Saturday, October 22, 2016

Saturday's Series Spotlight: End Street Detective Agency by RJ Scott & Amber Kell Part 1

Volume One: The Case of the Cupid Curse / The Case of the Wicked Wolf 
Sam, 100% human (no, really) inherits a crumbling building and a private detective agency from his Uncle.

Bob, a brooding stubborn and ancient vampire turns up at his door and refuses to leave.

Before Sam can say 'I only want human cases' he's knee deep in werewolves, dragons, vampires and witches.

The Case of The Cupid Curse #1
Sam Enderson is a human detective who inherits a building from where his Uncle used to run a detective agency. He finds himself working for paranormal creatures despite his resolve to stick with humans only. To supplement his income as a new PI Sam rents out rooms in the large house.

Bob is a vampire and turns up on Sam's doorstep to rent a room. Sparks fly and Sam is attracted to the vampire despite himself.

Sam is cursed by a witch, and has two cases landing on his desk. Werewolves, annoying ghosts and a grumpy gargoyle are enough to drive Sam mad. But somehow in amongst all of this he has to find a missing fae and a missing shifter child.

The Case of the Wicked Wolf #2
Naiads, humans, sirens and a challenge for Alpha make up the intricate story in the race to rescue the missing children.

Sam and Bob have more than just the case of one lost child to handle. Not only is Shelby Hartman missing, but other paranormal children have disappeared. The race to rescue the children is hampered by naiads, humans, sirens and a challenge for Alpha.

Hartman Hunter is desperate to find his daughter. He turns to the demon Danjal Naamah for help. The problem is that Danjal is the only person Hartman has ever loved—the man he let go for the sake of the pack…

Volume Two: The Case of the Dragon's Dilemma / The Case of the Sinful Santa
The Case of the Dragon's Dilemma #3
Dragons, battles, a Siren attack and a deal Sam may come to regret leave Sam and Bob in danger...and result in Mikhail finding a mate.

Bob and Sam take their kind-of-adopted-now vampire daughter Mal to look at new schools. Mikhail is left to babysit the last of the remaining rescued children whilst they are away.

When Sirens appear to steal her away, he is left facing the attack alone until a mysterious hero comes to his aid. Ryujin, or Jin to his friends, is a dragon shifter and his role as Captain of the Dragon Guards puts him in direct conflict with Mikhail.

The minute he sees Mikhail he knows what he wants. Now if he can only get Mikhail to see the same.

The Case of the Sinful Santa #4
Zephariel, the Angel of Vengeance, Nick Klauson, nephew to Santa, Christmas magic, zombies in the school and a necromancer causing chaos...and at the centre of it all-Mal.

Zephariel is the Angel of Vengeance and is tracking down his cousin Danjal for misuse of brimstone. When he walks into a bar and finds Nick Klauson drowning his sorrows, he is instantly drawn to him. Could this be his fated mate?

When Nick and Zeph join forces to deal with zombies in Mal's school, sparks fly. Add in a demon, a wolf and a necromancer, and Sam and Bob have a hunt on their hands.

The Case of the Purple Pearl #5
After failing in a quest to win the Fae Queen’s approval, Halstein is locked in a world of stone. Forced to remain a gargoyle he spends his days on Sam’s desk pining for his lost love.

Prince Idris’s lover went missing and was presumed dead. Alone, Idris lives a life away from court, starved of energy but unwilling to sleep in the room he once shared with his beloved.

Can Sam and Bob save these fated lovers before it's too late? And will Bob’s ultimate sacrifice be enough to free Hal from his prison?

Volume One: Case of the Cupid Curse #1 & Case of the Wicked Wolf #2
Cupid Curse is a wonderful beginning to a series.  It introduces us to the main characters, and a few secondary ones, with just the right blend of drama, humor, and mystery.  We all know that not witches are bad but when one curses you, you definitely don't take it for granted.  Sam finds himself wanting to run a purely human cases only private investigation business but he soon finds that is not the route fate seems to have in mind.  Witches, gargoyles, ghosts, sirens, faes, and a vampire named Bob(which completely caught me off guard in a lovely humorous way that still has me smiling weeks after originally reading) have put Sam smack into the middle of world he really didn't want to be in.

Wicked Wolf: Sam is still searching for the missing little girl wolf, Shelby but we also meet Dan the demon as well as get to know Hart the alpha better.  Wicked begins right from where Cupid left off and Sam is still intent on having human only cases but once again, fate intervenes and is Sam completely human himself?  Well, you have to read that for yourself but I will say with each case and each new paranormal he helps, Sam gains little extras that certainly question who or what he is.

Volume Two: Case of the Dragon's Dilemma #3 & Case of the Sinful Santa #4
Dragon's Dilemma: I don't think I've ever read a story with dragons or dragon shifters before but after reading this, I'd love to read more, who knew dragons could be so sexy and good?  Once again, one case leads into another.  I won't touch on the case itself but I will say that Sam the human-non human and Bob the vampire continue to grab hold of my heart and crack me up at the same time. You can't help but cheer them on in this crazy world that Sam has found himself thrust into.

Sinful Santa: When a series like End Street happens, there is the potential for new characters with each entry but you don't expect them to all carry over from one to the next.  I mean when a case concludes so should the clients, right? Well not in this series and neither does it get crowded, each character has his or her place in their world and in the continuing story.  Who knew Santa's family could be so interesting? Well, you will after you've read Case of the Sinful Santa, which in itself is a bit of conundrum, Santa(or his family at least) taking part in anything that involves sin, what a devilish idea and RJ & Amber handle it interestingly.

Case of the Purple Pearl #5
With number 5 we learn how the stone gargoyle came to be stone, but is he a real gargoyle?  I think you all know what my next statement will be: you'll have to read that for yourself.  As it is with everything in Sam's world, there's often more questions than answers and this time Purple Pearl ends in a bit of a cliffhanger, luckily for me I only have to wait a few weeks for number 6.  Sam and Bob may not always seem to be the main characters in the plot but they are at the heart of it, this time it seems more dangerous but as always, Sam the human-non human and Bob the vampire's love is true and bright but can it survive their newest case?

Overall Series Review:
How had I not read this series before?  It should have been a no brainer considering how much I love RJ Scott's work not to mention that it's a collaboration with Amber Kell.  Oh well, it's always nice to stumble onto an unexpected surprise and that is definitely what you get with End Street Detective Agency, surprise blended with humor, drama, mystery, paranormal, and of course underneath it all and entwined throughout is love. Ghosts, vampires, sirens, wolfs, dragons, faes, gargoyles, familiars, demons, and the list goes on.  Who knew so many paranormal entities could not only co-exist but even work, live, and love together?  No matter how many books RJ & Amber decide to write in the End Street universe, I have a feeling that it will be a very real probability that it's a series I'll revisit often and most likely every Halloween. A must read if you are even the slightest bit of a paranormal fan.


The Case of the Guilty Ghost #6(Coming November23, 2016)
Bob is lost in grief, Sam is fighting for his family, and there is no middle ground. Can their love survive?

Bob is grieving over his brother’s sacrifice. Guilt ridden and devastated, he buries himself in vampire mourning and pulls away from Sam. When Bob’s family demands Sam faces the consequences for his part in Ettore’s death, Sam is left to deal with them alone.

Ettore is in the Aset Ka waiting room, next in line for the ceremony where his soul will be torn from his body. But a shocking discovery makes him second guess his entire existence and the choices he has made.

A forgotten past binds Theodore ‘Teddy’ McCurray Constantine III to Ettore and when the curse tied to Ettore is broken by his death, Teddy’s past returns to him with a vengeance.

A royal family in denial, a demonic curse, and long forgotten love, leaves no time for Sam to take a breath. Is it too late to save the vampire kingdom?

The Case of the Cupid Curse #1
Sam Enderson stood outside his building and smiled with pride. The fresh sign painted on the door in crisp black letters read 'End Street Detective Agency'. Examining the overall effect, he nodded in satisfaction. This move to becoming a private investigator was as far from being a timid bookseller as he could get. No one would walk all over someone who investigated crimes for a living.

Three months of correspondence school and a shiny new multi-weapon licence had given his confidence a much-needed boost. After the hellish past year, in which he’d found his boyfriend in bed with his now ex-best friend, followed by the death of his favourite uncle, Sam was ready for a new start in life.

Uncle Hanson. Just thinking about him made Sam feel sad. He had fond memories of visiting his uncle at work. The man had always liked Sam. He evidently had carried that affection into Sam’s adult life. After all, he had left Sam an entire building in his will, the building Sam now stood in front of. An office with accommodations over the top, it was worth quite a bit of money despite its proximity to an undesirable area.

"You should sell," his friend Oscar had said. Oscar had had no love for Uncle Hanson. In a sniffy tone, he’d often consigned Hanson to the idiot pile and called him ‘odd’.

"I don’t want to sell," Sam had protested.

"What are you going to do with it?" Oscar had asked.

"Open up my own agency."

Oscar still wasn’t speaking to him, even now, three months later.

Sam sighed at the memory then mentally pushed it all to one side to admire his property. The lower half consisted of a business office and reception area, with the upper two floors divided into four apartments. Three were empty but his uncle had filled the fourth one with notes from his own investigative practice. That room was high on his list of things to sort out, but he first needed to concentrate on renting out one of the empty apartments.

Sam may have inherited the house, but it hadn’t exactly come with a burgeoning bank account to match. Forty years of being a detective and all Hanson had had to show for it was this building, a small bank account and a room full of papers. Sam was determined to be different. He even had a five-year plan in place. Sam didn’t doubt for one minute that he knew exactly why his uncle had had little money to speak of. Uncle Hanson had done too much pro bono work for them.

Filing cabinets and boxes overflowed with notes from years of being a private detective. A lot of those papers included cases involving aspects of the paranormal, things Sam thought better left alone. Sam didn’t have a drop of supernatural blood in his entire body and he didn’t plan on associating with those who did. It hadn’t exactly worked out for his uncle.

Paranormals had their place. Hell, they owned half the city. Vampires and werewolves, witches, fae and pixies—they all had their own parishes. Neighbourhoods where they lived amongst their own kind. Like enjoyed living with like, and, although they often mixed and matched, no one in Sam’s family had ever crossed the romantic boundary between the magical and the not.

Sam didn’t count his second cousin Christa, who had taken up with a blood demon. There was a bad seed in every batch.

Worried he’d use up the rest of his small inheritance, Sam had put an ad in the local paper to rent out two of the four apartments. They were empty but spacious rooms that had no one currently occupying them. After a quick mop and dust, they were ready for renters. Why his uncle had a space with no one living there didn’t make much sense. Of course, if his cousin Erik hadn’t been estranged from his father, Sam wouldn’t have inherited anything. A twinge of guilt went through Sam, but he hadn’t heard from his cousin in years and had no way of getting hold of him.

“Excuse me!”

A soft voice had Sam spinning around to see an old lady looking up at him. Her wrinkled skin and the way she leaned against her cane betrayed her great age.

“Can I help you?”

She squinted at him as if trying to make him out through her foggy white eyes. “You owe me a favor.”

“What?” Sam examined the lady carefully, but he hadn’t ever met her before in his life. What possible kind of favor could he owe her?

“The man here before. He promised he’d help me out,” she explained.

“I’m sorry—”

The old lady didn’t give Sam a chance to explain. She jabbed her finger into the air at Sam, pursed her lips, then began shouting. “He owes me. He owes me!” she repeated twice, her voice rising to a screeching pitch.

Ahh, now it becomes clear. “You must be talking about my uncle. Why don’t you come inside and we can discuss what I can do for you.” Although he didn’t feel the need to keep a dead man’s promise, if he could help the woman out, he would.

After opening the front door, he motioned for her to go ahead of him.

She settled into his visitor chair while Sam scooted past her to sit on the leather chair opposite, patting his uncle’s gargoyle statue as he walked past. Uncle Hanson had the strangest collection of art he’d ever seen. Eventually, he’d get rid of it all, but right then the weird pieces reminded him of his beloved relative and better times.

“My name is Sam Enderson. How can I help you?”

Scowling over at him, she shook her head. “The guy here before never told you not to share your name, did he?”

“The man here before was my uncle. No, he didn’t tell me not to share my name.”

She shook her head as if not understanding Sam’s stupidity. “You never share your name with a witch unless you want her to do a spell.”

Sam jerked in his seat, appalled at what he’d let through his front door. “You’re a witch?”

The woman slammed her cane onto the wooden floor. “Of course I’m a witch. I’ve got the wrinkled skin, the hunch, the cane, and the rheumy eyes. What did you think I was?”

He shrugged. “I-I thought you were just an old woman.” An old scary woman who gave him the creeps, but an old woman nonetheless.

“Old!” the witch shrieked. “How dare you call me old? I’m only a hundred and sixty!”

“Forgive me.” Sam raised his hands in alarm. “I didn’t mean any offense.” Secretly he wondered how old a witch had to be before she fell into the ‘old’ category.

“Well, I am offended,” she snapped.

“Sorry. I don’t know much about your world.” Witch or not, he couldn’t help the little slip of derision into his tone.

The witch regarded him carefully. “What are you?”

“What do you mean?”

“What blood flows in your body?” she asked, as if expecting him to come up with some sort of interesting paranormal cocktail.

“Human. Just human,” Sam answered.

“You don’t like paranormals, do you?”

“No.” Sam saw no reason to deny the fact.

“So what are you doing here?” she asked suspiciously.

“I’ve inherited this building.”

“And you intend to do what?”

“Carry on business as usual. Private investigations. It’s what I’m qualified for.” And he had the multi-weapon license to back him up.

“Then you’ll have to do paranormal cases.” She gave him a taunting smile.

Sam’s stomach churned. “Why?” He didn’t plan to ever take a paranormal case.

“Because the law states no business can discriminate against a paranormal due to his or her status,” she explained. “It’ll get you shut down, it will.” There was definite glee in the old woman’s expression.

All Sam wanted to do at that moment was place his head in his hands and curse. He didn’t. He was much too professional for that. Instead, he shrugged. His mom always said if you had nothing good to say, then don’t say anything.

The witch cackled in true witch fashion, and Sam shuddered inwardly. The scent of something dead and decaying pervaded the room. Add in the crooked teeth and the rags for clothes and he couldn’t understand why he hadn’t immediately pegged her as something different.

“Now about that favor…” she continued.

“What?” He couldn’t look her in the eyes. Maybe if he didn’t look, whatever she said wouldn’t be real. He was comfortable with his denial. In fact, he might just lock the door, pull down the shades, and wallow in it for a few days.

“I need help tracking down a werewolf.”

Sam looked at her. “Why?” Paranormal hunting paranormal? That couldn’t end well.

The witch scowled at him while tapping her cane on the floor. “What do you mean, why?”

Had he stuttered? “I mean, why do you need a werewolf?”

“It’s none of your business why I need a werewolf, boy. I just do,” the witch snapped.

“It is, if you want me to do your dirty work.” Sam knew all kinds of uses witches had for werewolves and none of them was nice. “Not to mention hunting werewolves is illegal.”

“Pfft.” She waved away the law as if it were nothing. Probably was since she didn’t plan on breaking it but had asked Sam to do it instead. “I’ve got a rare potion to make, and I need some werewolf bones.”

“No.” Sam might not like paranormals very much, but he wasn’t going to hunt one down, either.

“Your uncle owes me!” she screeched.

Sam wanted to cover his ears at the high-pitched noise. “My uncle is dead,” he began to explain as patiently as he could. “I was willing to hear you out, but I’m not going to go kill an innocent werewolf so you can make a potion.” Were werewolves actually innocent? Hadn’t there been that whole rampaging werewolf-pack mess last year? Sam seemed to remember people—human, non-magical, regular people—getting killed in that little incident. Still, whatever issues he had with werewolves, he didn’t do that kind of work. He had enough problems without getting jailed for killing werewolves, innocent or not.

“This potion can save a loved one!” the witch announced dramatically. “I need those bones.”

“Find a different potion. I’m sure any given werewolf is someone’s beloved too.”

The witch scowled at him, then abruptly leaned back in her seat and smiled. The smile exposed a mouthful of yellowed teeth, and Sam winced inwardly at her lack of dental care. “Do you have anyone you love, Mr. Enderson?”

Sam’s mind shifted back to the image of his boyfriend of ten years screwing his best friend. “Not anymore.” Despite his ex pleading for forgiveness, some things Sam wouldn’t forgive. He’d moved out and away from his lover within days and blocked both work and mobile numbers from his phone. His uncle had been his last close relative that had stayed in his life. So really, with his uncle dead, at this point in time, he had no one he could call a loved one. But he’d give her his own bones before he admitted the extent of his loneliness.

The witch stood with a purposeful air. “When you’re on the verge of losing someone you love, come find me and maybe I’ll free you. Until then, enjoy my present.”

With a poof of smoke, the witch vanished.

Gasping, Sam tried to wave away the stench that accompanied the smoke, acrid and with a hint of burnt almonds. Finally, when that didn’t work, he rushed over and opened a window to let the ashy smell out. Great start to his first day as a PI.

“You’re an idiot.”

“Ahh!” Sam jumped back from the window to face the empty room. What the hell? Was she still there? Was the witch invisible?

“An idiot,” the voice repeated. This time Sam confirmed the source, emphasized when the statue on his desk turned its head and regarded him with eerie yellow eyes.

“What the hell are you?” he managed to ask coherently.

The statue’s stone wings moved, creating a sound like gravel underfoot. “I’m a gargoyle. What are you?”

“I-I’m a human.” Sam swallowed rapidly, trying to get some moisture into his dry throat. “What are you doing here?”

The statue stretched out of its crouch until it stood about a foot tall on the corner of the desk. Its baleful glare pinned Sam to the spot. “You’re an idiot. That witch has something planned for you, and it isn’t good.”

“H-how do you know?” Sam’s heart beat faster than a rabbit chased by a werewolf.

The gargoyle rolled his eyes. “You’re not too bright, are you? Your uncle trafficked with that witch.”

Sam frowned. His uncle had been a kindly old PI, who hadn’t seemed to actually do much from day to day. There was no way he had trafficked anything. He had been the type of man who always had a ready supply of candy for eager young visitors like Sam.

“The sweet old man who brought you candy didn’t exist,” the gargoyle answered his thoughts. Wait? How the hell…?

“How did you know what I was thinking?”

The gargoyle ignored the question, “He would’ve had that werewolf for the witch by the end of the day and walked away with enough cash to eat for months.” He didn’t sound like he approved, and there was sadness in his tone.

“N-no, that can’t be true.” Sam shook his head in denial. Surely the gargoyle had his facts wrong?

“Have you actually looked at the paperwork upstairs yet? I heard you banging about. I assume you actually read some of them?”

“I was moving furniture for my future tenants.” Sam shook his head. “And no, not yet. I thought they were just old case files that needed organizing.”

Defending himself to a freaking gargoyle made Sam feel like an idiot. The damn thing had been sitting there every time Sam had visited, and never once had it appeared to be anything more than an ornament. The creature must be wrong. Sam would have seen it if Uncle Hanson had been a bad guy. He wasn’t stupid. How could he not have understood his uncle’s true nature? Nope, this ‘gargoyle thing’ had to be wrong.

The gargoyle clomped across the desk. “Look at the files and check out the back closet in the file room. Your uncle had more going on than anyone knew about. That includes exposing himself to a lot more than just a witch with teeth problems and a ready hand with curses.”

With those parting words, the gargoyle sank back into his original position. A loud, crackling noise filled the room, and the creature became a statue once more. Sam poked at it with his index finger, but it didn’t move again.


Maybe he was in the middle of a dream, one where he was going to wake up in his sun-lit apartment in Johnstown with his boyfriend in bed with him.

File room.

The gargoyle’s words sank in. Maybe he did need to check out the apartment with all the files a little more carefully. It wouldn’t hurt to see what other pies his uncle had his fingers in. As he stepped out of the office, a knock on the front door had him turning away from the stairs and back towards the front door. Why would someone be knocking? The door was unlocked. At least, he didn’t think he’d locked the door. But then, it was an old place. Maybe the latch had closed behind him when he’d escorted the witch inside.

His mind still on the files upstairs, he opened the door and stopped, frozen.


The man could be nothing else. Tall, elegant, and having an unearthly beauty, the vampire gave him a smile that exposed his fangs. “I hear you have an apartment to rent.” The vampire’s voice was like scotch over ice and dripped with sensuality.

A vampire here? In the daylight? Sam glanced past the vamp. Yep, the sun shone brightly in the sky.

“Ah, you’re not used to us.” The vampire flashed another smile. “We don’t actually burn up in the sun.”

That’s a shame. That would be one less paranormal to cause trouble.

“Um, you need an apartment?” Sam had never heard of a vampire living in an apartment. “I thought you people had mansions and crypts and stuff.”

The vampire threw back his head and laughed. “That’s only in the movies. Now, can I see your place?”

“…Umm” Sam searched his mind for a good excuse. Anything to keep the skeevy, blood-sucking supernatural out of his house.

The tall vampire smiled. “You know that part about vampires reading your mind?”

With a sinking stomach, Sam nodded.

“That part’s true.”

Sam sighed. “You’d better come in. It’s right this way.”

The day had started out so well, too. Now, Sam just wanted to go back to bed and hide under the covers.

“I’d be happy to keep you company,” the vampire said in a low, sultry tone. For a second, Sam didn’t understand what the hell the vampire was talking about, and then he recalled what he had just thought about beds and covers. Sam looked over his shoulder to see the vampire checking out his ass. Rolling his eyes, he headed up the stairs, leading the vampire to the top floor. He pulled an old-fashioned key from his pocket, unlocked then opened the door.

“No spell locks?” the vampire asked with concern in his voice.

Sam shook his head. Like he’d had any time to do things like that. The vampire was lucky the room had been tidied and cleaned. “You’re welcome to add your own, of course.” Fuck, he was going to rent to a vampire. He could hope the creature didn’t want the place. “It’s nothing fancy.”

Please want something fancy.

Before Sam could take more than two steps into the apartment, the vampire pinned him to the wall. “I’m not a creature. I’m a man, and I’d be happy to show you exactly how manly I am.”

To Sam’s shock, he could feel the vampire rubbing his erection against him. “U-um, s-sorry.” Was this what vampires did just before they drank every drop of blood from your body?

“I don’t want you sorry. I just want you to want me.”

Sudden, inexplicable desire burned through Sam and his body hardened in reaction to the proximity of another man. The vampire smiled, exposing a flash of fang. A shiver of fear trembled down Sam’s spine.

“No!” He shoved at the vampire, who, surprisingly, broke his hold and released Sam.

The vampire watched Sam with a wary look. “What are you?”

Why does everyone keep asking me that?

“I’m human, okay? Just human.” Sam scowled at the vampire.

“No human has ever shattered my glamor.” The vampire sounded thoughtful, and his appraising look unnerved Sam.

“Well, good for me.” Sam folded his arms. He might not like paranormals, but he knew enough about vampires and their way of controlling people to know he didn’t want that within six feet of him. “I’m not going to rent a room to someone who tried to glamor me. You might as well go.”

The vampire smiled. “My name is Bob.”

A snort of laughter burst out of Sam. “Your name isn’t Bob.”

The vampire tilted his head, and his eyes glowed with amusement. “How do you know?”

“Because I just had a witch tell me not to share my name with a paranormal so I doubt you would be telling me your real name.”

Bob grabbed Sam’s wrist. His grip was firm, and instinctively Sam yanked his arm to try to break the vampire’s hold. “There was a witch here?” Bob snapped urgently. “What did she look like?”

“A witch.” What did it matter what she looked like? “She was old, crony, and witchy. You know—” He gestured expansively with his free hand— “A witch.”

“What did she want?” Bob still hadn’t let go of his wrist. The vampire didn’t know his own strength. One last tug and Bob finally let him loose. Idly, Sam rubbed at the sore skin burn.

“From what she said, werewolf bones.”

Bob scanned the room as if he expected the witch to jump out of the wall or something. “Never trust a witch and never, ever, tell a witch your real name.”

“Okay, um… Bob.” Sam could barely hold back the laughter building inside him.

“My real name is Roberto, but I go by Bob,” Bob finally said. “Vampires don’t have last names outside a coven. Your last name reveals the group you belong to. I am an independent.”

Sam couldn’t hold back the laugh inside him. Dire warnings about witches aside, he couldn’t wrap his head around a badass vampire calling himself Bob. Hell, a vampire named Bob. That was wrong on so many levels.

“Vampires are supposed to be sexy. There’s nothing sexy about a Bob,” Sam finally managed to say without laughing. Why he cared what the vampire called himself, he didn’t know, but there was no way he was going to call a vampire Bob.

Bob seemed to forget his need to warn Sam about witches and names and instead pulled Sam into his arms. Evidently he had returned to his first agenda. “I’m sure I can convince you I’m sexy,” he drawled. What was it about this man—vampire, whatever—feeling like he could manhandle him at every turn?

Sam narrowed his eyes at the vampire. The man might be the sexiest thing Sam had ever seen, but he wasn’t going to admit it…

Damn. He had just thought that. And damn—Bob had heard him. Shit. Bob was definitely smirking.

“Do you have a multiple personality disorder or something? You bounce around more than anyone I’ve ever met. From scary vampire to smirking idiot in a second.”

Bob smiled and didn’t appear to take offense at Sam’s comment. “You’ll have plenty of time to examine my personality when I move in. How much is the rent?” The quick change of subject threw Sam, but it didn’t keep him from trying one last time to stop Bob from moving in. He mentioned an exorbitant amount for the monthly rent to attempt to deter the vampire.

Bob released Sam, and then walked through the living room and down the hall. There were two bedrooms and a small kitchen, though Sam doubted Bob would need a kitchen. Vampires didn’t eat real food. Right? But wouldn’t he need a fridge or something for all the blood? Or would he be one of those vampires with a live donor?

What did Sam know? He had thought vampires could only come out at night.

Sam pushed aside thoughts of blood.

Bob returned to Sam’s side in long, confident strides. “I’ll take it.”


The Case of the Wicked Wolf  #2
Sam Enderson sat back in his desk chair and looked at his notes with annoyance. The strip of ribbon Hunter had sent him sat in the corner. As long as he didn’t touch it he couldn’t hear the girl crying. Despite what Bob said he knew it was the missing werewolf girl. Who else would be crying out in pain? Unless the abductor who sent the ribbon knew Hunter’s daughter Shelby had vanished and was taking advantage of that fact. The only thing that made Sam question his judgement was Bob’s statement that he didn’t sense any shifter scent on the ribbon.

"It’s a puzzle."

"Yes it is," Sam replied to Smudge, the black cat familiar, curled on the pillow beside his chair.

Smudge flicked his long tail as he groomed his black fur in long, languid strokes. When he spread his legs to lick his privates Sam turned away. "Can’t you do that elsewhere?"

"You’re just jealous because I’m bendy." Smudge taunted.

Searching for a distraction he turned his attention back to his sparse notes. Nothing made sense. Where had Shelby gone? Bob had talked to his contacts and the witch was still complaining to everyone she could find that Sam hadn’t lived up to his uncle’s promise. Since word had also travelled that she’d cursed Sam and he’d recovered the missing fae, his name was beginning to become rather well known among people he’d rather avoid.

Sam wished he could interrogate the werewolves and especially, Constance, Shelby’s ex-wife. From the little Hartman told Sam about her she seemed a prime suspect. Hartman kept insisting none of the shifters would do that to a little girl but Sam had his doubts. Shelby’s mother had two sons from a previous marriage both old enough to challenge for Alpha. Even Hartman admitted she was power hungry. What better way to bring down the Alpha than to crush his spirit? Even if Hartman denied his pack had anything to do with Shelby’s disappearance Sam noticed the Alpha didn’t ask for his pack’s help in locating his lost girl.

He sighed as he looked at the miniscule amount of information he had to work with. If the case hadn’t involved a little girl Sam would’ve passed on it, however, he couldn’t refuse to help out an obviously broken-hearted person even if he was a werewolf.

Unfortunately this new job didn’t do anything to help foster a good reputation among the human population. So far paranormals were the only ones interested in Sam’s services.

A knock on the door drew Sam’s attention away from his futile endeavour.

"Yes?" Sam called out.

A large hulking man with hair popping out of every visible crevice stomped into Sam’s office. He wore a surprisingly stylish suit but Sam figured if you were that large everything was probably custom made.

"Are you Sam Enderson?" he asked in a voice so deep Sam thought he felt the floor vibrate beneath his chair.

"Yes." Sam stood up to greet his guest. The man-creature-being whatever the hell it was towered over him even when standing. Sam’s confidence raised a few notches when he realised he could probably flee the building before the visitor reached him. "Can I help you with something?"

Smudge hissed from his perch.


Sam had never met a troll before. Fascinated, he watched his visitor with open curiosity. He hadn’t known trolls ever left their bridges. Of course what he knew about trolls could be stuffed in a brownie’s pocket.

"I need something removed." The troll spoke in slow drawn out syllables as if each word had to be dredged from his soul.

The Case of the Dragon's Dilemma #3
"And you’re sure you are going to be okay looking after our little guest?" Bob didn’t look convinced even as he asked.

"I’ll be absolutely fine," Mikhail said firmly. "It’s not like she does or says anything. She just sits there." He crossed his arms over his chest and looked squarely at the small blonde-haired girl curled up on a temporary bed with her thumb in her mouth. He knew absolutely nothing about children, other than that they were shouting, squealing bundles of confusion that he couldn’t quite get his head around. But at least this one was quiet. She hadn’t said a single word since being rescued from the docks and the cage she had been held in. The fact that she had been one of the children in the cages was another contradiction. He could understand Mal being in a cage—the small vampire was a spitfire and constantly back-chatting and by all accounts had made life difficult for her captors. This child, though—why would any human think she was threat enough to cage her?

"We don’t know what her species is," Bob reminded him. "I could stay here and back you up." There was no trace of sarcasm in Bob’s voice, but there was an element of slyness there that Sam picked up instantly.

"You’re not staying here," Sam said firmly. "We have two schools to check out with Mal and she needs both her guardians with her."

Bob muttered something under his breath but didn’t argue his position with any conviction.

Mikhail chuckled. Bob was handling having a surrogate daughter in about the same easy way as Mikhail was handling having children around him at all.

"I don’t have anywhere to be," Mikhail confirmed. "I don’t mind sitting and watching."

"See if you can get her to talk," Sam suggested. "We can’t return her to her people if we don’t even know what she is."

Mal ran into the room and slid to a stop next to Sam. She grabbed at his jacket to stop from falling on the wooden floor.

"Sam," she said quickly. "It’s time to go."

Mikhail waved them away and shut the front door after they left. He wandered through the house and spent a short while in the file room, but Teddy was lurking and the disapproving looks from the ghost had him leaving to go and check on the girl. For a while he hovered at the door. Sam had tried talking to her. Bob had attempted cajoling her. Smudge had even spent an inordinate amount of time winding in and out of her legs every time she stood up.

Still nothing.

Maybe he should give it a try. He did have one advantage over Bob in that his friend was a pure vampire. And over Sam, who was a human. Maybe she would react differently if she knew more about Mikhail? That he wasn’t pure vampire. Maybe she was a mixed species and had learned not to share that fact with others. A lot of paranormals shunned mixed race beings because they weren’t all one or the other.

It was worth a try at least. What did he have to lose?

He dragged a chair from the side of the room, then straddled it backwards before resting his chin on his hands. Where to start?

"So, I’m Mikhail," he began. She stared right at him and even stopped twirling her hair to listen. "I found out that I wasn’t who I thought I was. It was hard to come to terms with finding out my entire life had been a lie. People didn’t accept me. Even friends I’d known for a long time became enemies." Great. If anything, the confused expression on the little girl showed exactly how little of what he was saying made sense. "Let me start again."

She shuffled a little on the bed but still said nothing.

"I was about your age…well, ten anyway—hell, if you are even ten that is—when I found out my dad wasn’t my dad. Turns out I wasn’t the full-blooded siren, or prince, I was expected to be. In fact, I’m half vampire. Before I was ten you couldn’t have told I was different from other children my age." Mikhail shook his head. He recalled the teasing and bullying when he couldn’t master breathing underwater for long periods of time without using magic, and how he’d learned to pretend everything was okay. As the middle son to the siren king, Mikhail hadn’t been allowed to fail. Did this child in front of him have the same problems?

Mikhail sighed. "As I grew up, my vampire nature became dominant and my siren side became quieter and in the background. I know what it’s like to be different and to have to keep secrets."

Was that enough to communicate what he wanted? Would she see that he understood if she was a half-breed or unusual species type?

She uncurled and sat up.

"Eliza," she said softly. "My name is Eliza."

"Hey, Eliza," Mikhail said. He kept his voice low and friendly. "Can you tell me how to get hold of someone who might be missing you? Parents? Family?"

Becoming mute again, she shook her head, then clambered down off the bed. She walked past Mikhail and into the hallway before going into the bathroom. Well, at least he’d got her name. That was a start. She shut the door behind her and Mikhail contemplated what he was going to ask her next. Maybe a location, or a surname, or anything that meant she could get home.

The Case of the Sinful Santa #4
Nick Klauson pushed open the door to the tavern and climbed onto a seat in the back corner where it was dark and he could be alone. He needed somewhere to lick his wounds and this place was as good as any. The barman—woman? Nick could never tell with satyrs—waited expectantly and Nick didn’t keep him or her standing there long. He didn’t have to think about what he was going to order.

“Whisky. A bottle. One glass,” he said firmly. He waited for a reaction and was vaguely disappointed when there was none. The whisky was old, the crystal tumbler bright and there in front of him was the means to forget who he was for a few hours at least.

“Do you want any food?” the satyr asked. Her features coalesced into a feminine shape and she batted her eyelashes at Nick. If she only knew how freaked out Nick was to see a paranormal being able to change sex at the whim of the person they were with.

“Do I look like I want food?” Nick snapped. “If I’d wanted food I would have ordered it.” He stopped as he realised the residual anger from his last showdown with the family was spilling over into spite and irritation. “Sorry,” he mumbled before swallowing another mouthful of burning alcohol. He wiped his mouth. “Bad day.” Bad year. Bad life.

The satyr leaned over the bar, giving Nick an eyeful of newly fashioned creamy breasts in a low-cut top. “You look stressed,” she began with a low purr. “I can help you with that if you have the time.” Evidently the satyr was reading Nick all wrong. The alcohol was burning in his system and he clung to the buzz as long as he could. Unfortunately his family had this damn gene that meant they didn’t stay drunk for long. Sometimes he hated that…sometimes he wanted to drown in the haze of contentment and just stay there for an hour or two.

“Wrong…uhm…” He waved a hand at her breasts.

She chuckled and in the weirdest, unsexiest, most obscene way ever, she morphed into a male. Nick nearly choked on his whisky. The male bartender was so the absolute opposite of what Nick wanted in a guy. She…or he—or whatever the satyr was—had chosen a small blond twink of a thing. What he was faced with couldn’t have been more wrong. Nick loved his men big and dark-haired and strong enough to drag him to bed.

“Better?” the satyr said in a soft voice.

Nope. All wrong.

“I’m not interested,” Nick said quickly. “That isn’t what I came in for.”

The satyr reached out a hand and touched his cheek, startling him back on the stool. “Shame. You’re soooo pretty.”

Nick pulled away from the satyr’s reach. “Uh. Yeah. Just the whisky, thanks.”

“Are you really sure? I can be anything you want me to be.”

“Can you be a way out?” Nick snapped then regretted it. The satyr eyed him with confusion then opened his mouth to answer. “Never mind,” Nick interjected. “The whisky is fine.”

The satyr moved away and morphed as he walked, back into the buxom blonde. Nick could feel the disappointment emanating from her. He hated that. Not only was Nick the only skinny one in the family, but he had a broken form of the family trait of empathy. Not a useful skill when the only emotions he was capable of reading were misery and disappointment. He couldn’t even get empathy right. And as for ho ho freaking ho…

“Is this seat taken?” a voice rumbled to his left. Irritation flooded Nick. This was a big bar with a lot of spaces to hide, why would someone want to share his?

“Yes,” he snapped.

The owner of the voice chuckled and the sound cut through Nick’s melancholy. That was one low, sexy noise. He looked sideways and got an eyeful of man. Big man. Huge. Maybe six-four to his five-ten. Wide, solid, with dark hair, and even in the dim lighting at this end Nick could see the man’s eyes glint with amusement. Nick squirmed in his seat. Why had he said yes? The man, or whatever he turned out to be in this mixed human/para bar, was clearly interested enough to choose to sit next to Nick. Add to that Nick had a whole afternoon to kill.

“No,” he said.

“No what?” the big man said.

“When I said yes, I meant no. No one is sitting there.”

The man looked down pointedly at the fact he was already perched on the stool anyway. “Then I’ll stay,” he concluded.

The satyr behind the bar moved over to serve the new guy. Nick blinked furiously. The alcohol had clearly got to him because he could swear the satyr was morphing from male to female and was at times stuck as a bearded sixty-year-old man with the biggest chest he’d ever seen. He shook his head and concentrated on his whisky. He was obviously losing it big time.

“Zeph Constantine,” the big man introduced himself and held out a hand to shake.

“Nick Klauson.”

They shook hands and Nick winced at Zeph’s grip. Firm, maybe a little too firm. The shaking went on for some time. Neither man released his hold. Finally Nick realised he was still holding Zeph’s hand and embarrassment flushed his face. Thank the heavens they were in the gloom so Zeph didn’t see the tell-tale signs of Nick’s classic awkwardness around hot men.

“What brings you to the city?” Zeph asked as he sipped on what looked like water but could well have been vodka for all Nick knew.

“Toy convention,” Nick answered immediately. Then his mind went blank. What else could he add to that one? That was his cover story and he hadn’t spent any time embellishing it to be able to give details.

“Interesting. And?” Zeph prompted.

“I’m a statistician,” Nick lied on the run. “I look at trends in toy sales to support company marketing.” So it wasn’t actually lying, but he had fudged a little there. His actual job was to visit toy fairs and determine trends, but he was also there to investigate areas with any pockets of residual despair—the parts of the city and the surrounding countryside where there was a lack of joy. Not that he would tell sexy here anything about what he really did. His job description was a little screwy, but that was what he did and he did it well.

The Case of the Purple Pearl #5
Chapter One
“What are you doing?”

Sam sighed. This was the fifth time today their visiting gargoyle had asked him that. Three weeks had passed since it had decided to stay at the house and wait for Sam to find it a master. And those three weeks had lasted a very long time.

“Taxes,” Sam muttered. The same answer he’d given every single time he’d been asked.

“I don’t like math,” the little gargoyle said. He waddled across Sam’s desk, leaving small muddy footprints on a neatly filled-in form. Sam couldn’t even muster the energy to get angry.

“Are you going to tell me your name yet?” Sam asked. He placed his pen on the desk and leaned back with a stretch, eying the small gargoyle against the hulking monstrosity that sat immobile on the corner of his desk. They were so dissimilar, in size and expression.

“You know I can only tell my master.”

“I can’t keep calling you the little gargoyle. I’m going to have to give you a name.”

The little gargoyle turned in a circle to face Sam, then squatted into a pose with his mouth open in a snarl. It looked pretty mean, and Sam edged back.

“What’s wrong?” he asked.

The gargoyle’s expression changed back to the one he usually had; that of a dopey baby.

“Nothing, I was just giving you my fierce face so you can give me the right name. I’m not having you calling me Sunshine or Cutie. I want something strong like Zephariel Angel of Vengeance.”

Sam couldn’t help the snort of laughter, then immediately felt guilty when the gargoyle’s expression fell. “Sorry,” he apologized. “It’s just, uhm, that name is taken. How about Leo, like a lion, a brave, strong lion.”

The gargoyle tilted his head in contemplation, then nodded. “Leo, I like Leo. I’m done with you now. You already have a gargoyle. I’m going to find my true master.”

That decided, he jumped down off the desk and waddled over to the door, sidestepping awkwardly when Smudge slunk in with intent in every step. In a leap, Smudge was up on the desk, sitting right on the tax forms and staring straight into Sam’s face.

“What are you doing?” Smudge asked telepathically.

“Taxes,” Sam answered. He didn’t add a sigh this time.

“You should be tracking down what kind of other your uncle’s pet gargoyle is.”

Leo, the newly named visiting gargoyle, had declared that the old paperweight on Sam’s desk that looked like a gargoyle, walked like a gargoyle, and was stone like a gargoyle, wasn’t actually a gargoyle at all, but other.

“Where do you suggest I start? And why can’t you tell what it is, oh powerful familiar.” Sam couldn’t help the sarcasm. Smudge was capable of putting souls back in bodies and using heavy magic, but he couldn’t track down what kind of paranormal had been transformed into an ancient crumbling gargoyle paperweight?

“I’ll forget you said that,” Smudge said condescendingly. “I’ve been busy.”

“With what?” Sam asked. Privately he thought Smudge spent too much time cleaning himself with his paws up in the air and his tongue—

“I can hear you,” Smudge warned. “And who else do you think can keep your attic spider infestation at bay?”

Sam shuddered. He didn’t like small spiders at best, let alone the giant ones Smudge had suggested lived only a few floors up. “Good work,” Sam praised. “And as to our paperweight friend here—” Sam tapped the solid stone thing on the head with a stapler. “—I’ve put out a request to everyone I know as to who may be missing someone. I used the ParaGoogle to see if anyone knows anything. Not sure what else I can do at this stage.”

Smudge gave a feline version of a huff, deliberately washed himself on the desk for a good five minutes, then disappeared out of the room. Sam shook off the fur that had fallen on his paperwork. This needed to be done and, unless he finished it soon, he’d have the authorities fining him all over the place.

A knock on his office door jerked Sam from his sad contemplation of the bills he had to pay. Although he’d earned some money recently and he owned the building where he worked and lived, the flow of money going out far exceeded the money rushing into his pockets.

Taxes were a bitch.

“Come in!” he shouted.

Sam lifted an eyebrow at the sight of the dark-haired man entering his office. The strangest part of his visitor was his apparent ordinariness. The man’s eyes didn’t glow with vampire ire, he didn’t growl with pent-up werewolf angst, and his average height and weight could only be explained one way. Human. He must be lost.

“Sorry, I knocked on the front door but no one answered. I hope you don’t mind me letting myself in.” The man indicated the entrance with a vague wave.

“No. Of course not.” Sam would have to learn to either lock his outer door or get an alarm of some kind. The doorbell had stopped working a few days ago, and Sam suspected their water heater might be ready to explode at any moment. Bob swore it would be fine, but it gurgled at Sam the last time he went to the basement to get the laundry. He might have to give in and hire a handyman. Neither he nor Bob were very useful around the house.

“I’m Abbott Williams. I heard you were a detective.” The man held up a flyer as if that explained his presence.

Sam stood to shake hands. “I’m Sam Enderson. Nice to meet you. Yes, I am a detective.” He accepted the yellow paper Abbott handed over. It listed Sam’s detective agency, their location on a little map, and little else. It did have a nice picture of the building, though. “I don’t remember having any flyers printed up.”

Abbott shrugged. “I found it at the bar down the street. Anyway, I need you to follow my boyfriend around. I think he’s cheating on me. Are you interested in the job or not?”

Sam tossed the flyer on his desk to study later. Bob probably made them and forgot to tell Sam about it. “Break up with him. That’s what I did.”

“Some guy cheated on you?” Abbott made it sound as if he couldn’t imagine such a thing happening.

“Yep. But I got over it.” At least that’s what Sam kept telling himself whenever he thought of his ex’s betrayal. Bob usually pulled him out of the bad memories with a blowjob. Worked every time.

The young man’s mouth tightened in annoyance. “I can’t just break up with him.”

“Why not? If you really suspect he’s cheating on you, he probably is.” Sam knew from his own experience that glossing over problems in a relationship didn’t improve the situation. “You’re better off without him.”

“I don’t want to be without him. I love him.”

“If he loved you back he wouldn’t cheat,” Sam said flatly. He’d hate to be the one who had to tell Abbott he’d been right about his boyfriend.

“I can pay,” Abbott insisted. He pulled a wad of cash out of his pocket and tossed it on the desk. “I don’t want you to do anything else. I want to know the truth. Just find out if he’s cheating. After that, I can decide what to do.”

The man’s desperate words struck a chord with Sam. Of course, so did Abbott’s nice crinkly stack of bills. “Have a seat and tell me all about this boyfriend of yours.”

What could it hurt to do a little surveillance? After all, hadn’t Sam gotten into this business to help people? Surely hunting down one human and taking some pictures would be way easier than the other stuff he was always tangled up in. Bob should be happy that Sam finally got a non-supernatural case. At least this time no one would be trying to set him on fire.

Once he’d settled in the chair opposite Sam, Abbott handed over a photo. “This is Greg.”

Sam took the picture Abbott handed over. A dark-haired man with green eyes looked back at him.

“He’s cute.”

“I know,” Abbott said.

“Okay,” Sam began. “I’ll take the case, but the usual proviso is that if I find something you don’t like, the End Street Detective Agency can’t be held responsible.”

Abbott nodded. “I understand.”

Sam pushed across the requisite forms and disclaimers, which Abbott signed. They shook hands, and then Abbott gave some extra details about places and dates and where Sam might find the philandering boyfriend before he left.

Sam counted the money; easily enough to cover the bills for the next two weeks.

A quick, easy job for good money.

Now this was what being a private detective was all about. 

Author Bios:
RJ Scott
RJ Scott has been writing since age six when she was made to stay in at lunchtime for an infraction involving cookies and was told to write a story. Two sides of A4 about a trapped princess later, a lover of writing was born. She reads anything from thrillers to sci-fi to horror; however, her first real love will always be the world of romance. From billionaires, bodyguards and cowboys to SEALs, throwaways and veterinarians, she writes passionate stories with a heart of romance, a troubled road to reach happiness, and more than a hint of happily ever after.

Amber Kell
Amber Kell has made a career out of daydreaming. It has been a lifelong habit she practices diligently as shown by her complete lack of focus on anything not related to her fantasy world building.

When she told her husband what she wanted to do with her life he told her to go have fun.

During those seconds she isn't writing she remembers she has children who humor her with games of 'what if' and let her drag them to foreign lands to gather inspiration. Her youngest confided in her that he wants to write because he longs for a website and an author name—two things apparently necessary to be a proper writer.

Despite her husband's insistence she doesn't drink enough to be a true literary genius she continues to spin stories of people falling happily in love and staying that way.

She is thwarted during the day by a traffic jam of cats on the stairway and a puppy who insists on walks, but she bravely perseveres..

She also writes under the name Mikela Q. Chase.

RJ Scott

Amber Kell

Volume One #1 & 2

Volume Two #3 & 4

The Case of the Purple Pearl #5

The Case of the Guilty Ghost #6

The Harvesting Series by Melanie Karsak

Series: The Harvesting #1-5
Author: Melanie Karsak
Genre: Horror, Young Adult, Zombies

The Harvesting #1
It’s all fun and games until someone ends up undead.

Layla Petrovich has spent her whole life running away from her hometown of Hamletville. Raised by the town’s medium, and dubbed the “weird” girl for her fascination with swords, the last thing Layla wants is to go home.

But when she receives a desperate call to return just as a mysterious outbreak sweeps the country, Layla’s instincts urge her to go. Good thing, because the dead are rising.

Layla, however, isn’t entirely on her own. With her psychic powers growing, surely everything will turn out okay, right?

Not so fast. Just when Layla believes she might survive the apocalypse, a sinister and ancient force rises from the shadows to finish mankind for good.

Because the truth is, we were never alone in this world.

Begin The Harvesting Series with The Harvesting, Book 1.

“This is a Glock 17 semi-automatic pistol. Most policemen use this gun. Comes with 17 rounds. You pop in the cartridge like this and…” Grandma squeezed the trigger, blasting a decorative plate with a picture of fruit on it. It used to hang in the dining room. Ignoring my astonished impression, she handed the gun to me. “Didn’t you go hunting with the Campbells?”

“Yes. I can shoot a gun, Grandma,” I said bewildered. Why in the hell did my grandmother have a semi-automatic pistol? We were standing behind the barn. She had guns laid out on the lid of an old feed barrel. I set the gun down.

“Good, good, then you’ll have no problem. Now, this is .44 Magnum, like the Dirty Harry movie. It has good stopping power. Lift up the safety and boom,” Grandma said pulling the trigger. The gun barrel let out a resounding noise, shattering Grandma’s old mantle-piece vase. “The man told Grandma this is a kill-shot gun, very powerful,” she said and set the gun down.

I picked it up, took aim at an old porcelain figurine, and fired. The smiling cherub exploded into a puff of dust.

“Very good! Ahh, here we are,” she said picking up what looked like a machine gun. “This is Colt 9mm sub-machine gun. Grandma had a hard time getting this one, but a nice man on the phone, of course he was Russian, helped Grandma get this one ordered for you. This gun can shoot almost 1000 rounds per minute. Very fast, no?” Grandma said and launched a spray of bullets toward the remaining china pieces she had set up on the fence-post. “Here, you try. Watch for kick back,” she said and handed the gun to me.

I set the gun down and took Grandma by the hands. “Grandma, what in the hell is going on? You’re scaring me.”

“Shoot first,” she said, picking the Colt back up and handing it to me.

I sighed. The gun, surprisingly, didn’t feel heavy in my hands. I held it as I had observed Grandma doing, and as every drug smuggler on T.V. had done, and let off an easy rattle of ammo.

“You see, very easy.”

I set the gun back down. “That is enough, Grandma. Please. What is happening?”

Grandma inhaled deeply and took me by the chin. She looked into my eyes then kissed me on both cheeks. “First, we’ll put guns away,” she said, picking up the weapons. “Oh, I also bought grenades. Just like on T.V.: pull the pin, throw, it explodes.”


After we had restocked Grandma’s personal arsenal, we went back inside.

“Sit down in living room. Watch T.V. I’ll make tea,” she said and wandered into the kitchen.

“But Grandma—“

“Tu-tu-tu,” she said to shush me. “You watch T.V. I’ll come in a minute.”

I flipped on the T.V. to find it tuned to the news channel. At once I saw what appeared to be a riot taking place. At first it looked like just another scene of violence, but then I started reading the crawling banner: wide spread outbreak and rioting in major US cities in the south and on the west coast. Police had instituted martial law in LA, Miami, and Atlanta. Outbreak reports were cropping up in all major US and foreign cities. Airlines had closed all international travel. The United States President has been moved to a protected location.

The T.V. buzzed with three loud chimes: the Emergency Broadcast System had been activated. The screen went blue and after a few minutes, an official looking White House spokesman appeared at a podium, the emblem of the CDC hanging behind him.

“Grandma? You should come see this,” I called to her. I felt like someone had poured cold water down my back. Every hair on the back of my neck was standing on its end. Is this what Grandma had foreseen? Is this why I was here? Did the spirits tell her something?

“At this point it appears to be a highly contagious flu-like pandemic,” the Director of the CDC was saying.

“Citizens are urged to stay inside their homes. Military personnel have been dispatched to major US cities,” the White House spokesman added.

A reporter asked why the pandemic seemed to happen almost overnight. I noticed then that the press were all wearing surgical masks.

“Incidents of flu have been steadily on the rise for the last one week which has exacerbated accurate diagnosis. The symptoms of this particular strain resemble seasonal flu at the onset—body pain, fever, and vomiting—but gradually worsen with additional non-normative symptoms,” the Director of the CDC explained.

“Non-normative? What does that mean, and how is it being spread?” a female reporter asked. I recognized her from the President’s regular Press Club. I’d seen her in person once at a downtown café. She’d been eating a massive plate of fries.

The Director of the CDC gave a sidelong look toward the White House spokesman. “Citizens should avoid direct physical contact with the sick until we can pinpoint the cause,” the CDC Director said at last.

“Is there a vaccine or immunization?” another reporter asked.

“Until the cause is identified, it is difficult to develop a vaccine, but we are working around the clock analyzing possible contaminants,” the Director replied.

“What is the mortality rate?” someone asked.

The Director of the CDC looked uncomfortable. “It is difficult to ascertain. At this point the mortality rate appears to be 100%, but post-mortem there appears to be brain activity-”

“No further questions at this time,” the White House spokesperson said with a scowl and ushered the Director of the CDC out of the room.

Grandma sat down beside me, setting a serving tray on the coffee table. She picked up the remote and muted the T.V.

In the far off distance, we heard the alarm on the town fire hall wail. It was used to call in emergency volunteer firefighters and medical personnel or to warn of tornado. Three rings to call for help. Seven rings for tornado warning. The alarm wailed and did not stop.

“When I was 12 years old, my grandma knew I had the sight,” my grandmother began. “My mother only had the gift a little. She had good instincts, but she never heard the spirits. I was lucky. I was born with the mark of the bear,” she said, showing me the small birthmark on her knee shaped like a bear’s paw, “so everyone knew I would have the gift. But when I was 12, my grandmother sat me down in her living room and poured me a cup of tea,” she said as she poured me a cup. I noticed that she had placed two slices of a strange looking mushroom in the water. “My grandmother told me, while I was lucky to hear the spirits, there are other things in this world, some good, some evil. There exists spirits, demons, creatures who are not like us. She wanted me to see them. She wanted me to be safe from them. She said that until the great eye inside is awake, we do not see them. She said, I must awaken and see. That is what my grandmother told me as she handed me a cup of tea,” my grandma said then handed the mushroom tea to me.

I took the cup. I looked back at the T.V. and saw strange images of people in hospital gowns being shot by military men.

“Drink,” Grandma encouraged.

I did as she asked, polishing off the cup.

“My grandma loved me. She tried to protect me by making me see the otherworld. She was right. Afterward, I saw and heard spirits and those other things in this world. This has kept me away from evil and has helped me see good. Did you know there are forest spirits living right behind our house? Ehh, anyway, my grandmother loved me, so she made me see. I drank the tea then slept for almost two days. When I woke, I could see.”

My head felt woozy. Images on the screen melted into a strange haze. I reached out for my grandmother.

“You sleep now. I’ll go close the fence and bar up the doors. It has already begun,” she said.

“What has begun?” I asked drunkenly. The room spun, and I felt like I might be sick.

“The harvest.”

Meet Layla Petrovich, Protagonist (envisioned as Olivia Wilde)
Family background: Layla was raised by her Russian immigrant grandmother, Vasilisa Petrovich, in the small town of Hamletville on the shores of Lake Erie.  Layla’s mother ran off when she was young, and the identity of her father is unknown.  Layla’s upbringing, raised by the town’s resident medium, often left her feeling ostracized by her community.

Occupation: Before Z-Day, Layla worked as a museum curator at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.  In addition, Layla taught fencing classes to local high school students.  All that changed the day Layla’s grandmother called and told her to “come home.”

Apocalypse skills: When ammo runs dry, it’s Layla’s shashka, a Russian sabre, which saves the day.  But this is not her only skill.  Grandma’s psychic foresight also ensured Layla was well armed with a Glock 17 semi-automatic, a Colt 9mm sub-machine gun, and a .44 Magnum.  In addition to Layla’s physical strength, her keen intellect and budding psychic abilities help her keep her loved ones safe.

Romantic attachments: Layla left Hamletville and tried to start again, but in her heart she always pined for her first love, Ian.  Her return to Hamletville brings into question these buried feelings and strange new emotions she feels for Jaime, Ian’s older brother.

Meet Jamie Campbell (envisioned as Chris Pine)
Family background:  Like Layla, Jamie is a Hamletville native.  He and his brother Ian grew up behind the counter of their father’s feed and lumber shop.

Occupation: Before Z-Day, Jamie did two tours in Iraq as a combat medic.

Apocalypse skills: Jamie is a handy guy to have around.  He is a physically strong, a good shot, and his medical skills make him a life saver—literally.  Without Jamie, many of the people in Hamletville would have died.

Romantic attachments: Jamie has been searching, unsuccessfully, for a girl with something special.  He has had relationships over the years, but no one ever suited him.  But when Layla returns to Hamletville, even in the midst of the horror unfolding all around them, Jamie finally begins to see what he has been missing.

Meet Ian Campbell (envisioned as Dominic Monaghan)
Family background: Ian, brother of Jamie, is the youngest of Hamletville’s Clan Campbell.  Ian and his wife Kristie have been married for four years.  Tragically, Kristie is bitten during the first days of the zombie apocalypse.

Occupation: Before Z-Day, Ian worked alongside his father, managing with family business: Campbell Feed and Lumber.

Apocalypse skills: Ian is good with a gun and brave to a fault.  There is no job too hard or ethically vexing for Ian.

Romantic attachments: Ian’s first love was Layla.  It is a love he has not forgotten.  Years back, Ian and Layla fought, and Ian had a one-night stand with Kristie.  Kristie got pregnant.  Ian left Layla to do the right thing and marry the mother of his unborn child, but he never stopped loving Layla.  For Ian, the zombie apocalypse provides him the chance at a “do-over.”  Only problem is, Ian is not feeling so well these days . . . well, that’s just one of his problems.

Meet Rumor (envisioned as Lucy Lawless)
Background: Not much is known about Rumor other than she is from Eastern Europe and that she ages really, really well.  In fact, Rumor may not even be her real name.

Occupation: Proprietor of the HarpWind Grand Hotel.

Apocalypse skills: Cultivating food supplies.
Romantic attachments: Rumor finds herself instantly enamored with Ian’s physicality.

Meet Cricket (envisioned as Lily Cole)
Family Background: Cricket, a carnie girl, was raised by her father in the carnie lifestyle.  Cricket grew up a daddy’s girl and was crushed when her father died suddenly of a heart attack.

Occupation: Before Z-Day, Cricket was a Tilt-a-Whirl operator.  She felt it was her duty to her father’s memory to live the carnie life.

Apocalypse skills: Practicality. Cricket is neither superstitious nor super-powered.  Her pipe wrench and common sense helped her survive the moment of the zombie apocalypse.  She also has sense enough to listen to others, including the carnival Tarot reader, Vella.

Romantic attachments: Cricket likes to play around a bit with the “Townies,” but has never really fallen in love.  In fact, she never really bothered worrying about “true love” because she finds such daydreams romantic nonsense.  She does, however, love her dog, Puck, with a passion.

10 Tips on Finding Love during the Zombie Apocalypse By Melanie Karsak, author of The Harvesting
Finding love during a zombie apocalypse can be tricky, but with the right guidance, even you can find a way to make your heart soar while spattered in zombie goo. After all, Glenn and Maggie from “The Walking Dead” perfected the art. In my novel The Harvesting, Layla and Jamie find a way to make things work. What about you? When it all ends, could you find a new beginning? Maybe we can learn some lessons from these war-torn z-poc survivors. But how to you do it? Let’s take a look at 10 ways to find love during the zombie apocalypse:

10) Assume that Warm Bodies was a one-shot deal. Avoid coming on to the undead.

9) If you are lucky enough to find the right person, learn how to moan like a zombie. No more “to the heavens” chortles. If you learn to moan like a zombie, the undead are more likely to ignore you and you won’t get caught in any embarrassing positions. No one wants to run from zombies with their pants around their ankles.

8) Never miss an opportunity for a “safe sex zone.” You’ve just cleared out a bunker full of zombies and there is a really cozy closet down the hall away the rest of the group. What are you waiting for?

7) Reconsider your standards. Okay, maybe you didn’t love rednecks in your everyday life, but chances are that if there is a redneck about (male or female), they’ve got the chops to make it in the z-poc. It might be time to warm up. Git-r-done, y’all!

6) Get over hang-ups about hygiene: perfume, cologne, deodorant, a toothbrush, a shower . . . all things of the past. If you want to connect with someone over a can of dog food, you need to let go of your feelings about bad-breath.

5) You will likely be dead tomorrow. If you think he or she might be interested, just make a move.

4) Do not use protection (wait for it…). Let’s set STDs aside for a moment and talk about pregnancy. Almost every movie and book assures us that if you get pregnant, your child will save humanity. The cure will be in their blood. While it would be very annoying to have a STD during the apocalypse, don’t let that crush the chance to save mankind. Don’t be selfish.

3) Examine your group. Are there any couples? No? Every story always depicts one “sweet” couple. If  your group is currently lacking this couple, you and your partner might be able to take over this stock-character/relational role. Your “too sweet to kill” love story might just save you come z-day. Go ahead and try to have a real relationship. On the other hand, if you see your partner making eyes at others in your group, run away! Getting involved in a love triangle almost certainly spells death.

2) The rules of Zombieland suggest double-tap…and so do I.

1) Learn how to make love with your boots on and the safety off.
I hope these 10 rules helped you get ready for all the zombie-lovin’ fun you can have. If you would like to learn more about how to survive during the zombie apocalypse, please check out my novel The Harvesting now available at!

Author Bio:
Melanie Karsak is the author of The Airship Racing Chronicles, The Harvesting Series, and The Celtic Blood Series. A steampunk connoisseur, zombie whisperer, and heir to the iron throne, the author currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.

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