher any man she falls for. Exiled to live among humans, Malachi runs a bar that serves magic-laced drinks, but since her curse labels her high risk, she’s also closely monitored. Julian Vira is her latest babysitter, but he’s also the first man since Knave that she’s been attracted to. Good-looking and nonjudgmental of her horrible curse? Yeah, he’s hard to resist.
But when Malachi finds a body behind her bar, she knows she’s in trouble. If the Witches Control Council gets wind of it, she’ll be accused of murder and sent to her death. And when her friends start getting framed for murder, she realizes she’s not the only target. Malachi and Julian dig into the evidence to clear her name, but the closer they get to answers, the closer the curse comes to taking over. So when Malachi uncovers a plot to kill the witch Queen, she finds herself suddenly recruited into service, with the promise of having her curse lifted and a reunion with Knave as well. But if she fails, Knave will die. And she and Julian might not live long enough to see that happen.
Today was the anniversary of the worst day of my life, and I’d been trying to forget about it by consuming a vast amount of booze. The fact that I owned a bar greatly helped with that endeavor, and the fact that I was drunk was an accomplishment, since witches weren’t easily susceptible to alcohol. Humans were onto something with this whole drinking-to-forget-one’s-crappy-life thing.
Behind the bar, I poured a shot for an eager customer. Amaretto, Southern Comfort peach liqueur, and sweet-and-sour mix went into the glass, then I held my hand over the drink and let a stream of purple magic, the same color as my eyes, flow into it. The drink glowed purple for a few seconds, then I handed it to the customer, who drank it with no hesitation. After slamming the glass down, he grabbed the tipsy woman who’d been hanging on him and gave her a sloppy kiss, then led her out of the bar. I smiled and shook my head. The magic I’d put into the shot, aptly named Piece of Ass, would ensure they didn’t leave the bedroom tonight.
Somewhere in the room I heard riotous laughter, and above that the voice eliciting that laughter. Xiune was having a good night for a change and wasn’t holed up in my office. Though since she was just a head inside a clear acrylic box, it was understandable that sometimes all she wanted to do was hide.
“Malachi, darling!” Xiune called. “Seven handsome young men have requested the Challenge!” I smiled slyly. I loved administering the Challenge.
“It’s time for the Seven Deadly Sins Challenge!” I announced, filling up eight shot glasses with vodka, one of which I downed. “Which sin will it be and what will its victim do?” People shouted their guesses while I sent tendrils of magic into the shots. My magic sparked like tiny bolts of lightning, and like the shot I had just made, the liquid briefly glowed purple. I focused on one of the glasses and started whispering a spell, channeling the essence of one of the seven deadly sins through my body. For a brief moment, my body became flushed with a feeling of ravenous desire, then it flowed out of me into the shot glass. I felt rather charged and wondered if this had been the right sin to choose tonight. But hey, I was drunk, and I kind of wanted to see someone suffer. Misery loves company right?
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Help ghosts, stop a thief, and try not to die…
Necromancer Selene Vanream helps ghosts settle their affairs so they can move on. But when breaking the rules gets her in trouble, she’s bumped down to tracking ghosts trying to avoid the afterlife. Ghosts like Ethan Lance, who claims he was kicked out of his body when someone else jumped in. Which might be plausible—if such a thing were possible. And if Micah, Selene’s partner, didn’t pull her into an investigation of brutal murders that lead directly back to Ethan.
But when the whole mess puts Selene’s life in danger, she suddenly has very personal reasons to get Ethan’s body back. Between her uncomfortable relationship with Micah, and problems with her boss, Selene learns just how much trouble it can be when you don’t follow the rules…
I was in a strip club trying to help a ghost get laid, which was challenging, but not impossible. It was just extremely taxing on the necromancer extraordinaire (me) who had to channel energy into the ghost to make her corporeal enough to entice one of the stripper boys. Technically what I was doing was illegal, but it was my job to help ghosts settle their affairs so they could move on to eternally ever after, and Julia’s unfinished business was that she’d died a virgin. I’d made it as easy as I could for her by starting at a strip club; if she couldn’t get some here, I wasn’t sure how much lower I could scrape the barrel.
Julia’s prolonged virginity was an enigma to me, even though she told me that she’d been waiting for her soul mate. I just didn’t understand why that meant she couldn’t hit up a bar, get drunk, and have a fun, regret-filled weekend that included the walk of shame. At least she’d have been in better shape once soul mate came around.
“What do you think about him?” I asked, pointing to one of the three oiled up men who were gyrating for the benefit of all the screaming women. He had blond hair and green eyes, and wasn’t overly muscular. Julia looked at him then quickly looked away. I took that as a sign of approval.
“I think this was a bad idea,” she stammered.
“This was a fantastic idea,” I said. “And it will work, don’t worry.”
“No, I mean, I don’t think I can do this. I waited my whole life for my soul mate and now you want me to just—” she stole another quick look at the stripper, “I don’t think I can do this with some random…stripper man. It’s so indecent.”
I rolled my eyes. “Julia, you’re a ghost; you no longer have the option of being discerning. And if you don’t wrap up what’s keeping you around, you run the risk of turning into a monster. Then it’s an even bigger pain in the ass to get rid of you. So let’s call our efforts here at Bump and Moan choice A, and murderous monster choice B. Which choice would you like to make?”
“A,” Julia said, but she didn’t sound happy about it. I smiled, and grabbed a couple drinks off the tray of a passing waitress. I set them down in front of Julia.
“Drink,” I said. “This will help.”
“I’m a ghost,” she said. “I thought I was unable to eat or drink.”
“You can feel the effects of the alcohol since you’ll be working off my energy, so drink up. I’ve pegged you as a light weight so I think two drinks will be enough.”
“But how is this supposed to help?” she asked, frowning.
“Because its job is to help,” I said.
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A.J. Locke is an author and artist, originally from Trinidad, now residing in New York City. Other than writing she enjoys reading, drawing, painting, graphic design, and watching too much television.