THREE GRIPPING TALES
FROM TODAY'S BRIGHTEST STARS
OF DANGER AND SEDUCTION
Demonologist Anthony Zaccardi can't save the twelve priests brutally slaughtered at a California mission, but he's determined to send the killer -- an ancient demon -- back to hell. And when tough, sexy local sheriff Skye McPherson refuses to believe something supernatural is at work, Anthony realizes that to "Deliver Us From Evil" he must first win Skye's trust, then her heart.
Roxanne St. Claire
Popular TV psychic Arianna Killian's conversations with the dead have earned her the attention of a killer who fears her abilities, and Bullet Catcher Chase Ryker is the skeptical bodyguard assigned to protect her. When the messages turn deadly, they are given a "Reason to Believe" in life after death...and love...after all.
After a fatal car crash, bad boy cop Zach Garret's descent into hell is interrupted by an unusual deal for "Redemption." AllEZach has to do is return to earth as a warrior sworn to defend his ex-fiancee Danica Keller, the unknowing keeper of a power coveted by the forces of darkness. But even harder than keeping Danica alive that longeis convincing her to give a second chance to the man who once betrayed her.
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December 25, 2007
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Excerpt from What You Can't See by Roxanne St. Claire
Blood isn't red.
Blood goes beyond color. Rich and textured, dark and fathomless, blood was life and death. Burgundy didn't do it justice. If blood were wine, it would be a full- bodied cabernet, perhaps a zinfandel, certainly not something as boring, mundane, two- dimensional as red.
Especially spilled blood, filling the crevices of the nearly two- hundred- fifty- year- old limestone floor of a forgotten California mission. Every hole, every nook, every imperfection in the aged floor filled with blood, corner to corner, the porous stone absorbing death so dark red it was almost black, as black as the heart of the evil man who had murdered the twelve priests in this oppressive chapel.
Evil men. Certainly it had taken more than one person to slaughter twelve unarmed priests.
Until this morning, the most spilled blood Sheriff Skye McPherson had witnessed was a vicious murder- suicide three years ago. A man had stabbed his family to death, then shot himself, the bastard. Even the arcs of blood slashed against those white walls didn't come close to the tragedy before her today.
She'd never rid this image from her mind, never forget the stench of violence.
Violence? Twelve people dead. It was a massacre.
"Jesus, Mary, and Joseph." Detective Juan Martinez crossed himself as they proceeded carefully through the carnage.
They were in the chapel of Santa Louisa de Los Padres, a small mission closed to the public. Skye had hiked up here many times with her father, Chuck McPherson, a U.S. forest ranger who had known the Los Padres National Forest better than anyone and had befriended the priests who came to the mission on sabbatical.
That was before. Five years ago the diocese relocated the few who'd lived there, ended the sabbatical program, and moved in retired priests who weren't as friendly as their predecessors. But Skye was too busy now for weekend hikes anyway. And with her father dead, she didn't enjoy the wilderness as she once had.
Skye let the criminalists do their job as she surveyed the scene. So much violence in such a small room -- it was as if the imprint of what happened last night would forever taint this hall. The altar drew her eye. She wasn't Catholic, she didn't care much for any religion, but it was obvious something sacrilegious had occurred.
The huge stone crucifix had been turned upside down. It must weigh hundreds of pounds, in addition to the deceptively simple six- foot solid- wood carving of the crucified Christ. Blood coated the crown of thorns on Christ's head, whether spatter from the killings or put there on purpose Skye wouldn't know until the crime scene team finished their work.
One of the dead lay on the raised altar; the remaining victims were scattered around the room, on the floor or in the pews. Not all bodies were intact.
There was good news, bad news. The good news was that they had the prime suspect in custody, along with the man who had discovered the bodies. The bad news was the suspect was allegedly in a coma. She'd believe it when she had a second opinion.
"I thought de Los Padres was for retired priests," Martinez said as he looked around. Many of the dead were too young for retirement.
"That's what the diocese has said, but they've been pretty hush- hush about this place for the last couple years," Skye said. "They did some major renovation five years ago, but I haven't been here for more than a decade." She forced herself to look at the faces of the victims. Their frozen expressions of terror gave her additional motivation to find the killers.
"The crime scene has been compromised." Head of the small county CSU Rod Fielding carefully approached, his face grim, stating what they already knew. "The guy who brought Mr. Cooper to the hospital didn't take any care about stepping in blood or disturbing evidence. I need his prints, his shoes, and a statement. What he touched, why, the whole nine yards."
"I sent a deputy to the hospital to hold Mr. Zaccardi until I get over there to interview him." Skye stared at the crime scene. "I don't expect it'll be anytime soon."
"Sooner than you think."
Skye whipped around and saw a tall, broad-shouldered man with dried blood on his white tailored button-down shirt. His naturally tan face was as hard as the stone walls that framed the mission, but his eyes were as deep and rich as dark chocolate. He looked like a pirate, not only out of his country but completely out of his element. His commanding presence caused everyone to pause a beat