A Ritual of Fire is only 99c for the next couple of days!
If you love a good dragon Urban Fantasy novel, this is the one for you! Alison and her FBI partner, Vlad, are on the hunt for someone who’s been performing ritualistic murders in the paranormal community! If you’re the curious type, scroll down for a snippet from Chapter 1 of A Ritual of Fire, sale NOW!
Find out the secret darker than her dragon shifter form …
In the first novel of The FBI Dragon Chronicles, Alyson Andrews’s Investigation of a gruesome serial murder sends her into the darkest depths of the city’s magical underbelly…
As the last known dragon shifter, Alyson knows firsthand how dark black magic can be.
So when she and her vampire partner come under attack, she knows she has to put an end to the sacrificial murders.
But where there’s magic, there’s bound to be powerful witches.
And they’re the only ones who can detect the truth of her identity…
Series is now complete!
Check out the first chapter to get a taste of this exciting, action-packed urban fantasy with bite!
I hated these kinds of crime scenes. To be honest, the blood didn’t bother me so much as the scene as a whole did. Why did they use such a large pentagram? Why was the blood painted on the walls? Why had they moved the table to that corner?
More importantly though, I wondered what was missing. The previous crime scenes had something missing, some piece of the puzzle denied to us by the killers.
In this one, part of the pentagram had been wiped away. Part of me hoped it wasn’t incompetent locals who had done that. If they had, I might blow a gasket because chances were good whatever had been there would have given me a good clue to who’s doing this and why.
We needed to get this scene processed and fast. I’d already interviewed the neighbor to give them time to do their thing, but they still weren’t quite ready, and I was ready to walk around and see it from the different angles.
There was something in the air, something too faint to make out from the edges of the scene, something that had triggered my reflex to shift. The last thing I wanted was for the human CSI team to destroy something on accident that could be critical to cracking the case because they didn’t know what they were looking at.
“Hey, how much longer before you’re done here?” I called out to the nearest tech. “We need to get in and find out what happened.”
The tech scraping some fresh blood off the ground into a tube looked up. “It will take as long as it takes. Leave us alone and we will be done faster. Keep pushing us and it will just take us longer.”
“Eesh, don’t get your panties in a bunch. I just asked how long for the first time.” While I respected the work the local teams did, considering they had found us one of our first clues about shifter involvement, I was getting anxious about that strange scent. That anxiety was starting to make me a bit testy.
“Alyson, just do what you can from here,” my partner Vlad soothed. “Leave the poor kids alone. We will find these killers. You know we will.”
Vlad was good for me and me for him. When I was impatient, he was calm and collected and so far there had been a handful of times when he was the crazy vamp, and I had to be the one to talk him down.
I hated to say it, but I relied on his calming presence more often than I should because he knew who and what I really was. I could be myself in front of him and in return he got a trustworthy partner to watch over him during the day. That, among many things, was why we were such great partners. It was rather refreshing.
“Fine,” I muttered, pointing toward the smeared break in the pentagram. “They removed something from this scene as well.” The more I looked at it, the more I was certain the killers were responsible for the defacement. “My guess is that there was either something sitting in that spot or they used an uncommon symbol when they created the pentagram and wiped it. What do you think?”
Vlad’s eyesight was just as good as mine but he could sometimes see things I missed. It was one more reason we worked so well together. We picked up what the other one missed.
“Yes, I think they had a stand or something on that spot. If they were wiping away a symbol, it would look more like a smear. This looks like something was dragged through the blood. I see jagged lines along the borders of the smear instead of straight marks.” He pointed to the far edge of the area in question.
“You’re right.” Now that he pointed it out, I could see it clearly. “We know they had a stand or box at one of the other scenes. There, it must have picked up and left that rectangular clean spot in the middle of their ritual area. This time there weren’t as careful. My gut instinct is that it’s a stand or something larger than a box, something awkward enough a lazy perp might want to drag it instead of picking it up properly.”
While Vlad chewed over my thoughts, I decided to give the room another good sniff. Maybe now that I was calmer, I could pick out the strange scents I couldn’t identify before. With Vlad having to huff menthol to keep it together, it was down to me to get this one.
The calm must have helped because as I inhaled, I started to pick out other scents. I smelled sulfur, which wasn’t all that uncommon in a magical ritual of this caliber. There was something else though. Wolfsbane? Yes, definitely. Some ginger root for sure. Those were all among the usual ingredients when casting a spell, but there was one scent which has me puzzled. It couldn’t be what I suspected but if it was, I understood why my instincts went haywire.
It was still too indistinct from where we were at the edge of the ritual area. I needed to get closer to the smeared spot. The scent was starting to dissipate and if I didn’t get to it soon, I would never figure it out.
“Distract the kids. I need to get closer,” I whispered to Vlad so softly only he would be able to hear it.
“Why?” Vlad replied with equal softness. “Let them collect their evidence, it will only help us in the end. You can wait a little bit longer.”
“Actually, I can’t. A scent is evaporating. If I don’t get closer, I could lose it. So, just create a distraction so I can get a bit closer and see if it’s what I suspect.”
“Alyson, don’t cause a scene. If you suspect it’s something, then it is. Take a deep breath and just breathe. Close your eyes and let me know what you sense.” Vlad could be so infuriating at times, so calm and collected.
“Don’t you think I already tried that? I just need to get a little bit closer to the smeared spot. That’s it. I’ve got my booties on. I can tip-toe and not step into any blood.”
Impatience was something I was working on. Maybe if I lived to be a few hundred years old like Vlad, I could master it. Until then, well, impulsiveness was how I was. Disregarding Vlad’s advice, I stood up on my tiptoes and slowly moved through the labyrinth of the blood and empty spots on the ground. I took four steps before I was caught.
“Hey! You can’t walk in here yet.” The tech I spoke with earlier stood up and put his hands on his hips. “I told you guys it would take as long as it takes. Stop right where you are. Stupid feds. You think you own all of the scenes. Well, you don’t! If you aren’t careful, you will contaminate the scene and we won’t be able to help you.”
His evil eye didn’t scare me. The boy was just a young human. Too bad I couldn’t shift. My full-blown dragon senses could pick up the trail of the herb I suspected much easier than my human ones.
“Tim? Is that your name?” It was, of course, as I could see from the ID hanging off of his jacket pocket.
“Yes, and I’m in charge of the scene until I am finished. Get off of my evidence!” The boy was in a mood, that’s for sure.
Fortunately, those four steps and the extra moments arguing were enough to let me get a proper whiff, enough to confirm my suspicions. “Fine, fine,” I relented. “I have what I need anyway.”
I carefully made my way back to where I had been standing before I violated the poor tech’s scene. Since this was the eleventh crime scene, I doubted he would find anything we hadn’t already seen. My evidence, on the other hand, was new. What I picked up via scent wasn’t something his mass spectrometer wouldn’t identify.
“What were you thinking? Oh wait, you weren’t.” Vlad scowled as he led me out of the house.
“You’ll be happy I didn’t listen when you hear what I discovered.” My Cheshire Cat smile was from ear to ear. I could be a bit overly dramatic when I was right, although I would never admit it to anyone, especially Mr. I-am-always-right. Vlad could be so annoying at times.
“Well, what did you find that was so important you had to possibly ruin uncollected evidence?” He narrowed his eyes, a stunt that never intimidated me as he hoped.
I licked my lips and looked around to make sure no one was watching or eavesdropping. It was all clear in the victim’s front yard. “It was asphodel.”
“Asphodel? Like the component in a death spell? The black magic component? Are you certain?” Even though Vlad didn’t need to breathe, he took in a deep breath and rubbed his face.
“Yes, they were performing black magic. We’ve both suspected it since the start of this case, but this proves it. There are no uses of asphodel outside of the black arts. It’s only used in a handful of death spells, one of which is so heinous, the magical community will kill you on the spot for performing it.”
“The Death Drought hasn’t been used for centuries,” Vlad assured me. “I was told the spell has been lost. No one today can perform it.”
Vlad knew a lot of witches, including some very powerful ones. If they told him the knowledge had been lost, they were either right or very good liars. Well, there was a third option. If this was the spell being used, it might have been recently recovered, unknown to the general witch community. After all, none of the paranormals that can use magic live more than a hundred years. Well, dragons can, but I’m the last, so that was irrelevant unless I was going to arrest myself.
“I think it’s time you paid a visit to your witchy friends.” I raised an eyebrow and waited for his response.
“Alyson, be nice. They can be a little … strange, but overall, they are very nice. They have even helped me with my cases over the years.”
“You know I’ve never been a big fan of witches.” I was convinced that witches of some stripe were the ones who killed my family. “However, if you vouch for these particular witches, then they have to be half-way decent, so let’s ask them for their expertise.”
Besides, I didn’t have to trust them myself, I only needed to be nice. Or somewhat nice.