But it's done and I'm really happy with this story. To give you a little teaser, here is the prologue of Memory's Flame. Bridget finds some unlikely heroes and they turn out to be just what she needs.
Memory's Flame is available for pre-order at Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords. Get your copy today! Memory's Flame comes out on March 20th!.
Prologue - Memory's Flame
Copyright 2019 © Tielle St. Clare
Payne stared at the vibrating phone, buzzing and bouncing a short path across his desk. He could just ignore her. He’d been doing it for weeks now but her messages had gone from friendly to annoyed to bitchy.
He was pretty positive he didn’t want to find out what came next.
Sighing, he picked up the phone and swiped his thumb across the bottom of the screen.
“Tricia! How’s my favorite editor?”
“Freaking out just a bit, darling.”
The muscles in his neck twitched. It was amazing how much meaning she could put behind one word.
That’s what happened when you dated the woman who controlled your fate. Actually, “dated” was kind of a misnomer. “Fucked” would have been a better description. A couple of times. He’d quickly come to his senses and realized how focused she was. Great for an editor. Not so good for a casual bedmate.
“Now, why would you be freaking out?” he asked, forcing as much teasing into his voice as possible. Let’s keep this light, folks.
“You’re on deadline, darling.”
Payne scoffed. “It’s three months out.”
“Two and a half to be exact and usually by this point I have a proposal on my desk and you on my phone pleading for more time.”
“You’re unhappy I’m not asking for an extension? That’s ironic.”
“I’m unhappy because when my boss asked what your book was about, I couldn’t tell him because you haven’t told me. And I know you, darling...” The razor edge of her words scratched down the centerline of his back like a tiger claw. “When you get what you think is a great topic, you share it...if for no other reason than to ask for more money.”
Payne poked his tongue into his cheek and held back the confession that threatened. His editor didn’t need to know he had nothing. Not a word written, not even an idea for the book.
“So, what is it?” The irritation left her voice, replaced by a silky smooth tone designed to seduce the topic out of him. “Vampires?”
“Give me a break.” He rapped his fingers on the tabletop he used for a desk. “I write non-fiction.”
“Vampires and werewolves are still very big.”
“Yes, for teenage girls who think the world is ending if they don’t have a date to the prom.”
“You did vampires,” Tricia reminded him.
“Because there really are nutcases in this world who drink blood and want to believe they are vampires. No one really thinks they’re a werewolf. Imagine the disappointment when you stand outside on a full moon and don’tbecome spontaneously furry.”
“Fine. I’ve done my best to help. Do what you want.” Her words remained sweet, but the brittle steel behind them made Payne’s balls ache. “But if I don’t have at least a topic I can sell to my managing editor by Monday, I’m going to go to my boss and tell him we might want to consider holding back the rest of your advance.”
“You’d throw me under the bus that fast?” Payne asked, though he wasn’t actually surprised.
“Darling, I’ll throw you so hard the Dodgers will make me their starting pitcher.”
Three beeps chimed through the tiny speaker telling him she’d disconnected.
He dropped the phone on the desk and propped his forehead on the heels of his hands.
His last two books had been deep investigative pieces about people who lived as vampires. After the second one had come out, other “covens” contacted him, wanting him to witness their even more bizarre rituals.
So much for “secret” cults.
He blamed reality TV.
But fuck, he didn’t want to do another vampire book. The last one had just about finished him. After watching the “vampires” revel in their activities, he couldn’t stand the sight of blood. One drop and his stomach spun like a rollercoaster. Becoming vegetarian hadn’t been a choice, but a necessity.
He pushed himself upright and flipped his hair out of his eyes. Topic. He had three days to come up with a topic.
What had Lissa said? Zombies? Possible. He’d heard about a zombie drug in South America but wasn’t sure if it was real or if people just used the idea as an excuse to commit random acts of stupidity.
Werewolves?He snorted. What the hell. Why not?
He typed “werewolves” and “wolf men” into his favorite search engine. He skimmed the first few pages but they were all fiction books. He jumped to the bottom of his search list and started working backwards. Monsters, legends, more legends.
A video link.
“Ooh.” Maybe someone caught a person turning into a wolf on video. Right. Probably a special effects promo.
He clicked on the story. An article from the Las Vegas Timespopped up about a cop being shot. It took Payne until the end of the story to discover why it had appeared in his results list.
The guy who confessed to shooting the cop said a “wolf man” had threatened him. He begged to be put in prison to escape the creature.
“Bet the poor bastard is a druggie,” Payne muttered. “Yep, he was found with a pile of new designer drugs.”
He clicked the video link and the raw footage of a press conference appeared. The cops spoke and took questions but made no mention of the “wolf man.”
“Nothing,” he said.
Living alone, he talked to himself a lot, more for the noise than anything else. He reached for his mouse and accidentally knocked the wireless device on the floor. As he bent over, the chief of police introduced the next speaker, the spokesman for the cop’s family, Jackson Haverstam.
Payne straightened and placed the mouse back on the desk.
A man with short dark hair and rather piercing eyes stepped to the podium and read a brief statement. A graphic popped up with the man’s name. Payne watched but “Jackson” didn’t take any questions and shortly after he was done, the conference ended.
Sighing, Payne went back to his search.
Nothing. Nothing. Crazy. Nothing.
With his cheek resting on one hand, he clicked on a story from the Anchorage Daily Dispatch.
“Hmm, werewolves in Alaska. That at least seems plausible.”
He scanned the article. Another case of a bad guy swearing a werewolf chased him down.
A picture of the crime scene filled the screen and Payne peered at it. Not a single furry creature. Damn.
A lone man stood in the background, wearing a long leather coat, his arms crossed over his chest and a pissed off glare on his face.
“You don’t look like a werewolf,” he told the man on the screen. “More like an escapee from one of the Matrix movies.” He moved to click off the page and stopped, his eyes drawn back to the picture. To the guy in the coat. He looked familiar.
It took Payne a minute to place him.
“That’s that guy. What was his name?”
Leaving the image open, he found the video from Vegas and shuttled to the end. The family spokesperson for the cop. Jackson Haverstam.
There was no identifier in the Anchorage article but it was the same man. Or his twin.
The coincidence tickled the back of Payne’s brain. What was the likelihood one guy was going to be at two different crime scenes? Each involving wolf man sightings? He looked at the date. They were only a few days apart.
It was conceivable the same man was in both cites but how was he involved in both crimes?
Payne left those pages marked and typed “Haverstam” and “wolf” in the search. That would cover werewolf and wolf man.
A dozen or more results popped up.
One for a Mikhel Haverstam. He was starting a wolf refuge on some property in southern Virginia. Interesting but hardly incriminating. Payne marked the page and went on.
“Werewolf” appeared in the summary line of the next result and Payne opened the link.
A TV news station in Virginia aired a story about a district attorney resigning. The reporter and anchor joked about the rumors the local DA was a werewolf.
Payne scanned the print version of the story, searching for—
There it was. Haverstam. The DA, Brennan Hall, was dating a woman named Kalen Haverstam and look at that...he’s staying at some property owned by her father Rike Haverstam.
Too many coincidences.
Payne grabbed his phone and hit the speed dial. It went to Lissa’s voicemail.
“Hey, I’ve got my story but I think I might need some more time.”