#newrelease #stormchronicles #horror #vampire
Excerpt from Chapter Two
Raven Storm sat up in bed, a scream fighting behind her lips. It had happened again; her father in the shadows, the boom of her pistol, and his body dropping. She’d had the nightmare every night since coming home. Her psyche eval was so bad she’d been dropped from field duty and was investigating UFO sightings in Montana. Not her best job ever.
She slid out of bed and padded toward the stairs. Around her was the loft bedroom she shared with her fiancé, Aspen. The walls were painted a soft lavender that was almost grey and matched the carpet. Their king-size bed was covered with a blue flowered bedspread and the nightstands were antiques sent by Valentina from Chicago.
Raven ran a hand over the Maltese Falcon poster in the stairwell and turned out of habit to the kitchen, where two scoops of coffee and some hot water soon produced a brew that would be guaranteed to keep her up the rest of the night. She was just sitting down to savor a cup when Aspen’s cell started chirping from its charging plate on the counter.
Who the hell is calling her at this hour? Raven wondered.
She picked it up and slid her finger over the screen. “Storm.”
There was a pause and then, “Agent Storm? Is Aspen Kincaid there?”
“She’s sleeping, like normal people, who is this?”
“This is Kane, I’m with Agent in Charge King’s office. Please get her, its important,” Kane said.
“Who is it?”
Raven looked up to see Aspen leaning over the upstairs railing, her purple hair trailing around her face.
“King’s office,” Raven replied.
Aspen wiped sleep from her eyes. “They have a case for you?”
Raven shrugged. “It’s for you, probably a crime scene.”
Aspen hurried down the steps and took the phone.
“This is Aspen.”
She listened for a moment, and turned to Raven, eyes wide. She pressed the speaker button and held the phone out. “Mr. Kane, can you say that again?”
“We have a code thirteen emergency. The cruise ship Crescent Star is carrying an unknown preternatural threat and heading toward New York City. I need you to lead a team onboard and stop it before it reaches the one mile marker. You’ll be briefed enroute.”
“Kane, this is Storm. Aspen isn’t a field agent, who gave the order?” Raven asked.
“King, Agent Storm.”
Aspen shook her head. “He knows I’m not an agent, Kane. I’m a lab-rat, I only go with Raven on certain cases, he can’t—”
“You have basic field training and he handpicked you, Kincaid. You’re on a chopper in twenty minutes, a car is on the way.”
“I want to talk to King,” Raven said.
“He didn’t ask for you, Storm,” Kane said.
“I don’t give a shit, Mr. Kane,” Raven said. “Code thirteen is the catastrophe code, you’re not sending Aspen—”
“This conversation is over, Agent Storm. Agent Kincaid, be ready,” Kane said.
The line went dead. Raven stared at the phone, then looked at Aspen. She was pale and looked frightened, but she swallowed and put on a smile. “Guess I’d better go get ready.”
Raven shook her head. “You’re not going.”
Aspen started up the stairs. “I have to, Ray. It’s the catastrophe code. Whatever is out there, it’s bad news. Someone has to stop it and I’m the next best thing besides you.”
“He can call Sable, she’s a dhampyr,” Raven said.
“And she’s on assignment with Rupert in Chicago while you recover,” Aspen said. “Besides, you know she isn’t as good as you or me in anything except randomly shooting people. Would you really put something like this in her hands?”
“I’d rather lose her than lose you,” Raven said.
Aspen looked back. “Thanks for the vote of confidence, lover.”
Raven blinked. “That’s not—”
“What you meant? Yeah, it was. You think I can’t do this,” Aspen said.
Raven took a breath. “Asp, you are the most competent forensic technician in the unit, probably the world. You are also one of the most powerful witches I’ve ever heard of, I have no doubt you can handle yourself. But you aren’t a field agent, you have only basic field training and hardly ever even carry a weapon.”
Aspen turned away. “I don’t need a weapon, Raven. It’s a boat, not a fire-breathing dragon. I’ll be fine.”
Raven followed her up the stairs. “I’m going with you.”
Aspen shook her head. “No, you’re not, Ray. You heard Kane, you haven’t passed a psyche or a field exam since Boston. You’re riding a desk until you’re healed.”
Raven sat on the bed while Aspen dressed in black jeans and an old sweater over an FBI tee shirt. She then pulled her duty bag out from under the bed and added a change of clothes to the pile.
Raven pulled Aspen’s pistol from its box beneath the bed and put in the bag, “I don’t give a damn what some quack says, I’m fine and I should go with you.”
Aspen kissed her softly. “Not this time. I’ll be back before you know it, I promise.”
Raven shook her head. “I don’t like this.”
“I don’t either, love. But we deal with the job in front of us,” Aspen replied.
There was a knock at the door and Aspen hefted her bag over her shoulder. “That’s my ride. I’ll call you as soon as I can.”
Raven followed her down the stairs to the door, where a black-suited man was waiting with an umbrella. Aspen joined him and the two hurried down the steps to the waiting Dodge sedan. Raven watched until the sedan was out of sight; Aspen never looked back.