As Embers of Fire (Guardian Witch Legacy #1) opens, their daughter Rayne is a precocious five-year-old; Ari and Andreas her adoring parents. Life has been quiet in Riverdale since the demise of their biggest, baddest enemies, and domestic matters have taken over. Until a seemingly ordinary murder heralds a hidden threat...
Unedited preview (opening):
A crisp breeze caught the last of the early morning fog and swirled it over the gravestones. The Olde Town cemetery slowly emerged from the mist, its silent memorial to the dead marred by an unusual amount of activity. A uniformed Riverdale cop completed a final loop of bright yellow tape around several stone vaults and two small crab apple trees; CS techs snapped photos and set out evidence markers as they processed the crime scene.
With a hot Styrofoam coffee cup in each hand, Arianna Calin bumped her jeans-clad hip against the iron entrance gate to open it wide and slipped inside, her footsteps crunching the brittle September leaves. When an eerie chill nudged her senses, she sucked in a breath, sweeping the scene with a sharp glance.
Nothing unexpected yet. At least nothing bad enough to set off her internal witch alarms. But then, it was a graveyard. The remnants of so many dead souls could mask a great deal.
She ducked under a high section of the bright tape and focused on the blond-haired man in jeans and a dark gray sweatshirt crouched beside a still form. "ME's not here yet?" she asked.
Lt. Ryan Foster, her human cop partner, looked up and stood, his blue eyes lighting on the cups in her hands. "On his way. One of those for me?"
A smile touched her lips, and she shared, withholding further comment until he'd taken his first jolt of caffeine. "Dispatch said it was a stabbing. Human female victim. Is the suspect one of mine?" As a supernatural cop and Guardian for Riverdale's Olde Town district, Ari would be notified of a PD case unless an Otherworlder was involved. Usually that meant vampires or werewolves—the two predominant species in the river city—had run amuck.
"I'm not sure…" Ryan rubbed the bridge of his nose. "Sorry to drag you out so early on a hunch, but I have a weird feeling about this one."
Ari nearly choked on her coffee. "Oh, no you don't. That's my line. There's only room for one of us with spidey senses in this partnership."
"Cop instincts," he corrected. His early-morning face was grumpy, displaying his frequent annoyance with things he didn't understand. "It works for us mere mortals."
"OK. Show me. What have you got?" She stepped around him, the humor slipping from her lips at first sight of the victim.
"Judge for yourself if something doesn't feel off."
Vivid red blood stood in stark contrast to the middle-aged woman's light lemon sweater. Not a typical stabbing…her throat had been slashed, leaving a spray pattern of arterial blood on the fading grass around her and a glistening trail down the sides of a gaping wound. It had soaked her neckline.
Ari's nostrils flared, taking in the sharp, metallic scent and seeking something more, whatever had triggered Ryan's reaction. All kidding aside, having worked with him for eight years, she trusted his gut feelings almost as much as her magic. "She hasn't been dead long."
"Yeah. Looks that way. The killer may have left in a hurry. He dropped the knife over there." He nodded toward a glint of metal on the ground where a CS tech was snapping photos. "A jogger reported it. Called 911 about thirty minutes ago." Ryan turned and gestured at a young man being questioned by a uniformed officer. The witness leaned against a stone vault with his arms crossed, feigning nonchalance.
Ari's eyes narrowed. A werewolf barely out of his teens. That answered one of her questions—how a passing jogger noticed a body inside the cemetery. The wolf had picked up the scent of a fresh kill.