The main curiosity in my forthcoming urban fantasy trilogy Demon Spring is the mysterious woman who shows up to save Cam and Jack when they get in over their head. She says little, kills a lot, then high-tails it out of there before they can get a name. So Cam gives her one: La Colibrí
Complicating matters for Jack and Cam, their savior kills one of the Atlanta lord’s high-ranking demons. Obviously, that earns the attention of the entire Atlanta office. But without anything to go on, Jack and Cam scramble to find anything to placate the lord. Cam sets off to Montgomery, and Jack is left to research. But first, as with any project, he needs some coffee:
The sun beat down on him as he crossed the street to the small cafe opposite the Division headquarters. The shop was bustling with mid-morning coffee-seekers, and Jack waited in line, skimming faces and behaviors for signs of trouble. He didn’t expect to see a demon so close to Division offices, but he looked anyway.
Two young professionals were engaged in conversation, and there was a somewhat familiar man at the counter—he was probably a Division agent as well. Three businessmen in the middle table were innocuous, and the two college kids with earphones reading books didn’t look too suspicious either.
But the woman in the corner hunched over her laptop did.
Jack had no idea why she struck him as odd. She couldn’t have been more than twenty-five, but there was something old about her. She wore no discernible jewelry except a small charm at her neck, and her clothes—black shirt and dark pants—were as plain as any he’d seen. They hung off her thin, lithe frame which was almost too skinny to be healthy. She certainly didn’t look like anyone capable of causing trouble, but Jack’s gut hadn’t steered him wrong before.
And it was waving a big red flag about this woman. Could she be the mystery savior?
“Can I help you?” the barista asked, dragging Jack’s attention away.
“Y-yeah,” he replied, forcing himself to smile. “Medium caramel macchiato.”
She wrote down his order on the cup, and he paid, keeping the odd woman in his peripheral. She hadn’t moved or noticed that he’d noticed her, and he wanted to keep it that way. Jack loitered at the pick-up counter, focusing his attention on the two professionals near the woman, hoping he’d come off as checking them out instead.
He took his coffee and sat down on the opposite side of the shop. Keeping his head down, he chanced another look over to her, just to make sure he’d seen correctly the first time. There was no mistaking it; she was staking out the Division.
Whipping out his phone, Jack pretended to text as he snapped a quick photo. He emailed it to himself, just in case, then stood and sauntered over to the sugar packets, taking his time to select one, even though his macchiato was already sweet enough. Out the corner of his eye, he saw her gaze draw to him, so he turned and offered his most disarming smile. She returned it with an icy glare.
It was hard to believe she of all people would be capable of slicing a demon’s head off. Her sallow skin should’ve been four shades darker than it was, giving her a sickly appearance accentuated by purple bags under her dull green eyes. He even saw a few gray hairs poking out from under the mess of black.
Chuckling to himself, he crossed the cafe and helped himself to the seat across from her.
“I’m sorry, seat’s taken,” she said, her voice low and dangerous. Her laptop was high quality, almost a little too nice for someone who looked so ill. The hairs on Jack’s arm stood up, as if he were in the presence of someone with demonic magic.
“By who? Your charming personality?” Jack replied, ignoring the warning sirens going off in his head.
“I’d tell you, but I’d have to kill you.”
“I think you’d find me hardier than most men.” That earned a breathy chuckle, but her fingers stopped clacking when he added, “But I think you already knew that.”
“Are you done drooling?” she asked, her tone laced with a surprising amount of energy. “Go back to your hovel and leave me be.”
“You know the demons you killed last night?” Jack asked. “They were Nunzia’s.”
The woman leaned back in her chair, a sly expression on her face. “That old bat is still alive?”
So, she’d had no idea. “You killed one of her thirds. She’s pissed.”
“And why are you, Agent Altar Boy, aiding a powerful demon like her? Don’t you work for the Division?”
Jack didn’t have a good answer for that, so he went with the truth. “The Division likes to keep her placated so we can utilize her network of spies and take out the bad demons. Common practice for demon lords.”
She quirked a brow and folded her arms across her chest. “Nunzia is a bad demon.”
“I’m just following orders,” Jack said with a half-hearted shrug. “Whose orders are you following?”
“Here’s an order for you: Beat it.”
“I’m sorry, I can’t,” he said. “You’ve broken a few laws—”
She snorted. “Are you going to take me in?”
Knowing she was the creature who’d decapitated a third made him a little hesitant, but she really looked more like a finch than a hawk.
So, he smiled at her. “I was going to ask nicely. You seem like a reasonable monster.”
To his surprise, she closed her laptop and put it in her bag then sat back with her hands clasped on the table. “Well? Take me in.”
Jack hesitated for just a moment, and that was all she needed. She was nothing but a dark blur, but he sure felt the fist in his stomach. The next thing he knew, he was sailing through the air and slamming head-first into a table. He stared at the ceiling, panting and letting his brain catch up with his body, although as soon as he registered pain, he wished his brain had stayed behind.
“Are you okay, mister?” asked the barista, peering over him with wide, fearful eyes.
“What the hell just happened?” Jack coughed. “Where is she?”
Who is she? What does she want? Only time will tell…
Buy the first book in the Demon Spring trilogy
Demon hunter Jack Grenard’s life changed three years ago when his wife was brutally murdered by the very demons he’d been hunting. At the urging of his partner Cam Macarro, he’s starting a new life in Atlanta, hoping he’ll find the man he used to be. But on a routine hunt, they come across a new type of demon–one that saves instead of kills.
Meanwhile, demons across Atlanta are preparing for the quadrennial uprising of their Underworld brethren. Worse yet, there’s a rumor the so-called king of the demons, Bael, will appear for the first time in over a century. Jack and Cam must uncover the truth about the mystery woman before all hell–literally–breaks loose.
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