Thursday, November 20, 2014

Why Do We Call it Christmas? DVD Giveaway

Why Do We Call it Christmas? DVD Giveaway Hosted by Pea of Sweetness

Co-Hosted by Deals of Sweetness

Why Do We Call it Christmas?
Cutting down trees? Hanging stockings? Santa Claus? What do any of these have to do with Jesus' birthday? More than you'd think! 
Join VeggieTales creator Phil Vischer along with intrepid newsman Buck Denver and all his friends on an amazing journey into the world's most popular holiday! Sure, you know the Christmas story. But do you know the story of Christmas? Don't miss the whimsical, educational, Christmical party to end all Christmas parties as Buck Denver Asks … Why Do We Call It Christmas? See what Emilee at Pea of Sweetness thought about this great Christmas DVD.
Would you like to win the Why Do We Call it Christmas DVD? This giveaway begins on 11/20 and ends on 12/2 at 10:00pm (times are Central) and is open to US and Canada ages 18+. Many thanks to Propeller Consulting, LLC for providing this prize for the giveaway. Choice of winners and opinions are 100% my own and NOT influenced by monetary compensation. Only one entrant per mailing address, per giveaway. If you have won the same prize on another blog, you are not eligible to win it again. Winner is subject to eligibility verification and will have 48 hours to confirm before a new winner will be drawn. For any questions/concerns please email emilee.roberts@peaofsweetness.com (consider adding this email to your “Safe List” as winning email notification will be sent from this email.) Please refer to the full terms and conditions in the Giveaway Tools.
  Disclosure: Pea of Sweetness received complimentary product(s) or service(s) in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation was received. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment.  

Cooking with Colavita Giveaway

Cooking with Colavita Giveaway Sponsored by Colavita

Hosted by Pea of Sweetness

Co-Hosted by Deliciously Savvy and Deals of Sweetness

Cooking with Colavita Giveaway
Emilee at Pea of Sweetness loves Italian food but has been stuck in a rut with the same old recipes and ingredients. She was excited to broaden her horizons with Colavita.
Colavita's history goes back a long time ago in the quaint hilltop village of Sant’Elia a Pianisi, located in the Molise region of Italy, two small family businesses were born. One family operated a stone mill for crushing homegrown olives used to produce fine extra virgin olive oil. The other family gathered the durum wheat harvest, milled the wheat into semolina grain and ultimately produced fresh pasta for the local market. Over time, both families became experts at their trade, passing their knowledge to the next generation, who in turn did the same. The two families had much in common not only in perfecting time-honored production methods, but also in name. They were both Colavita families.
Today, the Colavita Olive Oil and Colavita Pasta companies are still family-owned and operating in the same town of their ancestors. They have since joined with another family-owned company, Colavita USA, and together they have shared the fruits of their respective crafts with American consumers for over twenty years.
Emilee got to try her hand at a new Italian recipe using the amazing ingredients included in the Colavita Simply Italian Gift Basket.
The Simply Italian Gift Basket includes:
  • Colavita Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • Colavita Balsamic Vinegar
  • Cirio Crushed Tomato with Basil
  • Colavita Eggplant & Sweet Peppers
  • Colavita Olive Bruschetta
  • Colavita Marinara Sauce
  • Colavita Tomato Basil Sauce
  • Colavita Penne Rigate
  • Dal Raccolto Capellini
  • Dal Raccolto Orchiette
  • Almond Cantuccini
Doesn't it sound amazing? One winner will receive the Colavita Simply Italian Gift Basket! (ARV $75.00) This giveaway begins on 11/20 and ends on 12/13 at 10:00pm (times are Central) and is open to US residents ages 18+. Winner is subject to eligibility verification and will have 48 hours to confirm before a new winner will be drawn. One winner per household, email address, or home address. If you have won this prize on another blog you are ineligible to win again. For any questions/concerns please email emilee.roberts@peaofsweetness.com (consider adding this email to your “Safe List” as winning email notification will be sent from this email.) Please refer to the full terms and conditions in the Giveaway Tools.
  Disclosure: Pea of Sweetness received complimentary product(s) or service(s) in exchange for an honest review. No additional compensation was received. Participating bloggers are not responsible for prize fulfillment.  

Rogue Alliance Free Book

RA free day

rogue_alliance_250x375Rogue Alliance is free on Amazon - November 21st, 2014 ONLY

While still a child in Redding, California, Shyla Ericson killed her father to end years of abuse. She’d left town shortly thereafter, changed her name, and started a new life, eventually becoming a highly decorated DEA agent. But some history doesn’t stay buried. When Shyla goes undercover to bring down drug kingpin Victor Champlain, the case takes her back to a town that hasn't forgotten her, and to a past she thought she’d left behind. Then, she meets Brennan Miles, a genetically altered kidnap victim, who has been turned into a weaponized super-human. Victor helped Brennan escape from a hidden genetics research facility known only as The Institute, where he'd been held and experimented on for years. In return for his freedom, Brennan now works for Victor as his bodyguard. Shyla is drawn to Brennan's strength, and to his humanity. Even after she discovers his secret — he must have human blood to survive. Shyla knows she can’t take down Champlain by going through Brennan — he’s too strong — and he’s loyal to Victor.

Buy on Kindle FREE today only


Michelle Bellon

About the author:

Michelle Bellon lives in the Pacific Northwest with her four beautiful children.. She drinks ungodly amounts of coffee and has an addiction to chapstick. She works at a surgery center as a registered nurse and in her spare time writes novels. She writes in the genres of romance suspense, young adult, women’s fiction, and literary fiction. She has won three literary awards.

Website | Facebook | Facebook Author Page | LinkedIn

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Khanh Ha-- 'The Demon Who Peddled Longing Tour and Giveaway



Khanh Ha, Author for 'The Demon Who Peddled Longing': On Tour

Publisher: Underground Voices (November 21, 2014)
ISBN: 978-0-9904331-1-8
Category: Literary Fiction, Multicultural
Available in: Print & ebook, 296 Pages
From the award winning author of 'Flesh', “Demons advocate love‒not the compassionate love devoid of possession and sexual desire. It’s the lustful love. They tempt humans with such lust, and the moment living beings fall for it, the demons will peddle longing to take them away.”
Thus, begins the terrible journey of a twenty-year-old boy in search of  the two brothers who are drifters and who raped and killed his cousin also his girl.
Set in post-war Vietnam, The Demon Who Peddled Longing brings together the damned, the unfit, the brave, who succumb by their own doing to the call of fate. Yet their desire to survive and to face life again never dies, so that when someone like the boy, who is psychologically damaged by his family tragedy, who no sooner gets his life together after being rescued by a fisherwoman than falls in love with an untouchable girl and finds his life in peril, takes his leave in the end, there is nothing left but a longing in the heart that goes with him.


Cassandra's Review-  The author has a powerful way with words.  The book is written so intensely that I felt like I was able to really connect into the story and keep myself centered all throughout it.  I would recommend this for adults as it has a bit of boldness that is not suitable for younger readers. 


About Khanh Ha:
Khanh Ha is the author of Flesh (2012, Black Heron Press). He is a three-time Pushcart nominee and the recipient of Greensboro Review’s 2014 Robert Watson Literary Prize in Fiction. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Waccamaw Journal, storySouth, Greensboro Review, The Long Story, Permafrost Magazine, Saint Ann’s Review, Moon City Review, Red Savina Review, DUCTS, ARDOR, Lunch Ticket, Cha: An Asian Literary Journal, Tayo Literary Magazine, Sugar Mule, Yellow Medicine Review, Printer’s Devil Review, Mount Hope, Thrice Fiction, Lalitamba Journal, and other fine magazines.
Website: http://www.authorkhanhha.com
Twitter: https://twitter.com/authorkhanhha
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/authorkhanhha
Pinterest: www.pinterest.com/khanhha
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/3059216.Khanh_Ha
Buy'The Demon Who Peddled Longing':
Sorry, not available until November 21, 2014.



Thunderlight Tour and $10 Giveaway



Thunderlight (The Dragonian Series #2) by Adrienne Woods
Published November 21st, 2014
Publisher: Fire Quill Publishing
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Thunderlight-The-Dragonian-Series-Book-ebook/dp/B00O3FS758


Vibrant, scale swathed wings… Abilities that can be harnessed by a chosen few… Dragons…

All this may seem like old news, but for seventeen year-old Elena Watkins the world of Paegeia is not finished revealing all its secrets. During a summer break intended for relaxation, she discovers that her harrowing adventure to retrieve the King of Lion sword wasn’t the destiny foretold by the cryptic Viden, a dragon with the ability to see a person’s true fate. The words inked onto the page of the mysterious Book of Shadows remains black and Elena must return to Dragonia Academy to discover their true meaning.

Upon her return to the magnificent castle she has to face a challenge of a different kind, keeping her boyfriend Lucian McKenzie, the Prince of Tith and love of her life, away from the dangerous new student, Paul Sutton. As a Wyvern, Paul has made it his mission to claim Elena as his rider but he is proving to be more perilous than at first glance.

Everyone knew that Wyverns were bad news, and just as evil as the darkness that lurked inside Blake Leaf, the Rubicon forced to fight against his inner nature every day. But Elena can see a small light lurking in the darkness, a destiny still unfulfilled; to prove that Wyverns can be claimed.

Will Lucian’s dark secret about Wyverns and Elena’s need to prove their true nature cause their love to be torn apart? And which of Elena’s friends will be sacrificed this time if she is wrong?



 Excerpt:
  As we continued to look for the jerseys and get ready Isabel came up to give us a five minute warning. Blake had vanished around five, simply saying that he would meet us there. Sir Robert had given him his ticket before he disappeared so he would be able to find us.
Ever since that night at camp when he got wasted and he put me under some sort of hypnotizing spell which almost made us kiss, which was seriously ridiculous as he despised me, he’d been acting like his old self; arrogant and a total dick. Something about Blake being wasted and for some reason always wanting me, was really freaking me out…but it also made me wonder about a lot of things he was hiding and maybe that those things only came out when he was truly drunk.
I shook my head and the thoughts of Blake washed away as I grabbed my bag and followed Sammy to Sir Robert’s old Sedan.
The drive wasn’t that long and I gasped when Sir Robert pulled into the parking area in front of a giant mountain. There were at least a million cars already parked in neat rows and the noise coming from inside the mountain told me that it must be the location where the Warbel games took place.
Crowds of people wearing different colored jerseys, caps and scarves huddled around. Some even carried flags and I saw a yellow flag with a huge hornet on top of what looked like a raider.
Raiders were flying objects that made me think of an enhanced skateboard.
Everywhere in Paegeia’s parks, and ports, people flew on them. You needed a special license for one and I tried so hard to suppress my laughter when Becky told me that her next try would be her fiftieth or so to get hers. Becky wasn’t one of the safest drivers out there. I still wondered every time I was her passenger if the inspector that gave hers hadn’t been smoking weed or something.
We climbed out of the car and a feeling of excitement rose inside my chest as I followed the Leafs into the opening at the bottom of the mountain. It was dark as the only light came from tiny globes mounted in the wall. It took a while for my eyes to adjust to the soft glow of the lights as we piled into another tunnel.
People pushed and shoved us as we tried to make our way to our seats. The pace we moved was reasonable for such a big crowd, but it was still too dark and too cramped up for my liking. We finally stopped when the people in front of us didn’t move. I hated every second we had to wait for whatever held up the crowd to pass. I was feeling jumpy and took huge breaths as the heaviness on my chest came back, mixed with a shot of adrenaline.
“Are you okay?” Sammy asked softly and I realized that I was squeezing her hand really tightly in my own.
“Sorry, just crowded. What’s happening at the front?”
“It’s normal, we are close to the check-in point.”
I flinched as a huge horn blew right behind me. It echoed off the wall and sounded like an archangel announcing doomsday.
The crowd barely moved now, and I felt like punching the guy when he blew on it a second and third time. The other people thought it was funny, and I wished that I felt the same spirit inside of me, but this dark passageway seriously was starting to creep me out.
After a few minutes, I could finally see the outline of what looked like five cubicles and people moving into rows. We took the one closest to us and waited until it was time to present our tickets. Ours had blue dots on them and I still had no idea what I was going to find myself at tonight.
It took a couple of seconds for my eyes to adjust as we entered toward a lighter room. Six black elevators, three on a side opposite one another, made my heart jump a bit faster.
In Paegeia, an elevator wasn’t just an elevator. It was how the people of Paegeia traveled around the world, if you were a dragon, and inside Paegeia, if you were human. I hadn’t experienced it myself and had only seen them once inside their funny looking tubes when we went to fetch George at the Wall when he’d come back from the other side.
“Are these the same elevators they have at the Wall?” I spoke softly.
She laughed at the small shake in my voice. “No, Elena. They are normal elevators.”
People surged forward again as they maximized the elevator’s weight limit and I saw Sir Robert pushing the blue button. He wore a black t-shirt with a pair of jeans and a baseball cap. Wrapped around his neck was a green and black stripped scarf.
Sir Robert Leaf was Sammy and Blake’s father and, The Greatest King That Ever Lived, King Albert’s dragon. He looked nothing like the figure inside the museum of Etan, and he was nothing like I’d imagined. He was kind, always friendly and no matter how much Blake pissed him off, he would give me a soft look and a friendly smile. It was hard to imagine that he was Chromatic, a Night Villain, and one of the vilest dragons that roamed this world. The people of Paegeia didn’t address him as Sir Robert anymore. Some of them even thought that he’d had something to do with betraying the King, but I knew better. He missed his Rider every single day; he missed his Dragonian.
His wife, Isabel, stood next to him with her arm wrapped in his. She wore a parka with a green and black striped beanie. A huge smile, along with pure excitement, was written all over her face. She was the spitting image of her sister. She had a twin sister who I was very familiar with. The first time I saw her I’d thought for a second that Constance, the doctor at the Infirmary was Sammy and Blake’s mom.
Sammy had doubled over with laughter when she saw the expression on my face when I first met Isabel. She was a Swallow Annex just like Constance and I was sure if you put them together, you wouldn’t be able to tell them apart just by looking at them. She was also just as kind as her twin and made me feel at home the first moment I stepped inside their house.
The elevator screamed as we ascended into the peak of the mountain. It felt like forever and a million things that could go wrong filled my head. The door finally opened and we all had to get out so that a couple at the back could exit.
When the door opened for about the fifth time, we spilled out.

Adrienne Woods was born and raised in South Africa, where she still lives with my husband, and two beautiful little girls. She always knew that I was going to be a writer but it only started to happen about four years ago, now she can’t stop writing.
In her free time, If she gets any because Moms don’t really have free time, she loves to spend time with friends, if it’s a girls night out, or just a movie, she’s a very chilled person.
Her writing career is starting with Firebolt, book one with the Dragonian Series, there will be four books in total and two to three books that is about the stories taking place inside The Dragonian Series.
She writes in different Genres, have a woman’s fiction called the Pregnancy Diaries, but it would be published under another name. And then she has a paranormal series, called The Aswang series. There are about ten novels in that one, and another two, The Dream Casters series and Guardian of Monsters, which will be a NA paranormal fiction.

Author’s website: www.authoradriennewoods.com
Twitter: erichb3
Blogs: Adrienne Woods Books and Reviews (http://woodsadrienne.wordpress.com)
The Dragonian Series: http://thedragonianseries.blogspot.com
Facebook page: The Dragonian Series (https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Dragonian-Series/301375039891281)
Fire Quill Publishing: http://www.firequillpublishing.com

Giveaway: $10 dollar gift card from Amazon. a Rafflecopter giveaway


Release Day Blitz The Prophets’ Guild by Kristen Reed and Giveaway

The Prophets’ Guild
The Alazne Series
Book Two
Kristen Reed


Genre: Fantasy


Date of Publication: November 20, 2014


ISBN: 978-1482007213
ASIN: B00MX1CD36


Number of pages: 198
Word Count: 56,800
Cover Artist: Kristen Reed


Book Description:


"The year after molten sand becomes silver glass the following will come to pass: The fire shall give its life’s blood to water, and the wind will rise to claim Hesta’s daughter.”


When a member of The Prophets’ Guild is driven mad by his own divine vision, he travels to Hesta to deliver his final prophecy to the recently-crowned Fire Queen, Alazne, and that act changes the course of her life and the landscape of Faerie forever.




Available at Amazon






Excerpt:


After meeting with my Lords’ Council over breakfast and consuming a light dinner, I sat in the throne room as I regularly did and listened to the plights of my people. For the rest of the afternoon, I handed out advice and presented solutions as needed to the men and women who came before me. When I revived the old Hestian tradition of opening the great hall to my subjects, I expected to resolve quarrels of great magnitude involving large quantities of money and property, but I quickly learned that some of my people were so obstinate that they were unable to solve even the smallest disputes locally. In the space of two and a half grueling hours, I laid three conflicts centered on betrothals to rest and resolved six disagreements that involved livestock and property. Once those men and women filed out of the great hall, my herald addressed the last remaining fey in attendance.
“Kneel before the throne and state your concerns to the queen,” he directed.
An elderly Hestian man with closely cropped, gray-peppered carmine hair stepped forward and knelt before my throne as he had been commanded. He made the sign of the star to honor the four gods and their fey children, touched his head to the ground, and placed his outstretched arms flat on the pulsating floor tiles. While the first motion was customary amongst my people, the more submissive gesticulation piqued my interest since most male subjects simply bowed or kneeled in my presence based on their rank and our familiarity. However, as much as I wanted to indulge my curiosity about the man’s unusual supplication, he spoke before I could address it.
“The year after molten sand becomes silver glass the following will come to pass: The fire shall give its life’s blood to water, and the wind will rise to claim Hesta’s daughter.”
I furrowed my brow and opened my mouth to respond, but before I could ask the meaning of the man’s strange proclamation, he abruptly rose into a kneeling position and pulled a dagger from his satchel. My ladies in waiting screamed and flames formed in my hands as two knights stepped forward to subdue him, but they did not move swiftly enough. The man plunged the gleaming blade into his abdomen and fell face-forward onto the floor, which burned more brightly as his blood left his body and spilled onto the endlessly rippling surface. The knights quickly rolled the suicidal man onto his back and checked for a heartbeat.
“He is dead, your majesty,” one of the knights announced, obviously shaken by the sudden suicide.
“Please find out who he is,” I ordered, closing my hands to snuff out the flames. “Then report your findings to me and notify his family that he is dead.”
“Yes, your majesty,” they acknowledged.
As the knights lifted the man’s body and began to carry him out of the room, something caught my eye.
“Wait!”
The armor-clad men halted and I strode over to them, careful not to step in the blood that soiled my usually immaculate floor. Once I reached the trio, I pulled the dead man’s knife from its fleshy sheath. As I suspected, a vaguely familiar animal had been etched onto the hilt of the blade. A trio of tiny sapphires served as the scintillating eyes of the blue phoenix while its shining silver beak was open as if it had been mid-shriek when the artisan carved its likeness into the weapon.
“Thank you. Now, you may go.”
Once the knights resumed their gruesome task, I turned to face my ladies and made eye contact with Sera, whose naturally bronzed features were nearly as pale as the ivory lace on her dress.
“Sera, please find Esti and Amaia and ask them to meet me in my library.”
“Yes, your majesty,” she acknowledged with a curtsy before leaving the throne room, struggling to keep her gaze from resting on the trail of fresh blood beside her as she fled.
While the man who had died moments before clearly had no desire to end my life, my intuition still told me that a considerable threat was nigh… and that the two women’s guidance would be invaluable if I wanted to protect myself and my subjects from the imminent danger that had just begun to reveal itself.















About the Author:


Kristen Reed is an artist, musician, filmmaker, and writer from Dallas, Texas. Her first book from The Alazne Series, The Kings' Council, was published in 2012, and the two subsequent books, The Prophets' Guild and The Valley of Eternity, will be released in 2014 and 2015 respectively.


Kristen also served as the screenwriter, executive producer, and co-director for the feature-length film, The Dahl Dynasty, a modern re-imagining of William Shakespeare's Hamlet. She is a graduate of the University of Texas at Dallas.









Tour giveaway


Sign up for the mailing list and get a free copy of The Kings' Council (the first book in The Alazne Series)

While supplies last- sign up here http://www.thealazneseries.com/#!sign-up/c1li8

The Hoodoo Detective by Kirsten Weiss Tour and Giveaway

The Hoodoo Detective
Riga Hayworth Paranormal Mysteries
Book 6
Kirsten Weiss


Genre: Urban fantasy/Paranormal mystery


Publisher: Misterio Press
Date of Publication:  October 31, 2014


ISBN: 978-0-9908864-1-9
ASIN:


Number of pages: 291
Word Count: 75,000


Cover Artist: Becky Scheel


Book Description:


Hoodoo, haunts, and horror.


Riga Hayworth just wants to wrap up her supernatural TV series exploring the magic of New Orleans. But when she stumbles across a corpse, she becomes a police consultant on a series of occult murders, murders that quickly become all too personal.


Book six in the Riga Hayworth series of paranormal mysteries.


Available at Amazon  BN  Kobo






Excerpt Chapter 1
“What we need is more conflict.” Sam frowned, his sandy hair stirring in the breeze from a nearby fan.
Riga Hayworth caught a waiter's eye, pointed to her empty cocktail glass, and raised a digit.
Nodding, the waiter bustled off, abandoning her to the crew of the reality TV show. Tourists and black-aproned wait staff swirled about their courtyard table, in that New Orleans mix of soupy heat and raw excitement.  
But all Riga felt was irritation. Irritation that so far the Haunted New Orleans episode of Supernatural Encounters had been a bust. Irritation that she’d felt obliged to do the reality show. Irritation that she didn’t really need the money from the series, her husband had plenty for them both. And that left her awkwardly trying to demonstrate some relevance, keeping her hand in as an income earner. And why did she feel the need to prove herself in their marriage? At the thought of her husband, her annoyance vanished, replaced by longing. What was Donovan doing now?
“We need tension,” her field producer went on. “It doesn’t have to be a fight per se. Tension can mean two people who want different things.” He was dressed for an L.L. Bean safari, but judging from his darkening freckles and ruddy face, he wasn’t any cooler than the rest of them.
Summer in New Orleans. Why?
Riga glanced across the table at her slim, tousle-haired niece, Pen. One bare foot was propped on the edge of her chair, straining the knees of her cargo pants. Today's t-shirt read: KEEP CALM AND GET OFF MY LAWN, an image of a shotgun bracketing top and bottom.
At least with Pen on the Supernatural Encounters camera team, they had a chance for some quality time. The opportunity to do magical research was an added bonus. One of their interviewees, a local hoodoo queen, had joined them for lunch, and Riga had been picking her brain about gris-gris charms.
Riga angled her head back, meditating on a puffy white cloud. If Donovan had been able to get away from his casino in Macau, New Orleans would have been different. Her lips parted. Fun.
She pulled her auburn hair off the back of her neck, enjoying the play of the fan on her damp skin. Discreetly, she unstuck her white silk tank from her back, leaned forward in the wrought iron chair.
“Story is conflict,” Sam, rattled on.
Pen fiddled with a video camera. Her chair was slightly back from the table, angled toward her boyfriend and fellow camera tech John Wolfe. Her other foot rested, hidden, in Wolfe's lap, being massaged.
Angus, their sound man, turned a deeper shade of pink and looked away from the couple.
“I mean, you're gorgeous,” Sam continued. “A Rita Hayworth clone whose name is actually Riga Hayworth. The heart-shaped face, the hair. Your eyes are more of a browny-purple, which is stunning, but the point is...”
Ignoring the producer, Riga narrowed her gaze at Wolfe, still massaging her niece’s bare foot. With his long sideburns and wavy, dark hair, his looks fit his name. Seven years older than Pen, he was a grown man, challenging, virile, sexy. And though Riga liked him, his relationship with her niece made her uneasy. Pen wasn't even old enough to drink yet.
Catching her eye, his face paled, and he laid his broad hands on the table. Riga was unsure what her role of chaperone entailed and had decided to err on the side of militancy.
“You're ignoring me again,” the field producer said.
Riga looked up, studying the spot between his pale blue eyes. “I'm not ignoring you,” she lied. “Just waiting for you to elaborate.”
“As am I, chère.” Beside her, Hannah the Hoodoo Queen propped her head in her hands and fluttered her lashes. Tall, with the sculpted cheekbones of a supermodel and the muscular frame of a pro tennis player, Hannah’s dark skin shimmered in the heat. Dreadlocks streamed from beneath her gold-colored turban.
Sam waved his manicured hands in the air. “Conflict. Stories are built on conflict. Our pilot show had it in spades—”
Riga's mouth turned down. “In the pilot we crossed paths with a serial killer. Do you really want that again?”
“No, no. Of course not,” he said. “Just... conflict.”
“We've got some great footage of Riga rolling her eyes and smirking.” Pen shook her loose, chestnut-colored hair, smothering a smirk of her own.
“It's a start,” Sam said. “But we need more.”
“How much more?” Riga asked.
“We need conflict between people.”
“It's too hot to argue,” Riga said. “Whose bright idea was it to come to New Orleans in June?”
He sighed, glancing at Hannah. “Can't you two at least disagree a little? Magical practitioner to magical practitioner?”
“Why would I disagree with Hannah on anything that has to do with hoodoo?” Riga asked. “She's the specialist, not me.”
“I like this girl,” Hannah said.
He put his hands on his hips. “Work with me here.”
“So you're asking us to fake an argument,” Riga said. “For reality TV.”
“It's television,” Sam said. “You should know by now there's no such thing as reality TV.”
Hannah rose. “Sorry, Mr. Producer. I don't do catfights. And now if y'all would excuse me, I've got to meet a client in desperate need of a love potion.”
“Bye,” Riga said.
Hannah winked and sauntered through the restaurant, winding past the fountain in the center of the courtyard. Pausing beside a table sheltered by ferns, she nodded and disappeared through the garage-like entryway.
Sam folded his lanky arms across his chest. “Riga... We spent the night in one of America's most haunted houses, and you didn't react.”
“It's not that haunted.”
Wolfe's hands were under the table again, and Pen smiled. Riga relaxed, slipped through the in-between. Wolfe's drink toppled, spilling ice and mint leaves and booze into his lap. He leapt up, sputtering, dabbing at his jeans with a cloth napkin.
Pen's feet retracted onto her chair. Peeling a wet leaf from her foot, she glared at her aunt.
Riga gave her a what-are-you-gonna-do-about-it grin. After a year of struggling, her magic had had a sudden breakthrough.
Unfortunately, other parts of her magic were still wildly awry. But the possibilities both excited and terrified her. Enemies in the magical world were like gunfighters, looking to make names for themselves by knocking off tough opponents. The more adept her magic, the easier it was to defend herself, the more people came after her. She fidgeted, itching to return to her hotel room to study the thin file on the Old Man, the file she'd told Donovan she'd leave at home.
Wolfe tossed the soaked napkin on the table. An awkwardly positioned stain spread over the front of his jeans. “I'll be right back.” He headed for the bathrooms, passing the bar. A youngish man in a Hawaiian shirt and baggy shorts half-fell off his barstool, but managed to keep his tall, tropical drink upright. The drinking got started in New Orleans earlier than any other city Riga had visited.
“Riga, this is important,” Sam said. “You need to react more. People need to see your emotion to connect with you – whether that emotion is positive or negative. For example, what are you feeling right now?”
“Annoyed.”
“Great! And what do you do when you're annoyed?”
Riga's lips thinned. “As a mature adult, I express my annoyance in the appropriate time and manner. If you expect me to pitch a fit like some reality TV star—”
“You are a reality TV star. Or you could be if we get this series off the ground. Look, we've got three more days. Just… give me more reaction, okay?”
“Got it. More emotion. No problem.”
Glass splintered, and they turned toward the sound. Hawaiian shirt guy had navigated off the barstool and knocked a waitress to the ground. Clumsily, he brushed an orange from her knee. Her tray rolled along the moss-filled brickwork. A toddler in a highchair pointed at it, laughing with delight. Clutching a fistful of napkins, the bartender hurried to the fallen waitress.
Riga's brow furrowed. Stupid drunks, that was her drink seeping into the patio floor.
Waving a hand in apology at the waitress, Hawaiian Shirt staggered to the fountain, crashed into a chair and stumbled into their table.
Angus stood quickly, and laid a chubby hand on the drunk's chest. In spite of Hawaiian Shirt's six-inch advantage, the stranger stumbled back.
“Hey friend,” Angus said, his broad, freckled face serious, “the bar's that way.”
“I'm not your friend. I'm a hit man. A hoodoo hit man.”
“Well, Mr. Hit Man, you need to move along.” Angus oriented him in the other direction.
The man nodded, turned, brushing past Riga. His lips pressed to her ear, his breath hot and sweet on her neck. “And you're worth a cool quarter mil.” He leaned into her, the gun hidden beneath his shirt digging into her shoulder. Something dropped to her lap.
Pen's face twisted with disgust.
“That's enough, buddy.” Yanking him away from the table, Angus shoved him gently in the opposite direction.
The hoodoo hit man lurched into the dark corridor that led to the bathrooms and the rear exit.
Riga looked down at the scrap of paper folded in her lap. Hands beneath the table, she opened it:
Neither of us is alone.
Follow me and only one of us gets hurt.
At a nearby table, a father lifted his toddler off the ground, blew into the little boy's belly. The child shrieked with laughter.
Riga swallowed. There were too many targets. The waitress, bringing her a fresh Hurricane. A well-dressed couple, engrossed in their smart phones. Pen, smiling vacuously at Wolfe and oblivious to the danger. Riga clenched her hands, a wave of dizziness surging through her body.
Abruptly, she stood.
“Now that's an emotion,” Sam said. “That's what I want to see on your face. What have we got? Anger? Anxiety? Stress?”
“Indigestion.” Riga followed the hit man.
Walking into the cool shadow of the wood-paneled corridor, she unclenched her fists, her heart slamming in her chest. In magic, fear and stress worked against her. Riga fought to relax, rolled her shoulders.
It didn't help. Tension sputtered through her system.
A humming fluorescent light illuminated the narrow hallway in flickering sepia tones. On her left, two bathroom doors, black and splashed with red paint. Further down, a cart stacked with dirty dishes. A sliver of light gleamed at the end of the hall. The rear door stood ajar.
So he wanted her there, outside.
Which meant he was probably in one of the restrooms. Centering herself, she pulled in energy from above and below – hot molten red from the earth, cool blue from the sky.
Riga shoved open the door to the ladies room, checked the stalls.
Empty.
Riga sidled outside. She walked to the men's room, her sandaled feet clicking lightly on the tile floor. Flung the door open.
Wolfe, braced before a urinal, whipped his head around. “Hey!”
“Anyone in here with you?”
“What are you... No!”
“You sure?”
“Of course I'm sure. Do you mind?”
“Sorry.” She ducked out.
So the hit man really was waiting for her in the alley, unless he could hide on the ceiling like a bat. Glancing up, she blew out her breath. No vampires or hit men crawled across the ceiling. Not that she really believed there would be.
Riga paced down the corridor, energy rippling between her fingers.
Heat drifted in from the cracked door. Licking her lips, she tried to ignore the fluttering in her stomach and pressed her fingertips to the door. She extended her senses beyond it, a gentle push on the auric bubble that surrounded her, forcing the bubble outward. She felt no one before her, outside. Which meant…
Riga spun, panting, palms extended outward, fingers curled like claws.
The corridor was empty.
Sounds of normalcy – the clatter of dishes, laughter, light jazz music – flowed down the corridor from the restaurant.
She stared at the alley door. What. The. Hell. Extending her senses again, Riga probed more carefully. A flicker of life sparked on the edge of her awareness. But it was too small to be the hit man. A cat? The gorge rose in her throat at a familiar pull, sickly sweet.
She pushed open the door. A wave of damp heat struck her, and the scent of copper and rotting garbage. A narrow brick alley. Tumbled cardboard boxes. A garbage can, tipped on its side. A hand, lying on the pavement, wet with...
Gripping the door, Riga took another step into the alley. She stared, breathless. The hoodoo hit man lay on the ground, blood spreading from the gash in his neck in a ghastly smile. Blood soaked his Hawaiian shirt. Blood puddled, trickled, spattered. She stumbled back, dizzy, the warm door handle tethering her to reality, keeping her upright.
Something prickled at the edges of her consciousness, hot and cold and electric.
At the end of the alley, a tall figure wavered in the heat, its head strangely bulbous. It stretched, extended, darkening, pulling light inside it.
“What's going on?” Wolfe asked.
Riga jumped, gasping. She turned and looked into a camera lens. “Dammit, Wolfe!”
Riga glanced down the alley. The figure had vanished.
Wolfe smiled, one eye glued to the viewfinder. “I figured you were up to something when you busted into the men's room, so I went back for my camera.”
Riga couldn't trust herself to speak. She longed to punch him, to wipe that infuriating grin from his mouth.
“What...?” He turned the camera, panning down the alley. The camera dipped, swayed. “Oh.”
Digging into the pocket of her skorts for her cell phone, she called 9-1-1, hands shaking.
“At least the cops can't say you did it,” he said. “I saw you go into the alley. I've even got it on tape.”
Riga grunted. “Small favors.” Forcing down the fear and shock, her mind registered the scene. The hit man had probably been attacked from behind. But the spatter would have been hard for the killer to completely avoid, and she shuddered in spite of the furnace-like heat rising from the macadam. It cooked the garbage, the blood, the body.
There was something horribly intimate about a knife attack. It was close, personal.
She'd rather face a gun.
The hit man's shirt was ruched up, exposing his weapon, a Walther PPK. He'd never gotten a chance to draw it.






About the Author:


Kirsten Weiss is the author of the Riga Hayworth paranormal mystery series: The Metaphysical Detective, The Alchemical Detective, The Shamanic Detective, The Infernal Detective, and The Elemental Detective. She’s also the author of a steampunk novel, Steam and Sensibility.


Kirsten worked overseas for nearly fourteen years, in the fringes of the former USSR and deep in the Afghan war zone.  Her experiences abroad not only gave her glimpses into the darker side of human nature, but also sparked an interest in the effects of mysticism and mythology, and how both are woven into our daily lives.
Now based in San Mateo, CA, she writes paranormal mysteries, blending her experiences and imagination to create a vivid world of magic and mayhem.
Kirsten has never met a dessert she didn’t like, and her guilty pleasures are watching Ghost Whisperer reruns and drinking good wine.  


You can connect with Kirsten through the social media sites below






Twitter: @RigaHayworth






Tour giveaway


3 e-copies of The Hoodoo Detective