Rachel Miller thought her next job was a run-of-the-mill haunting. As a member of the Order of Rescue Mediums it's her duty to release trapped spirits from the earthly realm. But when called to client Sylvia Elkeles's house, she finds a wraith who doesn't act like he should.The Order considers the wraith an extreme threat and Rachel may be forced to use a barbaric ritual to free him--a ritual that comes with a heavy personal price. If she fails to humanely release the wraith, she'll have her supernatural abilities bound.When Janus Ostara--local supernatural mob boss--shows up demanding her attention, and Sylvia keeps secrets that may place Rachel in mortal danger, she doesn't need her abilities to know something darkly sinister is at play.Between uncovering Sylvia's disturbing motives, and avoiding Janus, Rachel has enough on her hands without dealing with a wraith who may not realize he's supposed to be dead...
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January 23, 2012
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Excerpt from The Stubborn Dead by Natasha Hoar
Rachel Miller scowled at the restless spirit. The old cow had done everything short of throwing her out the upstairs window. Now, adding insult to injury, she'd increased the static charge in the room, causing Rachel's hair to turn into a halo of chocolate-colored cotton candy. Awkwardly sweeping her hair into a poofy ponytail, she felt her patience finally give. "Mrs. Famularo, I've asked you six times to leave willingly."
Rachel slid the sleeves of her denim jacket back, revealing the blue, tattooed sigil of the Order of Rescue Mediums on her right wrist. She raised her right palm toward the suddenly wide-eyed spirit.
"I'm done asking."
The old woman wasn't giving up, though. She knew what that sigil meant--every spirit did--yet she hiked her skirts, bared her teeth and came rushing at Rachel with the intent to put her through a wall.
Rachel felt the rush of power build in her, course through the first of the sigil's five segments and pour on toward the second. It happened in milliseconds, but it was still too slow. Mrs. Famularo slammed into her like a freight train, her fully manifested arms and torso propelling them out the door, across the corridor and into the wall. Winded from impact, Rachel still found the strength to brace her arms against the old woman's shoulders, just barely keeping her gnashing, foaming mouth at bay. The spirit began to grind her needle-sharp fingernails into Rachel's collarbone in an attempt to break her concentration. Instead, though, Rachel swallowed her screams, channeled her pain and anger inward and pushed her abilities even harder.
Like a cool rush of water across her flesh, she felt the power pour simultaneously into the third and fourth sigil segments. Suddenly the entire hallway was filled with the purest white light imaginable. Before either woman could respond, there was an audible snap.
The strength ebbed out of Mrs. Famularo's hands. The old woman's face took on a perplexed, then terrified expression. Rachel didn't stop, urging the power into the final portion of the sigil. The light became even brighter, causing Mrs. Famularo to shield her eyes and cry out. Rachel, her eyes barely narrowed to the light, sensed the four invisible presences surrounding them before Mrs. Famularo did.
Take it easy with her, okay? She doesn't mean to be like this.
She never knew if all the presences inside the light heard her mental words, but it didn't stop her from talking to them. She felt one of the presences--the one she associated with the fifth segment on the sigil--close in and wrap itself around Mrs. Famularo. Mrs. Famularo babbled, frail arms beseeching, reaching for where the walls of her house should have been. The presence curled around her arms, tucked them close to her body and then--
They were gone.
Rachel swayed a moment as the pale blue wallpapered corridor came back into view. She put a hand out and touched the indentation her shoulders had left in the wall. She could still sense one of the presences around her. This one in particular--the presence linked to the second segment of the sigil--always lingered.
"I'm okay. You can go now."
Still, it persisted. Some nights, when the extractions were rough, Rachel swore this presence had an almost maternal feel to it. Which was ridiculous, especially since she'd been taught that the presences were not partial to any one rescue medium. "I said I'm fine." She waved the presence away. "Go take care of Mrs. Famularo. She needs you more than I do."