The Light Walker
MAGICAL ROMANTIC SUSPENSE
Newly-minted detective Jace Carroll’s innocuous first case plunges her into a world of shifting realities. At the center of the tangled knot is the mesmerizing and mysterious Dante Sabanne, a wealthy recluse whose proficiency with ancient poisons, mystical lore and exotic sexual practices makes him by turns a crucial expert witness, a devastating lover…and possibly the man behind a cult whose profane rituals have turned from depraved to deadly.
Dante is the last of the Light Walkers, guardian of an amulet with healing powers–but that amulet has been stolen, and Dante’s powers are fading. As he seeks to fight the evil intent on perverting the amulet’s powers, Fate plays a cruel joke: the beautiful detective–who only believes in logic and the tangible–is his Prism, able to separate Light and help him walk the path back to his birthright.
The powerful attraction between them complicates everything, as the Jace who thought she knew exactly who she was and what she wanted becomes both pawn and queen in a battle between the dark and the light. Innocents will die if she makes the wrong choice between the evidence before her eyes and the yearnings of a heart she is no longer sure she can trust.
Excerpt: The Light Walker
The mage lay on the earthen floor inside the circle he’d warded with runes, clad in a simple woven robe embroidered with spells of focus, of strength, of protection for his physical shell as his essence cast outward.
One last time, he sought the Light. The Song that would lead him to the Soul Star which animated the amulet he’d once sworn to protect.
The Eye of the Magos, gone twenty years now.
He was the last of the Light Walkers, a people descended from the star voyagers and older than the Romany they favored.
But his skills had faded with his faith. He could still see the starbursts, but he could no longer separate them into the ribbons, the hues he had once Walked as his father had done before him. As he’d done so easily in his youth.
Before. When he’d believed in the legend.
The Eye of the Magos heals when honor defeats hate, when love vanquishes lies
Love breeds Light
Light grants Power
Only in Darkness does the Eye lose the True Path
Before he’d lost his only love, watched her die as he stood helpless.
Before his birthright had been stolen, and his heart had grown colder with each passing year, his powers diminished.
His father had told him of the existence of a Prism able to separate Light into its colors, that could, in times of great need, show the Protector the path of the Song that would lead to the Soul Star. He’d searched the world over for the object, investigated every belief system, every religion, every rite, however obscure, hoping that somehow one would lead him to the Soul Star and onward to the stolen amulet.
Here in these high desert mountains, studying the Ancient Ones, was his last stop…and he’d found nothing.
You will be a powerful mage, possibly the most powerful of all, his father had told him.
You were wrong, Papa. I have failed all the generations before me, father to son back in time to the first of our people. The grief he’d thought to be done with, once more assailed him.
One more time, he would try, but this would be his last. Slowly he slipped from this world into the Other Sky as he slowed his breathing, as he began to chant in a tongue few would recognize. He floated, searching even as faint hope waned…aimless, every direction the same to a man gone blind, rendered deaf…
The world cracked.
Abruptly he plummeted. Spiny, poisoned tentacles slithered around him. Stung him until his skin burned. Grime and filth swirled through the opening, covering him, drowning him…
Gasping, he awoke on the hard-packed earth, the hem of his robe stained, his feet smeared with unspeakable filth.
And in the dark recesses of his lost soul, the Eye of the Magos screamed.
The amulet was found, and Evil had claimed it.
The mage shuddered, but inside him, hope was born. At least he knew that the amulet still existed.
He was its only Protector. There was no time to waste.
Crisp morning rays sliced through Santa Fe’s high desert air, painting the alley just off the Plaza with clean lines of light and shadow. Above them, the crystalline blue bowl of sky was streaked by wispy cotton clouds. Against a backdrop of golden adobe walls, deep in the cool shade that would vanish by midday, newly-minted Detective Jace Carroll stood over the body of Sam Sunshine.
She jittered like a racehorse, poised just before the gate opened.
Not that she didn’t feel a little shame cast a pall over the thrill of being there. Sam was a grizzled old drug addict who’d been a fixture on the Plaza, panhandling with a funny, harmless grace for as long as she could remember. Jace had liked him—everyone did. He was a piece of an older Santa Fe being lost to the influx of money and bored socialites searching for a new playground.
The crime scene techs kept working, oblivious to anything but measurements that needed taking, photos to be shot.
Earl Ramsey, the veteran detective who’d let Jace accompany him on this first case, stood beside her, hands shoved into his pants pockets, head lowered and voice soft. “I could never reach him.”
She glanced up in surprise. “You knew him?”
Earl, a shambling big bear of a man, shrugged. “I was a young cop; he was a flower child. I’d never seen anything like them. They lived in teepees just outside of town. New Buffalo Clan, they called themselves.”
His gaze peered into the past. “Sam tried to convince me to change my way of thinking. Make a new world.” The creases around his eyes deepened. “I couldn’t see what needed changing. I married Martha, and life went on.” Voice heavy, he continued. “For Sam, life stayed suspended somewhere in that haze.”
“He never harmed anyone that I heard.”
“Sam reserved all his harm for himself. He couldn’t come to terms with the world as it existed, always wanted some new excitement, some cause to pursue.” He stared at his friend’s body. “In between times, he killed the pain of reality with whatever was handy.”
Jace winced. He could be describing her younger brother Jimmy. “Think that’s what happened here?”
“Probably. No sign of a struggle, no visible body trauma.”
“We’ll know after the autopsy.”
The older man gazed into the distance. “His body’s been abused enough just by living. Doesn’t seem fair to subject it to more.” Earl’s jaw hardened. “But the law’s the law.”
“I’m sorry, Earl.”
He shrugged. “It’s part of the job.” He looked over at her. “You really want this gig? Violent Crimes?”
“Why?” she echoed.
“It’s a simple question, Jace. You’re going to figure out others’ motives—how about your own? Why are you so all fired-up to get a piece of the action?”
“I—” Jace had never tried to put it into words. She wanted to be there at the core of it, the dark heart of evil. To take it into her fist and feel it, taste it, smell it. Then maybe she’d comprehend a lot of things that had baffled her for years—why her mother drank, then slapped or ignored her children, why the only good part of her life had died with her father. Why at twelve, she’d had to fight so hard to keep body and soul together for the family left behind.
“To make sense of death, I guess. Balance the scales.”
“Justice is a pipe dream, kid, and most deaths are pointless.”
She didn’t know how to respond.
“Forget me.” He waved her off. “I’m old and jaded—been at this longer than you’ve been alive.” He nodded at the gathering crowd. “But we need eager beavers. You can help me canvass the area.”
Action. Her pulse sped. She turned toward the nearest knot of people.
She halted. “Yes?”
“Don’t give up on making sense of it. Sometimes that’s all that holds the darkness at bay.”
Jace nodded, elated that he was giving her a chance, no matter how insignificant the case, to work with him. She’d been itching to move into the Violent Crimes section, and she’d take anything she could get, any means to show Captain Gonzales that she was up to the job.
Her dad had been a cop, a good one. She’d nurtured the dream for years of being one, too, though the need to care for Jimmy had delayed her. She’d always had to work hard for what she got, be patient and cunning, look for her chance.
She’d make the most of this one.