It is Samhain--the Blood Harvest. Nonbelievers call it Hallowe'en. The night when eight Nashville teenagers are found dead, with occult symbols carved into their naked bodies. It's a ritual the killers believe was blessed by Death himself.
When children are victimized, emotions always run high, and this case has the public both outraged and terrified: a dangerous combination. Recently reinstated homicide lieutenant Taylor Jackson knows she has to act quickly, but tread carefully.
Exploring the baffling culture of mysticism and witchcraft, Taylor is immersed in a darkness that threatens to unbalance the order of her world, and learns how unchecked wrath can push a killer to his limits.
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September 30, 2010
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Excerpt from The Immortals by J.T. Ellison
From the book...
Nashville, Tennessee October 31 3:30 p.m.
Taylor Jackson stood at attention, arms behind her back, her dress blues itching her wrists. She was feeling more than a bit embarrassed. She'd asked for this to be done without ceremony, just a simple here you go, you're back in our good graces, but the chief was having nothing of it. He'd insisted she not only receive her lieutenant's badge again, but be decorated as well, in a very public ceremony. Her union rep was thrilled, and at her direction, had dropped the lawsuit she'd been forced to file against the department when they demoted her without cause. Taylor was pleased, as well. She'd been fighting to get reinstated, and she had to admit it was nice to put all of this behind her. But the pomp and circumstance was a bit much.
It had been a long afternoon. Taylor felt like a show pony, was flushed with the overly exuberant praise of her career, her involvement in catching the Conductor, a serial killer who'd killed two women back-to-back, kidnapped a third and fled Nashville with Taylor hot on his heels. She'd arrested him in Italy, and the story had immediately caught international headlines, because at the same time, she'd been party to the capture of one of Italy's most notorious serial killers, Il Macellaio. In the world of sound bites and news at your fingertips, taking two serial killers into custody had garnered so much attention that the chief had been forced into action.
Not only was she being reinstated; Taylor had command of the murder squad again, and her team was being reassembled. Detectives Lincoln Ross and Marcus Wade were shipped back up from the South Sector, and after a long discussion with the chief, she'd even talked him into allowing Renn McKenzie to become part of the permanent team. She had her boys back.
Most of them.
Pete Fitzgerald had fallen off the face of the earth. Taylor had last talked to him when he was in Barbados, anchored and waiting for a new part for his boat's engine. He'd called to let her know he thought he'd seen their old nemesis, and she hadn't heard from him since. She was sick with worry, convinced that Fitz had been taken by the Pretender, a killer so obscene, so cruel that he invaded her dreams and consumed her waking moments. A killer Taylor hadn't caught; the one who'd quite literally gotten away.
Her concerns had been compounded just last week, when the Coast Guard had picked up a distress signal off the coast of North Carolina. The GPS beacon matched the registered number for Fitz's boat. Despite countless days of searching, nothing had been found. The Coast Guard had been forced to call off the search, and the police in North Carolina couldn't get involved because there was no crime to be investigated. She had a call in to the North Carolina State Bureau of Investigations, in the hope they would see things differently, but she hadn't heard anything yet.
Taylor tried to shake off the thought of Fitz, of his body broken and battered, of what the Pretender was doing to him, or had done. The guilt spilled through her blood, making it chilly. She'd issued a challenge to the Pretender, told him to come and get her. Instead, she was positive he'd taken her friend, the man closest to her, aside from Baldwin. Her father figure. She had probably gotten Fitz killed, and she found that knowledge desperately hard to stomach.
She looked into the crowd, the sea of blue seated in compact rows before her. John Baldwin, her fiance, sat in the front, grinning. His hair was too long again, the black waves falling over his forehead and ears in a tumble. She resisted the urge to roll her eyes; that was sure to get on the evening news, and she didn't want any more...