Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Cast in Fire by Jaime Johnesee, Lisa Lane, Christine Sutton

A Gift From Hell

Lenny stood in the middle of her room and stared at the blank wall over her bed. Lucy had asked her when she moved into her new apartment what art she wanted in her room. Her exact words were, “Whatever piece you want, outside of the big ones, of course. I can’t get you The Mona Lisa without ruffling some feathers. Pick something that reflects you, something that evokes a feeling you don’t mind having every day when you wake up.”

The problem was, Lenny had no reflection. She had a reflection, of course. She wasn’t a vampire or anything. But, there was nothing that really reflected her inner self. None of the paintings she had viewed online had given her any kind of feelings at all. She had stared at the screen of her laptop for hours, searching through impressionist scenes, renaissance tableaus and rolling landscapes. Nothing. 

She sat down on the end of the bed and buried her face in her hands. She thought about what was really inside of her, at her core. All she saw behind her closed eyelids was emptiness. Her heart ached as she felt the familiar emotions of her past bubbling up to the surface. 

Loneliness. Heartache. Fear. 

On top of the old feelings, she now had to deal with the dirty sensation of djinn blood running through her veins. How in the hell could she find a piece of art to reflect all that?

The ring of her cell phone jarred her from her pity party, causing her to jump and fumble for the device.

“Hello?” She spoke through the lump in her throat. 

“You okay, shifter?” Polly’s familiar voice filled her ear. 
“Yeah, I’m good,” she lied. “Why?”

“Well, In about thirty seconds, you’re going to have a visitor with a package for you. Special delivery from Lucy.”

“Um, okie dokie. What is it?”

“I have no idea, but orders from the boss were to make sure you accepted the package yourself, and that I deliver a message to go with it.”

Before Lenny could answer, the ding of the doorbell sounded. She jumped again, almost chuckling at her skittishness. She held the phone to her ear and walked down the hall to the front door. When she opened it, a stocky woman stood in the hall, holding a large, square package. 

“You, Lenny?”

“Yeah, that’s me.”

“Sign here,” the woman said in a gruff, no nonsense voice as she held out an electronic tablet.

Lenny took the tablet. She scrawled her signature with the stylus and waited as the delivery woman pushed a few buttons. She handed the package to Lenny and stood staring at her blankly. 

It didn’t register at first, but then realization dawned on her. 

“Oh, uh, sorry. I don’t have any cash,” Lenny said, shrugging her shoulders and offering an apologetic smile.

“Uh huh, right,” the chubby woman said as she rolled her eyes and turned to go. 

Lenny shut the door as she shouted, “Gee, thanks. You have a good day, too.”
She took the package back to her room and laid it on her bed, ripping open the protective cardboard to reveal her gift from Lucy. 
From the phone still pressed to her ear, she heard Polly. 

“Lucy said to tell you she thought this was the best piece of art she could think of for you. She said it’s called, a work in progress.”

With that, the demon hung up. 

Lenny looked into the gold framed mirror that lay on her bed, surrounded by shredded cardboard, and smiled. 

“I Like it,” she whispered, as she went to find a nail to hang the gift from her new boss.

Cast in Fire
Revelations Series 
Book Two
Jaime Johnesee, Lisa Lane, 
Christine Sutton

Genre: Paranormal horror

Publisher: Devil Dog Press

Date of Publication: November 1, 2015


Number of pages: 400
Word Count: Around 75,000 words

Book Description:

Chaos has taken over, wreaking havoc not only across the globe but also throughout Heaven and Hell. The next apocalyptic seals have been breached, and the leaders of the ethereal realms are paying the price. With tensions high and defenses at an all-time low, Polly, Lenny, and Drew continue to hunt down the evil behind it all. Millennia-old secrets rise to the surface, testing friendships and pushing loyalties to their breaking points.

With the clock ticking and uncertainty in the air, will enough time remain to unravel a curse that the darkest of forces have Cast in Fire?

Excerpt: Chapter One

Polly’s fist smacked into the demon’s nose with a loud crunch. “What did you do?”
“Nothing, I swear! I had nothing to do with the angelite or the djinn escaping, honest, Apollyon.” Frank backed his large self up against the break room wall trying to escape the angry Knight.
“I have a hard time believing that, since the hellhound who just tracked your ass confirms you as being in the room where someone killed my prisoner.”
As if on cue, the massive beast growled at Frank from behind Polly, its huge face covered in thick tufts of oily, black fur. The dog’s eyes glowed a shade brighter in its anger and flames licked out of his orbital cavity. His giant, razor sharp teeth and thick, talon-like claws were sharp enough to rip into any type of prey. The hellhound’s skin was as hard as stone and its breath reeked of sulfur. Its growl was so loud it rattled Frank’s chest and his terror only served to feed the beast.
“I swear I had nothing to do with that. I went looking for you and found your door open. The djinn was already dead, honest. When I saw he’d ingested angelite I got the hell up out of there and grabbed a cup of coffee.” Blood flowed in light rivulets down either side of the goat-like demon’s ruined nose.
He looked wistfully at the pieces of his broken mug on the floor. The little orange kitten hanging from the tree was still visible though the rest of the mug was pretty smashed up. Its message, “Hang in there,” was lost forever in a mess of ceramic shards.
“Tell me the truth, Frank, or I’ll let Shuck here eat you for lunch.” Polly growled and pointed at the hellhound, who gave a light roar.
“Come on, Polly, I am telling you the truth.”
“Did you see anyone enter or leave my office when you came?”
“No…. Wait, yeah, actually, I did. Lucy was there.”
“I saw Lucy leave your office before I got there. I called a hello but she just walked away.”
“Dammit, Frank, that wasn’t Lucy. I saw her before I left my office to talk to Bis. She was heading for her own office.”
“She could have doubled back.”
“No, she was already in her office moments after I discovered the djinn dead. That’s good, though, it tells me whoever is smuggling the angelite in can shapeshift.”
“So, you’re done beating me?”
“Yes. For now.”
“Aw, man, I was rather enjoying that.”
Polly patted Frank’s arm. “I’ll buy you a new mug.”
“Yeah, you will.”
“Excuse me?”
“I mean, uh, thanks, Polly.” The big demon grinned sheepishly and walked to the counter for paper towels. He grabbed a few and used them to clean up the blood from his mangled sniffer.
“Don’t forget to clean up the mug when you’re done.”
“No worries, I’ll clean it up.”
Polly conjured up a full slab of ribs and presented it to the hellhound. “Here you go, Shuck. Who’s a good boy? Who’s a good ol’ big boy?”
The giant black stump of a tail began wagging and the hound dug into the ribs with a lusty appetite. When it was finished the hellhound wiped its sauce covered muzzle on Polly’s leg and she laughed and scratched his ears.
“Frank, I want you to look into the angelite.” When the demon started to speak Polly interrupted him, “I know you’ve got a few tortures on your plate today but I want you digging into this.”
“Why me?” Frank gave a sigh as he dropped the remains of his second favorite mug in the trash. Polly felt bad for the poor fellow; that was the third mug of his that had been broken that month.
“Because if you ask, they’ll wonder if you saw the true form of whomever it was that killed my prisoner.”
“Oh, so I’m pretty much just bait here?”
“If you need a fancy term for it.”
“I hate being bait,” Frank whined.
“Suck it up, buttercup.”
“You owe me for this, Polly. Not just a new kitty mug, though you owe me that too, but I want a vacation after this. Three weeks, somewhere cold, maybe even frozen.”
“You help me find my dirty double-crossing demons and you have a ticket to anywhere you want, Frankie.”
“Don’t call me Frankie; my name is Frank.”
“You need to loosen up.”
“Apollyon, you assaulted me in the break room and broke my favorite mug. I am feeling a little violated by you right now. If I can be honest here….” At her shrug he continued, “You and your friends have been awful hard on me as of late and I really don’t feel comfortable with it.”
“You mean the shifter and succubus you tried to torture?” Polly snorted incredulously.
“I wasn’t trying to torture them. I was just trying to get to know the succubus a bit better and they attacked me, honest!”
“Frank, did you put your hands on Drew without her permission?”
“Yeah, but—”
“No buts. You didn’t like that they fought back, am I right?”
“Well, I expected them to fight back, but I didn’t expect them to gang up on me and beat me up. I felt so violated.”
“Frank, when you attack a woman, you ought to expect they’ll fight back. Whining that they did, and that they kicked your demon ass, is not going to help your cause. You got what you deserved, buddy.” Polly conjured up a video monitor and showed him the whole attack.
“Oh, I guess I probably seemed threatening to them. I promise I wasn’t really going to hurt them.”
“Doesn’t matter, Frank. Your intentions, good or bad, no longer matter when you touch someone without their consent.”
“I’ll try to do better.”
“Please do. Hey, when you’re torturing a soul go nuts, do whatever you want, that’s why they’re here. Be safe in the knowledge that they deserve the torture. If you’re in the break room, those rules do not apply. Here, you use the same decorum you would show in Lucy’s presence.”
“Lucifer is the Queen of Hell. Those were lowly half-breeds.”
“Doesn’t matter. Guests of the realm are to be treated as royalty, capice?”
“I understand.”
“Good boy.” Polly conjured up a blue mug with a picture of a grumpy looking cat and text that read “Just say no…to Mondays.”
“Aw, I love it! Thanks, Polly.” Frank hugged his new mug tightly.
“I’ll see you later. Be sure to look into this, Frank.”
“I will! I love my new mug.” When Polly looked up she saw he was already washing it in the sink and eyeing the coffee pot excitedly while softly humming “Let it Go … Let it Go….”
She smiled and said, “Later, make sure you behave yourself.”
Frank held up a sudsy hand and waved in response. Polly left the break room shaking her head. For being the best torture master Hell had, Frank sure was a softie about his kitten mugs.

About Jaime Johnesee

Jaime Johnesee lives in Michigan with her husband and two sons. She spent fourteen years as a zookeeper before shifting her focus to writing full time. Widely known for her bestselling horror comedy series, Bob the Zombie, she is currently coauthoring the paranormal horror series, Revelations, for Devil Dog Press as well as working on her Shifters series.

You can find out more about Jaime Johnesee at her website:  

About Lisa Lane

Lisa Lane has been writing dark speculative fiction for over twenty years. She has ten published novels and dozens of published short stories written under genre-specific pseudonyms. She is married to editor Thomas B. Lane, Jr. and currently resides in the outskirts of Sin City.

About Christine Sutton

Christine Sutton is the author of more than fifteen short stories, novellas and novels. While she tends to cross genres within horror, she is always passionate about scaring the hell out of you.

Her passion would have to be serial killer fiction, but she also loves ghosts, ghouls, demons and monsters of all types. Christine's work ranges from modern day fairy tales to demonic soul eaters to ghostly children that just want to play. Her writing has been called passionate, realistic, gritty, fun, enthralling and tons of other cool adjectives.

You too can pick up some of Christine's work and come up with some cool adjectives of your own. It won't be hard. I promise.

Twitter: @csuttonauthor

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